After the drama of recent days that followed our interview, Jay has issued an official apology. He goes on to address more than the issue at hand, but the state of the game as a whole. Unprofessional comment aside, there’s still a ways to go with Diablo III and it seems that recent progress for the game and for the team is ongoing.
As a personal opinion on the piece, I’m struck with the frank and humble tone he takes in his assessment of his moment of indiscretion and the state of the game itself. What many people have been asking revolves around “open and honest communications” with the community about the state of the game, and as a passionate community, it is with the greatest hope that such transparency continues.
What I said was expressed out of anger, and in defense of my team and the game. People can say what they want about me, but I don’t take lightly when they disparage the commitment and passion of the Diablo III team. Dave is awesome. In Diablo and Diablo II, he made two of the games that have most affected me as a developer. I respect his vision for Diablo, but just like he said in his interview, the Diablo III team must drive a vision for the game that is true to us. We believe in Diablo and have stuck by it through years of hard development to make it a reality.
The foundation of the Diablo team was built from the remnants of Blizzard North: Our lead programmer, who built the basis of the Diablo III engine while at Blizzard North; our lead tech artist, who drove much of the combat visuals, FX, and skill direction of our classes and is one of the most avid Diablo II players you can find; our lead concept artist, who helped establish the core look of the game; Wyatt Cheng, our senior technical game designer, who writes many of our blogs and works tirelessly on the live game. All these people and many others made the commitment to Diablo even after Blizzard North shut down. It was hard for me to see their contributions be diminished by someone they worked alongside, and even harder for me not to try to jump to their defense. I only wish I’d done so in a more professional manner.
Joining the Diablo team was a dream come true for me. In my house, the name Diablo was always spoken in hushed tones. It meant late nights that turned into early mornings, moments of pure adrenaline and pure joy. It meant countless conversations, debates, scouring websites for good builds, and more than one or two sick days. 🙂 When Diablo II was released, I took a week off work and sent my wife out of state… and she was pregnant at the time! I played Diablo II with my dad during one of the most difficult times of his life, and the experience brought me closer to him, and I hope helped him through it. I joined the Diablo team because the idea of a world without more Diablo seemed like a pretty crappy world to me. I wasn’t sure if I’d be good enough. I’m still not sure. But I felt I had to try.
Regardless of how I’ve done, my team has been more than good enough, and I’m proud of the game we made together. We believe it’s a great game. But Diablo III has flaws. It is not perfect. Sales mean nothing if the game doesn’t live on in all of our hearts, and standing by our games is what Blizzard does. Patch 1.0.4 is a step in the right direction, but we have no illusions that our work is done.
Playing Diablo III needs to be a rewarding experience. The new legendaries are a big step in the right direction, as are tweaks to item drop rates. But I’m not convinced that we’ve gone far enough. If you don’t have that great feeling of a good drop being right around the corner — and the burst of excitement when it finally arrives — then we haven’t done our jobs right. Out of our concern to make sure that Diablo III would have longevity, we were overly cautious about how we handled item drops and affixes. If 1.0.4 hasn’t fixed that, you can be sure we’ll continue to address it.
Part of the problem, however, is not just item drops, but the variety of things to do within the game. Many of you have stated that there needs to be more to the game than just the item hunt, and we agree completely. The Paragon system is a step in the right direction, giving meta-progress for your time in the game, but it does little to address the variety of activities you can do while playing. I don’t think there’s a silver-bullet solution to this problem, but I do think we can make this aspect of the game better, and as such we’re planning more than just PvP for the next major patch. Not trying to be coy, but we’re still firming things up and will talk about this as soon as we can.
Difficulty has been a constant source of division when discussing the game. Some players believe Diablo has never been about crushing challenges, but more about efficiency and farming. Some players want a game that tests them to their limits. Neither player is wrong. As it stands, Diablo III simply does not provide the tools to allow players to scale the game challenge to something appropriate for them. We set Inferno as the high watermark and took a one-size-fits-all approach to game challenge. Later in the development of Diablo II, the ‘players 8’ command — which let people set monster difficulty — was added to address this issue, and we’re considering something similar for the next major Diablo III patch to allow players to make up their own minds about how hard or how easy is right for them.
The Auction House has also proven to be a big challenge. It adds a lot of power for players to trade and acquire items. Getting a great Monk drop that you can trade for better gear for your Wizard is obviously a great benefit, but it does come with a downside. The Auction House can short circuit the natural pace of item drops, making the game feel less rewarding for some players. This is a problem we recognize. At this point we’re not sure of the exact way to fix it, but we’re discussing it constantly, and we believe it’s a problem we can overcome.
While these are some of the major issues with Diablo III, they aren’t the only things we’re looking at. On a daily basis we ask ourselves if the classes are satisfying to play, if rares and champions are fun to fight, if they’re tuned well relative to normal monsters. Can we make further improvements to social elements of the game? How can items be even better?
We made Diablo III because we believe in the Diablo games. We think the gameplay is awesome, the world is compelling, and it’s the game we all wanted to play. Because we believe in it, we’ll continue to stand by it and make it better. We are committed to making Diablo III the best Diablo game to date, and we hope you’ll continue to help us do just that.
Saying that, I’d like to apologize to all of you, the players in our community. You deserve better than my reaction to Dave’s comments. You deserve more honest communication about the game and what we’re doing to make it a more awesome experience for us all. We care about Diablo very much, and appreciate your passion for it. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to do this, and for that I can’t thank you enough.