This past Wednesday, we were priveleged enough to be granted an interview with Bill Roper from Blizzard. I took the opportunity to ask him about their latest project, the highly-anticipated Diablo II. Here is that interview:
Stom: What is your official role with Blizzard?
Bill Roper: I am the Senior Director at the company, which means that I basically get involved on some level with all of our projects, from coordinating resources for the development teams to working with PR and Operations to doing voices. If they ask me, I say yes!
Stom: Ahh, and so you're involved with all aspects of Diablo 2's design?
Bill Roper: I do have the opportunity to throw my ideas into every project, just as all of our developers do, but the majority of the design work gets done in the trenches by the day to day development teams, such as Blizzard North with Diablo II. I usually serve on what we call "Strike Teams." These teams are made up of developers outside of the core group who act a sounding board and help give a fresh perspective to the design team.
Stom: Can you tell us anything about the difficulty levels that will be in Diablo 2?
Bill Roper: We will have three difficulty levels, much like the original Diablo, so that players can continue to increase the levels of their characters. While we have not yet named these, they will get increasingly harder.
Stom: And will these difficulty levels also be available in multiplayer?
Bill Roper: Yes.
Stom: Ok, now I've read that there will be a day/night cycle. Is that still in the game?
Bill Roper: Yes, we will have a day and night cycle that runs throughout the game. It will also effect some monsters as well as certain magic items.
Stom: Ahh. Well, a lot of the excitement about Diablo 2 is the features that will be exclusive to battle.net. Can you tell me about some of these extra modes?
Bill Roper: The biggest would be that we have done a lot of restructuring and new work to Battle.net to prevent cheating in Diablo II. One of these changes is that we have gone to a Client/Server model, especially where character data is concerned. We want to make the experience over Battle.net as true to our original intent as possible, and that means no cheating. When you meet a 25th level Sorceress with a Staff of Algromynn, we want you to be impressed -- not to assume that the player used some hack program to make whatever item they wanted.
Stom: That will be very nice. Any word on when the beta test will start?
Bill Roper: We are still focusing on getting the rest of the content in the game and making sure that we are not getting ahead of ourselves just to get a beta done. When we are ready to start our public beta, we will be sure to announce it on our website. :)
Stom: Could you give any details on what the Arena will be like on battle.net?
Bill Roper: Unfortunately, no. We are currently doing a lot of testing with Player versus Player (pvp) so we can determine what the best strategy for implementing this type of play. First and foremost, it has to be fun, so we want to be sure that before we do the work of implementing an Arena type mode of play that we have a firm grasp on what type of design architecture we intend to use.
Diablo II looks to outdo it's predecessor by leaps and bounds. It is expected to be out by the end of the year, and most speculation points toward the beta test starting some time very soon. Keep an eye on the Blizzard Website for new annoucements and also check out their official FAQ for more details, and any news will also be posted here.