Storytelling in Diablo III
Do you remember the intro to Diablo II? First thing you see is a one minute long conversation by our friendly camp keeper Warriv. With Diablo III the game designers are taking a big step away from that way of story development. The main philosophy they have for storytelling is the concept of Play, don't Tell.
What that means is that long drawn out conversations slows down the gameplay, something they want to avoid in Diablo III. Instead they will focus on bringing in storytelling on-the-go. Conversations will be kept rather short and spread out. When possible they also want you to be able to play while listening and a video example was shown where a player engage fighting monsters while listening to story details told by a quest character.
Something that lore fans definitely will enjoy is lore books. Lore books are books found within the world that tells a story. The author of the book will read out loud what is written and provide additional flavor to the game while you keep fighting monsters. This is another example of the opt-in storytelling that they want to include for Diablo III.
Creating the environment
In the panel we got to follow the team as they explained how you take an idea and make a concept, how you take that concept and make it to a 3D environment with all the flashy effects that we see in the game. The example is from an area called the Bastion Keep. A huge fortress that will be under heavy siege from the demon horde.
Step 1 is the concept art. The picture that sets the feel for the area with materials, shapes, colors and all kinds of detail. The team works hard to get every detail just right so that it is easier to translate into the gaming world.
Step 2 is when the modellers start their work. A graybox (non textured 3d model) is created so that you can see how the models look in game.
Step 3 is when the textures are added, this adds colour and material into the game and it's starting to look like something from the actual game.
In step 4 the tech staff gets to add in lighting and particle effects which makes the world come alive. Destructible objects are added to enhance the gameplay feel.
It's really amazing to see how much thought is going into every part of the game.
Monsters(Written by Zhar)
Words cannot describe how impressed I was with Blizzard's new take on monsters. After everything from monster development to AI was covered in the panel, I knew Blizzard's new direction would be a good thing for Diablo III.
Not to say they're not keeping the hordes we grew accustomed to in Diablo II, or the memorable encounters of Diablo I. It seems they're trying to strike a balance between the two, which was quite evident in gameplay videos, and panel discussion.
Load up this video, and fast forward to 2:35. Notice the monsters? They seem to have struck a good balance between hordes of cannon fodder, and interesting combat. There is one easily identifiable "boss monster" to focus attention on, accompanied by hordes of lesser monsters to keep a fast pace, and destructive feel to combat. Even normal encounters seem to have this feel to them, with the new fallen hierarchy, or the Cultists who transform into demons. It's this dynamic blend of monster types, as well as behavior and scripting that will keep encounters fresh and interesting.
The panel also discussed various ways encounters will be initiated. For example, zombies suddenly popping up while walking through swampy areas as mentioned, and ghouls scaling cliff walls has been shown in several gameplay videos now. Before, skeletons popping out of barrels were the only "surprise monsters" we ever encountered. Now, it seems as if we'll be running into more and more encounters where we will not be able to initiate it ourselves, we will be kept on our toes, and always on the lookout for ambushes. There also seem to be several special monster encounters, such as a thief monster who, while difficult to catch, gives out very good loot.
AI and behavior
Monster behaviors were also briefly discussed. One monster in particular was used as the example, the "Gravedigger". As the name suggests, this monster is usually found in graveyards, and is in a passive state before the player draws near. He will mind his own business, dig graves, and shuffle around the cemetary. Upon drawing closer, the Gravedigger will go into an alert stance, picking up his shovel as if it was a weapon, looking around, and moving more erratically. Upon drawing even closer, the monster would attack the player. However, Blizzard found that most players wouldn't let him stay alive long enough to experience all of his animations. Thus, a balance was found between monster flavor and gameplay pace. Keep in mind that this is a massive change from the previous games, in which if a monster was on screen, it was almost guaranteed it was either attacking you at range, or closing the gap to engage you in melee combat.
Changes to monster AI have also been made. Previously, monsters would pursue the player endlessly, making it difficult for certain classes to put distance between themselves and their enemies. Now, with minuscule delays between attacks, pursuit and run/stop movement players will be rewarded for movement. It will be possible to micromanage your character to avoid damage and maximize efficiency.
Items -(Written by ScyberDragon)
Armor There are eighteen levels of armor from the first "naked" look to the top level. Changing from Diablo II is that the looks of the gear will not go back to the basic looking models when starting in the new difficulties. The eighteen levels will be increasing from Normal through Hell so your character will increasingly look more awesome. Part of this is also the thematic armor for each class. While every class can wear all armor, it will look different depending on who is wearing this. A full helm look on the Barbarian may look like a crown on the Monk. Tying in with this, the actual icon of each item will also look different depending on what class you are playing so that it matches how it looks when equipped. Lastly on armor, dyes have been stretched to about twenty colors. These dyes will be bought, crafted, and dropped by monsters is varying rarities. Some examples of new armor sets were shown including my personal favorite of a Witch Doctor having a helm with moving tentacles on it.
Crafting Alongwith items, crafting through Artisans is seen as means to compensate for items that do not randomly drop for you. With the random drop system of Diablo, it is possible to clear an entire area or Act without a single pair of boots or gloves dropping for you; this is where Artisans come in. The UI for the Artisans have all been created to be a set standard to help ease confusion from one to the other. With flavor pictures added to the UI to help signify each Artisan's trades. There are still the same three Artisans will be in the game.
Mystic - The mystic is still in charge of all forms of magical crafting. From enchanting weapons to selling charms, she will be dealing with aspects to help the magical side of your character. Tying in with this theme, the Mystic's wagon was shown with a more naturalistic theme with softer features. On a side note - Identifying has been added to the Mystic's abilities leaving up curiosity to Deckard Cain's role.
Blacksmith - The Blacksmith, still in charge of weaponry and armor, will boast a harsher looking more sharper wagon. Donned in wood and metal, the shop will continue to grow with bigger and badder items
Jeweler - The Jeweler will be adding, removing, and combining the fourteen different levels of gems. His wagon will boast a more ornate look since the gems themselves will be harder to display. The range of gems starts from; chipped, flawed, normal, flawless, radiant, square, flawless square, radiant square, round, flawless round, radiant round, star, flawless star, and finishing at radiant star with only the first five levels dropping and the rest needing to be crafted. There are six different types of gems, all the same form Diablo II minus skulls.
Blizzcon 2010 has given us a veritable treasure trove of interesting new information on Diablo III, and the good times keep on rolling. Everything from the newly-announced PvP arenas to the in-game gadget responsible for salvaging valuable resources from useless loot was discussed as news representatives pelted Jay Wilson with questions from a wide variety of Diablo areas.
Of particular interest was the PvP arena, a revolution in PvP functionality, at least as far as the Diablo franchise is concerned. With the relatively short length of duels in Diablo II and I, with battles often over in a matter of adrenaline-pumping seconds, the validity of arenas was brought to question with none too little skepticism.
Though in previous games duels would last for only moments, the new arena system in Diablo III will allow for rounds of PvP within a single game, increasing overall battle length. Similarly, the introduction of team-based PvP will bring cooperative play to a new height, with players more easily covering each other's backs, allowing strategy to clime to a prime spot of concern, as opposed to the frequently-power-oriented mindset of Diablo II.
Jay mentioned that it is a concern they have, but that the development team will be able to more accurately asses PvP when more players are able to get a hands-on experience with the new system. This would presumably take place during a form of beta, though patching after release is also a possibility.
PvP and PvE have been a grey area in previous renditions of the Diablo franchise, but, as mentioned yesterday, the team is more concerned with preserving the PvE element of Diablo, and so PvE and PvP will be regarded separately. Unbalance of a skill in PvP arena battles will not cause the team to nerf the skill for PvE players, and Jay wants players to realize that skills that seem useless in PvE games may be entirely valid in a PvP context.
This same concern for preserving the PvM focus of the game has led to a number of other decisions, such as the removal of toggle-able hostility in PvE games (as was done in Diablo II), as well as arenas being entirely separate games from story and monster-slaying PvE games. Ultimately, when it comes to PvP and PvE, he wants us to know that the two are entirely separate.
When it comes to the arenas, themselves, Jay mentioned that although randomization for the actual arena area is entirely possible, and quite easy to do since arenas are made with the same system that composes dungeons, the team has several concerns that are causing them to be careful with how they offer arenas to players. Randomization, while obviously offering many different arena experiences, also can create many useless and irritating PvP environments. Offering more options for such customized games is something that they want to play low so that players will spend less time with the bureaucracy of setting up a game and more time slaughtering each other. It's ultimately a question of how useful such functionality would be, how much it is desired, and how much good it would do for PvP players.
Diablo III Q&A Panel
Turns out, hardcore is going to stay hardcore. One of the coolest bits of information we got the from Q&A panel was that if you take a hardcore character into the Arena, if it dies, it's dead. No second chances, no life after the arena, just dead. Rounds were not elaborated on however, so we may end up seeing 1 round matches with hardcore characters. Either way, now you'll finally have a way to kill your max level hardcore player in style.
We also learned a bit about how the stash will be working. As it turns out, we now have a shared stash between characters. It also turns out, that the shared stash is massive. Add in the fact that Blizzard will never delete your characters, and everyone out there who enjoys hoarding their items just got an early birthday present.
It is time to get in the pit! Blizzard has finally given us a glimpse of how PvP will work in Diablo III. With this PvP system the development team bring something new to the Diablo series - Battle Arenas.
Arenas are small areas separated from the rest of the world. There will be various arenas spread out in Sanctuary. Each of them will have a unique design with different scenery, features and terrain. You dive into the arena with your multiplayer character and battle out using all of the skills and gear you have accumulated.
Matchmaking and ranks Ranked arena matches will feature team-based combat where several players in each team fight in 'best-of' matches. Jay Wilson said the development team is still looking for the "magic number" of matches. They know they want more than 1 match so players will be able to react to the other team after encountering it once, but they do not want to draw out the matches with too many games. It appears that teams will be limited to four players in each, making the biggest match-up 4v4, but no official word on that has yet been made.
To participate in a ranked arena match you will use the Battle.net matchmaking system so that you get faced against opponents with similar rank. When you complete a match in the arena you will be awarded points based on your performance in regards to kills, accomplished objectives, wins, and other factors yet to be revealed. Those points will be used to advance within the ranking system and also brings us to the next subject: rewards.
The battle arena will not be a place to collect armor and weapons. The PvP reward system will be focused on achievements, ranks and titles for your character. Blizzard also hinted that ears will be returning in some sort as a proof of your victories. As of today those are the only rewards (along with the bragging rights of beating down other people online) we know of, but more are to be revealed.
Balance in the arena
Balance in the arena will be focused around the 3v3 bracket, but ultimately the Battle Arenas are not made to fill a super competitive niche in Diablo, but rather a place where you have fun fighting other players. Blizzard has stated that the matches won't focus so much on individual builds, but your teams build as a whole. They have also stated that there are certain skills being added that will be much more useful in PvP than PvE. This will let more dedicated PvP players build their characters to focus solely on PvP.
Official Blizzard Quote:
With almost 97 billion potential skill and rune builds, and then factoring in items, the talisman system, and traits, character balance isn't likely to lend itself to an eSport, and in fact the PvP for Diablo III has always been designed a side game intended purely for fun. We know you like killing each other, so that's what it's there to provide.
PvP in Diablo III is a lot about controlling your opponent. Stuns and slows are obviously very strong since they prevent or reduce the enemy's ability to do damage. In a quick-paced game like Diablo III this can become a problem. You don't want to sit around and wait for your character to be able to move while the enemy pounds on you, so to prevent PvP being all about crowd control Blizzard came up with the concept of 'counters'. Counters are abilities designed to break crowd control and they will play a big part in speeding up the PvP action.
In addition to the ranking system with team-based combat there will also be other type of PvP in the arena, such as 1-on-1 duels and unranked team battles where you can choose to fight your friends to determine who really is the best demon killing machine. More information on these game types will be available in the future.
With this system Diablo III PvP is taking a step in a new direction from the previous games. Jay Wilson also said that the battle arenas are just the first approach to PvP in Diablo III, and hopefully not their last, so we should be expecting more info on PvP in the future. Maybe they are thinking of some kind of world PvP, or maybe arenas similar to the WoW battlegrounds where killing the other player is not the only objective. Hopefully the Q&A panel will shed more light on it and answer all our questions regarding PvP.
I myself can't wait to get my hands dirty in the arena!
Update: In the open Q&A we got some answers and clarifications regarding PvP versus PvE balance. The final answer is that PvE balance is never and in no way going to be affected by the PvP. The main focus of Diablo III is PvE and they intend to keep it that way.
It was also said that if you enter the arena with your hardcore character: be prepared for permanent death.
The wait is finally over!
... For the fifth class.
Today at Blizzcon, the Demon Hunter was revealed to us all. A bow slinging, demon hunting, trap setting conventional ranged character has been given to us.
During development dual daggers were tried out, but Blizzard felt this really took away from the ranged feel, thus they made the move to dual wielding crossbows. At first, the Demon Hunter wasn't even human. It started out as a full demon, and more recently, a demon/human hybrid. Now, with the released version, the Demon Hunter is fully human. A sleek medieval look has been settled upon, with a signature scarf and arm guard present on all concept models shown.
Abd al-Hazir has brought us yet another class story, with a dark, demonic flavor to it. The Demon Hunters are essentially nomads, having lost all they knew and loved to the hells, they chose to pursue a life of vengeance above all else. They number in the hundreds, and choose to make their home in the Dreadlands. All demon hunters have an innate ability to resist the demonic taint present in the Dreadlands, allowing them to use demonic magics against their enemies while retaining their sanity.
But what could this mean? From the sounds of it, the Demon Hunters will use anything and everything at their disposal to take the fight to their sworn enemies. In one of the panels on the Demon Hunter, Jay Wilson briefly talked about using demonic organs as weaponry. Whether this was a definite "yes, you can craft with demonic organs" or not, is yet to be seen. However, in the release video the Demon Hunter is shown as using an arrow crafted from the tooth of a demon, thus, I personally believe we will be able to use demonic trophies to enhance our skills and items. I can expect this to take the form of special crafting recipes.
Currently, the Demon Hunter has traps & gadgets, shadow magic, and various bow skills at her disposal. We've been shown several skills so far, and here they are.
The Demon Hunter shoots a crossbow bolt infused with flame which passes through enemies, and leaves behind a flaming wake, dealing damage to all enemies to try to cross it. Essentially, it's a fire wall that you can shoot.
Seems to function similarily to the Witch Doctor's Skull of Flame. The video shows the Demon Hunter throwing out 3 small globes, which bounce briefly, then explode, dealing AOE to all nearby enemies. It was also shown to break a shield skeletons shield, which suggests AOE damage dealt from behind the shield can disarm them, giving this skill a spot as a sort of "combat utility" skill.
This skill allows the Demon Hunter to shoot a bola arrow, which wraps around whatever it hits. The enemies are not slowed however, but several seconds after being hit they exploded. AOE damage was dealt to everything nearby.
The obligatory movement skill. The Demon Hunter performs an acrobatic roll to reach new locations, or to escape from enemies. I can definitely see this skill being combined with Molten Arrow, allowing the Demon Hunter to quickly set up a wall, and retreat behind it before being in the line of fire.
Taking a hint from the Assassin, the Demon Hunter sets up a trap that lies in wait for enemies. Upon being walked over, the trap opens up and enemies above it.
Fan of Knives
The Demon Hunter twirls in place, sending knives in all directions around her. AOE damage is dealt to all nearby enemies. This skill was shown being used with Vault, the Demon Hunter would roll into position, and release knives directly into a mob of enemies.
The Demon Hunter shoots out an arrow that bounces between several enemies, linking them with a blackish purplish line, slowing each down. The linking seemed to have to affect, though perhaps the slowing affect is made more serious based on how many enemies are linked to the same arrow?
From the sounds of it, this character will take some planning to use effectively. With the theme of traps in mind, Demon Hunter players will no doubt benefit from careful planning and preparation. Jay Wilson himself said
in one of the panels that this was the feel they were going for, as a bounty hunter they wanted the Demon Hunter to be prepared for battle. With the various skills she has at her disposal, she will be able to dictate the flow and pace of combat on her own terms.
Things to keep in mind, are the ways the skills functioned. If you watch the Bola video, you will notice the bola wrapping around a pillar, then exploding soon after. Tactics like this would allow the Demon Hunter to preemptively shoot a Bola, and run away while her enemies drew closer to the "trapped" environment. This skill may even be able to bring down walls after a delayed timer, allowing for more tactical use of the environment than other characters.
There was a whole lot of info given out about just how we will get to make our characters unique. Although there will still be auto-stat distribution, they are adding in a lot of new mechanics to help us build our characters just they way we want. From the skills they use to fine tuning the play-style, no onw character is going to be alike.
- Skills -
Development Skills are at the core of the Diablo franchise and a major part of what makes your character unique. We have all known that they got rid of the original tree-like mechanic but we were left in the dark to what new system they are using now. First off, it should be re-iterated that each player can now only have seven skills at their disposal. While there will be a lot more skills to choose from than seven, you will only get seven skill slots to use and put your selected skills into. Since leaving the tree system, the development team went to a tab system, like in Diablo II, to help break up the clutter. Unfortunately, this made it too hard to see all of your choices. Next, they went to a simple list system that worked really well but it looked unappealing. The combined this list idea with a better looking UI and came up with the current version,
Current System The new UI reflects this change to seven skills. On the left will be your seven skill slots which will unlock as you level. To the right is a window with all the skill choices possible, broken up by when you can access them. This will help you to see directly what you have as well as what you can get and plan for future levels. All skills start off with a possible increase of five ranks but there will be a chance to increase this amount through other means. Leveling up a skill will be as simple as clicking o the skill in the UI.
Demon Hunter - You can read about the newly announced Demon Hunter skills here.
Barbarian - A new skill added to the Barbarian is Ancient Spear. Keeping in touch with his melee roots, Ancient Spear is a ranged attack that will actually pull the monster within melee range of the Barbarian.
Wizard- For the Wizard, they are bringing back the ever popular Meteor skill with a revamped graphic and feel. They have promised that runes will have a wide array of effects for this skill.
Witch Doctor- The movement skill for the Witch Doctor, Spirit Walk, has finally been shown. Going into the spirit world, the Witch Doctor becomes corporal and can move through enemies.
Monk - In-tune with the Monk's melee and Holy attributes, Wave of Light drops down a symbolic holy bell that the Monk hits and sends flying towards monsters.
How it Works
Traits is a new system that will be replacing passive skills. This mechanic was added to allow players to customize their character without having to waste skill points to do so. As you level, you currently gain one trait point every other level. Traits will vary and help distinguish your particular play style. Each Trait will have ranks that will range from one to five that you can upgrade. Helping define you character as a tank, berserker, or battle master for the Barbarian, each trait also includes some flavor text to help explain and immerse your character into the world. There will be about ninety possible choices, including upgrading, but your character will only get about thirty points to distribute. Jay mentioned that right now there are actually too many possibilities and that some will probably be cut out. This will still leave plenty of room for variety and personal choice. Because passives can also become simple mathematical stat boosters, they are making sure that the stat increases are enough to wow you. Some where like a 50% increase as oppose to using +.1 damage.
Inner Rage - increases strength and attack damage to your Barbarian
Prismatic Cloak - adds more damage to defense skills and attacks enemies that attacks you.
Legendary Might - increases attack speed
Iron Skin - improves defense
The Talisman feature has finally been revealed. It will be a system that will work in conjunction with charms to help customize your character. A UI included in the character screen, the Talisman will house the charms you use so you no longer have to waste inventory store holding them. Starting off with just one charm, the Talisman will increase in size as you level finishing with thirteen available slots.
Charms will act very similar to the charms in Diablo II. They will be random drops that you can collect to enhance and customize your character. However, in Diablo II, charms would have almost any random stat possible in the game. In Diablo III, charms will focus more on key attributes like increasing strength or health points. This will help alleviate the monotony of the auto-stat distribution.
Skill Runes have finally made their way back into Diablo III. They have been reworked and are fully implemented into the game. There have been some changes to the skill runes since we last heard. Still random drops, the skill runes are added to your skills to augment their effects. There are officially five runes; Crimson, Indigo, Obsidian, Golden, and Alabaster. The original names of multi-strike and power were changed to allow a wide range of effects the runes can have on skills. With the amount of skills, skill runes, and choices, each class will now have 96,886,969,344 combinations of active skills. That is over 484 Billion builds including each class; obviously lending itself to character customization. Most of these skill changes will not only have a gameplay change but a visual change as well so you feel like you have actually changed your skill. Each rune will also have seven different grades ranging from stone which will cover levels one through and be found in Normal, silver which will be levels four and five and will be in Nightmare, and finishing with gold which will be levels six and seven and found in Hell setting. The rank will increase the effect the rune has on the skill. The example given was the Wizard's Magic Missile with the Indigo rune. It normally shoots one missile but increases to two with a level one rune. With the level seven rune, it jumps up to eight missiles.
Which Doctor's Blow Dart skill:
Regular - Blows out a dart
Crimson - Adds fire damage
Golden - Steals mana
Obsidian - Slows target
Indigo - Adds multiple darts
Alabaster- Blows out a snake that stuns the target