Blue Explains How Dungeons are Randomized (or not)


Dungeons in Diablo III are random areas much like they were in (most of) Diablo II. Surface areas are not random in overall shape/size/layout, but they have sections within them that can host randomly-varying content. Got that? Here’s Bashiok, explaining it in a lot more detail. This is just an excerpt; click through for the whole post since it’s pretty long.

…while the exterior is largely static, within that defined landscape there are literal square holes (from small to huge) and within those empty square holes a great number of possible pieces can be dropped in. And they’re chosen randomly. So you may play a few games and always see empty terrain in the same place, but on your next playthrough you’ll instead have a broken down wagon appear and a DiabloWikiquest giver that needs you to go kill a unique DiabloWikifallen shaman who stole his tools to fix it. And maybe the playthrough after that the square puzzle piece is a short dungeon to explore with a big chest or mini-DiabloWikiboss at the end. Ideally it’ll encourage exploration of the exterior zones over and over, hoping to find that a rewarding adventure has appeared.

Dungeons on the other hand are completely randomized, same as Diablo II.* All of the halls and rooms and all the bits are shuffled around and it’s all different every time. Some of the rooms themselves will offer unique quests if they’re rolled up, and in some cases individual rooms themselves have those square chunks missing and within those randomly chosen rooms a number of random events can occur.

To the right you see a very high level map of the Act 2 desert surface areas, and as Bashiok explains. this area will always be shaped just like this in the game. The outer perimeter, the connections between the levels, etc. What will change are the content areas within it, with a boss pack, or a quest, or a small dungeon, etc randomly inserted into several spots within the wilderness. Players will soon learn where those locations are, but we’ll have to revisit them each game to see what’s in that place.

There are other reasons to explore as well. Chests or boss packs will always appear in various cul-de-sacs around the perimeter or in certain interior locations, and the monsters spread throughout are randomized as well, with bosses randomly appearing here or there, just as they did in Diablo II.

I like this system, from what I’ve played of it so far. The outdoor areas in D2 were randomized, but only by shape and their connection to the next area. Thus the exploration in D2 consisted of running around the perimeter, looking for the pathway to the next area, without much caring what was in the middle, since it was only varied in design, not content. The system they’re using in D3 allows for much more natural and varied level shapes, (instead of square pieces fitted together) and while you’ll learn where to go for the next area, you’ll want to explore to see what semi-random quest stuff has spawned in each game.

Update: Bashiok added a couple of short follow-ups to this post. Click through to read them.

The full post:

The exterior landscape will for the most part be static, but with pockets of randomness (this doesn’t include monster spawns which are still quite random). You’ll always know where the towns and roads are, and know the edges of the map. We felt that exploring the exteriors to find landmarks and quest areas wasn’t very compelling. It’s also more productive for co-op to be able to say to a friend ‘Let’s meet at this shrubbery’ and everyone knows how to quickly get there every time. Dungeons are more linear in the way that content is encountered, so they can be randomized quite a bit and you’re not very likely to be just running around aimlessly. Iif you do hit a dead end you’re at least assured you encountered plenty of battle (and thus loots) on the way.

So while the exterior is largely static, within that defined landscape there are literal square holes (from small to huge) and within those empty square holes a great number of possible pieces can be dropped in. And they’re chosen randomly. So you may play a few games and always see empty terrain in the same place, but on your next playthrough you’ll instead have a broken down wagon appear and a quest giver that needs you to go kill a unique fallen shaman who stole his tools to fix it. And maybe the playthrough after that the sqaure puzzle piece is a short dungeon to explore with a big chest or mini-boss at the end. Ideally it’ll encourage exploration of the exterior zones over and over, hoping to find that a rewarding adventure has appeared.

Dungeons on the other hand are completely randomized, same as Diablo II.* All of the halls and rooms and all the bits are shuffled around and it’s all different every time. Some of the rooms themselves will offer unique quests if they’re rolled up, and in some cases individual rooms themselves have those square chunks missing and within those randomly chosen rooms a number of random events can occur.

It’s a bit involved to explain, but very simple in practice (I believe some images of the square puzzle pieces were actually shown at a BlizzCon?).

*Some small “dungeons” are completely hand crafted and won’t include randomization of layout at all, but these are generally things like wine cellars or other underground areas of a few rooms or less.

Follow up posts added the next day:

I sincerely hope this is not a real quest. Wouldn’t the fallen shaman have gutted the guy and be eating his intestines or something?

Bashiok: Fallen are cowards (exception being the Champion), and it seems to me they probably like collecting shiny things. But I’m not a quest designer.

Fallen Champion, hmm? New monster revealed? Or just a rename of the Overseer.

Bashiok: Oops, yeah… Champion was the internal working name of the DiabloWikiOverseer before a final name was decided.

DiabloWikiChampion is a type of enemy, so there’s an obvious conflict there we wanted to avoid.

Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard People, Blue Posts, Game Features, Monsters

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