There’s a new Jay Wilson interview up on DiabloFans today. In this one Jay talks about skill design and repeats the new Twitter info about skill trees being gone, gives a couple of good answers about items, and then goes into vague, no-comment mode on lore stuff. A quote:
DF: How will you balance the power of an item in comparison to its drop rate? In Diablo II runewords were extremely powerful, yet the required runes were also extremely rare to come by, or at least were supposed to be. Will there be items as rare in Diablo III that are as powerful from the start, or will players have to slowly improve the quality of their items, through crafting/runes/other systems?
Jay Wilson: Throughout the history of patches on Diablo II, there were a lot of updates to runewords and they really powerful from when they were introduced. At one time or another though all of the different item types were the most powerful, like unique items were the best, or rare items at some point. Our general approach for Diablo III is to make sure that every type of item has a place to be useful. For example, maybe we’ll have a legendary item, which is the new name for our unique items, be the best helm, whereas rares will have the most powerful chest armor, and so on. Having a spread like that will allow for a more varied itemization system we hope.
DF: What types of items will merchants sell in Diablo III? Are merchants going to play a bigger roll in leveling or are item drops going to be the major upgrades once again?
Jay Wilson: This kind of goes back to the luck factor with your drops. The cool thing was, in Diablo II, you may have found a powerful sash after killing some mobs, but had no luck finding a weapon. You run to town and talk to one of the vendors and notice some items and a weapon that catches your eye, so you buy it and use that. So we want vendors to be there to assist in the gearing process, to fill in those gaps that may come just from playing with a random loot drop system. You may play through an entire act and just never find a great pair of boots, and so we want the vendor to be there to offer some ability to fill that gap.
Note to aspiring interviewers, from someone who’s been at this for a while. It’s essential that you ask short, concise questions when trying to draw out new information. This interview is full of rambling, multi-part queries, such as this first one quoted above, which are fine for long form podcast-style conversations, but not so good for shorter interviews. As a consequence, Jay is able to give a content-free reply about D3 offering a wide variety of potential types of great items.
After wading through that, focus your thoughts and note that he did not address the more interesting second half of the question. As a result we still don’t know if the best items in D3 will be found, found, or made, or upgraded?
In D2X we can only add a socket or upgrade from exceptional to elite, but the trend in more recent RPGs, such as Torchlight, is to include multiple sorts of item enhancements. Ways to add modifiers, or special properties, or lots of sockets, to found items. Fans like them, they work well as gold sinks, add a new wrinkle to the end game, and make every character unique with their own individualized kit. Let’s hope that Jay gets pinned down on this question in some future interview, and let’s us know what the D3 team is planning on that front.