Blizzard Entertainment dropped the bomb. There’s no BlizzCon 2012 this year due to their three-game release tight schedules: Heart of the Swarm, Diablo III and Mists of Pandaria.
The StarCraft II and World of Warcraft Championships will have a stand-alone event held in Asia at the end of this year.
Blizzard Entertainment is proud to announce the 2012 Battle.net World Championship, a major global eSports event featuring some of the best pro-gaming competition in the world. Slated to take place in Asia toward the end of 2012, the Battle.net World Championship will host this year’s StarCraft II and World of Warcraft Arena World Championship tournaments. Blizzard gamers and eSports fans from around the world will be invited to attend and witness some of the most skilled pro players on the planet battle it out for cash and glory.
We’re excited to be showcasing Blizzard eSports on a truly global stage this year. We’re also heavily focused on getting Diablo III, Mists of Pandaria, and Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible. In light of our jam-packed schedule, we’ve decided to hold the next BlizzCon in 2013.
More details about the 2012 Battle.net World Championship and BlizzCon 2013, including specific dates and locations, will be coming in the months ahead.
Talking with Blizzplanet Network Manager Eldorian, we are both sad pandas after hearing this news. Just a few days ago, he got the cash to cost the trip that’s no longer in the foreseeable horizon. I was personally expecting the BlizzCon 2012 dates to be revealed at the upcoming Activision Blizzard Q4 2011 Conference Call like in times past it’s happened.
Moving on forward after the heartbreaking news, we were just talking about the announcement of the Next-Gen MMO. It usually takes Blizzard about 2-3 years to ship a game after it’s first announcement. With BlizzCon 2013 usually all the way back at the fourth quarter, that would mean we wouldn’t be playing the Next-Gen MMO until about 5 years from now.
During our short chat about this topic, Eldorian told me they might announce the Next-Gen MMO at the 2012 Battle.net World Championship. Reflecting on that thought, I remembered StarCraft II was first announced on May 19th at the 2007 Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals (WWI) in Seoul, South Korea and the game shipped 1159 days after its announcement; and Diablo III was first announced on June 28 at the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals in Paris, France. It’s been 576 days since Blizzard Entertainment announced Diablo III. No release date is available at the moment.
It’s true. The unannounced games don’t need to be unveiled at BlizzCon. There’s still hope for the Next-Gen MMO. Could late 2012 be the year of the Next-Gen MMO announcement?
For those who missed going to BlizzCon 2011 or watching the livestream here are a few videos of L90ETC live performance. They played songs based on Diablo III, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.
L90ETC is composed of Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime (Bass), StarCraft II Lead Producer Chris Sigaty (Rythm guitar), Alan Dabiri (Drums), Dave Berggren (lead guitarist) and Blizzard Senior Art Director Samwise Didier (vocalist).
Blizzard Entertainment has emailed all BlizzCon 2011 Virtual Ticket viewers to fill out their BlizzCon 2011 Live Stream Feedback Survey.
The survey suggests Blizzard is considering to expand the pay-per-view BlizzCon Live Stream to PSN, Xbox Live, and iPad. Sounds like Blizzard is really into coming back to consoles.
The survey also hints at game streaming technology like Gaikai’s, allowing BlizzCon Live Stream viewers to play the same game demos played at the show floor — such as World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo III — straight from your web browser.
Blizzard Entertainment is interested in your feedback on your experience with the BlizzCon 2011 Live Stream Virtual Ticket service. This survey should take 15 to 20 minutes to complete; all responses are completely confidential.
You must be 13 years of age or older to fill out the questionnaire.
We value your opinions and look forward to hearing from you.
Blizzard Entertainment Research
Two of the survey questions are definitely interesting. Blizzard wishes to know if you would like the BlizzCon Live Stream to be viewed in the future in the following platforms:
The second interesting survey question is: “Which of the following items would you be most interested in having for future BlizzCon online pay-per-view events? (You may select up to 3 items.)”
The two most notorious options in that question was the opportunity to purchase a Blu-Ray disc of full BlizzCon coverage and to play remotely the games demoed at the show floor.
Who wouldn’t want a Blu-Ray disc to watch BlizzCon panels, Q&As, contests, concert, and tournaments any time in high-definition? Count me in, brother.
Playing the games remotely? That would be totally awesome. How can this be possible? For a couple of years, I have been following the news on Gaikai. Just a few months ago, Gaikai launched their Cloud platform allowing players to test game demos straight from their internet browser.
Among the top games on Gaikai are Crysis 2, The Witcher 2, Mass Effect and Dragon Age II. Go ahead, you can play those games on Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Are Blizzard Entertainment and Gaikai partnering to allow BlizzCon Virtual Ticket viewers a chance to play future Blizzard game demos straight from your internet browser at the same time BlizzCon attendees are playing at the Anaheim Convention Center?
There is no official announcements from either Blizzard Entertainment or Gaikai, but there are certainly breadcrumbs out there online to suggest it might happen.
A year and a half ago, when I heard about Gaikai, one of their teasers to promote their game streaming technology was World of Warcraft on iPad. (May 2010)
About a year later, Greg Street (Ghostcrawler) said: “”Everyone I know here has an iPhone or an iPad so we’re huge fans of the hardware,” he said. “If we could make the right game changes to make that work, it’s something we’d be interested in. It’s not something you’re going to see in the next week or two, but it’s the kind of thing we’re always looking at.”
Something is brewing.
With Gaikai’s game streaming technology you don’t have to worry about elite graphic cards to handle high resolution and Ultra settings. No time-consuming game installations, driver installations. No download. The Gaikai cloud servers do that for you, and stream it into your web browser.
“GAIKAI offers a fully managed cloud platform across a global network that is optimized to deliver high-end video games and applications within seconds to all leading web browsers, operating systems, and devices, even premium destinations and social networks like YouTube and Facebook.”
“To deliver the lowest latency, highest quality experiences possible, Gaikai has designed custom servers and distributed them in data centers across the globe. Working closely with our partners like Limelight Networks and Level 3 Communications our peering and transit relationships are second to none.”
Here’s a 2009 video where Gaikai demonstrates how games like World of Warcraft can be played in the internet browser. The World of Warcraft and Warcraft III icons are in the game list UI.
The Diablo III Lore panel was held at BlizzCon 2011 on Day Two at the Panel Stage in Hall A from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PDT.
This panel was conducted by Chris Metzen (Senior Vice-President of Story and Franchise Development), Kevin Martens (Lead Content Designer) and Leonard Boyarski (Senior World Designer).
Below you will find an approximate transcript of the Diablo III Lore Panel which shed some light on how Diablo: Book of Cain and Diablo: The Sin War fit with the Diablo III story.
Note: This is a work in progress: 40% done. A sneak peek.
Diablo III Panel Intro
Chris Metzen: It’s been kinda interesting. Fifteen years of Diablo. At least seven years of BlizzCon. We haven’t had a straight lore panel before, so this should be really cool.
We got some absolutely badasses on the stage today. This is Leord Boyarskii — our Senior Game Designer, and Kevin Martens — our Lead Content Designer.
We’ve been tag-teaming for what it seems a hundred years in Diablo III. We’re working a little bit on some new ideas, and talking a little bit about Book of Cain and some of the history we’ve tried to put together, and then we’re going to a Q&A.
As we get started here, I wanted to talk to you guys — we’ve put together this new thing called Book of Cain because the past few years while we have been developing Diablo III, it demanded that we relooked the world, and the relooked the way the history flows.
The Diablo series was developed between two different companies, probably something like eight different fiction writers across manuals and game scripts, and to be honest with you it was a bit of a mess.
As we started to get deep into Diablo III, new ideas were coming out and kind of new looks at the world were taking shape that look really cool.
We started looking at the history and tighting up and trim and looked at how all these ideas stack so that you get the most maximum, tight, and smartly built game continuity. As we got all these ideas, we came up with Book of Cain. Really badass, put it in a cover, and give it to people.
I want to say this upfront, we do this with Warcraft and StarCraft front all the time. We started tweaking things, and purposely retconning things, get a little emotional.
People like to know what they know, and the canon — the lore they have been following for years. I just wanted to say upfront, especially in the Q&A part if you want to ask about things (the preview of Book of Cain went up last night), and some things look a bit different than what they have looked like for years.
Not really major world changes or anything like that by the way. This all sounds very nerdy, but just want to say upfront we have been going back through history and trying to tighten up and make it as smart as we can make it. So wanted to say upfront as we get going here we’ll be talking about the Eternal Conflict.
We’ll be discussing ideas that we have been building into Diablo for a while, but we have early evidence in the game series about the Angels in the Diablo universe. We don’t talk about them a whole lot. The only character you have seen consistently has been Tyrael.
We kinda setup a little discussion about them. The idea is the Diablo universe is predicated on the Eternal Conflict. We have the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, and one of these modified ideas that we came up with, that we’ve running for the past couple of years in development is that “What are heaven and hell really been fighting about? What are they doing?”
We kinda had this idea that there’s a mythic cycle we came up with about the creation of the universe, the ultimate manifestations of good and evil fought at the beginning of time and pretty much wiped each other out in kinda a big bang of explosion — so, part of the good guy was this kind of massive crystal we called the Eye of Anu, it’s the Worldstone.
It began spinning out in the heart of the universe itself, and legend holds — “legend holds” as if I ain’t making this out as I go — legend holds that with the Worldstone you can build worlds without end. It’s essentially the heart of a supreme deity, it’s a force of creation.
With this thing, it’s theorized that you can build worlds without end, and ultimately the High Heavens and the Burning Hells are pretty much also evidences of this great powers of the universe.
As the Angels and Demons became aware of each other they began to fight over possession of the Worldstone, because whoever controls it can pretty much reshape reality to their whim. So the idea that we built is in the center of the universe where this Worldstone is the forces of the High Heavens and the Burning Hells are fighting there. We call that place “Pandemonium”.
You guys are familiar with the Pandemonium Fortress in Diablo II.
Kevin Martens: Yes, at that point the Angels had controlled it and the Pandemonium Fortress was sort of their operation base at the gates of Hell.
Chris Metzen: And the ideas is that over the Eons, since the dawn of time, Heaven and Hell have been fighting different lengths of times. This ten thousand years span: Hell owned it. The next thirty thousand years span: Heaven owns it.
So the architecture of the Pandemonium Fortress is kind of shaped around both of their cultures as they have occupied this place over time.
Kevin Martens: I should say the Pandemonium Fortress is also much bigger than what you have seen in Diablo II. There’s a lot more to it than what we have ever shown or talked about.
Chris Metzen: The idea is that the Pandemonium Fortress is built around the Worldstone, and kinda built to contain it, and certainly provide us with a little battleground for these forces to clash over.
As you move forward in time, the character of Inarius started to get tired at this giant battle, and didn’t want to play ball anymore. He thought that this unending Eternal Conflict was ridiculous. He was like “I’m done.” He kinda had a total break.
Long story short, he conscripts like-minded angels, and even stranger, like-minded demons. Like the demoness Lilith. And they pull off the maneuver — they actually ended up stealing the Worldstone from the heart of Pandemonium. Technically, it’s still right there. It still exists at the heart of creation, but somehow they dimensionally veiled it, they kinda blinked it out into a dimensional pocket that Heaven and Hell couldn’t see.
You could imagine what that would do to the Eternal Conflict. Suddenly the thing we are fighting over, the power of creation itself, Zoop! It’s gone.
So that complicated things for Heaven and Hell. What are we fighting over now? Where the Worldstone went is in the dimension of Sanctuary.
With this power of creation, Inarius and his goofy friends forged for themselves a paradise. A garden sanctuary where they could do their hippy-stuff, run around naked, have fun chasing bunnies, and there these renegade angels and demons began to … get it on.
They had babies. They had scary, mighty, supernatural babies called the Nephalem.
Long story shorter, over time these Nephalem … their bloodlines began to diminish, their powers began to diminish because the very very scary mighthy monsters — something that was never planned for in creation: hybrids of angelic and demonic power — (as this is said, Metzen is moving his hands as he talks, and he suddenly realizes it) what am I doing? This is weird. Grabbing air. (Metzen whistles and moves and gestures his hand to simulate a wave) … sorry, hold me. (Metzen grabs Boyarski’s hand).
(Crowd breaks into laughter)
So the Nephalems ultimately diminish and become us. Become men (… and women). And the idea is that locked within the mortal genetic code is the power of gods. Far beyond angels and demons.
The thing that scares the living hell of (aha!) Heaven and Hell is the fact that we are potentially far mightier than they. Some of these ideas, you guys may have seen in the Sin War trilogy that we put out a number of years ago by Richard A. Knaak.
We are kinda riffing in this space, and trying to construct a trilogy that would synch some of this stuff, but if you guys want to read the Book of Cain, you’re definitely going to get into this stuff, and kinda check the linear chain of events that really produced Sanctuary. So having said all that (catches a second breath) let’s get into this.
Blizzard Entertainment announced another round of BlizzCon 2011 Store merchandise for sale to attendees and online viewers of the Virtual Ticket livestream.
Miss out on picking up that special piece of commemorative BlizzCon® loot during the show? Don’t worry — we’re making select BlizzCon 2011 store items available once again to those who joined us for the show in person or via the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket.
Beginning November 11 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time through Friday, November 18 at 10 a.m., BlizzCon 2011 ticket holders*, Virtual Ticket buyers, and DIRECTV viewers who ordered the BlizzCon 2011 Pay Per View event will be able to purchase select BlizzCon 2011 store merchandise online (while supplies last).
HERE’S HOW TO PARTICIPATE:
Between 10 a.m. PT on November 11 and 10 a.m. on November 18, log in to the online Blizzard Store (us.blizzard.com/store) using the Battle.net account you provided when you purchased your BlizzCon 2011 tickets or Virtual Ticket. (DIRECTV viewers, use the Battle.net account on which you redeemed your BlizzCon Virtual Ticket code.)
Click the special “BlizzCon Sale” button in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.
Browse BlizzCon 2011 items, add them to your cart, and then proceed to check out.
Items will be shipped directly to your home.**
It’s that simple! Thanks for joining us for BlizzCon 2011 — we hope you enjoyed the show.
*Please note: For those who attended BlizzCon in person, only the Battle.net account associated with the ticket purchased will have access to BlizzCon 2011 merchandise during this online sale. You can view this information in the ticket buyer’s Order History.
**BlizzCon 2011 Post-Show Sale items ship from the United States; international shipping rates may apply.
This is a rough transcript of the Diablo III Q&A Panel held on Saturday, October 22 from 11:30am to 12:30pm at the main stage (Hall D). Not as accurate as I had wished, considering my language limitations, but close.
Yesterday, you were talking about Difficulty Levels and how at normal it’ll be really really easy. What about veteran players? Are we going to have to beat the game once before we get a challenge?
Wilson: We’re not planning on any shortcuts through Normal Difficulty. Just like in Diablo II, in Normal Difficulty will be fairly a quick path.
We’re not too worried about people getting bored. It does get more challenging, kinda later — even in the First Act. And progressively throughout. I wouldn’t say that the entire Normal Difficulty is not nearly as easy as the first hour.
The first hour is really a tutorial. So we really feel internally — what we noticed especially when a lot of people were playing is that they get through that first part really quick, and then they get through the whole First Act in Normal Difficulty and they don’t have problems with getting bored or things like that.
Martens: I should say the Normal Difficulty level if you are a veteran, your chance to enjoy the story and get familiar with the Skills so you can kick ass with them in the next Difficulty level.
There are three types of gamers in Blizzard games. There is the Hardcore player, there’s the casual gamer, and then there’s the farmer gamer. With Farmer being a big industry thanks to World of Warcraft, How do you guys plan on combating this? They are looking at how can we make some more money?
Wilson: The most important thing to remember, Diablo III is not a persistent world.
The reason farmers feel so bad in World of Warcraft is because the farmers are in your world, taking your quest mobs, and loot drop, and interfering with your experience.
In Diablo, they can go off into their own world, their own server, their own instance and farm and it doesn’t affect you at all.
We don’t feel it’s going to be a big problem in Diablo III.
With the release of Diablo III, I was wondering what the Chat Gem is gonna do.
Martens: It fulfills one of your dreams.
You made the Followers more viable for end-game content because feedback wanted it. Is it possible to get to the end of the game content — in Inferno Difficulty — without a follower?
Wilson: Yea, it should be totally possible to — we’re trying to make the Followers viable not required. They do give players some nice bonuses.
If you don’t like the Followers, you should be able to play without them.
This won’t be available in at release date, but we’re looking at ways you can benefit get the benefit of a Follower, without a Follower. We don’t know yet how exactly we’re going to do that, but that’s something we want to explore in the future.
Is Diablo a girl?
Martens: Diablo is not constrained by our Human gender stereotypes. Diablo can take multiple forms, and we’ve never seen the true form of Diablo yet. Do Diablo has many surprises in store for us.
Could you elaborate on hardcore mode, for example when it’s unlocked are there going to be real-money transactions, and are there any differences between Diablo II and Diablo III hardcore mode?
Wilson: For those of you who don’t know, If you make a hardcore character and that character ever dies, that character is gone forever.
Hardcore characters are separated from the other regular games. Hardcore mode have their own auction house, but it’s a Gold-only-based Auction House. They don’t have a Real-Money Auction House, and they can’t trade in any way with regular characters.
They are isolated. They can trade items with other Hardcore characters, but not with regular characters. The other big difference is when your hardcore character dies all items are gone. The items don’t drop on the ground, so it’s not like you can have another player grab your items for you, and trade them to you and you are back to action. It’s gone.
PvP is something we are actually internally debating. The PvP Team is concerned that if we have you die permanently in an arena, then hardcore players will never play Arena.
I still feel like there should be some kind of way to allow Hardcore Arena Dueling. We are still considering how to do that.
I have a couple questions about Inferno mode. Do you expect fresh level 60 characters to be able to succeed in Inferno? Do you even plan to nerf Inferno to make it more accessible to casual players?
Wilson: About the first question … NO. About the second question … (long silence) … Probably not. I wouldn’t promise that we’ll never nerf it, because certainly we’ve seen like — in the development of World of Warcraft we have seen super hard bosses show up and even the most hardcore of the hardcore go on and say hey, he’s a little too hard.
I’d never want to say we’ll never nerf something because even the hardcore people might say it’s too hard. However, we won’t nerf it to make it casual.
In Diablo I and II, there was a fog of war. I was wondering in Diablo III why that wasn’t there.
Wilson: There is fog of war in Diablo III.
Martens: We took fog of war out of your town. In New Tristram there’s no fog of war so you can find the stores easily, but to my understanding there’s fog of war evereywhere else.
Wilson: Do you mean the Light Radius? Alright, that was a long hard process, and there are some dungeons in the game that really do emphasize the light, because it’s there. It was more an issue of the 3D engine, and try to make the world feel really good and be moody and feel the way we wanted — when you only have one light, it’s easier with the 2D engine where every sprite is kinda hand drawn, with its light already in it — but with a 3D engine, if you have one light on the character, it actually makes for a really kind of bland and bad looking world.
You need to fill the world with a little more light to make it interesting. So it was very difficult for us to make the light radius exactly as what you see in Diablo II, but we tried to do it in some of the dungeons.
Concerning randomization in dungeons, there are some areas in Diablo II that looked frustratingly convoluted, are you toning that down in Diablo III?
Wilson: I think the question really is: “Are we going to not do krappy designs?”
(crowd and developers laugh)
Martens: I know exactly what you are referring to. Most dungeons are very random. A change from Diablo II to Diablo III is there’s quite a bit more story moments in the dungeons themselves.
So in a completely random dungeon, very often you got a unique entry point, and say the X NPC is a treasure hunter and he gets into these old ruins, and he can’t get through in the zone, and so it’s an escort mission, and it concludes at the end.
So it’s a random dungeon in between, but it has a set starting point and end point and a set final room, and the quest concludes.
In another cases, like you’d see in the beta, we have some dungeons levels that have very little randomness, like the Templar level. You acquire the Templar Follower in that level, he’s got his little story moments, it’s an open room, but even there there’s a little randomness between the first room and the end room.
He’s got a much bigger set spot because he’s going to get his armor and have his rescue scene, and then have his final confrontation with Jondar, and ultimately kill him.
(Martens says in a high pitch voice: “Spoiler”)
Diablo II was pretty much destroyed by spamming. So I want to know what you are doing with Warden protection against it.
Bridenbecker: Warden. That’s an investment we have spent ten years on. We’re trying to figure out how people are going through and re-engineering some of our systems or better understanding them.
We have some protections given the nature of Diablo II gameplay and it does render it a little less effective.
We’ll be policing it pretty well, and making sure that we maintain the consistency of the gameplay.
Wilson: I’m gonna follow up on that too. One of the things that I know that’s really annoying in Diablo II is that people who would jump in into games, and broadcast and jump out, and that’s something we will be looking at too as well. Any kind of things like spamming. We’ll stop things like that.
I was trying out the Monk, are all those strikes single-click single-attacks, or are they like the old Barbarian frenzy where we can just hold and go on forever?
Wilson: A lot of abilities, yea, you can hold down, and some you can’t. Most of them you can right-click drive with a particular ability if you want. We try to design the combat so that there’s really the most optimal way of play.
You’ll be better if you can swap in a nice follow up like a bit hit, controlled by a cooldown or resource. We find it’s more fun when you use a couple of abilities together.
Have you thought of adding WASD movement controls so players don’t have to spam the mouse so much when kitting?
Wilson: We played around and mostly played with games that use that in kind of an isometric type of view, and the general feeling we had is you don’t really want to support two control schemes.
It’s really hard to make one control scheme feel great, and having them two feel great just makes the challenge that much bigger.
We found that the nature of the WASD control movement doesn’t work pretty well with an isometric gameplay, so we decided to stick with the mouse.
In Diablo II you used to have runewords. Now in Diablo III you have runestones. Are you planning to add the runewords again?
Martens: No, sir. We have a lot of new systems that do sort of everything the runewords needed to do.
You’ve the runestones, and five variations of that times seven levels, so this is like a rich system. We also have gems which are coming back, and they have more things that they do as well.
We moved the attributes or stat points into the itemization game. Crafting, you make your own items which have some set abilities, and also random affixes as well. You can break those things down. That replaces gambling for example.
We have tons of new systems. We don’t really need runewords any more. We have it all covered.
You keep teasing us about the console version of the game. Is it coming out for consoles or not?
Wilson: We haven’t officially announced anything. So there’s my dodgy part of the answer. I don’t think we are shy about that.
We hire people. We have a console team working internally. We want to make a console version. I think that’s pretty obvious. We’re hiring people right now to fill out positions in that team, but we haven’t announced it, because we don’t want to announce something until we’re sure that we have a game that we can show to people.
Back in Diablo II, I perfected the teeth necromancer build in which I spammed every point in the teeth. I was wondering if Diablo III will have an equivalent to teeth.
Wilson: I don’t know that we have one that looks exactly like teeth, but we have skills that are multiple projectiles with randomization. With rune variations, there are around 700 skills per class. My guess is we have one that is exactly like teeth, and that is not the class I’m playing with right now. But yea, you might be able to see something that’s similar enough.
Any design, implementation, challenges you have had for the console version of Diablo III, and what things have you learned from it?
Wilson: We haven’t built it yet. We have only experimented with control schemes and things like that. The real challenge is really, targeting.
Movement really feels better with a controller, but how you target and certain skills like magic missile feels great because you are shooting in a direction, but a skill like Blizzard we’re trying to figure out exactly where that’s going to go without putting some kind of targeting which we don’t really want to do. That’s probably one of the biggest challenges.
Then there are a lot of these subtle little things: monster distribution and the AI feel a little bit different than it does in the PC version.
We play around with how the control feels, how it feels to get surrounded.
Jason Regier: The control of the game. Everyone wants a game where you have direct control of your character. That is where we probably spent most of our time experimenting with, and making sure that gets right on the console version that we’re playing around with.
Can we get some beta keys?
Wilson: I have some in my backpocket right now! We’re going to be releasing more beta keys very shortly. If you sign up, you’ll get some chance to get them. We’re definitely trying to keep beta running as long as we can, and we’re going to keep sending waves of beta keys.
We have a big patch coming. We’re just waiting to launch that patch to send some more.
Jason Regier: Those of you who have been participating in the beta and you are here right now, Thank you so much for playing and testing the heck out of the game. We really appreciate it.
Thanks for making Followers. There were some builds in Diablo II where the Hirelings were the main source of your damage. Will these be viable in Diablo III as well?
Wilson: We made the Followers very viable very recently, so we haven’t played with them in a higher difficulties that much. So how they feel in there, how much damage output they truly have, and how much we are willing to give them, is going to come through playing it ourselves. I wouldn’t want to say yes or no to that at this point.
You said in Infernal the level cap for the characters is at 60, but the monsters will be 61 and higher, so that the monsters are tougher and a challenge. Eventually we’re going to beat it. Are there plans for a super dungeon, or uber Tristram type of thing?
Wilson: I’m sure if you guys get really bored and don’t want to play the game anymore, we’ll try to do something. Right now we are more focused on getting Diablo III done. We haven’t really thought what we’d do beyond that, but I can promise you, if you guys destroy Inferno mode and you are sitting around on your giant mount of loot, then we’ll do something about it.
This is a transcript of the Diablo III Gameplay and Auction House Panel held at BlizzCon 2011.
Jay Wilson: What’s up BlizzCon, how you doing? Are you guys ready to talk about some Diablo? So I have to tell you, the endless forces of hell, they got some plans for you guys. But started looking around the room I think you can take them. I think so. So what we’re going to talk to you today is the endless amount of items, class tuning abilities, and a whole bunch of stuff about how you can take on the forces of hell.
I’m going to let Bender get started.
Bender: I’m going to talk about achievements today a little bit, and you can get achievements in a number of ways.
One of those ways is coming to Blizzcon. So congratulations guys, you got your first virtual achievement.
So not all achievements involve you going to LAX and all that jazz. (Blizzplanet Note: LAX is the code that identifies the Los Angeles Airport when you buy a flight ticket)
Some of them are really easier to get. Normally you might be playing through and kill the Skeleton King and you can get an achievement for that. It allows you to track your progress as you go through the game, and review what you have done.
Some of them are a little bit crazier, extreme behavior. We consider it extreme to get to a level 60 hardcore character because it’s not easy. So if you do things a little tougher in the game, you’re gonna get achievements for that.
And then, of course, Absurd Shenanigans — because we all love some shenanigans. Our German players know about these, they play Diablo II without putting any armor on. That’s pretty absurd. In this case, it might be for beating every boss by punching them in the face without wielding a weapon. So that might be something that might get you an achievement.
What’s the point beyond that? They are fun to collect. Track your accomplishments. When you get achievements, they unlock components for your Banner. Your Banner is sort of a visual representation of what you’ve done in the game.
The more you achieve, the more components for your banner you unlock.
In PvP, you might open some, just playing through the game normally, and getting achievements by quantity will extend the pennants, so it gets more stuff on it as you play.
Other achievements can change the plot, the accents, and then, of course, if you play a lot of hardcore, the base of your banner will get bigger and after a while it can add up to something pretty cool.
Now, these banners are not just pretty, although they are pretty. They also allow you in coop to teleport directly to your friends.
If they’re out running around, you don’t know how to find them, you go back to town to craft something or buy from a vendor — you can click on their banner and you will teleport to them. That’s pretty useful.
It’s a good way to ensure that people see your cool banner.
New Gameplay Elements
Bender: That’s not it, though. Some other elements we’re adding to make gameplay more convenient for you. For example, the Stone of Recall.
The Stone of Recall is an endless use item. You can use it as many times as you want to get yourself back to town from the wilderness. So here we are like casting, takes about 10 seconds, can be interrupted by monsters, hope that guy on the left doesn’t interrupt us, so you get back to town, and it leaves this blue portal thing behind, and that allows you to get back to where you came from. Only you can use it. Your friends can’t use it.
They can get to you with your banner so that’s not a big deal. Not sure how to call this thing. Maybe like village door. If you can think of something, let us know.
Also, we have the Cauldron of Jordan allows you to sell stuff right out of your inventory. Want to clear up your inventory, want gold, you can sell as many thing as you want out of your bag.
Similarly, the Cube of the Nephalem allows you to pick items of your bag and convert it to crafting components. Got stuff in your bags, you replaced your gear, don’t want to go back to town yet — use it to convert them into crafting materials, all kinds of cool stuff.
Chambers: Holy Molly! A lot of you guys out there. How are you doing? I’m going to talk about crafting for a little bit. Crafting is all about making items, or making your existing items even more awesome.
So, I wanted to take a step back and look the way that the items were handled in Diablo II and what their item life cycle was.
Item from two sources in Diablo II: Buy it from a vendor or you could do what I have done here, kill Andariel and get awesome tridents. Once I’ve picked up that item, I’m probably going to wear it for a while, but then it’s going to get upgraded, and I can trade it to my friend for some gold maybe, if I’m lucky, or sell it for some gold to Charsi. What do I do with that gold?
Well you can gamble it, but Geeds allowed you to buy these unidentified items for like crazy amounts of gold, or crazy amounts of gold and identify them and find out what it was.
The system is cool, because it gave you access to super powerful items, but a lot of people had a negative experience when they tried it out, so they never really went back and kept on doing it again and again.
You just end up hoarding all of your gold, and that’s not really a life cycle.
That’s just a pub with no beer. And that makes Andrew really, really sad.
So what are some of the things that we’re doing in Diablo III to make this item life cycle better? First off, I want to talk about The Mystic.
The Mystic is where you go if you want to enhance your items. She can take any item that you have, like your chest piece, or bracers, and she can add an enhancement to it.
The enhancements are a wide array of things like gold find or magic find, but also increased core stats, and a whole a bunch of things for class related, like for example, here it increases Hatred regeneration by 0.83 per sec on a One-Hand Melee Weapon.
The interesting thing about enhancements in Diablo III as opposed to World of Warcraft, is they’re actually random.
So that 0.83 per second that actually has a chance like the bottomline for that is .66 per second.
So you can see up here, I’ve enhanced my Keen Heavy Axe of Storms with Hatred regen, and it’s .66 per second. I can reapply that enhancement and have a chance of actually making it better.
Making it get the top end of that. The awesome thing about that is, as you’re leveling off you apply the enhancement, and that’s good enough, but it’s maybe like middle range, but at the end game, by applying these enhancements you can get super powerful enhancements on your items you can get by not necessarily investing time and resources in that.
She facilitates — what the what is that? That’s a Demon Hunter running around with a one-handed axe and a shield. Who the hell thought of that? We did. Because it’s awesome, you know.
Like you don’t always have to run around and play with ranged weapons. Maybe you just want to like spam Fan of Knives, and Chakram and Bolt everywhere, that sort of thing.
Mystic can allow you to do that. Ordinarily you wouldn’t get it on a one-handed axe, but she lets you do it, because she’s kind of cool, and she levels up.
Awesome artwork. We have amazing artists by the way. Have you noticed? She levels up. She has ten levels. Every time she levels up, she gets more powerful enhancements, and she uses pages of training to level up which you can get from killing monsters randomly in the world.
Blizzplanet Note: Check out the short video below to see the Mystic level up animation. Her tent transforms into a better version with more gear and stuff.
After a serious business incident at BlizzCon 2011, Blizzard Entertainment CEO took full responsibility and apologized.
Mistakes happen. Let’s move on. All the fun that was BlizzCon is what matters.
“Dear members of the Blizzard community,
I have read your feedback and comments about this year’s BlizzCon, and I have also read the feedback to the apology from Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain. I’d like to respond to some of your feedback here.
As president of Blizzard, I take full responsibility for everything that occurs at BlizzCon.
It was shortsighted and insensitive to use the video at all, even in censored form. The language used in the original version, including the slurs and use of sexual orientation as an insult, is not acceptable, period. We realize now that having even an edited version at the show was counter to the standards we try to maintain in our forums and in our games. Doing so was an error in judgment, and we regret it.
The bottom line is we deeply apologize for our mistakes and for hurting or offending anyone. We want you to have fun at our events, and we want everyone to feel welcome. We’re proud to be part of a huge and diverse community, and I am proud that so many aspects of the community are represented within Blizzard itself.
As a leader of Blizzard, and a member of the band, I truly hope you will accept my humblest apology.
We’re developing Diablo® III to be the definitive action role-playing game and a true continuation of the Diablo series. Players will adventure through rich and varied settings, unraveling an epic storyline, engaging in combat with hordes of monsters and challenging bosses, growing in experience and ability, and acquiring items of incredible power.
Diablo III will be a fitting sequel to Diablo II, with the easy interface, fast-paced action, and visceral gameplay that Diablo players have come to expect and enjoy. It will also include many new features that will take the Diablo action-RPG experience to the next level.
Which characters will be in Diablo III?
Players will create a male or female hero from one of five distinct classes — barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, or demon hunter — each equipped with an array of spells and abilities. New customization options will provide for an even greater level of character specialization than the previous Diablo games, allowing players to create unique characters brimming with power.
What can you say about the different classes?
The heavily armed barbarian is one of the stoic guardians of Mount Arreat. Armed with powerful abilities and moves, this plate-wearing savage wields ferocious weapons to annihilate the demonic forces threatening the world of Sanctuary.
The fearsome witch doctor hails from the terrifying Tribe of the Five Hills of the legendary umbaru race. The witch doctor is equipped with spells and alchemical powers; can summon mongrels, locust swarms, and zombie armies; and hurls fiery concoctions to annihilate any demon foolish enough to trifle with the powers of the umbaru.
The wizard is a wielder of the elements and a master manipulator of time, who combats the hordes of the Burning Hells by launching environment-shattering lightning bolts, channeling explosive arcane energies, and creating pockets of space outside of the normal flow of time.
The monk is a skilled warrior of unparalleled dexterity. Armed with speed, holy fervor, and a quest for physical and spiritual perfection, the monk becomes a deadly apparition in the heat of battle, moving faster than the eye can follow to strike down enemies with a barrage of lightning-fast blows.
The demon hunter has a sole purpose in life: to track down and destroy every last demonic being that dares to threaten humanity. Lithe and notoriously deadly with a pair of dual crossbows, the demon hunter brings an entire arsenal of gadgets and traps to the battlefields of Sanctuary.
What is the story of Diablo III?
The game takes place on Sanctuary, a world of dark fantasy. Unbeknownst to most of its inhabitants, Sanctuary was saved some twenty years ago from the demonic forces of the underworld by a few brave and powerful heroes. Most of those warriors who directly faced the armies of the Burning Hells — and were fortunate enough to survive — went mad from their experiences. And most of the others have buried their haunted memories and pushed the horrors from their thoughts. In Diablo III, players will return to Sanctuary to confront evil in its many forms once again.
Will players interact with any familiar faces or places in Diablo III?
Yes, definitely. Players will return to Tristram and certain other locations from the previous games, and they’ll also be exploring new areas of Sanctuary. Players will also encounter several new characters as well as a number of characters from the previous games, including Deckard Cain.
Will Diablo III be running on a new engine?
Diablo III is powered by a new graphics engine that can display characters and hordes of monsters in lush, fully 3D environments. Powerful special-effects and physics systems allow for realistic object dynamics and cloth simulation, enabling players to lay waste to the minions of the Burning Hells in spectacular ways.
Will Diablo still have randomized events?
Diablo III builds on the random environments of the previous Diablo games by adding random scripted events and encounters throughout the game, creating a dense and exciting world alive with quests, NPCs, and dynamic encounters.
What can you tell us about Battle.net®?
Diablo III will benefit from Battle.net® upgrades that will provide some exciting new features for players. Cooperative online play remains a primary focus, with multiple enhancements being planned to make connecting with your friends easier and playing together even more fun.
Will I need to be connected to the Internet to play Diablo III?
Yes, players must be online in order to play Diablo III. Diablo III was built from the ground up to take full advantage of the new version of Blizzard’s powerful Battle.net platform.
Players will have access to several features through Battle.net, including an advanced achievement system as well as the Diablo III banner system; a powerful co-op and PvP matchmaking system; comprehensive stat-tracking; persistent characters that will not expire and are accessible from any computer that has Diablo III installed; a persistent Real ID friends list across multiple Blizzard games, along with cross-game chat; a shared stash accessible by all Diablo III characters on the Battle.net account; and the ability to have friends seamlessly jump in and join you at any time during your quest against the Burning Hells.
Together with the security-related benefits that Battle.net provides, these Battle.net-based features are integral to the Diablo III game experience.
How will PvP be implemented in Diablo III?
While Diablo III is designed primarily for cooperative multiplayer, we are building in support for competitive player-vs.-player gameplay as well. We’re focusing on team-based PvP in an arena setting, allowing groups of players to battle head to head in beautifully hand-crafted locations. We also plan to integrate Battle.net’s matchmaking system, a progression-based ranking system, and more.
What matchmaking functionality will the game include?
With Diablo III, it will be easier than ever to quickly group up with your friends or other players in the community. When looking for a group, players will be able to simply broadcast an invite to all of their Real ID friends. Anyone who sees this broadcast can accept the offer with one click and automatically be added to their friend’s game.
We’ll also be including a robust public game finder for those times when you just want to play with whoever’s available on Battle.net as opposed to Real ID friends specifically. This feature will bring together players based on different factors, such as the part of the game they’re looking to play through.
Regardless of whom you group with, the game is designed to offer a seamless, fun experience. Players will be able to easily transition between single-player and cooperative play with their characters at any point during their Diablo III campaign, and the game will dynamically adjust to accommodate for additional players midstream. This means more-powerful demons to slay, more loot exploding out of corpses, and more fun on the fly.
In addition, the game will offer each player their own individual loot drops, health globes will be automatically shared among players, and players will be unable to go hostile at will, all of which should eliminate unfair ambushes and other types of griefing.
For player-vs.-player matchmaking, the game will group players together in the PvP arenas based on level and skill, making for fun, closely matched PvP action.
What is the banner system?
Think you’re better than all of your friends? Your banner will prove it. The banner system will be a visual representation of the achievements players earn across all of their Diablo III characters on their Battle.net account. A player’s banner will have multiple components that can be earned through various modes of gameplay.
Completing the game at different difficulty levels, defeating bosses, progressing in PvP, playing a Hardcore-mode character, and earning achievements will all unlock different ways for players to customize their banner and show off what they’ve accomplished.
What is the shared stash?
The shared stash is an inventory-management feature that allows players to stash items in a collective storage space for all of their characters. Items in the shared stash are accessible to the player regardless of which character is currently being played.
What difficulty settings will be available in Diablo III?
Players will have the opportunity to play the Diablo III campaign through four successive difficulty settings: Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno. Each difficulty setting will progressively increase the challenge and will reward players with higher tiers of armor, weapons, gems, crafting recipes, and runestones. Players must complete Normal to unlock Nightmare, complete Nightmare to unlock Hell, and complete Hell and reach level 60 to unlock Inferno.
Will there be a Hardcore mode?
Yes, players who seek the thrill of constant peril that comes with the possibility of permanent death for their character will again have that option in Diablo III. All four difficulty settings — Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno — will be playable in Hardcore mode. Players choosing to participate in Hardcore mode will only be able to play with other Hardcore characters and will only be able to trade items in the Hardcore version of the gold-based auction house.
After completing the game on Normal, why would I want to continue playing on more difficult settings?
Diablo III continues the series’ tradition of offering advanced levels of challenge once players play through at Normal difficulty. Due to the game’s randomized elements, including the monsters you’ll face and the layout and content of the areas you’ll explore, you’ll have a different experience with each play-through.
In addition, the challenges you’ll face will ramp up significantly at the Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno levels. Playing at these settings before your character is at the appropriate level would provide a less-than-optimal experience. Once your character is ready, though, significantly greater rewards and levels of power await you at the Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno difficulty settings.
When will Diablo III be released?
We plan to release Diablo III in early 2012. As with all Blizzard Entertainment games, our goal is to create a game that is as fun, balanced, and polished as possible. We intend to take as much time developing Diablo III as is necessary to ensure the game meets our own high expectations and those of our players.
We’re aiming to release Diablo III on both Mac and Windows simultaneously in as many regions as possible, and to localize the game in several languages. We’ll have more details to share about countries, languages, and specific dates as we get closer to release.
What will Diablo III be rated?
The Diablo III rating will be determined by the ratings boards in each region. We will announce the rating that Diablo III has received in each region as we get closer to launch.
What are the system requirements for Diablo III?
We’ll announce specific system requirements at a later date.
Will Diablo III include support for bots and/or mods?
Will Diablo III be offered digitally as well as at retail stores? How much will it cost?
As with our previous games, we do intend to offer Diablo III for purchase digitally as well as at retail. Specific details regarding pricing and availability for each region will be announced closer to release.