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Bringing Diablo III to consoles helped devs reevaluate the Diablo formula

"The PC team, for all the right intentions, because of all the pressure, the expectation, some of their initial design was very conservative. But on console, it was a bit of the Wild West."
“The PC team, for all the right intentions, because of all the pressure, the expectation, some of their initial design was very conservative. But on console, it was a bit of the Wild West.”

- Josh Mosqueira explores the process of bringing console-friendly features to a traditionally PC-only game.

Innovation can become a controversial concept for developers that spend a nearly a decade working on a single series or game. In the case of Diablo III, it took a combination of a new platform and a new director to coax the development team into re-examining exactly what defines a Diablo game.

In an excerpt from his upcoming book Blood, Sweat and Pixels, author and journalist Jason Schreier dives into the complicated launch and early life of Diablo III, chronicling everything from the game’s initial server woes to heated discussions about tweaking classic Diablo mechanics. 

Josh Mosqueira, who took over as game director following Jay Wilson’s departure, was at the center of some of those internally-controversial game changes during the development of Diablo III's first expansion. Without any prior experience developing a Diablo title, Mosqueira was able to look at the game with fresh eyes to pitch and debate changes to seemingly staple Diablo game features.

He spearheaded the inclusion of significant alterations to Diablo III’s loot system and argued on behalf of bringing an evasion mechanic to the game to make it feel more at home on console. 

“Evade was extremely contentious on the team. Extremely, extremely contentious,” said Mosqueira. “I would get into very heated discussions with some of the other designers about why we needed it on console.” 

Veteran Diablo designers worried that an evade ability would interfere with existing items that boosted movement speed, while Mosqueira argued that more interactive movement would help keep players engaged. 

“Both are right arguments. At the end of the day, you have to say, ‘OK, I’m willing to sacrifice some of that long-term reward for the short-term visceral feeling,’” said Mosqueira. “I understand I’m giving away the power reward, but for this to feel like a console game, my thumbs need to do something at regular intervals, and it just feels good. It’s a console thing to do.” 

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