Wyatt Cheng and Andrew Chambers Blizzcon 2011 Interview

Another interview with Wyatt Cheng and Andrew Chambers has popped up online, this one with 1up.com. It’s a good interview, despite a lack of new info. (Not like we’re going to see any with new info in an interview at this point, after all the panels and 10+ previous developer interviews.)

It’s interesting anyway, because the interviewer doesn’t just get the same dry recitation of info, but asks for opinion. What’s it like working on a Diablo game, what’s your favorite Diablo memory, what’s improved in Diablo III, etc. Here’s a quote:

1UP: Looking back at the first Diablo game, there’s not that much there. It’s a couple of dungeon levels — you have a blast, sure — but Diablo 2 brought in the epic story arc. What do you see as Diablo 3’s contribution?

Wyatt Cheng: I think the story telling is better than ever. I’m not involved in that, but they’ve done an amazing job. I think our combat is actually deeper and our skill system, that if you were to have looked at the progression from Diablo 1 to Diablo 2, the skills became more interesting, the combat became more interesting, and I think we continue on that trajectory. Now the amount of character customization is greater — there are over two trillion possibilities per character now. It’s enormous.

Battle.net launched with Diablo 1 and you kind of look at what it once was: unsecured, people bringing in hacked characters, and hacked items. But people did it anyway, because it was a service that allowed you to play with friends online. At the time, it was enormous. And then Diablo 2 — we still had some items dupes, but the chat-rooms and the community, and the people started to really “see” it. And now fast forward to Diablo 3 and Battle.net is now cross-game between World of Warcraft and StarCraft [2] and Diablo 3. People communicate to each other no matter which Blizzard game they play. So now it brings the community together even more.

I like the interviewer’s style on some of those questions. So I’ll repeat one to you guys. What’s your favorite new feature in Diablo III? One that you think improves on something suboptimal in the previous games? (Bonus points if you answer anything other than “Skill runes.”)

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34 thoughts on “Wyatt Cheng and Andrew Chambers Blizzcon 2011 Interview

  1. Other than runes? The auction house! Diablo II had a terrible trading system for a trading game 😉 Also, the new skill system. It reminds me a little of Guild Wars and collectible card games, in the best way possible.

  2. Well, from what we heard they wanna make combat less Damage Spikey ( if thats even a word ), so you wont get 1 shotted by certain enemies, hopefully thatll work and you’ll have a constant stream of hits comming at you that you can actually counter with something rather then deleting the char when you get hit by Dolls explosion or a Corpse Explosion.

    • Sadly, there’s no evidence of that in the beta. Obviously early game, still under development, etc. But the gameplay in the beta is 99% the same as D2 in that way. Super easy almost all the time, with occasional sudden huge spikes of danger from bosses with dangerous mods.

  3. Personally, even though we haven’t seen much past the beta, I think they really improved on the sense of scale. Just like Act 5 added a sense of epicness to D2, I think they’ve turned that aspect up a lot from what I’ve seen of the environments. Can’t wait to see those end of Act bosses!

  4. I really like the fact that we no longer have to switch our skills between the two mouse buttons now we have skills assigned to keys (the split second it took to switch hotkeys and then click got me killed a couple times in d2, or I’d hit the wrong hotkey) now if only they added in wasd character movement I could xpadder my way out of carpal tunnel (for pvm, pvp is m&kb mando)

    I also like the arena, no more town camping or monsters stealing my kill. team deathmatch here I come!

    • It’s not nearly as precise (though it does the job in Diablo 2, for me) but a drawing table (50 bucks investment) does wonders to fight carpal tunnel. I use mine to browse and do less precise stuff when my wrist starts to hurt.
      There’s also padded mouse pads I’ve seen before, but I can never find one for sale. They seem to do the trick…

  5. If I may say so, I think the worst aspect of Diablo 3, much like Lord of Destruction’s worst aspect, is the soundtrack. Everything else is peachy.
    Bring back Matt Uelmen!

    • Don’t hold your breath, he’s all about Torchlight now…

      By the way you can’t really complain about the soundtrack of the entire game when you’ve only heard a handful of ambient music tracks from it…

      • I can complain about whatever I want.
        The soundtrack they released is representative of the game with 99% certainty. It’s PR, it’s Blizzard, it’s definitely representative, and if it’s not, then chances are the rest is of less quality.
        I’m not commenting on its quality, however. I believe it’s a good soundtrack. I won’t defend it, just like I won’t defend it’s not good either, but I don’t feel the tone is as fitting as the original Diablo’s and the original Diablo 2’s soundtrack

  6. By far my favorite new feature is the end game, Inferno. Combined with elites giving the best loot, I think it’ll reward players who essentially try to keep running through the entire game, instead of just one act boss over and over.

    I was one of those players who love clearing all zones (even all of Tal Rasha’s) and despised running Baal over and over. I look forward to (hopefully) finding challenges in every corner of each Act.

    My least favorite new feature is the Auction House and RMT. After the first few weeks I believe the market will stabilize and prices will be quite low for ‘decent’ gear/items. This would totally ruin the immersion of a video game, when I find out the next upgrade can only cost me $2. In response I don’t plan on using the AH at all. Thankfully Blizzard incorporated a fantastic account integration with the Blacksmith and other camps, so I can seemingly create a pretty efficient/self-serving account.

  7. I think the individualized loot is hugely significant.  I hated, hated, hated ninja looters and arguments over who could make the “best use” of various items in D2, and it basically led me to play only with people I knew in real life. I remember wishing for individual loot back then, but giving up hope for Blizzard ever actually doing it.

    Otherwise I agree with a lot of what has already been said – Inferno, auction house, story, skill organization, and of course the runes.

    • Good call on the individualized loot, that is indeed a massive feature. Looking back, it’s almost comical in D1/D2 with everyone seeming to have “sticky sausage fingers”. It was even more awkward with friends when they ninja’d loot not fit for them and never offered to give back. So yea, it’s a really nice feature that will remove a lot of frustrations.

      Gotta love technology, I’m glad all ARPG’s are starting to incorporate this feature.

  8. lame answer, but honest: shared stash.

    I spent a great deal of time managing the maximum amount of characters in D2, constantly making private games, dropping equipment, relogging and picking the loot up with someone else.  So inefficient and such a time waster.  Torchlight introduced it, Diablo 3 has rightly copied it (to be fair perhaps they had the same idea independently).

    The auction house is great, of course, but I do think there was something unique and pseudo-realistic about the trading method in D2.  Bunch of strangers standing around showing what they have for trade up on the block.  Those days are pretty much gone (I know I won’t bother trading a legendary item if I can get 5 actual American dollars for it on the RMAH).

  9. Personally, I like the new skill system very much. Provided they implement some restrictions on mid-combat skill swapping, it’d be awesome. It allows you to experiment as much as you want to and find a (main) build that suits your play style best, secondly, it’s also fun to be able to switch skills at some point to kill mobs differently, moreover – I kinda like the idea that you can take a little break before each boss and think “which set of skills will be the best for this fellow?”, it allows you to choose a different strategy, and finally – it stops you from breaking your character. I think it’s awesome that you can play the game how you want. The only thing that should be fixed is the mid-combat swapping:)

    That’s just my opinion, though.

    I love the shared stash – it’s awesome, crafting is also a great improvement over d2’s gambling. I also think that followers may be quite nice for single player chars now when they’re end game viable (I love lore, so having some story elements tied to your companions works for me), though I’d like Blizzard to add more inventory slots for them.

  10. Ok. Good battle system… good trade system but wait… wtf?! That’s the thing that made Diablo and Diablo II? Skills and battle system I can found on many other games, and some much better than diablo had…. the thing that turned diablo on that “myth” it is today, was the “darkness” of the story… the movies, the dialogs, the scenary still makes me chill!!
    The movies, I haven’t seen other game with so great movies, that could make me chill on the Introduction of the game…

    I’ve seen the last movie released with the girl and the big “devil”… what was that??? it made me laugh!!! Where is the chill that I used to feel on old games? Where does blizzard found those guys that made it? Calling them as amateurs is the only thing I can think about… Probably they got developers from Ragnarok or another baby scenario game…

    The Cain! Please! The Cain appears an old disturbed man from Mickey cartoons! Wtf is that?

    I’ve no words how a game can disappoint me so much… after the long wait for a new release, they come with that? Plz, get back Blizzard North developers… Blizzard alone doesn’t know how to make a non baby game. They forgot that most people who loved Diablo doesn’t play World of Warcraft kid design game.

    A great fan of Diablo series.

    TIP for Blizzard: If you don’t know how to do, call someone who does.

  11. i always hear about those trillions of combinations, i just hope it won’t end like d2 did, where everybody used the same build like ww-barbs, nova-sorc, ce-necros and blessed hammer palas across it’s lifetime …

    • It will be worse – every class will have access to every skill at every time, so there won’t even be subtypes like spearazon and bowazons.  The only differentiator will be the credit cards of the players.  Chasewizard vs Citiwizard vs Amexwizard…

      • Your crying amuses me… Also if you think that people won’t settle into specific combinations of actives, runes, and passives (which would be considered a build) that others copy just as they did with skill set ups in D2 then you must be smoking something good… can I have some? 8)

  12. I love how guys like Jay and Wyatt love to use the term “we” when talking about Blizz in the nineties – five seconds at mobygames tells you neither worked there before 2003.  Can I join Blizz tomorrow and pontificate about the decisions “we” made 15 years before I was part of it?  YOU had nothing to do with D2, guys.  Nothing.  And it shows.

    • I don’t see anywhere in that interview that they did that… Although Wyatt did mention that he started working there shortly after LoD shipped and worked with the Blizzard North guys for a few months before they left…

  13. Hard to choose.  End of boss runs (hello inferno mode), far superior skills system, and auction house are all high on the list.  But the number one best feature?  No ganking.  No world pvp.  No going hostile.
    I played hardcore D2 for years and I almost never played in a public game because of hostile hacks and speed hacks.  Or when I did join a public game, I went to MF a boss where people were not.  If I even saw a person on the screen, it was ALT-F4 or go back to town.  Years and years of D2 and I only died once to another player (hostile + speed hack)…but what a horrible community experience.
    Other good changes (like loot drops being per player) only matter because of the no world pvp change.  The mad dash to get the loot only matters if I will tolerate other players on screen with me when loot drops.

  14. Wow, good question. I can’t believe I havdn’t even thought of that. I guess the thing that keeps me interested the most in this game is the graphical update. It plays (?) like D2, but with better graphics, and more and smoother animations. The sorc in D2 basically had 2 animations for all her spells, now in D3 each spell almost has it’s own unique animation.

    And second on the shared stash, and larger stashes. Muling was very annoying, but I have to admit, it did encourage making other characters.

  15. I thought for five minutes and I can’t find much improvement from DII. Almost every change they’ve made feels controversial. Style changes – mood-wise, it feels like Disney’s Diablo. Looks cool sometimes,  but you expect more dark palette and gothic style. Something like Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls. Skill system is great, but at the same time they overdone skills effects and death animations of mobs, and were forced to limit amount of players to 4 people. RMAH and overall trading system is an unique thing of the project. But I have mixed feelings about it, feels like DIII is an another job, where you have to slay legions of monsters to trade items, and not to experience an adventure. Grab your mastercard and you’re geared. Character classes. Two genders – finally. All of them are cool except for monks. Unsatisfying running animation, uninspired skills, background and design that ruins overall mood of the game. Just wrong. Almost like kung-fu in medieval Europe. The sound is the only thing, that doesn’t have any lacks, imo.

    • “uninspired skills, background and design that ruins overall mood of the game. Just wrong. Almost like kung-fu in medieval Europe.”

      Apparently you forgot about the assassin and all of her martial arts style skills… I doubt that you thought that she ruined the mood of Diablo 2… 🙄

      • The Assassin wasn’t half as ‘bare fisted’ as the monk. Aside from her kicks, she used all of her weapons when doing combo builders and regular attacks. It seems kind of weird that the monk is the opposite and seems to carry weapons for… Well, I’m not exactly sure WHY they carry weapons since they put them away when attacking. Maybe a confidence boost. lol. Trapsasins only used weapons exclusively, in the form of traps.

  16. -Auction House, at least the gold one. The gold auction house was a no-brainer positive. RMAH is what it is. I won’t use it, but I understand why they did it.
    -Personal drops.
    -Crafting and item recycling/item sinks.
    -Skill points are gone. I was surprised when they did it, and the more I thought about it, it was the right thing to do.
    -PvP arena. Hopefully they wise up and balance PvP and PvE separately like SC2, instead of the buff/nerf cycle of WoW.
    -Inferno, minimizing boss runs.
    -Skill runes. Sorry, but this is the biggest, best damn change ever.

  17. I read through all the responses and I agree with most of them, but I’m surprised nobody mentioned the class specific resources. I think it’s a great idea! It makes each character feel different from one another. I think they’ve smoothed them all out really well to give each character a different feel. You’ll have to learn how each class plays and uses its resources to be good with them, instead of just spamming mana pots when you get low regardless of character type.

    Along with this I think the cool down system is a great idea because it will force us as players to use a variety of skills rather than just spamming our most powerful like we did in D2 (whirl wind, blessed hammer, frozen orb etc.) It will make the character feel more powerful when you’re using a bunch of different skills together which can all do lots of damage, rather than having just a single skill build.

    • Great point. The tailoring of resources to a character “feel” seems like a real step up in terms of making sure the classes are really distinct.

  18. This may surprise some people, but for me, my favorite feature is the new graphics engine/Art Style chosen for the game. Maybe it’s just the artist side of me speaking, but the mere fact that this game looks absolutely BREATHTAKING. Has me more excited about playing this game than anything else. I speak honestly.

    • Environments / Art Style / No light radius:

      When Jay Wilson was asked about the D3’s absence of light radius, or lack there of, he responded by explaining how a dark screen is not interesting.  and how in D3 you can actually see the art.  And it’s well worth it.  The environments and dungeons in this game look incredible… now that you can see them.

  19. I would be hard pressed to pick just one improvement over the others but if I had to I would say: storytelling.
    I know, I’m weird 😉 I love the tomes being back. I love this little thing that when an NPC has something to say they start speaking as you approach and then you can click them to learn more. It’s faster, more intuitive and helps immerse yourself in the world better.

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