On March 24th, Diablo III lead producer Alex Mayberry signed copies of the game and met hundreds of fans in London during the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Launch Party.
Blizzplanet writer Benjamin Vogt was there to interview Alex Mayberry to ask a few questions about the new Diablo III expansion.
Benjamin: Sir, good evening and welcome to London.
Mayberry: Thank you.
Benjamin: Sir, thank you again. So what are you plans into the future of end-game content after the launch?
Mayberry: We are launching Reaper tonight, so we are not really giving out what features we are doing. However, we are currently — at the end of every game, there is always some features that didn’t quite make it in. So some of those things that didn’t quite make the launch, we are already planning a content patch.
We have hinted at a few things. I would say follow Josh Mosqueira on Facebook, and on Twitter; and you will probably get a hint.
So we are planning the next content update for post launch. Beyond that, though, we really want to kind of watch what the community, watch how the game does, listen to players, find out how well-received Reaper is, hear what they like and what they want more of. Then based on that feedback, we are going to carve out our long term plan for Diablo III.
Benjamin: Has the team discussed daily challenge-mode objectives? This could add another huge amount of replayability in the game, and would make it even more compelling to users.
Mayberry: What feature was that?
Benjamin: Challenge-mode objectives.
Mayberry: Oh! Well. So with Reaper, we are introducing adventure-mode and that is kind of laying the foundation for more features that will be more not tied to the story, more re-playable. So that is something we are actually talking about. I can’t really give you real answers; but absolutely, it is something we are interested in.
Benjamin: A few days ago, a teasing image hit Twitter. What can you tell us about all those ladders the developers were researching?
Mayberry: Well, that is why I say to follow Josh Mosqueira, he is hinting at some things, and I think he is trying to figure out how to get really high up and unscrew a light bulb, or something. I am not sure; but honestly that is Josh foreshadowing things that might come.
Benjamin: How do you feel about the closing of the Auction House and how it might affect the game?
Mayberry: We are happy about it actually. you know the auction house– it was an experiment. It was a technical success. We made a very complex system. You know, the auction house did what it is supposed to do; but what it wasn’t supposed to do was to harm gameplay; and as we set up to make Reaper of Souls, lots of the community saw how the auction house was being used.
We just found it was interfering with the gameplay, and we found it was actually impeding with the actual gameplay; and what we really want– if they get the best weapon of the game, we want it to be because they had a great fight and slayed the monster. Not because they outbid someone, right?, and with as much work as we put into the auction house, at the end of the day … you know what? This is not helping gameplay. This is hurting design. Let’s shut it down.
Benjamin: Reaper of Souls beta testing closed about a month ago. Were there any new content or system changes included for release that players don’t know about yet?
Mayberry: I think probably the biggest thing that hasn’t been seen yet is the boss fight with Malthael.
Benjamin: Alex, thank you very much for this time with us.
Mayberry: Absolutely, thank you. Hi I am Alex Mayberry, lead game producer on Diablo III, Blizzard Entertainment. Watch Blizzplanet.com
I also recently posted photos of the booksigning of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael held at the 2013 New York Comic Con where I met Joseph Lacroix (DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice artist) and Doug Alexander (Senior Art Editor in Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment).
Note: Added a transcript at the below the video embed. The interview lasted about 24 minutes. (Added Sub-titles to the video through YouTube CC/Closed Captions)
This is Medievaldragon from Blizzplanet. We’re here to interview Micky Neilson and Matt Burns about Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. We also have Montoya from Blizzplanet.
(Everyone says Hi)
Let’s start with the first question here.
MD: Blizzard Entertainment and Insight Editions published Diablo III: Book of Cain as a primer to Diablo III mythos. Where does Diablo III: Book of Tyrael fit in Blizzard’s grand design? What is the purpose?
Neilson: There was a lot of reasons for doing Book of Tyrael. Probably the main reason was — because we did Book of Cain and we came up with a ton of amazing content, and all kinds of great ideas and everything else, and backstory and characters and all this juicy stuff, and then we figured — you know, ok — we’ve a certain number of pages to be able to tell up this ending and we just didn’t have enough room for everything.
So the biggest thing for Book of Tyrael was — Ok, we’ve got all this amazing information that we want to share with people. Let’s do it in a follow up book and let’s see what other opportunities we have to convey this information. So that was one of the big ones; and then of course, tying into upcoming game content and having something that’s going to serve us to bridge to the next expansion — you know — that was also a big consideration. Matt do you want to add to that? (More after the break)
I arrived to the New York Comic Con in Manhattan about 10:45am before the scheduled book signing at the Insight Editions booth (#1564). The place was packed with thousands of fans and I wasn’t even inside the Javits Center yet. I bypassed most of the horde of people outside the building by walking along the street to the farthest entry point (which is closer to the Exhibition Hall). Still took me about 15 minutes to get inside just to enter into yet another traffic jam of people walking the aisles. Not so easy with a Rollator Walker.
Insight Editions Booth # 1564
I got to meet Joseph Lacroix (DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice artist) and Doug Alexander (Senior Art Editor in Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment) at the Insight Editions booth and both signed my copy of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. I was delighted. It was so cool when I wrote Blizzplanet.com on the book and showed it to Joseph. He went like: “Ohh! Blizzplanet!” He explained Doug about the fansite.
I informed him that Arthur “Handclaw” Lorenz recently interviewed him at GamesCom 2013 on behalf of Blizzplanet, and he remembered him. It was awesome to meet these guys and handshake.
The Simon & Schuster booth had Blizzard lead publishing and New York Times best selling author Micky Neilson as a guest to sign books for Blizzard Entertainment fans. Simon & Schuster gave away 50 copies of World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde and 50 copies of Diablo III: The Order for free to those who came to the book signing event.
There was a long line of fans waiting to get their books signed. The line went all around the corner.
I talked briefly with Micky Neilson at the end of the book signing. I asked him whether someone would step forward to take the role of the avatar of Justice now that Tyrael answered the call of the Crystal Arch to take the mantle of Wisdom.
Whether someone would answer the call to fill the shoes of the avatar of Justice in the future or not is unknown. It is something that has been discussed internally, but they haven’t yet come to a decision. I argued there is still Justice to be met with Adria betraying Tyrael, Leah and all of mankind. Of course, what Malthael is orchestrating demands justice too.
On another note, there is a Diablo short story or novella in progress to be released somewhere around 2014. It is based on a character mentioned in the “Figures of Interest” section of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.
The character is named Morbed (a former thief) who roams the lands of Sanctuary helping adventurers. The description in the book is open to interpretation. Maybe players might find him in the Reaper of Souls expansion. Don’t take my word on that.
The video below shows the book signing by Micky Neilson — HD1080 available. Let the playlist run to load both videos. The sound is a bit chaotic. I cleaned a bit of it, but you can still hear it. There was a nearby booth with really amped-up music in the background on top of the thousands of people talking in the distance.
Diablo: Sword of Justice is a story about Jacob of Staalbreak a child that became the avatar of Justice in Sanctuary when he donned Tyrael’s sword. At least three characters from this graphic novel are confirmed to reappear in the upcoming Diablo III: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon.
DJTyrant attended the Gallery Nucleus exhibition event featuring the Insight Editions Art of Blizzard Entertainment book launch. On behalf of Blizzplanet, DJTyrant interviewed Nick Carpenter (VP of Art and Cinematic Development) to discuss details of the development of this book from early concept stage to publishing.
Nick Carpenter also talks about the design of the Crown of Glory — given to employees who have reached their 20th anniversary working at Blizzard Entertainment
Those who are following us, all comments are moderated. Don’t worry, we can read all of your questions and comments in the admin panel.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 5:53 Medievaldragon
[Comment From Luís Luís : ]
Just came here to say I have it pre-ordered but I’ll just ask this: Have you read the previous books or were you working with Blizzards notes.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:01 Luís
Hi Luis–thanks for the question. Absolutely, one of my most important goals was to get this book right for the fans, and I read everything that has been published, read Blizzard’s documents, wikis, talked to fans…I spent several months just researching Diablo before we began the writing. In fact, you’ll see when you read the novel that there are a number of nods to former books and to those who know the history well–although it certainly not necessary to know that to enjoy the book!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:03 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Luís Luís : ]
Side question: have you played the games?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:03 Luís
Yes, I sure have. I played the first two when I was younger, and I was lucky enough to play the beta when I visited Blizzard’s campus last year.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:04 Nate Kenyon
Welcome, Nate and Lyndsi. Thanks for coming. Diablo III: The Order is your debut to the Diablo franchise. You have a great background in Horror novels. Could you introduce fans to some of your previous works, style, and background?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:04 Medievaldragon
Sure. I’ve written four original novels, Bloodstone, The Reach, The Bone Factory, and Sparrow Rock. I’ve written a sci fi novella called Prime. And I’ve written a bunch of short fiction. I’ve also written a novel in the StarCraft universe, StarCraft Ghost: Spectres.
I consider myself a dark thriller writer, I guess. I’m less interested in genre, and more in each story itself–what does the story need to be told well? That said, I do tend to lean toward dark and creepy. 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:06 Nate Kenyon
It’s been twenty years since the destruction of the Worldstone, and Diablo III. When does Diablo III: The Order takes place?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:07 Medievaldragon
It takes place in between Diablo II and Diablo III –about ten years before the new game. Leah is eight, and Cain…well, he’s a pretty old man. 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:08 Nate Kenyon
Something fans might wish to know. Is this book canon, was the Blizzard creative team and you in contact throughout its development?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:09 Medievaldragon
Oh, absolutely. Blizzard is very intent on doing things the right way–and that includes their novels. We worked very intensely, hand in hand, from the beginning of the process. It’s actually an amazing experience to work with them–the creativity, the brainstorming and throwing ideas back and forth–really inspiring. They know their stuff, and it shows.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:11 Nate Kenyon
How did the plans to develop Diablo III: The Order come about and who from Blizzard assisted you?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:11 Medievaldragon
I had written StarCraft, and we really clicked on that project–they had read my novella Prime and loved it, and contacted my agent to ask if I’d like to write for them. The process for that book was eye opening for me, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned–the creativity, energy, freedom to create within such a fully realized world–and so doing Diablo was a natural next step.
If I listed everyone who assisted me it would take the rest of the night. 🙂 But people like James Waugh, Micky Neilson, Chris Metzen and many, many others were so essential to the process. And they are all great people!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:14 Nate Kenyon
What did Blizzard wanted you to portray and flesh out in this book? In short, what was your mission? (or quest)
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:14 Medievaldragon
I had several. First, they wanted to “reboot” the franchise–use this book as an opportunity to do something darker, more horror based, gritty, while informing new fans as well as older ones about the back story and the lore. It was a chance to tell the core story from Diablo I up to Diablo III, while keeping a riveting current plot.
Another goal was to tell Cain’s story. He’s an iconic charater, everyone knows him–but nobody knows his real background, who he is and where he came from, his personal history. He’s never held center stage before. So one thing I really wanted to do was make him a fully realized character, with great trauma and guilt and the need for redemption.
We also needed to explain Cain and Leah’s relationship, and how that leads into Diablo III.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:17 Nate Kenyon
We actually have a question about writing freedom. Did you have creative freedom in Diablo III: The Order, or did you have to stick to Blizzard Creative Team’s guideline?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:18 Medievaldragon
The previous question, I see the need to clear that up for fans. In the Diablo III beta all we know is that Leah calls Deckard Cain uncle, but she’s Adria’s daughter. So it was a bit confusing for some fans.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:20 Medievaldragon
Blizzard had a story idea, and they knew what they wanted to accomplish with this book. But what I really love about them is they do give me quite a bit of freedom to expand upon that, to find things I want to explore and throw ideas out there. For example, Blizzard knew they wanted a quest novel, with Cain on the road looking for a lost group of Horadrim. They knew they wanted Leah in the middle of it, and they knew they wanted certain evil elements, shall we say. But I was able to develop the specifics of Cain’s history, and figure out some of the events that happen along the way. I created the secret that’s at the core of the novel, and where they end up. So it’s a true collaboration, and the only time they tend to say no is when the idea just doesn’t fit with something they want to do down the road, or really doesn’t work with existing lore.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:22 Nate Kenyon
Neinball asks: Besides the previous Diablo games and books, where did you draw inspiration for writing this novel? I always love hearing what other works the authors use when writing.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:22 Medievaldragon
I think it was really mostly about the existing properties and my own imagination and Blizzard’s ideas. I did listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack through much of the writing of it, to get me in that epic frame of mind…and I definitely drew some inspiration from the “road” novel format of King’s The Stand, as well as the duality of the good and evil in the novel. I wanted to set up The Dark One as Cain’s alter ego, of sorts, a man he could see himself in, and someone he might have become, in other circumstances.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:25 Nate Kenyon
How will reading Diablo III: The Order impact those who look forward to playing Diablo III?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:25 Medievaldragon
A lot. I think players will gain a much better understanding of a number of things. I don’t want to spoil anything, but a lot of groundwork is laid in The Order that leads up to the game. And of course Cain and Leah’s relationship is established in the novel. I think people will see the reasons for some things that they might not otherwise understand quite as clearly. It makes for a richer, more satisfying game experience.
That said, it could just as easily go the other direction. If they read the book after playing, they’ll gain those insights after the fact, and things might click in a different way. There are no real spoilers, so whichever way fans read and play, it’ll work out just fine. As long as they do read the book sooner or later!!! 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:28 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From jean jean : ]
Hello Diser know when will be the release of Diablo 3 in Brazil
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 jean
I’m not sure on that one…I’m sorry!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ]
what do you feel writing about something for diablo? and sorry my english i live in turkey..
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 Zülfü Topçu
It’s an incredible experience. I feel very lucky to have been able to contribute to such an enduring franchise that is so beloved by millions of people. It’s a thrill, to say the least.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:32 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Meh Meh : ]
How much time per day did you spend writing the book?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:32 Meh
I spent over a year of my life writing The Order, all told. The first few months were spent on intense research, developing the outline with Blizzard, brainstorming new ideas and coming up with character points. Once I started writing, it took about 4-5 months of writing a couple of hours or more a day to finish the first draft, and then another 3 months of rewrites with Blizzard to get it just right.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:34 Nate Kenyon
To Diablo III beta testers, Leah only has the Horadrim teachings and a bow in her arsenal to fight evil. However, due to her lineage she is more than meet the eye. Can you elaborate on that? (Note: fans will see a totally different Leah during the game storyline. The book prepares fans to some of that).
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:35 Medievaldragon
Leah is Adria’s daughter, and she has some talents of her own. Her travels with Cain introduce her to a number of things that strengthen her already remarkable resolve, and she learns much about the Horadric ways. Cain is a good teacher, and she has a natural ability for these things…she’s pretty unique, pretty special.
As for the bow, in The Order we see the origins of that. I won’t say anything more–you have to read the novel to find out!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:36 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ]
shall we read your book in turkey?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:36 Zülfü Topçu
I believe so, but you’d have to check with Blizzard on that to be sure…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From hi hi : ]
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 hi
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Nate Kenyon
Do readers need to have played the previous games to understand what’s going on in the book, or are there flashbacks to highlight key events?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Medievaldragon
No, that was another goal of ours–we wanted to make sure this novel was accessible for both new fans and hardcore players, and even people who didn’t know the games at all. We did this through tight, intense flashbacks that focused on important plot points, both in the games and for the plot of The Order. I think it works pretty well, actually!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:38 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Ashley Ashley : ]
Did you spend a lot of time with the Diablo III creators to help develop your story to make it as accurate as possible to the game?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:39 Ashley
Yes, I did–I spent time with them when I flew out there to have a creative working session with everyone, and I kept in constant contact with the Blizzard Creative team. I think readers will find a high level of detail that meshes with the game, and that helps them understand the game in a different way.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Nate Kenyon
Note: all comments are moderated. We can see your submissions. Thanks for your patience. Nate will answer.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Medievaldragon
[Comment From Adam Adam : ]
Is this book will be avalible in Polish leanguage?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Adam
I believe so, but you’d need to check with Blizzard to be sure.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Meh Meh : ]
Oh! Did you ever, at any time experiance writer’s block and how did how deal with it if that was the case?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Meh
I have experienced it to some degree before–it hits me during most of my projects to some extent. I just write through it. I find it’s not actually anything to do with what I’m writing, but more my state of mind–often I find that what I’ve written during those times, as much as I hated it then, ended up being some of my strongest work.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:42 Nate Kenyon
I created a monk named Mikulov (level 17 now). Loved this character, and how you portrayed his combat in the story. What can you tell us about Mikulov and his role in the story?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:42 Medievaldragon
Sure. I don’t believe Mikulov was in the final outline Blizzard and I worked on. But as I began writing the novel I just felt like I needed someone else. What I realized was that although I had taken great pains to include the D1 and D2 stories with various characters, I didn’t have a new character that would bridge the gap to D3. And I wanted a strong, physically gifted hero to contrast with Cain, who was an old man. I found that pairing fascinating to write–and when you add in an eight year old girl, it made for a really strange, and really interesting traveling group.
Mikulov is also driven by visions of the coming invasion, and his and Cain’s role in it. He’s on a mission of his own, and he becomes very important to the core of the story–and to Cain and Leah.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:45 Nate Kenyon
BTW I think its VERY cool that you’ve created Mikulov to play in D3!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ]
so nate can you sign your book for me this gonna be awesome for my diablo collection.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Zülfü Topçu
thanks. In honor to your story. Amazing.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Medievaldragon
I am happy to sign copies of The Order, if you contact me offline. I can be reached through my website.
Can you tell us more about hero classes included in the Diablo III game? Who is responsible for them and why can’t we see old characters besides the Barbarian? Which one is your favourite?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:47
The classes are all included on the D3 website. I can’t answer you about the old characters, I’m sorry–that’s a question for Blizzard, not me.
As far as my favorite? The monk, of course. 🙂 I loved the character I created in The Order, and I have to play the monk in tribute to him…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:48 Nate Kenyon
Noticed there are a few cameos from past Diablo novels. Which Diablo novels and other sources did you read during your pre-writing research? i.e. Captain Hanos Jeronnan, Norrec, and Kara Nightshadow (Diablo: Legacy of Blood)
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:49 Medievaldragon
All of ’em. 🙂 Yes, there are cameos, intentional little “Easter eggs” I wanted to throw in for the fans who would recognize them. I thought that would be really cool, and I wanted to do it as a little tribute to some of the great novels that have been written in the Diablo universe.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Jeananne Jeananne : ]
I’m pretty excited to read it, thank you for dedicating so much time into writing. It’s exciting to know that there’s even more to the story line, now.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Jeananne
I’m glad you’re excited! I think you’ll really love the novel. It was a labor of love for me, I really had fun and I think it shows.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From jason jason : ]
Is this a stand-alone novel, or does it pick up where another story left off?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 jason
It’s a stand alone, although of course it is true to the timeline of Diablo, and what had come before…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 Nate Kenyon
Who are this Horadrim cell Deckard Cain is investigating?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 Medievaldragon
That’s a good question. I don’t want to spoil things for the reader. But basically Deckard comes across a growing number of signs that there is some kind of Horadric cell still operating in Sanctuary–although who they are, and what their goals are, remains unclear. He thinks that finding this cell holds the key to saving Sanctuary–and he’s going to do anything he can to find them, before it’s too late.
Let’s just say that when he does finally find them, there are some major surprises in store for him.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:53 Nate Kenyon
Hallideadly asks: Why have the other Horadrim remained hidden from Cain?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:53 Medievaldragon
Again, I don’t want to spoil the read…but they have their own reasons–some intentional, others perhaps not. Things are not always as they might seem in Sanctuary, as you know. 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:54 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From darksoujah darksoujah : ]
Cain is known to be a Wikipedia of some sorts; however, does he teach/pass down Horadrim techniques to Leah that even Cain himself cannot accomplish?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:55 darksoujah
Cain’s abilities are limited solely to those artifacts he can find, and his scholarly knowledge. He does pass down a number of important things to Leah–although in terms of The Order, we don’t see much of that, because she’s still very young. This novel takes place over a fairly short period of time, except for the flashbacks–and so it’s really focused on the beginning of their relationship, and how that bond began.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:56 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From DanStann DanStann : ]
Did you have much input about the Audiobook production? Did you help choose Scott Brick yourself or was he used because he had done some Blizzard audiobooks previously?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 DanStann
I did not have input into the audiobook, but I think the choice was a good one!!!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 Nate Kenyon
Throughout all these years, the Diablo III team has seen a lot of iteration and gameplay changes to fit the story and the other way around. Zealousangel asks: Were there instances where you had to modify certain parts of the novel to fit the game storyline or viceversa?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 Medievaldragon
Yes, there were last minute changes to the game that had some impact on the novel. It was mainly about timelines, who knew what at a certain time, that sort of thing. We wanted to be careful not to reveal anything TOO huge, while hinting at things so that the novel really laid a foundation for the game. We were all very intent on getting things right, so we worked closely together as things evolved.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:59 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From DarkSouJah DarkSouJah : ]
Is it possible to buy the book directly from you and have it autographed?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:59 DarkSouJah
I don’t sell books directly, but I’m happy to figure out a way to have you ship your copy to me for a signature…just contact me through my website and we’ll work it out.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:00 Nate Kenyon
What aspects of the world of Sanctuary did you personally grew fond with?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:00 Medievaldragon
Many of them. I love the entire feel of the world Blizzard has created. There’s such an overall sense of dread, of mood–threats lurking just out of sight. I love the way magic and the supernatural exist side by side with humanity, and the worlds lurking just beyond the “mortal” soil. It’s a really fun, really creative universe to play in as a writer.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:02 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Sin Sin : ]
If I were to pick up your standalone books what should I lookout for that might finally reel me into horror fiction?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:02 Sin
That’s a good question. Sparrow Rock is one of my personal favorites of my own work. It’s a very, very intense and horrific thriller, with a major twist that I guarantee you won’t see coming. I’ve had more fans commenting on that novel than anything else I’ve done.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:03 Nate Kenyon
Eroldren asks: Are there other facets of the Diablo universe you would like to pursue after in the near future? Or is there another Blizzard book in the pipeline? — **Me personally? I wish to see more Nate Kenyon in Diablo.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:04 Medievaldragon
I’d love to do another Diablo novel. I think it’s a good fit for me. But I loved my StarCraft experience too. I’m really focused on characters, making them deep, real, people–and I think the Blizzard franchises offer some great opportunities there.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Nate Kenyon
I’m sure we will work together again–nothing’s set quite yet, though…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Jason Ozee Jason Ozee : ]
Where’s a good place to start if you want to read the books in order? The Sin War novels? Thanks in advance!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Jason Ozee
The Order, of course! In all seriousness, I do think it’s a great place to begin, because we wanted to tell the story of Diablo from D1 through D3. And it’s a great read–great, fun story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But you can’t go wrong with any of the books, they’re all great.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:07 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Jason Ozee Jason Ozee : ]
I just bought Sparrow Rock on my nook–thanks for the suggestion!
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:07 Jason Ozee
Great! You’re gonna like this one… 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:08 Nate Kenyon
I can’t spoil the first act of Diablo III, but I wanted you and our visitors to know that Diablo III: The Order radically changed my perception of the game story. Specially the ending cinematic of Act 1. I think you captured the essence of Deckard Cain for us to further love and care for the old man at the personal and human level. Thank you.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:08 Medievaldragon
Thanks so much! That was a goal of mine, and I’m glad to know it worked for you. I want readers to really understand and come to love Deckard Cain–faults and all…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:09 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Sin Sin : ]
For someone who just getting interested with horror books are there any general advice also for upstart writers who would like to explore into the horror / thriller genre?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:09 Sin
Well, if you mean what to read–you can’t go wrong with King’s early works–The Shining, The Stand, Salem’s Lot. Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House, brilliant. Matheson’s work. Peter Straub. Blatty’s The Exorcist. There are so many brilliant works in so many different styles.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:11 Nate Kenyon
What locations do Cain and Leah visit throughout the story? What are their importance?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:12 Medievaldragon
This is a quest or a “road” novel, so they visit quite a few different places. Many will be familiar to Diablo fans, like Caldeum, Kurast. Others are new, like Lord Brand’s village. I intended to build the feeling of horror and darkness as the novel went on–so each place they go tends to ratchet up the horror and despair, bit by bit.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:13 Nate Kenyon
TheDerpalator asks: Were you at all concerned about pleasing such a large group of passionate fans as you were writing? In other words, was it difficult to cater to a passionate fan base while staying true to your own creative process? Have you ever written a book for something so specific before?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:14 Medievaldragon
Very much so. I really, really wanted to get this right for the fans. That was hugely important to me, so I spent a lot of time making sure I knew the history and the Diablo universe. That said, I also knew I had to be true to myself and what I wanted to do with the novel–if I did that, I knew it would be a good book, and fans would be happy. So that was my focus.
The only other time I’ve done something like this was for StarCraft Ghost: Spectres, which I think turned out really well. That helped me feel more confident writing The Order.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:17 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Ladislav Ladislav : ]
I dont know a lot about Diablo story but I’d like to change this stance.. how should I became to get things from birth, maybe in chronological line..
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:17 Ladislav
The Order will give you a decent idea of the timeline, at least from D1 to D3. Book of Cain would also be helpful, I think…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:18 Nate Kenyon
Any more questions? We are going to wrap up shortly.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Medievaldragon
[Comment From Dewilcry Equilibrium Dewilcry Equilibrium : ]
so which character you suggest for new diablo players?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Dewilcry Equilibrium
The monk, of course! 🙂 I love that character, both in the novel, and in the game. I think you’ll enjoy playing it…
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Nate Kenyon
[Comment From Sin Sin : ]
Have you consider expanding your tie-in fiction writing outside Blizzard and venture with other (game) IPs?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:23 Sin
If I was a witch doctor, I’d cast a special voodoo spell so Nate sticks with Diablo for quite a long time. ^_^
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:23 Medievaldragon
I haven’t thought much about it, Sin. I’ve had a couple of offers, but right now I’m so busy it’s tough to imagine. I’m finishing up my next original novel now, a thriller called DAY ONE that’s going to be amazing. And I want to do another project with Blizzard too.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:24 Nate Kenyon
Sounds good to me! 🙂
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:24 Nate Kenyon
Hope Chris and Micky are reading. ;p
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:25 Medievaldragon
They know…and I think we’re all pretty happy about how this book turned out.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:25 Nate Kenyon
ok, thanks for coming Nate, and Lyndsi. Fans should pick up Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon at a bookstore near you or online.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:26 Medievaldragon
Well, I guess that’s it…thanks so much to everyone for talking with me, this was great!
Thanks everyone for coming. Hopefully, you have time to read this book before or after playing the game. There’s so much to learn from Diablo III: The Order. You will meet Deckard Cain at a personal level through his eyes and mind thoughts in ways never seen before. You will deeply fall in love with the character, and care for him and his mission. There aren’t really Diablo III spoilers. Nothing to lose. Jump in and immerse into the story. Just a warning. Beware of Belial and his web.
Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:36 Medievaldragon
Other Fansite Interviews
Other fansites had the opportunity to interview Nate Kenyon during the week Diablo III: The Order officially launched:
Last summer, during the BotCon 2011 celebrated in Pasadena, CA through June 2-5, Chris Metzen and Flint Dille revealed they would launch Transformers: Autocracy — an 8-page digital format comic book spanning 12-parts. It sets the ground that ignited what will later be known as the great civil war of Cybertron. A world ruled by Zeta Prime. This is where the Optimus Prime we love and cherish was forged. At the time, he was the best officer of Zeta Prime. But things weren’t black and white in this era, and back then Optimus Prime was still known as Orion Pax.
Transformers: Autocracy launched on January 18th, and it’s published every two weeks in Comixology (PC/Mac), and the iPad and iPhone mobile platform.
In the eve of the launch of Transformers: Autocracy # 3 (available Wednesday, February 15th) I had the awesome opportunity to ask Chris Metzen and Flint Dille some questions about the digital comics.
When did you get hooked up with Transformers, and what’s your geek out story around the franchise?
Metzen: Well the opportunity to write a Transformers story for IDW popped a few years ago now. It’s taken awhile to get it (all) together. Thankfully the editors at IDW have been very patient!
As for favorite geek-out? There’s no question (IMHO) that the franchise’s greatest moment (across all media) is the throw-down mega-fisticuffs slug-fest between Prime and Megatron in the animated film. “Why throw away your life so recklessly?” Heh. Still makes me smile like an idiot?
Which Transformers stories did you read as background for Autocracy prior to writing the 12-part story?
Metzen: Ooof. Everything I could get my hands on! I had been reading the ongoing series/All Hail Megatron/etc. since it started, but needed to brush up on all the one-shots. Loved Maximum Dynobots and the Last Stand of the Wreckers tales as well. There was a lot to take in and I see lots of places where we missed a few notable details. ? It was a lot to cram for. My biggest inspiration (apart from the animated film) is Furman’s body of work on Transformers. That man paved some serious ground.
Some people are confused with what little they have read in the past 16 pages (spanning Transformers: Autocracy # 1-2) and what they know from Megatron: Origins. Especially concerning Starscream. In Megatron: Origins, Sentinel Prime is still alive. Starscream fights alongside the Deceptions against the Autobots and kills Kaon senators in front of everyone. Yet, in Autocracy, Starscream is a delegate with freedom to walk among the Senate and Zeta Prime as if no one knows what he did. Are fans going to get a clearer picture of what’s going on, or is there a retcon?
Metzen: Ok, lemmesee if I can clear this up… (fingers crossed)…
Autocracy takes place AFTER Chaos Theory, Megatron: Origins and Spotlight: Blurr. You’ll see it’s AFTER everything IDW’s tackled in that era. It’s the story of the end of that era – and the start of the WAR we all know and love.
As for Starscream and the senate of Kaon – no one survived that (very brazen) attack and all video coverage was quickly disposed of. Decepticons are very clever… and thorough! Thus, Starscream’s role as a Decepticon is still largely under wraps as Autocracy gets underway (at least as far as Zeta and these remaining senators are concerned). That entire attack was covered up pretty quick – so one has a clear picture of exactly which Decepticons were specifically involved.
I’ll also go out on a limb here and address the other lingering break – Sentinel WAS Zeta’s immediate predecessor – NOT Nominus. That was my bad… the mention of him getting whacked at the start of Chaos Theory was etched in my head as I was scripting Chapter 2 and I referred to the wrong guy… (do I get a last cigarette before the firing squad does away with me?)…
Why did you choose to write a story set in that time period? Whose was the initiative to do so, yours or the IDW editorial team?
Metzen: Well, Flint and I had pitched a really cool ‘present day’ hook that took a deep look at Optimus and what made him tick. It had some heavy flash-back elements from the old days. Some of the themes and hooks we pitched seemed similar to those that were being developed for Chaos Theory (which no one had seen yet), so the editor, Andy Schmidt, walked us through what Chaos Theory was going to be. We were hooked – and knew immediately that our story would fit far better into that pre-war era. From there – Autocracy really started to find its feet.
What can you tell us about Zeta Prime and his extreme measures to combat the Decepticons?
Metzen: Well… I believe Zeta started strong and wanted to be a Prime that really maintained order and security for the people. But Megatron really stoked the fires of unrest. I think there was a crazy escalation between Zeta’s conventional tactics and the Decepticons’ terror tactics. Over time, he concluded that fighting fire with fire was the only reasonable response to what Megatron represented. He wasn’t always a monster – but he sure became one in response to an increasingly lawless and darkening world.
Sounds like there’s a good story to be told there… 🙂
Autocracy # 2 was very harsh. How does Orion Pax copes with his orders knowing his duty to Zeta Prime makes him a harbinger of mass destruction upon the very citizens he’s sworn to protect?
Metzen: He doesn’t know yet how bad things are. He doesn’t know the extent of Zeta’s plans (he wasn’t in the room to hear any of this). In general, since he’s having trouble FEELING/Hearing his conscience – one could argue he’s operating through intense tunnel-vision. He doesn’t yet see how bad things are out there in the world – or what that means to him personally.
Obviously, he was in the zone when he stood up to the Senate… clear-minded, compassionate, selfless… But when his ‘heart’ got ripped out… Well, he just ain’t been the same since. However, can you imagine how PISSED he’d be if he saw that video footage Soundwave made off with???
I have been a subscriber of Marvel Digital for a few years. I love the digital library concept. Let’s say that fans — best editors when it comes to continuum inconsistencies — find some retcons, or mistakes in Autocracy. Are you actually able to correct these in Transformers: Autocracy digital at any time? If so, how do you feel about having that sort of control?
Metzen: See answer above regarding said Sentinel/Nominus snafu… Hell yes, I’d like to FIX bits and pieces of this!!!! ? We’ll see about modifying digital content. Not sure what IDW’s plan is for that.
You are working on Diablo III, and both StarCraft II and World of Warcraft expansions, and the next-gen MMO. How do you stretch time to fit writing Transformers: Autocracy?
Metzen: Well, I recently bought a new Mac for home use, so the timing was perfect. And hey – where there’s a will, there’s a way!
There’s a lot of good and awesome critic in the forums around the Transformers: Autocracy’s digital format. It’s only 8-pages, but it crams in so much from panel to panel. The story rolls out. No pun. How does your experience in video game storytelling this past fifteen years converges with comic book storytelling?
Metzen: With 8-page chapters, there’s no room to screw around or get self-indulgent. We have to make every page, every panel, every line count – and tell this story as effectively and excitingly as we can. In that way, it’s not all that different from writing games – where a player/viewer’s time is a precious commodity. The pacing does keep things tight. 🙂
Chaos Theory, Autocracy, and other relaunch stories — all of them seem to be leading to a major event set in the present borrowing from events and characters from the long past. Is this really what’s going on? Will you be part of that project or follow up projects?
Metzen: Well, IDW’s big relaunch event was CHAOS – and the two new ongoing series (More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise, respectively) are keeping their hands full. That’s the only mega event I’ve been aware of. As for more down the line… well, let’s see how Autocracy does as it picks up steam. 🙂
What should we expect to see in Autocracy # 3, and how do the events affect the remaining issues of this 12-part story?
Metzen: Well, Orion’s going to be busy hunting down Soundwave… shenanigans certainly occur.
Soundwave, Soundwave, Soundwave… for those of you who are fans of this character – buckle up! This is HIS chapter! (maybe my second biggest franchise geek-out…)
Blizzard’s roots started developing DC The Death and Return of Superman in 1994 and DC League of Justice Task Force for Super Nintendo in 1995. If Activision asked Blizzard to work on one of their IP, is that door open?
Metzen: Geez, I dunno. I think we’re doing pretty well with the franchises we’re currently developing. From a story perspective, we’ve still got miles and miles to go with each of them!
Grab a digital copy of the Transformers: Autocracy #3 for only $.99 cents via iPhone, iPad or Comixology (PC/Mac)
Note: Check back later for Flint Dille’s answers.
Transformers: Autocracy # 3 – Chris & Flint Teaser (Video)
Meet the Writers
Chris Metzen is Blizzard Entertainment Senior Vice-president of Creative Development — responsible for developing and expanding the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo universes and directing the team of story writers for upcoming game content and licensed products such as novels and manga. Chris Metzen is loved by the lore community, and he has identified himself as a geek. The Transformers franchise is in a dear place near his geeky heart.
Blizzplanet and other Blizzard fansites had the opportunity to individually interview Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Lead and Senior Story Developer Micky Neilson over the phone. Eldorian forwarded most of the questions submitted recently by our visitors.
In our interview, Micky Neilson talks more about the mysterious Zoltun Kulle — for those who got to watch the BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel, and reveals the main theme of Nate Kenyon’s upcoming Diablo: The Order (Slated: May 29, 2012).
Read our interview with Micky Neilson to find out why!
Note: Post on twitter a comment about this interview using the hashtag #bookofcain plus @blizzplanet for a chance at a free Diablo III: Book of Cain giveaway. Deadline: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011. (example: @blizzplanet I <3 Blizzard, gimme #bookofcain)
Why is Deckard Cain so important in Diablo history?
Neilson: Why is Deckard Cain so important? Well, he’s one of the most identifiable characters. I would say that stems from him being chosen as the NPC you deal with the most in the series. So, I think as a character he resonated with fans early on so he had some longevity and some staying power. Over the course of the different games he’s become certainly a marquee character. He worked really well for this book specifically because he’s the guy gathering all the information, lore, text and all of that stuff. It really made sense that he’s the one to put this book together.
Where did the inspiration come from to make the Book of Cain a real item that people could buy?
Neilson: Early on the idea came from Chris Metzen as far as he came to the publishing team and said that he really wanted to do a book that is kind of a history of the universe and also an art book. He described it as a hybrid between a source book and an art book. So we went forward from there. As part of that process we had discussions if this is part of Cain’s journal from the game or something completely separate. So we went back and forth a few times and through the course of identifying what the book would be and kind of nailing down the vision of the book, we settled down on the in game artifact aspect of it. We felt like that was the better way to go. I mean as far as the cover and maintaining continuity within the IP it felt like a cool hook for it to be something actually within the game.
Does the Book of Cain take any information from previous Diablo books such as those written by Richard A. Knaak or Mel Odom?
Neilson: Yeah. There is definitely. A lot of the Sin War trilogy is covered in here. You can get kind of a condensed version of the events from the Sin War Trilogy, and it touches on some of the other books as well.
Given that this book is set as the source book for Diablo lore, does it contradict or change any of the major events that have taken place in the game? And if so can you elaborate and be specific on any of the changes?
Neilson: It does clarify a lot of things. We have a lore team who basically pour over all of this material. We knew going into the creation of this book that there were already some contradictions that existed in the lore and the history. So we took this as an opportunity to set the record straight. We definitely identified a few things. One specific example is Tal Rasha and the Soul Stone; and Zoltun Kulle being the one that suggested that the essence could be trapped within a human. There were already a couple of differing accounts and who made that suggestion. I think in one account it was Tal Rasha made the suggestion and another account that Tyrael made the suggestion. So we went in with a different option that Zoltun Kulle was the one who made the suggestion and the purpose of that was to set up that character more because he’s a main character in the next game.
Does Book of Cain go into any post-Sin War details after the trilogy by Knaak? A lot of the other lore in the games and other novels make it seem as if the Sin War didn’t end until a few hundred years before the events of Diablo 1.
Neilson: It does go into detail and we’re trying to nail down the timeline right now. I don’t remember if it nails down exactly how many years before the events of the game that the Sin War takes place but we are in the midst of nailing all of that down for a more refined timeline.
Book of Cain talks about the Angels, and Demons, but Does Trang’Oul get mentioned in the book?
Neilson: Trang’Oul is mentioned briefly. He actually has a gorgeous double page spread and as part of that there’s a little side bar written as a handwritten note from Deckard Cain. There’s a little bit of information, but it’s almost more like a teaser for Trang’Oul.
Are there any potential Diablo III story spoilers in Book of Cain for those who wish to read it before playing the game?
Neilson: There’s no spoilers for the game. Information in the Book of Cain certainly does inform what is in the game. When you read the book you will certainly be more informed of the lore perspective when you play the game.
Are there examples of Deckard Cain and Leah’s research throughout the years searching and piecing together the fragments of the new Prophecy about Azmodan and the comet?
Neilson: There is a lot of that covered in the book. The prophecy is kind of an amalgam that Cain put together on many different prophecies that exist. Some of the different cultures around Sanctuary have some of their own prophecies and a lot of these prophecies point to the comet and the end of days. Deckard Cain put together one all encompassing prophecy based on everything he’s read. So there’s the one he put together but there are a lot of different ones as well.
In Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Tyrael opens a portal for Cain and the hero prior to the destruction of the Worldstone. Do we get to read about the explosion of Mount Arreat from the point of view of any surviving Barbarians? For example, the upcoming DC Comics Diablo mentions a survivor.
Neilson: We do have a section on the destruction of the Worldstone I believe, I’ll have to double check, but I believe it’s told from Deckard Cain’s perspective. So I don’t believe it’s told from the Barbarian perspective.
Does Cain mention Abd al-Hazir, and if so, does his research help Cain piece together the prophecy? Have they met or worked together?
Neilson: I don’t believe we mention Abd al-Hazir in here and if we do it’s just a really brief mention of the many sources Cain is drawing from. We don’t suggest in the book that they have been hanging out and sharing information.
Are all lands of Sanctuary featured, and given in-depth background story?
Neilson: There wasn’t enough space in the book to go in depth giving all the other information we put in the book. There is a section near the end of the book called Lands and Cultures that does cover all the main areas and cultures in sanctuary. It also covers all the new classes that will be showing up in Diablo 3.
Does Cain uncover new history of his Horadrim heritage and learn the background stories of NPCs/Bosses/lore figures met in the previous games? (for example: Leoric’s pre-Tristram reign, Warriv, Wirt, Anya, mythical stories of possible Tyrael encounters across time.)
Neilson: Yes. For sure we get into Leoric a lot more. We do touch into a lot of the history of the Horadrim, the hunt for the three, we get into a lot more detail as far as the events that took place back then. We’re also working on another book, Nate Kenyon is writing a book for us called The Order and that is really going to go into a lot more detail also into the history of the Horadrim and Cain’s involvement and how he learned about the Horadrim and the events at Tristram.
What was more interesting or challenging about compiling the lore for Book of Cain and working with Flint Dille?
Neilson: Flint Dille was great. Flint really understood the character so he nailed that character voice, that scholarly voice of Deckard Cain. I’d say the biggest challenge was just codifying everything. Just putting it all together identifying contradictions that existed and clarifying which direction we wanted to go. There’s a lot of history in the Diablo universe. It was a mammoth task just to put distinctly. What did we end up? 140-some pages? So just trying to the entire Diablo history in that amount of pages, and a significant amount of that was art, was not the easiest thing in the world.
What inspired this mythological background for the Diablo universe concerning Anu and Tathamet the dragon?
Neilson: A lot of that came from Chris Metzen and early on we had meetings and we talked about what would different mythology be for the universe. And we knew there was one we wanted to back and enforce as canon at least from Cain’s point of view and the information that he discovered. A lot of those ideas came from Chris Metzen, and we hashed out the rest of it in brainstorming sessions.
Is Tran’Goul somehow related to Tathamet considering both are dragons, but both seem to be different: the former good, the latter evil?
Neilson: I think there’s more information that will be revealed in the future about Trang’Oul – right now I can’t disclose anything.
How do you feel about the mood and story of the Diablo series? What do you think makes it stand from other dark fantasy universes?
Neilson: Interesting. So the biggest theme that we face with Diablo is heroism facing absolute terror. I really think that sets it apart. You have humanity that is caught in the middle between these cataclysmic forces of light and dark, but light and dark aren’t exactly what you expect them to be. The angels aren’t exactly what you expect angels to be – most of them want to destroy humanity. So it’s a really kind of an interesting dynamic and humanity has the ability to become powerful in its own right, and to upset the balance of the Eternal Conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. I think that is really a cool hook.
Thank you, Micky Neilson, Eric Yco, Bashiok, Lyndsi, and Blizzard Creative & Public Relations Teams for your awesome support to fansites and lore fans.