The Diablo 3 Podcast #100: Josh Mosqueira and Wyatt Cheng Interview Transcript, Part I


Flux talks with Diablo 3 lead developers Wyatt Cheng and Josh Mosqueira. Topics include end game console testing, the potential removal of Hell difficulty, UI changes, economic issues, and much more. (see full transcript after the break)



This is the just the first half of our interview with Diablo 3 developers Wyatt Cheng and Josh Mosqueira. The second half will be posted tomorrow. Here’s an excerpt when Wyatt threw out something new and surprising; click through to see the full transcript.

Wyatt Cheng: Can I use this opportunity to hint at a completely different feature that’s related?

Flux: Go for it.

Wyatt Cheng: We were looking at what happens when you run out of resource. Another complaint that’s in the same vein is when you’re playing a Witch Doctor and spamming say, Zombie Bears, or casting spells with a wizard at a range, and sometimes when I run out of resource I’ll automatically walk into melee range. And people say that’s stupid, it should just do nothing instead.

But we don’t want you just to stand there doing nothing. To make a long story short, we’re testing internally if I spam spells and run out of resource, it will default to a free skill. So if I’m a Barbarian and I run out of Fury using Seismic Slam, instead of doing nothing or basic attack, it will do Bash, Cleave, or Frenzy, if that’s on the bar.

Again, if a Wizard is using Energy Twister and runs out of resource, instead of swinging a sword or throwing a wand, it will cast Magic Missile, Charged Bolt, etc. Any signature skill on the hot bar. The game actually checks to see if you have those skills and uses that instead.

Click through for the usual podcast info, the mp3 link, plus a full typed transcript of part one of this show. Part two can be seen here.

The Diablo 3 Podcast Episode Guide in DiabloWiki.net provides links to every show, plus quick summaries.

 

Josh Mosqueira and Wyatt Cheng Interview, Part One

Here’s part one of the interview. Since there’s an audio version of this podcast that does contain every word, this typed Wall of Text is not a word-for-word transcript. It’s usually quoting directly, but doesn’t include every bit of throat-clearing and crosstalk, for easier absorption and quotage.

BTW, the “eight hours” mention right at the start is in no way an exaggeration. I type up notes and questions and topics for conversation for every podcast, and by now I can estimate pretty well how long the conversation is going to go, based on the topics and notes in advance. I had something like 120 good questions, whittled that down to 45 or so, and got through 20-25 of those during the actual 60 minute conversation with Josh and Wyatt, and we could have happily gone 120 minutes on those same questions, since I had a ton of follow ups and redirects I wanted to dive into, but bit off in order to cover a wider-variety of topics. That said, I did follow up a few times, since it drives me crazy when someone does an interview, gets a partial answer, and then just rolls to the next question on the list.

Flux: Hi guys. Good to talk to you today. I’ve got about 8 hours of questions and we’ve got 60 minutes, so while I’d love to go really in depth on some topics, with our limited time today I’m going to try to cover a lot of areas that the fans are most curious about, and the questions will jump around a bit.

Fortunately, I know you guys eat, drink, sleep, and breath Diablo 3, so you’re ready to roll. Also, this is actually going to be our 100th episode of the Diablo Podcast, so nice timing on that.

Josh Mosqueira: Oh wow!

Flux: With any luck it’ll be before #200 when I talk to you again, but we’ll see how that goes.

Blizzard: *laughter*

Head D3 CM Lylirra is in the room as well, and though I talked to her while we were setting up the recording, she doesn’t actually speak on mic during this interview. You can hear her a few times though, laughing in the background. Just FYI, if you were wondering why either Josh or Wyatt seem to laugh with a woman’s voice from time to time.

 

Flux: One of the most popular fan requests is for an open world, or bottomless dungeon, or more level layout variety, new ways for the jigsaw pieces to fit together, etc. Can you guys say anything about plans on that besides, “We’re thinking about that.”

Josh Mosqueira: “We’re really thinking about it?”

Flux: That’s great Josh. Thanks.

Josh Mosqueira: *laughs*

Wyatt Cheng: Josh alluded to something which is when we say, “we’re thinking about it.” that can be taken in a lot of ways.

Flux: That means you’re *really* working on it.

I didn’t mention it during the interview for time reasons, but I wrote a whole paragraph stressing this point in my Mega Fansite Summit article, since Lylirra spoke about it then and I thought it was a useful point to stress that point to the community. Scroll down that article to the “Talk Isn’t Just Talk” header.

 


Wyatt Cheng: Yeah. It’s not meant to be a dismissive, oh, that’s a nice idea, maybe someday we’ll actually work on it. It’s *not* that at all.

2:00 — We like the idea, the intent of what people want. There are implementation details that can make things difficult. For example, I’ll put that out front. We started looking at endless dungeons… and we prototyped endless dungeons internally, and we found um.. a really quick way for us to prototype it is just to increase the monster power every time you clear a dungeon level, well how far can you get?

What happens is players start… like it drives you into starting gameplay styles. We saw this some at release, where maybe you make a super tanky defensive build, which is effective, but not very funto play. Yeah, I can beat something, but it took sixty minutes of kiting. Which is really fun and exciting the first time you do it, but isn’t something we really want to encourage people to do en masse.

But I think that the idea that there is greater challenge out there is cool. I think the idea of I want to test my character is cool. I think the idea of this game is too easy and I would like a great challenge is cool. So the desire behind those is cool, but the design of a dungeon, where every level is progressively more difficult, we found didn’t work.

3:50 — Josh Mosqueira: The core of what Wyatt was saying now is… all those things you mentioned in the question, they’re things we’re thinking about. To be specific without necessarily getting into the details, I absolutey think that the intentions of providing players with more ways to play the game… for me that’s a key pillar of taking Diablo to the next step. And the concept of an end game for everyone.

For us to really articulate that, we’ve been thinking and prototyping as many different vehicles of gameplay that will allow all our players to find something interesting to do and to constantly shift their objectives as they play the game.

Flux: You guys have talked about what is the core of people’s request. When people say “endless dungeons” what do they really want? For instance, they mean that they want something to do other than fifty-seven more Alkaizer Runs. Or whatever we’re calling what we all do now in Act One. One of the things I’m really missing myself is more different layouts of levels.

We get some rose-tinted glasses about Diablo 2’s levels which were just big squares with different walls in the middle. And then we get Diablo 3’s which are big not-squares with different chunks in the middle. I think people just want to see different… it’s just so familiar now, you’re running through most of the areas now and you’ve seen it before. People just want new layouts and new random jigsaw puzzle pieces, and I guess that’s just really hard to do with the way the random dungeon layouts work?

Wyatt Cheng: Yeah… More is better. When it comes to level variety. As long as the quality is high. So yeah, I would fully expect that more would be better… not always, but when it comes to variety of level designs in a randomly-generated world? Yeah.

5:55 — Flux: Something interesting, if you go back and look at the earlier Diablo 3 gameplay videos… People still harken back to that very first one, with Jay Wilson narrating from WWI 2008, but other more recent ones show levels in the game now, such as the Act One Cathedral, and it’s weird to watch them and see the level layouts are totally different. Just the way the big pieces connect together, and after seeing how the game looks now so many times, those old ones seem fresh and different. That’s a fairly small thing, but players want that kind of variety.

The same thing with different monsters in different areas. Diablo 2 had the whole thing with Guest Monsters (eventually), but in Diablo 3 you know exactly the kind of monsters you’ll see in every level, and there’s very little variety. Might we see more variety in monsters in areas in the future?

Josh Mosqueira: Yeah, I think it’s um. One of the things we’ve been focusing on a lot, is how can we change up the formula a bit. So you’re looking at the Cathedral, is there anything we can do to change up the lighting or the monsters from the last time you were in there, to give it a different feel? We want to create a framework around the way we can power these changes and present them to the player. Replayability to us is a really big pillar, but we’re going to keep hammering on it and try to really live up to that.

7:30 — Flux: One of the things I’m doing in this interview is indulging some of my pet peeves, since I have two of the lead Diablo 3 developers trapped in a room for an hour. For the first example, four difficulty levels feels really redundant. It’s no fun to get through Normal and Nightmare and you’re level 50ish and all you want to do is get to 60, and you’re looking at grinding through a whole additional difficulty level just to get there before the real game starts.

My suggestion is that when you add another Act (or whatever) in the expansion, you rejigger the experience progression in a bit of Diablo 2 style, so that characters hit level 60 after two difficulty levels and then go right into the end game in Inferno.

Josh Mosqueira: Ahh… you know, that’s a great question and something we’ve been wrestling with internally as well. To answer the question with the question, when it comes to that aspect of the Diablo formula, how much can we change before we end up pissing everyone off and going back to where we were in the past. So you mentioned going back to the way it was in Diablo 2 and it was two runs and then end game after that… it comes out to trying to figure the right balance of change vs. keeping close to the roots.

Flux: I don’t in any way hold that Diablo 2 was the greatest game of all time, and I’m open to change. But at this point in Diablo 3 I think that 3 difficulty levels before the end game starts feels redundant. I’m playing Hardcore too, so I actually have to reroll. Regularly, unfortunately.

Josh Mosqueira: One of the things I’ve found an interesting quirk about Diablo in general, but specifically about Diablo 3, is that at the heart of it you have a game and a game engine that is based around procedurally generating random monsters in random areas. Which is great, but by the same token, we constrain that awesome potential by forcing players to replay the same series of acts and quests and levels over and over again. It’s like being stuck in this weird version of Groundhog Day, where the sets keep changing, but the movie stays the same.

I think one of the things I really want to see moving forward is how can we change up that formula moving forward. How can we put the players in the driver’s seat, instead of the story being in the driver’s seat.

Wyatt Cheng: A related question to that is, 1-30 the first time through normal is interesting, maybe the first time because of the story. maybe the 2nd time through it’s a different class and you’re doing different skills. Maybe the pacing feels right. maybe it’s even interesting further down since the challenge holds up and your loot/reward acquisition rate stays high and feels right.

But then kind of like what you’re saying, I don’t know if it’s specifically NM and Hell that’s the issue. More that you really want to get to Inferno and you’ve got a long road ahead of you and it’s very predictable and very much the same. Another question for us to ask ourselves is, what makes the destination so much more interesting than the journey? Can we make the journey appealing as well? If not, then maybe we should just move the destination closer.

Flux: Now we have 1-30, 31-50, 51-60 is kind of the ideal progression. And if you add a whole nother act, then maybe you can change the progression. I wrote a whole article called Beware of the Fearsome Fifties a few weeks ago so the issue has been in my head lately.

Just to mention what you were asking about Wyatt, the gear game really starts at 60, and moving from 59 to 60 is like entering the golden streets of Heaven. You instantly get a huge upgrade to your EHP, Critical hit, Critical damage, resistances, Attack speed, etc. In my experience there’s a huge difference between 50 to 60 vs. 40 to 50, or any of the other decades.

I didn’t do a great job arguing the point live on the podcast, but it’s better presented in the 50s article, and we talked about it near the start of The Diablo 3 Podcast #96.

 

12:50 — Wyatt Cheng: Yeah. I think, for me I have a definition of what it means to be “grinding” in a game. I define grinding as when a player is heavily fixated on a long term goal which might be 8, 10, 15, hours away, with nothing interesting happening in the short term. And that definition seems to hold up when I hear other people talking about grinding in games. And that’s kind of what you were alluding to, where 51-59 you’re just thinking about level 60 the whole time. So I think… I agree. We should address that. How do we address that?

Josh was alluding to different modes, different ways to play, different ways to experience the game. I think there are a lot of different takes on it, but I do think there is a core problem there.

Flux: I put up a vote a few days ago, asking about rushing. If people thought it should be easier or harder. Looking at the results now, 46% said it’s fine, and 26% said there should be an instant Inferno/Level 60 button. So… it’s hard to meet both goals in that, which is why making games is hard.

Wyatt Cheng: Do you enjoy twinking your characters?

Flux: That’s another aspect of the whole thing. You can really boost your experience gain, but especially your damage with rubies in your weapon. Those in Normal and Nightmare make a huge difference, but once you’re up to 52 or something, and you’ve got like a 600 DPS reduced level requirement weapon, the Ruby makes no real difference. so you can turbo yourself really well through Normal and Nightmare, but once you’re into Hell that slows down a lot also.

Wyatt Cheng: I feel similarly about Twinking. It’s really cool what you mentioned about the reduced level req thing. And there’s something really sweet about reaching level 48 and putting on a really sweet reduced level weapon. There’s a feeling of power and Diablo definitely lets you feel really awesome some times.

Flux: My next pet peeve. The controls. I want to map default attack and click to open chests/doors on the left click, and not waste a main skill on that. My main char of late is a Monk, and it really sucks to put your main attack on the left click, since it doesn’t do automatic target acquisition, you have to click constantly, you pick up tons of junk since there’s no /nopickup option in the game.

I want to put that main skill on the right click, but you have to have something on the left click. You can’t do a build that has 5 buffs, debuffs, auras, etc, with just one attack skill, unless that attack skill is on the left click. I want that on the right click. So please make it happen.

Wyatt Cheng: I had the same problem the other day. I was playing my Monk with a pretty cookie cutter Sweeping Wind/Fists of Thunder build.

Flux: That’s my build also.

Wyatt Cheng: I put my Fists of Thunder on the 4 key since I could hold that down, and I put Lashing Tail Kick on the left click. Someone asked me why, and I said since it’s the one that annoys me the least if I click it by accident. So I definitely feel your pain, but um… we are… I don’t have an answer for you right now.

Can I use this opportunity to hint at a completely different features that’s related?

Flux: Go for it.

Wyatt Cheng: We were looking at what happens when you run out of resource. Another complaint that’s in the same vein is when you’re playing a Witch Doctor and spamming say, Zombie Bears, or casting spells with a wizard at a range, and sometimes when I run out of resource I’ll automatically walk into melee range. And people say that’s stupid, it should just do nothing instead.

But we don’t want you just to stand there doing nothing. To make a long story short, we’re testing internally if I spam spells and run out of resource, it will default to a free skill. So if I’m a Barbarian and I run out of Fury using Seismic Slam, instead of doing nothing or basic attack, it will do Bash, Cleave, or Frenzy, if that’s on the bar.

Again, if a Wizard is using Energy Twister and runs out of resource, instead of swinging a sword or throwing a wand, it will cast Magic Missile, Charged Bolt, etc. Any signature skill on the hot bar. The game actually checks to see if you have those skills and uses that instead.

So that’s something we’re testing, and it’s working pretty well. It does have a weirdness with the Witch Doctor where it’s like, Did you really want to cast this other spell? So we’re evaluating it.

Flux: But as you know, it’s actually impossible to ever run out of resource with a Wizard or Barbarian in Diablo 3. Since they’re grotesquely overpowered and the easiest characters to play in the history of video gaming. Right?

Wyatt Cheng: Oh yes. In the entire history of video games. And will ever be made.

Josh Mosqueira: Yes, in the future also!

Flux: *laughs* Yes, you’ve staked out a claim in advance.

19:40 — Okay, one question that Xanth insisted I ask. Social features were greatly improved in v1.08, but a lot of players still want to create public games, create names games, make passwords, etc. Would you guys ever consider that?

Josh Mosqueira: It’s funny, we just finished a meeting discussing the future of matchmaking. Specifically going back to wher matchmaking was in the early 2000s… I think we want to take the intentions. The reason people were using custom names, we want to give players as many tools at their disposal to actively and passively broadcast their intentions, so our matchmaking system can better do it’s job in connecting players.

Wyatt Cheng: Yeah, this is something that I see come up in the community a lot, so to be a little bit candid about matchmaking… The reason we don’t like custom games is that our audience has grown too large. Custom games works well if you have say, 50 people looking for a game. You’ve got games for Act 2 runs, or this other guy is trying to do another side option.

But once the number of players looking for a game grows very large, the problem is games are already full. How many times have you played an FPS and you say, Here’s a great server to join, but by the time you double click the sever is full.

Abstractly it’s kind of like the commodities problem. Bear with me on this analogy, but In WoW, if I want to buy linen cloth on the auction house, I sort by price, and I go to buy the cheapest linen but oh, it’s gone! So I have to search for the next cheapest but it’s gone also. And that kind of still works in WoW since they have servers, but if they had one giant auction house for all WoW players, like 99% of the players would find every auction gone already. So that’s why we did the AH for Diablo we’re not going to make you click on stacks of commodities and buy them. So we set up a commodities market so you went to a central location and made sure that when you went to buy you didn’t have that negative experience.

I know that’s a little bit abstract, but to bring that back to matchmaking, the problem is the same at the core. Lots of people want to play, but players don’t know that when you’ve got thousands of people going in and out of games, you actually need an automated matchmaker to get you into games together.

To bring it back to what Josh was saying, there’s still a core desire. People ask for it because, although we were trying to solve this racing to join games issue, we introduced a new problem that you can’t specify the types of games you want. We can’t just go back to where we were with custom games, we have to say that the old approach wouldn’t work, but the new approach has problems as well. So what can we do to address and solve both problems? Players wanting to specify the game they want to play, and also the problem of so many people trying to join games at the same time.

Did that all make sense?

Flux: Yes. And Lylirra, next time Xanth tweets you about that, just tell him what Wyatt said! That’ll fit into 140 characters no problem.

Wyatt Cheng: *laugher* Sorry for the long answer. I see it discussed a lot and it’s kind of a hard topic to really dig into, and not something I’d really talk about on the forums, though maybe it’s worth making something more succinct?

Flux: Yeah, I get it. I think there’s some rose-tinted glasses in the requests for named games, since people remember the good points of Diablo game naming. I used to be part of this Good Morning Group of hardcore players in the Diablo 2 strategy forum on my website, and we had a few games of the same name that were almost always available. You’d log in those days before Battle.net had real friends lists and you’d just type in the game name and password and it was usually there and you’d see people you knew.

That was the Diablo 2 style where more players in the game was necessary for more experience, and in the open world style of that game half the people could be in Act 1, half in Act 3, and you’d all play together happily. And that’s just not how Diablo 3 works, so I don’t really get the nostalgia for game naming, but it was a popular suggestion so I served as the voice of it.

Josh Mosqueira: Okay.

25:00 — Flux: Okay, next question!

I’ve got a bunch of economy questions… Lemme pick one… Console related.

I enjoyed playing the Diablo console when I visited Blizzard a couple of weeks ago, but not so much that I’m going to go out and buy an Xbox or PS3 just for this game. But many players are very curious about how the economy will work. There’s no Auction House and there’s the idea of fewer rares but better quality rares.

One of the things I asked the console team when I was there visiting, was how confident they were of the economy and progression? How much testing had they done of the end game, the progression, etc? As we remember, there were unfortunate problems with Diablo 3 when it first launched in terms of the item game and economy in Inferno. Players called it the “gear check” wall. How confident are you guys that the Diablo console won’t have that problem, and how much of the console economy, item drop, no-AH is sort of a testing ground for what you might be doing on the PC version in the future?

Josh Mosqueira: To answer the first part of that question, one of the advantages we had when we started working on the console economy, is that we got to see the evolution of the base PC game from launch on up through the patches. Especially the hanges in v1.05, v1.06, and v1.07. So we got to really benefit from the lessons and a lot of the great fixes that Wyatt and the rest of the designers put into the game. So it’s not like we were starting from the same version of Diablo that shipped.

27:15 — So we had that advantage. We also did extensive testing on two fronts. We have what’s called our User Experience Group. Which is a sub-team within the QA department. They’re all expert players and they were playing the console for weeks specifically looking at this issue. To see if we’re running into any brick walls, if we’re dropping the right things.. they helped to identify a number of things that we had time to address and look at.

We also had our internal Strike Team, these are just other senior designers and devs across Blizzard and I think at the beginning they were really focused on the core initial experience, but the last copule of months their whole focus was on the end game and making sure that once players got to level 60 and beyond they had the right balance of items and such. In addition to that, I think there are a few mechanic things… making sure the recipes and item sales were beefed up for both the vendors and the blacksmiths. If you’re not finding it you’re going to be able to make it or buy it.

The last few months this was a big issue in testing for Jason Bender, and myself, and Matthew Berger. We wanted to make sure we didn’t run into the same problems. The philosophy is that players are going to get fewer items, so we have to make sure they’re the right items.

Flux: And is this all a nefarious test to see how this will work in Diablo 3 in two years?

Josh Mosqueira: *laughs* I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s nefarious, but I think it’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is… comparing the closed ecosystem of the console to the open ecosystem that is the PC, and there will be interesting lessons learned both ways. As with most Blizzard games, it’s a living process, and we’ll see what comes out and the good and the bad and make adjustments.

Flux: How much of the fact that there’s no Auction House in the console was technical issues due to the lack of secure B.net servers and the issues of console insecure character storage and potential duping — and how much was philosophical and ideological of not wanting an Auction House in the console.

Josh Mosqueira: That’s um… the technical requirements were pretty large factoring into the decision. The fact that such a high percentage of current gen consoles aren’t on the internet meant that there was very little we could do to make sure players were playing nice and not doing something they weren’t meant to be doing. Definitely, the technical was a motivating part of the argument for no Auction House on the console.

Flux: But you were probably curious about how it would work without an Auction House, right? Everything you just said about testing the economy in a close system vs. an open system.

Josh Mosqueira: Yeah, for sure. We first started having those conversations from a technical standpoint, but we eventually saw the interesting by-product of it, was that it created a closed ecosystem so we could see how the economy would sort of evolve and mature without the influence of the Auction House.

Thus ends part one. The second half of the interview will be posted tomorrow, with topics including Ironborn mode, item binding and economy fixes via the Mystic, Legendary item improvements, Demon Hunter hardcore issues, purple monster fixes, and much more.

Comments

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  1. Great article, waiting for rest. Good job Flux!

  2. I can imagine how Flux could spend a whole day chatting with the devs about Diablo 3 and not be satisfied:)

    So far the best interview out there, good job.

  3. Look, the one thing i need to get me back to D3 again is a proper NO-AH mode, that’s all.

    I’d also prefer it being added to the game before my interest in D3 has completely dried up into a shriveled husk, crumbled apart into a pile of dust, and been carried away by the winds of time into the faraway lands of forgotten games.

    • if you dont want AH…

      step 1- dont use AH
      2- ????
      3- goal accomplished?

      • It’s not really that simple since the designers have to take into account the AH when they figure drop rates for items. Especially when the game shipped, you were lucky to find 1 legendary per month, even if you played several hours each day. So even if you don’t use the AH, your loot drops are impacted.

        Another example: I’m well over 1,000 hours played at this point and I’ve never found a legendary crafting plan.

        • What Aazhmadius said, plus, I like public games, I like jumping into other people’s games or having them jump into mine, and if they’re super-powerful AH characters, I either get carried or have to leave. And not knowing if they’re AH or not, having to either judge for myself or go by their word, is also frustrating.

          I don’t see a self-found mode as necessary, but if they installed it, I would probably play it. Especially if they allow more character slots per account to allow for it.

          • And how is that in any way different than D2 trading?

          • @ z23 – I would assume a self found mode, as Flux has said before, would probably need to require the impossibility of trade, not just an AH-free environment.

            Basically, everything that ever drops, ever, is BoA…and no linked stash, gold, or crafting between characters.

            I don’t play self found, but if they made a mode like that, I probably would.

          • You didn’t answer the question. How is joining games with people who have used the auction house any different than joining games in D2 where people have traded?

          • @z23 – Did I say it was? Does it matter? What does D2 have to do with anything? I don’t understand the point of your question.

            If they make a ‘self found mode’, it should be different from D2 in that trades shouldn’t be allowed at all. This makes D2’s system no longer relevant, so I have no idea why you’re mentioning it at all, but to attempt to answer your question:

            The D2 system of trade was significantly harder to pull off than Diablo 3’s AH. Also, the rarity of extremely good gear combined with the ease of getting it via the AH creates a huge disparity between AH and non-AH characters that wasn’t seen in Diablo 2. Yes, you could find a good item and trade for it in D2, but not nearly as easily or with as big a gain as you can in D3. D2’s system was often based on ‘trading’ and not really buying with gold. So essentially, you still had to find a good item, to get a good item. You just traded an item that wasn’t particularly good for you, for an item that was. Using gold really wasn’t an option. Also, while you COULD buy with real-life money, doing so could get you scammed, or banned, or both. It is incredibly easier to buy D3 items with real money than it is in D2, where you are guaranteed to not get scammed or banned for doing so.

            Does that answer your question? D3 trading is extremely different from D2 trading. But all of that isn’t really relevant because I never said anything like ‘self found should be more like D2 trading’ or whatever.

            When it comes to a self found mode, D3’s AH is the worst, and D2’s system was also bad, but not as bad because it didn’t have the ease of the AH. You act like I consider D2 to be a good example of ‘self found mode’…it isn’t.

        • The devs have said the drop rates were tuned for a player who would never use the AH, so yes, it really is that simple.

          • They did “say” that but their drop calculations were terrible especially at release, they’ve had to reiterate them numerous times. The drop quality not the drop rates are so terrible that high drop rates do not make a difference, the drop quality is awful beyond belief.

          • Rubbish. 0-60 they tuned for self found. 60+ they took into consideration the AH. The Devs have mentioned this many times. Why do people keep arguing this? The Devs have said the drop rate was tuned with the AH in mind. Need further proof??? Actually play self found its obvious.

          • @ShadowMatrix: Correct, but the conclusion to draw from that is that any noticable improvement in overall drops would come from the itemization overhaul that fixes quality, not the self-found mode itself.

            @ Lorderan: I keep arguing this because a lot of people seem to think drop rates were only bad because of the AH (which they aren’t) and that a self-found mode will magically result in much improved drop rates (it won’t). At most, you’ll see a minor buff like the one you currently see for public games, just to encourage people to play self-found. And yes, I do play self-found and I’ve never touched the AH.

          • @Moonfrost – If you’re going to keep claiming that drops were not tuned for AH, you’re going to have to cite a source. Perhaps a source like this one: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5150764997?page=3#49

            Personally, I don’t care if they buff the drop rate or not with self found mode. When I play a ruleset, I like everyone I play with to be locked into the same ruleset. I don’t plan on playing self found unless they make a mode for it, but if they do, I’d probably play it.

          • @Moonfrost:

            http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5150112701?page=2#33

            Your link refers to how the game was created BEFORE release. This link refers to what they’ve done SINCE the game was released.

            Does it really matter if it wasn’t tuned for AH in-house in alpha? The game is CURRENTLY tuned with the AH in mind.

          • @Thortok2000: The drop rates have gone UP since release, not down. They were increased AFTER Blizzard came to realize how popular the AH was. That’s why it matters how the drop rates were originally balanced, and why the whole “drop rates are bad because of the AH” argument doesn’t carry much weight.

          • Then this is definitely a case of the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

            Bashiok clearly states: “If the AH existed but wasn’t a factor at all into how items dropped/rolled, the economy would be completely tanked within a matter of weeks.”

            It’s kinda hard to reconcile that with the blog you linked. One of the two is just plain wrong.

            I think Wyatt’s main focus in answering the question on the blog was confirming that the myth that drop rates actually fluctuated on a realtime basis based on what was on the AH, which is not true.

            If you look at what Wyatt is literally saying, he doesn’t really explain what the ‘When we say we “took the AH into account,” that means it’s one of many factors’ means.

            Either it was a factor in the drop rates or it wasn’t. He’s basically contradicting himself. What does it mean to take something into account but to tune for a player who never used the AH?

            Basically, that the game would be possible to play self found if you wanted to, (gear strong enough to get you by would drop), so the game IS tuned where a person who never uses the AH would be able to play and complete it…

            BUT he’s basically admitting that the drop rates for the really, really good gear that would make playing extremely easy, (the gear everyone actually wants) were tuned with the AH in mind.

            So, basically, you’re both right. The drops are tuned for self found AND for the AH. Supposedly.

            This is why I don’t care if they keep the same drop rates (which have significantly improved anyway) for self found mode.

            But the AH was a factor when tuning drop rates, and the statement that they were tuned for a player who would never use the AH doesn’t refute that.

        • Drops rates and drop quality are the top 2 reasons I quit. 600 hours of playing, not only did the quantity of set and legendaries suck, when you did manage to find them, 99% were always vendor trash.

          And by the way, the site login is Fubar. I’m Galtrovan not Moonfrost. And no, I didn’t hack Moonfrost’s account.

  4. Nice to seem an interview with actual discussion. Maybe that first Twizzcast one was just terrible.

  5. Great interview Flux. Looking forward to part 2. This has been a long time in the coming! :o)

  6. Great job on the interview, looking forward hearing part II!

  7. Nice interview, please tell me you saved all PvP questions for tomorrow 🙂

  8. [quote]We were looking at what happens when you run out of resource[/quote]

    Why does it take them this long to figure out such basic flaws, this is just like ID all, such a basic screw up that should of been in the initial game release.

    Overall boring questions except the “endless dungeon” bit, but they gave a vague answer. Hopefully part two has something redeeming…

    • You know, I’m not sure, but I think this is an idea that exactly, word for word, I suggested in closed beta. =/

      I was shot down with “just deal with it” when I grew irritated with my Wizard running into melee range all the time.

      I also don’t like the mechanics of Chain Lightning, it works like a right click spell, not like a left click spell. All other left click spells have ‘target lock’ where if you click a target, and hold the button down, all your attacks go there until the target is dead, at which point you either move to where your cursor is or target lock the next enemy, depending on if your cursor is on an enemy or not.

      Chain Lightning, however, works like disintegrate or other right click spells. Click and hold, and you constantly attack your cursor wherever it travels, whether there’s an enemy there or not. No target lock, and no moving unless you release the mouse button and click again. =/ It’s like every time you cast Chain Lightning you get your shift button stuck.

  9. Great interview Flux!
    Really nice to hear the devs talk about stuff that they actually tried, like prototyping an endless dungeon, which, I agree with them, dont think would solve much. I like the idea of monsters not getting locked to their acts and appearing in any part of the game.
    Looking forward for the second part.

  10. Flux, your point/question about the redundancy of Hell and Inferno was a great point. It’s too bad that they didn’t really give a great answer.

    The idea/concept/mentality of inferno sounded amazing during development, but fell flat in reality.

    • I agree. Since inferno is intended as the level 60 endgame difficulty, they could probably solve it by removing the need to quest through inferno.
      Inferno should just be a open or free roam difficulty, once you’ve completed the main Diablo quests of Normal/Nightmare/Hell. Doubt they do it though, since the achievement system is tied into Inferno quests; be nice if it was an available option though.

      Looking forward to part 2!

  11. The out of resource issue is a serious problem for all ranged classes. Its terrible design for wizard and wd, as well as throw or slam barb. It makes ranged classes difficult to play. I really hope they fix this… I don’t understand why this fundamental problem has been left untouched so long.

    • To go further, it’s not just the out of resource scenario, but also misclicks with left mouse with a ranged skill. There really needs to be a way to turn off movement with left mouse, or bind a hotkey to ths left mouse function. I use vault on left click for my dh, not bola because a misclick has me run in to my demise. Hold position key helps some, but it is flawed and clunky to use. Filling inventory with white items is also annoyingwhen you actively left click to kill.

      • Agree completely, but you know that since you heard me advocating the control improvement on the podcast.

        I haven’t played a DH in a while (*sigh* Hardcore) but when I was playing one regularly I usually had attack skills on LMB and RMB, and just got used to hitting Shift almost constantly, clicking it in synch with my left clicks. (I have my hotkeys set to asdf, so shift is full time under my left pinkie.) Which worked okay, but it was obviously sub optimal, compared to just mapping LMB to movement only, and putting all my attack skills on RMB and keyboard hotkeys.

        This vexes me, since if they’d allowed UI mods in D3, some fan would have created one that changed just this one thing on like, May 17th of last year.

  12. the info they give is “meh”.
    What the important thing is is what we’re getting in the expansion. The question is will the expansion give us a better “jigsaw” like zones. They just don’t give us any clue as to where their direction is with this game; it is unnecessary to have this kind of concealment they need to communicate with their fanbase and this whole ambiguous “were talking about it” is not communicating.

  13. I hope the 2nd part is better

    this interview was really disappointing

    first the ridiculous idea of having the game automatically select a skill and execute it for you when you’re out of resource is horrible

    then when Flux pointed out that some classes don’t run out of resources the devs could have taken that as an opportunity to talk about how they’re working on balance or whatever,
    but instead they choose to make some lame joke

    I’m not really interested in hearing how they tested the console economy

    • I agree with you, but that’s no knock at Flux. I appreciate you taking the time to do the interview and the tedious transcribing-thanks man!

  14. I hope the 2nd part is better

    first, the ridiculous idea of having the game automatically select and execute a skill for you when you’re out of resources is horrible

    then when Flux brought up that some classes don’t run out resources the devs could have used that as an opportunity to talk about balance and the work they’re doing on skills

    but instead they chose to make some lame joke

    I’m not really interested at all about testing the economy for the console

    sidenote:
    and I’ve deleted my cookies and logged out and logged in so many times, but it still doesn’t recognize me

    • holy crap, now it posted twice

      the first time it didn’t take because I mistyped the “secret answer”, so I posted again, and now it looks like they both went up

  15. A good interview at last. Look forward to part 2.

  16. Also I like how they congratulated you on the 100th episode of the podcast.

  17. “We get some rose-tinted glasses about Diablo 2?s levels which were just big squares with different walls in the middle.”

    Not all of them were, completely ignoring the orientation and path, you dont have to kiss butt that much 🙂

    As for the matchmaking answer, it does makes sense but it is also irrelevant, TF2 can pull off themed and custom servers no problems, with tags, filtering, sorting and queue, why cant d3? Its “we cant have potions without cooldowns because 16 potion slots mean unlimited access to healing” all over again.

    • AH can filter out items by name and has multiple filters, but suddenly this method can’t be applied to named games… I’m not that naive.

    • We’ve argued about random level layout in D2 and D3 on the podcast many times in the past, and obviously I didn’t want to get into a big conversation about just that point in my hour with the devs.

      But while I was simplifying a lot in my hurried question, most D2 levels were basically squares with walls moved around inside of them. The surface levels were certainly, and the whole exploration method for non-maphackers was, “run around the outside until you found the passage to the next area.” As for the D2 dungeons, many were just big boxes with cubicle walls randomly slotted around inside.

      Which isn’t to say that D3 levels are necesarily a lot better, but D2’s were not perfect creations either. I like the bigger jigsaw pieces in D3’s, and the set areas; they just really need more such pieces, and more of them that actually make a diff in play experience.

  18. Great interview Flux. I was really not impressed with the Devs response to endless dungeons. They took the laziest method of implementing the system “a really quick way for us to prototype it is just to increase the monster power every time you clear a dungeon level,” with the clear and obvious effect of turning into inferno pre-1.03. I got the feeling the Devs were; yeah we tried it didn’t work, lets move on. Didn’t really bother fleshing out a proper endless dungeon system, just superficial systems, like much of the game.

    • I am fairly confident they’re doing a lot more with bottomless, or at least bigger/deeper dungeons than they let on in this interview. Maybe the “increased MP by one per level didn’t work” was just a way to answer the question by talking about the process and about something that didn’t work, to avoid talking about things that did and that we’ll actually see some day?

  19. I don’t understand their logic in not allowing named games. They said the reason they think its a bad idea is because “games fill up too quickly.” I have NEVER heard anyone complain about that before. Ever.

    Its not even a problem to begin with! Let’s say for example you want to do a full run of Act 2 from start to finish. You try to join some named games for that but they all fill up too quickly. Just create your own public game and it should fill up quickly! Problem solved!

    • Here’s the point they’re attempting to make.

      – Look at list of named games.
      – Attempt to join one you like.
      – Sorry, game is full.
      – Attempt to join another one you like.
      – Sorry, game is full.
      – Attempt to join another one you like.
      – Sorry, game is full.
      – Attempt to join another one you like.
      – Sorry, game is full.
      – Get fed up and make a game yourself and name it.
      – Nobody joins your game because they keep trying to find games to join and keep getting told the ones they’re trying to join are full.
      – In a few minutes, longer than what a match making system would take to do the same thing, you finally have a full game.

      The main reason for named games are passworded games, but with friends list and party mode in non-public games it works pretty much the same way.

      This didn’t happen in Diablo 2 because less people played Diablo 2.

      ^ All of the above is the point the devs were making. Personally, I have doubts that it would really be that bad of a problem in Diablo 3, but I also don’t have a problem with matchmaking, either.

      I do think matchmaking could be improved with more game modes, and the ability to search for multiple game modes or MP levels simultaneously, just like you can search any act/any quest.

      • Sorry but it just doesn’t work that way.

        If everyone is rushing to join games to the point that you keep getting the “game is full” message, then if YOU make a game, it will fill up fast.

        There is no scenario where every time you try to join a game, its full, and yet no-one joins a game you make. That simply doesn’t happen. Unless the programmers failed to have full games removed from the list. But then that’s not a flaw of the game-naming system, that’s just bad programming.

      • At the very least, they could add BOTH options and make everyone happy. Add the named game system but don’t remove the matchmaking system. That way you can look for public games whichever way suits you. There’s no downside there. As I said, you just make everyone happy.

  20. re: endless dungeons.

    The Blizzard guy said their concern with endless dungeons is that, when playtested, people pick ultra-defensive, slow, boring builds where it takes players hours to progress. And they don’t want to encourage that playstyle.

    The solution is to make endless dungeons a timed event.

    You can do this various ways:

    1. The inelegant version is where players enter a level of the endless dungeon and a clock pops up and starts counting down. If it hits zero, their run is over. If they make it to the next level of the endless dungeon before it expires, the clock resets.

    2. A more elegant solution is to not have a clock, but have monsters start out weaker and slowly get stronger as time passes. The longer they take to clear each level, the harder it gets.

    There are two examples of how to disencourage slow, boring, tanky builds in an endless dungeon.

    • 1. The inelegant version is where players enter a level of the endless dungeon and a clock pops up and starts counting down. If it hits zero, their run is over. If they make it to the next level of the endless dungeon before it expires, the clock resets.

      2. A more elegant solution is to not have a clock, but have monsters start out weaker and slowly get stronger as time passes. The longer they take to clear each level, the harder it gets.

      There are two examples of how to disencourage slow, boring, tanky builds in an endless dungeon.

      I don’t mind option 1 (we have side quests that are timed like the Act 2 dungeon) but I really like the idea of option 2.

      And thanks Flux for the interview can’t wait for part 2!

  21. Here are a few examples of how taking away named games removes player choice and power and directly gives it to Blizzard (or an automated system – imagine that):

    -we no longer are able to create games with strict intentions (such as ‘Trade Post’ or ‘Killing Butcher’)
    -we can’t see who, how many, and what classes are in a game before we join (EVERY online game I’ve EVER played with a class choice has shown me what games are available with how many and which classes currently used)
    -we are FORCED to enter and re-enter the SAME GAME over and over again on the SAME monster power until we find a new game that is open with that same quest

    That last bullet point has happened to me unbelievably more than once, where there will be afk-ers in town or a virtually cleared game and I leave and set the parameters to the same quest/monster power only to arrive at that very same, irritating game I tried to leave behind and never see again.. over and over and over. It then makes me question just how many ‘full games’ there are that I keep seeing this one game over and over and over again. If it were up to me, I would rather see this game on a dam list and be able to avoid it and that would be that. Fukkers…. Dammit this team pisses me off..

  22. In every interview with the Diablo 3 developers I get the feeling we hear two 17 year-old indie game developers with a budget of 5000$ talk who are about to design their first game ever.
    This is a multi-million dollar company with the highest production values you can ever think of and they discuss “features” which shouldn’t even have to be discussed about in 2013. And their new development plans circle about minuscule things like using skills when out of rescource WOW like this game has absolutely no other problems, right?

  23. I’m not at all satisfied with many of their responses. In regards to matchmaking and named games I think its obvious there will be issues with named games and players entering, especially with a huge player base, 1 main server for the us+ realm, 1 euro etc,…

    The game is also a bit diff than d2 in terms of effectiveness for named games. Much less specifics to farm, no pk, much smaller player limit, no open world etc. I don’t see as much appeal with the current game features, but I don’t see the problem with having a BETTER match making system and also named games. If for nothing else a named game option for FRIENDS to see. The dev’s insistance that they know what is better and that they cant find a way to make named games work is certainly saddening.

    Also the idea of how they approached the concept of endless dungeons etc shows the lack of creativity and ingenuity the dev team still doesn’t have. I’m sorry, but approaching endless dungeons witht he most basic premise of upping the monster level each time would def. suck. That doesn’t mean they cant find other ways to tweak or provide some form of dungeoun runs, endless dungeon runs etc.

    The main problems that existed with Jay and still exist with Josh or w/e the current lead dev is… is the fundamentally lack of creative implementations the community wants. They try x feature with a really bad and flawed system then conclude x feature really isn’t a good idea. There are SO many different ways to tweak the endless dungeon or dungeon runs in general that are a million more times appealing than simply upping the monster power … really sad.

    • “They try x feature with a really bad and flawed system then conclude x feature really isn’t a good idea.”

      Welcome to Actiblizz 🙂 , has been going on for years.

      • Ya… It’s like the rune rank system. The reason they ultimately scrapped it was because of inventory issues. There were a number of ways that could have been resolved,but ultimately we didn’t get rune rank drops and I am sure in some way the console issue may have played a part.

        I was hoping this kind of shitty dev cycle for designs and reasoning to cut features would have ended with Jay’s departure. It seems Josh was appointed by Jay for a reason :(.

  24. The Dev’s don’t seem intelligent in terms of the way they articulate how they feel. Flux asks poignant, straight forward questions. I feel the ‘defense’ of the Dev’s solely inadequate, when ideally there wouldn’t be a ‘defense’ – rather answers!

    Their conservatism also reeks of complacency, but perhaps that’s my cynicism.

    • Too much conservatism, thinking, and strategizing and much too little doing anything – and too much, well, we see problems like this in WoW – excuse. The fear to change anything. Constantly thinking about it, but not actually doing anything – it gets nauseating after a while.

      I really liked this podcast. It got me to Register here. But in general, are the moderators are going way easy on them? Do you reckon any of the feedback gets to them otherwise? It is unfortunate that after every podcast or discussion there is still so much left broken, unanswered, and lots of negative comments. I mean, is it so obvious only to us?

      Endless dungeon could be like the anniversary MF buff – to which sure seemed like an interesting thing to pull out more often. They don’t have to be increasing difficulty or even timed, just a reward or incentive to jump back on and play the game. Heck, put Resp chests on every level and let us go at it. Just for fun. Imagine that!

      But yes, meanwhile things like in the AH when you use the Search For Similar option for Legendaries and it only carries over the item name. Why? And having like 2 options for game types? I mean why? You made it, at least flesh it out some. Then again so much of the game is like this isn’t it.

  25. Too much conservatism, thinking, and strategizing and much too little doing anything – and too much, well, we see problems like this in WoW – excuse. The fear to change anything. Constantly thinking about it, but not actually doing anything – it gets nauseating after a while.

    I really liked this podcast. It got me to Register here. But in general, are the moderators are going way easy on them? Do you reckon any of the feedback gets to them otherwise? It is unfortunate that after every podcast or discussion there is still so much left broken, unanswered, and lots of negative comments. I mean, is it so obvious only to us?

    Endless dungeon could be like the anniversary MF buff – to which sure seemed like an interesting thing to pull out more often. They don’t have to be increasing difficulty or even timed, just a reward or incentive to jump back on and play the game. Heck, put Resp chests on every level and let us go at it. Just for fun. Imagine that!

    But yes, meanwhile things like in the AH when you use the Search For Similar option for Legendaries and it only carries over the item name. Why? And having like 2 options for game types? I mean why? You made it, at least flesh it out some. Then again so much of the game is like this isn’t it.

  26. thanks for compiling a great list of questions. i found this to be the best interview yet and i wish there was more. thank you flux. i have lost a small bit of intrest in playing this game only cause my wd maxed out and i cant play mp10 the way i want. i like hording huge packs like all or half of an area and then kill. but the server lags out completely. even after i have stopped playing i regularly visit this site because of how well done the posts are and how i agree with alot of ideas and problems going around.

    i just recently started playing hardcore and im back to enjoying the game, im playing self found witha friend and the thought of death around the corner is awesome, after listing to your podcasts recently you managed to get me to play, i like the idea that remaking a character is actually viable. i hope to take my experience in soft core on a wd will translate into a sucessful hc one. thanks for all the great podcasts over the years and congrads on 100. ive been lisiting since before release and just wanted to say mooo moomoo moo hope to hear a 100 more!

  27. How about a Mic. for in party communication purposes? The one game I know that I have to type everything out. Kinda a bit behind for being a game released in 2012?

  28. Example of how current pseudo-matchmaking works out – Paragon 6 player starts MP1 game, then enters 3 Paragon 25-60-72 gems of their respective classes and starting player ends up literally chasing them through the content, no pause to smell the roses, with no recourse – Vote Kick fails. Gaming experience ruined. Yes, boosting sometimes is desirable – sometimes it is not. Right now, you got not much choice it how this shakes down in the public games. Come on guy, stop worrying so much about full game issues and beef the features up, please!

  29. Man these guys are full of shit. Kindergarten mode was boring as hell.

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