At gamescom 2023, Tam and Lucy from GameSpot had the opportunity to sit down with Rod Fergusson and Chris Wilson from the Diablo team to discuss the challenges of fixing a live service game, specifically Diablo IV. The first season of Diablo IV received negative feedback from players due to unexpected nerfs and a lackluster endgame. While Blizzard has announced sweeping changes for season two, there is still work to be done to improve the game’s performance. In this interview, the team discusses how they assess necessary changes, the difficulties they face, and the importance of player feedback in shaping the future of Diablo IV. Overall, this article explores the realities of running a live service game and offers insights into the continuous learning and adaptation process that developers go through to deliver the best gaming experience for players.
Challenges of Running a Live Service Game
Running a live service game like Diablo IV comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the major challenges the developers faced was negative feedback from players in the first season of the game. Despite their efforts to create an immersive and enjoyable experience, players expressed their disappointment and frustration with certain aspects of the game. This feedback highlighted the need for necessary changes to improve game performance and address player concerns.
Negative feedback from players in the first season of Diablo IV
The negative feedback from players in the first season of Diablo IV was a wake-up call for the developers. It showed them that they needed to listen to the players and take their concerns seriously. Some players expressed their dissatisfaction with the game’s balance, citing issues with character abilities and item drops. Others raised concerns about the lack of variety in quests and the repetitive nature of the gameplay. These feedbacks were valuable in identifying the areas that needed improvement to enhance the overall gaming experience.
Necessary changes to improve game performance
To address the issues raised by players in the first season, the Diablo IV development team realized that they needed to make some necessary changes to improve game performance. This included refining the game’s balance by adjusting character abilities, item drops, and enemy difficulty. They also focused on adding more diverse and engaging quests to break up the monotony of the gameplay. Additionally, they worked on enhancing the overall performance and stability of the game to provide a seamless and enjoyable experience for players.
Importance of player feedback and implementing changes
Player feedback is invaluable when it comes to improving a live service game like Diablo IV. The developers understood the importance of listening to the players and taking their feedback into account. By actively seeking out and implementing player suggestions, they were able to create a game that was more aligned with the players’ expectations. This not only improved the overall gaming experience but also fostered a sense of inclusivity and community within the player base.
Different teams working on different seasons and live game updates
Running a live service game requires coordination between different teams responsible for developing and maintaining different seasons and live game updates. Each team focuses on specific aspects of the game, such as content updates, bug fixes, and balancing. This allows the development process to be streamlined and ensures that new seasons and updates can be released in a timely manner. It also enables the team to prioritize changes based on short-term, medium-term, or long-term goals, depending on the needs and expectations of the player base.
Prioritizing changes based on short-term, medium-term, or long-term goals
When implementing necessary changes in a live service game, it’s crucial to prioritize them based on short-term, medium-term, or long-term goals. Short-term goals address immediate concerns or bugs that may be impacting the gameplay experience. These changes are usually focused on resolving critical issues to enhance the overall quality of the game. Medium-term goals involve implementing changes that require more time and resources, such as adding new features or content updates. Long-term goals, on the other hand, are geared towards the game’s long-lasting success and involve strategic decisions to shape the game’s future direction.
Assessing Necessary Changes
To assess the necessary changes needed in Diablo IV, the development team utilized several feedback sources such as surveys, forums, and telemetry data. Surveys were sent out to players to gather their opinions, suggestions, and concerns about the game. Forums provided a platform for players to openly discuss their experiences and share feedback with the development team and fellow players. The team also gathered telemetry data, which provided insights into player behavior, trends, and preferences.
Using surveys, forums, and telemetry as feedback sources
Surveys played a crucial role in collecting structured feedback from players. They covered a wide range of topics, including gameplay mechanics, visual aesthetics, and overall satisfaction with the game. These surveys helped the development team gauge player expectations and identify areas that required improvements. Forums, on the other hand, offered a more informal space for players to share their thoughts and ideas. The team actively participated in forum discussions, engaging with players and addressing their concerns directly. Telemetry data, which includes information on player actions, session lengths, and in-game interactions, provided valuable insights into how players were engaging with the game.
Analyzing player data to identify areas of improvement
Once the feedback from surveys, forums, and telemetry data was collected, the development team analyzed it to identify specific areas of improvement. They looked for common patterns and trends in the data to understand what aspects of the game were most important to the players. This analysis helped them prioritize changes and allocate resources accordingly. By understanding player preferences and pain points, they were able to make targeted improvements that would have a positive impact on the overall gaming experience.
Considering community discussions and suggestions
The development team recognized the importance of community discussions and suggestions in shaping the future of Diablo IV. They actively participated in forum discussions, paying close attention to the ideas and suggestions put forth by the community. Ideas that gained traction and resonated with the player base were carefully considered for implementation. Community suggestions gave the developers a fresh perspective and helped them understand what the players truly wanted from the game. This collaborative approach fostered a sense of ownership and involvement within the community, making players feel valued and heard.
Testing and considering the impact of changes
Implementing changes in a live service game requires thorough testing and consideration to avoid breaking the experience. The development team conducted extensive testing to ensure that any changes made did not introduce new issues or significantly alter the gameplay balance. They considered the potential impact of each change on player progression, difficulty, and overall enjoyment. By carefully testing and evaluating the impact of changes, they were able to make informed decisions that ultimately improved the game without compromising its integrity.
The Reality of Implementing Player Feedback
Implementing player feedback is an ongoing process that requires learning and adapting based on the feedback itself and the data collected. The development team at Diablo IV acknowledged that they could not implement every suggestion or address every concern due to various constraints. However, they recognized the value of meaningful changes that would have a significant positive impact on the player experience. Balancing player expectations and development constraints was a continuous challenge, but the team remained dedicated to delivering the best possible experience for players.
Thorough testing and consideration to avoid breaking the experience
When implementing player feedback, it is crucial to prioritize thorough testing to avoid breaking the experience for players. Changes introduced to fix one problem can sometimes lead to unintended consequences or create new issues. The development team at Diablo IV diligently tested each change to ensure that it was implemented smoothly and did not negatively impact other aspects of the game. This thorough testing process helped maintain the game’s stability and overall integrity while addressing player concerns.
Learning and adapting based on player feedback and data
Player feedback and data analysis provided valuable insights for the development team, allowing them to learn and adapt over time. By carefully studying the feedback from surveys, forums, and telemetry data, they gained a deeper understanding of what worked and what needed improvement. This continuous feedback loop enabled them to make informed decisions and implement changes that would lead to a better gaming experience. It also demonstrated their commitment to continuously evolving and refining Diablo IV based on player preferences and needs.
Delivering the best possible experience for players
At the core of implementing player feedback is the goal of delivering the best possible experience for players. The development team at Diablo IV recognized that the success of the game relied on the satisfaction and enjoyment of its players. By actively listening to player feedback and making meaningful changes, they aimed to create a game that engaged and captivated players for hours on end. Their dedication to continuously improving the game reflected their commitment to ensuring that players had an enjoyable and immersive gaming experience.
Acknowledging the need for meaningful changes
Listening to player feedback and implementing meaningful changes requires a willingness to acknowledge that improvements are necessary. The development team at Diablo IV embraced this mindset, recognizing that no game is perfect from the start. They welcomed player feedback as an opportunity to enhance the game and make it more enjoyable for all. By acknowledging the need for changes, they demonstrated a growth mindset and a commitment to delivering a game they could be proud of.
Working on Future Updates
Running a live service game means constantly working on future updates to keep players engaged and excited. The development team at Diablo IV had plans in place to incorporate meaningful changes in future updates. These changes ranged from adding new features and content updates to fine-tuning gameplay mechanics and addressing any lingering player concerns. Through continued dedication, they aimed to create a game that would evolve and improve with each new update, ensuring that players always had something to look forward to.
Plans to incorporate meaningful changes in future updates
The development team had concrete plans to incorporate meaningful changes in future updates for Diablo IV. They took into account the feedback and suggestions from players to identify areas that required improvement. Based on this feedback, they aimed to introduce new features that players had been eagerly anticipating, such as expanded character customization options or additional endgame content. They also planned to address any remaining concerns that players had expressed, striving to create a game that exceeded expectations.
Continued dedication to improving the game
The development team’s dedication to improving Diablo IV was unwavering. They understood that the success of a live service game relied on the ongoing efforts to refine and expand the gaming experience. This dedication translated into their commitment to releasing regular updates and engaging with the player community. The team diligently worked to fix bugs, address balance issues, and incorporate player feedback, ensuring that players felt heard and that their investment in the game was valued.
Balancing player expectations and development constraints
Balancing player expectations with development constraints was a constant challenge for the Diablo IV development team. While they wanted to implement as many player suggestions as possible, they also had to consider technical limitations, resource availability, and the overall vision for the game. They aimed to strike a balance between meeting player expectations and maintaining the game’s integrity. This required careful decision-making and open communication with the player community to manage expectations and explain the reasoning behind certain choices.
Creating a balance between listening to feedback and maintaining the game’s integrity
Listening to player feedback is essential, but it’s equally important to maintain the integrity of the game. The development team at Diablo IV recognized the need to carefully evaluate and prioritize feedback to ensure that changes would align with the overall vision of the game. They understood that not every suggestion could be implemented, but they made sure to communicate with transparency and clarity to help players understand their decision-making process. By creating this balance, they aimed to deliver a game that satisfied player expectations while staying true to the essence of Diablo IV.
The Role of Transparency
Transparency plays a vital role in the relationship between the development team and the player community. It refers to openly sharing information, plans, and decisions with the community, fostering trust and understanding. Being transparent with the community has both advantages and disadvantages, and it requires careful consideration from the development team.
Advantages and disadvantages of being transparent with the community
One advantage of being transparent with the community is the opportunity to build trust. When the development team openly communicates their plans, challenges, and decision-making process, players feel more included and valued. Transparency also helps manage player expectations by giving them a realistic understanding of what changes can be made and when. However, there are also disadvantages to transparency. Sharing too much information prematurely can create false expectations that are difficult to meet. Additionally, sharing ongoing development challenges may undermine player confidence in the game. Striking the right balance is crucial to ensure that transparency remains a positive aspect of the developer-player relationship.
Building trust through open communication
Open communication is key to building trust between the development team and the player community. The Diablo IV development team understood this and made a conscious effort to engage with players through regular updates, forum discussions, and community events. They provided insights into their development process, shared their vision for the game, and listened to player concerns. By establishing this open communication channel, they fostered a sense of trust and collaboration that was invaluable in creating a positive gaming experience.
Engaging with the community to foster a sense of involvement
Engaging with the community is crucial to foster a sense of involvement and ownership among players. The Diablo IV development team actively participated in forum discussions, where they answered questions, addressed concerns, and acknowledged player feedback. They also organized community events to gather feedback and create a dialogue with players. By involving the community in the decision-making process, the development team made players feel like they were part of the game’s evolution. This sense of involvement deepened the connection between the players and the game, contributing to a stronger and more invested player community.
Setting realistic expectations and managing player frustrations
Transparency in communication helps in setting realistic expectations and managing player frustrations. The development team at Diablo IV recognized the importance of providing clear and honest communication to avoid unrealistic player expectations. By openly sharing their plans and the challenges they faced, they helped players understand the complexity of game development. However, managing player frustrations can be a delicate task. The team strived to address concerns promptly and transparently, while also managing expectations about the timeframes needed for implementing changes. This allowed players to have a clearer understanding of the development process, reducing frustration and fostering a more supportive player community.
Diablo IV Season Two Announcement
Blizzard recently announced sweeping changes for Diablo IV season two, showcasing their commitment to addressing player concerns and improving the game. The announcement highlighted several new features, improvements, and content updates that players could expect in the upcoming season. This announcement was a testament to the development team’s dedication to delivering meaningful changes based on player feedback.
Blizzard’s plans for sweeping changes in Diablo IV season two
Diablo IV season two is set to bring about significant changes that aim to enhance the gaming experience for all players. The development team has taken player feedback into consideration, focusing on improvements that address the most pressing concerns and enhance gameplay. These changes include a revamped character progression system, new endgame activities, additional character customization options, and a renewed focus on variety and replayability. By implementing these sweeping changes, the team aims to create a more immersive and engaging experience in Diablo IV’s second season.
New features, improvements, and content updates
Season two of Diablo IV will introduce exciting new features, improvements, and content updates. Players can look forward to an enhanced character progression system that offers more meaningful and impactful choices, allowing them to tailor their gameplay experience to their preferences. Additionally, new endgame activities will provide challenging and rewarding gameplay for those seeking a greater sense of accomplishment. The development team also plans to add new content, such as dungeons, zones, and items, providing players with fresh and exciting challenges to conquer.
Addressing player concerns and criticisms
The announcement of Diablo IV season two shows the development team’s commitment to addressing player concerns and criticisms. They have listened carefully to the feedback provided by the player community and have made it a priority to address the areas that fell short in the first season. By actively incorporating player feedback, the team aims to create a more enjoyable and satisfying experience for all players. This demonstrates their dedication to continuously improving and evolving the game based on the needs and expectations of the player community.
Evolving the game based on player feedback
The announcement of Diablo IV season two is a testament to the development team’s commitment to evolving the game based on player feedback. The team has recognized the importance of actively listening to their player base and making meaningful changes based on their suggestions. By incorporating player feedback, they aim to create a dynamic and engaging game that evolves and improves over time. The ongoing dialogue with the player community is crucial in shaping the future of Diablo IV and ensuring that the game remains a beloved and immersive experience for its players.
Running a live service game like Diablo IV comes with its fair share of challenges, but the development team’s dedication shines through. The negative feedback from players in the first season served as a catalyst for necessary changes to improve game performance. The team recognized the importance of player feedback and implemented changes based on surveys, forums, and telemetry data. The reality of implementing player feedback required thorough testing and careful consideration to avoid breaking the gaming experience. The development team worked on future updates with continued dedication, always balancing player expectations with development constraints. Transparency played a crucial role in fostering trust and managing player frustrations. The season two announcement for Diablo IV showcased the ongoing commitment to improving the game, addressing player concerns, and evolving based on player feedback. Overall, the challenges of running a live service game were met with resilience, highlighting the importance of player feedback and the hope for meaningful changes in the future.
In the latest episode of “Spot On,” Tam and Lucy interviewed Rod Fergusson and Chris Wilson from the Diablo team to dive into the complexities of fixing a live service game. You’ll discover that the first season of Diablo IV received mixed feedback, with many players disappointed by unexpected nerfs and a lackluster endgame. However, the announcement of the game’s second season brought some positivity. Still, Blizzard acknowledges that there is more work to be done in implementing necessary changes. During their conversation at gamescom 2023, Tam and Lucy explored how developers assess the required modifications, the challenges they face in making them, and the advantages and disadvantages of being transparent with the community.