Julian Love Interview from Blizzcon 2011

Digital Trends has posted a write up based on an interview with DiabloWikiJulian Love at last week’s Blizzcon. There’s not any *new* info, but there are some nice bits about what the developers are working on now, what they’ve learned so far from the Beta test, etc. A quote:

“BlizzCon is really critical to us from that perspective, because it gives us the possibility of putting a very unfinished game, or some sections of it, in front of our audience — the audience that’s really passionate about what we’re going to do,” said Love. “It gives us the opportunity to tell us exactly what they feel about it. It also lets us stand in the background sometimes and observe them and see, ‘They don’t really get this thing that we thought everybody would get,’ in which case we go back to the drawing board.”

For those who didn’t attend the sold-out BlizzCon, the beta is allowing the developer to fine-tune every aspect of the RPG.

“We get to find all those things that are maybe not working as well as we would like, things that are confusing to people,” said Love. “It’s also given us a chance to look at the way the skill system works and to re-evaluate how complicated that is. We’re trying to find that balance of usability and freedom of exploration, but also a sense of ownership and feeling like this is a class that you’re going to invest in. We have to do that in a way that doesn’t make it too complicated, as well.”

Putting this with the other new interview about how they made changes to D3 since some developer’s mom didn’t know how to play, and it shows how wrong some of us have been, with our jokes about D3 being “dumbed down” for the console market. (Since the dumbing down clearly has nothing to do with consoles.)

So, where on the “accessibility vs. depth and complexity” scale do you think Diablo III should fall? Where do you think it is right now? Where do you think Diablo 2 was?

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12 thoughts on “Julian Love Interview from Blizzcon 2011

  1. “We have to do that in a way that doesn’t make it too complicated, as well” 
    Whats wrong with LEARNING how to play? >_< 

    • There is a cutoff to learning a game and saying “Fuck this” and finding a new game. Sword of the Stars is a perfect example that if I hadn’t had frineds online to explain somethings to me I would have been pissed for buying this game. A lot of the mechanics go against what you would think and figure out in the game and you have to fumble around like a drunkard in the dark to grasp them. After a while you just start wondering why am I playing this?

      This example is one of the things you try to streamline so that you understand and learn, BUT not feel like you are wasting your time.

  2. I’m glad that Julian made the comment about ownership because honestly I think that’s my main beef with the system, and likely the problem many others are having as well, even if this isn’t how they would express it.

    I had an idea I posted a while back that got flamed because the new forums are ass, but if they just made the last three skill slots “lockable” where the player could permanently lock in a skill, and that skill would get a small boost or buff over the unlocked version, I think that would go a long way towards feeling like ownership over the character.

    Because that’s really important. You should feel as if the character is different, unique, and particular to you, not just “Wizard #9085980”. I haven’t played the actual game yet, but this is the impression that I get. If I made, say, two different barbarians of the same gender, why would I feel any connection to either one, or why would I feel like they were different from each other? I just don’t see it with the way the game is currently set up.

    Blizzard can’t “but you can dye armor!” out of this one.

    • Not only that, but the banner is apparently account wide. So if you reroll or twink a new character, s/he will have your big massive “main” banner. Unless the little achievement ribbons/PvP crests/hardcore pile of junk are character specific, but unlocking the colors/patterns/banner cuts is account wide. Anyone remember how it works?

  3. I think, discussing the difficulty of the game before we get hands on the full version and finish few acts, is just… pointless, really.

    • Nobody said a word about the difficulty of playing the game in this post. The post is about the complexity of the game, the depth of it, and the “difficulty” of learning how to play.
      It has nothing to do with how many hits it takes to kill a monster.

  4. I think they’re shifting the difficulty from spreadsheet tuning to hands-on timing/real-time thinking. More Street Fighter and less Civilization. I think the time spent theorycrafting will go down, but the time trying to work on your APM will go up.

  5. Depth != Complexity, at least, not the way I see it.  You can have systems that are easy to learn but difficult to master, and that’s what they’re going for.  Sure, you can swap skills around and pick whatever you want, but it’s going to take practice, learning and skill to figure out how to find the best build for you.

  6. It’s always a little disturbing when a dev is even better at vague corporate-speak than the suits.
    But they’ve gotten good at spewing the BS – when your only credit is a backgammon game and you’ve been working on the same title for ten years, it helps.

  7. I think people are worrying too much about the “its too easy” part of this.  As Blizzard has stated, and barbarossa states above, the goal is not to make the entire game easy.  It is to make the first hour or two very accessible to new players to draw them in.
    You can play through the first Act of Diablo II fairly easily using just the equipment that you find and spending almost no skill points.  Most people have done this many times when building a character who was going to max mainly lvl 24/30 skills.  Act II gets tougher, and by Act I NM you better start paying attention.
    Also, there are several different usability areas that can be tackled.  For example, is the basic user interface easy to understand and navigate?  Do all the game’s basic mechanics and terms make sense to most people – such as how to change equipment or travel back to town?  Some games do a horrible job in these areas, obfuscating the most basic of functions.
    Then you have ease of understanding system things like ‘how does equipping this piece of armor affect my survivability’ or ‘what happens exactly to my damage if I increase this skill to the next level’.  What is my chance for a critical hit, and how much extra damage does it do?  Diablo II actually did a poor job at some of these.  I am going from memory, but I don’t think there was an easy way to see your current IAS%, MF%, or damage reduction %.  Some stats that were shown were wrong, leading to the acronym LCS (Lying Character Screen)’.  Exploring the effects of skill levels and their synergies was best done using web sites not even created by Blizzard.
    Last you have ‘difficulty’ many people are thinking about like “How easy is it to finish Normal?  Playing hardcore in Nightmare?  Soloing 4 person end game wearing no armor?”  If history is our guide, Blizzard with do a decent job making the last 2/3 of the game pretty hard at first.  Then people will find uber builds and start trashing it, which will lead to a patch that makes it harder, …

  8. I would prefer the game not spoon feed me a damn thing and be hard as hell from the get-go, but they must cater to newbs. This is a sad fact of gaming.
    However, the game should ramp up the difficulty and complexity to no end. Inferno, here I come.

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