Developer Journal: Multiplayer Improvements
In sitting down to plan out features for patch 1.0.8, we decided as a team that we really wanted to improve multiplayer co-op. We have other more long-term improvements planned as well (like the itemization updates Travis discussed earlier), but we knew there would be a lot of immediate benefit if we could just made it easier and more rewarding for people to play with each other.
Making Two Heads Actually Better Than One
From day one, it’s been our goal to make Diablo III a great co-op experience, but right now it's not living up to its full potential. Even if you enjoy playing with your friends, it can often feel easier and more efficient to play solo.
Playing solo has a number of advantages. For instance, you can choose your own route. If you're farming for something in particular (like a specific recipe), you can do it as many times as you want. And you can pause the game and attend to things in real life without making anyone wait.
Of course, multiplayer is awesome, too, and comes with its own benefits. For example, leveling up characters with a group of friends can be an amazing experience. Working together with other players to take down bosses or destroy Elite packs super quickly makes for great farming runs. There's resurrections and the banner system, and don't forget farming for Infernal Machine keys and organs. But, there are also disadvantages, like having to coordinate where you're walking and what you're attacking, losing your followers, and trying to find groups that have similar goals to yours without a defined matchmaking system in place.
The point is that multiplayer can be lot of fun, but given the downsides it can often feel not worth the effort. By making it easier for players to find one another, improving social features, and providing direct buffs to co-op groups, we hope to change that perspective.
Multiplayer Improvements in 1.0.8
Here are some changes going into 1.0.8 that we feel will help achieve our multiplayer goals:
Many players have already figured out that if you coordinate well with your party, you're more efficient. That's definitely true, but we'd like this benefit to be more explicit. So, we're going to straight up add a bonus for playing in multiplayer.
We're still working on the details of what that buff is going to be, but at the moment we're looking at 10% more XP per extra player in the game for a maximum bonus of 30% more XP in a 4-player game. This bonus will be multiplicative with MP bonuses. For example: suppose you are playing on MP10 with an XP bonus in Inferno of 510%. This means a monster is worth 610% of its normal XP (510% more). If you are playing in a 4-player game the monster will be worth 793% as much XP as normal. On top of this, you will also earn a flat 10% Gold Find and 10% Magic Find for each additional player in the game, and this bonus can exceed the 300% Gold Find and Magic Find caps.
Patch 1.0.8 introduces the ability to specify what we call a "matchmaking tag" for Public Games. The way this new system will work is pretty simple: in addition to selecting a difficulty, quest, and MP level, you can also select a tag that will identify what kind of gameplay you're looking for from a Public Game. The tags going onto PTR are Questing, Full Act Clear, Keywarden, and PvP. Selecting one will tell the matchmaking server to place you in a group with other players who have selected the same tag as you.
The goal is make it easier for players to find groups that fit their personal play style or will yield the best experience during any given play session. We'll be evaluating these tags during PTR, so if you have suggestions for other tags please don’t hesitate to let us know!
Monsters currently gain 70% extra health per additional player in the game. This is being reduced from 70% to 50%. This means in a two-player game, monsters have 150% as much health as a single-player game. In a three-player game, they have 200% as much health. And in a four-player game, they have 250% as much health (compared to 310% on live).
This further compensates for some of the inefficiencies that come with playing in a group. Ideally, this will allow you to play with someone who is less geared than you and still be better off than playing solo. It also means if someone strays from the group temporarily in a 4-player game (which inevitably happens from time to time), you'll still be at a greater advantage than if you were playing on your own.
As previously mentioned, 1.0.8 adds Identify All to the game. In addition to being a huge quality of life improvement, ID All is good for co-op play too! We found during our playtests that a common time for players to get separated from one another is when somebody's inventory was full and they spent a non-trivial amount of time in town identifying items, so this should help keep players together.
For the Wizards out there, many of you don't play multiplayer because you need those kills to fuel your Archon. In 1.0.8, your Archon duration will also be extended by assists, so as long as you’re around when a monster dies, your Archon duration will be extended. (We have it on our radar to review other mechanics such as Life on Kill bonuses, but that's not something we'll be addressing this patch.)
When you're playing co-op, one common practice is to say "e" in chat when you come across an Elite pack. So we thought—why doesn't the game just do this for you?
Starting in 1.0.8, when a player deals damage to or takes damage from an Elite pack or Treasure Goblin for the first time, a notification will be sent out to the entire party to let your teammates know what you've found. This will be accompanied by a "combat" icon on the mini-map so other players in your group can locate those enemies. On top of that, we're also going to put a combat icon over your banner in town. This way, players who are in town will know that you're fighting an Elite pack or Treasure Goblin and be able to quickly determine whose banner to take to get right into the action.
Players Near You
Similar to the feature in StarCraft II, the "Players Near You" window will display all players who are logged into Diablo III from your local network. This feature is great if you're playing while at a university dorm or frequent Internet cafes, and will help you easily connect with other local players.
We're also adding private conversations in 1.0.8, which will allow you to chat with up to 99 of your closest friends. Think of private conversations in Diablo III as being similar to multi-user conversations in your favorite IM client. You're not making a permanent "channel," you're simply inviting multiple people to chat for the duration of that session.
This is really just the first step in the process of improving the social experience in Diablo III and supporting its vibrant community. We know that players want bigger and more varied group chat functionality (like guilds and chat channels that are more permanent), and we do have concrete plans for additional features in the future. In the meantime, we hope private chat is a useful tool and look forward to delivering more systems that foster player interaction.
Testing, Testing 1 . . . 2 . . . 3
This is just a snapshot of the improvements coming in 1.0.8, and you'll be able to test out these changes and more before they go live by hopping onto the PTR. We definitely encourage you to participate, test out what's new, and let us know what you think!
Wyatt Cheng is a senior technical game designer for Diablo III. He is currently toying with molecular gastronomy recipes. For science!
Jay WIlson: "Auction Houses 'really hurt' game"
During his GDC talk, Jay Wilson, former Diablo III Game Director talked about how Blizzard and the Dev team had certain assumptions and how out of it they were when the game released. Here is an excerpt from the JoyStiq article:
But he said that once the game went live, Blizzard realized it was completely wrong about those last two points. It turns out that nearly every one of the game's players (of which there are still about 1 million per day, and about 3 million per month, according to Wilson) made use of either house, and that over 50 percent of players used it regularly. That, said Wilson, made money a much higher motivator than the game's original motivation to simply kill Diablo, and "damaged item rewards" in the game. While a lot of the buzz around the game attacked the real money Auction House, "gold does much more damage than the other one does," according to Wilson, because more players use it and prices fluctuate much more.
"I think we would turn it off if we could," Wilson said during his talk. But the problem is "not as easy as that;" with all of Blizzard's current players, he says the company "has no idea" how many players like the system or hate it. Blizzard, Wilson said, doesn't want to remove a feature that lots of players will be unhappy to see go. But he did say that the team is working on a viable solution, without giving any other details about what that would be like.
MMM: Mega Monthly Millions!
Transcribe of Interview
I sat down and put the video interview into text format, enjoy the read.
All right everybody, here we are at Pax East interviewing with Diablo Expressions and Blizzard Entertainment for Diablo 3 on the PS3 and later coming out on the PS4. I am Here with...
Hi, I’m Julie Humphreys, Senior Producer working with the console group on Diablo 3, and for the last couple of years I’ve been helping to build and support the team that’s been making this awesome game.
All right, so let’s just get into the interview. About how long has the console version been in development for (aprox.)
So about two years ago, we started building the team with the first few critical highers. That was Josh Mosqueira, Lead Designer, Norbert Szabo, engine programmer ,and myself as the Senior Producer. To start with it was just the three of us sitting in an office, trying to figure out how we’re going to take this awesome PC game and make it feel native to the console. So, we worked together for a little while, we started slowly building the team with other key highers who, ah, came from really deep console backgrounds and we brought them into Blizzard, and it was only about a year ago right around the time when the PC game was wrapping up to launch that we really started hardcore development on the console.
All right, with that, yesterday when I came in I hit up the Blizzard Booth, and I’m like, ‘let me get on now, get a little play tease in,” and I played about 15 minutes. Played about 5 minutes on the Barbarian because I’m not a real Barbarian person, but I went on the Demon Hunter because it just more my (style). I’m a ranged person, that’s what I like to play. I was shocked at how smooth everything was, how everything played out. I haven’t picked up a console controller in about 5 to 6 years, and within 10 minutes it was there (almost perfect controls) I was like, no looking at the controls, just picked it up naturally. So, with that, what were some of the challenges from going from the PC version to the PS3 version.
Yup, so the one of our overall philosophies of bringing Diablo 3 from the PC to the console was to make sure it felt hand built for the console. We wanted to take the Diablo 3 experience that you see and translate it so it felt native to the platform. So, some of the big changes, where we spent a lot of our time in making sure it feels that way are the controls. So, you know making sure the character controls feels good, how the camera works with the character, feels natural, tweaking and tuning pretty much every skill in the game to make sure it felt good with the controller. That has been one primary area of focus.
The second has really been the user interface because the user interface on the PC version works great with a mouse and keyboard, clicking and dragging mechanic...
It's dramatically different
...You have to use the analog sticks, the buttons, it's a very different experience. You also have the resolution of a television compared to the resolution of a PC screen. Taking all of that into account, making sure were presenting the same really deep game that's on the PC version, making sure we have all the same information, all the same great affixes and level items, but still presenting that information in a way that can be easily digested and acted on in the console version.
Yeah, so it doesn't become a wall of text, and people are like, 'Ah junk it, I don't care.'
Umm, so, just moving on, one of the things that I noticed on here while I was playing the Demon Hunter, and just moving around, killing stuff, and all of a sudden, 'Why is my Bola Shot going three times faster? What's this little green icon I've never seen before in the bottom left corner?' So when I asked around, they said it's a temporary power up that goes on. So, what led to the development of that power up or the ability? Exactly what is that and how does it work?
So, umm, one of the things that we've done on consoles to kinda streamline item management and make sure your not spending all your time in menus when we really want to be doing is killing monsters, getting great loot is we adopted a philosophy of dropping fewer items, but better quality items...
...so you're not spending all your time in the inventory, but one of the things we added on to make it still feel you are getting awesome things all the time was this idea of a "Shrine Globe". It's a temporary power up that can drop and gives you a little boost to your abilities. It's something else you can see, and quickly maneuver to pick up and give you a little boost and you feel like, 'Oh, I got something great!' It doesn't require you to go into your inventory and mess around with the menus.
Alright, so that's cool. I guess the other big addition to the console version vs. the PC version, hopefully for now, I say for now, can predict the things in the future, but is the dodge ability that the characters have. It makes the Demon Hunter, not, I won't say more playable, but makes it really so much more unique because now if you can really rely on your dodge, you can use your Discipline for everything else. So now you can dodge, lay a trap, and really get that feeling of your really a Demon Hunter, your trapping stuff, you're really setting up your kitting.
I'm really happy to hear your enjoying the evade mechanic. It's something we added to every class in the game. The reason why we added to the game on the console is that once we moved to a direct control scheme, where your actually directing and moving your character with the analog stick to, umm, you don't have some of the tackle advantages that you can have on the PC where you click on a spot and your character paths there, right, so, we need a way for you to quickly reposition your character yourself so you gain those tackle advantages. That's one of the reasons why we added it on the console. It makes a lot of sense with a controller, so that's what we've done.
Alright, so, going on from there. Now we went over the controls (briefly). How much of a hard transition was it? Like, was it five iterations in, was it like, 'Oh no this is terrible, we have to go back to the drawing board,' because it seems especially with a game where you're not using your "WASD" was it an easy transition to say use the D-Pad then go from there. Then you have to factor six abilities, so your typical "A,B, Y, X," is taken up by those and you have your Trigger Buttons. It seems you were trying to cram a lot in, but going through the inventory setup and the graphics, I guess just going back to the controller again, how hard was that to do?
Yeah, you know we went through a few iterations for sure. I think it's been a matter of a lot of finessing. A lot of tweaking and tuning to make sure it feels good. Some of the things came really naturally and obviously like using the left analog stick to move around, made a lot of sense and then beyond that sort of using your skills and which buttons do they map to default for the player and how we need to adjust when the skills function and feel good for the buttons; a lot of iteration went there. Just to make it clear, you will have "Elective Mode" on the console version as well, so, you can map any of your skills to any of the buttons.
Okay, because that was the natural follow up. 'Could we just move everything around?'
Especially if we wanted to be an Archon mage (Wizard \^^/) 'Okay, Archon form, done!' Now I guess, going to the more technical side with the continuing of, I guess the PC and the console version is, can the console players, can they expect the same level of patching as the PC game has been getting? It seems every 6 weeks, 6 weeks to 8 weeks there's been a patch with a big addition, bug fixes, or a combination of the both as far as content for the PC version. Can the console people expect a regular interval of patching as well?
Right, so you know Blizzard is a company that's really committed to listening to the community and constantly trying to improve the game to meet the needs of our players in a way that makes sense for the long term. So, the same way the PC game has offered patches, we're really committed to offering title updates for the PS3 as it makes sense for the game. Timing on that is still TBD, but we want to make sure that we offer that to the community on console as well as PC.
So, I guess that wraps up the major questions I have, but is there anything else that you would like to add on to that we may not know about because I know I didn't know about the dropping of the power ups (Shrine Globes) or anything like that. Is there anything you'd like to add about the console version?
Yeah I think, today here at Pax we're showcasing the console version first time ever so we're making sure we're showing the core Diablo 3 experience as a singleplayer game, but I just wanted to mention one of the things we're really excited about with the product is that we are going to offer 4 player split screen co-op. So you can sit down with your buddies on the couch, your wife, your partner, whatever you want to do and plug-in and play together on the same screen, shared experience. Being in the world together, killing monsters, being right next to you, sharing in the joys of getting great loot, and as much fun as it is to playing game by yourself, or remotely online with other people, it's that much more fun able to play right next to each other, on the same couch, the same screen.
So that does it, this is Dr J Dredscythe from Diablo Expressions along with Julie Humphreys and Blizzard Entertainment. Thank you very much. Been a great time at Pax. Look forward to playing some more and that's it, moving along to the console version and BlizzCon at the end of the year. Thank You very much.
Alright thank you guys.
Blue Post Info.
Itemization Could Bring Changes to Monster Power
Travis Day talks about optional challenge through Monster Power in this post, and (for reference) here is the Itemization blog that mentions the future of Legendary items. I think it’s difficult to anticipate how those future updates to Legendary items will affect the challenge in higher Monster Power settings without knowing what other updates might be made to the game, but viable optional challenge is important to Diablo III. If players find those higher settings too easy, then we will be sure to let the developers know.
Will There Be Diablo 3 on Xbox?
Yup, there are a lot of rumours about Diablo III being released for the Xbox right now, but we have made no announcements of that actually happening - and we still do not have any announcements to make at this time btw.
Legendary Revamp Might Bring New Items
I think Blizzard is getting ready to introduce a lot of new legendaries and generally improve drops.
Pretty much this, and I am pretty sure the game will feel quite different to play once you get your hands on one of those game changing legendaries :-)
Vaneras one simple question, new or reworked ones ?
That's a good question, but unfortunately one I cannot answer yet. More information on this will be posted once it becomes available though.
Rollback Policy Updated for the Americas and Europe
Last December, we made some changes to our regional account rollback policy for players in our Asia region. We implemented this update to protect the in-game economy from the noted rise of false compromised account claims by players attempting to gain duplicate items.
This policy has proven very effective in helping reduce the number of duplicate items in the game while still allowing us to assist legitimately compromised players, and now we’re ready to roll it out for our Americas and European regions.
Starting on Tuesday, April 2, all character equipment including weapons and armor restored via the Diablo III rollback service will become bound to the restored account. This means restored items cannot be traded with other players or posted on the auction house, but that they can still be shared with other characters on the account and sold to merchant NPCs.
As always we are committed to continuing to monitor the overall health and economy of the game and make additional tweaks if necessary.
[Protecting Your Account]
Considering that the rollback service is intended to help players whose accounts have been compromised, we obviously wish that no one ever needed to use it. The best way to help protect yourself from account compromise is to secure your PC and Battle.net account, for example by adding a Battle.net Authenticator. While no security measure is completely foolproof, we've often found that many accounts are compromised a second time simply because players do not take any action to protect themselves after being compromised the first time.
To learn more about the Battle.net Authenticator and some best practices for securing your PC against viruses and malware, check out the links below.
- Battle.net Account Security Website
- Secure Your Gear With the Battle.net Authenticator
- Account Security: General Tips
How about gold and other commodities?
Gold and other commodities will not be bound, only wearable items. When implementing policy changes like this that can affect the in-game economy as well as a player's experience, it's really important to us to take a measured approach.
That said, binding wearable items is a first step. We'll be monitoring how/if this policy change improves the issues we've had with false compromise reports in the Americas and Europe, and are totally open to making additional changes as needed (which may include adjusting how commodities are restored during rollbacks as well).
I wonder why, if they did this on the Asia server last December, did it take 3 more months to do it on the America's server
Account compromise issues were particularly pronounced in our Asia region, much more than the Americas or Europe, so we decided the policy change would make the most sense to roll out in that region first and then monitor how it affected false compromise claims.
We saw really good results after this policy was implemented there, and now we're really happy to be bringing the same policy update to our players in NA, LatAM, ANZ, and EU. :)
Clarification on Itemization and Legendary Items
I do feel I need to clarify something though, before people build up crazy expectations; we will not necessarily get to see a lot of new legendaries added to the game, we simply cannot promise that at this point in time - as described in the Developer Journal update, we are looking into a "Less is More" model, where you will see fewer drops overall, but a much larger percentage of those drops will be interesting.
It is still too soon to say if the game changing legendaries will be all new ones, all reworked ones, or a mix of the two. When we do have this information, then we will of course let you know, but for now the only information we have on the future of itemisation is what have been posted in the Developer Journal update and of course the "Ask the Devs" answers on the topic of itemisation.
1.0.8 Will Have a PTR
I'm really looking forward to the monster density changes in patch 1.0.8 as well, but we don’t have any updates for the patch schedule yet. We should have some information to share about it soon, though, and are currently planning to do a PTR.
The item changes mentioned in the Itemization blog are not going to be in patch 1.0.8, and we don’t have any additional information regarding when they'll be implemented. We know people are eager to know more about when they can expect those changes, though, so we’ll be sure to keep you updated as soon as we have more details.
Interview with Julie Humphreys @ Pax East 2013!
Welcome to this special with Diablo Expressions and Julie Humphreys, Lead Producer of the Diablo 3 on the console team. The interview was done at Pax East 2013 and I asked about the trials to get the game from the PC over to a state that could be played on a console. I also dug deeper into the details of the gameplay, user interface and several additions made that I notice that were not previously stated.
Here is a short list of time links to different parts of the interview itself:
- When did Console development start? - Watch
- Challenges from going from PC to Console? - Watch
- "Bonus Globe System" - Watch
- Further explanation on "Evade System" - Watch
- How hard was it to get controls right? - Watch
- Confirmation of elective mode (mapping abilities to any button) - Watch
- Patching and keeping up to date - Watch
- Confirmation of 4 player split screen & wrap up - Watch
- I go into further details of each part along with the "Hard Target Lock" function after the interview - Watch
Much to be heard and learned. I was a great time at Pax East and hanging out with the Blizz crew there. Look forward to doing more and going to BlizzCon!
I hope you enjoyed, and yes, better mic and audio next time too!
Dr. J Dredscythe
First Trailer for Diablo III on the PS3
Here it is, the first of a lot of information to come on the port of DIablo III to the PS3.
Remember if you have any questions, please feel free to ask on this Facebook thread.
No RMAH on PS3/4 Version
This is a hot or sore topic depending on who you talk to for some. In an interview, Joshua Mosqueira, the game's lead designer confirmed that there will be no RMAH on the console version:
“The ecosystems on the PC and console are very different,” Mosqueira explained. “There were some technical reasons we had to go with offline, but again once you have an offline experience, even if we wanted to bring in the auction house, it just becomes problematic. How do you validate? How do you make sure there is no duping or any of that stuff?”
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Blizzard unveiled there new IP today;, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft! It's a digital card game that you'll be able to build, create, and craft custom decks with famous lore characters from the Warcraft universe that you know and love.
What is Hearthstone?
What is Hearthstone™?
Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital strategy card game that anyone can enjoy. Players choose to play as one of nine epic Warcraft® heroes, and then take turns playing cards from their customizable decks to cast potent spells, use heroic weapons or abilities, or summon powerful characters to crush their opponent.
Why is Blizzard making Hearthstone?
We looooooove collectible card games and have been playing them since our Silicon & Synapse days. Creating a digital strategy card game felt like a natural next step for us, so we put together a small team and have been hammering away at Hearthstone for a while now. We’re excited to be working on something different from our other games, which we’ve wanted to do for a long time. Same goes for creating a game for iPad® in addition to PC. It’s been a thrill to work on Hearthstone and to finally be able to reveal it to the community, and we hope everyone has as much fun playing it as we’ve had building it.Do I need to know anything about strategy card games or Warcraft to play?
Not at all! We’ve designed Hearthstone so that anyone can get into it, no matter how familiar they are with the Warcraft universe or collectible card games. The game will teach you everything you need to know as you play it.On which platforms will Hearthstone be available?
Hearthstone will initially be available for Windows® and Macintosh®, with a version for iPad coming later.What comes in a card pack?
Each pack comes with five random cards. Your chance to receive a particular card depends on its rarity: common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). You’re guaranteed to receive at least one card of rare or better quality per pack. Each card in the pack also has a chance to upgrade to a “Golden” version of the same card.How do I apply for the beta test?
Just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account!How will I get cards in the beta test? Do I need to purchase them with real money?
We do plan to test the in-game store during the beta test, and players will be able to purchase card packs using their Battle.net Balance or other Battle.net-supported payment methods. Players will also be able to obtain cards through Practice mode, Play mode, and The Forge.
The card pack price in the beta test does not necessarily reflect what the final prices will be at launch.
Prior to launch your card collection will be reset, and any cards you acquired through a purchased card pack or earned during the beta test will be removed. However, any purchases you made during the beta test will be credited back to you in the form of new, unopened card packs at launch, equal to the value you spent during the beta test. Please note that these will not contain the same cards as those received from card packs in the beta test. Also, as a thank-you for testing out the in-game store during Hearthstone’s beta phase, everyone who purchased a card pack in the beta test will get a special gift.I don’t live in the US; can I still participate in the beta test?
We hope to launch a beta test in other game regions after the initial beta-test launch in North America, but we don’t have any specifics to announce at this time. Stay tuned for updates.Where will Hearthstone be available?
MMM: Mega Monthly Millions Reminder
Just reminding about the MMM lotto and the new prizes I added in the beginning of the week and questions you can post that I'll ask to devs on console version of Diablo 3. Check out video for details.
Blizzard at Pax East, New IP announcement Tomorrow
Blizzard will be back at Pax for the first time in 3-4 years. On top of the newly announced Diablo III version for the Playstation 3 & 4, there will be an announcement at 10:00am EST (7:00am PST) for their new IP. Linked below is the official livestream for Pax East which will show the events live.
Blu Post Round Up?
I am not sure if I will have enough time to get one done before the weekend trip. If I don't I'll catch up with them in next weeks edition. Using time wisely for Pax prep!