DiabloFans' Questions Make Blizzcast 13!

Blizzcast 13 has launched into cyberspace. Check out the full transcription and audio of the podcast here! Following the extensive part on Starcraft II came the section we have all been waiting for since the questions submission in early January. Of the Diablo-related fan questions that were answered, half of them came from DiabloFans! Congrats, gals n' guys!

Official Blizzard Quote:

Zarhym: So World of Warcraft has a kooky little system referred to as phasing, is Diablo III going to use anything similar?

Bashiok: Nope, next.

Hardcore Diablo fans rejoice! Our illegitimate fear of any assimilating of World of Warcraft's vices has been temporarily appeased. Oh, wait a minute, Bashiok offers some explanation:

Official Blizzard Quote:

Zarhym: Alright then. Is the respec system...

Bashiok: I’m just kidding. World of Warcraft for those that don’t know, I don’t know who wouldn’t know, but phasing is a way for the game to separate how different players see the world at the same time. They’re all interacting in an MMO persistent world and phasing is used to split up those players to allow them to see the world change and their actions take root in the lore of the world. We’re not a persistent MMO, Diablo III is not a persistent MMO. It’s much more like Diablo II where you load up a game and there’s an instance of that game and then you leave that game and if you start a new game, everything is more or less reset to where you were. It’s very Diablo II-esque so we really don’t need phasing to advance world states because it’s not necessary in the same way to treat different players differently while in the same world. There’s an answer hidden in there somewhere. But anyway...

A good phrase is in there: "We’re not a persistent MMO, Diablo III is not a persistent MMO." It signifies what has made and still makes the Diablo series unique and appealing- it's ability to be an online fantasy world without the trappings of being an MMO, unthinkable in a time when the modern consensus of online fantasy gaming is narrowed to a single perceived option.

Official Blizzard Quote:

Zarhym: Ok so is the respec system in Diablo III going to be similar to the one in the Diablo II 1.13 patch?

Bashiok: Not really. We’re still working on the respec system for Diablo III. For those who haven't seen the Diablo II 1.13 patch the respec system in there, which is still on the PTRs by the way (or maybe not), is you can get three different respecs by completing the Den of Evil quests and then any additional ones beyond that by picking up item drops from bosses and using the horadric cube to combine them. For Diablo III we don't have it really nailed down yet but some of the main points we do want to hit are that it's more than just a gold cost for changing your mind. Although that will be a major component of it. That it's targeted for specific skills so you're not resetting your entire skill tree, but you're able to target specific skills to reset those ones specifically. To also scale the cost of respecing so early on in the game it's cheaper and easier to respec and as you go farther into the game it will be harder and more expensive. And all of those things together make it a very challenging system to implement, hitting all of those notes. And those are all pie in the sky, I guess, hopefuls for the respec system we may not get all of them in. We don't have any specifics on what the actual respec system will have but those are sort of what we're shooting for and of course it's all up in the air still.

Zarhym: Right but the same basic goal is you want to make sure that players aren't locked down from the very beginning and there's no going back unless they choose to recreate the character. But give them some outlet to change it up.

Bashiok: Right, exactly.

Respeccing in Diablo III looks to be a compromise of the relative ease of exploitation in Diablo II's latest patch and the concerns of many fans upon its speculation, becoming progressively harder to attain as the game, and your character, continues throughout the world of Sanctuary.

Official Blizzard Quote:

Zarhym: So it has been said, Bashiok, that in the end of all things all classes are going to use different resource systems. Why? What's wrong with mana? And third, why are you ruining the game?

Bashiok: Well, to answer the last question first...

Come on, we all know it's the truth. The community manager is obviously in charge of Diablo III's development.

Official Blizzard Quote:

Zarhym: That wasn't hyperbole by the way.

Bashiok: Thank you for interjecting some real community questions in there... uh, so we're not ruining the game. Different resources for every class. Pretty much the basic fundamental there is that having class diversity, having each class be as diverse as possible makes for as interesting a game as possible. Playing a wizard as opposed to a monk is going to be two very different play styles and by the same token having their resource systems be different further distances them from each other. So the wizard's resource system ... which we haven't... I'll pick the barbarian! The barbarian's resource system which is fury and, let's go with the witch doctor who uses mana, the only character to use mana. Obviously they're going to have two very different play styles even beyond the skills that they're using.

Zarhym: Ok, so they don't just look different with all the same abilities. It's not just aesthetic.

Bashiok: Right.

Zarhym: So how are those different resource systems working out so far?

Bashiok: They're all going pretty well, none of them are finished. We're still working hard on everything. The witch doctor is probably the most solid which probably makes sense because he’s using mana. But we don't have mana potions so we need to work on his recovery of mana. So he has, some people might have seen soul harvest as one of those at BlizzCon and that might be part of a larger group of recovery systems. The monk is probably actually the next most solid which might seem weird since he was the most recently announced. But his resource system just kind of worked right when it came out of the gate. But nobody has seen it yet, and we haven't talked about it yet... aside from this right now. [laughs] So we're still not announcing what it is, we still have some work to do but it's pretty solid, it's looking pretty good. The barbarian is close. We have a new revision going in soon and we're hopeful for that. And the wizard is probably the hardest right now. It's been a struggle trying to get that nailed down but it gets closer with every revision. And the fifth class of course would be... nah I'm just kidding.

Zarhym: No announcements for us today?

Bashiok: No announcements today. [sad sound]

Zarhym: So what would you say is the largest problem you've had while coding or designing the game thus far, and how did you overcome it? ... You particularly not the designers or developers...

Bashiok: Obviously I had to send this one off to Jay Wilson because I don't code or design on the game. So his answer was randomness, which is a big part of the game. There's a lot of randomness throughout the game. Dynamic co-op play. Cooperative play. Server load, which is running a lot of games on a server or multiple servers. And creating a more dynamic or alive world. And all of those things sort of hate each other and it's hard to get them to fit together like nice puzzle pieces. So that's a continuing struggle and something we'll probably continue to struggle with and work on and improve and hopefully perfect by the time the game is released.

Ironically, what many could consider the heart of the Diablo games is the biggest challenge to get right, fighting for balance between breathing worlds and a unique field on (nearly) every roll. The illusion of randomness by non-random computer calculations may be similar to trying to disguise algebra as stereotypical expressionistic painting. (Alright, alright, given, most of my algebraic calculation are actually very random. X = number of dots I can count on the ceiling during math class...)

Official Blizzard Quote:

Zarhym: So next question. If Blizzard is looking to make gold the primary currency in Diablo III, why isn’t there durability on items when it seems like it’s the most obvious way to remove gold from the economy and help keep inflation down?

Bashiok: Yeah, that kind of has a silly answer. Just because it’s not in there now doesn’t mean we won’t have it. It’s not in there now because it’s sort of a silly mechanic to put in early while we’re doing a lot of heavy testing even for the playable demos. In the playable demos we’ve had, there’s no NPCs around to repair items; it’s pretty much an action kill fest in the demos we’ve had so far. To put durability on items right now would be sort of silly. It’s one of those farther down the line economy stabilizing... [...] we could have it in there realistically, but it’s just not necessary yet. That goes along with a lot of other different economy stabilizing -- I’m trying to avoid the word gold sink -- economy stabilizing features.

Could this mean that durability is, indeed, returning in Diablo III?

Official Blizzard Quote:

Zarhym: Will all bind on equip or bind on pickup items be bound to account? So you can hand them down to your other characters as you find better gear.

Bashiok: Maybe. It sounds kind of cool. So I asked Jay and some of the other designers about this actually because I wasn't sure, but Jay's response was “That sounds awesome!” And he likes things that are awesome. Which is a very Jay Wilson quote. But there could be economic reasons that we don't do that, there could be gameplay reasons we don't do that. It's probably too early to say, but that sounds cool so we’ll have to see.

Zarhym: Alright, anything else you'd like to add?

Bashiok: Uhm, no. I'm looking forward to all the forum posts asking why we didn't ask some specific question.

Zarhym: As am I. And I would like to say that I love all of our listeners, and I love you too Bashiok.

Bashiok: Aww, I love you.

Zarhym: Alright well that about wraps it up for our community Q&A segment. We hope you enjoyed BlizzCast 13 and would like to remind you that you can find all of your favorite BlizzCast episodes on iTunes by searching the word BlizzCast in the iTunes store. As always we appreciate your support.

And, if you have ever wondered what all those highly-professional and stingy psychos look like at Blizzard HQ, their FaceBook recently updated with a homely picture:

Once again, we encourage you to check out the full transcription and audio of the podcast here, including lots of talk about Starcraft II, which recently went to closed beta, and World of Warcraft. We've also got a list of people who PMed us about this the second our automated Blizz Tracker scooped it and/or it hit the servers, so a special thanks to Tsukiyomi, DesmondTiny, and Ivaron for spotting the new Blizzcast information and thanks to enkeria for spotting the staff picture!


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