Diablo III Map Randomization Expounded

For some time we have been mostly in the dark about map randomization in Diablo III besides two facts: the open world will be static and closed dungeons will be randomized for replayability and varying gameplay, among other reasons. Today, however, fans have received a bit more. Bashiok, as usual, is here to explain.

A Battle.net poster asks the question in a way that many of us might be similarly thinking about- the necessity and logic of randomized maps in the up-coming installment in the series:

Quote from "Pakkidis" »
I know I am in the vast minority on this one but I simply can't stand a level that has been randomly created. I personally love levels that are designed and created that showcase the artwork and graphics. Random levels basically end up looking all the same with a different entry and exit points and most of the time nobody ends up exploring the levels anyways, they just rush to the exit point. In theory random levels are good, but I don't believe they work out so well in execution.

These issues were some big throw-offs to many in Diablo II as well as other games that used a similar system for map randomization. Many would play through the game several times and not feel that the areas, though randomized, were any more engaging or attractive. This is mainly due to the cut-and-paste style of logic behind map randomizing in Diablo II, where each level had a few preset "sections" of the level (hallways, a special room or two, areas where monsters spawned, et cetera), and then each map was assembled from those cookie-cutter pieces. This led to some issues, the main of which being that maps had to suffer from visual appeal and interactivity to be able to work cohesively together in any given formation.

In the hope of progression for Diablo III, then, it was shown that both areas, dungeons and the outdoors, to varying degrees, would exhibit different amounts of randomization. This will allow for interesting and visually engaging maps that are also highly interactive and mobile for whatever purposes they are needed for.

For instance, although the living world (towns, open land areas, etc.) will be "static" to allow for more interesting scenery and functionality weaving towns and dungeon entrances together:

Quote from "Bashiok" »
Randomized levels can indeed create a very generic feeling if not done well. We're working really hard to ensure that doesn't happen though. It's actually one of the reasons why our exterior layouts aren't randomized. It's extremely difficult to have wide open areas be randomized as well as interesting. Instead we have static exterior zones where the roads, towns, and edges are always in the same place.

They will additionally receive randomization in some areas that some might not have expected:

Quote from "Bashiok" »
To keep some bits of random in there though we have a bunch of small, medium, and large pieces cut out of them. In those cut out pieces the game can then place the randomized "adventure" sets. They could be artistic in nature (a fountain, an abandoned cart), they could spawn extra enemies, or they could spawn quests.

This here is something that could well serve them excellently when the game is released. For instance, with any patches that may ensue with the coming game, we could anticipate content to add quests, additional features, or new enemies to work in these flexible areas. Put your imagination to work and you can see that this could be something that will make the outside world something to enjoy from a gameplay stance as well as a scenery stance.

He went on to talk about how dungeons will be revisioned and reworked differently in Diablo III than in previous installments, in which dungeons were, for many, more of a doldrum than an engaging, atmosphere-livid world of subterrainean (or archaelogical) exploration and battle:

Quote from "Bashiok »
[I][...][/I']we accomplish this mostly by using our interior jigsaw pieces more intelligently, building more and different types of jigsaw pieces, and also because our artists are amazing. I don't think anywhere in Diablo III are you going to think "This place is not visually interesting". The types of interior pieces do make an enormous difference, and I think we're pretty good at it now. In Diablo II for example you pretty much had a few standard square set pieces, and then a bunch of hallways. We still have those in Diablo III but we're mixing it up a lot more with more intricate and interesting 'showcase' pieces that make it seem like they're not even randomized levels.

Those showcase pieces may have been something of what we have seen in gameplay trailers so far. While the texturing and atmosphere were an area of great controversy, the actual rooms, themselves, were much more engaging than in previous games. That is, of course, being said without even actually playing the areas. This, combined with many more hallways, rooms, and other building-block pieces, as well as new technologies, may make these dungeons the most exciting and replayable ones yet.

But, of course, don't get your hopes up too high. As it always is in the world of Diablo, make your expectations realistic, but not pessimistic, and you will get something reasonably in-between ;)

If you would like to read more on the post, which went on to cover the short-comings and unintentional side effects of the game and map mechanics in Diablo II, you can read further about this here. Take a look if you get the chance.

Here's to hoping for a better game than we've seen so far, in both older incarnations of the dark fantasy, battle- and lore-soaked Sanctuary and the coming newborn.


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