Well, this is a surprise. During a panel talk at GDC (via Joystiq), former Diablo 3 Lead Designer Jay Wilson addressed head-on the ongoing controversy of the game's gold and real-money auction houses, saying the markets ultimately "really hurt the game."
When we last checked in with Blizzard about the state of Diablo 3, a great cheer went up across Sanctuary as it put forth the clear goal to move away from auction house farming as a core mechanic. A new dev blog has just rolled off of the brimstone-scented presses, further detailing these plans, as well as some potential solutions to Rare and Legendary items that should make fewer of them seem like more trash with a differently-colored name.
In a video which has now been removed from YouTube (via the RPS forums), a Blizzard rep announced the addition of offline, shared-screen co-op to the PlayStation 4 port of Diablo 3. Whether this is strictly co-op, or will allow single-player offline as well, wasn't specified, but it seems odd that offline play would be present and restricted to co-op. There's no word on whether the feature will make it to PC, and Blizzard tells PC Gamer that it is not yet ready to share anything on the subject.
Buried among the dividend dealings and funny terms (challenge: use "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" in normal conversation) of Activision's latest report to its shareholders are two intriguing info-nuggets for a pair of Blizzard mega-franchises: Diablo III sold more than 12 million copies through the end of 2012, and subscriber numbers for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria dropped to 9.6 million according to "internal estimates" at the publishing giant.
Blizzard has spoken before on the need to shape up Diablo III's grindy end-game and gear issues. Now, in an official forum thread (via PCGamesN) collating a sizable pile of player concerns and requests, Community Manager Vaneras acknowledged the RPG "needs to be a better game" overall but re-iterated its intention as a sequel with a standalone identity instead of "an HD version of Diablo II."
Blizzard's inclusion of a contentious real-money auction house in Diablo III made nabbing items easier, but many players feel the gear-centric end-game and a simplified skill tree leaves their characters defined only by what they wear. In a forum post today, Blizzard Community Manager Grimiku stated the studio will continue addressing these complaints until everyone is satisfied.
Are hard-as-hell indie games enough to satiate our hunger for a challenge, or should mainstream developers quit trying to appease everyone and start really testing us? In this Face Off from our archives (originally published October 2012), Executive Editor Evan Lahti gives former Senior Editor Josh Augustine a hard time for his willingness to take it easy.
When Diablo III's director, Jay Wilson, announced he was leaving the game's team to work on another unspecified Blizzard project, the community's reaction was intense. While many expressed gratitude for Wilson's work, wishing him well in his future role, others used the forum thread as a platform for vehement criticism of both the game and of Wilson himself. In response to the vitriol, Blizzard's Chief Creative Officer, Rob Pardo, made a candid reply to the community, saying, "If you still feel the need to dish out blame, then I would prefer you direct it at me."
In a lengthy post on Blizzard's official forums, Diablo III Director Jay Wilson has announced his departure from the team he led for seven years to pursue another unspecified project at Blizzard. "I've reached a point creatively where I'm looking forward to working on something new," he writes. "This decision was not an easy one for me, and not one I made quickly, but ultimately it's what I feel is right."
During co-op play in Diablo III, players can call for a vote to kick party members as a measure against troublemakers. A successful vote locks the offending player in place for 10 seconds before booting him or her, but forum complaints cite griefers vote-kicking innocent players in Hardcore games, resulting in a costly death from swarms of monsters. Posting on the official forums, a Blizzard Community Manager stated a fix is on the way to remove the timer entirely.
With Valve positioning themselves at the forefront of bringing big-name PC titles to Linux, and indies quietly supporting it for ages now, Penguin-enabled gaming must be looking increasingly attractive to developers. Phoronix are reporting that Blizzard are working on an Ubuntu port of one of their games, set to release sometime this year.
If you've been anxiously awaiting Team Deathmatch mode in Diablo III, you should probably stop. In a blog update posted today by lead designer Jay Wilson, he confirms that the mode (which has been playable at past BlizzCons, even before Diablo III's release) is currently "not up to the quality that Blizzard gamers expect or that we feel you deserve" and that "we will be shelving it for now and exploring other options."
It's a bad month to be a bot. First Guild Wars 2's struck a "decisive blow" in the name of humanity, banishing 34,000 bots from Tyria. Now Blizzard are sending the autonomous avatars straight to hell, and banning the players they worked for to boot.
If, like the fiery Butcher above, you're a bit vexed at the prolonged absence of PvP within Diablo 3, this spot of news probably won't sate your wrath. During a press conference held at Blizzard's Battle.net World Championship in Shanghai last weekend (via Gaming Blend), CEO Mike Morhaime revealed the studio holds "no plans" to bring the hack-and-crawl RPG into competitive tournament play.
In a wide-ranging interview with Indie Game Magazine Radio, designer Max Schaefer described his hopes for the future of Torchlight 2, saying that he'd like to introduce a greater sense of permanence to the game through player-created structures.
"What I’d like to see personally is to get the building and resource aspects of Minecraft and put them into an ARPG," he said, "just so it’s a little more than just wandering from one monster to the next and hitting them."
Starblo. That was the actual codename Blizzard gave to a prototype sci-fi-themed Diablo-clone - as revealed by Shacknews in an interview snippet with David Craddock about his upcoming book on Blizzard Entertainment, Stay Awhile and Listen. Apparently, a team at Blizzard North were toying with the idea of propelling Diablo's slot-machine formula into space shortly after Diablo 2's launch.
A developer journal posted today by Diablo 3 Senior Technical Designer Wyatt Cheng cast a portal of illumination on planned touchups to crowd control (CC) abilities in patch 1.0.5. After considering duration reductions and implementing diminishing returns, Wyatt and his team decided to provide Hell's minions with stacking CC resistance up to a certain percentage.
Batten down the virtual hatches, Battle.net has been breached. Blizzard has posted notification of an illegal intrusion into its network during which e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords were accessed.
For players on North American servers, the intruders also accessed secret question answers and information relating to Authenticators, but Blizzard does not believe enough information was stolen to access accounts. The company also states that it does not have evidence suggesting real names, addresses, or credit card numbers were accessed.