Exclusive New Info on PvP, Beta Content, and D3 Patches


Our occasional columnist and podcast guest Grug attended the PAX East convention in Boston last week, and took the occasion to stop by the Diablo III demo and spend some time conversing with DiabloWikiBashiok. Rather than restating or elaborating on things, I’ll just quote Grug’s email, since he sums things up concisely.

Back at PAX East I got to talk to Micah Whipple one on one in person about Diablo 3. We covered a variety of topics, including the opening experience, progression, and other stuff. I learned a lot.

The beta content is exactly as it will appear in game. Nothing was “withheld” from the beta. All the story content and such that has been mentioned (by Blizzard as kept out of the Beta) was moved after the DiabloWikiSkeleton King fight in order to prevent spoilers and keep the early experience straightforward. In Bashiok’s own words, “It’s not helpful to us to have people testing a different version of the game.”

The other thing, more interesting, is in regards to PvP. He says that the reason PvP is not going to be with release is because they had not developed it very much. I was told that they had the basic functionality we saw at Blizzcon, but with only two arenas and none of the matchmaking or progression infrastructure they wanted. As was said in the press release, it came down to releasing the game or stalling for another few months.

In terms of post release support, there will NOT be any content updates aside from PVP post release. They will still make balance adjustments and bug fixes, but new dungeons, quests, and such will not happen. This is because Diablo 3 is a single box product and will be supported similarly to Diablo 2.

A few commenters have questioned if this is legit. I think so; I know Grug and know that he knows Bashiok personally. Note that Grug is a very active poster on the B.net forums, and is mentioned by name by Bashiok in this thread. It’s possible that Grug misheard or misremembered something between PAX and writing me this email, but he’s as knowledgeable about this stuff as anyone in the Diablo community, so I think we can take his report as accurate.

Bashiok’s comments about PvP and patch content are interesting but very straight-forward, so I don’t have anything to add to them. I am surprised by the info about the beta being identical in content to the full game, since it shoots down a theory that a lot of players have speculated about since the beta began. The theory is that the Diablo 3 Beta is much different in form than the full game. I wrote about it back in October, with credit to Grug for first pointing out several of the points of evidence.

Click through for more analysis of that issue:

Naturally, you’re encouraged to read the original article, but here’s a quick summary, mostly quoted from the original. (The only things in that article that are now out of date are the mentions of the three inventory items, since Blizzard removed the DiabloWikiNephalem Cube and the DiabloWikiCauldron of Jordan some months ago. However, the DiabloWikiTown Portal in the game now has the same problem of being abruptly and inexplicably granted by a quest reward that the DiabloWikiStone of Recall did back in the day.)

  • There are many more levels in Act One that are not in the beta than the levels that are in the beta.
  • Monsters lack variety or progression, and the Cultists are almost entirely excluded.
  • The 3 special inventory items are presented without any support story or quest connections. (Town Portal only, now.)
  • The Templar quest is rushed and feels incomplete, and also provides a weirdly-abrupt introduction to the Cultist monster type.
  • There’s no logical progression in content or design from the Cathedral to Leoric’s skeleton-themed levels.
  • Leoric appears and is defeated too soon in the game, with most of his story presented much later in the act.
  • In light of those issues, which seem the same now as they did back in September and October when beta testers knowledgeable about the larger plot and story of Act One first noticed them, I’m genuinely surprised to hear that the Beta is essentially identical to the full game.

    Perhaps the additional story content in the full game makes the sequence of events more logical, but it seems weird to me that we get a few early lore books and one short cinematic about DiabloWikiLeoric, battle him, defeat him, and then spend most of the rest of Act One clearing levels like Leoric’s Torture Chamber, Leoric’s Jail, and Leoric’s Manor. Other content found later in Act One includes the ghostly in-game cinematic of DiabloWikiQueen Alyssa‘s beheading, the discovery of lore books by DiabloWikiLachdanan and DiabloWikiLazarus, and several other Leoric-related things I won’t mention because SPOILERS.

    All of which are fine for game content, but all of which seem, to me, like content that would be best delivered before we battle Leoric, as knowing more about his madness and evil would add much more dramatic heft and importance to the battle.

    Apparently not, and some readers in comments have offered reasonable counter theories, that having faced Leoric, we’ll find all the rest of the content related to him more interesting.

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    1. “The beta content is exactly as it will appear in game. Nothing was “withheld” from the beta. All the story content and such that has been mentioned (by Blizzard as kept out of the Beta) was moved after the Skeleton King fight in order to prevent spoilers and keep the early experience straightforward. In Bashiok’s own words, “It’s not helpful to us to have people testing a different version of the game.”

      I was really hoping this wasn’t true.  I know it’s the beta, but overall, from start to Leoric just feels a bit…empty.  Hopefully it ramps up in content after Leoric.

    2. I don’t necessarily agreed with the idea that Leoric is “too soon.” I think to move him later in the act would place too much emphasis on the character. I think as we go to explore his manor, etc. we’ll find a bigger connection between Leoric and the cult, and this will lead us up to the act boss, who I think we all know who that is by now.

      If we fought Leoric after going through everything related to him, it might seem that the real boss was just kind of “tacked on” rather than being set up by the fight with the Skeleton King.

      One thing is clear: we’ve all been stuck in beta too long that we’re splitting hairs over the content. Three months from now Leoric will hardly be mentioned.  

      • I suspect that “related to Leoric” is the key idea here. I’m expecting that a lot of the rest of the plot of A1 will have to deal with his family, so introducing him early on gives context for his relatives.

        Sure, a lot of locations are named for him, but he was the king, so everything would be. Just because it’s “Leoric’s” torture chamber doesn’t mean other characters from the past didn’t have important events take place there.

      • I agree, but the content before fighting Leoric and the way it’s presented is still lacking. The audio book lore snippets and the ghostly cut scene showing Leoric’s death are great in concept but too lacking in substance to stand on their own. Overall bad writing probably play a part as well. If they had spent more than 2 minutes on Leoric’s monologues the fight might have felt more meaningful. Hell, just some creepier voice acting could have saved lines like “You will suffer, as I have suffered”. Sadly, no voice acting in the world could save a line like “You will never defeat me!!”. 

        What were they thinking? Would the game sell less copies if the writing had just a little bit of substance? Would people quit playing and thus generate less AH money? Have they no pride in what they put in the hands of millions of adults? A child could think of something better to write in a few hours, let alone 12 years.

        I just don’t get it. 

        • I’m with you Frank, but I think we might be freaks. The general tolerance level for cheesy scripting and cringe-worthy acting seems pretty high in the gaming world.

          There are games I can’t play because the voice acting just makes it unbearable (Knights of the Old Republic comes to mind). But if I mention to other players how appalling the acting is in a game, it’s usually met with: “Really? I didn’t notice.”

           

          • I can’t say I remember KotOR having bad voice acting. I’m sure you could prove me wrong, but the acting I do remember from that game were quite alright, although at times perhaps too lighthearted? Anyway, the voice acting heard in Diablo 3 so far range from good to abysmal, which is confusing. I think the inconsistency is what bothers me more than anything. This is actually true for the aesthetics as well to some extent. It has been said before, but while most areas look fantastic, some levels like the Tristram Cathedtral (both inside and outside) are somewhat generic and unstimulating.

          • The tolerance for cheesy things is pretty high across the entirety of nerd-dom. Watch the original Star Wars trilogy again… The vast majority of the dialogue in that is not really that deep either, hence all the jokes and spoofs that originate from it even these days.

    3. Dont forget that in Diablo 1, the Skeleton King was on level like level 2 or 3.  Its not like he was a mega boss before.  Im cool with it.

      • Butcher was lvl 2.  Skeleton king was lvl 5 or so, as the first catacombs boss, I believe?  Been a long time.

        • In D1, the Butcher was in a small room on level 2, in MP or SP. The Skeleton King was in s sub dungeon entered from level 3 in SP, and randomly located somewhere on level 3 in MP with a ton of skeleton minions. There were no special bosses on lvl 4, which was the last level of the Cathedral. Catacombs were 5-8 and had no special bosses.

          • I’m pretty sure that Zhaar the Mad and Gnarlbad the Weak were in the Catacombs.

            • Gharbad had a chance to appear on level 4, but he’s SP only and just a cute side quest; not a boss that’s built up to with the game story or anything.

              Zhar was also SP only and appeared 2/3 of the time on level 8.

              The tavern inn/Snotspill the Weak quest blocked the exit from 4 down to 5, but it also was SP only.

              Anyway, I was speaking of Leoric and the Butcher as the 2 main bosses since they were in MP, along with Lazarus and Diablo. All the other quests were single player only. (Leoric and Butcher actually do NOT appear ever SP game.)

              http://diablo2.diablowiki.net/Diablo_Quests

            • I’d consider those two just “special” mobs rather than bosses. The only reason I really consider the Butcher a boss, since he is alone, is his sheer power for such an early floor. But Gnarlbad the Weak, you don’t even have to fight him unless you want a second item out of him. Actually both of them are not hostile when you first find them.

      • He certainly was not a mega boss 🙂

        “Here you are Your Majesty: This is a new contraption called the ‘Holy Bolt’. I think you’ll find it quite… stimulating.”

        Good times… 

      • Butcher is level 2 and SK is in a sub-level of level 3. Outside of Diablo, SK is amongst biggest bosses in the game. There really aren’t very many bosses in D1.

    4. Isn’t it possible that we’ll keep running through Leoric related content because Leah is his granddaughter? People seem to be overlooking that. Maybe we’re looking through his estate and manor for clues about Aidan. Just a guess/theory.

    5. why does flux write every article in such negative tone? its like between the lines it sounds like “fuck this game” in every post i have read by him.

    6. about leoric, i dont mind seeing leoric content after he is defeated as long as it ties in with the story well afterwards.. i much more dislike the cartoony “YOU WILL NEVER DEFEAT ME BWAHAHAHAHA” lines.. it doesnt sound evil it sounds like a cartoon villain.

    7. Turns out it was just bad writing.

    8. Maybe the first time we defeated Leoric was merely a setback!  🙄

    9. That would be building Leroic up like he’s the act boss, he’s not. Why go through 3 hours of content, lore and zones to hype up the Skeleton king, defeat him and 20 minutes later take on the Act Boss?

    10. No new content other than Pvp? What happened to the Talisman and the mystic?

      • They always said they would save that for the xpac..

        • Actually, they always just said they would maybe bring them back later with a different function. They never said when or how they would be reintroduced. Although, obviously an expansion is the logical thing, but you never know…

    11. Oh its accurate all right. They just plan on selling us all the content that didnt make it, in the first expansion. Looks like BLizz is taking lessons from EA

      • Blizzard showed us the Talisman and the mystic at the Blizzcons but now they are planning to add those in the expansion pack which will not be released until at least 1,5 years?  That really sucks.

        • It’s going to be like D2X. No content additions in patches (other than PvP) and then an expansion that’s huge with tons of new stuff. that totally changes the game in one fell swoop. 

          D3 is getting a different philosophy than with MMORPGs like WoW, where the monthly fee entitles players to regular content updates + big expansion packs every now and then.

          • In terms of post release support, there will NOT be any content updates aside from PVP post release. They will still make balance adjustments and bug fixes, but new dungeons, quests, and such will not happen. This is because Diablo 3 is a single box product and will be supported similarly to Diablo 2.

            I could have sworn they promised free content updates in the past.  Whatevs i guess.  I can’t deny i will take their shit and i will like it.  🙂

            Edit: btw, there’s some kind of bug with using the blockquote html tag (possibly others). When i submit the post, it doesn’t work, but if i Edit, then Update it without changing anything, the blockquote tag then works.

            • Depends on what you consider content. In d2 there was content added in patches but they weren’t new areas, no monsters etc. They were new and changed items, new UI functions, the Pandemonium event, etc. Yes that’s added content, but not like an expansion.

              That said, despite what Bashiok said and Flux reiterated here, I’d be surprised if Blizzard doesn’t turn around on this. They could make minor side content areas/side quests as cheap DLC, not required for the canon game but perhaps to flesh out the characters’ back stories, add PvP game modes/arenas, etc., separate from the expansion pack. A lot of these side items could be guided by the stuff presented in lore books and help to sell those books as well. People could use their money they get from the auction house to buy this DLC…It just makes too much sense for them not to do it.

            • The only “content” they said they may add in patches is items. This statement doesn’t contradict that, as items are not considered “content” on their own. Content is new areas, new abilities, things like that.

    12. For me, it is completely logical. Even in Diablo 1 Leoric was not end boss of whole cathedral. Whole Act I plot in D3 is about the Fallen Star, not Leoric madness. So killing him so early is not bad idea, it gives player a taste of what is to come in terms of bosses. I think main villain of Act I will be someone completely different altogether.

    13. Spine, I have noticed this as well. Flux seems to dislike almost everything about Diablo 3, which is kinda surprising keeping in mind he is running a fan site about the game.

      If you look at diablofans.com the tone of news and attitude of commenters is alot more positive. The only downside is frequency of news posting.

      Thumbs down for Flux again. 

      • Reading diablofans is like reading us.battle.net/d3/en , straight from the “official” game guide.
        Nothing new or interesting to discuss.
        Yes, Flux criticise a lot but that’s how his standards are. Every author/critic/scribe/writer has his/her own way of expression things.
        On the other hand, the other writers here tend to be very positive about the game and its systems.

      • Lots of readers tell us that they enjoy this site precisely because we’re not trying to upsell you on everything. We’re here to provide news and analysis of D3; not talk you into buying a 2nd copy. That means we sometimes say game feature X is less than perfect, and if so try to provide some reason for our opinion.

        That said, I’m not sure what people are saying is negative about this article? It shares some interesting new info, and maybe people are blaming the messenger for bad news, since they’re unhappy to learn that we won’t get content in patches.

        If you’re such a devoted Bliz fan that you’re offended by someone questioning whether the structure of Act One’s storytelling is ideal, I don’t know what to say.  Even people who really like Diablo 3 are going to have opinions about ways in which it could be better, or different.  It’s a big, bad world out there. Other people are going to have opinions you don’t always agree with.

      • Meh. A lack of critique shows disinterest.

        • My thoughts exactly. White Knight-ery is a cancer to this industry.
          There was a day when it wasn’t called “complaining” but “giving feedback”. 

      • I and a lot of others come here because I don’t just hear praise when I read this stuff.  None of the content Flux or incgamers makes is delivered the way you describe it: “Blizzard is making a sucky game so our Blizzard fansite is here to tell people how much it sucks.”  

        Rather, it’s delivered in a funny/playful mocking, challenging, or intentionally objective manner.

      • AliFawidDuh,  A good portion of your comments have been negative about this site over the months. You visit frequently to post in a news item about how you don’t like the tone of a news item.  I’m letting your offtopic post remain in here only because flux has responded. If you have genuine feedback put it in the feedback forum where it belongs.

        The only advice is stop it. Stop putting yourself through this, your requirements can easily be met by a handful of other sites out there who provide all that you can get here.  So rather than taking time out of your day to keep telling us the same thing, spend it doing something else you enjoy.

    14. Nobody’s talking about how he said that there will be no content patches or whatnot.  They’re monetizing the game via. AH but won’t be continuing work? Wouldn’t they benefit from regularly added items? The biggest spenders will eventually max out and stop spending as much.
       
       

      • Oh god no. Diablo is not CoD and thankfully they don’t plan turning it into one. This was my biggest fear that there will be DLCs for Diablo 3. I don’t want any content past release that I will have to pay for, only bug fixes.

      • Perhaps, -gasp-, they’re not as money-grubbing as some had initially thought?

        It’s been a while, and I could be wrong, but I don’t think the original Diablo added anything like a content patch before LoD hit, and after that it was pretty much just Uber-Diablo (which could be considered a “bug fix” if having a SOJ-flooded economy can be considered a bug). 

        • Yup, it must have been a while, since if i recall correctly, none other diablo game had post launch revenue streams implemented into the game. D3 has, and to no supprise, it won’t offer any content in return. There goes the pro-rmah argument about post-launch content…

          • We are getting something in return, though: characters that don’t expire. That’s a big deal to a lot of people, myself included. If the RMAH is used towards that goal, well, it isn’t justified, but at least it’s a plus.

            • Ok, i might have worded it to strongly. I meant it won’t offer any content similar to say, WoW patches (but understandably smaller). As condescending as it might sound, lots of folks were naive enough to think that RMAH = you’re entitled to new content patches. I’m suprised that backlash about this is minimal. Also, i’m suprised that noone in Blizzard clarified this earlier then 2 freaking weeks before the release of game.
               

      • I’m guessing this is their current plan based on estimations that the RMAH and Gold AH will continue to function well through the expansion…

        But after the expansion if there is indeed a lot of gold inflation, RMAH deflation, and players stopping after they max out their characters, then you can bet Blizzard will turn around on this and create new, more powerful items to go find/sell.  

    15. in the incgamers stream today, Bowzer made it sound like there was some big secret the streamers knew about why PvP wasn’t in, but they weren’t allowed to talk about 

      • I really don’t know what you’re getting at here…
        If you’re trying to say this was the big secret…well, I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like any kind of a big secret. I didn’t hear what you’re talking about but I bet you were picking up on them trying to keep from talking about something spoilery…

        • I hadn’t told anyone but Elly about this info before it was posted, so they weren’t referring to this.

          Rumors through the grapevine asserted that PvP was simply not developed, with almost no work done on it since last year’s Blizzcon, so they might have been referencing that fact, which seems confirmed by Grug’s email here.

    16. Actually, it seems a little funny to me to let Leoric’s story advance too far before we beat him. Allowing us to meet King Leoric mostly sane through the lore at the same time as we defeat his husk reminds us of his humanity as we set to killing him. If Leoric’s already a broken mad, husk in the lore by the time we defeat him, then the battle actually loses dramatic tension because his death as the Skeleton King feels, if anything, more right and necessary. The effect of reflecting on his humanity is extended by allowing his memory to haunt us for the rest of the Act. We defeat the monster, but can’t defeat the memories or save the past. I think it sounds daunting. Which is the right idea.

      • If that’s the intention, then it’s very clever.

        If not, you should be writing for Blizzard. Great analysis!

         

    17. I am also surprised by this as I thought the beta was not act I. Especially the Templar quest as he appears with cultists that are seen nowhere else in the beta. I thought this was “copy-pasted” from a later part of the game to introduce the Templar and allow us to play with him during the beta. I hope this is just another mistake by Bash and that, as I thought it was, beta is just different parts of act one “glued” together but not the real act one as it should unfold in the final game.

      • …Bashiok could have forgotten about Templar/that they moved him, but not about the pace and the timing of the huge events like the Skeleton King.

    18. “The Skeletooon Kiiiing?!!” – Cain after seeing the Skeleton King.
       
      Bad writing. That says it all.

    19. no new content =( im sad. i was very much looking forward to new items and a bit new content (like uberquest) every few months 

    20. It is amazing how far the gaming community has come. 5 years ago the community would have been up in arms if a company monetized new content between expansions, now people are upset that they will NOT be getting any new content between expansions.

      • It wasn’t really a stretch to imagine that they would offer some kind of content patches (obviously way smaller in scope than WoW’s) seeing they will have a steady stream of income from the RMAH.
         
        But oh well, not really surprised that they won’t seeing the company decision makers consist of a bunch of asshats nowdays.

      • Expansions are DLC.  The difference you’re talking about is only a matter of scope/amount of changes required for our hard-earned money, and not only is the delivery of content much easier now but companies are much better at gauging what’s worth it to us than they were before.  I don’t think peoples’ opinions have changed…they are still opposed to spending as much as they would on a boxed expansion for few changes to the game, are still opposed to feeling required to spend money on minor thing in order to keep up/compete, and are opposed to companies holding back content they already have created in order to monetize it later on.

    21. The main pro argument for a RMAH was to get some additional content due to increased opportunity for revenue.  Now we are getting a RMAH and no extra content with some of the revenue from it? I am really, really disappointed in hearing that.  The reason I am disappointed was because I really hate how the RMAH affects the game, yet I did not mind it as much if we got content from the revenue from it.  Now it is just disappointing.

    22. The confusion is being caused by people that have no experience with D2 imo. I’m not criticizing anyone for being too young to have played D2 but we need to accept that not everyone “get’s it”. This is old news guys really. 🙄 It’s confirming what most of us have already expected. Unfortunately though imo, the game will need dlc to keep it alive and competitive as this isn’t 2003 or whatever the year was when D2 launched. Meh, whatever.

      I will criticize you guys for rolling completely OT lol.

      • Cough D2 was released in 2000 it will be 11 years and 11 months old when D3 is released.

      • *cough* and many people still play D2 today, which is in your opinion based in some pre-historic era and nowhere near competetive. So your argument is invalid, Diablo 3 will have steady player base years after its release even without additional DLC *cough* CoD anyone? *cough* crap, that is supposed to prolong the game lifespan. True Diablo fans will return to this game even after years, and the fan base is pretty huge.

    23. …or split bone if you will.

    24. Wait… does this mean they have removed the scene with The king And Lazarus chopping off the queens bonce?

      They must have if this is the same stuff as we get in retail?.. 

    25. Am I the only one dissapointed in no new content in patches? I wasn’t expecting dungeons or monsters
      , but more new items later on would have been nice like some D2 patches.

    26. There’s no logical progression in content or design from the Cathedral to Leoric’s skeleton-themed levels.

      On this point it’s actually the same as in Diablo 1.  In Diablo 1 on the 3rd level of the Cathedral I think you are usually randomly given either the poisoned well or the Skele King hidden away in a crack in the wall that leads to a dungeon.  So I guess you could think of it in a similar fashion.  This time it’s just the one possible outcome…though it would be funny to randomly be skipped over the Skele King to clean a well lol.

    27. I played the beta and maybe I missed it or simply misunderstood but I don’t understand the story arch.  If we killed him in D1 and I think in the lead up to his chamber its indicated he was already defeated, how was he resurrected?se

      • “The power of the fallen star awakened me!”

        Probably sums it up. And technically, he was already dead in D1 before we “killed” him.

    28. Really disappointing if they release no new content in patches.
      Even Diablo 2 had new content in some patches.

      • It was basically just items, until after patch 1.10.  I stopped playing before 1.11, so I don’t know exactly when the pandemonium event was put in.  I don’t know why people expected content patches before the expansion, seeing as how this isn’t an MMO.

    29. “This is because Diablo 3 is a single box product and will be supported similarly to Diablo 2.”

      Oh, so you mean only ONE expansion will ever be developed for the game.

      Well that’s lame. 

      • Pretty sure that instead of working on a 2nd expansion for D2, they were working on D3.  Besides, the Diablo series isn’t an MMO, why would it need more than one?

        • I dunno, maybe so D3 doesn’t end up the same way as D2x did i.e. plethora of Baal-runs (and other variations), beucase there’s nothing else viable or interesting to do.

        • Starcraft 2 isn’t an MMO either and it was designed from early on in development to have 2 expansions… So why not Diablo 3?

      • They have many times said they’re planning at least 2 expansions for D3. Nothing in Bashiok’s comments in this post counter that.

    30. I must be misremembering that Blizzard defended the always online “feature” by dangling the carrot of additional content.  Not that it matters now, but I am misremembering, right?

    31. There must be some lore if not added content that is not available. I recall there is a “History of New Tristram” book in the Slaughtered Calf Inn which seems utterly useless. When you click on it it just disappears and has no baring on whether the villager in town will talk to you about “The History of New Tristram”. Something seems amiss to me.

      • Yeah that and the Gravedigger’s bones were added a couple patches ago. They were probably last-minute additions that they felt they had time to bring in actors for but didn’t get around to implementing in the beta. Much like the broken skeleton lore.

    32. I’m frankly not surprised at all that the Beta is identical to the final game. Blizzard has always implied as such and never really gave us a reason to suspect otherwise. Any “evidence” has just been speculation due to the order the content is in…
       
      I find it kind of sad that the reason PvP is not in is simply because they hadn’t worked on it. One would hope they would have intermingled working on the arena system with the rest of the game, but I guess it was a low priority for them… 😕

      • It better not be. No problems with the SK being presented early in Act 1.

        Agree with flux that beta content is poorly presented with regards to quests and story progression to the SK. Voice acting sucks and writing is cheesy per prior posts (wth is up with JONDDDDDDDDDDDDAAAAAAARRRRRRR?).

        The templar quest feels like a mod that was inserted into the game as an afterthought. Seriously you need the templar to break down some debris blocking stairs?????? Why couldn’t it be something like a malicious, purple glowing barrier blocking entrance to a dedicated room before the next levels requiring the templar to invoke a special templar-ish spell to get rid of it (instead in the beta he pokes the debris with his spear to access some stairs???)

        Blizz is a dev known for polishing its titles before release, I hope they sweat busting out multiple cans of wax for this.

        After all wasn’t bolstering the game’s story one of blizz’s big platform goals for D3?

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