Rob Pardo on Learning from Design Mistakes


Shacknews has posted a nice little article that writes up DiabloWikiRob Pardo‘s talk at the Game Developer’s Convention.  Rob’s presentation covered how Blizzard learns from their mistakes and applies those lessons to future games. He mentioned the failure of Diablo 2’s gold economy, and how they improved upon that system in WoW. He mentioned how the hero units in Starcraft’s SP missions (same as War2’s) were too risky to use in large battles and how they improved on that system in Warcraft III. Another example concerned quests and story integration, and I’ll quote that bit below:

In storytelling, Diablo II quests and the World of Warcraft quest “The Green Hills of Stranglethorn” were failures. In Diablo II, quest NPC’s would speak for around 2 minutes giving backstory and details about a quest that just ended up sending the player off to kill a demon. Everybody skipped them. In the WoW quest, players were meant to slowly collect quest items that would drop randomly off of any enemy in a particular zone, but it was too slow. Players just bought the missing items from the auction house.

For success, Pardo identified the “Culling of Stratholme” from Warcraft III and the Death Knight starting area from World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Both presented the player with story content during gameplay instead of frontloading the content with tedious briefings. The Death Knight area also served as a playable tutorial for the new class that was introduced in the second WoW expansion.

I couldn’t help but notice that both Diablo 2 examples were things the game didn’t do very well, that were improved upon in WoW. Let’s hope we see some improvement examples in D3, whether improved over D2, WoW or something else…

On that theme, criticizing D2 for the end game economy and over-long NPC dialogues is pretty much shooting fish in a barrel. What other examples can you guys think of for major D2 features that weren’t implemented as well as they could be; that you hope to see improved in Diablo III? 

On the other hand, what did Diablo 2 do right? The virtual slot machine that is the D2 item drop is widely praised as an addictive game mechanic, and it’s something the D3 Team has said they want to recreate as best they can. What other features or design approaches from D2 do you hope to see return in D3?

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