Leonard Boyarsky Blizzcon Interview

Fmulder spotted a new Leonard Boyarsky interview on NAG Online. It was recorded last month at BlizzCon, and covers lots of interesting story and plot stuff. How LeBo transitioned from being an artist into doing story and content, how they worked story into Diablo III, how they wanted to update the lore and world state from previous games, etc.

It’s a nicely-conversational interview as well; rather than the usual series of unrelated questions, so it’s got a good flow to it.

Are you surprised at how much writing has gone into Diablo III?
Leonard Boyarsky: I used to work on like, single-player RPGs with full-on dialogue trees, and stuff like that. So I came on to Diablo thinking “okay, we’ll just throw some story in there and it’ll be y’know, we’ll get some more in-depth story going and it’ll be great”. And uh, it’s been, it’s really challenging. It’s deceptively difficult to add like a, good in-depth story to a Diablo game because the pace is so quick. The action comes as you so quickly, that you don’t want to stop the player and make them stop and get story. You want to have the story integrated into the gameplay as much as possible. And uh, it’s easier said than done, I can tell you that.

You don’t want to wrench the camera away from the player and go “Look! Look at our beautiful narrative!”
Leonard Boyarsky: *laughs* Exactly. We want to not do that as much as possible, and choosing every word carefully.

Blizzard’s audience surveys have apparently convinced them that the vast majority of fans desire D3’s, “tell the story as quickly as possible without ever interrupting the click-fest,” but wouldn’t it be interesting if you could select for or against that? Imagine there were a check box in the options that would enable longer, more detailed, more thorough dialogues, additional NPC gossips, etc. Obviously you’d still be able to skip them if you were in a hurry, but as many fans as ask about the story and say they enjoy the dialogues and such, I’m sure at least some people would appreciate it?


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  1. every time i have that little new lore icon flashing i am really looking forward to listen to it.
    and i always end up being a bit disappointed by the depth of them. they are to short and to… casual to really drag you in.

    a shame, really.

  2. I’m sorry, but this guy doesn’t *sound* like a good writer.  Lot’s of “really’s” and “um’s” and “like’s” and “y’know’s.”  Sure, there’s a chance his speech pattern has nothing to do with his writing style, but ten bucks says the dialogue in D3 will suck (or be unmemorable).

    I miss Farnham.  Who wrote his dialogue?  Bring that person back…

  3. I hope it has an at least “okay” story. The better it is the better. D1 and D2 have quite a bit of background and indirect lore but in terms of the game itself – there is almost no worthwhile story whatsoever which is a bit of a shame.

    And there don’t need to be any story check-boxes. Just put all the story there in the 1st place and allow the impatient people to skip scenes/dialogues by pressing esc/enter or whatnot. Most games do this.

  4. That’s a good idea Flux. There are players who don’t care about the story, and players who won’t want to hear it again on successive playthroughs. They’re missing out of course – even a bad story is what you make of it. But maybe there should be dialogue depth options, and some kind of archive function, like in Starcraft, that lets you replay cinematics and dialogue.

    I got it! At the beginning of a game you get to select your character’s intelligence level – the lower the level you select, the more NPC’s dumb down their dialogue for you.

  5. I’ll believe the story’s good when I see it. Diablo I and II were fine and the balance of story/gameplay was good. The story elements of the original Starcraft and Broodwar were really fantastic, but Warcraft III was a mess, they basically just rehashed the Kerrigan thing with Arthas. Starcraft II was… nice at times, beyond lame in others. Blizzard has issues with making the big bads so over-the-top that they are boring. In D2 they handled the Prime Evils well in the way they each had a certain personality, especially Baal pretending to be Tyrael, etc. They were more than just big ugly monsters, even if just a little bit. I’m very worried Blizzard is going to rip off their old Kerrigan story yet again by having this Leah character host Diablo. It was awesome the first time, but the more times they do it the more stale and predictable it becomes.

  6. I am also for more lore and story, a lot of the older gamers want a more complex game usually.

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