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Episodio 6

Nel sesto BlizzCast, passeremo una giornata con uno sviluppatore di World of Warcraft, scaveremo a fondo nella creazione di unità per StarCraft II, e discuteremo del passaggio fra i due precedenti Diablo e l'atteso terzo episodio, per quanto riguarda la concezione dei personaggi. L'episodio è chiuso da nuove D&R (articolo in inglese).

In the sixth epic episode of BlizzCast, we spend a day with a developer and find out what life is like for World of Warcraft Lead Tools Programmer Monte Krol. Next, we take a look at StarCraft II unit design from concept to creation with Senior Art Director Samwise Didier and Lead Game Designer Dustin Browder. In our third segment, Bashiok spends some time with Anthony Rivero, senior artist for Diablo III, and discusses "bridging the gap" in the series’ character design. Bornakk wraps the episode up by answering some questions from the community.

Day with Developer | StarCraft II - Unit from Concept to Conception | Diablo III Interview | Community Q&A
Welcome to BlizzCast Episode 6! This is Nethaera from the World of Warcraft Community Team. We’ve packed this episode with Interviews with designers from World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, and Diablo III.

To start things off, I’ll be interviewing Lead Tools Programmer, Monte Krol in our feature, Day with a Developer.

Also in this episode, RTS Community Manager Karune interviews Senior Art Director Sam Didier and Lead Designer Dustin Browder. They’ll be taking us for a stroll through Starcraft II Unit design from Concept to Creation. Diablo Community Manager Bashiok takes us into our third interview with Senior Character Artist Anthony Rivero where we bridge the gap in Diablo character design.

Last, but certainly not least, Community Team member Bornakk takes us into our Q&A session where we will be discussing topics from the community with designers from World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo.

[ Torna all’inizio ]
Day with a Developer Monte Krol (Lead Tools Programmer for World of Warcraft)
[ Torna all’inizio ]
Nethaera: Welcome to the Blizzcast Monte. Monte, go ahead and describe a little bit of how you came to Blizzard, what positions you’ve held, and what a lead tools programmer does.

Monte: Sure, thanks Danielle. Well I’m a lifelong video game player. I started way back as early as I can remember and started on the Atari and had Atari computers and learned to program pretty early on. So I went through a couple of different majors in college and eventually popped out with a degree in computer engineering and with my shiny new degree went out and took a really lousy job. It got better though, and after that I was working on product development writing software. And I enjoyed that very much, but my kinda life’s passion, what I went home and did was play video games. I still, you know, all through college, all through high school, earlier, even after I got out what really drove me was games.

So after a couple of years of writing software, I thought, you know, I can do this game thing and I was living in Chicago at the time, I’m a native Chicagoan, and I found a little teen tiny game company out there called Game Refuge, and the founders of that were old arcade veterans. They had done some really classic arcade games: they worked on Rampage, and Tron, and Spy Hunter, some cool old stuff like that. Kind of a fun group to work with and they took a chance on me it was kind of cool, so I spent a couple of years there. They were a small shop though and after awhile we were looking, it was unclear if we were going to have some future projects. So I had to look a little bit bigger and better, and by that time I had already killed more hours than I care to talk about playing Diablo and Starcraft. So when the time came to start looking, I thought you know, I really love those Blizzard games, let me see if there is something I can offer Blizzard. And, there was a job for a Tools Programmer, at the time, and what I was doing at the other place was writing a lot of tools and it was arcade development so it’s kind of different from what we do here but a lot of the skills lined up.

So I applied and I got a job as a tools programmer and at the time, this was in 2000, I was working on technology that was shared between World of Warcraft, which was a tiny budding little project at the time, and Warcraft 3 which was in full development. So, for about a year we worked on shared technology and then we split the techs, and I finished up on War 3 and worked on Warcraft 3 and its expansion, and then Starcraft 2, and now I work on World of Warcraft.
[ 01:08 ]
Nethaera: Could you then go ahead and explain a little bit about what a Lead Tools Programmer does?

Monte: Sure, absolutely. So, the Lead Tools Programmer, as Lead Tools Programmer, I’m in charge of the tools group for World of Warcraft. I currently have five staff members, programmers, who work for me ( a sixth one to start very soon) and we build the programs that the rest of the team uses to build WoW. We have a couple different kinds of programs. We have ones that we write from scratch and we have ones that are add-ons to other programs. For instance all of the animators and digital artists use 3D-Studio Max and Maya in order to build and animate characters and then we build add-ons or plug-ins to them that allow us to extract data from that and put it into WoW. In addition to that, there’s about, oh, about a hundred designers and artists total on the floor that use one of our main programs called WoW Edit. It’s kind of our big flagship program in order to build everything else in the world. They build the terrain. They add decorations to it. They place spawns or mobs out in the world. They build encounters. So we build the programs that they use to build the stuff for WoW.
[ 03:54 ]
Nethaera: Let's go over a normal day for you, maybe yesterday, what happened yesterday and what are you currently working on?

Monte: Sure well we’re pretty close to the end of Lich King (Wrath of the Lich King) now, now that it’s in beta, so our days are kind of anything but normal right now. So we have kind of a mix. We have a lot of tools and WoW has been in development for a long time so there’s stuff that’s older, stuff that’s newer, and there’s a lot of what we call fire fights. Sometimes there will be a bug that prevents someone from working and we’ll have to drop something and take a look at that right away. Especially if someone thinks they are losing data, that’s very serious to us, so we want to make sure that their work flows as smooth as possible. If we make the work flow good, the designers make great stuff with WoW. So it’s really important for us to try to optimize that, make that really good.

So yesterday we had a bunch of fire fights. In between those fire fights we’re looking at bugs and getting bug reports from the field. We’re also trying to work strategically. Kind of, for the lifetime of WoW, what are the cool things we want to do? What would make everyone’s work faster? What would make everyone’s work better? Our goal is to make the tools fun and easy to use and we want the designers to come into work and want to use our stuff so we spend a lot of time thinking strategically about how to make the UI better, about how to make parts of the program faster, about how to give them better feedback about what is going on, let them see encounters earlier. Let them work with more textures. Let them work with more creatures. Just all of these types of things that we look at to try to make it as cool as possible for them to build cool stuff for everyone to play.
[ 05:09 ]
Nethaera: Can you go into what a tool actually is and what they are generally created and used for? You kind of went into this a little bit. Can you get into a little bit more of the specifics for those people that are kind of looking at the idea of getting into this kind of design?

Monte: Yeah, sure. I'd love to do that. Broadly speaking we have kind of four categories of tools that we work on. So, in depth, I think that the biggest one, the one that has the most people dedicated full time to it is WoW Edit, certainly our most complex tool. The entire world kind of gets built in it. The first people that get the crack at WoW Edit are the exterior level designers. They literally lay down the terrain. They’re terraforming out there. They literally check out a chunk of the world, and it starts as a flat plain, and they start dragging it around to give it shape and form then they paint down what the world will look like on top of it. They add grass and rocks and snow and water and then they add roads and then they add bare patches and then they add transitions and scorch marks. All of these things right on the world.
Nethaera: Right. They just layer everything in there.
Monte: They make it. They literally form the world right underneath our eyes. They also add what we call doodads. And doodads are trees and rocks and little patches of butterflies and other things that kind of go everywhere in the world there. And then it’s time to spawn the world and spawning is the process by which they give it life by adding mobs to it.

And so another group takes over and starts spawning it and they start building the groups of mobs that are out in the world and they start building the encounters. Ultimately, they place the dungeons. They place the buildings. They place the guy who walks around and wanders in a circle. They place the crazy old guy who chatters at the edge of town. They place all the rare spawns.

They place all that stuff and then the quest guys get going on it and they attach quests to these guys and they start attaching rewards to them. And the World Event Team eventually gets involved and they do crazy things like Brewfest and the summer festival, and all of these people are all working in WoW Edit. WoW Edit has a 3D view of the world and probably 400 different aspects of the game that can be edited within it. It’s pretty big and gnarly.
[ 06:51 ]
Nethaera: What kinds of tools would we maybe not create ourselves, and why not just always use tools produced by outside sources?

Monte: Oh, those are great questions. And we agonize over that frequently to be honest. The types of things we haven’t produced in house, we haven’t produced anything like Photoshop or anything like 3D-Studio Max or Maya. Both of those, or sorry, all three of those products have a really long development history and people much smarter than me have spent lots and lots and lots of time working on them. And frankly, they’re so good at what they do, I don’t think it would make sense for us to try to re-implement that in house, plus in those cases, those products are very flexible. We’re able to add on to them as necessary in able to get data from them. It’s not always puppies and kittens, we sometimes have some problems, but for the most part, it really makes sense to leverage that big body of work.

Now the flip side of that, why don’t we just use all external tools is, well… Part of the Blizzard character is, there’s a certain flavor to what we do. Our core competency is building real expressive art and animation and stuff that really captures the Blizzard character. And to do that we need certain levels of flexibility. That means, it’s very strange, you would really need to understand the inner workings of what we do, but in order to capture a lot of that performance that the animators do, that our artists do, we really want to be able to really really have fine control over the data that comes from these programs. So we end up writing our own tools in order to capture things that are maybe just handled too generically in some of these other tools.
Nethaera: Things that kind of add in that Blizzard style that we’re known for.
Monte: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, very much so. There’s a lot of that, plus you know, we have a work flow that’s probably different … It’s related to other work flows in the gaming industry but it’s very very specific to how we build WoW. So we want to build customized tools that help our people who are most familiar with their work flow and how they want to work, we can really maximize the productivity and help them make cool stuff faster. That’s ultimately what my goal is as the lead of this group, is to help them just make the coolest stuff they can as quickly as they can and we can do that by really fine tuning, customizing the tools to how they make the stuff.
[ 09:30 ]
Nethaera: What’s positive about creating our own tools, versus the down sides to doing that?

Monte: Well what I think is positive about it is just that level of control that I was talking about where we can really, we can go talk to a designer and say, “Hey, what are the things that would make your job easier?” And he can give us a list of things and we can go make those happen and then he’ll come back and say I’m able to do my job five times faster or ten times faster. In one case a guy told us he was able to do his job twenty times faster because of a certain improvement that we made. And we were like, well why didn’t you tell us that sooner? But that was hugely positive improvement to the work flow.

The downside of course that is the downside in all software development is bugs.
Nethaera: Right. Bugs happen.

Monte: Oh, bugs happen and we’re affected by them too and when we have bugs we affect all of the production of WoW so it’s a little bit of a stressful kind of environment where we really have to take seriously that we can control how quickly WoW gets made, right? For good or for evil. (laughs) So that’s something that weighs heavily on the team, but certainly the rewards outweigh the stress and the risk there.
[ 11:54 ]
Nethaera: What has been your most challenging task to tackle and what was the outcome?

Monte: My most challenging task at work, I would say really taking over the tools team and just being in charge of WoW Edit. WoW Edit is, it’s a product and it’s a product that we ship before WoW ships, we have to ship it beforehand and our customers live on our floor with us. You know they don’t write on the forums, they come and line up outside my office if there’s...

Nethaera: They can walk in your door and say, “Hi”.

Monte: They sure can and they sure do. So I think the toughest project we have is ongoing and that is to make WoW Edit really a world class, truly fun, truly productive development environment for all of the people who need to work on WoW.
[ 13:11 ]
Nethaera: What’s been the most fun task?
Monte: Well programming or non programming?

(Laughter)
Nethaera: Programming
Monte: Ah, non programming I got to do some fun voice work, so that was a good time.
Nethaera: Oh wait, no, let’s hear one. What do you have for us?
Monte: Well for voice work I had the opportunity to do some goblin voices, so uh, the goblin that kinda sounds sort of unhinged in the game, there’s a couple of different goblin kits, but the one that sounds really nuts? That one was me. You want to hear a sample?
Nethaera: Yes, I do.
Monte: Ok. (Goblin laugh) "Time is money friend!"
Nethaera: (laughter) That’s great.
Monte: It only takes a little bit of caffeine for me to uh, kinda get up in that register there.
Nethaera: No sugar needed or anything? Just the caffeine.
Monte: Nope, just straight caffeine. A lot of programmers run on just caffeine.

Um, I would say the most fun task that we do are also some of the hardest. But a lot of the fun tasks that we do are building the 3D tools, the stuff that interacts with 3D Studio because that gives us the most visual, kind of hands on look into the art. When we do that stuff and we do it well, we get a lot of gratification in watching the artists build really cool characters and the animators make these really cool animations, and we get to see it come to life. So we build tools that allow them to visualize it, allows them to be able to dress up characters, allow them to add that stuff to the game. So, especially, the 3D part when we really kind of see the life coming into the game there. That part’s really fun, also, really hard some days, but it’s worth it.
[ 14:03 ]
Nethaera: For someone maybe looking to get into a programming position what would you recommend they do, how could they go about getting the knowledge and experience they would need to come work at Blizzard?

Monte: So that’s a great question, Danielle, and I would absolutely recommend Computer Science. I really think that getting a degree in Computer Science really really gives a good strong foundation for the kind of skills you need to come work on my team. Within that I do have a couple specific recommendations. We use lots of C++, I get the question all the time, what kind of languages should I learn? I’m working with C Sharp. I’m working Java. I’m working with C++. I look for generalists, you know, people who are good on their feet , who can kind of use the right tool to solve a problem that we have. By far the largest set of that happens in C++, so I would recommend, learn C++. The other thing I’d recommend is learn math. Math turns out to be really important : linear algebra, trigonometry, a lot of stuff we checked out in turns out to kinda come back in force.
Nethaera: Actually have some use, huh?
Monte: Oh, it really does. Especially when we do 3D graphics. It’s really really important. Trig is important. Linear Algebra. Matrix Math. That stuff kind of comes back in force. It sneaks up on you too, you think “I won’t need this to program” but then all of a sudden, “hey!”
Nethaera: And then suddenly you’re looking at a problem going, “Oh, yeah I might need that.”
Monte: Yeah finding the math book is like the moldy tome out on the shelf there. Crack it open, hopefully the pages are still intact and see if you can find the uh...
Nethaera: Flip to the back where the answers are...
Monte: yeah
Nethaera: And hope that it’s there.
Monte: Yeah right, the chart in the little overleaf, look for that.

But, the math turns out to be really important, so I would definitely tell people to make sure to study the math.

So, a couple of more pieces of advice. Since I look for generalists or people who are kind of quick on their feet to solve problems, there are a couple of other languages that can be sort of useful doing one off development or data processing kind of stuff, so I look for people who have some background in something else maybe, maybe a little bit of Perl or Python or Ruby, those all turn out… Those are popular today and they turn out to be really useful for solving problems. So I think that’s some good stuff, I look for that.

And my last piece of advice for getting involved is to get involved. I know that sounds kind of like a totology there but there’s a lot of opportunities to kind of, without having to go out and actually get a job, there’s a lot of opportunities to get involved in game development. For instance a lot of people who want to maybe get involved with WoW, we recommend that you… Like if you’re not sure, you’ve never worked in programming and you’re not sure if you’ll like it, not sure if you do, you can try writing an add on for instance for WoW. And the UI part is written in XML and the programming part is written in LUA, which is another programming language that’s pretty easy to pick up. It’s similar to some of the other ones we work with and it’s a great way to kind of get a feel for the kind of work we do. And when we interview, we look for those sorts of sets of skills and some interest. So if you’ve written a WoW add on, or a War 3 modification, or like a conversion for Half-Life or a Quake mod or those kinds of things, those go a long way towards helping get into our industry.
[ 15:50 ]
Nethaera: Alright, well I’d like to thank Monte for coming on BlizzCast Episode 6.

Monte: Danielle, it was a great time being here, I had a lot fun, thanks so much.
Nethaera: Thank you. Up next is Karune with our Starcraft segment.
[ 19:15 ]
StarCraft II - Unit from Concept to Conception Sam Didier (Art Director - StarCraft II), Dustin Browder (Lead Designer - StarCraft II)
[ Torna all’inizio ]
Karune: Welcome Dustin, Sammy, we have Dustin Browder our lead designer for Starcraft 2 here and also Samwise our art director for Starcraft 2. We’re going to be talking a little bit about how units are created from the concept to final creation of the unit actually in the game. Welcome guys.
Sam Didier: Hail!
Dustin Browder: Hey.
[ 19:28 ]
Karune: So for units, I mean how do these units actually start up. I mean I don’t think a lot of people wonder, you know, does it start from a gamplay element like you guys have a specific unit in mind for a certain gameplay mechanic or does it actually start from the art side, you know this unit looks really rad?
Dustin Browder: It’s a pretty organic concept. I think it sort of depends, right Sammy, on which way we go. Sometimes we start with the art first, sometimes we move from the design first and sometimes we have different, you know, we have a piece of art we have a piece of design and we try to marry them together.
Sam Didier: Yeah a lot of the times the artists will just have a cool idea we’ll show it around and everyone will go “Yeah we got to get that in the game.” And then sometimes the designers will have an idea or two “Hey we need something that will ‘this’ and ‘this’ and then the art team will start concepting things up and from there we just let it roll and iterate, iterate, and iterate and at the end of the day we have a finished unit that we will redo three or four times.
Dustin Browder: (laughs) Right and be balanced a thousand times before it’s finally done.
[ 19:45 ]
Karune: So what are some of the examples for a gameplay unit?

Dustin Browder: So some of the gameplay units we’ve had like, I think the Colossus is kind of a good example. There’s a unit that we had an idea for a cliffwalker we wanted to do for the Protoss, we wanted something very large that could do some area affect types of damage and It obviously kind of suggested, maybe, a kind of art for it but then the artists really took that core mechanic and ran off and did some really cool stuff with it.
Sam Didier: Yeah we did all drawn inspiration from some of the giant walking robots and tripods but if you notice our Colossus has four legs, not three. So our tripod is way better then everyone elses because we have one more leg. Take it!
Dustin Browder & Karune: (laughs)
[ 20:43 ]
Karune: So what about the art side? Is there a particular unit you guys have in mind that came specifically from art?

Sam Didier: Well we had an idea, on the Terran side, we had the old Goliath. It was cool. We had the Valkerie. It was cool. But we wanted to kind of make the Terrans a little bit more new. We wanted to add some more transforming to the Terran side so we said “Okay well what if each of those was one stage of the unit and then it transforms?” So now you have an air attacker, you have a ground attacker, whatever they end up doing at the end of the day whether it’s machine guns on the ground, missiles in the air, whatever, we knew we wanted to have some kind of transforming robot. That was one of the areas of sci-fi lore that we hadn’t had. We all grew up in the eighties and nineties watching transformers so that was something really dear to our heart that we wanted to put in.
Karune: Everyone was waiting for that.
Sam Didier: STARSCREAM!
Dustin Browder: (laughs) Yeah I think units like the mothership, I know when I first got to the studio from the original movie for the beginning of Starcraft had a very huge Protoss ship in it that shot a terrible beam and destroyed the small terrain salvage ship and this was a unit that was part of the lore but we never actually saw in the game so the idea of a mothership, I think, had been floating around the studio for quite some time just based on that opening cinematic on that really cool piece of art. And so there was an example of a unit that sort of came from art and lore first and then we’d been working on different mechanics for it now for quite some time to make it work in the game.
[ 21:23 ]
Karune: Interesting. Are there units created specifically for single player that isn’t for multiplayer? How do those units come about? How do you decide they are for single player or multiplayer?
Sam Didier: We’ll come up with a unit and we’ll all like it and then we’ll decide it’s too powerful or unmanageable and it will end up getting delegated to just single player play but we also create a lot of things specifically for single player. Like we’ve created the Jackel now I believe it’s called the Hellion and we will take variations of that, strip off the black paint, make flames on it, and then it becomes a single player civilian vehicle.
[ 22:53 ]
Karune: So what are some of the challenges in creating these units when they first come up? How do you decide if we’re going to go idea A or B or C and so forth?

Dustin Browder: It’s usually pretty obvious to me when we got something good. We got a nice piece of art really if we don’t have mechanics for it you’re pretty enthusiastic to come up with cool mechanics for a nice piece of art. At the same time, because we’ve been able to play our multiplayer for so long if we’ve got a nice game mechanic, I think a lot of the art guys are pretty enthusiastic to come up with cool art to match that game mechanic. So when you’ve got something cool it’s pretty easy to get enthusiastic about it. It’s just making sure we have enough of those in the game to make it exciting.
[ 23:31 ]
Karune: Can you guys guide us through one of the units you guys created and maybe the process on how that unit was created? Any challenges you guys faced while also creating that unit?
thorportrait : thorportrait : videos/
Sam Didier: One example was for the Terran side was the Thor: big giant, earthshaking robot. Great, cool, cool, sounds awesome. We ended up doing the concept then we started the modeling and we always tweak when we’re in modeling nothing ever really follows a concept a hundred percent. And then after that we animate it, texture, animation and all that. The problem with it we had in the concept is we had these giant guns on his shoulders. ‘Real cool! Yeah that looks awesome!’ Well anytime we have something cool in the art like that we have to justify it in gameplay. So it had these giant guns, what’s it do? Well we already have a siege tank that rains death upon the battlefield so what do these big guns do? Rain bigger death? That makes the siege tank obsolete. So we couldn’t do that. So one of the problems with this unit is we went with the art first and because it had the big cool guns now were trying to figure out what to do with it design wise. At the end of the day it will be perfect mind you. But you know we’re still working on that sort of thing.
Dustin Browder: I’m not too worried about the Thor these days. The Thor using his cannons in the back for long range anti air has been pretty successful and that’s a great example there of a unit that started with art first, we all got behind, that everybody was really geeked up to see a giant battle robot on the Terrans, it really fit in the sci design really well and it looked awesome on the battlefield. And then we’ve been really working on the mechanics to make them as tight as we possibly can. And so far that’s done really well. It’s been a very successful example of how we sort of marry these two things together.
Sam Didier: All you guys out there listening, you should have seen how big it was before uh . . . we had to make it playable.
Dustin Browder: (laughs) They’ll see that version in solo play I’m sure.
[ 24:07 ]
Karune: Just for some of the non-Starcraft users Dustin, can you tell us about the Thor’s current role right now in Starcraft 2?
Dustin Browder: So the Thor does two things for the Terrans: It gives them a sort of tip of the sword kind of unit, something you can push up front that can take a lot of damage from enemy fire. It’s very survivable, very tough, very hard to kill. And you can use that sort of push past an artillery barrage or push directly into an enemy base to sort of lead your smaller lighter marines into battle. And it’s also got these huge cannons on its back that can strike against air targets so you can use the Thor to defend your forces from enemy air threats and it’s a very powerful weapon in both of these roles. So it really gives the Terrans some additional flexibility in the battlefield they haven’t really had before.
[ 25:54 ]
Karune: Nice, nice. Obviously a very sweet unit. The Thors a great example for a unit that really came from art, could we talk about another unit that came specifically from gameplay side and what some of the challenges were in that terms?
Dustin Browder: Sure. So I think a unit that maybe we’ve been working on a little while, we’ve liked for a long time on the gameplay side is the roach. And this was just an idea to have a very simple zerg unit that regenerated very, very quickly. And when you combo this with some clever micro using burrow or even just a straight attack move, this is a unit that creates a lot of choices, a lot of fast paced gameplay for both the owner of the roach and the person who’s fighting the roach as well. And so it was definitely a unit we’ve wanted to have for quite some time. We’ve worked on it for quite a long time before the art really got into play.
Sam Didier: Yeah and basically art-wise when the designers came up to us and said they wanted this type of unit and the name for it at the time was the roach, we kind of just ran with that. We wanted a squat little nasty beetle looking thing that like a real roach will survive nuclear bombs and siege tank barrages and all that. So that sort of dictated the art. One of the things that happened recently was, I say recently within the last year, years are like minutes here, it was actually a melee unit. It would get up close and just chomp at you. But now it’s a ranged attacker.
[ 26:36 ]
Karune: So for the roach unit, could you tell us a little bit about the process of actually creating the unit on a the more technical side? Going through animation and modeling and so forth.
Sam Didier: Yeah basically, I think I covered a little bit early, but we’ll have a bunch of our artists do some concepts and we’ll look at the different pictures and say ‘Oh I like that. Oh that part looks cool. We should add that to this one over here.’ So after a couple of iterations on the concept we’ll settle on one and then we’ll sic one of our artist to start modeling it. And they’ll model it up, they’ll start mapping it, we’ll have our texture guy, if it’s not the same guy who modeled it, start working on it and then it’s ready to be handed off to the animators. And the animators will hit up and we’ll go through various stages of the animation, we’ll have a, here’s a quick walk skittering across, here’s one that makes it look like it’s lumbering. We’ll see which one looks the best because the walk is basically what you see the most with all these units. Then after that we’ll pick one and then we’ll go on and settle on an attack. ‘Oh we want it to really reach out far.’ We want it to ‘this’ or ‘that.’ After that the unit’s all done then we’ll move in on to the portrait. This is where you get all the character on the unit. You know you can’t really see their faces on the field of battle so we have the little portraits there. And that’s where we’ll come up with, ‘Okay the roach needs to have this. We want to focus more on little beady eyes.’ And this and that and lots of little teeth. And so after that, we may need to go back to the unit and tweak the face that’s on the unit to match more to the portrait. But after that it’s pretty much done and then, barring any design changes or if we’re allowed to add more polygons, we hopefully have a finished unit there and then we’re done with them.
[ 28:01 ]
mutaliskportrait : mutaliskportrait : videos/
marauderportrait : marauderportrait : videos/
Karune: Kind of a side question: What is your favorite PIP animation or your portrait animation for the units in Starcraft so far?
Sam Didier: So far, I think for the Terran side, I like the Thor. I don’t know if any of you guys have seen it yet. The marauder also has a killer portrait. For the Protoss, for some reason the zealot, it was our first one but I think it captures the Protoss look.
Karune: That’s the one from the announcement right?
Sam Didier: Awesome yeah and the high templar. And then the Zerg we have a couple new ones that I don’t know if people have seen but we have one’s for the baneling and for the mutalisk and those are just looking killer
[ 29:49 ]
Karune: So, on average, how long does it actually take to create a unit from this beginning portion when you guys concepted and then to finally creating everything with the PIP animation, the death animations and so forth?
Sam Didier: About six years.
Dustin Browder: (Laughs) It really does depend. Sometimes it does take quite a long time. A unit like the baneling for instance went through the whole process extremely quickly and hasn’t had any significant changes since it first went into the game. More complicated units like a Mothership or a Viking or a Reaper sometimes go through some significant changes as they go throughout the process and they can take a lot longer especially if we end up moving around the design a little bit. If we end up changing some of the core mechanics on the unit like we did with the roach where we changed it from being a melee attacker to be a ranged attacker that obviously has an impact on the art and it obviously lengthens the amount of time it takes them to make that unit work in the game.
Sam Didier: Yeah we have a lot, even now, in games that people are playing now we have a lot of placeholder art still. And we have that in there so that if the designers have a new idea they want to try, we’ll come up with some place holder art that looks cool but it’s not one hundred percent polished because there is no reason to polish this unit all the way to one hundred percent if we’re going to end up taking it out or...
Dustin Browder: If we’re going to chuck it or change it or...
Sam Didier: Yeah, we’re still going over, and I’ll talk with Dustin say,

‘How are we on this now? Are we good to go? ‘

‘We’re good to go.‘

‘Okay. Ninety percent or a hundred? ‘

‘Ninety percent.’

‘Okay Ninety percent is good enough we’re going to finish it off.’
[ 30:28 ]
Karune: Are there any other units or anything that the public hasn’t already seen as far as with Starcraft 2?
Dustin Browder: That they haven’t seen yet? Well I think we’ve been talking about the giant voltron unit made of all of the vehicles; and units of the entire Terran race. Is that right Sammy?
Sam Didier: Yeah see that’s more of a designer thing. Personally, guys on the forums, I don’t think that would work so you know if something like that gets in where every single unit on the Terran side turns into a giant robot, that’s probably not anything to do with my decision. It’s probably Dustin’s.
Dustin Browder: What about the flying two headed ultralisk that breaths fire? I thought we were going to do that one as well.
Sam Didier: Yeah I think that one could work
Dustin Browder: That’s probably what’s coming up next: the flying two headed ultralisk that breathes fire will be on the website next.
Sam Didier: You’ll be seeing those in single player only probably.
[ 31:53 ]
Karune: So it seems today we’ve seen a lot of units come from either a gameplay origin or an art origin in how it first starts, which is better do you think for Starcraft 2.
Sam Didier: Well if you want something that’s totally bean ‘countery’, you know, predictable and kind of boring then yeah the design one is the best.
Dustin Browder: And if you want something that doesn’t really play and it’s just pretty but it’s no fun then I think you want to go with the art way.
Sam Didier: : Oh is that how it’s going to be now?
Dustin Browder: That’s how it’s going to be.
Karune: We got some weapons here in the sound studio...
Sam Didier: I don’t need a weapon for him! Please.
Karune: All right guys, thanks a lot for talking to us
Sam Didier: All right, thank you. Dustin. I’ll be talking to you later.
Karune: (laughs) Take it easy guys. Hope you guys enjoyed our Starcraft 2 segment. Next we have Bashiok with Diablo 3.
[ 32:40 ]
Diablo III Interview Anthony Rivero (Senior Character Artist)
[ Torna all’inizio ]
Bashiok: Hey everyone this is Bashiok your Diablo community manager. Today I’m going to be interviewing Anthony Rivero. He’s our Senior Character Artist on Diablo III. He also worked on Diablo II and the Diablo II expansion as a character artist. Anthony how’s it going?
Anthony: It’s going really good. I got my teeth drilled today but the Novocain has worn off, and I’m ready to go.
Bashiok: [laughs] Excellent. So you actually started at Blizzard; Blizzard was your first game company that you worked for as an artist...
Anthony: Actually no Gravity Incorporated was the first game company, if you could call it that, that I worked at. That was a little start up company in San Francisco, and that was around ’94-’95. They were making a real time 3D game called Banzai Bug, which we actually put out – hit the shelves and everything. Probably sold 5,000 copies but, you know, it was a good experience.
[ 33:25 ]
Bashiok: And when you actually came to Blizzard, how did that come about?
Anthony: I worked at Gravity for a little while and did some other startup stuff on the web, all of them real time 3D related projects. I was getting kind of tired of that, and I wanted to work for a cool game company really. I had applied at a few different places, LucasArts, and some places like that. I saw that Blizzard was looking for people, I saw an ad in Game Developer [Magazine] and so I worked really hard on a new demo reel, because I wanted to impress them. Sent it in and I got a call from Matt Householder, who was the producer at the time.
Bashiok: On Diablo II.
Anthony: On Diablo II, and I came in and interviewed and everything worked out and I got hired, and that was it. That was the beginning.
[ 34:25 ]
Bashiok: When you started working on Diablo II what were your first tasks?
Anthony: Yeah, let me see let me look at my notes. The first thing I worked on I remember asking my boss, “Hey what can I do?”, after being there a few days getting situated, and that was Erich Schaefer at the time. He and Stieg [Hedlund] said they needed some type of flying insect monster for Act 3, so I came up with the mosquito demon. What’s now called the mosquito demon, and that was the very first thing I worked on. It was kind of for a swampy area so I figured that was appropriate, a mosquitoish-type monster, and yeah that was the very first thing I worked on.
Bashiok: Ok and are there any other notable creatures or monsters you worked on for Diablo II specifically?
Anthony: Probably the most notable monster I worked on was Mephisto. Phil Shenk had concepted Mephisto, so I already had something to start with. I modeled and textured him and set up the initial rigging, and then handed that off to Cheeming Boey to animate. I actually helped a little bit with the effects as well, the effects that are at the base of Mephisto. He has like swirling smokey skulls that kind of swirl around the bottom of him as he’s moving around.
Bashiok: You mentioned you did multiple things on that character, and it works a little bit differently now...
Anthony: Yeah things back then were quite different. Most of the time the artist did everything from concept, to getting it you know with effects and everything in the game. So you did your concept stage, your modeling, your texturing, your rigging, and your animation and then effects. You know whatever skill effects you may have needed for the monster or for the character, and then got that in to the game. On some characters we decided ok let’s have one guy animate it, and I’ll model and texture it, and we started to do a little bit of that back then. It was very different from what we do now.
Bashiok: And now it’s a little bit more piecemeal where...
Anthony: Yeah now ... you know modern art production [and] pipelines for games are way more specialized. They have to be, it’s just the nature of getting things done. So definitely on our team we have things more broken down, not so much as some companies I hear about, but you know I do modeling and texturing mostly. I do some concept work. I help with effects sometimes if the guys need certain things modeled or textured for their effects. The animators pretty much animate all the time, but they also contribute concepts and stuff like that as well. Like sometimes we just want to brainstorm on new ideas, you know everyone will pitch in on the concept phase. But for the most part things are definitely more specialized; you know we have a team that’s just dedicated to rigging.
Bashiok: And rigging being?
Anthony: Setting up the characters with skeletons and enveloping the characters, and stuff like that. Making sure things are named properly so they export correctly, and all that kind of stuff.
[ 35:23 ]
Bashiok: Going back to your work on Diablo II, you did a little bit of work on Diablo II most of your work was actually on the expansion...
Anthony: Yeah, yeah I guess so. I mean I did some work on Diablo II, Mephisto, mosquito demon, the tentacle that comes out of the water and stuff, and some items that you’ll see in the inventory like Silks of the Victor. Then I moved on to the expansion pack, and we started with a small group of guys. It was myself, Tyler Thompson, Phil Shenk, and I think a couple other guys in the begging. As guys were getting freed from Diablo II they would move over to our team. So on that project I think I started working on the Druid pretty soon, like pretty much at the beginning. We were brainstorming on monsters and stuff like that, and Druid designs, but yeah that’s where I started. That was the first hero I worked on, which was a pretty massive undertaking for an inexperienced guy. Just because of the complexity of dealing with just pre-rendering sprites and then compositing them all together so that they work in every direction and all that kind of jazz.
Bashiok: So on that note would you say that working in 3D is more difficult than working 2D or both have their trade-offs?
Anthony: Oh, 3D is a lot easier. I actually came to Blizzard with no sprite experience; I was working in real time 3D before that. Now that has its inherent difficulties as well but it’s just so much easier to do things like create armor sets for characters and what not, for your heroes, like all that kind of stuff. You don’t have to worry about your data size in terms of you can only render so many sprites and fit them on a disc. You don’t have that limitation. Your limitation is mostly man power, and how much can you get done, and how much texture space do you have and stuff like that. But it’s a lot easier, like you can have … if you want your character or hero to be able to wield 50 different types of swords and 50 different axes and what not, that’s really easy to do. Your only limitation is how fast can you make them.
Bashiok: For the expansion, aside from the Druid, are there any other notable creatures...
Anthony: Well, like his pets, some of his effects, the Death Mauler, and you know I had a lot of management duties on the expansion so I was doing a lot of that as well.
Bashiok: What was your title for the expansion?
Anthony: Lead Character Artist.
Bashiok: And for Diablo II?
Anthony: Just an artist. Just Character Artist.
Bashiok: Working management in a character artist sense, what does that generally entail day to day?
Anthony: You’ll work on some assets but you’ll go around see what otherpeople are working on, give feedback where necessary, scheduling, a lot of meetings, working out issues between disciplines, things like that, communication with the programming team/designers. You know it depends it varies from day to day.
[ 38:39 ]
Bashiok: When you were working on the Diablo II units, what was design and creation process start to finish more or less, and how has that changed for Diablo III?
Anthony: Well the creation process was fairly different, like I said before, a lot of the artists did everything from the ground up. Then there was the sprite rendering part of it, you would have to pre-render your assets, and so basically you’d wait forever for all the stuff to render out, and with the heroes you’d have to render out all of their body parts separately. Things like the gloves and the boots, things that would change on the character. Then you would have to composite those together, for every direction he was rendered in for every frame of animation. So if he’s rendered in sixteen different directions and he has a … whatever, an eight frame animation, well you have to go through all that and composite all those separate elements in the right order for it to look correct on the screen. So you don’t have an arm that’s supposed to be behind the body in front of the body. And… that was a real tedious process.

So thankfully with real time 3D we don’t have to worry about that, and that’s kind of what I was getting at, with things being a lot easier. Also your animation frame count is not an issue any more. We can have nice fluid, smooth animations now whereas before they were really choppy because, you know, we were only given six or seven frames for a walk cycle. You need a lot more than that to make a convincing walk cycle, but you had to make it look its best within the limitations. So the technical part of it was very different, the creation part of it… I think back then things were a bit more tight-knit and collaborative I guess. You know because the team was smaller, you know when you came up with ideas or designs, there was just a lot more back and forth with designers and artists and programmers. It really felt like everybody was more cohesive in that sense, whereas now the department is bigger, there’s more people on the team, it’s more specialized. There still is that collaboration, I mean I can get up and go talk to anybody on the team that I want to, but when they’re way down the hall you start to get lazy and you don’t want to go chit-chat with somebody. You want to get your tasks done. The design process is a little different, but we still, when we come up with an asset now, there’s a particular monster needed for an act for instance, before we really start working on the asset we’ll get together with a designer, a technical artist, character artist, and producer, anybody that needs to be involved and we’ll talk about it and spin ideas around and make sure we can troubleshoot anything we can in the beginning stages. Come up with ideas for how it may die, what else can it do that would be really cool, and we didn’t have that kind of organized meeting when we were working on Diablo II or the expansion pack.
Bashiok: So how would it work, would the artist themselves come up with maybe a function for...
Anthony: It was more... I don’t want to say disorganized, but it was more freeform back then. It was kind of just a natural riffing off each other, and not an official kind of “Hey let’s get together and make sure we’ve discussed everything that needs to be discussed” and sign off on that and move forward. It was just more organic.
Bashiok: I think that’s generally how game design has evolved for most companies. It seems like game design back in ’95 to 2000 was more, I don’t know the game industry itself was a little bit less refined.
Anthony: Yeah definitely, but there was a real charm that came with that too.
[ 41:56 ]
Bashiok: For sure. So as a Senior Character Artist on Diablo III what are your main responsibilities?
Anthony: They’re pretty straight forward. I mean in the beginning of this, I’ve been on this project for a while, and you know I was helping a lot with helping to get art in to the engine in its very early stages. Jason Regier, our Lead Programmer, has been working on this engine for quite some time, so I used to help him get assets in to the game to help him figure some things out. I helped develop the system that we still use, although it’s more refined now, for displaying the armor on the heroes. The various types of armor and things like that. Nowadays pretty straight forward modeling, texturing, some concept work. You know, help other artists if they need help, but most of the guys are kick ass artists and they teach me more than I teach them, so you know that’s changed a lot too.
[ 46:15 ]
Bashiok: Are there any creatures that are announced that we can talk about that you’ve provided some modeling for or have contributed to?
Anthony: The female witch doctor’s heavy armor set, her look is my design and work.
Bashiok: That was seen at WWI, the large feather headdress look.
Anthony: Yes, yes. And the scavenger monster.
Bashiok: Those are the little burrowing dudes.
Anthony: Yeah the little burrowing guys. The Corpulent, the guy that blows himself up, I did some retexturing work on that. Let’s see, the tree that explodes, I helped with some effects work on that. I helped provide some modeling/texturing needs for the effects team. The shaman goatman I built and textured, the other goatmen I did some touch up on, their textures. The ghosts, I created and modeled and textured the ghosts.
Bashiok: From the announcement video the orbs they were spawning out of.
Anthony: Yeah exactly. I think that’s all I can think of right now.
Bashiok: On the website, we plan to have at least, the ... pretty much we’re showing a new monster for everybody listening to BlizzCast right now, is the Malformed. I believe you worked on those quite a bit.
Anthony: Yes I did. I modeled and textured those off of Josh Tallman’s initial concept design.
[ 47:20 ]
Bashiok: Yeah we should have some concepts. If you’re listening to this on iTunes go ahead and check out the actual BlizzCast website for that artwork.

I think that about wraps it up. I want to thank Anthony Rivero for talking to us.
Anthony: You’re welcome.
[ 48:36 ]
Community Q&A World of Warcraft Interview with Alex Afrasiabi (Lead World Designer )
[ Torna all’inizio ]
Bornakk: Hello this is Bornakk from the World of Warcraft Community Team and welcome to another Q&A session of BlizzCast.

First up today we have our World of Warcraft Lead World Designer Alex Afrasiabi here to answer some questions from our players. Welcome to the show Alex!
Alex Afrasiabi: Hey thanks!
Bornakk: First up from the player Akercocke on the European Turalyon realm. Will there be a new line of class quests in Wrath of the Lich King, aside from ones that are for the Death Knight?
Alex Afrasiabi: Not at release. We do have some things planned for the upcoming patches but for release nothing. We love to do more there is just some trickery involved with class quests, the main problem being that – at least we’ve learned in the past – that we don’t want to roll these things out piecemeal, so a couple classes at a time. We did that with the hunters and the priests and the fan reaction wasn’t really good. Although they did like the quests it’s just that I think everyone wants their own class to get a quest and we agree we think that should.
[ 49:30 ]
Bornakk: The next question is from Preliatus on the realm Kirin Tor. Are there any updates as to the whereabouts of General Turalyon?
Alex Afrasiabi: So Turalyon, last I heard, he was locked away in some legion home world but you know that’s just a rumor. But really there are plans for Turalyon, it’s one of those things that we keep every content patch we try and work out something. Invariably it goes another way and so we’re hopeful that eventually we’ll get to him.
[ 50:31 ]
Bornakk: Some players are particularly interested in quests that will involve these famous lore heroes, do you find these quests more challenging to implement than others?
Alex Afrasiabi: Oh yeah, they are way more challenging to implement. The main hurdles basically are that our established lore characters have histories and stories, there’s memories attached to all those characters so players remember them from not just World of Warcraft but all the Warcraft series. So we have to be really mindful of giving them the proper due respect. We’ve done things in the past where they weren’t received as well and even doing something as simple as changing the appearance of a hero that currently exists causes some uproar. It’s definitely getting that entire questline or storyline built up is a challenge more so than just introducing a new hero.
[ 51:13 ]
Bornakk: What do you think of the new Sylvanas model?
Alex Afrasiabi: I personally like the new model much better than the Night Elf that we had but we are getting a new custom built model which looks amazing.
[ 52:09 ]
Bornakk: Is there any particular storyline from the original game that you are excited to be picking up again in Wrath of the Lich King?
Alex Afrasiabi: Several. It’s been a nice expansion, it was a good break from Outland where things got a little… different I guess is the best term for it. Anything that involves Arthas, Lich King, we’re all over, we love that stuff. Expanding Tirion Fordring’s line and roll rather in the expansion is huge for us. A personal favorite of mine if the Forsaken’s involvement in the early zones with their plague, their blight, that’s something we’ve been forming for years with the old world and we obviously paused it for Outland and we’re coming back. I think we’re just releasing some new stuff in this next build that will kind of bring all that to a head that I’m pretty excited about.

Aside from that there’s also a whole lot of new stuff that we’re also excited about, so Vrykul and Brann and his involvement with the Titans. The power struggles in the Horde, we’re going to start seeing some of those in the next upcoming beta pushes that I’m really excited about. The whole Wrathgate series which we’re just getting ready to release that movie and I hope the fans will love it, I know I love it, so I’m pretty confident they will.

I think the good thing with Northrend is the whole atmosphere of the world just lends itself to a more natural storytelling environment. I think myself and all the other designers really kind of attached to it.
[ 52:23 ]
Bornakk: Another thing is, we talked in the past about is how we plan for Arthas to play a bigger role in this expansion, a bigger role than Illidan did in The Burning Crusade, so without giving too much away how well would you say this has gone so far?
Alex Afrasiabi: I think it’s gone really well. If you start as a Death Knight, the first person you see is the Lich King. Going through our zones, Howling Fjord, Borean Tundra, Dragonblight, Grizzly [Hills], Zul’drak, I think almost every zone has at least one encounter with the Lich King, some with Prince Arthas himself - the Alliance get a series in Dragonblight for that - so I think it’s gone really well. Then in Icecrown again, you’ll get several interactions with the Lich King and then going forward in patch 3.1 and beyond there will just be more.
Bornakk: Awesome! That’s everything we had for you today Alex. Our players are really looking forward to seeing everything starting on November 13th. Thanks for your time today.
Alex Afrasiabi: Thank you.
[ 54:12 ]
Bornakk: In the next part of the Q&A we have our Starcraft 2 Lead Designer Dustin Browder here to help us answer some questions from the community. Welcome back Dustin!
Dustin Browder: Thanks.
Bornakk: The first question is from Zoltrix at starcrafttwo.com. Can you tell us about the evolution system for the different units? Like how will this be used for upgrading different units like the Hydralisk and the Zergling and what specific upgrades it will bring to these units?
Dustin Browder: We’re still working obviously on the whole upgrade system and trying to make sure it’s as good as it can possibly be for Starcraft 2. For the mutation, for morphing one unit to another unit for the Zerg in particular, we’ve been working on obviously – you’ve seen a lot of these guys already – we’ve been working on the baneling, we’ve been working on the lurker, we’ve been working on the swarm guardian. This is an old mechanic from the original Starcraft that we’re carrying forward into Starcraft 2 and we’re going to try to keep adding to. We think it’s a really interesting way for the Zerg race to deal with their army, they can sort of look at their own army as a resource. You look at your zergling and that zergling could ultimately run up to that marine and kill him or that zergling might want to morph into a baneling and then roll up and kill a whole bunch of marines all at one go. So you got to kind of choose how you want to use these units and they are very different units. When you morph a hydralisk into a lurker you get a completely different unit or you’re morphing a mutilisk into a swarm guardian it fundamentally changes the role of the units so it really allows the Zerg player to a limited extent sort of customize their forces on the battlefield. They morph their overlord into an overseer, it really changes the kinds of things that unit can do on the battlefield.

So we’re just trying to make sure that Zerg sort of carry forward this sort of core ideology that they had from the original Starcraft, this ability to mutate, to morph from one unit to another, and it really gives the Zerg a lot of additional flexibility, it makes them a lot of fun. So you get a chance or some players will anyway or are going to join us for BlizzCon in a little bit to look at we are doing with these units in the Zerg and how these mutations affect these armies as a whole but it really does shake up the gameplay quite a lot. You may think you know what the Zerg are, you may think he’s got a bunch of hydralisks or he’s got a bunch of zerglings but you always got to watch out for the mutation, you don’t really know what those units may later become.
[ 55:15 ]
Bornakk: Cool. The next question comes from gamer-source.com. With the all the anti-armored units like the marauder and the hydralisk - is this meant to counter the end game units? And also what role do you think end game units will play on the battlefield?
Dustin Browder: : I’m not really sure what an end game unit is, I guess it would be like a battlecruiser or a carrier or a thor or ultralisk, I guess it’s what we’re talking about here. But the hydralisk has always been anti-armor, even in the original Starcraft had a strong anti-armor role.

The marauder of course gives the Terrans some additional anti-armor capability from the barracks which we felt was very important since we moved the ghost back so far allowing the ghost to fulfill more of a core role on the battlefield for the Terrans. We didn’t think that the ghost made a lot of sense as fundamentally anti-armor with his sniper rifle. If he’s going to be anti biological and sort of taking head shots and taking out individual targets then we really needed the Terrans to have some way to deal with stalkers and immortals and to a lesser extent siege tanks and roaches. So that’s really what the marauder is pointed at, the marauder is pointed more at stalkers and roaches and you’ll see marauders used in that role. They also can tear apart a colossus or thor which is an added advantage for the Terrans from the barracks again.

One of our ideas initially for the Terrans for the infantry for the Terrans was to make sure that the infantry were viable throughout the whole game whereas much as they possibly could. Obviously at a certain point when a lot of psi-storm comes into play or there’s a lot of splash from enemy weapons fire you’re going to see the infantry start coming off of the map very quickly but we really wanted to make sure that the infantry were viable throughout the gameplay experience and that’s one of the things that the marauder is getting for, he’ tough, he can take a lot of hits, and he dish out a lot of damage to some heavily armored units and so if the threat is like roaches, and immortals, and stalkers the marauder has a lot of firepower.

And the hydralisk has a similar kind of role in that sense, obviously the hydra can shoot air, he is also a lot softer than a marauder but the hydra has some very powerful abilities to deal with some of these heavily armored threats that are very low down in the tech tree. Units like the thor, the mothership and the colossus all have their roles and we see them in games probably about a half or a third of the games that we see will actually see these units even come into play. And when they come into play they can be extremely dangerous of course but there’s a lot of counters already in play and the marauder is just one of the choices you have when dealing with an enemy unit like the thor. You can also obviously bring in mass siege tanks, even mass marines ultimately can be very effective against a small groups of thors because the thor is just not doing enough splash, he can absolutely obliterate a marine in a couple shots but there are simply too many marines at that point in the game sometimes for a thor to tear them all down so we’re really not worried at this point of these end-game units sort of eclipsing the core gameplay experience. They’re definitely finding their place, they definitely have their uses but they are definitely something you can counter and the marauder is part of that counter list but it’s not really the reason the marauder exists. The marauder really exists for stalkers, immortals, and roaches. Threats like this that are massable, can be fast but they’re heavily armored, they are something that a marine has trouble dealing with.
Bornakk: Very nice, thanks for the information Dustin.
Dustin Browder: Alright, thank you.
[ 57:21 ]
Bornakk: In our last segment of the Q&A session we have our Diablo 3 Game Direct Jay Wilson. Welcome to the show Jay!
Jay Wilson: Thank you very much.
Bornakk: Our first question is from Vandro from Diablofans.com – Will we be able to use the old overlay map instead of the mini-map?
Jay Wilson: Right now we don’t have any plans to do a fullscreen overlay. We really felt that the overlay was more there because the mini-map was not very usable as a small map. We feel like when you put that map and you cover it over the whole display it actually adds a lot of clutter but we are planning to do like a fullscreen map that just covers the whole screen so that you can kind of see an entire area like if want to check out if there are any areas of this dungeon that I haven’t explored yet, you can really see more of that. But right now we’re really focused on trying to make the mini-map is very usable at the size that it’s at and so we’ve put a lot of work and the maps are actually custom made. The ones in D2 were kind of auto-generated where as ours we literally we custom make every piece of it. We have an artist go through and draw out so we can make sure that they’re really visible and very usable and so far we’re finding that it’s working really well.
[ 1:00:30 ]
Bornakk: Awesome. The next question is from Immelmann from Diii.net. Will there be special player deaths in various situations? Like when the Siegebreaker bit the Barbarian in half during the gameplay demo.
Jay Wilson: Well what we want to do with that, especially for particular bosses is have when essentially when the player is very low on health and they’re about to die the boss essentially checks like when it attacks you, did I just do enough damage to kill you? And if so then instead of just doing his normal attack he’d actually play some kind of special I pick you up and eat you or I throw you up in the air and knock you around like a baseball or something like that. It’s a system that really our announcement video we tested it for the first time, mainly just to see – can we actually do this kind of animation interaction between the characters but the actual system itself is still not in there but we do plan to do that and that’s primarily where. We might do some other things, we’ve talked about physics based deaths we’ve talked about having the characters if they like die to a cold monster he might completely freeze solid into a statue and then shatter or things like that but we haven’t decided at this point if that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
[ 1:01:47 ]
Bornakk: The last question we have is from Sly_dawg19 from blizzplanet.com. During the gameplay video an "Elixer of Vitality I" dropped. Can you explain Elixers and the benefits and roles they will play in Diablo 3?
Jay Wilson: Well right now elixirs are primarily to provide a short term benefit to the player. I can’t remember exactly how many off the top of my head, I think there’s maybe six different kinds of elixirs and they do things like give you health boosts or give you damage boosts, give you different stats, things like that. So whenever you find one you can essentially use it whenever you want to give you a short term buff. And then as you go through the game the ‘one’ indicates quality so the ‘one’ is kind of a low end, not very good item, it’s not bad – at low levels it actually makes a pretty big difference, at high levels it doesn’t matter that much but as you go through the game they become more and more powerful. So we have a variety of different kinds of items like that we have added in to give the player some interesting buffs. Some of them are something like that were it’s just a nice bonus to have, whereas some of them are actually game changing kind of things like you can fire them off in an emergency to be able to deal with a particularly tough encounter.
Bornakk: Do you think they will be purchasable or will it mainly just be the drops?
Jay Wilson: My guess is that they will be drops only. We essentially added them into the system to put more items into the drop game. One of the things we found is that because we removed things like potions and changed the nature of some of our other drops, like for example – I’ll let this out – we don’t really have ammo anymore, if you use a kind of weapon that would normally use ammo we just let you use it, we don’t make you go collect more ammo, it just has infinite ammo. It’s kind of to support more action aspect of the game. Then if you go back to Diablo 2, a lot of bolts drop! That fills up a lot of the “trash” that drops and when we started pulling a lot of those things like potions got reduced way down and bolts got completely removed we that it really threw off the item drop like you never had anything drop that was less important. So we looked to a whole class of items and we don’t necessarily want to drop trash, we didn’t want to drop stuff that was just vendor trash like that was never our goal. We said maybe we can find things that the player is not necessarily like “Oh my god that’s the best item in the world!” but it’s like “Oh cool, I could use that, that gives me a little bit of a buff” and elixirs are kind of that class of item.
Bornakk: Okay, awesome! Well that’s it for the questions today, let’s thank Monte, Same, Alex, Jay, and Dustin for their time today and thanks to all our listeners for downloading this episode. This is Bornakk from the World of Warcraft Community Team and we’ll see you next time!
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