Diablo III Originally Had Branching Storylines, Moral Choices

Diablo III Originally Had Branching Storylines, Moral Choices

Reaper of Souls

Diablo III's lead world designer Leonard Boyarsky claims that multiplayer made player choice impossible.

Leonard Boyarsky, the lead world designer on Diablo III, first made a name for himself writing the branching and varied storylines of the original Fallout series. So, it seemed odd for Blizzard to hire him to write Diablo III's straight-as-an-arrow linear story. In an interview with PC Games N, Boyarsky reveals that this wasn't always the case, as the original version of Diablo III had branching storylines and moral choices. He says that in the end, the multiplayer aspect of the game was what made player choice impossible.

"It's because [action RPGs] move quickly, but I think the bigger issue has to do with multiplayer," he explained. "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?"

He said that while other multiplayer action RPGs have attempted down this path anyway, the result is always incredibly lackluster, and not really worth the effort. "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."

Boyarsky revealed that his original vision had branching conversation choices - and a 'corruption' system would have seen players gain access to different conversation options as their characters fell from grace.

In the end, he felt that the team didn't put a high enough priority on the game's story. "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."

Source: PC Games N

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I gotta admit, usually I like these two things but they would feel out of place in something like Diablo in my opinion.

Buccura:
I gotta admit, usually I like these two things but they would feel out of place in something like Diablo in my opinion.

Backstabbing and moral ambiguity might have actually fit the darker setting.
But I can see the mechanical issues with doing split paths.

Atmos Duality:

Buccura:
I gotta admit, usually I like these two things but they would feel out of place in something like Diablo in my opinion.

Backstabbing and moral ambiguity might have actually fit the darker setting.
But I can see the mechanical issues with doing split paths.

Yeah, that's what I mean. It's one of those things that sounds good on paper but isn't so great in execution, most likely.

At least this explains (to some extent) why the game had such a shit-tacular story.

Well, conceptually, the story in Diablo 3 is just bland, but the execution is beyond terrible. I would really just prefer if we were just killing some hellspawn with no explanation at all. We just have to kill them before they kill us. Great improvement on the story right there.

The only saving grace was some of the followers banter. Some.

Multiple possible choice paths would have likely saved this game from a lot of harsher criticism. If anything, everyone is more likely to find a storyline that fits what they picture for the game if the game at least tries to match their choices.

Seriously, who wants to have to play the same game twice in a row with a different story, tots confusing; and I think replay value is just stupid. /sarcasm

Diablo 3 was such a grind...

In other words yet more evidence a pure single player mode would have been worthwhile. D3 is still fun with friends and I'm very excited for RoS next month but man the game seems like it could have been so much more had it not been so online focused.

I probably would have picked it up as soon as I could if had they included these but without an involving story it's not really my thing.

Diablo 3 would have been all the more awesome with this... At least then it would make since to play through the game with two of the same class twice. Now, it's just all so disappointing, knowing what could have been.

And Fallout was such an awesome game, with a story that I felt was deeper than it seemed at first glance. And now, we just have another example of great story-telling being sacrificed for perceived better availability.

I think it was the head developer of the game that did say it was meant to be multi-player... And now I have another reason to look at this game and hang my head in shame and disappointment. But at least this game taught me a very valuable lesson:

NEVER PRE-ORDER.

EVER.

Well gee, that's a surprise.

It's almost like changing the game to have a more heavy emphasis on multiplayer just so they could hamfistedly force Always-On DRM and an Auction House into the game, instead of focusing on all of the strong story elements and excellent game play that makes Blizzard games great, was a BAD idea! Who would've thought?

So glad they caught up to it NOW instead of, ya know, several years ago when they still could have fixed the problem before launching the damn game. >_<

Collecting dickpoints to unlock new dialogue options are not "moral choices" and concluding from its name, "corruption" system, it'll be completely daft black and white "save a puppy or burn an orphenage" choices all over again.

Just a simple choice of "do you go to the ocean or to the desert next, you only have time to pick 1" after completing a level without all the pretense of "morality" in a branching level selection like lylat wars would have been more interesting.

Branching dialogue trees belong in a baldurs gate.
A Diablo would benefit a lot more from passive storytelling like in half life or dark souls.

So no, I don't think this would have been a good direction to go in.
Regardless though, it is safe to say that the enforced online requirement only hurt the game.

I'm sure they could have worked around the multiplayer issue with some kind of parallel worlds thing like Dark Souls had, or another creative fix that I'm sure a skilled writer (which I am not) could come up with.

Personally, I would have welcomed branching storylines and moral choices, since I place a high value on a game's story, but to my understanding most fans of the dungeon crawl genre don't particularly care about the story, so I understand why they decided to emphasize multiplayer.

Yeah, it's pretty evident why this just wouldn't work for a game like Diablo. The best that could realistically be done is something like Path of Exile's bandit quest. But choices like that are meaningless and really don't add all that much to the game. Anyway, it's a good thing that they focused more on making the game feel, look and sound great along with having interesting loot (Loot 2.0 for anyone that'd quote me on that) and strong multiplayer. I much prefer it like that, rather than having a messy choice-driven narrative system with other areas gimped because of it.

As cool as that sounds, it would not work in the terms of the multiplayer that they have in the game--or any of the Diablo games. The only way I could see this working would be if only the host got to choose, and the others came along for the ride. Which completely destroys the experience for the other players. It sounds nice, and if they ever make a Diablo spin-off game without multiplayer I think this would totally work. However, the closest thing that I can see to this is the first Diablo. The quests were randomized every time you play. Sometimes you fight the Butcher, sometimes you don't. I miss that in Diablo II and III.

On another note, this does explain why Diablo III had the weakest story out of the trilogy to me. I think it had a nice base, but the execution was just not that good. Terrible actually. It just didn't feel like a Diablo story. It was one, but it didn't feel like one. That sense of hopelessness, but pressing on anyway. That sense of only delaying the end, not preventing it completely.
Now, Reaper of Souls is shaping up to be a Diablo game, or at least an expansion. Hopefully they listened to the critics and fans and made the needed corrections. Either way, I still intend to pick it up and play the every-loving demon out of it.

dyre:
I'm sure they could have worked around the multiplayer issue with some kind of parallel worlds thing like Dark Souls had, or another creative fix that I'm sure a skilled writer (which I am not) could come up with.

Personally, I would have welcomed branching storylines and moral choices, since I place a high value on a game's story, but to my understanding most fans of the dungeon crawl genre don't particularly care about the story, so I understand why they decided to emphasize multiplayer.

You're kind of right and wrong about fans of dungeon crawling. I love the genre, but the story arc and terrible voice acting in Diablo3 killed a lot of the games appeal. If Diablo would have had some decent gameplay mechanics then I would have kept playing, but the story and boring grinding made it unplayable by the time I got the hardest difficulty. A great story wouldn't have made the game infinitely replayable, but a bad story the first time through is very disappointing and sets you up to be more critical of all the other faults in the game. A good story line makes the whole game feel deeper and makes grinding dungeons a bit more fun.

I hope multiplayer games find interesting ways to deal with multiple story lines. My favorite so far is from Path of Exile. There's one quest where you have the option of helping or killing a few different people, everyone in your group has to vote, and you have to kill any players who voted differently than yourself. I'd love to see games use choices like this push people along multiple story lines.

I'll point to Divinity: Original Sin and tell that this lead designer just isn't good enough at designing shit.

I have a confession to make; the only part of Diablo 3 I've played was the demo. Yes, that's it. From that alone it's hard to criticize the storyline, but the gameplay mechanics weren't that appealing. But to hear that story was sacrificed to focus on said mechanics is quite disheartening. I can only imagine what they did employ in the way of a story. Branching storylines; possible. Visit area A first then B and it's different than visiting area B then area A. Diablo was fun since the maps were random and the loot plentiful. Didn't need multiplayer to have fun, but it was a nice bonus to handle the rougher areas. Hell half the fun was staying alive long enough to get a town portal scroll. But when I think about it the story for Diablo was damn simple. Maybe it just felt grander simply through the progression of the game. In any case I can see how the moral choices and what not wouldn't work for mulitplayer. Perhaps that should have made them consider that single player route?

Uhh... Isn't this the game with like 4 play through before end-level?

While they shouldn't make it an actual numbered Diablo sequel, I've thought for a while that a spin off game line focusing on the world of Diablo might be interesting, since there is quite a bit of lore there, especially the way
some writers developed it in novels and such. That said in the actual main Diablo game line, I kind of agree that too much story is out of place, as that isn't really what people play it for.

I'll also say again that I was rather disappointed with Diablo 3 (and didn't play it much as a result). I guess Blizzard had a plan based on their previous fans, but honestly with what some competing titles like "Sacred 2" did in terms of making an action-RPG more or less open world, I felt Diablo 3 was lacking. It's odd but all of the diablo imitators wound up setting the bar so high that the main series that was supposed to eclipse them wound up falling behind in it's own right... oddly becoming simpler and arguably less advanced, rather than gaining increased depth as many people (including me) were expecting. While "Sacred 2" has it's failings (and is hilariously bad in places) it's more or less my "go to" example for what top down action RPGs can be. In comparison the whole "single quest hub with portals" gimmick used by Diablo and Torchlight seems kind of trite and lazy nowadays.

So why he telling us now abou this scraped features?

Anyway that made sense and should of used it considering that each of the classes had their own background before arriving at Sanctuary and they had their own goals so it would of been interesting what their stories could of been expanded and the choices they (you) had made.

Buccura:

Atmos Duality:

Buccura:
I gotta admit, usually I like these two things but they would feel out of place in something like Diablo in my opinion.

Backstabbing and moral ambiguity might have actually fit the darker setting.
But I can see the mechanical issues with doing split paths.

Yeah, that's what I mean. It's one of those things that sounds good on paper but isn't so great in execution, most likely.

It'd be great in both... until you remember that we're dealing with Blizzard and thus the writing would end up being hilariously incompetent at best and/or utter atrocious at worst(D3 so far as being switching from one to the other as far as I've seen).

Steven Bogos:

"I think the bigger issue has to do with multiplayer," he explained. "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?"

Its called the divinity original sin method. have stats based on your conversations and then roll against them to see who gets to chose, they also made that work in TOR and that's a bloody MMO no excuse whatsoever, just poor design

So yet another element of diablo 3 that was ruined by lobster accountants

well, in path of exile, they handled it by making all of the disagreeing team members fight each other immediately when they made their choices (at which point said disagreement was revealed, and not at all until then), which is much funnier than deciding not to make it at all

instead of different choices in a single run through, id have preferred different choices based on difficulty level. So that its kinda like i beat it once then my character makes different choices the next run through on higher difficulty maybe because they have precognition of my previous run. It could have a bit of continuity instead of the same old grind and at the highest level would be the perfect choices.

id also love to be able to save her, it is unsatisfactory that she turns into diablo and is just dead at the end

iblis666:
instead of different choices in a single run through, id have preferred different choices based on difficulty level. So that its kinda like i beat it once then my character makes different choices the next run through on higher difficulty maybe because they have precognition of my previous run. It could have a bit of continuity instead of the same old grind and at the highest level would be the perfect choices.

id also love to be able to save her, it is unsatisfactory that she turns into diablo and is just dead at the end

I agree. Its painful to watch, knowing you cant do squat to help her. Either way, its interesting to see some new Diablo 3 news, its just not the news I am still waiting for, IE the announcement that Reaper of Souls is coming to the One and you can transfer your characters and loot over from the 360. So, interesting, but still waiting. /sigh

Colt47:
Multiple possible choice paths would have likely saved this game from a lot of harsher criticism. If anything, everyone is more likely to find a storyline that fits what they picture for the game if the game at least tries to match their choices.

The problem with that theory is that Blizzard can't even write a multiple path story in the first place. There isn't a single game in their library that has more than a single, straight line story that's canon. The closest they've come is World of Warcraft and that is plagued with one path existing as nothing more than a foil for the other.

It's a good idea in theory but let's not exaggerate the skills of their staff.

Moral choice is easy, it doesn't have to be big, just in little things. Do I buy the axe, or do I murder the shopkeeper with the axe then take the axe? Moral choice is best when it doesn't affect game play, as in you're trying to eb super good so you can get the spell only super good players get, no take the NWN approach where it only affects the world and how it reacts to you... or affects nothing beyond making you smile.

Branching story lines.. If done properly they are always a good thing, when done as a half-assed method to extend gameplay and replay...it sucks. The problem is, a lot of D3's development points to half-assery, from the policies to the mechanics to the gear based grinding.

VoidOfOne:
Diablo 3 would have been all the more awesome with this... At least then it would make since to play through the game with two of the same class twice. Now, it's just all so disappointing, knowing what could have been.

And Fallout was such an awesome game, with a story that I felt was deeper than it seemed at first glance. And now, we just have another example of great story-telling being sacrificed for perceived better availability.

I think it was the head developer of the game that did say it was meant to be multi-player... And now I have another reason to look at this game and hang my head in shame and disappointment. But at least this game taught me a very valuable lesson:

NEVER PRE-ORDER.

EVER.

Yup. Never do that. Game companies have been trying to teach you that lesson for like 3 or 4 years now. Game is released it's buggy, that preorder DLC and all DLC gets released with the GOTY edition, aspects of the game that were promised on release are released at a later date, the multiplayer aspect tramples their tiny servers while the company says "no way we could of expect this!", intrusive DRM gets cutback or out completely at a later date, oh and of course lets not forget the game cheaper as it ages.

EDIT: Oh and then lets not forget the ever looming possibility that the gameplay and/or story in general might just blow.

Fucking idiots, Diablo doesn't need choice, its needs atmosphere, something the third game doesn't have.

The story is so damn easy to do and simple, its as old as time, you're the only one who can stop a great evil but your quest will be the end of you, and even if you do win it will only prolong the inevitable. Its so simple the first game had very little text/story in it at all and it worked beautifully, the second game was fine in its own way, not as strong but at least the atmosphere was still good.

The third game just fucks everything up. The atmosphere is shit, the story is shit, the characters are shit, they even fucked up what you would think be unfuckable, Diablo himself looks fucking retarded.

And on top of all that Diablo 3 is an online only game, which makes it absolutely worthless.

But we've all heard it a million times now, I just want this shit stain of a game to go away now.

Valderis:
Fucking idiots, Diablo doesn't need choice, its needs atmosphere, something the third game doesn't have.

The story is so damn easy to do and simple, its as old as time, you're the only one who can stop a great evil but your quest will be the end of you, and even if you do win it will only prolong the inevitable. Its so simple the first game had very little text/story in it at all and it worked beautifully, the second game was fine in its own way, not as strong but at least the atmosphere was still good.

The third game just fucks everything up. The atmosphere is shit, the story is shit, the characters are shit, they even fucked up what you would think be unfuckable, Diablo himself looks fucking retarded.

And on top of all that Diablo 3 is an online only game, which makes it absolutely worthless.

But we've all heard it a million times now, I just want this shit stain of a game to go away now.

Unfortunately many of us have a box sitting on our shelves. This was the game that got me to play Torchlight 2 of all things.

Yet another potentially interesting single player experience ruined by the need to shoehorn in multiplayer features. God knows the last thing I'd want in my role-playing game is the ability to actually play a role, even if only a little bit.

 

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