The Diablo 3 Podcast #34: Early Game Structure, Plus Skills

Diablo 3?s early gameplay is very structured and linear, with few player options early. Too cattle chute-y without enough exploration? Also, the guys debate the new and major changes to the skill system.

The thirty-fourth episode of The Diablo Podcast is now online for your listening pleasure. Neinball and The Eliminator join Flux for a dual show; with 30 minutes of one topic, and 20 of another.

The first half-hour of this show covers D3’s early game structure, including the story, quests, and general presentation, based on the detailed information revealed during the Beta demo. There’s a great deal more story and interconnection between the quests in the full game than we’d seen previously during the Blizzcon demos, but there might actually be too much? Several of the people I talked to from the media event in July said they felt a bit overly-guided, cattle chute-style, through early Act One, and that they hoped for more allowed exploration later in the game. I hope so too, and think it’s just that Bliz has the early game set up on training wheels to guide noobs through without confusion. Then again, both Neinball and Eliminator are long time WoW players, and they testify that the entire game in WoW these days, level 1-85, is basically the same sort of “led by the nose” character/quest progression. Might that be a sign of D3’s overall design concept?

The second half starts at the 30:50 mark, when the topic changes to the skills system. All of the new changes to skills are covered, including six max skills, the new tiers when skills are enabled, the removal of skill points, the big changes to traits, and more. Will skills scale up enough to feel different? Will freespecs end “builds” since players can shift their skill points around perpetually? Can cooldowns make higher level skills balanced but still powerful? Can Blizzard keep the levels difficult, if players can always change their skills to the most optimal for a given area?

The Diablo 3 Podcast Episode Guide in provides links to every show, plus quick summaries.

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19 thoughts on “The Diablo 3 Podcast #34: Early Game Structure, Plus Skills

  1. With the new questing system and how it looked in previous Blizzcon Demo’s I thought that early Act One might be a little “cattle-chute style” weither it be by game-design choice or pacing. Remembering back to the Blizzcon Demo which featured the Monk in the desert seemed alot more open, i.e Exploration (Diablo 2-ish), the map that is, and i’m hoping the quest’s follow the open style, I do think that it will definately get more open and take abit of time to figure it out / find a certain place as the Act’s progress, I’m not too worried about them making the whole game how it is first half of Act 1, So no I don’t think it’s a sign of Diablo 3’s overall design

    • I agree. The nature of the opening area in any game is going to be introductory. I see nothing wrong with this, personally.

      I wouldn’t say WoW “leads you by the nose” as much as it tries to remove questions you may have while playing. Most of the hand-holding features were originally very popular player-created mods that Blizzard chose to officially adapt to the game.

  2. nice podcast –
    i think they should put up some restrictions to respecc – i mean i understand that you want to try out new stuff as you level up – thus you probably want to change runes and skills alot – but i dissapprove of constantly respeccing, it kills the identity of the character you are playing – and they would possibly have to tune all encounters / mobs for the optimum specc if changing the specc all the times becomes the way to play the game.
    i would go about this in the following way:

    – Skills can be switched everywhere (need to be out of combat for ~10 sec though)
    – Runes of level I and II can be switched everywhere
    nightmare – inferno :
    – Skills can only be switched in town
    – Runes of level III to VI can only be removed (not destroyed) from a skillslot for a fee ; eg. from the enchantress.  in town ofc.

  3. quick question, how long does it usually take for these podcasts to get on youtube? Im on an old laptop that isn’t mine and id rather not DL itunes to listen to them.

    • They get up on youtube as soon as elly or rush can rip them. Often it’s simultaneous, if we get organized in advance.

      You can just download the mp3 directly from the diablopodcast post and listen w/o itunes, as well.

  4. I am not seeing the new podcast listed on the Youtube Channel. Is there some other way I can link to it?

  5. indeed i am wondering the same.
    as i always love the visual support you guys provide with your podcast id rather whatch it on youtube :).
    and ofc i do understand it requires some time to edit etc but when can we expect it to go online ?

  6. If Blizzard wanted you to be able to make builds (e.g. fire wizard) they’d provide more than 10 character slots.

  7. Didn’t they mention that there will roughly be the same number of quests for the “main storyline” as in D2?
    If so, you can only be so vague in your quest descriptions.  “Find Izual in the Plains of Despair” is a pretty direct instruction, but still lends itself to exploration of the map.

    • I don’t know how much more specific it could have been in D2, due to the fact that Izual would always be somewhere randomised within the area itself.
      I think they’re planning on having a ton more quests for the storyline, but having them in smaller pieces. The beta alone has more quests than Act I and II of D2 combined. Almost. It depends on if you count parts of a quest, or “steps”, as quests.

  8. i hope that they will implement some restrictions such as :
    – just respec in town
    – possibility to respecc in the first 2 minutes after a respecc in case you picked a wrong skill
    – after the 2 minutes you are not allowed to respecc for 4-8 hours
    i think that would be quiet good because otherwise you can just no-brain respecc all the time if you need to and especially for a barbarian who i think would be the tank in the group it would give you a certain role in the group lineup.
    otherwise there wouldn’t be a strategic thinking before you start your group setup ( hopefully they will, in that point, differ from the casual way of playing and put in a way that you are forced to think before acting !)

  9. Why the complaining about 10 character slots max? With free respecs, why would you need more than 1 character per class (other than to get one of each gender)? It’s actually perfect this way: one of each class for SC and one of each for HC. Flux kept talking about having multiple characters for each build and for PVP/PVM. Why? You’ll just have different gear/rune-sets for each characters that you switch in and out.

    • I can not tell you how much your comment depresses me.  Please don’t let this be the sort of feedback that the D3 team sees.

      • Wait, can you actually address my comment though? In your mind, with free respecs and rune switch-outs and the seemingly huge stash sizes, what could possibly be your need for more than 10 slots? Also remember they’re keeping our characters on the server permanently. Frankly that makes me pretty happy considering this isn’t a subscription-based game. 

        I would hope that your purpose for putting out content isn’t just so the dev team might see it and revert a change. We need to have an open-minded discussion about these things.

        • Same reason why people roll multiple characters of the same class in other games that offer respects.  A lot of times people just like to have a character specialized for one specific purpose/role/spec.  For me, it’s a hassle to swap gear, spec, runes, etc every time you want to change it up.  That’s not to say the time invested leveling a new toon (sorry Flux) < the time it takes to switch specs on a character 1000 times, but that it gets annoying if you have to spend 5-10 minutes hunting through your stash for all your pvp runes and survivability gear just to start queuing and then another 5-10 min of swapping back after a match because your friends want to run Diablo on Inferno.  Some people also just like leveling characters instead of playing endgame, now that they can’t create an infinite number of accounts to roll new toons they are going to have to delete toons.  There are also a lot of HC players that like to keep ghosts of their high level toons that have died and we haven’t heard anything on a ‘graveyard’ like system we can only expect at this point they’ll continue to take up a slot until deleted.

        • i’m not actually sure how the gameplay with respecs will pan out, but like many of the changes made, i plan on playing around it. so i’m not gonna have just 1 wizard that is my main wizard and i will respec/regear every single time.

          and you say oh 10 is enough 1SC/1HC per class. what if somebody wanted 1 SC/1HC per gender per class? i’m not saying there should be 289475833 slots, i’m just saying 10 seems kind of low. i mean you’re basically saying if there was no hardcore then they’d only provide 5 slots? eh, no.

          • Of course. In a perfect world you’d have infinite slots, but like Jay Wilson has said, despite the perception that Blizzard has infinite time and money, the reality is they are limited on both those fronts. This has to be a profitable game. They made the choice to have no expirations on characters on the server, so to compensate for that, there has to be a limit per account. If a player realllllly wants to have one of each of each of each (the chain could be nearly endless by the way), then frankly it’s not unreasonable to ask them to pay for another account. You see it in SC2 with smurf accounts and certainly in WoW as a subscription based game. Fact is, 99% of players won’t reach that limit. Only the OCD “gotta catch ’em all” types care. Unfortunately, they also seem to have the loudest voices.

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