Blizzard has just released their second batch of screenshots (see here if you missed the first) for hitting the 575k 'Like' mark. Once again, we've got the high resolution versions at our disposal here on DiabloFans.
Click the images to bask in the glory of the high resolution versions that you likely won't see anywhere else!
The first image we have here is a concept of the Witch Doctor's Firebomb skill, which looks amazing, and somewhat reminds me of the old Elemental spell from Diablo I.
The second screenshot takes place in the well known Stinging Winds area in Act II and depicts the Monk, wielding what looks to be a Katar, using his what also looks to be his Dashing Strike skill past a lonely Fallen, into a group of the Fallen Ones and their hounds. In addition, it appears we caught a glimpse of some kind of spell or death animation (that giant green cloud) that happened just before the action shot. It also seems as if the Monk has just departed from some kind of town or encampment, judging by the large flags and pretty clear cut path he is running along. This could potentially be one of those random encounters during gameplay that we've heard so much about. Something else worth mentioning is the caterpillar-looking critter on the floor, perhaps we can squish them like D2.
25,000 more likes to go until the 600k mark where we can get some more images, and 17 more milestones until we hit the 1 million 'Like' goal. Go visit facebook.com/Diablo and 'Like' the page to speed the war effort!
EDIT3 (2/22/11): Just got another batch of keys, message me for some, :).
EDIT2: I'm all out of keys right now, working on getting some more... Will update and let everyone know if/when I do.
EDIT: I really apologize for my very impersonal PM responses, but I received close to 100 requests in ~12 hours, so I had an awful lot of PM's to respond to manually (I really need to automate this...). To redeem your keys right their Frogster's account system. Feel free to discuss and leave feedback, etc in our new Mythos subforum.
Yeah, yeah, we're a Diablo Fansite, you're probably wonder what this has to do with Mythos? As we already know, Diablo may or may not be coming out this year, so we're going to need something to hold us over until then. After a little chat about the new Mythos beta, Frogster Online was thoughtful enough to send a bunch of closed Beta keys our way. If anyone is interested in participating in the Mythos Closed Beta, go ahead and register on the Mythos website (read here if you have troubles registering) and then send me a PM on DiabloFans requesting a key. All I ask is that you please include your Frogster Online account in your PM's; other than that, go have some fun! There is no official date given for the end of the closed beta but it will be definitely running for a few weeks.
Ten years later, many are still playing vanilla Lord of Destruction and even vanilla Diablo II, but maybe there's something to this whole modding business. Hell Unleashed creator Soulmancer (Terry) was kind enough to cover the bases on his controversial mod, including its fantastic new features, efforts made to challenge players, its quirky stance with Blizzard faithfuls and its private realm, and some of the more obscure.
Hell Unleashed has been years in the making, dating back long before patch 1.10. For Terry, the road has been long, as much a thing of personal fulfillment as one of entertainment. "It was a personal hobby to see what I could do," he told us in a short interview, "[although] I never [had] a defined goal in mind when I first started." What started as an aimless modification of one of the most renown ARPG's of all time grew into something much more important.
As he went, Terry learned what it meant to mod this age-old game. "Hell Unleashed [is] an entity that grew over time," he replied when DiabloFans asked him when the work really started, "[but as] my ambitions for Hell Unleashed grew . . . a final version began to take shape."
This "final version" would grow to address a multitude of concerns and ideas that Terry developed. When asked what the most important feature of Hell Unleashed is to him, Terry confessed that "the highlight for me would have to be the enhanced boss battles."
Certainly, Diablo II's bosses had their charm, if not a significant amount of lore behind them. Unfortunately, the difficulty of defeating these bosses became negligible when one considered how simple it was to port, pot, and pop back into the fray. "Fighting [the bosses] was fairly anti-climactic given that non-hardcore death and retreating to town via a convenient town portal had no impact on the outcome of the fight; essentially, you could never really 'lose' the battle."
All this changed when Hell Unleashed was born. "Bosses [now] rely on strategy and preparation to overcome as opposed to reckless persistence and a town portal scroll."
Enhanced boss battles aren't the only thing Hell Unleashed has to boast. The mod features updated enemy AI, tweaked graphics and animations, a plethora of new Horadric Cube formulae, and, perhaps of principle concern, its controversial private realm access.
"Originally, I tried a TCP/IP and Open.net system, but these lacked any sense of a unified multiplayer community; games needed to be pre-arranged. . . Hell Unleashed began using the private server in its infancy and advanced largely because of the decision to utilize a private realm," Terry said. Much to Blizzard's dismay, the mod allows players to connect to his private realm dubbed "Arymith," coinciding with the mod's official website.
However, the long road to Hell Unleashed as we know it today was not all downhill. Terry faced his fair share of challenges. "A lot of time went in to trial and error and dealing with crashes, bugs, and hard-coded features, far more than it took to actually create new content."
Bugs and code weren't the only issues at hand. The mod's private realm also had its challenges. "Certain third-party plug-ins [that] I wanted to include in Hell Unleashed were not possible as they conflicted with the private server software."
Private realms aren't exactly all the rage with Blizzard, either, who would much prefer players to use closed or open realms on Battle.net. Blizzard's (often firm) stance on this matter has trickled down to its more devoted modding communities, including the Phrozen Keep. "The Phrozen Keep, the primary modding hub for Diablo II, has a very strict policy against private realms, so this was indeed an obstacle."
As vanilla Diablo II players can relate, balancing is always an issue. Terry came to notice that "Diablo II [is] very sensitive to small changes. Even slight tweaks to skills and items [can] turn an underpowered class into an overpowered one."
With the official release of patch 1.3 for Hell Unleashed, balancing has been at the very top of Terry's mind. "[Patch 1.3] was largely based off [of] community suggestions on how to best balance Hell Unleashed and improving and preserving the challenge for multiplayer."
The trick, as Terry noticed, was getting everyone to agree on what needed balancing. "A lot of people in the community had different ideas on how to balance the game and it was hard to get people to agree; the line between underpowered, balanced, and overpowered can be different depending on who you [ask]." However, responding to the mod's prodigious community feedback has become something of a source of pride for Terry. Now, Hell Unleashed "[tweaks] items and skills . . . [with] every update, and [is] then re-adjusted based on player feedback."
Aside from the technical, Hell Unleashed also added an amount of what some could consider lore. Many of us have seen it at one time or another, the mythic dragon posed at the Hellforge (see left - The Hellforge Dragon), but dragons are certainly no stranger to Sanctuary, considering the entity of Trag'Oul. In order to keep with that classic Diablo vibe, though, Terry attempted to shy from the cliché world of High Fantasy in favor of darker demonic mythologies. "A lot of the bosses I included in Hell Unleashed were not part of Diablo lore," he said, "I decided not to limit myself based on the lore as I wanted to put my own spin on Diablo."
Specimens include the demons Moloch and Asmodeus, among others. Taking such lore from darker sources helped, in part, to keep the Diablo vibe while bringing something new to the table.
Hell Unleashed has a lot to offer new and old players alike, with new takes on old concepts as well as some nuance differences that distinguish it from the crowd. If you're interested, check out the official website for more information.
Disclaimer: DiabloFans does not in any way endorse the more controversial nature of this mod. This interview was for general enlightenment and entertainment purposes, only. Use of Hell Unleashed's private realm functionality is solely the result of the individual player's discretion and is forbidden by Blizzard's ToU/EULA. In addition, big thanks to Magistrate for conducting the interview and article.
fyayess: @Diablo How is the male Demon Hunter coming along in the animations department?
Official Blizzard Quote:
@fyayess He's pretty much ready to go.
It's been just about a month since the Male Demon Hunter was supposed to make his debut. However, there have been some delays causing him to return to the drawing board for some more animation work; after all, he does have to look the part, no? However up until now, we did not know exactly what "the part" entailed, as Bashiok leaves a rather puzzling response.
Grug16:@Diablo Oh how cryptic. I suppose we'll be waiting another week so he can get a pedicure and a fruit parfait?
Official Blizzard Quote:
@Grug16 He has this whole "American Psycho" self-care regiment. It takes a while.
So everyone, keep your fingers crossed, as the more they release to us, the potentially closer we come to Beta...
Blizzard has not announced a release date for its next global release. If we don’t release a major title in 2011, then for planning purposes we would expect to launch two titles in 2012.
While these words were carefully chosen to not exclude a Diablo III release during 2011, the fans were lit ablaze. After all, the truth was told within those words: Blizzard is not sure whether they will finish Diablo III during this year. With almost ten years since the latest installment in our favorite demon-slaying franchise, the Diablo II expansion pack Lord of Destruction, the fans' eagerness to revisit the demon-infested realm of Sanctuary can be understood.
Initially after the conference call, numerous threads emerged on all imaginable forums. Including our own. There was one particularly amusing change of words between the Diablo III Community Manager, Bashiok, and a particularly displeased fan.
Bashiok was also quick to say that 2011 isn't completely ruled out as a possible release year for the game.
The Activision Blizzard stock dropped a bit over 11% at worst since the start of the conference call, not only due to no confirmed Blizzard release during 2011, but because of the axing of a past money-making machine, Guitar Hero, and discontinuation of several other games. While the stock recovered slightly, with this background it should come as no surprise that Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime and Rob Pardo, the executive vice president of game design at Blizzard Entertainment, decided to take a slight deviation from their usual norm of silence regarding speculating the release of Diablo III.
Brian Crecente of Kotaku:]"Will I be christening my new computer with Diablo III this year?
"We really, really hope so. That's our goal," Pardo said. "Our goal is to get there. But you know, at the end of the day, we are going to get it right. That's more important.
"We're going to promise, we're going to get it out there when it's awesome. And, we're crossing our fingers, maybe it will be this year."
While this conveys little in the form of shocking new information, their plans were laid out plain in front of us.
Diablo III is speeding through development, and whether it will be released later this year or during 2012 depends solely on whether they have got it "right". This was of course already legible in-between the lines, but now we have more than speculation about the truth.
Knowing Blizzard's high standards of quality, I think we as fans should brace ourselves for the fact that the game is going to be nearly completed at the end of the year. Key word being nearly. But if that extra polish will help the game to go the extra mile, I personally would by no means be disappointed.
While the development has certainly been a long road, don't lose hope. Remember that we should perhaps be hearing more about the beta come May, by the time of the next financial results conference call.