Diablo 3 Gameplay Systems And Crusader Panel Transcript



The Gameplay Systems and Crusader Panel was the first held on the second day of DiabloWikiBlizzCon 2013.  And although the headline act was the DiabloWikiCrusader the original five classes weren’t neglected.  They have all been re-examined by the design team and today they showcased some of their new and improved skills.  As well as wowing the crowd with the new skills the panel discuss the design philosophies behind the ramping up of the existing bank of skills.

The Panel for this consisted of Travis Day, Paul David, Nicholas Eberle, Josh Mosqueira, Steve Shimizu and Kevin Martins.

If you didn’t get a chance to see it the whole one hour panel has been transcribed with illustrative shots and video snips demoing the new and improved skills. All after the break.


Kevin Martens, Lead Designer

Kevin Martens
Kevin Martens

Josh has this philosophy about expansions where he wants the settings, the hero and the villain to match up. Since these are inherently more self-constrained than the larger game those things should be a great DiabloWikitrifecta. The DiabloWikiCrusader was a great choice to balance against someone like DiabloWikiMalthael. So, who is the Crusader? When we set out to make a class we had a few different questions we like to ask ourselves and one of the most important ones is where do they fit in that story? Where do they fit in the world of Sanctuary.


We had this vague idea, and most classes start with a very vague idea. We kind of like the Paladin, could we bring something like that forward? When we put it through that filter of the hero matching the villain better, we talked about maybe having a dark Paladin. That handful of words eventually turned into something much grander. We also had this idea that we wanted to broaden the horizons of Sanctuary and make the world bigger by adding this class.

So we took a lot of things we loved about the Paladin and we did a lot of new things and that’s where the Crusader came from.

slide-01The Crusader and the Paladin order are tied together. When the Paladin order was first founded, DiabloWikiRakkis, who became the first king of DiabloWikiWestmarch led the Crusaders (Ed. he says Crusaders but I think he means Paladins) west on a grand crusade bringing the DiabloWikiZakarum faith by fire and sword. Meanwhile the Crusaders, the elite force of the Paladins, went east on a secret mission. Now the star has fallen and dead have risen, Diablo has come back to earth and Malthael has arrived on Sanctuary the Crusader has come back west to solve these problems. He is a member of the Zakarum faith but he has never been corrupted. They have never given up their crusade and are going to solve this problem.

It’s a proper hero for humanity in this darkest hour.

The ideas are very simple when we start off. I mentioned before, they are very vague. So we have the knight in shining armour of the Paladin, to have this knight battle-scarred armour, it’s not just darker, it’s more appropriate to the times. If someone lives in eternal warfare, that’s kind of where the Crusader came from.

We also have this idea of righteous wrath. When you see this word watch how this influences all the skills, the weapon, the armour, the looks we are about to show you guys as we do a deep dive into this class. Essentially this is scourging evil. Humanity has had enough, they are tired of being caught in the middle and the Crusader is going to stop this once and for all.

slide-02This is the core tactical concept. So we have this idea of where they fit into the story, we had this fantasy of this knight in battle-scarred armour who has live in eternal warfare. Powered by Wrath. The war machine made human answers the final question about classes which is where do they fit in the tactical toolkit. We knew we wanted a heavily-armoured character. We knew we wanted a character who was melee-heavy but we also wanted to stand out from the Barbarian and the Monk.

You’re going to watch this concept; if we took like a medieval battlefield engine, if we took a modern one like a tank, how can we turn that into something that you can actually play, here today on the show floor.


Paul David – Senior Artist will show you how the art process begins so we get the Crusader you now see.

Paul David
Paul David

When we first set out to create the Crusader, we established some early pillars to help define what the Crusader is. These pillars are knights in battle-scarred armour, righteous wrath, mid-range melee and a war machine made human. But what do these pillars mean, how do they help define the Crusader and how do we visualise these ideas?

To help us answer these questions we brainstormed. Brainstorming allows us to grab a bunch of different ideas to help us imagine what these pillars are

Here we have a concept of shape language. Shape Language is the overall simplification of the major elements down to basic geometric shapes. In this particular example the rectangular shape help reinforce the idea of a heavily-armoured knight.

Shape Language

Here we have a pair of concepts that focus on the shield. Up top the shield takes centre stage, suggesting the shield is a very important extension of the character. Down below we have a skill concept that depicts a shield being used as a melee weapon. You can see the Crusader leap up into the air and come crashing down on his enemies.


Here we have plethora of amour designs. In this image the artist explored the many different ways an armoured knight could look like. There’s also some play with some of the cloth as you can see. The cloth is there to represent the idea that the Crusader isn’t purely melee but he’s also able to do some magical abilities.


At the end of the brainstorm we gather all of the ideas, all the elements and we pick and choose ones that really help support the pillars that we had established early on. These are the big bulky armour, the cloth element, the shield, the flail and we take all those into concepting.

Concepting is where we can take those elements and really refine them so we can figure out what this character should look like.

Here we have a concept that incorporates the heavy armour and cloth elements. The cloth here has transformed into a tabard which suggests that he’s a knight from an order and he’s also a magical user.


Here we have a concept that really incorporates all of the elements that we had established.(1) He has a shield, the tabard, the big bulky armour and the flail. We really liked where this was going so we went down this road and really explored what we could come up with and this is our take on that.(2)

But this wasn’t really quite hitting it for us. It’s really at this point where we know the elements that we want but we really just need to figure out what they should look like.  After many weeks of work and countless drawings everything finally culminated down to this one image.  This, for us, really represents what a Crusader is in Diablo 3.  Here we have a fierce battle-scarred knight with a flail and shield in hand ready to leap head first into enemies.


From here we go into modelling.  With all the work that went into brainstorming and concepting, modelling was pretty straight forward with this character.  One of the first things we do when we model is we block out the character.  Blocking out the character allows us to get a feel for what that character looks and feels like in 3D.  Also it allows us to assess the proportions to make sure they are where they need to be.  Once we are pretty happy where everything is we go into straight up productions.


Here we can see the final gray model on the left hand side and on the right hand side you can see the many stages of texture completion.(1)  Once we are this point we polish, we make the weapon, we make the shield and we have the final asset in game.(2)

Here you can get a sneak peek at some of the amour sets you guys are going to be able to find for the Crusader.

Armour Sets for the Crusader
Armour Sets for the Crusader

Nick Chilano – Lead Animator

Nick Chlano
Nick Chilano

So character and concept have made a great foundation for the DiabloWikiCrusader. They have taken these key words…medieval, mid-range melee, squared, a character that will hold his ground and they gave it a face. Now it’s the animators turn to bring it to life and we start with an idle pose.  That idle pose has to really capture the tone of the character.  We started with this right here. What we like about this is he has these squared shoulders and this broad chest. He’s militant and stoic and he’s not scared of the enemies in front of him.  In theory, this is really great, but in practice we ran into some issues.  You’re going to see here that when he goes into dynamic action he then hits this very rigid resting pose and it causes visual noise and it’s distracting to look at so we had to rethink this.

The good news was we could take this pose that hits a lot of his core elements and apply it to his town idle.  So when you’re talking to a vendor you still capture that element of the Crusader we want but in game you are more battle ready.

Here, even without his weapons, he’s a square and when you put it in practice it flows much better.  Now it’s fluid, it’s dynamic and you’re not distracted and it feels really good.

Once we’ve solved this issue we can continue to animate more of his locomotion and base move and more weapons, but this time we got asked to get involved with something that was new for the animators, which was the signature weapon.

When you start to see the concepts of the crusader with the shield we knew that was going to be a big part of him, but the flail really struck a chord with the team. It was medieval, mid range melee, it was very physical for a weapon.

In-game though there were some issues with it, as you can see this is not reacting well at all.  It’s got a mind of its own.



We now focus a lot of time to make it feel right. Every time we change gravity, physics, weight or material, we have to click 100 times to see how it reacts. What you learn is it’s not bout her action it’s about the reaction. it;s what the flail does after the movement. We had a meeting and I said “we’re either going to fail or flail”.  We ended up with something that was good, and you’ll see it;s working how you’d expect it.


Finally the meat and potatoes for the animators, the skills. Every hero has a style, the Barbarian is very consistent, the Monk hits and holds, and the Crusader has a bit of a build up to his animations. Here’s DiabloWikiShield Bash and it’s slowed down. What you see is a character who gathers that energy in the back, holds it and then explodes forward. It’s physical and powerful, and it’s going with the line of action for the skill. At full speed you see how powerful it feels.

This is when you get character concepts, animation, effects and designers really working together.



Andrew Chambers – Senior Designer

Andrew Chambers
Andrew Chambers

On the design side, our challenge is figuring out “how does this guy play?”. When you’re clicking the button and slaying evil, what’s the tempo behind it? Smooth jazz? Hard Drum and bass?

We new straight away he had to be melee character, he’s a big guy with armor, shield and a flail. There;s no way he’s walking away from a fight. We already have two very strong classes in the Barbarian and the monk that really own that space really well. So for the Crusader we gave him the ability to have some strong ranged component to him. A lot of his skills have the ability to slay from afar.

The key for that was to have him powered by this Righteous Wrath. Wrath is your resource, it ambiently generates even when you;re not in combat. because he’s “so maaaaad!”. At the same time he  can generate it with his primary, he spends big with his secondary skills like Shield Bash. But the great thing about it being earth is it;s not necessarily being physical, it;s this mystical power he has inside of him, and he can unleash it in anyway shape or form.

Now that melee and ranged is established, how do we explore that? We start with some skills. This is DiabloWikiSlash and DiabloWikiShield Bash.

The Crusader is often wearing a shield so he won’t be able to dual wield, that’s OK because for a lot of his skills they’re very AoE oriented which makes up for the fact you can’y flail around very fast. But you can hit lots of monsters at  the same time.

How do we do ranged? This is DiabloWikiJustice and DiabloWikiBlessed Shield

The fantastic things about his ranged abilities is not only can he kill things from afar, they also have this physical component to them. His ranged skill have this feeling of strength behind them.



Now that the two gameplay roles are established and understood. The next thing is to fill out the rest of the Skill Kit. We don;t start with just 24 skills, we have to come up with that on the design side. Sometimes we’re not successful.

This is DiabloWikiCrushing Resolve.  Zeal in Diablo 2 was an amazing skill, it increased the number of monsters it would hit as you used it, increased attack speed, scaled with attack rating in fantastic ways. We decided that he was descended from the Paladin so  let’s bring that skill forward and give it to him. Unfortunately it didn’t work too well. In Diablo 2 you had two skill buttons effectively, in Diablo 3 it’s so much better, you have six. You have all these utility skills you want to use. When you have one skill that does as many things as Zeal in that kind of context, it can actually get a little bit sad because you;e just pressing one button all the time. There’s not incentive to press anything else.  Also the visuals are not reading terribly well. So, you won’t see this on the Crusader.  You won’t see it on the floor, you won’t see it in Reaper of Souls.


We iterate, we learned a lot. This actually became Slash and Slash has a rune on it called Zeal. It’s kind of win win.

Sometimes lightening strikes. This is DiabloWikiFist of the Heavens.

The Crusader is a Knight in battle-scarred armor. He’s an immovable force, an unstoppable object. When he commands, the heavens respond. This is the first pass on the skill, we haven’t changed it since we tried it out. We saw it in-game and we knew it resonated so strongly. We had to just keep it and we haven’t needed to iterate on it. It was that good.

As a Crusader I want to be surrounded by enemies a lot. A lot of my utility skills like DiabloWikiProvoke actually increase their potency based on the number of monsters I hit. That radius is around me.

Nick Eberle – Technical Artist

Nick Eberle
Nick Eberle

The first thing we do when we’re designing a new class for Diablo 3. We ask “what’s the fantasy for this character?” We brainstorm and come up with all kinds of fantasies we want to see for the Crusader. I’ll show you how we take those to finished skills.

The first skill is DiabloWikiHeaven’s Fury. The fantasy that started out for this, we wanted to see the hand of God reach out and destroy the Crusader’s enemies. It sounded cool but we had to figure out what that does and what does it look like.

The first version you would click and drag out a line and these beams would come raining down destruction on the battlefield. Visually we thought it looked pretty cool but it had problems. It was really loud. If you were in a multiplayer game it was all you saw. It was annoying. So we made some revisions.

In version 2 we had the beam chase the mouse cursor around and we liked the way it looked. It felt powerful but didn’t take too much space up on screen. Mechanically it was a little rough. We didn’t like having a channelled skill for the Crusader. We want him to move and hit things.

The final version of Heaven’s Fury you right click and it chases down monsters leaving the Crusader free to smite his enemy while Heaven’s Fury melts faces.

Every class needs a movement skill so we asked “what’s a knight without his horse?”. This is DiabloWikiSteed Charge. The Crusader summons a mystical horse that cruises around the battlefield really, really fast. It has some awesome runes too.

One of the coolest things about a tank is the big gun on top, so we didn’t want to give him a gun, but what if he was the shell in that cannon. DiabloWikiFalling Sword jumps him in the air and he crashes down dealing tons of AoE damage. It helps him get into the fight.

As he’s descended from Paladins there was one skill we had to bring forth. DiabloWikiBlessed Hammer. An iconic skill for the DiabloWikiPaladin.

Hit page 2 for the new skills for the existing five characters.

Related to this article
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    32 thoughts on “Diablo 3 Gameplay Systems And Crusader Panel Transcript

    1. This is a great write up, and best part is I can avoid the awkwardness of the presentation itself. Like that one guy screaming about the Crusader like it was Monday night football. Yeesh.

      • He was like on drugs, too emotional for such not emotional things… I really wanted that his part would end asap.

      • I don’t know how it went on video, but he was a hit in real life at the panel. Cracking up the other panelists, lots of laughs from the crowd, and I didn’t find it funny, but at least it was something different.

        He brought a burst of energy and it was kind of a welcome change at a convention where 90% of the panelists are very low key and clearly trying just not to screw up. Rather than to put on anything of a performance or entertainment.

    2. Their frat party attitude towards their own game just seems really inappropriate given the subject matter. I mean, at that rate, you may as well make the second expansion Diablo 3: Modern Military Shooter and/or Madden 2017.

    3. “Haunt and Locust Swarm now last 5 minutes.”
      That’s not what was wrong w/ DoTs…

      Epiphany. How about you just use Fists of Lightning followed by any other skill? (Granted the range on epiphany seems larger, but is that really worth a cooldown?)

      Those Frostburns are still a brimstone. Nothing on those make up for lack of ANY trifecta stat. Again, when you have compounding stats, any small increase in any type of damage makes trifecta/main stat even better than they were before. Then need to be additive, not multiplicative. At least the Ninja gloves look good. I think Move Speed should be a primary stat on boots, considering how people value their boot stats.

      • I love how they’re like: “Oh, I wish you guys wouldn’t like trifecta so much! Please stop doing that!!!” :(“

    4. About 28s into the Crushing Resolve video I cringed when he said D3 has so many more skill buttons than D2…

      • I thought that was easily the weakest analogy and skill demonstration in the video. Given that several of the Monk’s combo attacks are basically remixed versions of Zeal, it’s weird that they’d go out of their way to try to make it look useless for the Crusader.

        Admittedly, Zeal was crap in D2C when you added one hit per skill point, and got to a point of 20 swings, the last 17 of which would miss if you got desynched at all. But in D2X they cut it to 5 hits at max and boosted the damage per point and it was one of the Paladin’s best melee skills. No reason that wouldn’t work in D3, with some modification.

    5. I like the Crusader, but he’s not the best char to face Death. The best char for it is the one who knows death deeply, Necromancer.

    6. He meant D3 had so many more “hot-keys” than D2. D2 has two hot key buttons, and 579 short cut keys you could set. It’s a valid statement, it just lacked nuance.

    7. So, Blizzard apparently forgot to mention that all legendaries and sets are now BoA, and can only be traded within the group who found it.
      Loving it!

      Though it is weird, considering it directly contradicts their recent Mystic announcement.

    8. QUOTE

      So, Blizzard apparently forgot to mention that all legendaries and sets are now BoA, and can only be traded within the group who found it..

      They didn’t forget to say that because it’s not true. They did say that some higher levels ones probably would be but not all.

      • Every leg I found in the demo was BoA. Could still change, but at this point it’s not just end game sets/lets, but all of them. With that exception for trading to people in the game with you when you find it.

    9. url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uZ_y4H-Epto[/url]
      But they are. Very precisely actually. “Soulbound will be for legendaries and sets. You can still trade rare items and everything below”.
      Now I’m not sure it is true, because it does sound like such a crazy jump from everything they have said before, but you can hardly deny that is what they said.

    10. “Josh has this philosophy about expansions where he wants the settings, the hero and the villain to match up. Since these are inherently more self-constrained than the larger game those things should be a great trifecta. The Crusader was a great choice to balance against someone like Malthael.”

      Nonono, you know which class would be a real match up to Malthael?

      Necromancers, bring them back.

      • I found that Necromancer NPC in an early Act 5 quest. Same guy from the Act 2 desert quest in D3. He wasn’t real remarkable, truth be told.

      • Heh, I don’t think Malthael has a sole claim on the power of death. He just happen to be an Angelic necromancer. Do it Blizzard, bring back the necromancer. Enough with the necromancer wannabe witch doctors.

    11. QUOTE

      But they are. Very precisely actually. "Soulbound will be for legendaries and sets. You can still trade rare items and everything below".
      Now I'm not sure it is true, because it does sound like such a crazy jump from everything they have said before, but you can hardly deny that is what they said.
      He says "the best items", in that interview. That doesn't necessarily mean all legs/sets and previously they said "best Legs/sets". I think he maybe slightly misspoke in that one.
    12. I think he probably misspoke too. Simply saying that what he said is fairly clear and not debatable. Even if it still turns out to be wrong down the road.

    13. Just for the record, even though I’ve only ever played single player and don’t think I’ve ever traded anything with anybody, I think BoA is pretty dumb and un-Diablo. People will start complaining 2 secs after they find an amazing item for a character they don’t have or want.

    14. Seriously, that Andrew guy was quite annoying…Anyway I actually love the boa items and from what i understand Kevin Martens say, they are still trying to balance out trading and boa, so who knows how it will be in the end.

      Yovargas. It

    15. QUOTE

      So, Blizzard apparently forgot to mention that all legendaries and sets are now BoA, and can only be traded within the group who found it.
      awesome news. my first thought when i read this hilarious, but harebrained idea was, "is jay back with the team?". 
      Even if this is the new system, I guess all the crying will make them backtrack within the next 24 hours
      lulz..yeah, bnet is in a rage right now. i wouldn't be surprised if they flip flop down the road. 


    16. Those new Frostburn Gauntlets aren’t a brimstone. I understand what you’re saying about trifecta stats, and if people still want to go that route in the expansion, they’re welcome to do it. But part of the devs’ philosophy is to give people more utility options that can help boost the effectiveness of your character in different ways, as opposed to how it is now, where the only way to be effective is to lawn-mow everything in your path.

      If you have on rare trifecta gloves…sure, you do a lot of damage, but you’ll still need some methods of life restoration, crowd control, and additional defense.

      The idea behind the legendary effect of giving you a huge boost to Freeze Chance is multilayered:

      1) It removes the need for separate skills to be equipped to handle crowd control. Perfect example…TONS of Wizards use Frost Nova, and Crit Mass to kill the cooldown so they can \perma-freeze.\ With those Frostburns? May not be 100% permafreeze, but it’s close enough. The video shows it being used with a single-target skill like Ray of Frost, but imagine it being used with an AoE skill. Plus, neither Crit Mass or Frost Nova is required (leaving room open for more damage skills to stack) AND you don’t have to look like an idiot as a ranged caster being up-close-and-personal for it to work.
      2) With that kind of reliable crowd control being available, you might even be able to go without an armor skill as well (possibly even sacrificing Diamond Skin if you’re really brave), giving you even more room to stack additional damage skills.
      3) I’ve read in the datamining that many of the Wizard’s skills are being redesigned to include temporary energy barriers on cast, to help mitigate damage and the coming lack of Life Steal. If these are used strategically, along with Frosburns and lots of Cold skills, a Wizard could get a lot more mileage out of those barriers if monsters even get through at all.

      Not to mention that with Paragon Points, people will have a near infinite source of mainstat, in addition to further boosts in Crit and Attack Speed.

      Basically…having every slot maxed with Crit and AS won’t be nearly as necessary in the expansion. Like I said…do it if you want…but there will be other options.

      • This hits the problem w/ the Demon Hunter currently; why play tactically when you can blow up the world w/ pure math? That’s why they need to get rid of trifecta; strategy and tactical play go out the window when every thing is growing exponentially. They cannot balance that. They have to get rid of trifecta, they have to change main stats to linear damage, they have to fix a lot of compounding stats.

        FYI, one article, the guy looked at the Wizard’s character sheet, Critical Mass is dead and gone. They couldn’t balance it, so they cut it off, like Life Steal and PermaWrath/PermaArchon.

    17. So let me get this straight… They finally make Legendaries worth finding — and then make it *pointless* to find them? It’s like a woman taking off her dress and licking her lips, then claiming headache. They better change this or I won’t be getting RoS (nor will a lot of people like me, I’d imagine). It’s fine if like the top 5-15% of Legs were BoA; but *all* of them?

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