Diablo 3 Wizard Orb and Unannounced Weapon Enchantment

Bashiok teased players with one of the Diablo III features that have not been announced yet: How to upgrade base weapons damage to make them more powerful? The answer is not former Diablo II runes. Say whoa? We will probably have to wait until Blizzcon 2009 this August to find out or one of the BlizzCasts? Additionally, we learn something about the Wizard.

Blizzard Quote:


Bashiok: The sort of plate-like gauntlets shown on her are part of the armor set look she was wearing. I think the “focus” you’re talking about is actually an orb, which is a wizard-specific off hand item. You’ve got the idea right though, a lot of the wizard spell animations incorporate the orb into a sort of focusing element while casting. The electrocute and disintegrate videos show it pretty well.

Unannounced Weapon Enhancement

Bashiok: I think it’s important not to mistake the word used for a system (in this case rune) for what the systems are actually accomplishing.

In Diablo II runes were used to augment weapons and essentially add more stats to them, runes in certain combinations would create runewords which were in essence more powerful than the sum of each individual rune. But remove the word rune, and you’re looking at a system that simply upgrades items.

Similarly, runes in Diablo III, take away the word rune and we’re looking at a system where skills and abilities can be altered to behave differently, simply increased in effectiveness, or some combination thereof.

Essentially what your question comes down to then is, where is the system in Diablo III that allows us to make base weapons more powerful? And that’s a question that will have to be answered at a later time.

AT&T Renews Hosting Agreement With Blizzard Entertainment

AT&T renewed their hosting agreement with Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. for online games over Battle.net and World of Warcraft servers. A press release is available.

Blizzard Quote:
AT&T Renews Hosting Agreement With Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. for Online Games

LOS ANGELES, March 3—Online gamers will continue to enjoy a rich and reliable gaming experience thanks to an agreement struck between AT&T* and Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. Today, AT&T and Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software, agreed to a two-year renewal for hosted services in North America.

Blizzard Entertainment(R) is best known for its Warcraft(R), StarCraft(R), and Diablo(R) PC games as well as its massively multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing game World of Warcraft(R), which is available in eight languages and played by more than 11.5 million subscribers worldwide.** AT&T has been working closely with Blizzard Entertainment for 9 years, providing hosting for World of Warcraft and the Battle.net(R) online-gaming service.

“We’ve been pleased with AT&T’s service over the years, and we’re confident in their ability to continue to provide the quality support we need,” said Paul Sams, Chief Operating Officer of Blizzard Entertainment. “This renewed agreement allows us to stay completely focused on our games while AT&T applies its hosting expertise to help us offer the speed, reliability and security our players expect.”

Through multiple Internet Data Centers (IDC), AT&T will provide strategic hosting and proactive, 24/7 network monitoring and management for the online infrastructure of Blizzard Entertainment’s games and services. The AT&T Gaming Core Team will provide comprehensive networking support to Blizzard Entertainment.

The AT&T Gaming Core Team was formed in 2004 to meet the infrastructure needs of customers’ gaming operations across AT&T’s Internet Protocol (IP) network. The team consists of engineers and hosting specialists who provide round-the-clock support to companies offering MMO games. The team provides global, end-to-end support of customers’ gaming operations across AT&T’s hosting infrastructure, applications and IP network and supports trouble resolution, incident command and control, post incident review and root cause analysis.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, which represents computer and video game publishers, U.S. computer and video game software sales grew almost 23 percent in 2008 to $11.7 billion.

For more information on AT&T Hosting and Application Services, go to http://www.business.att.com/hosting.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

Blizzard Lead Producer Moves To New MMO

Our network site, IncGamers, got the MASSIVE breaking news that WoW Lead Producer Jeff Kaplan has moved away from the World of Warcraft team to focus all his time and effort on the Blizzard Entertainment’s unannounced Next-Gen MMO.

He will still be participating in certain WoW development decisions, but his new tasks will keep him busy on the development of the next-gen MMO. This brings a lot of speculation vibe to it. Why reveal he’s moved to the next-gen MMO team? Why now? Fans wouldn’t have even figured out he was missing except for the BlizzCast Q&As that aren’t released so often.

Will there be a new Blizzcon this year? Are we witnessing hints of an impending game announcement this year?

Will this Next-Gen MMO be a resurrected Starcraft: Ghost game? The game was postponed, not canceled.  It is quite possible. Back on Blizzcon 2005, fans played Starcraft: Ghost multiplayer. It looked more like an MMO than a console game. Another possible hint this game could resurface is the four Starcraft: Ghost printed-format books in development. Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Star Books will publish Starcraft Ghost: Spectre by the end of 2009. Keith R.A. DeCandido has written around four chapters thus far.

Tokyopop will publish a manga trilogy titled Starcraft Ghost: Academy, aimed to be released throughout 2010. The Year of the Ghost. Speculations, speculations. Don’t we love that time of the year when Blizzard itches to tell something is being brewed in their headquarters?

Will it be a Starcraft MMO or Diablo MMO? It would be hard to tell. Back on 2002, two games were in development parallel to each other: World of Warcraft and Warcraft III.  Both games tied up lorewise with the introduction of the Night Elves, Tauren, Undead races and the Kalimdor and Northrend continents.

Starcraft 2 is now developed to be three separate episodes of around 30 maps each.  This could be seen as expanding the lore to introduce an MMO.  On the other side, we have Diablo 3. It hasn’t been revealed if it will be split into episodes, but last year it was revealed that the storyline in Diablo 3 wouldn’t be the end. The Creative Development Team has plenty of story to tell beyond Diablo 3. Whether that is via expansions or … coughs … a Next-Gen MMO, that remains to be seen.

Keep your eyes open through the summer for any Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals or Blizzcon announcements. It could very well mean the unveiling of the mysterious Next-Gen MMO. Big thumbs up to Jeff Kaplan and his team. Make us proud and make the best MMO experience possible.

Blizzard Quote:
Tigole: I wanted to take a moment to let the community know that I

2009 NYCC: Metzen & Neilson Pocket Books Signing Video

Many Blizzard fans attended the 2009 New York Comic Con for the opportunity to meet the thundergod Chris Metzen (Senior VP of Creative Development) and Micky Neilson (Senior Writer & Voice Director) during the Simon & Schuster book signing session.

There were a lot of happy fans handing over their copies of World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon, the Comic Book Vol. 1 hardcover, even the Wrath of the Lich King Collector’s Edition Art Book. I remember one of the fans brought the wall-mounting accessory of the Frostmourne sword replica to be signed. It was a fun experience to both Alliance and Horde players; and the developers were quite satisfied and passionate about the fans’ reactions.

Blizzplanet and WorldofWar.net was there to interview both Blizzard developers, and to record most of the book signing session. Below you can watch all three videos.

Video # 1

Video # 2

Video # 3

Blizzard Not Attending 2009 E3 Expo

A few days ago, major gaming sites reported that Activision Blizzard had returned to this year’s E3 Exhibitors List. Last year, Vivendi and Activision had withdrew their ESA membership and E3 altogether.  GiantBomb—where ex-Gamespot Editorial Director Jeff Gerstmann works nowadays—got response from Blizzard Entertainment. And the answer was:

Blizzard Quote:
Blizzard Entertainment will not be attending or participating in E3 2009.

Short and straight. This is a big surprise, knowing Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 won’t get the press time and hands-on gameplay at an event that Blizzard had previously attended to. It seems Blizzcon and the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals will remain to be the main platforms for new game and expansion announcements—including hands-on gameplay.

Last year’s Blizzcon had the whooping achievement of over 15,000 attendees from all around the world.

Diablo III: Gamestar Interviews Leonard Boyarsky

Gamestar interviewed Leonard Boyarsky, World Lead Designer, to talk about Diablo III’s Rune system, Battle.net 2.0, Inventory and item management, random quests in a static outdoor world, and class skills.

Not much is new in this interview, but it does help some fans that may have missed previous interviews to get a grasp and catch up on certain aspects of Diablo III. You can watch the video interview at the Gamestar website in english. We have a transcript of the video at the bottom of this page.

Leonard: The synergy is basically emphasized with more than just one skill. That’s what we are basically doing with the rune system. And basically what it is you get random drops which was kind of like in first Diablo. We really wanted to get that random skill feeling back, without actually doing random skills. So you get these random drops and you can slot them in different skills, different spells, and they’re removable so it’s not like you’re stuck with it. You know, the fun of just touching the different realms of what they do.

Gamestar: What can the players expect from the new Battle.net? Will it remain free and will there be any concept of downloadable content?

Leonard: Basically what we’re doing with Battle.net we’re trying to make, we’re making – the best online gaming experience. We’re trying to reduce amount of unpleasantness, you know, in any form in a mobile playing experience co-op. There’s gonna be some form of PvP, you know, just really taking the amount of player experience very easily use, very fun.

A good example of that – you know, is ways of trading between characters.  It’s very difficult for me to get something from one of my characters to another one of my characters while having it loaded into the same game.. We’re talking about things like that … um, we haven’t got the specifics yet.

In terms of the financial model, our ideal, our goal has always been to make the game first. You know, what

Four New Diablo III Wallpapers 1/20

Blizzard released four new wallpapers available in many sizes and resolutions. The first one is the rendered 3D image of Tyrael shown in the front page of the official Diablo III website.  The second wallpaper is the map of Sanctuary shown in the World Map section. The last two wallpapers are concept arts of the city of Caldeum. It’s cool to have some updates this often. Keeps our passion for Diablo III alive and continuous. Let’s hope a Bestiary Update and more gameplay screenshots follow next.


Diii.net – Possible Death Knight Class and Ureh

I posted an article over at Diii.net to discuss a possible paladin-like class based on some concept art shown within Cain’s Journal. It wouldn’t completely be like the original Paladin class however, but a darker version of it with other class traits.

When I played the Diablo III demo at Blizzcon, the Wizard felt very much like a merge of the Sorceress and the Assassin classes. The Wizard can melee and you can even assign points to the dagger’s abilities in the talent trees.

The Witch Doctor has some traits of the Necromancer merged with traits of the Druid class, summoning pets.

So, would it be too far-fetched to think the Paladin will have traits from another class? The Amazon, or even the Necromancer? One of the concept arts shows a warrior/paladin like class wearing skeletal shoulderpads. A Death Knight or Darker Zealot?

Here is the article in question. Any thoughts on the possible Paladin-like class or Ureh are welcome. Discuss.

Dropped Items Degrade Diablo 3 Performance

Most players have had a thought and wish in common at some point … “Blizzard should allow items dropped to the ground, near the stash, to stay there forever instead of disappearing”.  Someone new to the game may have tried that at least once to find that item disappear next time they return to town. Bashiok explains why keeping dropped items on the ground is a very bad and harmful idea performance-wise.

Blizzard Quote:

Kitsunestrife (USWest): Please let us drop items in town without fear of them disappearing over time. I know there is a stash, but that’s like for items that you want to travel with you, whatever land you want to be in. But I’d like to have items stay where they are when I drop them in town.
At least have this option open in single player mode. That’s one thing I loved about Diablo 1.

Bashiok: It could potentially and probably fairly easily drag down game performance, or worse yet potentially affect server performance in online games. We’re actually using 3D items that drop to the ground, but even Diablo II sprites cost something – performance wise. If items stay forever then it’s essentially an infinite amount of storage, and if not and they disappear when you save and exit, how is that communicated to the player so they don’t lose important items. In regards to it being possible in single player, again game performance comes into it. Allowing the player to substantially degrade game performance is never a good idea, they will do it, and in essence it’s the game’s fault for allowing them to. It’s also a better approach to not change up unspoken rules in different areas of the game whenever possible. Making items disappear in multiplayer but not single player would be potentially be a very devastating piece of information not to have.

Ayynoo (USEast): Could we have a larger stash in Diablo 3? the stash in Diablo 2 is painfully small, and it requires us to make like 10 mules to carry things we want but dont have space for. i think that is one major shortcoming in Diablo 2, i would really like it if the problem was solved in Diablo 3.

Bashiok: I don’t think there could ever be enough space to keep some players from shuttling items to mules. It’s going to happen. But making it a comfortable amount of storage, as well as having ways to easily and safely get items to and from characters are definitely goals to have.

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:


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.