D3 Developers: PC Diablo III May Get Console Features

Part 1 of our interview with Diablo III developers Josh Mosqueira, Travis Day, and Kevin Martens

Josh Mosqueira - Diablo III Game Director
The PC version of Diablo III might receive features that were originally designed for the console versions of the game, after the release of Diablo III for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on September 3. In an interview with Diablo Somepage, the recently promoted Diablo III Game Director Josh Mosqueira (seen above) was joined by Game Designer Travis Day and Lead Designer Kevin Martens. The three of them discussed how those features might be copied from the console to the PC, the differences between the PC and console versions of Diablo III, and a number of other topics about the game.

Read on for the details, in this first part of our extensive interview with the Diablo III developers. See Part 2 and Part 3 for more news from the interview, and the full transcript for all the details.

Taking Features From Console to PC
Josh Mosqueira said that certain features, such as the orbs that provide 10-second character buffs in the console versions, may eventually be ported to the PC version. "Once people get their hands on the console game and start learning more about it, when it comes out in September - I think if there are certain aspects of it that our PC community says, 'Hey, we would like to try some of this stuff out', I think we would be open to considering some of those changes."

Diablo III Console - Belial
A combined online and local co-op group, fighting Belial in a console Diablo III game.

This could also include changes to the boss fights in Diablo III. Kevin Martens said, "Every time we make something as heavily scripted as some of the boss fights are, we always think of better versions after we ship. We always love to go back and fix some of that content." While noting that it wasn't necessarily a high priority to immediately update the PC version of the bosses, he said that changes to the boss fights seen on the console versions of Diablo III could make their way to the PC. "When you get your hands on the console game, you'll find that improvements have been made to some of the boss fights; some of those could possibly be rolled back into the PC version in the future."

Console Diablo III: Developed in Tandem for the Xbox 360 and PS3
The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Diablo III were developed in tandem, and the two versions have the same feature set. It was important to provide essentially the same experience for the two console versions, Mosqueira said. "Even though we have this really great relationship with Sony, we wanted to make sure that we treated all our console players equally." (That naturally doesn't extend to the promotional console fare, such as the announced PS3-exclusive items.)
The PS3 and Xbox 360 console versions of Diablo III won't have public website character profiles - but the PS4 version just might.

One area where the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Diablo III are both the same is in their lack of a public website to display console Diablo III characters and accounts, that Blizzard provides for the PC Diablo III players on battle.net. Mosqueira said that those type of character displays are "an important part of the Blizzard experience," but that for now, players on the console versions will be limited to viewing characters on their friend's list in the console game network. "Unfortunately for Sony and the PlayStation Network, and for Xbox Live - they're great platforms, but we haven't been able to really get that level of interconnection between our battle.net and those platforms. So for the time being, we won't have a public website where you can see your cool profiles," he said.

That may change when Diablo III is brought to the PS4. "Potentially for the next-gen platforms, we may have a bigger emphasis on these social features; we want to see if we could try to do something like that," Mosqueira said.

Want to read more Diablo III developer interviews? Check out the May 2013 lengthy chat with developers Travis Day and Wyatt Cheng.

Juggling the PC and Console Diablo III Development
Josh Mosqueira has been the Lead Designer for the console Diablo III team, and now he's the Diablo III Game Director; he is in charge of the vision for the entire project, including development for both console and PC. But this isn't the first time he's moved from working on the console Diablo III to the PC version. Originally hired by Blizzard in early 2011 as the Diablo III console lead designer, Mosqueira and the two other initial hires for the console team were roped into helping the PC team during that summer. "They were coming down the pipe, and they really wanted to finally ship D3," he recalls. So the console team ended up working on finishing the PC Diablo III game. "It wasn't until we shipped on PC that the real focus on the console side of things really started in earnest."

With the PC version of Diablo III released in May 2012 and work on the console versions fully underway, Mosqueira headed up the console sub-team inside of Team 3, the Blizzard designation for the entire Diablo III group. The Game Director at the time was Jay Wilson, who oversaw both the PC and the console development, although Mosqueira notes that the console team was "a little bit more autonomous." Throughout the console Diablo III development process, he was given freedom to make changes specifically for the console versions. "Jay said, 'Look, whatever tweaks you need to make to translate Diablo so it feels like an awesome console game, feel free to make those decisions.'"
"What makes a great PC game, we will make decisions that will steer Diablo that way; what makes a good Diablo console game, we will steer console in that direction."
Josh Mosqueira,
Diablo III Game Director

The changes seen in the console Diablo III, compared to the original PC game, are found throughout the entire game. They include a very different control and movement scheme on the console, as well as overhauled skills, an Evade rolling move to quickly dodge out of harm's way, and a different pace to the monsters throughout the game. An entirely new multiplayer co-op mode offers the ability for four players to play Diablo III together in one location, from a single PS3 or Xbox 360. Combined together, these changes create a game that is instantly familiar to a PC Diablo III player, but fresh in its approach. For Mosqueira, all the changes made when taking the PC Diablo III and wrangling it into the consoles were done for a single reason: "To make the best Diablo console game we can."

Now that Mosqueira is in the Game Director role, overseeing the project for multiple console as well as the core PC version, he wants to encourage that same focused mentality on the PC development side. "I really want us, when we're thinking about Diablo on the PC, to make sure that we're making the best game for PC that we can." He doesn't view Diablo III for the different platforms as direct copies of each other: "What makes a great PC game, we will make decisions that will steer Diablo that way; what makes a good Diablo console game, we will steer console in that direction."

So Diablo III was developed first on the PC, and is arriving in a different form on a number of consoles. Some features from those console versions may make their way back around and end up on the PC side. But despite the cross-over between the console and PC, Diablo III Game Director Josh Mosqueira wants to have each team focused on making the best game for their respective platforms. Can the Diablo III development teams provide equally compelling games going forward, for both console and PC gamers? What will the future of Diablo III bring, aside from the Xbox 360 and PS3 console release on September 3? We'll have more from the Diablo III developers on what they hope to accomplish, in part 2 of our interview.

Our extensive interview with Josh Mosqueira, Travis Day, and Kevin Martens continues in Part 2 and Part 3! See the full transcript for all the details from the developers.
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