'Diablo 3' lead designer addresses flaws with difficulty, Auction House, and item drops

Diablo 3 lead designer reveals future plans for game difficulty, item drops and more changes coming in future patches.

A day after the release of Diablo 3's game-changing update, version 1.0.4, lead designer Jay Wilson has addressed ongoing player concerns about the game, revealing future update plans that include player-adjusted monster difficulty, further end-game tweaks, and the next major patch.

Wilson's update on Diablo 3's ongoing design starts as a formal apology to former Blizzard North designer David Brevik, who worked on the first two Diablo titles and recently criticized the third in an interview. Wilson, who says he reacted in a "harsh way" on Facebook, explains his ire was "expressed out of anger, and in defense of my team and the game." Diablo 3's lead designer goes on to explain his longtime passion for the franchise and his support for the current design team.

"We believe it's a great game," Wilson writes. "But Diablo 3 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."

"Playing Diablo III needs to be a rewarding experience."

Wilson writes that recent changes to loot drops and Legendary items are "a big step in the right direction," but "I'm not convinced that we've gone far enough."

"Out of our concern to make sure that Diablo 3 would have longevity," he writes, "we were overly cautious about how we handled item drops and affixes. If 1.0.4 hasn't fixed that, you can be sure we'll continue to address it."

Addressing the frequently maligned end-game of Diablo 3, Wilson says the development team is "planning more than just PvP for the next major patch" to help engage player interest beyond the item hunt.

Wilson also says the Diablo team is considering adding new difficulty settings to Diablo 3, similar in style to Diablo 2's "players 8" command that ratcheted up difficulty and experience point gain. And the developer continues to look at the game's Auction House.

"The Auction House has also proven to be a big challenge. It adds a lot of power for players to trade and acquire items. Getting a great Monk drop that you can trade for better gear for your Wizard is obviously a great benefit, but it does come with a downside. The Auction House can short circuit the natural pace of item drops, making the game feel less rewarding for some players. This is a problem we recognize. At this point we're not sure of the exact way to fix it, but we're discussing it constantly, and we believe it's a problem we can overcome."

The changes coming to Diablo 3 won't just end there, Wilson promises, saying that Blizzard continues to look at balance, social elements, and item design.

Wilson's full apology and update can be read at the Diablo forums on Battle.net.

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