To work in software development, whether it’s for business, entertainment, or your favorite video game company, is to know that simple problems don’t always have simple solutions. Game development is, in a word, complicated. There are thousands of moving parts where the smallest iteration can cause weeks of reversions and backtracking. On the outside looking in, it’s tempting to ask, “Why not just fix it?” That’s a bit like asking a baker why they can’t just substitute sugar for sucralose. The answer is similar across the board; “It’s not that simple.”
In Diablo III, there’s lots of information thrown at the player. Let’s talk numbers. You see them everywhere! They’re on your gear, they’re in your character profile, and they float around your nephalem’s head while you’re in combat. Behind each of those digits is a huge amount of tech that makes them behave the way that they do.
We heard a lot of player feedback that combat numbers were starting to be overwhelming or difficult to comprehend in moment-to-moment gameplay. In the past, large numbers were exciting to see because they stood out above the rest. How do you bring back that emotional appeal without making players feel like they have lost power?
Patch 2.4.0 introduced a couple of new features to address this. First, we’ve introduced a new in-game option to truncate numbers and display them using abbreviations. Second, we’ve added an entirely new feature that highlights some of your largest damage numbers in a new color. Each of these additions presented their own challenges when we went to implement them; some were design issues, others created localization concerns, and at the end of all these decisions, the result needed to look good.
Initially, we had the idea of highlighting the top 5% of numbers you’ve generated in the last few seconds. The first problem with this approach was that every build is different, especially when it comes to how each dishes out damage. Some pump out small bursts of floating numbers over time while others barrage your screen with a constant stream of information. In our first pass, another issue that arose was that the new system didn’t accommodate expected fluctuations in damage dealt. Take a Power Pylon, for example, where your damage is temporarily augmented. After the Pylon ends, you’ll still want to know when you’re dealing notable damage.
We developed our algorithm over time to account for these outliers, settling on the following rules for which numbers appear in orange:
If you’ve played the latest patch, you may have already seen our new damage abbreviations. We’ve seen a lot of questions, primarily from our English-speaking audiences, about why we measure in millions, but skip counting in billions.
There are a few reasons, but one of the most important is localization. Diablo III is a global game, published in 13 different languages, so when we make a design decision that affects the written word (or, in this case, written number), we have to remain cognizant of what that change will mean in every iteration of the game. While you might think numbers would be the easiest thing to translate, that couldn’t be any less true.
Here’s an example where what might look like a simple translation can get complicated. Some languages, like Spanish or French, do not commonly use a unique term for “billion.” They instead refer to that amount as what literally translates to “one thousand million” rather than having their own word. In terms of etymology, this is a result of both American and British English evolving the word “billion” to mean “one thousand million” rather than the “one million million” it originally represented.
It gets even more complex when looking at languages like Korean or Chinese, where large numbers are grouped on a different scale. For instance, in English, the nomenclature of a number changes with every third place, such as thousands, millions, billions and so forth. In Korean, the naming convention of a number instead changes every fourth place, using a method called myriad squared. This is because in Korean, numbers are grouped every ten-thousand fold instead of thousand fold.
This issue is compounded by punctuation use. Not every language uses commas as breaks in numbers. Some use periods instead, which is very common in Europe, and others don’t use any punctuation at all.
As numbers in Diablo III grew and we decided to add in numerical punctuation, we needed a way to elegantly “translate” where—and when—this punctuation would appear for each localization. Our code uses a library called ICU, or International Components for Unicode, which provides a great amount of support for localizing software. ICU can be used in a number of ways, but for this feature, we took advantage of its ability to take a number and a locale (such as United States English, French, or Korean) as input and give back a properly formatted number for that locale as output, complete with any periods or commas. Our Localization team also keeps a table that shows what numbers each region chooses to publish and the end result.
Some localizations opted to abbreviate more or less, mostly out of cultural preferences. There’s a real psychology behind player satisfaction and the actual length of the numbers you’re seeing, and player preference varies on both personal and cultural levels. For example, in English, we opted not to abbreviate in the low millions because seeing “1,000,000” is much more satisfying than “1M.” Skipping the billions place also helped with this, as seeing “1,000M” tells a much more exciting story than “1B.” Of course, number size isn’t the only consideration; the visuals, colors, and movement all play a key role as well.
It’s important to make sure that when a player sees a number, they can quickly understand the implication behind it and what it means to them at that precise instant. In Patch 2.4.0, we aimed to provide even more in-combat information than ever before. This is where those Critical Hit highlight numbers come into play.
Look at that beautiful crit!
Simply changing the color was one of many ways we could have presented this information. We asked ourselves a lot of questions about how was best to communicate these big hits. Do we make these numbers bigger? Have them path differently? Make them flash? Do they hang on the screen longer? Or do we just give them a different color? How do you decide which of these options is the right one?
We gravitated towards color because we could present this new information to our players in a drastically different way that passed other user accessibility concerns. Orange numbers stand out; they’re not something you’ve seen before, so subconsciously you pay close attention to them.
Orange also passes the colorblindness-friendly test. When you’re looking at a color wheel, orange is in a different realm than the other colors we currently use for other information. This way players that are colorblind can tell something’s new, too!
When we look at changing colors in our interface, our artists take a look a three options for variation: Hue, Saturation, and Lightness. This is part of what’s called the HSL color space, a common digital standardization for the color wheel. Each aspect is key to adjusting a different emotion or evoking a new response from the player. Do we want to change the mood? Then we adjust hue. If we’re shifting an image from being juicy to more flat, then saturation becomes key. How about drawing attention or driving it away? Lightness becomes the go-to.
As an example, some of the most critical information in the game is how much healing you’re receiving. Healing is literally your life force, and we want it to be very visible. That’s why that information is some of the brightest in the game. We wanted critical hit information to be extremely visible as well, so we played a lot with its lightness levels to make sure you always know when your next big damage spike occurs.
When we talk about the Diablo III team, it’s easy to first think of our developers who tweak the way a class or an item functions, or put cool, new features in to explore. However, there’s so much more going on beyond what your hero is wearing or wielding, and our artists, engineers, localization experts, and so many more help us ensure everything comes together smoothly for all of our players around the world.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this in-depth peek behind the scenes of a small feature that, under the hood, is deceptively gargantuan! It’s a privilege to come in every day and work on this game, even when it’s on the little details. Thanks for reading!
Diablo III patch 2.4.0 is now live in the Americas for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One! Check out the full PC patch notes below to learn all about the latest changes. To view our console patch notes, click here.
Important: Please note that you will not be prompted to download patch 2.4.0 until the patch is live in your home region. If you are logging in from a European or Asian client, you will need to wait for this patch to release in that region before it can be installed. Additionally, if your home region is in the Americas, you will be unable to log into Europe or Asia using Global Play after patch 2.4.0 is live until those regions have also patched.
Visit our Bug Report forum for a list of known issues.
If you are experiencing technical issues with the patching process, connecting to Battle.net after installing the patch, or errors while playing a newly-patched game, please visit our support site or post in the Technical Support forum for assistance.
New Feature: Greyhollow Island
The mysterious forested locale of Greyhollow Island is now open for exploration! Inhabited by new enemies and steeped in intrigue, brave the wilds and unravel the enigma behind the isle's mysterious inhabitants. Be forewarned, however; the land itself is hungry for blood.
To learn more about Greyhollow Island, click here.
New Feature: Expanded Zones
The Sanctuary you know grows larger. Two existing zones are receiving new, fully explorable additions, featuring new bounties and events. Survive the hunting grounds of the fierce yeti in the Eternal Woods, a new branch of The Ruins of Sescheron zone. The cultists have finally gotten around to clearing up the debris on those stairs in Leoric's Manor, opening up the Royal Quarters for curious treasure hunters.
New Feature: Set Dungeons
Test your mettle against one of twenty-four custom designed set dungeons! Each dungeon features a pre-generated, static course designed entirely around a specific class set. Don all six pieces of your chosen set and visit Leoric's Library to obtain a clue on where these hidden trials are located. Hunt down your dungeon of choice and master it to unlock exclusive cosmetic rewards!
New Feature: Empowered Rifts
Spend your gold to empower a Greater Rift, granting a fourth opportunity to upgrade a Legendary Gem. Gold costs vary based on the tier of Greater Rift level attempted, and bonus upgrades are granted only to those who successfully complete the rift, so spend wisely!
New Feature: Season Rebirth
Transition seamlessly from Season to Season with the new Season Rebirth feature! This option allows you to instantly transform a non-Seasonal hero to a fresh level 1 Season hero, maintaining their name and hours played. All gear is removed and automatically mailed to you in the non-Season, providing up to thirty days to reclaim the items at a later time. Paragon level, completed achievements, and other accomplishments also remain behind with your non-Seasonal heroes.
New Feature: Revised Buff Bar
A cleaner, clearer user interface makes its way to all platforms with our revised buff bar. Static buffs have been removed from the buff bar area, replaced by new indicators and timers that have been added to the skill bar. We've also included a collapsible buff-holder, which condenses party and group buffs and can be expanded by moving your cursor over the indicator or by assigning a hotkey via the Heads Up Display section of the Key Bindings option menu, revealing all your buffs at a moment's glance.
New to PC: Action Combat
The popular console version of Action Combat makes its way to PC! Massacre, Destruction, and Trap Mastery bonuses are now granted to players who chain together death, destruction, and clever maneuvers. Earn bonus experience, a temporary boost to movement speed, or a buff to your resource generation through tactical play.
Death continues to stretch its icy grasp over the world of Sanctuary. The terrors that await will crush the life from your fragile frames, and know that I shall be patiently observing from the threshold of existence. Let us examine the trials ahead together, that we might better prepare for your inevitable doom.
Though I do not require respite, were I to take leave of my duties, this little lost island immersed in intrigue would be a restful destination. Bloodthirsty beasts, occult mysteries, and the total annihilation of an entire civilization? Even from the distant shores of a deserted Westmarch, I can sense the malevolent forces that are undoubtedly to blame. How invigorating.
The scattered remnants of the Coven have finally made use of their pitiful existence, clearing the previously collapsed stairwell within the decrepit halls of Leoric’s Manor. Perhaps it is worth your time to see what the Mad King left behind.
Return to the Ruins of Sescheron and take a moment to observe your surroundings. To the east lies the Eternal Woods, the wilderness that surrounds this barbaric landmark. Beware the yeti who roam this frozen wasteland and keep your wits about you; the remnants of their hunts often claw their way above the permafrost. . .
It is prudent to equip yourself to your best of your meager abilities. Luckily for you, your efforts are now much more manageable. Many of the fabled Set items of heroes past have grown in strength, boasting new or improved abilities.
This is, of course, in addition to the treasure trove of new items the Horadrim have discovered and catalogued. I have acquired some of their research, and I recommend you take note of their findings.
Pride is a satisfying sin, and there is no greater gratification than watching an egotistical hero fall as a result of their own hubris. Naturally, when a curiously dangerous new set of challenges arises, I have little doubt your arrogance will get the best of you. Set Dungeons have begun opening their mystical portals all around the land of Sanctuary, and you will be permitted to enter should you be fully equipped with a completed wardrobe.
The challenges that lie within will take planning, guile, and dedication to conquer. Naturally, you do not stand a chance and, regrettably, death will not claim you when you inevitably fail. Still, should you desire to overcome these challenges, your efforts will be well rewarded.
The greed of adventurers knows no bounds, and I have heard whispers of the immense fortunes so many of you possess. While I am hardly impressed, perhaps I can recommend an alternative to rolling about in your filthy lucre? The abilities of your nephalem friend Orek are not yet depleted, and he has use for such riches.
Empowered Rifts allow your gold to serve you best by enhancing your Legendary Gems with additional levels of power. Naturally, should you fail in your challenge, the treasure you offered will be as forfeit as your life. A pity, but to be expected. Buyers should always beware.
Are you prepared to dare the dangerous coastal forests of Greyhollow Island? Will you prevail a true victor over the challenges of Set Dungeons? Or do you simply pine for the newest Season, eager to once again begin your journey anew? Share your thoughts below, that I might welcome you to your end with open arms. I do so enjoy being the guide to your doom.
Best of luck, nephalem.
Patch 2.4.0 is live on the PTR for testing and headed soon to live realms, stuffed to the brim with great new features for Diablo III. For our Seasonal heroes out there, we’ve prepared this guide to Season 5 so you can roll right into a fresh start on day one.
Several changes are coming to Seasons with Season 5, including the removal of Season-exclusive Legendary Items, the introduction of new and varied rewards, and a whole new feature in the form of Season Rebirth. Let’s check it out!
Table of Contents:
The Season Journey feature was introduced in Patch 2.3.0 for Season 4, and we’ve made a few updates in time for Season 5 to begin. The first major change is a direct response to popular player feedback, as we have removed Seasonal Legendaries from the game. All new Legendaries included in Patch 2.4.0 will be made immediately available to be found by players regardless of Season participation.
However, we still want there to be item-based rewards as part of the Season experience. We’ve introduced Haedrig’s Gift, a special bundle of Set items you’ll receive on completion of certain stages of the Season Journey. Starting in Chapter 3, three of the objectives in the Season Journey will reward you one of these bags, each containing two pieces of one of your class sets.
By the time you complete all of Chapter 4 of the Season Journey, you should be fully decked out in a full class set! Which set you receive will rotate with each Season and depends on which class of hero you open the gifts on. Each Haedrig’s Gift will be mailed to you and can be retrieved by opening the in-game mail icon in the bottom left corner of the screen.
Be careful, though; each step of the Season Journey will only reward one Haedrig’s Gift (for a total of three bags per Season/one full set of gear), regardless of how many characters you might play in a given Season. Make sure to claim these gifts on the character you want to receive their set!
The class sets offered in Season 5 are:
Conquests continue to be a staple of the Seasonal experience, and we’ve updated some of our existing Conquests and added some new ones based on features included in Patch 2.4.0.
If you’re looking for an entirely new challenge, you should try tackling the Masters of the Universe / Masters of Sets Conquest! Designed around the new Set Dungeon feature, this Conquest requires you to complete 8 different Set Dungeons of your choosing.
The Thrill / Super Human Conquests previously asked players to push the limits of their gear without equipping a class set. With the introduction of more powerful two-piece sets, we’ve decided to up the ante on this challenge by tweaking the rules. In Season 5, you’ll need to complete these Conquests without using a single set item. Save up those Ancients and well-rolled Legendaries—you’re going to need them!
We’ll continue rotating through different challenging Conquests in Season 5, and you can expect to see the return of a few favorites. Sprinter / Speed Racer makes a triumphant return, as well as Avarice / Avaritia. Finally, Years of War / Dynasty has been updated for the latest levels of class power, now requiring Greater Rift Level 55 Solo to complete.
Starting with Season 5 and moving forward, we will provide a variety of cosmetic rewards, and what type of reward you will receive will rotate with each new Season.
In addition to the usual exclusive Portrait Frames and pieces of the Conqueror’s Transmogrification set, you will also receive either a pair of wings, an exclusive pennant, or a non-combat pet. For Season 5, players who reach level 70 will receive the Wickerman pet.
Last, but certainly not least, is the addition of a totally new Season-exclusive feature called the Season Rebirth. This allows you to take any non-Seasonal character you have and instantly transform them into a Seasonal character, ready to jump straight into the action on day one.
Any of the gear or items equipped on your character or in your inventory will be automatically stripped from the hero and mailed to your non-Seasonal characters, similar to the rollover process that occurs with your stash space when a Season ends. In addition, your character will be reduced to level 1, ready to start the process as though they were freshly created!
Accomplishments like achievements, crafting recipes learned, artisan levels, or unlocked stash tabs will be left behind as part of your non-Seasonal progression. However, personal records like your character name or time played will be retained and carry on through your Seasonal adventures.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using Season Rebirth:
Q: When does Season 5 start?
A: Season 5 will begin Friday, January 15 at 5:00 p.m. PDT in North America, 5:00 p.m. CEST in Europe, and 5:00 p.m. KST in Asia. For assistance with time zones, click here.
Q: How long will Season 5 last?
A: Starting with Season 5, all seasons going forward will last approximately three months.
Q: When are the non-Seasonal Leaderboards being wiped?
A: Non-Seasonal Leaderboards are tied to what we call “Eras.” We currently anticipate the next wipe to coincide with the end of Season 4, although this may not be the case for future Seasons.
Q: Will Seasons be coming to console?
A: Some features on console are best designed for that platform, and the same is true for the PC version of the game. A large part of the fun of Seasons is the entire community rerolling heroes together at the same time. Because the offline and disconnected nature of console does not support this style of play, we do not currently have plans to implement Seasons on console.
Q: What will happen to older Seasonal records?
A: As we continue on into additional Seasons, we will no longer be able to store some personal Seasonal records. While Season 5 will store your personal bests for all Seasons to date, at some point in a future Season, we will begin removing old personal bests, beginning with Season 1. This will be true regardless of your personal participation in previous Seasons. We will have more information on this change at a later date.
Seasonal Leaderboard records are not being cleared, and will remain archived both in game and on our website.
We’re stoked to start Season 5, and we hope you’re as excited as we are to jump straight in with us on day one! With tons of class set revisions, oodles of new items, and the new Set Dungeon feature, this is bound to be our most exciting Season yet!
Have you already picked which class you plan to roll in Season 5? Do you plan to dust off an old favorite using the Season Rebirth feature? What are your goals for this Season Journey, or your strategy for the day-one rush? Let us know below—and good luck in the new Season!
Patch 2.4.0 is currently on the Public Test Realm, and we’re introducing over fifty new Legendary items and powers for you to collect. Here’s a first look at some of the incredible new loot coming soon in Patch 2.4.0!
Several class sets are receiving significant revisions in Patch 2.4.0, including a couple that are expanding from 4 to 6 pieces, like the Thorns of the Invoker and The Shadow’s Mantle.
Other sets, like Armor of Akkhan or Firebird’s Finery, are receiving a bit more power to make them more comparable to other high-performance options.
While some sets are simply receiving adjustments, like the addition of new skills to their bonuses or adjustments to damage values, others are being completely redesigned.
Patch 2.4.0 will also have a ton of new and updated Legendary items. While some are designed to augment the class sets we’ve redesigned or revisited, there are plenty aimed to enhance class skills that previously lacked complementary Legendaries.
That’s not all—for the players who want to seek power beyond 6-piece sets, we’ve got just the thing for you. The revisited Legacy of Nightmares (or the “no set” set, as we like to call it) allows you to make your wildest build dreams a reality, boosting damage and defense for every Ancient item equipped as long as no other set bonuses are equipped.
As you may have heard, we’re removing Season-exclusive Legendaries from the game. However, there are still plenty of rewards in store for those of you who enjoy starting fresh! By the time you complete Chapter 4 of the Season Journey, you will be guaranteed a full six-piece set for your class.
The featured class sets for Season 5
You will receive two pieces at a time via Haedrig’s Gift, a new reward mailed directly to you after completing certain milestones in the Season Journey. But be careful - each gift can only be earned once, so choose wisely when you open these precious packages! The items you receive will be determined by the class who opens them.
In addition to guaranteed class sets, we’re continuing our tradition of rewarding cosmetics for Seasonal participation. Take a peek at the unique pet and portrait frames you can earn in Season 5!
These items (and plenty more) are headed your way in Patch 2.4.0, but you can test them right now by joining us on the PTR. We’ll see you there!