Server Update, Server Crash, Book of Cain Preview and Interview

Server Update

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We will be performing a small server update today at approximately 10:00 a.m. PST to implement the following changes to the currency-based auction house:
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A Summary of the Book of Cain
A letter from Deckard
The book opens with a letter from Deckard Cain to Leah. In the letter, Deckard speaks of an impending doom that is coming to Sanctuary. The forward is used to set up a tone for the rest of the book. Deckard has written this journal to help inform and prepare Leah for what is to come next.

The Dawn

Creation of any universe is quintessential to creating any new world or IP. Diablo has finally been given its true origin. Not just for Sanctuary but the entire Universe in which Sanctuary exists. The emergence of good and evil, angels and demons, and mankind alike all now have a belief of where it all started. Without giving too much away, the classic battle of good and evil are at the forefront of this beginning. From the very start, the battle between good and evil result in the creation of angels and demons which in turn created mankind. This theme continues throughout the entire book and game as the cornerstone to the struggles in the Diablo franchise.

The Burning Hells
What would Diablo be without... well, Diablo. In the Book of Cain, the origin and existence of evil and demons themselves are explained. The book goes through detailed information of each of the seven demons and how they came to be. While most of the information is already known, there is expansion on both - Azmodan Azmodan and - Belial Belial. Another interesting addition is that each evil is given their own separate and unique realm in Hell that reflects the evil they represent. There is also explanation of why Terror is seen as the worst evil of all of them and why Diablo is the most powerful demon.

The High Heavens

To rival the evil that naturally exists in this world, good is also just as present. While the influences of angels have usually been kept a secret previously, the Book of Cain has finally shed some light on these beings. Just as the demons have spawned from evil, angels spawn from the good that originated the world. While not covering all aspects of angels, it goes into depth of the Angiris Council and the five angels that comprise it.

Imperius, Tyrael, Auriel, Itherael, and Malthael are all given virtues that they represent. Each having its own place in comprising all that is virtuous and good. Each angel has also been given a relic that they use to help with their angelic workings. The fate of mankind is just as much as a part of their conflict as it is with demons. Beyond the angels, the book also goes into some detail about some locations in the High Heavens. The Silver City, Crystal Arch, and the Diamond Gates are all talked about.

Sanctuary - Past
Now that we know about the angels and demons, the book moves on to Sanctuary and the world we know. Most of this part is information we already know. Sanctuary exists because - Inarius Inarius and - Lilith Lilith left the eternal conflict and stole the worldstone to create their own paradise. Here, renegade angels and demons procreated which resulted in the Nephalem or mankind. From here, we find out about the origins of the many different groups that inhabit Sanctuary from Barbarians and Druids to the Necromancers and Mages.

Then the book goes into the involvement of angels and demons in Sanctuary. From man's first encounter with demons to the realization to both sides that Sanctuary exists. This begins the long road of man's battle for their existence. From the Sin Wars to the Mage Clan Wars, the turbulent past of man is explained. Moving on to the hunt for the three prime evils, our first encounters with these demons is chronicled.

Sanctuary - Modern
After revealing the past history of the world, the Book of Cain goes into the lore of the games that we have played. Starting with the original story of Tristram and - King Leoric King Leoric, we get an expanded view of just what was going on during these times. Plenty or ret-con exists to help straighten out and expand the previous lore from the games. One of my favorite parts of this section is the telling of the events of the games through a more literary point-of-view. For example, Deckard recalls the joining of a Druid and Assassin to the original five heroes to help stop Baal. While not a lot of new information exists in this part, it was very informative to read in order to get the facts straight and get a clear understanding of the story we have played so far.

Lands and Culture

Now that the book has caught us up on the past, it now goes into more regions and cultures that exist in present Sanctuary. The world has been expanded greatly in this latest installment as new areas and people are introduced. The places of origin for the new heroes are expanded upon as we learn about Ivgorod, Kehjistan, Xiansai, and the Torajan Jungles.

The book ends with another letter from Deckard Cain addressed to Leah. In these concluding words, we get a sense of Deckard's mortality and fears. He speaks of the impending doom that is headed for Leah and Sanctuary. A precursor to what is to come in Diablo III, I can't help but get a feeling of despair. However, Deckard remains hopeful that his journal and Leah's abilities are able to overcome this inevitable tragedy that is about to fall upon us.

Interview with Micky Neilson
DiabloFans: First, I wanted to thank you guys for taking the time to do this. I know I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and I know there are plenty of people who are eager to get their hands on it. So, thank you for taking the time.

Micky Neilson: Yeah, you're absolutely welcome. We are excited about it.

What made you guys decide to write this through the perspective of Deckard Cain and his journal?

Micky: Early on, we talked of different ways to tell the story. There were certainly a lot of different ways we could go. Ab'd Al Hazir was a possibility. Just going with an omnission narrator was a possibility. I think we even talked about Tyrael as being the voice of the book at one point. The more we talked about it in the various meetings we had, the more it really seemed to make sense that Deckard would be the one telling the story for many reasons.

One reason being that he is the historian of the Diablo universe. Beside Ab'd Al Hazir, Deckard Cain really is the person who you think of who is collecting all information and putting all of this information and recording it from different sources. And also, he is more of a marquee character, there is really only a handful of names when you think of iconic characters from the Diablo IP. The final reason was that this really gave us the opportunity to present the book as an in-game artifact which we felt was really cool. To be able to promote it as Deckard Cain's actual journal, the same one you see in the cinematic.

DFans: So, is there a chance I can get my Book of Cain in-game as well?

Micky: There are no plans to have it as such. I believe that the most you will be able to see it in-game is in the cinematic and there might be another instance of it in the game but not as something you would actually have. There are a number of journals that you find in the game that you can read.

DFans: How much of the lore was expanded just for the Book of Cain or was it all originally present in the development of Diablo III?

Micky: There was a decent amount of lore that was created for the book. One good example was the mage clan wars. We went through and filled out that section because there wasn't a lot of existing material. With the Sin War for instance, there was a lot of existing material in the Richard Knaak book in the trilogy he did for the Sin Wars. But for the mage clan wars, there was nothing like that. There was a few scattered mentions here and there of the mage clan wars but there wasn't a wealth information and so we came up with a lot of that.

We also came up with a lot of the specific powers for the Angiris Council members. That was something that had not been fleshed out. A lot of the origin of the universe, the mythology of the creation of the universe had not been fleshed out. Throughout the process, we identified a lot of different areas where maybe there was only a little bit of information or even conflicting information and so we had an opportunity to really dig into that.

DFans: Did any of that lore from the book then end up in the game?

Micky: It certainly informed the game and continues to do so. We found that the creation of this book and the process of developing the book certainly was valuable to the development team for them to flesh out the history and the lore of the game. Even if its not readily apparent in the game, there are certain things that we figured out in the creation of the book that influenced decisions that were made in the game that may not be obvious to the player.

DFans: Going off of that, what was your favorite part of the lore that you and your team got to expand upon?

I have a lot of favorite parts. For me, probably the mage clan wars was really fun. Just because there was not a lot of information there and it was really fertile ground for us to brainstorm and come up with really cool ideas of how that played out. That was probably my personal favorite.

As far as existing lore, I really dig the hunt for the three. There was already a lot of information there but that's another where we did expand, we added detail and we did a lot of clarification and that was a lot of fun.

DFans: With the origin/creation myth with Anu and Tathamet, where did the inspiration for that come from?

Micky: That came from Chris [Metzen]. As for where he got the inspiration, that would be a question for him. I know we talked about different ideas about what the creation myth would be and that was the one we settled on. The more we talked about it, we had brainstorming sessions. Early on, Chris had the seed of the idea of Anu being the one and splitting off and everything else. The Tathamet idea and the heads of the dragon becoming the evils evolved as we continued having those brainstorming sessions.

DFans: Can you expand on any of the other ideas you had for the creation?

Micky: I'm trying to think of anything specific. It has been awhile since we had any of those meetings. I'll keep thinking about and if I remember we will get back to it at the end.

DFans: On that same idea, working as a creative team, I am sure there are tons of ideas bouncing around. Are there any times when you guys have conflicts on where you want to take things creatively or do you guys work well together towards one conscious flow?

Micky: For the most part it was smooth. I mean, people are always going to have different ideas and everyone working on it is passionate about what they are doing. We always hammer it out, we figure it out. We sit down and hash out what is going to be best for the IP. Other things we have to take into account throughout the process is information that has already been made public and are we contradicting that. That is something we are always thinking about.

For the most part though, it was a long process. There was a lot to figure out. Certainly, a lot of hours spent and getting to the point where everyone is tired and a long time staring at the page and writing and revising and going through all of that. Just like any creative process. But it was absolutely worth it and a lot of fun, looking back.

What would you say was the biggest obstacle in writing this book?

Micky: The sheer amount of information. What I mean by that is not only organizing everything so that it makes sense and if you look back before this book, at Diablo's history, there was a lot of information, there was information that at times was contradictory, there was a lot of information that was potentially confusing. Not only condensing that into 148 pages but making sure that it did make sense in clearing up any contradictions that may have existed.

DFans: Speaking of condensing, was there anything else that you had originally expanded or added that did not make it into the final version?

Micky: There were a couple of things. There was a timeline that we are still working on. We wanted to include the timeline in the book. We did not have time to add that in there, we are still working on the timeline. That will be made available sometime in the future.

There was another section that we were going to do, as well, that was going to expand on key characters that we did not necessarily have a lot of time to go into. Adria, Magda, even more information on Tal Rash. We wanted to build out some specific key characters. We started that process but we did not have enough time or space to do that. So that is information that will most likely make its way out to the public in the future as well.

DFans: Specifically talking about the content of the book, you guys have added that each evil has their own realm in hell, what made you guys expand on this idea?

We talked about it and it was another one of those things that the more we talked about it, the more excited we got about the hook. So, to have a realm of sin, what did that mean? To have a realm of lies, what does that mean? To be able to really dig into that, that was another one where there was a small amount of information but we were able to expand on that. We had a lot of fun talking about, you know, the realm of lies, where everything looks a certain way but the more you dig into it, you find out that it is actually the opposite. That you are being misled down every path.

It was just a lot of fun to dig into. The idea that these realms can overlap each other, there are no hard and fast boundaries. The borders between the realms are constantly shifting and expanding and contracting. It just seemed like a lot of fun, a really cool concept.

DFans: Are there chances that any of these concepts that you guys have created for this translate into any part of the game? Whether we go there physically or talked about in the game?

Micky: There is a possibility that information that was created for the book will make it into the game in some form or another or into future expansions.

DFans: Moving on to the angels and the Angiris Council. You guys have really expanded upon that compared to previous games. What made you guys decide to expand on that and give them a full story?

It was another one where the more we looked into that, the theme of each angel. You look at hope, valor, justice... the more we talked about it, the more excited we got about it. Their domains in the High Heavens, how they would operate in battle. Being able to reflect those avatars and how they would fight. It was just really exciting the more we got into it. And something else that will inform the fiction later on down the line as well.

DFans: Something else that I really liked was that you gave each angel a unique item to help them use their powers. Is there any chance we will get to see any of these items in game or what was the purpose of that?

Micky: That is something that you will see more of throughout the fiction. Not just the game but already, the comic book Sword of Justice. The first issue is already out. It's about a mortal who finds Tyrael's sword and is able to weild that on Sanctuary. So, that is just one example of how these items and artifacts will make there way into the fiction throughout the IP.

DFans:So, is there any chance of me getting Itherael's scroll of fate so I can have 100% dodge chance since I can see the future.

Micky: [hahaha] There is certainly the possibility that you will be seeing a lot more of these items.

DFans: Expanding upon the angels, are we going to see a lot more influence from them in the game or was this just something you wanted to do for the book?

Micky: They will certainly be extended throughout not just the games but the fiction as a whole.

DFans: Going off of that, are there pans to other similar books for Diablo? Anything like a Leah's journal for Diablo III?

Micky: We have been talking about, we have been getting a great reception for the Book of Cain, so we certainly have been talking about possibilities for the future and any follow-ups to the Book of Cain.

DFans: My final question would be what was the most fun thing about this project that was different from anything else you have worked on?

Micky: The book, as a whole, is certainly different and unique from anything we have done before. For me, the most fun was creating the new lore. Having those brainstorming sessions where we talked about the different angels abilities, the mage clan wars. Things like that that had not really been explored before that was just new territory. It was just really fun to dig our fingers into.


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