I know Order of Light is coming out at the end of February. Are there going to be any further tie-in novels.
Do you know if they are going to come out more than once every two years?
Our Creative Development Department is always looking at different ways to continue to tell more stories in the Diablo universe. Right now I think the novels are in a good place, yeah, I definitely see more coming on the horizon.
As to the frequency. That depends. I think the way that we approach it is not so much a release schedule or a release cadence it’s more that when we have a story we feel we really want to tell.
Early on in the development of Reaper of Souls we realised that there was this entire story that took place between Diablo 3 and Reaper of Souls, where Tyrael realises that he’s got a serious problem and he’s got to solve it. His solution to that problem is actually the beginning of Reaper of Souls. That felt like a story that we could tell and that we wanted to sell. I think whenever we find a story we want to tell that doesn’t lend itself to being in a game that’s when we start talking about other media whether that’s putting stories up on the web or graphic novels or regular novels.
Regarding Trifecta stats. There is a huge issue now because that is just what everybody gears for. You want Crit chance, Crit damage and attack speed. Is there anything that is going to be done to steer away from that because I know in Paragon 2.0 you can put points in those stats but as far as gearing goes what else can we look for besides three?
So there is a multi-pronged approach on trifecta. I had mentioned before that it’s really a shame that damage is the only thing that people really care about and Life Steal is a contributor to that. By removing Life Steal we are hoping that some of the over-analysis of just maximising your damage number will ease up just a little bit. Things like increasing your toughness, your health will matter as well. In addition to that we have the primary and secondary split which we talked about a little earlier today but it allows you to get some bonuses, like Magic Find or Pick Up Radius and it’s not competing directly with those primary stats.
Most importantly, we don’t want to take away Trifecta. What we would rather do is provide you with even more options. If you can only have so many properties on an item, our goal is to say, you know what, instead of there just being three what if it was seven or eight properties you want and now you’re going to have to choose how you want to build your character. Cooldown reduction, resource cost
The bonus damage to a particular skill is proving to be a pretty deep well that we can go to for replayability. I have frequently been changing my build just because that. I start to find items to encourage me. Seven-Sided Strike (db) for example which I didn’t currently have on my Monk build, I find one or two items I still have in my inventory, all of a sudden I used that. I’m starting to enchant others ones to up that skill as well. That’s an interesting one to watch for sure.
Currently the Elite and Unique mobs are pretty boring. It’s basically another monster, except it’s blue and little bit bigger or golden and a little bit bigger. Are there any changes going to made to that. It gets pretty boring seeing…oh look, there’s an elite pack, it’s blue.
We’ve actually done some changes to both champion and rare packs. Champions, mostly we varied the number of guys you’re going to be running in to, so the packs aren’t always going to be three blue dudes who are the same.
For Rares, what we’ve done is instead of having one big yellow dude and his three little friends who are yellow and they are the same we are varying the numbers quite significantly like from 2 to 5, even 7 I think for the minions. We are also changing the composition of the minions so they are different creatures. Sometimes it will be a Skeleton Summoner with two shield skeletons and three skeleton archers or it could be a Skeleton Summoner with five burrowers.
We are adding a lot of variety in the monsters that can accompany the boss so that it feels every time you are running into something cohesive and different and not just…hey look, it’s one dude and his mini-me’s.
One of the major critiques for Diablo 3 was your weapon became the single most important item because all of your damage is derived from a high-top end damage.
Why was that deemed the superior system? I always found it backwards for a Wizard to be carrying a giant two-handed hammer as opposed to like an Orb. Are you carrying that same system over into Reaper of Souls?
Yeah, we’re pretty happy with it. I know it’s a series of design trade-offs. Nothing comes for free sometimes when there are tough decisions. The Wizard uses their weapon damage to power skills. I recognise that’s a departure from the way Diablo 2 did things but at the same time Diablo 2 had a different problem which was that you sometimes didn’t care about your weapon at all or there are certainly inventory slots and you could stack up Magic Find in every single slot because you didn’t care about a lot of other stats. So we had to make a trade off, there’s no easy answers and we really felt that using weapon damage allowed every body, all classes to care about stats on their items.
My first question is Demonic Essences, will they have any viability in Reaper of Souls? Will there be crafting plans above level 63 that will utilise Demonic Essences or my friends who have saved 3,000 of them should they just start crafting away.
My second question is Critical Mass is used in like 95% of my friends’ Wizard builds for the obvious reason that it reduces cooldowns and I know that you are going to have to do something about this passive. After playing the demo I love the direction the game is going but I’m curious, is the problem more with the passive or way that it is used with a skill like, let’s say Frost Nova?
I don’t think we’ll be able to answer that one for you today. (Demonic Essences)
I think the problem is it might be with the passive itself. I think that it’s aggravated by a extremely high proc-scalers on a number of Wizard skills. I think that we want to be looking at the proc-sclaer side. I think that we want to be looking at the passive itself, we want to make sure the Wizard has viable alternative passives that are exciting to use. Frost Nova itself I don’t think is the problem so there’s no plans to alter that. I think it’s really fun to CC an enemy. I think it feels powerful to perma CC an enemy but ultimately it’s bad for the long term health of the game. I think we want to be in a place, however we get there, where Frost Nova is still good and I get a good long CC out of it when I use it but I don’t think we want to be in a place where I can perma-stun enemies all the time.
Right now, Ubers are part of the “End Game” content you can explore but you need to do them for the Hellfire Rings…is there a place for something like this in the future with level 70 items and content?
Why did you split the item properties into categories? Will this impact the Mystic rolling things for those categories?
Yes, there could be a place for something like that in the future but we’re not announcing anything about something new with ubers today.
The reason why we did that is pretty straight-forward. There are some item properties that can never match some of the trifecta or primary stat ones. It really doesn’t matter how big your gold or health globe pick-up radius is it’s never going to be on the same thing. If ever you have an item where you can choose between more Intelligence for your Wizard or that it’s always going to lose out. But it’s valuable to have a secondary skills to have skills like that.
We didn’t want to have the compete with the main properties. The properties that are most competitive, the ones that give the item the majority of its power, they’ve been categorised so they can be trade-offs against each other on a more equal playing field. I think that gives valuable depth to it and it should add some choice back in, especially with the addition of some of the new ones.
And yes, with the Mystic, you can enchant the secondary or the primary properties.
Question follow up – No, is it possible to roll a secondary property into a primary property?
No. Primary properties roll into primaries and Secondaries into Secondary properties.
If you do a Collector’s Edition of Reaper of Souls could you ensure there are enough of them available that anyone who wants one can get one without having to go to a scalper?
We’ll certainly take that under advisement. I hate to say it but for fans to show their interest on the pre-sale side because that gives us a strong indication or at least retailers a strong indication of how many units.
We don’t actually determine how many units get manufactured. Retailers generally tell us how much they want based on the demand they are seeing. If you guys make a lot of noise, we’ll be happy to make more boxes.
People who have been playing since Diablo 3 first came out and we get up to MP10, are we going to be so over powered that we are going to stomp through the expansion.
It’s challenging, honestly, to have such wide variation in the item game where two level 60 characters, or in the future two level 70 characters could have such an incredible disparity but we like that as well. We don’t want you to be able to simply max out and oh “I’m done now”. We don’t want to happen in any short period of time. If you enjoy playing the game and you still enjoy killing monsters we still want you to have some sort of character you are chasing after. We don’t want to stop that from happening.
So 60 to 70 there’s some power inflation for sure and it’s not so much it’s out of control yet and in addition we will have more approaches to difficulty for people like that who can tune things to be a little more difficult. It’s probably not going to be Monster Power but we’ll probably give over-geared characters more ways to play as well. When you do get to that long end game and you’ve got a lot of Paragon levels you’re still finding something that’s challenging for yourself.
Now we are seeing angels as enemies in Reaper of Souls. Are you going to deviate from the humanoid with wings aesthetic, I know lore-wise they are creatures of orders but we might see something akin to like the weird configuration you’d fine in the old testament, just in terms of art and lore?
It’s pretty challenge to design stuff like that. We already have established looks for angels from past games so we have to stick to that and make sure we use an evolution of that look and make it interesting but not move away from it. When it comes to Malthael‘s agents and what they look like, from the lore point of view we wanted to tie into the angelic side of it, we felt that was going to be the interesting look for him. We used the idea of constructs. They are not demonic as such but things that he’s created and turned into bastardisation of angels so to speak. We tried to support that visually so it’s angelic armour with monstrous looks. We wanted to make sure it didn’t read like demons straight up, that would have been a little bit too easy I think.
The angels closer to Malthael have become corrupted in different ways. Even though Angels are doing something really horrible to humanity that doesn’t put them in the exact same category as Demons. They are still enemies, it’s still a three way system in there. So it’s important we keep the idea behind what corruption from demons looks like totally different to that of Angels.
Some of the Angels you’ll see in Pandemonium Fortress, that we haven’t actually shown yet but you might have seen glimpses of them in our gameplay movies, are starting to look different to the Angels you’ve seen thus far.
Would you consider releasing Diablo 1‘s original soundtrack as bonus content in the Expansion?
It’s certainly something we’ve talked about, we know there’s a lot of nostalgia around those games. My own personal experience is often times when we see those old games, new screens, new technology, higher resolutions it sort of takes the blush off the rose. If we were to put it out there and try to put it side by side with the majesty of something like D3 if it would really still hold that. It isn’t something we completely would be against but it is not something we plan on doing for Reaper.
(Ed. He misunderstood and though he was talking about the entire game) so he tries again.
Again, our marketing guy is in the back there so if he’s planning content for Collector’s Edition or whatever that might be a good thing we could toss in.
Since you are limited by gear in D3 and MP10 was an awesome addition, using that same formula that you used would you consider getting rid of the MP10 dropdown menu and just change it to a slider so you could go to say MP100 or whatever you want, even though you’ll get crushed in one hit. It’s just for the challenge.
Kevin: The MP system was something of a stop-gap. I think it did a pretty decent job for the goal we had when we patched it in. We have discussed trying …. (Ed. Then the sound cuts out in the live feed and comes back in with Josh saying….) “I think we’re going to call it Difficulty 2.0” and the panel laugh.
A week doesn’t go by when someone in the office doesn’t raise this topic. It’s something that we are interested in exploring and it’s something you guys want to do. I think the real challenge for us is finding a PvP mode that really feels like it could do justice to what the core fantasy of what Diablo is all about. One of the focusses for us in Reaper is focussing on the core elements, loot the heroes and I think we’re off to a really interesting direction and I think the future is going to be really interesting.
I think this applies to Followers too. We had a serious discussion about adding a new Follower early on in the development of the Expansion. We decided instead to deepen the Followers that we already have. We have three followers and we feel we didn’t do everything we wanted to do with them and some of the stuff we did do we thought we could improve on so we took the same amount of development time and we put it into making them better instead.
In Diablo 3 you could go to town, learn about their back story, where they came from. It was good but it was still just a conversation. Now in Reaper of Souls there story is going to continue to move forward. Each follower’s story will develop and evolve so now it’s not back story but happening real time. You still talk to them quite a bit but you are actually able to go on an adventure with your Follower and help their story advance and help them develop as a character.
They also get a good tuning pass too.
Have you considered removing the strobe light effects when monsters take hits. I feel like it takes away from the gothic feel and the fantastic monster art.
I think there are a lot of decisions we make that aren’t “real” and I would say that highlighting the monsters with outlines, that’s one of them. I think that when you are playing the game we really tried to focus on legibility. A lot of the stuff we are doing with art, I’ll give you an example, we use our backgrounds a little softer, your monsters and characters are a little bit harsher, they have a little different light. We play a little bit of a trick there, so they pop from the background so you can read them easily.
I think the highlighting is the same thing. You want to see what kind of damage your stuff is making, you want the visual feedback without having to look at the health bar or have them above the heads. It takes away from reality a little bit but hopefully it makes a little bit easier to read and a better game as a result.
It’s a good point though and we struggle with that stuff because we’re trying to find a sweet spot between it feeling really dark and gothic and has a nice Diablo-feel to it but at the same time make sure everything reads well and you’re not getting frustrated because you can click on something because you can’t see it or you don’t know how much damage you are making because you have no visual feedback.
Across the board a lot of Blizzard games have a lot of extensibility and add-ons, like the Starcraft map editor, World of Warcraft add-ons etc. In Diablo your character sheet DPS doesn’t line up with your actual effective DPS could there be some in-game tools, other than percentages, that would tell you you were going to do this much DPS so we don’t have to go kill a boss to figure out how long it takes to kill etc?
There’s always a conflict between what we want to do as players and what we want to do as designers. I wish the focus wasn’t so high on damage. Diablo is an action-RPG and I don’t think the game is in a good state when everyone is focussed on something like how much damage did I do. And if I’m in a four-player party everyone wants to compare…you know…who did the most damage to the boss. I think that elements such as who Crowd Controlled the boss and Froze it or Mobility or having an interesting build or amplifying the damage my party mates do it. There are so many elements that I would like to have matter more than just my damage.
We are focussed more on a variety of combat experiences and combat pacing and making sure that I’m playing strategically. I wouldn’t want to provide tools that cause people to become even more hyper-focussed on maximising a number.
I play in Infinity and I appreciate you guys are willing to allow that. Whenever I open my inventory windows they are way over here and here and I have to turn my head to look at them and I was wondering if you have plans to allow me to have the UI be constrained to the centre monitor or let me move my minimap or expand it so I can have it open on my right monitor. I’d love some customisation in the UI.
I’m glad that you’re playing it on that monitor and it’s working so well for you but right now we don’t have any plans to customise the UI.
Right now every class has a skill that allows you to convert your critical chance into resources, like extra Spirit when you generators for the Monk. Are you going to do anything to split those because right now when I see something like the Frostburns in the screenshot with no Crit I think I’m going to be limited with my resource generation and I’m wondering if those talents are going to stay or go away?
I don’t think our responsibility to make Crit worse, our job is to give you more things that you might want to do instead. I think that we should be looking at passive or rune option that make cooldown reduction even better. What a great place we would be if you are like…oh man I don’t think I want Crit on this item because I’d rather have resource cost reduction and cooldown reduction because that is way better for my build given the legendary I just got. No plans to directly hit Crit head on.
I play Nvidia3D on my BenQ monitor and when I was playing it I was like “Wow!” When I was in Caldeum the particles are right in my face, I’m absolutely love it. Going to PS4 will you guys implement 3D capabilities in that?
We haven’t planned anything like that for the PS4. We are always trying to make the game look better on PS4 because it’s got so much horsepower there. Thanks for that great suggestion.
Have you ever considered incorporating PvE elements into PvP mode to make it feel better so it’s not about all about the balance between the classes but there’s this tussle between how you are fighting the monster, racing to fight this monster at the same time as other people but you can fight them to stop them doing it etc?
I think that element of adding PvE elements, I think there is something there, I think that’s part of the solution, It’s somewhere in that space. Maybe it’s not PvP, maybe it’s PvEvP or something like that but again, we’re just focussing on what’s in front of us and hopefully at some point in the future we can have an announcement.
In the Gameplay System Panel you were talking about the right click and drag with the mouse and I was wondering how that is going to work on the Playstation 4?
Kevin: If I remember correctly, we showed a specific skill where it was coming down from heaven and we showed three iterations of it. The first two were mouse movements and both of those we got rid of because we didn’t feel they controlled very well. So the final version of the skill we have given the effect its own AI so you just fire it off as a Crusader and it goes ahead and attacks for you. Matthew: There are some skills that require a little bit more precision like for instance, Falling Sword, Barbarian’s Leap ability where you’re able to target specifically where you want to go. It’s more of a challenge on the console side of things and we tend to er more on making sure the game feels very responsive, kinetic and dynamic, even if we lose a little bit of precision. So you are probably going to see solutions similar to what we did with Leap where if you just tap the button it’s going to jump where you’ve targeted or where you press and hold it’ll jump the full distance. That is not an ideal solution and we’re still looking at maybe finding something better.
If I remember correctly, we showed a specific skill where it was coming down from heaven and we showed three iterations of it. The first two were mouse movements and both of those we got rid of because we didn’t feel they controlled very well. So the final version of the skill we have given the effect its own AI so you just fire it off as a Crusader and it goes ahead and attacks for you.
There are some skills that require a little bit more precision like for instance, Falling Sword, Barbarian’s Leap ability where you’re able to target specifically where you want to go. It’s more of a challenge on the console side of things and we tend to er more on making sure the game feels very responsive, kinetic and dynamic, even if we lose a little bit of precision. So you are probably going to see solutions similar to what we did with Leap where if you just tap the button it’s going to jump where you’ve targeted or where you press and hold it’ll jump the full distance. That is not an ideal solution and we’re still looking at maybe finding something better.
The weapons that are going to be dropping are going to have elemental effects and in current Diablo 3 only cold has a specific effect. Can you give us more specific on what a poison-enchanted or an arcane-enchanted weapon is going to do?
We haven’t worked that out yet.
I was a big Necromancer fan in Diablo 2 but with Glyphs and Witch Doctors I feel limited in what I can summon and do. Have you considered being able to get experience through your Glyphs or spells in order to increase the number of creatures you can summon or missiles that you can project?
Basically, can we have a lot more pets for the Witch Doctor, is that what you’re asking?
Not just the Witch Doctor. Missiles for Wizards or anybody who has any form of missile or pets or anything that can grow your damage?
Keep in mind that the damage is organised the amount of stuff you can have on the screen right now. I think doubling or tripling that can be done most effectively through uber skills like the new Demon Hunter’s skill where every type of ranged attack is coming off of her at the same time. We have fewer pets and we recognise that the pets we have for the Witch Doctor weren’t doing the equivalent damage of say 15 skeletons. There’s different ways to make them better. They are getting an overall tuning pass so pets can be effective at end game and higher difficulties.
Partly it’s sometimes a technical issue as well where we want to do fewer better things. More isn’t necessarily better. More can just mean more screen noise. We’d rather you had a few less, but more powerful pets on Witch Doctor or missiles in the air and then we can fill the screen with more enemies instead. Let’s give you more things to kill even if there is less of you. I like that approach and I do think there is something cool about the Necromancer killing half the screen with his own mini army. We’ve lost that a little bit. We had the Fetishes, that’s not quite the same as the skeletons and golems but we’ve gained something instead. We can put other things on the screen, most notably more expensive better looking effects and way more enemies.
Nephalem Rifts in particular, there is some crazy high-density stuff in there. You can have five minutes where the screen is just packed with skeletons and zombies you can barely move. It’s very interesting to try to use your skills in a different way in a room like that. The more players or players’ pets we put on screen, the less we can do stuff like that.
How do you feel about high level gems dropping? You’re probably sick of hearing about Diablo 2, but when a Zod rune dropped it was a memorable moment and if a Radiant Star emerald dropped that’s a pretty cool thing too.
There are some changes we are going to have to evaluate, particularly with the removal of the Auction House.
I think that the way that gems were experienced by the player is really changed in the presence of an Auction House. If you play through the game self-found you are actually happy to combine a few gems and you never actually reach Radiant Stars or Marquise. We are looking at what the removal of the Auction House allow us to do, or should we do for gems in the wake of them for gems.
With Diablo it’s a very linear storyline and with you guys wanting to add more random with the Adventure Modes etc, are there any plans to make the Events have consequences to them. If you do them or not. It feels like I don’t have control over if I want to do an event or it has any consequence
Tying a random event into stuff that’s happening elsewhere in the world, we have tried that long before Reaper of Souls and Diablo 3 developments and it’s fun in the way you describe but it causes one problem in that it removes a potential for randomness in the other situation as well. So if you did one thing, maybe even unintentionally you’re taking something else away otherwise and slows down our rules and our ability to roll more random worlds. We’ve decided to keep things more self-contained. You see this all through Diablo, long before Reaper of Souls. Most of those events are self-contained because we can do so much more with the game after that and we do lose that sort of tied-in sub plot connection to the world when we do that but it gives us a game that moves much faster and allows you to leave and come back whenever you want and still get things rolled. We don’t have to start saving 20 different choices you made in that game and therefore having 20 fewer random things happen next time you enter the game.
So we chose the randomness over that connection.
Remember before when I mentioned going on an Adventure with your Followerer and so in that particular case if you don’t go on that adventure with them then their story doesn’t progress so there is at least a consequence to your choice there.
We do have a couple of events in parts of the game that are actually sequential in the sense that if you’re playing and the first of this particular set of events rolls and you do it then you have the chance to do the second event which builds on the first. Not immediately but whenever that second event would roll. So if you don’t do that event the next time you play you are back in the pool of having a chance that that event will roll again.
Keep an eye on the BlizzCon Coverage Section for the full transcripts (not bullet point lists) of the Diablo 3 Panels, videos, hands-on reports, photos, screenshots and more.