Recently, the press had a Q&A session with Jay Wilson, Diablo 3's lead developer, and Frank Pearce, Blizzard's vice president. Here's what the two had to say on Blizzard's latest project, Diablo 3.

Q: If I'm a WoW player - why should I be excited about D3?

A: It’s a very easy game, it's quick so it can be played in a small time frame, and because it's a great co-operative game.

Q: Engine?

A: It's a brand new engine developed in-house a few years ago (they don't name their engines).

Q: Release date?

A: When it's done.

Q: How long has it been in development?

A: Development was still taking place in Blizz North before it was shut down. It was in dev there for two years, and for two and a half years in Irvine since.

Q: How was it kept a secret for so long?

A: We’re a very security oriented company because we know the returns an announcement like this gives us. And it's the employees. They're very proud of their work. They like to keep it under wraps.

Q: Was this the Hydra project?

A: We don't publicly talk about our codenames.

Q: Will Diablo III have eSports potential?

A: We have plans to add PVP and competitive elements and eSports are very important to us but at this time we have no further comment.

Q: Is there a limit to the number of players in the same game?

A: Right now it's eight-ish. It's really about the co-operative feel to the game and the gameplay value that a certain number provides. We're experimenting with less. But we haven't decided.

Q: Will gameplay differ by the number of participants?

A: We aren't revealing some features that address this yet. But the wealth system is co-operative. The loot is no longer fought over. What you see drop is just for you. It's based on your character class etc.

Q: Will D3 be available for the MAC?

A: Yes

Q: How many classes will there be?

A: We haven't decided on a final number but there will be several more.

Q: Will D3 be available for any consoles?

A: Blizzard has an interest in breaking into console gaming but we have no plans to do so at this time.

Q: Will the NPC's from D2 be present in D3?

A: Not all of the characters will make it.

Q: Could you tell us a bit more about the monster design?

A: They're meant to be cooperative. Like the summoners, or others that can buff their comrades - they're supposed to contribute to each other’s strengths. But there are so many more monsters to reveal.

Q: Will there be auction houses?

A: We haven't made a decision about auction houses. The ad-hoc trading in D2 wasn't the best of experiences for the gamer and we want that to be the best it can be. We're very focused on the experience of the player. So we'll probably revamp it.

Q: How large is the dev team?

A: Somewhere around 50-55 members.

Q: Where does the story pick up?

A: It starts twenty years later. Essentially it's a period that's far enough away from the invasion. It's far enough away that most people think that it's mostly mystical. Any characters that lived and experienced the events of D2 directly have mostly gone mad. This is to distance the game from its predecessor. It also raises some good questions - like why did Hell's invasion not occur? We have some very good answers to those questions

Q: Will there be something similar to the WoW armory for D3?

A: We have definite intentions to add functionality on the web. But right now it's just to early to talk about.

Q: Will the maps still be randomly generated?

A: Yes, and we're experimenting with randomizing in different ways such as random weapons, monsters etc. There will be some static levels/sequences. Also we're trying something new called Adventures - which are random events.

Q: Will there be strong scenario scenes like D2 (desert, jungle, etc)?

A: Yes, those are good for gaming - since it's bland to play in something that isn't clearly defined. Tristram will reappear and the teaser obviously shows others, like the cities and other such ones.

Q: Will there be custom gear?

A: Yes, there'll be all sorts of crazy stuff.

Q: Are you worried about people leaving WoW for D3?

A: We don't really look at it that way - they're still playing Blizzard games and there isn't as much overlap as you'd think.

Q: Will there be real physics?

A: Yes, but some events will be scripted. The player will be able to tell the difference when he's supposed to use the environment to accomplish something. And interaction with the environment is definitely encouraged.

Q: Will there be a difficulty structure like D2?

A: Yes, but we haven't decided on anything.

Q: Will hardcore mode be included?

A: There's no reason not to - it's a popular feature.

Q: Will there be physics puzzles?

A: We could if we wanted to but we're more of a “kill monsters team building” than a “kill lots of monsters” game.

Q: Will it follow a subscription model or will it be free to play out of the box?

A: We haven't decided on our financial model.

Q: What is the most important aspect of the game?

A: The character driven elements. This is an RP game with a lot of lore that drives the game.

Q: Will there be an end game?

A: We haven't decided but if we do it will be very cool.

Q: What options are available to customize our characters before starting the game?

A: Just the gender.

Q: Will the gender of your character have any affect on the gameplay experience?

A: No.

Q: Will bosses have their own levels similar to WoW?

A: The simple answer is yes. We use games like Zelda and WoW as inspiration for our monsters. But we're trying to improve upon those as well.

Q: Will there be a Secret Cow Level?

A: No comment.

Q: Will the town portal system of movement still be used or are you going to make it more sophisticated?

A: We'll probably change it but we haven’t decided yet.

Q: Will there be mounts?

A: We talked about it but we decided that no, there won't be.

Q: Will there be a demo/beta?

A: It will probably follow the same system as other Blizzard releases.

Q: What's the primary difference between D2 and D3?

A: The character classes are different and the emphasis on the character driven story. The monster design is more focused and so is the level design. Also there's more opportunity to be engaged in the story but you won't be forced into it.

Q: Will there be seasonal events like in WoW?

A: Good idea, but it is far too early to decide that.

Q: Will the items be tied better to the lore?

A: All the major weapons will have a better tie - obviously not everything but we'll be tying lots more than in D2.

Q: Will the Horadric cube make a return?

A: No comment.

Q: Will mule characters still be needed/allowed?

A: We're going to make trading between your characters much easier. We have lots of ideas that we're not ready to talk about for making inventories better, etc.

Q: Will private servers be supported?

A: No.

Q: Will you continue to support SC and D2 even after their sequels are released?

A: Yes, we'll continue to support our legacy games as long as there's a community and people that play them.

Q: Will there be a built-in voice feature?

A: We haven't reached a decision but definitely probable.

Q: Will D3 still be an M rated game?

A: The other two were; there's no reason to think this one won't too.

Q: Will D3 be supported/updated with new content similar to WoW's content patches?

A: That hasn't been decided yet. But at the very least we're designing the game to be compatible for expansions.

Q: Will the community be able to contribute to D3?

A: D3 isn't a mod friendly game because of the randomness. So not really.

Q: Will you allow UI mods?

A: No. We find that it can change the game experience for the worse - making a simple game too complicated.

Q: Where in development are you?

A: As hardcore production as we can of content. We love to play it as much as we can.

Q: What will the level cap be?

A: That hasn't been decided. But why not one hundred it's only one more than ninty-nine. But it will be similar to D2.

Q: Bill Roper was important to the franchise - how does his leaving affect the development of D3?

A: We have so many talented developers that it really isn't about just one person. On a personal note - I think we both miss Bill.

Q: How has the development of D3 changed since its inception?

A: The core ideas have stayed. We really just needed to find our visual and gameplay style.

Q: Will you enforce team gameplay?

A: No, but we encourage it. People that are playing together are going to appreciate this game.

Q: Can you play alone if you wish?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Will there be a system that allows a high level player and a low level player to play together and both receive a benefit.

A: Yes, we're looking at ways to make this happen.

Q: What is the coolest feature of this game and which are you most proud of?

A: We didn't release the coolest feature, but I'm most proud of the character development and classes. The game is really about becoming these characters. They all have their own stories and plot lines.


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