Gamasutra interviewed Diablo III Senior World Designer Leonard Boyarski about his previous experiences with Fallout and other games, the Diablo III community and the story delivery of Diablo III in comparison with previous Diablo games.
It seems that the push-pull dynamic between satisfying long-time fans and crafting a world that’s not too confusing for newcomers has become a bigger priority for designers. Where does your approach to design fall within those parameters? Is it applicable to what you’ve worked on?
LB: For us, on the story side, we just had this feeling that we wanted to bring forward a lot of things that kind of had been left hanging, and bringing back some old characters from the old series. We just felt there was a lot of rich ground to still explore as opposed to going to a completely new direction. It obviously felt like Lord of Destruction ended on a cliffhanger. So, it was really ripe for us to step in and continue the story. But at the same time, we weren’t really bound by the storytelling in Diablo II. They had the story there, but it was a little looser.
It wasn’t as — how can I put this..? Diablo gameplay is all about grabbing all the loot you can and moving through it as fast as possible. We’ve tried to align our storytelling with that kind of mentality of playing the game.
We’ve tried to streamline it and really make it so that as you’re playing it, as you’re getting the story, it doesn’t feel like you’re taking a break in the action, whereas in Diablo II or Diablo, you’d talk to somebody and it’d just be a wall of text.
So, we really feel like, in the style of telling the story, we’re moving even more toward the kind of gameplay that people don’t feel that they’re being taken out of the gameplay when they hear the story.
And I feel like this is the reaction we’ve gotten from internal people that are playing the Alpha, players who said they don’t really care about the story, and really care just more about the action. Once we started delivering the story in that manner, they started to respond more to it. They’re like, “Yeah, I actually cared to stop and see what was going on.” So, it feels like we’re evolving, from that standpoint.
As far as the content goes, it’s bringing depth to what was there before. The example I used about Deckard Cain before, in Diablo, he talks about how he’s doing his research. It’s kind of obvious that he wasn’t really enmeshed in being the last of the Horadrim at the very beginning. It’s a little hinted at, but not really touched upon. His relationship with Adria in that one is kind of touched on, but not really expounded upon. There’s a lot of this raw material that we just felt was really ripe for us to get in and deepen and bring more to the forefront, I guess is the best way to put it. — read full 3-pages interview.