Jay Wilson Press Conference from Blizzcon


Each year at Blizzcon, Blizzard holds a press-only Q&A session in one of the back rooms. These are generally joint events, with a lead dev from WoW, D3, and sometimes SC2 as well. Like all Q&A sessions, they’re only as good as the questions asked, and having the press asking them doesn’t necessarily improve things.

Happily, the questions from this year’s event were pretty good, as were Jay Wilson’s answers. During the session, Jay confirmed that the Hardcore Graveyard Halls of the Dead is a UI display, said there would be “hundreds” of achievements, briefly mentioned end game Followers improvements, gave a pat PR answer on D3’s lack of mod support, and compared the merits of jizz vs. urine as Monk resource graphics. The full transcript is here, courtesy of D3db. I’ve quoted a few that brought the best new infos.

Q. Now that all spells are dependent on weapon speed and damage, are you getting rid of spell damage and increased cast rate?
Jay Wilson: We are getting rid of increased cast rate, and increased weapon rate will replace it. Spell damage was a stat that only really appeared to the Witch Doctors and Wizards, we probably made this change for 2 reasons. The major one was we found casters were not valuing their weapons, that was a big problem with Diablo 2. The second one was Witch Doctor and Wizard randomly generated affixes were very confusing, our testers were coming back with questions like “What’s the math on this, when you say 20% increased damage does it apply to base damage, to spell damage?” If you can’t understand it and can’t understand which one is better than the other then that’s a bad thing.

Q. Do you have to play through softcore to unlock hardcore?
Jay Wilson: Oooh, good question, yes, you will have to play through to a certain point to unlock hardcore mode, I think it’s through normal difficulty after you kill the end boss. I’m like 90% sure, so we could change our minds.

Q. How many hours do you anticipate the average player will have to invest to hit level 60 in Diablo III?
Jay Wilson: This is a really hard question to answer, people ask me this all the time. The answer depends on how insane you are… I’m gonna say… I’m not even gonna guess, because if I do I know that’s going to come back and haunt me. We’re not really concerned about making 1-60 some ridiculously long grind. We’re not douchebags, it’ll be based upon what feels good.

Q. Compared to Diablo 2?
Jay Wilson: Again, it’s speculation that will come back to haunt me. It’ll probably be shorter than Diablo II, but D2 also didn’t have an end-game.

I hope they put the spells = weapon damage stuff into the next beta patch so we can get some hands on trials with it pre-launch, as it sounds like a huge change. I liked the long-stated D3 goal of making weapon mods important to casters, but I thought their initial ideas about adding +% spell damage as an essential mod, along with properties like faster casting rate, faster resource regen, etc, would be enough to do the trick. After all, those type of mods roughly equate to essential combat weapon mods like +% damage, faster swing speed, elemental damage, etc.

Apparently that system wasn’t enough though, and casters still did not need good mods on their weapons to the same extent as physical damage characters. Hence this major change to caster weapons, the removal of faster casting rate mods, etc. It’s a huge change, and it’s going to feel weird using axes and mauls and such on casters.

Can slower casting rate provide enough of a trade off for the bigger base damage to spells? Probably for the fast-acting DiabloWikiWizard, but I can easily envision a DiabloWikiWitch Doctor gearing up with a giant polearm and kicking back behind his minions while unleashing massively-damaging spells, utterly unconcerned that they’re taking .2 seconds longer per cast. (Then again, all the really big two-handed weapons are Barb-only, so this might not be such a factor.)

Though that sounds odd, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It should certainly provide more diversity in equipment options and play styles.

Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard People, BlizzCon 2011, Interviews

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  1. I’m not sure that the whole “the first time through has to be softcore” thing is gonna go over  with the truly hardcore players. I was gonna play through once on softcore  anyway just to get a feel of things, and then play hardcore. I am also not majorly hardcore. Those who would want to play hardcore from the start may be kind of infuriated with that.

    • I don’t think it’s a big deal in D3, since we only get one account. It was annoying in D2 for HC players who wanted to create new accounts, especially for mules, and you had to get a softcore rush just to make some boot and amulet mules.

      On the other hand, if people want to make a HC char right from the start… why is Bliz stopping them? There would be a great sense of achievement working through the whole game for the first time with a HC char, knowing you’d surely die a few times and have to start over again, with your reward coming once you got to see new content.

      Unless Normal really is as easy as they keep saying it will be in which case… never mind.

      • I suspect (but don’t know) that the idea is that they are forcing you to take the tutorial before you jump into hardcore.  If I’m right, I totally get where they’re coming from…
         
        That said, I’ll probably bum around softcore for quite some time before I jump into hardcore, so this won’t affect me in the least.
         
        Randumb question: Stash won’t cross between soft and hard… will artisan training???

      • “There would be a great sense of achievement working through the whole game for the first time with a HC char”
         
        For the truly hardcore players, they could even include achievements that you could only get, if you kill the last act boss for the first time with a hardcore character. There should be 4 of these for every difficulty.

  2. Anybody who wanted to play hardcore from the start is an idiot for wanting to waste their time completely because they will probably die to some cheap bullshit they weren’t aware of.

    • I don’t think idiot is a correct term. Maybe brave or careless, but not an idiot. I contemplated it, but I figured I would want a playthrough to learn the story first. There is a thrill that goes along with the fact that you know if you die, its gone forever. The thrill would be even greater not knowing what the heck is coming next and having to stay on your toes. There would probably have to be a little bit of strategy mixed in there too.

      • Yeah, the idea of going through hc ‘blind’ sounded pretty awesome. I was actually on the fence for it. Not complaining about the forced sc trip as I don’t necessarily view it as a bad thing for me. This is also a way for Blizz to cover their ass as I’m sure there will be ‘cheap’ 1-hit-kill glitches that people will discover in their 1st playthrough or what not. Blizz will get a lot of hate if hc toons start dying left and right to yet unpatched glitches.

    • And why do you care how do I want to spend and waste my own, personal time ?
       
      People from the webz… /facedesk

  3. I would only play hardcore if my char turns softcore if/when it dies. I’d like to see poll on who’s with me 😛 It coudl be done with an achievement for SC if you beat diablo on each difficulty without dying once (an acceptible compromise, at least)

    • They’re doing that in Path of Exile, but when I suggested it here in a news post and in the forums it got hugely downvoted.  The pro is that it’ll get more people to try out HC. The con is that it’ll clog HC games with noobs who don’t care if they live or die.

      • Not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand it’s a pretty cool addition but on the other hand it kind of cheapens the whole hardcore thing. No, I’m not one of those hardcore purists who likes to cut themselves but yeah it will feel weird if essentially everyone start rolling hardcore till they die…
        Maybe make it so that when your hc char dies your character gets locked out for 2-3 weeks and THEN automatically gets made softcore. It will kind of discourage people from dying stupidly but at the same time won’t end their char completely if they die once.

        • That’s the issue right there though , EVERYBODY would roll hardcore since there is no penalty associated with dying.  Choosing to roll hardcore or softcore as it stands right now is an actual choice, you either risk losing your character and gear or you play a safer route.  If all hardcore death meant was a drop to softcore there would be nothing stopping everybody from simply rolling hardcore since there is no threat of any penalty upon death, and all that would do is encourage sloppy gameplay.

          • If they would strip the character that died in hardcore from all its items before sending it to softcore, I think that would be enough.
            People dont lose their character, and time spent leveling is not totally wasted and the softcore economy is not effected by hardcore characters dying. Give the character a few coins to start over and I think you got a nice idea try out.

  4. So, following what seems to be their logic with “valuing their weapons” and the idea of using weapons as a focus for spells… casting would have a chance of costing durability??

  5. Did Jay really imply that the diablo 2 team are douchbags for making a ridiculous grind to 99? Not very cool.

    • That one was fairly amusing.

      But since the context is essentially Diablo 3 with the “real game” starting at max level and Inferno, he is right, forcing a ridiculous level grind in that specific context would be a douchebag move.

      • I rather liked the idea of an unattainable level cap. for most normal/hardcore players, 99 was unreachable, but of course the botters/insane people were able to get that high. personally i was content getting my chars to like 88, and taking extra time on one or two chars to bring them to 90+. And it’s kinda cool when you’re in a game and then a lvl 97 joins, you feel almost a kind of awe/shock at how much time they spent getting that high.

  6. “It’s a huge change, and it’s going to feel weird using axes and mauls and such on casters.”

    If they balance it correctly then casters won’t have to use big weapons to get the most dps… since cast rate is directly based off of weapon speed I’m sure most will opt for quicker weapons that aren’t as hard hitting and suppliment their stats with their class specific offhands unless they are doing a melee build…

    • It’ll definitely influence builds. A Wizard who plans on using Meteor and Blizzard as their go-to nuke would probably want a big two-hander and a bunch of Arcane Power stats all over their gear/passives. One thing I’m worried about (but not too much) is trying to mix in big burst spells and fast cast spam w/ the exact same weapon set up. It’ll be a little more difficult, like trying to build a barb or monk w/ a mix of skills/runes that favor both slow two hands and fast dual wield at the same time. We’ll see; there’s sub-optimal and there’s downright terrible, and I really doubt it’ll make too many builds downright terrible.

      • Main problem is that with high cast rate you will draw your mana/arcane faster which is not good, this way it’s favor damage over speed.

        • There are ways around this. Wizards have free spells (Signatures) which can restore Power w/ runes or passives; this favors using a fast one hand weapon. Doctors have a few mana leech spells. They could try is having really good resource stats on caster off-hand trinkets, or really good resource stats on one hand weapons (specifically wands and sacrifice daggers), or both.

  7. I thought hardcore was available from the start. Well, I’m not complaining. I was on the fence between giving softcore a quick run first so I guess that’s then decided for me. Yay @ one less thing to think about.
    Wtf was with the jizz and urine answer? He actually said that O_O”… Moving on.
     
    Don’t need mod support or mods in game either. I hate the WoW addon system and we don’t need people running around with different versions of the same game when they play multiplayer.
     

  8. Q. With the rich lore and races of World of Warcraft, have you thought of incorporating some of that into Diablo III such as Dwarves?

    JW: No, one of the things that is driving the Diablo universe is that it’s a very human-centric place. Anything that isn’t human is pretty much bad.
     
    You heard it hear first, let’s smash some angels.

  9. With +all skill, +skill, +oskills +x% spell damage and +casting speed, I wonder what they’ll come up with. Try thinking of all of your favorite items without those, and see which are seemingly becoming bland…

    And by that I mean, they have much less to play with to create items. I think their item data wasn’t temporary at all. They just can’t come up with more stuff, and the above differentiating factors are gone! They’ve struck a wall there, trust me.

  10. Actually I don’t like this non-sense Jay Wilson says.
    “It’ll probably be shorter than Diablo II, but D2 also didn’t have an end-game” – So we will have very short content and we will have to go through it 4 times. – Well that’s imho a laziness from Blizzard developers. Why not work once for change and give us 1 content – 4xlonger – where diffculty scales with each location.
    It seems much like the “There will be no weapon switch because nobody including me haven’t used it in D2”.
    =we are lazy to implement that
    “we will have no faster cast and spell damage will be dependant on weapon and casting speed on weapon speed” = we are lazy to implement and balance different mechanics for different characters.
     
    I am more and more dissapointed with D3 – I mean I will buy it, I will play it, but I fear I won’t play it for 5 years like D2.

    • Instead of hearing what you want to hear, you should listen to what the devs are saying.

      “Why not work once for change and give us 1 content – 4xlonger – where diffculty scales with each location.”
       
      Because then casual players interested only in the storyline (= majority of people out there) couldn’t experience it.
       
      “we are lazy to implement that”
       
      They said it multiple times, that the main reason there won’t be weapon switching is because it would be exploited like hell, just like it was in D2. With the current skill system, it’s also unnecessary.
       
      “we are lazy to implement and balance different mechanics for different characters”
       
      The reason for making skill damage depend on weapon damage is to make the weapon’s base stat valuable to casters. This will increase the number of viable weapons available to them, which is a good thing. You could also achieve this by introducing caster stats on melee weapons, but this would make it much harder for melee classes to find ideal weapons. With the new system, everybody wins.

      • Are you a Blizzard lover or what?
        “Because then casual players interested only in the storyline (= majority of people out there) couldn’t experience it.”
        Why they can’t experience one long story instead of being forced to play 4xshorter game 4 times? That would keep them occupied for longer time. If they start to struggle with difficulty, they would feel the urge to overcome the struggle, gear themselves (bossruns or buying from AH) and finish the game. Now if they start to struggle in NM, they will leave, because they already finished the whole story in normal.
         
        “They said it multiple times, that the main reason there won’t be weapon switching is because it would be exploited like hell, just like it was in D2. With the current skill system, it’s also unnecessary.”
        I remember Jay specifically said he didn’t use the switch in D2, so it’s unneccessary in D3. It’s LOL. And frankly most players don’t see weapon switch as exploit, but as a helpful feature which enables at least some sort od battle strategy outside of mindless clicking. It was very convenient and had a lot of strategic uses. For example I am not sure I would love my Lightning Zon in D2 so much if I couldn’t use a wand with lower resist charges in weapon switch slot. It even enabled some builds like jav/bow zon hybrids. I don’t understand anyone taking a blizzside on weapon slot.
         
        “The reason for making skill damage depend on weapon damage is to make the weapon’s base stat valuable to casters. This will increase the number of viable weapons available to them, which is a good thing. You could also achieve this by introducing caster stats on melee weapons, but this would make it much harder for melee classes to find ideal weapons. With the new system, everybody wins.”
        BLABLA, so we will make every character using the same skill with the same mechanic, only graphics will be different… I don’t see reason how MELEE damage should be beneficial to spells. No other game has that and it’s just nonsense. At least make it like in Runes of Magic, where weapons have MAGIC damage and/or MELEE damage. They could introduce casting stats only on wands and staves, so there will be less number of silly mages running around with their Messerschmid’s Reavers, which will be wanted by melee chars too – so it’s value will be much higher than if it was only a best melee weapon. The only one who wins is Blizzard – lot less time spending testing and balancing + mages need OP melee weapons now too, so Blizzard will get more money from RMAH. +I am robbed from a chance to finish the D3 with naked char 😉
         
        They made a lot of other questionable decisions, but I feel like these are made because they wanted to make their work easier, not because of it is a good decision for the game itself.

        • “If they start to struggle with difficulty, they would feel the urge to overcome the struggle, gear themselves (bossruns or buying from AH) and finish the game.”
           
          You know what people who are playing for the story would feel in that case? The urge to uninstall the game and won’t buy anything in the future that has Blizzard’s name on it.
           
          “Now if they start to struggle in NM, they will leave, because they already finished the whole story in normal.”
           
          That’s perfectly acceptable for people, if they wanted to experience only the story and believe me the majority of the players are like this. It’s easy to lose sight of this when you’re talking every day to fans on a site like this. The way the progression is currently set up allows players to experience the story and have fun and they aren’t forced to deal with Inferno difficulty. If someone’s looking for a challenge, then they have the option of rushing through Normal quickly. The way I see this, this system is perfect.
           
          “It was very convenient and had a lot of strategic uses.”
           
          I wouldn’t say a lot. It certainly enabled us to build our characters in a wacky way though. To be honest, I don’t really care about this feature, so I don’t really mind seeing it go. I do know that I mostly used the additional slots as inventory space and to pre-buff my summons and shouts. Neither one of those was the intended way to use the system, but they were the most useful in my opinion. I can understand that the devs are concerned about this.
           
          “I don’t see reason how MELEE damage should be beneficial to spells.”
           
          If you want an explanation that would make sense in the world of Diablo, then how about this: melee weapons with better stats have more power, which can be use by the Wizard and Witch Doctor to channel more powerful spells.
           
          “No other game has that and it’s just nonsense.”
           
          There are lots of great ideas that wasn’t used by games before, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all nonsense. You can’t know that until you implement them in a game and see how they interact with each other.
           
          “They could introduce casting stats only on wands and staves”
           
          They could, but then they would need to make items with certain strengths for melee and caster characters as well. As an example, you would need both a slow and hard hitting axe and a wand. With the new system they won’t have to worry about this, because the hard hitting axe will be good for most classes. This is less work for the devs and the result is the same, so it’s actually a really smart design decision. After playing lots of RPGs it’s also refreshing to me to see a Wizard with an axe, instead of a staff.
           
          “there will be less number of silly mages running around with their Messerschmid’s Reavers, which will be wanted by melee chars too – so it’s value will be much higher than if it was only a best melee weapon.”
           
          You got this backwards. The supply won’t change, but the demand will increase, hence the value of the items will also increase. This is another advantage of the new system. It will be much harder to flood the market with good items, because more people will want them and so items will hold their value longer.

        • Actually, after reading your post again I’m not sure that you’ve made a mistake about how the value of items will change. Anyway, I still think that increasing their value by making them a viable choice for more classes is a good thing.

  11. While I like the “weapon damage is important to casters” idea, I’m still curious how this’ll work out for some spells. Having spammable spells like Magic Miassile being affected by weapon damage and speed seems simple enough. But what about non-Spammable spells? Judging from beta videos a few spells have near instant casting times (Frost Nova, Wave of Force) and some are even almost instant AND spammable (Electrocute, Disintegrate). How will that work?
    Also, what about spells that don’t use a casting animation of the chaster? Will a Hydra attack more slowly when the wizard equips a two-handed weapon? What about the WD’s Gargantuan or his Fetish summons?

    • Simple the longer the CD the higher % damage boosts on that spell or it has a larger AOE, or has a status effect freeze on Ice Nova/KB on WoF ETC.
      TBH I expect spells will be based of the weapons DPS not its damage+AS and the damage stuff like Electrocute, Disintegrate, Hydra and other summons have there DPS = weapon dps * conversion %. And the Tick rate of Electrocute, Disintegrate etc will depend on cast speed if it exist IE base speed*(1+CS%)= real cast rate.

  12. Forgive me if I am completely wrong, but does using weapon speed for casting speed equate to the same thing as the WSM in D2? Such as a thresher being -10 having a faster attack speed than a cryptic axe that is +10? So that if I was carrying a thresher, I would have a faster cast rate? Or is it going to be strictly based upon how much DPS the weapon does? I think this is a stupid idea, among many others that I will just have to deal with if I want to play the game.

  13. The part where JY Wilson said that casters were not valuing their weapon is probably one of the stupidest things I have heard yet. The reason I pick a caster type player is to stand out of the action and blast spells. If I wanted to hack and slash, than yeah, my weapon choice is very important. As the release gets nearer, more info comes out that I don’t like.

    • Yeah, I am with you. You nailed it, Mage shouldn’t be played and equipped the same as warrior. Oh and I am too dissapointed more and more with them, all the changes they’ve done recently only make me believe that they don’t have any clue what they want/doing. I mean – dramatically changing the base of damage for wizards and witches and dramatically changing the resource systems for demon hunters – few month before release date? These are pretty important decisions and should be done much earlier in the game development.

  14. I hate the fact that with the change of spells to use weapon damage I will most likely have to use a big barbarian type weapon on my wizard.
    I really wish they would bring back class restrictions on weapons so I wouldn’t feel forced to do that.

  15. I think people are underestimating the value of casting speed, especially at higher difficulty levels.  From what they’ve told us about nightmare +, mobs are much better at doing damage and are much faster than early on.  They’ve also told us that mobs’ AI targets casters in the back and they don’t just go for the tank in the front, so casters are going to need to be mobile with their dps.  Slow 2h builds will be viable (in keeping with the build variation freedoms the devs spoke of again at Blizzcon) but probably not optimal.

    • Don’t forget about PvP either. A faster weapon could allow you to use a Leap Attack before a Wizard drops a Meteor on your head.

  16. Am I wrong in assuming it will be similar to the WSM in D2 if in fact they dont get thier head out of thier ass and fix it?

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