Wyatt Cheng Interview @ GamePlanet

GamePlanet New Zealand has continued their excellent coverage of last week’s D3 event with another interview. It’s available in video or transcript, and it’s with DiabloWikiWyatt Cheng, D3’s technical director and one of the main skill developers on the team.

The interview is very informative; Wyatt talks about monster DiabloWikibosses, his work balancing skills and runestones, end game content, balancing PvP vs. PvE, and lots of other cool stuff. Best of all, there’s not a word about RMAH or DRM in the entire piece! Here’s a quote right from the start, though I highly recommend reading the whole conversation:

Wyatt Cheng: We actually have multiple different types of, what I would describe as, difficult encounters. Elite encounters. Obviously we have bosses that are key to the story, in the beta, people will be able to fight the Skeleton King, King Leoric. He is a named boss who appears in a very specific location. But then, if we take a step back from that, Diablo II also had the notion of Champion Monsters, and Rare Monsters, and those are really important.

For me, Diablo is largely a game about feeling awesome, and heroic, and huge, and doing huge damage and having lots of mobility, and tons of utility skills, and great visual effects. But at some point, you have to feel challenged, because if you don’t feel challenged, then you’re knocked out of the zone. You don’t have the concentration. All of my builds and my gear are only meaningful if they help me become more powerful, and becoming more powerful is important. I need to be able to feel it, and to feel it you need to be challenged. And so a lot of that challenge is provided by these “elite” encounters, as I like to call them.

So on top of bosses we have champions, who are packs of monsters, with special abilities. In Diablo II, the champion packs were things like champions, and ghostly, and fanatic, and so we’ve expanded a little bit on that idea in Diablo III, just the idea that there would be these packs of monsters with special ability. Then there’s also the rare monsters, which are again packs, a rare and his minions. And it’s a pack of monsters where one monster is the ring-leader. And fire enchanted monsters, and everyone remembers lightning enchanted monsters, and multi-shot monsters, those are great examples of rares. So even though they weren’t named bosses in a specific area, they were a really integral part of Diablo II, and so we have rare monster packs in Diablo III as well, and they’re scattered randomly throughout the world for you to come across.

And then there’s unique monsters, unique monsters are a lot like rare monsters but they have a specific name, and sometimes they have a story element to them, and sometimes they appear in certain locations only, there’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to uniques, but generally it’s when we want to build on the story a little bit, or we need a monster who has a specific set of powers for the location that they’re in. Again, that’s an elite encounter to provide an additional challenge.

Blizzard’s Wyatt Cheng on Diablo III – Gameplanet Video


You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.
  1. “For me, and this is just my personal philosophy, is the game should be fun. And so when I’m tuning the drop rates of items, or measuring the power progression of the items, how much fun a single person has playing the game, who never plays co-op, who never interacts with another person, who never uses the auction house, that person needs to be having fun too. If that person is not having fun, then we’ve failed.”

    If only this man were higher up in the Blizz decision making chain!

    • No kidding. I wonder how the development team feels about all of these hot-button issues. They must be at least a little torn on them.

      I think it would be weird to spend so much time and energy on such a creative project only to have someone come in (if they didn’t make that decision) and say “we’re going to fundamentally alter some of the stuff about your game”.

    • I think Wyatt is in a good place. He’s in charge of a lot of stuff in the game, but he’s not up at the Jay Wilson level where he has to do interviews about RMT in the auction house, or other contentious issues. He gets to concentrate on the game and the features and not worry about PR and other unpleasantness.  If he’s smart he’ll resist any further promotion.

    • I think if he has that personal philosophy (which is great), I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave Blizzard voluntarily in a not to distant future. Because, clearly, his view and Blizzard’s view on things seem to stray apart.

  2. “perfect items are ridiculously rare” … thats a word… I was frightened that this would not be the case… good items ok, but perfect should be a real point! 🙂

    • They appear, from what little we know, to be following fairly closely to D2’s system of item generation, so I wouldn’t be too worried about that.

      Some stuff, it’s just RNG, and bound to be rare by principal alone.

  3. Praise Wyatt cheng! Finally my question has been answered!

    Another thing, is I like how he mentioned about focusing on the ‘underpowered’ spells and making them more viable. I like this man a lot!

  5. That was quite an interesting interview I must say.

  6. Anyone else appreciate (the irony of) the ad for d2legit.com while reading the interview?

    Otherwise, good read.  I enjoy the fact that he seemed to appreciate (love?) MSLE monsters.

  7. Great interview. Seemed to touch on a lot of topics that the hardcore players would be interested in hearing about. Gave nicely thoughtful answers too, not just ”we’re trying to make the game really awesome!”
    Loved to hear about all the different monster types returning.

  8. I never noticed this before I watched this interview but the WD can summon 3 zombie dogs at once now instead of having to do them one at a time! 😀 bad ass! Also- it is a great interview. Gonna be a fun time.

  9. Excellent interview. Clearly the dev team consists of some very talented people 😉
    There are also a couple of very good interviews with Julian Love that I posted, definitely worth a look:

  10. “at some point, you have to feel challenged, because if you don’t feel challenged, then you’re knocked out of the zone. You don’t have the concentration… becoming more powerful is important. I need to be able to feel it, and to feel it you need to be challenged.”

    I read this quote and immediately thought of the RMAH.  A lot of the challenge will get lost when you can just buy all the items you need.

    • I don’t think anyone who spends real money they’ve earned to improve their character with fake items is going to complain about the game becoming easier. People who spend the money are probably looking to make things easier in the first place. That’s the main reason why such businesses have always existed.

      • correction: anyone who spends real money their parents have earned to improve their character…

      • The RMAH will affect the whole game economny (GAH and trading) not just the people who decide to use it.  Lower end decent items will be more available and common than they otherwise would had blizzard not opened the floodgates to the farmers and grinders to profit from the game.  So I guess if you never plan on trading or using the GAH you won’t be affected… or if you decide to play HC and hope your bnet connection doesn’t drop.

        Which raises the question: If the RMAH results in so many lower level decent items available across all the 3 markets, so that the average player can easily and cheaply (which includes spending $0 with in-game money or trading) obtain and equip gear above what the developers had balanced for, will they adjust the difficulty of the game to account for this?  Or will they let D3 just be less of a challenge for the non-HC players that decide to use any of their markets?

        • From personal experience, I never, EVER bought anything from a vendor in D2, and I’m treating the AH as a giant-sized vendor.
          Because anything you needed to find could be found.  And Jay has said this, in so many words.  The whole idea behind the crafting is that they want to make sure you are finding SOMETHING while you play.  So, no, I don’t think they’re thinking about a sudden influx of lower level decent items, flooding the market, because everyone has access to the exact same item at the exact same time.
          If someone wants to spend $3.50 on a +4 strength amulet, then let them.  If someone wants to craft that item for free, then let them.  If someone wants to kill the same group of fallen over and over again so that they can sell clvl 15 items, then let them.  I can’t imagine they going to change drop rates or game difficulty because people are using their systems the way that they were designed.

          Edit: turned “fact” into an opinion

  11. I just wonder… If the beta was 1/3 of an act and it was about 1,5 hour of gameplay, that tells us that the entire act is about 4-5 hours long and the entire game is is about 15-20 hours long on normal. Is it enough for you? I feel like it’s quite ok, because getting through the game on all 3 difficulties and with all classes is like 300 hours, so it’s not bad:)
    The second thing I wonder about is the Siegebreaker Assault Beast… If act one is not so long, do you think that the Siegebreaker is the second and the last boss we see before an act boss or has he been scrapped?:)

    • We’ll, it will likely be somewhat less because they said they were sticking with the old ramping scheme, where later acts grow smaller to propel you toward the game climax.

      I’m still cool with the length.

    • Diablo II and Diablo III are some of those rare games where the main storyline gameplay length is often the least deciding factor on how much time you spend on the game as a whole.

      If we assume that the main game is 20 hours long and continues to be 20 hours in Nightmare and Hell as well, that’s 60 hours of gameplay for a single character.

      If you were to simply play each character class through to Hell difficulty then that would be 60 x 5 = 300 hours of gameplay.

      That doesn’t even include PvP time or farming time, which is why I both love and hate these games.

    • Can you can clear the first 2 or 3 levels of D2 just as quickly as the last 2 or 3? I’d guess not, at least not in the early play throughs without twinks and such. The game grows much more difficult and dangerous and there are a lot more monsters in the later levels than in the easy, noob-friendly opening areas.  One would presume NM and Hell will take proportionately longer as well.

      • Happy you’ve commented on my post Flux:) Almost as exciting as a blue post.
        Yeah, sure, I think that the last stages of the game, even on normal, will be harder and thus a litte longer. Plus, I didn’t count the time most people would spend on artisans and other functions:)
        Anyway – I just wish the Siegebreaker is still in. I sure hope to kill that big bozo.

  12. I had to stop watching the interview 5 minutes in.  Seriously, three or four skill choices at level 6 overwhelmed this guy?  Oh damn he had to stop and read for a few moments.

    • hahaha i thought the same thing too BUT i dont think he was talking about himself…he was talking about the people who hit the “W” button on their keyboard and were like “WTF OMFG WHERE ARE MY WEPS!!! :[ ” but maybe thats just me…..

    • Yeah, it’s his job to continually put himself in the shoes of a huge range of players. Obviously as one of the guys spending huge amounts of time deep in the skill system – one of the people developing the skills themselves – he wasn’t -literally- overwhelmed with options. He has to mentally play the role of someone who does have to stop the action to read and understand each of the skills and think about which one they want because they don’t have them nailed cold and didn’t decide before character creation exactly how they were going to spend every single point. He can’t just design for himself.

    • Well it’s a shame you guys didn’t watch further because in the next sentence he explains that runes made it overwhelming.
      20 rune combinations every time you got to choose a new skill is basicly a whole new diablo 2 skilltree, every time.
      Imagine if you had 20 options instead of like 3-4 for lvl 1/6/12/18/24/30 in diablo 2. Then imagine that low level choices in d3 does actually matter late game and is not just prerequired skills for later abilities.
      In not hard to see why this is overwhelming. Sure, after 10 years of playing you pretty much know what you want but we all are noobs in the beginning, right?

  13. Sorry for the off-topic but on d.163.com there are shots of the Demon Hunter resource and other interface stuff from the beta…
    I am new so I don’t know who to send these info-s, that is why I posted here. 🙂

  14. Again, very off-topic…but there are audio clips from the Intro of DH and the first cinematic. I have very few posts in forums, so cant email Flux/Elly…so thought I should post here.

    Anyways, the intro clip has a BRILLIANT spoiler. Speaking of omens etc, the narrator says one omen is that:

    “Justice shall fall upon the world of men”

    ….this means TYRAEL IS THE COMET!! 

    Omg omg omg….

    • I heard those, too. It proved to me that I will never play a female demon hunter, because the male’s voice is at least passable.
      The broll, I was cringing every time the demon hunter spoke. Some of the worst voice acting I’ve heard in a long time. The writing didn’t help it, either.

  15. Didn’t know where to ask. Forgive me for off-topic.
    I believe it was Jay Wilson who said during BlizzCon 2010 there will be different stats for PvP skills and same PvE skills. So Blizzard PvP balance changes won’t affect PvE and vice-versa. Does anyone know if it’s still in the game? Was it confirmed or did they remove it?
    I begin to believe I understood something wrong.

    • Yeah, this has been talked by Jay and others among the team several times.

      They essentially stated the system will allow them to tune skills differently in PvE and PvP if need be.

      For instance, you can reasonably expect most skills which apply stun to have a shorter duration in PvP.

  16. Wyatt talks about that for lie 2 minutes in this interview.

    Basically, the devs can change values of things between PvP and PvE, but they do not want to do it if they can help it. Not in any major way at least. It’s kind of a last resort.

  17. he seems super upset about the RMAH.

    he states that the item hunt is a big part of the game. well not anymore! =(

    • To be fair, you could make the same claim of the gold AH.
      I suppose it’s a matter of pick and choose how you want to spend your time. Unless you’re offline, in that case, you go to hell. 😉

  18. That was a good interview. I was pleased to hear his comments about focusing on underpowered skills. If the lower tiered skills can be useful throughout all character levels, then we really will have freedom to choose the skills we want (and not have to resort to using only lvl 24 or 30 skills).

  19. I’m pleased to see his comments about the challenge being important, but his opening line just makes me shake my head a bit:
    “For me, Diablo is largely a game about feeling awesome, and heroic, and huge, and doing huge damage and having lots of mobility, and tons of utility skills, and great visual effects.”
    I know that is the guiding principle of D3, and always has been, but it represents such a marked evolution of the game from its roots. Diablo 1 was largely a game about feeling threatened, even scared, scraping by, vulnerable, and making use of limited resources to make progress against hellacious foes. Even with amazing equipment if you just rushed into a pack of enemies on hell/hell you would get your ass handed to you. Because it was so easy to die, stuff like slapping on your first set of full-plate armor really did make you feel more protected. There’s got to be a contrast for any of those feelings of progress to have real weight, right?
    Do gamers (people?) today have such fragile egoes that if they are not dominating the game they won’t play it? I know that D2 started this evolution and D3 is just the next step in the path, but the quote makes it sound like he has absolutely no conception of the origins of the game. (Which may be true, for all I know).

  20. People like Wyatt Chang on the D3 development team are why I still think D3 will be enjoyable and have longevity despite all of the controversial issues that come up. I can hear an understanding about D2 and a love for developing D3 and that’s great- I love his honesty more than anything.

Comments are closed.