Griefing, Health Orb Mechanics and More with Jay Wilson

Game Informer posted a very interesting interview with Diablo III's Game Director Jay Wilson this past Tuesday (sorry for the delay, folks!) with a good amount of new information and interspersed opinions to keep viewers reading four straight pages. Including coverage of a recently revived discussion, PvP and griefing (see What Would Make PvP Better? and Intricacies of Diablo III Gameplay), as well as more in-depth discussion of the health orb system new to the franchise and the team's own challenge in creating a better randomized world for the new game.

The interview started off on a lighthearted note as the interviewer questioned Wilson on the backbone behind the Monk, including some classics many might be familiar with:

Official Blizzard Quote:

The biggest inspiration was fighting games. Especially on our animation team, but across the whole game, we have a big fighting game culture, bigger than any team I've ever been on. We like us some fighting games. (Laughs)

When we decided to make a character like this, we really wanted to make a fighting game character. We looked at [highlight]Street Fighter and God of War and games like that, more melee brawler-type games.[/highlight]

He then went on to discuss the focus of the Monk, specifically, from a design standpoint, as opposed to the other characters, like the Witch Doctor and Wizard:

Official Blizzard Quote:

We knew walking in that it was a more expensive character animation-wise. [highlight]This character's going to have more animations than any of our other characters, maybe more than two or three characters put together.[/highlight] But every class has a different cost associated with it. The Barbarian takes longer to iterate his skills and get it right, so we tend to have to do more versions of his skills before they really shine. The Wizard is really effects-heavy. The Witch Doctor has whole creatures that we have to build for him. Every class has their cost, so [highlight]we thought it was acceptable for the Monk to have more animation, and at least it was a very different cost than any of the other characters.[/highlight]

Damn straight my Wizard is about flashy special effects!

*Ahem.* Onwards.

Wilson went on to rehash the potion position of Diablo III, in that they will be present but will be much more limited than in previous games to encourage smooth and constant battle immersion, and even, for a fashion, told GI about the team's brief dabbling with the health regeneration system present in games like the Halo series:

Official Blizzard Quote:

One of the things that people have said is, [highlight]"What if you guys try a regeneration system? Like [...] what Halo uses?" We actually did. That's the first system that we tried. We liked that idea.[/highlight] It felt a little more realistic, even though it's not realistic. But it felt more realistic than these magical globes that fall on the ground and recover health. [highlight]The problem was that after every single fight, players just stopped. They stopped moving and waited for their health to recover. Even if they just had a little bit of damage, they waited for their health to be full again. It slowed the game down enormously.[/highlight] That's exactly the opposite of what Diablo should play like. One of the things we really attacked with this system is that it has to preserve the gameplay of Diablo. It has to make it better. If it doesn't make it better, then it's not worth doing. I found that when people actually play the new system? I can't think of anyone who's come to me and said, "I prefer the old way better."

More dynamic bosses in Diablo III have also been a concern, stemming from the monster-mashing spree of Diablo II and Diablo I which offered very little variation. Wilson says the team is planning semi-scripted bosses for Diablo III which they believe will add more replayability and, ultimately, fun to the game. He cited inspiration from games like Zelda, which any gamer worth his or her salt should know:

Official Blizzard Quote:

[...] I think Zelda has some of the best bosses. [highlight]They're simple, like Diablo bosses, but they use cool tricks to make them really interesting to fight.[/highlight] For example, they have the boss change in stages. So in stage 1, the boss does these two attacks, and it's really simple. In stage 2, it builds on that. Stage 3 builds on that again. The fight ramps up. Because the fight changes, the fact that you have to hit this guy a thousand times is not that boring, because you're having to deal with new challenges that are getting progressively harder throughout the fight. That's the philosophy we're going for, to [highlight]try and make these interesting compelling fights that don't just have the player in a battle of attrition where they see how much they can hit the boss before they run-away and regenerate health.[/highlight]

In addition to scripted-up boss battles, Wilson says that they are focusing heavily on scripting mob encounters to make for more immersive, dynamic, and interesting battles as we fight through madness-laden Sanctuary:

Official Blizzard Quote:

There are some scripted encounters in Diablo II. A lot of the big Fallen camps in the first act are pre-done encounters. Some of the bosses and things like that. [highlight]What we wanted to do was take the idea of scripted encounters -- we call them "adventures" -- we want all these events to occur that help define our world.[/highlight] If you're fighting an evil cult, we want the cult going around the world raising demons and doing bad stuff to people. You want to encounter people in the world to make the world feel more real. But how do you do that within a random world? Our goal was to take the ideas of these encounters and make them random as well.

He went on to mention that they are planning for roughly half a dozen different scripted objects and/or mobs to fill these randomly selected areas, and the interview finally turned over to griefing, an unintended by-product in Diablo II and Diablo I, and PvP, topics dear to many of our hearts:

Official Blizzard Quote:

One of the big ones is that we don't allow hostility anymore. It's just not part of the game. We had talked about all kinds of ways to introduce it and control it, but ultimately we haven't found very many people who want it. We did a survey of our users who played the game at BlizzCon. We left out survey stations so they could give us feedback about what they thought of the game and what they were excited about. [highlight]The lowest-scoring thing on the list of things they were excited about was PVP. It was around 3%.[/highlight]

I don't think that means people don't like PVP. That's not what I'm taking out of that data. But [highlight]I look at that and say, "People are probably thinking PVP like Diablo II."[/highlight] There's probably not a lot of people who really loved that part of Diablo II. There's people who love it a lot, but the majority just don't. [highlight]What we'd rather do is create a PVP game that's more inclusive of a larger audience. We want something that's a great PVP game that a lot of people in our audience can really enjoy.[/highlight]

Most importantly, we're a cooperative game first and foremost. Do no harm to the cooperative game is our prime directive. [highlight]Anything, no matter how precious it seems, that harms the cooperative game and harms the idea of strangers getting together to kill monsters, anything that harms that, we take out.[/highlight]

Wilson continued to say that features common in other "2.0" oriented games will be in Diablo III, like enduring friend lists and chatting across multiple Blizzard games. However, perhaps something more interesting to us as worriers of how commercialized Diablo III will become... Well, just read on and find out for yourself:

Official Blizzard Quote:

More project-specific features -- for example, [highlight]StarCraft II has the marketplace -- we don't really have an equivalent to the marketplace.[/highlight] That feature won't carry over to us. But we do have a pretty significant chunk of time allotted with the team to focus on our own set of features. We haven't announced any of those, but we will be doing them at some point.

Whether or not this has any correlations with the micro-transactions previously stated by Bashiok and others has yet to be seen- it may be a topic for another day. And, on a happy note, Wilson promised us that the fifth class will not be a Bard. Wonderful news, simply wonderful.

Furthermore, our Blizz Tracker caught something that may be interesting to aspiring Witch Doctor players. The following is courtesy of Daemaro:

In this post here, Bashiok talks about some of the new "summons" that the Witch Doctor has acquired, it sounds a lot like what I was hoping for.

Official Blizzard Quote:

I haven't spoken to the designers about it, so I could be way out of line, but I think the potential for passives that affect all "summoned zombies" is definitely there as there are quite a bit more of them that exist now. The gargantuan, zombie charger, wall of zombies, grasp of the dead, and then the zombie dogs of course.

I can just imagine some of these summons:

Gargantuan - Big brute tank sort of summon.
Zombie Charger - Probably has something very similar to the Barbarian skill.
Wall of Zombies - A wall of zombies...
Grasp of the Dead - Possibly zombie arms reaching up from the ground slowing enemies in the path.
Zombie Dogs - The undead puppies from the first Witch Doctor videos.
I really hope they add a spell casting summon of some sort though. Maybe some kind of Voodoo Plague Spirit or something.

What other sort of summons would you like to see?

A special thanks goes out to both Bearsman113 and Daemaro for these finds- positive reputation points make excellent awards to our vigilant members!


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