Diablo III Open Q&A

After the massive lore panel, it was time to get some feedback from the diehard fans that managed to pilgrimage to this year's convention. Here are the highlights from the Open Q&A; just keep in mind that this isn't meant to be a transcript, so all of it is paraphrased.

Caution: The following may contain spoilers.

Q: You made the followers more powerful for end game content. Will they be viable all the way through Inferno?

Blizzard representatives responded positively, saying that companions will be able to fight adequately alongside heroes through each difficulty. They have done some testing with companions through the difficulties, and although this is a very recent change, they do believe that changes they have incorporated into the hirelings will make then viable in the endgame.

Q: Is Diablo a girl?

The cover art for the event booklet made Diablo look anything but the usual muscular, bulky monster we've seen in his more animal incarnations in the previous games. While nothing was confirmed on why Diablo looked so distinctly female, with the sleekness of the abdomen and the wide hips, they did acknowledge that it was done. So it was on purpose. Maybe there's something to the popular Leah-possession lore speculation prevalent in our lore discussion forum.

Q: Can you elaborate on hardcore mode and how it's different from the previous games?

They mostly confirmed what is already known about Diablo III's hardcore mode: it will have its own Auction House that does not interact with normal, softcore players, said Auction House will use only gold as a currency (not real money), and so on. However, it was mentioned that if a player is killed, other players will not be able to pick the gear from the fallen character. In Diablo II, players were able to set their hardcore characters to "lootable" to other, trusted party members in the event of an untimely death. Unless misspoken, this is a marked change from the previous games. When you die, your gear is gone. Period.

Q: Can fresh sixty players succeed in Inferno, and will Inferno ever be nerfed for newer players?

In step with sentiments spoken yesterday about the difficulty of Inferno mode at the tail end of the Gameplay and Auction House panel the other day, it was confirmed that newly max-leveled characters (sixty is Diablo III's cap) will not be able to succeed easily, if at all, in Inferno mode. It's meant to be a challenge in every sense of the word, no matter what level characters are at.

While they were vehement about not nerfing it for the newbie's sake, they did add a caveat: as they address hardcore, there may be some balancing to account for hardcore players in Inferno mode. But they will not be simplifying Inferno mode for casual players.

Q: Why is light radius not in the game?

Light radius is not entirely gone, and it still works well in some contexts, like deep dungeons, but they found that using the new 3D engine really looked lack-luster when limiting light sources to only that of the player. They really want to utilize different light points to add interest to the 3D environment, so it's no longer a major element throughout the game.

Q: What's being done to protect against botting?

Probably a topic near and dear to any players getting ready to compete in Diablo II's upcoming ladder reset, botting has always been a controversial and annoying issue. Bots served as everything from farmers to level grinders, making the ladder ranking system essentially a hopeless, pointless list of bots outstripping human players. It was argued that the actual gameplay of the game renders botting more difficult to achieve, but that they will be policing it well, likely actively and with more robust security measures. It is also important to them to address spam bots, likely by watching join/leave events.

Q: Will WASD control be available?

While it had been played around with, they ultimately felt that non-analog controls didn't work well with Diablo's very analog-focused gameplay.

Q: Will runewords ever be added to the newest game?

They stated that the new gameplay mechanics and customization options account for what was previously done with runewords. The new, more robust crafting system allows for vast player-generated gear, runestones allow for heavy skill customization, and any other number of mechanics compensate or surpass what was accomplished with runewords in Diablo II.

Q: Can you confirm a console version?

They did not want to officially confirm a console version because they want to be completely sure it's something that will work and work well. They have been hiring console developers to work internally on console ideas, and they feel that it plays very well with the kind of game Diablo is, but they don't want to announce anything until they're entirely sure everything will work out.

Of primary concern is not wanting to compromise the PC version, likely in playability or release (as stated any number of times over the last months.) For now, they're focusing on filling out a console team.

Q: Attuned runes essentially allow for a ton of specialized runes for each character skill, creating a huge inventory problem with storage. What's being done to address this?

They acknowledged that they are aware of the issue and are thinking of ways to fix it. They believe that attuned runes add an interesting new facet to skill selection, customization, and build commitment, so they don't foresee removing them, but there is definitely an inventory issue that needs to be addressed.

Q: What are some of the issues seen in developing a console version?

Targetting skills becomes more difficult when using a controller and not a mouse and keyboard although they feel that player movement is greatly improved. Monster AI seems somewhat different when interacting with the game in a new way. They found that they spend the most time working with controls with a console iteration. They don't want a potential console version to feel like a port of the PC version, but a quality version that plays well as it is.

Q: Can we get more beta keys?

They have more waves coming out after the BlizzCon and are very happy with the feedback that they've received so far. In addition to more beta access sweeping across Battle.net accounts, they also said that a major patch is coming for the beta version of Diablo III very soon. We can guess that this will likely include the skill updates and other changes seen in the beta iteration seen in the PvM demo here at BlizzCon.

Q: What comes after Inferno?

While the team feels that Inferno mode will pose huge challenges for players for a long time to come, they have said that they will add more endgame content should they find that players demand more. There's also secret content, which they have confirmed to be in the game, so perhaps we'll see content similar to the Cow Level for endgame enjoyment. At the moment, they are more focused on just getting the game as-is out to the public.

Q: With the Wizard's cast rate announced as being based on weapon speed, what is being done to reward opting for other items besides cast rate-oriented equipment?

They believe that choosing cast rate-centric gear versus more obscure equipment is entirely based on the build a player opts for. If a player decides to use skills that benefit more from faster cast rates, it will be logical to use weapons that allow for faster cast rates, while skills which do not focus on cast rates, like Meteor, will allow players to focus on more damage-centric weapons.

Q: Will there be more skill slots?

The team believes that allowing more skill slots removes choices and, by extension, build diversity across a playerbase, so they will not be adding more skill slots.

Q: How will RMAH PvP players be matched with PvP players that do not spend real money on the Auction House for gear?

Buying higher gear will cause a player to be matched with peers of a like power level through the hidden ranking system, so purchasing gear with real money will only cause players to be matched against more experienced or more powerful characters. The actual outcomes of PvP games will not be affected.

Q: Will there be more PvP modes besides arena mode?
The developers found that PvP in Diablo II mostly split players up for fear of getting ganked, meaning more players were playing in private games than playing together in public ones. This led to a focus on on a dedicated PvP mode with dedicated PvP support, the arena, and a PvP progression system. However, more PvP modes are being considered, and Jay Wilson even said that they are looking into a dueling option similar to Diablo II, although nothing concrete is yet known and they aren't sure if such a mode will make the initial release.

Q: Will there be guild support?

Guilds and clans in Diablo II were often organized using chat bots and out-of-game online communities. Hope had arisen that this would mean the developers saw this need as enough to implement guild support in Diablo III, but the idea was shot down. They will not have guild functionality available for release, but something may be implemented after release. They saw a lot of guild ideas that didn't get implemented in Diablo II as great mechanics that they want to work on in the future, but they want to make sure that if they do implement guild functionality, they will do it right.

Q: Will boss AI be scaled with difficulty to allow for more interesting and less repetitive battles at different difficulty levels??

They're looking across the major bosses for the game and tuning their AI to be refreshing and challenging according to difficulty mode, but they aren't sure if the changes will be really drastic from difficulty to difficulty or only minor, although they want such differences to be big. It seems to be another question of what will make it into the initial release.

Q: Will players be able to use their skills together in combination attacks?

They have seen many players using strategic implementation of skills, like a Wizard freezing enemies and then melee characters shattering frozen enemies. They think that more sophisticated team play would be fantastic, but they don't want payers choosing not to play with other players because of class choices in certain situations, which they view as adverse to encouraging group play.

Q: Will there be an API for the Auction House?

They have talked about it at length, but it will not make the launch version of the game. It may be added after release. They seemed positive about such an implementation.

Q: With the 12-month account for WoW players allowing a free digital purchase of Diablo III, will there be any compensation for purchasing a collector's edition of Diablo III?

Buying a collector's edition of Diablo III will count as credit towards a 12-month account.

Those were most of the more interesting questions asked, but we encourage you to stay tuned as we upload video versions of each of the panels and keep your eyes peeled for full transcriptions. There may be things that you will find more interesting on a personal level, and with so much up in the air with Diablo III, there are a lot of questions that didn't get answered very directly and were cut from this report.


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