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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Q&A Panel

blizzcon-2011-d3-qa-panel-1b


Yesterday you said you’d reveal the cast speed for Wizards. they’re going to be related to weapon speed and arcane power regenerates at a static rate. Let’s say when you run out of arcane power, you can only cast one meteor every 4.8 seconds. What are you doing to incentivize having faster weapons for spells like that?

Wilson: The faster weapons really affect the — Academic Spells (note: now renamed to Signature Skills). For every class, one of the things that we’ve learned about the combat model is you need to have something to do at all times.

We can’t have a scenario where you completely run out of resources, and you are just standing around waiting for it to come back. You need some kind of response. In Diablo II you had mana potions. We didn’t want to do mana potions. So we needed to make sure every class had there own unique response.

For the Wizard you almost always want an academic spell, because they’re free. You want to cast those as much as you want and the attack speed is very much affected by your weapon.

But some skills like Meteor, where you don’t cast them very often, they do benefit from higher damage weapon, and that’s ok, because that’s the kind of build that you would want with that skill.

Whereas another skill that uses Arcane Power like Desintegrate, they’re a straight constant beam — it’s not like one blast every few seconds. It’s constant. It’s affected a lot by weapon speed. It really just depends upon your build. If you want abilities that have more of a constant or faster attack rate, then you want faster weapons. If you got more of a big bomb abilities, then you’d want higher damage weapons.

 

 


I have a question about the Authentication System. Diablo III is doing the actual bank account perse. Will the authenticators be linked to Diablo III the same way they are linked to StarCraft II and WoW?

Jason Regier: Yes.

(Wilson and the developers look at Jason)

Bridenbecker: Good answer.

(crowd laughs)

Wilson: A little wordy.

 

 


People play with the skill menu open so they can swap active skills, and that maybe locked during combat in some way. Has any thought been given to opening more skill slots?

Wilson: More Skill slots? No. Absolutely no. One of the reasons we have limited skill slots is because it creates more build diversity and it forces people to make hard decisions.

We’ve made a lot of changes to the skill system. Very radical changes from Diablo II. One of the examples is the removal of skill points which used to be a hard decision the player made. We didn’t want the players to not have hard decisions. We changed those hard decisions from being skill points committal which did force a tiny small number of skills already to just capping the number of skills that you have.

We get that suggestion a lot, It’s not something we do for core release, but we can see the right use for it. We’re happy to let the game come out without that feature and see really how much need there’s for it, and if there is we’ll consider it for the future.

 

 


During the character design process were there any characters that you had to take out of the game, or rolled into any existing character in Diablo III?

Christian Lichtner: There’s a lot of iteration that we do with the characters we design. There’s definitely a lot of versions, and a lot of small ideas that we really love. We’re saving those for later. It’s a very colaborate process, so the team gets involved and we really shoot ideas back and forth. There’s a lot of stuff that we get out of that, and some of it is too awesome to not use at some point. (Blizzplanet note: In short we’ll see some of those in future Diablo III expansions)

 

 


With the implementation of using PayPal to buy items, I’m curious what effect you think that might have, if any, on the PvP side. Let’s say I want a 2v2 Team Deathmatch and I get matched against someone who spent a $100 on his character. Is there any system in place to affect that or help with that kind of imbalance?

Wilson: One of the few things we are avoiding with the PvP system is creating a ranked ladder that let’s you shows I’m in the top 5 PvPers in all Diablo land. Without that, all you are doing when you buy better equipment is just changing your hidden ranking which is changing the quality of the players that you are fighting against or the quality of the items that they are fighting against. It doesn’t really give you a ton of benefit that you’re going to see.

Our systems is going to be much more about a progression-based development system. The more you play PvP, the more progression you get. So it doesn’t really matter if you are playing at level 30 with crappy gear, or if you are playing a level 60 with ridiculously awesome gear, your win rate will speed things up, primarily, but having better gear just makes you feel more awesome — but it doesn’t actually truly affects the outcomes of the game, because of the hidden ranking.

 

 


My question is about a pretty hot topic in the forums. In Diablo II, you had the Hostile System for PvP during the open world, and you are going more toward the Arena style PvP right now. Can you elaborate on your thought process behind that or are we going to see other kind of systems behind just the match making Arena?

Wilson: Our thoughts process was — there’s this fantasy in Diablo II, I’m out in the world, I’m excited I’m fighting and then out of a sudden another player shows up and there’s this tense moment of who knows whether he is going to attack me or not, whether my teammates are going to suddenly turn against me or not, and the truth is those things happen in isolated incidents when Diablo II first came out, and then pretty much the vast majority of PvP encounters either were — I got ganked by somebody who town portaled back to town while frozen orb was still in the air? … not awesome.

Or I just put a password in my game because I don’t want to be ganked. So the fantasy of that Hostile encounter — it never happened. All it did was make people not want to play together.

We took a stance in Diablo III that we won’t ever do harm to the coop game. We’d never do anything that would make people not want to play together. Also we kinda looked at it too, and it wasn’t really a good PvP system. It wasn’t truly supporting PvP. So we wanted to focus more in a dedicated-mode that would allow those players who really wanted to play PvP to do it with some actual support like the progression system, the arenas built for it, UI and all the great things that you’d get from PvP modes.

In the future we will consider doing more pvp modes as well, like I mentioned earlier today, I’d love to have a way to duel. We right now don’t have a way to duel and so that would be something I’d really like to add.

 

 


I’m hailing from Australia, and on behalf of other Australian players, I’d like to know if you are planning to introduce an offline or LAN play option or alternatively bring proper Oceanic Servers up so the rest of the world doesn’t hate playing with us because of bad latency.

Bridenbecker: That’s a good question. It’s difficult for us, because basically what we’re going to do is that we’ll try to consolidate the number of different beta centers and service around the world so that there are more people that are able to play against one another.

We’re trying to address some of the challenges with Oceanic realms. We’ll introduce the ability to play with others in Europe, Asia or North America so you’ll have that capability as with StarCraft II.

Do you want to talk about any tech you are investing to try to reduce the dependency on latency. I know that Diablo III is less latency sensitive than StarCraft II.

Jason Regier: We’ve done a lot of work to try and make latency a little better in the game for those people who have higher latency connections, but I don’t have more than that.

Bridenbecker: The other thing that we have done, with some ISPs there, we’ve been working with them to try and find better roots back to our data centers, because we know like Australia and New Zealand player base is huge. One of these days we might plan to add a data center there. We don’t have any plans right now.

 

 


In Diablo II there were roughly six set quests you could do per Act. In Diablo III, are you going to have kinda that same feel — because in Diablo II you could just skip a lot of the side quests and go straight to the end. Is there going to be some incentives to maybe do some side quests in Diablo III?

Mercer: We don’t have a set number of quests per Act. It’s more of a natural flow for each Act in the story. It makes a little more sense for the story. It doesn’t have much of a pattern as Diablo II did.

To encourage people to do some quests, a lot of the rewards, you know, the good item drops, the rares, etc. are there in the world in a random events or random dungeons.

Likewise, the way we’ve designed many of the quests objectives some of them are fairly linear, and have a story moment, but a lot of them have a strong expiration component, and as you are out there looking for — say a staff — you are going to find a bunch of other events and quests on there, and we’ve tried to develop this in such a way that there’s no reason for you to not just go ahead and do those, and in fact it’ll be good for you on your way to finding that staff.

 

 


I wanted to ask if there will be any guild or clan implementation because while it’s good that you don’t make a good bunch of people play Diablo III, but still it will be good to interact with friends, or at least the permanent chat room where we can hang out or maybe link loot to each other and I think this social aspect is very important for the game.

Wilson: The answer is, guilds are awesome but no we aren’t supporting them. Not at least for the initial release, but we do see the value in them.

Diablo III is not a game where you are going to need a guild or do raids or things like that, but people still like to collect together and like to be social. It’s one of those things that when we do it, I’d really like do it right, and much better than just a glorified chat channel.

We’ve had some ideas in the past floating around for Diablo II, really awesome ideas that we definitely have in our wishlist for things to add to Diablo III someday. So to answer your question: not right now, but maybe someday.

 

 


In Diablo II all I played was hardcore, and my most horrible feeling was seeing: “Your connection to Battle.net has been interrupted”, and then login back in and your character is dead. is there going to be anything to combat this technicality or are there other risks we take?

(The developers look at Jason Regier with an eerie grin drawn across their face waiting for his response)

Jason Regier: That’s a risk you take playing Hardcore.

Wilson: Jason. Why are you killing everyone’s hardcore characters?

Jason Regier: …. I’m sorry.

(everyone laughs)

Wilson: It’s part of the risk. The funny thing about hardcore is that it’s one of those things when you play Diablo II, you really wanted to play your hardcore character online so that you can show that it’s real. It’s not even a thing where people go and played it offline. It’s one of those risks. Our goal is to make sure that our connection is as good as possible, if anything goes down we’ll do everything that we can do to make sure it is not our fault at least. We can’t guarantee the rest of the internet, but we can try to guarantee ourselves.

Jason Regier: I know one of those experiences that were really bad to everybody was when you portal in to Andariel’s Lair with a hardcore character and before your character even loaded you were already dead. We don’t want that. We don’t want that scenario to come up for you. So we are really designing around that.

 

 


My question is about the Real-Money Auction House. You said in Diablo II there were shady dealer websites but you didn’t really say if you were or not against them. If you have the Real-Money Auction House and you have a term like someone makes a company that specializes in informing about items and selling them in the Real-Money Auction House and earning their actual keep, are you or not against that? What’s your stand on it?

Wilson: I think by calling them shady we did take a stand on that. You know how we feel about it. For us it is all about the player experience, and how good an experience the player is going to have. Going up to a website, one … you have to leave the game already. That’s a bad experience.

You might not get the item you want. That’s a bad experience. You might get ripoff. That’s a bad experience. It’s cumbersome to do. That’s a bad experience. It’s not accessible to everyone, some people have more riches than others. That’s a bad experience. All these things are things we wanted to fix.

So we looked at it and thought we wanted to give people a good experience. We don’t have an expectation that people are going to be making a living out of this, but they might be able to make a little money. Ok. Cool. We don’t really have a problem with that for as long as they are having a good and fun gameplay experience.

 

 

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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