Jay Wilson Interview @ Blizzcon Program


The gorgeous and impossibly glossy BlizzCon show program includes one-page interviews with the lead devs of D3, SC2, and WoW:Cat. DiabloWikiJay Wilson‘s only runs three questions, but to each he gives a very thorough answer. Here’s the first:

Where did the idea for the DiabloWikiDemon Hunter come from?

Jay Wilson: It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that we chose a ranged-weapon class as the fifth class; however we didn’t want to do something completely predictable. We liked the idea of a bounty hunter or a monster-hunter—someone who was a little bit more sinister and an aggressor—and so we came up with a character whose sole focus was, “I hate demons.” She’s had horrible things happen to her. She’s lost family, lost loved ones, and has dedicated her live to eradicating as many demons as she can by any means possible. As a character, she’s walked a lot of dark roads to gain the knowledge she needs to overcome her enemy.

With the demon hunter we found inspiration in characters like Van Helsing, Boba Fett, and even MacGyver. The demon hunter is very focused on conventional, man-made weaponry and gadgets. She dual-wields crossbows, and where one class might shoot of a magical fireball, the demon hunter would buy a device in the lower markets of DiabloWikiCaldeum that would allow her to trap the essence of a demon and then release that essence in an explosive blast, not unlike a hand grenade. She has no qualms about using her enemies against themselves, dabbling in dark magic, and generally doing whatever it takes to destroy demons wherever they live.

Bonus points in retrospect to MD for coming damn close to the Demon Hunter with his speculation on a Van Helsing-inspired Gunslinger class. Click through to read the other two, on the PvP Arena and the new skill/trait system.

This is the first time you’re showing Diablo III’s PvP DiabloWikicombat. What can players expect from that aspect of the game?

Jay Wilson: Diablo II had a big dueling community, but there was really no in-game support for it. You could go hostile and duel, but there were no DiabloWikiladders, teams, or really any structure to it. In Diablo III, we wanted to create an DiabloWikiarena-style environment where players could fight each other. The different combinations of DiabloWikiskills, traits, DiabloWikirunes, and DiabloWikiitems available lead to an almost endless variety of builds, so rather than try to achieve perfect 1-vs.-1 balance, we focused on team-based arena PvP—so even if one class or build is stronger than another, it’s complemented by the other classes on a team. We’ll have support for matchmaking and ladders, and we think players will have a lot of fun seeing what their single-player characters can do in an arena setting.

What are some of the other big changes since BlizzCon 2009?

JayWilson: The skill system has been totally revamped, and we’ve added an all-new DiabloWikitraits system. The skill system we showed last year was fairly Diablo II-like. We knew at the time that the basic mechanics were sound, but we felt t was intimidating, and that it overly encouraged spreading your points around into as many different skills as possible instead of focusing on the skills that fit your play style. If you’ve spread your points into 30 different skills, then you’ve broken your character. The system wasn’t facilitating playing the game well.

We also moved DiabloWikipassive skills into their own UI, and renamed then traits—because no matter how good a passive skill is, it’s hard to pass up picking an active skill instead. The DiabloWikitraits tree allows us to expand the number of passives and focus on core character customization ideas like, “I want more health,” or “I want more damage.” It replaces attribute-point spending, which we didn’t consider to be a very good customization system because there was always a *correct* way to spend points. With traits, players will find there are a lot more choices to make that will be better balanced against one another, and will include flavorful or role-playing choices to cater to a broader group of players.

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