Diablo III: Build Customization, UI, Economy and More

This past week Bashiok has been on a roll posting and replying to fans on the official Diablo 3 forums. Among the topics discussed were the stat points allocation concerns which seem to be the new kid on the block after the Art Direction uproar a few months ago. Bashiok continues to tease and hint many Character build customization options that are still unrevealed. He also mentioned that any buttons we saw in the Blizzcon 2008 hands-on demo were placeholders and that none are recycled from World of Warcraft, but unique to Diablo III. There are other topics. You can read them below after the break. Share your thoughts with other fans.

Blizzard Quote:

Inventory

Maphack @ Azeroth: Well your developers seem to feel that putting items into boxes with the classic inventory was punishing to players, as if we weren’t beyond the level of tinker toys.

Bashiok: No I’m sure you’re a very intelligent person, but at it’s core elements Diablo is not about pouring over the worth of a single inventory square. That’s not what makes the game.

The grid system puts a secondary value on an item, one of how much space it actually takes up. That amount of space, unless it’s broken up in to minuscule segments, can’t be properly attributed to the actual worth of the item.

So you have a grand charm, three spaces, is it a good charm or a crappy charm? If it’s worth keeping is it worth taking up three inventory spots? If it’s worth taking up three inventory spots with that grand charm is there any other combination of lesser charms that could…

That’s just a lot of ridiculous work to figure out the worth of each single square of inventory space, and it’s pretty much unnecessarily punishing, yes.

Blizzard Quote:

Trade House System, Not Auction House

Qookie @ USEast: Now in World of Warcraft , using the Auction House is the biggest method of getting rich with gold cause gold is one way to get the best item in the game and another way is dueling in Arena or BattleGround for points and these points you can use to buy special items which some are the best item in the game and some aren’t. The problem with the Auction House is that it takes away with the interaction with other players to talk to each other and bargin items to a lower price and are that fun stuff you can do in diablo but not with gold, but with items. You can still trade with other people but mostly doesn’t happen because of course you can get mostly everything from your guild/Clan or your Auction House.

Bashiok: I’m not sure I understood all of what you said, sorry, it sort of read like stereo instructions written by the guy that scares people away from using the pay phone at the 7-11 down the street.

Just a couple of my own cents on the system. First off we really don’t have a solid plan for any sort of external trading system, that is anything beyond being in the same game with the person. We know we’d like something like that though if at all possible.

Foremost – spamming is bad. I think trade channels usually suck because of the requirement to spam. The amount of time and effort spent just to get your items noticed borders on brain-explosiony. Throw in the lack of easily gauged economy and you’re usually left out in the dark, laughed at, ripped off, etc. Your suggestion seems to mix the idea of an auction house and trade channel, in that you can use a channel in-game to spam, and then have some sort of UI to trade the item. That definitely solves one issue, which is needing to leave the game and just sit in a chat channel. What it doesn’t solve is needing to sit in a chat channel and spam. Sure, you could probably play and spam the channel every once in a while but it’s really not the cleanest approach. You’re still spamming a chat channel, you’re still limited to the people that want to see that spam (ie not many).

Since you brought it up let’s move on to the World of Warcraft’s auction house. World of Warcraft did not invent the auction house trading system. It may have certainly refined it, but an irrational hatred of the game that some of you seem to have really shouldn’t translate to game systems that aren’t original to it. There are some major advantages to an auction house similar to WoW’s. You don’t have to be present being the biggest and best. You can be playing with friends, PvPing, asleep, at school or work, and someone has the ability to see your items, and you have a greater chance to sell/trade them. You don’t have to spam a channel, you don’t have to even be online and playing. That’s HUGE, and really the main reason so many people use trading systems such as websites and forums for Diablo II. You want to focus on playing the game or not playing the game, not sitting around hoping someone wants your item.

It also helps form a visible and easily identified economy. I’m a new player, I got a sword I think it’s probably pretty nice, I can go on an auction house and search for it or similar swords and get an idea of how much it should sell for. In this case being in a trade channel is no better whether it’s in-game or out of game. What you’d probably end up with is people still going to forums and more static styles of trading found on websites, but even then any unified sense of economy is spread thin. Maybe that’s not such a bad system in itself, and an official trading site could work. Of course what you lose either way though, auction house or website, is in-game player interaction. Which is what I assume you’re striving to keep.

When it comes down to it, any change or addition or removal of any systems have to be weighed. Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

I’ll go back to what I said at the beginning and state we don’t know what if any types of trading systems will be in the final game. Maybe there won’t be, it may be that eventually we settle on leaving it Diablo II style. We have some ideas of what would be cool, but at the end of the day we’re not going to do anything that isn’t far and away a more positive change for the game.

Character Build Customization

Deliras @ Europe: As some forumers have stated before I want to recall that one of the greatest and most enjoyable aspects of the DIablo series (specially D2 and D2-LoD), is the amazing variety of character builds you were able to create.

Bashiok: Agreed, and we’ll probably surpass them for viable number of character builds. With runes it’s actually kind of scary. Seeing the game in the wild and what people will come up with… eek. But it’s exciting, making a character that almost feels too powerful is pretty damn fun.

Many Build Customization Options Unrevealed

Deliras @ Europe: If you were to build your uberpwnzor pvp bowazon for example, every single stat had to be allocated carefully.

Bashiok: Ah, so then stat points were just a means to an end then, weren’t they? In almost all cases anyway. They were a requirement to the items, clicking a button to raise a number to a required value. The items and abilities chosen are really what created the character, not figuring out item requirements.

You could argue about it forever if you wanted to. The stat points didn’t make the character, but little extra math problems are fun, but little extra math problems don’t really equate to fun or interesting character building, but I think that math problems are fun and interesting, but … etc. etc. etc.

And of course all I can attempt to do is assure you that there’s going to be plenty of build potential, plenty of customization, and plenty of math to dive into, if that’s your thing.

Diablo 3 UI Unique, not WoW Clone. BlizzCon UI buttons were Placeholder

Qookie @ USEast: … Blizzard needs to understand they cannot be lazy and take ideas from World of Warcraft just because it’s a good idea. …

Bashiok: Uhm, well out of all the things you said I guess I could probably talk about the icons. All of the Diablo III UI and icons are created by the Diablo III team, mainly our UI designer Mike Nicholson. We’re not taking any art from other games, it’s all created for Diablo III. It should also be noted that everything seen thus far should be considered placeholder, a lot of the UI has already changed fairly significantly.

DX10 and OpenGL 3.0

Spherous @ USEast: Does Blizzard plan to make use of Direct X 10 and OpenGL 3.0?

Bashiok: We’re not currently using any specific DirectX 10 features in Diablo III. That could potentially change of course, but if it did we don’t have any plans to then require DirectX 10 to play the game.

2008 Xmas: Diablo II Collector’s Edition Contest

Our sister site Diii.net has a very interesting prize to giveaway during the Christmas Season: The Diablo II Collector’s Edition. All you need to do is to post a comment at the following thread. That simple. Want to know what’s within the Collector’s Edition?

  • Diablo II Game
  • Exclusive Diablo II DVD Movie – All 24 minutes of the Diablo II game cinematics digitally re-mastered for enhanced picture quality on your DVD player in Widescreen format.
  • View Storyboards & listen to audio commentary from the Diablo II cinematics team
  • Original Cinematic Trailer
  • Commemorative Game Manual – Collector

Echoes of War Now Available On iTunes

Blizzard has announced the Echoes of War soundtracks are now available on iTunes store allowing you to purchase individual tracks or the whole album.

Blizzard Quote:
Head on over to the iTunes store to get your copy of one or all of the 15 unique arrangements from Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment. This new album was recently released on CD, and has now been added to iTunes as well. It features 90 minutes of music in all, based on tracks from our games, including the upcoming StarCraft II and Diablo III. Individual tracks are available on iTunes for 99 cents each. For more details, check out the Echoes of War site or head to the Eminence Online Store to order a physical copy.

Blizzplanet’s Blizzard Music: Echoes of War Drawing Contest

Celebrating the Christmas season, Blizzplanet launches a new contest that will chill everyone’s heart with joy. The prize of this contest is courtesy and sponsored by Eminence:

The Music of Blizzard Entertainment: Echoes of War

It contains music from Starcraft, Diablo II, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Starcraft: Ghost, Diablo III and Starcraft II. You can take home this product by participating in this contest. Ends on January 2, 2009 at 11:59 EST (New York time)

Simply folloiw and complete all of the instructions listed below:

  • Make sure to type your main character’s username and server. (Whether Battle.net or WoW—for winner announcement purposes)
  • Answer the following Trivia questions after visiting the official Echoes of War website: All the answers may be found here:
    (http://www.echoes-of-war.com)

    1. Who is the Eminence Artistic Director involved in the production of Echoes of War?
    2. What was the previous Namco game soundtrack produced by Eminence prior to Echoes of War?
    3. Mention six Blizzard composers involved in Echoes of War.
    4. Who is the principal conductor of the Eminence Symphony Orchestra?
    5. What Blizzard music composer created the Diablo 3 Overture music?
    6. Which Blizzard music composer inspired his themes from Africa and India music influences?
    7. What European orchestra did play the Diablo II expansion music?
    8. Mention three projects previously created by Kow Otani.
    9. Name the Echoes of War soundtrack title that Go Shiina arranged with Derek Duke.
    10. Listen to the four audio-samples and tell us which you like best and why.

  • Mail your submission at

Blizzplanet is currently spotlighted at the official World of Warcraft website. Read our Echoes of War review to find out what’s inside the prize’s box in detail.

December: Diablo III Media Update

Blizzard has updated the Diablo III media just prior to the Christmas holidays. Fans are greeted with three new concept artworks and five new gameplay screenshots to hold your breath until the next update.

The first concept art tells us a few things. It is Caldeum and it is described as a bandit city. It is unknown if the place will be hostile to players or if it is just a market place where adventurers may spend some coins on merchadise and to be able to hire mercenaries (followers). The art is signed by Trent (2007). The second artwork shows the beautiful interiors of a palace with a large central pool. It is signed by Peter Lee (2006). The third artwork shows the entrance to a dungeon, presumably. It is signed by Victor Lee (March 2007). So we are seeing three different concept artists and artwork dating back to 2006 and 2007.

The five screenshots show off the female Wizard, the Witch Doctor and the Barbarian in action. The Wizard’s spell graphics is with no doubt awesome. She hurls a lightning bolt across half the screen to hit a target on the other side of the room. The Witch Doctor throws an explosive concoction and up to four fiery pets engage ghostly spellcasters that seem to have been triggered by a trap mechanism that introduces them into the room from the below the ground. The third screenshot shows the Wizard casting a very powerful laser-like beam of fire. It looks more like a continuous redish photon stream that desintegrates anything caught in its path. It covers a large area of the screen. The stream doesn’t stop on the target, it goes through it and continues all the way off the screen.

Something I am liking a lot from these five pictures is that the dungeon is dark. The candles do offer some illumination, but for the most part some areas are dark. Your character and incoming mobs are brighter so that you are able to identify the mobs. The spells are represented with bright and intense pitch white and many variations of pleasant colors. This is not only appealing to your visual input. It gives you a new perspective of the Diablo II dungeons in full 3D, allowing you to recognize and identify monsters around you easier than before, and the spells are just gorgeous. The art direction is going smoothly on my book.

 


Warcraft Pocket Star Book Editor Marco Palmieri Laid Off

The economic recession across the United States is seriously affecting every industry: from General Motors and other Automobile manufacturers down to book publishers and beyond. Sadly, I have to inform that my personal contacts at Pocket Star Books and Tokyopop have been laid off. I had heard a few weeks ago that Tim Beedle (Starcraft/ Warcraft manga editor) and Susan Hale were no longer at Tokyopop. I don’t know the perks, but now I have figured out it is due to lay offs.

Today, after visiting Keith R.A. DeCandido’s blog, I found out that Marco Palmieri was among the 35 employees laid off by Simon & Schuster on December 3.  He was the editor of all Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo novels, and more notoriously known as editor of 65% of the Star Trek pocket star books published in the past 11 years. It is a very sad day for hundreds of writers, including Richard A. Knaak, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Christie Golden, Jeff Grubb, Graham McNeill, and Aaron Rosenberg who had the opportunity to meet and work with him. I am still in shock. I sent him an email just a day ago on Saturday not even knowing he may not even be able to read it from the office.

In my email I was letting him know the URL to the Night of the Dragon review and to ask a few things about the Starcraft Ghost: Spectre. I am really saddened to hear about his sudden departure. I have been in contact with Marco Palmieri for about two or three years. He would ship review copies of most Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft pocket star books to my home. The latest ones Diablo Archive, World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal and World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon.

I have no words to thank him for his great support to keep fans updated with lore and upcoming books. Thanks to him,  Blizzplanet has been the main source of Blizzard novel news for other fansites, fans and even wiki enthusiasts in the past years. I had the opportunity to hand-shake Marco Palmieri this year at the New York Comic Con and to thank him face-to-face. I was looking forward to meeting him again on 2009. I will get in contact with the new editor, but it will not be the same without Marco. I am not the only one with that sentiment. All of the Blizzard novel writers feel the same way. We hope Marco Palmieri finds a new job doing what he does and loves best. Not only for him, but for his wife and two children. Best wishes to the other 34 employees who were laid off too.

The next Warcraft novel is expected to hit bookstores on April 21 as a hardcover (retail price: $ 25) under the title World of Warcraft: Arthas, The Rise of the Lich King—by Christie Golden. Hopefully, the layoffs won’t delay the release dates and script proposal and revisions for upcoming books.

Source: Keith R.A. DeCandido’s blog

Massive Inc. and Blizzard Entertainment Form Multi-Year Advertising Relationship

Blizzard Entertainment and Massive, Inc. stroke an exclusive deal to advertise on Battle.net. Before you freak out, this deal does not include in-game advertisement. Blizzard respects the integrity of their games and fans. Microsoft’s Massive. Inc will advertise in World of Warcraft and other game websites.

NEW YORK

Diablo 3 Demo Leak Hoax

Diii.net reports certain sites are claiming to have a Diablo III demo leak. If you see a site on the search engines in the net or on a torrent that claims to have a Diablo III demo be very wary of downloading it. There is no leak of this game. Leaks usually happen when a friends and family tester or beta tester breaks an NDA.  Diablo III is not in Alpha nor Beta testing.  It can only be played on Battle.net 2.0.

Use common sense. What is being distributed is a trojan horse / malware. Beware.

BlizzCast 7: Submit Questions

All the Community managers are actively gathering questions for the next episode of BlizzCast (podcast). Feel free to submit your questions in the comments below. Simply register in order to submit your comments. I will personally send the questions to Bashiok (Diablo 3), Karune (Starcraft 2) and Nethaera (World of Warcraft).