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Diablo 3 Postmortem by Jay Wilson @ GDC 2013

Posted 5 Feb 2013 by

GamsSutra newsed up some of the interesting panels planned for the GDC 2012 conference (coming in March) and there’s one that’s relevant to our interests: a Diablo 3 postmortem by Jay Wilson.

Shout at the Devil: The Making of Diablo III
Speaker/s: Jay Wilson (Blizzard Entertainment, Inc)
Day / Time / Location: TBD
Track / Duration / Format / Audience Level: Design / 60-Minute / Lecture / All
GDC Vault Recording: TBD

Description: When building any game, but especially when it’s a sequel to the beloved Diablo series, it’s critical that you have a series of core design goals, or pillars, that you can use as a guide to making decisions and defining what you want the final vision of the game to accomplish. In this postmortem, we’ll explore the pillars that guided Diablo III’s development and how well we felt we accomplished each of them. We’ll focus specifically on the ones we feel we struggled with and the game design lessons we learned during those struggles. Examples of specific challenges of living up to these values will be provided, prioritizing them against one another, and evaluating how well they were accomplished after Diablo III was released.

Takeaway: Attendees will receive insight into the value of defining the core design elements that will drive their game development. In addition, they will learn the importance of measuring their game against those values, and using that knowledge to iterate on the final product, both pre- and post-release.

Intended Audience: This talk is intended for a general audience, including those who are interested in game design as well as project leadership. Project leads of all levels will also gain the benefits of good lessons learned on driving and iterating a game’s vision. The intention is for the talk to be general enough that specific knowledge of the Diablo series is not necessary, but such knowledge will be beneficial.

The summary lists core design goals/pillars, which sounds like Jay’s going to revisit the “Seven Design Pillars” of Diablo 3 that we resurrected in a post last week. It’ll be interesting to hear how he thinks the game lived up to those; you guys were fairly scathing about them in our recent post, and not just the usual handful of vocal haters in the comments. I posted a vote with options for all 7, and as of now 5 of the pillars are crumbling badly, with just 2 of them, “Approachability” and “Powerful Heroes,” above 50%, and “Great Item Game” reduced to a heap of rubble at 6%.

In light of that fan appraisal, I’m very curious to hear how Jay describes things. In postmortems developers can defend aspects of the game they feel were under-appreciated, and they can also be quite self-critical. For instance, Erich Schaefer’s Diablo 2 postmortem from October 2000 was, and remains, a fascinating read.

Here’s the vote from the Seven Design Pillars post, with the current totals. Voting remains open, so if you didn’t get in before, go ahead. Click for every pillar you feel the game handled well.

D3's Design Pillars. Vote for as many as you think were done well.

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Tagged As: | Categories: Jay Wilson, Media Coverage, Other Events