The evolution of Diablo III

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Blizzard's long-awaited Diablo III is the first PC-only game to dominate the top of the sales charts in what seems like years.

Despite its popularity, the game has definitely had its share of issues, ranging from server down time at launch to various limitations placed on new players. Blizzard has done its best to address the above-mentioned complaints, rolling out hot patches with an eye on coding future updates based on player feedback.

Blizzard president Mike Morhaime recently published an official post on the Diablo III forums, recapping growing pains and what gamers can expect for the future of the franchise.

The post is exceptionally long, with details pertaining to the evolution of the game - both past and present.

Frankly, it seems as if Diablo III has been around for way more than a scant two months.

"We’ve had an enormous amount of feedback since the launch. I speak for everyone at Blizzard when I say that we appreciate the passion and affection many of you have for the Diablo series," Morhaime wrote.

"We truly believe 'Every Voice Matters,' so I want to thank you for sharing your experiences in an effort to help us improve the game. Your support makes it possible for us to continue doing what we do, and we never take that for granted."

The community manager also confirmed that Blizzard was still working on various issues and investigating problems reported by players, such as latency. Accoding to Morhaime, patch1.0.3 highlighted a number of in-game improvements implemented by Blizzard, with additional optimization and fixes slated for 1.0.4.

"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," he explained.

"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."

He also noted a number of improvements Blizzard was working on to optimize the UI and social interactions, with the goal of allowing players to easily view friend achievements and join games more quickly. Changes are also coming to the auction house in terms of streamlining information via tool tips, notices and bolstered search functionality.

In addition, Morhaime talked a bit about the online requirement for Diablo III.

"One other common topic we’ve seen in the forums is the always-connected experience, and the perception that the online requirement is 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. 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."

Morhaime emphasized that the "effectiveness" of certain game elements - such as friends lists, cross-game comm and co-op matchmaking - is tied directly to the online nature of the title.

"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," he added.