Friday brought a couple of tidbits of new info from Bashiok and the @Diablo twitter feed.
From Twitter came an interesting post about Monk skill progression, and another reply about the soon-to-be-unveiled female Monk. Who may or may not look something like this new piece of fan concept art, by Tepes.
The monk skill trees are being fleshed out in high level design concepts and nitty-gritty skill specifics.
Any progress on the female monk? I mean, will you show it before next Blizzcon, to make us happy?—by Monkhalel
@Diablo: I think we already sort of promised we would. You’ll see her before too long.
I just read an article that only 40 people are working on Diablo 3?….True? I hope not! cause I now know why it’s taken so long….
Bashiok: I think we’re closer to 70 now and still growing a little bit.
But really having a bigger or smaller number with no frame of reference as to the types and amounts of content being developed is sort of meaningless. It’s more important what’s being worked on, who each person is, their abilities, and the end result than just a sum of the bodies assigned to a team.
Bashiok’s info is useful, though he could have made his answer more comprehensive by going into some detail about what those people are doing, why more people would or would not increase the speed of production, etc. This issue comes up with every Blizzard project, and in the past they’ve said it’s not a question of numbers. Making a game isn’t like building a wall; more people stacking bricks will speed up the later, but not the former. Everyone working on a game like Diablo 3 has specific areas of expertise, and more cooks may very well spoil the broth. Imagine writing a book; if you had 3 people do it at once, one each on the beginning, middle, and end, it would get done more quickly, but would it be any good? Would the characters be consistent? Would the theme and mood and tone remain consistent? Not so much.
A video game isn’t quite the same, but it’s similar. If Blizzard could instantly (magically) double the number of designers/artists/programmers working on D3 they’d produce more content, but how well would it fit together? Who would balance it all, keep the art consistent, make the plot coherent, etc? Sadly, big games with a ton of content take… a long time to make.