Blizzcon 2010 Interview: Julian Love @ Atomix - Diabloii.Net

Blizzcon 2010 Interview: Julian Love @ Atomix


Another Blizzcon interview has popped up, with Lead Technical Artist DiabloWikiJulian Love speaking with a reporter from Atomix.vg.  The site’s in Spanish and so are the questions and subtitles, but Julian’s speaking English and he fills seven minutes with good stuff about what makes Diablo III a worthy successor to Diablo II, the basics of class design, iteration turning good ideas into great ones, the randomness their game engine is built to support, how Diablo III’s more engaging story will be presented, and more.

Here’s a quote; click through for the embedded video and a full transcript.

Julian Love:  It is our own engine. Designed from the ground up to work just for Diablo III. I was there at the start when we did it so I know all about it. *laughing*  It’s cool about what Blizzard does with this game. I know a lot of companies will cut work to save money. They’ll say you’re going to use this engine, you’re going to use that engine. And sometimes it makes a lot of sense. But for us, the thing is, we allow each game team to do what’s right for their game.

This particular engine it’s not like it has tons of bells and whistles in terms of graphics technology, but what it has are a lot of specific things built into it to facilitate the kinds of things that make a game like Diablo what it needs to be.

A good example is a lot of different kinds of randomization. We can randomize monsters, we an randomize tiles for the dungeons… we have a system called subscenes which allows us to make an area of the world kind of like a donut where you can separate it from the whole. So you have all these different layers of different kinds of randomness, so that’s probably the key technology that’s gone into this.

Thanks once again to fmulder for the tip.

Julian starts speaking @ 1:30, after the intro footage of Blizzcon, the line to play the Diablo III demo, and some scenes from the DiabloWikiDemon Hunter cinematic.

This is not a word for word transcript, but has been fixed up a bit to make for easier reading. Click the various links for more information on the topics, from the Diablo wiki.

Julian Love:  First of all, you can expect a little bit of what was in Diablo II.  A lot of randomness, dungeons, creepy monsters, a big demon invasion, 5 iconic classes that become really powerful as you level them up and do a really good job of destroying monsters, and a very visceral combat experience.  Those are all things that are being carried over from Diablo II.

We’ve also got a lot of new things. A deeper, more engaging, epic storyline. We also get away from telling the DiabloWikistory to the player by having them read, to telling it through actions seen in the world. You’ll encounter the story as you’re playing the game.

Also the DiabloWikiskillrune system that we revamped and covered in the panel yesterday. It’ll allow you to change what your skills do and what they look like. So you’ll have a huge variety of possibilities per class.

Julian Love:  Each one of the classes has to eventually fit into the world of Diablo. Each class also has to fit the gameplay style. We can’t just change all of the ways that the combat mechanics work for the individual classes. There’s still that classic, one-click button gameplay Diablo style that things have to fit with.  At the same time we have to make the classes play in a way that’s distinct enough from one another that they have their own identity.

For example, it’s really important for the DiabloWikiBarbarian that everything is very physically oriented. That he does things that are physical actions. Swinging weapons, throwing his body around. Whereas if you contrast that with the DiabloWikiDemon Hunter who is our ranged class, we wanted… Demon Hunters are made, not born. So there’s a lot of use of gadgets and borrowing magic from demons, and knowledge from them. It’s not inherently hers; she borrows. It. And using DiabloWikicrossbows, she’s a marksman. That’s very different than the Barbarian. She doesn’t want to get close to the monsters, while he’s a very up close class.

Julian Love:  The demon hunter is really cool. We started out building that class a long time ago but we couldn’t quite figure out what the twist was going to be. If you look at the character, using bows, you might think well why wouldn’t we go with like a woodland DiabloWikiranger type character. That’s where we started out, but we want to always provide that twist, that’s going to make the character recognizable, but different. Make the class something new. With the DH what we ended up doing was bring in this really dark Diablo gothic feel. She’s got almost what the DiabloWikinecromancer brought to Diablo 2. She’s got a darkness, a hatred for demons.  She’s got this investment in shadow magic. She’s got a high degree of agility to get away from monsters. You see that in the skill DiabloWikiVault.

But from a story point of view. There’s a really good reason for there to be demon hunters in the world. What you see in the story is we’ve got this huge, never seen before invasion of DiabloWikidemons coming. People in the world aren’t sure what’s coming, what’s going on, but it’s on it’s way. So having a char that’s like a demon hunter, who has a single minded hatred for demons. All they want to do is hunt demons down and eradicate them.  It really underlines where the story is going to go.

Julian Love:  It is our own engine. Designed from the ground up to work just for Diablo III. I was there at the start when we did it so I know all about it. *laughing*  It’s cool about what Blizzard does with this game. I know a lot of companies will cut work to save money. They’ll say you’re going to use this engine, you’re going to use that engine. And sometimes it makes a lot of sense. But for us, the thing is, we allow each game team to do what’s right for their game.

This particular engine it’s not like it has tons of bells and whistles in terms of graphics technology, but what it has are a lot of specific things built into it to facilitate the kinds of things that make a game like Diablo what it needs to be.

A good example is a lot of different kinds of DiabloWikirandomization. We can randomize monsters, we an randomize tiles for the dungeons… we have a system called subscenes which allows us to make an area of the world kind of like a donut where you can separate it from the whole. So you have all these different layers of different kinds of randomness, so that’s probably the key technology that’s gone into this.

Julian Love:  There’s more story-telling going on while you’re out playing. We put a big focus on trying to let the player stay out playing. Not so many trips back to town. Finding the story while you’re out in the world, so you don’t have to go back to town to get quests or to keep the story going.

Another way is “hyper randomness.”  Randomizing not only DiabloWikimonsters, but also the scenes and the things that can be inside the scenes. We have a random events system where when you replay the game, you’ll go to an area where before there was nothing, but this time you go back and there’s a huge event, where maybe there these Moon Clan shamans doing some crazy thing. You go back the next time and there’s a cave and you can go in and all of a sudden there’s a whole new dungeon you’ve never been in before.

That kind of randomization is going to unlock a heavy amount of replayability into the game.

Julian Love:  We haven’t really changed our course at all. The best way to answer this question… there’s this idea out there that there are good ideas and bad ideas. That’s not really true. Mostly there are good ideas, just not always good ideas that can be executed. You might take your idea and try it on… Like the demon hunter, originally it was a ranger type class, but maybe that was a bad idea because it wasn’t working out. Not true; it just had to be iterated enough to draw out all of its potential.

So what we’ve seen are not a lot of cases where our starting objectives changed a lot. They were always really good objectives. We wanted to make the game very approachable. We wanted to make sure we brought enough of the old game that forward with us so that you would recognize that it was a Diablo game in the Diablo world, and that it would still play like my favorite Diablo game. But at the same time we wanted to bring in these new elements to freshen it up. The DiabloWikiskill runes system is an example of that. The DiabloWikitraits system is an example of that. DiabloWikiDyes that allow you to customize the way your character looks is a big example of that.  Those things weren’t really in the old game, older games,  But by bringing them forward, along with the stuff that you’re familiar with, can make something that’s a new experience.

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  1. Who else here thinks those should be the icons used for the game as the characters “avatar”? =D

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