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Returning to Evil

Gareth Harmer Posted:
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MMORPG.com: Do you think you’ve had to sacrifice a lot to get it onto console?

Mosqueira: Well, if you ask me, we haven’t sacrificed anything to get it on console. It was really important – and this is why we’ve had this staggered development cycle – because we don’t want any of the versions to be compromised in any way. We want to be able to make decisions for the PC version of Reaper of Souls that feel it makes sense and is the right thing to do for that platform. Likewise, we want to be able to make the right decisions for the console version as well. I’m actually really proud of the work the team’s done, some of the challenges we’ve overcome. I still wish some of the inventory system was a little less cumbersome, but to really change that you really need to change the way loot works overall, and that felt like way too much of a diversion from PC.

MMORPG.com: So what’s up next in terms of Diablo on console? Are you looking to bring the two versions closer together?

Mosqueira: One of the things we’re really happy about the next-gen systems, is because of the way their online systems work. We’re going to be able to patch the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Even though we’re still going to do that staggered development, at least initially, so Patch 2.1 should be coming out in a couple of weeks for PC, and a couple of weeks after that for console, at one point in the future we would like to release patches concurrently across all the platforms. But we’ll only do that if we’re confident we’re never compromising or sacrificing the output on either of those platforms.

MMORPG.com: Will we ever get to a point where console players are running alongside PC players, or do you think the platform restrictions will always remain?

Mosqueira: Not even getting into the platform restrictions, because that’s a whole mess where business people get involved, and lawyers, and very scary. Just from a gameplay standpoint, if we’re talking about building on the foundation that is Diablo III, I think one of the big challenges is the control schemes. To make direct control feel as awesome as it does on the console version, we’ve gone in and tweaked most of the skills in the game so that the projectiles move faster, the attack speed’s slower or faster, all those things. Because you really want that tactile feel; when I press the button, I want the magic missile to go flying out. And I want it to go flying out fast because, unlike my PC where I’m always focused on my mouse cursor and not my character, I really notice how slow that projectile is. Because the skill systems are so different, I think in a lot of ways they’re different games.

MMORPG.com: And say there were future expansions of Diablo III, do you expect that release gap to get smaller?

Mosqueira: It all comes down to that guiding principle. Yes, it makes a lot of sense to release on all platforms at the same time, from a player perspective, business perspective, PR perspective, marketing perspective. If we ever feel, in order to achieve that, we need to compromise one or the other, we won’t do that. I think one of the things that distinguishes Blizzard games is that attention to detail – we care about the small, little things that make a world of difference. And again, to say we can’t do that because we’re trying to do this, it just doesn’t feel right. So if we’re ever in the position where we’re thinking about the future and there’s no compromises, then ideally yes. But if there were compromises, then definitely not.

MMORPG.com: Blizzard hasn’t been on console in a long time, and this was their first move back. Not just on one single platform, but simultaneously on all major platforms. Do you think you’ve set the standard on how Blizzard should do that?

Mosqueira: That’s an interesting question, because I don’t think we work that way. It’s not like we say ‘This is how it has to be for everything.’ Look at Hearthstone – it’s PC first, then on to iPad.

We have a game-first and game-centric outlook on things. While other companies might think ‘Here’s all the platforms we want to hit, what kind of game can we do for that?’ Blizzard is more ‘what kind of game are we excited about, and what platforms make sense for it?’ It’s basically a decision by every team on a game by game basis, ‘what are we making, does it make sense, are we excited?’ That was one of the key things about getting Diablo III on console, because yes, they talked about it throughout the development, but it was only when I joined that I said ‘if you’re going to make this happen, we need to have people who are passionate and excited about making this happen,’ so the passion needs to be there.

I guess another way of looking at it is that you’ll never see Blizzard making a port. I know that technically you can consider the console version a port, but it’s not because we really did a lot of specific changes and tweaks, and we really treated it as it’s own release and its own identity. And I think if you were to ask the other game directors, their answers would be very similar: what makes sense for the game.

MMORPG.com: Do you think the console version has brought it to a new legion of fans, or is it just PC owners who want to be able to play in the living room?

Mosqueira: I think it’s both. For PC players, I think it’s that they now have a choice. For example, my wife had never played the PC version, but we actually sit down and play together on the couch. But I do think that there are a legion of new players that have always heard about Diablo, who may not have PCs, or been maybe more on the console side of the spectrum, and now they have a chance to experience the excitement. We like to think that Diablo on console is bringing people together.

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Gareth Harmer

Gareth Harmer / Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.