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Diablo Immortal: Group Interview Recap!

by - 1 year ago

Here is where you’ll find a recap of the group interview that happened today with the community and Wyatt Cheng (Lead Game Designer) and Julian Love (Senior Combat Designer).

NOTE: This will not be a 1 for 1 transcription, but a general summary of the questions and answers.

Leviathan: Coming off the Q&A with the mention of grand scale PvP, can we get any further mention or details?

Wyatt: Can we hear more about that…can’t talk more about that now. We do have a timeline for things in the phases of testing to come. We want guilds to have things to do together, like guild achievements during the Alpha. We are also thinking over is it the right thing to have everything attached to one social group or multiple social groups and how overwhelming that would be. That’s all I can say for now, but more exciting things to come.

Dredscythe: The Charm system seems a little counter intuitive in that if you have a bunch of good Charms you want to keep them all and work them up to Rank 5, but that takes a lot of time. Also, when you go to replace a skill bonus it is a one shot random slot machine pull and then your done. Has the team gotten any feedback on pacing or made changes?

Wyatt: The thinking now with the Charm system is that they are a little slow. The reason why we got here because we wanted some systems to be slow. Whether you take two weeks, two months, etc. and that be cool, it can be cool, that for the player it feels good. It’s good to have those goals to have, so having those systems be deliberately slow was a side effect.

A consequence of that would be Charms feeling abnormally slow in the beginning. We may possibly increase the rate of progression of Charms. Something under investigation, nothing to confirm today, is having Charms that are level gated. Like in World of Warcraft, having Charms progress a lot faster but cap. When we increase the level cap, you would need a new Charm. That would let us be more generous with giving Charms.

Neinball: To follow up, would you allow the Imbuing of Charms below rank 5? This was an additional issue that made them even slower needing to get them to rank 5?

Wyatt: Not at this time. We think if we increase the rate of progression then that problem should go away.

Neinball: On the topic of Raids, even though you may not be able to go into details, but what does “raid” mean to you? Considering raid has a lot of meaning in MMOs.

Wyatt: We’re still figuring that out. The tech can allow us to do things with groups larger than four. So, we can work with groups of eight if we want to. It’s about finding the right content to do, how does it fit in, the systems, the rewards, and the modes. Is it too much to ask eight people to be highly coordinated for a game like Immortal? As soon as you get past a certain size with scheduling and organization, but we’re not afraid of to and embrace it. Sorry, I guess it’s kind of a non answer. We’re unsure of the size. The tech is there, that’s the key thing to take away.

Cas: Wanted to know what feedback have you gotten from the Technical Alpha and what changes are you, or have you made from that feedback?

Julian: The first thing I want to highlight is how much people liked it. Specifically, how much people felt that it was a Diablo game. That’s great because that means there are a bunch of things that don’t need to be changed. The second positive point was how many people got along with the control scheme. This doesn’t mean that everyone did.

So, one of the big benefits of the Technical Alpha was finally taking the internal feedback along with the external feedback and at that level let us see patterns in the way people got along with the controls and ways which they didn’t. What emerged was this simple pattern of input styles. Some people had a certain preference for a specific style. If you were in certain groups of input styles, you were great, you loved it. If you were in a another specific group, what we called internally “aimers” that take their time about aiming and placement, they encounter some rough edges.

This is great because it allowed us to pinpoint a very specific player style input scheme where we had some rough edges and that spawned a huge thread on changes that we want to make to accommodate those players. So controls are going to be improved for players that want to have a lot of control and accuracy.

Dredscythe: Talking about Legendary Gems, there appears to be a rarity weight for them while dropping in an Elder Rift as well as when referring to crafting, the material cost and how some take drastically more than others. How do you feel now about about the costs and drop weights now after the Alpha?

Wyatt: So when I was playing Technical Alpha, I think I got four Mocking Laughter gems in a row. I was like there is something wrong here. So we pulled the data, reviewed the drop tables. We’re able to confirm, in aggregate, across the entire player base of Alpha nothing was out of line. The gems dropped in the ratios we set.

There are different tiers of rarities. I don’t remember the exact number, let’s say they were organized into 5 tiers. The drop weight within each tier is the same. The intention is for all Legendary Gems to be good and viable. Some can be niche. Mocking Laughter is a great example depending on the build. If solo not so much, but tanking in a group it is great. The rarity in some cases makes them sorta of a chase item.

When it comes to the rune crafting cost, some of those were just not good values, especially in the terms of Alpha and the limited time. We are revisiting those crafting values. Also, looking at feedback comparing the cost of craft a Legendary Gem to that of the cost of a Legendary Crest. in addition giving more ways to get free crests in game.

Dredscythe: (Follow up) Would you ever consider the guarantee of getting one of each gem like Diablo 3 and GR system?

Wyatt: There are no plans for that, but that is something where the Market can come in. It was hard to test during the Alpha, but that is our hope, with crafting that it will be handled in the end.

N3m0: Question on monetization. Could you give us a deeper view? For example, are Legendary Crests and Gems specific to Elder Rifts or are you able to get them anywhere else? Will you be able to buy anything else besides the Reforge Stones and Legendary Crests? A secondary question are you looking into the relationship between max level Legendary Gems to max level gear to see how big of a gap there is?

Wyatt: Okay there’s a few questions there. We have the Legendary Crests, we have the Battle Pass, and I feel they do a great job of promoting playing the game as the best way to progress your character. The Reforge Stones are another. We’re looking into other ways to spend your Platinum. So Platinum is something you earn in game and during Technical Alpha there wasn’t a lot to spend it on. So that should have systems coming in the future for that – no details today.

Cosmetics as well. We think having cosmetic options are important. Also, cosmetics won’t just be for purchase but along the paid track of the Battle Pass. There were a few “?” on the paid track of the Battle Pass during the Alpha because we weren’t sure what was going to go where but there are going to be some cosmetics there. You had a second question there…

N3m0: (Clarifies) Are Legendary Crests only usable in Elder Rifts or are you able to use them in any other way?

Wyatt: …That is the primary way to use Legendary Crests (in Elder rifts). We have talked about allowing them used elsewhere but decided against. We were happy where they are. Had a very short discussion, and this is not happening, but should we allow Legendary Crests on say Forgotten Tower (Dungeon)? You’re going go do a Countess run could you do that? Someone in the community said I love to see that. I think it comes down to the modifiers because the modifiers are the important part of the crest design.

Sometimes your adding stuff like no Rift Guardian, I don’t know, does that mean no Countess? The point is we backed away from that idea and we were happy with where Legendary Crests are now. We are looking for other ways for people to get them and Rare Crests as well.

N3m0: (Clarifies) The secondary question are you looking into the relationship between max level Legendary Gems to max level gear?

Wyatt: Yes, we want all the components to be important. There is a relationship and that’s mostly to say improving your character comes from a number of different sources. Some from Legendary Gems, some from Regular Gems, some from Legendary gear, the affixes on the gear, the ranking of the gear, so we want to make sure all of them are contributing to your character’s total power.

AnnacakeLive: My question is about cosmetics. How serious are you planing to go on them? Will you have something ridiculous like a chicken costume (Editor’s Note: Nice one Anna : D) or something funny?

Julian: I think our goal here is to make a lot of cosmetics and we want to stay within as much as possible in the fantasy and style of Diablo. We’re very cognizant straying too far can change the tone of the game. So a lot of care, and I’ll say this, there are a lot controversial discussions that happen around every new submission we look at. It’s a long process that each one goes through to make sure the identity of the class is preserved, the fantasy is appropriate.

But I’m going to give the counter to that, which is you can’t make a lot of things if your going to make them the same, right, so we have to look at places where it will be appropriate to stretch the boundaries with just as much care in the process. So, I don’t think chicken costumes are in our future, I think that’s a little far. We don’t think slap-stick is for the universe of Diablo, but I think some room for something subtle may be okay.

The other thing is since we are planning to roll these things out over time, if we try something, we take a chance, and you all hate it, we’ll take note of that for the future. It’s not like we’re going to drop 3,000 things on you at once.

Neinball: When we talk about keeping things in universe now remember unicorns, cupcakes, and rainbows are all canon now but my actual question is what are you going to do with cosmetics? Looking at some other ARPGs in the mobile market there temporary. You have to constantly rebuy them kind of like you’re leasing them. Some of the more expensive ones are permanent. Are you looking to copy some in that way, or just have them be a one time purchases?

Wyatt: We are not looking to do rentals. So, you buy a cosmetic, you own the cosmetic. That’s the primary. If you unlock a cosmetic on the Battle Pass, then you have that, you own it, you’re good to go. We’re also looking into having a period of time where if the cosmetic was on the Battle Pass we don’t sell it. People need to know that was a Battle Pass earn. If you made it to the end of the paid track there is a coolness associated with that. Someone should not be allowed to not have the Battle Pass and buy that last tier, it should be exclusive. So, we’ll have an exclusivity period on it before it’s allowed to show up in the store a la cart.

Now, I hesitated on my words for a bit because there are a few places where people want to show off a little bit for an achievement in game and we’re discussing if those should be temporary or not. A good example would be guild achievements. If your guild gets a lot of achievements, right now it’s just a number, and we’re like, “Hey, should we put a cosmetic associated with your guild getting say full achievement score?” If so, do I keep that if I leave the guild, do I gain that if I join the guild, etc. So, it’s not a blanket rule that every cosmetic you own is forever, in the case of the guild, maybe you own it for that season and guild achievements get cycled in a future patch cycle and those cosmetics get taken away till your guild gets all the achievements again – that’s just an example. But for status oriented cosmetics they might be temporary.

Leviathan: One of the things I was curious about was form v.s. function. A lot of these things didn’t come to light until I was playing the game, so there are other things that could bring up a topic like this but here is a clear example for the point – queuing for Dungeons. In Final Fantasy 14 or World of Warcraft you have this Dungeon Finder and it actual allows you to multitask because you can just queue for whatever dungeon you want and I’m still out doing what I want. In Immortal, I had to go to the door (Dungeon Portal) and wait for my group, or wait to make a party, and it locked me in place. As an efficient player this frustrates me because I want to be doing other stuff while hopefully putting this group together. So, I wanted to know is that more a design choice, the fantasy of needing to be at that location because your about to go in there or can we see more ways to access them even if we’re not remotely next to it?

Wyatt: It is a design choice. Form v.s. function is apt in that instant teleportation all around the world is very convenient but it can also erode the sense the world is real and exist out there. And right now we are airing on the side of having you go there. Took a lot of inspiration from Classic World of Warcraft where that’s the way it worked. If you wanted to go to a Dungeon, even pre meeting stones, you would actually have to get to the Dungeon to go into it. We do have function right now that if your at the Dungeon and queue, you can minimize it and kill monster there. We know it’s a little limited, we know. It is a design choice so if we decided to revert it we could.

Gregg2G: I have a question about mounts and pets. I feel mounts aren’t going to be in Diablo Immortal but I would like to ask about them anyway. I feel pets would be a good addition to Diablo Immortal so do you have plans to add any of those?

Wyatt: No plans on mounts right now and no plans on pets but open to both. Both could be cool, nothing right now though.

AnnacakeLive: The six characters (classes) will this be it forever? Will we have or see some in an expansion in the future, Witch Doctor, some characters from Diablo 2?

Julian: No specifics on ones we may do in the future but we are definitely going to be doing more. Six is just the start and we have big plans for future content at a pretty continual drip. So, even though we want to have more frequent drops of content, it could include anything, of any size. So, classes are definitely going to be a place going forward and we have complete access to bring something back from before or invent something entirely new if we want. The sky is the limit there.

Neinball: To continue with the class questions, what’s the hold up with the Crusader and Necromancer. We’ve known they were going to be part of the game since the initial announcement but they weren’t in the Technical Alpha and haven’t seen any gameplay with them. Is there anything you can expand upon with either of them with the up coming testing or just design philosophies for those two classes that you be willing to share?

Julian: They’re coming along fine. It probably seems like we’re holding them back, but really it’s just order of operations. Classes are huge chucks of content, all the models, all of the gear they have to support, they’re these giant Christmas trees that have to be ornamented. But then there’s the all the skills, all the items that augment those skills. So it’s a massive undertaking to make a class and it just so happens that the order is the order you’re seeing.

Stay tuned, it won’t be long before there is news about the two reaming classes. Specifics about one class maybe not so much, but I think the thing I would point out about classes in Immortal in general is we’re picking up where the Necromancer left off with Diablo 3 in that one of the things we identified where a classes has a unique feel and literally has access to something no other class has. We are trying hard to find that and amp it up. Expect more of that to continue.

Neinball: (Follow up) It’s not Revive all over again.

Julian: I can’t comment on Revive coming back or not. Revive is very challenging. To give an idea, during the Necromancer DLC, it took up a 1/3 of the total amount of effort for the class. So we would have to think carefully before approaching it again.

Dredscythe: During the Alpha, it was most noticeable with regular gems, when I would combine them I would get a trade warning. Essentially, was there a lot of feedback to make it clearer in the UI to help the player what are and aren’t tradable?

Wyatt: Good call out, that was definitely a problem. I think it didn’t help that the icon in your inventory was exactly the same and the indication of what was tradable or account bound, I think in some cases you had to scroll down an item tool tip to see it sometimes. So I think that is something we can do a lot better on. To be honest, I don’t remember what action plan we had for that but we are aware of and want to make better.

MuggleMama: So obviously we had a smaller testing for the Technical Alpha and one thing I noticed was we had had one of those really big chests (Ornate Chests) where you needed four people to open. I was never able to get one open because I couldn’t get a group together in what difficulty I was in to do it. Moving forward how are you going to fix things like that to hopefully make it easier to get people into your group faster?

Wyatt: There is the challenge of that and then there is what we can do. We really do want those to be multiplayer chests. It’s one of those things where it’s like we want to support people playing by themselves, solo, experiencing the game. You should be able to finish the entire story line and do Dungeons.

But also encourage people to play in groups as well and these chest are a great way to give you a bonus for doing the chest without you not allowed to play (partake) solo. In the case of the chest, it could be very demoralizing. In particular one of two things would happen. One, you would ask around if any would group up to open it and no one came by. Two, while your waiting for people to come by the chest, another group comes by and gets it. Another case is as your waiting for your group the chest would despawn.

We want to keep the chests, but we want to address those negative situations that could occur. We’re already looking at if someone is trying to open a chest it doesn’t despawn, so it has a timer that a player could click on a reset to give time. If there is less chance for it to despawn then more people should want to come by and looking into the rewards of that.

We don’t have a solution just yet to the the case of another group coming by while your group is waiting but we are trying to address it. Whether the chests are personally instanced to you, or we say that’s just part of the game but being more explicit in that is part of the game, that it’s more of a first-come-first-serve. I don’t know the answer. There is some social drama, light friction moment of getting nija-ed by another group, we’ll have to see.

N3m0: I have a question about Beta. I know you can’t tell us when it’s coming but can you tell us are there multiple stages planned and if so, are we going to lose progress? The follow up to that is that there going to be an expandable list of devices? Some people can’t play right now and is there a list your working towards? Is there a list of devices that won’t work?

Wyatt: I’m laughing because, I love it, you have a way of asking three question in every question. We’ll take them. There will be more Beta phases. We don’t know if they will be called Alphas or Betas. There is more testing ahead than behind, I think I mentioned that in the Q&A. Still have to do level 45 to 60, still have to do the two classes, so yeah, I would expect more. For more device compatibility we wanted to start more conservatively for the Technical Alpha and expand from there. I don’t know the specifics about what future phases will have.

N3m0: (Follow up) Will we lose progress?

Wyatt: Yes, there will be a wipe. It’s heart breaking but part of it is that things change and get balanced. We test things out along with rewards being redone and have to test them out.

Gregg2G: So my question is on graphics quality. When we look at the videos in the press kits it’s amazing. On the phone it’s not as good as that. I do remember you said before that Diablo Immortal has that capability of higher graphic fidelity than Diablo 3. I feel that is on purpose because of devices right now. Is there a chance that we do see the graphics quality in the press kits videos further along, are you going to ramp up the graphics quality over time, how is that going to work?

Julian: Graphics quality is a target. We don’t have this notion of a broad range of different experiences we want to deliver – we want everyone to have the same experience with the art style we are going for over a broad range of devices. However, in Alpha, part of the function of Alpha is not just testing if the server can work but also starting to expose people with certain devices if there having graphical issues. That they’re not getting the same quality that meets our target. I don’t know the specific thing you saw, but we did see a number of cases, with screenshots to confirm the problems they were having on what device. That’s part of the testing phase and will continue to look into.

Dredscythe: Something I felt quite a bit during my play and other players as well was when I was running around, I would start getting attacked, you would start seeing the big red flashes at the edges of the screen, but you be at 90% health 80% health. It would induce a panic moment and use the potion button but you were fine. Was that acknowledged and idea on adding a custom option for it to activate at a designated “%” or have different visual styles?

Julian: You’re touching on something that we try somethings to achieve certain objectives sometimes and when we do it, sometimes we know it’s not going to work. This is one of those cases. So, if someone came to me saying, “Hey man, I want to add red flashes at the edge of the screen to indicate the a monster has hit the player,” I say, “No, don’t do that.” That’s because the red at the edge of the screen is the primary way to tell the player you’re about to die. I don’t think we should every tell the player anything else in that area other then your about to die. I refer to that as “amber alert” rules, like no, no, use these signs to say one thing and one thing only that so the player is never confused. You are experiencing that confusion.

So, this is a moment where we put something out, we tested it, and your giving us the feedback that I am looking for. Which is confirmation that people are genuinely confused by having two different messages that are using the same visual convention. So, I think we are going to go back and rethink that and look at other ways when you are taking larger hits that could be just as confusing. I’d much prefer doing that then say splitting that information up between different areas of the screen. I say let’s just pick another way to do it. I especially wouldn’t want to give the option that lets the player go modify to opt into a good or inadvertently bad experience. We’ll look into it and come up with what feels right.

Neinball: To follow up with more a lore and story question in all the previous Diablo incarnations you’ve been able to go back and re visit prior parts of the story without having to create an entire new character but in Immortal it’s kind of a one-and-done once you go through, you can’t go back. Are there any plans to address that with story points we missed or got interrupted while playing?

Wyatt: Currently the answer is no to going back and replaying through the story. That said, in Technical Alpha it was very frustrating and is something we want to go back an fix because sometimes your getting attacked while an NPC is talking, that’s not good. We had scenes when I finish a quest and turn it in, some bandits pop up too soon during the dialogue chain. So, we are working on a system, it’s simple, if your getting attacked when talking to an NPC the dialogue box closes, you fight, but when you go back the NPC it rewinds to the beginning and can go through it again. It doesn’t solve the issue about real life, but the game should not be the one interrupting you itself.

That’s it for the group interview. Continue to come back for more BlizzConline 2021 coverage over the week.

Robert G.

Robert a.k.a “Dredscythe” has been on the Diablo 3 scene since closed beta with a passion to play the game. He brings a fresh perspective, grounded in sound ideas, based on true development concepts to give ideas to improve and push the game forward. Current Diablo Site Manager, News Reporter and Graphic artist here at Blizzpro.

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