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Thursday, September 11, 2008

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Diablo III: Random Generation, Boss Battles, Customization
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

More information is now available about Diablo III, the eagerly awaited upcoming third installment in Blizzard Entertainment's popular action RPG series. Game Informer and Crispy Gamer both recently published new interviews with Blizzard's Jay Wilson, while IncGamers has posted an interview with community manager Bashiok, and Blizzard's forums have been host to more of Bashiok's comments about the game.

From Game Informer:

GI: Developers will often describe their games as being kind of like Diablo, but when you play them it’s almost a given that they’re not at all like Diablo. So many people have tried to capture what’s made Diablo so successful, and probably close to an equal number have failed. Do you have a sense of why they fail?
Wilson: Yeah. I’m careful about criticizing other games, because a lot of the times I can say, “I like this and this and this, but this is why they didn’t succeed.” With the design team we have at Blizzard, we can usually look at another game and say, “That’s why. That’s why it didn’t work.” It’s hard when you’re developing games. I think for a lot of developers, ego has a tendency to make people make choices that are more emotional than they are logical.
One of the things that we found is that some of the choices we’ve made for Diablo III have made people criticize us for being like World of Warcaft. They’ve said that we’re trying to change things to capitalize on World of Warcraft’s success. We have our own audience. We’re not worried that Diablo III isn’t going to do well or that we somehow need to copy WoW to become more successful. Diablo II was the most successful selling game from Blizzard until very, very recently, when World of Warcraft just passed it.
So we’re not too worried about the success of the series. I think it’s just a gut reaction of developers to say, “We’ll do this differently, just to be different,” when really what they should be saying is, “What kind of game do we want to make, and how can we make the gameplay different and what kinds of things are best for our game.” When you look at other games that are out there and you find things that are better for your game, put it in. They don’t have a copyright on it. They can’t sue you or anything. And nobody is going to think less of you if your game’s great. If you make the greatest God of War clone ever made, everyone’s going to be like, “Awesome!” But if you make the more original God of War clone, if it’s not fun, who cares?
From Crispy Gamer:
Crispy Gamer: Are the dungeons still going to be randomly generated?
Wilson: Yes, we have a ton of random generation in the game. All the dungeons' layouts are randomly generated. The exteriors are not. We have a new system of adventures that allows us to cut sections out of the terrain to put random -- whatever -- in there. We can put random terrain, we can put in scripted events -- we wanted to add a lot more scripted events into the game.

Crispy Gamer: That's got to be pretty challenging for you as a designer…
Wilson: Yeah. It's probably one of the biggest challenges we've made. But you got to take it on because it's Diablo! There's like seven things that we've identified -- replayability through randomness was one of them. Absolutely everything that we can do to improve the randomness. But we looked at the exteriors in Diablo II and realized, the fact that the layouts were random actually didn't improve the game that much. If anything, it hurt the look of the game, because organic environments don't lend themselves to being randomly generated.
You end up generating an outdoor environment like you'd generate a dungeon. So you create a room-like outdoor environment that also has no permanence to it. The world feels very transient. We decided to change that but add in things like the adventure system. On top of all that, all of the monster encounters are randomly generated. The rares and champions -- which are the mini-bosses -- are randomly generated. The items, and attributes on the items, are randomly generated. Essentially we're trying to match the amount of randomness you see in Diablo II.
From IncGamers:
On character customisation at creation: “That's undecided right now. We're leaning toward handling it like with did with the prior Diablos, but might add some customization at some point. Really, though, we're leaning towards characters becoming individualized with their gear and talent specs.”

What about infinitely upgradeable epic weapons? Hellgate did something similar, and LOTRO is adding it in the Mines of Moria expansion. Will DIII do something similar?
“No. There will be loot drops you can customise, like in the prior versions. But you'll still be hunting for better gear throughout the game.”

Bashiok talked a bit about Battle.Net 2.0, which is soon to be released by Blizzard. Diablo 3
“Not much has been officially said about the new Battle.Net, so I can't say a lot. But I can say that you'll be able to find your friends, and get grouped up, very easily. Very. And you'll be able to get matched up with other people at your level to group with online.”
From Blizzard's Forums:
On the latest artwork depicting Skovos:
It is Skovos, and I think this piece was something that Leonard showed and discussed at the WWI Lore and Environment Art panel. It isn't a location that you'll visit in Diablo III, but the artwork is a good example of the work and thought going in to fleshing out the world of Sanctuary. It's already a very complex world with a lot of locations and events, but a lot of it still isn't visually or contextually realized. As we want to create the feeling of a world outside of your immediate view it's important to create or expand upon the locations and stories of that world.
As we're working to create Diablo III we're also working to create a more visually complete Sanctuary.

On changes to how Diablo II handled boss drops:
There's an inherent issue in Diablo II, where the game is degenerated to a task of getting to point B as quickly as possible, spinning the wheel, and then you rinse and repeat. While a lot of people obviously take advantage of it, and it sort of becomes a game in itself to see how fast and efficient you can be, it's not necessarily engaging. You could also say it detracts from the feeling of being immersed in an entire game experience.
Regardless of what happens or changes in Diablo III there are always going to be the min/maxers that game the systems to be more efficient, but as a goal we want to encourage players to experience the game as a whole or at least to a larger degree than an end-game that devolves in to just killing a single boss over and over. A lot of those ideas and details are obviously still under wraps but it is something we're aware of and thinking about.
Click over to the links below to read the rest of the articles.

Game Informer: Jay Wilson Interview
Crispy Gamer: Jay Wilson Interview
IncGamers: Bashiok Interview
GameBanshee: Diablo III Forum Quotes
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Archives  News  Diablo III: Random Generation, Boss Battles, Customization