Gameplay Panel Blizzcon 2010

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This is a transcript of the Gameplay Panel held at Blizzcon 2010 discussing the newly revealed Demon Hunter and changes made to the other four classes during the year.

Panel Description[edit | edit source]

Diablo III Gameplay
Friday 12pm, Main Stage

What’s in store next for the heroes of Sanctuary? Learn about the latest game developments in this don’t-miss panel for Diablo players.

Program Title:
"How does the Diablo III team go about creating a class fit to fight the legions of the Burning Hells? The designers and artists delve into the creative process."

Panel Participants[edit | edit source]

Why the Demon Hunter?[edit | edit source]

Jay Wilson - Game Director

Jay Wilson, Game Director
Today we introduced our fifth and final class for Diablo 3 and that is the Demon Hunter. We are going to talk a lot about the Demon Hunter today, how we came to this decision and what she's really all about. So, the first question could be "Why the Demon Hunter?". A couple of you, maybe one or two guessed that we might put a class that shoots bows and crossbows and throws things. It was a good guess, those one or two of you that actually got it. Really, the Demon Hunter fills out our archetype. We knew from the beginning that we wanted a blasty Wizard type and a big Barbarian and a pet class, we knew we wanted a class that used conventional ranged weaponry. So she was really one of the earlier classes that we chose but she was very different when we chose to make her.

We really felt this character fit the Diablo universe. We wanted a very dark character, an almost obsessed anti-hero. We really liked the idea of a Bounty Hunter. That was a lot of the drive for what we wanted. We wanted a character that felt like this is somebody who hunts down the enemy.

Demon Hunter's Bio

Whenever we decide to have a class we like to boil it down to the top three things. What's this class all about. So the first one is pretty obvious. We knew we wanted a conventional ranged class which is the class that operates at a range but uses weaponry to do that. We also liked the idea of the Bounty Hunter vibe so we wanted to get in this idea of gadgets and traps. A Bounty Hunter prepares for a fight so we wanted to really focus on that with this character.

We always look for a way to do more fantastical stuff with a character. The Diablo 3 classes are very showy at times. Here we have Shadow Magic. Shadow Magic is really kicking into the idea that she really likes to dabble in anything she can to make her more effective in hunting down the enemy so she's not adverse to using dark magic or "Hey, I found out if you take the spleen of this demon and carve out it down into a bow the arrows actually go 20% faster. She knows every trick. She knows more about Demons that anyone in the Diablo universe.

Archer Concept Evolution[edit | edit source]

Christian Lichtner - Art Director

Woodland Ranger
Early concept
I'm going to go through a very brief history of the development of the Demon Hunter. I want to show you guys how things usually start out. We knew early on it was going to be a ranger. Class design and development takes a lot of time and effort from the development team and we take a lot of care in making sure that this is as much fun to play. Early on we started with concepts and what you can see here is a Woodland Ranger concept. That already looked pretty ranged obviously, you can see the arrows at the back.

That was a good starting point. We really liked stuff. We said to ourselves that it still read a little bit on the swifter side and also a little bit more deadly so we added a bit more of an edge to the character but that still wasn't where we wanted the character to be.

Early ranger/malee concept.
Whilst we already liked it a lot and thought there was some really good concepts going on with it already there was something missing. We didn't quite know what we needed to add to it. We started to added elements to give it a little bit of a twist. Most of the Diablo classes we do, we always give it a little bit of a twist, a little bit of a angle, a little extra something. In this case we started adding certain melee aspects, adding short daggers, short swords, even fist weapons and you can see some armour on the chest there.

As we iterated on this we added even more of that. We added cowls and a lot of different elements like that. As you can see our products take a lot of development and one of the things we started to realise as we went through all these concepts was that it really didn't start to read Ranged any more, it started reading more and more like an assassin, a little bit like a melee class and so at that point we said to ourselves that we need to take a break. We need to slow down, rethink what we are doing.

Demon Hunter Evolution[edit | edit source]

Demon Hunter Born
We decided to look at more concepts and sort of go back to the basics and rethink from the get go what we wanted to do with this class. There were a few questions we asked ourselves at point. One of them was that we had announced the monk class in the previous year and we really wanted to make a class now that was a little bit on the darker side. One that you didn't quite know where they stood in the world and what their outlook was. We also knew that we wanted to make the class mysterious so you didn't quite know their history. The other important thing to us was, as huge fans of Diablo 2, we wanted a class on our line out that was on the more medieval side, a little gothic and that paid tribute to the Diablo 2 classes. Of course, most importantly, we wanted to make sure it read ranged so we came up with the Demon Hunter which is what you are seeing today.

Demonic Hero?
Part Demon
So, how do you make a Demon Hunter? First off we started off with the craziest thing we could think of and thought what if it was a Demonic Demon Hunter? What if it was a demon hunting demons and as you can see here (left) a concept of a fully-blown demon. We really liked this concept, we thought it was a lot of fun. It only had two problems with it. One of them was, in the Diablo universe, our heroes really have to be human, they are pitted against hordes of hell and having a hero that was demonic would be a problem. Also there was a problem as far as designing gameplay around a changeling or a shape shifting class so we went back a thought about making him part demon. In this particular concept you see a very large Demon Hunter and he has a demonic arm. One of the issues we had at that point we were worried about the fact that if this guys walks into town trying to sell his wares or try to buy something maybe the townspeople wouldn't quite go along with it once hey see the demon arm. Also the size and bulkiness of him really felt very strong and we weren't sure if it felt ranged or fast, swift and agile as we were hoping for. The arm implies melee because it's so thick and strong.

We changed all those things at that point. We went a slicker, more agile. We went with a design that only had armour up until the ribcage and below the ribcage it's very light and leathery. We also decided to go with dual crossbows because we thought that would be really cool. We were still holding onto the demon arm, we thought maybe we could pull it off but what we started to find was that when people were playing it they really wanted to hit things with the demon arm. They felt like it was something they really wanted to use so at some point we had to say goodbye to it. It also messed with the human part so last but not least we ended up with this design. It's very close to the previous one. As you can see it has a cowl. It's a little bit more on the dark side and a little mysterious. It still moves very fast and swift and we wanted to make sure it had a dark vibe and it really read very anti-heroish in that sense and also with that medieval vibe that we were talking about of course, most importantly, that it read ranged!

Demon Hunter Modeling and Animation[edit | edit source]

Paul Warzecha - Lead Character Artist

Gearing Up

I'm going to walk you through the modeling, texturing and animation of the Demon Hunter. So right off the bat, we have this concept and we thought, this character, she hits the mark - yeah, there were like two guys that got that joke there. She was kind of a sexy character. I know Christian didn't get into that too much but at this point you've got the Monk, this holy monk, a creepy Witch Doctor, you have the Barbarian female if you're into that sort of thing, awesome but we wanted someone that was physically attractive and for the ladies in the crowd, don't worry about it, we are working on a male Demon Hunter now and are trying to make him as equally attractive.

So, she hit the ranged archetype obviously but we also wanted to have a character that has a much darker because, like Christian said, you've got a Holy Monk, a flamboyant Wizard and, honestly, she just looked plain cool at this point. So it's time we start asking ourselves how we gear this character up, how do you upgrade a cowl. We got to start thinking how do they caps work and we start to think what makes this character visually distinct from the rest of the classes so the character team keyed in on three big things. Number one the character has a scarf. When you are running with the Demon Hunter, out the corner of you eye you might see that character's that just a little way away from the crowd, she's got this flowing cloth and right away you know that the Demon Hunter is there. From game cam you are also going to be able to see this character's legs unlike the wizard and the monk. We also keyed into this arm guard which helps her silhouette 'pop' a bit more.

Naked Posing
The first thing we do on the modeling side is we create what we call a 'naked look'. We do this for all our classes, this is the look before you have done any gearing up. We put this together and we hand it on to animation and they came up with a bunch of poses that really captured the attitude of the character. The cool thing, at least for inside the team is that this is the first time you see a character and you get the attitude of this character, that she's kind of pissed off, she's angry. She's got a lot of attitude. So based on that we build a geared up version of her.We were conscious of things like her silhouette, we want her to read really quick we want to reinforce the attitude and most importantly in Diablo, at least from the modeling standpoint, is this talk of readability.

So a character like this is very strappy, she's kind of gadgety, you can see there's a lot of stuff going on but when you zoom out to 30 feet above her head you want to be able to see that stuff and read the character so we grouped together and colours and values and that sort of thing.

Body poses
At this point we have a model we are happy with and the animators are going to take that and start filling out her animation suite with all the cool things that a Demon Hunter does and start putting together some of her tools. Obviously she's going to use bows and crossbows, she's also the only character who can dual wieldPistol Crossbows. You can see the fruits of everyone's labour. We've got a character that really takes advantage of her pose to pose action. Pulling a trigger is probably not as exciting as swinging an axe of a sword but they really reinforce her character by just the full body poses that she takes when she shoots stuff and also taking advantage of her skills.

Demon Hunter Lore[edit | edit source]

Leonard Boyarsky - Lead World Designer

I'm going to take you through the lore of the Demon Hunter and talk about her background.

The Demon Hunter is our most diverse class. What does that mean? She's not one type of person or she doesn't come from one social class she could really come from any walk of life. Demon Hunters are chosen, they are not born into their class like all of our other classes are. They are bound together by their thirst for revenge, revenge on demons who have slaughtered their family and friends. They are recruited by other Demon Hunters after they've had these encounters with demons that would crush lesser people. They don't have a homeland per se, they are nomadic and always chasing down demons. They really want to crush demons, that's their reason for living but they do have a base up in the borderlands up north where they train new recruits.

If you take the best aspects of a Ranger and a Bounty Hunter class and combine it with an epic revenge quest you end up with a really excellent challenging class to play and on top of that they dual wield crossbows, I mean what more do you need than that?

So what drives the Demon Hunters? They are an obsessed hero, she will do whatever it takes to hunt down demons and eradicate them from the world of Sanctuary. We took her partially indo the demon world and we wanted to show that she dabbles in the dark side, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty. We didn't want her to seem demonic so we didn't want to go into her having demonic parts or the demon arm, so we pulled back on that and we gave her the glowing eyes to show that she's been messing in areas that maybe she shouldn't have been.

What's her beef?
She's a stalker of demons, she uses traps and gadgets and lies in wait for demons, she really wants to strike terror into their hearts. She wants demons to feel what they usually cause in human beings, she wants them to know the terror of being stalked. Finally, she realises the true stakes of what's going on. All the other classes have their own reasons for doing what they are doing. The Witch Doctor and the Monk are in it for their religious ideals, the Wizard is in it for personal gain, the Barbarian is in it for his people but the Demon Hunter is in it for one thing only and that is killing demons. She understands the true stakes of the eternal conflict between the high heavens and the burning hells and she's going to do whatever she can to ensure hell doesn't get a foothold in Sanctuary.

Demon Hunter Skills[edit | edit source]

Wyatt Cheng - Technical Game Designer

Now that we've established that the Demon Hunter is primarily about ranged, shadow, gadgets and traps. We need some skills that are going to bring that to life. We want skills that sell those three concepts. So the first skill we are going to talk about some of her skills.

Bola Shot -- This mixes two themes, ranged and gadgets. She shoots out a bola which wraps around the target and explodes. It feels really tactical, it has a slight delay that you can use to your advantage in the right situations.

Vault -- This a movement skill. The Barbarian has Leap Attack, the Wizard has Teleport and we wanted to make sure all our classes had a way to get around the battlefield. In this skill we wanted to sell the Shadow theme. Initially we talked about Shadow Vault and stuff like that, but we decided to just call it Vault and let the art peak for itself. There's no need to have to weave these concepts into every single skill. The artistic representation has some acrobatics and has some shadow themes to it. It's basically a way to take a solid mechanic and wrap it up with the aesthetic we are trying to sell and deliver something we think will be fun for the players.

Spike Trap -- One of her themes is going to be traps and gadgets. This is not unlike some of the Assassin gameplay you might have seen in Diablo 2. In this case we want to sell again the shadow theme and the gadgets theme. We just take an ordinary trap spell, weave in some Shadow themes and the art kind of brings out the flavour, differentiates her from the other characters. Another thing I really like about Spike Trap is it has that sense of preparation. We want the player to know that the Demon Hunter is somebody that goes to sleep at night and dreams about killing demons. She wakes up in the middle of the night and goes "Oh, I have this great idea for a trap that will be awesome for killing demons", goes back to sleep, wakes up and kills a lot of demons. That's her thing.

Grenades -- Also selling the idea of ranged attacks is Grenades. I love this skill in our game because we have a 3D engine so you can actually bounce grenades off the walls and floors. I think it'll be an awesome way for players to come up with some creative uses for grenades, throwing them around corners. It actually bounces around and it shows, again, and it sells the Demon Hunter's themes - ranged attacks, gadgetry, preparation and planning. This is premeditated demon killing going on.

Multishot -- And finally I want to show you guys Multishot. Multishot some of you guys might remember from Diablo 2 but it's been amped up and brought to the next level for Diablo 3. We know that Multishot was a hugely popular skill in Diablo 2 so we wanted to bring back that mechanic that we know, the skill that people love but artify it up for something more appropriate.

Skill System Overhaul[edit | edit source]

Kevin Martens - Lead Content Designer

On the second part of the show we have a lot of new and improved skills and skill systems and other character things to show you. On the new side we are going to show you a complete overhaul of the skill system itself, new class skills for each of the classes, a new trade system and an introduction of the ever elusive Talisman.

So when you have a bunch of skills like Wyatt was showing you the next thing we need to work on is to make them deep and replayable and to make them accessible and on that end let's break down the skill UI from last year and talk about some of the problems we had with it.

Old skill Tree
Skill tabs
This is the one we had last year (left)and it was just big. All the choices were there at once, you could see the whole tree, which was a good thing but it covered your character, it encouraged people to spend their skill points too widely and experienced Diablo players know fewer skills and spend more deeply into them. It had these three different class lines which were a little arbitrary and we learned that a little bit later. So we took this and wondered how we could make this more accessible without losing any of the depth. So we went to a tab system that was improvement in a major way, it made everything bigger, you could see it all. It compartmentalized into the tabs but with all these skill lines, fitting them all in there to be equal across all the tabs and some of the skills were a little arbitrary, you still couldn't see all your options at once and you had to skip back and forth between the tabs. People often, when they were leveling up, forgot to check on the other tabs and ended up spending more points in whichever tab they first chose to spend points in.

Skill list
So we went to a list approach. With this we were getting a little bit closer. On the left hand side we had all seven of your skills in one place. This was a major improvement for us, you could see your entire character build all in one place and on the right, when you were choosing new skills, it was getting better you could see everything bigger, you could see what you could choose next and you could start thinking ahead by scrolling down the list but it wasn't quite good enough.

Current UI
Here is the current UI. We kept everything with the seven skills on the left and on the right hand side we made that window a whole lot bigger so you could still plan ahead but you could see all your choices available at one time making the entire skill UI a lot more accessible. At a glance you could see what you could spend.

Spending points
This became very straight forward, this UI idea that at a glance you know what to do. You look on your left and you can choose a new skill or spend points in your old skills. This was good. If you can see a blinking plus sign that means you can spend points in it, if there's no plus sign that means you've maxed it out. Now a little extra insight into the seven skills. At the beginning of the game every skill that you choose has five skill points that you can put into it but throughout the course of the game you have ways to deepen that and augment the skills so that you can spend more points into them, So, initially, it's much easier to make builds, it's easier to thinking ahead, to respec when you want to do that as well and you can try a lot of things very rapidly. But there's a lot more to the skill system than just this.

New Class Skills[edit | edit source]

Wyatt Cheng - Technical Game Designer

We've also been working on fleshing out and getting new skills for the four classes we had already announced and we want to show you some of those today.


We knew that he needed a ranged attack so here is an example of Ancient Spear. We don't want to turn the Barbarian into a ranged class so this is something that feels very appropriate for him. We want to sell the theme that he's strong, he's tough, he's melee so we had to come up with something that felt appropriate for that.


We are going to bring him back another fan favourite, the same way we brought back Multishot, bring back Meteor. Meteor was also a popular skill in Diablo 2. People liked it, we liked the gameplay of it so we brought it back, artified it up and I tell you right when you get some runes in Meteor it's five times the fun.

Witch Doctor

I alluded to it earlier, that we want some movement options for every class and Spirit Walk is the movement skill for the Witch Doctor. We wanted something that stays thematically consistent for every class and in the Witch Doctor's case, he's about spirits and voodoo so in the Spirit Walk ability where he turns incorporeal, he can walk around, through enemies, walk round corners and when Spirit Walk ends he comes back in his physical form that becomes teleported to wherever his Spirit form is when Spirit Walk ended.


Wave of Light. He summons a mystical bell that he shoots out at range. It's kind of a combination of a melee and ranged attack. One of the things that I really like about this skill is that we need to differentiate the Barbarian from the Monk, they are both melee classes and in his case he's abbot combining mystic arts with martial arts and I like the evocative imagery that happens here. The concept of a mystical bell that he fires off, it's very vivid.

Traits[edit | edit source]

Jay Wilson - Game Director

I'm going to tell you about a new system that we've introduced into Diablo 3 in the last year. It's called Traits.

Introducing Traits
Essentially they are passive skills. They are a way you can customise and modify and essentially role play with your character and diversify your character builds. You can them as you level up, every other level, you don't get a point in every level but it's every odd numbered level you get a Trait Point. The goal of these is to alter your core attributes and aspects of your character. If you have a Barbarian and you want to be stronger there is a Trait for that. If you have a Wizard and you want to focus a lot more on elemental skills you have a Trait for that. A lot of it is also to take the opportunity to add flavour to the game world so every Trait has, in addition to just instructions on what it does it has a little excerpt of some flavour text that tells you about the world and it also was designed as a skill that tells you something about your character and your class.

Barb's Inner Rage
Here's a Trait example for the Barbarian called Inner Rage. This highlights something really important about Traits, they are not universal to all classes. Every class gets Traits that are unique to them, there are some that carry over that make sense but for the most part they are very unique to the each class.

Here's a Trait example for the Barbarian called Inner Rage. This highlights something really important about Traits, they are not universal to all classes. Every class gets Traits that are unique to them, there are some that carry over that make sense but for the most part they are very unique to the each class. We want to sell the idea that the Barbarian, is not only an angry dude, you probably have figured that out already but he actually gets power through his rage.

Wizard's Prismatic Cloak
For the Wizard, a lot of the Traits take on a more mystical bent, we want to make sure we sell the idea that even when the Wizard's not casting magic missiles or summoning up tornados that there's something just inherently magic about her. Here we have a Trait called Prismatic Cloak that essentially makes all of her armour spells more powerful and it's the idea that she's just focused on this one ability such that's she's amped them up and, again, we put some player text that sells the idea of if you choose to be this kind of Wizard this is who you are.

Well, why did we decide to do this system. There's a bunch of reasons. The main one is character customisation and those of you who know and love the original Diablo and Diablo 2 know that character customisation is a huge part of the game and if you're new to Diablo that's what it's all about so that was a big focus for us. We used to have a system in Diablo 2 where you could spend attribute points on all your core attributes and this system was much loved as a customisation tool but in actuality when we looked at it most of the builds took the exact same points in the exact same areas even across the classes and so we didn't feel like it was a good customisation system. Traits is really to specifically address the removal of attribute point spending.

Trait Points
As I mentioned before, you want a really strong Barbarian, somebody who hits really hard and is really tough. There's Traits for that. You can take Legendary Might which increases your strength, you can take Iron Skin which gives you more actual armour but let's say you want a Berserker Barbarian, you care more about attack rate, hitting the enemy before they can hit you back well there are Traits that can increase your attack rate, increase the power of debuffs on enemies. More variety equals more builds. Every class has now roughly 30 Traits and those Traits you can spend 1 to 5 points in them, that adds up to roughly right now 90 points per character. When you consider you can only get about 29 or 30 Trait Points it's a lot of customisation. Even if we look at this and decide it's too many Traits we'll just reduce the point spending in it because we want to keep the customisation really high.

One of the last reasons we really wanted to do this was it was always a bad decision to make in the previous skill trees where you knew that a passive skill like "if I take this it gives me more armour", that's a good skill and mathematically it makes sense but maths kind of sucks. If Diablo is the active skill then this guy's passive. I want to spend points in Whirlwind, I don't want to spend points in more armour so by separating the passive skills from the move active active skills which now completely take up the skill system we get a much better decision point.

Making Numbers Awesome[edit | edit source]

Trait To Do List
So the last thing is making numbers awesome. How do you make maths cool. We tried to set it on fire and put skulls behind it, that makes it pretty cool but it wasn't really enough. A lot of the design behind the Trait system is if we're going to have you take a passive Trait I don't want it to be like oh if you if you take this Trait you get 0.1% more armour. 0.1% doesn't sound very awesome so for us it's like no, it's a big number, it's 25, 500, a 100% more. Whatever number basically sounds cool when we get it. So we're really working on the system to make sure these don't feel like weird numbers that you're not really sure what they do. Diablo customisation is very straight forward. The idea is very simple to grasp and that's important to us.

We don't consider the system done yet, I love to share our process with you. What's on our 'to do' list? Well the UI's not awesome and it's okay for me to say that because I designed it. It's just a grocery list right now and it's not very fun to use. Gaining them (Trait Points) every other level isn't perfect, it may be fine we may ship with that. Right now it feels a little weird like you almost don't know when you Trait Points are going to show up and that doesn't feel awesome. There's probably too many of them. When I talk about making numbers awesome, if you go and play with the Trait system, because it's fully playable on the floor you're going to say, "Hey, I thought he said the numbers were going to be awesome, this just seems like too much decisions or too low in numbers". The truth is you're probably right. We're looking at that now and saying maybe we didn't quite get it right.

The Talisman and Charms[edit | edit source]

Kevin Martens - Lead Content Designer


Before we get into the Talisman I want to talk about Charms from Diablo 2. The charm system, if you are not familiar with it, was a very simple cost benefit thing. There were these objects that would sit in your inventory, they would take up some of your inventory space but they would give you a wide variety of bonuses. This was good, we liked the concept behind the system and we liked the charms themselves but what it led to was people keeping as many charms as they could and keeping a tiny bit of inventory space and we didn't think that was a great choice to have to make. You couldn't resist taking the charms because it augmented your build so well. How do we solve this? The Talisman is a dedicated inventory for your charms and not only that it gets bigger over time, it keeps all of the advantages of the Diablo charm system. You have more charms that you can fit in there so you still have to pick and choose which ones you're going to have to augment your build.

So now that we had a better spot to put your charms we wanted to work on the charms themselves. So how have charms evolved? The bonuses for Charms in Diablo 2 were very varied, incredibly varied, there was almost no kind of bonus they didn't have and in Diablo 3 we are going to have them concentrate on your core attributes so this is very much about customising your build, about augmenting what weaknesses you have and making your strengths better etc. The charms are going to be a core part of your build so they are still very important and there are different tiers of them throughout the game so as you go forward you're going to be playing with your charms a lot. As you choose new skills you'll be choosing different charms to try to make up for the options you chose.

Skill Runes[edit | edit source]

We haven't talked about Runes for quite a while, in fact we gave them the year off last year to let them percolate a little bit but they are back and they are in the game and you can play them here at the show. They are fully implemented in the Witch Doctor, the Wizard and Barbarian and I urge you to play the game and give Skill Runes a try.

Just a quick update to get you up to speed to where we are with Runes. If you remember Runes are a system for modifying your skills, they drop in the world like gems do but instead of putting them into your items to modify what your items do you put these in your skills and modify what your skills do. Skill Runes are a huge feature for your characters. Usually when we think about customisation people think about things like skin colour or hair style or maybe gear but the skills that you pick for your character are a huge part of your character customisation.

Possible # of builds
I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. Take an Amazon, we didn't just make Sorceresses or Barbarians, we made Spearzons, Frenzy Barbs, Nova Sorceresses, things like that. We are really going to blow the lid off this idea with Skill Runes by providing a whole lot more builds. How many more builds are we going to provide? I kind of got curious about this so I enlisted the help of some programmers to give me some help because I blow things up for a living and they came back with this outrageous number. 96,886,969,344 builds per class.

That's a really big number and hard to wrap your head around so let me try to clarify what we are talking about. This is the number of skill combinations with runes that you can have per class, this does not include things like traits, gear, dyes, charms, this is purely active skills. You are really going to be able to come up with a tonne of different kinds of class combinations. It's not just about numbers skill runes are going to be able to provide a whole lot more and one of the key things to keep in mind here is that skill runes don't just change what a skill does they have the potential to change the way it looks.

Skill Rune effects
Originally we weren't thinking about having different graphics for every skill rune choice because it's a tonne of work so we thought we'd just do the ones that sound interesting. What we found along the way was that if we didn't have a graphical change the skill rune just felt weak or even broken and we found that everyone at the office would gravitate toward the skill runes that had graphic changes. This really comes down to a fundamental question which is that we could just change all the numbers underneath, give you a numerical change or we could have the screen filled with zombie bears and which would you rather have? Zombie Bears of course.

Skill Rune Types
We still have five times the skill Runes only they have now changed their names. They are now called Crimson, Indigo, Obsidian, Golden, Alabaster. We had a system before where we named the runes according to the concept attached to them like Multistrike or Energy and Multistrike Runes did Multistrike things and Energy Runes did stuff with your resources. What we found was that we kept coming up with ideas that didn't fit with those concepts very well. At first we would have some concepts that would fit really well, we'd get some things that did a multishot and they would fit but when you started coming up with wacky ideas it became harder to shoehorn them into that system.

To give you an example here. The Witch Doctor's new skill called Poison Dart and that kind of fit with the Power Rune before but then we changed the skill so we had another version that would make it a rapid-fire skill and then it worked really well with Multistrike but then we had this wacky idea of the Witch Doctor being able to shoot a live snake that would attach itself to monster's faces and stun them. Where does that fit? It doesn't fit anywhere so we just changed the names of the runes then we can come up with as many kinds of wacky ideas as we want.

Specific Skill Rune Examples[edit | edit source]

Skills Runes on Witch Doctor Skills

Skill Rune Ranks
Runes now have ranks. There are seven ranks which increase as you progress through the game. Runes take whatever the rune does to a particular skill and make that attribute extreme. To see how the skill runes affect the skill let's look at the Wizard's Magic Missile. Unruned it shoots one missile when cast, when we put a rank one indigo rune in it and now it shoots missiles per cast and then he's rank seven and you're going to need that in hell.

Here we have a skill for the Barbarian called Weapon Throw, allows him to throw a big weapon and this is the Crimson Rune, it just adds more damage, makes Weapon Throw a kind of one shot skill and then another (Obsidian) that let's you throw a hammer that stuns characters which is great for PvP. Another (Alabaster) that causes confusion which is a good crowd control version and then we have one (Indigo rune) that ricochets which is good for AoE. Then we thought it would be really cool for the Barbarian to have an ability to throw a corpse (Golden Rune).

Skills Runes on Barbarian Skills

Next up is the Wizard and we brought back Hydra for the Wizard and it works just like the skill in Diablo 2. Crimson Rune changes them to Frost Hydras with a short range breath attack. Then we brought in a Lightning Hydra, lightning hydras never miss. Next up we have an Arcane Hydra (with Alabaster rune) which shoots miniature arcane orbs for AoE damage. Then we did an Acid Hydra (Obsidian rune) because melting monsters is a lot of fun and finally one big hydra head but with the firewall attribute

Skills Runes on Wizard Skills

Skills Runes on Wizard Skills (Plague of Toads)

Next up let's look at Plague of Toads on the Witch Doctor. The Crimson Rune makes all of your frogs on fire and then something a little more gameplay oriented, you've got mana reduction (Golden rune) so you can have a lot more frogs and then Alabaster rune will blind monsters which gives you some crowd control ability and then we change the skill completely and make a toad blizzard (Indigo rune) then finally we wanted to have a giant toad (Obsidian rune) but what's he going to do? He's going to eat monsters and he digests them but he doesn't digest the loot.

Battle Arenas[edit | edit source]

Jay Wilson - Game Director

Team-based Battles

Battle Arenas are our first approach to PvP and hopefully not our last. The vision for Battle Arenas is a dedicated place for all your dueling needs. Dueling was a massive part of Diablo 2 and a lot of people really loved to duel. We know you like to kill each other and Diablo 2 didn't support it very well, so were really focused from the very beginning to make sure we corrected that mistake. It's focused on team-based play and the reason for this is, as Julian mentioned, we had 97 billion builds and the idea that every build is perfectly balanced versus every other build is not going to happen. We definitely want to get all the class balance a lot better than it was in Diablo 2 but the idea is that some of the builds are supposed to be better than others, that's the point, you're supposed to try and find the best PvP build. So focusing on more team-based play softens that issue a little bit, that issue of balance. Maybe if you go into the Arena and you face a build you are weak to your team mates can help you make up for that. It becomes more than just about your own build but your teams' build.

A lot of the Arenas is about building the perfect PvP character so you will be taking characters that you get in PvE, items, skills, trades, everything you do and taking it over into the Battle Arena. It is definitely a game about building a PvE character into a PvP monster.

Here is the Witch Doctor and Wizard show off a bunch, we got some Zombie Bears in there. That's a crowd favourite. Blizzard which is a great crowd control and attack spell, Teleport which the Wizard uses in just a second, Meteor. There are a lot of awesome skills and a lot of them worth great across both PvE and PvP and some of them are design specifically for PvP. If you've ever looked at any of the skills we've shown at the previous Blizzcons and didn't know how you'd use that in PvE it actually might be PvP skill because several of them we specifically focus for there.

The PvE game has a lot of control in it, there's a lot of freezing enemies and stomping on the ground and stunning everything but we didn't want the PvP game to be all about crowd control where you would basically be sitting around waiting for the opportunity to move so a big part of our PvP design is about counters, counters that break you out of any kind of crowd control.

PvP Battle
Here we have the Witch Doctor using Horrify to Fear the Barbarian and the Barbarian is using Ignore Pain to break out of that. There's also tonnes of cool tricks. For for example we can teleport, freeze, Meteor and "bye bye".

The Arenas is fully playable on the floor so we encourage you to go over, reach out and beat the crap out of your friend.

Best of...
We set up a round mechanic and essentially the goal of this is, when we played the game one round was never enough we would see what the other team was but we didn't have a chance to react to that so the game is played as the best of 2 out of 3 or, 3 out of 5. We haven't figured out exactly what the great round count is but we are going to be working on that and would appreciate feedback on that.

We are going to do a lot of focus on with the Arenas and PvP, we will have matchmaking so you will be able to form a team or randomly jump in. It will be skill-based so we'll try and match teams equally against one and other. We are trying to figure out a way to do custom games. We know that while our Arenas are team-based there are a lot of you who are going to want to do a specific team against your friends' specific team and maybe outside of the ranking systems. You're going to want to do one on ones even though the game is not going to be super great balanced for that. We know you're going to want to do it so we're definitely focused on finding a way to make that really easy for you to do.

The last one is more of a progression-based ranking system. If you play Starcraft 2 you know it's very much what we call a skill-based ranking system where, when you play against one and other, you each get a rank and if you're rank is higher you get to make fun of your friend. We want you to be able to make fun of your friends but here's it's more about doing it in the Arenas. If you're playing in the Arenas and you win you're going to get points that will progress your rank, give you titles, vanity rewards, achievements, things that are not focused on power but showing how dedicated you are to PvP. As you continue to play through, even if you lose, you will also get points and progression.

Watch the Panel[edit | edit source]

The hour long panel in four videos, courtesy of Diablo3Inc's You Tube channel.

Part One covers the initial ranged character concepts, from various types of archers to the early looks of the Demon Hunter, as they design progressed towards the final finished model.

Part Two covers the sexy nature of the class, 3D modeling, the Demon Hunter's lore, her skills, and the redesigned skill tree system in general.

Part Three covers new class skills, traits, the talisman and charms, and skill runes.

Part Four continues the runestone info in great detail, and concludes with 10 minutes on the new Battle Arenas.