Recent Features

The State of the Monk: Additional follower or future OP class?

state of the monk in diablo 3It’s no surprise that the Monk class has been in need of some love pre 2.1. However with the second iteration of the patch on the PTR that need has not yet been abided. People are still clamoring for more sweeping changes(pun intended).

I was a heavy Monk user pre ROS and took a break with the xpac to delve into my first love(WD) and my new fling(crusader). I returned to the Monk only a few weeks ago and what I found was a shell of what I had left. After suffering for a long time as a WD it was nice when they finally rose to prominence. After a while on the top I wanted a new challenge and set my sights back on my monk, however even this challenge seems to daunting then all that time as a struggling WD. Diablo Forum MVP Druin put together an eloquent look at the myriad issues facing the class:


Hello everyone!

I am back from vacation and I am looking to write up a concise review of where we stand in 2.1.

My plan is to give a quick overview of our major issues then discuss the 2.1 changes and how they affect the various facets of our class.

I will be using this thread to fine-tune what we want to communicate to the devs and then I will make a major “state of monks in 2.1″ thread on the PTR forums to attempt to get some help for our lovely class! :D

1. Current Monk Issues

Damage

This is really at the forefront of the monk issues.

Since the release of RoS, monks have been having a tough time with DPS. We have a very limited range of options mostly centering around the skill Exploding Palm. (Un)fortunately EP is being changed as it breaks greater rifts (along with Rimeheart and Furnace) so our only source of widely competitive damage is going away. This leaves monks in a pretty bad spot.

Our spenders do very little damage (I mean VERY little) relative to their cost and our generators are used more as proc-vehicles for Odyn Son, Thunderfury, Shard of Hate and Rime/Furnace more than as sources of damage themselves. This leaves us with our 6pc Raiment of 1000 Storms which makes DS proc a 3000% weapon damage attack on cast. 3000% damage is a lot and it scales with lightning damage gear but DS has a flat-immutable 6 second cooldown. This can be mitigated to some extent by using Jawbreaker to give “free” dashing strike charges but that interaction is quite clunky.

Basically, monks will be forced into a clunky, hard-to-use situationally terrible Storm-breaker set in order to compete with other classes in damage. If they don’t want to use this mechanic, they will do very poor damage.

Durability

Next on the list is our ability to survive. This is a more controversial topic with some finding survival to be quite easy and many others finding it to be quite hard. In 2.1 with the change from dex giving dodge to dex giving armor and the change from OWE to Harmony, many monks who had minor synergy with OWE will see a minor tankiness boost. (my Raiment set for example)
On the other hand, monk who are deeply invested into OWE will see a major tankiness loss. (my Shatter-palm set). In either case, both types of monks probably have a lot of trouble living in T6 without 2x Unity or the constant dashing from Storm-breaker. Why is this? Because monks have to face-tank so much stuff.

Our primary source of resource generation comes from skills that require you to be up-close and personal with mobs which means a lot of damage can’t be avoided. To compensate for this, end-game monks are forced to take defensive passives (Harmony) defensive skills (Epiphany-shroud / Serenity / Inner Sanc / Blinding Flash) and CDR in basically every single spec. This is extremely limiting to the monk playstyle though arguably less of a problem than the DPS as the defensive skill/CDR solution does exist.

Additionally, sustain is nearly non-existent. LoH requires primary affixes which takes away from our already terrible DPS, LPS is the same, LPSS both takes primary affixes AND is extremely poor and Globes took a pretty big hit in 2.1. Monks actually have access to healing skills but, for some reason, they are tuned to be SO weak that they are essentially non-existent.

Resource Management

This is a more fundamental problem than the other two issues. Mere number tweaks would likely not result in this issue being resolved.

Read More & Comment >>
A Guide to Diablo: IncGamers site changes – Here’s what we’ve done

Regular readers will have noticed quite a few changes on Diablo: IncGamers since the launch of Reaper of Souls which was the motivation for us to make some of the changes we had been thinking about for a while.

When RoS launched we pushed the first stage of front page layout changes live. We know everyone likes to read their content in different ways so the site was changed to a similar layout to the main IncGamers site. Of course not every one will love that format so in the past week we set to work on the second phase which was giving you the option to read the content in the old format if you so desired.

In case you hadn’t spotted it, there are a couple of buttons above the news that allow you to switch to your preferred format.

change view

Probably the toughest job we had to undertake was the forums. We have used the same forum system for around a decade and there were millions of posts to port over. It was important to us to make sure that threads from the old forum were not lost, we’d have hell to pay from you guys if they went missing :) Remember the great forum crash of 2003? That was not pretty.

So why the change? There were numerous reasons, the next version of the same forum was bloated with features that were useless to the community here. Spammers were also a consideration and the previous software was starting to struggle with the rise in spammers over the last couple of years. We needed a system that could pro- actively catch them and then make life easier for IncGamers moderators to deal with anything that managed to slip through.

The end results once we switched were good. The forums are now easier to use, faster and more robust. It’s taken some time to iron out issues with posts moved over from the old system but I would say we are 95% there with most things now. The forum is now easier to use and has more features to track new content additions.

One of the main issues we had during the change was with your logins. We have a custom login system that ties your forum account to the main site. When we moved forums that obviously broke down and had to be recreated. One of the issues we came up against was the inability for guests to post in the news and members who were logged in seeing a captcha. This was not acceptable so it took a few days for me to sort out but thankfully it now all works.

Regarding commenting on news, originally we had the news post into the community forum but as things move quite quickly here as far as content is concerned, we thought it best to create a separate forum for the news discussions. This reorganisation prevents any community forum discussion being lost in a pile of news. Your discussions are important after all.

hardrock

Trophies

Regarding accounts. Some of you have been registered here for over a decade and we have been helping members who have had login issues since the switch because they no longer have access to the email they originally registered with. If there are any of you still caught in that trap then we can sort it for you. Send an email here and we will deal with it.

With the new forums came new features, and something we’ve wanted to do for some time is highlight pro-active members and also award trophies for actions by the community. Elly sat down over a few days to come up with the points and reward system. You may have spotted the icons on threads but so you know how it works I have posted all of the trophies below for reference.

There are still a few things to do but the core updates are now in place. Your feedback on anything we do is much appreciated and a special thanks to the PALS who have helped make all the changes possible with their contributions.

Threads

Thread StarterThread Starter -Points: 15 -You have started 5 Threads
Topic RaiserTopic Raiser – Points: 45 -You have started 20 Threads
Town CryerTown Cryer – Points: 90 -You have started 50 Threads
ConfabulatorConfabulator – Points: 91 -You have started 80 Threads

Setting the Agenda Setting the Agenda – Points: 120 -You have started 120 Threads

Likes

Primary Source Primary Source – Points: 1 – Somebody out there liked one of your posts.

Read More & Comment >>

Matt Uelmen Interview: From Condor to Torchlight 2

Posted 20 Sep 2012 by

Since last year, I’d been threatening to conduct a career retrospective type interview with famed Diablo and Torchlight composer and sound guy, DiabloWikiMatt Uelmen. We kept delaying it, mostly due to Torchlight 2 not being finished yet, but once the game finally had a firm release date, the interview was a go. So, Matt and I spent several hours chatting last weekend, and you can view the results below. The interview covers Matt’s entire career, from his earliest days at Condor (before they became Blizzard North), with a special focus on his work helping to create Diablo I, Diablo II, and the first five secret years of Diablo III. We also touch on his contributions to WoW:TBC, and his more recent work on Torchlight 1 and the brand new Torchlight 2.

Matt picking his guitar.

Incidentally, you can download the full Torchlight 2 soundtrack, from Runic Games, right now. For free! It’s recommended.

Here’s a quote about the early days of Diablo II, just to give you a flavor for things.

IncGamers: Can you tell us about the early days of Diablo 3 at Blizzard North? Fans often wonder why it took so long between D2 and D3, and what happened in the 2000-2005 time frame at Blizzard North.
Matt:
There are literally hundreds of moving parts there. Let me counter with a more positive image. That image is Allen Adham personally demoing an early version of WoW in San Mateo around the time D2 shipped. It was obviously awesome, and, of course, ended up being the single most profitable entertainment industry title in history.

IncGamers: That’s really early. Didn’t WoW ship in 2005?
Matt:
No, November 2004 It started development in ’99.

IncGamers: So Bliz Irvine was busy at work on WoW. One long ago theory was that D3′s early design was an MMO and that was dissuaded by Bliz Irvine since they had WoW under work. That’s a fan theory, I should clarify.
Matt:
Ah, if only everyone would clarify these things. That’s the more interesting story — the EQ addicts in the office in both halves of Blizzard at the time.

IncGamers: WoW as just internal intervention in their Everquest addiction?
Matt:
Well, obviously WoW crushed EQ into tiny pieces on a commercial level. I’d say that’s a good tribute to the way that Blizzard absorbed the pros and cons of the title in that era. And another reference to the true genius behind all of Blizzard’ s biggest hits, Allen Adham.

IncGamers: But that was all secret at the time too. The next big news from blizzard north was in 2003, and it was bad news. Your reaction was unhappy.
Matt:
Sure, but that was my personal reaction. At that time. Five years later, those events set up a great gig for me.

IncGamers: That’s taking the long view indeed. At the time, as one of the long time Blizzard north employees who remained…. what was the mood? Project X shelved, everyone put to work on DiabloWikiProject Hydra…. Did you think it would pull through? Still be a worthy successor?
Matt:
Almost all of the music I made for D3 ended up in WoW, that should speak for itself.

IncGamers: Well it was a nice re-purposing, and you were probably happy it didn’t go to waste. But WoW wasn’t *your* game. Did you have more hopes for D3? All along? Or you were happy to be part of WoW ultimately?
Matt:
WoW was definitely not a Blizzard North game, but I played a ton of it in 2002/2003. I knew the industry had to grapple with the challenge posited by EQ (much as the recreational drug industry had to grapple with crack in the 80s), and I wasn’t averse to joining the fight.

The interview covers all of Matt’s professional projects, and it’s huge; literally like 12 pages in the Word file I used to format and clean up the transcript. That quote was not even a drop in the bucket; click through for the whole thing, presented in chronological order. I’m sure you will find it interesting.

Interview Parameters

Matt and I speak fairly often via email and occasionally in person, and we’re both smart asses. (Though Matt puts on a very moderate and politically correct tone when speaking on the record. I was surprised how professional and polished he sounded in many of these replies.) In our conversations we’ve got something of a personal rapport and joking manner, and while I cleaned up this transcript with spelling and punctuation fixes, I left in most of our joking asides and OT remarks to preserve some of the flavor of the dialogue. I laughed out loud at a number of his comments, and not just the ones where he ignored my baiting and sarcasm to remain dignified and professional.

While typing up my notes pre-interview, I planned to get into more of Matt’s personal life, his musical development, his influences and background, and so on. However, while researching I read over a few of the other in depth interviews he’s given in recent years, and saw that most of those issues had been covered. Since I didn’t want to go over familiar territory, I scrapped most of those questions. If you want to know more about Matt’s background and musical style though, I recommend this long interview with ShackNews, this one with GamaSutra, and this one with Square Enix. All three focus much more on his artistry than this interview does, since I’m not a musician and that’s not really my area of expertise.

This interview was conducted via Gchat and arranged and executed entirely between Matt Uelmen and me. There was no supervision, no PR oversight (not that Wonder Russel, Runic’s PR Goddess, has been anything but helpful in arranging past interviews), and nothing influencing the questions and answers other than citrus-infused vodka and late night housepet distractions. I asked every question I thought of, and Matt answered all of them, though as you’ll see, he did spin diplomatically in a few instances.

The interview is divided up by game, and proceeds in chronological fashion. The opening briefly covers current events, and then we go through Matt’s observations and memories about the creation of Diablo I, Diablo II, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Blizzard North’s Diablo III, the transition to Blizzard Irvine’s Diablo III, and then his more recent work on Torchlight and Torchlight II.

Intro and Torchlight 2

IncGamers: I just got download info for advance press play time on Torchlight 2. Should I close this and go play?
Matt:
No, we should get this done. I’m in the middle of moving, and so my week will be hellish even without being the runic audio fireman.

IncGamers: So you’ve got to give me better answers than I could get playing. No pressure!
Matt:
Didn’t you play a lot of the beta?

IncGamers: YEARS AGO
Matt:
The skill windows look much different, but otherwise the beta is the first third of the game.

IncGamers: Your logic is strangely compelling… Okay, so briefly about Torchlight 2 at the start.
Matt:
OK, official start!

IncGamers: What will people hear when they first install it? Did you do something special for the start up?
Matt:
I didn’t! So have a music player handy while installing. You SHOULD get the overhead view of the Estherian Enclave when the game actually starts, where they’re all doing meditation or yoga or something.
That should be combined with daytime town ambience and the music from ‘temple steppes’, which is the core outdoor music piece of the first sixth of the game.

IncGamers: So you didn’t compose/create some special tracks just for like… the install screen. Or the char creation screen…
Matt:
No, I did do something very special for the character creation screen, but you’ll get a loading screen before that. The second half of the character creation screen is my arrangement of a Smetna piece. That’s been released for a while now.

IncGamers: When I first installed the beta, I got to the creation screen, and the pet of display was Falcor. Who hadn’t been digitized previously. And I thought that was the default. Just to show off Wonder’s dog. It was like visiting Runic’s office. But the pet you see at the very start is just random….
Matt:
Did you play the big beta thing around April? Or just the preview thing over the winter?

IncGamers: I think it was March or April, yeah
Matt:
Oh, ok. I know you were in that handful that got to play really early like 9 months ago, too.

IncGamers: The beta was the first I’d played since I visited the offices in November. But the dog is very well done. realistic.
Matt:
Wait! YOU’RE asking the questions. Yes, Falcor is done brilliantly. Falcor is quite awesome in real life.

IncGamers: The game version does everything but leap into your lap. The real one did that; hopped into my lap before my interview with Travis.
Matt:
I’ve thrown many a mini-tennis ball to him. He’s downright heroic.

IncGamers: this is the part where I lull you with social chatty stuff before asking nasty hit job questions about blizzard.
Matt:
Falcor… cute…. tennis ball…

IncGamers: heh. Okay, so TL2 is coming out in a week. ish. Do you have excite? Eager for fans to get their hands on it? Hear your music? And maybe play the game some too?
Matt:
Yeah, it’s the real thing. It will be like a drunk getting a big fat 1.75ml bottle of primo hooch for a million or so people.

IncGamers: kids, don’t try this at home.
Matt:
Or on the airplane! Or in a squalid motel in Katmandu!

IncGamers: So talking to you and some other people last year, it seemed like TL2 was coming fairly soon. at least that was the opinion of the developers. Were there delays? Perfectionism? Feature creep?

Matt:Yeah, when I look back, I was just as bad as anyone else. I remember sending a “hey guys let’s wrap this up this month in terms of audio” email a good year ago. Pretty stupid in retrospect. It isn’t perfectionism or feature creep – we just didn’t want the game to be a super-harsh reverse funnel of content where every act was half the previous one.

IncGamers: so not Diablo 3, then? *rimshot*
Matt:
Well, I haven’t played Diablo 3, but it isn’t my impression that the content curve is that dramatic. Anyhow, we’re on the record, Mr. Flux man.

IncGamers: Bad jokes come standard with every podcast. Or typed approximation thereof.
Matt:
By “dramatic” I mean doesn’t dramatically fall off during the progression of the game. And I mean I haven’t played Diablo 3 in the past 6 years. I played a ton of it before that point.

IncGamers: Save that for later!
Matt:
Hmmm…. should put on some English Beat.

IncGamers: You mentioned thinking the audio work was almost done. that was going to be my next question, with the apparently delays. What have you been doing? I sort of envisioned the music done in like, February. and then you twiddling your thumbs for 8 months. you found things to work on, though?
Matt:
Yeah, a ton of things to work on, just because we’ve pushed really hard to flesh out the second half of the game. I haven’t worked on music since April, but this final push has been pretty fast and dramatic.
For example, I’ve only heard the sound design I did for the (SPOILER?!?) undead dwarves in the past week, which I actually made two years ago. Ninety percent of my job has been QA for the past month or two.

IncGamers: We’ll do a little more detail on TL2 stuff later, but just as a tease in… What do you think of your sound and audio work on it? You’re satisfied? Think it’s a progression? Or do you want 6 more months to edit and rework and fine tune?
Matt:
Well, it isn’t just my work – we have a good half-dozen guys up in Seattle that are comfortable working with audio elements. Travis is a seriously freaky guy in terms of his range – it’s something like seventh on his list of skills, but he could do just fine as a game sound designer and gets plenty of stuff done without needing any input from me. But, yes, I think the game is ridiculously deep and tight for a twenty buck steam thing.

IncGamers: And you’ve played a ton of it. as you said, lots of working as QA and sort of a super tester. you’re not just composing music a 1000 miles away.
Matt:
I have played a ton of it. But the new content has come in so fast, that I haven’t even played a couple of the quests, despite doing some work on them. And I wouldn’t say “super tester” as I objectively look at it, I’m just a tester with a particular angle, that cares much more about some things than others. Basically a “can a drunk 7 year old progress with zero thought” and “is there missing or really annoying audio” cop.

IncGamers: laughing. Avoiding 10 bad jokes about Diablo 3. So speaking of your ability to wear many hats. let’s jump back a few years.
Matt:
please do

IncGamers: Decades.
Matt:
Yikes
IncGamers: To the early days. As the sun coalesced from nebular matter. Wwell, not quite that far.
Matt:
Well, you know what they say… The sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma. It isn’t just a ball of gas. No, no. What they say, rather.

IncGamers: So you were a musical child. And you didn’t study music in college. But you wound up at Condor, which was Blizzard North before it was Blizzard North. Before even Diablo existed. And they were making football games….
Matt:
Hmmm… that’s almost all true.

IncGamers: What did a musical sound guy do on a football game? Wasn’t it like midi sound? In those early days?
Matt:
I was a child in a musical household, though I doubt I really showed much talent except for those looking really hard for it. I did take the most advanced music theory course Georgetown had to offer in my first semester, but that was a visiting professor, and it remained such for the next few years. I took an electronic music class down at George Washington my senior year, which was fun. I also did a soundtrack thing for a play at Georgetown in my last couple of years there, which was also a blast, and turned on a few light bulbs in my head. And Diablo existed in Dave Brevik’s head before Condor existed.

IncGamers: So that got you thinking about doing music as your career at that point? If not as a performer than in the industry somehow? When did you first think, “I could do music and sound for video games?” And get paid for it?
Matt:
I was thinking about it from high school on. I tried to play three hours a day of guitar in my junior year. Berkley was my dark horse third choice for a college. The video game thing as a soundtrack thing turned on in my head in my last year of college. Oddly enough, it was while watching some relative meatheads play a Nintendo Gulf War I game. And, speaking of what I did on the first football games we did, not much, really. We didn’t really have a sound driver on the Game Gear. I did manually do music in assembly code for the Game Boy version, which was actually pretty fun. I subjected the kids to some Beethoven if they won the Superbowl, with an arrangement of the main melody from his 7th.

IncGamers: Culture whether they liked it or not.
Matt:
And I think both versions gave you an ascending major-triad thing with a touchdown in actual game mode which I wrote.

IncGamers: This might not be true for you. But there are numerous moments of famous classical music I only or mostly know from like… commercials. For breakfast cereal. And whenever I hear them in actual symphony, I think, “oh, that’s the Smurfberry Crunch theme song!” So did you imprint some kids with the Beethoven. so someday they’ll be cultured adults. And hear that music and think, “touchdown!”
Matt:
well, the Beethoven was just if you actually bothered to play the game mode all the way to ultimate victory.

IncGamers: It’s said the true mark of culture is if you can hear the Peer Gynt symphony and not think of the Lone Ranger.
Matt:
that’s actually Rossini
IncGamers: culture!
Matt:
KULTUR

IncGamers: Okay, so you were doing subversive cultural improvement via football games. and then… DIABLO. A natural progression, eh?
Matt:
Yeah, it was a pretty massive shift. But it really, really tapped a very deep nerve in a bunch of us.
A little like the emergence of real heavy metal at the dawn of the 70s – in retrospect, it seems inevitable.

IncGamers: There was almost a middle step though, right? Recent tidbit from David Craddock said that Condor almost did a Blood Bowl type medieval football title. Iinstead of/before Diablo.
Matt:
Well, Angband was the real template for everything “Diablo”. Diablo himself was Brevik’s dwarf character in the game, which he had put thousands, if not tens of thousands of hours into. When he was in college. Tthousands!
IncGamers: Diablo was taller than your average dwarf. Redder also.
Matt:
Pretty standard Viking.
IncGamers: You might even call him a Lost Viking.
Matt:
I would, but Dave is actually more grounded than almost anyone I know at this point in his life.

IncGamers: So Diablo. You were like, “Yes guys, I can do numerous original musical compositions that will bring this dark medieval world to life.” Did you have confidence? Or were you making it up as you went?
Matt:
Well, we knew we wanted to make a dark, occult-type thing, and that definitely pushed some buttons for me. I’ve always loved that vibe as an artist (if I can be pretentious enough to use that term).

IncGamers: Well I’ve always loved wedding cakes. but that doesn’t mean I think I can bake one. ;) Was Diablo the biggest musical thing you’d ever done at that point in your career?
Matt:
Of course, but there wasn’t much competition for that title. But when you look back, it’s like all of the Yankees from the mid-20s to the mid-50s on one team as young kids. There was more talent on the original Diablo than the rest of the industry combined at that point, and it isn’t even close.

IncGamers: Don’t let Jay Wilson hear you say that. On Facebook.
Matt:
Well, I’m talking about 1995. Fairly ancient history.

IncGamers: will you spend this entire interview deflecting credit from your own efforts onto those of others at your companies? ;)p
Matt:
Only if it is actually true!
IncGamers: you’re already married. You don’t need to still act humble!
Matt:
Oh, I’m capable of truly horrific narcissism – but the truth is that I can list twenty names or so that helped make Diablo what it was, and they’re all legends, at least to me. Bob Davidson, Allen Adham, Mike Morhaime, Dave Brevik, the Schaefers, Chris Metzen, Michio Okamura, Kelly Johnson… and I could go on and on. Bill Roper, O’Brien, Wyatt, Rick Seis, Eric Sexton, Ben Haas… you get the point.

IncGamers: You didn’t just compose the most iconic musical score in RPG history in D1, though. You. Just you. all alone. No help from anyone else. you also did a ton of sound effects and such, yes? To the point of actually like, breaking pencils and dropping watermelons and such?
Matt:
I didn’t do it all alone at all – Glenn Stafford did a ton of great work on the original Diablo. Glenn is a genuinely modest, low-profile guy, so people aren’t as aware of his immense talent and critical role in Blizzard history as they could and should be.

IncGamers: See, I buried that part in the intro to the question. But you dug it out. But as for your tasks on Diablo 1, they were far more than some guitar strumming, as some more casual fans might believe….
Matt:
Well, yes and no – I wasn’t nearly as involved in terms of QAing and sound design implementation as I am now. Which was probably wise, in that I was a pretty green kid in his early 20s when we shipped it.

IncGamers: Here’s another narcissism check. Many people feel d1 had some of the best music in all games ever. And the iconic Tristram theme is certainly top 5 or 10 best known game themes. Thoughts?
Matt:
Well, that was almost 20 years ago, so it’s hard to say how much that was “me”. I’m flattered, of course, when people say these kinds of things, and am genuinely and, I think, fairly proud of the fact that we rescued the PC game from the state it was in as of the mid-90s, and unleashing real music tracks instead of midi files had something significant to do with that.

IncGamers: Okay, we’ll go for a more collaborative question then. One thing I and many others really liked about d1 was the monster sounds and death animations and sound effects. Really creepy and realistic.
Matt:
MOST of the most memorable moments there were actually Glenn’s sound design work more than mine.

IncGamers: I’ve talked to Erich Schaefer about those in the past, and he said it helped that there were a limited number of monsters in Diablo I, so they really had time to polish and work on them. Were you involved in that process?
Matt:
Well, it’s funny – I checked out of the last few months of the Diablo dev experience in mid ’96 to some degree, just because I was so young and it was obvious that the title had some crazy momentum that was better left with more experienced hands. That being said, I probably hit the early development process harder than anyone on D2 in ’97.

IncGamers: we’re getting to that next! One more question on the Tristram theme. from d1. did you know it was a hit? the opening guitar strum? When you were creating the music, you were like, “This will really catch ears?”
Matt:
No, it just seemed to hit a certain spot in terms of being close enough to being credibly ‘medieval’ while also being something that resonated with the kind of Joni Mitchell, Carlos Gardel and Chabuca Granda stuff I was into at the time. Three names you hear all the time as references for video game composers, right?

IncGamers: I’ll put Wikipedia links on them. For the kids to learn! Have you grown sick of that track since then? Heard it too many times? Like a rock star tired of their biggest hit? I read an interview with Slash once and he said he feels that way about the intro to Sweet Child of Mine. He didn’t much like it but it became a big hit so now he has to play it at every show.
Matt:
No, not at all. I just find it funny that people visualize it as a physical performance. And a little odd that people do their live YouTube versions on six-strings. Some of which are quite excellent, but it’s still a little strange, the 12-string is a fundamentally different instrument than her malnourished standard cousin.

IncGamers: Not to completely digress, but for non-musicians like me… What’s the big diff? Steel strings? Twice as many strings? So more of a transitional flow of sound than with just 6 strings?
Matt:
The bottom 4 strings have a companion string an octave above, the top two strings are consonant. It’s just a different instrument.

IncGamers: Last question on that famous theme. Diablo 3 was introduced at WWI 2008 in Paris, by Laurence Juber playing the Tristram theme on stage. In darkness. Just the guitar at first. and instant recognition. This will press your ability to never say anything non critical about anyone else… but did you feel odd hearing that? Knowing it was your composition, and you’d have been the one there playing if you were still with Bliz? And it should have happened in like 2006 with the first version of Diablo III?
Matt:
Juber is obviously a very talented and accomplished musician, so I was very flattered. I’m not a live performer in any case. I wouldn’t say I felt odd – obviously Blizzard wanted to keep the IP alive, which really was and is a tremendous compliment to the people that created it.

Diablo 2

IncGamers: As you mentioned earlier, you were there right from the start on Diablo 2. You’d learned much from working on D1, condor was now Blizzard North. You had a bigger budget. D1 had been a surprise smash hit. Lots of new employees. D2 was envisioned as a much larger project right from the start? What did you start working on in those earliest days?
Matt:
hmmm Well, it wasn’t a smooth cruise to glory. We had some very significant turnover in both halves of Blizzard in 1997, and also endured what was the biggest stock scandal ever – with Cendant – in that era. D2, on the development side, actually took a long time to get into focus, and serious morale issues were definitely part of that. I think music was a real psychological relief for me at that point, and I really tried to focus on the tunes in that phase. I actually had the approach to the drums found in “Wilderness” and a good outline of what became “Rogue”, or the opening town tune, by the end of 1997, along with a substantial chunk of later game material.

IncGamers: So you guys had plans for Diablo 2 and you knew you needed lots of music. So that’s where your work time and effort went? Were you creating music for levels and monsters and such that didn’t really exist yet, other than conceptually?
Matt:
Yes, absolutely, and I’ve always been somewhat comfortable with that. As I look back, the fact that we knew D2 was going to be pastoral fantasy/desert/jungle/hell way back in like March 1997 still strikes me as remarkable. It definitely helped in terms of making progress on getting music in the can.

IncGamers: Blizzard often talks about cross pollination and everyone contributing. So do you think the music helped to shape and evolve the levels and visuals to some extent?
Matt:
I wouldn’t give myself too much credit in terms of that, though I think I’m pretty good at anticipating the direction things will go in. In terms of the talent that made the Diablo series, guys like David Glenn and Ben Boos were really the two main aces we hired to help us make the transition from Diablo to Diablo II on the art side, and they really brought those concepts to life more than I did. I should say on the background art side. We also had some real stars on the character side, that helped fill the gap left by Ben Haas’ departure.

IncGamers: Did your role expand or contract on D2? More employees, more specialization? Were you still doing sound design and sound effects and such? Vocals/audio/narration? Casting? Or mostly just composing?
Matt:
It contracted, in many ways, in that I was able to focus more exclusively on music as Scott Petersen and Jon Stone became set in their roles. That, and guys like Matt Householder were obviously on top of the production chores that come with actor/script content in a way that I had no clue about.

IncGamers: On the music, I meant to ask earlier. Knowing D2 would have so many more settings and environments. Did that excite you as a composer? More variety and type of music? jungle and desert certainly weren’t in D1. And then Act 5 added ice caves and mountains and such.
Matt:
Sure, part of me enjoyed it a great deal. Of course, like many gamers, I also missed the straightforward aspect of the pure dungeon crawler that Diablo was. Genre references, in terms of soundtracks, can be good crutches, but at a certain point, they can limit you as well.

IncGamers: flashing way ahead, but just curious now that I think of it. What did you plan for heaven’s score for d3? were you looking forward to something very different there, than heard in the series previously?
could you have resisted the urge to do a heavenly soprano chorus?
Matt:
When I recorded the orchestral stuff for D3 in January 2005, the Heaven stuff wasn’t really fleshed out yet, so that wasn’t really in my mind in terms of my work at that point. Michio Okamura was a huge William Blake fan, and was the one really pushing for this direction all the way back in 2001, so it was a little disorienting and possibly ironic to see how D3 ended up going down that path after he left. But that endgame type stuff really wasn’t too developed when I was working on the title.

IncGamers: ah. I understood the setting going to heaven was figured out long, long ago. it was in the Diablo bible in like 2000, or so Garwulf told me during a past interview.

Matt:Well, back then, I just thought it was Michio tripping on Blake. Somehow, it became cannon. But I really have no idea how that process happened.

IncGamers: Heh. Did you have any involvement in the plot or decisions how to present the big bosses and such in D2? For instance, as a player you get very little info about the bosses before you see them. Duriel for instance, is a complete surprise. They don’t talk or speak much, except during the battle. And that seemed to enhance their mystique. Diablo only talks when he’s first appearing, and then crushing you.
Matt:
Not to any great degree – I think a surprising amount of the content in D2 was actually artist-driven, and that explains a big chunk of the game’s success, appeal and replayability. The character artists just snuck up on the team with such strong ideas, which is why they seem to jump out of the game when you play it, they have a life that transcends something from a spreadsheet or early story document.

IncGamers: You haven’t played the new D3 or been involved in the debates, but one thing many players are very unhappy about the plot is that all through acts 2 and 3 and 4 the bosses taunt, hector, lecture, etc, your character. Azmodan is a special offender in act 3. he appears by hologram about 5x and just “blah blah blah puny mortal blah blah” every time. And fans have flashed back to the relative silence and dignity of those bosses in D2. so I wonder how the art issue you talked about factored in.
Matt:
True, I have not played D3 since 2006, so I can’t really comment on it. I’m all for actors getting paid, though! I can’t really speak with any authority or familiarity on Blizzard’s current development environment. Six years is a lifetime in games.

IncGamers: And small rodents.
Matt:
As a rat in the Chinese horoscope, I’ll overlook that very elliptical slight.

IncGamers: You did have some involvement with the sound effects and voices in D2 in terms of monsters, I believe? You mentioned something to me once about the Fallen and their dialogue saying Rakanishu and Bishibosh. Can you relate that on the record?
Matt:
Sure! That’s the genius of Mike Dashow, who was a huge, huge part of D2 and LoD. The Barbarian, the sorceress, the voices of the fallen, the Immortals in LoD, and many, many other things were all Mike D.
Mike actually did a ton of work as “the eager ogre” in a kid-type thing for The Learning Company, if I recall correctly. I just wanted to do the evil version of that, and he absolutely crushed it. That’s a good example of the artist-driven content I mentioned earlier. The industry has become so assembly-line, in some ways, that a creation like the D2 Paladin – which Kelly created on EVERY level, not just the model and the animations, but the character skills and strategic focus – is even rarer now than it was back then.

IncGamers: So can you set the scene on that sort of thing? You’ve got your soundproofed room in Bliz north.
with mics and instruments and stuff. And you need to record a million sound effects and vocalizations for characters and monsters. And you do a lot of that right therein house? And make up stuff as you go?
Matt:
Well, I had a soundproofed closet, which became a disgusting storage shed in my last few years there that took me a week to clean out. I’m actually not a big fan of trying to soundproof work environments. As long as you don’t have a jackass with a subwoofer within 20 yards, it’s more about a nice room that breathes.

IncGamers: I think the version you mentioned to me before was that Mike was riffing sounds and voices, and just said Bishibosh or something like that. And it worked and sounded great, and somehow that name wound up being used as the name for the monster? So the audio came first and drove the game name and sort of the Fallen AI behavior, which is exactly opposite how I would have guessed.
Matt:
Well, I give Mike all the credit for his performance, but I suppose I created the “language”, on a large-size post-it with maybe room for 20 lines on it.
I’ve done similar work on TL2, though I’ve been stuck with yours truly as my only voice actor.

IncGamers: Can’t get your kids to help?
Matt:
The Ezrohir mispronounce Washington State county names when they yell at you. My kids did help – the witch dolls in Act 3 are my kid, Thomas.

IncGamers: heh.
Matt:
What’s creepier than a pitched up voice saying ‘come play’? A pitched up voice saying ‘come play’ from an actual second grader! And, in any case, it wouldn’t feel like a true modern product of our current economic system if it didn’t involve unpaid uncredited child labor, right?

IncGamers: that’s what Steve Jobs always said. Last thing on d2 sounds and voices. The secret cow level. Can you tell some history of how that came about? Aand how the funny cow voices were created? We close every episode of the podcast with that, you know. I just start saying, “Moo.” and anyone who played d2 instantly chimes in.
Matt:
That’s all the Scandizzo brothers. The cow level was their baby. I forget which brother did the voice.

IncGamers: I think there’s a credit for multiple employees. as the “cow level players” or something like that?
Matt:
It was all Mike and Stefan. They were a couple of many unsung heroes of D2 development.

IncGamers: Unmooed heroes.
Matt:
check the spelling on those names – you never know when those crazy Italians will drop a double consonant on you.

IncGamers: Anything secret or weird or unknown about D2′s production you’ve always wanted to say but haven’t had the chance? Max’s secret ritualistic sacrifices to ensure good fortune?
Matt:
Oh, I could fill novels. Maybe if the miraculous occurs, and my liver outlasts the people involved, we can do this in fifty years and spill the beans. Let’s just say that the D2 team had personality like 1940s Saudi Arabia had oil.

IncGamers: Did you get interviewed by David Craddock for his upcoming Bliz North book?
Matt:
Indeed I did.

IncGamers: Have your fingernails grown back yet? The ones he pulled out to extract juicy details?
Matt:
Well, I drew a line on a few things D3-related before it shipped. Maybe I’m still drawing a truckload of sharpies at this point.

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

IncGamers: A couple of questions about D2 expansion. What did you work on for that title? Just more music? And did it feel like a lot more music than just another act? I mean, did you have time to do more different music for act 5 than for acts 1-3, in comparison?
Matt:
I didn’t have much time, that was actually in short supply. The historical record shows we got that title out on the nose a year later. My musical approach on that was totally off-the-wall, and it was a ton of fun, though very nerve-wracking. I really wanted to put the Diablo musical elements in maximum Wagnerian drag, and did pretty well for the core “up the middle” stuff, Fortress, Siege, Ancients. The side stuff was a bit of a train wreck, but I learned an incredible amount and laid a foundation for relationships with Kirk and the crew there which I hooked up with recently for TL2, and hope to again.

IncGamers: Around that time you were posting regular mp3s of the week on blizzard’s site. D2c and d2x music. What was the project of those, for people who weren’t around? Just sharing the tracks and some composer thoughts on them?
Matt:
You’re asking what was the raison d’être of the mp3-of-the-week program?

IncGamers: Sure. or your goals/hopes/dreams for it. I think you even spelled that right. the French.
can you spell hors d’orvers? I have never been able to. there’s another E in there somewhere.
Matt:
I just wanted to exploit the obvious energy the mp3 movement had with some promotional stuff for the game, and maybe draw people in a bit to the “making of” culture. it’s more the U you’re missing, and my French is pretty bad, though I can understand about half of it when written. And about none of it when spoken. Six years of Latin.

IncGamers: given your last name, you have a natural advantage in combining multiple vowels that most people can’t manage?
Matt:
That’s actually one of my lifetime regrets. I coulda shoulda woulda been a linguist, but I was born into the most dominant linguistic culture since Caesar.

IncGamers: Well there’s an unusual answer to the usual, “if you didn’t work in gaming, what would you do?”
And yes, you’d have been a cunning linguist. No, I’m not above awful puns.
Matt:
But I wouldn’t have been that. I went to school at Georgetown with euro kids that happily announced their mastery of language #6. Hence the couldashouldawoulda file. That being said, I do believe that anyone on the globe with any ambition that can’t function in English is a little slow, much as I believe that a Californian that can’t speak Spanish is a little challenged. But that’s just my opinion.

IncGamers: I can say “devil” in Spanish.
Matt:
El Hugo?

IncGamers: So moving right along, As soon as D2C was finished, a bunch of the team got started on D3. But of course it was all SECRET for years and years. Did you get involved in the early production, or you were still busy with D2X?
Matt:
Ah, the juicy stuff. D3 began before D2C shipped. In regards to the engine.

IncGamers: Well the veil has largely been lifted in recent years. By Max Schaefer and Dave Brevik and others in interviews. Sometimes interviews with me. But your take is different and interesting.
Matt:
Well, we know the main names involved in D3 that have roots in that time, and they’re all considerable talents. Jason Regier, Julian Love, Wyatt Cheng, Anthony Rivero, Cheeming Boey – those are all absolutely massive names in terms of the final shape of what was D3, and they were all on the scene very early. Most of them have a D2C credit, of course.

IncGamers: I talked about this with Max on the podcast earlier this year. and he mentioned the early design theory was for an MMO, big central towns, instancing, etc. Anything odd or interesting in your plans for music and sound and such for Diablo III, though? I mean the MMO nature of things felt different to compose for than D1/D2?
Matt:
95% of my work on D3 was cannibalized into Burning Crusade music. Which was a very, very rational decision on my part.

IncGamers: And the other 5% was acoustic guitar cannibalized into d3 music. ;)
Matt:
You can’t resist playing the smart ass, can you?

IncGamers: It’s a gift. One that’s hard to return.
Matt:
Yes, I did some 12-string stuff in literally my last week at Blizzard in January 2007. Some of which, I believe, but am not sure because I haven’t played the released game, ended up in install screens, Tristram-related stuff etc. But that was all after I’d worked on WoW:BC.

IncGamers: One of the things that outsider observers are puzzled or surprised by is the length of time that elapsed. D2 was a year late, or so, but that was still just what, 1997-2000?
Matt:
Sure, that’s fair. But put the Cendant drama of June 1997 into that context.

IncGamers: Do you want to briefly summarize that, for fans years later? or it’s just financial icky better left unsaid?
Matt:
Sure, I’ll summarize it! Walter Forbes was a crook – sometimes crooks are white guys with nice fluffy hair and Harvard connections. That’s about it.

IncGamers: And he was owner or involved in management of Blizzard? Or their parent company at the time?
Matt:
No no no… he was three or four levels up.
IncGamers: And he screwed the company and stock value plummeted and lots of blizzard people’s retirement funds cratered?
Matt:
I wouldn’t say that. Walter was just ahead of his time – under the Bush Jr administration, he wouldn’t have been tried multiple times. Walter was really John the Baptist – the victimized antecedent of a culture of financial crime that would become gospel.

Diablo 3 Blizzard North version

IncGamers: Okay. so back on the video game stuff!
Matt:
Yes, please.

IncGamers: One thing that fans seem to be forever curious or confused about is the amount of time that passed with no Diablo III. The development of Diablo II took like 3-4 years from the finish of Diablo I to release. And Diablo 2 is a huge game, massively improved and increased over D1. June 2000 D2C is released and some of the team continues on the D2 expansion. Other people are doing the early work in Diablo III. D2X was released a year later, in June 2001, and then… silence. Radio silence. For years. Bliz north secret projects. No announcements. Obviously you guys were an ant hive internally. lots of new people, 2 dev teams. Project X’s that were never revealed. The impression I’ve gotten from Max and others is that there was just a lot of fatigue and regrouping. After such a long crunch time for D2 and D2x. And that getting back into steady development on D3 took time, with a lot of new ideas and new changes and themes, and it was tough to get back on the horse. Does that seem accurate from your observations?
Matt:
There are literally hundreds of moving parts there. Let me counter with a more positive image. That image is Allen Adham personally demoing an early version of WoW in San Mateo around the time D2 shipped. It was obviously awesome, and, of course, ended up being the single most profitable entertainment industry title in history.

IncGamers: That’s really early. Didn’t WoW ship in 2005?
Matt:
No, November 2004 It started development in ’99.
IncGamers: Feb 11 2005 in EU. ;)

IncGamers: So Bliz Irvine was busy at work on wow. One long ago theory was that d3′s early design was an MMO and that was dissuaded by Bliz Irvine since they had wow under work. That’s a fan theory, I should clarify.
Matt:
Ah, if only everyone would clarify these things. That’s the more interesting story – the EQ addicts in the office in both halves of Blizzard at the time.

IncGamers: WoW as just internal intervention in their Everquest addiction?
Matt:
Well, obviously WoW crushed EQ into tiny pieces on a commercial level. I’d say that’s a good tribute to the way that Blizzard absorbed the pros and cons of the title in that era. And another reference to the true genius behind all of Blizzard’ s biggest hits, Allen Adham.

IncGamers: But that was all secret at the time too. The next big news from blizzard north was in 2003, and it was bad news. Your reaction was unhappy.
Matt:
Sure, but that was my personal reaction. At that time. Five years later, those events set up a great gig for me.

IncGamers: that’s taking the long view indeed. At the time, as one of the long time Bliz north employees who remained…. what was the mood? Project X shelved, everyone put to work on Project Hydra…. Did you think it would pull through? Still be a worthy successor?
Matt:
Almost all of the music I made for D3 ended up in WoW, that should speak for itself.

IncGamers: Well it was a nice repurposing, and you were probably happy it didn’t go to waste. But wow wasn’t your game. Did you have more hopes for D3? All along? Or you were happy to be part of WoW ultimately?
Matt:
WoW was definitely not a Blizzard North game, but I played a ton of it in 2002/2003. I knew the industry had to grapple with the challenge posited by EQ (much as the recreational drug industry had to grapple with crack in the 80s), and I wasn’t averse to joining the fight.

IncGamers: Can you comment on the last days of Bliz north? 2005, people keep leaving, work is slowing. I’ve been told by others it was kind of a death spiral and very toxic. Lots of arguments with Bliz Irvine. Perhaps you won’t want to comment on the record about this topic, but I’ve heard stories privately from other Bliz North vets…
Matt:
Obviously, WoW was a monster hit when it shipped, and that cast a shadow on the entire entertainment industry, if they were paying attention. Blizzard was actually incredibly generous to me in that era, and, to my senses, was operating on a genuine urge to create the greatest gaming experience possible for the greatest number of people, which is why I moved to Orange County and put the work in that I did in that time.

IncGamers: Good answer. Diplomatic.
Matt:
True, too.

IncGamers: I had a bunch of questions about d3′s sound design and presentation, but you haven’t played it… One question about Diablo III though, before we close with Torchlight 2 and other current issues. You’ve said you can’t comment on the new D3, but how about the old one you were working on for so long? We’ve heard that it was planned as an MMO with more social features than D2, but nothing about the gameplay itself. Were there big gameplay innovations and changes? New character classes? New gameplay mechanics? Any details you can give us about the game that never was?
Matt:
I’ll see if I can break down the history a little. It begins with Jason Regier, who is also the only guy on the team as of late 1999 to still be working on it, to my knowledge.

Jason was working on what would become the D3 engine from that time, and worked on it more or less alone until we started to staff up a team around him fairly soon after Lord of Destruction shipped. That engine was one of at least a couple we were working on, but it ended up “winning”, and that’s probably because Regier was (and is) a very talented coder with a good eye for the bigger game picture.

I would guess the second phase of the project was from the time that Lord or Destruction shipped until the Flagship departures, which were exactly two years after that ship date. Some of the discussion of potential MMO-type features comes from that time, but I don’t recall ever seeing an MMO-type lobby, or kill-ten-rats quest design in playable versions of the game at that point. I’m sure those ideas were real, but they were never demoed into an actual game build that I recall playing.

I was personally playtesting WoW a ton in that era (which was fun – I liked WoW when it had a few hundred players). At that point, we shifted some of our key artists onto the team, including guys like Anthony Rivero and Cheeming Boey, who would go on to make tons of content for the final game released a decade later. We also made some important hires for the long term like Julian Love and Wyatt Cheng around then. It was a frustrating time, because we obviously were loaded with talent and ideas, but they were diffused around a bunch of projects, and the emphasis in terms of Irvine was obviously 110% on WoW, as it should have been.

The third phase, which began with the Flagship departures, was also a mixed bag. The good part is that we were all focused on one project, and that we were obviously loaded with talent in some key areas – the work guys like Regier, Lawrence and Love alongside our character team and guys like Vik Lee did in that era was obviously a great foundation for the best elements of the ultimately released game – but we didn’t have experienced management, and we really needed a ton of labor on the background art side to really get production moving. In many ways, the Flagship departures really damaged both halves, the remaining team didn’t have experienced management, and Flagship didn’t have some key people like myself, Rick Seis, Michio Okamura, Kelly Johnson, etc, that had more experience playing the lieutenant and grinding through content.

I wouldn’t call it “the game that never was”, however, it was basically just the game that was eventually released, but in an early phase. If you were to see D3 circa 2004, you would recognize is as being the final game in an early form, only with less backgrounds, effects and character art. It was actually pretty fun as of summer 2004, and had about an hour of a solid single-player game experience for a player that knew the genre, maybe two or three times that for a new player. I can’t read the minds of management then or now, but I think the events of 2005 had almost everything to do with post-WoW-release consolidation and almost nothing to do with the quality of the game or talents of the team. Obviously, we needed some fresh leadership, and it was much easier to give us the support the team needed to make that happen from the HQ instead of from 400 miles away.

IncGamers: Wow, great answer Matt. You echo a bit of what I’ve heard from others who worked on the early Diablo III… that the new version is not a big departure. So it’s odd how much Jay Wilson and others always stress that the project was all but begun from scratch in 2006.

Torchlight 2 and Beyond

IncGamers: So, skipping to Torchlight for the last few questions. You’ve talked about Torchlight 1 quite a bit in past interviews. So how was TL2 different? More time, more ambition, more experience with new audio software. And you even got to return to Bratislava and the symphony.
Matt:
Well, the first year of TL2 development was a little strange – we were able to kick out a ‘multiplayer’ version of the game really quickly, because our coders really are geniuses, and I had the green light to do an orchestral session combined with a promotional thing at Gamescom, so the stars aligned there, but we had a few significant distractions.

IncGamers: Can you elaborate on those?
Matt:
The XBLA game turned into a success, but it took a fair amount of personal attention from our core team to get it to that point. That’s the thing with runic – we want to keep it small and high-quality, but that means the gears can move slowly.

IncGamers: I’ll be shocked if there’s a Torchlight 2 console port. At least for the Xbox 360. From what Travis told me when I talked to him at Runic about it. Just all the technical hurdles.
Matt:
That says more about the fact that MSFT and SNE aren’t holding up their end of the deal in keeping the industry moving than anything, in my opinion.

IncGamers: Your work on D1/D2/TL1 tends to be longish pieces that loop in dungeons or town, etc. While a trend in a lot of other games, Diablo 3 certainly, is to only have actual “music” in key moments. And kind of atmospheric stuff 95% of the time. How is Torchlight 2 handling this and what are your thoughts on the stylistic approach? I felt like the d3 music was much less present and mood setting, certainly compared to a lot of D1/Dd2.
Matt:
I think gamers want melody and development, even if it isn’t conscious, especially in a 40 hr RPG/ARPG title. You can’t put a melody, or harmonic development, in a player’s face, but it can do wonders for maintaining immersion if done right. I do have moments where I feel like TL2 is way too thin in that regards. Like our ‘snow’ piece for the exterior 5 hours of gameplay later… I think the key is just making sure that the side chunks of content have nutritional value. i.e., if you’re worried that the main exterior thing breaks down to too much repetition, make sure the side pieces/dungeons have some real content

IncGamers: So the Snow piece is short “song” that’s looped and you just hear it for a long time since it’s keyed to an area that’s large or lengthy to clear?
Matt:
Well, it isn’t short – there’s just a lot of pressure on it to carry a ton of development and it’s in snow, which is naturally the most silent exterior. So, the music needs to have some texture

IncGamers: I can imagine some forum thread, melting the Snow with debate over this particular composition.
Matt:
And here we transition to the end of the interview…. where Flux plays TL2 and lords it over readers’ faces that he’s finished the game!

IncGamers: Last 2 questions! What are you most excited for players and fans to see or hear in tl2 now that it’s almost out?
Matt:
The super-nerdy detail work in monster families like the Ezro, Neth, Dwarves, etc

IncGamers: Nerdy?
Matt:
Well, yes, if you actually care what an Ezrohir is muttering, you are probably a super nerd.

IncGamers: And only you know! Washington state city names played backwards!
Matt:
County names. The raven map is pretty easy to find. Pretty, too. Washington state really is the crux state of the union, especially with the tragic history of Hanford. But that’s…. the REST of the story….

IncGamers: Easter eggs!
Matt:
hmmmm. Did you find the thing level in the beta? That’s in act 1, and is probably our best Easter egg.

IncGamers: I did not. in the beta.
Matt:
Yeah, it’s fairly rare.

IncGamers: Okay, last question! Finally. Then you can sleep. And I can install TL2. What’s your dream project? or are you doing it?
Matt:
Oooooh… good question.

IncGamers: Would you want to score a movie, or do a film sound track, or work on TV or some other media? Or it’s gaming? Soybean farmer?
Matt:
My dream project is working with people as talented as Travis and the Schaefers, but on a hard genre twist like urban noir or western. Or SURF! There’s a neglected genre.
IncGamers: You’d probably like to not see another nitre-encrusted dungeon, some day, eh?

IncGamers: And by “working with” you mean doing the kind of music and sound work you do now?
Matt:
Nah, I just mean having super-genius types like them at the helm. So I can have fun and just make whacko music without worrying about the project as a whole. I am a little burnt out on high fantasy. But the thing is I tried to read Silmarillion at like age 11.

IncGamers: I was just going to make a Hobbit joke, too.
Matt:
So it isn’t like I haven’t put the time into it. And studied a ton of Wagner, in terms of the guy that created the genre.
IncGamers: Sick of high fantasy? Imagine you’re Peter Jackson today.

IncGamers: Thanks for your time and all the great answers, Matt.
Matt:
Thanks to you, and I hope you enjoy Torchlight 2!

Thanks again to Matt for his time and interesting answers. We’d been planning some big interview since like, 2011, so it was nice to finally have the imminence of Torchlight 2 to provide us the motivation to finally conduct it. I hope you guys enjoyed reading it and all the inside details about the Diablo games and their early history at Blizzard North. I certainly did.

If you are following Torchlight 2, make sure you check out Torchlight: IncGamers too.