Diablo IV: Season 4 Developer spotlight: Joe Piepiora & Adam Jackson

Diablo IV: Season 4 Developer spotlight: Joe Piepiora & Adam Jackson

As the loot renaissance of Diablo IV’s Season 4 captivates players with new challenges and features, the dedication of its developers, like Joe Piepiora (Associate Game Director) and Adam Jackson (Lead Class Designer), becomes increasingly evident.

Diablo IV Season 4: Loot Reborn is being hailed as an absolute game-changer. Launched on May 14th, this season introduces thrilling new challenges and a revamped itemization system, ensuring every player can experience the excitement and endless possibilities that Diablo IV Season 4 offers.

Joe Piepiora, Assistant Game Director, has brought a wealth of experience to the Diablo franchise since joining Activision Blizzard in 2017. He’s deeply passionate about enhancing experiences for fans, particularly the satisfying balance between challenge versus reward and the customization elements of player character builds.

Adam Jackson, Lead Class Designer, has over 15 years of experience in the gaming industry. Known for his expertise in class design, systems, events, and combat, he excels at creating balanced and engaging experiences for players, ensuring that each class offers a unique and engaging playstyle.

Explore their journeys with the Diablo franchise, their favorite innovations, and how they continuously adapt and evolve the game based on player feedback.

Q: What was your first experience with Diablo IV, and how did it influence your work?

Joe Piepiora: “I first played Diablo when I was young on an old Pentium machine. It was immediately engrossing; it was one of the first games that really drew me in. Opening doors and facing hordes of skeletons was full of surprises. That early experience of being drawn into a game’s world influences how I approach creating engaging and surprising content for our players.”

Adam Jackson: “When Diablo came out, it left a significant impression on me during my early gaming years. It was scary, especially dying at the hands of the Butcher multiple times and trying to figure out the best strategies for my character. That’s why ARPGs are so fun; you keep going back to try again and again. I still remember all of the storylines. You get sucked into this world, and that immersion greatly influences how we design Diablo IV today. I’ve played similar games, but none capture the story and action quite like this franchise, in my opinion.”

Q: How do seasonal models and live operations in Diablo IV introduce new themes and features?

Joe Piepiora: “The seasonal model in Diablo IV allows us to be creative and thematic. For instance, in Season 2, we had Lord Zir’s army stealing blood for power, with vampires attacking and imprisoning people. Players engaged in these spaces, fighting monsters while the spires stole their blood. Personally, if there’s one thing I’d like to see in the future, it might be vaults from Season 3. The trap-filled dungeons offered short but high-reward challenges. Successful elements, like the vampiric Helltides from Season 2, can be refined and brought back. This model of safe experimentation helps us find what works best for the game and the players. These experiences are very interesting and engaging for players, and we are considering bringing them to the Eternal Realms.”

Adam Jackson: “Every class has different ways of offering cool and engaging abilities, and we ensure that every update brings fresh and exciting content that resonates with our players’ expectations and desires.”

Q: Since the game’s launch, how have player behaviors surprised you, and how do you adapt to them?

Adam Jackson: “One thing that surprised me is how quickly players decipher our systems. They’re ravenous for content and figure out the optimal ways to play almost immediately. This forces us to be very thoughtful about our systems, math, and how synergies and effects work together. We’ve repeatedly revamped the combat math and itemisation to ensure the core experience is engaging and balanced.”

Q: How do you incorporate player feedback into seasonal updates, especially regarding class design?

Adam Jackson: “Player feedback drives a large part of our development process, alongside our own experiences. We gather feedback from various sources and internal discussions. I keep a running tab of suggestions and ideas, assessing their feasibility and potential impact. This feedback can either drive our direction or prompt changes; it’s about ensuring the optimal way to play is also the most fun.”

Q: What are you most proud of in Diablo IV, and how has the team adapted over time?

Adam Jackson: “I’m proud of how adaptable and open we’ve been to player feedback. Working on ARPGs is challenging because players quickly figure out the optimal ways to play. We’re willing to learn from our mistakes and make complicated changes to improve the game. We’ve updated our legendary and unique items significantly, ensuring the best possible experience for players.”

Q: How important are accessibility and inclusivity in Diablo IV?

Adam Jackson: “Accessibility and inclusivity are crucial. It’s not just about who can play the game, but also about creating a compelling story with diverse characters. We’ve also put a lot of thought into the control schemes and actions, making the game from an accessibility perspective. Reducing the number of on-screen interactions helps keep the gameplay focused and engaging.”

Q: Can you share any behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the game’s development?

Adam Jackson: “Taking us back to the first week after launch, we had a hard boss we thought no one would beat for weeks. But within days, a player found crazy, unintended tactics and defeated the boss. This kind of player ingenuity is incredible. It’s a push and pull between fixing these exploits and letting players enjoy their discoveries to keep the game dynamic and challenging!”

If you want to learn more about Diablo IV and Season 4, check out the Diablo website. For real-time updates, follow us on the official X.

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