Extensive Slides from Jay Wilson’s Diablo 3 GDC Postmortem

dia_24We’re still waiting for videos of the GDC presentations by Jay Wilson and Wyatt Cheng, but today we’ve got a huge selection of photos of the Powerpoint slides Jay used to illustrate his Diablo 3 Postmortem, thanks to Secondii who points us to Japanese site Game Watch. They present the slides with a lengthy article, but it’s in Japanese and the Google translation is not very good. Here’s a quote from the article, to give you a sense of the quality of translation you’ll be wading through.

?Title to say but in that sense and still ongoing, two sessions were conducted in relation to “Diablo III” at GDC 2013. In: “The Making of Diablo III Shout at The Devil”, dissected the game design of “Diablo III”,: the iteration process has been published mainly in the “Through The Grinder Refining Diablo III’s Game System”.

Was a session from a different perspective, both what has been said is remarkably similar Coincidentally, it was intended to break away from the glory of the past it is that “Diablo II” how, of whether Umidaseru a game that was in the era. It was a session that was felt kind of pressure to make a sequel to a proven work. I want to introduce immediately.

And so on. Happily, most of the slides are informative in of themselves, with captions and talking points. Plus there are quite a few showing off early iterations of the skill trees that haven’t been seen before and made me tingle with “what might have been” vibrations.

There are over 50 slides in total; click through to see them all sorted by subject. These include Potions and Combat, Skill System Interface Evolution, Combat and Potions, and more. It’s good stuff.

The Seven Design Pillars of Diablo 3

As we anticipated, Jay’s talk focused on his Seven Design Pillars. We resurrected these in a news post last month, when word of this conference first broke, and most of you guys thought at least 5 or 6 of the pillars were poorly executed in the game. Those pillars, as revealed by Jay in a Gamasutra interview from May 2012 (pre-release), are:

Jay Wilson: Those seven things were: approachable, powerful heroes, highly customizable, great item game, endlessly replayable, strong setting, and cooperative multiplayer.

We basically said these are the pillars we have to live by. Each one has a description of what they mean. And any time that we have a question about what the game should be, we just look back at those pillars. And that was our goal. That was how we set the project up.

We had some others, too, that were more [about] what we’re adding to the project. And they were more feature-based, so for example, the PvP mode was one. The bigger focus on RPG elements was one, because we wanted it to be a more story-based game, without getting in the way of the action. So there were a few more like that.

We can’t say how directly Jay defended or explained those pillars in his talk, but they were clearly a focus, as you can see from the following slides:

Potions and Combat

Of the many changes Diablo 3 made from Diablo 2, I think combat and potions are among the best. For most characters, Diablo 3’s life and resources systems are more interesting and dynamic than Diablo 2’s health and mana system, which was entirely focused on potions (low level) and leech (high level). The devs never seem to mention leech, but they’re definitely correct about potions, and the way that a potion-based system focused Diablo 2’s combat on very “spikey” damage types, since if something didn’t kill you in an instant it didn’t kill you at all.

(Of course you could argue that high level characters in Diablo 3 are in basically the same position, as all classes have skills and resource restoration techniques that either work and keep you at virtually 100% health, or break down in intense combat and cause you to die in a blink.)

At any rate, here are the slides about how the devs worked to change potions and combat in Diablo 3.

Combat and Controls

Another series of slides cover the changes made to make combat and the game’s controls feel smooth and responsive. Yes, click click click, but players need to feel that their clicks are doing what they should do, which is tough with non-stop clicking and some click results (skill animations) taking half a second or longer to execute.

Skill System Interface

We’ve seen slides and images of some of the earlier iterations of the skills system before, and players who got to try the Blizzcon demos in 2008-2011 saw skill trees with dependencies, passive skills (back when they were called Traits), and more. These slides show some of those earlier systems, before all the complexity, depth, and intricate nature of the skill system and interface was thrown out in order to simplify it into a six-button system for the idiot thumb-mashering mouth-breathers eagerly awaiting the Diablo 3 DiabloWikiConsole project… right?

Full Slideshow Presentation

Here’s the full gallery. You can click any thumb to view it full size and then proceed forwards or backwards click click click style. And I know you know how to click click click style. We don’t know if this is every slide in the presentation. I’d suspect not, but it’s all that the Japanese site had, so it’ll do until we have the full video available.

In the meantime, you can watch a panel from GDC 2012 in which Christian Lichtner covers the Art of Diablo 3.

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45 thoughts on “Extensive Slides from Jay Wilson’s Diablo 3 GDC Postmortem

  1. Why does “dia_36” (33 of 52) look like an entirely superior Diablo experience? I enjoyed the game to a certain extent, but seeing shots like this leave me as sad as when I first finished Normal Difficulty.

    • dia42 makes the game look darker and gothic. Why couldn’t the they have just left the damn game dark and griddy looking.

  2. Just tangentially, it’s kinda hilarious to see “game mechanics induce behaviors” on a slide at GDC. I mean, that’s the entire foundation of all game design. It’s practically the definition of game design.

  3. The game looked SO much better.

    Jay’s brave to show those screenshots since they only make him look even worse for ever touching Diablo 3.

  4. I am so freakin depressed right now. Thanks a a lot Flux … just kidding, I love you.

    What I do not love is seeing the VASTLY superior, complex, rewarding, engaging, thought-provoking skill systems that were in place before the final iteration which is basic, bland, and uninspiring.

  5. I like how they changed one of the core pillars from Great Item Game to Well Paced Rewards. To me that screams interference from Bobby to make players use the auction house instead of focusing on creating items that players would actually want.

  6. I see one conclusion on the front picture as being plainly wrong:

    “Diablo II skill system conflicts”

    From my point of view, a bad mixture of level and attribute based systems is responsible for a D2-style skillsystem to not pan out in the end. I can quite well imagine that fixing the power of items at the level they’re originally developed to drop, is the core mistake here. (Dropping with higher level affixes is kind of a workaround here, although still not amending the problem.) What would be needed for pointsinks in skills to properly work would be different, intertwining methods of boosting items, starting with a way of boosting their power from stats alone, here.

  7. What is Jay Wilson doing?

    Any competent executive understands the rule of “the buck stops here”.

    If something CLEARLY goes bad, you just admit it. You take the blame. You don’t blame others for your problems. You don’t point finger. You DEFINITELY DO NOT make fun of the people criticizing you. That is bad leadership.

    And yet, there Mr. Wilson is, with a slide openly mocking his critics with the “by the “its so obvious if they’d only listen to me” committee”.

    Jay Wilson should be fired for that slide.

    That SHOULD be the last straw. Plain and simple. After his previous episode with the loser comment, that’s absolutely inexcusable. He’s just GOADING the fanbase to hate D3 and Blizzard more.

    its simply a basic test of leadership that everyone calculates in your head. People expect that the leader can admit they screwed up, even if they don’t have the answers. People utterly despise those leaders who don’t.

    • Taking a critique on a certain part as a critique on the abilities of the whole team (: just the developement team, mind you, as he never even once has taken the company side as the problem in the calculation) already disqualifies him completely for the kind of work he supposedly was hired to do. But you’re quite right: This is the last overstep from him, making him unbearable for the company – even from the company side of things. I wonder how this could pass PR.

    • It’s more of a “ha ha ha, its funny ’cause these guys actually think they know how to design a game and guess what… they don’t know shit”

      The problem is not a shifting of blame or taking responsibility. It’s that he actually thinks d3 is superior to d2. The use of that book is pretty much a mockery attempt to discredit any criticism with the ultimate design decisions Jay and company went with. It means that he doesn’t agree with the majority of how the community felt about d2 and therefor thinks its ridiculous to make the claims that X worked in d2 so why not in d3. Arrogance plain and simple.

  8. Every time I look at his “Auction House: Assumptions” slide I get a pretty good laugh out of it.

  9. The other thing that irks me here is that its obvious that D2 was one of the greatest PC games of ALL time. But the focus is on where D2 got it wrong. I hate that attitude. They should show a ton of respect for the work done in D2. They shouldn’t act like it was some deeply flawed that they could vastly improve upon.

    Trying to compare D2 to D3 is a very bad idea.

    • Very good point. Infact thats all I remember is them defending Diablo3 at Blizzcon and skewing the perception of things to make D2 look like an inferior game. Like when they used the difficulty comparison of D2 to D3 showing the level 3 sorceress at the start and Jay mocking “OOOhhhh so hard guys D2 was” and then showing the D3 game play of all those fucking colors flying around the screen like a light show and saying “Whoooo D3 is fucking awesome look at all this shit on the screen and colors everywhere just like WoW”

  10. I’d love to see the reaction a sitting president would get if, the economy crashes under his watch, and the president does a slide show mocking anyone that criticizes him by saying “oh you guys are in the “its so obvious if they’d only listen to me” committee”.

  11. Jay Wilson’s GDC Panel

    First, do not use the Diablo 1 & 2 text when D3 doesn’t have it at all. Pathetic.

    Approachable – Achieved this, any 3 year old can pick up the game and play it.
    Highly Customizable – Failed this, all gear is the same, all characters are the same, and even classes play about the same. Zero customizability in Diablo 3.
    Powerful Heroes – Failed this, heroes are weak; gear is powerful.
    Well Paced Rewards – Failed this miserably unless you include the auction house as pacing. Gear is pathetic, useful drops are non-existent, and all gear feels weak and boring.
    Highly Replayable – Failed this, what replayability? Replayability Grinding paragon levels.
    Strong Setting – Almost achieved this, but since the story was horrid, the gameplay and combat made up for it.
    Co-Operative Multiplayer – Failed this, nobody wanted to group because it is the worst way to play.

    Depth vs Complexity:
    Example picture is of a hacked jewel. We see why Jay Wilson sucked at Diablo 2.
    Interestingly enough that Jewel has better mods (even if only 2-3 existed on it) than all of Diablo 3.
    Items in Diablo 3 are math-y as well, but just more basic math, stack to infinity without regards to “choice”. At least Diablo 2 items had choice (breakpoints, hard caps, extra-hard caps for reductions (lower resistances/conviction), etc.)

    How Did This Happen?
    Sorceress did not have to rely on +skills only, there were other sorc builds that were viable but not “best”.
    Sorceress never went around naked and played, they needed +skills and +% cold/fire/lightning damage instead of weapon damage. So it still needed items, just different from say a Barb (non-crier), Paladin (non-aura/hammer), etc. where other classes wanted more weapon damage but also had choices of builds of no weapon damage. You know, diversity and interesting choices.
    Primary Stats were not added, you dumbed down how to choose gear.
    All characters get damage from weapons is a stupid decision and killed gearing completely in Diablo 3. No choice, no diversity.
    You turned item selection into Math as well, addition only. Pretty simple for a 3 year old to play on a console.
    You have no build changers at all besides skorn bleed doctor and three hundredth spear which doesn’t actually change anything but make up for your lack of creative skills and balance issues galore.
    Your updated legendary items still suck and are boring. How many are actually used nowadays? Not many, because most lack the trifecta requirement.

    Agreed not the best system
    Why did you have 12 slides on Potions? Honestly, people dislike the D3 system but not enough to warrant 1/4 of the presentation devoted to it. Just goes to show your priorities in game design.

    Improved Combat:
    More Skill Choices in Battle: Failed, if you don’t take the best skills, you may as well choose a different character. Only the most rich players can afford to diversify at all because it requires the best gear in order to do so.
    Fewer Overall Buttons? Really?
    Class Diversity: No, each class gears the same, each class is weak without gear, and each class barely wants to use their “class” items because they suck so much.

    All Designs have Cons:
    The book does (still) exist, it is called Diablo 2.
    Your Diablo 2 skill system conflicts did not exist, you just wanted a simpler solution for a younger audience. See where that got you? Boring stale gameplay, no replayability, bad itemization and you being fired.
    The fact that you removed Faster Hit Recovery made the game more stale, same goes for block in all forms (shields are worthless) and faster block rate. This made for interesting builds in PvP and PvE for players having to ensure they recovered from being hit and blocking quickly.

    Skill Point System:
    Yes, players wanted a single skill MOST OF THE TIME, but what was offered was a chance to diversify down 3 trees with multiple skills and make almost every single skill useful or your main skill. Can you say that about Diablo 3? No, not even close.
    Synergies weren’t done overly well, but then again, at least there was a way to customize your character and make something that was fun for you to play. Instead of just looking up d3progress and copy paste.
    Diablo 3 skills…same power level? Remove your head from your ass.
    Customization? Lol, you must be new here, there is zero customization in Diablo 3 from a skill point of view.
    Experimentation? What? If it sucks, don’t use it. Good experiment. Players don’t even have a chance to “make the skill better” via synergies or specific items or socketables or runewords, or anything. Instead, it just sucks and no amount of MAKE % DAMAGE BIGGER, will change that fact.
    Looks like you guys tried a lot of things to change the Diablo 2 system…and then went with the worst choice.

    • Although I think that you’re wrong on there not being any problems with implementing a D2-like skillsystem, I urge you to copy and paste your assessment on bnet. It could do wonders for further developement, concentrated as it is, through the open dispute that will most definitively follow in the wake of your argumentation. It’s not just a nice sum up, but a rather complete and perfect critique. I take my hat off to you.

      • In other words it will become a highly rated/liked thread, full of constructive feedback and support, fill up with pages until the thread is at its limit, then, fade away into the abyss of nothingness over at bnet forums with no blue responses and never again to be mentioned.

        • It’s not necessary for the Bluesies to comment on the discussion. Just following it and making their own thoughts about it would be quite enough. I see a shift in power between the corporate structure motivational viewpoint and the artistic motivational viewpoint with the power shifting to the latter. And the artists now have to unlearn the strategies and thoughtpatterns born out of the corporate structure motivational point of view, to reach emancipation again. (I’ve argumented on this in this thread on BNet: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/8197591084?page=20 – This is the link to the last side of the thread, as it’s open for if the discussion continues.)

    • I like it how in one line you write gear is powerful and then in the next line you write gear is weak.

      • I noticed that as well. But since I (think I) know what context these two sentences have, both are still true at the same time.

        Also: “First, do not use the Diablo 1 & 2 text when D3 doesn’t have it at all. Pathetic.”

        Could not agree more!

  12. I would have had more respect if he went full Ludicrous Speed trolling and included slides about how we failed to understand why we didn’t deserve PvP. That kind of psychosis can get you a job on the Supreme Court.

  13. I’m holding out for the actual video presentation, but based on the slides I pretty much have changed my mind about Mr. Jay P. Wilson. He honestly appears to be an arrogant prick that refuses to believe most of d3’s design decisions and his perception of d2 were wrong. It seems pretty clear that he honestly believes d3 succeeded or has since ( post release patches like legendary one )succeeded at staying true to the core pillars.

    No, that’s just plain idiocy and arrogance at work Mr. Wilson. The only core pillar that you and your team stayed true to is approach-ability. The only thing worse than Jay’s douche attempts at discrediting and mocking critics of the game, is his belief that they got things right and stuck to the core pillars. Pure shit.

  14. I really don’t see why they removed skill trees completely. OK they want customisation and giving us choices I get it, but why not just give us skill trees that can be reset whenever we like (like the current system). That way we get the freedom to experiment while keeping some of that RPG feel. Also am I the only one who thinks it would have been much better for the rune stones to drop (like earlier in development) as opposed of just auto-learning them? Having a decent drop rate of course – not like legendaries now.

    • I can see it quite well: Unwanted growth, when the different mechanics come together. This can be a sign of a mechanic being totally unsuitable, but is in my humble opinion more often a ripple effect of a core design mechanic that hasn’t been thought through before fixating it.

  15. Am I the only one who still likes this game?
    I agree that people still go for the skills and runes that work the best according to whatever build website they got it from but everyone had the same builds in D2 as-well. In fact, I’ve probably had more build diversity in D3 just because of the fact that I can change my skills right there and then.
    Like most people I believe the AH did more harm than good, getting an amazing drop for your character and equipping it is amazing, but to me the satisfaction of buying something through the AH I’ve been eye-ing for a while with the money I farmed for for days or weeks is pretty awesome too.
    Only change I would make is to make sets and legendaries influence skills at a greater level (changing them even) or items actually adding skills (like a zeal-zorc).
    Or, here’s an idea, how about gems that can add those unique properties to items and these gems can’t be traded in the AH?

    • I still like d3. It’s not a perfect game, but it does avoid some of the flaws present in d2. Weapon damage and stats driving skill damage is a good solution to the melee/caster imbalance in d2. The armor/resists implementation also give a much higher ceiling on gear progression.

      They succeeded in making gold a viable trade currency via the ah. The ah is not perfect either, but it makes trading so much more accessible (too acessible in some ways).

      But all anyone focuses on are the ‘negative’ consequences of the changes. There will always be a con to any game sytem. The biggest change d3 made is the focus shifting to combat and skill systems tied to classes instead of tied to interesting items. Overall, I think this change is good for the game, but it is a huge shift vs the d2 approach.

      • That might just be, because there is, where there still is work to be done. Pointing out the flaws doesn’t always mean that one is not interested in the game and it’s further developement. It can mean quite the opposite, actually.

    • People are always going to copy builds. However, in D3 there are no builds. Each class only has one, maybe two, selection of skills that works. Doing anything else is not viable. In D2, pick one of the classes, and then do a search for character builds. You will find more D2 guides and builds for this one class than you will for the entirety of D3.

      • This is not true. There is generally a ‘best build’ for a particular area at a given MP level. But you can tweak MP and use a different build. It’s not “efficient” but you can make many different builds feel good if you mess with the MP system.

        There are also different builds that are better for groups vs solo builds.

        • This is entirely true. There’s no better build for monk for pure clear speed and EXP gain than tempest rush, but it’s pretty bad for killing ubers and for higher MP levels. Even if you look at the top players in hardcore and softcore, there’s a fair level of diversity. Generally, no single skill or passive is used on more than 80-90% of players in any group.

  16. So how did JayWee do on his core pillars? Well, let’s see:

    Approachable: Yes, the game is so lacking in anything remotely resembling complexity that anyone can play it.
    Highly customizable: What? Like, I can change the icons in my stash? Or I can change skills on the fly? Either way, fail.
    Powerful heroes: Right, we managed to do A1 Inferno but that was it. The only thing powerful were the elites pre-nerfs, and the falling trees in A1.
    Well paced rewards: Rewards? What rewards? Do you mean the reward I get from sending an item from the AH to my stash? Because there were non in-game.
    Highly replayable: No items drop and A3 is by far the best act to farm. How’s that fun replayability?
    Strong setting: The setting was pretty much screwed when a butterfly killed the most iconic character in the franchise.
    Cooperative multiplayer: MP made the game even more difficult. Great success!

    JW failed miserably. On every single point.

    • They at least got the animations and controls right. Everything else is a failure.

      Every time I think I am able to finally “let it go” and forget about the last decade of excitement for d3’s inevitable release, I get sucked back into wanting to post my nerd rage about how badly this got screwed up.

  17. I agree with many others saying the only pillar I would grant a success to is “accessibility”.

  18. Jay, that line of text saying \It’s so obvious if only they listened to me\ Committee might have seemed like an okay thing to say while you were making this presentation but in hindsight it makes you look like an arrogant ass.

    Diablo 3 has gotten much negative attention, even from the man who created the Diablo franchise, because it was and is plagued by bad game design. Just because people are not game designers like you that does not mean that their opinions and thoughts are invalid. In fact, it can shed light on things that could have been done better. You don’t discount the player’s perspective especially when thousands of people on the internet have found numerous flaws in the decisions you made. It’s like an Engineer designing the most advanced smartphone in the world and not counting the user’s perspective in all this.

    As for the auction house, how could they have not known globalizing trade would lead to massive issues with item rewards? It boggles my mind that this was not playtested during development. Anyway, this is all stuff that’s been said a million times.

    Jay, I actually thought you would own up to your mistakes but it looks like you’re still bitter about everyone being negative about your creation. Fact is, that it sucks. Really badly.

    I’m also going to say that Blizzard as a whole is not special to all. They have consistently shown lack of interest in modding communities (compared to Diablo 2, Warcraft 3, and Brood War UMS game rooms). If DOTA were given to them, it would have been mangled and destroyed because Blizzard is still stuck to an archaic business model under Activision (**this might be complete bs on my part though. However the point about modding still remains.***). In fact, besides World of Warcraft, all their franchises have been watered down from their predecessors and plagued by horrible writing by Chris Metzen. FYI, Chris, your writing reeks of garbage so much that Starcraft 1’s and Diablo 2’s stories seem like Shakespeare. You know what though, your probably surrounded by sycophants all believing that holy Chris Metzen can do no wrong.

    I’m also disappointed that to this very day, the Diablo 3 team STILL HAS NOT PUT IN CUSTOM GAME ROOMS. God damn it, can they please answer this bullshit? NO, I don’t want to go \questing\ to kill the fairy twilight queen in Act 2. and NO I don’t want to kill the Butcher in a WWE match. No I don’t want to hear Azmodan’s taunting me like a child in Act 3 and NEVER EVER will I quest while listening to Diablo scream \’TEAR–OORRR\.

    Just let me write \Need 150k dps only Wiz. Act 3 Roaha Run\. Not difficult at all, right Blizzard?

    Until then, I’m sticking with Path of Exile and Single Player Diablo 2. The former has innovated a lot with races (short ladder events), great item rewards, true character customization via the passive skill tree and socketable gems altering your gems. True randomization also exists and characters feel powerful when being built.

    Try having a bit of humility both Jay and Blizzard. It might come in handy when the same problems might exist in the Expansion.

  19. If I was at the GDC, I will go to the double-chinned man and say, “Hello. My name is Knot A. Fakinlozer. You killed my beloved game. Prepare to die.”

  20. Don’t try to make a linear game a non-linear game by adding difficulty levels and crap after you beat the game. When you beat the game in \even my grandma can do it/hard/insane/I rather watch tv than try this\, that’s it; that’s the final accomplishment. Instead, add more acts, make the game more explorable. I found the auction house more interesting than the game itself because after I finished the game, I got tired of doing the same thing over and over and found buying and re-selling a much better experience.

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