After controversial updates, Diablo 4 devs learned to priori…

season 2 of diablo 4 – Season of Blood – Started in mid-October and still has more than two months to go before it ends. The limited-time Slaughterhouse of Zir and Midwinter Blight event for Season 2 was just announced at BlizzCon 2023, where Diablo franchise general manager Rod Ferguson told how Blizzard is handling the ups and downs of content during its long season. Does the design.

“If it’s a different season every two weeks and you’re dialed to 11 all the time, your eyes will start bleeding,” Ferguson tells . “Seeing a little valley there before going to the next peak can be kind of refreshing and can energize you for the next thing. We want people to keep playing all the way through; We want people to stay there for 12 weeks, and that’s why we have as much content as possible. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t change in the future.”

diablo 4 There’s a full-on live service, and Blizzard doubled down on it at BlizzCon 2023 by revealing those upcoming Season 2 events, teasing Season 3, and announcing the game’s first expansion: vessel of hatred, In the five months since its launch, diablo 4 Worked on a season and a half of post-launch content, events and updates. They have ranged from controversial updates to ultra-flashy updates that players love.

At BlizzCon 2023, spoke with Ferguson and production director Chris Wilson to get their take on what it takes to run a live service of this scale and how it informs development. Diablo 4: Hatred And even its further expansion, which we’ve confirmed, is in active development with a dedicated team.

live service growing pains

diablo 4 It was the biggest launch in Blizzard’s history, but one of its first updates was one of its most controversial. The infamous patch disabled many popular builds and slowed down the leveling process. Ferguson attributes some of those mistakes to the team trying too hard to balance the game perfectly so that “every build is viable,” and no one player or build is too powerful. diablo 4 Live service update started. Now, he says the team has made a “design philosophy change” by becoming less aggressive with updates as Season 2 begins.

Ferguson explained, “We admit that maybe we were a little aggressive in trying to get that balance, but it was coming at the expense of some players’ entertainment.” “In Season 2, we have the same outliers. Ball Lightning is a very powerful build right now that is more powerful than other builds. I think if we had the same philosophy as Season 1, we would have nailed it down pretty quickly. But with Season 2, we’re recognizing that it’s more about entertaining players than trying to get a perfectly balanced game.

In general, Ferguson and Wilson seemed happy with how Season 2 went and that they still have all the material for it. They believe that, combined with better communication with the game’s fan base, is allowing them to be more responsive to players’ expectations and desires rather than blindly trusting an update that players may dislike. Can.

“With Season 1, we were finishing development on that season right before the game came out,” Wilson told . “The game wasn’t out yet, so we didn’t really have a chance to take stock of what players wanted that wasn’t in the game yet, etc. I’m excited that with Season 2, we were able to bring a lot of quality of life improvements and things that players have been asking for.”

Nature is reclaimed and the area in disgrace.
Blizzard Entertainment

All of those learnings are things that the developers will need to keep in mind as they work on not only Season 3, but all 2024 seasons and beyond. vessel of hatred Expansion. Regarding the expansion in particular, Ferguson believes it may appeal more to new players or those more interested in the story than a broader live service. Still, he admits that Blizzard will have to find a way to address all those different types of players simultaneously as the team figures out how seasons and expansions for Diablo will interact.

“Seasons are free, and there aren’t expansions, so you don’t want to get into the mindset of rich and poor and ‘We have this cool thing, but you can’t play because you can’t buy the expansions.'” Ferguson said. There will be seasonal games and expansion games. We want to make sure that people who are playing seasonally and don’t want to play the expansions are okay, and that people who get the expansions have new experiences to gain from it.

building a vessel of hatred

we know that vessel of hatred will take the players to Kurast diablo 2 As Neyrell tries to resist the titular object, with Mephisto trapped within it. It will add a new class to the game and explore the nature themes that people have taken from it. Ferguson was hesitant to make any comparisons vessel of hatredscope of and that Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls When I asked how diablo 4 The size of the expansion compared to this, but emphasized that Blizzard wants “the scope to be such that there’s value there that makes sense that you want to be able to buy it.”

Ferguson says that’s why it comes with a new area and players will be able to take its fully fledged new class and other elements from the expansion back into the main one. diablo 4 game. This is going to be the biggest contribution diablo 4 The live service isn’t live yet – ripe for expansion – but Blizzard is already preparing beyond that. Blizzard teased digital trends during interview diablo 4 On the contrary, many expansions will be found Diablo 3,

Neyreel in Diablo IV: Abomination.
Blizzard Entertainment

vessel of hatred There will be no end to support for the live service, with the season continuing after its launch next year. This sounds overwhelming, but Ferguson provided insight into how the team is structured in “swim lanes” to accommodate this live service growth. Currently there are teams to handle the day-to-day balancing, odd-numbered seasons, even-numbered seasons. vessel of hatredand development of diablo iv Second expansion.

“You can’t build it serially, you have to build it in parallel,” says Ferguson. “The trick for us is that we have the right pipelines and processes, as well as the right team size so that it’s sustainable, so that people aren’t burning the candle at both ends, that we’re able to keep all these workflows running without having to do anything Be pushing very hard. It’s been exciting as we’re getting established in this. It’s the transition from launching to moving forward diablo 4 In live services: to be able to actually fill those five workstreams and make it sustainable.

What comes next for Diablo 4?

Stability and safety in the workplace have been big issues for Blizzard. diablo 4 The original game director was fired in 2021 after reports of workplace harassment at Blizzard, and the company is still dealing with problems like a controversial return-to-office policy. While all of this took place at Blizzard, the Diablo team grew a bit as Vicarious Visions was integrated into the company as Blizzard Albany. That decision was controversial after Vicarious Visions’ excellent work Diablo 2: Resurrected and TOni Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, Wilson, who is from Blizzard Albany, went into more detail about how the integration has gone on Blizzard Albany’s side of things.

“We are fully integrated; The team is supporting every aspect Diablo 4. People in Albany are supporting the various swimming lanes that Rod mentioned. “It’s not just about doing one part of it,” says Wilson. “The Albany team helped do a lot of the [Diablo 2: Resurrected], and that really helped us grow and find our footing in being a part of the Diablo team. It’s a fully integrated, cross-coast team.”

One thing we want to do is listen to feedback on this expansion to help inform expansion two.

So many teams working on so many things diablo 4 In parallel content, there is likely to be some lag in its live service support for the foreseeable future outside of the deliberate quiet stated by Ferguson. vessel of hatred Looks like it will arrive about a year and a half after launch diablo 4And because Blizzard is already working on a second expansion, I asked if there would be an equally long gap between the first and second expansion.

Ferguson was clear that the timing of that second expansion hasn’t been decided yet and, as Blizzard has done with other aspects diablo 4 Post-launch support, it will be very responsive to player feedback.

“I like to say that a lot can happen in game development. And so the notion of trying to make your decision very early on, what is this, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men?’ Because we’re developing in parallel, we have to keep up, but the idea of ​​what exactly that release cadence is going to be is TBD. Expansion one is coming late next year, and then we’ll see. The other part of it is that we’re constantly getting feedback, right? And one of the things we want to be able to do is listen to feedback on this expansion to help inform expansion two. “We don’t want to be so close to each other, so close, that we can’t react to feedback, so that’s another thing to keep in mind.”

diablo 4 Now available for PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Its first expansion, vessel of hatredWill launch in late 2024.

Disclosure: Blizzard Entertainment paid for accommodation so could attend BlizzCon 2023.

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