DiabloFans: On the topic of the Monk, can you tell us if the skill trees have been named yet? So far they're listed as "Unnamed Skill Tree 1 - 3". Can we expect to see any more of his skills unveiled soon along with his female counterpart? Also, can tell me a little bit more about the new skill system?
Jay Wilson: In regards to the female counterpart, she'll be released soon. As far as exact dates go, I really can't talk much about them. A little news about the Skill Tree system should actually go up on our Twitter page pretty soon. About that, we've decided to remove the tree-type architecture and we are moving into a purely skill-based system. This new system is still in the development stages and if it does not work, we still have plenty of options to fall back on. Right now, we're just trying different things and getting a feel for the few ideas in regards to the skill system that we have going on right now. It differs from the World of Warcraft/Diablo II type hierarchical styles and is more of a skill pool/path than a tree per se.
DiabloFans: Will there be class specific quests in the game? If so, can you explain how they would work?
Jay Wilson: We are still discussing whether or not we would like to include class-specific quests in the game mainly because of the simple fact that it may not really fit in with the fast-paced play-style known to the Diablo series. While this is definitely something we would like to consider, we just haven't agreed on how just yet. However, we would like to do something in regards to character specificity. We are looking into having different dialogues and experiences for the same quest or interaction for each of the classes. Each character will react differently and have different responses for different scenarios. For example, the Barbarian may do or say one thing in response to what an NPC has to say, whereas a Witch Doctor will treat the encounter in a complete opposite manner.
DiabloFans: Back in Diablo I a player could find Elixirs. If you drank one it gave you 1 stat point (ie: drink elixir of strength, you gain 1 strength point). Seeing how Diablo III's stat points are non-customizable, by a leveling standpoint, could elixirs be an option to give stat points some player customization?
Jay Wilson: Well, if we did something like that, we would fall right back where we were in Diablo II. As far as stat point expenditure, we don't consider it to be a very strong customization system. Now, there are ways within the game to customize stat points mainly through items. However, there are still a lot of things and systems that we haven't even shown yet that are going to be new ways to approach your items that will allow for new "customizations."
DiabloFans: What are the differences in the difficulty levels in Diablo III other than just monsters doing more damage? ie: What reason will people have to play through these modes after having already beaten the main story of the game on an easier difficulty setting?
Jay Wilson: We haven't really gotten into the difficulty settings a lot; we're still just working on the core content for the game at this point. The primary reason as to why a player would want to progress through the game, through the several difficulties would be for more of a challenge. There will be also better item customization, for example a Level 100 character in a higher difficulty would see and wear items that a Level 30 character would not have a chance at seeing in the lower difficulty. Said items will also look and feel completely different whereas in Diablo II a lot of times you just had a remodel of the same old items with different names.
DiabloFans: Resistances played a huge part in Diablo II, but if you were not lucky with gear drops you would get very quickly overwhelmed in Nightmare/Hell difficulties. Can you give us any details on how the system will be changing? Will it replace the immunity system or will they go hand in hand, once again?
Jay Wilson: Well, the main reason for immunities in the game was to encourage party play. However, we have seen that some players just want to play by themselves? And that is fine, if a player wants to play single player, the player wants to play single player, we're not going to strong arm them into playing with others. Keeping this in mind, we aren't looking to have full immunities or anything of the sort; however we are considering keeping one-element immunities on enemies. Because of the way our skill system works it's almost impossible to build a character that won't have some alternate skill to attack an enemy. So then it becomes an interesting use of a skill or skills that you may not be using all the time. We think that's interesting and fun gameplay, to have to adapt to situations. The adaptation just shouldn't be realizing your character or class is broken and you have to run away or you need to get in a multiplayer game. Those are things we intend to avoid forcing the player into.
DiabloFans: How will rare / high level items stand out when equipped on your character since you've stated that you want all the items to have a more functional look rather than be too flashy or gaudy like they are in WoW?
Jay Wilson: There is a very fine line between the looks of WoW items and the looks of Diablo III items, and I'd like to call that Diablo II. Within Diablo II there were a decent amount of high-end items that were pretty fantastical looking. Obviously it's nowhere near what WoW does which works for WoW, their style looks great and it works for that game but doesn't work for Diablo. So we're looking to make the armor and weapons very fantastic looking, but we're not going to have for instance a two handed sword that's bigger than the character. We're keeping things proportional. One thing we do have that Diablo II didn't have is weapon effects, which was really more of a technical limitation back then.
DiabloFans: How will you balance the power of an item in comparison to its drop rate? In Diablo II runewords were extremely powerful, yet the required runes were also extremely rare to come by, or at least were supposed to be. Will there be items as rare in Diablo III that are as powerful from the start, or will players have to slowly improve the quality of their items, through crafting/runes/other systems?
Jay Wilson: Throughout the history of patches on Diablo II, there were a lot of updates to runewords and they really powerful from when they were introduced. At one time or another though all of the different item types were the most powerful, like unique items were the best, or rare items at some point. Our general approach for Diablo III is to make sure that every type of item has a place to be useful. For example, maybe we'll have a legendary item, which is the new name for our unique items, be the best helm, whereas rares will have the most powerful chest armor, and so on. Having a spread like that will allow for a more varied itemization system we hope.
DiabloFans: What types of items will merchants sell in Diablo III? Are merchants going to play a bigger roll in leveling or are item drops going to be the major upgrades once again?
Jay Wilson: This kind of goes back to the luck factor with your drops. The cool thing was, in Diablo II, you may have found a powerful sash after killing some mobs, but had no luck finding a weapon. You run to town and talk to one of the vendors and notice some items and a weapon that catches your eye, so you buy it and use that. So we want vendors to be there to assist in the gearing process, to fill in those gaps that may come just from playing with a random loot drop system. You may play through an entire act and just never find a great pair of boots, and so we want the vendor to be there to offer some ability to fill that gap.
DiabloFans: Can you tell us a bit more about how the PvP system will work?
Jay Wilson: I'm going to say no comment to save you some time.
DiabloFans: Will the published books be referenced during Diablo III's storyline? For example, will Zayl be an NPC? Will different places like Ureh be visited throughout the game?
Jay Wilson: We removed Ureh from the game as a setting to try and get the game out sooner. However, we like including things from the books and from other sources. No promises, but it's definitely something we've discussed.
DiabloFans: The Veiled Prophet mentions beings similar to Trag'Oul who stop the dragon when he tries to enter Sanctuary. Will we see some development of them in Diablo III?
Jay Wilson: That's probably a better question for Leonard Boyarsky. I'm pretty familiar with lore, but you just hit my lore cap with that question.
DiabloFans: The games feature a very slim cast of angels considering the role the High Heavens plays in the story. Will Heaven be more prominent in Diablo III compared to previous installments?
Jay Wilson: I'm going to say... No comment.
DiabloFans: Can you tell me a little bit about the[flash="width=20 height=20"]http://us.media.blizzard.com/1901200114/_flash/chatgem.swf[/flash] Chat Gem before we have to part ways?
Bashiok: The Chat Gem... It's working correctly and has more than exceeded our expectations. And nightmares.
Well, there you have it folks! I'd like to give a big thanks to Jay Wilson for answering all of our questions and Bashiok and Ryan from the PR Department for setting it all up. I'd also like to thank Christian Lichtner for sitting in on the interview. On another note, you can check out our Richard Knaak interview from a few months back, conducted by Daemaro.