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7:59 AM on 11.09.2013

Blizzcon Writeup Request: Diablo III Reaper of Souls + Q&A Panels.

[i]So here it is, I got the virtual ticket to Blizzcon, so here's the notes I took from both of the main Diablo III panels.

The Reaper of Souls addresses the gameplay overview, which I've detailed in very short form. 
For the lore and story Q+A I have used slightly longer form for two reasons. Firstly this was the panel that was requested on the Followers of the Dismal Jesters facebook page, and secondly because it's lore and story, come on. It can't really be condensed that much.

Disclaimer: I've paraphrased the FUCK out of this stuff for the sake of brevity, also, I've left out most of the questions I'm not cool enough to understand, I got most of 'em though.[/i]

[u]Reaper of Souls:[/u]
-Celebrating the dark, gothic heart of the Diablo series.
-Malthael, new villain
-Adventure mode - Go anywhere, slay anything.
 playing campain repeatedly wasn't fun. Play what parts of the game you want to, when you want to, no more linearity in Adventure Mode.
Jump to any waypoint
Bounties and Nephalem Rifts.
Bounties: Random quests given at the start of game. Gives a reason to go to various different acts/areas out of sequence. (kill a boss, complete an event, kill a unique, clear a dungeon)
NR: Highly randomized pocket dimentions, enemies from any act of the game, in any themed area. Random dungeons 2-10 levels deep. randomized enemy powers and abilities, randomised cool player buffs.

New area: Pandemonium - 
The eternal battlefield, constant conflict, been teased for a long long time in cinematics. Floating ruins of various types of abandoned and ruined architecture. Otherworldly, ravaged, old.
Malthael is there. His territory. Sees humans as an abomination. Was angel of wisdom, now is angel of death.

[u]Lore and Story Q&A panel:[/u]
Q: Will we see a 'failure cinematic'? do we see malthael destroy humanity if we fail?
A: Cinematics are pretty resource intensive, but there might be some interesting things when you die, not at a point where we can talk about them yet though

Q: What happened to the Dragon, where's Trangoul
A: Hasn't been an appropriate place to introduce him. He's out there somewhere.

Q: How do the templar and crusader differ in ideology, will they have dialogue in game?
A: Quite a bit of difference, templars are newer, rose from the ashes of the Paladins, some questionable practices of indoctrination.
Crusaders are older, made at the same time as the paladins, went east instead of west when they were created, not heard of for a long time. They represent an older, more pure version of the Zakarum Faith.

Q: At the end of D2, the worldstone was shattered, what happened to it.
A: It was shattered into pieces, where they are/what's being done with them is unknown, interesting in the future.

Q:Is tyrael human now since he got rid of his angel-ness?
A:He's mortal, not human. He took the form of a human, but he's not a nephalem, just a mortal with a cool sword.

Q:What's the difference between a mortal and a human?
A: Human is half angel, half demon. Tyrael is 100% angel dna, but he's given up that stuff that makes him a celestial being.

Q: Any reference to Deckard Cain in reaper of Souls?
A: Yes, you'll feel his influence, hear his voice

Q: Was deckards death a mechanic to develop Leah's character?
A:Yeah, we wanted to up the emotional stakes, and to pass the torch to Tyrael.

Q: How is heaven going to respond to Malthael's appearance?
A:Tyrael believes that humanity is our best hope, Imperius doesn't believe that.

Q: When were the demon hunters founded? Are they recent?
A:After the events of D1, the people whose lives had been shattered were angry, some of them gathered together, went to the north, started training.

Q: It's obvious christianity was used as inspiration for the world of Diablo, are there any other religions you draw from?
A: The world relies heavily on Judeo-christian themes, Monks have a very non-Judeo christian outlook. As the world has taken on a life of  its own, we've not required it as much.

Q: Leah's soul: Can we go back and redeem it?
A: No current plans to revisit what happened there, she's on her radar but her fate needs to sit there for a while to 'mean anything'.

Q:Nephalem, what were they? What was their culture like? What happened when they realised their power was fading?
A: When they realised their power was fading, they were scared enough to make deals and hide out (see drowned temple).
Nephalem culture began in its golden age, went into decline from there. Each generation was born weaker and weaker. Some didn't understand what was happening, thought it was a plague.
The ancients were the first Nephalem, each of the different children of the Angels/Demons developed their cultures differently.

A: Who do the Monks pray to?
Q: They have tons of gods, they see gods in everything, rivers, abstract concepts. There are gods of order and gods of chaos (which reflects how events unfold) . THe religion of the monks has a small glimpse into the greater reality of things.

Q: What happened to Adria?
A: She's ticked us off a little bit with what she did, we haven't forgotten about her, her time will come. She's still a disciple of Diablo.

Q: Is it possible to reinstate Tyrael as an angel? 
A: I don't think the enduras council has that ability. Tyrael's sacrifice needs to be hard to reverse to really mean anything.

Q: if tyrael were an angel still, would he have beaten Malthael in the cinematic?
A: Probably not, Malthael was one of the more powerful angels, and now he feeds on the souls of the dead, making him stronger.

Q: Where do human souls go? Where's Deckard Cain's soul?
A: We're not ready to reveal where human souls go, but since Malthael, souls aren't often getting where they're supposed to 

Q:Covetous Shen is very mysterious, any more story involving him incoming?
A: Absolutely yes, there will be some adventures you can go on with lots of the follower characters which give exposition. Covetous Shen really wants to find that Jewel. You're going to westmarch, you'll be very close to the Scoundrel's old stomping ground.

Q: Are you guys writing the rest of the story based on the prophecy of the end of days?
A: The prophecy is the inciting factor in all of this, but your player characters aren't going to let events unfold the way they were prophecised. The Nephalem aren't in the books of fate, so they're a big monkey wrench in the machine of destiny.

Q: Is inarius still alive?
A: Last I heard he was being tortured in hell.

Q:Was Zoltun Kulle supposed to be particularly morally ambiguous?
A: Yeah, we thought that making a character who makes a good point but who also maybe doesn't have our best interests at heart would be good. Any time we can find a place to introduce moral ambiguity, we always love that.

Q: At the end of D3 you see the black soulstone falling from heaven. How did Tyrael get it.
A: Heaven is a tiered place, it just fell onto a lower tier of heaven.
We're releasing a novel which details how Tyrael realises that he has to reform the Horadrim and get the Black soulstone out of heaven called 'Storm of Light'

Q: What would happen if the entire council of heaven De-winged like Tyrael. 
A: Shedding his wings was a symbolic gesture, he shed his celestial nature, 
if the whole council did that, though it'd be chaos, (but the world would get a lot of nice mortals)

[Enter Jesse Cox dressed as Leah]

 Q: In act one, I say I don't know anything about demons, but in act 2 I talk about skeletons, where's the logical leap in me believing in one and not the other?
A: If you lived in a world where you regularly saw walking skeletons, there's no reason you'd then believe in everything else without seeing it. 
A2: She just doesn't believe in an overarching rhyme or reason to all the weird things that are happening, just that she lives in a chaotic world.

Cheers for reading if you got this far. Hope you found it a decent resource.   read

8:58 PM on 09.03.2013

The Sound Design of Transistor

The upcoming game from Supergiant, spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed Bastion.

I needed to talk about sound design, there's so much to talk about here, so hold onto your butts.
From the very start we have an atmospheric show of force, we’re plunged into a packed restaurant or bar and slammed mid-performance into Red’s show and then quickly dunked into the cold water of silence with a somewhat startling intake of breath. 

"When you speak, I hear silence. Every word, a defiance. I can hear, oh, I can hear. Think I’ll go where it suits me. Moving out to the country. With everyone, oh everyone, before we all become one."

The song, so clearly a Darren Korb composition is catchy as heck and one I can see becoming a refrain for potentially the end of the game much as Zia’s theme was for Bastion. Ashley Barrett’s voice is clear and sweet as always and we’ll be hearing a lot of it throughout the game.

Disregarding the scene with the dead fella and the Transistor showing the Supergiant trademark of Narrative that absolutely grips you when you think about it, but completely doesn’t get in your way if you don’t want it to, we head straight into a semi-combat scenario in which the soundtrack pumps and throbs along, providing a keen sense of urgency as we pass through to the second area.

This is where stuff becomes really interesting to me. 
Note how when the transistor’s special ability is engaged (hard to miss, time stops and everything goes a different colour) ALL the treble and percussion drop out of the music. It feels like we’ve been plunged underwater, everything is slower here, calmer, we can stop and plan. Ashley’s voice just floats over it all, as if this is what Red would do if she was planning and humming to herself along with the music. As if she’s right there in the Transistor with you.

It’s such a beautiful and lonely theme too, I find myself listening to these parts over and over again just for that haunting floaty feeling that voice gives you.
So let’s talk about Logan Cunningham’s voice, the one coming from the Transistor itself (it lights up when he speaks! Awesome!).
If you played Bastion you’ll recognise it as Rucks' voice, the narrator and your main companion throughout the game. With… a couple of notable differences.
The first is immediately noticeable, whereas Rucks' voice was right in your ear, clear as day, deep and earthy as a canyon (and why wouldn’t he be, I mean he was sat next to you telling you the story) the Transistor’s voice is filtered, it’s like it’s talking out of every circuit and movable part it can. Almost like the voice of a telephone, not on the other end of a telephone, the thing itself.
The second difference is pretty obvious too, the Transistor speaks TO the protagonist as the game plays out, whereas Rucks simply described the Kid’s actions in Bastion, the Transistor has opinions and plans. Real agency. That’s a helluva point to narrate from, the hands of your protagonist.

After we view the poster (with more awesome scenes absorbing the personalities of the dead, something I’m really excited to see more of)
we’re treated to yet another song, this one a kind of lazy blues progression. 
This gives me hope that we’ll have a very much more vocal oriented and comprehensive soundtrack to Transistor, I’d like to see two versions of each track, both in and out of the planning mode as they’re certainly different feeling enough to be separate tracks.

Next we have a comparatively thumping Drum and Bass beat for the boss battle, helping to really show off the disparity between the atmosphere in and out of the transistor. 
The final track plays as Red takes off on her stolen motorbike, seriously a badass scene if ever there was one, the whole track reeks of determination, bravery and the will to continue echoing perfectly the content in the scene, and providing an emotional duet with Cunningham’s fantastic performance.

"Look… whatever you’re thinking, do me a favour… Don’t let go."

So yeah, I wrote a thing, it’s basically just a massive long squee, but there’s so much to talk about in just this 5 month old preview footage the sound design alone got me this far, and I didn’t even say all that needed saying, I just can’t wait to see what it’s like when it launches.

If you read this far you’re an idiot.
This video is taken from a playthrough at PAX east by TotalBiscuit /Totalhalibut on Youtube   read

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