Blizzard: Creating the Treasure Vault: Greed’s Domain

Victor Lee concept art

Victor Lee concept art

Blizzard has posted an article detailing the creation of the special Treasure Vault dungeon, which can now be found on the PTR and will go live with Patch 2.1. You’ve probably seen screens and vids before, as we newsed it up day one and the DiabloWikiTreasure Vault article is pretty info-tastic as well, with tons of screenshots.

Blizzard’s blog today covers the design and creation of the level and the big boss Greed, along with the lore and lots of concept arts showing the long evolution of this zone. (The first concept art is from Victor Lee, created all the way back in 2004 when it was still DiabloWikiBlizzard North’s Diablo 3!)

Here’s the interview portion of today’s feature. Blizzard: Creating the Treasure Vault: Greed’s Domain

Designing Greed

DiabloWikiTreasure Goblins are among the most beloved of all of Sanctuary’s creatures, and their ability to escape (often with precious trinkets in tow) has drawn the focus of many adventurers. As a result, the idea that a player could actually catch one of said goblins off-guard and suspend the doorway into their world offered a tantalizing possibility for the Diablo III development team.

We had a chance to sit down with lead writer Brian Kindregan, senior level designer Matthew Berger, and a cadre of talented artists (senior character artist Chris Amaral, senior environment artist Richie Marella, and technical artist Neal Wojahn) to discuss the creation of, and inspiration behind, the Vault and its sumptuous leader. They kindly put down the weapons of their trade to help us pull back the design portal and see inside the development process.

Q. Brian, there’s a lot of activity happening in the Vault — what’s going on in there?

She's dead seecksy!

She’s dead seecksy!

Brian: The Baroness Greed is never satisfied, so there’s a lot of work to be done to keep the Vault up to snuff. Her goblin minions are continuously sent out to collect more gold. The incoming gold in turn has to be tallied. And the existing gold must be inventoried to make sure none of it has gone missing. Plus, Greed takes a bath in all her gold every three hours. She’s definitely high-maintenance, as is her domain.

Q. It’s been speculated that gold has no value for the goblins and that all they’re really after are the white items. Care to comment?

Brian: Greed is obsessed with all things valuable. It’s a compulsion and the only cure is, apparently, more cowbell increasing amounts of physical wealth.

Q. When designing the Vault, where did you begin? And how did you begin?
Richie: We started on the Vault environment first and worked closely with the character team. We actually borrowed coin designs from them and they used a goblin statue for a mace inspiration.

Neal: Victor Lee did some really sick concepts a while ago, too; I’m not sure if they were for anything in particular but we always loved them so much that they inspired a lot of the architecture in the Vault itself.

And as Richie noted, those coin effects inspired us a lot. As we iterated, the Vault developed its own identity, and it drifted a bit away from that initial style. Instead of the Vault being a gold realm, we thought of it like a treasure realm. That’s when we added a lot of things in the background for interest like gems, weapons, vases, and other valuables.

Q. What was the design inspiration for the Vault and its inhabitants?
Richie: The inspiration for the Vault was a mixture of a couple of things: a bee hive, the Lord of the Rings, and Scrooge McDuck’s infamous Money Pit.

One thing early on we really wanted to go for was “mountains of treasure” that covered a lot of the Vault grounds. We also wanted to create this atmosphere of “worker” goblins, busy working away much like worker bees in a bee hive. I also played around with the hive motif with multiple storage holes built into the walls—these eventually evolved into mini-vaults.

Initially, most people assumed that Greed would be a male. When working with the character team on DiabloWikiGreed, though, they proposed for it to be a female. This turned out to be a great idea because it fell in line with what we were going for with the bee hive motif and having the so-called queen (aka the Baroness) at the end fit perfectly.

Chris: We knew that we needed a variety of goblin types for the zone, too. A low level/low health worker goblin, a hefty brutish guard goblin, and of course the leader of the pack: The Baroness!

Q. We’re definitely introduced to some new goblins in the Vault: Treasure Fiends, Peons, and Sentries. Is there an established caste system in the Goblin Kingdom?
Brian: There is indeed. The entire bureaucracy and society of the realm is set up to bring in, tabulate, and store as much gold and treasure as possible.

Q. Matthew, your team obviously had a lot of fun creating the enigmatic Treasure Goblins. How great was it to finally visit their home?
Matthew: We’d always wondered exactly what was hiding behind the portals that those pesky goblins disappear through and the idea of being able to visit that place—which we assumed would be awash with riches—was pretty fun.

Once we had decided that we were going to finally visit Greed’s lair and let players try and take a fraction of her wealth back with them it was all a question of making it as memorable as possible. Everyone wanted to add their own little personal touches to the Vault. Piles of gold everywhere, goblins running around in the background, troopers appearing through portals, and (SPOILERS!) Greed’s death. There really was no shortage of ideas.

Q. What about the Baroness? Can you tell us a bit about the evolution of her fight?

Greed's chest on Torment 1.

Greed’s chest on Torment 1.

Matthew: The fight with Greed itself evolved fairly naturally as we played it internally. Her charge attack, for example, was initially much more straightforward: she would charge at you and if she missed she’d get stunned. To add a bit more variety we then added a second charge that had a much longer range so that she could charge all across the room sometimes and surprise the player — that then evolved into her triple charge. Initially, Greed oriented herself while preparing the charge which made it very hard to avoid, when we moved into the triple charge we had her stop doing this, allowing the player an easier time to avoid it. This coupled with the great new warning that the artists had given it was the winning formula.

In a similar fashion, we made a variant of her attack where she makes chests of treasure rain down on the player, adding a lot more tempo to give the fight some fresh legs as you got towards the finale.

Q. What was your favorite thing to design in the Vault?

Neal: I loved making the breakables because of the gold effects I got to do, but my absolute favorite was making the giant treasure chest that appears at the end of the Baroness fight! It was cool to make a mega-uber chest. As a prop artist, I don’t do as much figurative work, so it was nice to add all the little elements like the face teeth and little feet on it. It was also fun because I got to do a clean version for when it’s closed, and a bloody version for when it’s open!

Greed’s Domain concept arts:

No word on when Patch 2.1 might bring this gold-fest to the live servers, but if you want more visuals and videos of the vast riches to be had there (a full clear on Torment 4 nets over 100m gold), check out the article, to which we’ll soon add this new Bliz Blog info.


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  1. My fight with greed reminded me of the fight against the butcher. However treasure goblins keeps spawning during the fight so I wonder if it is worth make the fight last longer.

  2. The Treasure Vault link goes to an empty page in the Wiki.

  3. Wasn't Greed originally based on the Fallen "Queen." A similar silhouette was shown for some of the production sketches.

    • Speaking of which, Have you folks noticed that many of the monsters in Diablo 3 are morbidly obese like Azmodan, Ghom, the Malformed Goatman Shamans, the Fallen Lunatics, the Seraphs, and the Thousand Pounder… Evil has a weight problem.

    • I think I did an article about that at some point? Anyway, we obviously got no fallen queen, but if you look at the silhouettes, I think it was a lie from the start. What looked like a Fallen Queen was just one of the fat little mage guys turned sideways. Same horns and basically the same round shape with stumpy legs. And that type of Fallen isn't otherwise shown in the silhouettes image.

      Comparison pics side by side on the Fallen article.

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