Diablo III Beta Announcement

Countless hours of consulting the ancient prophecies and poring over dusty tomes have resulted in the unearthing of new information about Diablo III. The upcoming Diablo III beta test will introduce a treasure trove of exciting new features, including a new Auction House that will provide a powerful new way for your characters to acquire the implements of war. Prepare yourselves!

About DIABLO III BETA TEST
Overview| FAQ
About DIABLO III AUCTION HOUSE
Overview| FAQ

Diablo III Auction House FAQ

  • What is the Diablo III auction house system?
    Acquiring epic new gear for your characters has always been a big part of the Diablo experience. Because of this, players have found a number of different ways to trade and otherwise obtain items both within and outside of the game. Many of these methods were inconvenient and either tedious (for example, repeatedly advertising for a desired trade in Battle.net chat channels and waiting for responses) or unsafe (e.g., giving credit card information to third-party trading sites). With Diablo III, we’re introducing a powerful auction house system that will provide a safe, fun, and easy-to-use way for players to buy and sell the loot they find in the game, such as weapons, armor, and runes. Two different versions of the auction house will be available in Diablo III: one based on in-game gold, which players acquire through their adventures, and one based on real-world currency.
    What’s the difference between the gold-based auction house and the currency-based auction house?
    The gold-based auction house uses in-game gold for purchases and sales. With the currency-based auction house, players will be able to conduct these transactions using actual currency from an authorized payment method or from funds that have been added to their Battle.net account. Players can choose to participate in whichever version of the auction house they prefer, on a per-transaction basis.
    How does the auction house system work?
    Players can open the auction house interface from anywhere in the game to make purchases or list items for sale. Items can be sold from the shared stash (storage shared among all the characters on your Battle.net account) or from any individual character’s inventory. When posting the item, the seller picks whether it will be sold in the gold-based auction house or the currency-based auction house. The item is then held by the auction house system until the listing expires or a purchase is made. Items that are not sold are returned to the seller’s shared stash, and items that are sold are delivered to the winning bidder’s shared stash. In either case, the auction house system will deduct a nominal fixed transaction fee from the seller, the amount of which is determined by whether or not the item was sold (see below). For the currency-based auction house, players will have a few different options for how to pay for item purchases and receive funds for item sales, as discussed elsewhere in this FAQ. There may be differences in how this system will work in different regions of the world. We’ll provide further details at a later date.
    How is the transaction fee determined?
    A nominal fixed transaction fee will be deducted from the seller for each item listed in the auction house. This fee consists of a fixed charge to list the item, which is assessed whether or not the item is successfully sold, and an additional fixed charge that is assessed only if the item is sold. Because the listing portion of the fee is charged even if the item doesn’t sell, it will be in the seller’s interest to list items he or she believes other players will be interested in, and to do so at a competitive price. Specific details related to the transaction fee for the currency-based auction house will vary by region and will be announced at a later date.
    Please note that we plan to waive the listing portion of the fee for a limited number of transactions per account. In other words, for these transactions, the seller will only pay a transaction fee if the item is successfully sold, and that fee will not include the listing charge. We’ll have further details on this as well at a later date.
    Why are you creating a currency-based version of the auction house?
    Our goal with all of our games is to ensure players have a highly enjoyable, rewarding, and secure experience. Acquiring items has always been an important part of the Diablo series, but the previous games have not had a robust, centralized system for facilitating trades, and as a result players have turned to inconvenient and potentially unsafe alternatives, such as third-party real-money-trading organizations. Many of the transactions between players and these organizations led to a poor player experience and countless customer-service issues involving scams and item/account theft, to name a few. To that end, we wanted to create a convenient, powerful, and fully integrated tool to meet the demand of players who wished to purchase or sell items for real-world currency, and who would likely have turned to a less-secure third-party service for this convenience.
    How will the currency-based auction house work?
    Players will be able to make purchases in the currency-based auction house using a registered form of payment attached to their Battle.net account. As with other popular online-purchase services, players will also have the option to charge up their Battle.net account with a balance of funds that can be drawn from for purchases of any digital product available through Battle.net -- this includes not only auction house items but also things like World of Warcraft subscription time and paid services, to name a few examples. On the flipside, when players sell an item in the currency-based auction house, the proceeds of the sale are deposited into their Battle.net account and can then be used as described above. Note that this process might be different for certain regions; we’ll provide further region-specific details as we get closer to launch.
    Can players choose to get cash from currency-based auction house sales, instead of having the proceeds deposited into their Battle.net account?
    Yes, as an advanced feature, players will have the option of attaching an account with an approved third-party payment service to their Battle.net account. Once this has been completed, proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house can be deposited into their third-party payment service account. “Cashing out” would then be handled through the third-party payment service. Note that this process will be subject to applicable fees charged by Blizzard and the third-party payment service. Also, any proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house that have been deposited into the Battle.net account will not be transferrable to the third-party payment service account. Not all regions will support this advanced feature at launch. Region-specific details, as well as details regarding which third-party payment services will be supported and the fee that Blizzard will charge for the cash-out process, will all be provided at a later date.
    Is the currency-based version of the auction house optional?
    Yes, the currency-based auction house is available as an option for players who wish to purchase or sell Diablo III items for real money. Players are also able to buy and sell items through the gold-based auction house, and they can trade items with each other as well through direct character-to-character in-game trading.
    Why would I want to pay real money to buy or sell in-game items?
    Acquiring items has always been a core part of the Diablo series' appeal. With the previous Diablo games, many players have shown a great interest in buying, selling, or exchanging items for their characters using real-world currency, turning to potentially unsafe avenues to accomplish this goal. The currency-based version of the auction house provides players with an easy-to-use, Blizzard-sanctioned way to collect money for items obtained while playing Diablo III. In addition, it helps protect players from scams and disreputable third-party sites by providing a secure, in-game method to search for and purchase items posted by other players that are a perfect fit for their character and play style.
    The currency-based auction house is completely optional. Players who aren't interested in paying real money for items will still be able to rely on items they acquire through their own adventures, and they'll also be able to trade with friends and use the full-featured gold-based auction house.
    Can I play on a server without a currency-based version of the auction house?
    We want to provide a secure, fun environment for our players to purchase and sell in-game items using gold or real money and have no plans to divide the community. Players are free to participate in the gold-based auction house or the currency-based auction house, or to opt out of using any of the auction houses at all, progressing through Diablo III using only the items they obtain through their own adventures or direct trade with other players.
    Does Blizzard plan to post weapons, armor, and other such items for sale in the currency-based version of the auction house?
    The currency-based auction house is a place for players to purchase or sell items they’ve obtained within the game. Blizzard does not plan to post items that affect gameplay, such as gear or character-enhancing runes, for sale in the auction house.
    Will Blizzard sell anything directly through the auction house?
    We don't have any plans at this time to post items for sale in the auction house.
    Does the currency-based auction house signify a shift in Blizzard’s business and revenue model?
    We’ve always tailored our business models to match what we’ve felt would be most appropriate and effective for each game and in each region, and that’s the case with Diablo III as well. The item-based nature of Diablo gameplay has always lent itself to an active trade-based ecosystem, and a significant part of this trade has been conducted through unsecure third-party organizations. This has led to numerous customer-service and game-experience issues that we’ve needed to account for. Our primary goal with the Diablo III auction house system is for it to serve as the foundation for a player-driven economy that’s safe, fun, and accessible for everyone.
    What’s Blizzard’s cut?
    As with other online auction sites and real-world auction houses, our fee structure will vary by region. However, we plan to collect a nominal fixed transaction fee for each item listed in the auction house. This fee consists of a fixed charge to list the item, which is assessed whether or not the item is successfully sold, and an additional fixed charge that is assessed only if the item is sold. The listing portion of the fee, which helps encourage sensible listing prices and discourage the mass posting of items that are very low quality or would be of little interest to other players, will be waived for a limited number of transactions per account. For players who opt to have the proceeds of their auction house sales go to their third-party payment service account instead of to their Battle.net account, Blizzard will collect a separate “cash-out” fee. Specific details regarding these fees will be announced at a later date.
    Why would I even want to use the gold-based auction house?
    We recognize that not all players would prefer or have the means to participate in the currency-based auction house, and it was important to us to provide these players with a full-featured alternative.
    Can we buy gold from the currency-based auction house?
    Players will be able to buy and sell gold through the currency-based auction house at whatever the current market price is, as established by the player community.
    If I no longer need an item I bought in the auction house, can I relist it in the auction house?
    Yes. Once you've purchased an item you can do anything with it that you could if you had acquired it through your own adventures, whether that be using it yourself, or, after a cool-down period, trading it to another character or relisting it on either the gold-based or currency-based auction house. In fact, you can generally do any combination of these things -- for example, you can purchase an item in the auction house, use it for a while, and then relist it or trade it to another character. Aside from certain quest items, there will be very few (if any) items that will be “soulbound” to your character and therefore untradable. Please note that the duration of the cool-down period mentioned above will be discussed at a later date.
  • What items can be traded in Diablo III?
    Nearly everything that drops on the ground, including gold, can be traded with other players directly or through the auction house system. Aside from certain quest items, there will be very few (if any) items that will be “soulbound” to your character and therefore untradable. We are also planning to allow players to buy and sell characters in the auction house at some point in the future and will have more details to share on that at a later date.
    What is "smart searching"?
    When players launch the auction house interface, they’ll be able to select any Diablo III character associated with their Battle.net account. The "smart search" feature will assess which item slots have available upgrades and will sort items available in the auction house based on which upgrades would be most beneficial to the character. You can also search for specific stats to match the requirements of a particular character build.
    How does bidding work?
    Players will be able to place a current bid as well as a maximum bid if they wish to engage in automatic bidding. In addition, they’ll be able to check the status of their bids on the "Currently Winning" page and the "Outbid" page in the auction house interface.
    Can I buyout items that I want to purchase immediately?
    Yes, the Diablo III auction houses will support a buyout feature as well as standard bids.
    How do I pay for items?
    For the gold-based auction house, purchases will be made using in-game gold. For the currency-based auction house, players can make purchases using a registered form of payment attached to their Battle.net account. As with other popular online-purchase services, players will also have the option to charge up their Battle.net account with a balance of funds that can be drawn from for purchasing items in the currency-based auction house. Note that this process might be different for certain regions; we’ll provide further region-specific details as we get closer to launch.
    How do I receive the items I’ve won?
    After winning an auction, the item will be available to pick up through the built-in auction house interface in the Diablo III client. Players will then be able to immediately send that item to their shared stash (storage shared among all the characters on a Battle.net account) or repost the item in the auction house after a cool-down period. The duration of the cool-down period will be discussed at a later date.
    How do I sell items?
    From the auction house interface, players will be able to select items from their shared stash or from a specific character's inventory. They will then be able to post items for sale by listing a starting bid and buyout price.
    How do I cash out from the currency-based auction house?
    As an advanced feature, players will have the option of attaching an account with an approved third-party payment service to their Battle.net account. Once this has been completed, proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house can be deposited into their third-party payment service account. “Cashing out” would then be handled through the third-party payment service. Note that this process will be subject to applicable fees charged by Blizzard and the third-party payment service. Also, any proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house that have been deposited into the Battle.net account will not be transferrable to the third-party payment service account. Not all regions will support this advanced feature at launch. Region-specific details, as well as details regarding which third-party payment services will be supported and the fee that Blizzard will charge for the cash-out process, will all be provided at a later date.
    Will buying or selling items in the auction house reveal my identity?
    No. All player transactions in the gold-based and currency-based auction houses will be anonymous, and neither your real name nor your character name will be revealed to other players.
    Will there be a mobile or Web-based auction house?
    We're always on the lookout for opportunities to enhance the game experience and keep our community connected to our games through the Web or mobile devices. However, we do not have any plans to share along those lines at this time.
    When will this be available for testing?
    We'll share more information on our auction house testing plans as we get closer to launch.
  • Which regions will have currency-based auction house support?
    We plan to roll out the currency-based version of the auction house in as many regions as possible with the launch of Diablo III. In regions where the currency-based auction house will not be available, players will still have access to a gold-based auction house. We'll share more details in the future.
    Will there be separate auction houses in each region? Will I be allowed to bid on items from players outside my own region?
    Due to various factors, including technology, language, and currency, there will be multiple separate auction houses serving different player communities around the world. We’ll share specific details on how the auction houses will work for each region as we get closer to launch.
    If I live in Australia/New Zealand/Southeast Asia, what server will I play Diablo III on?
    As with StarCraft II, players who purchase the Australia/New Zealand/Southeast Asia version of Diablo III will have their own regional servers, offering lower latency and more action during peak hours. While we encourage players to play on these servers, we recognize that many have longstanding friendships with North American players and would like to continue playing with them. Because of this, we're again giving Australia/New Zealand/ Southeast Asia gamers access to both regions' servers so they can choose where they'd prefer to play.
    How does this impact the items I have purchased in the auction house?
    Auction house purchases are bound to the servers in the region in which they're bought. Any items acquired on the Australia/New Zealand/Southeast Asia servers, in-game or otherwise, are bound to those servers and are not transferrable to the North American servers (and vice versa). Please keep this in mind when making purchases in the auction house.
    What currencies will be available? What currency will items in the auction house be viewed in? Can players purchase items using local credit cards or bank accounts?
    Our goal is to make the auction house experience in each region as seamless as possible for players, and we are currently exploring various currency and payment options to help achieve that goal. We’ll provide further details as we get closer to launch.
  • Will I be able to use third-party mods to track auction prices?
    For a variety of gameplay and security reasons, we will not be supporting bots or mods in Diablo III, and they’ll be expressly prohibited by our terms of use for the game.
    Can Hardcore-mode characters use the currency-based auction house?
    No. Hardcore characters will only have the option to buy and sell items together with other Hardcore characters via a separate "Hardcore-only" gold-based auction house; they will not be able to use the currency-based auction house. Hardcore mode is designed as an optional experience for players who enjoy the sense of constant peril that comes with the possibility of permanent death for a character. All of a Hardcore character’s items are forever lost upon that character’s death, so to avoid the risk of a player spending real money on items that could then be permanently lost when the character dies, we decided restrict the use of the currency-based auction house in Hardcore mode.
    Also, Hardcore mode is intended to provide an additional level of challenge in which players try to keep their characters alive through a combination of skill and luck. Allowing players to access the currency-based auction house with their Hardcore characters would undermine the value of Hardcore-related achievements for everyone because the playing field would not be even. As with other aspects of Diablo III gameplay, we will continually monitor how this system plays out and make adjustments as necessary.
    If my character dies in Hardcore mode, will I lose the items that I purchased in the "Hardcore-only" gold-based auction house for that character?
    Yes. Again, Hardcore-mode characters will only have access to a "Hardcore-only" gold-based auction house, not the currency-based auction house, and will not be able to trade with non-Hardcore characters. Hardcore is an optional mode designed for players who enjoy playing with the risk of permanently losing their character if the character dies, and that includes the items they acquired with that character.
    Will players be at a disadvantage in the game if they do not purchase items in the auction house?
    All of the items available in the auction house can be obtained in the game. The auction house system is designed to facilitate the exchange of items (items can also be exchanged through character-to-character trades). Diablo III is primarily a cooperative game; while the game will offer some highly entertaining player-vs.-player options, we don't intend to balance items for player-vs.-player gameplay. We feel that a robust and powerful item-trading system will make the co-op experience more enjoyable.
    Can I just buy the most powerful items and breeze through the game?
    Items will be level-restricted, meaning your character won't be able to use an item until he or she is at the appropriate level for that item.
  • What happens if a player does not receive a purchased item?
    The auction process is automated, but if a player purchases an item and for some reason does not receive it, he or she will be able to contact our customer service team to look into the issue.
    What happens if there is a patch and the item I purchased is altered?
    It's important for us to ensure that Diablo III remains balanced and fun for years after launch. To that end, it may be necessary to change stats or alter abilities of items from time to time. It’s very important to note that Blizzard will not be providing refunds or making other accommodations if a purchased item is later altered in a patch. Given this, it's up to players to determine whether they're comfortable purchasing items in the currency-based auction house.
    Someone bought an item on my account without my permission. Can I get a refund?
    Please note that account sharing will be forbidden in Diablo III's Terms of Use. In cases of compromise, our customer service team will look into the situation and determine the appropriate course of action.
    I accidentally lost or dropped an item I just purchased -- can I get a refund?
    No. After a purchase is made, players will be responsible for what they do with the item.
    How will you address bots or cheaters?
    We take cheating very seriously, and we've designed Diablo III and Battle.net to include measures to detect and prevent unfair play. In addition, we will have anti-cheating policies in place and will take action to address any issues as they arise.

Diablo III Auction House Overview

We’re introducing a powerful auction house system that will provide a safe, fun, and easy-to-use way for players to buy and sell the loot they obtain in the game. Items can be sold and purchased using real-world money or in-game gold.
An Easier Way To Trade
Sure, slaying monsters, demons, and cultists is a surefire way to obtain a ton of random new loot in Diablo III, but with the new auction house feature, it’ll be easier than ever to gear up your character with the exact items you’re looking for. You can also post the items you don’t need for players who are desperately searching for what you’ve got!
Don’t Need It? Put It Up For Auction!
Nearly everything found in the game, including gold, can be exchanged with other players directly or through the auction house system. So say you’re a witch doctor and you’ve just found an incredibly rare, incredibly powerful axe that only barbarians can use. In the previous Diablo games your best option might have been to sell the axe to an in-game vendor, but in Diablo III, you now have the ability to list that axe in the auction house for your fellow barbarian players to bid on. And you know another player will probably appreciate the true value of that axe more than some heartless vendor who’ll likely just melt it down for scrap….
Amazing Search Functionality
The auction house’s "smart search" functionality can automatically sort items in the auction house based on which upgrades would be most beneficial to your character. Also, searching for the best gear for multiple characters on the same Battle.net account can be done all from the same interface without having to log out.
The Choice Is Yours
Use of either the real-money or gold-based auction house is completely optional -- that decision can be made on a per-item basis, and both versions of the auction house are functionally the same. In addition, players have the option to simply sell the items they obtain to in-game vendors for gold. They can also trade items to other players through a direct character-to-character trading system in the game in exchange for gold, other items, or just an overwhelming sense of goodwill.
Players Only
Blizzard does not plan to post items for sale in the auction house. The driving purpose of the auction house is to provide players with a fun additional in-game option for what they do with the items they obtain in the game. Items sold in the auction house will be posted by players and purchased by players.
Safe and Sanctified
The real-money auction house provides players with an easy-to-use, Blizzard-sanctioned way to collect money for items they obtain while playing Diablo III. It also helps protect players from the scams and theft often associated with questionable third-party sites by providing a secure, completely in-game method for purchasing and obtaining the items they want for their characters.
Faster Than A Seven-Sided Strike
Sellers can post items for auction from any of the Diablo III characters on their Battle.net account, or from their shared stash (extra inventory space accessible with any of the characters on their account), without logging out. And after a buyer has won an auction, the item will become immediately available to be equipped and put to good use in the ongoing struggle against the forces of the Burning Hells.

Diablo III Auction House

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Diablo III Beta FAQ

What are your goals for this beta?
The primary reason for the Diablo III beta test is for us to test out our new hardware, see how the server–client infrastructure holds up, and look for bugs in the installer and patcher as well as the game. We’re also looking to get some quality feedback about the beginning game experience and how the different classes feel. The beta test will help us ensure that the release is stable and fun, and that we’re ultimately able to deliver the experience we intend with Diablo III.
How do I sign up for the Diablo III beta test?
To sign up for the Diablo III beta test or future Blizzard Entertainment beta tests, you first need to create a Battle.net account. You can then opt-in to the beta test for Diablo III, as well as beta tests for future Blizzard Entertainment games, through the beta opt-in process. To get started, simply click Beta Profile Settings in Battle.net Account Management. Please note that opting in to a beta test through this method does not guarantee that you will be selected.
If I opted in to the Diablo III beta, how will I know if I’ve been selected to participate?
If you are selected, you will receive an email from Blizzard instructing you to log in to your Battle.net account at www.battle.net if you don’t already have one. You’ll then be able to download the beta client directly from within Battle.net Account Management. We plan on inviting players in waves, so if you do not receive an invitation in the beginning of the testing period, there’s a chance you might receive one in a later wave.
1,000 Diablo III beta keys were promised at BlizzCon; how do I know if I am a winner?
We will be sending out emails with beta keys to winners along with detailed instructions on how to access the beta test. Players who receive a beta key via email will need to create a Battle.net account, click “Add or Upgrade a Game” in Account Management, and enter the key there. The beta client will then be available for download from within Battle.net Account Management.
How long will the beta test last?
We have not determined an exact date for the end of the beta test. We will notify participants when the beta test is nearing completion.
How many players do you plan to invite to the beta test?
The number of players we invite will be based on our testing needs. If during the course of testing we determine we need more players to participate, we’ll invite more.
How are beta test participants selected from the opt-in pool?
Beta testers are chosen according to their system specs and other factors, including luck. Our goal is to have a good variety of system types to best test compatibility.
Which regions will be able to participate in the beta test?
All regions will be able to participate in the Diablo III beta test; however, to keep the process as efficient as possible, and ultimately to release the game as soon as possible, we plan to roll out the beta hardware in waves, starting with North America. This means that players outside of North America who are granted access to the beta test may experience some latency issues. Once the new hardware setup has been optimized, we plan to roll it out in additional regions. This should provide a solid connection experience for beta testers in those regions who are connecting to the new local hardware infrastructure.
What game content will be available in the beta?
You’ll be able to try out all 5 character classes and experience the early stages of Diablo III from the start of the game through the Skeleton King encounter. You’ll be able to interact with new and returning characters in New Tristram and fight the reawakened evils emanating from the cursed Tristram Cathedral. You’ll also experience the randomized elements of Diablo III as well many of the new system designs that take many of the core Diablo design elements to a whole new level.
Will the progress I make during the beta test carry over when the game launches?
No, the purpose of the beta test is to ensure that the game and hardware infrastructure are ready to go as soon as possible. The main benefit of participating is being able to be among the first to play the game extensively prior to release. However, everyone will start on equal footing once the game is launched.
Will the Diablo III Auction House be available in the beta?
Yes, we plan on testing the functionality of the Diablo III gold-based auction house during the beta phase.
Will Mac users be able to participate in the beta?
Yes, Mac users will be able to participate in the beta at the same time as Windows-based users.

Diablo III Exclusive Interview

With the upcoming launch of the Diablo III beta test, the armies of the Burning Hells will march forth from their forgotten lairs to besiege the mortal realms anew.
To prepare for this renewed demonic invasion, the Blizzard Insider has secured an exclusive interview with Lead Content Designer Kevin Martens as he shares his thoughts and insights on Diablo III’s upcoming beta test. So read on, and prepare yourself for the next chapter in the Diablo saga.
Before we discuss the beta test, can you tell us about how the internal testing has gone so far?
Kevin Martens: Diablo III had a huge internal playtest a few weeks back and the feedback we’ve received from the other teams at Blizzard has been immensely valuable. A lot of employees across the company have played through the entire game multiple times and written up step-by-step feedback on just about everything. We’ll be discussing the balance changes more in the coming months, but based on the initial feedback, I can say we’ve already tuned the monsters a bit harder, added a ton of crafting content, implemented a major UI overhaul, and started refining the pace of the story.
Now that the internal testing is nearing completion, what aspects of the game do you hope to focus on during the beta test?
Kevin Martens: Polish, polish, polish. In particular, we’re going to keep refining our approach to the game’s action-storytelling. We want the player to experience the story, instead of just being told the story by NPCs, so we’re moving a lot of the dialogue into the gameplay and leaving the quest hubs with just the bare, essential details needed to keep the plot moving. One example of this kind of a change can be found when players first get to New Tristram. When they arrive, they find the town under siege by a horde of zombies, and the guards need help fending off the attack before they can open the gates. One of the conversations between the player and the guards used to take place before the main zombie attack, but it now takes place during the attack. That subtle change took a short conversation and moved it into the action of the game, which made it more impactful and intense. Ultimately, we want the story to feel ambient and organic, instead of something that only happens between battles.
Aside from the story elements, how are you tuning the game’s combat encounters?
Kevin Martens: We want the game’s difficulty to hit a range of “peaks” and “valleys” as the player progresses from battle to battle. During the “peaks”, the challenge level spikes and players will be tested to their limits. In the “valleys”, the difficulty relaxes and players can build up their health and energy again. From a gameplay standpoint, valleys are important because they allow players to learn and experiment with their abilities without too much fear of failure or death. It’s the skills and techniques developed during the valleys that enable players to survive the peaks, which tend to be much tougher encounters, like ambushes, large groups, rare monsters, or even bosses. The peaks will require players to think quickly, spend their resources carefully, and move around the battlefield to avoid getting surrounded.
What’s involved in designing a difficulty “peak”? Can you give us an example?
Kevin Martens: We have to make sure peaks are challenging for both melee and ranged characters, which is sometimes difficult because these two types of characters tend to have opposing strengths and weaknesses. Take the Skeleton King for example. He’s an Act 1 mini-boss who presents the highest difficulty peak in the early game. He has a ton of hit points, so he can stand toe to toe with most melee characters, but he also has a rush attack to chase down any ranged character who try to kite him [though this rush is telegraphed, so the player has a brief chance to get out of the way]. He summons minions that soak up a lot of player damage, but they also drop health globes, which the player will need to survive the lengthy boss encounter. The minions are plentiful and relatively weak, so they keep the overall intensity of the encounter high, even while the player recovers and the Skeleton King sets up his next rush attack.
How are you approaching balancing the game’s overall difficulty?
Kevin Martens: When it comes down to balancing the actual numbers, there is an expected amount of damage output that players should be able to sustain based on their level and gear. There is no absolute benchmark though, as skillful players will be able to do more damage with speed, precision, and advanced attack combos, while less experienced players will generally do less damage with more straight-forward attacks. The expected damage is a starting point to balance from. Balance must be maintained for both players types, and everyone in between, which can be tricky. Ultimately, it’s going to take the game's harder difficulty modes -- Hell and Inferno -- to challenge the limits of the best Diablo III players.
When grouping together, what roles will the five player character classes fill? How will they interact with each other?
Kevin Martens: Diablo III doesn’t adhere to rigidly-defined class roles. Instead, we want to equip each class with the core toolset of abilities they need to be self-reliant. This toolset includes abilities for single-target damage, area-of-effect damage, movement, defense, and crowd control. Of course, that’s not to say each class will play exactly the same, nor do I want to imply that grouping will not be helpful. At the most basic level, the heavily-armored melee characters tend to wade into combat and soak up attacks, while the lighter, ranged characters dart around their enemies’ flanks, using position and speed to their advantage. Runes, equipment, and skill choices can also affect how a character will play. For example: a monk with the right build can withstand a lot of damage, enabling him to wade into enemy lines, while a barbarian with a certain spec might become a crowd-controlling striker, one that doesn’t go toe-to-toe with a mob of enemies, but instead charges quickly and isolates members of a larger group.
How are you approaching balancing the itemization in the game?
Kevin Martens: Itemization is part of a character’s expected damage output, so that’s already accounted for in the balance numbers. Runestones, however, add another layer of complexity, so we’re spending a lot of time with these. In fact, we’re treating each rune much like a unique skill because we want the player to think carefully about the advantages and drawbacks of each rune choice. For example, the wizard’s Electrocute attack can be modified with an Obsidian Runestone to give it a shorter, wider blast radius, much like a shotgun, or it can be modified with a Crimson Runestone which decreases overall damage, but can pass through multiple targets in a longer line, making it ideal for sniping ranks of enemies. The former is a good for Wizards who are built to wade into groups of enemies, and the latter is good for Wizards who are built to stay out of range of enemy attacks and deal damage from afar. Our challenge is to offer the player this kind of choice with each skill and runestone.
What advice do you have for players who want to get involved in the Diablo III beta test?
Kevin Martens: We want to encourage all of our players to download the system check utility to help us test the hardware and server/client infrastructure. For a chance to get in the beta, you’ll need a Battle.net account [so create one here if you don’t already have one], then -- from Battle.net account management -- click on Beta Profile Settings, download the system utility check and send us your system info for a chance to be entered in the beta. If you’ve been selected, we’ll send an email to your Battle.net account address. If you didn’t get in, don’t give up hope as you may be selected in a later wave.
Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to share before you go?
Kevin Martens: The game is shaping up nicely and everyone on the team is looking forward to sharing this labor of love!

Diablo III Beta Test Overview

After 10 years of anticipation following Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo II (2000) and its expansion, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (2001), the iconic action-RPG gameplay of the Diablo series is back with a vengeance in Diablo III. In the upcoming Diablo III beta test, selected participants will be among the first in the world to rejoin the battle against the minions of the Burning Hells as they explore part of the game's foreboding first act.
Stay Awhile And Listen!
Meet up with Deckard Cain in New Tristram and get up to speed on what's been happening in Sanctuary since the events of Diablo II. Interact with the townspeople and introduce yourself to Leah to immerse yourself in the world and lore of Diablo.
Choose Your Hero Wisely
All 5 character classes will be playable in the beta test: the dual-wielding barbarian, the fearsome witch doctor, the elementally adept wizard, the dexterous monk, and the notoriously deadly demon hunter. Each character brings the pain to the demons and undead of Sanctuary in unique and spectacular ways.
Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Skeleton King?
Evil is alive once more in the bowels of the Tristram Cathedral as the once-vanquished Skeleton King returns to plague the tiny village with gruesome horrors. The beta will pit players against this returning Diablo villain as they battle to restore peace and tranquility to New Tristam -- and to finally put the tortured soul of King Leoric to rest.
Good Company In Bad Times
Players will be able to meet and interact with some of the Artisans and Followers of Sanctuary during the beta test. These characters will aid your hero in different ways along his or her journey, providing some valuable services and much-needed martial companionship.
Something Looks Different…
Each play-through of the beta test will feel like a new experience thanks to the randomized elements of Diablo III. Randomized maps, monster distribution, scripted events, and loot all make for highly replayable gameplay.
A (Treasure) Hunting We Will Go
Finding, collecting, enhancing, and trading items has always been a core component of the Diablo series, and like its predecessors, Diablo III was designed from the ground up to make the rewards as much fun as the challenges. During the beta test, players will experience the joy of anticipation and discovery with every enemy they lay waste to, ever-searching for that amazing upgrade that will take their character to a whole new realm of power.
Make It Your Own
Each character is brimming with possibilities. Which potent combination of skills, weapons, armor, and enhancements will you assemble? With countless ways to customize each hero, players will definitely get a taste of what it means to be unique in the Diablo III beta test.