Gamesplanet NZ has posted a new interview with Leonard Boyarsky. Parts of it read like past LeBo interviews, but there are some new bits, and there’s even a new screenshot, showing some Monk battle action against a variety of Fallen in Act Two. Have we seen such a clear view of a Fallen Shaman before in a HQ screenshot? I don’t believe so.

    The interview covers the history of the Diablo series, Leonard’s contributions to Diablo III, how story and level design affect play in D3, and more. Thanks to fmulder for the tip, and here’s a quote:

    Gameplanet: Speaking of the lore, we’ve already seen a bit of New Tristram, are there any other areas in Diablo III that have been compulsory inclusions due to their significance in earlier games?
    Boyarsky: There’s one place that is very important to the lore of Diablo that we’re returning to. We contemplated going to a couple of other places that have been in our fiction and haven’t been in the games before, but those didn’t make the final cut.

    Gameplanet: Will there be at least areas that will have a nod to previous areas in the Diablo series?
    Boyarsky: That’s a hard question for me because I feel like there was a certain kind of gameplay that permeated all of Diablo. Diablo had a certain style of gameplay and it kind of evolved in Diablo II. Of course, this is coming from the story guy not the system guy – the system guy would probably be smacking me over the head! [laughs]

    I didn’t feel like there was a lot of very specific different gameplay elements to, for instance, the Arcane Sanctuary. Artistically, it definitely had a lot of interesting aspects to it, and the way they did the randomness there compared to the randomness of the rest of the game was different. But I feel as far as the system stuff goes, and the gameplay goes, I feel like we’ve varied it up a lot more, and we’ve introduced more unique gameplay elements into different areas of our game.

    There’s a lot of stuff worth discussing from this interview, but just to pick up on the quoted bit there… I’ll give LeBo partial agreement. The vast majority of areas in Diablo 2 were not constructed to have much effect on the gameplay. (The gameplay varied a lot, but that was almost always due to the monsters, not the level layout.) On the other hand, narrow areas like the Maggot Hive and Arcane Sanctuary and Act 3 Flayer dungeons created a very different play speed and action, with monsters lined up or stacked up. There are also numerous areas in Diablo 2 that serve as choke points, with single file doorways that served a strategic purpose.

    As for Diablo III… not so much. There are a few room-like areas in the Catacombs that can focus monsters, and there are lots of spawn points, but no areas I’ve seen in past Blizzcon demos, or in the Beta content, have layouts that change the gameplay. There are wide open areas, and dungeons with hallways, but they’re never narrow and claustrophobic the way so many D1 and D2 dungeons were.

    Of course this is just the first third of Act One… As LeBo says, we can expect to see a lot more variety and complications throughout the rest of the game.

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