SynergiesMOD team interview

16 Feb 2013  by   David Reid
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Incgamers: I want to make a Warlock now. regarding Epoch’s Ninja, is this a add-on to your mod or separate plug-in that work with yours?

Epoch's Ninja class for Torchlight II dual weilding kunai

Epoch’s Ninja class, part of the SynergiesMOD for Torchlight II

Salan: Originally Epoch created his class completely separate of SynergiesMOD. He was housed on Runics forum’s just like SynergiesMOD was. After I mostly finished my Necromancer and had such grand reception of it we came in contact with each other. I offered to help them both with community inclusion and a place for us to collaborate our ideas. I gave him space on the forums where users regularly leave feedback. I have just recently started packing his actual class pak files into my downloads as a way to spread their exposure.

Once most of his changes are done I will take the files out of the pak files and pack them directly into SynergiesMOD. For now the only thing of his class directly in SynergiesMOD is his Raw entries because in today’s environment his class would completely conflict with Synergies and it would not be playable by anyone enjoying Synergies at all unless I did this.

I have also put Oedipusex’s Theolentist files in the Raw entries so that if he wishes to maintain a SynergiesMOD compatible version he is able to, as he also currently has a sub forum in my other mods section as a means of helping him continue to develop his class beyond being stuck in one thread on runics website. Both of these modders are fantastic with what they have done, and could very easily eclipse even the necromancer as each and every day we are learning new things. I suspect every one of our next classes will be so much further developed due to the learning curve alone.

Author: We’ll find out more about the Theolentist class from Oedipustex in the follow-up so stay tuned!

Epoch: I never was interested in releasing a standalone class. Once I saw Salan had begun creating a new class, I figured the best method would be to try and create something special and see if I could get it included within this mod. I ripped the regular class and Necromancer’s files apart and began teaching myself how everything functioned. Once I had a decent grasp, I began the grueling task of development. Here we are a few weeks later.

Ninja Lightning Fist skill

Ninja Lightning Fist skill

Ninja Fire Darts skill

Ninja Fire Darts skill

Incgamers: @Epoch: With your Ninja class, can you tell us what you’re trying to achieve, your vision?

Epoch: I want to create something fun and innovative. I feel that a lot of modern games focus too much on loot and other superficial nonsense now. While I understand this may be the motivating factor for many players, my goal is to create a challenge while stimulating the player to develop new and unique methods of playing the game.

Incgamers @Epoch: Sounds cool, I like the sound of the class, what’s your favourite feature about your Ninja’s?

Epoch: First, I must credit all the contributions the community made during the development process. Many of my initial ideas were removed and modified due to excellent feedback and suggestions. Without this, the Ninja would not be 10% as good as it is.

My favorite feature is the one unique aspect included within the Ninja: skills modified by player attribute points. No other class currently utilizes this function. What does this mean? Skill functions, damage, benefits, etc are all linked to certain attributes. No longer do attributes only play role in their basic function. Now they are fully-integrated into every aspect of the character you are playing.

I’ve also utilized only the stats that make ‘logical’ sense with certain skills. If a skill’s logic is focused on being strong, then it benefits from having more strength. Likewise, being fast is modified by dexterity, and using your mind is modified by focus. This, in my opinion, helps drive innovation and player creativity.

Ninja using Dragons Breath skill

Ninja skill: Dragons Breath

Incgamers: @Epoch: Can you give some examples of hybrid builds and the benefits of mixing your class’s skill trees?

Epoch: This is a difficult question to answer without spending several pages explaining how each skill operates and is modified. The Ninja is unique in that while each skill tree has a ‘theme’, there is really no requirement to stick to spending all your skill points in just one tree. Many skills are modified by the player’s Strength, Dexterity, Focus, and Vitality attributes. No other class has these modifiers included within their skills.

I’ve left it up to the player to decide how they want to optimize their attributes with their skill choices. This is what I think is drives the player’s innovation. So, to be brief, I can’t really say there is any build that I would not consider ‘hybrid’. It’s up to the player to determine which skills fit their ‘play-style’ and to pursue those skills.

Ninja thowing Kunai

Incgamers: Note: must make a Ninja build. @All: With so many cool skills from all of your classes my class build radar going nuts! Have you used any custom tools when developing your contributions/creations? How much has the Torchlight II editor helped in the creation of SynergiesMOD?

Salan: Custom tools for developing? Well, there are a lot of community tools that are necessary and without which NO mods would be do able. We all owe those initial innovators everything. The pak extractor by Jericho, the dat2txt, txt2dat by Clienslaw, A Raw2txt/Txt2Raw and ADM versions were all essential as well as the GUID generator. I tried using the community made Torchlight 2 editor, but I found as it was still a WIP my mod was to extensive to get good use out of it. For individual entries it was great, absolutely perfect almost. But I make sweeping changes across many files at the same time. It slowed me down excessively and in the end I stopped using it.

Now I use the above mentioned converters, and notepad. Old school. I have used Sarkilas’s Enemy Modifier tool a lot though. It has helped with a lot of things and he was very gracious at listening to my constant feedback while developing it and hopefully Chthon’s Rapid respec tool will become compatible at some point in the future for all these awesome new classes, that would be something the community itself would benefit from!

Kelintor: Modding Pre-Guts was possible only thanks to these people : Raptor, cienislaw, Jarcho, Sluggington, MazeXD, fgaaghf. They made all the tools we are using now. Also Webbstre the owner of Runic Game Fansite is hosting many mods freely and is the biggest Torchlight 1 and 2 mod repository. Early in development Salan saw that mods were conflicting, this is due to collision with RAW files. He made several topics to help improve compatibility between mods, Salan and I entered in contact to see how could we make our mods compatible and some technical convention were made up so players can both use Synergies and my mod. Later Salan decided to integrate directly my mod into his with my agreement as he saw some mechanisms was useful for him too.

I use the following custom tools :

  • Dat2txt, txt2Dat by cienislaw
  • TLII.Tools by MazeXD
  • torch2packer by Fgaaghf
  • TL2 Layout Editor by Sluggington

Other programs that I use :

  • Notepad++
  • Paint.NET

Notepad++ is really useful when using multiple text files.

Epoch: I use all the custom tools Salan and KelinTor have listed, but I spend about 99% of my time sitting in notepad staring at code all day.

 

Incgamers: Yeah the talent one can find out there and also develop can be amazing with the right game, freedom and tools. Salan, as a modder and on your forums, we’ve noticed you’ve stayed away from donations may we ask why? @All: Do you think Kickstarter might be a place to get funding for large mods if legal issues could be worked out with dev’s or even partnered with? I’m sure there are more hurdles though.

Salan: To be honest, I would love to be paid for this work. I would even go so far as to look into a change of employment if I could go that route. It’s something I truly love doing but I didn’t want to make the mod about payment at the start. I’ve had a lot of questions about where is my donation box. A lot, actually. The amount of time I spend making this mod is incalculable. I have a family, I work, and when my kids go to bed, I generally try to mod, or spend some quality time with the misses. Can’t have her emotional outrages be about anything OTHER than being killed by insanely fun encounters, right?

I have times where I have an empty house and I get a lot done. Times where my house is full and I don’t get anytime to do anything. Family is first, even if I sneak away to read a forum thread here or there! My wife is the biggest pusher for me to justify my time by earning something by doing it. To me the creation and community is so far payment enough. Websites aren’t free though. So who knows if I’ll decide differently in the future or not.

Kelintor: It’s a good crowd-funding system but applying it to large mods would be difficult. Large mods require a solid team with a good cohesion and targeting the same goal, there is often dissension between team members which often result in project failure.

Epoch: Who wouldn’t want to get paid for their massive time investments? It’s not really my place to establish this system nor do I have the motivation to pursue it, though. For now, I’m happy just pushing the limits of my creativity and ability to mod every day.

Incgamers: Spoken like true modders. Note, creating wife emotional outrages are fun! Where do you see the TL2 modding community now and in a few years time?

Salan: My goal with SynerigesMOD has always been very well stated. I want to push this mod to the top. I didn’t invest the time I have already to let it die like so many other mods we love. I will continue expanding it in every shape and form. I will continue supporting it and its community.

In a few years I suspect we will have a ton of new classes to enjoy, at least 2 new acts of overreaching story that connects all the current content and all the future content in a story that is hopefully enjoyable, inclusive and allows players to stay within the same difficulty setting throughout their play time condensing the fragmentation of the player base by removing the need of different NG levels.

I also expect that my view point of making the mod alone will likely change. Kelintor’s work has coincided directly with mine at times, but in most cases I have added around his work but without his base work there are definitely things in Synergies that would not be there. He has helped me through hurdles I didn’t know existed until after I was past them.

Kelintor: Many talented modders awaits Guts to be released, Torchlight 2 can be modded extensively without any coding knowledge and I’m sure we’ll see interesting mods emerging more and more, diversity is key to success and longevity and Torchlight 2 is offering us the tools to realize it.

Epoch: The ability to mod Torchlight 2 causes limitless potential. Once the development tools are released, there will be a massive flood of creativity.

Retexturing by AttackGorrilla At TeamTorcher shows the depth of the community over at Torchlight 2

Retexturing by AttackGorrilla At TeamTorcher shows the depth of the community over at Torchlight 2

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