Procedural design, the effort so far

Community Creations
So while we were working on our engineering console, arranging the various edits in our draft edition, we noticed several things. Not everything is made better by adding procedural math.

Town design was tried on 100% procedural systems, but we found that about 30% was pretty good for most towns, where a comfortable amount of effort is spent on finding stuff, however, some towns might benefit from up to about 70% depending on the theme.

Most things added a lot of interest by identifying the process of rearrangement. We had added routines to making sure that consistency in areas was preserved, so that the original map of Sanctuary was able to be expressed, mostly in its original "spot" but was still able to be explored. So you get the general impression of the original map, but you don't know where any of it is. The landscape shifts, with some unique landmarks along the way. We also added layered and sublayered elements of randomness to the available range, to try and break our routines up, to avoid them from being too samey. It skews a bit to make it feel more abstract. It was very confined without that. It feels very unique and distinct, like a new person is born every time you try a new character file.

We also needed like, way more dialogue. We didn't include directly dialogue options, because the characters don't talk, but the quests change. So having more than 30+ renditions for some of our quests, especially the first ones, was quite common, where we describe the same circumstance in different ways. Later quests only have like 10, or 3 different dialogues, but the initial system needed a lot more padding, because it gets repeated often. It feels very of the moment, and unique.

There is an applicability math system we added to keep the quests linear and sensible, but the game now like, cuts everything together in what looks like no particular order at all. It basically renders you a story as you look at stuff, or are interested in various subjects, and plans and builds routines. The extensions where to make sure that the routines pick up and offload their variables is essential. Any breaks in those routines really lowered the production value, and basically dissipated the immersion.

Another notable mention, not needing to talk to a caravan between cities, so you can fight from one town to the next, and having Acts divided by questline material was a big change. We also discovered that several questlines had towns under seige, by like, Azmodan, and others, where the town basically burns and takes damage, where Azmodan pushes on the town. You do get time to save the town, but there is an offline calendar of like, values where logout has credit before you stop the fight. There was a Bastion's keep where it got invaded for like, weeks, and you'd pretty much need to do a 30 minute quest to keep the act, every day, or you would like, lose. There's another one, where Lut Gholein would come under attack, or maybe Caldeum.

Not all the same quests have acts from the series. Some character files have like 7 acts before you get to Diablo, some have had like 50... usually there are several after. There is probably room for at least 90 acts in any character file if you try and drag your feet. Diablo isn't the ultimate Act, usually. The Sanctum is also in many places, and sometimes, the lava from the river of flame is boiling frozen nitrogen... or helium or something. It's a frozen one. Not all the Sanctums have had a River of Flame first. We did include that for a while. No one wanted to be bored. It became similar to the game called Tyranny on Steam... by Obsidian Entertainment and Paradox Interactive. We didn't source any of our materials there, but it made a big impression.

Another big aspect change we wanted to touch on was that ritual to convert the character files into the service of any active Hell Lord was really huge. The characters turn into various demons and imps and stuff, and you don't get items any more, you get like, horns, and claws and teeth. Also, you don't pay with gold. And there was only one town. The same town. Always with the same town. Its underground, it has a lot of like, hell in it. It looks like a big dead basin. It's way awful. They have missions where they raid the town.... and stuff for the service of their Lord... anyways....

Imperius still cleans up that place every time, one way or another. Sometimes its like Tyreal, too. The Demon town has a really high chance of being invaded by angels. So that's what we did.

There is a different post-questing adventure mode that we added as well, to keep things perky!

Oh yeah, and the experience bar is under attack. Going back to level 1 was possible. Not likely, but possible. The first defeat in softcore doesn't produce experience loss, but the more you die, the more you lose. You can't lose character experience until you have no paragon levels, the paragon acts as a barrier above level 70, so you lose paragon experience first. If you die in hardcore, you lose like half of your character's earned paragon experience. We also didn't add the same gold loss conditions as in D2, you do drop all the gold from your unlimited pockets, but the stash held infinite deposit and lost no gold. We kept that difference active in the repair and durability costs. Oh yeah, and our ethereal items broke on the first defeat. They all shattered, unless they were indestructible.

GG
This is just word salad bro.
It was time to talk more about our findings and efforts.

Mostly, it seemed important to share details about the questlines. For example, when we introduced the routines to play though the Hell Lords, we ran into a problem. We had Ba'al and Belial in the same game, and we got stuck with like, a ceiling of 7 Lords of Hell per character file? This is still unresolved.

When we did our major plot arcs, especially with Azmodan, we wanted to really impress a sense of pressure on the player from the Burning Hells.

So, for a sense of impact, we decided to base our Azmodan (along with the other concepts we used for the quests) on Heros of the Storm. We really like Garden of Terror, and Azmodan hitting towers really wrecked the place. So, firstly, Azmodan is actively attacking Bastion's Keep and his fireball hits the dungeon from time to time. There is no "visage of Azmodan" either. The various Barracks also draw his attention, but Azmodan is actively on the field of battle at the same time as Siegebreaker, rampaging around defeating the guards. Azmodan isn't waiting anywhere. Instead of the current triggers in Act 3, which activate independently when your character arrives, we have a bonded force from Azmodan that moves together which the character needs to stop. The walls will take damage in different places, sometimes there are burning buildings, other times you are guarding a reconstruction effort, sometimes there are supplies to fetch or supply lines to guard, etc. There are loads of quests to complete in the fight to save %CITYNAME%

Our character has no direct contact with Azmodan, we only get reports from the city guards or the Horadrim/Tyreal etc. Further, once Stonefort is cleared, no monsters are able to spawn, and the keywarden Xah'rith was moved. However, he still has a chance to appear there if you haven't already completed the quest. He currently only spawns in a Courtyard near something we called "Temple of the Interred" on the outer reaches of Horrogath after the quest is complete, which is now his default location. As far as the plot and gameplay goes, Westmarch was our favorite place to have an encounter with Azmodan, even if it isn't a default.

Our towns, cities and Capitols are all more populated, and have many guards (who also have a few brave champions) to fight massive hordes of invading forces. The towns themselves can lose their garrisons, population, vendors and NPCs among other valuable assets. If you do lose, you will in order to preserve the Act need to lead new army in. We left a small force outside of town with the mayor as a reclamation effort if you fail. You can pick up from there.

Belial has a different lie which must be solved and has different spell and animation effects to correspond with the conjecture. There is a source you know, for his will and his rule, and it must be undone. Much scouting and listening is done to thwart him. Caldeum went through an overhaul and was vastly expanded, and you can explore many levels and layers. We have an Upper and Lower Caldeum, which is divided into districts and again by direction. Often there are guilds in spires which serve Belial that must be stopped, and the registrar is often consulted. It was also our central trade hub, and affords the cheapest caravan travel to any other city/town. All the Hell Lords have a chance to be lurking in any city, but there is a higher chance of them being where they were originally in the series. So, Belial has a chance to leave Caldeum, and do his bidding wherever he finds root, but you find the same guild and tower designs in whatever other city he is in.

Mephisto has a very different effect, because the Will and the Eye to break the Orb are different each time. Mephisto controls the land, each with its own fane, and may prove difficult to locate. There are many types of "Compelling Orb" which are all unique, with various powers which effect the scenario. The High Council itself has different chambers and sessions as you approach the Durance, and you encounter a few members before long before you reach the Orb. If you DO manage to break the Orb, Mephisto's hatred starts to leak, so Kurast starts to take damage, and its charms weaken. The Durance itself has many forms, which are multiplied by the factoring of the Will, Eye and Orb conditions.

For Diablo, we made sure that before you can start the Act, Terror Demons become more frequent as you approach. We really wanted to capture that moment where the Wanderer dissipates into Flesh Tearers really well. We added them throughout the campaign, intermittently, but within a few quest objectives they become more pressing. For The Pandemonium Fortress and our "outer steppes" which lead to... one of many possibilities, and we have routines to involve the plot to plan the map leading up to this. Usually this encounter is decided between Act 2-7, but you only find it somewhere between act 10-35. There is a foreboding sense of unwelcome and dread as you get closer. The fear Diablo invokes with his presence was all important to the design. The fight is supposed to stay intimidating, every time. This part is probably one of our most iconic fights.

There are also a few acts throughout for Angels like Auriel, as a part of a plot line to rally behind, purify things, or other objectives, to make your life easier or possible.
There were a bunch of other things that came up which really needed to be solidified.

So, we really like Torment, and the way that progression happens. We have kept the same "Dial it up" system, but we have changed the modes from

Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, Torment

to

Normal, Hard, Nightmare, Agony, Torment

We also upped the ratings for Hard, we don't have a 50% increase on Hard, we currently have a 245% , and Torment levels end in a similar 1175% rating each. Also, our droprate is like, tantalizingly low. If you do find something special, it becomes this overwhelming feat and you cherish it, fawning over its attributes regularly. Just pause, and look at the item. Just for the sake of the item. LOOK! The item. Yes, yes now. Right now, just go back to town and behold its greatness. We weren't generous about this at all. So, about every month or two, you find 1 legendary. The current modes are very much set on the edge of the player's capabilities. You might not find any legendary items at all.

Oh yeah, we also did way more art for lower items. We didn't add any new specs, just the same +1-20 Lightning damage attributes, but we felt like seeing more of them. There are like, at least 50 different variances for each of the existing white, blue, yellow item right now. Maybe we should do more. They aren't legendary, but they add a lot of style to the characters as you fight Diablo.

As far as Ethereal items go, because we changed them to expire on death, Indestructible Ethereal items are still immune to damage and do not expire if they have that attribute. The Indestructible attribute trumps both the death and durability rating.

Now, we haven't done anything with Jewels, because even though there were several different conversations about Legendary Jewel designs which were floating around, and, we haven't included them. Nor have we done any Charms again. Jewels are more likely to be included than Charms, and we just don't know about Charms. We might have like, the Annihlus small charm or something. But just a few, to avoid being overburdened.

We couldn't stress the size of the Capitols enough. You can explore the their vast population, and the sprawling layout. We included many non quest related scenes. For example, one city has an open amphitheater, which has regular plays, or forums, or live music. Sometimes there is a parade on in town, or a festival. Those are just NPC events, but they are interesting. There are many civil systems which are all included, like the %CITYNAME% Hospital and %CITYNAME% Market. Now, I said market, but that's only for NPC vendors. Most towns, even if they aren't a Capitol, have a %CITYNAME% Infirmary.

We took a different approach to the old City of the Damned, so, we find several different constructions, like City of Terror, and we don't just have Plains of Despair, we have a similar routine based term which draws on the questline as its basis.

Our new spell/skill Articulator was called into question, because of how spells/skills differ. There is a way to develop something to separate their terms, because when you check, most classes have both Skills and Spells. For example, Barbarian, who mostly has skills, we think that Warcry is a spell, and that Cleave is a skill. Essentially, you will have to visit one or the other in the event that the Articulator is divided, as only the respective enhancement device will apply changes to the sigil (currently known as rune). Yes, you still have to visit the standing stones if you change your sigil, it does not effect the active sigil. Yes, sigils apply to both skills and spells.

We already have a name for the other half of the Spell Articulator and the Skill *enhancer* but let's leave it where it is now. The Articulator is really easy to draw, and looks really good, and if we divide the Articulator into two systems, we will have to keep the other one. After designing it, we removed the asset from the map because it looks awkward and no one wants to look at it. Especially the animation we have right now when your character comes out of it. So MAYBE we can keep it whole, inside the Articulator.
Really important detail in our storyline we didn't mention: Izual isn't always something you fight in the Act where you defeat Diablo. You can now also encounter Izual's corpse in many different locations, with various scenarios. The Izual quest still happens just before you see Diablo. Izual is not exclusively the only enemy, and you can find other scenes in the quest. There are many other routines which can run as well. It really depends on how/when you got there. For example, we have one where you are lead by Izual and he betrays you on the quest, where he starts out as your ally. He starts out as neutral and then casts a channeling spell, and then you fight. He can both absorb damage from the channeling or be weakened by it, until he reveals himself, and the channeling has a chance to buff his minions.

The fight with Izual was also possible to be replaced by like, something that could be described as a Phearytch, among other forces. There's a completely different kind of battle for the same process. Its definitely possible to get ahead of him and be hit by something else in its place.

Oh, and the Butcher isn't the end of Act 1 anymore, that's factored somewhere else. That's still a part of things, but that part of the story swung wide. We have something else at the end of Act 1 but this changes from story to story. We introduced a bunch of variables where there are forks in the story, so you don't always know.

And that quest that you can complete to convert your character file into the service of a Hell Lord? You really don't want to do one of them. It kills your character, that becomes a PERMANENT change and you won't feel the same after. Now, this process isn't something that happens by surprise, and you can still back out up until the last minute. Until you complete the binding of the ritual, you can still escape. Activating any of them permanently becomes seen in something we called the Hall of Demons, which doesn't open until you decide to undertake the change. There isn't any shared gold/stash/paragon/etc, and you kind of lose touch with the rest of your heroes. It's much more than just cosmetic. Also at some point Heaven just keeps erupting at you, and Heaven just hits harder and harder and harder. And you lose.

Our adventure mode after you beat Agony is different. We don't have Kadala, there are different vendors, mostly they're outside of town or with a traveling caravan if you want to make a deal. There is also a different taste in the lighting, especially after the art changes that happen through Agony.

There's like, thousands of new NPC vendors.

We didn't really produce any new stats for items. We did make Ancient/Primal Legendary Ethereal possible, but that's pretty much it. So far we think Reaper of Souls has done an absolutely incredible job doing up new sets and legendary items and we think that there's been an amazing effort to make some truly epic gear.

Oh, and the Ethereal repair we explored costs a whole lot more. You need to salvage between 50-80 fully undamaged Ethereal items to exchange their durability to fully repair through the reagent. Ethereal is rare, too. Also, you could lose these at basically any time. They vanish like nothing else.

Another thing we had changed was the number of sockets available. We also in addition to including the possibilities of 8 socket swords, polearms, axes, staves, etc expanded into 8 socket chestpieces, so we can fully expand on the new runewords we learned. Now, we did only get a basis to design 2 of these 8 socket behemoths, and they're pretty rare. Basically, the chestpiece extends over the legs a bit. The runes, especially the Greater runes, are really something else, and it has been really exciting to get to work with them.

Mostly, the odds roll in on a 3 socket grey item and you are looking for an attainable runeword. By in large, you find yourself juggling runes. So often you get dealt 2 pairs or 4 of a kind and its just, whatever it is. They come and go in the trade system. The best part is usually when you can start to upgrade the grey/white item because those are reliable stats.

Further to this, at least so far, we haven't needed to effect the current size of the stats from Marquise and Imperial gems, but we did lower the drop rate of gems. So we kept the same ceiling, but put it further out of reach.

INFINITE STASH SPACE! VERY EXPENSIVE BEYOND 40 TABS! We have hierarchical "chapters" to advance the ability to sort, and you can name/rename the tabs themselves. We also added some new design to the stash, so if you want a tab for amulets and rings, we replaced the wood looking interior with what looks like a felt clamshell, and other stuff like that. We also made something of a display tab, which allows you to look at a stash tab for just one item. So it features the art differently. Those cost less, but you can only have one item on the page. No limit on either.
Okay, so we did revert to having Normal>Hard>Nightmare>Agony>Torment being completed on mode to mode basis, and you can't just skip modes. However, you can scale Torment up and down as fast as you like, as soon as you get there. So, you don't have to beat Torment to unlock the adventure mode, it's just there once you get through Agony.

Each character file only derives one questline, and once you complete the story, that story is the only story the character has. Once you have established which quests happen, the character is complete. However, on subsequent modes and in replay, like from Normal>Hard, the dialogue remains procedural, and as you play from Normal>Torment you probably won't hear the story told the same twice. You replay through the same events. It is possible to go back and play though the story again if you want, and there is an expanded quest journal that keeps notes to revisit what happened if anything seems confusing.

The reason we kept the story mode out of Torment was to add a few "item oriented" missions that you can go on each time you grind through the map. So you only encounter the Adventure Mode missions and quests in that mode.

Another thing, all the transport between cities on caravans or ships is all free for quest related objectives. If something is out of the way, there is a nominal gold cost for going. It is also possible to "walk" between the cities now, so you can just like, fight your way there, and just walk right into town. The there are signposts every now and then, to point out how far you are. Unless there is water, you need to find someone to sail between coastal locations.
Whimsydale didn't make the cut. The Rainbow sword became a legacy item as well as the transmogrification. The Staff of Herding now only reacts to the Bovine Bardiche.
So a bit more detail on what Agony is like:

You constantly burn and take damage over time. Agony lowers your armor and resistances, and you must regenerate or drink potions regularly to survive. A red haze descends over Sanctuary, and swirling red/black clouds loom on the edge of your field of vision as you suffer through the mode. Small to medium red and black dots leak out of the ground, and they can collect on your character to deal damage. The sunlight is weak, and almost everything is in shadow. There isn't really any time to stop, and you need to complete Agony as quickly as you can. All the Timed Events are shorter, and require a bigger effort.

Agony has a lower item drop rate than Nightmare, even though it has a higher difficulty rating, and the item durability, which now has mostly between 500/500 to 900/900, will take additional wear and now wears out faster.

As an aside, the current rate for dying causes a 23.33% loss of durability, on all modes between Normal>Torment.

Basically, you have to grind Nightmare until you can take on Agony with an all in, raised stakes push towards Torment.

Torment still has incredible rewards, and the new Adventure Mode is just as exciting, if not more so. Torment also has a certain "crispness" to it.

The lighting between modes is also different. Normal has a pleasant glowing saturation rate to bring out all the colors more vividly, and Hard just has what we would expect as the "Reality Mode" where you find everything basically as it should be. It looks washed out and rugged. Nightmare has stronger shadows, but only Agony has different environmental art effects, with red and black fog and smokes swirling uncontrollably. Wind effects are at their maximum here, and you feel blown about. Torment takes on its own look as well, but it feels very evoked and focused. It might look a bit "dry" and it lends a stronger attention to the finer details of the equipment.

Also, the lighting changes in and out of town are mostly different. We see a stronger effect the higher the mode both in and out of town. So, that warm saturation in Normal is a little cooler outside of town, to preserve the character it inspires. This relationship can be found on all modes, except for Torment, where the same lighting effects are shared equally both in and out of town exactly the same.
A couple more things we went over about the converted character files.

Your character speaks against turning to the service the Hell Lord as you proceed further with the ritual, and they accept nothing of what you become. There's a bunch of dissuasive dialogue and protest from the Ancients like: "I really should be going" or "That's enough, now" to "This goes too far!" and "We can't help them with this!" The Ancients themselves never speak in favor of completing the ritual.

The Hell Lord servant characters have no access to waypoints, as the Horadrim had worked them, and you can't touch the shrines, either. These are still invulnerable.

So the story starts something like that you start to attack the Cottages in the wilderness and ruin Wells, among other misdeeds before you try to open a lead on town. There are also desecrate events, that lets you try to tear down icons outside of the human towns. If you take fatal damage fighting the guards you revive by passing through an Infernal Gateway in the Demon Town.

The attack on the town is an indirect ploy, where you try to start a foothold by installing a Cursed Blight on the outskirts of town, to make it easier to lure passerbys. Completing this starts your next Act, and this usually is where you try to establish a new Lair to serve your Hell Lord, and you make preparations to lure people into it. Once you finish the first Lair, and you're planning a newer and larger one to serve a greater design, this is where either Imperius shows up or a human army finds out or a band of mercenaries is hired, because the townsfolk start talking and you have a bounty on you. You have to retreat back to the Demon town, and they chase you, and shut the effort. Imperius usually shows up to purify the Demon town, which is underground and has a series of tunnels leading to the surface.

There is also a Sanitarium episode after if you try to come back to play the Ancients again. If you try to load your old character files, the Ancients, the game loads instead an instance as an unarmed civilian, and you are stuck inside the Sanitarium. You can't get out of it and there are people who will talk to you, and you have to complete a quest to get back to your normal characters. Basically you just walk between rooms and you wait for people to talk. The service in the Sanitarium ends when you are asked to wait. There is a timer on waiting, when eventually an attendant ushers you back into the service of the Ancients, but there is no game clock. So you wait a while, but you don't know how long you have to wait for. Somewhere between 5 minutes to over an hour. When the attendant arrives, they don't wait long for you to complete the quest, and there is a game timer on this, a visible one, so you can't just AFK the quest. You're back at character selection if you don't respond, and you have to start over if you want to rejoin the Ancients. Your civilian shares the same gender as your original character file. Allegedly, further on, there is supposed to be a Prison in place of the Sanitarium, where instead you await an Executioner, or the gallows or something, but we never made it this far.

If you lose the fight during the quest from the Demon Town being shut, your Demon wakes up in a bog. You can still roam around with your character, but there aren't any quests. You are unable to regain the service with the Hell Lord, and you just basically attack caravans. You can't really go back to the Heroes without checking in to the Sanitarium. They need to make an exam before you can be reintroduced to the Ancients. It makes you wait in game and some people come and talk to you. There is supposed to be a way to find an Exorcist in the Sanitarium as well who offers a shortcut, if you look for them, and that also lets you through. The Exorcist isn't available in the Prison.

We didn't find any of the soothsayers who initiate you to change your character file until you get into Nightmare mode. The soothsayers themselves do not know where the Hell Lords are. You are able, by a ritual, to sacrifice yourself into the service of a chosen Hell Lord. This is made at an Unforgiving Altar. It is essential to gather the necessary materials and ingredients to complete the ritual. These rituals aren't committed in the presence of the Hell Lords themselves. They are unable to trust you. Since the soothsayers aren't around in Normal/Hard, this is pinned as eligible to start between level 37-45. You start over as a new Level 1... whatever it is. You also lost any gold in your Pocket on hand, and any items in your Backpack from when you were human.

For the characters from the Hall of Demons, Town Portal isn't the same anymore. There is a red portal you can go through, and it isn't the same blue one. Instead of dropping as "Unidentified" for the various horns and teeth you find, you instead find "Bemused" items. To "Identify" the "Bemused" items, you "Trifle" with them, instead of "Identify." There is no version of a stash provision there. There is no gold, but there is another form of currency.

Also, the quest objectives from the Hall of Demons characters have different sounds. So when you complete a quest, or start a new quest, they have entirely different animations and sound effects. Same with the level up, and everything else.

Our load state doesn't have any more pathing after those few Acts and there wasn't a way to append any more quest data. When Imperius shows up there was nothing left to follow.
Another detail we skipped about Agony, is that the drop rate is way, way, way down. Assuming a certain questline, between Act I and Act XXXVII it can be expected in Agony to find a total of 12 items. In total. There was also some gold, but it is also really, really low.

Quests expire if you don't complete them in Agony. So you can't just finish half of Act VII or get to Act XXV and then retreat and retain your progress. There is currently a 3 day window between your last completed quest and when it starts to take back credit. You don't lose ALL your progress the first day, but it starts to push you back to Nightmare. If you need to fill up on gold, or get new stronger items from Nightmare, you don't have much time. So, if you can survive, you really have to be at the top of your game to power through. The experience loss rate has stayed the same throughout all modes.

We have a barrier on the first death for each time you join a new game right now. This doesn't protect protect Ethereal items, durability or Pocket gold, but you get to retain your experience. Creating a new game will refresh the barrier, but you will lose the gold you dropped dying. The barrier doesn't apply to Hardcore, which just immediately rips out Paragon levels.

More about the Runes, they are divided into three groups. The Lesser Runes (200) start to drop between Hard and Nightmare, and the Runes (600) and Greater Runes (50) all can be found exclusively in Torment. No Runes drop in Agony.

A little more about the smoke and fog that descends on Sanctuary in Agony. We have the smoke as a black, and the fog is in a red. The fog is essentially a low lying thunder cloud that flashes bolts and forks of black lightning at you. The red fog develops an inner, black glow as it charges up lightning, but it can easily be mistaken for the smoke. The lightning doesn't do very much damage itself, but it has a 0.075 second stun if it hits you, and it does extra damage based on how many of those black and red dots are clinging to you, also increasing the stun duration. The whole screen turns a black/grey for an instant when lightning flashes, and there is a peal of thunder. Agony has the smoke and fog effect populating the entire map. The smoke writhes in and out of the fog, and burns off the edges of the fog as you clear it. Your character can never actually touch either, as the fog and smoke rotate and whirl independently of each other around you. Even though the fog has a momentum, you are able to catch up to it, and it disperses. The smoke has separate speed, which is much faster. There are periods where there is fog and smoke, and smoke, but never just fog by itself. The environmental effects are more encroaching during boss fights. Right now, both operate according to different controls, and the smoke whips around carelessly, and the fog is kind of brooding. For indoor sections of the map, the fog only appears in tufts and in corners. Indoors, the smoke is still encircling, but it is thicker and the red and black dots have a higher chance to be larger. In town, the swirling fog and smoke is distant and it is almost calm. There aren't any lightning strikes in town, but you might see a flash or two of the lightning with the sound effects. None of the environmental effects from Agony do damage in town, but the visual effects are still present, even if scaled back.

There are also more details about those red/black dots that leak from the ground. They start attaching themselves to your feet and hands, which spreads up to your neck where eventually they build up enough to lock up. That buildup is on skin, not overtop of your armor itself, so depending on what you're wearing, you might not see them. When they go off, they deliver a 0.125 second stun, and it further reduces armor and resistances for 5 seconds. It also does a nominal amount of damage when it goes off, but its basically unnoticeable. The dots that leak up out of the ground are avoidable, but if you charge in too fast, you can't really survive. They do buffer beyond the trigger to detonate, and their status stacks on itself, so if you jump into a big cluster of them, they might burn you out. You might take, say, 25 seconds of lowered resists and armor reduction. The damage over time, lowered resistances and armor reduction are all constant effects that are always active outside town in Agony.

We also added many new traps, and scaled the damage from the traps to all modes, so the traps in normal deal a proportional amount of damage in Normal up into Nightmare or Torment VII. We also added in some of the traps from Diablo 2 as well as adding several new ones. We have added a deadly gas chamber floor trap that releases high pressure gas which seals the room once activated. There is another wall trap behind a false panel which rotates out a skull with glowing eyes. This causes Petrify, an effect that does damage and burns resources like Fury, Arcane, Spirit etc for several seconds. The Petrify does less damage if you still have resource. We also added another wall trap which swings a Giant Axe. There was is another addition, a Giant swinging Mace that hangs down from the ceiling that sweeps across entire corridors. There are also pressurized wall slots that launch projectiles (mostly arrows/spears), incendiary floor panels, a recessed throwing axe launcher, and others. All the traps take damage if you hit them, some of them can be suppressed once they activate before they go off, and they're all high damage low health. Some of the hidden wall traps only take damage when they are exposed and need to be baited. Certain traps are only found in certain zones, and almost all the procedural routines for indoor environments have traps drawn in them. We didn't do many outdoor traps. Most of the traps are found in buildings, like crypts, libraries, garrisons, etc. There was also a boss fight where a Guildmaster escapes by triggering a flood, and you have to escape a flooding maze on a timer. It is one of the Caldeum quests. You fight him later, but he's very weak. Its one of several Superunique traps we invented doing the story, they aren't anywhere else.

We also edited a lot more scenes to be similar to the Iskatu fight, where an overwhelming number of enemies appear, so you fight hordes of incredible and immense size. We also added tons of new scenes where monsters crawl up and down walls to fight.

We worked the Well back in. The Well is now drawn with a bucket on a rope, with a hand crank, and the bucket delivers the water. The crank does not work. There is water in the bucket when the Well is full. The bucket descends the Well once it is used. It comes back on its own after a time. No returns for energy from using the Well. We are also trying to rework the Health Globes because even though the mechanic is strong, they get in the way a bit and their animation crowds the map. We are still working on a way to balance the math into something else so that gameplay stays fluid. To do so, the "Health Globe Pickup" skills and passives all need to be reworked, as well as the "Health from health globes" attribute being converted into "Spree rating". We thought about taking returns from Sprees instead, so we take the Health Globes concept and make something about achieving sprees instead. There are lots of functions to produce about this, like accumulation based on the duration of a spree, or the size, with triggers for active and post spree returns/buffs/bonuses. Some of the Health Globe functions can also be bound to potion use. So instead of Health Globes, we would have to face new hordes of monsters to start another Spree. There is a whole lot of math to check while preserving spell versatility. We did want to keep the Nephalem Globes, so we redid the art to make them look more compact and cutting edge. We also increased the stack size of potions, and changed their drop rate. Bottomless potions are still bottomless, but may require a buff for their healing.

Another note, we don't have basically any Vector math in our project files, we made sure that all our variables and arrays are List driven so our performance is really high. We have kept our list values at ~800 before we start new ones. We mapped larger lists together in series by calling lists of lists, to avoid vector processes. This software is really responsive even with all the new content.
To illustrate the fog in Agony, it looks something like this:

https://i.imgur.com/kfDk2IC.jpg

It's completely opaque, thick and heavy, and it is completely obstructive.

The actual art itself from the software draws the fog in a dark, deep burgundy red. We have done a bunch of versions of the animations so far. There have been inner and outer glow effects to show off the lightning because the dark colors hide the lightning too much on their own.

Now, we don't have any smoke going on here as a secondary effect, but that's essentially the style we're going for.

There are a few other weather effects we have as well, like a tumbleweed and sandstorms that happen from time to time in the desert tilesets. There is also snow near Arreat, and rain occasionally elsewhere. None of the weather is static, it is derived from an array function.
So the bucket animation needed to change in multiplayer. When the bucket goes back down the well, that's something that happens on single player maps.
The bucket now disappears in multiplayer when you activate the well, so when there are other players in the game, there is a different animation of the bucket.

The spree math is looking really good and the attribute has its own name now.

There were some questions about how the difficulties of the modes are. So far it looks like this:

Normal 0%
Hard 265%
Nightmare 335%
Agony 980%
Torment 1125%

We designed the game to be commonplace as essentially over on Normal. You get to the credits screen, great! But, what happens now? How does the gear grind work? The aftermath is very appealing, and we wanted a highly structured system that locks out the upper range from beginners and retains the value of rewards such that they are well worth their effort. We also wanted to prevent item dilution and saturation so that items are incredible, and we wanted to make the experience as replayable as possible.

In this, even white and grey items have enough value to be RMAH material. Now, we don't have it named RMAH, it is called TO as Trading Outpost, an in game exchange, not a splash screen menu, where characters must walk the map to find the access outside town. There are dozens of locations. It is close to a waypoint. There is a web viewer for items on the TO right now. No purchase without attendance in game. It is a web viewer. Viewing only.

We are essentially expecting that almost everyone will be able to eventually get into Torment past Agony, by waiting and gearing up appropriately. Once Agony is complete, Torment is permanently unlocked. There are no Act based quests in Torment, it is an immediate mode system that allows the player to dial up difficulty and abilities, based only on the player. Agony is the last of the Act arc, and Torment has an entirely independent system of quests and rewards.

There is something else, that after beating out Agony, it is likely to be grinding back down in Nightmare again. Being too rash or dying too much will force players back down to lower modes. Experience loss, durability, and everything else takes a severe toll.

Even after completing Agony, returning to Normal is possible. Returning to level 1 is possible. Losing all Paragon is possible. Losing all gold is possible.

Multiplayer games now have flags, with Hostile as possible if you list the game in PvP. Our current load and service includes up to 16 players in 1 game, and games can be flagged for either PvP or PvE. Most games are still item/ability restricted to as being 4-6 max. Being able to make it to 16 player games is an accomplishment. We had to restructure the current resurrection system, there is no revive at corpse for full health.

We also introduced a mooch/powerlevel limit, where the extra players in the game do not *exactly* match the increased difficulty in monsters from level requirements. This weighs heavier on the players. Punishment for death is extreme, and it has become insensible to powerlevel as it adds too much risk. There is a possibility of being beyond this challenge, but that has become rare or nonexistent. The upper limit is really, really elite.

Join the Conversation

Return to Forum