While at BlizzCon today, we got the chance to sit down with Blizzard Entertainment’s Jay Wilson, Game Director of Diablo III. We touched on several different topics such as the new loot system, a possible console version, the fifth character class, and a lot more. Enjoy!

GS) Have the skill trees been finalized yet?

JW) No, we’re not even one hundred percent sure that this is the final take on the skill system yet.

GS) Are the graphics we see in the screenshots and demo videos what will be in the final, possible, 2011 release?

JW) Well I don’t know where 2011 came from as we have not announced a release date yet. That being said, we will continue to tweak as we see fit but we probably wont say we will release on this date and therefore its far enough in the future that we have to upgrade everything…that’s just going to make everything take longer I think.

Check out the rest of the interview, After the Break!

GS) Are you guys going to be taking advantage of DirectX 11 effects?

JW) We haven’t made a call on that yet. We’re definitely not going to do anything thats going to require DirectX 11 but whether we actually go for anything of those effects, my lead programmer will probably make the call on that.

GS) Can you tell us if Diablo III will have a dedicated 64-bit version of the game?

JW) Also haven’t made a call on that yet.

GS) Has the game’s inventory screen been finished yet? Is what we saw in the demo the final build of that system?

JW) Well I would never say absolutely however, we’re pretty happy with this version. So, yeah, its very likely to stay. The version we showed last year was a ‘one-slot’ system where one item fit in one slot. The thing we didn’t like about that was we wanted the item icon sizes to be much larger. We felt that when the item icons got smaller they didn’t feel as prominent. And, we also felt we would have to boost the color on them to make them readable which did not make them look very Diablo.

We decided we definitely needed big item icons so we did a new item system that we did right after BlizzCon last year and that system actually split our inventory into large and small items but they were separated – there was a tab for the two types. And, that was annoying. So, we just decided to suck it up and say we’re going a hybrid system which we call ‘mini-Tetris’ essentially. We have large items which are one by two squares and small items which are one by one.

GS) Have you guys considered a console version of Diablo III?

JW) We haven’t made a decision whether we do a console version or not…We like console games, we play tons of console games – we’re gamers across the board, not just PC gamers. The fact that all of our games are PC-oriented is more about the kind of games we make rather than the fact that we consider ourselves a PC game-developer. A Diablo game would probably convert to a console better our other games. But the task of developing Diablo III is such a monumental one that making it cross-platform as well is not a high-priority for us.

GS) Does Diablo III share a graphics engine or common framework with StarCraft 2 and your other, unannounced products down the road?

JW) Well, not really… Our teams that develop games, for the most part, develop an engine on their own. The World of Warcraft engine was developed off of the Warcraft III engine but, for the most part, this one is completely separate. That being said, there is some code sharing…

GS) Where does the line get drawn with the new Monk class as far as what kind of armor he can use?

JW) Well, we don’t do any kind of restrictions for armor…What we do is customize the look of the armor, and, some characters get more benefits from armor than others. So, for example, the Barbarian has an innate kind of bonus to the armor that he puts on whereas the Monk – not as much…One of the things we talked about early on with the Monk was, ‘Well he’s not going to have any items, right?’. And, we’re like ‘No’ – that’s just silly. If he couldn’t have items, we couldn’t do him.

GS) Can you tell us anymore about the class-specific quest system in the game?

JW) Not a a lot but I can tell you we do intend to do some class quests and mostly what we want to do is give story arcs to the characters. We don’t want them to be kind of nameless…I think we’ve reached a point where we are trying to build a universe and a universe is filled with characters. And so a lot of what we want to do with the class quests is support that idea to build characters.

GS) So when you start the game will the different classes begin in the same  place or will you start at some sort of origin level to setup your character?

JW) Originally we wanted to do an origin – we wanted to actually have the characters start in their own location but it was a monumental cost for us to do it so we decided that we would have everyone start in the same place. We do try to set the characters up though. We have a little event early on that’s going to try to setup where the characters come from and what their mindset is.

GS) Obviously the Barbarian class is a throwback to the previous game. Will the to be announced class also be a throwback to the previous title(s)?

JW) Well, I have to be careful in how I answer that as I don’t want to reveal too much. Let’s see… No, its not going to be a returning class. That’s about all I’ll say for that.

GS) How will the new loot system work?

JW) Well its ‘instanced loot’, which means if you see an item on the ground its for you. Its not for other players, unless its specifically dropped by another player. We have some communication issues with that obviously because most people don’t know that’s happening.When you kill a boss, that boss will drop items for you and items for me and items for the dude who is in the thick of it and cant loot right now. We did this so that players can actually play together.

We would like to thank Jay Wilson and the rest of the PR team at Blizzard Entertainment for making this interview possible. Be sure to check back in tomorrow for our interview with Greg Street, the Lead Systems Designer for World of Warcraft!

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com