Blizzard Blues: Console Diablo III, Item Customization

Discussions about Witch Doctor skills, the next Ask the Devs, dying in hardcore mode

Diablo III on the PS3 and PS4
With the big news about Diablo III coming to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, the Blizzard blue posters have been busy discussing what it all means. They didn't talk much about the specifics of the console version, as the details will be shown next month at PAX East in Boston. There are some interesting tidbits of info about the console development process, along with reactions to the idea that the PC version was just a "beta test" for the upcoming Diablo III console release.

Another Diablo III game developer took to the forums: Travis Day has started posting on a few topics, and provided news about a customization change coming to items in the game.

Read on for all the specifics, and a lot of console talk.

Diablo III on the PS3 and PS4
There were many discussions about the console development of Diablo III, for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The community managers were busy on multiple threads, providing their viewpoints and a little news.
While some players have been afraid that the console development means that the PC version won't be getting as many updates, Lylirra dispelled that notion with a list of some of the improvements that the developers are looking to make to the game:
Posted by: Hypersonic

The argument is that the console versions has already had an effect on the design of the game some time during development. The decision to make versions for consoles meant that several aspects of the game had to be redesigned so that it can accommodate console gamers and as such, it resulted in the game being "dumbed down".

This particular argument is certainly making its rounds. And, in most cases, it's being used to validate the viewpoints of people who disagree with how Diablo III was designed. While having those disagreements is fine, blaming console for why they even exist is a pretty poor scapegoat.

No, the PC version of Diablo III was not designed for console from the beginning. It was developed for the PC with one major goal in mind: provide players with an awesome hack-and-slash computer game that's both fun and engaging. Whether or not we achieved that goal is certainly up for debate within this community, but it doesn't make it any less real or valid. All the decisions we made when developing Diablo III -- including combat, skills, character controls, user interface, and itemization -- were ones we believed would deliver a great experience on the PC, and the same can be said for the improvements we've made since launch. These decisions were not hindered (i.e. "dumbed down") by the development of a PlayStation version or altered to accommodate it.

For clarity, the PS3 version of Diablo III is based on the PC version and will include many of the same features as the PC game, including content all the way up to patch 1.0.7. From there, it's being tailored specifically for the PlayStation platform and will feature changes like a redesigned control scheme, camera perspective, and UI.

So, while there may be some players who don't like how Diablo III was designed for PC, the PlayStation version of the game was ultimately predicated by the PC experience (not vice-versa). If you don't like the skill system, the inclusion of the auction house, or how itemization works, that's fine and we certainly respect those opinions, but please try to attribute those disagreements to the right place. :)
Posted by: whoopadeedoo

So you're telling us that at no time was the console taken into consideration during the development of the PC version?

During the development of the PC version, the job and goal of our design team was to create a fun product for the PC. After launch, it's been to support the game in the form of content updates, balancing, and bug fixes. That's their focus.

Beyond that, we actually have an independent team of designers, engineers, artists, and producers that are dedicated to adapting Diablo III to the PlayStation and creating an epic console experience. It's their job to take the PC game and translate it to the PS3, and in a way deal with all the considerations you're talking about. While our console team and PC team do collaborate (and have collaborated in the past), it's always to ensure that we’re staying true to D3 on the PlayStation platform.
Posted by: Sÿlak

Is that belief still held high in the development office?

We believe that many aspects of itemization in Diablo III work great, but that the system isn't perfect and can be improved. Overall, we feel like we've been making the item game better with each new patch, and definitely have plans to continue to that process. Some of the areas we'd like to focus on for the future include making Legendary items more "game changing" while still being powerful enough for players to want to equip them, introducing more meaningful gold sinks, and continuing to provide players with reliable ways to gear up outside of the Auction House.

Posted by: Fayld

I wish I could believe this wasn't just more spin...

I wish you could, too, but it's okay if you don't. :) The intent of my post wasn't to really to change anyone's minds, but just make sure that people have enough information to make informed decisions on their own.
I think you are kinda just beating around the bush.
You still can't be 100% sure that some certain elements of the game are being designed (or redesigned during the game is being made) are taken into account because of a possibility of console port in the future.

Since I wasn't privy to every individual thought the developers were thinking as they implemented specific features for the PC game, it's possible that someone at some point thought about something related to console. (Though it may just have been whether or not they remembered to plug in their PS3 controller that morning.)

Even so, to counter a metaphor with a metaphor, I think a lot of players in this discussion can't see the forest for the trees. The point is that it wasn't on the PC design team to make considerations for console. Their focus has been and continues to be the PC game. It's the job of console team to make considerations for console as they adapt the existing game for the PlayStation.

Although it would have been great for players to be able to access their same Diablo III characters on both the PS3 and PC versions, it was made clear that this will not be an option. The characters will not be able to be accessed by the PlayStation versions of the game, and vice-versa.
In summary...everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and this is mine. I thank Blizzard for working so hard on making a version that's going to allow me to play with my PS friends as well as continuing to work on the PC version at the same time. I'll be out there farming and leveling, because unlike some of these people...I enjoy it.

Blizzard has a long history with console games, and the goal with bringing Diablo III to the PlayStation is really about opening up the world of Sanctuary to players who prefer a couch over a desk chair. We know that console games aren’t for everyone, though, and we certainly respect that not all players who’ve purchased the game for PC will want to buy the PlayStation version. That’s totally okay. :)

Even so, our console team has been hard at work adapting Diablo III for the PlayStation platform and making sure that all of the important elements of the game feel great when played using a controller. We’re actually completely re-developing the UI, controls, and camera for the PlayStation 3 so that everything feels natural and looks awesome on a big TV screen. We’re really happy with how that whole process is coming along and we're excited to demo some of these snazzy changes at PAX East in March.
Posted by: Begaria

Vaeflare, do you have an ETA on when we can expect some developer discussion on how the console version of Diablo 3 will affect future PC design? i.e. Adding controller support to the PC, clarification whether we can expect an offline feature similar to the console version, cross-platform play, etc

While we think cross-platform play would be awesome, there are currently no plans to allow connectivity between PlayStation Network and (this is pretty standard for most games that have PC and console support). As a result, the characters on your account and PlayStation account will also remain separate.

In terms of allowing an analog controller hookup for the PC, we don’t have any plans for that kind of support right now. Similarly, since Diablo III for console was designed with a controller in mind, the PlayStation version of Diablo III will not support USB mice or keyboards.

In response to a question about the announced but vague "Dodge" ability that will be available for the PS3 and PS4 versions of the game, it sounds like those sort of specifics won't be answered until PAX East:
Posted by: Valenco

Quick question about the PS3/4 version. How do spells like Blizzard work? I click a spot to cast it on. With no cursor, how do you tell it where to cast?

Coming up at PAX East in March, we will provide more details about how we refined certain gameplay features in order to work fluidly within the analog controller-driven environments of the PlayStation version of Diablo III. We look forward to being able to dig into your gameplay questions then. :)

A few further thoughts on Diablo III on the console:
Blizzard smart to produce a game that can be played on more than one platform. Expose the awesomeness of D3 to more people!

We love the idea of being able to have Diablo III on multiple platforms, especially since Blizzard’s roots are actually in console gaming. From Rock ‘N Roll Racing to Lost Vikings to Blackthorne, Blizzard Entertainment actually started off as a console developer. With Diablo III, we’re just excited to expand our audience and have the opportunity to let console gamers brave the battlefields of Sanctuary (or in some cases, return to Sanctuary, if they played first Diablo on the original PlayStation). It’s also exciting for us to think that this may be the first time that some players have the chance to experience a Blizzard game, too! :)

We love the idea of being able to have Diablo III on multiple platforms, especially since Blizzard’s roots are actually in console gaming. From Rock ‘N Roll Racing to Lost Vikings to Blackthorne, Blizzard Entertainment actually started off as a console developer. With Diablo III, we’re just excited to expand our audience and have the opportunity to let console gamers brave the battlefields of Sanctuary (or in some cases, return to Sanctuary, if they played first Diablo on the original PlayStation). It’s also exciting for us to think that this may be the first time that some players have the chance to experience a Blizzard game, too! :)

I think you are my favorite CM ^-^.

Although I don't agree with all of Blizzard's design decisions for this game, it still made me play it for over 250 hours, so I got my moneys worth. Maybe when the PS4 launches, who knows, I might even buy it just to play in front of my giant tv with a controller.

I’ve had a chance to play the PlayStation version of Diablo III, and one of the aspects that is really appealing to me is the idea of just being able to sit around with a bunch of friends and slay demons (and sass each other because, c’mon, that’s half the fun of playing with friends), so I’ll definitely be playing both versions.

If you’re curious about the PlayStation version, though, you should know that we plan to offer a hands-on demos at PAX East in Boston. So if you’re in the area, you should totally check it out for yourself!
Posted by: Chickenrot

I see that Blizzard is expanding to console games, wich i think is great by the way.but what i want to know is,are you(Blizzard) making D3 exclusive to playstation only,or is there going to be a version for xbox down the road as well?

We’re glad that you’re pleased that we’re bringing Diablo III to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4! As far as additional platforms go: we don’t have any further console announcements or partners to share at this time.

Item Visual Customization
Game developer Travis Day stopped by the forums, and one of his posts involved a terrific announcement: the developers are planning on adding a way to customize the look of Diablo III items. This is likely similar to the transmogrification system found in the Blizzard game World of Warcraft, where the "skin" of one item can be copied onto another one.
I agree, visual customization has a lot of value, people like to differentiate themselves from each other or sometimes just get bored of looking at the same thing all day every day. In fact we agree SO much that we have plans to add this feature in the future.

Witch Doctor Skills
In a response to another thread, Travis Day talked a little about Witch Doctor skills, and his appreciation for players making up interesting lists of potential improvements.
Very nice compilation of thoughts and a lot of really good ideas in here. Class and ability balance is something that we constantly strive to improve and while the Witch Doctor is in a better place than some classes as far as skill diversity is concerned there is always room to polish things up further.

This is a great list and I love to see the community come together and put forth ideas and solutions to the things that they feel need attention. Keep coming up with ways you want to see us improve the game and the classes we all love and we will keep reading... even if you never see me... because I'm a ninja.
Thank you for your acknowledgement that we exist. I hope you do not mistake the fact that just because Witch Doctor's have the most build diversity, there is still dramatic room for improvement within the class. Some scalability mechanics have also been concern that has been addressed and ideas expressed.

Glad to see a Developer looking at some of the improvement recommendations the players have.

You are correct, there is always room for improvement. My Witch Doctor is probably my character I have the most fun with but there are certainly abilities I have plans to improve. For example I have always really enjoyed damage over time based characters and was pretty disappointed when I tried to build my WD around that idea. Locust Swarm is pretty fun and I liked using it but it was hard to justify giving it a place in my build. Haunt is in the same boat but I think Haunts problems are very clear and easily addressed in a future update.

Also, I put a lot of the ideas in this thread into my current list of ideas for improving the WD so I'm here to do more than just give you guys a pat on the back. The ideas and suggestions in this thread are great and community input is sincerely appreciated. You will absolutely see some of these ideas down the road and when you do you will be able to take pride in knowing that these were your ideas and they were awesome.

Ask the Devs #2
The next Ask the Developers session will be all about items. It is still in the works, but a few questions were answered regarding how the entire process works.
We wouldn’t dream of giving up on the players, in fact we are planning to tackle one of the more frequent community discussions. :) We are working on a new set of questions for “Ask the Devs” that revolves around itemization, a very popular subject here on the forums. We’re looking at doing this in March, and are very excited about the opportunity to provide some answers and insight about this subject to the community.
Based upon this quote, it sounds like the CMs (or other Blizzard representatives) are creating the questions for Ask the Devs 2 and not the playerbase. Can we get a clarification as to the source of the questions for AtD2?

Thank you for asking this question, and I'm happy to clarify. Players will generate questions, and vote on the ones they want to see answered. When that phase is over the community managers will compile the popular questions and send it to the developers for answers. Once we have put that all together in a digestible manner and translated the responses for all of our regions, we’ll will post a big summary in the forums (like we did here.)

The Ask the Devs blog can be found here, and has the details for how it will operate. Just keep in mind that it has not been updated to reflect itemization as the subject yet.

Dying to Bosses in Hardcore
The final discussion is for the hardy players in hardcore mode, talking about how difficult and dangerous some of the bosses can be. When your first death is your last, serious planning is often required before going into those fights.
Honor to our fellow Nephalem who have fallen, and good fortune to future heroes. Perhaps with time the caution you feel surrounding Azmodan will yield to a burning desire for vengeance, and rather than avoiding his lair you may find yourself happily anticipating the bitter satisfaction that only his death can bring.
Do you play hardcore Grimiku ?

If so, have you ever lost a well geared lvl60 toon in a manner that was not your fault ?

If so, please fill us in on the details.

Thanks for the post

I do play Hardcore, but every character I have lost has been my own fault. I came very close to losing my main during a lag spike (thank you ISP) while fighting Belial. He put his arms in the ground and after two explosions the world went silent, and my heart sank at the thought of what was about to come. My system did not recover until Belial had ended that attack phase and my Spirit Vessel debuff was on, so I knew I had come close.

If I had been playing any one of my alts it would have been the end for that hero. But, that thrill is why we are in Hardcore, and there will always be an element beyond our control.
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