War In Hell: Diablo III Lead Steps Down, Fight Ensues

By Alec Meer on January 21st, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

FORUM-BIFF!

It says much about how different Blizzard’s games are from the norm that Diablo III’s lead designer, Jay Wilson, moving on from the divisive hacker-slasher to another role with the same company can be news. Blizzard’s games are designed to live for a long time, not to be abandoned after a couple of post-release patches and some token DLC. Don’t expect to see Diablo IV for at least another decade, y’know? Instead, D3 remains in a state of continuous development, catering to a large and vocal community, balancing and rebalancing to increasingly anal degrees and, no doubt, trying to become a goliath of real-money transactions. Then there’s the much-rumoured console version of the game potentially still in the wings. So, a going concern, and now in need of new leadership.

A lot of people have a lot to say about Jay Wilson’s seven-year stewardship of the project, the state the game launched in and some of the big decisions (DRM, RMT, grind vs merriment) made. Wilson obliquely referenced some of these in his long goodbye letter (again, bear in mind he was moving to a different part of the same building rather than another developer), and while it’s full of pride about the game too it’s probably the closest we’ll ever come to Blizzard admitting that D3 wasn’t their finest hour.

It sounds very much as though he jumped rather than was pushed, and quite understandably just wants a change after the best part of a decade working on one game. Though the ghost of his infamous ‘fuck that loser‘ comment regarding former Diablo lead David Brevik’s dissatisfaction with D3 has doubtless haunted him. Here’s probably the key phrase from the goodbye letter, in terms of hinted regret:

“Now some of you feel we fell short of our promise to release the game “when it’s ready.” While we’re not perfect, we try to make the best decisions we can with the information and knowledge we have at the time. That doesn’t mean we always make the right decisions, but if we made a mistake then I feel we’ve made an exceptional effort to correct it.

“…For example, we agreed that Diablo III’s itemization at launch was not good enough, so the team made numerous changes, including changing drop rates, re-tuning legendaries, and adding scores of new items to the game. We also agreed that the end game needed more depth, so the team added new events, and new systems like Monster Power and Paragon levels.”

For my part that stuff was too little (or at least too statistical) too late, and I have about as much interest in going back to Diablo III as I do in having another maths lesson with cruel secondary school teacher Mr Kelly, but the game’s most faithful wanted more numbers, and more numbers they duly got. Staying on its rather cold course Diablo III may be, but it’s certainly not resting on its laurels.

Some of those who felt personally let down by D3 (yet, perversely, apparently still lurk about its forums griping rather than moving on to another game) took Wilson’s goodbye letter to be an opportunity to rather, ah, vociferously voice their concerns. An apology for his silly Facebook comment has done little to de-bad the community’s blood, so perhaps the reaction shouldn’t have been entirely unexpected. Even so, it prompted Wilson’s boss, Blizzard Chief Creative Officer Rob Pardo to step in with a typed smackdown-attempt.

“This thread saddens me greatly. I know that the Battle.net forums have earned a reputation for rough justice, but I do not believe justice is being served by how people are speaking about Jay’s departure from Diablo III.

I am very proud of the Diablo franchise and what the team was able to accomplish with Diablo III. As a gamer I have enjoyed the game and played for many, many nights with friends and family. I’m not, however, going to use that as an excuse. The Diablo community deserves an even better game from Blizzard and we are committed to improving it. We have a talented team in place and have no intention of stopping work on Diablo III until it is the best game in the franchise.

I’m the only person in this thread who has actually worked with Jay. I hired Jay to head up the Diablo project and had the pleasure of getting to work with him, both in building the team and designing the game. He has great design instincts and has added so much to the franchise with his feel for visceral combat, boss battles, and an unparalleled knack for making it fun to smash bad guys. I’ve worked with many, many designers at Blizzard and Jay is one of the best. He has a great career at Blizzard ahead of him and I guarantee that you will enjoy Jay’s game designs in future Blizzard games.

If you love Diablo as much as we do, then please continue to let us know how you feel we can improve the game. If you still feel the need to dish out blame, then I would prefer you direct it at me. I was the executive producer on the project; I hired Jay and I gave him advice and direction throughout the development process. I was ultimately responsible for the game we released and take full responsibility for the quality of the result.”

Right, you asked for it Pardo. Wait for it, here it comes. Are you ready punk, huh? Are you? OK, here we go: I thought Diablo III was a bit boring and it was really annoying that I couldn’t play it on train journeys, and if that’s your fault then, then, then… Then I’m going to make this expression at you if I ever meet you:

THAT’LL TEACH YOU NOT TO HAVE AN OFFLINE MODE PARDO

(Jesus, is my nose really that big?)

, , .

71 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. mrmalodor says:

    Good riddance!

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      And off he goes to be involved with another game. For fans of whatever game that is (Project Titan I believe it was) I hope he doesn’t make similar mistakes or doesn’t have a similar position to make those in the first place.

      • Brun says:

        Given that it’s a different kind of game (rumor is that it’s a MMOFPS), there’s at least some hope.

    • Syra says:

      Sigh, where are all the reasonable people who can look at d3 and say it was a satisfying to play, well made game, hampered by business decisions beyond the design of the game itself, on which the lead designer will have had very little influence. Saying good riddance is a bit pointless really, as now he will just be working on your next beloved blizzard nerdrage inducement.

      Frankly people need to realise blizz are, in a post WoW era, an online games company focussed on their bottomless bottom line. Call them sell outs or whatever but don’t take it out on one guy with some frankly brilliant design decisions for that game.

      • terkanmeisa says:

        3-IN-1 Dock Station Charger for iPhone5/iPod 5th, Nano, iPad (White)! 12.9 U.S. dollars! To be surprised! Is the price! This is the best! http://ujeb.se/FhjuV

      • Botoks says:

        And some retarded decisions that made a lot of the fans stop playing. (few short ones are: no open world (HEY, we made this shitty story and we will make you play it every time you want to play the game!), remaking games to change acts, no randomness, horrible itemization, droprates adjusted for the AH meaning players wanting to play without it got shafted, hit detection (you get hit at swing up, can’t dodge)) just the tip of the iceberg.

        He was a horrible lead and maybe now there is hope for some quality changes but I very doubt it as it would take a deep changes in the engine to fix some of this stuff.

  2. Choca says:

    Well, that’s their PvP mode right there : Bioware forums versus Battle.net forums, battle of the dickheads.

  3. captainparty says:

    Well, I liked D3

    • Necroscope says:

      I liked it for the most part. A few designs here and there limiting, such as no drops off mobs of any serious use past the first few difficulties( so reliance on the AH) and seemingly a funnel effect on builds that could be effectively used to complete zones. Remembering the good times, coming out of a dungeon in the desert zone, the desolate sands, accumulating 3 elite mobs and who knows how many normal mobs, countless, then battling them in circles in an epic 20 minute battle sticks in my mind…

    • Confusatron says:

      I liked it too. I still like it, actually. Been playing it way more than I ever did the previous ones (and enjoying it with friends for the first time!). Personally, I think they’ve done a brilliant job with it.

  4. Didero says:

    Do you look a lot like Nathan or am I confusing people again?

  5. Squishpoke says:

    Who can resist such puppy dog eyes?

  6. derella says:

    Who cares who made the stupid decisions… they were made.

  7. Paul says:

    I suspect “fuck that loser” will never stop haunting Jay…for better or worse.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      it’s both easy and fun

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I’m not sure about the “better”, for “worse” it will definitely.

      But I agree with Hoaxfish, he became an easy target for that. Sadly I never heard from him a sincere public apology. I can only hope he gave it in private to the person that helped create the very game that gave him a job for the past years.

    • Necroscope says:

      It might stick like ‘john romero is going to make you his bitch’, but I hope it doesn’t, because that would be pathetically immature and shameful…

  8. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    So basically he chose the path of exile?

    • schiapu says:

      He was given a torchlight 2 travel it as well

      • Hunchback says:

        So much for the Titan’s Quest…

        • Oranje says:

          Don’t worry, there will be more dungeons for him to siege.

          • abandonhope says:

            Tomorrow is a new day for Jay Wilson, let’s hope it’s not a Grim Dawn.

          • MacTheGeek says:

            I don’t expect anything within D3 to really change, though. Not as long as Blizzard continues to emphasize the sacred gold RMAH.

    • Skabooga says:

      Well, at least he is still in a job so he won’t have to auction house.

    • Rhuhuhuhu says:

      I hope he’ll be grinding legendary coffee beans for the rest of his life.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well I guess the Dark of his Soul got the better of him.

  9. Xardas Kane says:

    But I’ve been blaming Pardo all along anyways…

    • Scratches Beard With Pipe Stem says:

      I would like to hear the email from Rob Pardo read aloud by Don Pardo.

      • MacTheGeek says:

        “That’s right, Rob — you lost! And let me tell you what you didn’t win: a twenty volume set of the Encyclopedia International, a case of Turtle Wax, and a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco Treat. But that’s not all. You also made yourself look like a jerk in front of millions of people. You brought shame and disgrace to your family name for generations to come. You don’t get to come back tomorrow. You don’t even get a lousy copy of our home game. You’re a complete loser!”

  10. djbriandamage says:

    It’s uncanny how a game I played for nearly 25 was, in retrospect, my biggest disappointment in gaming last year. That’s probably unfair of me. I had many wonderful moments in D3 but they didn’t culminate in that warm afterglow like my favourite games.

    Difficulty being tuned assuming you bought gear from the auction house was the haystack. Being killed by lag in single player hardcore was the last straw.

    • Yosharian says:

      What about the totally boring story and unoriginal setting? And thats just the tip of the iceberg.. there is a whole lot more wrong with this game than just the loot system and lag.

      • Gorf says:

        story and setting was shit (easily skippable just like you would in any other arpg) but thats not as important as the loot system on a loot game.

      • djbriandamage says:

        I gotta admit I didn’t mind the story (you’re a hero saving the world – it’s all been done before). Also, the dialogue and voice acting of the companions was absolutely stellar. I loved every single one of them.

        • Gorf says:

          Yeah Deckard Cain wasnt annoying at all.

          • djbriandamage says:

            “Stay awhile and li-BLEUGH!”

            Yeah, he was a pointless tool in D3. He deserved better.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        They never fixed the always online single player decision either.

        I could have actually lived with the loot. D2 with expansion was particularly unforgiving too. In all these years I’m still missing many late runes, some uniques and even complete sets. Even despite having traded for a few years in the incgamers D2 single player trading forums.

      • secuda says:

        Yea story was just tv show awfull (and to be honest SC2 was no better at it imo) and skipable, but unoriginal settings? most RPGs have unoriginal settings? or are we talking about using the same act over again? i though we would love to visit old places again, atleast in the first act to have something to build on.

  11. Gorf says:

    “Too little too late”….excactly right.
    Loot game that fucked up so badly when it should be somthing that needs to be nailed down first and foremost rather then AH as a priority game mechanic, is a mistake that left me bewilder3d and I probably will never play again.
    Any way I’m Loving PoE right now and will probably be playing this as my loot fix for years to come.

  12. ChromeBallz says:

    I want more of Meer. Damn that guy is sexy.

    Meer is the Dutch word for more. So it fits.

    • Premium User Badge

      felisc says:

      I’ll just leave those french words here :
      “C’est un roc ! C’est un pic ! C’est un cap !… Que dis-je, c’est un cap ?… C’est une péninsule!”

      … ;)

  13. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I just don’t know who the game is really for. Most of the people on my friends list haven’t logged in for several months, I play it on occasion but even then haven’t made it past act 2 on nightmare yet.
    I’ve not even had a whiff of this legendary loot mentioned in the letter, and to be frank it probably doesn’t matter. Meanwhile there are posts on the official blog saying that you basically have to play sections of the game “thousands” of times to max out your level. So the game was ok for the first playthrough, a little boring, the story was utterly pointless, making it a wholly mediocre game for anyone who made it that far.
    And yet all the content updates seem to be focusing on the people/bots who are playing it thousands of times. I mean really, just let me skip the middle part then and start the game with a level 60 character already.
    I’d really like to try out the different classes, but the thought of having to grind through hours of boring gameplay to do that just puts me off.

  14. mehteh says:

    “and we are committed to improving it” What a joke. D2 still lags with minions, no proper widescreen update, and its still rampant with bots. D3 is beyond fixing with all its fundamental changes and it too has bots. Blizzard hasnt cared about its community or gamers in the last decade.

  15. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Alec: take the photograph a little farther from your face the next time. It will reduce the big-nose effect.

  16. Adekan says:

    Being forced to play the game on Normal first was an unfortunate choice. Normal was a complete bore, an utter snoozefest of narcoleptic proportions. Completely randomized loot is a terrible idea for a loot focused game, and no/few unique items can even drop on normal. The story was utterly forgettable and the twist could be seen from sixteen miles away with nary a squint, these things killed any interest I had in playing beyond the first difficulty.

  17. caustic says:

    Big Nose

  18. mr.ioes says:

    The tags are all wrong. Wilsom = wilsom and you used to add somethin like “eyes” in them when there were a picture of them in the article.