EuroGamers has just posted an interview with Jay Wilson that they’ve been sitting on since August’s Gamescom. It’s text, not video, (happily saving us the trouble of typing the transcript) and while there’s nothing really new, there are some interesting answers making it worth a read. A couple of questions quoted.
Another key aspect of Diablo games is randomisation, in the loot tables and the dungeons themselves. Is there a particular trick to designing a randomised game? Is there a different mindset you need to have?
Jay Wilson: I think one of the key things is you have to understand and accept true randomness. A lot of times [people think that] whenever an item drops sooner than it seems like it should, or you get like eight swords in a run, the loot system’s totally broken. No it’s not, it’s random. That’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be unpredictable.
It takes a lot of getting used to. If you play a game that doesn’t have randomness like that, the result is generally going to be the result; and so you can play it, judge the result, make a change. With randomisation, you have to play it, play it, play it, play it, play it, think about it, play it, think about it, play it, make a change. And then repeat. You can’t be too reactionary.
So it makes the tuning process more involved, but you get so much out of it. Once you get those systems going, it’s a game you can play over and over and over. You get far more bang for your buck, but that initial investment in tuning is tough.
Can you give us an idea of the tone we can expect in the story, relative to the previous games?
Jay Wilson: Well, one of the things that we talked a lot about when we started the project was… Look at the tone of Diablo II’s summaries of their story. There’s a lot of talk about destroying evil for all time, take out Diablo and then evil’s dead forever. I felt like that was a terribly arrogant idea that only humans would have; only humans would think that you could destroy evil forever.
That was the first hook that we talked about. What we really wanted was the idea of a story where we do have some time away, it’s about 20 years later, and things have actually gotten better because evil’s been “destroyed”. But the truth is that it’s actually all just been a ruse, it’s all part of the plan. It’s really just making sure everyone’s nice and complacent for the real war that’s coming.
So that’s really the tone, and that’s one of the reasons why, towards the beginning of the game, the game looks nicer. But by the end of the game, it won’t look nice at all.
Thanks to Popez for the tip.