BlizzCon 2013 - Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Preview Panel Transcript

[table id=49 /]

Presenter: Welcome to the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Preview Panel. Your panelists are: Josh Mosqueira (game director), Kevin Martens (lead designer), Stephen Wong (senior gameplay programmer), Jesse Maccree (senior level designer), Joe Shely (senior game designer), Julian Love (lead technical artist), Tim Linn (lead interior environment artist), and Zaven Haroutunian (level designer).

Mosqueira: Hey, how you guys doing?

[People scream with happiness]

Mosqueira: Are you guys ready to face Death? Awesome isn't that cinematic just awesome, we're really excited to be here, umm my name is Josh Mosqueira, I'm the game director, and it's a great honor to be here with you guys today, we're going to show you some of the cool new things we have in store for you guys for the ”Reapers of Souls” .

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-1

We got a great panel for you guys today, but before we get in to meat and potatoes of Reapers of Souls, I want to take a few moments to talk to you guys about what Reapers of Souls means to us.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-2

What of our high level goals we had when we started the project; and for us it all starts with epic heroes, where you are the Barbarian or Demon Hunter or the Monk or the brand new Crusader, You’re a knight in a battlestar armor, you guys are playing heroes which are bigger than life and you are facing the forces of darkness.

In “Reaper Souls”, we're celebrating the dark gothic hearts. It is at the root of Diablo, and we have a sleuth of new monsters for you guys to kill and loot; and Joe and Julian, up here, are gonna talk to you about how our monsters are designed to live to die, and we're not only introducing new monsters we're also introducing brand new villain to the world of Diablo in the form of Malthael -- the angel of death, and Tim and Zaven are going to talk to you guys about Pandemonium -- the final battleground where you guys are going to be confronting Malthael, and trying to stop death; but we're not just stopping there, one of the most important goals for us is we wanna make sure that there was, an end game for everyone.

We wanted to make sure that you guys have as many different options for when it comes to how you play Diablo III, so now not only you have a great story mode, we're gonna see the story of the Fall of Westmarch -- defeating Malthael, and we're also gonna be introducing a brand new way to play Diablo III.

We're introducing Adventure Mode. And to do that I wanna ask Kevin Martens, our lead game designer, to come on stage and talk to you guys about Adventure mode.

( Audience Applauses)

Martens: Hello, BlizzCon, it's nice to have you all back in beautiful southern California. So who has had the chance to play Adventure mode on the demo floor today? Okay, so those of you had the chance to play it I am glad you had, but still you're gonna learn a lot about how and why we made it. What problem we are trying to solve.

So adventure mode started basically as some core elements of the the game that weren’t working well together, so ultimately Diablo is about getting awesome loot and killing monster to do that, and we have these two things in the game that weren't working well together.

On one hand we had this big, big world of Sanctuary, and we had it split up into four Acts, basically, so each of the acts were self-contained, they had cool villains at the end of them; and then we had this campaign mode and that was good; but we also had you play through it four times in a row so it sort of gets level 60 or to where the end game was.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-4

So on the other hand we also had this big complex randomization system. We had all this content and we had this game with this random tilesets, and monster distribution was random, and those two things didn't work well together playing that campaign over and over again; and not taking advantage of that randomness was something that we wanted to make a lot better.

So we put this core stake on the ground which is: "Go anywhere, slay anything."

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-5

So under this idea -- this is sort of how the beginning of Adventure mode happens; how the genesis of this feature began. So imagine a world where you can start in the Festering Woods and you want to do one of the favorite side dungeons, and you have a good reason to that, have that wrist rewarded.

Then go to a boss in Act III -- he is Ghom in the Keep; and then go to Heaven and then again have a good reason to go there, have this epic awesome zone want to go there and be able to do that freely in one session without having to go out of the game to get back into the game again, so that's ultimately what Adventure Mode is.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-6

This is a brand new game mode. So that requirement that you played through the game linearly? That's gone! You can play where you want to, not only -- thank you. (laughs)

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-8

( Audience applauses )

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /]

And end-game for everyone, like Josh mentioned, not only is Adventure Mode an end-game, it is also somewhere where you can level up your character. So we have this awesome new campaign in Act V; but you don't have to play that in order to get to the Adventure Mode. Adventure Mode is a new mode.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-9

You can play where you want to. So a lot of you are probably familiar with this request; because you made it yourself. Why don't we just unlock all the waypoints?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-10

So we went way beyond that, so this is a new map of Act III, you can go to any Acts. You can go to any waypoint in it at any time. You can jump all over the game, up to and including Act V.

So Adventure Mode, again, is a separate mode from the campaign mode. That said, we have taken all of our favorite moment from the campaign, all those story battles that you enjoyed. All the little side scenes, all the events, and random parts, as well, and we combined them together into the Adventure Mode.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-11

So the story, essentially the quests, just gets out of the way; but it’s still pretty playable. Your character can go back and forth between the modes at any time. So the two features that adventure mode bows down to -- the way we deliver this to you is our Bounties and Nephalem Rifts. These are sub-features of the Adventure Mode.

Bounties are essentially very simple. These are the tour guide of the world. You now can go anywhere. Bounties are the way we suggest where you should go.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-12

So Stephen is gonna go through this in a lot more details in just a moment, but essentially all our favorite parts of the game are given to you and its a rewarding way to play. Variety has become the most rewarding way to play.

And the Nephalem Rifts. Nephalem Rifts are that promise of that randomization that we do, all those tilesets, all these monsters, all these technical systems to make this game as replayable as possible. This is, that replayability rip on an epic scale. This particular example here's Act IV and Act III monsters fighting together in Whimsyshire, notice, the rainbows and everything.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-13

I love to call it Grimsyhire because it's dark and it's night. Ahhh, no one laugh at that at the office either.

(Audience laughs)

This particular image shows also that we've also got the random weather and lighting everywhere, as well, and that includes the hubs, as well, you get to see Caldeum at night and other areas, too. So that might seem like a minor thing from a "feature" point of view; but it does make everything feel better as well. So we are going into a lot of more details on "Bounties", here's Stephen Wong.

(Audience Applauses)

So... as Kevin just mentioned to you, we opened up the world and we opened up all Acts and all Waypoints at once; but it wasn't quite enough..

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-14

When we are playing with it, internally we had some problems. In single-player, some people wanted to have a little bit more guidance. They are overwhelmed by all the different options that are now available to them. And in multiplayer, a lot of times the party will get separated because there wasn't any one goal keeping the party together. So we have four different players each on a different corner of the world.

So what we decided to do was Bounties. And the bounties are random quests that are given to you at the start of the game and it takes place in all five Acts. And they take advantage of all of the different contents that is inside of Diablo III and the Reaper of Souls. Bounties will take you through all the bosses, all the events, all the side dungeons everything that we have put into the game now we put a focus on that with bounties and adventure mode. So at the start of an adventure mode game, you get 25 random bounties - five in each Act, and you can go and complete.

Now we are not putting the game in realms. You can still do everything else inside the adventure mode, you can go wherever you want to; but you hop into this, then you can go and do these bounties and collect your rewards afterwards.

So let's take a look at some of the different Bounty types we have. So the first bounties types --killing a boss, right?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-15

So we take our all 15 Act bosses that are in Diablo III and Reaper of Souls and we made a bounty for each one; and in this example you gonna go kill Queen Araneae in Spider Caves. So you will find the entrance to the Spider Caves, go inside. Slay away through to the Queen’s Chamber and destroy her and you will collect your reward.

The next type of bounty that we have is cleaning an event and in this example, it is in the Festering Woods, and you'll go and complete the "Last Stand of the Ancients" quest. This is inside of the Festering Woods, and complete your reward.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-16

And this puts the spotlight on a lot of different events that we have in the game, that might be a little bit out of the way of normal gameplay; but now with the bounty quest form, you'll go and find them and do them, you got a lot of diversity matter into this game.

Our third type of bounty is killing a unique monster, an in this example, we have a bounty for killing Mira Eamon the blacksmith's undead wife; and you might remember her from the story mode, where you'll go into the blacksmith's cellar and take care of her because the blacksmith needs you to do this, and that's how you down the story in the game.

What we have done in adventure mode is we moved her out of the cellar into the random distribution of the Festering Woods, and you will go out explore, find her and kill her; and you will collect your reward after that.

And what we have done is, we have taken a lot of uniques that are in the game, uniques like Mira or Jondar; and we put them into random distribution and they are now bounty targets.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-17

Our last kind of bounty is clearing a dungeon, and this is our version of Diablo II's Den of Evil, and in this example you go to Khazara Den and kill the enemies, and you lay away all the things and you will collect your reward afterwards. And with this kind of bounty what we do is taking you through all the different kind of side dungeons that we have, and again maybe not all are in the game right now, but because it is a bounty you gotta do them and you know you gonna experience all that content we have built for you.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-18

So we have mentioned "Rewards" a lot, and let's take a look at what you are going to get when doing bounties.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-19

So you gonna get total experience, of course, and we wanna make it worthwhile for you to doing these things, alright like it should be, you know pretty good reward for you doing bounties right? And you also gonna get access to powerful items and lastly you gonna get Rift Keystones and to talk about what Rift Keystones are and what they open, here's Jesse Maccree (senior level designer).

( Audience Applauses )

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /]

Maccree: Hello, BlizzCon. I'm super excited here to talk to you about the Nephalem Rifts. Previously, we were referred to them as "Loot Runs", and what they are -- are randomized dungeons. So what we have done is we have taken all of the tilesets, all of the dungeons in the game, and we organize them in new and interesting ways. So we have taken the cathedral, all the exteriors and all the monsters and shuffled them up.

So every time you do one of these, it's random. Since they are self-contained areas that you go into, we can do things that we wouldn't normally do in the campaign mode.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-20

Maccree: For example, we do combinations of monsters that you wouldn't normally see. We take monsters from different Acts and put them together. We'll take multi-type of "Summoner" and put them together so you get quickly overwhelmed if you don't deal with those threats.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-21

Maccree: We play with the monster density, so this is the place where things get a little out of hand; and every time you go in, the monsters randomize the number of monsters randomized. So every floor can be different. Some will be a little sparse, some will get really out of hand, for example -- the picture behind me.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-22

Maccree: So like I mentioned, they are randomized dungeons. So what we have done is, these are 1 to 10 level deep dungeons.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-23

Maccree: In the game right now, the deepest we go is 2 levels. So every time you transition from one level to another, it can be a different dungeon and it will have a different combination of monsters and we mix up the type of dungeons you are going through.

For example we'll start with the cathedral, we can go into a root cave after that, go to crypt, or you can go to just one level which is just a big exterior zone. Or you can go from exterior into a Zoltun Kulle dungeon or something like that. So there are all kinds of different ways we put this together and every time you do them it is different.

So like I mentioned, these are self-contained and we can do things that we wouldn't do in the campaign mode like give you crazy buffs. So in the exterior world we'll give you little buffs; but in the Nephalem Rifts, we do things like give you AOE lighting that will one-shot everything.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-24

Maccree: We'll give you no-cast-cooldown. or vulnerability -- and that really helps when you come across some of these really crazy populations that are hard to deal with. You get some really exciting kind of buffs happening. Now to cap off every Nephalem Rift, we have a boss; and what we've done is that instead of fighting them in an arena, we actually spawn them in the dungeon with you, and this is more similar to Diablo II.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-25

Maccree: So you have to deal with the monsters that are in the dungeon, as well as, the boss that spawns, and these are random bosses. We take the existing one's and we've created new ones -- and we have randomized their power and abilities; and what I'd like to do now is show you a quick video of some Nephalem Rifts in action what you gonna play with the Crusader.

Alright, in the new expansion we got a lot of new monsters and what I'd like to do know is bring up Joe Shely to start talking to you about those.

( Audience Applauses )

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /]

Shely: Alright. So we have seen some new stuff from Adventure Mode and now I'm gonna talk to you about some of the new monsters we have got in Reaper of Souls. So let's start in Westmarch. In Westmarch we got the angel of death coming into a city and wiping out all of its inhabitants. It's been sieged, too.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-26

Shely: And so we wanna have monsters that tell that story. By their design. By what they look like and by what they do.

So first of, we got the SUMMONER. This is a monster that stands in the crossroads of city streets, it defiles the ground under it, and raises ghosts up out of the cobblestones.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-27

Shely: Malthael has also sent in his DEATH MAIDEN. Now these are his lieutenants. They wield their giant scythes, cut the heads off of the Westmarch defenders and reencarnates them as ghosts and skeletons to fight the player.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-28

Shely: Now we got the PUNISHER. This is the heavy shock troop of Malthael's army. He leaps on the streets, stuns enemies around his area of arrival and beats his fist together, smashing them and doing tremendous damage.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-29

Shely: These guys all work together to tell a story of a place that's been invaded and overrun and when the player enters, they are gonna need to beat back these forces. Let's take a look at the player doing that, just now.

( Gameplay video)

Pretty Cool. Now we gonna take a look at some of my favorite monsters. We are gonna do a little bit of a sneak peek. We are going to show you some guys from the Bloodmarch -- one of the other zones.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-30

You can see here some of the concept art for the Boggan Trapper and Brute we talked about.

We are gonna start with the Boggit. And this little guy, he is my favorite. He rolls around, he's little bit cute, he lives underground and you gonna see a ton of these guys, there, ahh and he's a part of a family.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-31

You might remember the Fallen from Act I. Well, the Bloodmarch has a family, as well.

The next member is the Bogan Trapper. He actually goes out and hunts, and throws his traps on the ground, to slow his prey; and he fires a little blowdart, to incapacitate them.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-32

And then, we'll look at the Bogan Brute. Now this is the king of the Bloodmarch. He goes where he pleases. He kicks the other enemies out of the way.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-33

The little boggits feel his wrath on a regular --- if we look at these guys together, we got a place that really comes to life and feels like a real world environment. Just take a look here.

(Short video of gameplay)

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-34

These guys are persistent.

( Audience Applauds )

So when we create a monster, we think about several different things. We talk about, how they come upon the screen. How they spawn. What they do and how they die. And we will get into how they die and what they do in a minute. I'm gonna talk a little bit about how they are introduced! and we have a particular junction called the Catacomb - which is a little bit later in the expansion.

And we really wanted to create a feeling in the player of the deep, dark area. It is foreboding. It have got a sense of threat, and you never know what's going to be around the corner. So we took this little guy called the SCARAB and we said, well, can we just make it crawl out of everywhere? So you just never know where he is gonna show up, and let's just put a ton of these guys in there! Ah you can see here the player wandering in.

( Gameplay video clip plays )

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-35

You can see a few of them at the start, but pretty soon they are a lot. That's a lot of guys, now what you may -- thanks! ( Laugh )

What you may not have noticed there is that the player actually walks through the SCARABS. This is new technology that we got. It allows us to put a tremendous number of guys on the screen without beating the player to get bound up and stuck -- colliding with them. ( Audience Applauses )

So we will talk little bit more about some of these guys, and some of their behavior. I'm going to bring up Julian Love, our lead technical artist.

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /]

Love: Those were a lot of SCARABS, though was it enough or should it be turned up a little bit? Up? Up?

( Audience asks for more )

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-89

Alright, BlizzCon has spoken. So we are talking about our design philosophy, you know, how we think about monsters and how we put them in the game, look about like a little bit how we do some spawns.

The next big subject for us is: What are we gonna do? In a game like Diablo, monsters really live to die. That's what they are born for, that's what they are there for. And you are cleaning your clothes pretty regular rates so they tend to not do very well either. So when we focus on what we are gonna do, we have to make sure that we make things very clear and simple; and we are also looking for things that are gonna be memorable, we want behaviors that you can understand, okay.

And we are looking for things that are going to change the way you play, and sometimes maybe make you feel a little bit differently about that monster. So in the live game, right now, we have a bunch of monsters ... a range of monsters that have this ability to backoff from you.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-36

So let's look at how that works right now for this archers. When they want to backoff from you they have to turn around and put their backs to the player and they reposition themselves and turn back around to pick up the bows; and it makes it feel a little dumb, and it makes it look a bit less threatening.

It also means they're kinda really disrespect you as a player. I mean they are turning their backs on you. What kind of a threat are you? Alright, so we decided to make an improvement here, and we got a new capability we call the backpeddle, so look at the same archers as the player approaches them they wanna backoff, but now they can just backoff without changing direction. They maintain their eyesight -- it's focused on the player. They are respecting the player, and they are a lot more threatening. So it is an example of a really simple change, that also effects how you feel about that monster. Now I'm gonna head over to the Bloodmarsh's game.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-37

You'll take a closer look at the Brute and Boggits. A lot of monsters in the game can summon guys, and throw them at you... but the Brute literally does it. When he summons Boggits out on the field, he immediately throws them right at you.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-38

This makes him really aggressive as a summoner, because it is not usually the case; but it also underscores the savage relationship between Brutes and Boggits -- which is a great reflection of life in the Bloodmarch. And we really like the fact that they are interactive. Something different for us. So we thought maybe there is an opportunity to do more with that idea.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-39

So I would like to introduce you to the Terror bat. Now the Terror Bat has a really cool behavior, he can pick up Boggits, raise them in the air, give them a rabbit bite, and transform them into Brutes. And the Brutes can then spawn more Boggits. The Boggits can be turn back into Brutes by bats.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-40

(CLAPS)

This is a really distinct effect on gameplay! It creates a vicious circle. You walk onscreen and you see a few Brutes there, and then you have got to worry about that Brute because (bang) here comes a bat ... ohh, ohh... whats gonna happen? ... he is gonna make more Brutes, and it's gonna make more Boggits. You gonna have to manage that stuff right away!

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-41

(the crowd laughs)

Because we love you

(CLAPS )

Alright! This is my favorite part, how they die!

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-47

They got a lot about how monsters die, just because it’s weird! No! Well may be some of us, .... it’s really important in a game where monster’s live to die... Death becomes really critical, in fact. It’s the culmination of your effort. It’s what you are doing! It’s what they are there for, it’s when you get your loot, right? It’s really important -- and the thing that I think that is easy to miss is that it’s a great opportunity to tell some story -- either about that monster, or about something in the world that is going on... or even, its a great opportunity to draw the player further into the game world.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-42

And I have an example of that, in the Realm Walker. Now the Realm Walker is a giant beast that you can find in the Forgotten Battlefields. And he’s guarding a portal, that he carries around on his head, and uses that portal as a weapon against the player by spawning in monster’s from another realm.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-43

And "Spoiler Alert" here, you get to kill him. And when you do, you are just gonna overload him into a bunch of energy and explode... cuz you like to blow things up, and he loses control with that portal and you can jump into it ! And you go to the realm from where those monsters were coming from.

(CLAPS)

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-44

It’s a really big spoilers ... (Laughs)

OKAY! Here’s another example from the Bloodmarch, he looked to be trapped earlier, but what he might not realize is what a bunch of jerks these guys are... here they are, they are in their guard tower, there all holed up. They are super confident, and dropping traps on you, They are peppering you with darts. They think they have got it made. Its not really the case! Your gonna take them out!

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-45

You’re gonna deliver some justice to these guys. But not any kind of justice will do. We want some poetic justice for something like this ... right ? So when you take the tower down, they just get dismembered by their own traps, and their giant bloody mess.. Just watch that.... yeah!

(CLAPS)

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-46

The last thing that I wanna focus on today is how important it is that we make monsters that you can understand?

We want monsters that you can relate to! It makes them so much more interesting to kill, when you all can understand and you know what they are...

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-90

So I’ve got some examples...

Some behaviors that we give monsters to help you understand them, and here is a great ragged and enriched story in a monster that we call the Exorcist.

You find this guy in Westmarch. It is one of Malthael's crew. Now when we first started working on this guy, we got this idea, what if he just dropped like a bunch of evil stuff on the ground that would chase you. You’d think your job was gonna be run away from them. And you worked okay; but we think if you’re gonna run away from something in a Diablo game, you should understand what it is... it should be familiar to you, you should get it! You should see why it is dangerous, and this just wasn’t hitting it. It is just too abstract.

So we took this guy back to the drawing board. Gave him some new abilities, something that you can really get. Now he charges himself up, in a being of ultimate lightning power and blasts you with lightning in it, and the reason why this works so much better is because, you completely get this idea that this guy, he’s bristling with energy and get that dark skeleton there with that Diablo kind of thing, right? And the lightning is something that everybody understands. That’s a monster that might be worth the try, might want to run away.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-49

Alright, so here we have the Westmarch Hound, another monster, like this in Reaper of Souls. If you look at him, he looks like a bulldog. So what should he do? He should do things like a bulldog does. He likes to chew on stuff. So we thought let’s make it treat the player like a chew toy. So when he's done with you, you’re covered in dog slobber. It's really gross.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-50

But here’s the thing, that’s not the only dog behavior we thought of. Let’s see what happens when a Westmarch Hound kills a player.

Note: The Westmarch Hounds urinates on your character's corpse after it kills you.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-51

(Claps and cheer sound)

Haha. Let’s see it again, one more time. So humiliating. Alright, that wraps up our look at monsters for Reaper of Souls. And now I’m going to kick back over to Kevin Martens who is going to bring us all up to speed with a new area called the Pandemonium.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-52

(Claps and cheers)

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /]

Martens: Alright, so its very hard to top that, so let’s switch gears completely. What we’d love to do at BlizzCon specifically that we don’t do anywhere else is talk a lot about velocity. Why we consistently do and in our process? How do we make things? So we want to show you a lot about Pandemonium and reveal the zone; but lets talk about how we make areas using Pandemonium as the example, for a second.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-53

So we have to ask ourselves a few questions, like, just like when we’re making a monster, for area, the most important one is what is the fantasy? Why is it awesome? Just to walk around in the zone.

When you see a screenshot or flip through a video, you feel like you want to play there. But Pandemonium is fairly obvious If you don’t know already what this is, Pandemonium is the eternal battlefield. This is where the angels and demons combat their eternal conflicts. At different times this chaotic ever changing area has been held by the demons, then held by the angels. It has elements of both and the place is sort of, its beyond human understanding, the races that inhabit it are not humans, and they don’t work like humans. That’s a very interesting thing in and on itself.

You can tell that we wanted to take you there for a long time because we keep showing it to you. Remember in the Diablo opening cinematic, the angels are pouring down onto the Forgotten Battlefield.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-54

The demons are coming up they are holding it right now.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-55

Like yeah, let’s go there and kill things like that, right? And we also had this teaser piece called "Wrath". We did it about a month before Diablo III came out.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-56

Same thing again, angels and demons fighting in that battlefield, so its been years that we’ve wanted to go there, and finally we have got a chance to do that.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-57

Why we waited so long is because we have this idea that especially in expansions which are more self-contained than the bigger game -- like Diablo III was, you want the villain and the area to fit really well together and the player to have a good reason to go there.

So Pandemonium is a great fit for a number of reasons. But the second question we have to wonder is... where does the zone fit into the game? So there are a few key different things, and one of them is literally where does it fit? Like what zones are before and after it. In this case the story and its placement meant that a couple of things are really important. We began in Westmarch. Westmarch was a big bang opening.

Death comes down to Sanctuary, and wipes out the most powerful city that is left on Sanctuary in nearly an instant, and you -- the player -- have to go and stop them. It's really hard to trump that.

So we had to find some way that in this rising action of the expansion, that somehow Pandemonium felt grander and bigger than that. So it was the end-zone, of course, and it’s not just the end of it as a final zone; but it is the end of humanity if you don’t succeed.

Malthael is here, this is the place that he’s familiar with, it’s his territory and this matters for a few different reasons. This place is beyond humanity. It doesn’t matter how crazy we think it has gotten in Sanctuary. What happens on Pandemonium is even crazier, again, that eternal battle that happened there, and all that war stops that other races other than you have done --that is what makes this game interesting no matter how big and grand we make Westmarch. So the fact that Malthael is here, it matters a lot as well.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-58

When the battle ended, and we called it the battlefields now, the Eternal Conflict moved to Sanctuary, and it sorta became this guerrilla conflict where humanity was caught in the middle; and angels and demons were fighting on Sanctuary.

Now Malthael... He was the leader of the angels at the time, and he saw this happen. He saw humanity. Something that he thinks is an abomination that shouldn’t exist. Humans are a combination of angels and demons, and now he’s seen this enormous capacity for power that you (the player) are showing. You guys defeated the Prime Evil. Something that he’s never been able to do in the eons over the battlefield that he’s done.

He’s also seen characters like Zoltun Kulle, who are very powerful humans who chose to do evil. So ultimately his solution at the time he was the Angel of Wisdom, he became Death, and he’s going to wipe out humanity, so he can wipe out all remaining traces of demonic essence out of the world and supposedly live in a world where there’s only angels left. So he’s here and if you don’t stop him -- he’s nearly already succeeded by the time the game’s begun so it’s a very intense zone and that's how we’re able to trump westmarch, and also made him as intense as possible.

So keep this backstory in mind that makes it intense, having the zone and the game. We’ll be running through exactly how we made the game, so Tim?

(Clap)

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /]

Linn: Alright. Thank you Kevin. So before we start working on the Forgotten Battlefields. First thing we did is to brainstorm with the artists.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-59

And I’m going to show you a few of those brainstorms now. This first one, is what we really like about is the dark atmosphere that it had, and we like the idea of this river of souls born from this dark sinister looking orb.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-60

Alright this is the next one. This is the [EDIT]. The core of the Pandemonium. We really thought that this image did a great job of depicting the nexus between heaven and hell.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-61

Right, like the otherworldly feeling of this shot, one challenge we had on Diablo, though, is it sometimes things feels too futuristic though we thought on this shot that the massive stone, floating war-torn structure will help ground the image.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-62

Alright, this one is a much more traditional rendering of a battlefield with ancient titans in the background. We knew, though, that if we added these giant remains to the battlefield it would really give the environment a sense of epic scale.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-63

Alright, Ok. This is one of the prototypes that we do. These are awesome, these are fantastic because they allow us to add monsters to them, they allow us to add mighty equipment. We look at when we’re building a level, when you look close you see that this one was chip bash together in about a day with existing the existing Zoltun Kulle art assets, we like this one because we felt like it felt like a building graveyard.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-64

Alright, now it is warps. We warp way ahead to the first shot you’re going to see of in Pandemonium. This is where you are going to start your journey. As you can see we took some things from the brainstorm, we took the floating ideas, we took the otherworldly ideas, and we added it to the level.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-65

Alright, now we’ve reached the heart of the level. You can see that we’ve added some primitive angelic architecture up in the left hand corners surrounding one of our new hazards for the zone. Zaven is going to talk about that in a second.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-66

Ok, so the level is slowly ripping apart over the eons. If you look close when the video starts, again, we’ve added the dead demons, the huge petrified demons to the edges of the level to give it that the epic sense of scale.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-67

Alright, Now we’ve reached the climax of the level. The Fortress wall, the entrance is in front of us now. Malthael's domain is behind those walls; and this is where you’re going to have to fight your way in. So fight! Now we’re going to give is to Zaven to talk about the gameplay of the level.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-68

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /]

Haroutunian: Thanks, Tim. So when we first started building our exterior zones in Reaper of Souls, we knew we wanted to make some changes compared to how we did them in Acts I through IV.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-69

Now the exteriors in those acts are barely fetched, they’re very static. The interiors are slightly randomized and we really wanted to change that up for Reaper of Souls. So to that end we made fully randomized exteriors and Pandemonium is one of those; and so, as you can see here, these are just basic renderings of the mini-maps of the entire level. You can see that the location of the start, and exit is completely different between the two. The shapes are very different.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-70

We actually have the interiors of the zone also fully randomized, all of them. Not just little bits and pieces. We got these nice organic edges that are again fully randomized every time you play. We also completely randomized the direction and flow through the zone.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-71

That means every time you play the zone whether its in story-mode or in Adventure-mode or even Nephalem Rifts, the zone is random every single time you play. And inside this random zone you guys are seeing are Realm Walkers.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-72

We have a few other treats here, we have an abandoned garrisons, these are ancient fortresses that the angels built to ward off the demons. And inside, these are abandoned, so the monsters that have taken over are not necessarily what you’d expect. They’re not angels or demons; they’re completely other types of monsters.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-73

We also have these battles frozen in time, when the angels controlled this place they set traps everywhere just to imprison the demon hordes, you know, to lessen the numbers that were coming through. But the player can now go in -- smash the trap, and kill all the demons and get all the loot.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-74

You also have deadly hazard, just spread out all throughout the zone. Like this is a very contentious battlefield for heaven and hell, so here the angels have laid traps all throughout to stop the demons. But now you’re the bad guy to Malthael, so you’re going to have to contend with all of these on the way. So we’ve seen, we’ve got the fully randomized zone. We’ve got a whole bunch of cool content on the side and let’s see how it all comes together. Let’s see the zone live in action with some actual gameplay.

(video plays)

Alright, I’m going to pass this back to Josh. He’s going to wrap this up.

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /]

Mosqueira: Thanks Zaven, so what do you guys think?

(claps and cheer sounds)

Yeah?! They’re so excited. We cannot wait for you guys to try it out. Get a sneak peek right now here on the show floor, but really looking forward for you guys to getting your hands on the Reaper of Souls. As you can see, we crammed a lot of features into it. I think there’s more features in Reaper of Souls than there is loot inside the Treasure Goblin. So really looking forward to you guys playing it. Right Now. I’m going to take a few moments to say thank you. You guys are the most awesome fans. You guys are what help make the game better and thank you for coming along on this awesome ride of Reaper of Souls. We are shutting down the auction house. With the Crusader. The darker, more gothic Act V, Adventure Mode, Loot 2.0. We’re really excited to see what the future has in store for Diablo III. Thank you guys, and here’s a final treat-- our gameplay trailer.

(cheer sounds)

Mosqueira: Awesome! So before the Q&A, I just want to let you guys know that there’s a very awesome Lore panel today, and tomorrow we’re doing a deep dive into a lot of the gameplay systems. We’ll talk about the Crusader, Loot 2.0 and a lot of great new skills; but before we get out of here I’m sure you guys have maybe one or two questions.

Q&A Session

Fan # 1: So what’s going on with the ladder system?

Mosqueira: Ladders... ladders are awesome to climb. (laughs) A little bit more, they have rungs and the whole point is to get to the top, right? Stay tuned!!! (Mosqueira gets an ear-to-ear grin)

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-75

Fan #2: So with the closing of the auction house and everybody buying and selling gold, what are you planning on doing to affect the flow of gold that’s going to come in the market just before the auction house closes??

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-76

Martens: So, I’ll take this, so the question was, what are we going to do about all the gold that is in the economy essentially? Okay.

So we have a number of new gold sinks coming and again the gameplay panels tomorrow are going to go in very specifically. One of the big ones is Enchanting.

Enchanting is the system that allows you to re-roll any stat on your item, so essentially we re-roll it to make it better for yourself; and that’s a smart drop call as well so very likely to be good. For your character, you can see all the potential things you can, it’s a major thing. You’ve got a new blacksmith, new and better blacksmith that is coming. Also smart drops that when they do roll are again much more likely to be better.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-77

Things like that and those are just a couple of the big features for gold sinks. So we do intend to find ways to get some gold out of the economy, and the bounce that we have to do is that we don’t want to make it so if you’re not already one of the people of 40 billion gold and for some reason you can’t participate in that, so the people of 40 billion gold can probably pull the slot machine a little harder, but ultimately gold is not going to be as big of a delta factor as our character power as it has been for the auction house’s life.

Fan # 3: So first of all awesome, thank you so much. You guys are breathing new life in to it, it sounds amazing, my question though is so you now have this full open Adventure Mode. Are all the previous areas gonna be designed like those maps that you brought up prior?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-78

Wong: All acts will be [EDIT] so every Act is gonna have a map just like the one you saw for Act III, and it will be always opened up for you guys, bounce around.

Mosqueira: I think when you guys get to do Nephalem Rifts, that's really where we-- full throttle on the whole randomization. The layouts are gonna be totally different, that's really how awesome an engine we have.

Fan #4: Hi, thanks. I actually enjoyed the game, but I had one issue, no Offline Mode. When are we gonna get it?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-79

Mosqueira: So here is the thing. When we decided to design Diablo III, we feel that Diablo is played best when you play it with your friends when you have access to this awesome communinity that is Blizzard.

Like so, when we have BlizzCon, we felt that it was really important for us to have that social connection for you to have access to your friends list. It also allows to make sure your characters are always stored, and it was really important for us to really satisfy that social aspect of the game.

Martens: In fact, we're adding more multiplayer feautres so groups and clans were teased in the trailer there. Those are coming in, as well; and that's a feature that makes being online even better. So I think that we can try to make the fact that it is Always-Online a more satisfying experience even more so than joining co-op which is already out there.

[table id=49 /]

[table id=49 /] Fan #5: Hello, not so much of a question, but I just wanted to say -- as a hardcore player -- I thought death couldn't get any worse; but that dog... oh my god, thank you!

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-80

Mosqueira: You are welcome.

Fan #6: Hey, how you doing? Hey, Josh! With the removal of the auction house -- I know that you talked about this a little bit yesterday; but on a public forum; but with the removal of the auction house, what if any sort of trading model will you or will not put in place to protect people from everything that happens in Sanctuary, not just from evil monsters?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-81

Mosqueira: So right now we're still in the process of really figuring out what trading means for Diablo. Obviously, there is a social component that we still want to retain; but at the end of the day, it's kinda fundamental to our Loot 2.0 philiosophy that we feel that like finding items in-game -- like killing monsters -- to be the most rewarding, the most satisfying and the best way to get your hands on all items.

Fan # 7: Hey, bosses are always difficult -- typically static -- just waiting for you to walk in to the room before they start fighting. Have you thought about making them move around in the hallways making people really think about it before they get into a big battle?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-82

Mosqueira: I don't know. Jesse, have we?

Maccree: Hello, so in Nephalem Rifts that's exactly what happens. When a boss spawns, it is in the level with all the monsters; and you have to contend with everything. So if you're fighting a champion pack when one spawns, and it's right on your head you'll have to deal with all of that.

Fan #8: What are your plans for revamping PvP? You have had all of an entire new expansion to do so.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-83

Mosqueira: So, you know, PvP is something that a week doesn't go by without Stephen here asking me what we are doing for PvP; and it's something we're always talking about and we're really trying to figure out what is the right way to express PvP. What does it actually mean? How can we make it fun? And it's something we have hopes for; but for Reaper of Souls the focus has been on the core gameplay loot, the epic heroes against the forces of darkness with the promise of epic loots.

So we started here with the fundamentals. Once we feel like we have those really solid, then we're going to ask the fun question how we get you guys fighting each other.

Fan #9: Hi, so you guys have added back-peddling monsters. what about keyboard-turning?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-84

Wong: Are you talking about the inputs and use of the keyboard to control ...

Martens: We lost him.

Wong: Alright sorry

Fan #10: Hi, I have a question about what are you gonna be doing about unique items just like the best loots in the game, because right now it seems like you have a lot of items with cool effects; but it seems like the stats just trump any of those effects. So like when I am playing something with a cool effect drops; but it's like ohh this doesn't have my primary stats this doesn't have enough "Crit" so I'm not gonna use it. So what are you gonna do about like giving us items that have cool effects and that are optimal to use, so that we actually want to use them?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-85

Martens: Okay, so lots of different things actually. So just a few of the things that we're doing, once again, we're giving a bunch of examples to make during the gameplay panel, so I'll answer the question, anyway, but please come tomorrow. You can talk to our item designer in more detail.

So we are narrowing the range of things, so for example if you have a hammer that could roll from 1 to 500 Strength. At the upper tier that's narrows to 300 – 500. So even if you got the minimum roll still that's a pretty decent item. The legendary effects on the new legendaries are all somewhat game-changing. We're trying to give them wacky things they do, that changes perhaps the way you see one of the existing builds -- we have a witch doctor mask, for example, that causes 4 or 5% to not just fear monsters, but to root them as well. So you have a major crowd control effect.

If as a witch doctor, you haven't used Horrify before, you probably gonna want to now. For example, we have a lot of things like that when we're narrowing it for smart dropping it so your primary stats for your character class is more likely to be rolled; and so on and so on. There's probably 3 or 4 more smart drop system we're gonna talk about tomorrow.

Fan #11: Hello, everyone. Thanks for such fantastic game. My question is at the beginning of the first Act there are so many of these side dungeons that add variety to the game, but then it tappers off at the end of the game. Like you ran out of development time or whatever happened, is there anything that you're going to do to add more of those in; or do you have any additional plans for the first four Acts of the game.

Martens: Ok, so basically the question was as you get towards Act 3 and 4 the amount of side dungeons density lowers? That's for a couple of reasons. At the end, specially in Act 4, we really feel that players at that point -- after the big reveal -- they just wanna get to Diablo.

So it became a little bit narrow and centered apparently, but we recognized that that's an issue; and that's actually when Adventure Modes comes in. When we talked about earlier that people were playing the game over and over again -- part of it was, you had a goal you wanted to kill Diablo in your current difficulty level, that was actually encouraging you not to bother with the side dungeons; because that slows you down to getting to your goal ultimately to Diablo and Inferno.

With removing that requirement and making the side dungeons bounties we take in everything every nook and cranny in the game; so we can give you occasionally a good reason to go there to increase the variety, so all the side dungeons we do have -- now happen in a much more varied order.

So yeah when you're in heaven, and you have few bounties to do there, we're gonna make sure you see some side dungeons there; and we're gonna send you to other acts to do other things. So I think that we would be addressing your concern really well with adventure mode.

Microphone-holder: We're at about our time so... last question,

Fan: 12: Firstly, thank you guys for such hard work and for making an amazing game. My question is more on the architecture maybe with the always on for Hardcore. I lost a few characters personally to little bit of light spikes, or hardcore just times out. Is there any architecture improvements possibly coming that will help, next thing a little help with rubberbanding, but can we expect anything else with this theme Always-On and connected and possibly losing characters that way?

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-87

Martens: Yeah, we're constantly looking at those situations on a regular basis. We are adding server capacity in different regions. Yeah, we're conscious about that, and we're doing everything we can to solve issues like that.

Alright, thank you guys! See you guys tomorrow at the panel.

blizzcon-2013-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-preview-88

[table id=49 /]