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Latest from the Team

Torchlight II
Posted on May 12, 2014


Hey, everyone! Brian Ward here, your humble servant and Community Manager. This is the first in a series of Runic Q&A sessions. Today I sat down with our QA Lead Jason Lamb in order to find out a little bit more about him.

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Tell us who you are and what you do at Runic Games.

I'm Jason Lamb, the QA Lead, or QA Manager if you consult my business card and I manage a couple of full time testers here. I create test plans and tasks related to testing the game as well as the regular old testing job that I expect of my employees.

Do you guys get to play video games all day long?

No. laughter

How did you start in the video game industry? How did you get to where you are here? Did you go to school for this?

I actually had taken the MCSE and I was planning on finding a job as a network administrator. After about six months of doing that—of looking for a job—I couldn't find anything. I had a friend who worked at an educational software company that would make games and software based on different curriculums from around the country. My friend there was a tester. He spoke to his lead; I interviewed, and got the job. That's how I got started in software quality assurance. It was definitely never my intent to work in the games industry. It never even crossed my mind.

Then, I think my next job was at a larger game company and basically I was an online snitch. It was kind of half-QA, where you would test post-release patches and fixes, but you would mostly hang out in multiplayer lobbies and make sure that everybody was adhering to their user agreement.

Kind of community moderation?

Right. It was community moderation, except you would kind of go in—that job I think more than any job I've ever had was definitely playing games. I mean, you had a job, but if you were playing something like a racing game you would go into a match and actually play it with them. You know, and listen to voice chat and stuff like that and just pop in and out of different games. I think you had three or four games assigned to you on any given day. If it was a new release then it was just one and you were expected to do that one all day.

You'd also look for things, like people who glitched, and you would try to recreate the way that they would glitch. If somebody could scoot themselves inside of the collision of a wall and were able to snipe players that way but not the other way around you had to try to figure that out so they could patch it. It definitely helped that I had QA experience for that job.

I was really into Everquest when I was younger—late 90s, early aughts or whatever—and I noticed that there was a position for QA at Sony Online Entertainment and when I went there. It turns out it was for Everquest II, so I worked there for a little while. It was a cool experience to work on an MMO.

How did you like working in a larger company? How does it differ from working at a small company? Do you prefer one over the other?

I prefer the necessity of structure at a larger company, because when you have hundreds if not thousands of employees—Sony Pictures I think owned them at the time—the only way to keep everybody in line to make sure that it's efficient is to have really, really strict rules that were not open to interpretation. At the same time, it didn't allow you any sort of personal freedoms. You could never be late for work or lunch even by a few minutes or you'd get docked—it came down to having a policy for the color for formatting a specific word in a spreadsheet. If you left one word black when it was supposed to be red, you'd get in trouble for that.

Those were my first two game jobs.

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And then you joined Runic when about? Was it right at the beginning? Were you at Flagship?

I actually started at Flagship. I wanna say it was in '08 or something like that. Man that was a long time ago. laughter '08 or '09, I can't even remember now, but it was towards the end of the year and we were working on Mythos. We were the red-headed stepchild of Flagship Studios up here in Seattle—we were kind of like the satellite team. When Flagship folded, I did some work at another large studio as a temp for a while.

After going in and out of various contracts then Runic formed and I got my old job back as a tester. Eventually, the test lead went on to other things after Torchlight, and I stepped up and took on the position for the Xbox 360 port and then Torchlight II.

Are you playing any particular games right now that you enjoy?

I am horribly addicted to Dark Souls II right now for PC.

Do you consider yourself a PC gamer, or a mobile gamer, or a console gamer?

I used to consider myself a PC gamer when I actually did consider myself a gamer, because I took like a huge ten year break from games.

After working in the industry for a while I was like "maybe I should keep up with gaming and see what that's about" and I went out and bought a PlayStation 3 like four or five years ago, which I never would have done had I not been influenced by the industry. I skipped over the entirety of the PlayStation 2/Xbox generation of consoles. I can definitely say I'm of a more hardcore gamer persuasion now.

So back to what your original question was, I would say yeah. I would say I was definitely more of a PC gamer. I always had one and I always had one that was capable of playing games whenever I dabbled. I remember Oblivion being one of the few games I actually played at the time.

So you like Oblivion. I, of course, love Skyrim. Do you have a favorite game? If you could take it to a deserted island with an endless, self-sustaining power supply and play it on a computer, what would it be?

My absolute favorite game is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for PlayStation 1. I just love the level design, the music, the artwork, the really terrible voice acting. Just the sort of freeform progression: how you could have an easier time getting through an area if you got one item, but you could still get through it even if you didn't have it. Or you could go back and re-explore places now that you had a different item and unlock certain puzzles and it's really cool. I've beaten that game so many different times, but I keep coming back to it every couple of years.

It's probably what I love about Dark Souls II, even though it's way harder.

Obligatory food question. You have a favorite food?

I have a favorite type of food. I love Indian food of almost every variety that I can find, at least in the US as I've never been to India, but at least whatever has been considered palatable for US tastes I love Indian food

What's your drink of choice?

I would say whiskey. Not bottom shelf, but anything above bottom shelf I could probably tolerate. I also feel like there's no such thing as a bad scotch, even if you get like a crappy scotch cheap-o blend.

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On a level of sober to wasted, how busy are you right now?

I would say comfortably buzzed.


Torchlight II
Posted on March 26, 2014

Torchlight II Merch!

Some big changes are happening for Runic Games. Here are Travis Baldree and Max Schaefer, in their own words:

Travis Baldree:

I have a little something I'd like to share. It is with the strangest mixture of elation, fondness, fear, and bitter-sweetness that I'm announcing my departure from Runic Games, a company which I co-founded nearly six years ago, and have led as its President and lead engineer ever since.

I should say from the outset that this is an amicable departure, that I consider the amazing team at Runic my friends and family, and that it is a privilege that they've let me get away with running the place for this long. I love them all, and the biggest downside to all of this is that I won't get to see them every day. They are the reason that Runic has succeeded, and are the best group of people you could hope to meet or work with.

I feel more than confident in their ability to continue to excel, drawing on all of their collective talent. I'm excited for the world to see the project they are working on now, and I know it will be spectacular when you get to play it for yourselves.

I'd also like to thank Perfect World, who have been the best partner Runic Games could have hoped to find, and have been unfailingly supportive of us over the years, no matter how many curveballs I have thrown their way. It's my wish that I can maintain a great relationship with you all going forward.

Erich Schaefer, my friend and fellow Runic co-founder, will be departing Runic as well as my equal partner. I'm so gratified to be able to continue working with him.

I'm personally excited - oh, hell, I'm SUPER-STOKED - to be getting back to smaller-scale development, where I can wear many, many hats performing many, many different kinds of tasks. Working within the boundaries of limited means and resources is the best fun I've ever had, and that sort of work satisfies me in a fundamental way - I can't wait to be working that way again.

To those of you who have played our games, interacted with us on our forums, met us at trade-shows, and Tweeted/Facebooked/social-media'ed with us over the years, I want to thank you all. You have helped to make this a rewarding journey for me, and I hope the same holds true for you.

April 2nd will be my last day at Runic, as I tie up some last technical tasks for the team, and then it's on to the next thing! I hope to see you all again soon, online, or maybe at one of those trade-shows.

Okay, if this goes on too much longer I'm gonna burst into tears-

Don't be a stranger!


p.s. If you're used to emailing me at Runic, in the future, you can get hold of me at

Max Schaefer:

Hello Runic fans,

Yes, it's true. Our beloved President and lead key-masher, Travis Baldree, is leaving us, as is Erich Schaefer, my brother and long-time biz partner. As Travis said in his statement, this is a perfectly amicable parting, and we wish them nothing but the best in their new endeavor. I'm sure we'll all be watching and waiting for what they make next. It's sure to be wonderful.

Meanwhile, the rest of us here at Runic are excited to move on and continue to work on this crazy, cool, completely secret project we've been working on. We're champing at the bit to talk about it, but will wait until we're ready to show it off. Travis' right-hand man for over ten years, Marsh Lefler, has seamlessly moved into the lead chair at Runic, and after we've sent Travis and Erich off in a bourbon-fueled celebration/wake, you'll find that Marsh is more than capable of taking the reins, and the other 20-something Runic members all eager and able to pull the extra weight. Change is scary, but it's often good. And this is healthy for both Runic, and Travis and Erich.

From all of us at Runic Games, we thank Travis and Erich for the incredible body of work they leave behind, for the legacy that they left with us, and for making Runic Games what it is today. Best of luck to both of them in their new crazy downsizing scheme, but they won't need it. They will do just fine, as they always have. And to all of you out there, thank you for supporting us, and continuing to support us as we move into a future full of unknowns, excitement, adventure, and most of all, great games!

Best regards,

Max Schaefer CEO, Runic Games

Like Max said, good things are ahead for all of us. We all love Travis and Erich and can't wait to see what they create - and we can't wait to share what we're working on, too!

Here's the announcement on our forums.

Torchlight II
Posted on February 13, 2014

You asked for it, and now it's finally here: Torchlight II merch! Will you rep the warlike Engineer, the arcane Embermage, an Outlander trickster, howl at the frozen moon as a Berserker, or embrace all four classes? Choose your own path and honor your favorite character in our brand new T-shirts, in both men's and women's styles.

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In addition, we are offering a super limited, signed art print that you won't find anywhere else. There are only 100 available, so they will go fast! This unreleased artwork from Torchlight II is available on a first come first serve basis. This print is concept art of our Berserker. We love it and are proud to be able to share it with you now!

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This is a new venture for us based on your suggestions, and we are excited about these custom designs. These are the same T-shirts we own, and we hope you like them as much as we do!

Check out the Torchlight II Merch Store!