Damien

Blizzard Plans to Keep Players Interested in Diablo III After 2.1

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With the release of Diablo III Patch 2.1 today, we found it fitting to publish the interview we had at GamesCom with Matthew Berger, Senior Level Designer for Diablo III. We asked a lot of questions related to Patch 2.1, mostly focusing on what Blizzard has in store to keep people interested in the game.


Before giving you the transcript of the interview, here is a condensed list of what we have learned.
  • It is not yet determined how long the ladder seasons will last. The first season will help figure out what the right duration should be.
  • To keep people into the game, new types of Legendaries will eventually be introduced and some console-specific features may be ported to PC.
  • The removal of the Auction House has been extremely well received by players and Blizzard is very happy that this feature is gone.
  • Having the possibility of gearing up your other characters from your main character is something that came up during the development of Patch 2.0 and it is a good idea, but it is not currently being implemented.
  • It is nearly impossible for very well geared players to improve their gear, and Blizzard is looking into ways to improve that.
  • There is nothing new planned for Blood Shards.
  • Currently, some level 60 items are so good that it is almost impossible to find better level 70 items. There are plans to introduce legendaries with new affixes to make them more appealing than these level 60 items. Also, these new legendaries will breathe new life into abilities that are currently underused.

Blizzard Icon Transcript from Interview with Matthew Berger


Q. The new ladder seasons are going to be introduced in Patch 2.1, do you have any idea how often the ladder will be reset?

A. First, Patch 2.1 is going to come on the PS4 and Xbox One, but we will not be bringing the ladder seasons. We will be bringing greater tiered rifts, though. Ladder seasons will be only for PC, because of some technical reasons.

How often the ladder will be reset is going to be based on the first season, how it works, how it is received by the community, get their feedback, and that is going to help us determine exactly how long they should last and how long subsequent seasons will last.

Q. In the future, what kind of new features are you considering adding to the game to keep people playing it? Is it going to be just new items, or are you considering new features like the greater rifts from Patch 2.1?

A. So, in Patch 2.1, we are bringing greater rifts, and with it the legendary gems. We are also some more content in the form of Greed's Realm, which is a new special boss you can find. On the Ultimate Evil edition, we are also bringing console-specific features and we are going to see how those are received by the community and maybe decide whether to bring them over to PC. For instance, we have apprentice mode where it allows players of different levels to play together, and the lower level character is going to be boosted up during that session. So, you are able to play with a level 70 character and a level 10 character, and the level 10 character can still have a good time.

Also, we have the nemesis system. If you die, while playing the game, there is a chance that the monster that killed you is going to level up. It is going to turn into this new creature, this nemesis. He is going to open up a portal, jump into the portal, and disappear from your game. And then he is going to find a friend of yours who plays Diablo 3 and who is in your friend list. The next time they log into the game, their controller at some point is going to start to vibrate, there is going to be this music, the portal is going to appear, the nemesis is going to jump out. He is going to have a shadow clone of the player he has killed. If I was playing a female Barbarian, he would have a female Barbarian shadow clone. He has new powers and he is going to attack that player. If that player is able to defeat him, he gets some loot and he gets a gift that he can send back to me. If the nemesis kills him, he is going to become more powerful, he is going to create a second clone, he is going to open up a portal and jump into his friend.

So there are things like that that we are adding for console and sometimes, we bring them back to PC, because we think it is a good idea. Another thing you may notice when you watch the screen (some of us were playing the game while the interview was going on) is that on PC and on the original version on console, you had massacres. You killed 25 people in a massacre, here is a little bit of experience. We have completely changed how it works on console. Now, what happens is when you hit the minimum threshold, when I play on my own it is 10, if there is 2 or more of us, it is 15, a counter is going to appear on the screen, and there will be a sort of timer going down. So, you will be able to see that the massacre is almost over and if you kill a monster, the timer goes back up. You will be able to keep the streak going. Try and get the biggest massacre as possible and once it is done, we are going to give you a lot of experience. It is a huge bonus of experience and that is part of our new action combat on console.

Also, you know how you can destroy barrels and that sort of stuff. If you destroy enough of them quickly, you get a speed bonus. That is not something we do on PC for the moment, but maybe if players enjoy it then we will bring it over to PC. Those are the kind of new features that were introduced for console that may make their way back to PC.

Of course, there is also more content patches that we are working on after 2.1. We want to make sure that we keep bringing things to players to make sure that they keep being interested, whether it is on console or on PC.

Q. So, what is your experience with the removal of the Auction House?

A. It was something we put really to help players. We wanted to make sure that players did not have their accounts compromised by having to go to trading websites. We listened to the community and the auction house created a series of problems because you ended up playing the Auction House and not the game, which we did not want. Removing the Auction House and, at the same time, improving the loot drops and the quality of the loot, going into 2.0, really helped the game. It breathed new life into it. Players were once again excited about each item that dropped. You did not have to go to this user interface to buy your loot, so we are very happy now that it is gone and the feedback from players is that they are very happy as well.

Q. Many players like to play several characters and once one of them is well geared, it takes just as long to gear up the other characters. Are there any plans to make it a bit like WoW, where you have loot specializations, or something that would influence your smart loot drops to provide gear for your other characters?

A. That's a great idea and a very good question. This is a topic that came up when we were working on loot 2.0. So, that idea came up, also the idea of maybe I want loot that it is going to drop and that I will be able to give to my followers and how this is going to work... Once of the things that happened is because we are really targeting the loot, you almost expect everything to drop to be good for your character or at least usable by your character, and the moment it is not, it feels very weird now. But, that is a very good idea. There are no plans right now, but this is definitely something I will keep in the back of my mind. I will bring it up with some people, it would be cool.

Q. You have been doing several week-ends with buffs, to increase their loot drops. What is for you the idea drop rate? I suppose somewhere between not too much so they keep on playing and enough so they do not abandon all hope.

A. No. It is not "just enough to they keep playing". We want players to play the game, because they are having a great time. So things we add: action combat on console, nemesis, greater rifts, rifts, adventure mode, etc. that is what we are putting into the game that makes you want to come back. That is what makes you want to keep playing, you are having a good time, you want to keep playing it. As you are doing this, we want you to be... you know... every time you play the game, you should be surprised by the loot in a positive way. You should find something that is going to be interesting for you, whether that is an upgrade or a legendary item that you might want or that you might not want but that you can disenchant and then use the enchantress to improve one of your legendary item. We really want you to have that. Of course, the better your gear, the harder it is going to be for you to find an upgrade, because you are going to be very specialized. We are looking at different ways to solve that problem, maybe finding other ways for players who have very very good gear to still have a thrill of finding great loot, great equipment, even though for them it is a bit narrower.

Q. Is there anything else planned for Blood Shards? People call it gambling, but it really is not gambling, because you can only spend them at Kadala.

A. No, for the moment, we are not planning anything else with the Blood Shards. It is a possibility, but it is not something that we are actually working on right now. Kadala is kind of there to reward you for going through a rift and if you do not find any items that are upgrades for you, you kind of get a second chance to try and get something. But, who knows down the line.

Q. Many players are still wearing level 60 items, because it is near impossible to replace them with better level 70 items. Are there any plans to fix that?

A. That is a better questions for someone like Wyatt Cheng or Travis Day. They know all of the intricacies about it. I know that one of the things we are working on is introducing legendaries that have interesting legendary affixes and not just increased stat ranges/values, but instead make you play a little bit differently, make you want to use different abilities/talents that you are not used to, maybe change your build. Because that is more interesting for you as a player than "This one is 25%!", "This one is 30%!!". Obviously, the numbers are important because they help you kill things, but we would like you to get choices that are more interesting. The idea is that an item that allows you play in a way that is more interesting is much better than something that is just going to increase the numbers. This is definitely the direction the guys who are working on the weapons are going. They are working very hard at that.

Q. Are there any new sets planned that are going to affect gameplay more than the current ones? The current sets are really nice and there are so many ways to play your character, but I was wondering it there is anything really new that will be coming up, for example for abilities that are being left out.

A. I have nothing to announce at the moment, but I will say these few things. The guys working on the items are very aware of what abilities might be used less than others and they are always trying to find ways to help those abilities, to breath new life into them. Legendary items are a great ways to do that. In terms of sets themselves, they take more work to do than a legendary piece of equipment. It takes a little longer to bring those into the game. So, it kind of depends, but you know it is always a possibility and the most important thing is they really want to use legendary items in a way that is much more interesting for players. That is definitely a way of doing that.
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