'Reaper of Souls' Developer Interview by gamona.de

Josh Mosqueira and Christian Lichtner talk Paragon and Loot 2.0, new monster affixes, transmogrification and more!

gamescom 2013 Developer Interview with gamona.de
There were many developer interviews by the Diablo III team at gamescom 2013 this past week. Here is an interview with Diablo III Game Director Josh Mosqueira and Lead Artist Christian Lichtner, by the German website gamona.de. They discuss many parts of the Reaper of Souls expansion, including the new Crusader class and Transmogrification. They also talk about additions coming in the upcoming Loot 2.0 patch, including details of the Paragon 2.0 revamp.

The 17 minute video interview can be seen here, and we have transcribed the interview below.

Interview Topics
Select any of these topics to jump directly to that part of the interview transcript:
Jump past the break to read the full transcript of this developer interview.

Diablo III Developer Interview
gamona.de at gamescom 2013
Why Announce at gamescom?
Q: We'll talk about the Reaper of Souls the new announced addon forfor Diablo III. So my first question is: why did you announce the addon at gamescom? Normally a title like Diablo III would be perfect for BlizzCon.
Josh Mosqueira: We just couldn't wait. We were so excited, we've been working hard on this for the better part of the year. We also were at a time where we felt that we had enough really cool new things, that we thought were at the right level of quality. We felt it was such a great opportunity to sort of launch Reaper of Souls in the brand new stage at gamescom.

Paragon 2.0
Q: Can you explain the new Paragon system?
Josh Mosqueira: The way Paragon is going to work - the first change is that it's now account wide, which means that as long as you get one character to max level, every time that character gains Paragon levels (which there is now no more limit to them, you can go Paragon 1000 if you want, really infinite) you're going to be getting a Paragon Point. Now, what you can do with these Paragon Points is that there are 4 categories of stats. Core stats, which essentially are Strength, Intelligence, Vitality, that kind of stuff; Attack stats, which include Chance to Crit and so on; Defense stats which are like Chance to Block, Chance to Dodge; and then Adventuring stats, which are like Movement Speed and a few other things. You can spend that point to increase any of those, in any category, up by sort of by 1 point. The good thing is that, for example, you have your Barbarian who gets to Paragon level 10, and he spends 10 points. All your other characters now have 10 points to spend on their stats, as well.

Christian Lichtner: It's important for the fact that you don't really have to play the character that you maxed out on, but you sort of have the opportunity to play all the other characters. We've added modified skills to the old skill set for the first 5 classes, and so this way you have the opportunity with the new Act, and the expansion, to get more play out of your original characters, as well as the new Crusader class. So that's another aspect that's really exciting for us.

Q: So you get a Paragon Point for every Paragon level, and you can spend this point on every character? Or is it only one point for one of your characters?
Josh Mosqueira: All your characters. So you get a Paragon Point, you can spend it on your main Barbarian, on your alt Wizard, on the Demon Hunter you started out -- all the characters get the benefit from Paragon.

More Character Slots
Q: One question from our forums: will there be another character slot for the Crusader?
Josh Mosqueira: That is something we are looking into, because we want to make sure you can have one character of each class, male and female; that's something that is important.

Crusader Class
Q: Talking about the new Crusader class; many people wanted to see the Necromancer, some wanted to see the Druid. It looked very cool, it's a very very cool designed class. So, what's up with this guy? What are his abilities, what is his kind of gameplay that you wanted to put into the Crusader?
Christian Lichtner: I'll start out with the look of it. So for us, we love our classes, the 5 original classes. They each fulfill a very distinct aspect of the fantasy of playing the game. But as we were developing the game, and we were thinking about the expansion, we sort of realized that we were missing one thing that all of us love very much: which is a very heavy tank armored class. Diablo II also had this very Gothic medieval sort of fantasy, and we were missing really the Crusader or a knight that would function in that universe. So we came up with the Crusader class, which very much like Joshua says, not a knight in shining armor, but a knight in battle-scarred armor.

We gave him the shield, which is both offensive and defensive. We also have the flails, which is a little new addition for us as well. We didn't want to go with a sword, or something that was necessarily more standard; we wanted to give him a little twist and said, you know what, this is really a brutal kind of weapon that you would see in a Diablo-ish universe.

Josh Mosqueira: From a gameplay perspective, we really wanted to make sure that we delivered not just a tanky class -- obviously that armor sort of implies that. But what we wanted to give the players, and the team working on the Crusader have done a fantastic job, of really allowing players to deal with things up close and personal. The primary skill Punish is a really good example of that, it stuns enemies. But we also wanted to give players a lot of tactical variety, that you can tackle things up close and personal, and also control the mid-range. There are some really fun ranged abilities, like the Fist of the Heavens comes down, electricity flows across the ground. Or my favorite skill Falling Sword, where the Crusader leaps into the air and comes down like a missile and sort of destroys everything that's around there. Being able to mix short-range melee and long-range abilities is one of the hallmarks of the Crusader, and it's a really fun class to play because of that.

Christian Lichtner: And it changes things a little bit on a tactical level as well. So again, it's a nice addition to all the existing classes, where it gives you a slightly different type of gameplay.

Loot Runs
Q: What are the Loot Runs, how will they work out for the players?
Josh Mosqueira: I think Loot Runs is one of my favorite things we're adding with Reaper of Souls. It takes the promise that is Diablo, this fully randomized game, and condenses it into 15-20 minutes of just absolutely, mind-blowing Diablo fun. So what they are is: you portal into a dungeon where the layout is completely randomized. The tile set we're using is totally random, the weather is totally random, the monster composition is random as well, and more importantly the boss at the end is totally random. It might be a Unique, with some special abilities; it might be one of our existing bosses - it might two of the existing bosses! You just never know what you're going to face. If you kill him, and defeat the boss at the end of the dungeon, then you get some great loot. It's just a fun way of experiencing all the possibilities there are in Diablo, in sort of a fun micro-burst.

Christian Lichtner: As he mentioned as well, because you randomly roll monsters, you will get monsters in areas you normally would not expect. In certain layouts that would normally have just one certain monster type, now you're going to get monsters that normally don't show up in that. So it really increases the replayability I think. It really is part of the end-game for everyone, where we want to make sure that once you've sort of played through - even if you start a Crusader and you roll him, and play all the way through from Act I through Act V, that there's extra engagement at the end for us. So that you really can sort of choose your own way of playing the game, and where you want to invest and have fun with it. It's really nice with the Loot Runs, because as Josh said you can hop in, hop out.

Q: Will there be restrictions to enter the Loot Runs? Like do you have to do a quest, find some items?
Josh Mosqueira: That's a good question... and you should come to BlizzCon.

Loot 2.0 Philosophy
Q: Loot 2.0 will drop less items, but better. The guys who were doing the Diablo III console version also adapted this system. You will also introduce Smart Drops, where the drops are closer to the class you are playing. What is your idea behind this?
Josh Mosqueira: So the idea behind Loot 2.0 was very much an evolution of where the game was at launch, and then all the changes we made through the patches, and the reaction both positive and critical reaction to that. In a lot of ways, not just with loot but sort of overall, we're really trying to focus on that essential core elements of Diablo: epic heroes, an awesome villain, and epic loot. So we really wanted to make sure - we were probably dropping too many items in Diablo III when it came out, and because of that it was hard to find upgrades. Overall the experience wasn't as rewarding as we wanted it. The shift has been, we feel that dropping less but better items, and making the legendaries as epic as we can make them, it's why people play Diablo, right?

The team initially had fantastic intentions; they wanted to make sure that Diablo III could follow up on the legacy of Diablo II, and that people will still be playing Diablo III ten years from now. So they had this big burden to try to balance out this item game over ten years. Where in reality D2 had a number of patches, it had the expansion; it took a while for D2 to find it's rhythm. I think for us our focus has really been, let's find not just the D2 rhythm, let's find what the Diablo III rhythm is. With Reaper of Souls we have a great opportunity to essentially focus on that, and deliver that to our players.

New Monster Affixes
Q: There will also be new monsters in the new Act. One question is: are there new monster abilities also for the other monsters in the other acts? The Rare packs, will they have new monster abilities?
Josh Mosqueira: Yes, there will be new monster affixes, for the Rare and Champion packs. There is one that is playable right now, that we're currently calling Crossfire, although the name might change. Players can expect to find new and devious monster challenges out there.

Christian Lichtner: This goes back into what I said previously. A lot of fun obviously in Diablo is collecting loot, but how do you get loot? Killing monsters. So we want to make sure that killing monsters is fun, and a lot of that comes through variety. I think the challenge has always been for us that there is a certain cadence and rhythm to Diablo, where you kill things at a certain speed. It's always very challenging for us, but also very satisfying for us, to come up with monsters that we think really work within that time slot. Where you can sort of put them in, and have them be interesting enough, but also make sure that it flows really well, and that you get the most fun out of it as you're playing through it.

Malthael and Tyrael
Q: So we had the trailer yesterday, and it's awesome; every time Blizzard does cinematics, it's totally awesome. One question that I found funny in the forums was: why does Malthael not kill Tyrael when he has the opportunity? Any comment?
Josh Mosqueira: That's a great question... without giving spoilers away, I think the thing to keep in mind is that Tyrael used to be part of the Angiris Council. They're brothers, and there's some... brothers have issues.

Q: Transmogrification is one thing that players are looking for very much. What will be the main course of transmogrification in Diablo III; what can I transmogrify, are there restrictions like in World of Warcraft?
Josh Mosqueira: That's a great question, and right now the system... we're still, obviously we're at the point where we're talking about it. You will be able to transmogrify in D3, and we have lots of items that you'll be able to transmogrify. In terms of restrictions, we're still trying to figure that out. First, what is the right UI for that, what is the right user experience for that? So I think all these things will become clearer as we progress towards release.

Christian Lichtner: As you go through the game you'll be collecting items obviously. As you unlock them, you'll be able to use those appearances and basically apply them to the sets you want. So it also adds some fun for collecting things, to make sure that you have the sort of appearances to unlock.

Release Date
Q: When we will see Reaper of Souls? Can you say anything about this?
Josh Mosqueira: It's a Blizzard game, so the answer is "soon". But we chose to announce here at gamescom because we feel it was the time to show it. I think the team can't wait, because the reaction has been really positive, we have been having a lot of fun playing it in the office. You'll probably have to wait a little bit longer, but hopefully not too long.

Favorite Reaper of Souls Addition
Q: What is your favorite thing that you put into Reaper of Souls?
Christian Lichtner: Oh gosh, it's really hard to pick one thing. I think what I'm really excited about is the whole package really, and maybe not the expected answer. But I think first and foremost, having the opportunity to switch things around a little bit. We're now fighting the Angel of Death, and it's angelic and not demonic. So there's a certain switch there, and that allows us to really go a little darker with the expansion, to support that aspect, that you are fighting death. And the Crusader of course I think will be one of my favorite classes, because for me that really does fulfill the fantasy of the heavy armor guy, I'm really excited about that.

Josh Mosqueira: If I say "everything" it's too vague an answer, right? So: the Crusader, Malthael. I'll you one of my personal favorite things, it's a small thing but for me it was important. As we were working on the monsters, especially some of the monsters you run into in Act V, one of Malthael's archers. One of the behaviors we worked on was, he actually walks backwards while shooting you. That just feels so responsive, it feels like there's some evil malevolent intelligence sort of controlling them. And it's a small detail, because you're killing them so quickly you might not notice it, but the fact that the detail is there really speaks to the passion, and how excited the whole team is to sort of deliver on the promise of this sort of haunted apocalypse.
Check back regularly for more interviews and details about the upcoming Reaper of Souls expansion!
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