In a recent interview with Diablo III lead content designer Kevin Martens, AtomicGamer.com went a little farther than the general-purpose game highlights that non-fansites are so ready to post. Yes, it covered all the development bases like the classic isometric view, the scalable system requirements and gameplay complexity, and randomness (word of the week here at DiabloFans), but after all that came perhaps the most interesting and complete topic: questing and quest stories.
Atomic asked what the team believed needed real improvement from Diablo II to Diablo III, and, without hesitation, Martens replied, "The questing and story." Kevin continued:
Official Blizzard Quote:
I think we’ve added way more quests, more variety of quests. We’ve randomized the quests, and have these sort of quests that are self contained. For example, if you enter a dungeon in Diablo III, there might be somebody standing at the entrance, like a treasure hunter, saying, “Hey, I heard stories about the Idol of Rygnar is hidden somewhere in this dungeon. Help me find it and you can share in the reward.” Then you go through the dungeon and protect this guy. Then you’ll find the idol and you’ll get the reward. People will turn on you…you’re never quite sure what is going to happen. We’re adding all those random elements all over the world. There is way more quest content overall than Diablo II, period.
Over five distinct acts, including Lord of Destruction, Diablo II offered only twenty-seven unique quests, some of which were optional and not all of which were that interesting. Most quests consisted of stumbling upon a monster or item or otherwise being debriefed in a long-winded, impersonal dialog with a town NPC. Then out you went, into the wild, and, with relatively minimal effort or brain power, the quest was completed.
Most interesting of note with quests in Diablo III--besides, of course, the obvious randomized quest upgrade--is that NPC's will actually go on adventures with you from time to time and take a hand in the journeys so essential to the gameplay. Mischief, betrayal, and adventure combine to form quests that aren't quite as repetitive and linear as those of Diablo II. But who can tell how effective these quests will really be until release?
Last year's Blizzcon gave us just a taste of some of the ways storytelling will be improved from previous games. Drooling as the minutes tick away while you watch dialog scroll by in town isn't the greatest way to spend your time in an action RPG. Story elements--history, character, etc.--are now shown through interaction and events in the dungeons we explore. Fully-voiced lore books collected on the field will play as you continue to explore, and field NPC's will add more to the mix, including the usual dialog, interaction with elements in the levels, themselves, and more.
Unfortunately, if you were reading the interview in the hopes of finding release date information, Blizzard has countered us yet again. However, Martens echoed earlier Blizzard sentiment this year: 2011 is still the plan.
Twitter saw some updates this week clarifying some of the details surrounding PvP arenas. If you happen to be fuzzy on the upcoming arena environments, liquorice wrote an excellent summary of many of its features in Diablo III PvP - Battle Arena Environments. If not, onward to health orbs!
We've seen what health orbs do for players in the PvM context in the years since 2008's announcement, but how do they affect the PvP experience?
Official Blizzard Quote:
Diablo: @Scyberdragon [Health orbs] are on timers right now, which actually makes for interesting gameplay. If they were random you'd probably hover there.
Blizzcon 2010's arena gameplay demo certainly showed us how interestingly health orbs affected choices in the heat of PvP battles. As soon as the red orbs popped up, the choice had to be made: can I make it to the end of the round with half health or should I clear a path through my enemies--and possibly die--to get an orb?
Camping was essentially a non-option, not with the speed at which health was lost and the relatively long (challengingly so!) delay between health orb spawns. Of course, the option was there, and in some cases was the difference between a winning character and a dead one.
But with randomization being so heavily stressed throughout the game, why not set health orbs to random spawns? Bashiok responded:
Official Blizzard Quote:
Diablo: @Scyberdragon Randomness undermines some of the competitive nature of the arenas. You could "get lucky" with health globe spawns and win.
Getting lucky. We could very well sit here for hours posting arguments over whether or not setting them on a fixed timer eliminates the element of luck in even this single regard. What about players not keeping track of health orb spawn rates? What about running in to one by accident, just in the nick of time? What about losing health just as an orb spawns?
Regardless, the fixed timer will likely be but one of the many new components of Diablo III's arenas that define dueling pros and novices. As Bashiok noted, keeping mental notes of the average time between health orb spawns can free players to execute effective offensive tactics, as well as plan when to run to known orb spawning locations. Such knowledge could even be used to predict where low-health players, and thus easy targets, will go when the timer hits zero.
Heyo everyone, here's the fifth episode of our DiabloCast. This week we talked a lot about how the Health System works within the game, as well as some Battle.net discussion. If you missed the fourth episode, you can check it out here. Otherwise, the fifth episode covered the following topics:
Blizzard has just released their eleventh batch of screenshots (see here if you missed the tenth) for hitting the 800k 'Like' mark. Once again, we've got the high resolution versions at our disposal here on DiabloFans.
Click the images to bask in the glory of the high resolution versions that you likely won't see anywhere else!
The first image is a concept drawing of a Morlu Caster.
The second image is a concept drawing of the Iron Maiden, which was an old torture device during the medieval days, will be making a feature in D3 gameplay.
The third picture is a screenshot from that same unknown dungeon that we've seen previously, of a female Monk wielding tremendous claws, using her Wave of Light skill on a group of Activated Vessels and Dark Vessels.
25,000 more likes to go until the 825k mark where we can get some more images, and 8 more milestones until we hit the 1 million 'Like' goal. Go visit facebook.com/Diablo and 'Like' the page to speed the war effort!
Gems are returning in Diablo III as the game's only socketable item. Gems come in a variety of six types and fourteen levels, and when they were announced, we were informed that only the first five levels would actually drop in the game, and the rest would have to be gained through combinations preformed by the Jeweler artisan. This old system would make it so that you would need to gather over 19,000 level five gems in order to gain one level fourteen, or Radiant Star, gem. This incredibly large number was the subject of many debates, and Blizzard's response to the matter is that gaining a Radiant Star gem is supposed to be a long term achievement. Despite this, many people still had concerns, and for good reason. After all, if gaining only one Radiant Star gem is a long term achievement, won't filling out your gear with them be an insanely long task?
However, Bashiok has recently told us that there are plans to have gems drop past level five, which could drastically decrease the number of dropped gems required. Even though this bit of information makes it clear that it will be considerably less of a process, as simply allowing level six gems to drop would decrease the number to around 6,500 level six gems required for a Radiant Star, and you would only need 2,000 level seven gems to create a gem of the highest level. Unfortunately, as with so many things, we must wait for more information until we know exactly what Blizzard's plans are for collecting gems, but fortunately we get to discuss how long-term getting a Radiant Star should be. So all that being said, are you glad they are making it easier to get higher level gems? If so, how much less of a process do you think it should be? Feel free to discuss your opinion in the topic above after voting in this week's poll.
Last week's poll was a resounding victory for the grinders as the vast majority of you voted that you would level all of your artisans to the maximum level. Hopefully leveling up artisans will be as interesting a goal as the last poll makes it seem. If you still want to engage in that discussion, or just want to vote in the previous poll, click the link above.