Four of the Diablo 3 devs took part in an hour-long Diablo 3 Developers Video Interview yesterday on a podcast called Twizzcast (part one and part two). They answered (and occasionally avoided) questions about coming D3 skill changes, the Diablo console, Diablo 3 ladders, Demon Hunter issues, Legendary improvements, and more. I’ve listened to the whole thing and typed up a summary of the best bits, which you can read below the fold.
Here are the key points and highlights, and even though we knew it already, I was surprised (and gratified) at how overtly Josh confirmed big Diablo content at this year’s Blizzcon.
- Josh Mosqueira: “I think Blizzcon is going to be very awesome this year. Especially if you like Diablo.”
- They are putting in work on some sort of Ladder system for Diablo 3. No details or ETA yet.
- Lots more ideas for cool potential/future Legendary item effects were shared.
- A lot of what might have been cool Legendary effects were actually turned into skill runes in the initial game launch.
- Lots of the Diablo console itemization changes such as fewer, better Rares, are sort of serving as test cases for possible future D3 PC changes.
- No new PvP system is under construction, though they’re still thinking about it constantly for long term implementation.
Part one of the interview can be seen and read below. The Diablo 3 developers present were: Josh Mosqueira, Game Director. Wyatt Cheng, Senior Technical Game Director. Travis Day, Game Designer. Jason Bender, Lead Console Designer.
Part One runs 47 minutes.
0:00 – 4:00 — Slow start with technical issues on streaming and skype, devs joining in one by one, chit chat, etc. Some intros from the devs, they all talk about how they love working at Blizzard, contributing to Diablo 3, discussing games all the time, etc. They have regular meetings to really brainstorm and work on concepts for improving things in Diablo 3. Huge plans and activities underwork, really confident that they’re going to make big improvements in the months to come.
Josh Mosqueira talks about how he came to Blizzard, working on the console, moving to the full Game Director, etc. One noteworthy part is his “Three core elements of Diablo 3.” 1) Epic Heroes that feel bigger than life. 2) Fighting huge hordes of hell, and making sure the monsters and boss fights are great. 3) Loot! At the end of the day it’s about the items, and they’re constantly discussing all of those issues and making changes to improve them.
11:20 — Console talk. Challenges of transferring the game, reworking the controls. Improvements and ways they like the controls and “feel” better on the console. Different playing without a cursor; better for some skills than others.
14:30 — Any changes coming to the PC interface and controls, based on the many changes to the UI for the console?
Easier ways to quickly pick up gear, quick-equip, etc? Blizzard says nothing planned, but the devs will be curious to see what fans think once it’s released. As for Dodge, probably not. Dodge feels great with an analogue stick, but not a natural fit with the mouse/keyboard. Someone mentions that Bashiok is planning a “sleep over” with 3 friends on the night of the console launch, for couch-gaming all night with new characters.
22:50 — Any hints for new character classes in Diablo 3?
No. Boilerplate reply about wanting any new classes to feel powerful, fun, take roles that current classes don’t occupy, etc.
24:00 — Anything you can tell us about future PvP stuff? Brawling isn’t getting it done.
Long pause on the reply. Vague comments about wanting a really good system, people on the team are very interested in doing something with PvP, but nothing to share about their plans any time soon. [Flux: I will ask MUCH better questions about upcoming PvP changes (or why not) in my interview tomorrow.]
27:00 — Itemization. What’s coming up? Changes and improvements?
(Reply finally starts at 29:00.) Very general reply, want items to be great, memories of awesome items in other games (Thunderfury in WoW.) They want to make a lot of improvements in items, they’ve been working on it for a long time, they want us to think of Legendaries as awesome, game-changing (but not game-breaking) items.
Some specific examples given:
Ethereal property from boots to enable running through monsters. Permanent Call of the Ancients (“If that skill didn’t suck”). A weapon that opens up “a black pit to hell” that sucks enemies in. An Item that would suck in all enemies when one dies which would let you use another skill to hit all the concentrated enemies. (They didn’t mention the “cast two Hydras at once” example, but they’ve said it many times before, so including it here for people who maybe haven’t heard it yet.) The goal is lots of big changes that aren’t just bigger numbers.
The Diablo Console incorporates many of the itemization changes coming up in the future. Fewer, better items. Better pace of item upgrades. There will be a very different economy on console without the Auction House, since self-finding means regular upgrades, instead of just buying something in the AH and then never finding anything better. They’re trying to make it so items don’t spawn with useless mods; Int + Str on the same ring, for example. What you find should be potentially useful for someone, rather than simply being useless combination of mods that no one would really want. And items that do truly unique things that change the way a character plays.
Wyatt sort of blames the huge and innovative skills and runes system for some lackluster Legendaries upon launch. For example, Sprint: Run like the Wind puts down tornadoes behind a Sprinting Barbarian. In another game that might have been an item effect. In Diablo III they were very focused on making the skills and runes awesome, and a lot of effects that might have been on items went onto runes. Going forward, they want to split the design a bit more, with improvements to runes and to items as well.
37:20 — Items or other ways to further boost skill runes or skill functions?
No plans to add more runes, but they want to make items that boost or enhance particular runes or skills. Increasing duration of effects, or splitting Magic Missile into more shots, or makes them bounce off of walls, etc. Not just limiting the Legendaries to boosting skills, but that’s one very easy and obvious improvement. Such as creating an Earthquake effect any time a Barbarian uses Leap.
40:50 — More content. Paragon levels, Infernal Machine, etc. Are we going to see any additional content features? Ladders and seasons in Diablo III?
Right now we’re talking about a lot of interesting things, including possible Ladders. For the future. Long term but also shorter term. In typical Blizzard fashion, I’ll say that you guys have to wait a little longer to hear about it. Josh Mosqueira, “I think Blizzcon is going to be very awesome this year. Especially if you like Diablo.”
Part two kicks in after technical difficulties aborted part one. It’s only 9 minutes long, to finish up the hour.
Wyatt Cheng on things that went well with Diablo 3.
It’s nice to get some positive feedback. Many fans feel that while there’s room for improvement on items and skills, the actual skill system structure is solid and fairly well-liked. While they have many plans to improve individual skills, they think the overall system and function is solid.
Every patch they do new builds open up. Lots of early experimentation that quickly settled on a few builds that are the best. Current example is Witch Doctor’s Cloud of Bats; some like, some don’t. But there should be multiple options to pick one that’s best for your play style. Sweet legendaries should/will support that further.
Demon Hunters problems. The most fan discontent about this class. Can you devs talk about the problems and solutions?
The Demon Hunter can feel very binary at times. Like you’re doing speed MP0 Inferno clears and dominating, or else it’s impossible and you’re dying like a dog.
There’s definitely an over-reliance on Shadow Power right now. [A skill that provides short term defensive buffs plus huge life leech.] We understand that it’s an issue and we’d like to change it. And that contributes to the Demon Hunter feeling “binary” since you’re going along fine and then suddenly you’re dead. And that’s not great.
I think that the damage ratios that you get between generating and spending Hatred are off. We’re actively examining that and plan to correct. No ETA, but we want to make clear that we know about it. For instance, Hungering Arrow does comparable or better damage than Impale. Impale is a heavy single target hatred spender while Hungering Arrow is free, and that’s way off balance. Impale needs a big buff.
Across the board, the benefit you get from quite a few Hatred spenders is insufficient.
Final thoughts from Josh Mosqueira on what’s coming up in the Diablo world.
Thanks for having us and we hope to do more direct fan interviews in the future. We like the direct two-way conversation, it’s more constructive than just forum posts and such.
As a long time fan of Diablo, one of my all time favorite moments in gaming was the opening of D1. With the cinematic with the crow eating the eye, and the amazing gothic feel of the game. And then spending hours going thgouth the Cathedrals and the rest of the game. What made D1 feel so special wasn’t just the characters and monsters and levels, but that it felt like a game I could keep coming back to over and over again.
As we’re sitting here now, a year after Diablo III’s launch, I’m really looking forward to the future. Diablo III has a few wrinkles in it, but at the foundation it’s a really strong game. I love the combat system and how visceral it is. It gives the game great legs to go into the future. What we’re working on a day to day basis is how to give you guys more options how to play the game. Give you more goals. Deliver on the promise that is Diablo.
I realize I’m the new guy in the director’s seat, but I came to Blizzard because I love Diablo and I want to really take on the challenge… how can I faithfully translate this awesome game to the console? And now going forward, how can we, and I mean we developers and the community as well, take this game into the future. I look forward to talking to you guys more, and when it’s time to reveal some of our future plans I hope you guys are as excited about them as we are here.
Good details on a lot of stuff, and not a bad selection of questions, especially from a non-Diablo streamer. The Devs were fairly forthcoming; more so than they wanted to be in some cases, I think. They’re not Bill Roper-esque in their PR-fu, and when they’re giving their “we like that idea but can’t give details about it yet” it’s not hard to tell when they’re talking about something that’s not even on the drawing board yet (PvP) or something that’s under heavy construction and will probably be part of D3X (Ladders, items overhaul).