Read the full interview after the break.
The introduction of Artisans brings a big change compared to Diablo II. Why did you choose to take such a big step?
Actually, there are two important reasons, the economic reason being the most important. In Diablo II it was very easy to earn gold, but there wasnâ€™t much all the gathered gold could be spent on. Thus players were stuck with huge amounts of gold. I wanted to change that. In order to have a working economy in a game, about the same amount of gold needs to enter the economy as disappears from it. In order to gain control of the economy, there need to be things that yield gold and things that gold can be spent on. As designers of the game, we need to control these two things. Moreover, the things you can spend gold on have to be worth the trouble to gather the gold for. Thus we have introduced two changes. Players will earn a lot less gold in Diablo III from selling items they gather on the battlefield, and they will find a lot less gold on the battlefield as well. Additionally, we try to make sure that there are things players will want to spend gold on. The buying of gear pieces is an excellent way to diddle players out of their gold. There was already a way to use gold to buy more items in Diablo II, but it was used only barely. With Artisans, we try to improve that. With the new system, we hope to achieve that players will want to earn gold, but especially that they will want to spend their gold on the three Artisans.
The second reason results from the economic background. So we wanted gold to be spent more often, and at the same time, we donâ€™t want players to lose much time on creating items. That doesnâ€™t belong to a game such as Diablo III, in our eyes. After all, you are on an urgent mission to beat Diablo, that terrible demon that threatens the world, so you donâ€™t want to waste too much time on a nicer ring or better boots. That brought us to the idea of Artisans, three different characters that can play a very useful role for you on your quest through Sanctuary. The three wonâ€™t join you on the battlefield, but will instead deploy their mobile trading post at the nearest settlement.
So through salvaging, a lot of items you find on the battlefield will disappear from the economy. They will not directly be turned into gold at least. In Diablo III, you will sell a lot less items than in Diablo II, and that way earn a lot less gold, also because we have lowered the sell value for items that you have found, and also because we have lowered the amount of gold to be acquired on the battlefield. You will thus earn a lot less gold, even though you will need the gold more than before, since you need to pay the Artisans for their services.
What do those little shops look like?
You have seen the Blacksmithâ€™s shop during the presentation. We donâ€™t know yet what those of the Jeweller and Mystic will look like. Of course we have ideas about them, but we have not yet found the final outline. Moreover, the shape of the shops will change over the course of the game. Thatâ€™s another advantage of the Artisans. As they improve, and thus will be able to craft better items for you, they will also get differently looking shops. The Blacksmithâ€™s shop will develop from a simple wooden cart into an impressive coach with a complete market stall in front of it, on which the weapons that he can craft will be exposed. You can buy items that the Artisan will craft for you. You supply the Artisan with the right resources and pay some gold for his trouble. You can also use the Artisan to sell items from your inventory.
Moreover, you can specialise the three Artisans. The Blacksmith, for instance, can specialise in the crafting of axes. Then you will mostly see axes lying at his stall. Those specialisations will not exclude other ways, however. If you are completely specialised in the crafting of axes, you can still try to make the Artisan learn another specialisation, by gathering the right recipes and resources.
During the presentation, you told us something about the combining of gems. How does that work?
The gems that you will find in the game are of varying qualities. Some are better than others, and that will be pointed out by levels. The stones that you find vary from level 1 to level 5. However, a Jeweller can upgrade the gathered stones by combining them. That way, he can make stones of a maximum of level 14, even though that will require a lot of effort. In order to make a stone of level 6 for instance, the Jeweller will need three stones of level 5, which are of course quite rare. In order to make a stone of level 7, he will need three stones of level 6, and so on. I donâ€™t have the figures in my head, but if you keep calculating, it will require much effort to make a level 14 stone. Players can thus create fine pieces of gear through their Artisans, but there are also good items that can be found on the battlefield, or acquired as a reward from a completed quest.
Are the crafted items better than the ones found, or vice versa?
Indeed there will be fine items to find in the world. Just like in Diablo II, you can obtain the so called legendary items. Which items are better remains to be seen; we have not fully solved that issue yet. We havenâ€™t designed all items yet by far. We are now making up the first pieces of gear sets, so we are all but finished. I want to achieve that sometimes the legendary items are the best, and sometimes the crafted ones are. For instance, when there is a very good legendary leg item for a Barbarian, then I want to achieve that the best arm pieces in the game can be crafted by a Blacksmith. That way, we try to create a little bit of balance. We lay down the best items for each class, and will then look at which items we want to make legendary – so that they can be found – and which ones we want to be crafted by Artisans, and which resources will need to be handed in for those crafted items.
And if you prefer Dutch you can read the full interview over on Tweakers.Net.