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."
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."
Frankly, a lot of us are playing that other game this weekend. But I say you can't have too many ARPGs in your life, and thus ventured toward Sanctuary once again to discuss Diablo 3's upcoming 1.05 patch with Blizzard's Jay Wilson and Wyatt Cheng. They gave us the run-down on the upcoming Monster Power adjustable difficulty system, how common collaboration is between the different teams at Blizzard, and all manner of other hellish topics.
Diablo 3's 1.04 patch is rolling out onto live servers today, bringing with it 100 new levels of advancement, big buffs to legendary items, and an angelic host of class buffs. I got a chance to chat up Blizzard about the philosophy behind the changes in this patch and going forward, and why it's okay for Diablo's heroes to be overpowered.
If you thought Diablo 3 was polished up and ready for release, think again. Game director Jay Wilson has posted a long list of big changes Blizzard are planning for the beta, some of which involve major overhauls of the character stats system. Wilson recognises the frustration of fans that have been waiting for Diablo 3 for years, but insists that the changes will be worth it.
"We've been called out for messing around with systems too much, that the game is good as-is and we should just release it," he says on the Diablo 3 blog. "I think that's a fair argument to make, but I also think it's incorrect. No one will remember if the game is late, only if it's great."
We've played it and it already feels great, but Blizzard are looking to streamline every game system so that there are no unnecessary stats, NPCs and abilities left. That means they'll be making a few controversial decisions along the way. "we're going to be iterating on designs we've had in place for a long time, making changes to systems you've spent a lot of time theorycrafting, and removing features you may have come to associate with the core of the experience," says Wilson.
Diablo 3's auction house is a contentious subject. It'll let players trade in-game loot for real-life cash. Blizzard will take a set fee for each transaction. It's being described in very different ways to players and to investors. To players and the specialist press, Blizzard have repeatedly emphasised that the real-money auction house is meant to protect gamers from shady gold sellers. To investors, Activision-Blizzard are talking up the profit potential.
We spoke to Diablo 3's Jay Wilson about Blizzard's motivation for the feature in August. At the time, it seemed that making a profit from the auction house wasn't high on the game designer's priority list: “We expect it’ll break even. We talked about this as a service we wanted to provide players and not primarily as a financial model. We don’t know if it will make us money," he said.
"It would be nice if it did, but as long as we don’t lose money; that’s really what we care about: that we provide the players with a great experience that doesn’t put us out of business," he continued.
That was three months ago. The auction house came up at Activision Blizzard's recent Q3 2011 Earnings Call multiple times, mostly when people were talking about profit margins and business models. It seems that the auction house could end up turning a profit, accidentally or not. And in corporate land, Activision Blizzard's CFO Thomas Tippl, is enthusiastic about the item-trading system's potential for generating cash.
Everyone knows what classic Diablo plays like, but Blizzard has never been afraid to experiment. Part of that process for Diablo 3 involved looking at different control systems - up to and including seeing how the action would work with an Xbox 360 controller, or how its demon-slaying might play on consoles.
Yes. Diablo 3. On an Xbox controller. Read on to find out how Diablo 3's game director feels about that.
Jay Wilson, game director of Diablo 3 loves the PC. Honest. I interviewed him at Gamescom a few weeks ago and asked why PC still matters in such a changing industry.
"The install base of PCs outnumbers all the consoles combined together hands down." said Jay. "There’s a lot of people out there with PCs and Macs, and they like games too."
Read on for more unbridled honesty from the Blizzard developer.
Diablo 3 game director on lack of offline mode: "the game’s not really being played right if it’s not online"
We met up with Diablo 3 game director, Jay Wilson at Gamescom to discuss Diablo 3′s always-online requirement and some of the issues that PC gamers can face when playing online-only games.
Some players might not have access to a stable internet connection. What should a player do if, say, the internet wiring in his house is flawed?
“Erm… upgrade the wiring in his house?” suggests Wilson. “I mean, in this day and age the notion that there’s this a whole vast majority of players out there that don’t have online connectivity – this doesn’t really fly any more.
“I mean, at our hotel, there’s nine wi-fi networks that I can access. Just from the hotel! And they’re all public – they’re all paid – but they’re pretty cheap, and they’re all publicly available. So the notion that there’s just tons and tons of people out there that aren’t connected – isn’t… I don’t think is really accurate.”