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7Jan/120

Diablo III: Follower Viability

Originally Posted by Blizzard

When we first announced the follower feature we revealed that these unique characters would accompany your hero on an adventure to save Sanctuary, but that they would only be able to survive in Normal difficulty. The amount of positive support the follower feature received, as well as the number of players who wanted to be able to keep these companions throughout the game -- even into the toughest difficulties -- left us wondering if it would be possible.

At BlizzCon we announced that we had taken that player feedback and were indeed working to make the single-player followers (templar, scoundrel, and enchantress) viable in the later difficulty levels.

We want to share some of the details surrounding this change and what it will mean for the single-player experience.

A lot of us wanted to see followers become viable throughout the game too, and agree they really add something to the experience as a whole. One of our main driving forces in making this decision was the benefits of the co-op experience, and the disadvantage of playing alone in the Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno difficulties. Followers won’t follow you into co-op games because you’ll already have the superior firepower of your friends to help you, but playing alone you’re going to want to take advantage of their benefits. We’ve made the later difficulties of the game brutally difficult, and we realize that for those attempting to tackle these later difficulties alone, they’re really going to actually want some additional support in the form of the followers.

Some players didn’t like their experience with mercenaries in Diablo II. We took feedback regarding mercenaries very seriously when designing Diablo III followers, and they differ from mercenaries in a few key ways that we think set them apart and resolve many issues. First of all, there is no resurrection or cost to your followers’ deaths, which makes their upkeep far less intrusive. When a follower takes enough damage to “die”, they simply take a knee, catch their breath, and after a few moments are back in the fight. That downtime could potentially have an effect on your own survival, but it’s unlikely to create a situation where you’re worrying about them or constantly working to keep them alive. We don’t want to turn what could be a fun benefit into a punishment by making players pay for their followers’ poor combat choices.

Secondly, when you die, so does your follower. These aren’t characters that can hope to compete or continue on without you. While some players prefer to be the lone wolf taking on the forces of evil, our intent isn’t to dilute the hero aspects by adding more wolves to your wolf pack. We want followers to be an extension of your bad-assery, not a liability. The followers could almost be considered automated buffs/damage skills, but of course with quite a bit more flavor and customization options.

We still have some tweaking to do with the followers, including their skills and end-game balancing. We continue to discover cool little ways to improve how each follower performs and the complements the different heroes. Our intent is to ensure players who take followers along find them to be helpful additions to their single-player experiences.

In the meantime, we’re interested to hear what you think of followers at end game and what your intent will be. Will you ever play alone, considering the benefits of co-op (personal loot drops, increased killing speed)? If you do play single player will you bring a follower? Or do you intend to challenge yourself by not bringing one?

7Jan/120

Diablo III: South Korea Rating

South Korean industry and media sources (like the prominent local gaming site Thisisgame.com) expected Diablo III to finally receive the much coveted 18+ rating in Korea today, but it simply didn’t happen.

The endless saga (that is now turning into something more similar to a farce) that sees the rating of the upcoming and massively anticipated game by Blizzard continuously postponed by the local Game Rating Board continues: during the hearing that happened today no decision was taken.

According to the Korean branch of Blizzard there’s no indication that something is wrong with the game, so the company is taking a “wait and see” stance, but quite obviously the officials of the Game Rating Board believe that the game requires further time and consideration in order to be rated, despite the fact that the usual waiting time for a local rating is 15 days.

In the meanwhile the fanbase of the game is starting to reach the boiling point: South Korean gaming forums are bursting with comments towards the Game Rating Board that could be defined “uncharitable” if I wanted to write the euphemism of the century. The Korean gaming media is starting to use imaginative headlines that include words like “misfiring” or “dud” referring to the hearings of the committee.

Many western fans and part of the media are convinced (despite the firm denial by game director Jay Wilson and other Blizzard sources) that the lack of any western release date for Diablo III is due to the rating problems in Korea, and some are blaming Blizzard for committing to a global release.

At the moment there’s no word, official or unofficial, about when the rating could actually be delivered. The next hearing of the Game Rating Board is next wednesday, but we don’t know if Diablo III will even be on the schedule.

Source: www.dualshockers.com/2012/01/06/diablo-iii-rating-in-korea-delayed-for-the-fourth-time/

6Jan/120

Diablo III: Book of Cain Drawings

A few months ago I wrote about my participation within the book project named Diablo III: Book of Cain. Because the book was not released at that moment, I was not allowed to show the three drawings I was commissioned to do. I promised to post the drawings as soon as the book is released.

Tyrael Battling Against Tal Rasha

Tyrael Battling Against Tal Rasha

Tyrael Battling Against Tal Rasha

Tal Rasha

Tal Rasha

Tal Rasha

King Leoric and Archbishop Lazarus Executing Peasant

King Leoric and Archbishop Lazarus Executing Peasant

King Leoric and Archbishop Lazarus Executing Peasant

Book of Chain Printed Drawing

Book of Chain Printed Drawing

Book of Chain Printed Drawing

www.muddycolors.blogspot.com/2011/12/diablo-iii-book-of-cain-drawings.html

book of cain, tal rasha, diablo 2 book of skill
6Jan/120

Diablo III: Interview With Leonard Boyarsky

Gamespot has posted an interview with Leonard Boyarsky, lead world designer for Diablo III. In the interview, he explains how they had created the story for the game at the very beginning and have stayed true to this plan. Plus much more about the story behind the game.

GameSpot: With people dissecting the lore, and you as a team cautious of making it too predictable, have you found yourself in the position where you've changed content because players have already guessed how it will play out?

Leonard Boyarsky: No, not really. We figured out what we wanted our story to be, and pretty much stuck to it. If some people guess what we're doing, that just means they'll be pleasantly surprised. Sadly, it's a minority of people who really care deeply about the lore. There are a lot of people out there who do care deeply about the lore, but, in terms of our overall fan base, it's not the top thing on people's list. I think that the kind of people who really care about the lore and delve into that will feel proud if they feel like they figured it out. We haven't seen a lot of people make correct guesses, by the way! [Laughs]

...

www.au.gamespot.com/diablo-iii/previews/diablo-iii-qanda-the-diablo-mouse-and-exploring-lore-6348168

6Jan/120

Diablo III: Leveling Curve

Bashiok was further asked about the difficulty of Diablo III, particularly the leveling curve. It has been stated that the plan is to have character close to, if not, level 60 by the time Hell difficulty is completed. However, Bashiok further explained the reasoning and difficulties with this.

Originally Posted by Bashiok
It's the ideal situation. Random dungeons, random monsters, random item drops, all of these things throw huge wrenches into any ability to really finely tune a level progression. You may very well have to stay in Hell for a while longer to hit 60, or you may want to go back through certain areas of Normal to gear up better before moving to Nightmare. We're simply not going to be able to get it right for everyone with all of these random elements, but we're trying.
It's also going to just make good sense to stick around and play a bit more Hell and gear up before attempting Inferno even if you are 60.

6Jan/120

Diablo III: Release and System Updates


Bashiok got an update for you all, the release is still planned for Q1.

Originally Posted by Bashiok

What does Polish mean?
It's making sure everything is perfect. We're not really in a strictly polishing phase yet though, although certainly that's true for some areas of the game. Still, we're in the process of working on some rather large game system changes, some of which we'll be sharing shortly before or with the next beta patch.

So this means that once those large game system changes are set, that will be the time when the D3 team goes in the "strictly polishing" phase?

I wouldn't get hung up on thinking about it that way. It's a big game and each individual piece may be at some different level of development.

So is the rune system set and is currently being implemented entirely?

Not yet. Once we have an implementation and we're at least moderately sure it's going to work out we'll share all the details.

re far are you guys (generally) from being able to ship a game that is polished? In other words is it still an early 2012 planned release?

We don't know. We were shooting for the end of 2011, and now we're shooting for first quarter 2012. As soon as we're sure of something (release date or otherwise) we'll be sure to let you know.


4Jan/120

Diablo 15 Year Anniversary

Diablo 15 Year Anniversary

Diablo 15 Year Anniversary

All Hell breaks loose...

was one of the original advertising slogans for Diablo, and to this day it feels appropriately prophetic. When we unleashed Diablo at the end of 1996, we were proud of the game and eager to share it with anyone willing to delve into the deepest, darkest dungeons on a quest to destroy a legendary evil.

The series is now 15 years old, and it’s changed and grown in a number of ways, some of which we couldn’t have possibly anticipated when we started work on our first action-RPG. Diablo’s continued legacy is due, first and foremost, to a great community that embraced the series’ unique brand of multiplayer gaming -- a community that continues to find ways to coax more secrets and power out of the world of Sanctuary.

Originally Posted by Blizzard

It’s a rare occasion when we’re able to mark the 15-year anniversary of not only a game, but an entire universe. In 1996, the original Diablo® introduced gamers to the cursed town of Tristram… and the twisted, ancient evil that dwelled beneath it. Diablo II and its expansion, Lord of Destruction®, transformed a claustrophobic dungeon-crawler into a sprawling adventure that drew players into the wider world of Sanctuary. Today, with Diablo III on the horizon, we’d like to celebrate all of the memorable moments that have marked the last decade and a half of Diablo history.

us.battle.net/d3/en/game/anniversary/

4Jan/120

Microsoft Flight Free-to-Play This Spring

Microsoft Flight

Microsoft Flight

January 4th, 2012 – Microsoft Flight Takes to the Skies

Today, Microsoft Studios premiered Microsoft Flight, a PC game that lets players jump into the challenge, fun, and freedom of flight. Microsoft Flight will be available as a free download this spring, giving players the freedom to fly the skies over the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, complete a variety of exciting missions, test their skills in flying challenges, or find hidden aerocaches on the island.

In Microsoft Flight, players view the world from above in a visually stunning and realistic representation of the earth, complete with region-specific weather patterns, foliage, terrain and landmarks. Players can choose to take the helm using highly rendered, accurate cockpits and authentic piloting procedures, or simply use their mouse and keyboard to control the plane in an exterior view. More experienced players can tailor the flight controls to match their skill level, making Microsoft Flight easy for beginners while still challenging for the most accomplished PC pilots.

“Many people dream of flying, but few have the chance to experience the fun of exploring the world from above. Microsoft Flight provides players the opportunity to explore that curiosity and interest,” said Joshua Howard, executive producer of Microsoft Flight. “Aviation can be incredibly technical, but we’ve taken great care to build an experience that makes taking to the skies thrilling and accessible for everyone.”

www.microsoft.com/games/flight/#press-takes_to_skies

4Jan/120

Diablo III: No Stats, Level 60 Cap, and Rewards

No Stats, Level 60 Cap, and Rewards

Looking at this thread I'm glad the messaging we've been getting out has resonated with the majority of you. I'm not sure it can be explained any more than it has been. If anyone is unconvinced I'm not sure just repeating myself will convince them, but I have to give it a shot. Just to sort of go over the main points as I see them...

  • Concentrated Coolness - This is a Blizzard design mantra and is sought with a lower level cap. By having fewer levels we can ensure each one feels more significant. In Diablo II you had 99 levels. Each one was a small step in player power, and when it came down to it, once you hit 80 or so you had already out leveled the content enough to make it easily farmable.
  • Achievements - Whether you choose to recognize them or not, achievements provide a far better, visible, and even tangible reward to time invested than inconsequential gains on a road to 99. Diablo II had an achievement, and it was level 99. It was an achievement because it offered no real power benefit but was reached to show off time investment. In Diablo III we have hundreds of achievements
  • Content - Leveling to 60 should take you to the end of Hell difficulty. This is a nice progression as when you finish 'progressing' and move into the 'farming' phase, you're at level cap. We don't feel there's any benefit to allowing players to out level the content, and in fact directly goes against the intent of Inferno always being difficult.
  • Difficulty - With fewer levels and a finite cap we're assured players will reach if they finish Hell, we can actually tune the game to be difficult at all times (important for Inferno) since we don't allow you to out level the most difficult content.

As for no stat points: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuKvxab1kBk

Can you explain "Tangible Reward" when it comes to an achievement? That goes against the idea of the achievement system. It isn't supposed to give you anything other than bragging rights.

We don't have plans to ever attach the achievement systems in our games to player power or progression. We absolutely have tangible rewards though, like titles, mounts and pets in World of Warcraft, portraits in StarCraft II, and at least banner customization options in Diablo III, if not more.

A more philosophical question. Was the D3 team ever tempted to get rid of levels entirely? Go back to the Mega Man style of getting skills (beating bosses)? You can't wear X gear or use Y rune until you have Z achievement (beating act bosses)?

I've never been aware of a design or proposal to remove levels. They're fairly meaningful, recognizable, powerful to a feeling of progression, and I would personally argue a bullet point on the definition of the RPG genre.

Would a feature like those 'angel wings' (collectors edition) be considered one of those? For example, an achievement might get you devil wings or hooves (burning footprints).

We're not going to give the CE wings out through other means, but sure we very well may attach different cosmetic rewards to achievements.

4Jan/120

Diablo III: Wizard – Teleport Runed

The Diablo 3 Beta Wizard using runed Teleport with 4 runes (Mirror Images currently do not work, thus Indigo rune was left out)! Keep in mind this is from the beta files, and could change drastically. We will update if there are any changes made.

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