“Online-only best long-term decision” for D3: Morhaime

Thursday, 19 July 2012 13:47 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime has addressed issues and upcoming changes to Dibalo III over on Battle.net, and amidst thanking the fans for their support and patting his team on the back for the job it has done, he also admitted there were things still to be worked on when it comes to gameplay, and community feedback.


In the community letter,
Morhaime discussed the many “challenges” the team faced when going from having “0 to more than 6 million players across multiple continents within a few days with a brand-new game.”

“For Diablo III, we looked at historical sales for Blizzard games and other top-selling PC games and watched preorder numbers,” he said. “We even upped our estimates to ensure we had additional capacity, or so we thought. In the end, it just wasn’t enough, and that is something we will work hard to conquer for future releases.

“In response to the immediate and overwhelming demand for the game, the team worked around the clock to support all regions, increase capacity, ship additional hardware to our datacenters, and troubleshoot and fix bugs as they sprang up. While things have by and large been running smoothly for several weeks now, various game-related issues have come up that we have either already responded to or are continuing to investigate (such as the latency issue some of you are experiencing) and make adjustments for.

“Rather than address every subject individually, I’ll just say that even as we work to address or resolve current issues, it’s always possible that further issues will crop up. We will continue to keep that commitment [to fixing issues] and respond to any new or outstanding issues quickly.”

Morhaime said the team knows the game “isn’t perfect,” but it’s working hard to “improve the game balance, build on our design, and listen to what players are saying to make it the best game it can be.”

“You’ll see additional improvements with patch 1.0.4,” he said. “On the game balance front, this update will contain changes designed to further deliver on the team’s goal of promoting “build diversity,” with buffs to many rarely used, underpowered class abilities.

“Another topic we’ve seen actively discussed is the fact that better, more distinct Legendary items are needed. We agree. Patch 1.0.4 will also include new and improved Legendary items that are more interesting, more powerful, and more epic in ways you probably won’t be expecting.

“We’re also working on a number of interface updates, including social improvements that will allow players to more easily view their friends’ achievements, more quickly join games, and more efficiently communicate with each other. In addition, we’ll be making updates to the auction house in the future to provide players with better information through tooltips and notices, offer improved search functionality, and more.”

Morhaime also touched on Diablo III’s “always-connected experience,” and said the current perception of it, is it’s an “online requirement [that's] nothing but an ineffective form of copy protection that has already been cracked.”

“While we’ve never said that this requirement guarantees that there will be no cheating or game cracks, it does help us battle those problems (we have not found any fully functional cracks). More important to us is that the online requirement is critical for the long-term integrity of the game experience,” he explained.

“I fully understand the desire to play Diablo III offline; however, Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design. The effectiveness of the online elements — including the friends list and cross-game communication; co-op matchmaking; persistent characters that you can use by yourself, with others, and in PvP; and some of our customer support, service, and security components — is tied directly to the online nature of the game.

“These and other online-enabled features are essential to our design for Diablo III. That said, there are still improvements we believe we can make to expand the online experience and make co-op play even more rewarding, and this will remain one of our priorities moving forward. Overall, while there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game.”

Through the link, Morhaime also discusses the real-money Auction House, patch 1.1, the PvP update, and said a system for max-level, high-powered characters is in the works to keep them playing.

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