DiabloWiki Reveals Diablo 3 Development Reversals

DiabloWiki Reveals Diablo 3 Development Reversals

Since Reaper of Souls’ release we’ve been updating like mad in DiabloWiki.net, adding new pages and updating old ones. While making such changes I always wind up reading some of the older pages, and since we’ve been documenting everything about the game since even before it was announced, the wiki has a lot of interesting Blue info from 2008-2011, back when the game features were in early development, and Diablo 3 development reversals were not uncommon.

With kindness!
With kindness!
I was going to call this post “Bashiok’s Lies” or something like that, meaning it sarcastically, but someone would have taken me seriously and misunderstood. (Someone always misunderstands.) Granted, misunderstood sarcasm leading to anger would have been perhaps the truest homage possible to Bashiok, but let’s just pretend the past is the past, and let it stay dead.

If you’re new to following Diablo 3, Bashiok was the sole Diablo 3 CM from the early days in 2008 until a couple of years ago when he took his irreverently sarcastic style back to the WoW team and was replaced by the more upbeat and “your opinion is super, thanks for sharing!” CMs we have now; Lylirra, Grimiku, Vaeflare, and Nevalistis.

Differences in communication styles aside, the current CMs do much the same thing Bashiok did back in the day; explain/defend the current state of the game, solicit fan comments and input, liaison between the devs and the media/fans, etc. Citing a CM’s reply on Issue X and saying, “they were lying” when Issue X changes later is like blaming the newspaper for bringing bad news. The CMs get their info from the devs, and spread it to the fans. They’re not designing the game or making policy. So don’t blame Bashiok for describing systems that were totally different in the final game; just look at it as interesting evidence of how the game changed during the development process. For instance, Artisans!

Artisans Original Features

Check out this quote from the original DiabloWikiArtisans FAQ, released when they were introduced in August 2010. Even the name is weird; back then Blizzard made a big deal about Diablo 3 not having just one town, but a caravan of merchants that traveled with the hero between acts, so the document was actually called the “Caravan FAQ.” Have you ever heard anyone say “Caravan” instead of “Town” at any point since the game’s release? No, of course not. Anyway, here’s what the 3 Artisans were going to do when first revealed, a year and a half before the game’s release (though Blizzard thought it was more like 9-12 months, at the time).

Q: What do the artisans offer?
A: Skilling up your artisans will unlock unique recipes, granting your character access to benefits that may not be found anywhere else in the world. The blacksmith crafts weapons and armor, and can add sockets to some items. The mystic creates scrolls, potions, magical weapons, spell runes, and charms, and can also enchant items. The jeweler crafts gems, amulets, and rings. The jeweler can also remove gems from socketed items and can combine gems to improve their quality.

That description isn’t totally inaccurate now, but for most of Diablo 3 it was like something from a different game, and about the only Mystic function that was preserved was the crafting of wands and staves, which just got moved to the Blacksmith. It’s also interesting to consider that “adding sockets” and “enchanting” were different things in the initial design. Sounds like sockets a different type of item property that wasn’t granted by affixes.

Death Penalties

Adding info about how DiabloWikideath and DiabloWikispiky damage and DiabloWikicombat and DiabloWikisurvival bonuses have changed in Reaper of Souls, I reworked the death page and got into the old 2008-2010 quotes about death penalties. The devs mentioned different approaches to Death Penalties all through 2008-2010, but always stressed that some sort of penalty was necessary to keep players honest and valuing all sorts of equipment bonuses.

I don’t think death penalties need to edge into the ‘punishment’ definition (although I realize that’s a confusion of terms) to be worthwhile.

Making sure someone can’t endlessly throw themselves against monsters/die/repeat and eventually win is something we’d want to stop. To make the player take pause and realize they’re not going to get past them unless they straighten up and pay attention and play better, or take some extra measures to buff up, or simply come up with a different strategy, those are the types of death penalties that work. Those are the ones we like and that I’m talking about.

Taking gold away from people, or taking a full level of experience away, yeah, that’s a wake up call. It’s also the quickest way to get someone to uninstall the game. A very select few people will put up with something like that. It’s fine in Diablo II because gold has almost no use, but imagine if it did. You’d be encouraged through the mechanic to grind in easier areas where you’re sure you couldn’t die just so you could earn gold safely. That sounds terrible. Without a gold penalty you can play the content you want to play and meanwhile you’re finding items and amounts of gold that are relevant.

This isn’t such a reversal as a mistake by the devs. The problem with D3’s death penalties was that they were so negligible that everyone went all offense, which worked fine until Inferno, when the “doubled” difficulty resulted in countless one-shot deaths and made players very unhappy. Especially since repairs costs were very high in the early days of Diablo 3. Thus Diablo 3 missed the whole point of death penalties — to incentivize some balance in play and gear — and made the transition to the highest difficulty level, where EHP mattered, painfully-abrupt.

And speaking of Death, remember DiabloWikiFatalities? *sigh*

Hardcore Characters Will Look Special

It took a while before the developers confirmed that Hardcore would return as a character mode, and when they did reveal it they talked repeatedly about how HC chars would look flashy and different than the immortals.

August 2010

"prestige and flashy things"
“prestige and flashy things”
Jay Wilson: Hardcore is definitely returning to Diablo III, but we haven’t decided what sort of special Battle.net features we’ll enable with it. We want to make sure that if you see a HC char on B.net, you’ll know they’re HC. It’s a status symbol, and it’s only one if you know. We’re looking for ways to reward players, and we’re sure we’ll have a set of HC achievements also.

September 2010

Will hardcore characters be more powerful than normal? –Spectrusv
No intent, no. But they’ll definitely have more prestige and flashy things to show off for being so awesome. –Diablo

People who don’t play Hardcore might not realize it, but this is completely not in the game. Hardcore and Softcore characters look exactly the same in B.net chat and even in the visual avatars in Clan channels. In D3 there was a bit of a red light overhead HCs on the character selection screen, and some skulls around the base of the banner, but it’s hardly noticeable. Now the game just shows “Hardcore” overhead in red letters on the char selection, but you can’t tell any diff between them on the list. I click my SC instead of HC chars all the time if I scroll up or down the list a bit, with only the Paragon level to differentiate them.

Meh. Bring me flashy and shiny, before I die.

While we’re on the topic of hardcore lies, let’s not comment about the time Bashiok suggested players might be able to pay real money to resurrect dead Hardcore characters. Forget. *for-get*


The infamous helm.
The infamous “starfish” helm.
Yes, the TLDR for this whole article is basically, “things change during development.” But it’s interesting to look at how much they change, and to see the explanations the devs offered for those changes, at the time and then afterwards. There are lots of other such skeletons in Diablo 3’s early closet, and interesting documentation of various weird (in retrospect) controversies, like the poor male wizard and his briefly-controversial Starfish hat.

But another day and another article for those.

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25 thoughts on “DiabloWiki Reveals Diablo 3 Development Reversals

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing :). Joking aside, I think the mystic being able to craft spell runes and potions would be a great feature for ROS. Can you imagine forging your own runes for skills like added fire damage, more crit or lower cool down etc, a bit similar to the sharagon points we get. Would be pretty cool.

    Also where are those animations we wanted, I still want my monk to deflect projectiles and do special finishers on the last enemy in a elite pack/boss for example. Come on Blizz, get this stuff in the game already, MOOO!

  2. Good article. But… Is it just a teaser? You’ve only mentioned the small differences here. The ones that only differ in detail but were essentially achieved or just of a cosmetical nature. What about the big guns? The ones that makes oneself wonder, what kinda game D3 could have been if they hadn’t been thrown out or “casualized”. (Like the old runesystem, for example.) Saving your bolts for further articles?

    • Not to say that a lot hasn’t been thrown out from what was promised, but the old rune system wasn’t that different from what we have now. The primary difference was that rather than unlocking by level, each rune was a random drop with 7 levels, spread out through the difficulties (1-2 in Normal, 3-4 in Nightmare, 5-7 in Hell, as this was before Inferno happened). Each of the five runes essentially would have been the same as the runes that each skill has now, just the higher level ones would have been stronger. The devs said, I believe, that each rune in the current system is equivalent to roughly a lvl 4 rune in the old system, so the only real difference is that old rune skills would have been more powerful at the Hell/Inferno level, but you would have had to farm for them, and could have gotten screwed on the build you wanted to make if a particular rune didn’t want to drop.

      As for the actual rune abilities, some would have been much better, because they were designed to scale to multiple levels rather than just one, but most would have been basically the same. For example, the Wizard skill Magic Missile’s rune Split, which currently gives two extra missiles (from 1 to 3) was supposed to give an extra missile per rune level, for a total of 8 missiles at lvl 7. This would have made Split a much more powerful and interesting rune to pick. On the other hand, other skills, Arcane Torrent-Disruption, Ray of Frost’s slow rune, and other skills like those, would have been exactly the same, just with higher numbers. In the end, a few skill runes got heavily nerfed due to their having only one level, rather than 7, but most of them would only have had minor changes, mostly numerical, from what they are today. And, let’s face it, the skills that have already been nerfed would still have been nerfed, just harder, because the lvl 7 rune’s numbers would have been higher.

      Because of this, I wouldn’t really say the old rune system got ‘casualized,’ since it’s basically the same. Honestly, considering how much complaining goes on about random drops (not to say that I’m any better), it’s better that skill runes unlock by level. While this is actually changing, some runes are still mostly just better than others, and it would have been a real drag to hunt for the upgrades to the skills you wanted to use, in addition to the items you wanted to use. People already complain enough about bad RNG on item drops; making skill runes also subject to bad RNG would have been a bad idea (which was one of the cited reasons for canning the system). Also, many new legendaries are adding special stuff to skills to make them more interesting, which is kind of like the old system, only better, since the items are adding actual extra benefits, instead of just higher numbers. Also, the ‘+skill damage%’ mod on items functions mostly the same way higher level runes for that skill would have, since most of them would have just increased the damage numbers.

      • You’re forgetting the set of affixes that were planned for runes to drop with. (Although I guess that some of the concepts, Blizz played around with then, got recycled into Loot 2.0…) Apart from that you’re right on the technical outcome being the same, but underestimating the value of immersion and building a bond to one his characters such an approach provides.

        • I suppose I’ve never really understood the ‘building a bond with your character’ thing. I have a bond with my character, I just don’t see how it would have been any different/better if I’d had to farm for my skills instead of just getting them. But whatever, different things appeal to different players.

          Also, on the subject of runes dropping with affixes, that was not part of the original skill rune system. As far as I can remember, it was something that the devs were planning to add to the system to fix some of the other problems with the system. I believe the main complaint was ‘I’ve got a full set of runes, so now any rune drops are kind of worthless.’ After the announcement, the new complaint was ‘since each rune drops with an affix, runes will take up way too much space because I’ll have to hoard different runes with different abilities.’ Anyway, the main point of my argument was that having runes drop with affixes wasn’t part of the original plan, it was meant as a fix for fan complaints, which in turn spawned more complaints about space. Frankly, the space concerned also ended up being relevant, as space is still a major concern of players. However, that one I think is much easier to answer: I think you should be able to buy any amount of stash pages you want, but have the cost increase exponentially. After 5 or 6 full pages it should cost upwards of 10 million gold per full page. This gives rich collectors stuff to do with their gold, while giving people with less more to work towards.

          • This detail on the reasons for rune affixes must have passed me. I have to admit that this is the first time hearing of it. May have been because of being hyped up so much before release ^^.

            There’s always room for more storage space. I’m already starting to run out of slots for mules. (Having four characters to care for, with another in the waiting, I’m not interested in playing right now.) So yes, please. Doesn’t matter, if expensive or not. Please, Blizz, please!

          • Runes were originally stored in their own inventory grid on the Skills page, so in theory they could have gone back to that if they kept ‘runes as drops.’ Considering they stripped out two stash pages before release(we finally got one back with RoS), allegedly due to concerns over the volume of data being produced early on, it does seem more likely they would have just had us cram rune drops in with everything else. (Some said the removal of the stashes was to herd you towards using the Auction House by giving you less room to store junk, making you want to sell it)

            In 2011 they had a theoretical rune design that got rid of the predictable colors (there were things like Crimson which added damage/fire damage and Indigo which did Multishot), making them all ‘unattuned.’ The way to figure out what it did was by socketing it into a skill. These runes also came with random stat bonuses, and would have permanently became locked to whatever skill you put it in.

            In 2012, the random drop runes joined skill trees and skill points in the design graveyard. They now unlock as you level, “I did want to cover that one of the added benefits of the new system is that you’ll be unlocking something every level all the way up to level 60”

            “We fully expect that some of you will be disappointed that runes won’t be part of the itemization system. Internally, it took us a long time to let go of that notion too and stop trying to force them into being items, and instead embrace the intent of the system. Integrating runes with the skill system directly gave us a bunch of great benefits, and even without runes we’re launching with more item types than Diablo II had.”

      • Just for amusement and although I’m quite sleepy, I’d like to present a concept idea (based around the theme “attunement”) I was playing around with in my head shortly before infos on Paragon 2.0 and Loot 2.0 were made public. Perhaps you’re interested in providing the one or other piece of constructive critique for future game design concepts. (If not, or if it’s just too much a block of text to be interested in even reading it, just say so.)

        The design idea for passive skills would have been a rather simple change: Instead of providing four (at the time three) passive slots, give eight “medals” to the player to distribute among the passives BUT with each passive providing three levels of power to “skill” into. This would allow the player to concentrate medals in a limited way, while not inhibiting him to spread them as thin as using eight lvl 1 passives.

        That was it for the easy part. The take on active skills was “a bit” more complex. It used dropped runes in a manner similar to gems. (In differentiation I’d called them “runeshards” for myself.) Thus different by color (Crimson, Obsidian, …,) and tier level, with higher tiers being “cubed” up by the jeweller. These could be put freely into one of the six shardslots, each and every skillrune had to offer, although at first only into one rune, furthermore defined as being the actively used one. The jeweller would then provide a second state of fixation through setting or unsetting these shards. (More on that further down – and probably a bit spread. Just for an easier understanding of the interconnections.)

        The essential idea behind the concept was that each player would be building up a more or less unique skill pyramid for each of his characters. (More a triangle, than a pyramid, but pyramid sounds cooler. ^^) This would be built up out by base skills, not by their runes. So to allow the player to use tier two runeshards , he would have had to set at least one tier 1 runeshard first. To set a tier two rune, there would have been at least two tier 1 runes needed to be set. And so on, until the whole pyramid is finally built up, with the number of active skills limiting the highest tier of shards that could be used by a character. (Thus max tier would have been six at the time, as no character had 28 active skills available to him.) Set shards overruling shards only put in; higher tier overruling lower tier.

        So theoretically you could have put a tier 5 shard into a rune with a fixed tier 2 shard not changing the skills place in the pyramid, while fixing it would only be possible, if the chain down the pyramid would have been free to support putting the skill from tier 2 to tier 5.) Once all shards in a certain rune are set, the player would have been able to put additional shards in the “siderunes” of the skill, further supporting the active rune. Filling up all siderunes would then allow a third state of fixation to the player, disallowing him to even take out these unset shards, but instead allowing him optimizing his character through now being able to set them. (This is the first choice included that I would deem as not being revertable – at all.)

        Now to the ingame uses and limitations of runeshards and the still rather left out two methods of fixation:

        The first usage was different to tier levels, thus was working the same with tier 1 shards, as it would be with tier 6 shards. Every shard put into one of a runes slots provided the rune with a level of it’s associated type. Shards in an active rune (see above) would simply increment the level, though, whereas lvl+1 shards would have been needed in siderunes, to raise the level further. (Adding up to a maximum of lvl 9; even more, if level enhancing item affixes would have found reintroduction into the game.) The effect of accumulating these levels would not have been an increase in the runes strength, though. The thought here was more similar to the skill changing, legendary affixes, providing different ways to further develop basic function or changing a runes utility. These would have been in stages, with lvl 1 providing the initial change, lvl 4 the next memorable step of change and lvl 8 the final one, with each step in between just building upon the previous change(s). Furthermore, the different type of shards should have been intermixable, with type reaching the highest lvl dominating the lesser one(s) on defining the end result of how the changed rune would be working. (With striking a balance between certain types possibly providing a special form and incorporating items into the calculation allowing for a 4th step at lvl 13.) Changes to skill effectivity should be kept to a minimum, though, although that could easily be balanced elsewhere if impossible to manage here. Additionally, levels provided by siderunes (or items) would have come with a drawback (…applicated during the active skills usage.) The player wouldn’t have been able to eliminate these, but reduce their effects through setting siderunes during the third state of fixation. (Not possible for items, but there I’ve thought that I’ve found a logical, practical niche for bound equipment for an arpg.)

        For allowing the player to boost damage or defense directly, I had thought about utilizing the enchanter, for example. She could have provided the ability to enchant the shards in each of the active runes. Unset shards would only provide the basic enchantment strength, while on set runes these would be multiplied by shardtier+1. Enchanting siderunes wouldn’t have been possible, though, and I would have liked to link the enchantments to certain conditions, for example only working in conjunction with a sword. As with drawbacks above, all effects gained would only have been worked (?) during the actual usage of the rune.

        That’s it for the basic design. The further uses I would call meta-gameelements. As I’m getting more drowsy by the minute and the post is quite long already, I’ll just sum up their uses and will elaborate another time – if needed. The first metagame would be using the skillarrangement in the pyramid like building runewords in D2, providing synergies to certain skills put in a row or any other predefined pattern. The effects would have been stronger on already fixed skills, while siderunes could have been opened up “unintended” gateways for ambient effects of the surroundings the player is in or disturbance of a certain synergy through monster skills. (Thus numerous ways of balancing without nerving.) The second metagame would have been an account, (an attunement balance, so to speak,) of all decisions made above, having effect on item affixes would be working differently on this character compared to another. One decision may raise the effectiveness of a certain affix, but lower its (, or another,) maximum cap. Or it could increase or lower the basic running speed, while the effectiveness of the affix itself is lowered through another decision. (And so on…) Thus providing different affix needs to each and every character.

        Here I’ll stop. It’s far more than enough of a bulk of text. I really would like to hear your thoughts on my idea. (Although it’s quite obvious that it’s essentially for the trash now, as it’s partly colliding with loot and paragon 2.0 design.) All of you a good night, (or whatever time of the day it is, where you are ^^).

        ’til then

        Alexis of Silverfang

        PS: As it’s the first time writing this idea out, I sure hope not to have over complicated my description. But feel free to ask about anythiny that’s unclear to you. May take me a dozen hours to answer them, though

        • Corrected formating in the forum, which regrettably has no effect here. (Where’s the edit button, when you need it?)

  3. What I really think is they came from WoW and after a while, they realized the didn’t have WoW budget and team size… Or they spent a big chunk of budget making the early version and restarting everything.

    Other things, imo, are just other things – in a sense that they just crashed and burn due to other reasons, apart from budget – like: how to scale Gargatuan: Wrathful Protector (the fire damage one) into arena pvp. If you don’t play a fire doc: my “primary, dumb”, skills deal 2,5 – 3 mi damage, fire gargatuan crits for 30mi or something without Mask of Jeram (which gives 75%-90% pet damage, iirc). Spirit Walk + “Stun” + gargatuan = problem. Thing like this are killing (or killed) arena PvP.

    Sometimes I fell like: “They are making this game for the 3rd time now, right?” Because, imo, the changes are so deep that they look like mods or remakes… Some sort of “D3 Median”, smaller scale. Problem is that they won’t get their time and budget back (ok, maybe they got AH budget back, but there other numbers involved, like people quitting thanks to AH, people quitting thanks to no AH, how that will affect future sales, etc..).

    In the end, as long as they don’t start with PoE-like drama: turning one build into trash every month, I’m fine. Because that’s the kind of thing that makes me quit. They not delivering things because it’s just normal, imo. As they say where I live: “The optimist is an uninformed pessimist. 🙂 ” (Yep, there’s an emote).

    That’s why I end up being happy playing this game – I don’t expect they to deliver, then they always deliver one thing or 2. “6 legendaries per run.” Right…

    And, expectations, optimism and broken promises aside, I would dare to say this game is very good, imo. Not great (some classes need serious attention, like skill buffs to increase diversity – or something), but very good.

    • It’s a good game as in it’s fun to play. But lack of depth in the design of secondary gamesystems and the (still) overfocusation on itemdependency leaves near to no incentive to set one’s wits to the game: Trial and error is practically the only method needed to play, as the design of these is built up and presented so simple and self-explaining that you’d have to have a selfdriven interest in maximizing efficiency to begin with, to bother with the math behind the game. And as character developement is fixed to a degree that the roleplaying part is basically non-existent, there’s not even the need/possibility to strategize on the best route in taking your character to the specializations you want them to have. Basically there’s only the possibility to set (, and reset, and reset, …,) your skillselection, defining the tactics for the primary gameplay. Then there’s RNG, the “my Wiz experienced new things, so my WD levelt, although they never talk to each other”-Paragon”family” and that’s basically it. (So to speak: Even if it’s sugarcoated, I don’t want to eat popcorn all the time. Last time at Blizzards, all they had were full meals. I’m missing having a full meal.)

  4. They probably got swept along with all the love for the game or the idea of the game so dished up more details than they maybe should have. Things that were well and truly on the drawing board not ready to reveal were and it’s never enough to add on ‘this may change before release’. No one notices that caveat, they just see the “shiny thing!”

    Emotions run high with this franchise.

    Thankfully there is a lot in the game to like now and most of the community here are willing it along. It’s like watching a cocky prize fighter go down in the first round. Shock and disbelief but you’re willing him along to get back up and come out fighting.

    I think the current team are doing that and that’s why I’m not fussed about the stuff above that didn’t make it off the drawing board.

    • I think they probably fell into a bad area between announcing too much, and announcing too little.

      If they had told us *everything* they were doing, people would have been more understanding when a lot of changed. If they had told us hardly anything, then what they did tell us people would have expected to be set pretty much in stone. They seemed to strike a middle chord where they told us a lot of stuff that ended up changing, but because they didn’t give us overwhelming amounts of information, people thought that what was being shared was stuff that was more or less fixed in stone.

      • I think their focus on avoiding sharing any story details, and only showing a few sections from Act 2, more from Act 1 and practically nothing from Act 3 and 4 didn’t help, either.

  5. I remember the stuff in this article (was madly obsessed for Diablo 3 info once it was announced)…who could forget that starfish hat? =)

    I’m sure lots of other games go through a ton of revisions and changes (Halo was originally supposed to be an RTS game if I remember correctly), but we see so much more of that from a Blizzard game (at least with Diablo 3) because 1) they take forever to finish and 2) Blizzard turns the “making of” process into a promotion for the game itself. It’s both frustrating and interesting to see this kind of transparency in game development. Some of their iteration ideas were clearly _never_ going to work as a final product (and really seem like wasted effort in hindsight) – would anyone want to manage an inventory full of dozens of skill runes and all the other items in the game?

    On the other hand, it’s fascinating to see how some aspects of the game’s UI have evolved (remember the Barbarian’s “traffic light” fury-o-meter?) – in the ROS:CE artbook, there’s a few pages showcasing old skill/inventory/UI screens (these pre-date the D3V final version) and it’s neat to look at those and compare with the way the final version looks.

    Lastly, I’ll never forget Elly’s pronunciation of “ar-tee-seans” on the podcast. Good times.=^-^=

    • No, you’re thinking of Flux. I was the one that halted the conversation to ask him to repeat what he’d just said. He pronounced it as in Polynesians. I pronounce it Art-i-sans.

      I have ribbed him about this since but he’s having none of it, won’t indulge me and thinks it’s not at all amusing. Damn party pooper.

  6. This rune system would have been amazing. It would have turned all the tears I cried over GW2’s changes into an amazing vodka so that I could drink myself to happiness over my own disappointment. (If it isn’t obvious already, I loved collecting skills in GW.)

    What I think would have been perfect is if the base runes unlock by level as they do now, but that random \level up\ runes specific to one skill or group of skills (whichever skills have a rune that shares that same graphic) would drop randomly. Let us apply that rune directly to a character and skill of choice, and make it a permanent choice, building a bit more of a permanent style for that character as we went along.

    My preference, in this wishful-thinking-exercise, would be that runes for any class could drop while playing any character, promoting cross-class play. And that the runes would not have random affixes, but would simply progress that skill’s rune effect from the base along a predesigned and balanced path to level III or V.

    In any case, this is a thing I hope they reconsider in the future. Thanks for the information.

  7. HAHAHAHA! I, Clavdivs, The God, share such fond memories on Bashiok! But as the times goes by, we have Bashiok2.0, in several tastes which are all the same, hand-picked and trained by the master himself! The God now favours the model which advised players to ‘lower their expectations’ about bugs and balance…

  8. I’m presuming Flux/Elly could find it if it is still out there, but the datamine of the beta client had lots of interesting ‘what could have been’ things in it, like PvP modes, a gambling NPC?, dialogue with the male Barbarian as the Diablo II Barbarian, removed skills (I remember Barbarian had the Monk/WD/Wizard passive that brought them back to life), etc. Not quite the same as the publicly discussed things, but I always thought it was interesting all the scraps of development that were found in it.

    Removed/changed things that I can recall, sort of:

    Seventh skill slot, removed to make it harder to get everything you want to use and force you to make some tough decisions for your build.

    Respecs having a high cost and/or inconvenience factor. Went from having escalating gold costs based on your level, to just having to go to town and use a specific ‘nephalem altar’ or something, to anywhere but with a CD on using the changed skill, to no specific location, no fees, just having to be in ‘out of combat’ status. (Skill points were also removed due to their respec policy getting increasingly lenient. The last straw was when testers would just rip everything out of their old skills and dump it into the newest one as they leveled, since the respec penalties must have been low or just an inconvenience at that point)

    The Witch Doctor’s initial design being some crazy thing where you could use your skills to interact with the Mongrels (zombie dogs) to give them different benefits.

    Jay Wilson, Bashiok, maybe others saying the Witch Doctor was being designed to not be a Necromancer clone nor have the ‘zookeeper’ playstyle and they didn’t see him as ‘the necro’ replacement. Jay saying they were planning ahead for the expansions as early as 2008 and that WD would be designed so if they wanted Necromancer back, there would be room for him. (Seems like they missed the perfect opportunity with Reaper, not sure if this will still happen… ;_; )

    Scrolls of Companion (items that summoned critters like the DH Companion skill Ferrets rune that picked up gold for you) that were removed because they felt they were underdeveloped and not quite good enough for the game, and also felt ‘mandatory’ to maximize your play while some of the animals summoned were too ‘cutesy.’ Unsure if this became the DH Companion skill or if that already existed, but they said they would ‘make companion pets into a much cooler system (both mechanically and visually).’

    Scrolls of Reforging (items that let you completely reroll the affixes on an item at the cost of permanent durability decreases) were scrapped alongside the above Scrolls of Companion, for the same ‘underdeveloped and not quite good enough’ reasoning. They were supposed to have been working to ‘evolve the reforging scrolls into a more meaningful system at some point in the future.’

    There was an insane philosophy (from a Diablo player’s perspective) they had for a while about there not being any ‘Town Portal’ allowed in the game due to potential combat exploits, finally reversed and implemented as the Stone of Recall, later just re-named to what it was, Town Portal.

    Cauldron of Jordan and Nephalem Cube which let you sell items and salvage items from your inventory. Removed after they reversed that Town Portal decision and thought that these “detracted from the benefits of returning to town to sell items, salvage, craft, and interact with the townsfolk. It’s a good idea to break up combat so that players have a moment to evaluate their gear and crafting options before venturing back out.”

    The initial Inferno design being something like ‘Play in whatever area you want, you like Act I? You can run it and still find the best items in the game!’

    Mystic having Enchantments that were like World of Warcraft enchantments, like having a recipe to add +10 All Resist to a shield. The devs did not like how this felt ‘mandatory’ whenever you got an upgrade to go and get it enchanted.

    Talisman system (was a grid you put Charms into, which gave stats) that started out with a complex and ambitious design and got whittled down to +stat per square, removed for being ‘too basic’ and not providing anything that you couldn’t get from equipping armor and weapons, along with another things of items to store and a big time investment from the player just to improve stats. According to Bashiok, they didn’t want to spend the time to fix it and that “it’ll very likely come back in some form or another after the game ships. And be awesome.”

    Jeweler and Blacksmith having the ability to Add Sockets to select item slots. I think this was cut, like the Mystic’s enchantments, for feeling ‘mandatory’ whenever you got new items to go back to town, enchant, pull out the gems from the old item, add a socket, add the gem.

    Apocalypse Difficulty (or something like that) that was going to be harder than Torment for Reaper of Souls.

    Gyrfalcon summon skill for Crusader. Technically was just in a datamine, but man, I was looking forward to this, and then it never materialized. 🙁

    And perhaps the biggest one of all, the ‘philosophy shift’ documented in Jay Wilson’s System Changes post where they went from ‘our thinking was that when an item dropped it should always be useful to you in some way’ to ‘We want to drop a ton of items, but to really pull off a sense of excitement when finding a great item, there needs to be non-optimal items, both for your class, and in general.’

    This flip-flop of philosophy also led to the stats being changed from Attack (Damage), Defense (Damage Reduction), Precision (Critical Chance), and Vitality (Life) to their current state, reinforcing the above philosophy that there *needs* to be ‘non-optimal’ items and allowing you to quickly identify ones that are not for your class.

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