Candid Chats with Wyatt Cheng and Travis Day

Discussions with Diablo III developers about legendary items, skills, endless dungeons, ladders, and much more!

Diablo III Developer Interviews on Twitch.tv
As part of the recent Diablo III First Year Anniversary Celebration, the Diablo III developers Wyatt Cheng and Travis Day had lengthy chats with the Twitch.tv streamer ArchonTheWizard, talking about game design philosophy and answering questions about Diablo III topics. Wyatt Cheng had two fascinating interviews where he crunched the numbers on skills that need improvement and proc coefficients that are too high, talked about why he doesn't like the way white items are in the game, along with a slew of other Diablo III topics. Travis Day had a lengthy interview in the middle, where he energetically chatted about topics like the big itemization overhaul in the works, why account-bound items are good for the game, and how Diablo III needs many more content choices for players to enjoy. They both answered questions about a wide range of Diablo III topics such as endless dungeons, seasonal ladders, coming up with new item affixes, and what worked (and didn't) about the runewords in Diablo 2.

We have created transcripts of all three chats, from the recorded video of the stream that were taken during the interviews on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The lengthy transcripts are below, with an index of links to each main topic. It is important to note that these are discussions from the developers about how they view the game, and features in Diablo III that may receive changes. These are not official announcements for Diablo III, so don't take these discussions to mean that anything specific will happen - no one is being promised a pony here!

Want to read more Diablo III developer interviews? Check out the latest exclusive chat with developers Josh Mosqueira, Travis Day, and Kevin Martens.

Here are just a handful of the topics covered in the three developer chats:

  • Itemization Overhaul - The big overhaul to the items in Diablo III is what Wyatt Cheng is the most excited about, and he talked about how they want to have powerful legendary items that encourage certain builds. Travis Day also discussed legendaries for specific builds; he is running point on putting together all the pieces for the item revamp, and had a lot to say about the topic. He covered the overall item design philosophy, talked about increasing legendary power, and bemoaned the boring legendaries currently in the game.

    Travis Day also mentioned the current weapon damage system, and how hard it is for a weapon to roll what is considered "good" damage: "We've talked about taking stuff like percent weapon damage, reducing it to the numbers more similar to the attack speed on weapons, where it's nice if it's there, but if it's not it's no big deal. We've talked about taking the range on the weapon damage roll, elemental damage, and shrinking the variance. Variance is important, but the difference between a good weapon and a bad weapon shouldn't be like, 10 times the power. It should be within a range, like if the weapon is ranged from 400 to 600, the 400 is still "bad" but it's not 10 times weaker than the best weapon." Players shouldn't expect any of these item changes right away, though, as it is all still down the road.
  • Ladders - The idea of a seasonal ladder (much like the feature in Diablo 2) was mentioned positively by both developers. It is clearly a big feature that wouldn't be added in a standard patch; Wyatt Cheng stated clearly, "It wouldn't be viable until an expansion." He delved into the two main positive aspects of a seasonal ladder: the competitive race to the top, and the economy reset. He later stated that if seasonal ladders were implemented, they would function much like Diablo 2, where existing non-ladder characters would stay and new ones could start in the ladder mode. Travis Day talked about how ladders could increase Diablo 3's longevity, even years from now, once Blizzard isn't actively adding new Diablo 3 features and has moved on to other games like Diablo 4.
  • Secondary Damage - The damage from skills other than the main two attacks is weak on many Diablo III skills, and Wyatt Cheng talked about increasing the damage for those secondary skills. Musing about Demon Hunter skills, he mentioned how a pet like Companion - Bat Companion is used mainly for Hatred generation, but should also be useful for damage; other skills mentioned included Sentry, the passive Ballistics and the related runes that shoot out rockets. The major buff to Rapid Fire - Fire Support in Patch 1.0.8 was done with that mindset, as an extra damage increase thrown in while the developers were buffing the channeled spells.
  • Increasing Monster Affixes - Wyatt Cheng has been looking at the monster affixes, to "inject some new life into the elite packs." He is brainstorming up new monster affixes to add to the game, and reading the many suggestions on the forums.
  • Self-Found Mode - There was a lot of discussion about self-found mode, where a character only wears equipment that he has obtained himself; no gear is used from trading with people, or the Auction House. Wyatt Cheng plays self-found characters a lot, and talked about how it would be nice for the game to give some validation or recognition for characters who are played that way. One possible idea he had would be to mark characters automatically as having been self-found until they trade to obtain an item, so the battle.net character display could reflect that.

    Travis Day talked about the debate around self-found mode, whether it's necessary for the game to officially support it, and how much the developers want to improve the sense of personal achievement for all players. Although he doesn't personally play that way, he recognizes the "really strong psychological draw to self-found". He discussed how obtaining gear from the Auction House short-circuits the reward structure in the game: "Right now the Auction House sort of sets the bar for what a good item is so high, that 99% of players will never find something better than what they bought for 100,000 gold on the Auction House. That becomes a crappy feeling; I want to get the self-found feeling for everyone, ultimately."
  • Less Auction House, More Self-Found - Both of the developers discussed shifting Diablo III towards a place where an end-game character is not relying on the Auction House for all their gearing choices. Wyatt Cheng talked about the spectrum between total self-found, and filling all 13 slots from the Auction House: "If 3 of my items came from the Auction House, and the rest of my items I had made or found myself, I'd feel like that was a good balance." The Demonic Essence crafting recipes were a big step in that process, and Travis Day talked about the "touchy topic" of soulbound items like those.
Read on for the index of all the topics in the interviews, and the full transcript!


Interview Topics




Chat Transcripts: The text in white is from ArchonTheWizard, or questions asked by people in the Twitch.tv chat. Timestamps of the video of the stream are marked on the right in grey, like [15:45]. These transcripts have been lightly edited for readability and language, and some chat about non-Diablo III topics were skipped or abbreviated.



Wyatt Cheng Chat #1
[15:45]
Self-Found Mode
What are the chances of us seeing a self-found mode sometime in the future?
Wyatt: That's a good question. I am playing self-found hardcore myself right now; I may take a short break from it to level Paragon this week. We think that it's a fun way to play for some people, but not everyone likes playing that way.

So I think, obviously people can play self-found kind of right now. I think the main challenge is that it would be nice to have a little bit of recognition for it, some sort of indication and validation from the server that your character is self-found. But we also don't want to do it in a way that complicates the UI. I know that our solution to this in the past has always been a little bit inelegant when we introduce things with checkbox options. People complain a lot about Elective Mode, that's a big one, or Advanced Tool Tips, or most recently Monster Power. We've sort of used options as a little bit of a crutch, to hide things from beginners, while still allowing expert players access to these things that we really want. On the character creation screen, do we really want to put another self-found checkbox on the front? I guess, maybe. To make a long story short: I think self-found is pretty cool, but we don't want it to get in the way of people who aren't interested in it. I know we use non-committal language a lot; because design is super-iterative. So it is a matter of trying some stuff out, and we like some stuff, and we don't like others, and we hate promising things only to try it internally and realize we're not happy with it. So, again, lots of non-committal disclaimers.

We've talked about maybe marking your character automatically as having been self-found until you trade. So the moment you equip something that you didn't find yourself -- maybe if I just pull up your battle.net page, then on the web page it says this character has used the Auction House, or hasn't used the Auction House. So that's definitely a soft way to maybe do something like that. The other challenge for me when I play self-found is my gold. I hate having to remember how much gold I had, to not go below the amount I started at. That's kind of annoying, it would be nice if the game just said, "This is how much gold this character has". Then if I wanted, I could opt in to having shared gold with the rest of my account. I consider it great that my gold is shared across my account, most of the time. It saves me from having to transfer gold between all my characters, which is why we did it. But it definitely does make self-found a little bit of a pain. So maybe a little option, or something. Like I said, I'm not a big fan of options, I think it complicates the UI. But I like self-found, so if we can do something to help support and promote it, that would be great.

[20:00]
Would a self-found ladder ever be an option?
Maybe, again being non-committal. I think that would be pretty cool. It's definitely come up; more than that, unfortunately, I can't really say.


[20:30]
A Day in the Life of a Developer
What is a day like, in the life of a developer?
Wyatt: I usually start my day checking email, forums, reddit, and see what people have been talking about. Also internally, there's development that's been going on. Then I go over my meeting schedule for the day, and prioritize what I really want to get done. I got frustrated at different points where sometimes I'd end the day, and there had been a lot of design discussions, but design discussions don't always feel concrete. I really like to get something tangible done, so I like to set mini-goals for myself every day. So at the start of the day, I like to start a goal and say: by the end of the day if nothing else, I will at least get a Demon Hunter skill change done, or something like that. Or work on the itemization, or whatever. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't!

The day is split: usually on Mondays the whole team gets together, every Monday morning we do updates. If there are new people on the team, they get introduced. That's an opportunity for the whole team to stay in sync about what's going on in the land of Diablo. Tuesdays is actually really exciting, Tuesdays around here is No Meetings Tuesday. What we've found is that if you can have an uninterrupted block of time, that is when people get most of their work done. So that's really nice.

[22:26]
Do you do much of the actual programming?
Wyatt: We do scripting; all of our powers are scripted internally, along with a power editor that our gameplay programmers have provided. It's a pretty powerful set of tools, for us to script and code the powers. We work in conjunction with our tech art department to actually create all of the skills. Tech art for us takes a much larger role in our skill development than in some other games. We feel that the connection between the mechanics of the skill and the visual of the skill is premium for us. So we really want to involve art very early, and throughout the entire skill development process.

Lylirra is here. She's calling me out, that people do schedule meetings on No Meetings Tuesday, that's true. It's pretty funny; we're not supposed to, but then you have this really important meeting. Sometimes things are really important and time-sensitive, and they're like: oh, look at all this free time that people have on Tuesday, I think I'll schedule a meeting then!


[24:00]
Future Plans
What are you most excited about with Diablo 3 right now, that you guys are working on or talking about?
Wyatt: So this is a total tease, but the items stuff. I am excited about that. Travis is running point on that, and we have conversations about it pretty regularly. We also consult and talk to people on other teams all the time. We talk to people who are playing Diablo 3 all through the company, whether it's people on the Diablo 3 team or not on the Diablo 3 team. There are so many awesome designers at Blizzard, so we are constantly running our plans and ideas past other people to say: "Hey, is this good, is this good? No, it's not good - what would you change?" and trying to get it all together. So I'm pretty excited about that.

I'm also pretty excited about the other plans for the future. The multiplayer improvements actually consumed a lot of my time over the last couple of months. I think we can go farther. This week, I got this idea from our lead gameplay programmer, who was telling me this is what he does: he logs in, and he picks the Monster Power he wants to play on, and does Any Quest - Any Act and then just hits the Public Game button and drops into any public game at Any Quest - Any Act. It's almost like the game just rolls something for you, and it's pretty fun, to play with random new people.

The monster density was a big change, too. It's kind of the combination of multiplayer and monster density, that allows me to do a public game Any Quest - Any Act. Some areas are still not as good as others, and we can work on that a little bit, too. But the main point is that it's not horrible, you know. You get to play with new people. People run all sorts of of different skills, too. I do see a lot of Archon Wizards, that's pretty fun, and Whirlwind Barbs. But a lot of Demon Hunters using Rapid Fire and stuff... it's fun to just be in there.


[27:25]
Skill Changes
What class do you feel needs the most changes right now?
Wyatt: Realistically, we have been looking at our classes across the board, I don't want to promise anything. To summarize what I commonly see from the community, obviously there are concerns about Demon Hunter DPS. It's most recently been fashionable to say Effective DPS, to highlight that my character sheet might say one thing, but the actual damage I do is different. I definitely think there's some stuff going on there. Demon Hunters are ranged classes who sometimes have to either kite more, or you kind of figure: if I'm playing a ranged class, I want to be able to sit there and pew pew and do a lot of damage. It can be frustrating if -- I think the classic comparison video is a Monk, wearing almost identical gear. I'll caveat it by saying there's a lot of differences in builds and gear, but underlying all of it are some changes I think we should really take a hard look at, for classes in general. We started doing this quite a while ago, actually. I'm sorry I'm rambling, trying to read comment chat while trying to formulate this thought.

So the game shipped a certain way, and we have some spreadsheets internally that we use to tune the classes. We have some general philosophies around skills. I'm just going to use some hard numbers, because I work in numbers all the time. If I activate a skill that costs no resource, or maybe it generates a resource, like your standard Magic Missile, or Fists of Thunder, or Deadly Reach -- we kind of say, there's a ballpark that it's going to do about 150% weapon damage. Sometimes it's a little bit higher, sometimes it's a little bit lower; for example if it's AOE, you're going to do a little bit less damage. If it's generating a lot of resource for you, it's going to do a little bit less, if it's not generating a lot of resource maybe it'll do a little bit more damage. If it's Cleave or a skill that hits a lot of targets like then the damage is going to be lower, which makes sense. If you spend a lot of resource, using a skill like Cluster Arrow or Hammer of the Ancients, you're going to do more damage. We have some multipliers that we use internally to say, a point of Fury is worth about this amount of time. So we kind of have this model that we have that we use, internally. We're allowed to deviate from the model, but it's always good to have this mathematical basis for roughly what things should be. It will say if it's a DoT it does this much, if it's a channel it does this much, if it costs a lot of resource it does that much. If it's hard to execute - if it can hit 5 targets, but it's actually hard to hit 5 targets, that's going to do more damage than a skill that hits 5 targets but it's easy to hit the 5 targets.

So we did a bunch of tuning, and we had this model in beta. Then the game went live, and we started looking at the classes. People were saying, for example: on a Barbarian, Rend isn't really worth using. So Rend got buffed fairly early on. Or people said: Hydra other than Venom Hydra is not worth using - so we buffed all the other runes on Hydra. There were a lot of these done in 1.0.2 and 1.0.3. Another good example is Seven-Sided Strike was much lower back in the day, it was around 1000% weapon damage and now it's much higher. So when we shipped, a lot of our skills were very close to this internal mathematical model that we had. Of course there was room for interpretation and that's fine. Then post-ship a lot of the skill changes that we've made, have been based more on the realities of actually playing. We'll say, hey, Rend's not worth using compared to XYZ, or Hydra's not worth using compared to these other things. So we gave out these buffs, and those buffs are not based on the model anymore, they're based on: what are the player's other options? So the skills start to become balanced much more against each other, than against this model.

So bring the story forward to today: in this process, there are a lot of skills that can get overlooked. I'll use Impale on the Demon Hunter as an example. Impale is really not doing it's job, I think. It's a single target damage skill, that spends a bunch of Hatred, but I don't think I'm actually going to use it versus Hungering Arrow. So what we need to do is to take all the lessons that we've learned, about: how much is it actually worth to spend a resource, how much is a cooldown worth, what's the value of a skill slot, what is the value of having to switch between two? We've kind of accumulated a lot of lessons, we need to revisit the model and revisit all of our skills across the board. Having learned everything that we've learned over the last year, how can we incorporate this to basically just give a lot of attention to all of the skills that have not gotten a lot of attention over time.


[34:22]
Balancing Overpowered Builds
So when you're comparing potential builds to Whirlwind or or Archon or zero cooldown Summon Zombie Dogs -- it seems like some of those builds weren't intended in the original design. But players found ways, and they became "exploity" builds. Do you consider getting rid of those builds to balance other ones, or talk about making it just so there are multiple builds that are also that powerful?
Wyatt: From a high level philosophy, Diablo plays best if the game is moderately challenging. I'm gonna get called out on that, let me put that a different way: Diablo isn't great when it's super-easy, and for some people it's not great when it's punishingly hard. I know some people love the punishingly hard as well, and certainly there are ways to play it that way. But a lot of times, players will say, "I like putting on music and maybe streaming, and play, and it's very relaxing." You want to be in that zone, in between frustratingly challenging and too easy, a flow state. We want to try and have people in that flow state.

So, how does this relate to skills? Our job is that skills and monsters play off each other. I use this phrase a lot: they are two sides of the same coin -- how powerful is the player, and how powerful are the monsters? So if we have ways to provide some moderate challenge at all times, then that's ok, and we want the player to feel super-powerful at times. But that does mean that the monsters, every so often, should also be commensurately powerful, so that you still have to pay attention and can't just close your eyes and hold down one button the whole game.

[36:52]
Do you lean more towards buffing other builds to the level of those builds, or more reducing the effectiveness of these "exploity" type builds like Whirlwind and ?
Wyatt: That I don't actually know yet. Using zero-cooldown Zombie Dogs as an example, I like that some legendary items are often involved, like Mara's Kaleidoscope. That's something I think is under-utilized in Diablo 3 right now. We've hinted at this before, we would really like legendaries to not just be stat sticks, but to open up new build possibilities. That is something we're definitely looking at. Obviously build diversity is something that we've always talked about, and people can argue about whether we've been successful or not. I think a lot of people would say we're not, some people would say it's ok, but I think one thing we can all agree on is that there's a lot of room for improvement. One area where there's room for improvement is to say: hey, here's a legendary item that opens up a whole new build for you. That's really the kind of thing I want to see a lot more of.

[38:33]
So maybe it's ok that some builds are more powerful, if they're hard to get the gear for?
Wyatt: Yeah. Travis hinted at some, like for example if you could have 2 Hydras out, that's kind of neat, someone might make a whole build around that. So that has potential. I think one that didn't really hit in a good way, was that Inna's 4-piece makes my Sweeping Wind super cheap. That's one that is a pale shadow of what it could be, in terms of opening up build possibilities. But it definitely says we're going to play around with Sweeping Wind, and it does so in this quality of life way, more so than interesting build decision way. So if we could take that idea and just dial it up to 11, then that's kind of where I'd love to be.


[39:45]
Future Classes
We've been talking here about which classes we'd like to see in an expansion. We were trying to find which Diablo 2 class would make the best transition to Diablo 3, maybe the druid since we don't have a shapeshifter yet. I know you can't talk specifically about which classes will come out, but any thoughts about designing new classes?
Wyatt: I'm trying to think about what I can say, I really don't want to say anything specific. From a development standpoint we want to do something that our artists are excited about, that's always a strong standing point. One of the qualities that makes Diablo special is a lot of the aesthetic to the game. It's very satisfying to slay monsters. If you look at the lineup of characters when starting a character, they look good up there, there's a lot of different archetypes represented. Having something that vibes well on that lineup, and the artists are excited and say "yeah this is cool", that's really important.

And then, I would look at playstyle. Ah, I don't want to say too much! For example, somebody who doesn't overlap existing playstyles as much and is more different, would be desirable. If I can already get a similar gameplay experience out of the existing Diablo 3, that's not as interesting. You're kind of dealing with multiple needs, and we have to find the overlap: great artistic and aesthetic vibe, good story and world integration opportunity, good mechanical gameplay differences from the existing 5 classes.


[42:40]
Endless Dungeon
Travis mentioned recently the idea of an endless dungeon, or some kind of end-game content that is separate from the 4 Acts that are in the game. Any thoughts on your philosophy on end-game content like that?
Wyatt: When I look at end-game dungeons or people suggest it, my very first question is: what motivates people, why do you want that? I'm not trying to say, "You don't want that." But what is the root desire and motivation, so that we can best address it. There are a lot of different ways to implement something like that, so as designers we really want to make sure we are satisfying that need. When I ask people that, I get different answers. Some people will say, "I really want to test my character, and an endless dungeon that's continuously getting harder allows me to find out how far my character can go." Other people will say, "I want to play for hours on end. I have this flow state that I get in, I like the idea of an endless dungeon that allows me to continuously go through, and not have to worry about my flow state being interrupted." There's varied gameplay, where you have this intuitive sense that you want your gameplay to vary. Like in Diablo 2, people would do runs, and there's a sense of: runs are very rewarding, but it would be really nice if the game changed for me. Some of the appeal for some people of an endless dungeon is this idea that I can sit down, and the game is presenting me with different content, different art, different environments, different monsters. It's almost like I'm on a tour bus, and I'm going to kill everything that we pass by. So these are the kind of conversations we have.

So, I think there's definitely a desire there. We talk about doing something to try and fulfill those different kind of desires that people have.


[47:10]
Relying Less on the Auction House
It seems that recently you guys have put some focus on getting people to rely on the Auction House less. Would that be a correct assumption? There was a blue post about whether or not you guys would introduce an app so people could check out the AH on their phone, and the response was along the lines that: we don't want to encourage people to use the AH right now, we don't want people relying on it to get all their gear.
Wyatt: I think when we talk about the Auction House, there's definitely a lot of difficulty for people sometimes to get a particular item that they really want. The loot in Diablo 3 is random. So if I want a particular item and it just doesn't drop for me, that's when in Diablo 2 people would go to trade, or trade chat, or trading websites. We wanted to make sure we could provide a better experience than hanging out in a trade channel, and that's where the Auction House comes in. What I don't like is when people have all 13 of their item slots filled with items from the Auction House, and none of them are things that they feel they've found, or made themselves.

So those Demonic Essence crafting recipes were sort of a step in that direction. With those at least some of your items (whether 2 or 4 or 5 depending on your need) will be things that you really feel like you found yourself, that you didn't get it on the Auction House. But your other items you got from the Auction House. So we're asking ourselves this question: What's the right number of items that I should feel like I earned myself, versus found via the Auction House or trading or other mechanisms? If you're playing self-found, that number is 0! If you're currently playing live and you're not crafting, then that answer is: every slot comes from the Auction House. I feel like there's a number in between, and that number at launch was definitely too high. It feels like a number closer to 3 or so, just as a gut feeling, I don't have scientific data to back this up. But if 3 of my items came from the Auction House, and the rest of my items I had made or found myself, I'd feel like that was a good balance.


[50:35]
Ladders
What about ladders?
Wyatt: There are two aspect of ladder, both of which I think are interesting. One is the competitive ladder aspect, the race to the top. The other is the economy reset, this fresh sharded off economy where everyone begins clean. As you've probably found with all your self-found hardcore playing, it's really fun to level up new characters. In that experience, typically my character is growing ever more powerful, but the frequency of my upgrades is getting farther and farther apart. So when I level from 1-60, I'll find an upgrade for my character every 15-20 minutes. Particularly if you're playing self-found, you've experienced that; every 15-20 minutes maybe I'll replace a glove, or a shoulders or a belt. And that's pretty cool. Then when you hit level 60, if you're still self-found, you're finding an upgrade maybe every 45 minutes or an hour. That rate of upgrade gets slower and slower with time, as your gear continues to improve, and gets better and better.

Then you use the Auction House, and you hurtle yourself forward. So you go from getting an upgrade every hour, to now if you were to continue to farm, you'd get an upgrade every 5 hours or every 10 hours, or even farther. So I think one of the benefits of a ladder is just this idea that it's really fun to start fresh, and experience this rapid rate of upgrading, again. A ladder is a great excuse to do it. Sometimes we all want to do it and we can choose to do it, but sometimes it's nice to do it together, as a global community. Or have a recognized badge of honor, for having done it.

[54:05]
So I assume the ladder is something that you would be excited about, but something that also is a little loaded?
Wyatt: We're definitely looking into the possibility of a ladder, or something like that. I personally -- this is just me speaking and there are other people on the team who would disagree with me, so I'll say that, it's just my opinion -- I'm more excited about the reroll and clean economy aspect of ladder seasons, than I am of the race. I know the race is exciting too, and there's pictures of people who are getting ready for the new season. They have all their caffeinated drinks on their desk, and I think that's epic and awesome, if not always healthy. But realistically, yeah it's something we're cool with. It wouldn't be viable until an expansion.


[55:25]
White Items
[From chat: White items]
Wyatt: I don't like white items in the game, the way they are now. I know that there's a really popular request to hide white items, and blue items even. I think that that's a totally understandable request. It's not really something that we want to do. What we'd rather do is get to the root of the problem. Whenever someone asks for an option, we have to ask ourselves: is this just the difference between someone who's more casual or core, and someone who plays a lot? Or is this a fundamental issue of the game, that we can improve? With white items, we definitely come down on the side that this is a fundamental aspect of the game, that we can improve.

White items either need to do one of two things: either not be there, or they need to be useful and interesting in some way. So some people are asking about, for example, runewords: runewords makes white items awesome, and that's a really important thing. I don't want to pick all of them up, but I'd love to know -- this is something D2 did pretty well, is I'd be excited to find not all white items, but a very specific type of white item that I might be interested in, at any given time. So I'm still leaving 90% of them on the ground, but one of them I would grab, once in a while.

This actually goes to a philosophy that I'm going to generalize out to items in general. One of the litmus tests we've been using internally, is the question: could I picture this item being useful for somebody? The classic example is the quiver that has Strength. Now our items are randomly generated, but you pick up a quiver with Strength and you think: that's just really dumb, nobody's going to use that. So we're trying to address items that you can't imagine anyone using. If you can at least say, "You know what, it's not for me, but it could be for somebody else" then that's more acceptable. So if I get a belt with Thorns. Imagine this, in a world where Thorns is better, we've talked about making it better. So you know that out there in the world is someone making a Thorns build, and they're really excited about it. Pretend that that's actually a viable second-tier build, maybe even a premiere build. So even if you're not a Thorns build, you'll see that belt and go, "Ok I get it, a Thorns belt. It's not for me, but it's for somebody else." And we kind of want white items to be the same way. You're not offended that they're there, because you know that they have a purpose and a use in the grand scheme of the economy as a whole, just maybe not for you right now.


[58:45]
Rewarding Self-Found Play
Any ideas for incentivizing people for finding gear that they use themselves?
Wyatt: I can't comment on that, but I will acknowledge some of the suggestions that have been made, which have all been very cool, and talked about and considered. I know that sometimes on the forums we don't respond to every suggestion made, but I wanted to confirm that yes, we've seen them. We've seen people say, "wouldn't it be cool if I could enhance items that I've found myself, to be 25% better?" I saw that one last week. Or people would say, "what if you brought add socket back, and you could only add a socket to something you found yourself?" All sorts of suggestions like that, and they've been tossed around. Like I said, I don't want to comment on anything specific, but it is something that is discussed.


[1:00:00]
[Discussion about other games, StarCraft II.]


[1:03:45]
Strength Quivers
[From chat: Why have Strength on quivers, why not just change the code?]
Wyatt: Random items are kind of tricky. We want to remove the items that could not possibly be fathomable for anybody, without removing the randomness. We do feel like there's a danger if the items become too predictable. At the end of the day, you're still making your way up that replacement sequence of getting better and better gear. If we just make all the gear roll perfect stats, always, then you'll roll out with perfectly stat'd things, and then you'll just have to roll better stats from there. But more importantly we don't want to dictate which stats are good. Strength on a quiver, I guess you could argue a Demon Hunter who really really cared about Armor would want that; I'm taking that argument to the extreme, we don't really actually think that. But we do want to get the game to the point where there are actually legitimate build choices. If someone were to say, "Why don't you just roll all items with the perfect 6 stats?" my first answer would be, "Why are there just 6 perfect stats?" The answer of what stats I want should be different, based on playstyle and build. So we need to get the game to that point.


[1:06:20]
One with Everything
[From chat: One with Everything]
Wyatt: For One With Everything I think the most likely -- again non-committal because we're trying different things -- the most likely solution is to try and get a new set of Resist affixes out the door. No promises, probably pretty far down the line because it's part of itemization. So we want to make the school resistances roll higher than All Resist. Just forget One With Everything for two seconds. That's just weird, a lot of people have commented on that, and we agree; it's weird that Fire/Lightning/Cold Resists on an item, rolls lower than All Resist.

So a little bit of history as to why that's the case. When school resists were way higher, you were incentivized to keep a bunch of school resists in your bag, and swap them in when you came across a Frozen or Molten or Mortar monster. We didn't really like that whole gear-swapping thing, so we said, what if All Resist was just the highest? That idea was kind of better than gear-swapping, but I think we just traded one problem for another. So we need to go back, and allow the school resist values to be higher than the All Resist values. When those higher values roll out, they will not roll on the same items as All Resist. One With Everything will still be a bonus, but not such a ridiculous bonus that you're getting such a big benefit. As an example, say All Resist goes up to 80, maybe I can get Lightning Resist on an item to 100 or 115. But I can't get that 115 plus another 80 All Resist. So now I can wear an item and One With Everything is still good, if I'm gearing with those stats.


[1:08:50]
Reforging and Transmogrification
[From chat: Reforging and Transmogrification]
Wyatt: We've talked about reforging, that's definitely come up. We've also talked about transmog.


[1:09:10]
Open World Mode
[From chat: Open World Mode]
Wyatt: We've talked about open world, where you can skip story and cinematics. I shouldn't use the word, "talked about". That can be ambiguous, where it can mean "oh it was mentioned" as opposed to, "no, we actually sat down and assessed the production cost, and time, and weighed it against other opportunities." We can't chase everything at once, so we have to look at the 100 things we could do, and pick the ones that we want to do. If we do for example, a no-quest open world mode, then we might not be able to do an alternate monster distribution for an area. That's not an accurate comparison, but we definitely look at all the things that we'd like to do. For alternate distribution, I'll mention that: I would love if I came by an area, and it wasn't always the same monsters. Diablo 2 did some of that, where you came through an area and the distribution was different. It still made sense artistically for the area, but there was a little more variety.


[1:10:45]
2 Billion Gold Cap on Auction House
Why a 2 billion gold cap on the Auction House, why not raise the cap?
Wyatt: I think the gold cap, it would be nice for it to be raised. Beyond that, I can't really say. It's not really a design issue, honestly. Everything related to the Auction House affects more than just design, so unfortunately I can't say more than that, sorry.


[1:11:50]
Wyatt Playing Diablo 3
[From chat: Are you bored with the game?]
Wyatt: Someone said that I sounded bored with the game. I have to call that out, I'm definitely not bored with the game. I was playing it just last night, got my Monk an Echoing Fury with only 10.5% fear on it. Sometimes people say, "do you even play the game anymore?" And I say yeah, I play the game every single night. I was on my Monk, playing away, playing with a friend of mine. A friend of mine on the WoW team and I were playing last night, he plays an Archon Wizard. He was just bringing all the pew pew, and I was tanking everything, and I switched into Cyclone Strike to group everything up, and it was tons of fun. [Later comments:] He was rocking Archon because of the change to allow the duration to extend. He was joking how with the monster density -- say you're running through Fields of Misery in Act I, and you see just this huuuge pack of goatmen running at you. And you think, oh that's like 30 seconds of Archon right there, it's like nom nom nom. You know you're doing pretty well when you have to drop Archon to cast some of your buffs.


[1:12:55]
Waypoints Across All Acts
Will you ever be able to Waypoint across all the different Acts?
Wyatt: That would be very cool. I can't say much more than that.


[1:14:15] Wyatt leaves, Travis is stepping in.

[1:18:55] Travis Day joins.



Travis Day Chat
[1:20:55]
Playing Hardcore
[Talk about the streamer playing in hardcore mode]. Seems like Barb and Witch Doctor is the way to go, if you're going hardcore.
Travis: I don't do a lot of hardcore, because I'm a giant sissy and I've always said I'd get really angry if I got disconnected from the internet. But I definitely was leveling a hardcore Witch Doctor at one point. Because I was like, well if I'm gotta play hardcore I'll hide like a little girl, and throw spiders at things I can't see, with lots of pets.


[1:22:20]
Elemental Effects on Weapons
[From chat: Elemental effects on weapons]
Travis: Eventually, I actually do want to make elemental effects do things again. I loved that about D2 myself back in the day, I think it really added a lot to the game. So there's definitely been a lot of talks about how in the future we can reintroduce those, and what we can do to make them interesting, beyond the obvious like Frost makes things sloooow, and herpaderp.


[1:23:00]
Item Design Philosophy
Are there things that have been talked about recently regarding itemization that you're excited about, or anything about the design philosophy, the process you go through?
Travis: It's a long conversation. I have a lot of thoughts on itemization, just because I'm super-opinionated, but mostly because I've done so much rewards scheme and itemization work over the years, especially on WoW. So I kind of chuckled when I started working on Diablo and they were like, "Yeah, you can help us with ours!" and I was like, "I've been down this road." Coming from WoW and working on Diablo now for what, 8 months, maybe a year or something like that, time is kind of a blur here.

One of the things I value the most about Diablo is how much randomization works in it's favor. I think there's a lot of room for improvements in a lot of areas, some of which I've talked about before. I think legendaries need to be way more game-changing. I think there is a lot to be said for having the holy grail of items that players can strive to attain. Even as recently as yesterday we were talking about, what are the boundaries: how crazy could we really get with legendaries or sets, what are the confines that we're working within? One extreme: anything that makes the player invincible forever and always, is probably too much. But I think there's a lot to be said for having stuff out there that's just something you can hope to one day acquire.

I talked about how D2 had runewords, that were like, this thing takes 6 different runes, and each rune is insanely hard to find, and the end result is something amazing. Sort of using that as a guide, so that you don't have to make everything bland just because you think players might get their hands on it. It's an Action RPG, it's about feeling awesome and overpowered. There's the extreme end of the spectrum that we were sort of like, yeah even this is ok, as long as it's sufficiently difficult or time-consuming to obtain. Like what if there was a set, that was some undefined number of pieces, and the set bonus said: "You have unlimited resources"? Yeah, you know what, it sounds crazy, but it's the sort of thing when you find the first piece of it, you're like, "What could I possibly do to get my hands on this set?!" I've talked about some of the other ideas before. Like I want boots that make the player ignore mob collision. I don't know what you'll do with it; players will find cool uses for that kind of stuff.

So yeah, items is a long conversation. Legendaries is something I really want -- I would say most of my effort right now is trying to figure out how to really fix that, to give players things to strive for. Everything intermediary matters too, like the Rare gear that you find, or finding a good blue at low levels. Or having a good experience; we want you to see good items on your first playthrough of the game, and not have them just be something that you see after you invest 100 hours. It's important that everyone enjoys their play experience. But I do spend my personal time focusing mostly on: what does the grand picture look like? Five years from now when we no longer work on this game, do players have things that they can still be searching for, wanting to get their hands on. If they come back to play the game 2 years later, like someone buys it for them on a Christmas sale, because those are the memories that I have about Diablo 2. I played it like obscene amounts. I didn't play every day all day for 5 years, but when it first came out I remember I was playing EverQuest and I took a break from EQ for a few months and played Diablo. Then 3 years later some of my buddies bought it and played it, and I bought it again and played it again, and it was still a great game. That's the kind of stuff I want to ensure for the future of Diablo, that it remains a game that there's always exciting and new things to find, even if you come back multiple times over the course of years. It just stands up to the test of time.


[1:28:05]
Legendaries for Specific Builds
I like the idea of there being builds that are overpowered, but it's really hard to get the gear for.
Travis: Totally, I think that's completely reasonable. The really crap example of ideas that have come up as of late, that I think seem totally reasonable: items that enable certain builds. I want there to be items where, if you find them, you go, "holy crap, I'm making a new character for this, because this thing is crazy." I would throw out random examples I have, but they would all be wrong. The crappiest example I have is: what if there's a Voodoo Mask, and it doubles all pet damage? That's neat; it's probably at the weaker end of the power spectrum, because pet damage sucks. But it's certainly something where if you're not a Witch Doctor and you saw it, you'd be excited. Or if you're a Witch Doctor, you're like, "oh man, maybe I'll try a new spec to see if this is good" -- which hopefully it is, if I don't suck at my job. I think it's really cool.

I think a good example that fell a little bit short, but is in the right vein of an idea, is The Three Hundredth Spear. The item itself sucked mostly, because the weapon DPS sucks. And there's all the requirements you need for a weapon to even be useful because math says so: alright, does it have percent damage; does it have an elemental type; does it have a socket; does it have crit damage? But the Three Hundredth Spear idea itself is completely sound. If all things were equal, a weapon that said "you do 40% more damage with Weapon Throw" suddenly is opening up a spec you may not have played before. I think that's a good example. I've used other crap examples like, I dunno there could be a Wizard wand that says: "allows you to have a second Hydra active". Maybe you use that with some other set or legendary items that make Blizzard more powerful, or you choose not to do that, I dunno. I'm still compiling ideas on this front, but this is the general design direction I'm trying to take with items in the game.


[1:30:22]
PVP
Is there any discussion right now about PVP?
Travis: There is discussion, I'm not really going to touch on that because I don't want to get set on fire by people who find my house. But I will say, I'm a huge PVP fan. I really want us to figure out how to do it properly. I personally really want it to be good, and I really want it to be in, sooner rather than later. Beyond that, I can't say a whole lot, because I don't even -- I dunno, I don't know how to even talk about that without people looking my address up online and then burning my house down to the ground. It's a very lively topic.


[1:31:20]
Itemization Timeline
If you have more stuff to say about itemization, feel free.
Travis: I can and have talked for hours and hours about items! I don't mind talking about them; anything I say is under the context of "down the road" and not like immediately. Which is something I was slightly saddened to read. Like when I made the item blog post, people were like, "Oh they're fixing items tomorrow!" And I was like, I don't know how many ways to say that this is going to take me time. But this is sort of me, trying to communicate with the community, because I know there was a lack in communication for such a long time. And then in the absence of us talking to people, they just assumed the worst.


[1:33:00]
Legendary Power
Is your end goal to have it so that all legendaries are good? Or will there still be legendaries that get unlucky rolls and just turned into brimstones?
Travis: There's going to be a spectrum, obviously. I've used this example before. People complained a lot when the game first shipped, about how, "oh legendaries are too rare, I never find anything." The thing I always told them is, they're not really as rare as you think. I mean they are, based on whether you're wearing Magic Find, and then how much. When the game first came out and people were making that complaint, I was running around with max MF and was like, I dunno, I find like one an hour. And they're like: I've been playing for weeks, and I haven't found one! So problem #1: there's a massive discrepancy in the reward rate between the playerbase. And we need to address that. That's mostly because of Magic Find, the gap between someone with a lot of Magic Find and someone with none is big.

But ignoring that, I don't even think it's a problem that they're few and far between. I think the problem is that when you find one, it's probably not even good. It's almost a foregone conclusion at this point for most players that if you find an orange, it's garbage and you shard it. I think there will always be the legendaries that people look at and go, oh this is crap. And they're going to say that because either it's not for your character, or it's for a certain character spec you don't enjoy playing. Like maybe you find a The Three Hundredth Spear, imagining that it's a foregone conclusion down the road that it has good DPS. Some Barbs will find it and go, "oh this is a crappy legendary, I don't want this". They'll shard it, and that's fine. As long as it's good for somebody and it truly is good for somebody, not just theoretically good for somebody. So the short answer to that is: yeah, everyone out there every once in a while will still find a legendary and they'll just be like eh, shard it. And that's fine. But the hope is that if you're playing this Barbarian right here, and you see a legendary Mighty Two-handed weapon laying on the ground, I want you to immediately pick it up and go: Hell yes! ID and equip, and then worry about reading what it does, because you should just know it's better than what you're using if you don't have a legendary already.

A good example is, if anyone has ever played Borderlands here. Borderlands's system was very much a Diablo system where it's just like, Rare and big numbers. And they did fruity stuff. And doing fruity stuff is cool, the problem is you just need to make sure that the math on the fruity item isn't bad. If you have a legendary weapon with 50 DPS, don't have a Rare weapon with 400 DPS because then the legendary is bad. So I guess I'm proposing a world where if you've got a Rare weapon with (and I'm making these numbers up, and I know that they're wrong, and people will say I'm stupid, but I'm just putting in scale): if you have 100 DPS for your weapon, you should assume that the legendary is going to have 120 if not 200. So it should be on a spectrum of: Amazing to Holy Crap, instead of Garbage to Usable.

[1:36:40]
Item Power
So if someone inspected your character and saw that you had X number of legendaries, that would be impressive amongst itself?
Travis: It should be, I mean you should - I say it all the time, that rarity equals powers, kind of like one of the design philosophies that I've been driving towards since I started on the team. Having things that are really rare is completely reasonable. But the expectation is that if it's rare, it's rare for a reason, and the reason is generally because it's better. You shouldn't have things that are incredibly hard to find, and then also terrible, which is kind of the world we're in right now. So I mean, fixing that to where an orange is to a yellow, what a yellow is to a blue. You pretty much assume that if you find a yellow, you're going to put that on instead of your blue. And it's going to be better.


[1:37:35]
Thorns
What about changes to Thorns, or other affixes that aren't widely used right now?
Travis: So Thorns is just weak, it totally needs love. We have plans to -- I don't want to say "improve" it, for many people it will still suck, which is fine because again, it'll be a "not for my playstyle" sort of thing. But what we really want to fix there, is that there are at least people who would like to find it, whereas right now there's no one. We've talked about down the road, changing it so Thorns has it's damage increased by your primary stat. So that if you have a crapload of Strength, and you want to make a Thorns Barbarian build, that's tanky and does a bunch of damage to people, say in hardcore, then that would be a completely viable build.

Other stats... what other stats are bad for people? There's stuff like Pickup Radius, but there are Witch Doctors who love it. What are some bad stats?


[1:38:50]
Health Globe Bonus
[From chat: Health Globe Bonus is a bad stat.]
Travis: That one, I dunno, I've got a problem not so much with Health Globe Bonus, but with the fact -- I kind of dislike the fact that Health Globes are such an integral part of the game at low levels, and then at end-game become this non-factor. I don't have a solution for that yet, it's something we talk about, and it keys into the, "This stat sucks!" Yeah, because you don't like health globes anymore. If we could find a way to make you like health globes again, in the end game, suddenly that stat is not garbage. We tried to make it better, by making it say, "And it increases your potions!" But it's like yeah, even then, who really wants that on their item?

[1:39:35]
Is part of the issue the fact that players stack so much Life on Hit and Lifesteal at end game?
Travis: Yeah that has a lot to do with it. So for the record, I came on to Diablo after the game was done and shipped, but I was like, "I love this game so much I want to work on it, I want to help make it better!" That's one of those things where I can't give you a good answer, because honestly I don't 100% know what decisions were made. If I had to take a guess, and it would probably be right, that all of those sort of things were made in a vacuum, before the game was shipped, before the designers knew exactly how the players were going to interact with the game. And that happens; you have ideas, and you think "Yeah I think this is what's going to happen". And health globes are a really integral part of your low level gameplay experience. You don't have infinite life when you're running around on this level 12 Barbarian [that the streamer is playing]. Those health globes matter, so making them stronger is -- if you picked up an item that has, "Doubles the strength of a health globe" right now you'd maybe put it on, it wouldn't be total garbage.

But when you approach infinite sustainability and infinite effective health points, without needing health globes which are inconsistent and random, then it becomes pretty clear really fast why that stat isn't very well received. There could be ways to make that better, and we have talked about that. Maybe ways to tie it into the Monk heals, where health globe bonus from healing is to a Monk, what Pickup Radius is to a Witch Doctor. We could make them more compelling. I think the general rule is that if a stat is bad for everyone, if you look at a stat and you can't even imagine who that would be good for, then we probably need to give it some attention.


[1:41:30]
Surviving Hardcore
I realize this Barbarian right now is not tanky enough for where I am, and I'm trying to decide if I want to go back and beef up more, or keep pushing.
Travis: [Laughs] Be a man. No, I'll get you killed if you listen to me. [Crosstalk] I logged into my hardcore Witch Doctor the other day for giggles after we patched, and was briefly playing around with it. I was in the Field, and in the middle of fighting a chimp pack I was like, this skill sucks. I pull up my skill pane and am like, screw this, I'm changing this thing. And my buddy who plays hardcore was watching me, and terror was stricken across his face, like: what are you doing, you're in hardcore?! And I was like yeah, whatever this is easy, this is low MP. Then funnily enough, I got to the Belial with my hardcore Witch Doctor and was fighting there, and I thought man, I have the wrong skill set up for this. And I did it again, and pulled up my screen in the middle of that fight and was swapping one of my skills for something else because I thought, this is terrible! So I close my skill screen and notice I was surrounded by the snakes, and I was like uhhh, and pushed all my buttons; I think I lived with 5 health. I think I learned my lesson, I'm not going to pull up my skill pane in the middle of hardcore.

Did you have the skill that brings you back when you die?
Travis: Spirit Vessel? No I wasn't high enough level, that character is like 15 or 20. I would have been dead dead if I hadn't tabbed back in the moment I did.


[1:43:25]
Self-Found Mode
Any thoughts on self-found mode?
Travis: Wyatt's a big fan of self-found mode, we debate that internally. Not the validity of self-found style, but whether or not we try to support that as a gameplay style. Because at some point, yeah it's cool, but at the same time we don't need to support every style of behavior that emerges in the game, as a full playstyle within the game. We don't need hardcore, softcore, self-found, XYZ because someone liked them. I will say, I think people find self-found to be so enjoyable because honestly, the game is more fun when you pull the Auction House out of the equation. When you feel like the things that you have on your character are something you can be proud of, and not just something everyone assumes you purchased, I think you have a better sense of accomplishment. So I think there is a really strong psychological draw to self-found. I've thought about doing it before, because yeah, I can buy anything I want, my characters are Paragon 60, 70-something, I forget. But there is something really compelling about the idea of just finding things on my own. Especially because it just gets back to the heart of what made D2 items fun. You got excited when you found things on the ground, and that doesn't really happen anymore.

Generally the Auction House, or the items your friends give you, whatever the case: whatever the items you're getting, usually they're coming from somewhere else, and they're usually so powerful that you know everything you ever find is going to be bad by comparison. That really does take away a lot from the gameplay experience, instead it puts the focus on the xp bar moving up which is great, but that's a very rhythmic sort of thing. It's not like sometimes your xp bar decides it's going to give you three levels, for no reason, and you get really excited! Your xp bar just sort of slowly moves along, and you make progress. But finding the cool item or the good legendary is what really mixes up your gameplay experience. I think that's really important, and I think for a lot of players that's lost. I won't say all because a lot of players don't use the Auction House, a lot of players play the game through story mode and then they're done, they play it like any console game. That's fine, too. But what's important to us is that you have fun. That's something that players want something from our game that we're not currently delivering, for some of them. And they try to find their own fun. So I think there's something there that we've talked about and it comes up a lot, and we may pursue something like that one day, it's hard to say. But it's totally a legitimate play style, and it's cool, and I think anyone who hasn't tried it should give it a whirl and make a guy and commit to: I'm only going to wear things I find on my own, and see how they feel.

I think you should try it.
Travis: I've considered it as well.

[1:47:00]
Since I've tried it, it's pretty much the only way I play right now. For right now I think the game works better in self-found, but it sounds maybe like your theory is, we can address those issues and maybe not have the need for so many players to play self-found?
Travis: I guess what I'm getting at is, I think self-found is very cool. I personally feel like the game does feel better when... TLDR: the heart of the issue is that people who play self-found, what they're really doing is saying to themselves, "I want the reward game to matter, I want to get excited about things I find on the ground." We would say yes - we want the game to always to feel like that for everybody, right now it doesn't and it needs work. What that ends up meaning I can't say, I don't know, we're still working it all out. But what players are doing when they opt into self-found, is basically they're playing the game the way they want the game to be played. They want that to be the right way to play, you want to get excited about finding items, and we want you to. But right now the Auction House sort of sets the bar for what a good item is so high, that 99% of players will never find something better than what they bought for 100,000 gold on the Auction House. That becomes a crappy feeling, so I'm saying I want to get the self-found feeling for everyone, ultimately. And I don't know what that means, I don't know how we do that, necessarily. We want items to feel exciting, we want you to get excited about loot on the ground. That's why I'm putting a lot of my time, trying to think of legendary things that are mind-blowingly awesome, because we want you to have those things in the game. It's just gonna take time.

I agree with you, that it would be better if everyone got the reward that you get from playing self-found without having to add a new sector of the game so to speak. I would probably switch back to playing regularly if I did feel like I was earning most of my gear, and to improve most I would have to find it myself.


[1:50:00]
Class-Specific Items
[From chat: Primary stats on class-specific items]
Travis: I think I answered this question somewhere before. Yeah, Dexterity rolling on a Barbarian belt, and Strength rolling on a Quiver... I will always fight for as much random as possible within the Diablo world and the itemization especially. However, there are lines. If you look at a Barb belt and you go, why can Intelligence even be a primary stat when a Barb will never want Int, and nobody who does want Int can even use it? We agree, we changed that for one of our future updates already; I forget when but we changed that a while back, so that you can never roll primary Dex on a Barb belt. You can still roll Dex plus Strength, because that also lets you get Strength primary and Dex/Strength, so you end up with a huge Strength number, and that's fine. But you're not going to find a Quiver with 300 Strength.


[1:51:00]
[The streamer is farming in Leoric's Manor.]
Travis: Are you just farming this one room in Leoric's Manor? Are you that much of a sissy, what is this? Ah, you're more of a man than me, I don't even like to play hardcore. [Crosstalk]


[1:52:00]
Weapon Damage
[From chat: Weapon damage rolls]
Travis: As I said, I think random is hyper-important to a game like Diablo. At the same time, there's degrees. One of the things I've talked about a lot, I think there are some areas of the game where there is too much random, and we need to rein it in some. I think weapons are the primary offender to me, in that vein. There're so many moving pieces that you need to roll for a weapon to be good, it's pretty offensive. You have to roll your elemental damage, and then it's gotta be a high roll on the elemental damage; you've gotta roll percent increase damage, generally you've gotta roll crit increase damage, you also have to roll a socket, and you want to roll a primary stat. Weapons can only have 6 things, and that's 5, right there! So 5 of the things that your weapon is going to have, out of it's 6, have to be these for the weapons to be considered "good". And "good" is a moving target, and "good" is also set because it's so easy to find things on the Auction House. But those are the things that you must have, and they must all be really high rolls. I think that's a bit extreme, in the vacuum of, if you look at a chest piece, you're looking at: did it roll my primary stat? It did - good! Did it roll a decent amount? Ok, I'm happy with that. But then you look at a weapon, and it's like: did it roll these 5 things, or at least it had to probably roll at least elemental damage, percent damage, and your primary stat, if you choke down that there's no socket or crit damage.

But really, all that boils down to is, your weapon is the biggest item on your character in terms of raw character power. All of the things it does, really just get distilled down into one big number when you mouse over the weapon: it's either going to say +10000 DPS, or -80000 DPS. That's extreme, that's way too extreme. We've talked about taking stuff like percent weapon damage, reducing it to the numbers more similar to the attack speed on weapons, where it's nice if it's there, but if it's not it's no big deal. We've talked about taking the range on the weapon damage roll, elemental damage, and shrinking the variance. Variance is important, but the difference between a good weapon and a bad weapon shouldn't be like, 10 times the power. It should be within a range, like if the weapon is ranged from 400 to 600, the 400 is still "bad" but it's not 10 times weaker than the best weapon. So yeah, I can't give details on exactly what I plan on doing, because that's still being worked out. But we agree that that's a problem, I don't like it.


[1:55:00]
Boring Legendaries
[A pair of Steady Strikers legendary bracers drop for the Barbarian being played.] It's Dex/Vit, but it's better than what I have. It's pretty good overall.
Travis: It's neat. Even that item, I dunno. I look at that item and I go yeah, I guess that's cool. What is the thing it's doing, what makes that special? Nothing makes that special. What does it have: 2% Attack Speed. It's special because it has Attack Speed, which bracers normally can't have. It's technically a good item, but that's really a boring reason for an item to be good. I really mean it, and I really want every legendary and set item to have something unique about it. When you think back, and people talk about Windforce and Enigma (and don't even get me started, and no we'll never do Enigma again). But when they talk about these legendaries or things they remember from D2, they talk about them and remember them because they did something special. Windforce did a knockback, and Buriza pierced with all your shots. They don't talk about, "oh man, the 600 Dex that Buriza had, woo". That's really what I feel is missing from the game, and that's what I'm getting back to. I kind of die a little inside when I look at those bracers, and I guess they're technically good, but those are really boring.


[1:56:45]
Ladders
[From chat: what about ladders?]
Travis: We are discussing and looking into ladders, that may be in the future of Diablo, I can't promise anything.


[1:57:10]
Content Choices
From a blue post you wrote, you said that when the player sits down to play Diablo, you want the first thing they say to be, "What do I feel like doing today?"
Travis: Totally, I've said that a lot. It's a problem with how the game currently works versus how it should work, in my mind. Right now the game's lacking a lot of the randomization it needs. For starters, the items need a lot of love. Beyond that -- like what you're doing right now, you're farming this one room [in Leoric's Manor], that is a predetermined set of creatures, there's nothing random going on here. You're basically like flipping a dungeon in any other game, as far as the gameplay is concerned. And that's not really in the spirit of Diablo in my mind. In my mind, what I remember and what I love about Diablo, and what I think everybody loves, is: yeah, you might be doing the same thing, but the play experience is different every time. It's a random dungeon, or there are random monsters, or there's something different; right now, you don't have that, with what you're doing. There's also just a lack of things to do, that's something else I want us to address. In my perfect world, and I've said this all the time, and I stand by it: we want to present the player with a spectrum of things to do. Hellfire Ring was a good stepping stone in that direction, but we need a long pathway. We need a large range of choices, right now we have like, 2. I want you to be able to sit down at your computer and say, "it's a Friday night and I've got 5 hours to play, what do I want to do tonight?" There should be options, like this is what I want to do to, spend 5 hours playing this game I love, farming items and trying to find the awesome loot that I want.

On the flipside, there should be options where it's a lunch break with 30 minutes, I don't want to get too invested but I want to do something to play the game and have fun and contribute to my character's growth and development. Providing players with options, right? We have plans, I won't get into the plans, but we need more of them. It shouldn't be a foregone conclusion that if I sit down to my Paragon Level 50 character and I'm going to play Diablo tonight, I shouldn't just assume, "Yeah I'm going to do the Alkaizer run", or "I'm going to do the Vault of the Assassins run." The fact that there are those predefined runs that are literally very specific, non-randomized parts of our game, and even then all you're really doing is just maximizing the way you farm xp, we need more things to do. I want you to be able to be able to choose between options. I dunno, I want you to be able to decide: "I want to farm Belial, because Belial has some thing that I want." Or "I'm going to try to farm xp", or "I'm going to try to put together the rest of this set I want", or whatever the case is. We totally need more things in the game to do, and we need to present the player with a spectrum of diverse gameplay options, and let them pick what suits them and their mood on any given day and hours in their play session.


[2:00:30]
Endless Dungeon
Does something along the lines of endless dungeon come up much in those discussions?
Travis: It comes up all the time. We talk about endless dungeon; it's funny when you bring up that phrase, it's something that people will heatedly debate what that's supposed to mean. I have my own take, and I will infer that what I think people want out of an endless dungeon is -- you kind of want a measuring stick to say, "I can make it to level 200 in the endless dungeon". But I think it's really just a matter of, I want to farm Diablo and kill lots of monsters and not have to do stupid Alkaizer runs. I just want to kill random floors of things over and over again, and get loot and xp and hurrah. That's my interpretation of people want out of an endless dungeon. I don't know though, everyone's different.

[The streamer is still farming Leoric's Manner to safely level up in hardcore.]
I hate what you're doing [farming Leoric's Manor], we have to fix this. What you're doing is 100% the right way to play, and I hate that, farming this room over and over. Yeah, "this is the smart thing to do", farming two frames of the exact same monsters and the exact same layout, this is so not in the spirit of what this game should be. I kind of cry a little bit when I watch it.

Well I think I'm going to start progressing again, so you won't have to watch it anymore.

Travis: Naw I'm totally kidding. Farm on, you've got a competition, that's all it is.

I now have Revenge and one of my viewers mentioned that I had forgotten to put in my passive slot. So I think I'm tanky enough to progress.

Travis: [Laughs] Nice, forgot the passive. It's no big, they're overrated.


[2:02:30]
Paragon System
[From chat: increase the Paragon Levels?]
Travis: I have plans for the Paragon system, they're kind of involved. The Paragon system will be getting better eventually, yes; won't go into more than that, yet.

You had talked about character customization, and maybe tying that into Paragon somehow?
Travis: I would like to, yes. So for character customization - this is an RPG. Part of an RPG is the fantasy of being this character, or progressing or developing this character is that your Barbarian is different than my Barbarian and is different from that guy's Demon Hunter. The fantasy is that you are in some way unique and distinct from everyone else, and a lot of that has to do with character customization. That's why a lot of people get really excited when they talk about items, or Paragon customization, or they want to assign attributes. People just want more ways to distinguish themselves from each other, right? We don't all want to be Kretos. I want to be Conan, but I want my Conan to be called BobTheSlayer, and I want him to be different from your guy. I personally want to hook progression or customization into the Paragon system, but there's a lot of work still to be done there, and a lot of the ideas are still not finalized. I want that, and I think players should one day expect to see that.


[2:04:25]
Diablo 2 Skill System
We went back and played D2 on this stream a few months ago, and I forgot how much I loved the skill trees. I know the skill tree isn't what you guys were thinking of, but yeah, you get a little more sense of ownership and pride in your character.
Travis: For sure. That's more to do with the fact that you customized your guy. I think that's the important part, when people talk about the skill system. It was fun, it was also full of black holes and traps for the players to make. I remember my first Necro in D2. Back then, we didn't have the internet like you kids today! We had it, but there was no forums where people had intelligent conversations or useful wiki pages. It was kind of like the wild wild west, where: "I dunno, I'm gonna make a character, what's he gonna be? Whatever I click on, that's what he's gonna be!"

I remember, I played the game that way, and I had a lot of fun for a while. I had my army of skeleton mages, and then my skeletons are going to tank for my skeleton mages, and I was like, this is amazing! It worked pretty well, and then I got to Nightmare, and it wasn't working so well, and then I got to Hell, and every skeleton I ever summoned would die in one hit, and I had to kill a monster to even summon one of my skeletons. I was like, this is the worst most unplayable character/game ever! It was miserable, but those are the things people don't really remember about the skill tree. So I've gone on record as saying, I think the old Diablo skill system is outdated. I firmly stand by that. Because people have fond memories of it, but at the same time there were just as many people who had a really bad gameplay experience. For a lot of gamers in general, if you hit a brick wall, if you're suddenly dying a lot and can't figure out why, and you're playing a game like D2 where your choices are permanent and you can't change anything about it: your inclination is not, "Well I'll reroll and make a new character and fix it!" It's, "No, I'll just quit your game. I'm done: the game is too hard, this sucks, I quit." So customization is good; giving players the false choice is bad. I call it the illusion of choice all the time. Just because you can choose between A and B, if B says "Do +1 Damage" and A says "Do +1000 Damage", all we're letting you do is screw up your character, and that's never good.


[2:07:05]
Loot Tables
What about loot tables: making it so that certain bosses drop specific legendaries, so you could farm an individual area for a specific drop.
Travis: I think they're totally legit, that's fine. I have no objection to the idea that the Butcher can drop the Butcher's Cleaver, but I could also find the Butcher's Cleaver anywhere in the game; that seems fine. I don't like the idea of putting the Butcher's Cleaver only on the Butcher and nowhere else in the game, because I think that gets a little degenerate. But that idea also feeds into what I said before, the idea that when you sit down to play Diablo, you have choices in what you want to do. Maybe I want to farm xp, maybe I'm going to farm the Butcher because I want the Butcher's Cleaver - yeah, that seems totally fine to me. I don't have any objections there.


Soulbound Items
[From chat: Soulbound / Bind on Pickup items, like the Account-Bound crafted items]
Travis: Soulbound is a touchy topic. I will say years and years and years of working on WoW, we kind of took it for granted, like it's just a foregone conclusion, that this is part of the game. Working on Diablo, seeing all the problems we have to deal with that's different from WoW -- because obviously they're different games but there's parallels to draw. I will say there's value in soulbound. I think it helps contribute to the sense of ownership that you earned something, because obviously you didn't buy it from some dude in China for $2. But there's degrees, and I think it's a possibility that soulbound could find it's way into the game in a larger sense than it has already. We've got some, we put in new crafted recipes that took soulbound reagents and created soulbound items. That was partly because we wanted to give players a reason to farm creatures in the game again, instead of expecting to buy everything off the Auction House. And it worked, it totally did everything we wanted it to do. I would say it worked because everything you found was soulbound and the product you made was soulbound. It's got it's strengths.

[2:09:50]
Do you think one of the bigger disadvantages is it eliminates trading, or at least diminishes it?
Travis: I think that is a legitimate concern. I think what you lose in the inability to trade things, is more than overshadowed by what you gain. I'm not saying that soulbound is always obviously the right choice. But I am saying I think the crafted recipes were only -- they got people just playing the game again, because there was something to do, and I couldn't just pay my way to victory. I have to go farm these Demonic Essences, I have to craft these items myself, and I can't just buy the end result off the Auction House. It got people farming Demonic Essences, and it got people crafting their items, and it got them showing their buddies "Look at this awesome thing I made, isn't that cool?", instead of saying "Look at what I bought for 2 billion gold on the Auction House." So it certainly has value, but you do lose out on the trading. Trading comes up all the time, any time we're talking about items or anytime we're talking about those crafting recipes, or legendary items, whatever the case is. When soulbound comes up as an idea, immediately someone is like, "But trading, trading is important!" And it's like, here's the thing: Is it important to be able to trade everything always, or is it more important to be able to feel a sense of pride in the things you're wearing? Because if you're allowed to buy everything you're wearing, and that's the best gear in the game, that's cool. But that's also a world where nobody cares about items on the ground because they bought it off an Auction House, or they traded it from their buddy, or whatever the case is.

The fantasy of trading, and the fun idea of trading, is like: I found items, I traded with my buddy, or maybe this guy and I bartered out a deal. But the difference between that, and what actually ends up happening with the Auction House or just any system where there's a completely fluid economy - it fights against the idea that your time is valuable. And it fights against the idea that the things you find are valuable, because they're not going to be. The fact that everything is tradeable, it kind of puts under a spotlight for a lot of people (and this isn't player psychology as much as general psychology) the more we make you realize you're not special, the less special you feel, right? Everyone will feel like they are smart and they make good decisions in their own right, and a lot of people do. But there are more people who are part of the general populace than part of the cream of the crop, the exception to the rule. And as soon as everything is tradeable, or as soon as your time can be directly valued against someone else's time, you realize your time has little value, and it's a crappy feeling. The trade-off is: do I want to be able to trade things, or do I want to actually find something that is good for me and I'm happy with.


[2:13:20]
[From chat: Whimsyshire sucks!]
Travis: Ah, the cow level. I had nothing to do with it, I think it's awesome, that's all I've got. Unicorns and teddy bears running around, falling over in little pieces, it's glorious in my mind.


[2:13:48]
Game Economy & Bots
I love that idea of having ownership, we talk a lot about it on the stream, and a lot of people are like: no, we need to trade! I totally agree that what you lose isn't as much as what you gain.
Travis: It's a touchy subject, and it's one that we talk about constantly and it's always on our mind. I can't say for sure where we'll end up down the road, when everything is said and done and the dust settles: I don't know what the game will look like in terms of what's more valuable, trading or finding things that you're happy about. Because those two are at direct odds, right? You can either find things that are awesome for yourself, or you can trade with people. If you trade with people, someone else has something better than what you have, most of the time, and you'll probably never find your own items. So it's a bit of tug and pull, and we discuss it a lot. All I can say is we're very aware of it, and I know it's a touchy subject, and some people won't like what I've said on it, but I will defend everything I've said on it if I have to, because it's the truth. I would love to find awesome items too, but the second I went and paid some money on the Auction House, that kind of shot myself in the foot in terms of ever finding a good item, because I bought items way better than I'll ever find, and it was pretty trivial to do so.

I've gone on record before as saying, the Auction House ultimately did way more damage than good. But who knew? In a vacuum... I remember even before I was working on Diablo, we'd talk a lot, because I was on the Strike Team for a lot of the initial testing before the game went live. The Auction House was this really big unknown, like what's it going to do to the game? No one knows, we can all sort of speculate but we don't know. Who knows how this is going to work out? And that's just a reality of game design. When you create ideas in your head, and you're like well, it should work out like this. But when you put it in the hands of players, who knows what's going to happen; players will find ways to do things that you never imagine.

[2:16:28]
It seems like the game economy might be one of the hardest things to make predictions about beforehand.
Travis: Oh totally, yeah, players are resourceful. I'll say that, players are resourceful. There are also, unfortunately, lots of people who like making bots to farm things in our game, and they don't help matters either. They generally flood the economy with items or gold or whatever the case is. If there's a valuable commodity that they are capable of making real life money on, they're going to have that commodity. They're going to have it at a rate of probably 500 times more than the average player. So it creates problems, when we're trying to sort out, what's the right rate of acquisition for this thing? How do we keep that from becoming something that gets degenerately farmed and sold to people? Again, that's where things like Demonic Essence comes in; we can make this and we can make people feel excited about it, and make it to where they have to earn it, and the answer to that is soulbind. Does that mean it's the right answer for every question? No. But it is the right answer to some questions.

[2:17:45]
[From chat: Ban bots]
Travis: We ban lots of bots, we do. We ban an outrageous number of bots, we just don't always publicize it.


[2:18:10]
[From chat: Travis Day for president!]
Travis: [Laughs] I don't want to be president, that's way too much work. I'm a video game nerd. I sit at home and play video games, I play TCGs, and I play board games. I'm a giant geek, I don't want to have that much responsibility.


[2:18:35]
[From chat: Read itemization thread]
Travis: I read lots of of them, I don't know which one you're specifically talking about...


[2:19:15]
New Item Affixes
[From chat: Can we expect new affixes that do novel stuff, not only numbers added to already big numbers?]
Travis: Yeah, I would like to think so. We always strive to find new affixes. Part of the problem is, affixes like the ones you're talking about are the same affixes that other people say, "These things suck, why are they on my items, they make them crap!" Like Health Globe Pickup Radius: lots of people don't like it, a handful of people do. We went to very explicit steps to have in novel things like Ignore Durability Loss, or +Healing on Health Globes.

At the core of the game, there's what you're doing and what you're getting. You're killing monsters, and you're getting loot and xp. Generally speaking, if we don't give you something that makes you better at one of those things, you're not going to like it. If it's not more damage to kill things faster, or more Magic Find or Exp bonus to increase the rate of your reward, most people will look at something and say, "this is stupid." That said, when I talk about how I want every legendary to be memorable and unique and distinct, I think there is room in there for some that are memorable and unique because they're cool, or they do neat things, I don't think they all have to be the best weapon in the game. I think there's a variety of things that just do cool stuff. But that's because I think, in the spectrum of items and rewards and legendaries or sets or whatever the case is, I think there's always room for gag items, or joke items, and I think those are totally fine. It just means you don't need every item in the game to be that way, and you only need a handful. But yeah, people love that stuff, I love that stuff, I'm a gamer. I just think about what: would I like to find as a player? Those are very distinct things. I talk all the time, when talking about game design, or people ask me, "What does it take to be a great designer?" and I go, "I don't know, tell me when I am one." But I think there are player's shoes and designer shoes. I think the ability to be a good designer is the ability to step out of the player's shoes, take off your gamer nerd hat for a minute, set that aside and think: "I know this is what I would want, but what is ultimately the right choice, or the right decision?" And a lot of times those things conflict.

So when people say, "we want more neat things", I'm like: Yeah you say that, and I would like it too. But if 1 out of every 10 items I pick up then has this "neat thing" on it, suddenly 1 out of every 10 items I pick up is garbage and then I get angry, and suddenly I hate this neat thing. It's kind of a trap. So, it's hard to say; if people have brilliant ideas on what "neat things" are that they would like to see on items, that wouldn't fall into the pitfall that I just mentioned, I'd love to add it. We always want to add things that you guys want to see, and it's difficult to come up with ideas that aren't just rehashes of stuff that already exists. I'm always open to hearing new ideas. I spend a lot of time in my free time, and at work, reading through idea threads that people make. I just don't post in them all, because it gets way too time consuming. I've tried to touch on all the big topics that I can. And then I sort of stopped posting blogs; I love ideas and I love reading them, but I also have a lot of work that I have to do. If there's ever something worth mentioning or reading, send it my way, or make sure someone finds it in the Community and they'll get it to me. The Community team spends a lot of time linking me threads that you guys post, and I read through them and there are a lot of great ideas out there. I just don't high-five every one in every thread I read, even if I secretly high-five them for making my life easier by giving me cool ideas.

Like the idea of Call of the Ancients lasting forever as a set bonus, that was something that I read on one of the EU forums. I was like: that's a good idea, I'm going to do that! Now that's one that I quoted, and people see all the time and go "that's cool!" I'm like, yeah it is; that dude in Europe came up with it, and we're gonna put it in the game, because you guys came up with it and we thought it was awesome.


[2:23:55]
Demon Hunters
[From chat: Will Demon Hunters get a real buff?]
Travis: No, Demon Hunters are never getting any attention, we're talking about deleting them from the game, actually. I'm totally kidding, I'm going to get quoted out of context. So, Wyatt is way more apt to talk about Demon Hunters. They are fun, in a vacuum they're great. The problem is less that Demon Hunters are bad, and more that at the end-game Barbarians are way out of control compared to other people. So, the answer I can give on the Demon Hunter front is one that Demon Hunters won't like, which is: You're actually not that bad, it's just that other people are way better -- and by other people I mean Barbarians, mostly, and CM Wizards to a lesser extent. Really, we don't have a short term fix for you, because honestly part of the solution is making the Barbarians and the CM Wizards more in line with everyone else.

Generally I'm a huge fan of buffing as opposed to nerfing or changing things. But when we talk about class diversity and skill diversity, when you look at Witch Doctors and Demon Hunters, they actually have a lot of skill diversity compared to Barbarians and Wizards. Because you have skills that are really compelling in their own way, and they're pretty well balanced. But then the problem is, you've got the Barbarian and the Wizard, who have skills that are clearly breaking the game in some way. Generally it's because you've got proc coefficients on a couple of spells, that interact with couple other spells, that create this really degenerate play experience. Like we have Barbs sprinting around who have infinite rage, because the proc coefficient on Tornadoes is too high, which feeds you too much rage with your other ability, which makes your Wrath of the Berserker last forever when it's supposed to not last forever. So you've got all of these things feeding into these one or two character archtypes, that are waaaaaay outside of the scope of everyone else in the game. I think that is bad, and I think that does need addressing in those cases. Because as fun as those characters are to play, and while I don't dislike the playstyles they open up, the problem is that they're so efficient they overshadow everything else. They take choice away from you. I have a Barb that I've played forever, and I used to do a bunch of different builds; I used to do Revenge, and I used to do Overpower, and all these crazy character builds. And I felt good about them, I liked them and they were effective. Eventually I started trying out the Whirlwind Tornado thing, and I'm like yeah, this is just better than everything else, and then I didn't have a choice anymore. So it's a give and take, yes I know Demon Hunters are really sadface because they're not Barbarians, and they can't infinitely kill everything at once without dying.

[2:27:07]
I play Demon Hunter as a main now, and I've said it a couple of times, I feel like the Demon Hunter is the most polished class right now. It's really rare that I'll play my Demon Hunter twice in a row with the same build, because I feel like I can put on almost any skill set and still be viable.
Travis: I think they're a better class for it. It comes up all the time though, people are like: "rawr, Demon Hunters suck!" And it's like: Yeah, I know you think that, but it's not that Demon Hunters sucks. Another example is Witch Doctors, they have amazing skill diversity. I have a Witch Doctor, I got him to like Paragon 20 or something. I said it when I was playing my Witch Doctor, to the guys at work: "dude, Witch Doctors are waaaay more fun than my Barbarian." Their skills are really cool, I've got lots of different build options available to me, I have a lot of fun playing this guy. I played him, I got him to like Paragon 20, and I was like, this is a lot of fun. But by the time I got him to Paragon 20 or whatever (which was before the exponential exp growth, so it actually took me like 2 weeks I think to get to Paragon 20) I was like, "yeah he's a lot of fun, but man he's a lot not as good as my Barb, so I'm gonna go back to playing my Barb." Mostly because I always dual-monitor at home, so I would die a lot playing my Witch Doctor because I wasn't playing attention, where my Barb was sort of do this faceroll thing where I didn't even have to look at the screen. I wouldn't say my Witch Doctor was bad, I would just say the Barb is definitely way out of line with the rest of the game, and to a lesser extent the CM Wizard sometimes.


[2:28:55]
[From chat: Pick up health globes?]
Travis: Yeah, you can pick up health globes while dead.




[2:29:00]
Proc Coefficients
Is one of the solutions being tossed around to diminish the effectiveness of Whirlwind and , or to make it more challenging to get the gear where you could play those builds?
Travis: I'll say this: Any class that has the ability with a vastly out of line proc coefficient on any of their skills, we have a very clear correlation between that, and lack of character diversity. Almost unanimously on every class, what happens is that people gravitate towards using those skills, and then they gravitate towards things that capitalize on the benefit they're gaining, and in almost all those cases those characters have very very low skill diversity. Characters like the Witch Doctor and the Demon Hunter, on the other hand, who have pretty balanced proc coefficients on their abilities, have a tremendous amount of build diversity because they have a lot of viable builds. So for the long-term we're absolutely looking at addressing, and fixing the proc coefficient discrepancy wherever it exists. There's a difference between a skill being 20% or 30% better than it should be; there's that, and then there's Tornadoes and , where your proc coefficient is probably like 10 times too high. So we're looking more at like the systematic cause, and not necessarily, "Oh man, screw Barbs, we hate those guys so we're gonna nerf them." It's more of, there's really just some things that are broken with the original game design, tuning values, and we need to address them.

At the same time, when we did the nerf in what, 1.0.4? I don't remember, it was after 1.0.4. [These were the Patch 1.0.5 Barbarian changes.] When we made the one change we made to Tornadoes, and we slightly reduced their coefficient, and I said it too: I'm not offended by the fact that people Whirlwind all over the place, I'm offended by the fact that they have to use Tornadoes in order to Whirlwind all over the place. So we went: let's take the proc coefficient down on Tornadoes some, because it's waaaay, way out of line. Even then I was like, this is probably not remotely as much as it needs to come down, but people are already going to have a freakout attack over the fact that we're touching it. But let's take it down some, and at the same time, let's also take down the cost of Whirlwinding. I don't care if you Whirlwind for like, 5 hours at a time - it's cool, it's fun, enjoy it. The thing we don't like is that you have no build diversity, because you have to take Battle Rage - Into the Fray, and you have to take Sprint - Run Like the Wind to make this happen. So let's try to make those things not as mandatory, and then maybe you do replace Into the Fray or Run Like the Wind -- which most people haven't, because honestly, we didn't change them as much as they needed to be changed. But in the long-term, I think preserving gameplay styles is cool. I think our focus is de-emphasizing how mandatory certain things are to your character's functioning. I think CM is cool, I think Archon is cool, I think Run like the Wind--


[2:32:40]
Act II Bees
[The streamer's Barbarian almost dies to the bees in act II.]
Travis: Man, you just got murdered by those bees, almost.

I know! Remember before you nerfed those.
Travis: Those things were, I hated... oh man, I remember when the game launched, like on Inferno, it was insanely hard. I was playing my Barb, I hated those bees so much, they would instagib me. They would shoot and I'd be like, alright it's safe! So I'd start running at them, and as I'm running at them they'd do the line of bees and it'd be just like two inches from them, and I'd be like dddd-dead.

They evade less than they used to as well, right?
Travis: Yeah, they used to be way worse than they are now. They're still... painful.


[2:33:28]
Ladders and Diablo 4
[From chat: What about a ladder option?]
Travis: Ladder is something that is not out of the question. We talk about it, we're investigating it, you might see it one day. Not making any promises on when or how, but it is certainly something that we talk about a lot. A lot of the talk we do, or sometimes do, is like -- Diablo needs to live on well beyond the point of which we're working on the game. D2 had some support, but you're not going to see (and I'm pulling time frames out of butt, but): Five years from now, you're probably not going to see us making huge content patches, or class updates. At some point we'll set the game aside, sort of leave it as a work that we've completed, and move on to like Diablo 4, or whatever, right? Ladders is absolutely one of the things that helps the game stay fresh for people 5 years from now, or 3 years, or 2 years, or whatever. Ladders are cool, ladders comes with a lot of baggage when I say "ladders"; but the idea is of sort of a fresh economy and a fresh system for people who choose so, to opt into leveling all over again with a clean slate, with other people who want the same thing. That's really important and it's really compelling, and we probably want to have that one day, but I don't know how we'll implement it, or what it'll look like, or when it'll go in.

[2:35:58]
Travis: I totally just confirmed D4, totally did. I guarantee you, at some point in the history of Blizzard, there will be a Diablo 4. It'll probably be 20 years from now, it's no time soon. But I don't think it's too much of a reach to think that the company that has 3 really strong IPs is going to make more and more of the games in those IPs.


[2:35:50]
Porting Immunity
[From chat: When can we expect to see grace periods for teleporting to someone who is in combat and being one-shot?]
Travis: Probably not; if you're porting onto someone and getting one-shot, don't be there. Go play in a Monster Power game that's not one-shotting you. I know that's not an answer that's going to be popular, but it's the truth. If you're porting to a buddy and dying, talk to the guy and ask the guy if it's safe. I used to do that all the time; my brother was a Witch Doctor and I was a Barb, we were playing Inferno when it was hard. He would port to me and instantly die, very often. He used to joke that he had to push Spirit Walk before he took the teleport, because he knew he was going to die, because I was always standing in something he didn't want to be standing in. Honestly, coordinate a little bit, I don't know.

It's a lot easier now, right, with the multiplayer changes?
Travis: It is, we made it way less difficult. We put marks above the people's banners so you know they're in combat... we don't need an invulnerability window. I know you might want it, and if you're playing hardcore you should just be more cautious anyways, and not do it without talking to your friends, so there's that.


[2:37:05]
Attack Speed Nerf
[Why nerf Attack Speed, it was a fun aspect of Diablo 3.]
Travis: The Attack Speed Nerf: That one was controversial, I will say. Ultimately, I don't think it needed to be done. I think there was concern... I'll take that back. It may have needed to be done to some extent; I don't know, this is the whole player versus designer thing, right? This is a really sweeping statement, so don't infer this to everything I say: Designers tend to get offended by things that don't fit within the box that they tried to create, or the box that they had envisioned. I think Attack Speed was definitely way the best stat in the game, by a huge margin. When Attack Speed was what it shipped as, a blue ring from a vendor was better than a lot of the Rare items you found, and fundamentally, that's a big problem. Now I think it wasn't a problem in the context that there's probably always the thing that's better than everything else for any given player, and that's fine. It's fine to have things that are really powerful, because you have things that you want to attain, and I think that's valuable.

I think the mistake was mostly changing things people had already acquired. I think we collectively have learned the lesson of: in Diablo, we'll mostly not ever do that again. If we change it, we will change it by virtue of making the old thing that is bad not drop anymore, and making a new version of it and dropping that instead. The Attack Speed thing was definitely controversial when it happened. In 20/20 hindsight, I don't know that it needed to happen, but it did. I wasn't even working on Diablo at the time, and I remember giving them my 2 cents: "I don't think you need to change it, I know it's really really, really way better than everything in the game, but so? Whatever, let it ride." Ultimately they decided to change it, and that's cool too.

It caused a huge community revolt, it really ticked off a lot of people. But I think the lesson was learned. There you go, kind of a rambling answer about Attack Speed, I dunno if you got what I was getting at there which was: yeah it got nerfed, no it didn't necessarily need to. But it is what it is, and the Diablo team learned a valuable lesson as a result of making that decision, and now they don't nerf things anymore out from under players. So hey, hooray for that.




[2:40:00]
Runewords
[From chat: will runewords be added to the game?]
Travis: Runes, I like the idea of what [Diablo 2 type of] runes do. I don't like necessarily the old implementation. I think the valuable part of runes is -- I think runes and sets have a little bit of an overlap. Not a lot, but at the core there's the basic idea that individually they don't do anything, but it gives me this really grand goal to aspire to. And in the D2 case, that was like, I really want to get these X runes, and this 6-socketed bow (or 5 sockets, whatever, I don't remember what it was, it was a long time ago.) I want to make this really awesome thing, and I don't get it right away, but eventually I'll get it, and bit by bit I can make progress towards that goal. So in that regard, I think runes were cool. I think I would rather do that via sets: really cool set bonuses, like have infinite resources, but it's really hard to get the entire set, and I slowly start getting one piece, and then another piece, and I work towards this goal. So, I think they're cool, they probably won't see a reinvention in Diablo 3 the way they were in Diablo 2. Also, that was a really bloated system, that was really buried and hidden, and you had to go to all these wikis to even know what the hell they did. There were some drawbacks to it too, but there were some really cool things there.

[From chat: Create a flexible item goal.]
Travis: Yeah, sure. Like I said, I think the core of the idea was completely sound, I don't know that we would re-implement it the same way that it used to be done.


[2:41:52]
Charges on Gear
[From chat: Skill charges on gear]
Travis: You probably won't see that. Mostly because: A) our game doesn't have clickable items; (I'm going to say this, and someone somewhere is going to have a conniption) B) we have a more robust skill system. In D2 you could bind your town portal, your ID, I remember -- it was a really crappy implementation. You could bind hotkeys, do everything you could possibly do, but they were all still tied to left-click and right-click. So you could have an item with charges, and you would mouseover your right-click button, and you would hit F7, and bind that ability to F7. We don't have those; I don't think we need those. I think having 6 hotkey buttons plus your potion is enough buttons to deal with. I don't want you to have to deal with more "clickies". So that idea probably won't ever see the light. I don't have a problem with, Something proc'd the Hydra. But I do have a problem with: you get an item with 40 charges that you have to repair to replenish, and it creates this awkward tension about when do you use them, when do you not, are they good. I don't know; there's design space there, and maybe one day we'll explore it, but currently I have no intention of going that route.


[2:43:25]
Make Farming More Fun
[From chat: Make farming more fun]
Travis: I was talking about this earlier. I think it's more we just need to provide the players with a bigger breadth of content. We need more things for you to do, other than farm Act III over and over and over and over and over. Changes like the density changes were meant to help, to sort of mix that up. Ultimately there will probably be the right and most efficient path to run to get xp and loot. Really, I don't know that there's any way to combat that, right? I mean there will be somewhere in the game a place that has 10% more xp worth of mobs than somewhere else in the game, that's just going to happen. And I think that's fine.

I think what's more important is that we also provide you reasons to farm or do other content than just the xp. I think things like Demonic Essences are a good tool to leverage in that case. Imagine, if you will, that there was some system where there was something like Demonic Essence that was only obtainable from some restricted area. Maybe there was something like a Super Demonic Essence that you wanted for some reason, and those could only drop off of, you know, Belial and Diablo, etc. I'm not saying we're doing that, I'm saying it's not too much of a reach to imagine that we can find reasons for you to care about other things in the game than just your xp bar and your xp per hour. So yes, we want you to have more things to do. We want you be able to say, "what do I want to farm," or "what do I want to do tonight?" - and then do that. It's just going to take time to get there.


[2:45:18]
Game Design
[From chat: Why didn't the game include all of this from the start?]
Travis: I don't know, for starters there's a lot of work in design. By no means do I take credit for any or all of what I say, it's just a lot of my own opinions, and a lot of it's stuff that's been formed from just working with the other designers a lot. A lot of game design is learned by doing. A lot of the decisions and things that seem really obvious now, were not necessarily obvious 2, 3 years ago when the game was being developed. So I have the fortunate point of view of coming in to work on a project that I really love, after it was already made and shipped. It's really easy to look at something and go: "Oh man you know how we can fix this thing that's already really good? If we change XY and Z this thing will be even better!" So it's really easy for anyone to look at something that already exists and say how to make it better.

Take the car industry: people make better and better and better cars every year; or at least they claim they're better, they're really just more expensive. It's real easy to say, here's how you make a car better. But it was really hard for the first guy who came up with the idea of a car, and made the idea of a car. Obviously he didn't make the best car, it had all these problems. Cars are such a bad example, I don't care, it's just easily understandable for people. I love the car example, because there's great quotes from it. The guy who created cars said, a long time ago, if he'd asked people want they wanted they would have asked for a better horse. So he didn't give them what they asked for, he gave them the right thing to give them. That's a lot of design, right? Whenever you're designing a game, people will say, "Oh I want this, and I want this, and this." And sometimes designers will do things that are contrary to what people say they want, with the idea that, "Yeah, but this is better." There is some degree of, "just trust me" in there with any game designer. Sometimes it's completely warranted, like sometimes it's, "Yeah I know you say you want something, but really I'm gonna do you even better." Santa Claus said, "I know you said you wanted a bike, but I'm gonna buy you a car, because when you're 16 it'll be better than the bike you wanted," or whatever it is.

When I was talking to you and Wyatt, I realized that a lot of the things I wanted, I had very specific ideas in mind. You guys made me realize what I was really looking for. I love it when Wyatt asks, "What's the fantasy?" and really tries to get to the core of what people are asking for. I think a lot of times, it's not the actual specific idea you want, it's a result of that idea, and a lot of times it can be done better than your version of it.
Travis: A lot of times, as a designer I've said a lot and people will say all the time: any feedback is good. Even the ranty guys who are really angry about something, reading the thread and finding out what they're ranting about has value. Because the thing players are not always good about is identifying the problem. They're really good about presenting solutions to what they think the problem is. But a lot of times, people don't necessarily understand what's causing the problem they're complaining about, or trying to bring to your attention. It doesn't mean that there's not a problem. It just means they don't necessarily understand it, they don't have a high enough level view of it to understand the root of the problem. But anytime someone is upset or giving really angry post, or just constructive feedback, there's almost always an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. The hard part, the part that is our job, is to find out what the actual underlying cause is, and fix that. A lot of times, it's like going to the doctor and saying, "Oh I have a runny nose, I need something that for a runny nose." And the doctor is like, "Yeah but your runny nose is because you've got a cold, or the flu. So I'm going to give you flu medication, it might not necessarily make your runny nose go away immediately, but it's going to fix the actual issue." There's a lot of that; all feedback is always good, regardless of the framing or the context.


[2:50:15]
[From chat: Are you excited for the new Star Trek movie?]
Travis: Yeah I'm totally excited for the new Star Trek movie. I actually used to not really like Star Trek, I don't know why, I thought it was a little campy. I watched it growing up, because my mom loved Star Trek: The Next Generation and stuff and I saw all the old Star Trek movies with like "save the whales!" But I thought the new Star Trek movie was really well-done, I was really sold when I saw it, I thought I could get into this Star Trek universe. They do a really good job with it.


[2:50:42]
[From chat: Account-bound items = nonsense]
Travis: I'm sorry you do not like them. As I stated before, they absolutely accomplish what they were intended to accomplish, and I think bind on account has value it certain scenarios. So, I am sorry, but too bad.


[2:51:50]
WoW and Diablo 3 Design
What are the differences between working on World of Warcraft, and Diablo 3?
Travis: They're very different games. Although, they're very different games but it's the same company; Blizzard is an outstanding place to work. I feel fortunate that I get to work with lots of intelligent and highly skilled designers in the field. They were different in that WoW being an MMO, and being a game where we had to sort of like sustain a perpetually ongoing game, constantly release new content, constantly provide players with updates for their subscription fees, etc. The biggest differences is that first: WoW is a bigger team, so it was different than working with Diablo which is a smaller team. Not in a bad or good way, it's just less people. The other difference is, I can't break WoW, there were more boundaries to what was or was not acceptable in terms of items or the reward scheme. The game has to be sustained, anything you make, it's like power creep in TCGs, whatever we make now we have to at least equal or outdo later. Therefore, the boundaries on what is or is not an acceptable item to make is more defined and has less flexibility.

It's funny actually, when I started workig on Diablo, and I started working on the Diablo items, and I was talking to my brother who also is a designer who works here on WoW, his short reply to me when we were talking about the loot on Diablo and what all needed to be done with it, and what we needed to improve, he said, "Just do everything you ever wanted to do on WoW, but couldn't." And I was like yeah, that's a really good idea, because I want to add a lot of value. In WoW, the most extreme thing I ever did was make Heirlooms, because I thought, "You know what sucks? Leveling characters over and over. And you know what would be cool? Making that experience easier." At the time, when I was coming up with "How do I make heirlooms, what are those and what does that mean for the game?" it was still really confined, even in terms of what could an heirloom be, and what was acceptable to not undermine the reward structure of WoW.

But then on Diablo, it's like, "What is acceptable to make? What can you think of?" Even like I said, what if there's a set that gives you infinite resources? Yeah that's crazy, but it's also ok, because so what? There's a set that gives you infinite resources! It's an Action RPG, the game is about feeling overpowered all the time, and being just a murder train. So yeah there's going to be things that just couldn't exist in WoW. I could not make an item that insane in WoW, and for good reason, and in Diablo it's acceptable within the confines of the game. There's more freedom in that regard, regards to how crazy can the ideas be and still be acceptable. I love the company, I love WoW, I love Diablo, I thoroughly appreciate all the designers I've worked with over the last 8 or 9 years that I've been here; I forget it's all a blur at this point. It's different, but not better, it's just different. It's tons of fun, and at the end of the day I get paid to make video games so I'm happy no matter what. It's a great job, I love it here, this is all my family.


[2:56:00]
Training for Game Design
If someone was aspiring to do what you do, what advice would you give?
Travis: I am so never sure how to answer that question. [Laughs] I don't know, I've gotten that question a lot over the years, and it's really hard to answer. I think the best thing I can say, is play lots of video games, play lots of games. It's not even just video games; game design, at it's heart, is the same across any type of game. Board game, card game, online game, single player game, whatever it is there are a lot of core elements that stay the same. It's about understanding that what's fun, what do you enjoy about games? Understanding what makes a game that you do like good, and identifying those things, understanding what makes a game you don't like bad. Trying to figure out what are things that could be done to improve it. It's really hard to teach good design sense. But you can, if you have a good grasp for... I think the best advice that I can ever give, and it's the one bit I said earlier.

I think the ability to be a good designer goes hand with the ability to step out of player's shoes and into designer shoes. That is to say, you need to be able to set aside your emotional response to something, and understand what causes that and why it happens. Also to understand that the way you play a game is not the way that everyone plays games. And that's a big one, I know a lot of people who have never been able to make that connection. A lot of people assume, I play a game this way, therefore this is how everyone plays a game, and that's not the case. There's a reason that Peggle, and Plants vs. Zombies, and Angry Birds are popular even if they aren't things that we necessarily would enjoy. Understanding why they're successful, or why they're popular or what makes them fun to people, I think that's key to being a good game designer.

If you want to be not a designer and you want to work in like the art, or programming, that's a way different answer: go to school, get education and training, or teach yourself programming, or teach yourself the basics of art or technical art or whatever you want to do. But as it relates at least to design specifically, I think there are lots of thought experiments you can do to think about what makes a game good, why it's good, why it's not good if it isn't, or areas it can be improved upon. I think again, just a good skill to have is like I said before, being able to identify the actual root cause of a problem, as opposed to identifying just the symptom of a problem.

[2:59:00]
I already got the playing lots of video game and analyzing parts down, I think!
Travis: A lot of it too is just dedication and time. When I got hired at Blizzard, part of it was just I had no experience or training or eduction in the field. I just felt like I had a really good grasp on all the things I needed to, to be a game designer. I was like, "You know what, I feel like I can do this, I know I can do this and I'm willing to prove that I can do this and I'm willing to get my foot in the door." I started 8 years ago as a GM, and I moved from GM to Quality Assurance, to be a QA tester, I want to say like a year and a half total between the GM and the QA. Then eventually I got a design position when it opened up. Part of it too, is to take the step; if it's something you really want, something you truly want. It's something I said since I was like 12, that I really want to be game designer at Blizzard, it's something I always wanted. Getting here was just a matter of biting the bullet and saying, alright I'm packing up everything I own and driving to California and I'm going to submit a resume to be a GM, and I'm going to start there. You've gotta take the first step. It's kinda like dating, you gotta be willing to try, and if you don't try it'll never happen.


[3:00:35]
Education for Game Design
I was surprised to hear, when I was at Blizzard, people saying that not all of the developers had college degrees in game design.
Travis: Not at all. I don't know many people that have a degree in game design necessarily. I know a lot of people who have degrees in assorted things. One of the guys I used to work with for a long time who's a great designer, his name is Chris Earhet[sp], he was actually a high-school math teacher before he came to work at Blizzard. He had a good sense of designing games, and what makes them fun, and he played lots of games like board games and card games, etc. He had a lot of really tangible skills, he was very good at math and figuring out that, "Oh this is really unbalanced because the math is wrong, and I can fix that." It's like great, that's a good skill to have.

I think Chris Pardo had like a criminal psychology degree, like something where you don't go, "Clearly that's the guy who makes video games." So education is good, but education is more about what's broadly applicable. It's not like you have to have education in some specific area, or even really training. But if you don't have any training, you need to be willing to start at the ground up, and work your way up, and build your skill set and prove yourself, like I said. I know a lot of people -- just as a blanket statement, completely as it relates to my personal life -- I know a lot of people in my life who were never willing to start at the bottom and work their way up. They felt entitled like, "I should be the manager because I'm just that smart." It's like ok, put your money where your mouth is, go work at the company, go prove you're willing and capable of being the manager. If you are, then they'll make you the manager eventually, right? Pony up, double down, put your money where your mouth is, and just do it.


[Tangent on reality TV, etc.]


[3:04:30]
Playing With People Nearby
[From chat: Location based features, to see people playing who are in the same state that you are in.]
Travis: We have talked about adding features, I don't know that this would solve the problem you have, like "I want to see players around me in Virginia". We've talked about adding a feature that is mostly applicable in web cafes, that is Players Near Me, it'll show you players playing from the same IP, but that's not going to help you. It does make it easier to group with your buddy, who's sitting in the next room. [A feature like this was added as "Players Near You" in Patch 1.0.8.]


[3:05:28]
What Other Games Do You Play?
What games do you play when you're not playing Diablo? [Also includes game suggestions from chat]
Travis: Games I play right now: I love lots of different games. I've been playing a lot of HearthStone, because I have access to that. I have been playing a lot of Netrunner, a TCG living card game; that's a ton of fun, I really like that. What else have I been playing? Obviously Diablo 3. My fiancee streams for HighRes, so I play Smite with her on occasion. I dunno, nothing else recently has come out that's captured my attention. I tried playing Neverwinter for a day or two and was kinda like meh, whatever, not really into it. I play anything good, how about that? If there's a good game I'll play it.

I played Bioshock recently, the newest one. I loooooved that game, I was ranting about how good it was for a while. Path of the Exile, naw I didn't play Path of the Exile, I looked at it and was like, pass. I mean, to be fair I should play it, just because it's very similar to us and they have a lot of good ideas. Just like when I was working on WoW, I have some degree of responsibility just to play games like ours, but I think enough people here played Path of the Exile and we gleaned anything worth gleaning from it.

The Cryptozoic MMOTC (Hex) - I think it looks amazing. Cory Jones is a friend of mine, he's been a really good friend of mine for a long time, before he started Cryptozoic. He had pitched that idea to me like two years ago, and I told him that sounds crazy good, you should make it. So I was really happy when I saw he had a Kickstarter, and that they got funded super fast. The game looks amazing, Cryptozoic is a great studio and I know a lot of the guys over there, I used to work with them here at Blizzard. So I have nothing but respect and hope for success for them.

WildStar - it looks pretty cool. Again, I have a lot of friends over at that studio, a lot of the guys at Carbine used to work for Blizzard. I worked, at some point in the last 8 years with a lot of the designers and artists that they have over at their studio. I think the game looks like it'll be really cool. I love their videos, I think they do a good job of really selling their sense of humor and I personally appreciate that. As a gamer, I like when studios don't take themselves too seriously, I think it helps. They've got some really cool looking stuff.

I've been trying to get ahold of the people at Carbine studios, I wanted to stream WildStar. So... I'm not saying, but I'm just saying.
Travis: I want to play it, yeah, I totally want to get my hands on it! At the same time, generally speaking, when a development studio has a game in beta, or alpha or whatever it is, there's usually a window of time where they don't allow other game developers into their beta until it's like at a certain stage in development. So I assume - I'll get my hands on it, but just not for a little while.


[3:09:00]
Travis: I'm gonna cut out, on that note. I've been talking so long that my throat is getting a little tired. Good luck with your competition, win, and I may or may not be back later in the day. Thanks guys, it was a super pleasure to be here and talk to you all, I'm sure I'll talk to you all more in the future and maybe later today, depending on my schedule which is slammed with many meetings. Happy 1 year anniversary, Diablo!



Wyatt Cheng joins again, at [6:35:40].


Wyatt Cheng Chat #2


[6:36:30]
Demon Hunters in Hardcore
Wyatt: I was actually a bit late, just when I was leaving my office to come over to the room where we've been connecting to talk with you, we were talking about the Demon Hunter! I see that you're actually playing your Demon Hunter now.

Yeah that's probably the character I've been playing the most, recently. I guess I like playing Demon Hunter in hardcore even though she's probably not the best class for hardcore.
Wyatt: Some people don't think so. I think Demon Hunter can still be fun in hardcore. It depends on your style, you still have to build for survivability. I think sometimes the fantasy of the Demon Hunter is that you're a bit of a glass cannon, and that's not necessarily something you can do in hardcore with anybody.

Yeah, I think Demon Hunter is the most fun character for hardcore, but Barb and Witch Doctor I think have more survivability. But I enjoy playing Demon Hunter because I have less survivability, I think.
Wyatt: Maybe it puts you more on your toes.

Yeah, I feel like a ninja on my Demon Hunter, because I have to avoid more attacks.


[6:37:42]
Skill Proc Coefficients
Wyatt: So I was going over some of the comments that were made from this morning's stream. People were talking about Demon Hunters, I know there were some comments made; I think proc coefficients are a thing that people like to talk about, I can certainly understand why. One of the comments people often make is: buff the things that people aren't using, rather than nerf the things that we use. And I guess I just wanted to say, that's definitely a philosophy we try to do whenever we can. Sometimes it's not realistic to do so, but as often as we can that's definitely what we try to do.

Yeah we talked with Travis a little bit about the proc coefficients on Barbs and Wizards, specifically the Whirlwind and builds, and how it might make sense to lower those in the future becaues it would make more builds viable for those classes.

Wyatt: Yeah, I think one of the values of build diversity which is sometimes underrated is that [it provides a style change]. A lot of times people will have a build that they really like, and I think that's great. When people have a build, like for example, what are you using right now: Elemental Arrow - Ball Lightning, Companion - Bat Companion, Entangling Shot. You find a build that you like, but at some point, you grind out 10-15 Paragon Levels, and you say, "hey, I kind of really want a style change." Obviously sometimes people will change spec because they're in different party situation or they're going to do an MP. But maybe you just want a change of scenery and you want a change of build. That's where some degree of build diversity really comes into play for me, just the opportunity to change up my gameplay experience a little bit by trying out a new set of skills. The more types of builds that are out there, the more it extends the lifespan of the game.

Yeah I can say on my Demon Hunter, my viewers know too, I pretty much use a different build every time I play. I'm actually using Entangling Shot because it seems like it has a really high proc coefficient, and I wanted to try out this Windforce. I also got a Dead Man's Legacy with increased damage to Entangling Shot.

Wyatt: Oh that's nice, how's that working out?

It works well, especially for solo, it knocks back almost half the time it seems. But yeah, leveling a Barb or leveling a Wizard, you have a ton of different builds. But once you get to max level if you want to be efficient it seems you have to go with one of the ones that take advantage of proc coefficients.

Wyatt: Yeah, so just as a simple cursory glance at proc coefficients: if you look at some of the classes with the most build diversity, it's the ones that have proc coefficients that are roughly in line with each other. There's always effects that can proc. is one of just the more obvious examples, but there's others, like Night Stalker or just even Life on Hit. Lots of things work through the proc system, because procs are actually a really fun part of the game. We definitely notice that whenever a skill has a high proc rate, it very quickly rises to the top of usage. If you look at the classes that have the least build diversity, it's almost always a skill or two with abnormally high proc coefficients that just cause that build to be superior.

But I do want to say, that that doesn't mean we want to come in and just nerf all the things. I don't think that's fun. You get used to a certain level of power, and obviously if the game is boring and not interesting anymore, then we want to fix that. One of the lessons that we learned, I don't know if you remember when the game first came out, we would do a couple nerfs, and then people would say, "oh my goodness, another round of nerfs, when are they going to buff stuff?" Then in a later patch we came out with a whole round of buffs. What we really learned, and we should have known from previous Blizzard games, is that it's ok to take away in one area, but you really gotta give players an alternative. So if we're going to reduce the effectiveness of something, there should be actually something cooler. So to use an analogy, if a child is playing around with a water gun, and you say, "hey how about this fire truck instead?" You can't just take it away and leave them empty handed, that's no good.

[6:43:13]
Wyatt: So Elemental Arrow - Nether Tentacles is getting brought up as an example. That's a great example, where Nether Tentacles got nerfed, and I think there were almost no other changes that patch. We basically said, "hey, stop using Nether Tentacles, it's too good!" And all the Demon Hunters were like, "ok, what up, this is dumb, now I'm just weaker." So in later patches, whenever we feel the need to nerf something, we make sure that it's like, "Ok, we really don't want you to do this, but here's five other really fun things to do, give those a try."

Would the Whirlwind Barb nerf be a good example of that?
Wyatt: Yeah, I mean we were actually a little bit tamer on that. We wanted to make sure that the Whirlwind gameplay style was still viable and popular, because we knew that it was a fun way to play. But yeah, we buffed Rend and Hammer of the Ancients, I can't remember if it was the exact same patch or very close to it. So we said, "Hey, for those of you who choose not to go Whirlwind, here are two alternatives."


[6:44:20]
Dual-Wielding Crossbows
Wyatt: You know what I'd like to see on the Demon Hunter: dual-wielding crossbows. That's kind of a missed opportunity, I think. I know there's a couple people who will build dual-wielding crossbows. Just aesthetically in terms of the fantasy, it's so cool to look at. If you look at like cosplayers at BlizzCon and stuff like that, dual-wielding crossbows is almost signature.

Why do you think that the dual-wielding isn't as viable right now; do you think there's something that could maybe make it more viable in the future?

Wyatt: I think it's kind of everything. The main thing you're getting for dual-wielding, obviously you get possibly another skill roll, but you can get a Dead Man's Legacy intead. And a Dead Man's Legacy with it's 20% Attack Speed is just outright better. So that's kind of one issue, and that's actually pretty common. That's one of the things we're on the lookout for, as we design a new set of legendaries, is when you highly incentivize one style of play, it does make everything else potentially less appealing. Dead Man's Legacy made using a quiver awesome, but that makes not using Dead Man's Legacy that much worse. In this case, what I think I'd really like to see is maybe some legendary one-handers that can compete with Dead Man's Legacy, that would certainly be a start.

Another reason is maybe people don't like the way that the higher Attack Speed interacts with their Hatred, that's a possibility. There's also Archery as a passive, which has really good interactions with Bows and Crossbows. Maybe the 10% crit on the one-handed Crossbows just isn't competing with those other two, for people who are dual-wielding. Or maybe your crit rate is already at 50% or something and you don't need that extra 10%, as much as you could use the 50% crit damage.

Or what if Archery gave 10% for each hand cross-bow that you were using?
Wyatt: [Laughs] See, now you're talking! Yeah, something to get dual-wield crossbows back in there.


[6:46:45]
Passives with Gameplay Decisions
Wyatt: Speaking of Archery, and this is sort of design philosophy in general, so it's not about Archery in particular. This is actually why I was late, hopping on the stream. We were talking about passives we like, and passives that we don't like, from a design perspective. In general, I'm a big fan of passives that make you play in a different way to get the bonus. From that point of view, I think Archery is really popular, but it kind of fails on that front. Where it's like, what's my gameplay decision? Well my gameplay decision is still: use this item. But once I've decided to use the item and I'm playing, I don't really think about it anymore.

Compare that to say, Tactical Advantage where it's constantly on your mind that every time you Vault, you're going to get a little bit of a run-speed boost, and that's really cool. So I feel like that one's been much more successful at doing what it's supposed to do, and change my gameplay. I think another example of a passive that I would love to see more popular, and where we have to maybe buff it to make it even more appealing, is Brawler on the Barbarian. With that you get more damage when there's lots of enemies nearby, but you don't get the extra damage when other enemies aren't nearby. I think that's another example of a passive that we really like, because it's definitely worth it, when you can get yourself into that situation. But at least there's a gameplay associated with getting the bonus.




[6:48:55]
Cold Weapons Damage
[From chat: Will you buff Cold damage on weapons, if elemental weapons end up doing more?]
Wyatt: I wasn't able to listen to everything Travis said, but you guys must have talked about elemental damage effects, then? I think I was actually just getting back to my desk and getting caught up. Yeah, we'd have to bring everything in line again.


[6:49:20]
Elemental Arrow
[From chat: Is there going to be a change to Elemental Arrow?]
Wyatt: Yes, at some point. I shouldn't say "yes" in such a definite tone. You know what I should say is: we're constantly looking at all the classes, and so far we've been pretty modest with some of the skills. But we've been more aggressive in other cases. I remember using Elemental Arrow - Frost Arrow a lot, when the game first came out. I don't like -- it has like a target cap on the targets behind the front one. I think the geometry game in really getting that frost variant to maximum payoff is really fun gameplay. It's kind of a bummer that it can't hit more than 5 targets after the first one..

Yeah, I was using Frost Arrow for a while, and trying Ball Lightning. Sometimes it was great, in groups of like 3 or 4, but then bigger than that it definitely fell short.


[6:50:50]
Secondary Damage Sources
[From chat: A question about build diversity.]
Wyatt: I hinted earlier that we need to take a look at secondary effects across the board. Let me tell you what I mean by secondary effects. So right now on your Demon Hunter here, for example, you have two sources of damage that are really kind of happening, and that's where most of your damage is coming from. You have your Entangling Shot which is your Hatred generator, and you have Elemental Arrow which is your Hatred spender. And there's another button on your bar, which is Companion - Bat Companion. But I suspect you just want the Hatred from him, right? You don't really care that he's pecking at enemies for damage. One of the things that I think just across the board, these skills in our game don't do enough damage, are skills other than your primary generator and spender, that are kind of active and require even a build choice or some effort to put into. But people don't really pay a lot of attention to them, because they're just not a significant portion of my overall damage.

So for example, a place where we did it right, I'd say, or not right but better, is Hydra. I could be a Wizard and I have maybe a Signature Spell and a Spender, or nowadays a lot of people are using Tornadoes. But I could in theory, actually, Explosive Blast, that's another good example. So I'm casting Tornadoes but I'm also casting Explosive Blast. And I might drop a Hydra, but nowadays I might also have Storm Armor. The Demon Hunter needs more things like that, I think. Sentry is a good example of an area to explore more. I think any of the runes that shoot out rockets is largely untapped. I think that's a bit of a disappointment. Not only for players; I'm sure there were players who, before the game came out, was like: "Ballistics passive with rockets, that's going to be awesome, I'm totally making my rocket Demon Hunter!" And then they get the game, and it's like wahwahwah... right? I'd love to see that get buffed and be better. And that's something we look at, too, is how do we make Ballistics attractive? These like secondary sources of damage, other than my primary two spammers.

[From chat: Rapid Fire with rockets is the best single-target damage at the moment.]
Wyatt: That was totally intentional. Like I said, these are all thoughts we have in general, when we sat down and said, hey we're going to buff channeled skills. We went down and we buffed Disintegrate, and we buffed Ray of Frost, and we buffed Rapid Fire, and we buffed Firebats. When we sat down and looked at Rapid Fire, we said hey, you know what's not really good is rockets Rapid Fire - Fire Support. So why don't we make it so that as long as we're in there, tweaking with Rapid Fire and really doing some testing and calculation on what a good Rapid Fire number is, let's make the rockets good too. That is really something where I'd like to extend that line of thinking farther.


[6:54:50]
Wyatt: Can't comment on stash stuff.


[6:55:00]
So is that an idea that's being discussed right now, making it so that every elemental damage type would have some sort of effect associated with it?
Wyatt: I know Travis is really excited about it, so he's been working on it. I'm not a great person to ask about it, inasmuch as I know that he's working on it and it's definitely on his radar. Sometimes there's so much to do, that if I know someone else is running point on something, then I empty my attention and brain of it, so that I can focus all of my attention on something else.


[6:55:40]
Monster Affixes
Wyatt: One of the things that I have been looking at is monster affixes. We cut a couple, and kind of reduced some. For example, we used to have Invulnerable Minions. So we cut that, right? I think that nowadays a lot of the monster affixes have kind of been around for a year now, and they can start to feel kind of samey sometimes. So I dunno, I wouldn't mind getting some new ones in there. So we've been trying to brainstorm up, and there's been lots of suggestions on the forums and stuff like that. So we definitely read a lot of suggestions on the forums for different ideas. But yeah, we want those elite packs, to maybe inject some new life into them.


[6:56:40]
Gems
Have you discussed maybe additional gems, different types of gems?
Wyatt: It's come up. Right now I think what I really want: I really wish it wasn't so rote, you know? "I am this class, so I always do that. I am a Demon Hunter, so I put Emeralds everywhere." I think that's the part that bothers me the most. And so, is the answer more gems, or different gems, or is it alternatives? Is it bringing back jewels? There's a lot of options, but we're definitely not happy with the idea that I have 7 empty sockets, and all of them automatically get the biggest green gems that I can afford. That's not very interesting.


[6:57:50]
Item Affixes
What about new affixes on items? Are there any of those that you've thrown around?
Wyatt: Yeah, so, let's talk about gloves! Gloves is a stat where people say, "why is trifecta the best?" You want your Attack Speed, Crit, and Crit Damage; and they look at that and they say, "That's terrible!" And there's definitely something to that. First, though, I would turn it around and say, well at least there's an item that people really want. I would maybe defend it a little bit, and say that the idea that there's a highly desired item, that is hard to get, is in some ways very cool. It's aspirational, to not have trifecta and dream and aspire to having trifecta someday.

On the flip side, I do not like that all classes, all builds want trifecta. I don't think that's right. Travis alluded to this earlier in his itemization posts, that what we'd really like to do is get more things that compete with it, so it's not just the same three for everybody. If there were even 8 different things that could roll on gloves, and you kinda wished you could have all of them, and all of them were good, and then maybe different people would pick different things. Maybe on one hand, one person would pick this set of 4, and someone else would pick another set of 4. Or, you know, crazyland: what if you happen to get an amazing item that rolled a certain 4 or 5 stats, and that actually caused you to change your build, because you know that that build works particularly well with the 4 or 5 that you happened to have drop for you? I mean, that's all pie in the sky sort of design philosophy stuff. But that's definitely what we've been thinking.

So, to answer your question: what new affixes? You know it's pretty hard to compete with those 3, but that's definitely what we'd like to do. I think cooldown reduction gets thrown around a lot, so I think that's pretty popular internally, CDR. I think finding ways to roll skill mods, on gloves in particular. Like if a slot is not already overloaded, we don't necessarily want to walk down the path of starting to overload it. But for the slots that are already overloaded -- amulet is a great example. Amulet has a lot of things going on, on it. In fact I think it has almost everything going on, on it. So there's a much wider range of what an acceptable amulet is. Throw in 3 or 4 more interesting cool things, and amulet would be rocking, and so would gloves.


[7:01:24]
Weapon Damage for Skills
[From chat: Some things are low weapon damage]
Wyatt: Yes, some things are low, we would like to buff them, I agree. Let me just open up the skill calculator, so I have it in front of me... It's funny, battle.net is asking me to verify my age.

So I pull open the Demon Hunter, because I'm in a Demon Hunter mood right now, and you're playing a Demon Hunter so it makes sense. You know, even Entangling Shot that you're using now, I think the mechanics are pretty interesting, it slows things down. It definitely feels like when you compare it to the other generators: Hungering Arrow, , and , I think the damage is probably just a little bit on the low side for what it's trying to do. I think it slows things, but if people weren't using it -- I would love for people to say, "I'm willing to give up a little bit of damage in exchange for slowing the enemy." I would just want to maybe take a good hard look, and say, are we asking people to give up too much. At an extreme, let's compare it to Bola Shot. Bola Shot does 160% weapon damage, Entangling Shot does 90%. So we're asking people to give up 70% weapon damage. Obviously there's a point in between. Like if Entangling Shot did 159% weapon damage and Bola Shot did 160%, that might swing too far the other way. And people might say, "hey, what up? Entangling Shot does almost as much, and it slows things!" Or maybe that's actually where it needs to be, because it's like it slows things but come on, Bola Shot does a ton of awesome AE. Just at a gut level, I'd say yeah you know what, 90% for Entangling Shot is probably too low.

So again, and I hate to keep bringing it up, but: maybe there's some amazing legendary that makes Entangling Shot way more interesting or bounce 4 more times, I don't know.

Wyatt: I think Chakram is another skill that is a little bit tricky. So Chakram's kind of interesting. Whenever we talk about Chakram, we have this internal conflict. We play it, and it doesn't always hit what it's supposed to hit. And people say, I don't like using skills that don't hit what I click on. We're like: if we change the path of Chakram so that it always moves to where your mouse is and clears everything in between, then all we've really done is made you another Elemental Arrow - Ball Lighting. And we don't want to -- there needs to be a difference between Chakram and Elemental Arrow. And the most obvious difference is that Chakram is not reliable. You need to be willing to say, if I take this unreliable skill, I would like to be rewarded with more damage. So for me, I think we need to look at just how unreliable is Chakram, how much control do players have to get themselves into optimal situations where they can maximize it's damage, and then how much damage can we give. So that, you know, not everyone starts using Chakram, but some people do. Really make it a playstyle choice, so people can say, "You know what, I really am good at gauging my Chakram path. I love getting that distance right, or I play with a Monk who's gonna hold, and Cyclone Strike everything so I know exactly where the mobs are going to be, and then I can Chakram them perfectly. As a result, I'm going to take this and do more damage." And there needs to be someone else who says, "I don't want to deal with all that, I just want to pew pew, so I'm going to take Elemental Arrow." I feel like right now, the payoff for taking on that unpredictable hitting, doesn't seem to quite tip the scales in Chakram's favor.


[7:06:28]
Skill Popularity
Internally, you guys can see which skills are being used how much, and all those numbers, right?
Wyatt: Yeah, we have internal stats. And I think Diablo Somepage has some stats that they track, too.


[7:06:47]
Community Expectations
[From chat: are you a politician?]
Wyatt: [Laughs] Am I a politician? No. Does it feel like I'm not actually answering, or was that person just trolling me?

No, I think a lot of people have unfair expectations. Maybe this is something worth talking about, I don't know. It seemed like a lot of people today were under the impression that devs might come on and be like, "This is all the new stuff we're introducing! We're going to announce a bunch of things, and tell you about the expansion." And maybe they don't understand why you can't just say everything you're going to be doing in the next few months, maybe they're just not familiar enough with the process or the reasoning behind it.

Wyatt: Yeah, I'll admit, for games that I enjoy playing, new content and changes can't come fast enough. I would love to see things on Diablo 3 faster, too. But development takes time, that's just -- yeah I guess that's fair, I guess people have expectations and hopes, and it's hard to wait, sometimes.

Yeah, and I'm not super familiar with the process, but I think I'm more familiar than some. They view these changes as something where you just make these changes, and you just throw them in with a day of programming, and so they get this misconception that nothing is getting done. Maybe they're not contemplating the time it takes to test, and how careful you guys have to be before you commit to one idea.

Wyatt: It's also funny sometimes, Diablo has a lot of systems that interact with one another. So we start looking to change one thing, and it unravels more. Like I mentioned earlier: One With Everything on the Monk. We're like, what do we want to do with this? Oh, well, let's make school resists higher. So we start exploring that, what does it take to make school resists higher? Well maybe it means that we need to have some items that will roll in the future with higher school resists, but won't have All Resistance as well. We're like ok, well maybe we should -- all the sudden, that gets grouped in with other itemization changes. There's definitely that thing, where you pull a thread and it keeps going.


[7:09:40]
PVP
[From chat: Asking about PVP.]
Wyatt: I think it's fair to ask. I think PVP is pretty cool, but it's also really hard to do right. Sometimes people talk about PVP, and they say, "Hey, I played it at BlizzCon, and it was really fun at BlizzCon". I'm glad it was really fun at BlizzCon because there was a lot of work that went into those BlizzCon demos. The BlizzCon demos of PVP were done with fixed sets of gear, with fixed skill sets. We've definitely found that the gear variation matters. If you go into Brawling now, you definitely notice that gear makes a fairly big and significant difference. There's some readability issues, there's already readability issues if you just even have 4 people running around. Eight people running around definitely had readability issues as well. I'm not trying to -- I'm just trying to say that there are more challenges than we originally anticipated. And I would love to see it as well, and I'm sorry that it's not ready yet.

I know there was a big update on PVP around the the end of last year. Maybe some people didn't understand the update or weren't able to read it. I guess what I took from it was you guys decided to kind of up your standard for PVP, and make it more robust than you originally planned; would that be accurate?

Wyatt: Yeah, yeah. We definitely wanted to make sure that the experience was good. It was like well, let's put Brawling in the game so that people can at least, you know, fight a little bit. Let's continue to see how Brawling evolves, and what people do with Brawling, and let's continue to work on figuring out something more, like, objective-based.

Potentially with some PVE elements as well, maybe?

Wyatt: Yeah, potentially -- actually, wasn't that on your 5 suggestions post that you did about like 3 months ago now?

Yeah, I had mentioned competetive PVE.

Wyatt: Yeah I remember that.


[7:13:00]
Rune Diversity
[From chat: Someone was asking about Grenades.]
Wyatt: could be better, yes it could.

[From chat: Rain of Vengeance]
Wyatt: Some of Rain of Vengeance is good, we're seeing good usage on Rain of Vengeance, if you look at the usage stats. It's obviously not one of the top 6, but it does make it's way into certain kinds of builds. The issue for me with Rain of Vengeance right now is that some of the runes seem to duplicate functionality with each other. I think you see this across the board, in different pockets on all classes. You'll have a skill, and one of the runes might be pretty interesting, but it's just trumped by one of the other runes. So you only see one rune and not the other.


[7:14:00]
Waypoints Across All Acts
[From chat: Waypoints everywhere?]
Wyatt: We have been talking about allowing people to go between all waypoints in all Acts. I think I mentioned that this morning, but someone else was asking about that.


[7:14:20]
Rate of Damage and Healing
Feel free to ramble about anything. More than anything, we're just interested in hearing you talk about what you guys talk about at work.
Wyatt: I would love to talk and ramble about one topic in particular, which has been on my mind a lot. It's a really tough one to solve for the live game, and that's the rate of damage. I gave a GDC talk about two months ago. One of the things that I covered in my GDC talk is that the game plays more strategically when the amount of time it takes monsters to kill me is along the lines of 6-8 seconds. It's more twitchy and less strategic when the monsters can kill me in 1-2 seconds. So for example, one of the complaints people have sometimes is like, "Why am I always getting one-shot?" Or why do we have these mechanics where if I succeed in dodging it, then I take no damage, but if I get hit I'm just dead. I'm not super happy with that situation. I don't know if we'll ever be able to do anything about it. I'm always on the lookout for opportunities.

Let me turn some of this rambling into something more concrete. If I could wave a magic wand, and cut in half all damage that monsters do to you, and at the same time cut in half player's ability to heal -- and I have to caveat, we're not doing that, I'm want to stress. Just imagine if we could wave a magic wand and monsters do half as much, and you heal half as fast; you should be able to see that we haven't nerfed the game, or buffed it, or done anything. But what we have done is we've changed how long it takes for monsters to kill you. I really want players to able to be at like 60% health and for that to mean something. You see this a lot in like Normal, Nightmare, and Hell difficulty when you're leveling up a new character. I can be at 60% health and before you have access to large amounts of Life on Hit and large amounts of Lifesteal and so forth, I can be at 60% health and that means something. I take a hit from a monster, or I stand in Desecrator too long, and I'm down to like 40% or 30%. Then I see a health globe and I'm excited to pick it up, and it heals me back up to 50%, and there's this tension where all the values from 20% health to 80% health are relevant and meaningful. I feel like in end-game Inferno right now, a lot of that is lost. I spend a lot of brain cycles thinking about how to slow down the rate at which monsters damage you, and find ways for these in-between health values to matter, so that players can be strategic again about when do I use my health potion, or I really care about that health globe again.

[7:18:16]
I know on my Critical Mass Wizard right now, if I'm surrounded by a bunch of mobs, and I have Energy Twister out, then I feel totally safe, I know I'm getting my life back constantly. If I'm away from mobs for even a second, I become very vulnerable.
Wyatt: Yes, that's definitely the case. I also don't like how quickly death can just jump on you, you know? You think you're doing everything right -- obviously not in hardcore, people build differently there because they don't want to suddenly just die out of nowhere. But death can really surprise you. I like to use the term "paper cuts", maybe that's not a great term. But there's no notion of, you know that old Monty Python skit, of a "flesh wound". There's no notion of taking a flesh wound -- like you're not dead, but you're not at full life either. It's an injury, and that injury should mean something for more than a quarter second.

Like the way it would work while you're leveling, for the most part?
Wyatt: Yeah, yeah.

I'd definitely gotten to a few parts where I've had flesh wounds with my low level Barbarian today and had to run out to get my health back.
Wyatt: Right, right. If we could find ways to insert this notion of flesh wounds. I'm going to turn this into something I saw on the forums the other day, this is concrete now. People have said, "why can't I tell when Vortex is coming?" I think this is sort of a great design philosophy question. People say, "I want a warning when Vortex is about to go off." And I think, given the current environment, I can totally understand why that would be a legitimate request. But the reason someone might be frustrated at Vortex, is that they get vortexed in, and then they get killed. Maybe they get vortexed into Molten, or they get vortexed into something that one-shots them. I would turn around and say, Vortex in itself is kind of interesting. Even though I can't react to it, sometimes in games it's not always about twitchy reaction to everything about to happen to you, it's about strategic positioning of yourself so that you are equipped to handle things that might happen to you. I hope that makes sense, I don't know, maybe that's too abstract.

With a Vortex or Frozen into Molten Explosion, right, that's terrible. But what I would love, is - in a lot of games, sometimes just positioning is important. The Butcher fight is a great example, right? And some WoW raiding encounters are a great example. Sometimes you know that something bad can happen, so you plan for it, so that when it does happen, it's not going to hurt you as much. Vortex can be frustrating right now, because you get vortexed into a Frozen Molten or whatever, and you're just dead. What I wish happened, I wish that getting vortexed didn't mean death. I wished getting vortexed badly meant 60% health damage. And by extension, I wish that having 60% of your health missing, mattered. So there's kind of like a lot of moving parts that would have to happen. That's why I say, I don't know if this is something that would ever actually come to pass. But it's the kind of thing I do think about a lot.

[7:22:10]
Wyatt: How do we make 60% health damage matter? By the way, we're not doing this, I'm just using it as an example: I remember a game called Bloodline Champions, I don't know if you ever played that, it was a European game that was pretty cool. They had this notion of permanent damage, and temporary damage, although that's not the terms that they used. If you got damaged down to a certain level, your heals could heal you back up to 50% higher than your lowest point, but not necessarily all the way up. This was like a PVP arena game. What was really cool about that system was that I could still heal, but I still cared about how much damage that I took. So to apply it now to this Molten Frozen case: maybe if we have that system, getting Vortex into a Molten Frozen means I took 80% of my health as damage. I can heal up to 50% so I'm back up, but I'm not full again, so now I'm going to have to be a little bit more careful for the remainder of the fight.

I don't think we'd actually do that. But that's just one example of the kind of thing where the damage matters. And that way we don't have to kill you; I'm not saying that we do! It's more like, players respond by gearing themselves to be more DPS focused, they don't have as much survivability. They just plan on not getting caught by a Frozen Molten, which is totally fine; I do the same thing. Because it's more like, flesh wounds don't matter, so I'll make sure that anything greater than a flesh wound that would just kill me, I'll just avoid. I hope that makes sense.

That makes perfect sense to me, I assume that it makes sense to the viewers. But it seems like you see that a lot less on hardcore, we can't really take that chance at all, so you can't really rely on getting health back.
Wyatt: Yeah, that's very true.


[7:24:35]
Memorable Hardcore Deaths
Wyatt: So on a more relaxing topic, do you have any memorable hardcore deaths? I'll tell you my last hardcore death.

I've only had one significant hardcore death. We were doing self-found hardcore MP10 only, and I made it to level 53, and then one morning I decided to go soloing, which is a bad idea, I always played with a Barb. I aggroed 2 elite packs and had them following me, so I decided to go back to the waypoint, and fight there. And it's on my highlights, so a lot of people have seen it. So I decided to fight next to the waypoint, but I get a little too close to the waypoint, because the enemies ended up crowding the waypoint. When I eventually realized I had to get out of there, because I wasn't going to make it, I couldn't click on the waypoint. I eventually had to run away and I died shortly afterwards to a face beast.

Wyatt: Ahh because there were too many monsters standing on top of the it?

Yeah, I tried twice to click on it, but there must have been something in the way. I didn't make it, and then it was game over.

Wyatt: Honestly that's a much more honorable death than me. I died to, this is total noob mistake. That's funny, this morning I think I told you a story that I said was totally noob, and everyone was going to call me a noob, and everyone did call me a noob. And now everyone's gonna call me a noob again. But I got up from my keyboard and didn't pause the game, just before Cydaea. I thought that the area was totally empty. I got up and I was like, ok, here comes Cydaea, I gotta get ready for this. So I got up to get a glass of water, I came back and some imps had climbed up the wall and killed my character. I know, noob, yes, I'll take it, call me a noob. I couldn't believe it. I told my coworkers that that's how I had died, and Andrew Chambers - we share an office, Andrew, Travis, and I - he made this photoshop image of me, and it said like Arch-Nemesis and had a glass of water, and he sent it out. It was so bad.

We had a similar situation to yours with one of the guys on the stream right now. Mikey, he was playing solo, and had to answer the door. He thought he'd paused the game, and came back to his Barb dead, I think he was Paragon 30, somewhere around there on self-found hardcore.


[7:27:35]
Disconnections in Diablo 3
[From chat: Why not handle disconnections better?]
Wyatt: I wish the game could be more disconnect friendly. I don't have a lot to say, I'm not a super expert on disconnects; but as long as we're talking about hardcore, some people are asking about that. We've talked about it. If it was a perfect world, you wouldn't lose your character with disconnects. The truth is that, what we don't want is to be in a situation where if you think you're going to die, the right answer is to pull your network cable out of the wall. Which means that we would need to differentiate between a staged disconnect versus a server issue on our end. The issue with server issues on our end -- the server's not supposed to crash. Our server engineers are really amazing people. But obviously crashes do happen. If the server is crashing, it can't save your character, because it's crashing! It's a funny suggestion sometimes when I see it, but that's the reality. And yeah, you know what? It's rough and it scares me when I play hardcore, too.




[7:29:00]
Seasonal Ladders
[From chat: What about seasonal ladders?]
Wyatt: Yeah we've talked about seasonal ladders. I think we talked about that this morning. I think that would be cool.

Oh yeah that's right, I was reading one of the forums, and people were asking what would happen to their existing characters. A lot of people's assumptions are correct. If we did anything like seasonal ladders, it would be like how D2 did it. There's the ladder and the non-ladder, and existing characters would stay. We wouldn't take away anything from what people have accomplished. People have a lot of investment in their current characters, so you'd still keep those.


[From chat: New content?]
Wyatt: I think new content would be awesome, all of it!


[7:31:10]
Monster Power
[From chat: MP Philosophy?]
Wyatt: I think Monster Power has actually worked out pretty well. I think people overall have responded very positively to the MP system. It's not something that we shipped with, right? I can't imagine the game without it, now. So I can say that we've actually been looking at improving it. I don't know what people would like to see improved in it.

[From chat: Monster Power is perfect as is.]
Wyatt: [Laughs] Well, I'm glad that you think so, it implies that we're kind of on the same page, that MP is doing what it's supposed to do. MP is supposed to let you turn up the dial, make the monsters tougher, and get more reward.

Relating to the same idea, I would love to see challenges that couldn't be outgeared, that would be challenging regardless of where your gear had gotten to. I think it's probably a lot easier in a game like World of Warcraft. It seems like, just turning up health and damage does increase the difficulty but you can still get enough gear where it would be really easy. But maybe some kind of challenge where you would be proud of defeating it regardless of how good your gear was.

Wyatt: You know it certainly seems like - well, if it's regardless of gear, then that almost would imply more - I don't know, are you talking about gear normalization?

Yeah I think about it a lot, different ways you could do it. One way maybe would be mechanics that if you failed what you needed to, then you're going to die regardless of how much health you have. Or maybe challenges that would still be hard even if you have the best gear.

Wyatt: Sure. So, some ways that we probably could improve Monster Power, then, would be for example, we could tie certain monster abilities to triggering it on higher MP. I think a lot of people have asked for MP to go past 10, in terms of higher challenges. I think the concern is that it brings kind of a highlight on class balance -- I don't want to say a highlight on class balance, but more like some classes may be better equipped to handle higher MPs. Even if it's not necessarily efficient, it creates the perception of imbalance. Let me expand what I mean by that: if class A can do MP12, and class B can't do MP12 in comparable gear. But class A while doing MP12 is earning 50 million xp per hour, and class B can go to MP8 and earn 100 million xp per hour. The classes are very different from each other, and we might actually say, that's ok. It's not ideal, and it's something we'd like to fix, but it's not as catastrophic if one class can do it, but it's super-inefficient for them to do it. That's certainly the case now. Right now, I think there's a little more inequity than we would like, but certainly as you turn up the MP, people can change their builds and do very inefficient things to say they've beaten it, but it's not efficient.

And yeah, we talk about, someone mentioned: new crafting, that'd be cool. Someone mentioned costumes, I think we've talked about Transmog before, about how that's something we'd like to see, that'd be great to see it come out.


[7:35:30]
Wyatt: Alright cool, I'm probably gonna head out. Thanks for having me, man, it's been fun.

Thanks so much for coming by. We really appreciate that, it was really awesome.
Want to read more Diablo III developer interviews? Check out the latest exclusive chat with developers Josh Mosqueira, Travis Day, and Kevin Martens.
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