Diablo 3 senior game designer Wyatt Cheng, who is now working as the director on the upcoming Diablo Immortal, marked Diablo 3’s tenth anniversary last week (May 15) by fielding questions from fans on Twitter (via PCGamesN).
When asked about Blizzard’s experiments with PvP during the game’s development, he mentioned a three lane multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) map along with an arena with four pillars, and a mode where one player controls a boss fighting against four player-controlled heroes.
According to Cheng, the modes they tested were “super fun,” but only when used with pre-created characters.
Speaking in broad terms here – all of our internal PvP tests using fixed templated characters were super fun up until you could bring in your real character. Fixed characters have ability sets the design creates to be fun first, then the player gets to try and optimize play.
— Wyatt Cheng (@candlesan) May 15, 2022
“All of our internal PvP tests using fixed templated characters were super fun up until you could bring in your real character. Fixed characters have ability sets the design creates to be fun first, then the player gets to try and optimise play.”
As soon as the players’ own characters were involved, the number of variables made it too difficult to ensure the game was fun for everyone.
“With Diablo 3′s wide skills [and] skill runes [and] (later) legendary items it was a monumental task to reconcile having six abilities being fun to play as, and fun to play against. Add in visual noise, mixed expectations of what happens to your gear, and other development priorities.”
As so often happens in game development, resources had to go elsewhere and the PvP modes were eventually dropped.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Blizzard chose to test a MOBA-style mode for Diablo 3, since the genre has its roots in mods for their earlier titles. Warcraft 3 was the home of Defence of the Ancients, the multiplayer map that spawned MOBAs as we know them today. DOTA, in turn, was a follow up to a mod for Starcraft.
PvP modes weren’t the only subject Cheng was quizzed on, as he spoke extensively on tuning the game’s difficulty both before and after release, as well as the highly controversial auction house.