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GB: With Titan Quest now on store shelves, how has the response from the community been so far? Have you had a chance to see any sales numbers yet?
Mike: The Titan Quest community response since release has been really overwhelming. We are hearing and seeing a lot of great things that are starting to get developed with the editor. Personally, I am looking forward to playing some of the custom content that is in development by some of the community members. There has been a lot of discussion about various character builds and optimizing and tweaking those builds for both single player and multiplayer games. In general - a lot of enthusiasm for the gameplay, the detailed world, the toolset...
As far as actual sales numbers, its still a little bit early for those. From some of the posts I have read on the forums and my local pilgrimages to the neighborhood game retailers it looks like we have been selling out pretty consistently so that's a great sign!
GB: The game's first patch looks to address multiplayer issues and a handful of bugs. Do you have any plans to release additional patches? If so, are there any specific issues you'd like to address with them?
Mike: Our first patch was to address some multiplayer performance issues as well as make a few tweaks to systems such as the inventory auto-placement and fix a few bugs in some areas of the game such as the dialog window close bug we have seen on the NPCs. We certainly intend to continue to support the product through future patches and enhancements. Our primary focus right now is to address some crash issues and performance issues that have cropped up since release on some systems. Moving beyond that we may look at some possible balance adjustments and address any exploits that may reveal themselves.
Additionally we are dedicated to continuing our strong presence on the forums and working with the community to address any questions or issues that may surface, whether it be a bug, question about creating a custom MOD, question about a design decision. Basically look for any ways we can help grow and support the Titan Quest community.
GB: Aside from bug fixes, have you considered tweaking any gameplay elements or introducing any new content with future patches? Any chance we might see server-side characters, an in-game stash, or a rotating camera yet?
Mike: We have a very detailed (and growing) list of items and features that we would like to integrate into the game, whether they be new features, adjustments to old features, balance tweaks, etc. Many of these items made it to the list because the community was so outspoken about them. Part of the growth process of the Titan Quest franchise will be to determine which items are appropriate for a patch, which items are beyond the scope of what we hoped to accomplish with this product, and which items would be better suited for a future product - whether that be an Xpack, or sequel, or a different game altogether. So in short, yes there are things we would like to do moving forward, but at this point we aren't ready to start talking specifics.
GB: Looking back, is there anything about the development of Titan Quest that you would have liked to change? Were you forced to remove features or cut any content due to cost or time constraints?
Mike: The biggest challenge we faced in making Titan Quest was building the team at the same time we were building the game. I frequently see people mention that Titan Quest was in development for 5-6 years. In actuality, Iron Lore was in development for 5-6 years but the first two to three years were spent forming the company, the product goals, and building relationships with publishers and creating technology demos. The actual game was only in production for about two and a half years. And during those two and half years we had to move the company from a six man team in a basement office to a full production team of close to 40 people. That growth process is never a predictable one nor is it a linear one, so for those reasons there were a lot of development changes that did take place on the game.
Some of the features that we wanted to include the most in this product were things like a rotatable camera and secure character storage. Also additional multiplayer game types and features... more in depth character creation at game start. Unfortunately the reality of game development just did not allow for those things. There are budgets and there are time constraints and schedules - especially for a start up developer working to get their first product to market. And through all of that THQ has been a great partner in helping us make the difficult choices in determining what features had to be cut and which features would make release, believing in Titan Quest and committing to supporting it post release as well.
GB: On the flip side, what aspects of Titan Quest are you most proud of? What do you feel are the game's greatest strengths?
Mike: The aspect that I am the most proud of is the team we were able to build during Titan Quest's development. The folks here at Iron Lore are some of the most dedicated and talented people that I have ever had the opportunity to work with and I am extremely excited moving forward because now the team is in place and we can focus solely on development.
Some of the aspects of the game itself that I am the most proud of would be the graphics engine and the art ... The engine was built from scratch and the art was tailored specifically for the engine which really gave us the ability to create some of the stunning landscapes that can be found in the game. Additionally I think the skill system in the game is top notch and really lends itself to a large amount of replayability. Not only are there over 30 classes that can be developed but there are multiple build types within those classes. Also - the editor. Not only is it powerful but it is actually fun to use. Creating levels can be a very artistic and creative process and I think the editor may appeal to some gamers that never really considered themselves modders. Even if you have no intention of ever creating a fully playable level it is very enjoyable to go into the editor and create landscapes and scenic environments.
GB: What are the chances that we'll be seeing an expansion for Titan Quest? Should an expansion be given the green light, what area(s) or other content would you personally like to see added to the game?
Mike: While we are not ready to discuss or disclose any information about future products at this time I think some of the content I would like to see added to the game would be additional monster behavior and AI to add more diversity to the combat experience. Also more gameplay systems to help accentuate the treasure hunt aspect of the game. Finding the next great item is really what fuels the gameplay at a fundamental level in Titan Quest, and I think the more fun and addicting we can make that treasure hunt, the better the game will be.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Mike!