Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Release Party

A developer Q&A while celebrating the American release of 'Reaper of Souls' - Announcements for ladders, Tiered Rifts, and more!

Reaper of Souls - Death is Here
We are celebrating the North American release of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, going live shortly at 9PM PDT (11:00AM EST). We're covering the Twitch.tv/Diablo livestream, providing a live transcript of the developer Q&A, and the festivities out in California!

The Q&A will be conducted by Brandy Camel, known to the Diablo III community as community manager Nevalistis. She will be chatting with Diablo III game director Josh Mosqueira, and senior technical game designer Wyatt Cheng.


Here we go! Diablo III is live for the American servers, and now fully live in all regions around the world. We'll be covering the live stream now, which opens with the Reaper of Souls cinematic trailer.

Clips of cosplayers and others getting ready for the 'Reaper of Souls' event! Here we go with the developer live Q&A.

Quick Links
Here are quick links to the topics in the Q&A with Josh Mosqueira and Wyatt Cheng.

This is a video of the Q&A, that the transcription below comes from. The audio in this video is out of sync and very poor at times, including a problem with the microphone that Josh Mosqueira was using for the first half of the Q&A. There may be an updated VOD provided later with better audio.



Playing in Patch 2.0
Q: How are you guys doing tonight, are you enjoying yourself?
Josh Mosqueira: This is... really crazy.
Wyatt Cheng: Yeah, I'm really excited to be here, it's a really exciting venue.

Q: Patch 2.0 was really monumental for Diablo III. How have things been going for the game since then?
Josh Mosqueira: We worked really hard, and it's been great to see the response. [Bad audio from Josh's mic]

Wyatt Cheng: Yeah ever since patch 2.0 came out it's been great, I log in to play and my Battle.net friends list is just filled with people playing Diablo III. To be honest, we're here doing the Q&A, but a little part of me wants to be at home playing right now.


Reaper of Souls Development
Q: Pulling it back to the beginning, when did you start to see Reaper of Souls solidify and become the epic experience that we have today?
Josh Mosqueira: I think that moment really crystallized when as a team, we really focused on the three fundamental pillars, not just for Reaper of Souls but for Diablo as a whole. That all starts with epic heroes. Whether you're the Barbarian, the Demon Hunter, or the brand new Crusader, we want you guys to take on roles of bigger than life heroes. You're facing the forces of darkness. With Reaper of Souls and the introduction of Malthael as a brand new villain, we took this opportunity to take Diablo back to its dark gothic roots. At the end of the day, Diablo is about loot, and we've done a lot of changes to help make loot awesome, and the legendaries are really build-changing. That's really where it all started for us.

Q: What was the one thing that you worked through the development of Reaper of Souls, that was your favorite?
Wyatt Cheng: The one thing that I worked on that was a huge team effort is the new loot system. We called it Loot 2.0, and that was just a huge collaboration between the designers, the artists; we had character art and tech art and animators, we received brainstorms on legendary items from the entire team. It's really made a huge difference. At a high level, everybody knows that we have these awesome Legendary items that went in with patch 2.0. But I also look at other areas. Even with the yellow items, we've added new properties like the bonuses to elemental damage and the bonuses to specific skills; those ones make your yellow items more interesting as well. Even beyond that, there was a philosophy that was established pretty on: "Less is More". The idea was that we didn't need to be dropping as many items on the ground as we were. So we actually drop far less items now, but the quality level of the ones that you do find is way higher. I think that's been a huge improvement; sometimes it's those little details that bring it all together.


Favorite Loot 2.0 Item
Q: In Loot 2.0, what's been your favorite item so far?
Wyatt Cheng: Well, since patch 2.0 came out I've been trying to farm up the Zunimassa's class set for my Witch Doctor. That set bonus that makes your Fetish Army last forever is just too good to pass up. When I finally do get it all together, I'll probably move on to my Demon Hunter and try to get a Cluckeye, for the lols.

Josh Mosqueira: My favorite thing about Reaper of Souls has to be, without a doubt, getting to work with the fantastic team behind it. Team 3, you guys are awesome, you make getting to work super worth it every day. I'm really proud of what we've accomplished together, and I'm looking forward to the future. You guys rule!


Reaper of Souls - Developer Q&A
Memorable Meetings
Q: A big part of the development is the countless meetings. Of all of the meetings that you guys experienced throughout development, what was craziest or most memorable?
Wyatt Cheng: I have a most memorable meeting. It was a meeting that the systems designers had just over a year ago. We were talking about what to do with the difficulty system. For those who remember in the original game we had Normal difficulty, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno. We knew that we wanted to raise the level cap to 70. A lot of people don't know this, but we originally had "Inferno 2". We didn't know what the name was going to be, that was our internal name; it was probably going to be like Apocalypse or Hellfire or something like that. Then we realized, if there's an Inferno 2 to get you from 61-70, then do we need an Inferno 3 once you get to 70? That was starting to look pretty rediculous, and we were trying to figure out how hard all of this had to be.

So we had a meeting, we got everyone in the room together. Josh kind of said, "You know, this isn't even really a representation of difficulty. These labels that we put on are just really: what level are you? It makes no sense that we call it difficulty, when it's really: what level do you want to play the game at?" So he had the radical idea to actually make the difficulty slider a difficulty slider, which is what you see today in the difficulty in 2.0, and to make the game auto-level with you. This was a big scary change, it's obviously a departure from what we had done in the past. To be honest, I was one of the people who was against it, it was too scary for me. I looked at other games that had done an auto-leveling system, and seen some of the negative effects it has in other games. We had lots of people on the team saying, "This auto-leveling difficulty is crazy, it doesn't work, other games have tried it... stop!" But we forged ahead and tried it, and honestly I couldn't be happier with the results.

Josh Mosqueira: [Lots of bad audio from Josh's mic] Favorite meeting about Reaper of Souls: Early on we talked about how we really needed to evolve the Auction House. We talked about it, and 20 minutes later everyone in the room was in full agreement that we needed to remove it.


Reaper of Souls - Developer Q&A - Josh Mosqueira
The Devil's Hand
Q: What was The Devil's Hand and will we see it at any point in the future?
Wyatt Cheng: We work on a number of systems at any time, in the development of an expansion. Players found a few references in the data files to something called The Devil's Hand. It was a system where you could travel around the world, kill various uniques and bosses, and you would get custom unique drops. You'd put these drops together to get a Legendary item. The name The Devil's Hand came because the original inspiration was that it was like a deck of cards. As you killed different monsters around the world, you'd get a card, and you'd put the cards together into a hand. As we iterated on the system it turned and the "hand" portion didn't work out so much. It became these collections of items that you put together, to turn in to try to get a Legendary item.

As we continued on our iteration of this, we had 3 systems that were kind of all competing: we had Adventure Mode with its Bounties; Devil's Hand, with turn-ins from unique monsters; and we had crafting, which was also putting items out into the world that you would obtain items off of different things. We looked at it and basically realized that there was far too much overlap between the 3 systems. Adventure Mode, Devil's Hand, and the new crafting were all kind of stepping on each other's territory. So we cut the Devil's Hand out, and doubled down on Adventure Mode, which we felt was really going places.


Side Stories in Reaper of Souls
Q: What kind of side stories are in RoS? Realm of Greed, Scoundrel, Templar? Another pony level/cow level?
Josh Mosqueira: Well there's no cow level, that's for sure. One of the really awesome thing our writers have focused on for Reaper of Souls was fleshing out the backstories for all our followers. If you ever wanted to find out what happened to the Scoundrel's brother, the Templar's order or the Enchantress, I think you're going to find a lot of cool surprises in store in Reaper of Souls.


Seasons and Ladders
Q: Was there some piece of content, if anything, that you wanted to include in RoS, but didn't quie make it in time?
Josh Mosqueira: Well that's a really good question, isn't it, Wyatt? When you're making a game you come up with a lot of good ideas, and some ideas like Devil's Hand you say: it's awesome, it probably needs to bake a little bit longer. But one of them that we felt was really important, that we felt we really needed to take the proper time to develop it, was one of the features you guys have asked about a lot. You might have noticed that Wyatt and myself have done a lot of research for something called ladders. I'm very happy to say that as part of our first big content patch coming out in the next couple of months, we are going to be releasing Seasons, which will include a ladder-like aspect to them.

Q: So you have to let us know: what exactly are Seasons?
Josh Mosqueira: Well, we're still working on them, but the general gist is that you'll be able to level up a character, we will have specific ladders for seasons, and also some goodies that will drop along the way. There's more information of that to come, and we're not making an announcement of when, but for sure Seasons are coming to Reaper of Souls. Yeah, the secret is out.

Q: And we can expect that for the first content patch?
Josh Mosqueira: Not the first patch, but the first major content patch. So in a couple of months.


Console Reaper of Souls
Q: Any word on a console release date for Reaper of Souls?
Josh Mosqueira: You may have noticed that today is March 25, and we're here celebrating the release date of Reaper of Souls on PC. For those of you who are console players, work is still progressing on the PS4 version. When the time is right, we will make an awesome announcement as to when you can expect the PS4 version. But tonight is all about PC.


Expanding Clans
Q: Do you plan on making the clans to be something more than just a spam chat? For example: clan quests, bonuses, etc.
Wyatt Cheng: The implementation of clans that we have right now in the game is our first pass at an implementation. It's the basic functionality that we'd expect out of a clan: the ability to see who's online, have the Officers and Members and general clan chat. We definitely want to look at other possibilities for clans in the future. No details on what that would be.

Obviously there are some suggestions that come up all the time. Sometimes people want to see things like clan leveling. World of Warcraft did guild leveling, so we'll want to look at the pros and cons of that. There's some things that worked out well, some things that maybe we can learn from. So that's always on the table. Another feature we get requested a lot is clan trading; that's probably not something we'll want to look at right away, either. Right now we just had a lot of effort put in to pull the Auction House out. The reason we did that is that fundamentally, we want playing the game and killing the monsters to be the best way to get loot. We want to preserve the idea that you have to play the game to get those items. I think we want to give that some time to breathe. If we had clan trading, I would be concerned that it would step too much on that core reward.


Reaper of Souls - Developer Q&A - Wyatt Cheng
Tiered Rifts
Q: Are there plans to add new end-game challenges in the months to come, similar to the Infernal Machine event?
Wyatt Cheng: New end game challenges... Josh mentioned that the first content patch is going to have Seasons. I'm happy to announce that there is another major feature coming in the patch 2.1, which is going to be what we're internally calling Tiered Rifts. The idea behind that is an actual challenge scenario, where players do increasingly hard Rifts, to try and see who can get the farthest.

The basic mechanics that we have working right now is: you go through the game in Adventure Mode, you do your Bounties, you do a Nephalem Rift. If you clear the Nephalem Rift, there's a chance to get what's called a Greater Rift Token. If you successfully clear the Greater Rift in a certain time limit, then you unlock a Greater Rift Key (Rank 2). If you clear that one, you get Rank 3, etc. Each one is harder than the previous one. Much like Seasons, we're looking at having a leaderboard as well, so you'll be able to compare your progress to the people on your Friends List, your Clan, and the whole region. You'll be able to see who got to the highest Tiered Rift, and what time were they able to obtain on that.


Legendary Powers
Q: Are you going to add a unique affix to every legendary items? If not, why?
Wyatt Cheng: New affixes to Legendary items: There are more legendary items planned for the future. One of the rewards for participating in a Season will probably be a few Season-exclusive legendaries, we're still working out the details on that. We're also looking at rewards associated with the Tiered Rifts system that I just mentioned, so we'll have legendaries for that. All Legendary items are going to have some unique property assocated with them. As for existing legendaries, they are some Legendary items right now look a little bit more like inflated yellow items. We're probably not going to revisit those ones. Those are items that already exist. The Legendary effects take time; we have tech art time, design and programming. I'd rather that we were adding new Legendary items. We have lots of support that we want to give to the game, and that time is probably better spent on future legendary items rather than going back trying to retrofit old ones.


Events and Buffs
Q: Any plans for world events or holiday themed events? Holiday themed Bounties, Rifts?
Josh Mosqueira: Well let me ask: would you guys be interested in those kind of events? [crowd cheers] Alright, so there's a good chance we would consider it, and think about it. I think Adventure Mode gives us sort of a platform for us to deliver that kind of content to our players. If we build it, you will play it, right?

Q: Any chance we will see community XP buffs, similar to the current one, delivered on a periodic basis?
Josh Mosqueira: Who here played last weekend, and made awesome use of the +100% xp buff? [crowd cheers] Yeah, I think everybody was pretty happy; I was happy, I got to level up some of my characters who don't get a lot of playtime. Again, these are the kind of events that you can hopefully expect to see with Reaper of Souls as we go forward. We want to make sure we keep you guys engaged and reward you for playing the awesome game that is Reaper.


Updated Tooltips
Q: Are there any plans to display reduced cooldowns or resource costs within the skills itself? This would lead to more transparency.
Josh Mosqueira: Yeah, Wyatt!
Wyatt Cheng: That would be great. To have the skill tooltip reflect and take into account, the stats from all your items, it's on our todo list. No ETA as to when it will be, I don't want to make any promises. There are some challenges but it is something we would love to see.


Reaper of Souls - Developer Q&A
Favorite Gameplay in Reaper of Souls
Q: From a player's perspective, what is your favorite part about Reaper of Souls?
Wyatt Cheng: Honestly, I love multiplayer. I mentioned earlier that I log on and I see on my Battle.net friends list a whole bunch of my friends playing Diablo III. I love that I can just jump into a game with any of them. I love that I can open up my Clan list and find what content my clanmates are doing, and join in on their games. Lately I've been doing a lot of public games. I jump into a public game, I meet 3 people, they're doing all sorts of different things; people have different items, different skill builds, we're all kind of playing together. It's a fast-paced game and we've made a lot of improvements to auto-ping, let you know when there's a Treasure Goblin engaged, let people know when you're going back to town and stuff like that. I just find multiplayer an absolute blast.

Josh Mosqueira: For me, it definitely has to be Adventure Mode. We took a really big chance... that feature came from one of the things our community requested, which was: can you just open up all waypoints? And we thought: you know what, we can probably do better. We can create a whole game mode around allowing you to go anywhere and slay anything. So I'm really excited about Adventure Mode.


DPS Meter
Q: What about adding a party DPS chart or parser?
Wyatt Cheng: Party DPS meter - I'm just going to go ahead and say, probably not. I know that that's going to be disappointing to some people. But at the end of the day, I think a lot of people on the team feel that a DPS meter puts far too much focus on a single dimension of the game. We look at playing Diablo as actually being a combination of activities. You've got your movement, how you use your skills, your survivability, your healing. I think although a damage meter is good information and feedback, it also causes too much of a magnifying glass or a laser focus on just trying to make this one number bigger at the cost of helping out your teammates or being a good team player, or positioning yourself well, or being smart and quick about how you play.

On the other hand: I mentioned Tiered Rifts earlier, and how we have a leaderboard. One of the things I'm really excited about is that one of the things that people like about a damage meter at its core, is that some people like to compete. I think that the leaderboard for Tiered Rifts is actually a better representation of that. That is a representation that kind of takes into account all these multiple dimensions. It says, "I don't care who did the most damage, I don't care that you topped that meter. What I care is that you cleared your Rift, and did your challenge better than anybody else." I think even more than that, if you think about it we're releasing Seasons and Tiered Rifts in the same patch. So for a lot of people, if you want to take it to the next level, there's going to be: who can roll new characters in a Season, and get to the highest Tier in a Tiered Rift? If you put those together, that's going to be actual competition.


Sleep or Reaper of Souls?
Q: As soon as you leave the Vibiana and get home: sleep or Reaper of Souls?
Wyatt Cheng: Definitely Reaper; I probably won't go to bed until I have at least one character at 70.
Josh Mosqueira: I'll hold you to that! So for me, we still have a lot of celebration to do here, right? Team 3, we have some unfinished business over there... definitely Reaper before sleep.

So which character are you going to level up first to 70?
Josh Mosqueira: I'm going to level up my Demon Hunter up to 70.
Wyatt Cheng: I'll be doing my Witch Doctor first, and then after that probably my Wizard. I have 5 level 60s right now; I'll eventually get them all to 70.

How about a Crusader?
Wyatt Cheng: Crusader I'm not doing right away. So, funny story: this weekend, I'm having friends coming over and we're gonna play on a LAN. The plan is for us to all play hardcore, doing what we call team hardcore. In team hardcore, you make your characters together, you agree to play together, and if anybody dies you all kill your characters off. So my first Crusader is actually earmarked to do team hardcore with some friends.
Josh Mosqueira: You're crazy... but you're awesome. For me, after I level up my Demon Hunter, it's my Crusader from level 1-70 in Adventure Mode. It's how Crusaders do it!

[End of Q&A]

That's all for the developer interview! We had a lot of exciting news about Tiered Rifts, seasons with ladders, and more. As more details come out about these great new features for Diablo III, we'll be sure to cover them all.


Update April 1, 2014 11:07 PM EDT - The transcript has been updated and completed as much as possible, from the video added above. If there is an updated VOD provided later with better audio, we'll update this further.
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