The tension surrounding Diablo 3 has been palpable ever since its infamous release day. Millions of fans watched the minutes and hours add up as the error messages refused them access to the game they had been waiting over a decade to play. It seemed that at least once a week after release, another problem would crop up, outraging gamers who expected a relatively flawless product from Blizzard.
The Diablo 3 team managed to keep their cool throughout the whole process, but an interview with David Brevik (one of the co-founders of Blizzard and creators of the franchise) finally struck a nerve in Diablo 3 game director Jay Wilson and an unfortunate outburst followed. The Facebook comment took the internet by storm, as if Diablo 3 needed any more controversy. It was only a matter of time before the issue would be resolved.
Last night, Mr. Wilson took the time to post a public apology for his language and the “rash way” he responded to Brevik on the Battle.net forums. Not only has this elicited over 75 pages of replies from Diablo 3 players, but it also might be the most transparent outline for the future of the action RPG anyone from Blizzard has divulged since the game’s release. After expressing that his emotionally-charged Facebook comment was primarily in defense of his hardworking team, he went on to discuss specifically what Brevik found disappointing about the sequel:
“What I said was expressed out of anger, and in defense of my team and the game. People can say what they want about me, but I don’t take lightly when they disparage the commitment and passion of the Diablo III team. Dave is awesome. In Diablo and Diablo II, he made two of the games that have most affected me as a developer. I respect his vision for Diablo, but just like he said in his interview, the Diablo III team must drive a vision for the game that is true to us. We believe in Diablo and have stuck by it through years of hard development to make it a reality. ”
“Regardless of how I’ve done, my team has been more than good enough, and I’m proud of the game we made together. We believe it’s a great game. But Diablo III has flaws. It is not perfect. Sales mean nothing if the game doesn’t live on in all of our hearts, and standing by our games is what Blizzard does. Patch 1.0.4 is a step in the right direction, but we have no illusions that our work is done.”
Of course, work on a massive multiplayer game such as Diablo 3 is never done – patches for Diablo 2 have continued for over a decade after the game’s release – but Jay Wilson does not want to simply patch up a few problems. He wants to keep reinventing the game until the fans feel they got their money’s worth. According to the team, Patch 1.0.4 is the first step in that direction.
The item drops and leveling system might be closer to where players want them, but that is only the beginning of the long term plan to make Diablo 3 “the best Diablo game to date”:
“Many of you have stated that there needs to be more to the game than just the item hunt, and we agree completely. The Paragon system is a step in the right direction, giving meta-progress for your time in the game, but it does little to address the variety of activities you can do while playing. I don’t think there’s a silver-bullet solution to this problem, but I do think we can make this aspect of the game better, and as such we’re planning more than just PvP for the next major patch.”
Some of the other big topics Wilson touches on include the game’s difficulty and how players will have more control in the future, the Auction House’s effect on “the natural pace of item drops,” making rare and champion monsters more fun to fight, and even improving the social elements of the game. Everything could use a minor tweak, a serious reconsideration, or even a complete overhaul.
Regardless of how you feel about the quality of the final product, the developers, artists, directors, programmers, producers, and everyone else involved with Diablo 3 put years of their lives into this game, a game with expectations that never stopped growing after its prequel released in 2000. It is difficult not to take every word Jay Wilson says seriously knowing just how much the reaction to his team’s game matters to him. Hopefully these patches will begin rolling out sooner rather than later, putting to rest any preconceptions that Blizzard is not listening to its fans.
Ranters, do you think Diablo 3 can make a complete turn-around now that the game’s director has laid bare every major problem with the game? Let us know in the comments below.
Follow me on Twitter @JacobSiegal.