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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Gameplay and Auction House Panel (Part 3)

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This is a transcript of the third part of the Diablo III Gameplay and Auction House Panel

PvP

As a lot of you might have known last year we had an arena PvP demo on the floor. This year, playable. We have team deathmatch.

We’ve got a lot of awesome feedback from the community from last year’s showing at the arena, and one of the dominant forms of feedback that we’ve got was that sitting around and waiting while my friends kill each other really isn’t fun, so we’re introducing team deathmatch.

Team Deathmatch really solves that problem. You die, you’re back in three seconds. You’re back in the fight, fighting, able to play with your character more, able to explore more.

There’s no intimidation factor in team deathmatch either. Am I going to let my arena team down coming in with this crazy magic wizard build that only spawns mirror images and that’s all I do? No.

It’s totally cool. Deathmatch the game is a ten-minute game. Two teams, Red and Blue. The team with the most kills wins.

There’s definitely no skill swapping during games, and no item swapping during games.

They want this to be a skilled tactical understanding, so I need to know — hey that barbarian has been stunning the heck out of me the entire time, I need to know that the whole ten-minutes of the game so I can effectively deal with that again and respond.

Last year we only had 3v3. Now we have 4v4. 4v4 is way more fun for responsiveness, and the interactivity.

You’re definitely going to be using your PvP character. There was some confusion, but you’ll be leveling up to 60.

Taking your character or wizard or witch doctor and getting him in front, bringing him in and play it on the showroom floor. You’re our community. We make games for you.

We love your feedback. It’s fantastic. Thank you very much.

Auction House

Wilson: I’m going to talk about the Auction House. I hope you like the UI because there’s a lot of it coming at you.

Why we decided to do an Auction House is because trade is a big focus of the Diablo game. You get loot in the Diablo game and it’s a big deal. That loot is randomized.

The Diablo system is pretty unique in that everything that drops has got some kind of random element, even if it’s something you wear on your body.

Any monster could drop any item in the world. You don’t have to go to a particular monster and do that, but because of that, there’s low odds you get the exact thing you want.

Even if you get the exact thing, you want the chances that it has the best stats you could possibly get on the item is pretty much, it’s almost impossible and that’s really by design, because Diablo’s always been a social game in the sense that you play with and trade with other players, so trading is really the best way to get the best items in the game — and that has always been the case for all Diablo games.

We focus really heavily on the trading aspect. So given that, you think that the previous games had awesome systems for trading, and if you think that — you’d be wrong.

So, in Diablo II there were a bunch of ways to trade. Game interface, you could put items up and stick your item up and somebody else you say what have you got and hopefully I had something good you wanted.

You could throw items on the ground and pray, I wouldn’t recommend that. You could go up to the chat channels or forums, hoping someone is listening or has the thing you want, or wants to buy the thing you have.

It’s pretty inefficient and makes the chat channel not really very chatty; and then you could also go to third party websites, and buy things with real money, and that works fine except that maybe the transaction wouldn’t work, maybe you’d get ripped off, maybe someone would steal your account — so none of those were really great experiences and we felt we could do a lot better.

We focused on an Auction House because it’s a well-known convenient, secure, easy way for people to trade.

There’s things like the World of Warcraft Auction House, and there is eBay. People understand how it works, and how to interact with them.

So we made the decision to allow players to trade in Diablo III the same way that they traded in in Diablo II with gold or real money.

We’re going to let you pretty much trade almost anything in the auction, wearable items, gold, stackable components like crafting items, and things like that.

And this is one of the most important points, we want you to be able to participate for free if you go into the Real Money Auction House.

A lot of people have said to us — you know, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the real money or not. I don’t want to open up my wallet and give you a credit card.

That’s fine. You don’t have to. I’ll explain how. This is Timmy the Demon Hunter. Why is it named Timmy? Because it amuses me to name him Timmy. Timmy needs a new bow. Venomhusk. That would be nice.

That bow would be pretty awesome, got a lot of blue things on there, we like those. So he goes off in the world seeking fortune. Does he find it? Nope. Instead he finds this thing.

Wow, 566 DPS. Two-Hander, not for him. If he had a Barbarian, or a Barbarian friend that would be a good item, but we’ll pretend Timmy doesn’t have any friends, because he’s named his Demon Hunter Timmy, come on!

But he’s still happy, he’s got this awesome thing, but he wants his Venomhusk bow!

So he’s going to put this in the Auction House, and posts it up on the Real-Money Auction House.

The important thing is here he can do this for free, because every week we will allow people to have a small number of free listings. One of the reasons for that is that we want you to generate some income, and get a balance without actually having to spend any money.

So he puts his Overfiend in the Auction House, it sells, and bong … $7.50 in his account. He could have updated that to PayPal and made $7.50 playing Diablo which is pretty awesome or put it back into his balance and use that to buy things and post more auctions.

So Timmy is happy. He goes up, he finds his Venomhusk bow, five bucks. Bam, purchased. Sent to his character, and equipped. Check him out.

Auction House Features

So on top of being able to participate in that way, we’ll also add a lot of features. Some of you are in the beta, and managed to play with the gold option house, and you probably notice it’s not fully featured as we would like. So we are adding a bunch of new features. The first one is a smart search feature.

And basically what this does is it takes any character that you want, it will look at the character and say okay, you got, you seem to be a Barbarian who likes a lot of crit. So we’ll point you at items that do that. You can funnel the results and say these are all the items that I want, but I really want precision, or I really want Life Steal so show me the ones who have those aspect of them. Another thing we’ve done is we’re going to have an Advanced Search which is really a bigger version of the smart search.

It lets you basically just set all kinds of parameters, pretty much anything you could literally specify the exact item stats that you want to see and features like this are really important because the Diablo item system is not filled with a lot of names and items that are easy to search for. You’re going to really be searching more for stats.

Next, you can search for stackable items, gold, gems, crafting & dyes, tomes, books, almost everything that is worth selling we’ll be allowing you to sell in the Auction House.

Diablo – Final Game Tuning

Wyatt Cheng: Let’s talk about game tuning for a little while. We’re getting ready to finalize a lot of the game components, particularly the difficulty modes, the classes and the monsters. Could make a lot of improvement to the monsters.

We’re going to be talking a lot about changes that we’ve made since the beta, as well as changes we’ve made since last year’s BlizzCon.

For those of you who don’t know, a lot of the content for killing monsters in Diablo is based around Rares and Champions — they have magical properties like electrified, plague, teleporter, desecrater.

We’ve a couple of new aspects that we’ve put into the game over the last few weeks. One of those new ones is actually on display in the video over here called the Mortar.

We thought some of the monster abilities penalized more the melee players, than ranged. With Mortar, the monster has the ability to lob grenades over a minimum distance. If you’re a melee character, the grenades will literally fly over your head.

Passive Skills

A lot of focus is on making passives good. We had some feedback. Some of the passives are interesting and some aren’t interesting.

Here’s one of the new passes we’ve got for the Barbarian. One of the things about passives, they actually serve a number of purposes.

Some people want passives that support specific builds, some people want passives that introduce cool visual elements.

In this case, what we felt was important for a Barbarian to have a defensive build option and we also felt it might be instructional for players who aren’t sure if a Barbarian could be built in a tanky sort of way — so we have this passive named Nerves of Steel to help support that playstyle.

Some of our other passives, this one is based on the Witch Doctor — Fetish Sychophants, it summons one of the little Fetish Helpers to fight along your side, and this happens every time you cast a physical skills such as Poisoned Dart, or Plague of Toads. That’s a 3% chance on cast to summon it. That’s a popular one internally as well.

Another passive is Combination Strike. If you guys remember the Spirit Generators, this is a monk skill. The passives, we call them combo skills. Combo Skills and Spirit Generators are kinda interchangeable. In this case, if you use multiple different spirit generators together you get a DPS increase. The more spirit generators you combine together, the larger the increase.

Synergy

This is an interesting thing that’s come up over the last few months as we’ve been tuning passives. The situation where you have too much synergy, it can actually be bad, so the example that we have on the board up on the powerpoint is Counterattack. Whenever you dodge, you automatically damage your attacker.

Sixth Sense gives you increased chance to dodge; and Evasive, which gives you increased chance of dodge every time you critical strike. Each one of these passives is pretty cool on its own.

When you put them all together, we felt like it was actually taking away build diversity rather than increasing it.

As soon as you took one passive, you have a synergistic advantage for taking a second one, and then a third one.

If we give you three passives to choose from out of 15, we’re actually pigeonholding players rather than allowing them to explore, so we’ve been seeking out these sort of overly synergistic passives, and removing them.

Barbarian Tuning

For those of you who played a Barbarian in the beta, Barbarian feels like it’s in a pretty good place, fun, visceral, doing a lot of things we want him to do.

A couple of specific areas we wanted to target, one is Fury generation. He has a few Fury generator skills and we felt the small spammable generators weren’t paying off as well as the big generators.

For example, players were using Leap attack, Ground Stomp, and War Cry, and skipping some of the three Fury generators like Cleave, Frenzy and Bash. So we kind of adjusted those numbers a little bit, tried to provide a better balance there.

Another area we’ve been looking at is Survivability. You didn’t see it so much during the level 1-12 game, but as you started getting into the higher difficulties: Nightmare, Hell, Inferno — we really found Barbarian were having trouble staying in melee range.

The Barbarians need be in melee range to do damage, but without survivability they just weren’t able to do that. We’ve been looking at the Barbarian survivability, the passives earlier on, and their base stats, and we’re looking to make Barbarians a little tougher overall.

Wizard Tuning

The Wizard also in a good place. For those of you who have been following along, we have a set of skills called academic skills. Renamed those to Signature skills. The same idea basically as you level up, the skills become cheaper. Eventually they become free. We like how that’s playing out. Overall, the Wizard is feeling pretty good.

One of the things is a concern for us, whether or not it’s worthwhile to use signature spells when you’re out of Arcane Power, and whether or not it’s worth using a non-signature spell.

So, we’ve been squeaking those numbers to make sure they have a different reason to use different spells. And finally, one of the major changes we’ve been making is all of the Wizard and Witch Doctor spells have been converted over to do percent weapon damage.

A major reason for this, we really felt that the casters needed to value their weapon more. People were finding weapons, and looking at it saying: “Well, I don’t know, I don’t really care about the stats on my character. My skills don’t use it.”

One of the questions we get all the time is: should my Wizard just use a giant two-handed mace? I don’t want to hold a two-handed mace. In addition to be based on weapon damage, we also use the weapon speed to determine casting speed. If you use a wand or a fast dagger, you’ll actually cast faster as well.

Witch Doctor

One of the questions we also get a lot, in the beta, is mana. The mana seems to be unlimited. In the beta that’s absolutely true. Mana is the only resource that’s returning from Diablo II. So what we’re doing with it is we’re providing multiple mechanisms for the Witch Doctor to recover mana.

In this case, one of those would be passive skills. There are a number of passives that have to do with mana regeneration. There’s also runes for mana regeneration.

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003 posting news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Next-Gen MMO, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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