BlizzConline 2021: Diablo II: Resurrected Press Q&A

The BlizzConline 2021: Diablo II: Resurrected Press Q&A was held privately over ZOOM on Friday, February 19 at 8pm EST.

The event was moderated by Eddiemae from TriplePoint. In attendance were Robert Gallerani (principal designer at Vicarious Visions) and Matthew Cederquist (game producer at Blizzard Entertainment).


DIABLO II: RESURRECTED PRESS Q&A TRANSCRIPT

InvenGlobal (Aaron Alford): How faithful is the new version going to be to the original? Are there going to be any changes made at all to the gameplay or will this solely be a graphical remaster?

Gallerani: So great question. It is the same game running underneath. So all of the sprites, all the logic, all the balance, all of the crit chance, miss chance, break points — that is what is driving the game. That’s still the engine; and then on top of that, we run our 3D engine, and that’s where you’re seeing all the 3D models and animations and real-time lighting, and grass and mud and all the other stuff that gets out of the way; but whether or not you hit a monster or how you get to somewhere, it’s still being driven by that.

Now on top of that, we do have some quality of life features, but we were very, very careful to make sure that any quality of life feature we would add wouldn’t actually change the gameplay. Right?

So shared stashes is something you’ve probably seen in the media already. We’re already seeing people do that. Right? You have a mule character, but things like auto gold pickup, you can opt into that. Things like item comparison, things like item linking in chat. Those are all just easier ways to play the same game. But it is the same game running underneath. We haven’t even actually made new balance changes.

It’s all the same tuning and balancing. So your Hammerdins are still hammerdins — compared to what live is right now.

Cederquist: If you’re the person who played all those years ago, you’re going to come back to Diablo II: Resurrected, and it’s still going to be that same game that you love and remember from that nostalgic value.

There’s going to be the updated stuff that we bring such as the design stuff that Rob brought up, and then also bringing it up to live Battle.net.

MMORPG (Arlee): You said that you’re making changes for quality of life, but I was curious if one of those possible changes would be any changes to the skill point tree or maybe include the possibility of respecs so people wouldn’t necessarily be locked into builds. Are you considering something like that?

Gallerani: We did have a talk about that and we’re like– yeah, you’re pretty committed; and if we were to go in there and make the drop rates for the items that let you respec or respec every level, like it started getting into territory where we felt it was too much of a change.

There’s a lot of things in the game that when you do it, you’re committed. It’s like, okay, you bought it. That’s where you put your ability point this level; and it’s kind of gone on in other ways like that. Like a lot of other things, like in a modern game, you get a quest. Say the quest is I lost my cat. Go find my cat.

Well, it’s like, okay. The cat is a dot on the map and I just follow the dotted line to it; and in Diablo II every time you make a character, we’re going to move the Den of Evil. Go find it again. And it was those types of things of exploration, trying to find it. And so on a lot of fronts where it was like, it was a friction that was kind of what made Diablo II be Diablo II.

And so for your specific question of, Hey, are we going to add ways to respec? We’ve not added that. We do, however, have when we’ve added controller support and bringing this to console and you can play with a controller on a PC, by the way, too. We are adding a little bit more of a… are you sure you want to spend the skill point so that you don’t just accidentally blow the one point, right?

Like you have to like, hold the button to. So this is a little bit more like preventative measures from you accidentally buying that point.

Cederquist: I feel like I’m going to be the riff guy in this interview, but to speak upon that as well… when we first started thinking about making this game, we really wanted to say to ourselves we don’t have to change a lot here.

We want to bring this game into 2021. But still be that game that people love and enjoy. So if a wacky idea came up, our game pillars would bring us right back, snap us right back to: “Hey, this is meant to be that genre defining ARPG title that people love and enjoyed years ago.

While there is those little updated things: shared stash, auto gold pickup — there’s nothing that’s gonna majorly change the game design itself. The game design is the same as it was, and as fun as it was before, and still today.

Gallerani: And really, any time we were like: “Is that too much?” We pretty much allow a player to play with them. So if you don’t like our auto gold pickup convenience… “Oh, that’s not for me”… just turn it off.

GamesRadar (Austin Wood): I’ve just been catching up on some of the post show announcements and reports we’ve seen. There seems to be a little bit of confusion on which consoles Diablo II: Resurrected will be available on. Can you just confirm those quickly, and whether or not the specifics of how cross-progression works in terms of sharing one account between platforms?

Gallerani: We are coming out on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. When it comes to the specifics on a cross-progression, right now we’re saying the consoles that support it; and that’s not us trying to be evasive. It’s just that we’re still working through the exact details, but what will happen is whenever you make a character online, It’s going to ask you to link to a Battle.net account.

So obviously, if you play on PC, you’re using the Battle.net Launcher. We already know you’ve been on the account, but if you fire the game up on Xbox Series X, it’s going to say: “Hey, does your Xbox account know about Battle.net? If it does, could you connect? Because all of your online characters are stored on Battle.net servers; and so it’s the exact same character that all of these platforms are accessing.

Cederquist: We say that there’s cross progression. So we want to make sure that if you play on the device that you love. So whether it be any other consoles or the PC, you can take that same character, go over and play. That does not mean as of right now we don’t have anything to announce on it yet, but cross-play itself.

Open Critic (Brendan Frye): I just wanted to touch on controller support, and how that worked for this title compared to Diablo III, because this title was very much a mouse and keyboard experience when it first launched back in the 90s.

Gallerani: With Diablo III, there are different systems. The game is balanced different, and there’s even a different move right there known as a Dodge Roll. First off, by having cross-progression, it keeps us in a box that we have to stay true to.

If we were to say, take the inventory, and the inventory Tetris, and be like… you know what? That’s hard with a controller. Let’s make it a list. If we made it a list, then you got a bunch of items in your bag, and then you went back and played it on PC. How do we know how your things were laid out? Right?

So it’s like, not just that, but it didn’t feel like Diablo II anymore, because you’re absolutely right… Diablo II was made for keyboard and mouse; and so everything, it is a PC first. It is a keyboard and mouse first thing; and we couldn’t do anything that would ever compromise that experience. But that being said, there are a lot of advantages.

You are now directly controlling your character. So you move your thumb stick and the character moves. That has kept us really true to the original. That kind of vision statement. And there’s a lot of things going on.

So I predict that there’ll be some builds that play better on controller, and some builds that are better on keyboard and mouse.

For example, I’m a sorceress. I want to teleport somewhere. With a keyboard and mouse, I can say, I want to go “there.” With a controller, what we do is we say, look, there’s going to be a default distance — and when you teleport, that’s where you’re going to always teleport. If you’re making a Golem as a necromancer, that’s where the Golem is going to appear — with the exception of a Golem that needs a magic item keyword on the ground.

There are other things that we do feel that targeting is important. So with the controller, instead of tapping to do the default, you can hold the button down and then you’ll get a radical and put it there, but it does change the pace a little bit; and that’s just because of the nature of the controller is less precise than keyboard and mouse, but we made sure that authenticity and keeping the same game was the most important thing.

Yep for, let’s say for Diablo III. I’ve worked on Diablo III for quite some time now and Diablo II — and our players love the PC version, but then you turn around and talk to someone else and they’re like “I love the console version. It’s so much better.”

There’s that constant battle between which one is better, which one is awesome. I can tell you by playing both, they both play extremely elegant on console and to me, it just feels really good.

Rob Robin (design team) made sure that they put all the buttons in the right places and it feels good.

GameRant (Cameron Corliss): Accessibility has kind of entered the conversation in a big way. I know you guys are looking for an authentic experience, but have you made any accessibility changes to the game?

Cederquist: Yeah. We definitely have. When we talk about modernization, accessibility was one of the first key things that was on our mind. So whether it be anything from colorblind mode, we also enhanced a lot of the texts. There’s tons of things.

Gallerani: Like low vision mode, colorblind mode. We’ve added more languages. There’s now five different languages. By adding a controller, there’s a lot of peripherals that certain people who need to play the game differently can now just automatically plug into, because if you support a controller, you can support things that allow you to play the game one-handed; and I think that actually Diablo II is one of those few games you can totally play one-handed, because it’s just right-click left-click. If you have a fancy enough mouse, you can do all those things.

Subtitles, things like that. So even just little things like accessibility of the size of the screen you can play it on. It’s a lot bigger. So yeah, it is very important to us.

Destructoid (Chris Carter): So you covered a lot of your bases with the whole “it is the same game running underneath” response. But I’ve played thousands of hours of Diablo II. Usually hundreds is the qualifier for a game like that. But with World of Warcraft and Diablo II, it’s a little different. As you know, end-game is very important. Were you tempted to add anything to the game to sort of keep people playing, or do you have any dream features that didn’t make it in or were tested?

Cederquist: From my personal experiences, I think there’s always that like passion that gamers have to be like: “Oh my God. I love this game so much. I played so many hours of it. I just want more. I want another Act. I want another class. I want another whatever.”

But realistically, we get pulled back by the pillars of what we made for this game; and like we said before, I know it sounds like the cliche of: “Hey, the game’s still the same underneath” — but we really want to make the epic experience of what was 15 or 16 years ago, and just bring it up to modern standards of what Diablo II is and the fun it can achieve today.

There’s a lot of players that have never even played Diablo II in its current state of Diablo II and Lord of Destruction. So we didn’t necessarily want to go out of those bounds. Right? Every passionate gamer has those feelings of what could be in Diablo II, but we kind of stuck to our gut on this one, and believe it’s the best game that it can be as of right now.

Gallerani: Yeah. To say, were you tempted? I mean… yeah, we’re creators. We’re always tend to make more stuff, but I think the big thing is that we really want to make sure we get this right. We get this right, and If we nail it and everyone’s like: “Oh, you did it fine. You did it. Perfect. Give us more.”

We are like: “Okay, cool.” That’s a great problem to have, but when we started, it’s like, okay, there’s a lot of risk in taking something that is so near and dear to people and bringing it forward into 2021’s 3D graphics. It’s like… so long as we can nail that, then we talk about the next steps.

But right now that’s why we really welcome people to sign up for our tech alpha coming. Please, give us feedback. Tell us how it really feels, because we’re so close to it.

ComicBook (Logan Moore): One thing that’s been big with Diablo II’s history in a lot of Blizzard games in general has been mods. Can you guys talk about how mod support is going to work here?

Gallerani: Awesome. So, first off, you’re absolutely right. Like one of the reasons that the game is still alive and kicking and relevant for 20 years is the mod community; and to be clear, the mod community that exists around Diablo II is still there. That whole ecosystem is untouched. That will keep going. When it comes to mods for Diablo II: Resurrected, it’s going to be a little bit of a different game to mod. First off, mods that actually hack the game, that inject things into the DLL… those aren’t really going to be as welcomed anymore.

I mean, don’t get me wrong… you guys will figure out a way to do it. I’m not going to tell you that it can’t be done, but with the shift over to modern Battle.net, and us trying to increase security and preventing item duping and bots and other things like that, those types of mods aren’t going to be as easy to do.

However, I have to give mad props to Andre and a lot of our other engineers. We’ve taken a lot of the aspect of the game that used to be hard-coded and we’ve moved them over to Data; and so things that you would use to have to hack the game to do, you don’t know because it’s in Data. We’ve also done some cleanup.

It’s gonna be a little bit easier to read. So, yes, we totally encourage mods and everything like that for Diablo II: Resurrected; but it’s not to say that: “Oh, that mod that I really love for Diablo II is just suddenly going to work for Diablo II: Resurrected.”

DualShockers (Ricky Frech): So kind of on the same topic of mods. Is there going to be any offline play for this new release, or is it all online?

Gallerani: The short answer is yes. All the ways that you used to be able to play the game are going to be the same. We’ve cleaned up the verbiage a little bit.

So right now you either make an online character cause it’s saved on Battle.net, or you make an offline character because it’s saved locally. So you have a local character, you have a Battle.net character. When you go online, you can go online on a game that’s totally private and you don’t invite anybody to it — we’ve made it easier to invite people into your game.

So you’ll have a friends list now. You can just click on your friends list and invite them straight to your game rather than calling them so long as your phone line, isn’t tied up with you being on the internet and telling them the game, name, and password.

You can just pull them right in, and then we now have a game finder. So you can just go on to the lobby and find other games, but you can also play it offline. You can also do TCP IP connect if that’s kind of still your thing. So pretty much all the ways you used to be able to play, you can play now.

They’ll probably be some more modern, like verifying that the copy of the game you have is still legit, but that’s not going to prevent you from playing offline. That’ll be like, okay to start a game. Yeah. It’s legit. Maybe some period of time it’ll ask you again, but that’s kind of normal with not just most Blizzard games, all games nowadays.

Android Central (Samuel Tober): Obviously, it’s been a long time since the original Diablo II, and now Diablo IV is well on the way. Diablo III came and went. Are there any easter eggs or hints that you’ve been tempted to include maybe for players to find? Nothing that changes the game. Nothing like items necessarily, but just glimpses to reconnecting the world of Sanctuary game-to-game?

Cederquist: I’m still caught up on Diablo III as “came and went.” (laughs)

Gallerani: If there were secrets, we don’t know anything.

Cederquist: Short answer is: I don’t think so.

ScreenRant (Scott Baird): Just here to confirm if the performance of the game is consistent across all console ports. Does it work as well in the Nintendo Switch as the other systems?

Gallerani: All the games are going to be optimized for that platform. So if you’re running the game on your PS5, it’s going to run at 4K. Same with, if you have a high-end PC. If you’re running on a Nintendo Switch, it’s not going to have the same resolution, but yeah, we’re targeting that they’re all good performance, at least 30 frames per second across the board. But if you have a crazy machine, you can go run it on cap frame rate, and that’s great. But it’s not like we just have one switch and “oops, I hope it works for all of them.”

Cederquist: Yea, main goal here is to run an epic experience that is not degradated by which console you’re running it on. So no matter what console you love, no matter where you like to play with it, it’s going to run great.

Inverse (Tomas Franzese): Blizzard’s last Remaster (Warcraft III: Reforged) had a very mixed reception at launch. So I was just wondering what did the team kind of learned from the mixed response to that game and how did that inform the development of Diablo II: Resurrected?

Gallerani: It’s so important that we get Diablo II: Resurrected right. I think one of the big things is that Diablo II as is, is untouched. Diablo II: Resurrected is a separate game. So you can now play this, however you like. If you love our new graphics and our new sound and our quality of life features (which we think you will), turn all that on.

If you were like, you know what? I liked it as it’s on modern Battle.net, and I liked the new sound, but I’m just going to turn off the graphics. Go ahead. Hit the button instantly. You can toggle it to the other one; and if even that is too much, the old game is still there for you.

Cederquist: One of the big things that we’re looking for is feedback. Ever, ever evolving feedback from folks; and that’s why we’re kind of taking our approach a little slower here.

I wouldn’t say slower. A little different. We have, I think 3 or 4 separate technical alphas, betas, so on and so forth, which we really want people to jump into — and just not only experience what they did 20 years ago, but also just really provide as much feedback as possible.

So the first one we’re starting off with here is our technical alpha — which will be here–

Gallerani: Your first single player technical alpha coming soon, you can sign up at diablo2.com and it is single-player focused though. So it’ll be PC single-player focused. However, a handful of our quality of life features will be in there. So try it with a controller. See what you think. Does it feel like we’re advertising it really feels good? All those things.

Blizzplanet (Tomas Hernandez): Being a 3D engine, can you zoom in or rotate the camera for screenshots?

Gallerani: You can not rotate. You can zoom in and you can hide the HUD if you want — to take all your pretty screenshots. The game is very pretty even especially zoomed in.

Blizzplanet (Tomas Hernandez): Are there plans to monetize Diablo II: Resurrected via an in-game shop?

Gallerani: No. No, there’s no micro-transactions.

PC Gamer (Wes Fenlon): Can you speak a bit to Vicarious Visions’s role in the remaster, and just like how you and Blizzard (Irvine) are working together on this?

Gallerani: Working together really awesomely. It was really kind of funny too, because when the news of Vicarious Visions is now going to be a Blizzard team and not an Activision publishing team came out I remember sending out a Slack message to the team and be like: “Hey, this is neat. I don’t think it changes anything” — and it literally changed nothing. Like we really clicked pretty well with them. I mean, we are a bunch of New Yorkers and clearly Cederquist is a Bostonite, but other than that, it’s really, really great to work with them.

I think it’s because we all have such a high kind of respect for the original game and we really want to make sure we do it right; and so that’s been kind of top of the list — and then some silver lining is that with all of this working-from-home and pandemic, the notion of East coast, West coast, like little clicks geography kind of went away because we’re now all little heads in boxes (monitors), with our cats and our kids in the background; and so it was just kind of, we’re all one team. So it’s been awesome.

Cederquist: Yeah, from my end, my personal experience, like we’ve been working with Vicarious Visions for some time now, and I remember that first flight out to New York to visit Vicarious Visions, and normally when meet someone for the very first time, it’s kind of like that awkward little pause. You don’t really know who they are, so on and so forth; but to me, it was like family.

They had so much passion with what they were doing with whatever project they were working on at the time, you could just see it seething off of them; and it was almost like us when we look at our games. When we come into work every day, it’s like you wake up in the morning and you’re like, yes, this is going to be epic.

It was really just hand-in-hand family. No matter where they were.

InvenGlobal (Aaron Alford): We talked a little bit about the idea of the games’ importance to the people who played all those years ago. Will this game be replacing the Diablo II? So people who own the original title will this update their game like it did with Warcraft III: Reforged. Or will this be completely separate?

Cederquist: So Rob alluded to this a little bit earlier, but one of the decisions we made was to actually keep Diablo II (the 2000 version), Lord of Destruction (2001) — we actually decided to keep that in its own ecosystem. So the players who want to continue playing that version of the game, whether it be an elaborate mod that was put out, or just obviously the game itself, they can still play that.

Diablo II: Resurrected is in its own ecosystem with the modern Battle.net, modern security systems, updated ladders, so on and so forth. In its own thing.

GamesRadar (Austin Wood): I just wanted a quick follow up to my last question, because you’re targeting PS4 and PS5. Can you confirm whether that’ll be a cross-gen buy for those platforms? If you get it on one, you get it on both?

Gallerani: If you buy a game for PS4, you can run it on your PS5; but we are making the PS5 version of the game native to PS5.

So I can’t give you a clear answer on exactly how you will get that. Like, sometimes they (SONY) have like: “you get the download for free to upgrade it to the native version,” but I’m not super clear. So I don’t want to give you an answer. I can’t be a 100% on it.

Open Critic (Brendan Frye): We do have one last question just about visuals and how much to increase the graphics and how much to kind of leave them as you mentioned that you can toggle back and forth between them, but how much was too much for this remaster?

Cederquist: When we went into this game, we kind of created this 70/30 rule that we stuck by. So 70% of it includes: Sound graphics, updating, pretty much the game itself. 70% of it was that old-school nostalgic feeling, right?

Like you hear a barbarian’s howl and you’re like, okay, I know exactly what that is. You have Mephisto yell, you know exactly what it is. But then the other 30% of that is taking the liberties to actually bring it up to those modern standards. So some, examples would be like the sorceress will have a little bit more of a gypsy attire on her.

Realistically, it comes down to that 70/30 rule where you want to keep the majority of that to the old-school feel, but then 30% to make it look really, really nice.

MMORPG (Arlee): You’ve mentioned not making changes to gameplay. I’m curious if the system is not making story changes. One of the things some players had issues with on Warcraft III: Reforged with some dialogue that was changed to some characters to give them more prominent moments.

Gallerani: The story and the dialogues are all identical. The 27+ minutes are pretty much the exact same soundtrack, the exact same characters. It’s a shot-for-shot remake on that front. I believe that the only lines that were even tweaked was some translations that in the old game, like the localization was just not that great.

But even on that front, there are certain items that got localized to just kind of goofy names and they become iconic. Right? Like it’s like, that’s what France knows that weapon for. So we’re not even going to fix that silly localization. So yeah, pretty much unless there were spelling errors, I’m pretty certain it’s verbatim.

GameRant (Cameron Corliss): Are there plans to include Lord of Destruction content, or is it just going to be the base game on its own?

Cederquist: Diablo II: Resurrected is the original game itself (2000), and then Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (2001) is also included.

You have the updated two classes, the rune system, so on and so forth.

Gallerani: You can actually still choose to play that way too. So if you want to make a classic character, you can make a classic character and then convert it to expansion.

DualShockers (Ricky Frech): Are we going to have like ladder characters, hardcore characters, all that kind of stuff is going to be there too?

Cederquist: Yup. Yup. All that stuff is there.

Gallerani: We’ll have one tweak that we’re probably going to make ladder seasons a little shorter, as well as you’ll be able to see past ladder seasons.

So if you made it really high in the ladder one season, and then it just comes over to the next season, you can actually go back and look at and see “I actually made it pretty high that three seasons ago” — whereas now it’s just kind of like: “Suuuuuure, you got really high buddy.”

(note: this is a joke describing how people won’t believe that you were high in the ladder because it is no longer listed, but now you can prove it because the previous ladder will continue to be listed)

Android Central (Samuel Tolbert): Since the game is coming to consoles for the first time will local co-op be available? Say a group of people playing together on the same Xbox or the same Nintendo Switch, for example.

Gallerani: So there will be no couch co-op. Doing that work proved too much of a departure from a game that relies on you always being in the center of the screen — it started to become not Diablo II.

Now for the Nintendo Switch, you can play a land game with two Nintendo Switches talking to each other over a local signal.

As for a TCP/IP connection into a PlayStation or Xbox, I don’t believe we’re supporting that, but don’t quote me on that and we can get you more information on that one.

Inverse (Tomas Franzese): Diablo II is the defining game of its genre, but there have been like so many games since then, like multiple Diablos, Path of Exile. So when you were approaching this remake, what did you learn from all those games that are in the style of Diablo that have come since then?

Cederquist: To me personally, the RPG genre has evolved so much with amazing success. Whether it be Diablo III, and upcoming Diablo IV — with this game though, it really just comes back to what we said before. Those key pillars. Right?

For this game, we didn’t actually have to go outside the box in anything crazy because the game itself is as enjoyable today as it was 20 years ago. We didn’t actually look to necessarily change anything outside of our guidance lane, because we just wanted to ensure that we made the most pure version of Diablo II, and just bring it up to those modern standards.

Gallerani: The goal wasn’t to advanced Diablo II. I’d like to think that Diablo III, Diablo IV, and Diablo Immortal… that’s their realm. Our goal was authenticity. Right? And so, it was actually a really great learning process, because within in the research and all this stuff we did for Diablo II, we also learned a ton about Diablo I, and we kind of saw where that came from and things that are still in the Diablo II source code that are leftover.

Why are there items that change your light radius in Diablo II? So you can kind of see things, lessons that were learned, ideas, where they wanted to go to, how they came to certain things in Diablo III; and then like you said, even all games across the board, the vision for Diablo II: Resurrected was “authenticity.”

Keep it the same. Modernize it to make it easier to use, but we didn’t want to add new features or things like that. Like: “Oh, now you have a Mount, right?” That’s a neat idea, but it’s not Diablo II.

Blizzplanet (Tomas Hernandez): Any plans for Diablo II: Resurrected to come to mobile at a later time post-launch? Is that something you guys have discussed or would love to otherwise?

Gallerani: We don’t have anything to announce on that front at this time.

Blizzplanet (Tomas Hernandez): Diablo II: Resurrected is coming to console. Will console controllers work for the PC version?

Gallerani: Yes, you just plug the controller in, and it’ll hot swap over.

PC Gamer (Wes Fenlon): Can you tell me what the game is going to cost on PC?

Cederquist: The game right now is $39.99 MSRP.

Inverse (Tomas Franzese): You mentioned public tests. With those tests, what’s the scope of them? Will they be limited to like certain parts of the game, or will it just be like people have access to all of it for certain periods?

Gallerani: Right now, we don’t know exactly what content is in it. We’re still working through it, but it will be a single-player-focused PC test.

MMORPG (Arlee): You mentioned some different key binding for PC. Does that mean players will be able to fully re-keybind controls on PC?

Gallerani: There’s still going to be one or two things that are locked to what they are, but we’ve made an effort to not only preserve all the original key bindings, but add additional ones.

So for example, you used to not be able to have shift as a modifier. So if you’re like: “Oh, I’m going to hot key something to the “K” key. Well, now you can keybind something to Shift+K — which kind of almost doubles your keyboard.

So I’m reluctant to say “fully” because sometimes there are certain things that we can’t rebind, but we’ve not only done that, but within the key binding menu, we’ve listed shortcuts that you might not even know about, because let’s be honest, I don’t know if you guys still have the manual lying around, and there was a lot of things that were only written in the manual.

So we’re also making it just easier to know: “Oh, I hold that button to quick buy a potion,” or things like that.

GamesRadar (Austin Wood): One more question about sort of the alphas and betas planned for the year. You mentioned that the first tech alpha, which you can sign up for now is coming soon. Can we get any kind of window on what “soon” might be? And in total of roughly how many sort of like testing periods you’re planning before release?

Cederquist: I don’t think we necessarily have a specific date for it to even bring to light right now. I know there’s going to be multiple testing periods. I’m reluctant to say 4 tests, 5, or 6; but they’re going to be unique to their testing; and we’re going to start with that first technical alpha and see where it goes.

It really comes down to seeing how much feedback we get and we just want to know how much you guys love the game.

Gallerani: We want it to be relatively soon. We want to have enough time to actually act on the feedback, and the game is coming out this year. So there’s only so many you can have between now and then. So… yeah.

Inverse (Tomas Franzese): When the game was announced, I believe they mentioned that enhancements were being made to the cinematics. So could you go into what those are?

Gallerani: Basically, it is a shot-per-shot remake. So we’ve seen a lot of speculation where it’s like an up-res version, or this is just like AI enhanced 4K-fied. It’s not that. It’s actually all-new scenes, all new models, all new — like what you would expect from a Blizzard-title-of-today cinematic; but it’s sticking to the exact same timing, pacing, script, everything. I mean, we’re using the original audio.

The original audio goes in. It’s just been remastered. So it’ll be the story you know, but realize that at a modern level.

Blizzplanet (Tomas Hernandez): What kind of technologies or tools were used to superimpose 3D over the old 2D sprite engine?

Gallerani: Magic! No. Basically, what it is… the game has the 2D sprites running underneath. It’s actually always running. At the press of a button, you can flip over to it (toogle) and you’ll see them.

We have a 3D engine on top that is being told what to do by those sprites; and so in a modern game, usually you have like 3D collision, and… Oh, you know, there’s an attack sphere on a sword, and when the attack sphere hits a vulnerabilities around a monster and like that’s how it works.

That’s not how ours works. The only reason for our visual engine is to run things that are visuals, right? So there’s a little bit of geometry and collision because of clutting or if a monster’s bones get scattered on the ground, like the bone bounces off the ground, but all of the logic is it’s pretty much being run by that sprite engine.

And so that’s pretty much what the purpose of that engine is. It is a visual only engine. It’s almost like a puppet, and the original game is the puppeteer.

Cederquist: Yeah. That’s kind of when we go back and say to ourselves, like it’s gonna look and feel the same as it did before. It’s because kind of it is that puppet, right?

So for the players who are playing it, that might be worried about: “Oh, it’s going to feel a little bit different because it’s 3D.” It’s actually: all the swings are going to be the same exact timings. All your spells are going to be the same exact timings. It will literally number crunch the same as it did. Just looks beautiful.

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film. Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers. I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com) ***Fans who would love to watch Blizzard-related panels and appreciate our efforts can support Blizzplanet’s patreon in a monthly-basis, or a one-time basis. Our staff are volunteer fans like you. Your donatives will help us travel to all the Blizzard events we attend year-round.

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