However they soon stepped away from that as Boyarsky feels an action-RPG isn't 'right' for branches, but the "bigger issue has to do with multiplayer." Weep for single-player.
If you feel Diablo III was designed for loot hunting in mind to the near exclusion of all else, then you'd be on the mark.
The story is compatible with being skipped for repeated run-throughs, and therefore sacrificed any 'choice' that could have been had by favouring multiplayer. Single-player was sacrificed at the altar of online connectivity.
“That was one of the roads we went down early on when I first started,” Leonard Boyarsky told . “And that was one of the reasons I think that they were interested in me joining the team, was because I had experience with that kind of RPG, and we were really interested in exploring that.”
The Fallout veteran explains he came to believe that "you really can’t have an action RPG that has player choice”.
“It’s because it moves quickly, but I think the bigger issue has to do with multiplayer,” he said. “Because if we offer you two different paths and I want to take a different path to my friend, how do we then reconcile that?”
“If I’m making an RPG where you have choice, I want it to matter,” he said. “And it was really not possible to make it matter and to make this game.” During development their story team had multiplayer meetings and for every solution they theorised a new hurdle. Ultimately they didn't support letting one person decide the direction of the story.
"Because every time we came up with a solution it was like, ‘Well, what happens when your friend does this’,” said Boyarsky. “We just never really came up with a good solution. If you’re making an action RPG, especially a multiplayer one, it really makes it impossible to go down that road.”
Branching conversations and a 'corruption' system would have played a part in the narrative, which would have led to certain dialogue opening up as they starting becoming more selfish etc. What was chosen? Skippable story with focus on loot, and so the flickering flames of the single-player RPG blew out.
“I think eventually we came down too hard on the side of the players who didn’t really want a lot to do with the story,” said Boyarsky. “And that was very problematic because our story started out as something a lot more complex than we could probably tell in the context of what we were doing."
“And instead of us realising that soon enough and really stripping that down, we continued to try to tell that story.”
Diablo III marks an unfortunate white flag defeat for Blizzard in story-telling, as while the linear experience certainly has their trademark flair, learning what could have been casts it in a new shallow light. Steps are being taken to help reinvigorate this loot hunter action-RPG as Blizzard switches off the Auction House next month.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls releases on PC and PS4 March 25th.
Early Diablo III development had 'branching story', "impossible to go down that road"
24 February 2014 | By Simon Priest