Blizzcon 2010 Interview: Jay Wilson @ Diablo ESP


Another DiabloWikiJay Wilson interview from Blizzcon has popped up, this time courtesy of Diablo 3 ESP. It’s a group interview that was recorded at Blizzcon; the video is excellent (gameplay footage edited in, with Spanish subtitles for most of the Q&A), but the audio is poor and a lot of Jay’s replies are nearly inaudible. Never fear; I listened with headphones and did a fixed-up, more readable transcript for the whole thing, while adding in a few [comments in brackets] to explain some confusing stuff. There are a ton of wiki links also, if you want more info about the topics covered.

This is a good interview, one of the best from Blizzcon, both for the questions and Jay’s very informative answers. Topics covered include physics and destructibles, Artisan level up options, problems with the Wizard’s resource, item bonuses, added patch content, oversized tool tips, Murlocs, and more. Thanks once again to the intrepid Fmulder for the tip. Here’s a quote, click through for the whole thing and the videos.

Question: The stats that you have on items. One of the things I really liked in WoW was when you added the ability to see the difference between two items. Is that something you might put into Diablo 3? [He means see the item descriptions show side-by-side, showing your currently-equipped item compared to the new one you’re looking at in your inventory.]

Jay Wilson: The problem we’re having is that we made these cool grand giant glorious tool tips.  That take up like the whole screen. They’re really monstrous. And the issue we’re having now is there’s almost no place we can put them where they don’t cover up the character. Which is really bad. When you’re changing gear you want to see your character and how they look in the new item. We’re literally at a point where we’re talking about redoing all the tool tip art just to fix that problem. So right now proposing that the tool tips be even *larger* is not something that’s popular. But that’s a pretty awesome feature and I would like us to consider it.

Bonus points for the WoW dev sitting there the whole time, ignored and unquestioned.

 

Jay Wilson Interview, Blizzcon 2010

Videos courtesy of Diablo 3 ESP. Enhanced, non-verbatim transcript by IncGamers.

Question: How close to final are the various class DiabloWikiresources?
Jay Wilson: DiabloWikiFury is very much in transition. We still don’t think it’s done yet. The basic idea won’t change, but we don’t have it to a final point yet.

The DiabloWikiWizard—we’re still having a debate about whether her resource should scale or not. Right now, DiabloWikiArcane Power does not scale, and that’s the big difference between the Wizard’s resource and the DiabloWikiWitch Doctor‘s DiabloWikimana; the Wizard’s resource does not scale up over time. Otherwise they’re very similar. If we change that about mana the Wizard might just go to mana and we’d change the Witch Doctor’s to something new.

As for the DiabloWikiMonk, we’re happy with DiabloWikiSpirit and he plays very well. He’s our poster child for how to do a resource system.

Question: Any clue about the resource for the DiabloWikiDemon Hunter? [She used mana as a place holder in the Blizzcon demo.]
Jay Wilson: If I knew I would give you a clue. We decided not to worry about her resource until after Blizzcon.

Question: There will be objects [he means DiabloWikiitems] that give bonuses to particular resource systems?
Jay Wilson: Yes we’re definitely going to put in objects that will do that. It’s been a question of how we want to implement that.  Right now every class has their own resource. And that’s the goal. If we can’t get that to work, if we can’t make them different and all working adequately, then we might double up on some resources on some characters. We’ve waited to do the DiabloWikiitemization until we have the resources locked down. If they’re that different then we might restrict the resource bonuses to class-based items.

It feels pretty bad when you get say, a DiabloWikisword that’s got… it’s one thing to get a sword with say, plus DiabloWikistrength on it, and you decide not to use it because that bonus isn’t really the best for your Wizard. That’s one thing. But if you get a sword that has a resource bonus for another class, that’s entirely unusable for you, that’s no fun. That feels worse than just getting a stat that’s questionably not for you. Having an object that you can equip that states in it a bonus that’s useless to you, that feels bad.

We do have class-based items for that. We’re also doing a lot with enchantments, because enchantments don’t feel bad if you find an enchantment that’s not for you, the way an item is.

[Interesting that Jay says “find enchantments.” That makes it sound as though DiabloWikienchant will work like the other crafting DiabloWikirecipes. Artisans know some recipes by default and learn more as they level up, but the best recipes are found on scrolls from monster drops. You find them and give them to the appropriate DiabloWikiArtisan, and then they can DiabloWikicraft that recipe, making you semi-random items from it. Only the DiabloWikiMystic can Enchant, so apparently there are Enchant recipes, along with the other item crafting she provides.]

Question: The stats that you have on items. One of the things I really liked in WoW was when you added the ability to see the difference between two items. Is that something you might put into Diablo 3? [He means see the tool tip/hover descriptions side by side, showing your currently-equipped item compared to the new one you’re looking at in your inventory.]
Jay Wilson: The problem we’re having is that we made these cool grand giant glorious tool tips.  That take up like the whole screen. They’re really monstrous. And the issue we’re having now is there’s almost no place we can put them where they don’t cover up the character. Which is really bad. When you’re changing gear you want to see your character and how they look in the new item. We’re literally at a point where we’re talking about redoing all the tool tip art just to fix that problem. So right now proposing that the tool tips be even *larger* is not something that’s popular. But that’s a pretty awesome feature and I would like us to consider it.

Question: While playing the PvM demo this year, I noticed that the individual item drops now cause the party to break up a lot. Because when you’re in a dungeon playing in a group and you find something, you stop and look it over and compare it to your current gear, while the other players who didn’t just find something keep on fighting the DiabloWikimonsters. It really slows the action down in the multiplayer. Especially early on, when you’re constantly finding new items that are upgrades for your character. But part of the fun of Diablo III is finding items…
Jay Wilson: Unfortunately with that issue, even if we make the comparison quicker, [with the game showing both items at once, side by side], it takes about two seconds, if that long, for your friends to keep going and get off screen. So I don’t think we can make visuals fast enough to solve that problem.

We’ve tried to put a lot of hints in, for cooperative play, so other players notice if you stop moving. Especially if you open up a skill page or your inventory, we put an icon that displays over your character’s head and on your portrait so the other players will see it and know that you’re busy. That you’re doing something. So if you’re playing with people who are nice they’ll stop.

A lot of the time players form something of a gentleman’s agreement of a time when everyone can stop and look over their newly-found loot, so in the meantime we’ll can just keep on rushing through and grabbing loot. Those sort of issues largely come down to player communication. As developers, we’re looking at ways to make it easier for characters to communicate and we’re looking to put more option in for that.  After all, the game knows if a player is looking at their skill page, so why don’t we just provide some sort of in-game notification to other players? So the players in the game don’t have to wonder why someone in the game isn’t keeping up. When you know the other player is doing something specific, you’re a little more patient.

Question: In-game voice chat in Diablo?
Jay Wilson: Definitely.

Question: Will there be a way to record games in the Arena? Or some kind of spectator mode?
Jay Wilson: Right now we do not have a way to record PvP play. We would like to, but since PvP is not our primary feature set, it’s not our highest priority. It’s on our want list, but it may or may not make it depending on the priority of other features. If we can, we will.

Question: Will Diablo III get new content released in DiabloWikipatches, or only in DiabloWikiexpansions?
Jay Wilson: We haven?t really looked into our post-release content plans, but I would not expect us to do big content patch updates. Not like WoW or like an MMO. We’ll add in content in patches, but it will be smaller, like the way Starcraft 2 sometimes does in their patches. It won’t be something that’s on a regular schedule. It’ll be based on need, or based on “we have a really cool new thing we want to put out now and not wait on an expansion.” I?m sure we’ll do some things, but we don’t have any formal plans.

Question: Is there any determination of how to match up the players for the DiabloWikiArena? All of the characters [in the Blizzcon Arena demo] are evenly-equipped. When the game comes out how will it match up?
Jay Wilson: We’ll have DiabloWikimatchmaking, yes. We’ve not implemented that into Diablo III yet, but we have a lot of company experience with matchmaking in World of Warcraft and Starcraft, and what we’ve found is to consider character level, and then a [hidden from the player] skill ranking. The skill ranking is usually sufficient to make good player matches, because even if there’s a vast difference in gear between the characters, that’s reflected in the skill ranking. That’s what we’ve talked about for Diablo III, at least.

And you’ll also be able to go in with organized teams, or to play alone and get slotted into a random team.

Question: The arena was cool. I didn’t see that coming.
Jay Wilson: I’m glad we were finally able to surprise you guys with something. *laughter*

Question: How many levels for DiabloWikiArtisans?
Jay Wilson: Right now they have 5, that we provide an in-game visual to indicate. They also have a mastery path. There are several different tangents they can go down. The example is the DiabloWikiBlacksmith with swords. If you really like swords, you’d direct your Blacksmith to learn more recipes to make them. The idea is that’s kind of an DiabloWikiend game feature for crafting, where he can make pretty good swords normally, but if you want to be able to make ridiculously-good swords, you’d specialize in that. So then you’d spend a longer time getting that specialty for your Blacksmith. But if you changed your mind halfway down the road and decided you wanted to make DiabloWikiaxes, you could do that too. The Blacksmith won’t lose his sword specialty. So eventually you could work them all out if you wanted, but it will be optional.

Question: Inside each act, there will be several secure areas?
Jay Wilson: Yes. I don’t know if there will be “several,” but we do have a main DiabloWikitown that you’ll work out of, but every act is a little different. One of the things we’ve done in Diablo III is to try to make the world feel more like a real world, and less like a randomly-generated maze. So while there’s a lot of random generated, we try to do enough in-place method, so there’s not just a big area full of monsters. There are other towns to visit and other things you’ll run across while you’re playing.

[The Blizzcon demo in 2009 had a small settlement out in the desert, guarded by DiabloWikiNPCs that kept any monsters from entering. In the settlement were several DiabloWikiquest-giving NPCs, but no DiabloWikimerchants or any way to buy/sell supplies.]

Question: Can you tell us more about how the game DiabloWikiphysics can be used to defeat the DiabloWikimonsters?
Jay Wilson: When we did the game introduction [WWI 2008 gameplay movie] we had this collapsible wall that killed a bunch of zombies. For us it was just a minor feature, a cool little thing we put in there, but the fan feedback was very positive. We’d been putting in all sorts of things like that; wherever anything could fall down and looked dangerous, we tried to make that a function and it could fall and hurt things. We were a bit surprised though, by how strong the fan reaction was to the DiabloWikidestructibles, though.

So after that, we went into the game and put in a whole bunch of objects to destroy and crush monsters. More collapsible walls and barrels that roll out and hurt things, and chandeliers that fall on stuff. Anything that looked like it could fall and hurt the enemy. What we found though, was that it wasn’t that cool. A lot of it was just kind of distracting and clunky and hard to use. It wasn’t that fun. On some of the levels with destructible we increased the them by like a factor of twenty, which just made them super not fun. I’ve been like, hitting the designers with sticks for six months now to get them to pull those back a bit.

That kind of stuff probably wont have a huge impact on the game strategy. It’s generally a lot more awkward to use a destructible to kill something. And it’s generally more fun to just flat out kill it with your own characters. Occasionally it will be there, it’s fun to hit a wall and see it fall down, but we’re being very careful not to force it.

When it comes to physics it’s almost a different question. We do have physics in the game. The DiabloWikiGrenades we showed on the DiabloWikiDemon Hunter are an example of that. And those work with physics. The farther away from her you aim them, the farther she’ll throw them. You can actually ping them around corners and stuff. So in that case, the physics has a real impact.

Question: Are there going to be DiabloWikiMurlocs in Diablo III?
Jay Wilson: Murlocs? No.
Question: Thank you! *relieved. much laughter ensues*
WoW Dev: *Overjoyed to finally have a chance to talk* Aren’t Murlocs the secret class?
Jay Wilson: Dude! *acting shocked as though a secret has been revealed*

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  1. Risingred, it is not merger that changed Blizzard but commercial success of WoW, go check how much WoW bring moneys per moth, per year because of that Vivendi found that gaming can be serious business and they start poking and squishing Blizz for more, it is just matter of time when Blizz will start producing they products for all platforms like Call of Duty to increase profit even more.

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