Questions and Answers
The first person asked a pretty straightforward question: Given that his soulstone was shattered, how is Diablo coming back? Boyarsky joked about that a bit, "Boy, just because his name is in the title, everyone assumes he's coming back!" More seriously, he said that they won't give away all of their secrets, but that the plot will have many interesting twists and turns, based very solidly on past lore. They don't plan to throw any complete curve balls.
Another couple questions dealt with the status of Paladins and the religion of Zakarum now that the Zakarum religion has been discredited and their temple destroyed. Zakarum itself, said Boyarsky, is bouncing back. For a while, it was so detested that it was illegal to practice, but now it has a growing foothold in Zakarum, where its followers insist that they are a "true church," the domination of Mephisto only an unfortunate but distant memory.
As for Paladins themselves, they along with many other old NPCs and cultures, will be seen in Diablo III. You may even see your Paladin NPC from Diablo II, or at least find out what happened to him. They won't be playable though. Similarly, he confirmed later that there will be Necromancer PCs in game, and that we will probably find out what happened to the Druids and Barbarians after the Worldstone was shattered and their mission of protecting ended in failure. Apparently, the reason the Female Barbarian PC takes up the mantle of warrior is specifically because most of the males are too despondent to fight themselves after their perceived failure at Arreat.
Another questioner wanted to know if characters from the books will appear in game, and Boyarsky said that, while he couldn't give specifics, they will try to integrate the Diablo books more fully into the game lore, whereas before they've just been side stories of a sort.
Another couple of questions dealt with the cinematic. Will Leah, the girl from the cinematic, be in the game, asked one person? Yes, answered Boyarsky. In fact, the Cinematics will matter much more to the game than Marius' separate, non-interactive story. The cinematics will follow your hero's story and actions, making you feel like you are driving the story, rather than showing that your character is one step behind the villain almost the whole time, like in Diablo II.
A few more questioners asked about Deckard Cain. How can he call himself the last of the Horadrim if he's just going off old tales he heard of the order? According to Boyarsky, his heritage is that of the Horadrim. He great-grandfather, Jared Cain, was one of their order. Because of this and because of the lore and stories he has gathered, he calls himself last of the Horadrim. Someone else asked how Cain has survived when so many others have died, and Boyarsky speculated that his Hordadric blood may be especially hardy -- although he also admitted that it is as much because he's needed for the story.
In graphics questions, someone asked what tools Donaldson wished he had to draw the game or what tools he was looking forward to. Donaldson answered that the team vastly preferred hand-painting whenever possible. Tech, like Art, is secondary to fun, and what is important is that they're strong artists, and that Diablo III is accessible and fun. Another question was as to whether spells would have graphical changes in level, to which the answer was that they would have some graphics changes due to runes. Anything besides that is still to be determined, although Boyarsky said he thought it would be a good idea.
In other lore questions, one person asked whether we'd see Baal again since we'd never specifically seen his soulstone destroyed. Boyarsky said it was a good idea, and jokingly told Donaldson to write the idea down. He did said same about someone's question about Diablo movie rumors, at the same time saying that he had no information about a Diablo movie.
One questioner wanted to know if we'll get more visible armor. Boyarsky revealed that things such as belts are a bit too small to show up, but that we'd be seeing shoulderpads and pants that would show up on the character.
To questions on whether we'd see a new cow level or Wirt's fourth leg, the answers were, "We are not disclosing the amount of Bovine material in the game," and "We can't give away our easter eggs," respectively.
One person asked if we'd be able to pound down the gates of Heaven and raise holy hell, to which Boyarsky replied that it's likely we'll see Heaven in a future game in the series, but probably not Diablo III itself.
One person complained that Multiplayer in Diablo II is often too chaotic, with it being hard to tell who is casting once. Boyarsky said that they are planning to deal with this in the new game, perhaps by making your own spells brighter or otherwise marked uniquely for you alone in multiplayer play.
One person wanted to know if there would be ways to combine spells in cooperative play, which the devs seemed to think was a good idea.
Another person asked not only for the Horadric Cube back, but a model of the cube in the Diablo III Collector's Edition. Boyarsky reiterated that the cube would not return in game as a usable item, but that they might include more Horadric Cube lore somewhere in the game.
Another person wondered if story progression would be linear or if there would be branching story lines. Boyarsky cited random quests as a way to add some variety to the storyline, and revealed that many quests are optional and can be rejected as well. Your character will also often assign themselves quests in internal dialogue upon seeing something or entering a new area.
Another question was if we'd get closure at the end of Diablo III, or if it would like Diablo II, where Baal escaped and set up the story for the Throne of Destruction expansion. Boyarsky said that they hope to provide closure to many hanging questions in Diablo III, but that they definitely don't want to close the doors on the franchise, and want to leave plenty of room for a sequel.
In other miscellaneous news: There will be 5 classes total, and there will be unique named monsters. No word if Bishibosh and Rakinishu will return.
While you can argue that none of the information was earth-shattering, it was certainly interesting, and more than enough to keep feeding the fuel on this fanboy's flame of enthusiasm. If the game ends up half as good as these panels make it sound, it's sure to be my newest addiction when it comes out.