Jay Wilson Interview with inDiablo.de

After the announcement of the Caravan system, fans of the Diablo series breathed a collective sigh of relief. Finally, we were able to hear some solid news about the future of the game. Caravans blew us away, but never did we imagine the sheer amount of news contained within this interview, for www.inDiablo.de.

Throughout the interview, Jay Wilson touches on everything from PvP, to WoW influence, to how the development team is tackling the four acts, even to returning characters. The interview is in English (thankfully), so you can watch the two linked videos without having to translate what is said. To the right, is the first part of the interview. Click the word "interview" in the first paragraph to view the second half of the interview. Trust me, you'll want to watch it.

We're still compiling the info from the interview, so look for an in depth analysis in the near future. Stay tuned!

Also, thanks to Doomscream for the heads up, give the man a pat on the back!

EDIT: Alright, first half is transcribed, read away!
"In Diablo II obviously PvP wasn't really rewarding for players, other than just that feeling that "oh, I killed someone". Are there any plans to actually give players some reward for their effort in PvP, if there is any of course."

"We uh, we do have plans for PvP but we haven't announced anything yet, so we're not talking about it at this time. But we'll announce something in the not too distant future."

"So probably we can expect more focus on the PvP aspect?"

"There will be more yeah, we will do more than, than the previous games sure."

"What kind of aspect of Diablo II did you decide to enhance, you thought it was really lacking, and you thought that "this thing needs to be way better", it it's supposed to transfer to Diablo III."

"Uh, well we've pretty much gone through every part of the game and looked for ways to make it better. The combat system is a big one, you know, making a combat system that allows for more diversity in how the classes play. Um, by leaning more on a health system instead of potions. But you can look throughout the game, our new artisan feature that we announced is a great example of how we took a lot of features that weren't even necessarily crafting features, like gambling and runewords. Essentially, we took what we liked from the systems and we created a robust, full crafting system that allows us to do a whole big variety of things for the player."

"Which aspect of the game, once you started working on Diablo III, you were like "oh no no wait it's not going into Diablo III because it's lacking."

"Well, I mentioned potions and that was a big one, we took those out. Well, they're not completely out but we removed the mechanic of just using them over and over again because we didn't feel it was a good overall health model for the game. We also removed town portals because they're a combat exploit, so anything that kind of hurts the depth of combat we really worked on."

"What about armor sets, which were sort of fun to collect in Diablo II. But, you never really got them before they were really useless for your character because you had too high a level."

"The problems with item sets in Diablo II, we definitely understand the problems and we want to solve them. Set items are actually in design right now so I can't tell you exactly what we're going to do to solve them, but if we can't find a way to solve that problem they just won't be in the game. But, we've got a couple ideas on the table and they're all pretty good."

"We know that boss fights my be a little bit more like WoW, in that you need some tactics or use some certain elements of the environment."

"I like to compare them a little bit more to Zelda, um, I think World of Warcraft boss fights are so team oriented and that's not really a good description of ours. Probably the closest comparison would just be that we do lots of staged fights where the boss changes over time, which does happen in World of Warcraft but really Zelda was the game that invented that more or less. Probably not, but they definitely mastered it. That's the game we look to for inspiration to try to make boss fights that's not just another monster with a lot more health and a lot more damage but actually plays up to the mechanics to the game and has really interesting mechanics on their own."

"Aren't you a little bit worried that players are used to Diablo II for example will sort of be confused with those fights for example some bosses now have two unique skills for them and that's about all you need to defeat that boss."

"No, they're not so far from Diablo II that they're jarring, they just feel better, they just feel a lot less repetitive. But they're still Diablo characters, and that's why I say Zelda is a better comparison because if we made boss fights like WoW where we need a part of people and a certain composition and everybody needed a role, then that would feel like a WoW fight. And that's so different than Diablo, so no I don't think it will feel jarring, but will feel like an enhancement of something that existed before."

"What are you focusing right now during development, for example are you working on a certain act because I know you guys are trying to polish and check, what's that you are focusing on?"

"The majority of the team is actually working across all four acts simultaneously. So they're all in production. But a subset of the team is focusing on polishing the first act. So the focus there being that most of our systems we've proven out, we know what they need to look like to ship the game. But there's a couple systems like questing and storytelling that are not quite to the quality level we want. So we're really focusing on them for the first act so we can get them right and they'll serve as an example for other acts."

"We don't know much about resource systems, how do you think you can balance if you're trying to go for 5 different resources, how will they feel just as powerful and just as good as the other ones?"

"The process of balancing resources is not an overly complex one, it's basically math. There are a lot of other systems that are more subjective that are a lot harded to balance than a resource system. Essentially, if you're going to balance a skill like magic missile with multiple projectiles with a skill like Blizzard, well they don't even have relationships on certain levels so that becomes more subjective. Should magic missile do more damage because it tends to hit less targets, or should Blizzard have a larger radius of affect? They're much more subjective, but when you get to resources it's well "I need to output this much DPS, can I do that? No you can't. Is it a resource problem? Yes, adjust the resource."

"So you probably can't say right now what's the current concept for either instability or-"

" Oh I'll talk about where they're at. We could not get a version of instability we liked, the last version involved a buff and debuff that would hit the wizard whenever she went unstable. It was actually a pretty severe buff, it doubled all the damage on her but it also increased her crit chance. It just didn't affect how people played. They didn't notice it most of the time, when they did notice it they didn't change what they were doing. That's not the point of a resource system, it needs to be managed somewhat to change how you play. Now, it's called Arcane Power. It's not dissimilar to mana in a lot of ways but it regenerates very quickly, and it doesn't grow over time. She has lots of abilities and passive skills that enhance it. Fury is more or less where it's at, a lot of it is getting the right costs for different skills so that Fury feels like what it's supposed to feel like. But it also doesn't slow the Barbarian down, because if he has to build up fury too much it feels like he's constantly yo-yoing in and out of being awesome, and we don't want that. The Monk has spirit, and that's probably the one we're happiest with. His combo moves generate spirit, which can be used for "signature moves" that he does. He can't do them very often, but they're great attacks, some are escapes, some are recovery. So that one worked very well. The Witch Doctor is using mana."

"You probably are making a lot of references to the previous games, so let's ask about Wirt and his leg."

"I would love to bring [Wirt] back in some form, but we haven't come up with an original idea to do it. I just don't want to stick him in there to do it, I want it to be a cool reason to do it. So if we come up with one, we'll definitely put him in. But we've brought characts back from the previous games. Adria who's from the original Diablo, she's coming back as a fairly significant character. Of course Deckard Cain and Tyreal are returning. We may even bring back one of the D2 classes as an actual character who's in the game."

"Do you think that crafting will affect the high end level of play?"

"One of the key elements of the crafting system is to acquire some of the best items you need to have the recipes to make them. The recipes are actually drops, so it's very likely you could off one of the bosses in Hell difficulty, and get a really great recipe as a drop in addition to items. So yeah, it is our goal that there are some crafted items that are viable as top tier items. We don't want crafted items to dominate, if anything we'll probably make them the smallest percentage of items you wear. But we do want to make some crafted items obviously the best in their area, so when you get a max level character they're wearing a mix of items."

"If the items you can make through artisans are the best in their class, are you worried about people acquiring the best recipes and selling the items to become rich easily?"

"The crafting system produces random items, so there's not going to be high end crafted items that don't have completely random properties on them. So crafting items in DIII is more like gambling in DII; you know the type of item you'll make, but not what's going to be on it. So even if you have a really good recipe for a high quality item you'll probably have to craft tons of them to get one that's really good. So even if you can get a really good item and make a lot of items our of it, it will just devalue that item across the board. We don't think there's a problem with that as long as crafted items are a small percentage of the overall items that a player uses."

"Would artisans be able to specialize? For example, we know blacksmiths will be able to craft armor and weapons, so will they be able to specialize at some time to use better recipes?"

"Yeah, after you've max leveled your artisan you can specialize them in particular areas. Specialties aren't exclusive, so if you choose to specialize in axes then later on you change your mind you didn't omit the ability to go swords or armor, you can just start going down that path separately. So it's more that each path is it's own time and resource commitment. You can absolutely specialize in different things you like the most."[/spoil]

EDIT: Transcript for the second part of the Wilson Inverview is done. Some words of the interviewer I just couldn't get, and I removed A LOT of so, like and you know.
Editedit: Props to Phrozendragon for the second half!
Q: You said yesterday that the Jeweler is able to create gems. So which stats will they have, are we going to see stats like in Diablo II where red gems gave you life and blue gems gave you mana, or are they gonna have more complex stats?

A: No they work like Diablo II, they have set stats that they give depending on what type of place you put them.

Q: So just life and mana?...

A:I don't remember the exact off, we copied them as best we could, but we could not copy exactly what D2 did, because our itemization is different, and some of our stating is different, for example, most of the classes don't have mana, so that's not one we wanna put on a gem. So, but yeah, they're things like + strength and cast speed and things like that.

Q: You said that there will be 16 different upgrade stages. How hard will it be to get to the highest upgrade stage?

A: So, it's 14.

Q: 14?

A: Yeah. Yeah no, 14, 16, whatever. It's a difference of... If it was 16, then it would take you... I'm doing math in my head... 180,000 level 5 gems to get to a level 14, I mean level 16. So that's probably more than... that's a little high, no one would ever do it. As it stands for 14, I believe the math is around 19,000 which is probably still too high. So we may make the recipe for combining the higher gems less, not require three later on, or we might knock it down to 12 levels, something like that. We just wanted to start of with a ridiculous number to begin with, so that's a ridiculous number.

Q: You can socket gems into your items, bu are there any other items you could socket into your gear?

A: Not right now, but there may be someday.

Q: Like jewelry (gems is probably what he means) that could be magic/rare?

A: We have an idea for something similar to jewelry, but it's not actually jewelry. Whether it makes it into this release, I don't know, but I'm sure after this we'll have expansions, I'm sure we'll add more socketable items.

Q: In Diablo II, only several types of items could be socketed. Can we socket everything in Diablo III like runes and spells?

A: Not every single slot, but any slot that the blacksmith can add sockets to. He's got about six different slots he can add sockets to. It doesn't matter the quality of the item, so if you have a pair of boots and they're legandary or rare boots and they don't have sockets on them already, he can add sockets to them. Also, sockets can appear on any type of item. You know, in Diablo II they only appeared on white items, but in Diablo III a legendary you know, could have them, a rare could have them. We essentially treat sockets like another affix on the item.

Q: The Mystic is able to enchant items. The affix that is created, will it be random like you get from 10-25 additional damage, or will it be that you know what you will get?

A: There's a small range on it, but... no actually, no there's not. It's a set number. It works just like gems basically. We wanted it to be a custmoization choise, not a quality choise where you have to seek it over and over again. You're already going to enchant a lot, everytime you get a new item you're gonna go and do that, so we didn't feel the need to make you wanna recast your enchant over and over again.

Q: The artisans are one way to customize our items. Are there any other ways to customize your gear or character besides skill runes and artisans? You once mentioned some sort of talisman for that.

A: Yeah. There's a talisman... I'm not gonna talk about it yet. Soon, but not yet. There's also dyes, we added clothing dyes so you can dye your armor and about 15 different colors I think. Yep. You're the second person I've told. So type fast.

Q: I don't need to type.

A: Well there you go, so put it up on the web fast.

Q: I'll be doing so. So I'm playing a lot of Starcraft II lately, and there are some features that I think are very useful for Diablo III. Would you agree that ? matchmaking system would be a pretty cool way to create a Player versus Player ladder?

A: Well that's a Player versus Player question, and I don't answe Player Versus Player questions, because we haven't announced anything on it. I do think auto matchmaking would be awesome for co-op play though.

Q: For co-op play?

A: Yeah. I wanna find a bunch of people my level who wanna do the quest that I wanna do. Hit the button, few seconds later you're in the game.

Q: You have achievements in World of Warcraft and Starcraft II, even thought I was sceptical first if anyone would need this, it's very funny to be rewarded with a little achievement when you do something special. So are we going to see achievments like kill 1 million Fallen Ones with a single strike, finish the entire game with a naked hardcore character, stay a very long while and listen to everything Deckard Cain has to say?

A: Hehehe. Those are very good achievment ideas. We'll definitely have achievments in Diablo III and so... I don't think kill 1 million anything in one blow is gonna be, or even just kill 1 million things, that, those aren't good achievments, those are grindy achievements. But I like the naked hardcore character completing the game that's... yeah, I'm all over that one.

Q: Trading is quite essential in Diablo, you're going to make gold the standard currency in the game. But many players love to trade item vs item. WIll there be a comfortable way to offer an item and search for another item instead of gold, let's say an auction house or something like that?

A: We are definitely going to look to do some kind of imrpoved tradeing so that players don't have to default to chat channel spam, and you know, naming their game creatively so that people will come in and trade with them. What that system's going to be we haven't determined yet.

Q: Will it still be possible to trade item vs item and not only vs gold?

A: We're gonna do something. But we haven't made a decision on exactly what that's gonna be.

Q: Items cause a lot of greed. People are bying items in Diablo II and gold in World of Warcraft for real life money. So in World of Warcraft you could argue: people buy gold, they play less, the pay you less money so you could argue that (I have no idea what he's saying right here). If Diablo III has no subscription, monthly fee, how will you take matters against gold sellers or bots?

A: We haven't gotten to the point yet where we're really discussing those issues. Will we take an aggressive attitude towards it? Yeah, exactly the same way we have with World of Warcraft. And everything that they've learned about combating both botting and ingame spam and farming issues, we'll definitely be looking at all those and doing whatever we can to make sure the experience the player has is as positive as possible. And that's really our issue, it's that a lot of these activities just lead to bad experiences for our players, and we're all about the players having the best experience possible.

Q: World of Warcraft and Starcraft II get several expansions. In which direction are you going with Diablo III? Will we see one game with maybe one expansionpack later, or are we getting it like Starcraft II with several episodes?

A: Well... we... right now we're just focused on getting Diablo III done. I mean we have ideas about where things could go afterwards, but we don't know. This one's a handful, so we'll get it done and then we'll see. The only thing I would say on that is that I think that a lot of the previous Blizzard games, Diablo II, Warcraft III, Starcraft, one expansion seems like a missed opportunity. There was more to say I think for all those games. And that's what it really comes down to, when we don't feel like we have anything left to say, that's when we'll stop making Diablo III content and we'll move on to something else.

Q: Are there any plans to do these additions of content in a more regular way than now with Diablo II, or every 18 months you can expect to get...

A: Well as I said, we haven't thought about it. It takes all of our time and energy just to make this one.

Q: Imagine if you could only change one thing from Diablo II while developing Diablo III, what would it be? What was the worst thing in...

A: I already did it.

Q: You already did it? What?

A: Respec.

Q: Respec? Yeah, that's now in Diablo II. It was you?

A: Yes. Well my team. To be perfectly clear actually, it was my design team working with platform tech. They're actually the ones who do Diablo patches for us. They did the work, all we did was highly encourage it.

Q: So let's talk a bit about lore. In the first trailer we saw that girl named Leah. What role does she play? She got a lot of airtime for being a totally unknown character taht we wanna know something about.

A: Leah is the adopted daughter of Deckard Cain. As Cain is a lot older in this game, we felt that we needed another character to kind of play some of his rolesbut also be more active. We wanted a character who was out in the world with the player who would occasionally interact and help the player out. So she's kind of a quest giver and sometimes a companion.

Q: And what role does Tyrael play? He destroyed the Worldstone in Diablo II and is back in Diablo III. Fans are discussing if he might have turned evil or if he has been evil all the time. Any comment on that?

A: See I can't talk about Tyrael becasue then people are gonna stop speculating and it's so much fun to watch them speculate. He's a major character, way bigger than he was in Diablo II. Very big focus in Diablo III. I think the fans are gonna love what we do with him.

Q: There will be more angels like him? Fans are also speculating that there will be a big fight between Heaven and Earth (he means Sanctuary :P), stuff like that.

A: Cool. That'd be awesome. But I'm not gonna say whether we're gonna do anything like that, that's too much. Big fight sounds cool though, we should have big fights. We'll put those in.

Q: Since Blizzard merged with Activision, fans are discussing that they way you develop games has changed. One name you hear quite often is Bobby Kotick. Do they influence you in any way by developing your games in a positive or negative way.

A: The only experience that I've had has all been positive. Activision has really god distribution. It's kind of a businessy aspect but it's, you know, their distribution channels are great, and so they've really helped us, especially with the release of Starcraft II. In terms of interference, I've never had an Activision person ask me to do anything. To my knowledge, I've never had an Activision person ask anyone, any of the other game directors. They have a lot of confidence in how we make games, and we have a lot of confidence in how they run their publishing business. So I think it's a really good relationship, and a lot of the speculation of "oh we're being pressured to do this and Bobby's twisting their arm" like, if it's happening, I've never seen it.

Q: Last question. How often have you been asked, when's the release date?

A: Every... almost every interview.

Q: Really?

A: Yeah.

Q: So now is the chance to stop that. When's the release date?

A: When it's done.

Q: Thank you.


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