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    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.

    Fatality!

    Fatality!

    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*


    Conclusion

    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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