BlizzCon 2014 - Diablo III: What's Next Panel Transcript

This is a transcript of the Diablo III: What's Next panel held at BlizzCon 2014 in the Anaheim Convention Center on November 7. Among the panelists were Diablo III developers:

Josh Mosqueira (game director), Jonny Ebbert (senior designer), Wyatt Cheng (senior technical designer) and Kevin Martens (lead game designer).

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Transcript

Mosqueira: Hello, Blizzcon!

(Audience cheers)

Mosqueira: Awesome! How are you guys doing? How was the opening ceremony? It was epic, epic.

Attendee: Fix up the stream!

Mosqueira: You’re right, and we are going to fix that right now. So who is interested in hearing a little bit about a game we call Diablo III?

(Audience cheers)

Mosqueira: Awesome. So I’m Josh Mosqueira, the game director, and with me on stage we have Johnny Ebbert (our senior designer) and Wyatt Cheng (senior technical designer), and our lead game designer Kevin Martens; and we want to welcome you to the "What’s Next" panel for Diablo III.

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So let’s get right into it. What an amazing year it has been and let me be the first one but not the last one to say a huge thank you for your love, for your support and for killing all the demons and getting all the loot. You guys have been awesome. The year started off about a year ago when we announced you were going to shut down the Auction House. What do we think about that? It was awesome.

(Audience cheers)

Mosqueira: And then we followed that up with Patch 2.1.0, that really brought up Loot 2.0; and then we followed that up with Reaper of Souls, and the Ultimate Edition; and since then you guys have fought Malthael and killed them both on PC and console; and you guys have been awesome, and we really enjoy-- but guess what?

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Now we get to talk about "What’s Next" and for us death was just the beginning. So you know, in the last couple of months we released Patch 2.1.0, we brought you Greater Rifts. We brought you Ladders also known as Seasons.

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In a whole new area, you guys are to explore in a cesspools, but that’s not it and today we are going to talk about all the amazing new things you guys can look forward to in the next couple of months. Leading up to what is going to be Patch 2.1.2 which is really coming soon.

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So what are we going to cover today? A lot of cool stuff. What’s new with Greater Rifts? A whole new area to explore. Some more details behind Patch 2.1.2. But we are going to start with one of my favourite little rascals in the world of Sanctuary: the treasure goblins.

(Audience cheers)

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Mosqueira: This is one of the epic moments of playing Diablo. There you are busy, minding your own business and this little bugger shows up and you throw caution to the wind and you start chasing him often throughout the pass of monsters. Usually with the hardcore character and you forget you are playing hardcore and you die, but you chase him because he’s going to drop loot, right? And this guy really changes the way you play the game.

So we love this guy so much that we decided that we needed to create a whole realm for the treasure goblins. A whole family got the trooper and that queen is still one of my favourite monsters in D3.

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But we felt that the star, the treasure goblin didn’t get enough love, right? So you probably know that we have the main treasure goblin and we have a couple of dopplegangers.

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You know we have 3 other treasure goblins that all they have is to wear different color pants.

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And we felt that was wrong. So say goodbye to them because they have now been retired and please give a warm round of applause and welcome your new treasure goblins.

(Audience applauds)

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Mosqueira: So let me introduce them starting with the Gem Hoarder. Now any guess what he drops?

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Yes, you are going to see him and he’ll spawn in front of his portal and every time you hit him gems are going to drop, and more gems, right? Yea, look at all those gems and of course what’s going to happen when you kill him? A gem explosion!

(Audience cheers)

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Mosqueira: Yea, because gems are awesome. Alright, he’s not alone. We have this green guy we called the Odious Collector.

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Now what does he drop? Well he has a thing for crafting materials and plans. So that’s exactly what he’s going to drop. So as you are chasing him down (and you really looking for these crafting materials) this is the guy to chase because he's going to drop some pretty cool plans. Some yellows and greens and oranges. This is very awesome.

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The last guy we are introducing today: the Blood Thief. Now him and Kadala don’t get along and you can probably figure out why cause all the bloods you give Kadala, he steals. So the only right thing for us to do is try to get them back. Right?

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So there you go and he is going to drop a few blood shards, some small blood shards, and of course he’s going to drop a whole ton of blood shards. Yea, very awesome, isn’t it?

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So in addition to few new types, we have a few tweaks to really make the gameplay really come to life. So we focus on the visibility if you notice on the clips the goblins now spawn in front of the portal. They have more unique sounds so you will be able to hear them and see them but also figure we need to make it more interesting to fight.

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Now there’s a different stagger count and now they are going to do this really sneaky thing of actually trying to find other enemies to lure your towards. So keep that in mind. We also created unique mini-map icons for each of the new treasure goblins so you can figure out when to see them and how to fight and find them.

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So is there a new treasure goblin family that you guys can expect to fight and slaughter in our upcoming Patch? Now speaking of which, now going to pass that back to Jonny and he will tell you all the changes coming up to Adventure mode. Jonny?

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Adventure Mode

Ebbert: Thanks Josh. How you guys doing?

(Audience cheers)

Jonny Ebbert

Ebbert: They switched clickers on me here. Give me a second to absorb this thing. So Adventure Mode. So in Reaper of Souls we introduced Adventure Mode, because we just wanted to turn you all loose in the wide world of Sanctuary. Very exciting place. And we didn’t want you to have to deal with the restrictions of story mode.

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We wanted you to be able to jump from point to point without having to go back to the menus. And we also put bounties in to entice you to visit some areas maybe you didn’t have the time to check out when you were in story mode-- like Scavenger’s Den.

And you guys responded with overwhelming enthusiasm. Adventure mode is by far the most popular mode. So we sat down and we asked ourselves: "What are some of the things we could do to make it a little better for you?"

And we came up with three things. So first, we thought that we should add a few more legendary gems. Second, we wanted to add some more visual variety to Rifts and Greater Rifts; and finally, we decided to take a look at some of the hub layouts. Let’s talk about hub layouts for a second, we are extremely happy--

Mosqueira: Wait for it.

Ebbert: We are very happy with Acts 3, 2 and 5. Everything is pretty convenient, and it’s pretty easy to get what you want and get back to slaying out in the wide world of sanctuary.

Now we have heard some reports... maybe that one is a little too spread out. Maybe it takes a little too long to get to the Mystic or the Jeweler. So we asked Deckard Cain: Can he do a little research mission for us.

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His mission, how long does it take to get to the jeweler? We are going to check back a little while. Let’s talk about Rifts and Greater Rifts.

So Rifts and Greater Rifts, like I have been telling you, the sanctuary is an exciting place, lot of cool zones, lot of cool monsters you can meet and kill. Rifts gave us the opportunity to give you an even more exciting world to explore.

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So we take our terrain and your terrain set and we can mix that with a different atmosphere, which is the lighting and the ambient effects and we can mix it with another monster set.

For instance, if you go into the Rift and you hit the Heaven terrain set-- the atmosphere from Arreat Crater give you like the monsters from Act 2 so it keeps things fresh and you can kill them.

So the problem is: some of the zones from early days of the project weren’t built with this functionality in mind. So let’s take Tristram Fields, for example. Tristram Fields comes up in a Rift or Greater Rift.

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You always start at this freaking bridge and then you always see the river going up the right side and you always see the road going up to that little canyon that goes nowhere in Adventure mode and you have to look for the Den of the Fallen in Scavenger's Den in the top right plays exactly how it does in the Story mode.

So we took the tile set and pulled it apart, and we made it so that any number of layouts and flows could happen. So this is one of a dozen that could pop up. Now the important thing is the entrance and exit can be anywhere.

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So it’s not going to be like the Leoric's Jail where you always start here and you just need to get down here. It’s going to feel like a fresh and exciting experience for you.

The zone you are going to expect have more varied layouts and again Rift and Greater Rift are: Oasis, Spider Caves, and Leoric's Jail.

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Then in upcoming patches... Tristram Fields, Festering Woods and Stinging Winds will actually be making his debut because of the way we built it, it cannot actually be in Rifts or Greater Rifts right now.

So that will be an exciting moment for us all. Let’s talk about Legendary Gems. How many of you guys feel about Legendary Gems?

(Audience applauds)

Ebbert: Really, is that all? How do you feel about Legendary gems?

(Audience applauds and screams)

Ebbert: Now we are talking. So we had a few goals for Legendary Gems. First, it was to add another vector for you guys to get more powerful and get higher in Greater Rift tiers.

More importantly, we wanted to give you a ways to change your gameplay and we wanted to give you more tactical variety; and our final fantasy as designers is we wanted to give you the opportunity to create a larger variety of builds because collectively you guys never cease to amaze us with the cool and corky builds you come with and every time we see a new one we always huddle around somebody’s computer and we are like “Oh my gosh they are doing that with our stuff?” So we are hoping Legendary Gems will do that and then some.

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So we pulled the player data -- because we are watching you, and there’s a lot to be happy about here. All the gems are getting a decent amount of play. Now there’s a couple of things we would like to see change in the future. Bane of the Powerful, Bane of the Trapped, and Enforcer taking up almost half the pie. We would like to see that shrink.

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Taeguk, Moratorium, and Invigorate not taking up quite as much pie as we would like. Now we don’t want to do a redesign, and we don’t want to break out the dreaded nerf bat. So our approach is we are hoping that as we add more legendary gems there are going cut into the pie of the big pieces, and then as we add additional legendary items, new sets in the future some of these that are on the lower end of the pie might experience resurgence as you guys find new creative and exciting ways to use them.

With that being said in 2.1.2, you can expect two new legendary gems. So we decided to focus on healing and a defensive gem because they aren’t getting as much play as we would like to see.

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For the first one: Esoteric Alteration, got to read it out cause I know you can’t see it from the back.

Esoteric Alteration gained 30% non-physical damage reduction. When you get this legendary gem to 25, when you get below half health-- all of your elemental resistance is increased by 75%.

It’s going to be a real lifesaver when you’re fighting that really tough Greater Rift boss. Next one Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard and I just wanted to add we do not advocate the irresponsible hunting of Molten Wildebeest. You know, be responsible but if you find the gizzard it’s fair game. So it generates an eye popping 50,000 life per second and--

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Cheng: Danny... that’s still subject to PTR.

Johnny: You guys can have fun with 50,000 life per second and then after not taking damage for 4 seconds you gain a shield for 200% of you total life per second. So those are legendary gems that are going to be waiting for you, and the changes to Adventure mode. Now I’m going to turn it over to Wyatt Cheng to talk about Greater Rift changes.

(Audience claps)

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Greater Rift Changes

Cheng: Thanks, Jonny. In Patch 2.1 we released Greater Rifts which have been a huge hit. You guys have been hitting up the Greater Rifts?

(Audience cheers)

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Cheng: But we know that there are still improvements that needs to be made to Greater Rifts. A big one has to do with randomness. On the team we feel that randomness is a tool to help make the game feel more replayable. We know that you want to do a rift again and again because you are trying to get that sweet piece of the loot.

We want to make sure that the game stays interesting and dynamic so that every time you play the game it’s different. So our general philosophy on randomness is that we are not trying to treat randomness as a goal within itself but we are trying to use it as a tool to keep the replayability of Diablo III as high as possible.

Wyatt Cheng

I’m going go through some examples of changes that are going to come with Greater Rifts and how our philosophy on randomness plays out.

Let’s talk about Pylons a little bit. There’s a common thread on the community and forums and so forth that the conduit pylons stands out as a huge outlier.

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People always talking about how for certain builds you get to the Rift Guardian and you have conduit pile on and that’s the only way that you can beat that Highest Rift. That when you are about to fail on; and then you’re just trying to figure out if you’re going to get to a conduit, or am I not?

The most common request we get is to remove the Conduit Pylon. That’s not what we want to do, but we are considering some changes to Conduit. What we would rather do is focus on the question why is the Conduit Pylon getting so much attention?

There’s five different pylons in the game. Why isn’t the Speed Pylon or the Shielding Pylon getting some attention? What if they were just as good as the Conduit Pylon for improving your time?

So on PTR on 2.1.2, we are going to experiment with some changes to the Speed Pylon. It’s going to last the whole minute instead of 30 seconds. It’s going to let you run through waller. It’s going to let you run through monsters, and knock them up into the air.

We are making some changes to the Shielding Pylon. When monsters hit you, you are going to do reflect damage on them. Also when the shielding ends you are going to explode and do damage to everything that is near you at the time that the Shielding Pylon wears off.

(Audience cheers)

Cheng: So that’s kind of an example of how we are looking at these pylons and we are saying we don’t want to take the pylons out because that’s going to make every rift run feel more lamey.

It’s actually going to reduce the replayability factor of the rifts. What we would rather do is say it’s not a question of if I can get a conduit or not; it’s which pylon did I get this time and what did I do with that.

We are also looking at how many pylons do I get, you know sometimes you get one pylon and sometimes you get six. So we are doing some special changes to it to make sure that you get pretty much between two and four pylons everytime. Again we are trying to keep the randomness in there but not let it be the sole determinant by whether or not you reach a high Greater Rift.

Let’s take a look at another example, of course, monster density right? Everyone’s favourite topic. We are looking at improving the monster density in all the rifts that are low. These changes include making sure the elite is there, the elite bosses are there, that the theme is consistent.

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We want to make sure that success or failure doesn’t matter on the random number generator. There’s always going to be monsters there for you to slay. The only question is what kind of monsters are there going to be? And searching through the dungeon to find a good set of distribution.

Of course, there is Rift Guardians. Sometimes you go through a whole rift and you get down to the last guardian and you are like “Ohh no! I got Rime. This is so bad.”

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Don’t worry about it! We are looking at that. We are looking at all the rift guardians. You know, again we don’t just want to say ok in order to make this as fair as possible we are just going to get rid of all the guardians and just use one cause that’s not going to be as interesting.

What we are focusing on right now is making sure that every rift guardian is memorable for its own reasons. So we are looking at making sure that they have new and interesting mechanics-- and there’s going to be a preview of that later on coming from Kevin-- but one of the newest guardians, but in general the idea is it’s not a question again.

You have heard me say it three times already we don’t want randomness to dictate your success or failure, we want it to be: "Hey, what was my distribution?," "Hey, What was my rift guardian?"

And your success or failure will depend on how well you change how you play to take on this guardian. And of course, there is level distribution, you guys have had levels like this before?

(Audience cheers)

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Cheng: So when I see that I would be honest, I'd be like... "Ohh my goodness that level looks so boring," and Kevin is like “Ahh, but it’s also really fast and efficient and fun. So I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Ebbert: I have to decide there, the first time I got one of these I had just gone into the highest rift level; and all I had was Westmarch Boots (one of these). So every time I died they changed on me. I timed it 7 minutes to get back to it so it isn’t always quite as efficient as you think.

Martens: Well, you don’t die and it’s very efficient.

(Audience laughs)

Cheng: The distributions are great, but of course not every level is like that, and you know honestly you wouldn’t want every level to be like that. I mean the different tile sets, the different layouts... that's one of the things that makes Diablo highly replayable.

So what we are looking at is-- look, if we are going to have a dead end can it not be a dead end at the end of a super long two and a half minute hallway? So we are removing all the really long dead ends so that it’s never more than like a five second backtrack or we are also looking at the loops.

I mean loops aren’t technically a dead end but if it’s a really big loop then you explore the whole thing, then you kinda feel like it was a dead end, right? So we are going to get rid of those too.

We are going to make sure that the random level generator (in the way that it does the layout) still keeps the game interesting and fresh; but again, doesn’t dictate whether or not you are going to be able to beat that last tier.

And then, you know, it’s funny that Johhny and Kevin were talking about death; because another problem with that really long hallway (of course) is what happens when you die.

Now we are not going to change hardcore because of course you know you are dead permanently; but in softcore your success or failure can depend on whether or not your run back to your corpse is really long.

It’s a really inconsistent death penalty. In fact, when you look at some of the best clears sometimes the death happen near the checkpoint because there the death penalty is irrelevant. And if it’s at the end of a long two and a half minute run you die once and your whole run you are going to basically fail that tier.

So we are looking at this screen and when we are thinking (you know): "Hey, we got this other rez/corpse respawn that we have disabled. What if we turn that back on, but we still want death to have some teeth to it?"

So again this is just experimental. We are going to put this up on PTR. Try this out. You guys can give us your feedback, but we are going to try incrementing a death timer so it would be 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 each time you die-- up to a cap. And that way the most important thing to take away is: death will still be meaningful, but the size of the death penalty doesn’t matter on the kind of level that was generated.

So it feels more like you’re in control. It’s your responsibility to stay alive. You didn’t? Here’s a consistent death penalty. So this--

(Audience claps)

Cheng: Awesome.

Ebbert: How would you like that?

Cheng: You know we should probably take some time out. I think we were talking about Deckard Cain going on that research mission. Let’s check in and see how he’s doing.

(Audience laughs)

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Cheng: Hey, that’s not bad!

Martens: He’s really super slow.

Cheng: Yea. Not the right person to pick. Alright he’s not there yet, so I guess we can use this time. We can talk about Season 2 a little bit.

(Audience screams)

Cheng: So season two is going to be on the PTR soon, and there’s going to be changes again. Let’s take a quick preview of some of the things that are coming in Season 2.

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So let’s talk about Conquests. As you know, there are five conquests: 10 in total, because for both hardcore and softcore which is supposed to be unique different ways to complete and play the game.

There are some conquests that we like and there are some conquests that we didn’t like. So what we are going to do is, we are going to bring back some of our favourite conquests like the one that get to a high greater rift here.

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I really like the way that played out. It really took a commitment from the players to prove themselves to be high on that leaderboard, and we really like how that works. That one is coming back.

How about reach level 70? No that one is gone. We are not going to bring that conquest back. We are going to replace that one. Why? Well, plain and simply focusing on getting experience as much as possible leads players to do things that are sometimes repetitive or boring; and we want the players to be doing a variety of fun activities.

It’s for the same reason that we don’t have a paragon leaderboard. You know, people ask "Where’s the leaderboard for greater rift? Where’s my paragon leaderboard?" Well, we don’t really want people to then say: "Well, I’m going to get to the top of that paragon leaderboard. Let me go and do this highly repetitive activity and optimize my XP."

Another, now this one is another interesting conquest speed racer. This one challenges the players to finish the entire game from beginning to end in one hour. We thought this was really cool. I mean, it’s not a conquest for everybody. Not everyone is going to do it.

But for the people who didn’t just want to do more Adventure modes, bounties, or greater rifts-- can say: "Hey, I got some buddies. We are going to get together." Because to people to put together custom gear sets, look at their skills in a different way. Maybe even re-gem in a different way, change what’s going on and coordinate and plan with their teammates to kind of say how are we going to finish the whole game in one hour?

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We really like that it put an interesting twist on how you would normally play Diablo. So here’s the three conquests that we are bringing to Season 2.

These will be joined by two old ones. I’ll let you guys take that in a little bit. Again as you can see the focus is on playing the game in a different way.

You are not going to get these conquests by accident; you are going to get these conquests by saying: "Hey, I want to do something different today. Look no one has done this conquest yet!" or... "Oh, I can still be in the top 100. Let me try and do this."

You are probably going to need to plan, you are going to need to think about how you are going to achieve it. You might need to change your gear a little bit or your skills to do that one. Except for that the last one for Lore there are some people out there who really love to collect those Lore books. It’s a different way to play.

Not every conquest is for every person, so we want to encourage these different play styles. So also coming in Season 2 is the new Transmog.

So we release a new two pieces of the Transmog Set every season. For those of you who have a level 70 in Season 1, you are going to get your helm and shoulder piece.

If you get a level 70 in Season 2, you are going to get the legs and the boots; and here’s a preview in season 3-- what the full set will look like.

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Let’s talk about legendary items. So I’m going to preview two legendary items and these two legendary items are both season-only legendary items.

So anybody here has a Jade Harvester witch doctor? Yea, I love playing my Jade Harvester witch doctor and this staff is really inspired with being able to change up that gameplay a little bit. Yes, you are going to cast Locust Swarm. I just want to point this staff always roll out a 21 or 25% increased poison damage as well.

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In fact, you don’t even need to be a Jade Harvester to make this work. I mean, you might be a pet build, a fetish build and you could still use this staff and just have the locust swarms coming off without the skill even being on your bar.

Here’s a video of it in action, notice as the video plays when the witch doctor runs around you don’t even have to stop to cast locust worms it just comes out in start affecting all the monsters around you.

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Another legendary that we are going to look at, this one is for wizards, this one is for energy twister. It has a chance to pull enemies in.

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For this legendary we really like how energy twister (which we have seen a lot before in Reaper of Souls). The thing is energy twister has been a lot less popular because simply there’s not a lot of legendary items that go well with it. So we are fixing that.

Again, this will be a season-only legendary. Let’s take a look at the gameplay.

Cheng: Yea, so that’s going to be good times. Alright, so I’m going to pass off the mic now to Kevin Martens, our lead designer.

(Audience applauds)

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Ancient Items

Kevin: Thanks, Wyatt. So that’s just a sneak peek of items. We are showing a lot more at tomorrow’s Reaper of Souls panel; and we’ll talk a lot more about it in a moment. We have something special coming there too.

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Ancient items, so essentially with Reaper of Souls and Loot 2.0, we completely changed how we gave out loots, the rate at which we gave it, and so on; and I have a simple diagram here to show you the difference between that. So this is Blizzard. We are Barbarian Santa and that is a sack full of legendaries that are raining from the sky all the time for you guys. So that’s good right?

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For being much more generous. Way less when the game launched, that’s all good. We don’t want to change that. However, that means some players are particularly lucky or have played a ton have actually maxed out their sets. They might have a set exactly what they want. They might even have it on even every character. Good rolls, and they ask “Hey I like to playing the game, but I sort of ran out rewards that I’m actually looking for, can you guys do anything about that?”

Kevin Martens

Well, yes we can. So coming in 2.1.2 this should start feeling exciting again for max gear people because we have ancient items. So this applies to all legendaries and all new legendaries going forward as well.

It’s an entirely new tier for them. The short version is that it’s up to 30% better and these are available starting in Torment. So the higher you go in Torment with your current max gear characters the higher chance it is that any item will roll as legendary.

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So getting right to an example, Maximus one of everyone’s favourite swords give your own demonic slave on a fire chain (a nice tactical weapon), this is a pretty good Maximus; and this is an ancient Maximus and look at all those green numbers.

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So this is coming right away on PTR as well and again let us know what you think about that. This should give a longer tale to the people who are really max gear in the game. So this will again apply to all new legendaries as well including all the cool ones we are showing off tomorrow.

Ruins of Sescheron

So we have a whole new zone for you guys and this one you can play (if you haven’t already) on our demo just over there on the showfloor; and this is: The Ruins of Sescheron.

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We have a game we released a little while ago quite a few years it was called Diablo II Lord of Destruction.

(Audience applauds)

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Martens: And I have here an edited version of the opening cinematic and in this a Barbarian lord confronts Baal the lord of destruction with his demonic army. This takes place in front of the gates of Sescheron; and you'll see-- you probably remember what happens next, so let’s watch that for a second before we show you what this area looks like.

[bluepost]

Cinematic - Diablo II: Lords of Destruction

Baal. The gates of Sescheron have sealed for eons beyond remembrance and you shall not breach them now! Remove your foul demons from our lands! We stand on the side of Light. You shall not be allowed to reach Mount Arreat and that which you seek will not be yours!

[gallery columns="4" link="file" ids="41206,41209,41208,41207"][/bluepost]

(Audience applauds)

Martens: Ok, so I grabbed that part of it because it shows you an establishing shot of Sescheron and what’s about to happen to it when Baal sends his army forward. This is going to be a new area in Adventure mode. It’s going to have bounties, it’s going to have monsters, it will be near Arreat Crater in Act III, and what you'll see on the showfloor is just a very basic version of the ruins.

So a lot of the decorative elements aren’t there yet. It already looks pretty cool, but what I have here is a bunch of new things you are going to be seeing when the zone is finally done.

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So as you can probably tell Barbarian is one of our favourite classic and has been for years. It’s the only one that came forward from Diablo II exactly as is and the artists are excited to actually show you things from the Barbarians homeland.

This was once a mighty proud people. They lived in a super harsh land and they built an extraordinary massive city; and it was wiped out basically in a day by the lord of destruction.

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So those remnants of those who are left including the old Barbarian that you played in Diablo III, they can do nothing but come back to Sescheron and bury the dead.

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So in the final version of it you are going to see a lot of funerary arts, pyres, and so on. So it’s going to have basically a lot melancholy to it as well. So we also have a lot of traps as far as gameplay goes in this area and this stuff is on the showfloor.

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So instead of showing you videos of these traps in action, I would love you guys to go and play and give us feedback on what you think.

Here is the giant swinging blade traps, and this is quite the hazard. The monsters move in and out of these.

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You are weaving through them trying to avoid them, and then these are spike traps. These have a nice tactical element to them.

That shield in the middle you can safely stand there and you can click it and spam spikes at any monsters that you have lured into that area. So this is a very interactive trap as well. Good tactical ability, and we’ll continue bumping up the damage in this because I know we all love spikes.

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New Monsters

Martens: Alright, so a new zone is not complete without new monsters. You may remember last year we unveiled a whole bunch of Reaper of Souls monsters including the Reaper family and back then we also had the Bog family.

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So our approaching monster design based on a families of monsters, groups that come together, big brutish monsters, little swarmers, etc.

This time around we are trying something different with the monster team. They are working instead on classes of monsters. So the first three I am going to show you are swarmer monsters and that's what’s in the ruins today.

We are doing all the swarmers at once and that gives us the ability to have these monsters stand out from each other. They fill the same tactical role but putting them right next to each other really puts the onus on us as designers and monster makers to have them not play all the same way.

So the ruins are empty of civilization now. So monsters have come up from the forest and down from the mountains and have infested the ruins. Some entirely new monsters called the Naja Beetle. So these are kind of little fiery bastards. They got a spit attack as well. They are very easy to kill. So these ones aren’t too hard, but they do have that fire attack.

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Maggots however, when they die with this freeze attack you can really get into trouble. They are very easy to kill; but when you are swarmed by those, you have to be careful; because there are bigger monsters surrounding them might eat you for lunch.

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And then we have also done a lot of re-visiting some of our favourite monsters. It’s nice to get another chance to try something out.

This was based on the sand wasp. This was a monster that was so beloved or behated (if that’s a word); but even has bees about them... "Oh, the bees, the bees!"-- with their spit attack.

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So these guys are different, by the way I miss how much damage that did. I like avoiding that. Showed me many times. I’m happy that we nerfed that. We should bump that back up.

Anyway, these guys are a lot more aggressive than them on the actual physical level. They burst out of these valley nests. They come right at you, and they do have a spit attack like the other wasp; but they use it a lot less frequently and there’s a lot more of their stinger in action there now, so this is a good monster who is very aggressive.

Alright, and then we have one more monster we are showing today, and a sneak peek of another one. This is the Rat King. If you don’t know, well you know we have a history of having very gross monsters in this game.

I’m going to say the Queen of Greed that we showed earlier, or the lord of Gluttony from Act III. This one is really the most disgusting that we have done. Please, if you have children in the audience, please cover their eyes. This is gross. Let’s just get to it.

I’m a little trypophobic, so I won’t be watching this.

If you don't know what is trypophobia that is a fear of organic holes and the things that might come out of them; and being Diablo-- nothing good is going to come out of this; but teasing enough...

This is the Rat king or the basic concept for it. That’s gross. You have seen gross stuff before, so it’s not a big deal. Yea, that’s pretty gross, fine.

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Alright. So here’s the model and this is the process by which we make these creatures. This is sort of a twisted natural creature that appeared in the world of Sanctuary.

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Long before demons became a problem for humans this was already a deadly world and then here our final version of the model that you play in the game.

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So a quick behind-the-scene story of how this monster actually plays before I get to the good part. This monster has antlers (that’s like twisted nature themed). He originally had a teleport attack and we changed in the demo on the showfloor.

He’s got a burrowing attack instead. So he comes out of his own organic hole before-- I’m getting ahead of myself.

We checked that once you went into a borrowing attack the antlers really didn’t make sense and we took those off; and we will probably bring them back on another behavior later on; but this is the final model of the version you play in the game. So here is why he has to turn away.

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Cheng: I’m not looking.

Martens: Ok. What’s popping out of his back are slimy little albino rats. Every time you hit him, rats come out and attack you. Every time he sees you, he shakes his back and a whole bunch of slimey little rats come out and attack you. When you kill him, a whole nest of rats come out and attack you.

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And they are gross, and they are wet; and let's get right to the gameplay video. This by the way, is a Rift Guardian: Hamelin the Rat King. Oh there are the rats. Oh my God! Rat tornado. Rat tornado. Right there in the middle.

Their tails are tied together. They are coming at you, watch out! This green ring keeps you trapped with Hamelin. You can only use your movement abilities to get out. Another rat tornado. Can our monk survive? And watch his back. Splat! ... and that is where rats are born in the world of Sanctuary.

(Audience claps)

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Martens: So thank you. You know, I don’t know what’s wrong with us either. Ok, so you better kill him before he kills you because otherwise undignified things are going to happen.

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That’s very good. This is why we do the panel after lunch. So there are other monsters that we didn’t have ready for a playable state. Everything I just showed you can be played right now right over there.

The Yeti family is coming as well so Yeti is another monster from Diablo II that we liked and we are going to put our own Diablo III twist on these things and we will try not to be as gross as the other ones. But this is the monster we are working on right now back at the office and hopefully next time when we get together you will be able to fight these things in a build.

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Ok. Oh, hey! He made it. That took a while. Alright, Deckard Cain. Please report your official time, how long does it take to get to the Jeweler?

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Way too long. Ok that is more than fair, the good news is we fixed it in Act I everything is super close to the hub and the time portal.

(Audience cheers)

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It is no longer faster to go to Act III, do your shopping and come back to Act I anymore. So this is how long it takes to get to the Jeweler now. Ta-dah! magic. Alright. Ok. So of the stuff we showed today, what’s coming when and how ... so again, Patch 2.1.2 is coming "very soon"-- as a registered trademark of Blizzard Entertainment.

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The treasure Goblins, all those treasure goblins are coming and maybe more. Season 2 will be there on PTR, with all the Conquests. We would like you guys to spend some time playing that as well as the new legendaries that are with that; and the new legendary gems, adventure mode improvements, everything we talked about with greater rifts and adventure mode is coming in Patch 2.1.2 and a little salve for poor, poor Cain.

In the future (as of yet unnumbered Patches) the Ruins of Sescheron will be coming. Our new monsters not just the ones there, not just the Yeti but more we can’t show today quite yet. A whole bunch of new legendaries and more stuff, more things, more features and so on.

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I notice that ancient item is missing off this list. That’s coming in Patch 2.1.2 as well. So tomorrow and today we have what we are calling the legendary workshop. This is working with you guys as our community to build a legendary together.

We have been already gathering ideas on twitter and so forth; and we have had two special things happening as well. At the community booth we are going to be looking for volunteers to come on stage and actually participate at a whiteboard-- an actual whiteboard used for the legendary design at the office-- with us on stage to design a legendary based on some of the ideas we are putting forward.

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Furthermore, at the community booth for the next hour, hour and twenty minutes after this: Wayatt and Travis Day one of our item designers will be at the booth accepting your ideas. So please come and give them.

They don’t have to be complete ideas, you don’t have to know what type of items it’s on. You just have to have an idea like: "Wouldn’t it be awesome if the Barbarian had a two handed weapon that was actually made of a monk in spiky armor who is just keeping his body rigid.

Cheng: Any ideas is fine. Over at the community booth.

Martens: Right, and so our job as designers and with our guest designers from the community we’ll be trying to turn those ideas into some sort of reality. Something we can actually get into the game in a future Patch.

And lastly, I want to say this has been a crazy journey for us, from before Diablo shipped will all this anticipation, the highs and lows of launch, all these patches, Reaper of Souls, etc.

You guys have been with us from the beginning. You have been very patient, very helpful. We spend a lot of time in this game. We put our hearts and souls in this. Thank you for being here and I hope you guys come tomorrow to the "Evolving Reaper of Souls." We are going to show off a whole bunch of new legendaries and a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. Thank you.

(Audience cheers)

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Panel Q&A

Martens: I believe we have time for questions.

Mosqueira: Right. Questions. I think we have one mic over there and I think that’s it.

Question 1: Years and years ago and a much earlier BlizzCon -- I think after Diablo III was released-- I asked Jay Wilson whether or not he had any plans for Uber-Diablo; and at the time he said “Well, you guys have got Inferno, and so maybe after that” and now you have invented so much other stuff. Uber Diablo. What would you say?

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Martens: I think we have spoken about it "Uber Diablo" before, and we haven’t built one yet. But certainly it has been on our minds. Thus far, we have focused on brand new monsters and some of the other Uber fights; but we have talked about it, I mean, we are not associating those with any patch or making any promises; but yes it is a good idea. Hopefully, Diablo has enough space that an Uber version would feel fresh now. So good idea. Thank you.

Question 2: I just want to say thank you for such a great game that you guys done so far, and for actually listen to the community. Maybe you will go over this tomorrow, but my question is: (???) like an orange color can we like actually change it ourselves to red or pink if we wanted to for kicks and giggles?

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Martens: This is a applying to legendary items?

Question 2: To any item.

Martens: So the question is "Can we change like the drop color of the items or something like that?" To be honest we have no current plans to do anything like that we hadn’t actually heard that request before; but certainly we can discuss it. Thank you.

Question 3: Hi, how are you guys doing? My question is when the season ends and all our previous everything of Season 1 rolls into the previous season or basically existing characters. How is that going to work for your items and stash rolling into your let’s say your previous characters we had before?

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Mosqueira: So how the season’s work and the items work with seasons in the end?

Cheng: Yea, so just a recap so that everyone knows at the end of Season 1 we want to make sure that any work that you have done for Season 1 rolls into what we call a man economy.

So like you said, all your gold will carry over, your paragon experience will all carry over, all you characters will come over. Your items will actually be a mail to you, there’s a custom UI that our engineers have been working on.

We couldn’t merge it into your existing stash so in the same way if you guys have ever purchased like a collectors’ edition of Reaper of Souls or you know sometimes you get the wings or the various things?

That way the pet of Warlords of Draenor-- so the items from Season 2 and Season 1 will be sent to you that way as well. Oh, and your blood shards will carry over as well.

Question 4: Hello, this question could be as controversial as the Real-Money Auction House. So get ready for it. I’m wondering, one problem that a lot of people always have in Diablo is things like stash space, character space and stuff like that.

Is there any possibility that we might get something similar to the Blizzard store in WoW, like the in-game micro-transactions, where we can buy stash space, and character space, potential Transmog type thing, and stuff like that?

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Mosqueira: So are we going to have a store where you guys can buy more stash space? No, that’s something that--- who doesn’t want more stash space right? Everybody, right?

This is something that-- Not specifically the store aspect of it, but that’s something that comes up and we always sorta discussing and talking about it, and we know everybody wants more and if we give you more, you want more; and you want more; and then eventually all the Internet will be your items, and then people will be upset at us.

So yea, it’s something that we are thinking about and you know it’s something we want to try to address. So... wait out.

Question 4: Thanks again, I appreciate it.

Question 5: Hey guys, so you guys talked about changing level layouts and all that. Right now, there is an issue where people fish for a certain rift layouts and certain mob types. Do you guys think that what you are doing is enough to stop people from fishing those Greater Rifts to get those higher rift levels?

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Cheng: Yea, I think (sorry, did you want to repeat the question? Alright.) So the question is about the rift layout and whether the mob distribution and people are fishing for them. So what we are trying to do (like I said) is to allow randomness to make things replayable; but we are looking-- we know that some monsters just stand there waiting for you to kill them.

You know, like zombies can be used as an example: "Oh, sweet! I got a nice little zombie distribution." That’s going to be good right? And I thought sarcastic because: "Yea, we are going to clear this super fast, and I am going to get tons of progress."

So we have, in terms of in the office, we use the term like paper cut monsters is what we call them. Yea, these monsters are cut generally damaging or not. Then there’s the monsters that actually cause you to react to the way that they are behaving.

We have large tanky hitpoint monsters and we are trying to make sure that you are not getting the same population of monsters every time; but you are getting a fair mix. So that the swing of how successful you are is not so dependent on the monsters that are rolled. So that’s another access to look at.

Martens: I did want to add one thing to that. The Monster team is spending some time working on the new monsters we showed you, they are spending some time adjusting some of the more irritating monsters to fight, some of the Act IV and V ones are exhausting to fight.

And so while they are worth lots of experience in the Rift, and so some times you can avoid them and take too much time so I think some of that is going to happen in 2.1.2 and some will happen in future patches. We'll make some of the monsters more equitable in that way as well so.

Some of you are really excited over there, thank you.

Question 6: When you guys showed the Ruins of Sescheron, I got really excited and I was wondering if you were going to explore other territories that were spoken of, but were never visited in-game like: Ureh, Scosglen, Xiansai, Skovos. That kinda thing.

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Martens: We have no further announcements to make at this time.

(Audience laughs)

Question 7: Hey, I have been a Diablo fan from the very beginning and first off I would like to say, Josh, you guys have really done a great job of bringing the game back to its roots as far as gameplay is concerned. There’s one aspect, one major part of the Diablo experience, and I know you know it’s missing is: I want to be able to trade. The account-bound system, are we going to re-visit it? Is there something going to happen where I can at least get new people in the game and say you can have my old stuff?

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Mosqueira: First, I want to say thank you for really, it’s the team as a whole we really got behind all these changes, right? So I might be the guy who sometimes does all the talking, but really I’m standing on the shoulder of giants and there are these guys and the blood, sweat and tears really allowed us to make the transition.

So on trading: it’s just a really high level and we’ll talk a little bit more about this tomorrow at the "Evolving Reaper of Souls" panel. We understand that there’s a social dynamic to trading like an utilitarian dynamic to it.

But trading also like at a fundamental level also has a potential to wreck the reward loop just like the auction house did because if a friend gives you a really high powered item, it’s... essentially what the friend just did is to remove the option of you getting upgrades for an x number of hours to going forward so I think right now we are pretty happy with the self ecosystem that we’ve created with loop 2.0.

So I think for now the plan is you know to keep the status quo and see how it keeps revolving. Thanks you.

Ebbert: I guess what I will add to that also is there are types of trading we might like to see in the future. Like we saw on console-- player gifts or the nemesis system. Ways of interacting with your friends, and ways to keep the reward loop intact, and keep the core experience intact. So you might see things like that in the future.

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Question 8: Just want to say thanks a lot guys for all your hard work. I’m really looking forward to all the changes. I have been playing Diablo for a very long time, and no I didn’t really play Diablo, Diablo II and the expansions. I got to admit I didn’t really play Reaper of Souls a lot on the computer version. I have been playing a lot of the console version because I got to be honest.

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Ebbert: You are right to do that. I gotta say that.

Question 8: Who doesn’t like to go home and kick back on the couch after a long day at work and tell you what. One of the things I was really disappointed about hearing that there wasn’t any plans for seasons in the console version. Any thought of doing that in the future or any reconsideration or anything like that?

Ebbert: Yes, we would love to bring seasons to consoles. Problem is a lot of console players weren’t online. So we had to allow offline mode in on console play. And as soon as we allowed console offline mode, it just wreck the integrity: like seasons and leaderboards. So that’s exclusive to online mode only. But we are always looking for ways to improve the console experience and keep it awesome for you. Thanks for playing.

Question 9: First of all thanks, but my question is: in my experience from playing (???) Diablo, the main (???) is like... in the new season it was great. It got me going back to the game after I quit; but the problem was that with the adventure mode being locked at the beginning, it became pointless to do the story mode because I fall behind so fast. So is there any idea creating adventure mode being locked at the beginning to play the campaign? Like for example, I cleared it on a couple of the leaderboards and my character hasn't done the campaign mode yet so it’s a bit of an issue there.

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Martens: So, yea that was something that was discussed, and what we decided to do is going to be either adventure mode going to be locked from the moment one or would it be unlocked normally by killing Malthael, or by reaching a certain level or something like that. We did it this way and we are going to leave it that way for season 2. We are gonna probably going to visit story mode with conquests like maybe getting some of the lore books might happen only in story mode so you have to pick certain parts of that to go and get the Lore books and so on.

So visiting back and forth between modes is generally good. Obviously, adventure mode is our primary end-game. So we don’t want to spend too much time in campaign mode; but having people going into it for short periods of time probably is good.

So perhaps in future seasons we will once again require you to say run the campaign once real quick before you unlock an adventure mode or something. But for now we will leave it unlock for minute 1 and it is kinda fun (right?) with the level 1 character no movement, skill, etc. Just jumping into a rift and going for it (right?) but yea I see your point.

Question 10: What’s up guys, I know you probably can’t answer this question but are we getting another expansion?

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Mosqueira: You’re right, we can’t answer that question

(Audience laughs)

Ebbert: But we are going to continue to bring you awesome stuff and patches like we all have been talking about today, we can definitely promise that.

Question 11: Hello, my question is about not greater rift but the trial rift. So in greater rift you mentioned that you want to have rift guardians there for everybody so that you just don’t just get Rime, blood mine, camp and finish it. So my question is do you plan on tweaking trial rifts? Because when an exorcist pops up on wave 5 and kills me at range instantly and I’m placed 22, it’s frustrating. Do you plan on maybe tweaking the enemy types that appear in those rifts?

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Cheng: Yes, there are changes to trial coming as well. Those will be on PTR as well. We have gotten a lot feedback on the trials. We are looking at the pacing of the trials, the monsters that are in the trials. We want to make sure, I think that just last week we changed it so that all the monsters in the trial can be vortex or knockback so that you can use your rate(?) core set, whatever happen maybe; and we are also looking at making sure that the rates should be there to do some damage. What we are trying to make sure is that we-- that was actually a reaction earlier on when trials went live.

We had people who will play and maybe they would get to a trial wave 18 (Let's say) and they are fine; but they weren’t taking any damage at all at you know 10 and 15 and so we want to make sure it’s a more consistent progression all the way out.

Question 12: Hello guys, well I’m just going to say about trading I’m entirely on the other side of the problem because it’s the best thing-- actually one of the best things that could ever happen to Diablo for me. New loots is better and this leads me to my question.

You new ancient items... how rare are they? Because in specific cases like for The Furnace for instance, is it 1.5% to 5,000 item drops? When am I going to get ancient version of that?

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Cheng: How rare are the ancient items? Before I answer that question I'll make it clear that the ancient items is very much for the people who really are into completing their sets.

And what we are trying to address is-- you know, I have got my six piece set and sometimes there’s this feeling like I got my six piece set and now I don’t feel like I have anything to strive for anymore and so I want to make sure that this is for people who already have the four-to-six piece set.

And we currently-- we are looking at about 5-10% chance for any legendary item to be ancient. I think it starts at one and a half, don’t quote me on that cause change almost certain during PTR but that’s a Torment 1 and scales up to Torment 6.

If you are in greater rift, your greater rifts will affect it as well so starting from an early greater rift all the way up-- the higher the greater rift the more chance that you have.

I would use-- if you guys remember in Diablo II like an elite-- an exceptional elite items there’s a reference point where their drop rates were 5 and 15% respectively. So we are kind of looking about that.

Again, we are saying: "Hey, this feature is for the people who really appreciate having something to always try and hunt for that’s better than what they have right now.

Question 13: Hi, do you currently have plans to implement an item creation system similar to Diablo II's rune system?

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Cheng: You know, a lot of the crafting systems were there to try and capture some of that spirit. I understand it doesn’t entirely. I think what the rune system did really well-- it had you more excited about the components that were dropping. Right? If you could get a really rare rune. Right now it doesn’t feel like any of the legendary parts are rare. Earlier on, if you remember in Reaper of Souls (when it first came out) we had these legendary pieces that were dropping around, and those were supposed to kind of capture some of that feel, but unfortunately what it really led to was people flipping games over and over to trying to get that bone chin, or whatever part it was you were trying to get.

So I totally recognize the desire to like slowly make incremental item progression towards the completion of a really great item. We didn’t like the rune system in particular, because it required you to open up a website and having all of this arcane knowledge that a person who is just playing the game might not even know that these recipes existed.

So we will be looking at other ways to try and capture that spirit.

Martens: Alright, we are almost out of time. Give us your fastest questions. We’ll give you our fastest answer.

Question 14: Yea, hi. Really quick question. What are you guys going to do about balancing potential build out layers like the Demon Hunter M6 (Editor Note: Refers to builds around Marauder 6-piece set) that can deal with damage and deal damage that they are not directly doing?

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Martens: We are directly answering that question tomorrow. It is something we are thinking about. If you come to the "Evolving Reaper of Souls" panel-- that, and answers like that will be discussed.

Alright, thank you everybody

Cheng: Thank you.

Mosqueira: Thank you.

Special thanks to Terry for assisting with the transcript. Proofreading/editing by Medievaldragon. Corrections can be submitted here. Tweet and share this transcript, and follow us for updates: @blizzplanetcom

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