BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Q&A Panel

This is a rough transcript of the Diablo III Q&A Panel held on Saturday, October 22 from 11:30am to 12:30pm at the main stage (Hall D). Not as accurate as I had wished, considering my language limitations, but close.

Yesterday, you were talking about Difficulty Levels and how at normal it'll be really really easy. What about veteran players? Are we going to have to beat the game once before we get a challenge?

Wilson: We're not planning on any shortcuts through Normal Difficulty. Just like in Diablo II, in Normal Difficulty will be fairly a quick path.

We're not too worried about people getting bored. It does get more challenging, kinda later -- even in the First Act. And progressively throughout. I wouldn't say that the entire Normal Difficulty is not nearly as easy as the first hour.

The first hour is really a tutorial. So we really feel internally -- what we noticed especially when a lot of people were playing is that they get through that first part really quick, and then they get through the whole First Act in Normal Difficulty and they don't have problems with getting bored or things like that.

Martens: I should say the Normal Difficulty level if you are a veteran, your chance to enjoy the story and get familiar with the Skills so you can kick ass with them in the next Difficulty level.

There are three types of gamers in Blizzard games. There is the Hardcore player, there's the casual gamer, and then there's the farmer gamer. With Farmer being a big industry thanks to World of Warcraft, How do you guys plan on combating this? They are looking at how can we make some more money?

Wilson: The most important thing to remember, Diablo III is not a persistent world.

The reason farmers feel so bad in World of Warcraft is because the farmers are in your world, taking your quest mobs, and loot drop, and interfering with your experience.

In Diablo, they can go off into their own world, their own server, their own instance and farm and it doesn't affect you at all.

We don't feel it's going to be a big problem in Diablo III.

With the release of Diablo III, I was wondering what the Chat Gem is gonna do.

Martens: It fulfills one of your dreams.

You made the Followers more viable for end-game content because feedback wanted it. Is it possible to get to the end of the game content -- in Inferno Difficulty -- without a follower?

Wilson: Yea, it should be totally possible to -- we're trying to make the Followers viable not required. They do give players some nice bonuses.

If you don't like the Followers, you should be able to play without them.

This won't be available in at release date, but we're looking at ways you can benefit get the benefit of a Follower, without a Follower. We don't know yet how exactly we're going to do that, but that's something we want to explore in the future.

Is Diablo a girl?

Martens: Diablo is not constrained by our Human gender stereotypes. Diablo can take multiple forms, and we've never seen the true form of Diablo yet. Do Diablo has many surprises in store for us.

Could you elaborate on hardcore mode, for example when it's unlocked are there going to be real-money transactions, and are there any differences between Diablo II and Diablo III hardcore mode?

Wilson: For those of you who don't know, If you make a hardcore character and that character ever dies, that character is gone forever.

Hardcore characters are separated from the other regular games. Hardcore mode have their own auction house, but it's a Gold-only-based Auction House. They don't have a Real-Money Auction House, and they can't trade in any way with regular characters.

They are isolated. They can trade items with other Hardcore characters, but not with regular characters. The other big difference is when your hardcore character dies all items are gone. The items don't drop on the ground, so it's not like you can have another player grab your items for you, and trade them to you and you are back to action. It's gone.

PvP is something we are actually internally debating. The PvP Team is concerned that if we have you die permanently in an arena, then hardcore players will never play Arena.

I still feel like there should be some kind of way to allow Hardcore Arena Dueling. We are still considering how to do that.

I have a couple questions about Inferno mode. Do you expect fresh level 60 characters to be able to succeed in Inferno? Do you even plan to nerf Inferno to make it more accessible to casual players?

Wilson: About the first question ... NO. About the second question ... (long silence) ... Probably not. I wouldn't promise that we'll never nerf it, because certainly we've seen like -- in the development of World of Warcraft we have seen super hard bosses show up and even the most hardcore of the hardcore go on and say hey, he's a little too hard.

I'd never want to say we'll never nerf something because even the hardcore people might say it's too hard. However, we won't nerf it to make it casual.

In Diablo I and II, there was a fog of war. I was wondering in Diablo III why that wasn't there.

Wilson: There is fog of war in Diablo III.

Martens: We took fog of war out of your town. In New Tristram there's no fog of war so you can find the stores easily, but to my understanding there's fog of war evereywhere else.

Wilson: Do you mean the Light Radius? Alright, that was a long hard process, and there are some dungeons in the game that really do emphasize the light, because it's there. It was more an issue of the 3D engine, and try to make the world feel really good and be moody and feel the way we wanted -- when you only have one light, it's easier with the 2D engine where every sprite is kinda hand drawn, with its light already in it -- but with a 3D engine, if you have one light on the character, it actually makes for a really kind of bland and bad looking world.

You need to fill the world with a little more light to make it interesting. So it was very difficult for us to make the light radius exactly as what you see in Diablo II, but we tried to do it in some of the dungeons.

Concerning randomization in dungeons, there are some areas in Diablo II that looked frustratingly convoluted, are you toning that down in Diablo III?

Wilson: I think the question really is: "Are we going to not do krappy designs?"

(crowd and developers laugh)

Martens: I know exactly what you are referring to. Most dungeons are very random. A change from Diablo II to Diablo III is there's quite a bit more story moments in the dungeons themselves.

So in a completely random dungeon, very often you got a unique entry point, and say the X NPC is a treasure hunter and he gets into these old ruins, and he can't get through in the zone, and so it's an escort mission, and it concludes at the end.

So it's a random dungeon in between, but it has a set starting point and end point and a set final room, and the quest concludes.

In another cases, like you'd see in the beta, we have some dungeons levels that have very little randomness, like the Templar level. You acquire the Templar Follower in that level, he's got his little story moments, it's an open room, but even there there's a little randomness between the first room and the end room.

He's got a much bigger set spot because he's going to get his armor and have his rescue scene, and then have his final confrontation with Jondar, and ultimately kill him.

(Martens says in a high pitch voice: "Spoiler")

Diablo II was pretty much destroyed by spamming. So I want to know what you are doing with Warden protection against it.

Bridenbecker: Warden. That's an investment we have spent ten years on. We're trying to figure out how people are going through and re-engineering some of our systems or better understanding them.

We have some protections given the nature of Diablo II gameplay and it does render it a little less effective.

We'll be policing it pretty well, and making sure that we maintain the consistency of the gameplay.

Wilson: I'm gonna follow up on that too. One of the things that I know that's really annoying in Diablo II is that people who would jump in into games, and broadcast and jump out, and that's something we will be looking at too as well. Any kind of things like spamming. We'll stop things like that.

I was trying out the Monk, are all those strikes single-click single-attacks, or are they like the old Barbarian frenzy where we can just hold and go on forever?

Wilson: A lot of abilities, yea, you can hold down, and some you can't. Most of them you can right-click drive with a particular ability if you want. We try to design the combat so that there's really the most optimal way of play.

You'll be better if you can swap in a nice follow up like a bit hit, controlled by a cooldown or resource. We find it's more fun when you use a couple of abilities together.

Have you thought of adding WASD movement controls so players don't have to spam the mouse so much when kitting?

Wilson: We played around and mostly played with games that use that in kind of an isometric type of view, and the general feeling we had is you don't really want to support two control schemes.

It's really hard to make one control scheme feel great, and having them two feel great just makes the challenge that much bigger.

We found that the nature of the WASD control movement doesn't work pretty well with an isometric gameplay, so we decided to stick with the mouse.

In Diablo II you used to have runewords. Now in Diablo III you have runestones. Are you planning to add the runewords again?

Martens: No, sir. We have a lot of new systems that do sort of everything the runewords needed to do.

You've the runestones, and five variations of that times seven levels, so this is like a rich system. We also have gems which are coming back, and they have more things that they do as well.

We moved the attributes or stat points into the itemization game. Crafting, you make your own items which have some set abilities, and also random affixes as well. You can break those things down. That replaces gambling for example.

We have tons of new systems. We don't really need runewords any more. We have it all covered.

You keep teasing us about the console version of the game. Is it coming out for consoles or not?

Wilson: We haven't officially announced anything. So there's my dodgy part of the answer. I don't think we are shy about that.

We hire people. We have a console team working internally. We want to make a console version. I think that's pretty obvious. We're hiring people right now to fill out positions in that team, but we haven't announced it, because we don't want to announce something until we're sure that we have a game that we can show to people.

Back in Diablo II, I perfected the teeth necromancer build in which I spammed every point in the teeth. I was wondering if Diablo III will have an equivalent to teeth.

Wilson: I don't know that we have one that looks exactly like teeth, but we have skills that are multiple projectiles with randomization. With rune variations, there are around 700 skills per class. My guess is we have one that is exactly like teeth, and that is not the class I'm playing with right now. But yea, you might be able to see something that's similar enough.

Any design, implementation, challenges you have had for the console version of Diablo III, and what things have you learned from it?

Wilson: We haven't built it yet. We have only experimented with control schemes and things like that. The real challenge is really, targeting.

Movement really feels better with a controller, but how you target and certain skills like magic missile feels great because you are shooting in a direction, but a skill like Blizzard we're trying to figure out exactly where that's going to go without putting some kind of targeting which we don't really want to do. That's probably one of the biggest challenges.

Then there are a lot of these subtle little things: monster distribution and the AI feel a little bit different than it does in the PC version.

We play around with how the control feels, how it feels to get surrounded.

Jason Regier: The control of the game. Everyone wants a game where you have direct control of your character. That is where we probably spent most of our time experimenting with, and making sure that gets right on the console version that we're playing around with.

Can we get some beta keys?

Wilson: I have some in my backpocket right now! We're going to be releasing more beta keys very shortly. If you sign up, you'll get some chance to get them. We're definitely trying to keep beta running as long as we can, and we're going to keep sending waves of beta keys.

We have a big patch coming. We're just waiting to launch that patch to send some more.

Jason Regier: Those of you who have been participating in the beta and you are here right now, Thank you so much for playing and testing the heck out of the game. We really appreciate it.

Thanks for making Followers. There were some builds in Diablo II where the Hirelings were the main source of your damage. Will these be viable in Diablo III as well?

Wilson: We made the Followers very viable very recently, so we haven't played with them in a higher difficulties that much. So how they feel in there, how much damage output they truly have, and how much we are willing to give them, is going to come through playing it ourselves. I wouldn't want to say yes or no to that at this point.

You said in Infernal the level cap for the characters is at 60, but the monsters will be 61 and higher, so that the monsters are tougher and a challenge. Eventually we're going to beat it. Are there plans for a super dungeon, or uber Tristram type of thing?

Wilson: I'm sure if you guys get really bored and don't want to play the game anymore, we'll try to do something. Right now we are more focused on getting Diablo III done. We haven't really thought what we'd do beyond that, but I can promise you, if you guys destroy Inferno mode and you are sitting around on your giant mount of loot, then we'll do something about it.

Yesterday you said you'd reveal the cast speed for Wizards. they're going to be related to weapon speed and arcane power regenerates at a static rate. Let's say when you run out of arcane power, you can only cast one meteor every 4.8 seconds. What are you doing to incentivize having faster weapons for spells like that?

Wilson: The faster weapons really affect the -- Academic Spells (note: now renamed to Signature Skills). For every class, one of the things that we've learned about the combat model is you need to have something to do at all times.

We can't have a scenario where you completely run out of resources, and you are just standing around waiting for it to come back. You need some kind of response. In Diablo II you had mana potions. We didn't want to do mana potions. So we needed to make sure every class had there own unique response.

For the Wizard you almost always want an academic spell, because they're free. You want to cast those as much as you want and the attack speed is very much affected by your weapon.

But some skills like Meteor, where you don't cast them very often, they do benefit from higher damage weapon, and that's ok, because that's the kind of build that you would want with that skill.

Whereas another skill that uses Arcane Power like Desintegrate, they're a straight constant beam -- it's not like one blast every few seconds. It's constant. It's affected a lot by weapon speed. It really just depends upon your build. If you want abilities that have more of a constant or faster attack rate, then you want faster weapons. If you got more of a big bomb abilities, then you'd want higher damage weapons.

I have a question about the Authentication System. Diablo III is doing the actual bank account perse. Will the authenticators be linked to Diablo III the same way they are linked to StarCraft II and WoW?

Jason Regier: Yes.

(Wilson and the developers look at Jason)

Bridenbecker: Good answer.

(crowd laughs)

Wilson: A little wordy.

People play with the skill menu open so they can swap active skills, and that maybe locked during combat in some way. Has any thought been given to opening more skill slots?

Wilson: More Skill slots? No. Absolutely no. One of the reasons we have limited skill slots is because it creates more build diversity and it forces people to make hard decisions.

We've made a lot of changes to the skill system. Very radical changes from Diablo II. One of the examples is the removal of skill points which used to be a hard decision the player made. We didn't want the players to not have hard decisions. We changed those hard decisions from being skill points committal which did force a tiny small number of skills already to just capping the number of skills that you have.

We get that suggestion a lot, It's not something we do for core release, but we can see the right use for it. We're happy to let the game come out without that feature and see really how much need there's for it, and if there is we'll consider it for the future.

During the character design process were there any characters that you had to take out of the game, or rolled into any existing character in Diablo III?

Christian Lichtner: There's a lot of iteration that we do with the characters we design. There's definitely a lot of versions, and a lot of small ideas that we really love. We're saving those for later. It's a very colaborate process, so the team gets involved and we really shoot ideas back and forth. There's a lot of stuff that we get out of that, and some of it is too awesome to not use at some point. (Blizzplanet note: In short we'll see some of those in future Diablo III expansions)

With the implementation of using PayPal to buy items, I'm curious what effect you think that might have, if any, on the PvP side. Let's say I want a 2v2 Team Deathmatch and I get matched against someone who spent a $100 on his character. Is there any system in place to affect that or help with that kind of imbalance?

Wilson: One of the few things we are avoiding with the PvP system is creating a ranked ladder that let's you shows I'm in the top 5 PvPers in all Diablo land. Without that, all you are doing when you buy better equipment is just changing your hidden ranking which is changing the quality of the players that you are fighting against or the quality of the items that they are fighting against. It doesn't really give you a ton of benefit that you're going to see.

Our systems is going to be much more about a progression-based development system. The more you play PvP, the more progression you get. So it doesn't really matter if you are playing at level 30 with crappy gear, or if you are playing a level 60 with ridiculously awesome gear, your win rate will speed things up, primarily, but having better gear just makes you feel more awesome -- but it doesn't actually truly affects the outcomes of the game, because of the hidden ranking.

My question is about a pretty hot topic in the forums. In Diablo II, you had the Hostile System for PvP during the open world, and you are going more toward the Arena style PvP right now. Can you elaborate on your thought process behind that or are we going to see other kind of systems behind just the match making Arena?

Wilson: Our thoughts process was -- there's this fantasy in Diablo II, I'm out in the world, I'm excited I'm fighting and then out of a sudden another player shows up and there's this tense moment of who knows whether he is going to attack me or not, whether my teammates are going to suddenly turn against me or not, and the truth is those things happen in isolated incidents when Diablo II first came out, and then pretty much the vast majority of PvP encounters either were -- I got ganked by somebody who town portaled back to town while frozen orb was still in the air? ... not awesome.

Or I just put a password in my game because I don't want to be ganked. So the fantasy of that Hostile encounter -- it never happened. All it did was make people not want to play together.

We took a stance in Diablo III that we won't ever do harm to the coop game. We'd never do anything that would make people not want to play together. Also we kinda looked at it too, and it wasn't really a good PvP system. It wasn't truly supporting PvP. So we wanted to focus more in a dedicated-mode that would allow those players who really wanted to play PvP to do it with some actual support like the progression system, the arenas built for it, UI and all the great things that you'd get from PvP modes.

In the future we will consider doing more pvp modes as well, like I mentioned earlier today, I'd love to have a way to duel. We right now don't have a way to duel and so that would be something I'd really like to add.

I'm hailing from Australia, and on behalf of other Australian players, I'd like to know if you are planning to introduce an offline or LAN play option or alternatively bring proper Oceanic Servers up so the rest of the world doesn't hate playing with us because of bad latency.

Bridenbecker: That's a good question. It's difficult for us, because basically what we're going to do is that we'll try to consolidate the number of different beta centers and service around the world so that there are more people that are able to play against one another.

We're trying to address some of the challenges with Oceanic realms. We'll introduce the ability to play with others in Europe, Asia or North America so you'll have that capability as with StarCraft II.

Do you want to talk about any tech you are investing to try to reduce the dependency on latency. I know that Diablo III is less latency sensitive than StarCraft II.

Jason Regier: We've done a lot of work to try and make latency a little better in the game for those people who have higher latency connections, but I don't have more than that.

Bridenbecker: The other thing that we have done, with some ISPs there, we've been working with them to try and find better roots back to our data centers, because we know like Australia and New Zealand player base is huge. One of these days we might plan to add a data center there. We don't have any plans right now.

In Diablo II there were roughly six set quests you could do per Act. In Diablo III, are you going to have kinda that same feel -- because in Diablo II you could just skip a lot of the side quests and go straight to the end. Is there going to be some incentives to maybe do some side quests in Diablo III?

Mercer: We don't have a set number of quests per Act. It's more of a natural flow for each Act in the story. It makes a little more sense for the story. It doesn't have much of a pattern as Diablo II did.

To encourage people to do some quests, a lot of the rewards, you know, the good item drops, the rares, etc. are there in the world in a random events or random dungeons.

Likewise, the way we've designed many of the quests objectives some of them are fairly linear, and have a story moment, but a lot of them have a strong expiration component, and as you are out there looking for -- say a staff -- you are going to find a bunch of other events and quests on there, and we've tried to develop this in such a way that there's no reason for you to not just go ahead and do those, and in fact it'll be good for you on your way to finding that staff.

I wanted to ask if there will be any guild or clan implementation because while it's good that you don't make a good bunch of people play Diablo III, but still it will be good to interact with friends, or at least the permanent chat room where we can hang out or maybe link loot to each other and I think this social aspect is very important for the game.

Wilson: The answer is, guilds are awesome but no we aren't supporting them. Not at least for the initial release, but we do see the value in them.

Diablo III is not a game where you are going to need a guild or do raids or things like that, but people still like to collect together and like to be social. It's one of those things that when we do it, I'd really like do it right, and much better than just a glorified chat channel.

We've had some ideas in the past floating around for Diablo II, really awesome ideas that we definitely have in our wishlist for things to add to Diablo III someday. So to answer your question: not right now, but maybe someday.

In Diablo II all I played was hardcore, and my most horrible feeling was seeing: "Your connection to has been interrupted", and then login back in and your character is dead. is there going to be anything to combat this technicality or are there other risks we take?

(The developers look at Jason Regier with an eerie grin drawn across their face waiting for his response)

Jason Regier: That's a risk you take playing Hardcore.

Wilson: Jason. Why are you killing everyone's hardcore characters?

Jason Regier: .... I'm sorry.

(everyone laughs)

Wilson: It's part of the risk. The funny thing about hardcore is that it's one of those things when you play Diablo II, you really wanted to play your hardcore character online so that you can show that it's real. It's not even a thing where people go and played it offline. It's one of those risks. Our goal is to make sure that our connection is as good as possible, if anything goes down we'll do everything that we can do to make sure it is not our fault at least. We can't guarantee the rest of the internet, but we can try to guarantee ourselves.

Jason Regier: I know one of those experiences that were really bad to everybody was when you portal in to Andariel's Lair with a hardcore character and before your character even loaded you were already dead. We don't want that. We don't want that scenario to come up for you. So we are really designing around that.

My question is about the Real-Money Auction House. You said in Diablo II there were shady dealer websites but you didn't really say if you were or not against them. If you have the Real-Money Auction House and you have a term like someone makes a company that specializes in informing about items and selling them in the Real-Money Auction House and earning their actual keep, are you or not against that? What's your stand on it?

Wilson: I think by calling them shady we did take a stand on that. You know how we feel about it. For us it is all about the player experience, and how good an experience the player is going to have. Going up to a website, one ... you have to leave the game already. That's a bad experience.

You might not get the item you want. That's a bad experience. You might get ripoff. That's a bad experience. It's cumbersome to do. That's a bad experience. It's not accessible to everyone, some people have more riches than others. That's a bad experience. All these things are things we wanted to fix.

So we looked at it and thought we wanted to give people a good experience. We don't have an expectation that people are going to be making a living out of this, but they might be able to make a little money. Ok. Cool. We don't really have a problem with that for as long as they are having a good and fun gameplay experience.

My question was about the scaling of AI mechanics on bosses throughout the difficulties. The Skeleton King does sweeping strikes in one direction. He summons some skeletons. Maybe in Hell Difficulty he summons skeletons and boss skeletons or has even more mechanics that make the whole fight extremely difficult -- and also can I get a hug Jay Wilson?

Wilson: Give you a hug? Meet me after the panel. We've a couple of things that we've done, but it's not as much as we'd like to. We're in the process of tuning the higher difficulties right now.

That's one of the things that's in our list. We're looking at the higher level bosses, and seeing if there are tweaks and things we can do to their AIs and scripts to make them a little different throughout. Probably only focus on the major bosses that do that, but we've kicked it around. I can't promise anything, but we'd like to.

I was just wondering. I've heard a lot of talk about the lesser evils playing a large role in Diablo III. Will Mephisto, Baal, and Diablo come back to play a big role as well?

Martens: The primary villains of the game, we haven't announced, and we want to stay vague about exactly when you fight them and what exactly are they after.

We talked about that in the Lore Panel about an hour and a half ago. There's an object called the black soul stone. This is the key to defeating evil forever, and Azmodan knows about it before you do, so does Belial, so they are ahead of you. You're playing catch up at this point.

The first mystery of the game, which is in the beta is "What is this thing that fell from the sky?" And the beta ends very shortly before you answer that question which is why there's so much content you need to play there. We don't want to spoil that.

There's a major shift in the structure of the world that happen in Diablo III. Some big things are coming, but not in the way that I can be specific as you want me to be to explain it. It's going to be major stories, but certainly we answer a lot of questions about the Prime Evils and we answer a lot of questions about the Angels, and I think I can say that this game is sort of about the men.

This is the moment where more than anytime in history human beings come together on their own and find their place in the Eternal Conflict -- and you, the heroes, are going to decide what that means for humanity. It's a pretty cool story, and I wish I could tell you guys more but we want you to experience it in the flow of the game.

First of all, the Pig plays classic rock of course. And success for the hardcore PvP, basically you could have a choice to play Warrior character, like if he loses he won't die, or you could have them play for each other's gear. What are you doing for the individuality of the characters like there's a lot of plans with the enigma in Diablo II, will that happen again?

Wilson: Absolutely. We're doing a ton of stuff for the individuality. One of the big ones, that we're excited about is that we put a dye system. We have sixteen different colors and pretty much everything you can wear can be dyed. Every class has at least three class-specific items they can wear -- two of which actually affect the visual look; and then -- on top of the normal weapon and item art -- there are hundreds of unique items that each has their own unique art, many of which are designed to be very memorable Legendary and Unique items like Wind Forces, [?]-Zodiak and Enigma. Although there is nothing as game breaking as Enigma.

Jason Regier: Not to mention the Banner System which also is a great way for you to show off all of your progress in the game and achievements to your friends. You can customize that with different Dyes, and different banner emblems as well.

My question is about the PvP System in Diablo III. I started playing Diablo II back in 2000. Last seven years of my Diablo II career were leading a major PvP clan on East Server. the Arena is just, it is kinda similar to the online PvP without the Enigmas and the 16-17-18 different bible pvp builds for characters. Are you planning on releasing anything like Enigma or the Synergy system system that actually allowed the many different PvP Balance that Diablo II had? Are you planning any kind of dueling outside the Arena?

Wilson: I'm not sure I completely understand the question, but I guess my answer would be -- if you are looking at the PvP gear, and going into PvP with these premade builds -- that's not how it works.

We have to put builds into the game so that people don't spend 30 minutes building a character. It's your character, so it has all the build options. We have calculated 8 trillion. There is a massive number of ways that you can build characters. Take on top of that the combination of different characters and their abilities with one another, create a number of variations.

As for Dueling, as we said earlier, we don't have a way to do that now, and we're not going to allow people to go hostile within the core game, but we'd like people to be able to do kind of free-form dueling, but whether we get that in for ship or not, we're not sure at this time. But it's definitely something we want to do.

I just spent a lot of money on my computer, and I'm just curious for the lightning effects. I know other games like Dungeon Siege III where the lighting would change depending on your life or mana. Will there be any support for that in Diablo III?

Jason Regier: We wouldn't rule it out, but we haven't done anything like that.

As we move through Normal to Inferno, will the randomized dungeons be getting larger in size?

Mercer: We don't currently have plans to do something like that, so I don't think that would be shipping with the base version of the game, that's an interesting idea., and we've talked about it, but possibly in the future, but not in the initial game.

I just wanted to say that I came up from Guam, and this is my first BlizzCon, and it's awesome and so thank you for all of this. What are your thoughts on class skills that combo off of each other like desintegrate or impenetrable defense making a bounce off in a different direction?

Wilson: We've talked about ideas like that in the past, and what we find is that people latch on to one or two skills that they really love. Like the Wizard freezes somebody, and the Demon Hunter smashes it with a particular skill, the Barbarian does more damage, etc. When you sit down and go okay let's do this across all classes and all the skills, such in a way that it won't force people to have to take certain builds, we don't want ever a case where a Barbarian enters and goes "Ohh, your wizard doesn't have frost nova? -- Ok, I don't wanna play with you because I wouldn't be able to do more damage".

When we try to come up with ways to do that across the whole game. We find there's not a lot of meat there for systems like that. At the end we think that would actually add more negative connotations than positive ones. It's great in fantasy, but we never figured out a way to do it without actually hurt the game.

If you beat Diablo II in normal or hardcore mode we get a bonus item. Are you going to implement a PC controller into Diablo III? -- just a normal gamepad controller you can buy at Wal-Mart, not the ones from XBox or PS3.

Wilson: We don't have plans to add bonus items for having completed the previous difficulty games, although that's not a bad idea -- and the latter question, not at release. As the console version continues development, we might consider support for it. There are a lot of control problems to fix. As I mentioned earlier, doing multiple control schemes is a pretty big challenge.

I think we'd only do it if we could pull learning over from our console development, but initially, no, we don't plan to support that.

My question is actually a fairly simple one, but one that kinda worries me because I haven't heard any official word on it, and it could be particularly detrimental to the new experimental builds for classes. Are you actually able to switch around Runes after you have applied them to certain ability, and if cannot -- what happens to the Rune afterwards. Does the Rune goes back to your inventory, or is it destroyed and you have to search for a new one?

Wilson: Every systems we have done, you can't move Runes freely. We might put the same kind of restrictions on switching that we are currently experimenting with on the skill systems, to get more build commitment.

When people go into the world, they feel like they are committed to a specific build because that is where a lot of the interest in creating a new character comes from.

Once you get back to town we don't really see a need to put this big cost like you pull a Rune out and you destroyed it, or we don't let you switch things out. Experimentation is part of the fun in Diablo, so we try to retake philosophy of "Let people do as much as we can allow".

I was wondering, for the people who are buying the World of Warcraft 12-month Pass and getting Diablo III free, is there an option to get the Collector's Edition as well? Have you discussed this?

Bridenbecker: That's a great question. What will actually happen is that if people get the Collector's Edition, then they will get a four months credit toward that 12-month purchase.

In WoW there's always like a top Tier of gear. In Diablo III how many options are people looking at to have once they reach the very end-game content as far as gear goes?

Wilson: It's hard to give you a specific number because the gear is randomly generated. In Inferno there are three kinds tiers of gear -- that's definitely the best in class gear, but even a tier down if you get the right rolls you can be better than the tier up.

It kinda depends upon how the item rolls and what specifically you are looking for. In World of Warcraft, a lot of the times, if there's not a variation in the stats you are looking for -- it only really varies depending the type of activities you are doing.

Whereas in Diablo III, depending how you build your character, what skills you choose, and what your playstyle is -- there's a really much broader variety of items that you could probably be interested in.

You can pick up an item that for somebody else it's one of the best items in the game, but for you even though it's something that you can wear, it has good stats, you are not interested, because maybe you are in interested in the gear or whatever particular epics is out there.