Blizzcast #13 Is Live


Blizzard has posted Blizzcast #13. It focuses chiefly on the Starcraft 2 beta, but also has some WoW and Diablo 3 coverage where D3 CM DiabloWikiBashiok and WoW CM Zarhym ask each other questions about recent developments in their respective games. Here’s the official quote:

In our thirteenth BlizzCast episode, we focus on the recent start of the StarCraft II beta! An interview with the StarCraft II’s production director and game director discusses what beta testers and the overall StarCraft community can expect in the latest multiplayer version of the game. The developers also provide some insight into other topics such as the single player campaign, eSports, and macro mechanics. In our second segment, World of Warcraft and Diablo community managers take you through a Q&A segment sharing exciting information about how the future of those series are shaping up.

Check out BlizzCast 13 now:

The Bashiok/Zarhym Diablo 3 portion covers “phasing” (a WoW system needed in an MMO that’s not going to be in D3), DiabloWikirespecs, non-mana resources, randomness in the game, gold/item durability (which may return?), and DiabloWikiBoE item issues. A few screenshots are inserted into the Diablo 3 transcript portion, but unfortunately they’re not new, so no new media in this one. Other than the podcast itself!

Here’s the meaty part about DiabloWikirespecs:

Zarhym:  Ok so is the respec system in Diablo III going to be similar to the one in the Diablo II 1.13 patch?

Bashiok: Not really. We?re still working on the respec system for Diablo III. For those who haven’t seen the Diablo II 1.13 patch the respec system in there, which is still on the PTRs by the way (or maybe not), is you can get three different respecs by completing the Den of Evil quests and then any additional ones beyond that by picking up item drops from bosses and using the horadric cube to combine them.

For Diablo III we don’t have it really nailed down yet but some of the main points we do want to hit are that it’s more than just a gold cost for changing your mind. Although that will be a major component of it. That it’s targeted for specific skills so you’re not resetting your entire skill tree, but you’re able to target specific skills to reset those ones specifically. To also scale the cost of respecing so early on in the game it’s cheaper and easier to respec and as you go farther into the game it will be harder and more expensive.

And all of those things together make it a very challenging system to implement, hitting all of those notes. And those are all pie in the sky, I guess, hopefuls for the respec system we may not get all of them in. We don’t have any specifics on what the actual respec system will have but those are sort of what we’re shooting for and of course it’s all up in the air still.

Zarhym: Right but the same basic goal is you want to make sure that players aren’t locked down from the very beginning and there’s no going back unless they choose to recreate the character. But give them some outlet to change it up.

Bashiok: Right, exactly.

And here’s the meaty part about non-mana resources (which include DiabloWikiFury, DiabloWikiInstability, DiabloWikiMana, and the unnamed Monk/DiabloWikififth character resources):

Zarhym: So how are those different resource systems working out so far?

Bashiok: They’re all going pretty well, none of them are finished. We’re still working hard on everything.

The DiabloWikiWitch Doctor is probably the most solid which probably makes sense because he?s using mana. But we don’t have DiabloWikimana potions so we need to work on his recovery of mana. So he has, some people might have seen DiabloWikisoul harvest as one of those at BlizzCon and that might be part of a larger group of recovery systems.

The DiabloWikimonk is probably actually the next most solid which might seem weird since he was the most recently announced. But his resource system just kind of worked right when it came out of the gate. But nobody has seen it yet, and we haven’t talked about it yet… aside from this right now. [laughs] So we’re still not announcing what it is, we still have some work to do but it’s pretty solid, it’s looking pretty good.

The DiabloWikibarbarian is close. We have a new revision going in soon and we’re hopeful for that.

And the DiabloWikiwizard is probably the hardest right now. It’s been a struggle trying to get that nailed down but it gets closer with every revision.

And the fifth class of course would be… nah I’m just kidding.

Click through for the full transcript of the Diablo 3 coverage:

Full Transcript

See Blizzard’s page for the audio and every word of the podcast’s transcript. We’re only quoting the Diablo 3-relevant material here

An early exchange about beta reporting in-game has some interesting precedent for the eventual Diablo 3 beta test:

[5:03]
Rob Simpson: So, there’s a public beta forum where testers can post feedback and suggestions so please take advantage of this opportunity to voice your opinions. Besides the public beta forum, you can also leave feedback in game using the Battle.net UI. Do you guys want to talk about the in game feedback function?
Chris Sigaty: Yeah, we’re trying something new. It’s actually not direct feedback, what we intend to do during the beta is put out survey information effectively that will get us directly some aggregate feedback. I talked a little bit about the numbers, we expect to see literally thousands and thousands of posts and the big stuff will bubble up through community, through our own reading, interfacing with the community, watching replays, that sort of thing. Our intention with the surveys is to be able to ask a simple question like which race are you having the most fun with? That’s probably not a great example, but something specific about maybe the zerg. What are your favorite abilities on the zerg? We can look at what’s being used by actually looking at stats, but that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of what are you having the most fun with or which ones are you liking the most. The two may be directly correlated but may not. So we can get information a different way and this will hopefully allow us to get some aggregate information, more of a math answer than having to read through and say, ?I think what I read was these…?

Rob Simpson: That they might like this ability.
Chris Sigaty: That they might like this ability or a few people were strong about it. We can get it from a larger number.

Later there were some comments about new Battle.net 2.0 features:

[13:16]
Rob Simpson: One of the newest additions we’re unveiling for beta is the Battle.net platform. The StarCraft II beta will mark the first time that testers will be given the opportunity to experience and enjoy what it has to offer. What are some of your favorite features in Battle.net and what other features can the community expect to utilize in the future?

Dustin Browder: This is still an early version of what we’re planning on for Battle.net for StarCraft II. This is really a beta focused on play balance and on testing server load. It’s not something we’re really focused on showing off Battle.net features. We really want players focused on the things that are important to us. But the things that you’re going to see that I’m excited about are a new expanded friends list and the way you can interact with your friends list. It really allows you to find your friends, get together, get together in a group and form a party, which is the second system I’m really excited about. You can get together with your friends, stay in a party and play all night together, linked together. Go from game to game to game type and stay together in a group and it really allows you to find the people you want to play with and stick with them throughout a play session on Battle.net. It really just makes the community feel a lot more cohesive and brings everybody a lot closer together.

Chris Sigaty: Yeah and another couple things to add. During the beta, we will have the ladder working, we are actually rating people. That’s something that previously with our other RTS’s wasn’t online early enough to do. We’re going to see this actually working in action. People will be put into the different leagues that we’ve talked about in the past. And then, part of the party system is voice chat. Once you’re in a party you can chat with each other the whole time and chat in game as you’re playing as well if you’re partied on the same side. But I think as Dustin said, this is early and largely there are a lot of things I am excited about personally that have to do with helping people into an experience that’s not always focused on PvP that won’t be there at launch. For example we have a co-op vs. AI feature that we’re actually disabling because we want the focus on PvP at the time. And then, probably the biggest feature to me is the tie between our communities of World of Warcraft and Starcraft II. That feature won’t be in during the beta but by launch will, so that’s huge. If you can be playing in World of Warcraft and going and killing creatures in World of Warcraft and then see somebody that’s in Star II saying ?Hey, I’m looking for a game in Star II.? You want to play one of your buddies, you can jump over and play that game. And that inner product communication is really one of the biggest, most impressive features we’ll have by the time the game launches.

Rob Simpson: Yeah, having a seamless community experience between multiple titles will be frankly ground breaking I think for Blizzard games.

All Diablo 3 material in the podcast can be read below:

[41:59]
Zarhym:  So, we have some questions from the Diablo III community. Because everyone?s been playing and loving that game…

Bashiok: It?s real fun.

Zarhym: Oh, wait.

Bashiok: I?ve been enjoying it.

Zarhym: You?ve been enjoying it.

Bashiok: I don?t know about everybody else.

Zarhym: Right, well I haven?t played it, but I would love to.

[41:59]
Zarhym: So World of Warcraft has a kooky little system referred to as phasing, is Diablo III going to use anything similar?

Bashiok: Nope, next.

Zarhym: Alright then. Is the respec system…

Bashiok: I?m just kidding. World of Warcraft for those that don?t know, I don?t know who wouldn?t know, but phasing is a way for the game to separate how different players see the world at the same time. They?re all interacting in an MMO persistent world and phasing is used to split up those players to allow them to see the world change and their actions take root in the lore of the world. We?re not a persistent MMO, Diablo III is not a persistent MMO. It?s much more like Diablo II where you load up a game and there?s an instance of that game and then you leave that game and if you start a new game, everything is more or less reset to where you were. It?s very Diablo II-esque so we really don?t need phasing to advance world states because it?s not necessary in the same way to treat different players differently while in the same world. There?s an answer hidden in there somewhere. But anyway…

Zarhym: I think I heard it.

Bashiok: Next question!

Zarhym: It sounded like a different language to me.

Bashiok: [laughs] Right.

Zarhym: I think that I at least heard something.

[42:13]
Zarhym: Ok so is the respec system in Diablo III going to be similar to the one in the Diablo II 1.13 patch?

Bashiok: Not really. We?re still working on the respec system for Diablo III. For those who haven’t seen the Diablo II 1.13 patch the respec system in there, which is still on the PTRs by the way (or maybe not), is you can get three different respecs by completing the Den of Evil quests and then any additional ones beyond that by picking up item drops from bosses and using the horadric cube to combine them. For Diablo III we don’t have it really nailed down yet but some of the main points we do want to hit are that it’s more than just a gold cost for changing your mind. Although that will be a major component of it. That it’s targeted for specific skills so you’re not resetting your entire skill tree, but you’re able to target specific skills to reset those ones specifically. To also scale the cost of respecing so early on in the game it’s cheaper and easier to respec and as you go farther into the game it will be harder and more expensive. And all of those things together make it a very challenging system to implement, hitting all of those notes. And those are all pie in the sky, I guess, hopefuls for the respec system we may not get all of them in. We don’t have any specifics on what the actual respec system will have but those are sort of what we’re shooting for and of course it’s all up in the air still.

Zarhym: Right but the same basic goal is you want to make sure that players aren’t locked down from the very beginning and there’s no going back unless they choose to recreate the character. But give them some outlet to change it up.

Bashiok: Right, exactly.

[43:32]
Zarhym: So it has been said, Bashiok, that in the end of all things all classes are going to use different resource systems. Why? What’s wrong with mana? And third, why are you ruining the game?

Bashiok: Well, to answer the last question first…

Zarhym: That wasn’t hyperbole by the way.

Bashiok: Thank you for interjecting some real community questions in there… uh, so we’re not ruining the game. Different resources for every class. Pretty much the basic fundamental there is that having class diversity, having each class be as diverse as possible makes for as interesting a game as possible. Playing a wizard as opposed to a monk is going to be two very different play styles and by the same token having their resource systems be different further distances them from each other. So the wizard’s resource system … which we haven’t… I’ll pick the barbarian! The barbarian’s resource system which is fury and, let’s go with the witch doctor who uses mana, the only character to use mana. Obviously they’re going to have two very different play styles even beyond the skills that they’re using.

Zarhym: Ok, so they don’t just look different with all the same abilities. It’s not just aesthetic.

Bashiok: Right.

Zarhym: (sincerely) That’s fascinating.

Bashiok: For World of Warcraft listeners it would be like a rogue versus a warrior. Those are two different resource systems.

[45:26]
Zarhym: So how are those different resource systems working out so far?

Bashiok: They’re all going pretty well, none of them are finished. We’re still working hard on everything. The witch doctor is probably the most solid which probably makes sense because he?s using mana. But we don’t have mana potions so we need to work on his recovery of mana. So he has, some people might have seen soul harvest as one of those at BlizzCon and that might be part of a larger group of recovery systems. The monk is probably actually the next most solid which might seem weird since he was the most recently announced. But his resource system just kind of worked right when it came out of the gate. But nobody has seen it yet, and we haven’t talked about it yet… aside from this right now. [laughs] So we’re still not announcing what it is, we still have some work to do but it’s pretty solid, it’s looking pretty good. The barbarian is close. We have a new revision going in soon and we’re hopeful for that. And the wizard is probably the hardest right now. It’s been a struggle trying to get that nailed down but it gets closer with every revision. And the fifth class of course would be… nah I’m just kidding.

Zarhym: No announcements for us today?

Bashiok: No announcements today. [sad sound]

[46:54]
Zarhym: So what would you say is the largest problem you’ve had while coding or designing the game thus far, and how did you overcome it? … You particularly not the designers or developers…

Bashiok: Obviously I had to send this one off to Jay Wilson because I don’t code or design on the game. So his answer was randomness, which is a big part of the game. There’s a lot of randomness throughout the game. Dynamic co-op play. Cooperative play. Server load, which is running a lot of games on a server or multiple servers. And creating a more dynamic or alive world. And all of those things sort of hate each other and it’s hard to get them to fit together like nice puzzle pieces. So that’s a continuing struggle and something we’ll probably continue to struggle with and work on and improve and hopefully perfect by the time the game is released.

Zarhym: That?s understandable.

[48:20]
Zarhym: So next question. If Blizzard is looking to make gold the primary currency in Diablo III, why isn?t there durability on items when it seems like it?s the most obvious way to remove gold from the economy and help keep inflation down.

Bashiok: Yeah, that kind of has a silly answer. Just because it?s not in there now doesn?t mean we won?t have it. It?s not in there now because it?s sort of a silly mechanic to put in early while we?re doing a lot of heavy testing even for the playable demos. In the playable demos we?ve had, there?s no NPCs around to repair items; it?s pretty much an action kill fest in the demos we?ve had so far. To put durability on items right now would be sort of silly. It?s one of those farther down the line economy stabilizing…

Zarhym: Right, would be kind of jumping ahead of where you are right now as far as game design goes.

Bashiok: Right and we could have it in there realistically, but it?s just not necessary yet. That goes along with a lot of other different economy stabilizing—I?m trying to avoid the word gold sink—economy stabilizing features.

Zarhym: [laughs] Right, that was a good avoidance even though you mentioned that you?re trying to avoid it.

Bashiok: Uh huh, that?s how I spin things.

Zarhym: Right.

Bashiok: I just come out and say it and then… [laughing]

Zarhym: You are the spin doctor.

[49:19]
Zarhym: Will all bind on equip or bind on pickup items be bound to account? So you can hand them down to your other characters as you find better gear.

Bashiok: Maybe. It sounds kind of cool. So I asked Jay and some of the other designers about this actually because I wasn’t sure, but Jay’s response was ?That sounds awesome!? And he likes things that are awesome. Which is a very Jay Wilson quote. But there could be economic reasons that we don’t do that, there could be gameplay reasons we don’t do that. It’s probably too early to say, but that sounds cool so we?ll have to see.

[ 50:38 ] Zarhym: Alright, anything else you’d like to add?

Bashiok: Uhm, no. I’m looking forward to all the forum posts asking why we didn’t ask some specific question.

Zarhym: As am I. And I would like to say that I love all of our listeners, and I love you too Bashiok.

Bashiok: Aww, I love you.

Zarhym: Alright well that about wraps it up for our community Q&A segment. We hope you enjoyed BlizzCast 13 and would like to remind you that you can find all of your favorite BlizzCast episodes on iTunes by searching the word BlizzCast in the iTunes store. As always we appreciate your support.

Bashiok: Bye!

Zarhym: Bye.

Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard, Other Games, Starcraft 2

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