It's been a little over a month since I first announced that Force and I would be going to BlizzardHQ (and 2 months since I last went!), and I know you're all excited to hear what crazy information we have to tell you. I just wanted to let you all know that it hasn't been easy on us to keep it all a secret! We were practically busting at the seams since the day we both got home, but we've made it! For those of you who do not want to read my wall of text, which includes a detailed run through of the entire day at Blizzard, as well as a lot of gameplay information, you can skip to the TLDR version at the bottom, which is just a bulleted list of important information. Without further ado... (and feel free to join us IRC to chit chat about this stuff!)
I flew into California late on Tuesday night ready to lay down and get absolutely no sleep... because who can sleep knowing they're going to play Diablo 3, right?! That in mind, I woke up Wednesday morning and was the first one to arrive at the Blizzard Headquarters, a little before 9AM. As I sat there and watched the members of the press slowly trickle into the main lobby, it really hit me, and I was pumped and ready to play. I signed my NDA's and then sat around and chitchatted with Force, Bashiok, Ryan (the Diablo PR guy), and some other fellows that were just popping in and out of conversations until roughly 10AM, when they walked us into the Blizzard Theater for their 2-hour long presentation of the new features and information.
As we all sat there waiting anxiously for what was about to happen, a microphone clicked on and we were told that we were going to catch a glimpse of the introduction cinematic to the game, which was absolutely beautiful might I add. It began similar to how the Marvel comic movies begin, with a comic-looking type thingy, which then comes to real life. Imagine that, but with those eagles from the Diablo 1 intro cinematic, as well as Diablo, and some Angels, set in a desert-looking environment. From there, it depicted angels dropping from the skies and demons stampeding along the ground, until the two forces clashed, and then ... the screen went black. The rest we will have to wait for until we actually get our hands on the game. Shortly thereafter, Chris Metzen came in to fill us in on the past lore of the Diablo Series (if you need a refresher, I highly recommend listening to DiabloCast Episode 12) and set the stage for where we would begin in Diablo 3. Though, it is worth mentioning, that some of the previous lore has recently been changed; the DiabloWiki.com - Dark WandererDark Wanderer, who was also the Diablo 1 Warrior is now DiabloWiki.com - King LeoricKing Leoric's eldest son, making the original game revolve somewhat around Leoric's family. It was also said that the Book of Cain would fill in the 20-year gap between Lord of Destruction and D3, from DiabloWiki.com - Deckard CainDeckard Cain's perspective. Diablo 3 then begins with apocalyptic-type events, with fire falling from the sky, and the dead rising from the graves in DiabloWiki.com - TristramTristram (which explains how we fight King Leoric again). These mysterious events lead our hero classes to Tristram, where they meet Leah, who is also looking to seek answers to these events, which were prophesied so very long ago (the "End of Days" and the "Fallen Star"). Leah, who is Cain's adopted neice (since the age of
, is also the real daughter of DiabloWiki.com - AdriaAdria the Witch, from D1. In fact, throughout the gameplay, Leah takes you to Adria's Hut,
Following Metzen's detailed run-through of the lore, Jay Wilson stood up ready to introduce us to some epic gameplay demos of each of the characters, as well as some cool character cinematics (such as the Male DH). Jay showed off some pretty sweet skills from each class, as well as some major features/changes we needed to be aware of. The first of which, is that the talisman was removed (yes, we knew this) and replaced with 3 Quest-item slots, all of which we get in Act 1. These three slots are for the DiabloWiki.com - Cauldron of JordanCauldron of Jordan, the DiabloWiki.com - Nephalem CubeNephalem Cube, and the DiabloWiki.com - Stone of RecallStone of Recall. The CoJ (cwuttheydidthar?) is used for selling items directly from the battlefields of Sanctuary, allowing us to not have to travel back to town to unload (the Scroll of Wealth, in turn, was removed). The Cube is used for salvaging goods, as we have previously heard at the last BlizzCon, and the SoR is basically a hearthstone. Bashiok had mentioned that there would be some form of Town Portal returning to the game, and this is how it is being done. We can "recall" ourselves into town as we need to, which creates a personal portal from the location you just left. This allows you to return to your previous location with ease and allows you to continue fighting. It's also worth noting that there is currently no cooldown on the SoR. I would also like to mention that the new stash (it's only account-wide, there are no personal stashes) is HUGE! It's larger than the LoD stash and then has 5 different pages (that we have to purchase with gold to access) expanding it even more.
In addition to the three new items and stash information, we were told that the Skill system has gotten a complete revamp. Instead of 7 active skills, we now only have 6. In addition, the traits system was removed and turned into a "passive skills" section on the skill window, cleaning up the UI quite a lot, and allowing us to choose Skills and "traits" (passive skills) all in one window. That in mind, we can also only have up to 3 passive skills at one time. However, we begin the game with only 2 active skills and no passives. The last four active skill slots can be unlocked at levels 6, 12, 18, and 24, and the three passive skill slots are unlocked at levels 10, 20, and 30. So by the time we complete Normal, you should have unlocked all of the possible skill slots. Now, skill and trait points were also removed. Once you reach a certain level, you unlock X skill and/or X passive that you can swap in and out as you see fit. Again though, you can only have 6 actives and 3 passives at any given time. The reasoning behind this is to remove the Diablo 2 style of thinking, where we save all of our points and dump them into better skills, once we hit the end game. Jay said that they found employees (in the alpha) dumping all their points into say, Magic Missiles, until they unlocked Arcane Orb. They would then respec, and dump all their points into Arcane Orb, until they unlocked the next tier skill. This system didn't really make much sense and allowing us to hot-swap skills/passives whenever we want gives us the ability to "test" the skills without worrying about wasting any points. With skill points gone, skills/traits will scale with your level/gear. For example, a skill like Bash will scale with your weapon damage, whereas something like Disintegrate will scale with level. Yes, big changes! I'm actually a really big fan of the revamping of the skill/trait system. As I said earlier, it really cleans up the UI by consolidating the system into just one window, and the ability to hotswap skills is awesome. It means that I will never have to respec, which in turn means I will never have to have more than one character for the class (unless I want a male/female). This system will allow me to play and test each skill in my build without punishment, which is fine by me.
They also revealed the DiabloWiki.com - Demon HunterDemon Hunter resource, which was previously unknown, save for small tidbits. Essentially, the Demon Hunter uses two resource systems, neither of which affect each other. They are two completely separate resources: Hatred and Discipline. You can think of Hatred as being similar to the DiabloWiki.com - WizardWizard's resource, Arcane Power, because it regenerates rather quickly. On the other hand, while the Discipline resource regenerates, it does so at a slower rate. Some interesting skills worth mentioning that Jay showed off were the Wizard's Archon skill, where she turns into a being made of energy, which completely changes her skills for X amount of time. The DiabloWiki.com - BarbarianBarbarian also had a similar skill, called Wrath of the Berzerker, which... turned him Super Saiyan. They also showed off one of the DiabloWiki.com - Witch DoctorWitch Doctor's new pets, the Gargantuan (which reminded me of the Humble Bumble from Rudolph), and a few of the DiabloWiki.com - MonkMonk's Mantra's (auras). Below is the B-roll video that we were given in the press kit for all of you to check out.
After Jay's presentation of the new gameplay features and skills, Rob Pardo stood up and flipped on his power point presentation about Battle.net. He began by reminiscing about the old Bnet 1.0 days, when the service was first launched with Diablo 1, and later updated with Diablo 2. He then went on to explain to us that Battle.net 2.0 will include public games, a PvP matchmaking system, a quick-join system, and co-op option to play with our party members. He also introduced to us what is called the "Banner System," and that is simply what it sounds like: a banner that is used to represent our characters. This banner can be completely customized, based on whatever achievements we've gained, level we are, PvP matches we've won, difficulties completed, among a number of other things. In addition, while in-game, players may also click on our banner from town to teleport directly to us and join us in the action.
Here comes the bombshell: he also introduced to us the auction house. The real money auction house. Yes, an auction house that you pay/sell items for real cash and vice versa. As soon as this dropped, it was silent, though I couldn't stop myself from spitting out "Bwhat?!" to break the silence permeating throughout the room. He went on to tell us that it would be a regional AH, based completely on money. On the AH, there will also be an autobidding system, with a smart search, and secure item transfers. It seemed to me like he waited a few slides before he actually let us know that there would also be a gold-based auction house, as well as in-game trading... Maybe just to see our reactions or something, but do not fret! You will not be forced to use real money. In addition, we'll be able to pull items from our shared stash to place into the AH. Their reasoning behind doing this is simply because the players want it. If the players didn't want it, they would not have been using shady third party sites, like d2jsp in the D2 era of the series. Essentially, all Blizzard did was make something that was previously unofficial and sketchy, official and supported. Though, I should also mention that they are planning on selling/buying characters at some point in time as well, not at launch. For more information, read the AH overview and FAQ in the sections below.
After Pardo's presentation, it was about noon, which means lunchtime! They walked us over to the cafeteria, which is usually boring and plain, with a cool themed menu... However this time, they went all out. There were red table-cloths on the tables, with Diablo-styled candles lit on them, as well as some of Cain's left-over books, and real life elixirs/potions sitting there on the tables. Not to mention, the pretty sweet themed menu they gave us to choose from. Force grabbed some footage of it all, as seen below.
The Interviews & Playtesting
Right after lunch, we were scheduled for a 30-minute interview with Jay Wilson about Battle.net and the Auction House (though we kinda talked about PvP as well). Unfortunately, we were not allowed to post the raw audio of that, but you can read the transcribed version below, and you won't find this anywhere else.
Jay Wilson Interview #1:
So this is primarily to talk about the Auction House, the Battle.net features that you heard about earlier today…
A: I think people are going to lean more towards the real money AH and I think there is an answer for the person who says “I don’t want to trade in real money, I’d rather trade in gold…I mean, the gold AH is one of them and I think the gold AH will be viable to find a good amount of items, but one of the reasons we’re doing the free listings every week is to allow people to sell items to generate an e-balance so they never have to put real money into the system if they don’t want to. That allows someone to circumnavigate that option if they don’t want to buy with real money. And yeah, the e-balance is technically real money, but I earned it from items I sold and not from putting in a credit card.
Q: I guess the biggest thing would be if everyone prefers to sell with real money on the AH then there won’t be nearly as many items in the gold AH, but I guess you kind of answered that.
A: Yeah, and if the vast majority of people prefer the real money AH – or if the vast majority of people prefer the gold AH – that’s what the vast majority of people prefer.
Q: Will there be some kind of mechanisms to balance out the need for gold so maybe there would be a way to counteract that? Like to actually need gold, let’s say I have $100 in my e-account, but I actually need some gold for whatever, maybe I would feel more inclined to sell it for gold if there was actually a need for gold. Like with D2 I never really felt it was important…once I had a million I didn’t really feel like I needed more.
A: So the Artisan system we put in the game is really designed to be a constant gold recycling element, so crafting items has a lot of similarities to gambling; it’s just gambling with a little better understanding of what’s coming out the other side and every time you craft an item, there’s a material cost and the material cost pulls items out of the world, items equal money, also there’s a gold cost, so you have a big gold sink there. Enhancing items, combining gems, pulling gems out of things, socketing things, all of these have gold costs that increase as you get further into the game. So those are our primary elements of gold sinking.
Q: What’s the party size gonna be for multiplayer?
A: 4. That was easy!
Q: Will gold be a sellable item? Because I think that the balances could become the currency exchange rate between gold to the dollar…
A: Gold is a tradable item, and I make the distinction because Blizzard doesn’t sell gold. We will not create any items or commodities. Players are able to sell gold.
Q: Will that be regulated then? X gold sells for…
A: Nope, it’s a player-driven market, so one of the things that we’re really focused on is making sure that we have as few inputs and incentives into the market as possible. We want it to be really a player-driven market and a player-driven service. So it’s one of the reasons we talk about having flat fees instead of a percentage. If we have a percentage, there would be an incentive for us to drive up the value of items to get bigger percentages. It’s one of the things we considered: let’s do a flat fee because we don’t need more of a perception that there’s an incentive there for us. We want it to be a very player-driven trading economy and that’s what the core of Diablo is, is a trading game.
Q: As far as keeping the economy not stagnant and still exciting, one thing I notice about D2 is once I had my items, they never degraded, I was pretty much good to go; I never really needed to upgrade. I see that in a player-driven economy as kind of a big problem, because eventually prices will taper off and at some point, it’s not worth even putting my item on the AH because everyone has one. That leads to a lot of pressure, I think, on you guys having to create a lot of items and expansion sort of content so there’s new stuff. What is the plan for that?
A: So the plan at release really comes back to the crafting system again. A lot of the crafting system is focused on pulling items out of the economy, so certainly the most highly-valued items people aren’t going to salvage, but everything slightly below that they are, which is going to drive a lot of items out of the economy. The enhancing system is actually one of the…basically our enhancing system kind of works like enchanting from WoW, but it has a random value to what you’re getting. So you input the enchantment, and let’s say it’s somewhere between 80-100 attack that it’s gonna give you. So if you roll 83, you could roll that again and you have a chance of getting a better number. You won’t get a lower one, and it might say “aww, you didn’t get any better.” But you can try over and over again and you need to essentially recycle items to do that. Eventually you’ll get to perfect, but you’ll really have to pull out a lot of items. And at that level, you’re really talking about rares and legendaries that you’re actually going to have to be melting to be able to do this. So we do have some systems in. Even so, there is going to hit a saturation point and what will we do about that? We have a bunch of ideas on how to deal with that, most of them do revolve around extending the item database at some point. Whatever we do, we’ll try to make sure that the player base has a lot of forecasting, like they will know long before we do anything what we’re going to do so that they can prepare. We don’t want people to go on the AH and spend basically $100 and then us change the item database the next day. We want them to know, in 3 months we’re changing the database “OK, well that gives me time to plan and think about what I want to do.” So we may not…it’s still up in the air. But it’s one of those things where we really want to see what happens to the economy and to a certain degree, we don’t know because we’ve never done something like this before.
Q: So you’re throwing out the idea of character resets like in D2?
A: Umm…I would say that we are not that fond of the ladder reset. I kind of feel like the ladder resetting thing is like…”wow, I can’t believe people fell for that!” I kind of feel like that feels really simplistic. We can do better than that. If we really want to reset things, let’s reset them for real. And I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to do; we honestly don’t know at this point. But I think we can do a better job than ladder races, which…the other side of it is, how many people really get to participate in that? You’ve got your crazy guildies who essentially do run shifts to get a character up and once the first 100 or so hit the top, who gives a crap? I don’t want to be 150, who cares? Much less 150,000. So we think we can do better than that.
Q: Are there any restrictions as to what items can be bought or sold on the AH?
A: Right now, there are some, but they’re pretty light and most of the things that we don’t allow are things that don’t really have any business being there in the first place like quest items, elixirs (which are junk drops meant to fill out the database, not provide like super-compelling items), and there’s a bunch of little power-up kind of things like that. I don’t think we’ve actively gone through and restricted them yet, my guess is we probably will and not because we don’t want people to trade them, but because we just don’t think people probably will. So generally, no, we’re going to let people trade as much as possible.
Q: Do you feel that since people are going to be able to buy items, and therefore essentially power, do you think that will polarize the community based on the top elite, especially in PvP, versus the casual player and what repercussions might there be if that is the case?
A: I think if you look at a lot of games where power gets sold, you run into a lot of different types of games. Take a game like WoW: if we started selling items there, it would pretty much destroy the game. The core of the game is guild/raid progression; that is your top tier and that’s where everyone is focusing on. If you now give me the ability to circumvent that using money, you’ve kind of destroyed the need for having guilds in the first place. Microtransaction games tend to be very successful, but have very short lives because people tend to buy out everything. Essentially, it’s like “what if the government started printing money?” It’d be really awesome for a short time, and then we’d all be screwed. That’s kind of what a microtransaction game is; the key difference between them and this system is that it’s player-driven so we’re not generating items, players are. We’re not doing anything different than what D2 already did. Players could trade items in D2 and buy them using real money. All we’re doing is facilitating it so that it’s a good experience for everyone. We don’t expect that it’s going to feel very different from D2 at all, and to kind of separately address the PvP issue, will people buy power to be more successful in PvP? Yes they will, that’s why our PvP system is very casual and not an e-sport. It’s meant to be a “I wanna go in and see what this build can do against people who are of equivalent power.” The nice thing is with a really good match-making system, you’re going to have a good game regardless because you’re going to get matched with someone who’s roughly equivalent to you and gear’s a part of that.
Q: In the past, you’ve mentioned that you might entertain the idea of some sort of competition or tournament, if you will. Maybe not on a regular basis, you said you kind of liked the idea. Have you guys put any thought into adding a replay or observation mode? Is that way too off-keel since it’s not an e-sport? Way too much investment, basically, to be worth it?
A: I don’t remember specifically talking about competitions; we were probably in a different head space when I said that because really at this point we’re not focused on that at all. So features like replay, etc. are…it’s one of those things where it’s a cool feature and there’s no reason not to add it, but it’s not like in SC where it’s really necessary. As a result, it’s not high on the list of things we’d do. It is actually on a list, but it’s pretty low down on the list because there are a lot of things that would be cooler to do and without it being an e-sport…replay’s kind of an e-sport feature.
Q: Did the attitude kind of change then since Blizzcon? Because when I played at Blizzcon, it seemed like it was definitely some PvP arena-style focus…
A: Well, we definitely want a PvP mode, we want people to be able to play against and kill one another and that’s a big part of the game, it’s just how e-sport-oriented we want it to be. When people ask me “how balanced is this going to be? Is it going to be balanced for…is it going to be SC-level balanced and perfect?” No, it’s going to be horrifically imbalanced, and that’s part of the fun, to find crazy builds that are all over the place. So we have changed the arena mode a bit to feel more casual than the mode that was at Blizzcon, which was very last man standing, high-pressure, because if you died, you were done for that round. Now, granted, the rounds were fast, but still…we’ve actually switched to more of a team deathmatch. Still same arena environment, still kind of feels the same, but when you die, you stay out for a few seconds and then you come back. It bases more on time limit and kill count, which we actually found was a lot more approachable and a lot more fun.
Q: If a lot of players want to turn it into a big, competitive e-sport kind of thing…you wouldn’t stop them, would you?
A: No. But when people say “BARB IS TOTALLY OP!!!” we’re going to be like “yeah…he probably is.” (Talk about SC2 balance…) We’re not going to be looking at a lot of percentages or really even tracking it. If players want to turn it into an e-sport, more power to them, but we want to set their expectations about what level we’re going to support that. We never want PvP to drive PvE game balance, and that is the reason why in WoW (to a lesser degree than SC2) they both let the PvP game drive the PvE game and whenever we have a conflict…(moderator dude interrupts)
Q: For the third-party, you g uys have said you don’t have anything solidified, is it looking to be something akin to the PayPal system? Without saying any names, is it sort of gonna be a system where people sign up, third-party money goes there, and then it’s transferred to their bank account?
A: I can’t really say because we’re in negotiations.
Q: Before he asked about the maximum party size, you said it’s going to be 4…If we can have a total of 3v3 in arena and PvP, why would max party size not be 6?
A: Because the party size isn’t based on technical limits; our team would be quite happy if the numbers were higher because we could get more players per game and that’s actually good for our client server architecture. It’s based on what we feel is a fun experience. More than 4 is very chaotic. People will say “well in D2 you had 8 and it was fine” except, I can’t really remember the last time I was in an 8-player game in D2 where everybody was on screen. It’s not really very viable and their effects weren’t nearly as loud as ours (both monsters and players). We’ve tried 5-6 player games and we want to push the numbers up, but every time we do, it feels really chaotic.
Q: In the actual battle.net interface, can you have up to 6 people in your party?
Q: Because in a PvP game, the maximum is 6 players, correct?
A: We’re actually playing around with the max being 4 per team, which is 8 players total, but that’s still 4 per party. By the way, that’s not confirmed, we’re just playing around with it. Ideally, we’d love for parties in PvP to be 4 players.
Q: Well that makes a lot more sense because previously if it was a max of 3v3, then if I’m playing with 5 of my friends, 2 people kind of get shafted.
A: It came down to…can we have a game where you can tell everything that’s going on with 8 players in the game? That’s what we’ve been playing around with. We’ve also been playing around with a lot of sliders on how the effects work and how we show one team vs. the other and 4v4 is looking very promising and if we can get it to work, that’s what we’ll do.
Q: Are there different brackets or will it just be one static way of playing, like if (something…)
A: Right now we’re just looking for one mode. Part of that is PvP isn’t our primary focus, so we want to keep it simple. Also, we don’t really want to segment the population…we know we are going to have some balance issues, and it’s a lot easier to control if we’re not balancing for different kinds of modes, so right now we’re just focused on the one.
Q: Are there going to be chat channels at launch?
A: If there’s not, I’m sure someone will set me on fire, so are we going to have chat channels at launch? Yes we are.
Q: For the AH system, is it going to be accessed solely through the battle.net title screen? Can we access it through the game, or will we have to leave the game with our friends to sell something on the AH?
A: Right now, it’s accessed completely through battle.net and not found in game. If there’s a demand for in-game, that’s a feature we can add down the road.
Q: Also, if you’re in a party, you stay in the party regardless of whether you’re in the game or come out of the game, right?
A: That’s in flux right now, so…. Right now if you do it in game, it jumps you out of your party and I’m not sure why, but that could just be a bug (it’s a bug). We do everything we can to keep parties together, even if people go to different locations.
Q: So while you’re playing, you’re just focused on the gameplay and trading is kind of a separate thing that you do after you’re done slaying?
A: No, the idea is we want to ship the game. Why would we not have it in-game? No reason other than it was like…which way is going to be a little faster? It’s very likely that if people really ask for it, that’s a feature that we’d add down the road.
Q: Will there be an avatar system or will it basically just be your character?
A: That’s really what the banner does. The sigil that shows up on the center of the banner, that pattern, you’ll see it if you look at the SS’s and also in game, that turns into like a little icon for you. The banner plays into that.
Q: So is it recognizable in a party? In SC2 I don’t even have to see my friends’ names, I just know that guy’s…
A: Yeah, actually my feeling is that it’s more recognizable because you can customize the primary sigil and the accents and the pattern and colors, so there’s a lot more points of customization so there’s a lot more variation.
Q: Will there be a level requirement on the AH so new players can’t just immediately start buying high-level items?
A: There might be. The primary reason we’ve considered it is just because there’s not a lot of reason for a level 1 character to interact and it’s kind of better to introduce systems as people level up. If there is though, it’ll probably be fairly low, like level 10 or something like that. We haven’t made a determination on that yet.
Q: How does character naming work? Will names be unique? Will there be an identifier like was tagged on in SC2? I wasn’t really a fan of that because I was just Sixen##### and any douche could be Sixen##### just with different digits and you couldn’t really tell if we were different people.
A: We’re using the same system, so when you log in you’ll be displayed more at your battle.net level, so if you’re RealID, you’ll be displayed there and then your character names are not. They’re only unique on your account, so you can not have three guys named Sixen on your account, but you could always have your name relative to others.
Q: I understand the cash AH being anonymous in terms of buyers and sellers, will the gold one be also? Why did you choose to do that as opposed to character names for ID?
A: Yeah, ummm….primarily as a privacy kind of element. We wanted to make sure people felt secure interacting with the AH and there wasn’t a strong reason to show names. If you look at something like WoW, a lot of people post things that they made through crafting and there’s good reason for wanting to be able to contact that person to get them to craft something else for you, and generally they’re going to welcome that contact. Something like eBay, where there’s not actually an assurance of receiving the object, they need a sort of reputation system, but we guarantee the transactions, and all the itemization is random, so there’s not a lot of reason to know the name of the seller. All the reasons we came up with were most frequently some sort of griefing, so we decided not to put it in there.
After that 30 minute interview, we were given a good 4.5 hours to get some game time in for ourselves. Force and I were Battle.net Buddies and played together for the entirety of our demo time. We were able to play through the game a few times, the content is relatively short (only about an hour of actual gameplay), and you finish at King Leoric, as most of you have already seen, unfortunately. The gameplay hasn't changed much since BlizzCon and there is no PvP in the Beta, so it's essentially just the first third of Act 1, up to King Leoric. I have to say though, I didn't think I'd enjoy playing the Monk as much as I did this time around. I still disliked playing the Witch Doctor, and of course, really enjoyed the Wizard/DH as I assumed I would. As far as the Barbarian goes, he's just not really for me. I made sure to try all classes just to see, which is why I was surprised about the Monk.
Something I did think that I should mention was the in-depth character details page, which included: Damage Increase, Attack per second, Casting speed, Crit hit chance, Crit hit damage, Block amount, block chance, dodge chance, damage reduction, max life, life per second, life steal, life per kill, life per hit, max resource, move speed, gold find, and magic find... All of that information will be readily available to us in-game, without the use of any calculators, which should make gearing our characters up a lot easier to do. We also got a chance to play around with the three new quest items I mentioned above, the Nephalem Cube, Stone of Recall, and Cauldron of Jordan. They are all very simple to get the hang of, and it's great that I can salvage/sell items while in the wilderness. I like how they designed the Stone of Recall, because it allows us to not have to worry about carrying scrolls of TP and then restocking, we basically have our own hearthstone. Something I did notice though, was that you could use that and the Banner system to be rushed. I can create a new character, join my friend in Act 5, and start playing. I asked about this in the interview below, but Jay basically said that it's fine. They restricted experience you could potentially earn from higher level monsters, so I won't level uber quickly and I end up missing the entire story. So really, all you do is ruin the story, though if playing with your friends is that important, you may do so.
Once our gameplay time game to a halt at around 5pm, we were scheduled for our second interview with Jay Wilson, that would last us until 6pm and finish off the day. Force was able to record that, though we have also transcribed it here as well.
Jay Wilson Interview #2:
Now, this is what I said I was a bit iffy on... Jay referred to their new theoretical runestone system, which I'm not a huge fan of -- I like knowing everything that we can potentially get. If they make runestones effects random, then it'll be a lot harder to know what the best possible combination is and we may also end up wasting runestones in the process. If I have a level 7 runestone and it turns into an Alabaster rune when I wanted an Indigo rune, I just wasted a very unique level 7 runestone. On the other hand, I have the potential to hit the maximum/perfect rune for the particular skill.. So yes, there is a lot of risk, but there's also a lot more potential for success with this new system.
Force's Interview Video (Coming Soon)
DiabloCast "Live" Special
Shortly after the last interview with Jay (a little past 6pm), we were kicked outta BlizzHQ and then proceeded to the Irvine Spectrum outside Mall thingy with Bashiok, Zarhym, Nethaera, and a couple of other fansite guys. While they were all busy drinking, Force and I snuck away to shoot a live video podcast that quickly ran through the major changes we heard earlier, as well as some quick thoughts that we had on them. After the podcast, we hungout until the wee hours of the night (OK, just 11pm) with the the few Community Managers, Jay Wilson, and the various other fansites that attended, at a pretty awesome restaurant in the Spectrum. Those of you curious, I ate a cheeseburger,
. This concluded my trip (I flew out the next morning at 8:30am, yuck).
Within the Press Kit Blizzard provided us, we were given several Q&A's to share with all of you. If you want more information, I highly recommend giving them a read through, as they are uber helpful.
July 2011 FAQ:
Auction House Overview:
Auction House FAQ:
D1 Warrior (the Dark Wanderer) was retconned, he is now King Leoric's eldest son.
Fire reigns from the sky, dead arise from graves, bring heroes to Tristram.
Book of Cain fills the 20-year gap between LoD and D3.
Leah is Adria's daughter and Cain's adopted niece.
6 active skills instead of 7. Traits revamped into "passive skills," only 3 active at a time.
Each class has ~20 skills and ~15 passives.
Cauldron of Jordan: Allows you to sell items from battle.
Nephalem Cube: Salvages items.
Stone of Recall: D3's version of a hearthstone.
Stash is huge! Larger than LoD's and has 5 pages, that you can purchase for gold.
DH has 2 separate resources, Hatred and Discipline, both regenerate at a certain rate.
Beta will only be a portion of Act 1 and will be relatively small.
Real money auction house as well as a gold auction house and direct trading.
Banner system to represent each person individually.
Character naming system is exactly like SC2's. Name#XXX.
Willpower is removed.
I also wanted to let everyone know about ActivisionBlizzard's upcoming Conference Call, on August 3rd, at 1:30PM PST. Force and I will be doing a live DiabloCast again, starting at 1PM PST, where we will answer any/all community questions (I'm sure you'll all have a lot), cover the Conference Call, and then discuss any potential new reveals they give us! Stay tuned for more information.