Followers on, Cleave Revamped, and an IGN Interview with Jay Wilson

Followers on
Earlier today, Bashiok had tweeted an image of the new followers/hirelings section from the official Diablo III community site, as of then unpublished. The change has since become official: followers now have their own legitimate section on the official site!

This means that information about the other two followers in the game--those not usable in the beta--are officially up for study. In addition to the fresh lore and media available on each follower's individual page, all of their skills can be observed at large on the latest addition to the official Diablo III tools: the followers' section in the calculator!

Cleave Revamped
(Source) Some clarification on the damage mechanics of the Barbarian's - Cleave Cleave skill were prompted on the official Diablo III community forums today. The skill's tooltip seems to lack some vital information regarding its damage application across multiple enemies.

Official Blizzard Quote:

I would like to know if this results in all targets receiving 90% damage and if all abilities like this have been overlooked by the developers. If not, I think there should be information about this in-game.

We want as much information available in the game as possible, within reason, and a reasonable amount of information is really fairly basic to keep tooltips from becoming small novels.

Cleave is an ability we're looking at right now. We may actually make it so that there is no damage disparity between your target and collateral hits. In any case, the way it's intended to work, if you're holding shift and not targeting anything, is that the first creature you hit takes the 120%. I'm not sure if it's actually implemented that way right now, and as I said could change anyway. Our intent is not to make shift+hitting/casting anything act in a way that is less effective than if you were clicking directly on enemies, so I don't see any need to call anything out when the net result is the same (enemies die).

[...] As an update Wyatt just changed it to be a flat 115% to all targets caught in the swing. We'll see how that works out.

IGN Interview
(Source) For its part, the interview on IGN with Jay Wilson was not particularly shocking, but it did cover several topics that beta testers and Diablo III followers at large may find interesting.

The beta test, which started several months ago, has been going strong. Even in the beginning, Bashiok and others stated multiple times that the primary purpose of the beta is to test infrastructure, but some other useful insights have been gleaned from the testing, too:

Official Blizzard Quote:

How is the project coming along? Mainly, how is the beta been treating you guys and what have you been learning from it?

It's been really good. Most of the learning from the beta for us was more technical: standing up the hardware, stress testing it, and optimizing for online play -- things like that. We get a lot of good data just watching players play and we get a lot of good feedback as well. We did restrict the content so it's only the first half of the first act. Which is basically the tutorial.

You were saying that you got some good stress tests. Are they all things that you anticipated and you're prepared for come launch?

Yeah, no matter how good your automation programs and software are, you can't emulate having the game out in the real world and that's the only way you can see what the hardware can take, how well the networking works, and optimize and tune to those things. There's just nothing like the real environment for that.
But the beta wasn't the tip of the iceberg. Wilson went in-depth about how the team looks at classes and decides what skills to add to each class's armament:

Official Blizzard Quote:

[A] lot of it goes back to the core Blizzard class design philosophy where we look at each class and [ask]: what makes this class special? Why do I want to play it in the first place? What's the fantasy? This is something we ask a lot. And then when we target the key signature [fantasies], we don't let the other classes have those things -- we'd even go so far as to not choose a particular class just based on the fact that its fantasy steps on the fantasy of an existing class.


For example, the monk is the only class that gets passive movement increases. Other classes can have travel powers but the monk is the only one because he's the fastest. That's his thing: he's fast, he's agile, and he needs things that make him faster and more agile. Each class has rules that we put in; they're loose, but they're strong enough that they make the classes stand apart from one another.
Continuing on the example of the Monk, Wilson even elaborated on the possible mechanics of a skill that the team is considering adding to the Monk's trees, compensating from what they see as a lack of area-of-effect viability:

Official Blizzard Quote:

Basically what we're talking about is [the monk] needed a damage bomb. He needs the occasional ability to just AOE around him effectively. We used to have an ability that we called Circle of Wrath -- that was like Holy Nova in World of Warcraft -- where it does damage and it heals, but for Diablo we felt like that was a confusing skill so we changed it to just a pure healing skill. We took the wrath out of it. But then we found we missed what wrath used to do.

And so we decided to separate them. So we'll have two different [abilities], but then we're also talking about a bunch of ideas to make it more interesting than just a way to AOE.
Finally, Wilson elaborated on one of seven of what he calls "design pillars" of Diablo III, principles that have helped them make decisions in the development process and make the game what it is so far:

Official Blizzard Quote:

Diablo III design pillars. There were seven of them and one of them was replayability and so we really focused on [replayability] over randomness, because randomness is a tool but replayability is the point.

We used a lot of different systems for replayability: the difficulties, continuing loot past past normal difficulties, random layouts, random monster distribution, adventures. We don't call them "adventures" anymore, I'm the only one who still does. Events -- we have random events that occur in the world so when you go through an area you'll likely see an event that you haven't seen before.

We encourage you to check out the rest of the interview here for all the bits and bobs we couldn't fit in this article.

Fan Creations
Calavera666, whom we interviewed a few weeks ago, has posted a teaser for his coming comic, Aria of Effect, Part 2.

He hinted only that "the Skyrim shall tremble," a tricky play on the caption accompanying much of the Diablo III merchandise and advertisements, including both this year's and last year's calendars.

The full comic is coming this Thursday (tomorrow), so keep your eyes peeled!


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