Blizzard Defends the Diablo 3 Developer Q&As

Now that we’ve had several lengthy Q&As with the Diablo 3 developers, sharing updates and info on the development process and the numerous features and changes they’re working on, fans who were previously full of bitterness and complaints over the lack of communication have pivoted neatly to be full of bitterness and complaints that these new As aren’t what they want, or that the Qs suck, or that they simply wish they didn’t have this the insight into how complicated it is (for Blizzard, at least) to develop content patches for a major video game.

CM Lylirra offered an extensive reply to these comments while somehow managing not to break into furious sobs while screaming, “There’s just no pleasing you #$*&ing people!” Or perhaps she did, but if so she didn’t let that reaction color her typically upbeat response.

Those bring only false hope and no answers. Just stick to posting on the forums and answering the better threads here. That’d be just fine.
Lylirra: How much information we’re able to share about a particular change or feature ultimately depends on where that change or feature is in its development. If it’s reached the point where it’s been implemented into our test builds, we can probably talk a lot more freely about it and discuss the ins-and-outs of how everything works. A good example of this is the mulitplayer improvements coming in 1.0.8. While these improvements aren’t 100% final and may undergo some tweaking during the PTR, their design is far enough along that we can talk about them pretty extensively.

On the flip side, if a change/feature is still in its conceptual stage, where the actual design and implementation haven’t been completely defined, then we won’t be able to share as much. We can go over what we’re planning, give you some of the reasons behind those ideas, maybe even bounce a few concepts off the community, but we probably won’t be in a position to commit to the change/feature, tell you when it’s going to release, or describe for you its functionality in great detail. This isn’t because we’re being “cagey.” This is because the change/feature is still in early development and that information just doesn’t exist yet. A good example of this is indeed the upcoming itemization improvements that were discussed in Travis’ blog as well as the itemization Q&A. We don’t have a timeline yet for when these improvements will be implemented, and many of the changes are still undergoing constant iteration. Sure, we may not have a lot of hard data to provide at the moment, but we can at least include you in the conversation and let you know what we’re working on.

Click through for much more from this post, if you (for some reason) want much more along these lines.

So, going back to the part of your post that I quoted, this really isn’t an issue of “no answers.” It’s one of the answers not being what you liked or expected. Regardless, we’re going to keep sharing our progress and providing more and more information as we go. As we start to refine our design and lock down how changes to itemization will be implemented, we’ll be in a better position to answer your questions with more “hard facts” and less “design theory.” That doesn’t mean we can’t have a dialogue on the topic in the meantime.

In fact, I seem to recall a certain community not only calling for itemization to be the next topic for AtD, but also for its CMs and developers to share more game info, even if it wasn’t final… >.>

I believe I speak for the majority of the community when I ask for more forum involvement from the developers instead of Q&As.
35x3zpLylirra: The Q&As and forum involvement aren’t mutually exclusive, they just provide different benefits. You’re still going to see Travis and Wyatt posting. You’re still going to see Q&As.

Or, in picture form:

YOu do have to admit that the questions picked have alot to do w/ it though…
Lylirra: Regardless of what you may personally think about the questions, they were still upvoted by a large number of people within the community–otherwise they wouldn’t have been included. Sure, the questions may not be relevant to everyone, but they are definitely relevant to someone. Or a variety of someones, in this case.

There were actually a lot of good, highly-voted questions for this round of Ask the Devs, so we still have more to answer. We’re not going in order of “most highly-voted” to “least highly-voted,” though. It’s a mix, which means there’s going to be some variation in the types of questions you see in each “part,” as well as who those questions appeal to.

Don’t you understand that that is a bad thing? You say that like it’s a given, but it’s not. Plenty of other dev teams are able to be open about their conceptual stage ideas and even incorporate player feedback into that stage. If you don’t tell us anything until the stuff is pretty much set, then what’s the point?
Lylirra: I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re doing. We can’t share details we don’t have, though. What we can do is share what we’re discussing internally, even if what we’re discussing is just ideas. We’re still inviting you into that conversation and opening up feedback at an early stage.

For example:

The list goes on and, as with all design, nothing is ever final. This is just a snapshot of what we’re working on currently with regard to itemization, and we hope to provide more specifics as we get closer to implementing these changes into the live game. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you think about our approach, since much of what’s cited above has been inspired by your feedback.
Lylirra: The only difference between the itemization improvements and multiplayer improvements is that we’re able to talk about one in a little more detail than the other right now. We absolutely intend to provide more information about itemization changes as we continue development on them.

Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Or damned if they do, but don’t do it right?

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22 thoughts on “Blizzard Defends the Diablo 3 Developer Q&As

  1. I do not know much about video games, but things do get done in other businesses for both larger and more critical projects. The internal and external communication process can often be improved, but stuff is delivered and it works. So it’s either the processes, the people, or the stakeholders.

  2. man, they just can’t win

    no matter how hard they try there’s always someone to complain


    • It’s pretty much a given with Blizzard that someone’s always going to complain. The problem here as that the complaints are justified because they are doing such a poor job.

  3. “Damned if they are trying to look like they are doing something but actually don’t”.

    Seriously. What positive thing, if any, has this pointless Q&A given us? Absolutely nothing.

    I understand that they cannot spill the beans about whatever they are working on. But the Q&A was a colossal waste of time. It was unnecessary. A simple “Hey guys, stick around we are planning to do stuff” would have sufficed.

    See, the Q&A was used as a damage control rather than the actual answers. It gave false hope to those who were desperately trying to get some definitive confirmation that things will get better.

    Now you maybe asking why not just sit and wait patiently until they release the said patches? Because fans do not trust them anymore. They have failed before and the logical thing to do is to expect that they WOULD fail again. There is no guarantee that the “fixes” will make the game even better. Or in the case that they actually do, then those changes would have probably been no-brainer fixes that could have been included in the game release. You cannot blame the fans for being so negative about the developers and the CMs as they have been let down before.

    So the complains were justified. If they would have just quietly accepted their mistakes and regularly updated the game then things would have been more peaceful. But no. They tried to make this huge deal about Q&A that got them into even more hot water.

  4. I don’t think her response really gets at it.

    It’s not that those dissatisfied with the Dev Q&A are unhappy because they’re not getting the answers they want; instead, if they’re anything like me, they’re unhappy with them because the answers are either binary or hand-wring-y but don’t actually speak a lot to the design philosophy behind the game.

    If someone asked a question like, “What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the mainstat affix system currently in the game” and the answer was done in good faith, that would be interesting. Most of the stuff that’s being asked/answered is very dry and it’s hard to infer anything about what the devs feel about their own game’s systems / where they’re trying to aim from them. And since we know any changes are a long way off anyway, I’d rather have devs speak openly and honestly about their ideal game and how they plan on getting there, until they’re ready to share specifics about actual content changes in the game we currently have.

    • What can you do… When you want to open up a new medium or form of “free communication” and still require ultimately having the say in what gets answered rather than what the community wants answered there’s really not much changing. It seems impossible for the d3 devs to keep their hand out of the cookie jar and the CM’s wonder why people are displeased?

  5. “If you don’t tell us anything until the stuff is pretty much set, then what’s the point?
    Lylirra: I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re doing. We can’t share details we don’t have, though. What we can do is share what we’re discussing internally, even if what we’re discussing is just ideas. We’re still inviting you into that conversation and opening up feedback at an early stage.”

    What BS… there’s no way they are simply at a discussion only phase with all of the ideas. If they in fact have not even tried to test anything they are bringing up then good god what the hell are they doing.

    • Haha, great points. So they’ve basically opened a discussion about discussing the discussion. Classic Blizzard.

    • I agree completely.
      These are the main designers. This is their job, it’s what they do all day. Ideas > Discussion > Concept > Prototype > Test > Iterate. Good designers will know the answers to these questions because they are swirling around in their heads all day and all night. The fact that it takes them weeks to write up answers to 10 or so questions shows me one or some of a few things:

      Almost all the ideas in the Q’s are new to them
      They are not working on these features as much as they indicate (or we hope).
      The design process is unreasonably slow / going around in circles
      They feel disclosure of information will do more harm than good
      They are not interested in giving out information, only maintaining the fanbase’s attention

  6. Lylirra is an awful community manager, it’s as if she was hired on her looks then her actual talent at managing a gaming community for Diablo, one of the most awesome franchises ever invented. She just falls short of expectations of what you’d expect from a premium title like Diablo because of her fake attitude, helpless answers to questions, and general aloofness and indifference to the genre. She doesn’t even play Diablo 3, I bet she hasn’t even put in more then the hours required for her to have her job. Their is no passion left at Blizzard anymore, she just sits around sipping starbucks and gossiping around the office.

    • Or maybe people like you are awful community members? I mean, what do people want her to say? Her job is like managing a youtube comment forum. If I was a CM, I’d be fired the first week for telling 95% of the posters to sod off.

  7. “Or damned if they do, but don’t do it right?”

    Blizzard as a whole aren’t in the successful position they’re in because they used to deliver low quality – indeed they set the bar pretty high for themselves in the past and were well advised to do so.

    As for D3, however, Blizzard are in the rather abysmal position they’re now in because they renounced the quality thing. And that also reflects in their communication.

  8. I think it has a lot more to do with impatience. Not that I can blame them too much, Blizzard glacial pace can be frustrating.
    The planning and the iterations (based on what they tell us) consume so much time it does have me perplexed that other companies are closing all around us.
    And I think it is safe to say not all games from Blizzard are released smoothly “when they are ready” anymore.

  9. I don’t have any issue with the CMs. They are in a tough spot. They cannot comment much on 1/2 done enhancements, because if the devs decide it isn’t working and remove it everyone will scream that something was ‘Taken away!’ or ‘Promise not kept!’

    Diablo 3 is in what you call ‘maintenance mode’. They have a certain amount of staff available to develop and test minor enhancements/fixes.

    The staffing required for major changes (senior designers + implementers/testers) have likely been moved to D3 expansion or D3 port to console or project Titan. So it is really unlikely we see any major changes from a practical standpoint.

    I am currently holding out hope that the senior designer in charge of D3 expansion (assuming it is not Jay) will have the resources, approval, and ability to make major system changes that return some of the fun from D2.

    If not, and D3 exp is just D3 with new content, I will not buy it personally.

  10. “On the flip side, if a change/feature is still in its conceptual stage, where the actual design and implementation haven’t been completely defined, then we won’t be able to share as much.”

    D3 Devs: On the other flipside, we share awesome features such as runestone items, talisman charms, mystic artisans, elixirs to be used as portable shrines, unlimited stash space, fully random zones, but then cut it all!

    • You forgot PvP arenas, PvP matchmaking, 50+ character slots, smart crafting, jewelry crafting, sapphires and diamonds, and the hilarious first look at Legendaries.

      • You forgot the assassination moves of the siegebraker. Some will say that this is over the top. But remember it was in the first gameplay footage released. Best (worst?) place to shift expectations…

      • LOL PvP is so far on the backburner with the itemization changes on the horizon that I’ll be surprised if we see PvP in diablo 3 by December 2013, which would be over 1 year past the statement “if we don’t have PvP before the end of 2012 I’d consider our team a failure”

  11. PS: I am struck by how much better the item system is in Monster Hunter 3U than Diablo 3.

    The base weapon types and their move sets are radically different from each other. It takes time to get good at even one type of weapon. Some are small, fast & easy to use, and do small amounts of damage rapidly. Some are huge, slow, hard to use, and do massive amounts of damage in one hit.

    All weapons have a fixed amount physical damage. When you upgrade them this number improves greatly. They also have a sharpness value that improves during upgrades. Sharper weapons can pierce tough parts of armored bosses; others just bounce off. Many weapons have elemental damage. Each boss is weak to only some types, and it varies by the part of their body. Some weapons have slots where you can add decorations add new skills to your character.

    For a single weapon type, there is a huge tree of upgrades (~50). The only way to get most of them is to beat a certain boss monster one or more times to obtain the necessary crafting materials. Exactly which crafting elements you get from a single hunt has elements of randomness. Some materials are common but some are quite rate (5% drop or less). The resulting weapon has fixed stats, which you are glad for since you worked hours to collect the necessary materials.

    In short, you always see awesome weapons ahead that you cannot access until you progress farther in the game. When you get them it can make a big difference. Normally you *do* feel like the next great weapon (or armor) is around the corner, because you are fighting the boss that will drop some of the necessary materials for it.

    You also tend to need multiple weapons of a given type in order to deal with the varying weaknesses of the boss you are facing. This is a lot more fun, vs. just paying a ton of gold for ‘the one sword to rule them all’.

    • I am only mentioning this to serve as a contrast to the D3 model which is

      1) All weapons types are nearly the same and just a DPS number
      2) All weapons are completely random if you can get one to drop at all
      3) Even crafted weapons are completely random and most likely garbage no matter how rare the crafting ingredients
      4) The best pay to success is to amass large amounts of gold and then buying a single weapon that can handle practically all situations.

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