Bashok on Game Length and Inventory Design


DiabloWikiBashiok is keeping busy with more forum action today. When a fan cited a past DiabloWikiJay Wilson interview in which he said Diablo III would be at least as large a game as Diablo II, then requested that Diablo III be “longer” than Diablo II, Bashiok brought up the obvious question:

I think what he [Jay] was referring to was number of acts, I don’t think there’s any way to judge at this point actual playable hours.

Also, for Diablo II, how do you characterize “game length”? Is it when you’ve killed Diablo once? Three times? When you have all the best items? When you have a 99 of each class? When you’re bored? There’s potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay there depending on how you judge it.

Elsewhere, a self-described “design nerd” offered a lengthy critique of the newly-revealed Diablo III DiabloWikiinterface windows, in which he made a number of incisive observations. Here’s an excerpt; click through to read the whole post.

I’m actually really really stoked with the new designs. They’re looking a lot better resolved and refined than the previous set. Notably – the item artwork is much easier to see, and the items are given a sense of scale on the actually character equip screen, which is a HUGE improvement if you ask me.

One thing that still bothers em about the design is the stained glass icons at the top of each window, which feels a little gimicky and quite cheesy – I do not feel that this is necessary. What is the purpose of this large, bright icon? it draws the eye, and does not really add any additional information or serve any useful purpose…The circle shape is also very soft – I feel like something a little more sinister such as a diamond or a sharp, barbed, twisting shape could be better.

…Overall I think these stained glass icons could work if they were not quite so eye catching – I think the intention was for these to be a support graphic for the window title – yet they distract from the title rather than support it.

…The title of each window is framed by a rectangle that ends in opposing arrowheads and a small stud – these almost look like buttons. I can certainly see a lot of users thinking this and trying to click them perhaps to cycle through the windows – which I don’t think was the intention.

I cite these comments it since Bashiok’s reply indicated that he found them of value.

Thank you, that was a perfect feedback post. These are the types of posts I can literally bring directly to the designers.

Click through to read the whole design critique post, and as always, thanks to BlizzBlues for providing convenient links to all the Blue posts in the Battle.net forums.

The full post, plus Bashiok’s reply:

New Interface Looking Good – Design Critique

So I’m a bit of a design nerd, and I really enjoy the interface designs of games – been eagerly awaiting interface updates for this game in particular.

Visually, I prettymuch think that Diablo 2 was the absolute most beautifully illustrated and presented interfaces of any RPG I have ever seen, although functionally it admittedly had a few shortcomings.Graphic & screen design is my passion & profession so the interface design of this game has been highly anticipated and is of a high interest to me. I realise they’re still working on a lot of these things but I thought I’d point out some of my thoughts at this stage in the design process.

My professional critique:

I’m actually really really stoked with the new designs. They’re looking a lot better resolved and refined than the previous set. Notably – the item artwork is much easier to see, and the items are given a sense of scale on the actually character equip screen, which is a HUGE improvement if you ask me.

One thing that still bothers em about the design is the stained glass icons at the top of each window, which feels a little gimicky and quite cheesy – I do not feel that this is necessary. What is the purpose of this large, bright icon? it draws the eye, and does not really add any additional information or serve any useful purpose. I kind of feel there could be a more creative solution for this – or perhaps leave it out entirely, as the dark stained glass background is a nice texture and I find that the icon itself serves no real purpose other than to distract the eye of the user from the actual inventory/skill interface – especially with it being so bright. This is bad design. The circle shape is also very soft – I feel like something a little more sinister such as a diamond or a sharp, barbed, twisting shape could be better.

Overall I think these stained glass icons could work if they were not quite so eye catching – I think the intention was for these to be a support graphic for the window title – yet they distract from the title rather than support it. It could also help to integrate the window title a bit more with the icon and perhaps work on some interesting typographic integration here to unify it better with this icon – which at the moment mostly just feels detached and distracting to the rest of the interface.

I do agree that it could be nice to even add an extra grade of item for “extra large” items, such as polearms, mauls, large shields etc, with perhaps only a few slots available – two item sizes just doesn’t quite feel like it can accurately accomodate the diverse range of items we will be seeing. The visual size of the items on the screen really adds value and a sense of scale and realism.

I applaud the team for finding such an innovative solution for the old “tetris” problem without compromising the detail and size of the item artwork, yet I still feel that in diablo games the weighting of items through their visual size on the screen is quite important – it makes the items feel less abstract and more substantial. I think this needs a little more work.

Did anyone else notice that the gems, runes and potions stuk out to them and wasn’t sure why? Well i think they are looking distinctly flat and 2 dimensional, which I don’t think looks very good visually. This makes these items stand out a lot and prevents them from integrating well with the other items – which all seem to have some good depth going on. I can imagine those diamond gems being placed on a slight angle and given a little depth – similar to the way the scroll is tilted to show the bottom. I also noticed that the gems are also looking very shiny and smooth like the close buttons on my macintosh :p

Some other minor things I noticed:

The title of each window is framed by a rectangle that ends in opposing arrowheads and a small stud – these almost look like buttons. I can certainly see a lot of users thinking this and trying to click them perhaps to cycle through the windows – which I don’t think was the intention.

The actual character equip screen has some really nice subtle textures and embellishments on it – these looks great.

Skill icons are looking good, and I’m glad they’re thinking about the peripheral impact these have in terms of colours. They do have a little of a cliche web 2.0 look going on with that shiny upper right corner – I personally prefer a stony, rocky look for diablo games as I think it suits the mood better than this style which makes them look like shiny glass. I think the connotation here is a strong, tough rock vs a fragile set of glassy looking icons – imo it’s very easy to see what is going to suit the feel of the game better.

The player’s gold seems to be floating in the middle of nowhere on the inventory screen – I’m guessing this is probably something they haven’t really gotten to yet – I couldn’t imagine them leaving it like that… but I look forward to seeing a solution for this.

Overall it’s a big improvement – I think mainly the difference in sizes in items both in the inventory and in the character equip screen is great!

 

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