Usefulness of Gems, Legendary Gear Balancing, Blue Posts, and Interview and Review for "The Order"

Usefulness of Gems
Bashiok explains how gems are used to help augment the gear you get by adding some of the more sought after affixes on top of the affixes on your gear.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

As items can't roll two of the same stat (although hybrid affixes can overlap) a socket allows you to stack more of a specific stat. So even if you reach the upper limit of a specific stat on an item, with a socket you can overcome that limitation. Want to really stack VIT? Even if you're hitting an upper limit of just straight affixes rolling on an item, you can add more VIT if the item has sockets.

Oh... and regardless of how many sockets you have, it only counts as a single affix. If an item rolls up 2 or 3 sockets, that still only accounts for a single affix spot on the item. An item rolling up sockets can absolutely be better than affixes.

How does it treat all three sockets as one affix if there are two different gems in it?

You are! :) So items will have an affix limit. Like "a rare of this level can only roll up 4 affixes max". Gem sockets, regardless of how many, only account for one of those 4 affixes. (in this hypothetical situation in which this particular rare is limited to 4) So this item rolls up +MF, and they're boots so +movement speed, and +Int and then also rolls two gem sockets. So that's the 4 affix limit.

I've found rings and amulets with no stats, the only "stat" that rolled on it was socketed
Yup. Not every item will be great. Some will be downright awful. The better to craft with. Better kill more demons. :)

If gets werent in the game, it wouldnt even matter, all they do is add +stats which is directly related to gear, and gear can have like +200 of that stat
I guess I'll just repeat myself. Gems allow you stack that stat potentially 58-178 higher than would otherwise be possible.

They'll be able to just recycle and swap them with the gear they have. Are there any plans to make "gem sinks" or is the cost to remove Radiant gems greater than I realize?
The cost is great, but ... it's still possible it'll happen a long enough time from now. We're not too concerned with coming up with a solution just yet. We want the system out there, see how quickly people are acquiring gems, and then see what (if anything) we need to do to provide some fun solutions.

If it comes to that I guess Blizzard can just add "gem dust" (salvaged from Gems, obviously) to crafting recipes, thus providing a Gem sink.
We actually had that at one point, but higher end gems are so difficult to create it felt pretty punishing to make that decision. "You worked for months making that gem, now destroy it!" But maybe it'll make more sense later when gems are a bit more common.

How are sockets useful ... if you can roll in a single stat affix, more stat than all 3 gems combined ?

I'm not sure if it is, I'd have to find out the max stats, but again, that's discounting the point of customizing your stats as well as stacking.

Say you got the +180 Int, if you have sockets you can raise that to 300+ which is not otherwise possible with just affixes.

Gear Balancing with Legendaries
Everyone wants those legendary items but just how good are they? Bashiok helps clarify the intended purpose and balance of Legendary items.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Intended design is for an end-game characters to have a mixture of set/legendary, rare, and crafted items.

Legendary items are commonly not going to be the best items. It's a title that denotes a named item, with set stats, and a unique model. It does not mean they're the best items.

Completely random rares will be the best items in the game if they roll up the right stats.

the fact that legendary stats are about as random as rare stats is a big turn-off to me.

I couldn't disagree with you more. Having some randomization even on Legendaries allows for non-optimal affixes, which in turn allows for "perfect" Legendaries. That spread means that finding a Legendary doesn't mean it's the best it can ever be. That's what makes the item hunt exciting. Items with predetermined stats is not what this game is about.

Legendaries aren't better than average blues.
I hope you're not just looking an item's DPS as to whether it's better or not.

It was fun to find a great legendary in D2. It is no fun to find rares. It isn't hard to understand, legendaries should be much, much better then they are, and there should be more of them.
I will take that feedback. Thank you.

As to the "more of them", Diablo III at launch has more Legendaries than Diablo II had at launch. I'm sure we'll add more as time goes on, but I do not agree that we don't already have a lot.

If most of the time you finally catch a carrot and it's rotten, eventually you just stop giving chase.
If you'd like to give any specifics I'd be happy to write them down.

Blues are the best items in the game unless a legendary is top to bottom perfectly rolled then i get a slight upgrade.There are about 4-5 modifiers in the ENTIRE game that are useful.
While you're attempting to gear up and progress I have no doubt that you're correct. Stacking specific stats early on will have greater benefit in helping you get over the difficulty jump.


Originally Posted by (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Matching for Server Strain Resulting in Low Group Numbers
This is a known issue due to how the system tries to spread load out over the many game servers. It's actually doing a great job of putting less strain on the service, but it can result in games with only 2 players. We have some tweaking to do. (Blue Tracker / Source)

Multi-Player Hell and Inferno
I can clear all of Hell by myself, easily, where as it takes 3-4x longer to kill most monsters when you're in a group of four players
My guess would be that you're geared ok and doing decent damage, and the rest of your party is not.

and their drops are much worse if you're in a game with other players.
Drops don't change based on party size. RNG, man. RNG. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Hell Mode Too Hard
Go back to the end of Nightmare and farm items for a bit. You'll be surprised what some upgrades can help you do. It's not always going to be a linear progression. You will need to look around or craft some better gear to continue progressing. Also, of course, try out some new builds! You might find something that works a bit better.

Nobody wants to farm the 2nd difficulty, nobody. That shouldnt even be an option.
It's... the game. It's not just an option, it's the entire game. The entire game is killing demons over and over for small chances at item upgrades to make your character stronger. If you're not strong enough, guess what you should do? (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Under-Geared Players
By players do you mean a few under-geared people trying to race to the end?

Yes, if you're not spending time gearing up but instead trying to avoid fighting things, you're probably going to die a lot. Please enjoy. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Achievement Bug Still Being Worked On
We provided a statement two days ago:

There's no additional information for us to provide yet. Our priority right now is working to ensure a stable game service. We'll be able to provide a specific plan of action regarding achievements as soon as we can. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Bosses Don't Drop Anything Good
Once you're 60 and can get the Nephalem Valor buff, boss kills are quite lucrative. (assuming 5 stacks) (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Interview With Nate Kenyon, Author of "The Order"

DiabloFans Quote:

DiabloFans: First Nate, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I really enjoyed the book and I am excited to dive into some questions.

Nate Kenyon: Glad to be here. Thanks for having me on. And I'm really happy that you liked the book.

DiabloFans: "The Order" focuses on an event with Deckard Cain and leads up to Diablo III. Can you tell us a little more on what the book is about?

Nate: It takes place a few years after D2 and leads up to D3. Its a while after the battle at the mountain [Arreat]. Most of the people that were in that believe that the danger is over and they returned to their families. Deckard has not. He has continued to wander Sanctuary. He's become obsessed with a growing number of signs that indicate that there is going to be a new invasion coming form the burning Hells that's going to dwarf everything else that has come before it. He is determined to follow those signs and anything that might help him stop this demon uprising. As well, to find out if there are any Horadrim left or if he is the last remaining Horadrim.

He is a haunted man, we can get into that a little more later. His history and past, things he has kept buried forever, are going to come back to the surface in this book. Rear their ugly heads so to speak. So he travels Sanctuary and eventually ends up with Leah and rescues here. They go on the road together to try to find the Horadrim, if there are any left and stop the uprising of a man known as the Dark One, the evil villain in this novel. That's the plot in the nutshell.

DiabloFans: What efforts were made to help bridge gap with old players and bring in the new players?

Nate: This was a really conscious attempt to reboot the franchise. Coming into this, that was one of Blizzard's main goals.They wanted to refresh the novel, give it a different style, a different voice. Use this book to educate new fans and to give hardcore Diablo fans a new perspective on the lore. That was a real big focus and a concern of mine because I was a little worried it would bog down the plot. I really wanted to make sure the plot is exciting and we wanted to make sure that followed through and is the main thrust of the narrative. So I did this by using a lot of memories, flashbacks, dream sequences in different pieces that inform the major events of D1 and D2 as they relate to the novel.

DiabloFans: How much did you work with Blizzard in creating the novel?

Nate: Blizzard is very involved, as you would probably guess. They're an incredible team. They're creative, driven. They are demanding in a good way. They come to me with a story idea, it's relatively brief. In this case, it was definitely a significant story they developed that they wanted to riff off of along with the other stated goals like rebooting, re-educating the fans, that sort of stuff.

I took a look at that and thought it was interesting so we had some conference calls where we begin to brainstorm, hash out some details. I give some of my thoughts on it. Some things that concern me, interest me, excite me. Those are really some exciting times. It's collaborative, fun. These guys are great. I love working with them.

After that, with both the novels I have written for them, I finished the conference calls, take some time, digest some of it and work on a very detailed outline after several months of research; really digging into all of the Diablo lore. Once that outline is done, I pass that along to them and they fly me out there. We have a day or two long brainstorming session at the Blizzard headquarters. That's just amazing. An all day affair of energy, creative juices flowing, people throwing ideas back and forth. What they like and what they don't like. Through that, we hash out a revision of the outline and I give them a new version that satisfies everybody. Then I am off and running and writing the book.

During the course of the writing, it's pretty solitary for me. But I will bounce things off of Blizzard, their lore team, the people in the creative team to make sure things are working. After that, we go through some re-writes and get to the point where we are all really happy with it.

DiabloFans: Going off of that, are there any examples that you can think where you came up with an idea and they didn't like or one that they had not originally planned but liked your idea and wanted to add it in?

Nate: Yeah. There are lots of those. The story that they give to me, there is definitely a compelling kernel there but there is not a ton of detail or back story developed usually. That's the stuff that I work on and we work on together. We can talk about Cain's story a bit more but I don't want to spoil too much. But I think that one of my biggest interest in writing this was to develop Deckard Cain. Develop his back story, history, what drives him, what he is haunted by. To me, that is one of the most important things, of any novel, that you care about the characters. That they are important to you, that you identify with them, that you understand who they are and why they do what they do.

As important as Deckard Cain is to the Diablo IP, his story has never been told. He is a bit of a mystery in a lot of ways. I wanted to change that. I wanted to make him human, make him real. I wanted to give him drama and things he had to deal with. That was something that I suggested. And some significant plot points around his life I suggested doing which kind of change the whole thrust of the novel, which they loved. And there are many examples like that.

Adding the Monk is a character that was not originally in the idea. I don't think it was even in the final outline. It was something that came up early in my writing, where I felt like that I really needed something. I wanted to bring in something from Diablo 3. There was a lot of stuff in the book form D1 and D2; characters that you all recognize, certainly parts of Sanctuary, Deckard Cain's history, D1 and D2 history. I wanted to bring in a character from D3, a new character. Kind of define a class and it was helpful for the story. Things like that that worked out.

There are lots of ideas that don't work out but it's usually because Blizzard wants to do something different. They have reasons for it. They might say 'hey that's a really cool idea but it won't work because we want to do X, Y, Z in an upcoming game, or book, or whatever.' So its just doesn't work. That happens all of the time.

DiabloFans: Well, that actually answers my next question. I was going to ask you about the depth added to Decakard Cain and how much of that was your idea. I thought you did a great job of adding depth to Deckard Cain. I felt like I could connect with him as a character a lot more than I could from previously playing the games.

Nate: That's great news. That's great to hear. I think that is one of the most important things I could have done. I think he's fascinating. I love his character, the drama in it. It's funny because he has been such an iconic character, people know him and he's been, obviously, so important. But he's always been the 'wise old man' on the side; a secondary character. This book is his book. We almost called it "Deckard Cain" as a title. It's really his story. It gives him the chance to take center stage for the first time and that was really interesting for me.

DiabloFans: There is a lot of lore for the Diablo franchise. There are the games and other books. What kind of research did you do to write this book?

Nate: I did everything I could. One of the things that is just essential for me, I respect the fans so much. There are so many of them and they love the IP so much. They have been waiting a long time for this game and associated content. So, one thing I wanted to do was not let the fans down. That was really important for me. I wanted to get it right.

I spent a long time. This book was probably at least a year of my life. Months, early on, were spent just reading everything; all of the books, the Blizzard internal docs, the information they gave me about D3, the wikis, talking to fans. What ever I could to get familiar with it. I had played the games myself when i was younger. I had some familiarity but nothing at the level I wanted to get to. So, that was a really long and fun process for me. I didn't want to start writing until I felt it was kind of my own universe in a way. You get so familiar with it that you feel comfortable writing in it.

DiabloFans: I will say as a Diablo fan, I thought you did a great job. Reading it, I felt like I was reading an actual Diablo book as oppose to some other fantasy book.

Nate: That's great. That's good to hear. That's what I wanted.

DiabloFan: Along with that, Diablo is known for having a dark tone to it. Your previous works have these same tone. With your experience, was there any time where you wrote something and thought maybe it was too dark or did you let yourself run wild?

Nate: One of the reasons Blizzard and I thought I was a good fit for this book was because Blizzard really wanted to take it in a new direction. They wanted it darker, grittier, more horrific than previous things that had been done. They see the franchise as a horror franchise, there are many elements to it. They really wanted to play that up. I remember many times talking to them and they were like 'let loose. As dark as you want.' So, I didn't hold back.

I wrote it in some ways like I would write some of my original novels. I didn't try to change my style a lot and I think they wanted that too. They wanted a little more contemporary, grittier fresh tone to it. It all worked really well. The process worked really well. The story was definitely right down the right alley for me. And some of the things that I contributed to the story were some of the darker elements. Particularly, a creepy new monster, for example, in this book that has never been seen before. There is stuff like that that is definitely part of my background.

DiabloFans: Deckard Cain and Leah are two of the main characters in the book. Along with them, you added a Monk. How or why did you chose this class over the other new classes?

Nate: We talked about that a little earlier. Basically, it was a fairly late edition. I felt that I was beginning to write the book that we needed someone else as a main heroic character that could travel with them. I wanted to bring a new character class in. This book is really an attempt to bridge the three games. To bring everything into one place. To give fans background and information that will inform D3. So, it seemed like a perfect fit for me.

I wanted someone to contrast Deckard Cain. Let's face it, Cain as a epic hero is a pretty unusual choice. That has its own complications in writing it. To have a young, muscle-bound, physically gifted Monk along side him and a little girl on the road was really interesting. That was one reason, of mainy, that I decided to include the Monk. Thankfully, Blizzard said 'go for it.'

DiabloFans: For the antagonists of the story, there are some well-known antagonists that people will know but there are also some new ones to the franchise such as the Dark One. Was this something you came up with or something that Blizzard wanted added in?

Nate: The Dark One was part of the original story arc. So, it was a matter of fleshing him out. Coming up with his back story, why he is who he is. I think it is just as important for villains to be complex, well-rounded, to have histories, to have reasons for why they are who they are. I want readers to read my villains and be 'Oh, o.k. I get why they got to this point. Maybe it would not have been me but I understand it.' That was important to develop that part.

I won't spoil it by telling about the demonic influence in this book. That is certainly there. That was a central thrust to the story from the beginning for various reasons. But it was fun to develop that and the odd relationship between the two of them.

One of the things I really loved setting this up was the parallel. The Dark One, to me, is almost Deckard Cain's alter ego, a parallel universe in a way. I wanted to do that intentionally. Cain is not perfect by any means. He has dark parts to his past that readers will see when they read the book. I wanted the Dark One to be someone Cain could almost see himself as 'that could have been me', or at least an echo of him. The Dark One is also an inspiring scholar. He wants to be a great person, a leader but doesn't have the character for it for various reasons and chooses a different path. Hopefully that works. There's a parallel there, a setting of the book to make that work throughout.

DiabloFans: Is there any part of your story, characters or lore wise, that made it into the game? A specific example I thought of while reading the book is that through some events, Leah obtains a bow and in the early part of Diablo 3, we see her using a bow.

Nate: That's a great question, very perceptive of you to pick up on the bow thing. It actually went the other direction on that one. In the course of me writing this, I was trying to flesh out Leah's character and come up with details of her life. I think it was somebody on the creative team who said 'hey, you know what would be cool? Show the origins of her interest and skill with a bow and arrow.' I took that thought and built what ultimately resulted in the book, in the scene where she begins to acquire that skill.

The game was pretty largely developed when I came on board to write this thing. But Blizzard, as a company, they all work close together, share ideas, and cross-reference things. They are kind of working back and forth and I had a meeting or two with their game development people too to talk about some of this stuff. I don't know if there was anything that worked itself in the game from the book or anything I directly did. Most of the stuff worked in the other direction, came from the game to influence my novel.

What I did do was to develop some of the back story to things you'll see in the game and experience in the game. Things that were not explained in the game but gave me the opportunity to explain them in the novel. Those are things that I am really excited and thrilled to have contributed. Something that they may have not just fleshed out to that extent, that I was able to flesh out.

DiabloFans: As you mentioned, you created a specific demon, I won't spoil anything for the readers. I thought they were very interesting and would make great fodder for Diablo 3. I was hoping to bash some of them in the game.

Nate: (Hahaha) I don't know... I probably shouldn't talk about anything about the game. I do think that would be really cool. I thought they were cool creepy creatures. I would love to bash some myself.

DiabloFans: There are some well-known spells and items in the book from the games. Is it hard writing something like that in a literary way for a game franchise?

Nate: It can be. Blizzard is really conscious about that in a good way. They have told me, both when I wrote StarCraft and Diablo, they intentionally don't want writers to recreate a game experience in a novel. I agree with them. That is a really tricky thing to do. But at the same time, you want readers and die hard Diablo fans to recognize the universe and see these things in action.

There are some things that appear in this book that you are familiar with and readers will be familiar with that are really iconic items and pieces of lore. I hopefully handled in a good way within the narrative. They are not stuck in there. They are there for a reason. They are only in their if they made sense for the plot and the book itself. That was the way I tried to handle it. I didn't want to do anything literally too game-y but, at the same time, I wanted to work them into the plot that would make readers interested and satisfied by it.

DiabloFans: Again, not to spoil anything for the readers, but there is a particular item in the book that I enjoyed reading a literary explanation of how it worked.

Nate: I think I know what you are talking about. That was really fun. That came up at the very end of our brainstorming session when I flew out there to meet everybody. We were at a coffee shop, sitting there late in the evening and we were like 'You know what would be really cool? If we could work this in.' I was like 'I am going to find a way to do it.' Actually writing it out, working it out, I didn't even need to try to work it in. It was actually perfect, 'we have to do that right here.'

DiabloFans: Last question. Do you have any plans on working with Blizzard again with any future projects?

Nate: I love my experience with Blizzard. I really enjoyed both books I have done so far. I know that both Blizzard and I have talked about working together again. I know that they would love to do it and I would love to do it. It just a matter of trying to work things out at this point. But I am pretty sure we will find a good project to do together.

DiabloFans: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

Nate: Thanks for having me and I was glad to talk to you.

Book Review of "The Order"

DiabloFans Quote:

Blizzard was kind enough to give us an advanced copy of "The Order". Being a huge fan of everything Diablo, especially the lore, I could not wait to read every page. Add to that the May 15 release date, so you know that there are a couple of spoilers hidden within its pages, putting the book down was an impossibility.

The book begins with a energetic 11 year old boy, Deckard Cain. Despite his mother's warnings, Deckard refuses to believe his fate. That is, of course, until his fate catches up with him. Now years after the destruction of the Worldstone, Deckard does not believe that the worst is over. While almost everyone has moved on to a normal life, Deckard remains ever cautious of an impending doom. Traveling Sanctuary looking for any and every clue of what's to happen, Deckard's journey leads him on a path to save the world; a burden he puts solely upon himself.

Along his travels, Deckard meets up with an old friend but he is discomforted by the state he finds her in. Without want, Deckard becomes the guardian of a young female. Leah, 8 years old, is thrust upon the journey that Deckard has started. While "bad things" have always surrounded Leah's life, she is completely unprepared for the events she is about to encounter.

While making their way, Deckard and Leah happen upon a spirited Monk, a Monk whose destined to protect the scholar on his journey. While preparing himself for this battle, the Monk has gone against his orders to leave the monastery in order to fulfill he prophecy. Armed with his mind and his body, the Monk has found himself paired up with Deckard and Leah on an attempt to stop the evil flowing into their world.

On Deckard's quest to find other members of the Horadrim order, they find out about a man that proves to be anything but what they had expected. The Dark One has begun to spread his evil amongst the citizens of Sanctuary. While his ultimate goal is still unknown, Deckard and his partners travel to the depths of darkness to stop the Dark One from completing his goal.

"The Order" is posed to not only fill in some of the gap missing between Diablo II and Diablo III, but it is also used to help new fans catch up with the events that have lead up to Diablo III. This is perhaps one of my favorite parts of the book. While other Diablo books have related to the lore of Diablo, none feel more like the game of Diablo then "The Order". With each reference to the first two games, I am reinvigorated by the story. Reading the memories of Cain while locked in a cage, hung above the burning town of Tristram brought me back twelve years ago when I first encountered this same event. Every memory, vision, and thought of Deckard Cain is riddled with the past as we hear even more of the actions that lead to the events that we have already played through.

Another great thing that author Nate Kenyon has done is turn a great video game into a great novel. Many efforts were made to help the reader relate to the player in all of us. Tons of iconic moves, events, and items appear within the novel. From the Monk's agile spirited moves to Leah's bow in Diablo III, players will feel right at home reading this tale. I will say, that out of all of the Diablo books, this is the first one to feel like the game as oppose to just a story existing within the IP. Don't get me wrong. The novel is just that, a novel. You won't be reading any game mechanics or anything of the sort. Instead, expect a great telling of these skills and items. There is one item in particular that especially excited me when reading the book but I'll let you discover that on your own.

Staying true Diablo, once more, the book is as dark as the Diablo we all remember. At some points, I remember getting the chills that you get from a scary movie, or the first time the Butcher ran after you. The Dark One is a true villain who does things that would make your skin crawl. Nate Kenyon has also added a demon, among the slue that you are already familiar with, that will make you want to bash their skulls in with an epic Barbarian bash. Hanging bodies, sacrifices, and shadows of all forms litter the pages to give the book the same dark feel that we all know and love from Diablo.

The best thing to come from the novel is the character Deckard Cain. While we all know our identifying friend, you won't truly know this elderly scholar until you read the book. Nate Kenyon has done a great job of adding true depth to the character we have grown familiar with. The only real information we ever had on Deckard's past was that he was the last of the Horadrim. Not much else was known of the iconic figure. That is all about to change. In "The Order" we find out about the true events that have cause Deckard to become the man he is, for better or worse. You will find yourself caring more for Deckard Cain than you ever have before.

Without spoiling anything, as much as I would love to, "The Order" is a must read for every Diablo fan. If you are an older fan, like myself, you will love hearing the re-telling of the games we have already beaten a hundred times. Our beloved Deckard Cain becomes a real character as we find out about his past. If you are new to the franchise, the novel is a great way to get caught up on the events you might have missed out on. While the book is not a must to understand Diablo III, it will add more depth to the older stories as well as fill in some of the gaps from Diablo III. Do yourself a favor and read this book. After all, everyone will have to take a break eventually from Diablo III and what better way to fill it than with more Diablo.


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