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Blizzard interview: Leo Boyarsky and Kevin Martens on Diablo 3

Kevin Kelly

We know that we've been fire-hosing Diablo 3 information on you, but keep those raincoats zipped because there's more incoming. In fact, we sat down with Leon Boyasrsky, lead world designer, and Kevin Martens, lead content artist, at BlizzCon. While they didn't drop any deafening secrets on us like ZOMG what the final class will be, they did go into further detail about the game.

Read on through for the full interview, and imagine what it'll be like if Martens gets his dream wish and they stick a Sideshow Collectibles Barbarian statue inside the Collector's Edition of the game. The chances of that actually happening are pretty much zero, but still ... we can dream.

Kevin: I hope you had a chance to play?

Definitely. I just was in the press room actually, playing the Monk. Did you guys add stuff to the other classes that's playable here or are they similar to the last build?

Leo: No, there's new things for everyone to see.

Okay, great. Well, going back a little bit, are we going to see anything from Diablo II, like any of the towns like Lut Gholein or Kurast or anything? Are we going back to those areas?

Leo: Kurast was pretty much destroyed and some of the history is that it was abandoned and everybody there moved to this place called Caldeum, which is now the center of pretty much the world, especially on that continent, which is kind of down the street from where Kurast was. You do start off in Tristram, New Tristram as it's also called. So technically that was in Diablo II. And there's going to be some NPCs and some other stuff that we're not quite talking about. There should be some surprises for you.

Kevin: There's a lot of nods to D2.

And the same goes for the enemies, like Mephisto, Baal, etc. I'm assuming we're going to at least see them or hear from them at some point.

Kevin: I think we're saying nothing about that.

We've got an interesting story cooked up that will satisfy fans of the first two games.

Leo: Yes. We'll say that we've got an interesting story cooked up that will satisfy fans of the first two games and they'll understand a lot more about the lore and how it fits together with what was going on with all that.

Will there going to be sort of, we were asking the Starcraft guys about this as well ... will there be any sort of, you know, like "Previously on Starcraft ..." Are you guys going to catch people up with a cinematic or anything?

Leo: Not with a cinematic. I think what we want to do is make it as seamlessly into the game as possible so that there is ways of us delivering...I don't know if you played at BlizzCon last year. For instance, you could find lore that King Leoric left or Lac Danon left. So what we want to do is kind of work it into the game like that, so that there is, maybe even for people who know the stories, a different way or maybe some different facets of it that they didn't know, as well as a good way or an integrated way to give it to people that don't know it.

Kevin: It's important that people who play maybe only Diablo II and not Lord of Destruction or neither of them that it's presented in a straight-forward enough fashion that they're going to not have missed out not having played those. On the other hand, they're still for sale. We do want to encourage everyone to play.

We've heard different things about the new class, like that it will be something completely new and nothing we've seen before. Is that true?

Leo: We're not really talking about it, but anything is possible. We're not going to rule it out. Like, "Hey, that was a great idea," we'd consider anything. But that's about all we're really saying.

But do you guys know what it is and you're just not saying or are you still working it out? Have you guys even decided internally what it's going to be?

Kevin: We're working solidly in one direction but these things can move really quickly or take dramatic changes in direction and different classes have. So it's hard to say. It's even hard to extrapolate from what I said how close or far away we are from deciding.

Have you guys abandoned classes along the way? Like on the other four, were you like, "OK, let's do this" and then, like you said, through the process: "OK, let's not use this class."

Kevin: Yeah, yeah, we do that all the time so, you know. There's always like dozens of ideas for everything and then even when you decide on a class there's maybe ten different ways you might do something like that as well and all of them are discussed. It takes a long time before we finally settle on something.

Leo: Yeah, each of our classes, I mean, even the ones we didn't ... like we knew from the beginning that we were going to do the Barbarian, but he's been several different types of Barbarians along the way. I think that's true of every one of our classes. They go through several changes of personality, if you will, in terms of the skill set.

The PVP in Diablo II was a bit limited and I know in the press notes for this one it says – I guess it's still kind of ongoing. You guys are thinking about taking out the ability to go hostile at any moment. Have you guys even started to really develop PVP yet? Or is it still just kind of figuring out the core experience?

Kevin: We're working on stuff. I don't think we're going to announce anything yet, but there's definitely going to be PVP. It's going to be better than Diablo II and it's going to have some cool twists.

About the control scheme. Diablo is known for being a click-fest. Your mouse is your best friend and the tab key and sometimes the number and alt keys. Are you guys changing the scheme at all to sort of incorporate the keyboard any more or will it be pretty much the same sort of controls?

We're trying to keep it fairly mouse-centric ... it's not some massive hot key-spread.

Kevin: We're trying to keep it fairly mouse-centric. If you watch some of the videos and things, you'll notice it keeps changing as well. Every aspect of the inventory we're working on all the time. You know the bag. We keep working on how we sort the inventory and what it looks like as well. Where the potions go, etc. We're trying to streamline it from . It's not some massive hot key-spread necessarily, but who knows what direction will go with that as well.

I like what we have on the demo now but I liked it before we made the recent changes as well. It keeps getting a little bit better but it's fairly slow. It's kind of hard to say, but we were really cognizant of the feedback so we're going to listen carefully and watch a lot of people play it on the floor here today and see what they like and dislike.

The LAN was never that big of a part of the old Diablo but you could play Diablo on LAN, couldn't you?

Leo: Yes.

And I'm guessing that won't be the case anymore with the new Battle.Net?

Leo: That's right.