Another Jay Wilson interview from Gamescom has popped up, on G4TV. The video is 7:38 in length, and it gets good after the opening 2:30. Well, that’s good stuff too, but we’ve all seen Jay explain Artisans a dozen times by now. He must have given that same talk fifty times in Cologne? At any rate, the transcript below starts in around 2:30, and during the rest of the interview gives some excellent new info on salvaging, the issues with a shared stash, and town portals. The best bit is near the end, when he talks about the various elemental changes that runestones will wreak on the Wizard’s Hydra skill.
This transcript is not word for word; it covers all the info, but I edited the spoken replies into complete sentences for easier reading. Thanks to Ward for the tip.
One of our design goals was to find better options for players to use the items they didn’t want. So we added a feature where players can use a cube-like device (salvage cube) to take their excess items and break them down into the raw materials of magical items. Those materials can then be recycled through crafting.
Often, players find items that are useful, but not for that particular character. In Diablo II there was no easy way to transfer that item. We wanted to address that issue, and considered several possible methods. Mailing an item another character is one way. We do want to add that feature eventually, but it’s not super high priority and we might run out of time to implement it, so we can’t rely on that being in the game.
That’s how our design process works, by the way. We’re always weighing the scenarios and possible options. What system will be the best way to implement a feature?
Including a shared stash in Diablo III is, I think, everyone’s first choice. A shared stash is very easy to deal with for the player, and having it in the game creates a nice common area where characters can gather in a game. It does create a few problems, though. For one thing, it really encourages players to mule items on multiple characters. Which may just be something we have to deal with. Players who like to mule really like doing it. We kind of feel, well, we wish you didn’t have to mule. We wish there was a better way to store away spare items.
That’s one of our design dilemmas. Often we see a feature that the players really want, but that we don’t want to include. In those cases, it isn’t that we don’t appreciate the reasons players are giving. It’s that we’re looking at the issue and seeing why players want that, but trying to think of a better way to implement it.
Click through to read the rest of the transcript and see the video interview as well.
For one thing, having to go back to town every time your inventory filled, which happened quite frequently in Diablo 2, was very jarring. All those regular returns breaks up the pace of combat, much more than we want. TPs are also a terrible combat exploit. Essentially you can drop a TP anywhere and get out of any situation without a problem. That really destroys a lot of the work we’re doing to create a game that has a lot more depth to the combat.
There’s all these problems with it, and we tried a lot of ways to fix those problems. We tried putting cool downs on casting Town Portals. We tried one way portals. We tried all kinds of ways. Making town portal scrolls really rare. None of them solved the problem. They just changed the nature of it. So we eventually came to the conclusion that they just had to be removed.
What that means is that we had to solve the problem about what to do when the bag is full. That’s why we created salvaging, and scrolls of wealth that let you sell items where you are. If you don’t need to manage your items in town, if you can do it out in the world, then you don’t need to go back as often and town portals become irrelevant. And that’s our goal.
We do also place Waypoints a little more frequently. That’s just to account for the fact that people sometimes want a break.
The rune system is awesome right now. It’s in for almost every class, and for most of the skills. There are five different runes. Each one changes your skill in a different way. Some are just stat improvements. we’ve focused a lot on making as many key signature skill changes as possible.
One of my favorites is on the Wizard. She has a skill called Hydra, which is largely the same as it was in Diablo 2. Fiery (dragon) heads that shoot fireballs. Depending on which rune the Wizard sockets in that skill, the dragon heads change elements, and it’s a major change. Their entire appearance is altered. They can become poison heads, which shoot bolts of poison that leave pools of acid on the ground. There are lightning heads that shoot Chain Lightning. Cold heads that shoot Frost Bolts that slow enemies. Another rune makes for a bigger fire attack, where the head just breaths a cone of flame.
Runes will work with the Artisans also. If you get a bunch of Runes you don’t want, probably the Mystic will be able to take several of those runes and generate a new random rune from them.
In closing, I can say that this Blizzcon, in terms of Diablo news, will be the biggest one we’ve ever had. Well, maybe other than the one (2008) in which fans first got to play the game. But in terms of new news, we’re going big this year.