Blizzard Continues to Carefully Tinker With Diablo III

The devil is in the Diablo details.

While there is plenty of work being done on the look and feel of Blizzard's upcoming Diablo III, often when the creators talk about the game its to discuss the little things.

There's a reason for that, Blizzard doesn't just want to win over a entirely new generation of gamers with their action title, they also want to keep their hardcore, well-established, and rather large existing fan base.

So this week in Germany, Blizzard's discussions about the upcoming game weren't about major new gameplay elements or new character classes you can play, they were instead about things like how inventory will work and collecting matching sets of armor.

Matching sets were a big deal in Diablo II, and they'll remain a big deal in Diablo III, but the team is doing their best to make sure that people use them more often this time around.

The problem with the sets in the second game was that it often took so long to find all of the pieces needed to complete a full set of armor that by the time you did your character was so far advanced that they didn't want to use the set anymore, said Diablo III game director Jay Wilson.

"They were pretty difficult to make use of, " he said. "The reason they are in design right now is that we want to solve that problem, but not necessarily by making them easier to find."

The team is playing around with several solutions including making the less valuable armor more prolific in the lower levels or bunching all of the sets at the end of the game, and not early on at all.

"There are a bunch of different ways we can handle it," he said.

The game's inventory system is also being tweaked.

In Diablo II players spent an inordinate amount of time trying to wedge all of their items onto their character sheet, a process that at times felt like playing Tetris.

But Wilson said the team didn't want to completely get rid of their inventory system.

"The new system is at a halfway point between where Diablo II was and other inventory systems are," he said.

While items won't each fit into single boxes neatly, they also will no longer take up different number of boxes in odd shapes.

"We tried a one-to-one system with weapons and armor, but it didn't feel as solid and real when they were representing by a small icon," Wilson said. "So we created two sizes: A larger one and smaller one.

"There will be no odd shapes."

The team is also working on a new crafting system that will allow players to salvage items they no longer want without being forced to go into town to do it.

When you salvage an item you break it down to elements, but the elements are what Wilson described as "fantastical", things that sound magic and can be used to craft other special items.

If a player wants to get gold for their items while in the field they can just use a "scroll of wealth," he added.

Everything that Blizzard is doing with their game is aimed at bringing in a larger, more connected audience.

Most players went through played Diablo II on their own, Wilson pointed out.

"Our greatest victory would be if people play Diablo III with strangers all of the time," he said. "If that happens it will be a much greater game."

In the end, though, Wilson said their goal is to make a game that feels a lot like the first two games.