BlizzCon 2011: Diablo 3 Interview — Mods, eSports, Female Diablo?
During BlizzCon 2011, I got to sit down with Julian Love, lead technical artist for Diablo 3, and chat about the game’s art direction, its future in the eSports scene, the possibility of mods, and more. While he was understandably tight-lipped about the topics we most want to know about, he did provide some insight on design philosophy, as well as a gem on Diablo 3′s moddable framework.
Read the full interview, below.
GameFront: How long have you, personally, been working on Diablo 3?
That’s tough to quantify. I worked on things that would contribute to Diablo 3 before there was a D3. I worked on some of the art pipeline features and support tools. From that perspective, I’ve been working on the game for over 9 years. In terms of actual hardcore development of the game, it’s more like 6.
GF: Care to elaborate on the pre-D3 work?
There was an early period when we wanted to make a game that would be like a Diablo 3 game, and we were just exploring on a fundamental level what kind of engine we wanted to make and how it would work. It was a pre-development stage we went through where we just wanted to get the technology off the ground. At that point, we hadn’t figured out what game that engine would necessarily be for. We just knew it would be an isometric-ish game.
GF: Was there ever a point in the development process when D3 would have been an MMO?
No, I don’t think there was ever a serious point. At the earlier stages, there were certainly many ideas being tossed around. There were many people at that point who where bitten by the MMO bug, but there was also people who thought, “hey, we should make a fighting game, or an adventure game.” So I think there were some phases when we weren’t serious and entertained a lot of ideas, but they were during that early stage when we just wanted to throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and see what stuck. Even then, with the tools we were using, it looked more like a Diablo game than anything else.
GF: Has development started on any expansions?
No. We’re really focused on getting the game out the door, which is what we’ve been focused on for the last two years. We want it to be awesome; we want it to be the definitive successor to the Diablo series.
GF: While there will be no official mod tools for Diablo 3, does Blizzard condone D3 mods?
There’s no direct intent to say that we don’t want D3 to be moddable. And, to be honest with you, the technology itself, on just a fundamental level, makes this the most moddable version of Diablo there’s ever been.
However, we have these other goals that supersede modding; we want to provide a safe and secure experience for players to play in and trade items in, and in order to do that, we had to make the game online play only. Once we made that decision, that effectively eliminated the possibility of having moddable games, since you’re going to have to connect to our service in order to play. So that’s a slight consequence of our online-only decision.
I’ll say that there’s never really been an intention with past Diablo games to make them moddable, either; it’s just that people found a way to make it happen. It’s not necessarily something we went out of our way to support.
GF: Hacked private servers were created for World of Warcraft; odds are there will eventually be a modded server or a way to play Diablo 3 without b.net, at which point people will be able to make mods. Would blizzard support such actions?
I think people will have a very difficult time doing that. I don’t think we’d be in a position where we can support that sort of endeavor, because it really falls outside of our development focus, which really is to provide this secure and high-quality experience that really demands an online-only game experience.