The latest interview to surface from Jay Wilson’s recent press tour comes from Australian AtomicPC. This batch of questions were all submitted by their forum users, and are detailed and juicy. Topics covered include the end game, the online-only DRM as a security measure, the new skill UI as a console Trojan Horse, the impact of the RMAH on the long term trading economy, WASD, cows and Easter Eggs, and why there’s no Hardcore corpse looting.

    Jay gives long, thoughtful replies to most of them, after working through the obligatory, “we wanted to ensure the best player experience possible by preventing you from playing LAN or offline” PR song and dance. You’ll want to check out the whole piece; here are a couple of quotes, and thanks to Ratamahatta for the news tip.

    [once_i_was_a_maggot] What is there to do at end game?
    Well, one of the things we focused on with Diablo, these have all been cooperative games; they’ve always had a server/client architecture. For Diablo 2, its end-game was always about adding multiple difficulties, but the problem is that player power eventually overwhelms the challenge of the game, to the point where the only point of going on was sheer tenacity. A player good say ‘Look, I’ve made it to level 99!”, which is, like, crazy dude… It was a time investment, but one without any real challenge or fun.

    So one of the things we focused on for Diablo 3 – and we weren’t interested in making super long gruelling levelling up process – what we wanted was, the fun stuff, searching for gear, and fighting against monsters who are challenging. So we created a fourth difficulty that we call Inferno that is ALL max-level. Max-level for a player is level 60, and so all the monsters at the start of Inferno are level 61, in Act Two they are level 62, in Three and Four they’re level 63. And there are items that ONLY drop at level 61, at level 62 and so on; and they’re not small number! There’s a whole tier of armour in each one.

    So even to be able to play viably in Inferno, you’re going to have to play and fight in Hell for a little while, to get your items up to the quality so that you’ll be able to fight through. And then to move from Act to Act you’ll need to do that. We just wanted to take the idea of what was fun about Diablo, and make it challenging so that it would stay fun, and put the the time investment into more combat and loot-hunting, and less into meaningless time-investment to prove that you’re more committed than your friends.

    [neowulf] Do you believe that the cash shop will wind up dragging the best items out of the economy? There seems to be little reason not to sell your ultra rare items for cash rewards. Won’t this lead to a model where those who spend the most will be the best geared? Does Blizzard see this effecting the game long term?
    I don’t think it’s a big issue, and here’s why. So let’s say you are… if you don’t have any time invested into the game, or money, well, you’re probably not going to be very successful. I’ll admit that.

    But let’s say you have a situation where you can invest a lot of time, but have no money, or you don’t want to spend a dime… well, you’re gonna find good items. It’s mathematical – you WILL find good items. It may not be the items you want, but you will find them. You can put them on the Auction House, and earn currency to buy whatever items you want, without putting a single dollar of your own currency into the system.

    Originally we planned to have a listing fee, and we struggled to find ways to remove it, and finally did – so that players don’t have to invest money into the Auction House if they don’t want to. We thought that was essential – being able to trade with virtua; currency should not mean you have to open your wallet.

    So I don’t t think anyone needs to worry.

    And you know, if you look at Diablo 2, there were lots of traded items, and they traded in the essential equivalent of a an Auction House, even with money changing hands. They’d trade with friends, or with random people, and I think that now we have the Auction House, I think people will trade there too. I don’t think it’ll hurt the game at all.

    AtomicPC says they’ll post part two of this interview next week, which will feature their own questions, after they used all reader questions for this first installment.

    Finally, I have no idea why they dug up a skill interface screenshot from 2008 as the only image on the article. Subtle dig at the new skill UI? Inside joke?

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