One of Diablo 3‘s senior game designers has shed some light on the PvP concepts Blizzard was toying around with before moving on to other development priorities. Wyatt Cheng – who you may recognise as Diablo Immortal’s game director these days – decided to mark the action-RPG’s tenth anniversary by answering oodles of fan questions on Twitter.
Cheng tells one fan that the team tested a few modes internally during development. There was a MOBA-style, three-lane map with towers and creeps; an arena-based map with four pillars; a mode where a boss-style player took on four others; and another that involved doing bounties outdoors while PvP was enabled. While Diablo 3 eventually got a PvP mode called Brawling in a post-release patch, there was nothing for PvP hopefuls on launch. Cheng explains to another curious fan that this partly happened due to various design challenges and other priorities.
“Speaking in broad terms here – all of our internal PvP tests using fixed templated characters were super fun up until you could bring in your real character,” Cheng says. “Fixed characters have ability sets the design creates to be fun first, then the player gets to try and optimise play.
“With Diablo 3’s wide skills + skill runes + (later) legendary items, it was a monumental task to reconcile having six abilities being fun to play as and fun to play against. Add in visual noise, mixed expectations of what happens to your gear, and other development priorities.”
Wyatt also sheds some light on other areas of Diablo 3’s development, like the influence of World of Warcraft. The game’s harder difficulty had lots to do with the popularity of raiding in WoW, though the team soon realised after launch that Act 1-4 wasn’t the right place for “super difficult content”. As such, we got systems like Greater Rifts in Reaper of Souls.
Diablo 3 also nearly had a multiplayer hub town, though Blizzard cut it. “There were discussions about a hub town at Blizzard North,” Wyatt recalls. “I think Brevik has talked about this before. When you’re actually evaluating the cost of the feature on the production schedule it’s hard to justify the cost of a hub town.
“But when a multiplayer hub town exists, it makes the world feel alive and real. During the very first Diablo Immortal technical alpha test last year, many players commented how different Diablo Immortal feels just because Westmarch is a town you can see other players running by.”
If you’d like to read more from Wyatt, you can find a full rundown of everything he has answered on the Diablo subreddit. For more games like Diablo on PC to keep you busy until the Diablo 4 release date, though, you can follow that link.