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Starym

Diablo 4 Will Feature Cosmetic Microtransactions

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While Blizzard have been somewhat cagey about this topic in various interviews, it did slip out that they are in fact planning on having microtransactions in the game. We have separate information from a few sources, beginning with Quin69's original interview with lead designer Joe Shely:

Quote

Diablo 4 will be available as a base game, we’re going to have expansions. You will also be able to acquire cosmetics in the game. It’s very early… but yes.

Now, we didn't really need this confirmation to know there will be MTXes in the game, as the horse customization system shown off at the Diablo 4: Unveiled panel was a pretty definitive sign, and a game like Diablo is a pretty solid fit for cosmetics.

Shely also reiterated what we heard in several different interviews and panels as well, where it was very definitively stated that you will not be able to buy power in the game. With the auction house also being confirmed as not returning, and the most powerful items in the game being non-tradeable, it seems we really will have to get the very top gear ourselves. He continued to clarify that they don't know what form these cosmetic MTXes will take, although again, considering the horse armor and customization, we'd say they have at least some idea.

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A lot of people are very opposed to any form of MTX in a Diablo game, but as always it all comes down to execution. Will the purchasable cosmetics be the best looking gear in the game? Will they overshadow the endgame and most powerful gear you have to work hard to get? Or will it just be different options and perhaps weird concepts that don't fit with actual gear in the game. We can safely eliminate the Asian MMO route where a fantasy RPG suddenly gets modern day cop outfits and other completely immersion-breaking cosmetics, at least.

Another way that's really worked well in the past is the Destiny model... or, well, the OLD Destiny model - where you could get a lot/a majority of the cosmetics just by playing the game enough, with 2 separate currencies for buying cosmetics - one for real money and one you can earn in-game. The point being that while everyone (rightly) recoils at the mere mention of microtransactions, they can actually be beneficial to a game if done correctly - Diablo 3 would have been updated and improved much more if it had a steady revenue stream coming in, perhaps even getting a second expansion, and would it really have been that horrible if players were able to just buy the seasonal wings, portraits etc from the conquests?

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As for Diablo 4, aside from the clearly already planned horse cosmetics, there are plenty of avenues they could go with the MTXes, avoiding the inevitable trouble that would come from selling really cool looking armor set visuals. There are plenty of things they could add that wouldn't really impact the game at all, like additional head customization like scars, tattoos etc, banner additions (if they return), portrait frames, UI customization, and a lot more. Now sure, the more cynical among us might think that one of the big reasons Blizzard went the shared world route this time around is to make cosmetics more valuable, as you'll be showing off to random people all the time as you pass them by in the world, but even if that were the case as long as they don't go overboard with what they sell, it should be fine.

In any case, there is a way to do MTXes well, and considering how much attention Blizzard are paying to the community's wishes, Diablo 4 may get out of the MTX quagmire relatively intact, or perhaps even be better for it.

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Other Diablo 4 articles:

Check out our BlizzCon 2019 Content Hub for more interviews and info!

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I mean, microtransactions are fine in a free to play game; Dota 2 is probably the best example.     It's free to play, and none of the transactions can actually give you more power (They're entirely cosmetic).     Moreover all of them can also be gotten through playing the game long enough.

Diablo 4 though is almost certainly going to come with a $59.99 retail price, and some $29-39 expansions.    Adding microtransactions for cosmetics is already fairly scummy with those figures in place.    If they go "full Bethesda" and start selling Horse Armor that gives more bag space or something, I may actually be done with them.     Haven't bought an EA game in over a decade now.

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1 hour ago, Migol said:

Diablo 4 though is almost certainly going to come with a $59.99 retail price, and some $29-39 expansions.    Adding microtransactions for cosmetics is already fairly scummy with those figures in place.    If they go "full Bethesda" and start selling Horse Armor that gives more bag space or something, I may actually be done with them.

I'm not well versed on Bethesda games because IMO they aren't even as fun as watching snails race, but if horse armor were to give more bag space, then it would no longer be purely cosmetic. I don't see how something totally non-essential and purely aesthetic is "scummy" - but to each his own?

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22 minutes ago, darkinchworm said:

I'm not well versed on Bethesda games because IMO they aren't even as fun as watching snails race, but if horse armor were to give more bag space, then it would no longer be purely cosmetic. I don't see how something totally non-essential and purely aesthetic is "scummy" - but to each his own?

This is correct, bag space = power and they specifically said they wouldnt be selling that (because if they did they would instantly lose basically their entire player base).

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30 minutes ago, darkinchworm said:

I'm not well versed on Bethesda games because IMO they aren't even as fun as watching snails race, but if horse armor were to give more bag space, then it would no longer be purely cosmetic. I don't see how something totally non-essential and purely aesthetic is "scummy" - but to each his own?

Because you are going to be paying a full price premium for the game already, they should be unlockables....not just another means to squeeze more money out of the player base, aesthetic or not.

Edited by Granis

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So long as it ensures frequent gameplay updates and won't affect gameplay, I'm down for it.

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D4 is not a F2P game, it's B2P game, meaning the MTX can knick right off. Cosmetic or not, I don't give a flying fruitbat about that, if you're paying sticker price then the only extra should involve expansions, nothing else.

But of course gaming companies aren't about making money anymore, they are about making ALL the money. Gotta milk that last drop.

 

4 hours ago, Stan said:

So long as it ensures frequent gameplay updates and won't affect gameplay, I'm down for it.

That system already existed, it was called expansion packs. It worked well for a long time, but oh no, why bother putting out 12-18 hours of extra gameplay when you can charge the same price for a bit of bling that no-one is even paying attention to.

Edited by tkioz
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1 hour ago, tkioz said:

But of course gaming companies aren't about making money anymore, they are about making ALL the money. Gotta milk that last drop.

Having microtransactions in a full price game is bad enough, but I also wonder what form these cosmetics are going to take. D4 is supposed to be way darker than D3 (still looks familiar enough to me, a little closer to D3 than D2, imo), but if they are going overboard with cosmetics, it's going to take some of that serious, dark tone away. Seeing people running around with mini Diablos, Azmodans etc., while wearing colorful wings... Unless they will only introduce something more mundane, but I doubt about that.

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Hmm, I dunno. I really don't believe micro-transactions really improve updates and the like. I believe it will end up like the D3 auction house. Nobody really wants to pay for something in game that they would much rather earn. Even if blizzard were to make it obtainable in game there is a high chance they would make it really grindy. Just to encourage players to buy it. It always starts with cosmetics then it goes to gear boxes. We as their fans should never give them an inch.

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11 hours ago, Migol said:

Diablo 4 though is almost certainly going to come with a $59.99 retail price, and some $29-39 expansions.    Adding microtransactions for cosmetics is already fairly scummy with those figures in place. 

Yea, I don't understand the whole underlining goal of selling cosmetics... sure it's to make money. But they will probably make plenty of money from the base game + the expansions they release. They should have gone the Borderlands 3 route, that game practically HANDS you cosmetics for free, and you can buy them with the ingame currency it has.

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9 hours ago, Gozzreal said:

Hmm, I dunno. I really don't believe micro-transactions really improve updates and the like. I believe it will end up like the D3 auction house. Nobody really wants to pay for something in game that they would much rather earn. Even if blizzard were to make it obtainable in game there is a high chance they would make it really grindy. Just to encourage players to buy it. It always starts with cosmetics then it goes to gear boxes. We as their fans should never give them an inch.

Um what game started with cosmetic MTX and then moved on to paying for actual gear?

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12 hours ago, tkioz said:

D4 is not a F2P game, it's B2P game, meaning the MTX can knick right off. Cosmetic or not, I don't give a flying fruitbat about that, if you're paying sticker price then the only extra should involve expansions, nothing else.

But of course gaming companies aren't about making money anymore, they are about making ALL the money. Gotta milk that last drop.

 

That system already existed, it was called expansion packs. It worked well for a long time, but oh no, why bother putting out 12-18 hours of extra gameplay when you can charge the same price for a bit of bling that no-one is even paying attention to.

It's almost like games have only marginally become more expensive (10$ for now) and game development costs have skyrocketed with constant support and updates (before when you bough a game MAYBE you get some bug fixes in the expansion). Why would the EVIL corporations want a steady income stream to actually be able to pay those devs that support the game.

Now of course they also want to make more money and profit, but to simplify and villanize microtransactions completely is just small-minded. Reality changes and games have also changed. Now loot boxes we can all get behind removing them forever.

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18 hours ago, Starym said:

This is correct, bag space = power and they specifically said they wouldnt be selling that (because if they did they would instantly lose basically their entire player base).

"Full Bethesda" refers to Bethesda and their promise in Fallout 76 to not sell power, IE only sell cosmetics.     They've wholly reneged on that one.

Also the "need Microtransactions to support the game and content" is regularly a big crock.    The only places it might be true are the little Indie companies barely staying afloat.     If they want to make that claim, have them disclose profits and how much is funneled up to their parent company.      WoW alone has millions of people paying $15 a month (Still!) for a subscription, Blizzard is hardly hurting for money to feed the stockholders.

Edited by Migol

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23 hours ago, Migol said:

"Full Bethesda" refers to Bethesda and their promise in Fallout 76 to not sell power, IE only sell cosmetics.     They've wholly reneged on that one.

Also the "need Microtransactions to support the game and content" is regularly a big crock.    The only places it might be true are the little Indie companies barely staying afloat.     If they want to make that claim, have them disclose profits and how much is funneled up to their parent company.      WoW alone has millions of people paying $15 a month (Still!) for a subscription, Blizzard is hardly hurting for money to feed the stockholders.

Yea but your math is off. No one is saying they aren't making big profits, but that has nothing to do with the devs. See the business guys decide what chunk of the profits from game sales go to further development (whether it's for the next game in the series, an entirely different game, or an expansion etc) and then that's it. If the game only has income for sales of the base copy that's not a very sustainable model. If it has microtransactions there's a steady income which can support constant updates, bug fixes and maintenance, and if there's enough of it even new content.

This is the mistake most people make when talking about microtransactions IMO - corporations WILL be greedy always, that's literally what they're made for, so you have to take that as a given and as a player who wants more and better content, you add that into the equation. In this case it means if there's a steady stream of money coming from diablo and not just the occasional game sale after launch the corps greed is filled, they take a piece of the MTXes as well but then the rest goes to further development. I'm 100% sure that if D3 sold those shitty wings and portrait frames (and whatever other cosmetic crap crazy people buy) in addition to being able to earn them we'd have gotten either anohter class or even a full new expansion as well.

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2 hours ago, Starym said:

This is the mistake most people make when talking about microtransactions IMO - corporations WILL be greedy always, that's literally what they're made for, so you have to take that as a given and as a player who wants more and better content, you add that into the equation. In this case it means if there's a steady stream of money coming from diablo and not just the occasional game sale after launch the corps greed is filled, they take a piece of the MTXes as well but then the rest goes to further development. I'm 100% sure that if D3 sold those shitty wings and portrait frames (and whatever other cosmetic crap crazy people buy) in addition to being able to earn them we'd have gotten either anohter class or even a full new expansion as well.

This is how League is able to have such a strong development team, the fact that League makes money purely on cosmetics from the game itself, allowed them to funnel those funds into multiple games that they announced this year. People have proven time and time again that if something appeals to them, they will buy it. I am a culprit of this and can attest, if I see a great skin for one of my favorite champions, I'll straight up buy it!

I can understand the theory behind paying cosmetics, but does Diablo 4 really need it? Considering if they are going to make multiple expansions? I can understand why Diablo 3 suffered after ROS because of how many years that have passed without any other expansion (outside of the Necro pack). But if they plan to release expansions within a substantial time frame (between 1 to 2 years) consistently I don't see how the game can't go unsupported. Like I said in my previous post, Borderlands 3 is a big title that has very little MTX's. They practically hand you cosmetics left and right for free! 

Edited by Rhondis

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On 11/9/2019 at 1:48 AM, Granis said:

Because you are going to be paying a full price premium for the game already, they should be unlockables....not just another means to squeeze more money out of the player base, aesthetic or not.

Agree to disagree, I guess. I don't typically associate playing dress-up with having fun in a game, and I don't feel like I'm missing out when that type of content is paywalled. Though I will go through every seasonal objective in Diablo III for a dumb pair of wings... haha

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15 minutes ago, darkinchworm said:

Agree to disagree, I guess. I don't typically associate playing dress-up with having fun in a game, and I don't feel like I'm missing out when that type of content is paywalled. Though I will go through every seasonal objective in Diablo III for a dumb pair of wings... haha

Eh I guess, I just like to feel I'm getting my money's worth. It also probably has something to do with my age since I remember gaming before it went full on corporate and started charging for things you normally got in a game.

It also rubs me the wrong way that the horse is basically added to the game solely for cosmetic monetization because really....what purpose does it serve in an ARPG?

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10 hours ago, darkinchworm said:

Agree to disagree, I guess. I don't typically associate playing dress-up with having fun in a game, and I don't feel like I'm missing out when that type of content is paywalled. Though I will go through every seasonal objective in Diablo III for a dumb pair of wings... haha

See I'm the same - the wings for the season conquests (and achievements and similar reward incentives) give me an additional reason to play a game i enjoy. Unfortunately the nature of Diablo-likes is that you need that motivation, whether it's gear or cosmetics or achievements, to push you to play more, since the gameplay, as awesome as it may be, gets repetitive. So if I have a goal in mind I will enjoy playing the game - some people just have different goals.

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Y'all please.. Overwatch is B2P and has tons of cosmetics, and no one bats an eye then. But when they want to do the exact same in Diablo 4 you guys freak the **** out? 

Cosmetics = Steady income = $ to continue support

The initial sale figures will probably only cover for the development costs and some profit to satisfy the investors, they need extra dough to continue supporting the game. 

If you say you don't want paid cosmetics, you're basically saying you don't want continued support and wish to see another dead diablo like D3. 

This aint rocket science.

Edited by sebastiantho

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      Previous iterations of Diablo use primarily “unlit” particles, meaning they are not affected by the environment’s lighting. These particles give you amazing control over what the art will look like: what you paint is what you get. The downside to unlit particles is that art may look too bright in a dark dungeon, or VFX color schemes may not feel cohesive within every environment.
      In Diablo IV, we use lit VFX that meld into the environment’s lighting, creating a more immersive experience. Using Whirlwind as an example (seen in the video above)—in bright daylight, the blade reflects light from the sun. In a dark dungeon, it will reflect more subtle light sources, like torches. The dust kicked up by the skill is also lit by the environment, so it blends artfully into the world.
      If we rely solely on environment lighting and follow true PBR rules, then gameplay readability is muddied, particularly in dark environments where a weapon swing would naturally be hard to see. To counteract this, many VFX have emissivity to cast light onto the environment. Several ultimates in our game will even allow you to change the weather and lighting of the environment for a limited duration. We strive for a healthy balance of gameplay clarity and thematic immersion.
      Dynamic Player Skills
      At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the art looks like if the gameplay isn’t fun. One of the goals for creating player skills is to ensure that the System Design team has a variety of modifiers they can utilize to create meaningful skill trees, class mechanics, Legendary items, and Paragon Boards.
      Choices should affect more than your character’s stats. Once we have a class skill we are happy with, the VFX team adds the ability for developers to dynamically change the size, intensity, and duration of a skill. The visual intensity of a skill will increase as you stack upgrades and items that increase the power of that ability.
      In addition to these skill modifiers, we create variants of abilities that completely change the functionality of a skill or the damage type that it deals. These skill variants can be changed by the scale, intensity, and duration modifiers as well. This allows variants of skills to be affected by a wider range of legendary modifier groupings. Your skill tree/paragon decisions, along with the items you have equipped, will make your character look and play differently from other characters of the same class.
      Each of these ranges is handcrafted by an artist to ensure the art holds up at all supported sizes and intensities. We do not uniformly scale every piece of an effect when changing size and intensity; we modify things like spawn rate, velocity, emissivity, and color ranges to make certain the art still fits in the world of Diablo.
      We want your character to look incredible as well! Our items are built in a way that allows us to easily apply weapon buffs to any weapon in the game. Not only will your legendary items do awesome things, but they will make your character look amazing as well. Here is an example where we apply the same fire and poison buff to several weapons in our game.
      Skill Driven Deaths
      Sanctuary is a dark, gothic world filled with horrific monsters that do horrendous things. To survive in this bleak landscape, you must be merciless toward your enemies. We are bringing back a popular feature from Diablo III: skill-driven deaths. This system allows you to decapitate, bisect, freeze, shatter, eviscerate, and burn your enemies, to give a few examples.
      With our new PBR pipeline, we can make blood, viscera, and gore even more realistic by having it react properly to the lighting of an environment. Every monster is built with a skeletal and muscular structure used for killing them in brutal ways. If your character is in the thick of combat, they will be covered in the blood spatter of nearby monsters. Over time, your character’s armor will transition back to being spotless.
      The Sorceress studies the art of elemental magic. They slow enemies with cold before freezing them solid and shattering them to pieces. They strike their enemies with stunning bursts of lightning, causing bodies to pop and sizzle. Enemies collapse to the floor and char to the bone as the Sorceress engulfs foes in fire.
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      Some examples of death types that Sorceresses can trigger:
      Freeze/Shatter - Break frozen monsters into pieces Char - Singe the corpse of a monster with lightning Burn – Scorch the monster’s flesh, leaving the remains of a charred skeleton The Barbarian takes pride in their physical capabilities. Their arsenal of weaponry makes them deadly in close combat. With the power of their ancient bloodline, Barbarians crush foes into piles of gore or send them flying across the battlefield. Their brute strength is equally matched by their speed and ferocity as they unleash fury on the battlefield, dismembering limbs from all that stand in their way.
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      Some examples of death types that Barbarians can trigger:
      Crush – Flatten a monster under the weight of a heavy object Decapitate - Remove a monster’s head from its body Cut In Half - Sweet ? Break Lower Limbs- The monster’s lower body is shattered, splitting several of their joints The Rogue is dexterous; their attacks are methodical. Monsters are often oblivious to their presence until it is far too late. A precise stab from one of their daggers, or a well-placed arrow, is enough to bring most monsters to the floor. The Rogue finds the most opportune time to take on a fight, and they imbue weapons to gain an advantage. Shadow magic can make a superb distraction, but their shadow clones are as deadly as their blades.
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      Some examples of death types that Rogues can trigger:
      Eviscerate – Spill the insides of a monster Shadow – Shadow energy deteriorates the life from a monster's flesh. Freeze/Shatter - Break frozen monsters into pieces Poison – The monster’s skin melts off leaving a heap of muscle and bone Flay – Flay the skin from an enemy, leaving the muscle structure intact The Druid is one with nature magic. They conjure storms and call down lightning on their enemies. They control the battlefield with gusts of wind as their animal companions tear the flesh from monsters. Druids manipulate the earth with nature magic, molding it to their will and bludgeoning enemies from afar. As their enemies approach, they see the innate power of the Druid, shapeshifting fluidly between an agile werewolf and a hulking werebear.
      * { box-sizing: border-box; } .column { float: left; width: 50%; padding: 5px; }

      Some examples of death types that Druids can trigger:
      Roadkill – The monster is crushed by a moving object, leaving a smear of blood on the ground Devoured– The monster's flesh is eaten away by a swarm of ferocious bites Lightning Gib – Lightning causes the monster’s body to pop, exploding into pieces Maul – The monster’s skin is completely mangled, covering them in blood That is everything we have to share with you today. It has been a dream to work on this franchise, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to share some of our development process with the community.
      Thank you for reading our last quarterly update blog for 2021. I hope you found it exciting and interesting. We are actively listening to your feedback, and we strive to make Diablo IV the dark, gothic game we all want to play. Please continue to share your thoughts and provide feedback on social media, Reddit, and our forums!
      Back to Top
    • By Staff
      Blizzard confirmed the Diablo 4 quarterly update will drop by the end of December, but not this week.
      The December 2021 update will focus on FX and system updates, specifically related to Paragon. Blizzard also teased something else coming this week, but we have no clue what that could be.
      (Source)
      It won't be dropping this week. But it will be dropping before the end of the month!
      This one is a bit beefy. Expect some system updates and a really great deep dive on FX with some amazing videos from the team. It's nice and enlightening!
      We have some other stuff this week as well!
      Some endgame content too? ?
      Not too much as there were some new system updates they wanted to highlight and get in front of people first. But some of that actually does dabble into endgame... specifically paragon.
    • By Staff
      After Luis Barriga left the company in August, Joe Shelly, a longtime Blizzard veteran who worked as a designer on multiple WoW expansions, before becoming Senior Game Designer on Diablo 3, has become Diablo 4's new Game Director.
      Joe Shelly introduced himself in Diablo 4's latest quarterly update.
      (Source)
      Hello, and welcome once again to a new Diablo IV Quarterly Update.
      I'm Joe Shely from the Diablo IV team. As a design lead who has been working on this dark, shared, open world action role-playing game from the beginning, I’m honored to continue the vision of Diablo IV as its new Game Director, and I’m humbled to represent the team pouring their hearts into this game.
      Like many of you, our team has been reflecting upon recent events. A lot has happened since our last blog and the hard work of practicing the values we aspire to must continue. In parallel with that important work, development of Diablo IV continues too.
      Over the past few years, we've assembled a strong team with incredible passion for Diablo IV. You, Diablo’s fans, are a critical part of this team. With the help of your valuable feedback, we've steadily refined and deepened the game experience. We have ways to go, and while much has changed, our commitment to the game is unwavering.
      Sanctuary should always be items glittering in dark dungeons. Tales of powerful heroes standing against the onslaught of hell. Lands where trials, treasure, and terrible monsters lie around every corner, equal parts familiar and boundless in its possibilities. Doing this world justice is a solemn responsibility. Today, we're taking a deep dive into the sound design of Diablo IV. Sound is a sometimes underappreciated yet integral element of the game's design, serving as a channel for communicating everything from incoming damage, to confirmation that a button press was registered by the game, to the intensity of a combat sequence. Try turning off the sound in a Diablo game sometime; you'll find your eyes have to work a lot harder to follow the action.
      Sound also conveys the subtext of the world through which you adventure. It supports the rising and falling action of the campaign and immerses you into the ambient life of a region, transporting you into the game world. While you're reading through the blog, I encourage you to listen to the ambient tracks and pay attention to their effect on your heartrate and emotions. Try closing your eyes while listening to get a better sense of how much is being communicated.
      Crafting Diablo's sound requires science, art... and the occasional ball of fire. Sound Supervisor Kris Giampa and his team have fascinating insights to share in this behind-the-scenes look at how it all works.
      We hope you enjoy this update and look forward to your thoughts and reactions. As promised, our next blog will cover endgame systems and visual effects. It's been a while since we looked at systems, and there's a lot we're excited to share. Let us know what topics you'd like to hear about in the future too!
      We are grateful to have you with us on this journey. Thank you for playing the stuff we make.
      -Joe Shely,
      Game Director, Diablo IV
      Source: PC Gamer
    • By Staff
      Blizzard just pushed a new quarterly update for Diablo 4 that deals with sound design.
      The opening is handled by the new Game Director Joe Shely. Diablo 4's former Game Director Louis Barriga left Blizzard a while ago.
      In the latest development update, we learn more about the sound design of Diablo 4, including hero fire skills, monster movement, monster voice, open world ambience, dungeon ambience, breakable interactives, and more.
      (Source)
      Table of Contents
      Introduction The Sound Design of Diablo IV Hello, and welcome once again to a new Diablo IV Quarterly Update.
      I'm Joe Shely from the Diablo IV team. As a design lead who has been working on this dark, shared, open world action role-playing game from the beginning, I’m honored to continue the vision of Diablo IV as its new Game Director, and I’m humbled to represent the team pouring their hearts into this game.
      Like many of you, our team has been reflecting upon recent events. A lot has happened since our last blog and the hard work of practicing the values we aspire to must continue. In parallel with that important work, development of Diablo IV continues too.
      Over the past few years, we've assembled a strong team with incredible passion for Diablo IV. You, Diablo’s fans, are a critical part of this team. With the help of your valuable feedback, we've steadily refined and deepened the game experience. We have ways to go, and while much has changed, our commitment to the game is unwavering.
      Sanctuary should always be items glittering in dark dungeons. Tales of powerful heroes standing against the onslaught of hell. Lands where trials, treasure, and terrible monsters lie around every corner, equal parts familiar and boundless in its possibilities. Doing this world justice is a solemn responsibility. Today, we're taking a deep dive into the sound design of Diablo IV. Sound is a sometimes underappreciated yet integral element of the game's design, serving as a channel for communicating everything from incoming damage, to confirmation that a button press was registered by the game, to the intensity of a combat sequence. Try turning off the sound in a Diablo game sometime; you'll find your eyes have to work a lot harder to follow the action.
      Sound also conveys the subtext of the world through which you adventure. It supports the rising and falling action of the campaign and immerses you into the ambient life of a region, transporting you into the game world. While you're reading through the blog, I encourage you to listen to the ambient tracks and pay attention to their effect on your heartrate and emotions. Try closing your eyes while listening to get a better sense of how much is being communicated.
      Crafting Diablo's sound requires science, art... and the occasional ball of fire. Sound Supervisor Kris Giampa and his team have fascinating insights to share in this behind-the-scenes look at how it all works.
      We hope you enjoy this update and look forward to your thoughts and reactions. As promised, our next blog will cover endgame systems and visual effects. It's been a while since we looked at systems, and there's a lot we're excited to share. Let us know what topics you'd like to hear about in the future too!
      We are grateful to have you with us on this journey. Thank you for playing the stuff we make.
      -Joe Shely,
      Game Director, Diablo IV
      Back to Top
      The Sound Design of Diablo IV
      Hello traveler, I’m Kris Giampa, Sound Supervisor for Diablo IV.
      The sound team has been steadily cranking away on the soundscape for a while now, and while we aren’t ready to go in depth about the music side of Diablo IV quite yet, we wanted to start to give you some insight into some of the audio processes, content, and motivations behind the sound for the game.
      Before we begin, we wanted to give you something to listen to while you are reading this quarterly update blog. Please enjoy the snowy, dark, and stormy ambience of Fractured Peaks below as you start on your journey.
      Sound and music in games are the invisible glue that supports the storytelling and ties you to your character and their actions during gameplay. Creating sound for games is an exciting artistic endeavor that you can’t see— only hear. However, you can feel it literally, with the soundwaves against your body depending on what you are listening back on. It’s an amazing medium that can also affect how you feel emotionally while playing a game. A lot of the time it’s subtle, and other times it’s over the top, but always there to support the moment-to-moment gameplay. We hope you enjoy this dive into various aspects of the game’s soundscape, and you’ll have plenty more to look forward to and experience when you finally get to play it!
      Naturally, we want anyone and everyone who might be hearing impaired to enjoy the experience of Diablo IV as well. So, we are taking measures to broaden the experience to be inclusive for people with hearing or visual disabilities. There are various accessibility features underway that we hope to talk about more in the future.
      The Devil is in the details
      For the Diablo IV soundscape we’ve continued the tradition of gratifying combat, expanded upon the ambience to support the epic open world, continued to embrace the darkness in tone and gore while also trying to deliver a cleaner-yet-punchy audio mix that’s adapting to the situations as you play.
      One of the biggest goals we try to focus on as sound designers is to make the highest quality sounds to be triggered back in the game real-time and make them seem believable as well as grounded within the game world, tied to what you are experiencing. The randomness of audio playback is of the utmost importance when it comes to gameplay. If you think about real life, nothing is ever heard the exact same way twice due to your listening environment and the positioning of a sound source. Sounds never play back at the same exact sound pressure level along with the reflections within your environment and everything else happening around you at that moment in time. In essence, there are always subtle, real-life reasons as to why nothing ever sounds exactly the same. So, as sound designers for video games, we always strive to introduce subtle, randomized variation to not only the sound design itself, but also for when you hear it in the game. When we are doing our job correctly, it’s something you tend to not notice and supports your immersion into the game world by backing up the incredible visuals, story, and end-to-end experience.
      Another huge goal we have when creating audio for Diablo IV is to fill in sounds for just about everything that’s occurring on your screen. Whether it’s the world ambience, monsters idling offscreen, the tiny chunks of wood that are colliding off a wall when you break an object... everything should make a sound. We pour countless hours of effort into covering almost everything you see and don’t see, while also keeping it subtle enough to not be distracting and just feel right. The devil certainly lurks within the details...
      However, just because we are filling in as much sound as we can, it doesn’t mean you need to hear it every time. The playback engine within the game will not trigger too many instances of a sound if they are trying to play at the same time based on strict settings we create as basic rules. Because of the isometric camera view and being able to see so much on screen at once, we must limit how many instances of each sound will playback at any given moment. Once dialed in correctly, you tend not to notice that some instances were never triggered, and that helps with the clarity of the audio mix. It’s a fine line we straddle during big moments with a lot going on screen.
      How about we get on to more of the creative side of sound design? Naturally, there is no Diablo game without the heroes who do your bidding to vanquish the various evils that lie in your path. Let’s talk about some of the fire-based Sorcerer skills that partly define the class...
      Hero Fire Skills
      The sound crew luckily gets to record all kinds of neat and unique sounds for the game so that we have plenty of sound source to edit from when it comes time to start sound designing. Sound Design is technically described as taking a recorded audio source, editing it, and processing it to be used in another medium. In the case of Sound Design for games, we’ll record raw audio, re-process them, and edit it for our gameplay needs in various ways to achieve something that sounds clean, usable, and replayable for gameplay. The sound could be exactly what it was originally meant for or end up sounding completely different and used for something else entirely.
      Something we always tend to need for a game like Diablo is, of course, fire! When time permits, we plan for some time to record sounds out in the field. For Diablo IV, one of the first big recordings we did as a team was a desert fire session before the lockdown for COVID-19. We traveled far from Blizzard HQ to record various types of fire sounds in the deserts of California, armed with multiple recording rigs and microphones. Thankfully, since it was wintertime, it wasn’t too hot during the day and just a bit cold at night. While our main goal was to capture fire, we ended up capturing all kinds of other sounds we have used during production, like ambience, rocks impacts, foliage movements, wood impacts, door slams, wooden cabin creaks, metal impacts, and scrapes.
      Sorcerer Skills
      Firebolt and Inferno
      Some of the fire recordings were then used specifically for the Sorcerer skills Firebolt and Inferno. For the skill Firebolt, we recorded sets of wispy and smoldering flame whooshes using a fire staff or a dried-out medium-sized log of wood and performed the sound in various ways around sets of microphones. Once we had a nice assortment of different types of fire sounds, we then edited and processed those fire whooshes into game-ready one-shot audio files for the casting and impact sounds, as well as longer loops for the projectile traveling through the air. It all comes together as one cohesive-sounding experience once we get it hooked up in the game to play back as the entire skill sound effect set for Firebolt.
      For the Inferno Sorcerer skill, we then used other takes of the fire recordings and processed them to sound more aggressive and powerful for the larger skill. Just like Firebolt, there’s a set of casting one-shot sounds, a set of loops, and another set of one-shots for when the snake form constricts its body. One cool thing about the Inferno skill is that while it’s fire, it’s fire that has taken the form of a snake. Because of this form, we are able to take some liberties on pushing it away from just fire sound design. We added some light snake-rattling SFX paired with a darker-toned ethereal end to the skill sound to make it feel a bit more magical. When all these pieces re-trigger in-game, it will always sound like the same skill, but be slightly different each time—which increases the replayability sound-wise.
      Monster Sound Design
      Diablo games wouldn't be as fun if you didn't have monsters to slay. One of the most fun things about working on a Diablo game is the vast amount and variance of monsters that exist. This makes monsters ripe for both experimental and more traditional sound design, so let's dig into some monster sound design for foley and voice.
      Monster Movements
      The combination of expert animation and AI brings life and personality to the creatures as they undertake their nefarious activities. When we start the audio process for a brand-new monster, I always recommend that the sound designers start by adding footsteps and foley (clothing or skin) to their movement animations. The moment the creature has footsteps and foley, the creature's cadence and rhythm of their movement really comes to life. It’s at this point I consider that they are becoming grounded and attached to the world. This also dictates how vocal they might sound based on their patterns of movement.
      Monster Voice
      The next layer that finishes the birthing of the creature into existence is their voice exertions. These are the grunting or yelling sounds of them exerting at the player as they attack, or the screams of pain as you take them out one-by-one. Each monster family can be quite different from the next, so depending on the type of monster, we might have intense sound design layers of animalistic-type sounds or even everyday objects that we will manipulate to sound like a screech or scream to create a layer within that final voice. Other times it can be simpler, as we’ll hire creature voice actors to help create the core tone of the monster’s voice that we can then build around with other sounds.
      In the case of the Wood Wraith, it's almost fully sound designed from wood creaks and strains processed to extreme lengths and choosing the right sounds to convey emotion. The Wood Wraith was a blast to sound design as it’s mostly freaky and creaky wood sounds, with a touch of very low-pitched human tone underneath it all.
      Another monster we had the pleasure of working on is the disgustingly awesome Fly Host. This beast walks around birthing flies to attack the player. We ended up using some of our early gore session recordings where we ripped and smacked cabbages and melons, and stirred and squished mayonnaise, salsa and a delicious 7-layer dip into a not-so-great smelling slurry to make some great slimy and disgusting sounds to use in our sound design.
      Open World Ambience
      One of the audio pillars for Diablo IV is “Living Audio”. What this means is that the soundscape is ever evolving and never static. This pillar is built deep into the sound design variations we create for all types sounds, including when it plays back real-time in the game— especially the ambience. Because of the importance of the massive open world, we wanted to give the ambience as much detail as possible and think of it on the same level of Hero sound design. Having the audio and the systems changing subtly over time is key to this pillar. We always want the subtle changes in ambience (that might not be very noticeable) less repeatable and feel more natural and immersive overall.
      The World Building team has done an amazing job giving us huge amounts of inspiration in filling out the regions visually so that we can follow it up with immersive ambient audio.
      Since the player might be in the open world for a large amount of time, we wanted to support each exterior region with unique-sounding environments that also include subtle changes to the audio mix over time. To help achieve this, we use audio systems like real-time occlusion, high-quality reverbs, and environment reactive delay/echoes.
      We’ve provided some long-form recordings of in-game footage with a static shot where you can hear the ambience changing over time. Not only does this show some cool ambient sound design, but we also wanted to provide these to you for your tabletop RPG sessions, or even just to sit back and get lost in while working. The clips were recorded around 5-6 minutes and looped to be almost one hour.
      Dungeon Ambience
      When it comes to the Diablo dungeon crawling-style ambience, we take a special delight in creating various and unique sounding experiences to heighten your immersion. Our approach to the dungeon ambiences is a bit less intense compared to the new open world, as we don’t want to distract you away from a key part of what makes a Diablo game fun— dungeon crawling. This is one area where we can take more liberties in diving deeply into the hellish and creepy soundscapes while having the monsters onscreen to accompany the audible experience. For Diablo IV we are taking a more realistic approach to “what you hear is what you get” when within a dungeon. With long reverberation and sound occlusion, we want you to pay close attention to what might be just around the corner, mentally preparing you for the next pack of enemies.
      Breakable Interactives
      Scattered around the dungeons are a plethora of gratifyingly great breakables. The Interactives team have been creating hundreds of amazingly detailed breakable objects in Diablo IV. For the amazing amount of detail they put into objects as they break, we in turn wanted to fill in every sliver and chunk of destruction you see with believable physics audio. Destroying objects in Diablo should sound just as gratifying and believable as taking down monsters. We put a lot of effort into making sure that all objects have an extremely gratifying break sound, while supporting the debris with tiny bits of audio to accompany the pieces that break apart and fly across a room. I’m still amazed at the level of detail we have for the breakables in Diablo IV. One of my favorite things to do when I see a room full of them is to have at em’!
      Game Mix
      Finally, I wanted to talk a little about the isometric camera. It provides some interesting challenges when it comes to bringing all the elements of the game mix together. Because you can see battlefield at a certain angle out to a certain range, we have to make sure that the monsters existing on the screen are covered with audio, but have the overall mix not feel too cluttered, nor too empty. There’s a lot of real-time juggling of sound playback based on priorities and importance to you, the player.
      For Diablo IV we are able drive the real-time audio mix more than ever before. Because of the isometric camera view, we must trigger sounds on just about everything you see but focus your ears on the most important sounds you should be paying attention to. We've been carving away at audio mix states and an audio importance system that will allow certain important monster sounds to poke out when they are needed. Clarity of game audio mix is hard to achieve in a game where you can have multiple heroes as well as various amounts of monsters on screen, while having detailed ambiences means we need to craft different audible mix states depending on the situation.
      We hope you have enjoyed this brief look into the sound design of Diablo IV. There’s so much more to talk about, but alas, we will have to save it for another time. We welcome any feedback you might have about anything you have heard in the videos or learned about in this quarter’s blog. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the soundscape of Diablo IV!
      Kris Giampa,
      Sound Supervisor, Diablo IV
      Back to Top
    • By Starym
      We have an interesting video to check out today, by loremaster Game LORE Dash, as he takes a look at some fairly solid evidence that the Paladin may be the final class of Diablo 4, based on many things we've seen in the preview content so far.
      While the Paladin specifically isn't quite a complete slam-dunk, the arguments for a heavily armored class are a pretty safe bet, both from the silhouette angle in the video and just in general. However, GLD makes some pretty convincing arguments, and it a pretty fun video to watch regardless of its accuracy as well! We have lore-based details, the ever-significant char selection silhouette, and a very recent entry from the latest quarterly update and more that all seem to point at a Paladin/Crusader/Holy Warrior type class, so let's get to it:

      So, what do you think? Paladin? Crusader? Priest? Or something else entirely?
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