BlizzCon 2013 - Diablo III: Gameplay Systems + Crusader Panel Transcript

Presenter: Welcome to the Diablo III: Gameplay Systems and Crusader panel. Your panelists are: Josh Mosqueira (game director), Kevin Martens (lead game designer), Paul David (senior artist), Nicholas Chilano (lead animator), Andrew Chambers (senior game designer), Nicholas Eberle (senior technical artist), Wyatt Cheng (senior technical game designer), Travis Day (game designer), and Steve Shimizu (lead gameplay programmer).

Mosqueira: Good morning Blizzcon, How you guys doing?

[People scream with happiness]

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I brought the whole gang with me today, because there is a lot of you guys out there. I mean I have lot of really cool things for your guys today. So what are we covering today? This is the gameplay panel.

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So yesterday we talked a lot about some of the big new features that you are gonna expect with Reaper of Soul’s adventure mode . But today we are doing a deep dive on the few of the very core things that are at the heart of Diablo.

And those start with epic heroes. So the guys here are gonna talk to you guys about “The Crusader”. Our knight in battlestar armor. What was our process behind, how we come with his skills, his look and how we are fulfilling that fantasy. But “The Crusader” may be the star of Reaper Souls but all of the five classes are getting brand new skills. And why here we are gonna talk to you guys about what you are gonna expect.

[People cheering with joy]

You guys are also gonna learn which of the five classes is Wyatt’s favorite. So, but why do we play Diablo III? Loot, right? At the heart of the Diablo experience is killing monsters and finding those awesome legendaries. And for us, the big focus on the expansion has been Loot 2.O. And we'll show you guys what you guys have in store in terms of Loot 2.0. How we drop being fewer better and more epic legendaries.

So let's get started, and we have Kevin Martens, our lead game designer come up here and talk to you guys about “The Crusader”.

Crusader Lore

Martens: Good morning, so nothing, there is not a single thing in the game that is bigger and more complex than a class for us. So, you are the hero that has the last chance to stop death from wiping out all of humanity, and we have to take that very seriously.

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Josh has this philosophy about expansions, where he wants the setting, the hero and the villain to match up very well, since these are inherently more self-constrained than the larger game those things should be a great trifecta.

So “The Crusader” was a great choice to balance against someone like Malthael. So who is “The Crusader”? When we set out to make a class, we have a few different questions we have to ask ourselves. And one of the most important ones is sort of "where do they fit in that story?", "where do they fit in the world of sanctuary?", and this is pretty straight forward.

We have this big idea, and most classes start with a very big idea that, "Hey, we kind a like paladin!" "Could we bring something like that forward?" -- and then when we put it through that filter, what Josh talked about, matching the villain better, better we talked about maybe having a dark paladin. Eventually it turned into something much grander.

We also had this idea that we wanted to broaden the horizons of Sanctuary to make the world bigger and having this class as well, so we took a lot of the things we love about the Paladin and we did a lot of new things and that's where the Crusader came from.

The Crusader and the Paladin order are tied together. When the Paladin order was first founded, Rakkis -- who became the first king of Westmarch -- led the Crusaders west on a grand crusade, bringing the Zakarum faith by fire and sword.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders -- the elite force of the Paladins went east on a secret mission. Now that the star has fallen, and the dead have risen; and Diablo came back to Sanctuary and Malthael has arrived on Sanctuary the Crusader has come back west to solve these problems.

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He is a member of the Zakarum faith but he has never been corrupted. They have never given up their crusade, and they are going to solve this problem. It is a proper hero for humanity in this darkest hour.

So the ideas really are very simple when we started off, and again we have mentioned it before they are very big. So to sort out if we have the knight in shining armor -- the Paladin to have this knight in battle-scarred armor... to make it sort of ... it's not just darker, it's more appropriate to the times.

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If someone lives in eternal warfare, that's kinda where the Crusader came from. We also had this idea of righteous wrath, and when you see this word watch out how this influences all the skills, the weapons, the armor, the looks that we are about to show you guys as we do a deep dive into this class.

That concept, it took a lot of life on the team and you are going to see those words "Rightheous Wrath" show up again and again. And essentially this is scourging evil. Humanity has had enough. They're tired of being caught in the middle, and the Crusaders are going to stop this once and for all.

And then this is the core of tactical concept, so if we have this idea where they fit in the story, we had this fantasy of this knight in battle-scarred armor who has lived in eternal warfare powered by wrath. The War Machine Made Human answers the final question about classes, which is where do they fit in the tactical toolkit.

We knew we wanted a heavily armored character. We knew we wanted a character who is melee heavy; but we also wanted to standout from the Barbarian and the Monk.

So this concept, you are again going to watch this idea -- if we took like a medieval battlefield engine, if we took a modern one like a tank -- how can we turn that into something that you can actually play here today in the show-floor?

So to start that process off, this mid-range melee character, Paul David is gonna take those ideas and show you how the art process begins so that we get the Crusader you know and see.

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Conceptualization of the Crusader

David: Hi, everyone. When we first set out to create the Crusader, we established some early pillars to help define what the Crusader is. Just as Kevin had mentioned earlier, these pillars are a knight in battle-scarred armor, righteous wrath, mid-range melee and a war machine made human. But what do these pillars mean? How do they help define the Crusader? And how do we visualize these ideas?

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Well, to help us answer those questions we brainstorm. Brainstorming allows us to gather a bunch of different ideas to help us imagine what these pillars are. The next slideshow will show you guys a few examples of what came from that brainstorm session.

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We have a concept that focuses on shape language. Shape language is the overall simplification of the major elements down to basic geometric shapes. In this particular example, the rectangular shapes help reinforce the idea of a heavily armored knight.

Here we have a pair of concepts that really focus on the shield. Up top, the shield takes center stage, suggesting the shield is a very important extension on the character. Down below, we have a skill concept that depicts the shield being used as a melee weapon. You can see the Crusader leap up in the air and come crashing down on his enemies.

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And here, we have a plethora of armor designs. In this image, the artists explore the many different ways an armored knight can look like. Here's also some play with some of the clothes, as you can see. And the clothes is there to represent the idea that the Crusader isn't purely melee, but he's also able to do some magical abilities.

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At the end of the brainstorm, we gather all the ideas, all the elements, and we pick and choose the ones that really help support the pillars that we have established early on. These are the big body armor, the cloth element, the shield and the flail.

We take all those into concepting. Concepting is where we can take those elements and really refine them so that we can really figure out what this character should look like.

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Here we have a concept that incorporates the heavy armor and cloth elements. The cloth here have transformed into a tabard. The tabard suggests that he is a knight from an order, and that he's also a magical user.

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Here we have a concept that really incorporates all the elements that we had established. He has the shield, the tabard, the big bulky armor, and the flail.

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We really liked where this was going, so we went down this road to really explore, where we could come up with. This is a take on that.

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But this wasn't quite hitting it for us. It's really at this point where we know the elements that we want, but we really just need to figure out what they should look like.

After many weeks of work and countless drawings, everything finally culminated down to this one image.

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This for us really represents what a crusader is in Diablo III. Here we have a fierce battle-scarred knight with his flail and shield in hand, ready to leap head first into his enemies.

From here we go into modeling. Now with all the work that went with into brainstorming and concepting, modeling was pretty straight-forward with this character.

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One of the first things we do when we modelis we block out the character. Blocking out the character allow us to get a feel for what the character looks and feels like in 3D; and also allows us to assess the proportions to make sure that they are where they need to be.

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Once we are pretty happy with where everything is, we go into just straight up production. Here we can see the final gray model on the left hand side, and on the right hand side you can see the many stages of the texture completion. Once we are at this point we polish, we make the weapon and we make the shield, and we have the final asset in-game.

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Now before I hand it off to our lead animator, Nicholas Chilano, to talk about animations -- here is a sneak peek at some of the armor sets you guys will be able to find for the Crusader in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.

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Animation

Chilano: Hey, everyone. Thanks, Paul. So character and concept really had a great foundation for the Crusader. It is taking these keywords: medieval, mid-range melee, squared, a character that would hold his ground. And they gave him a face.

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And it's the animator's turn to bring it to life. And we started with an eye to pose. That eye to pose will really capture the tone of the character.

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We started with this right here. Now what we like about this is the square shoulders, and broad chest. He is militant and stoic, and he's not scared of the enemies in front of him.

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In theory, this is actually really great. We really dug this, but in practice we ran into some issues. You are going to see here that he's going to go in a dynamic action, but then he is going to hit this very rigid resting pose. It's causing visual noise. It's distracting to look at, so we got to kinda rethink this.

The good news is that we can take this pose that hits a lot of these core elements of the Crusader and apply it to his town idle. So when you are talking to a vendor, and you are in town, we still capture that element of the Crusader that we want, but now in-game you are more battle-ready, here even without his weapons.

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He's a square -- mentioning the shape language that Paul talked about -- and when you put it in practice, it flows much better.

Now it's fluid. It's dynamic. It's not distractive, and it feels pretty good. Once we solved this issue, we can continue to animate more of his locomotion and his base moves, and more weapons. But this time, we actually got asked to get involved in something that was new for the animators, which was the signature weapon.

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Now when you started to see the concepts of the Crusader with the shield, we always knew they would be part of him, but the flail really stroke a tone with the team. It was medieval. It was mid-range melee, and it was very physical for a weapon.

When it got in-game, though, there was some issues with it. As you could see here this is not reacting well at all. It is just all over the place. It's got a mind of its own. So what we ended up doing is -- we focused a lot of time now to make it feel right.

Every click, every time we change gravity, physics, weight or material we had to then click a hundred times to see how it reacts. And what you learn is -- it's not about the action, it is about the reaction. So it is: What does the flail does after the movement?

I remember we had a meeting. I went in there and I was talking to my art director, and some tech leads -- and I believe Andrew was there, and I was like: "Sorry guys, either we fail or frail." Alright, I won't quit my day job on that. (laughs)

But we ended up with something good, and you will see when you play in the showroom floor and more videos that you won't even notice it. It is because it is working how you expected.

Now finally, we get to the meat and potatoes for the animators -- and that is the skills. Every hero has its style. The Barbarian is very consistent. The Monk hits and holds, the Crusader has a bit of a build-up to its animations. I am going to show you Shield Bash and it is slowed down, and you are going to see a character who really gathers that energy in the back, holds it and then explodes forward. It's very physical. Very powerful, and it is going with the line of action for the skill.

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Here at full speed you will just see how powerful it really feels. The timing feels right. We are giving enough hold so that when it hits it feels really impactful, and this is when you get character concept, animation effects and design really working together; and you get skills that feel really good and really fun, and they look really awesome.

Now to talk a little bit more about designing skills for the Crusader, our senior designer Andrew Chambers.

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Chambers: Alright. How you doing, BlizzCon? Do you like what you have seen? Say that louder. I love it. I love you guys so much. You know, afterwards when you see me on the floor just come to me and give me a hug.

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Especially you, because I love those big bear hugs. Just come up to me and give me some love. This is looking fantastic, right? These amazingly, phenomenally talented artists bring words on a page into life on a screen in an amazing way.

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So special to work with these guys. On the design side our challenge is figuring out: "how does this guy play?" You know, when you are clicking the button and like slaying evil, and the tempo behind it. Is it like smooth jazz? Or is it heart, drum and bass?

So we knew straight away that he had to be a melee character. He's a big guy in armor with a shield and a flail. There is no way he is walking away from a fight, and he loves to be up close and personal, but we can't just add another melee character to Diablo III.

We have two very strong classes in the Barbarian and the Monk that really own that space really well. So for the Crusader -- brand-new class for Reaper of Souls -- we gave him the ability to have some strong range component to him. A lot of his skills have the ability to slay from afar.

Part of the key for that was allowing him to be powered by this righteous wrath. Wrath is your resource. It regenerates while you are not in combat because he is SO MAD. THERE ARE SO MANY DEMONS OUT THERE AND HE CAN'T GET TO THEM yet.

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But at the same time, he can regenerate with his Primary. He spends big with his Secondary Skills, like Shield Bash -- which you just saw; but the great thing about being around is not necessarily physical. It's this mystical power that he has inside of him, and he can choose to unleash it in any way, shape and form -- and he does.

So now that we have the melee and range thing established how do we explore that with stats and with skills?

This is Slash and Shield Bash. Charges in. Slams his enemies with his shield. Powering it with his wrath, and slashes the air in front of him with Holy Fire. Very melee. The great thing about his melee skills -- the Crusader is often wearing a shield so he wouldn't be able to dual-wield.

That's ok, because for a lot of his skills they are AOE-oriented. Protection makes up for the fact that you cannot necessarily have flail around, really fast, but you can hit lots of monsters at the same time. So that's great, melee.

How do we do range? This is Justice + Blessed Shield. He throws the hammer, slamming into his enemies and exploding into Holy Fire, and charges up his shield and throws it at them. Ricocheting around. Crushing everything in its path.

The fantastic thing about the Crusader's ranged abilities is not only that they give you the ability to kill things from afar, but they also have this fantastical physical components to them.

You see, there is no fluffiness here. He is angry. He is wrathful. He is righteous. He is a knight. He really kill these really well. Even his ranged skills have this great sense of like strength behind them.

So now we have the two gameplay roles established and understood. The next thing we need to do is go ahead and fill out the rest of the skill kit. Unfortunately we only have 24 skills. We have to come up with that on a design side.

So sometimes we are not successful. This is Crushing Resolve. Who here played the Paladin in Diablo II? So you know Zeal, right? Zeal was an amazing skill. It increased the number of monsters it would hit, increased your attack speed, scaled attack rating in fantastic ways.

So we decided this guy, you know, descended from the paladins -- so let's bring that skill forwarding. Give it to him. Unfortunately, it didn't work too well. In Diablo II you had two skill buttons effectively. In Diablo III it's so much better you got six.

You have these utility skills that you would like to use. You want to have a spender and a generator. All kinds of things going on at the same time. When you have one skill that does as many things as Zeal -- in that kind of context, it can actually get a little bit sad. Because you are just pressing one button all the time.

You have no incentive to press anything else. We compound so many thing on this one skill, that becomes all you need to press. Also the visuals are really, really hard to tell. It's kinda hard to tell that it actually increases the number of monsters only to 5. The buff is a little bit sort of strange and persistent because it is always there.

So you want to actually see this on the Crusader. You will see it here on the floor. You will see it in Reaper of Souls. The great thing about this is we iterate. We learn a lot.

This actually became Slash, and Slash has a rune called Zeal. Sometimes, lightning strikes. This is Fist of the Heavens. Boom!!! Yeah! Louder!

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The Crusader is a knight in battle-scarred armor. This righteous warrior so empowered and so powerful. He is this immovable force. An unstoppable object. When he commands, the heavens responds.

We call this an epiphany skill. This is the first pass implementation of this skill. Like we haven't changed this since we tried it out. The very first. We saw it in-game, we knew it resonated so strong that we had to just keep it, and we haven't really iterated on it. It's just that good.

The great thing about Fist of Heavens -- mechanically it comes from the sky. As a Crusader I want to be surrounded by enemies a lot. A lot of my utilities skills like Provoke actually increase the potency based on the amount of monsters I hit. And the radius is actually around me.

So when you are shrouded by enemies, and you really need to kill that Treasure Goblin -- that is over there -- you need that. Comes from the sky. Thank you.

So up next is Nicholas Eberle. Technical artist to take you even through even more iteration of our skills. And you -- big guy, don't forget the hug.

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Skill Iterations

Eberle: Hi, everyone. So the first thing that we do when we are designing a new class on Diablo III, is we ask the question of What's the fantasy for this character. So we brainstormed and come up with all kinds of ideas and fantasies that we want to see in the Crusader.

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So I'm going to show you how we came up with those fantasies, and bring those to finish skills. The first skill I'm going to show you is called Heaven's Fury. The fantasy that we started out for this was we wanted to see the hand of god reach out, destroy the Crusader's enemies, and we thought that sounded really cool, but then we had to figure out well -- what does that do? And, how does it look like?

So this is the first version of Heaven's Fury. Mechanically for this you would right-click and drag out a line and then these beams would come raining down destruction on the battlefield and visually we liked it. We thought it looked pretty cool, but it had some problems. It was really loud, that if you were in a multiplayer game and your body was cast on this, so it was kinda annoying.

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So we kept making some revisions. For this version we had the beam chase the mouse cursor around, and we really liked the way it looked. We thought it felt really powerful, but it took too much space on the screen; but mechanically it was a little rough.

We didn't like having a channeled skill for the crusader. We want him to be able to move around and hit things. So we thought -- what happens if we gave the skill its own A.I.? So this is the final version of Heaven's Fury. You right-click, the beam goes out. It chases down monsters. Leaves the Crusader free to fight his enemies, throw a shield at them.

So a knight in battle-scarred armor. Every class needs a movement skill, though. So we kinda asked the question. What is a knight without its horse? The Steed Charge. The Crusader summons a mystical horse. Just cruises around the battlefield. It's really, really fast. It has some awesome runes too. Definitely need to give it a try.

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War Machine Made Human: So we talked about the Crusader being a big Abrams battle tank. One of the cool things about a tank is that it got a big gun on top. So we didn't want to give the Crusader a gun. That doesn't fit its kit. But we asked ourselves the questions -- what if he was the artillery shell in that cannon?

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This is Falling Sword. So it jumps up into the air and crashes down doing a ton of AOE damage. Really helps getting into the fight if there's anything left after that hits.

So he is descended from Paladins, and I'm sure a lot of us were Diablo II fans. That was my first character when I played in Diablo II. So there was one skill that we had to bring forward. Hammers? So really an iconic skill for the Paladin, and we had to bring that forward in Diablo III.

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He summons his hammer. They swirl around him, piercing through everything. Just laying waste to the battlefield. Lots of fun.

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I just want to show you a little video of the Crusader. It has got a bunch of skills. There are some runes in there if you look carefully. Here we go.

I hope you guys are as excited as we do. Now to talk about the rest of the classes, Wyatt Cheng.

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Cheng: As we sat down to look at those classes and what changes we wanted to make, the team really believes in focusing on the fantasy. What that means is that every class represents a classical strong fantasy archetype, and any changes that we make should play into that fantasy and reinforce it .

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We went over all of the existing skills and runes, as well as every class in “Reaper of Souls” is going to get a new skills.

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(Audience Applauses)

I am gonna take you through all five classes, and we will highlight what their new skills are going to be. Let's go ahead and get started with my favorite class “The Barbarian”.

Barbarian

Cheng: The Barbarian exhibits physical strength. Obviously, unlike The Crusader who is heavily armored, “The Barbarian” focuses on his connection to the ancients, his physical strength. We have a theme of earth and might coming through. Earth and might refers to his ability to use boulders, or rocks, or cause seismic activity.

This is exhibiting skills like seismic slam and earthquake. Of course, we feel some skills, those skills seismic, earthquake weren’t quite performing as well as they were, so they are getting some huge buffs in “Reaper of Souls”. And his new skill is called Avalanche.

Avalanche will allow him to let out a huge roar and call down a huge pile of rock and debris to fall from above. Here is the video of what that looks like.

Avalanche is currently on a 30 sec cool down and internal build, but the way we have it setup is that more fury that you spend it reduces the cooldown on the skill. So if you have a build that spends a lot of fury, you can actually use avalanche more often.

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Wizard

Cheng: Up next is my favorite class: “The Wizard”. The Wizard is a powerful range caster. We all know this is a really strong fantasy archetype, that’s been around for years. Decades. A lot of people wanna to play “The Wizard” as glass cannon.

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Clearly an elementalist. You probably know in the live game there are elements like frost, and lighting, and fire, and arcane. Off course arcane gets a little more attention and fire lighting and cold could serve to be played up a little bit more. And that’s one of our focuses for “The Wizard” in the “Reaper of Souls”. If you want to play a fire, frost or lighting elementalist wizard... now you can.

We are looking a lot at the existing skills like Spectral Blade and Magic Missile. Magic missile is getting a rune variant that will actually allow to do cold damage. And as we are looking at arcane orb, it gave us an opportunity to pay a homage to one of my favorite Diablo II skills. Diablo II -- you have the Frozen Orb ...

And here is what it looks like in Diablo III. But as promised every class is also getting a new skill. And The Wizard’s new skill is called: Blackhole.

Blackhole pulls in all the monsters, crowd controls (CCs) them, and deals a huge amount of damage in that targeted area. This really allows you to play up that fantasy of being a glass cannon.

You can use crowd control skills and still dish out a lot of damage. And nothing sets up the perfect meteor better than Blackhole. Yeah!

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Monk

Cheng: Let’s talk about my favorite class: “The Monk”. The Monk is a martial artist. Unlike The Crusader (who is heavily armored), and The Barbarian (who is physically strong), The Monk’s core fantasy is to be fast and agile.

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He also incorporates elemental. He is an elemental-bender. He integrates fire and lighting, but of course what we really want to play up is the scene of mobility.

The Monk should be the fastest character on the battlefield. This isn’t quite played up as well as we wanted to on the live game. So on the expansion, we are making changes to the skills like Fist of Thunder.

Thunder Clap, is the most popular rune on live, and one of the reasons is: because it incorporates a teleport into its ability. So I am happy to say that all rune variants of Fist of Thunder will be teleporting you directly to your opponents. We are also looking at skills like Dashing Strike, which was really kidded to fill that fantasy of the fast monk, before a number of mechanical issues, wasn’t used as much as we like. So we are reworking its mechanics. One of our goals although we do not want you to be able to teleport indefinitely, we definitely want so that I if click on an empty location I should just go there. And, of course we are gonna be looking at Seven-Sided Stike -- which is another key skill that makes you feel like you are fast and teleporting all over, and his new skill is called: Epiphany.

Epiphany... once activated allows all of your melee attacks to teleport you directly to your target. Take a look of that.

These are some normal melee attacks, and here I am, I pop Epiphany and everything I do, takes me straight to my opponent. Doesn’t matter if you are casting Lashing Tail Kick, Wave of Light, Deadly Reach, no one can get away from you . Every ability you do teleports you directly into your opponent's face.

(Audience Applauds).

Demon Hunter

Cheng: Oh, my favorite class “The Demon Hunter”. The Demon Hunter’s fantasies are clear: ranged weaponry, a deadly assassin, using shadow energy and traps. One of the fantasies of this trap, you know, “The Demon Hunter”, wasn’t played up as well as we thought, skills like Spike Trap, get used more as ranged damage dealers than a Trap. So we are looking at skills like Spike Trap and Sentry.

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We really want players to be able to play the way... "Hey, you know what, I wanna setup a little you know, my home, my nest and lure enemies into it; and have them all you know mercilessly die"; but in the end of the day “The Demon Hunter” is a ranged class, and her new skill will play into that.

The Demon Hunters are getting a skill called: Vengeance -- which allows every single attack you do, to fire off even more ranged weaponry. Let’s see what that looks like. I pop vengeance and now every attack I do fires additional shots. You got railguns out the side, rocket’s coming out of all directions. Pew, pew, pew!

(Audience Applauds)

Witch Doctor

Cheng: Last but not least, my favorite class “The Witch Doctor.” Witch Doctor, his esthetic and theme is really, really strong. He has got zombies and the fetishes. We are really happy actually with the way the esthetic of the Witch Doctor plays out on live.

But unfortunately, although the esthetic is strong, his mojo, the mechanics aren’t all there. In particular one of the fantasies of playing a witch doctor is to be a dark class or pet class, and although the pets will tank with you, they don’t do enough damage, and a little bit of dots are there, but they are not worth using.

We are gonna be making huge improvements to Haunt and Locust Swarm, one of his new passives make his dots last for five minutes. Totally balanced.

(Audience laughs)

And we wanted his new skills to play into many different play styles. So for inspiration we drew upon Diablo II‘s amplified damage. Amplified damage is a great Utility Skill, but it’s not super flavorful. It’s a great mechanic, but that’s not a cool esthetic to go for it. And we have to pair those up.

So I was talking to one of our lead technical artists: Julian Love, and he was saying you know, he’s got always cool creatures like the bats and the frogs. I mean ... when it comes to voodoo creatures, how far can we push this? Can we do piranhas? Oh, yes we can!

(Audience laughs)

You can actually see the piranhas stuck to the monster as a visual indicator. It is not just awesome to look at. It let's you know that’s a monster affected by the amplified damage effect. That monster is going to take more damage from all sources. Of course, this begs the question: "What lie’s below the surface of the water?"

You guys wanna see that again? Yeah!!, nom nomm, so good, so good.

Note: A massive crocodile swallows a targeted monster.

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Items

Cheng: So, let’s talk about items. One of the requests we got a lot for items is the way to modify the items that you find. So the new artisan in the Reaper of the Souls is “The Mystic”, which will allow you to do exactly that.

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The Mystic allows you to modify any item that you find in one of two ways, you can either change the way it looks; and you can change the property on an item.

Transmogrify allows you to take “The Crusaders” look like this , and look like that.

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And then Enchanting allows you to choose any property on an item that you don’t want and ask The Mystic to re-roll it.

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She will offer you three new randomly generated properties for you to choose from, and for gold and a reagent cost you can repeat that process as many times as you want. The enchanting process also works on end-game legendaries, because we wanna make sure that it acts in an effective gold and item sink for the end-game.

Here is the video of that. Like I said you take an item and you hand it to The Mystic. The Mystic will present you with a choice of properties that you want. I should mention that one of three properties is actually the original property in the item, so you can never make the item worst, you can always fall back in the property that was there before. And like I said, you can go ahead and do the enchanting process as many times as you want.

And to talk more about items I'd like to bring up our legendary game designer Travis Day.

(Audience Applauds)

[table id=60 /]

[table id=60 /]

Day: How you doing BlizzCon? So who here came to listen to us talking about Loot 2.0? Jokes on you: I am talking about hair care products.

(Audience Laughs)

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So going into the Reaper of Souls, we said that we talked a lot about the things that we like with our item game and the things that maybe we wanted to improve upon, and we came with really three big philosophy changes that we wanted to make moving into the expansion.

The first one was less is more, item support builds, and rarely equals power.

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Less is more ... was just our way of saying we want to make sure that players find awesome items and we don’t want to flood the screen with them, because we felt like we just dropped too many things and most of them weren’t as good as they could have been.

Opening presents is supposed to be fun, but when you open up 20 pairs of socks, it gets pretty disappointing.

Item support builds ... this was our way just sort of embodying the idea that we really wanted the items to feel like they changed the game. We wanted them to be more than just math problems that you have to look at arrows to figure out, so going into the expansion, we got a lot of new affixes and legendary effects, to sort of embody that.

And finally, Rarity = Power... this was our way of expressing the idea that it’s okay for things to be rare. It’s okay for legendaries to not be flooding the screen and all over the place, but when you find them, they got to be really awesome; and we felt like we have a lot of work to do in that department.

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So some of the things that we have done to address the "Less is More" philosophy is we implemented what we call the "Smart Drop System."

The Smart Drop System really is just our way of going: "Hey, you are barbarian... you probably want some barbarian items." You probably don’t want a quiver and you definitely don’t want intellect on the quiver. So when we drop items in the game now we have a behind-the-scenes system running that periodically is just going to go: "Hey, okay. You are gonna get a sword. It's gonna have strength. You’re gonna be happy, huzza!"

Another thing we did to help with dropping less items and making them better... we reduced the random range on the affixes. If a lot of you remember, back when we shipped the game, you could find items that had 100 strength or one strength, and we kind of went: "Ah, that’s a little bit excessive!"

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We don’t want it to be that random. We love random. It’s at the heart of Diablo, but there’s degrees, and we can narrow that down some. So instead, you will find things in [make-believe-number-land] of 75 to 100 strength. So you can still find things that are better or worse than what you have; but they won’t be offensive.

One of the last things we did is sort of help with the "Less is More" philosophy. We sat down and we talked about a lot of our stats, and we did this for a while, and we said... you know there’s some great stats in our game and then there are some others no so great.

I love finding pickup radius and I love finding bonus experience and wearing it, but I am not gonna wear it instead of strength or crit or attack speed, or whatever other number of trifecta stats.

So we said: "Hey, what if instead, what if just we break these stats out, what if we acknowledge that these stats are cool, but they are not going to help you kills monsters’ better."

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So what we did going into Reaper of the Souls is we separated the item stats into what we call primary and secondary, and any item is gonna have a fixed number of primary stats and a fixed number of secondary stats. So you can have magic find, but it does no call to crit. Here’s a couple of examples. You can see the boots have Intellect and Vitality and Resistance to All, and you also get magic find and bonus experience.

(Audience Applauds)

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Another thing that we wanted to address moving into the expansion was that we wanted the items to really be exciting. We wanted you to find items and go: “Holy Crap, I am totally gonna change my character for this!" or "Hey, I found some items that really work with these skills, that I like using."

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We wanted them to encourage diversity, so that not everyone would be a [###] barbarian. Here’s a couple of examples of that. We have got a helmet that increases Energy Twister Damage by 14%, and we also have an axe which reduces the cooldown of all of your skills.

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So these are just a couple examples of the kind of affixes that we have been trying to introduce to the game, so that players can find things that really suit their play style and encourage them to try out things that may be we wouldn’t have thought about.

And finally, Rarity Equals Power. This was really just our sort of notion that -- we got this item progression, and it makes sense for most of the game. You go from gray items to white to blue to yellow, but then it’s starts to get pretty fuzzy when you get to legendaries.

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Legendaries are really hard to find in our game and we use to get a lot of feedback like, "Man, why are legendaries so rare, I never find any," and what the people were really saying is: "Why do they suck, why can’t they be better."

So we wanted to sort of deliver on this fantasy that the harder was to find something, the better it's going to be. So I felt like it deserved to be reserved as it was. And to talk about some of the specifics of what we are doing with the legendaries in the expansion is lead game play programmer: Steve Shimizu.

[table id=60 /]

[table id=60 /]

Loot 2.0 Legendary Items

Shimizu: Thanks Travis. Hi, everybody. So I am gonna talk for a few minutes about legendary items, but the first thing I wanna say is, I do recognize that there are people out there that might have played Diablo III for 30 or 50 even a hundred hours and never found a legendary.

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So maybe you are thinking "all this section isn't for me. I never find these things." Well, we have a new philosophy for the expansion end-game for everyone. We will be changing the system around, so that everyone has a reasonable chance of finding one of these items.

Now that being said, legendary and set items are by far our most rare type of items; and keeping with what Travis was just saying: Rarity Equals Power. They should also be the most powerful items as well. Now this is something that we did not delivery on for the launch of Diablo III, but it’s something that we are very much looking to fix for the expansion.

(ovation)

So specifically, What are we gonna do? How we are gonna fix that? Let me start by talking about how we are gonna improve some of the classic legendaries that are already in the game.

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So, after the 2.0 patch comes out, we gonna be droping new version of each of these legadaries. And these new versions will be addressed in three different ways.

First, drops at monster level. What does that mean? Well, currently every legendary in the game drops at one particular level and one particular level only. In “Reaper of Souls” that item can drop at every level from then on. So, for example you might have a Puzzle Ring that drops at level 32. That item can also drop at level 32, 33, 34... all the the way up to level 70 with stats that are prepared for that level.

Speaking of stats, we are gonna be doing a stats pass on all of the items, to make them viable. Again, Rarity Equals Power. They should be the most powerful items in the game. The stats should reflect that.

But finally, we are also gonna be looking into adding new powers to many of these legandaries. They should be not only good from a stats point of view, but also to make them unique from an utility point of view, give them powers that you don’t see anywhere else in the game. So, lets take a look at an example.

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These are the Frostburn Gauntlets. On the left is an example that is currently in the live game. On the right is the example from the “Reaper of Souls”.

So, first point drops at monster level, previously this item would only drop at Item Level 62. Now It can drop up at 62, 63, 64 and in the example here -- this is the level 70 version of this item.

Stats pass: So, we have done a stats pass on this item. You will notice that we have added primary stat to it. In this case, intelligence. It’s got way better stats. It’s a much more viable item. We want to draw your attention to this gray numbers on the right, there.

This is the new feature that we have added to 2.0. You highlight any item with the mouse. You hold on the CTRL key and these gray numbers will come up. What are they? They show the possible range or random values that you could have gotten for each affix. (applause)

So this is something that we added, because we want people to understand the items better. We want everyone to be able to understand sort of the items space and to know what is going on there. But I show these up here, because I wanted to point out intelligence and in the worst possible case, in the worst possible role you can get 750 intelligence on this item.

So it's still a really, really viable item even if you get a really bad role on intelligence. And this represents the philosophy shift in that if you are lucky enough to get the legendary items, You shouldn't have to be extra lucky on top of that multiple times in order to have a viable version of it.

So the last point here is this affix in orange here -- this is the new power that we have added to this item, and didn’t have it before. This one says: "Your Chill effects have a 50% chance to Freeze instead of Slow."

So, what does that look like? This is a Wizard using the Ray of Frost. Ray of Frost normally just chills and slows the enemy, but because she is wearing this item, she can freeze them in their tracks.

(Applauses)

So, really, this is where a large part of our item development is going for the expansion -- into the creation of these new affixes that change the way that you play the game.

So I am gonna close out this panel by going over to few examples of these powers that we are working on. First up, the Haroutunian Arm Guards, again, focusing on the affix in orange says: "Every time you destroy a wreckable object, you gain a short burst of speed."

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So, what does that look like? In this example here, I pairing it up with the classic Fire Walkers Boots, which kind of destroys things around me. So everything I get near these gravestones, I just get a little short burst of speed.

So this sort of really changes the way that you kind a look at the environment and look at the game, because you may not have noticed all the wreckable objects in the environment before, but now that you have this item, you definitely will, because you will be stearing towards them for that little burst of speed.

Next example, the Illusory Boots. Again, the orange affix: "You may move unhindered through enemies." So, what does that mean? It means that you have the freedom to just run right through the enemies.

So, I can see that this being like a value to hardcore item, maybe we are getting surrounded. Might mean the end of your character. Or you know, I guess some of the point there is we want you to be able to look at the hotbar after getting an item and think "Hmm, maybe I don’t need Vault anymore , maybe I don’t need some of the escape skills anymore, because this item is taking that ability for me.

So, some of the new powers that we are making, lastly, modify skills that you already have. So in this case there is a witch doctor mask. Witch doctors have a skill called Horrify. Horrify is a one-shot AOE fear. You hit it and every one runs away from you. In this case, this item will change Horrify.

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Tiklandian Visage orange affix: Horrify causes you to Fear and Root enemies around for 8 sec.

So, instead of the one-shot fear, watching him pop Horrify and it will follow him around, and he can just stun enemies around him, and just finish them off with these other skills.

So, some items we are doing just because we think that they are cool to do.

This is a homage to an item from another popular online game. This is what it looks like in our game.

So, every time “The Wizard” attacks, she got a chance to proc this cool chain lighting effect to help her dispatch her enemies.

So my final example is a set item example, and you may recognize that set items are gonna be among the most difficult, the most rare to get the powers from, because you need multiple items of the same set; but in keeping with "Rarity Equals Power," that Travis was talking about again -- we are saving some of the better skills for a set item bonuses, this time around.

So, in this case, this is a Demon Hunter set with a temp name, don’t worry, and the 2-set item bonus is your spikes traps lure enemies to them. So this really increases the utilily of the spike traps. Now you can really control where they are going.

If you notice, every time she sets the spike trap down, they will taunt the enemies to it.

So, that’s all the legendaries we have for you today. Back to Josh.

[table id=60 /]

[table id=60 /]

Mosqueira: Thanks Steve. Alright, BlizzCon. What do you think of those legendaries?

(crowd applauds)

Awesome, what about The Crusader? And the “piranhas?” Pretty awesome, right? So, again really happy to be here. As you can see, we put a lot of blood, sweat, and tear and our passion into “Reaper of Souls”.

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I mean, a new class of fantastic, a new Act, the adventure mode , Loot 2.0. We really feel that we are on the eve of a new era of “Diablo” and we really thank you guys for playing our game. Being here and I think we may have a few more minutes for some questions.

[Crowd applauds]

Q&A

Fan # 1: Hey, guys. Again thanks for all the awesome work. My question is around the stats, and basically, how large the numbers are getting? I coin the World of Warcraft inflation. Are you guys concerned about that at all? Are we hitting things for like two billions crits -- if the numbers are just gonna get too large at some point?

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Cheng: It’s a tricky balance. I mean, obviously with the large numbers it is kinda also be hard to processs. I am not worried about it yet. It’s a concern we might have maybe in like eight or nine years.

(crowd applauds]

Linn: I love big numbers, I just wanna say I love big numbers.

Fan #2: Hey, first I wanted to thank you guys, because me and I know a lot of other people here played a ton of Diablo II, and we are really excited for Diablo III; and there was a lot of very very harsh criticism that was leveled against Diablo III. And all of the work that I see that you guys are doing into address that criticism and make it better is fantastic. So, thank you guys for that. Thank you.

[crowd laughs and claps]

My question has to deal with a question that I asked actually a couple of years ago at BlizzCon. I asked about Arcane Sanctuary. It was my favorite level from Diablo II and the artstyle in particular was completely different from a lot of things that were in Diablo II, and when I saw your panel yesterday on some of the things you are doing with Reaper of Souls -- in particular that one set of concepts art that had big blocky figures -- it was like a space theme, and it had a bunch of stars. I was like that’s what I wanted two years ago, and you guys were kinda like: "nah, it’s not really fitting with what we were doing right now." And now that I have seen that concept art, I want that! Ahh, I want that! And I don’t know what kind of stage, you guys are on the development at this point. But could... give me a little love. Arcane Santuary. You build it for me.

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Martens: So, we are not just flat out going to the Arcane Sanctuary, so I tell you that right now. There's the bad news. The good news is we do like that level too; and Pandemonium Fortress specifically has a bunch of Arcane Santuary-inspired aspects to it.

So we showed just the tiny glimpse of it in the video yesterday, which I am sure you can review again on Youtube, but when you actually see the fortress level -- there is bunch of stuff there. Let us know how you think we did once you get to play it.

Fan #2: Perfect! Thanks.

Fan #3: How you doing? One of the coolest things in Diablo II is when you had every set item your appearance was changed for some of those sets. Any plans in Diablo III if you get every set item to give some kind of aura or an appearance change, so you know and everybody knows, you have every set item?

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Day: Right, right. We haven't talked about anything like that [yet]. This is not a terrible idea, though. It could happen. No promises, but we are really putting a lot of our focus right now on to trying to get the set items to just feel like that they are worth the effort they took to get.

So we are trying to make the bonuses as crazy as possible. Without breaking the game completely. One of our hundred mantras is being "game changing, not game breaking" with our items.

It is totally possible that we could add visual components to some of the set bonus powers. I don’t know that we'd necessarily want to take that, and apply it to everything in the game; but it is not totally impossible.

Fan # 3: I mean if you have every item in that set, not necessarily a visual for just a single item.

Shimizu: Yeah, I think, as we were saying before -- our large part of item development budget is going towards creation of those powers, right , and everything is a trade off in the development. Honestly, I understand the coolness of that, and still understand how rare it is, and that’s why its cool; but on the other hand, if I had a technical artist assigned time to do that sort of thing, I probably wanna add another power to another legendary somewhere, and a lot of people, I think will like that too.

So it’s a bit of a trade off. It’s not something that we are saying, closing the door on or anything; but it's something that we all have to look it from a resource point of view.

Mosqueira: Alright guys, I think , we are out of time. But the good news is that we have a full hour for Q&A later on today. So, thank you for coming and see you guys in Sanctuary. Thank you. Thank you.

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