On Thursday, December 15, Senior Game Designer Joe Shely sat down to answer questions provided by the community via Facebook, the official forums, Twitter, and other locations. This event took place on the Facebook Live streaming platform for about 30 minutes and was moderated by Community Manager Nevalistis. Below, you can find a rough transcription/summary of the questions and Joe’s responses.
Update: If you missed the live session or want to watch it again, it is currently available on Diablo’s Facebook page.
Can you explain more in depth how the move to 64-bit will enhance our game experience?
There will be faster load times and with the move to Direct X 11, there should be some graphical improvements as well. This is coming in Patch 2.4.3.
Are you happy with the current Paragon system or do you think it needs to be reworked?
The Paragon system is an alternate progression track. It allows for a broad portion of the Diablo audience to keep gaining power and making progress. Ultra-competitive players should look forward to Challenge Rifts since everyone will have the same powers and Paragon level. Challenge Rifts will come from actual players and their runs. Players will likely be rewarded with bounty materials/caches just for beating the original player’s time and then there will be Leaderboards to compete on.
Do you have plans to rework the Barbarian’s Wrath of the Wastes set?
This set is actually modified on the Patch Test Realm (PTR) right now. We want to increase the set’s overall power level and new changes (in addition to the ones already there) will be pushed to the PTR in a forthcoming patch. We also wanted to make sure to touch multiple sets for the different classes so that there was a bit more diversity and choice. Specific to Wrath of the Wastes, we don’t want the tornadoes to destroy performance of the game and we believe that we’ve made changes to help with that. We also don’t want the tornadoes to dominate the damage output of the set. We want about 60% of the damage to come directly from Whirlwind itself and about 40% to come from the tornadoes.
At BlizzCon you mentioned that the Necromancer’s themes are Reanimation, Blood, and Bone, but what about Poison?
Necromancer skills are still being developed. The Blood theme/the theme of decay is really strong. We’re able to build a lot of strong gameplay around these themes. Poison hasn’t come into the mix yet, but potentially you might see a few runes. The Witch Doctor is heavily themed in Poison though, so we don’t want to step on its toes. We want to play up the strongest themes possible for the Necromancer to give it individuality.
Will the PS4 and Xbox One players get the anniversary patch at the same time as PC players?
Yes, console players will receive the patch at the same time as PC players. We are also excited to bring seasons to consoles soon and the feature is being developed from the ground up specifically for integration with console, just like how the console version was not a direct copy of the PC version.
Saffron Wrap: Most Legendaries need synergy to be incorporated into a set. Will Overpower receive that treatment?
We thought about putting Overpower in the Wrath of the Wastes set, but wanted to keep it tied to Rend and Whirlwind. We’re still thinking about what to do with Overpower and will re-evaluate after it and the Saffron Wrap see use in the next patch.
Group play is more rewarding than solo play. Can something be done to reduce the disparity between the two?
We want to make changes to make the solo experience more fun, particularly while doing bounties. We’re still working on it. It’s on our radar.
Are there plans to rework the Akkhan’s set?
We added the amulet for the set on the PTR to give players flexibility. We want to see what people do with that first and then we’ll see where we go from there.
Are there plans to add more achievements?
Yes, once the Necromancer comes out, there will be tons of achievements associated with that.
How do the developers feel about sets that outperform others such as Firebird’s? What kind of changes can we look forward to regarding set balancing, if any?
We are careful about making changes to things that are too strong because we don’t want players to log in and be weaker. We are buffing other sets instead to potentially provide playstyles that have fallen by the wayside with more power so that players can use them without feeling too far behind.
Are there any plans to overhaul and improve the character skill system?
The skill system is a foundational element, so, as a live game, we wouldn’t make changes to such an integral system. However, because of how the skill system works, that’s what allows us to create such wild powers on Legendary items. This is how we were able to produce something like the Legacy of Nightmares set, for instance.
Can we get a new transmog set for seasonal rewards?
New cosmetics are coming in Season 9. New portrait frames, etc.
When is Season 8 ending and Season 9 starting?
It will be announced very soon in a blog post. Season 9 will start shortly after Season 8 ends. You will see Season 9 go live somewhere around the launch of Patch 2.4.3.
Will there be an alternative, true end game that can compete with Greater Rifts?
We see Seasons as a way to continue to engage with the game over a long period of time. We think that Seasons keeps the game fresh with the Season Journey and re-rolling new characters. We believe that this is an end game as well. To specifically adress the question, Greater Rifts are the place to make your characters as powerful as possible. There are also the Challenge Rifts to look forward to. There will be new builds and Challenge Rifts to check out on a frequent basis.
Are there any plans to lessen the dominance of the Archon skill for Wizards?
We do feel that it is a dominant Wizard skill. Del Sere’s Magnum Opus, however, is a set that doesn’t use Archon and it got a buff on PTR, so we hope people will check that out and potentially we will shake things up more in the future.
Why don’t community managers and developers interact more with the community?
We are experimenting with a few different ways of communicating, with this Facebook live stream as a prime example. When people respond positively, it helps us understand which modes of communication people like more. We use that information, among other things, to help consider which platforms we will use and what will reach the most people. We won’t abandon certain avenues, but we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin either. We are always looking for ways to open the lines of communication.
The developers read the forums. I was going through the PTR forums in particular last night to look for things that we might change. As an example, there will be tweaks to Greater Rifts due to direct feedback left by the community in the official forums, so we appreciate the feedback, especially in the directed PTR feedback posts.
Seeing as you work for Blizzard, and particularly work on the Diablo team, what kinds of things does the Diablo team want for Christmas?
Wyatt wants snow in Irvine for Christmas. Someone else refuted that immediately, so it’s a contested battle. (That someone was Nevalistis.) Some people are looking for the Cosmic Wings and I am personally looking for an Ancient Witching Hour for my Unhallowed Essence Demon Hunter.