Although BlizzCon 2011's Diablo III: Gameplay and Auction House panel was met with bold applause, not everyone that left the main stage in Hall D with a smile on their lips. Technical artist Chris Haga led the show for the "Making Skills Awesome" portion of the gameplay panel, but, while many of the skills are obviously quite amazing, some others, particularly one for the Monk, are noticeably less awesome, or perhaps--more correctly--just plain silly.
A revisioned skill for the Monk that didn't quite make it into the character's earlier skill list has been stirring up controversy, both here and abroad. The skill originally summoned four ancient stone pillars and a crumbled floor meant to collectively represent a temple. The player would then draw monsters around the pillars and destroy them, each one acting like destructible environment elements as seen in the Royal Crypts and other areas that cause falling debris to damage opponents caught in the junkslide.
While the idea of the "temple aesthetic"-stylized skill was a hit with the Diablo III team--or at least Chris Haga)--they felt that the skill needed a simpler approach. It required a class stylized for quick combat to summon the four pillars, lead monsters into the trap, and then independently attack and destroy each pillar; this didn't really seem to flow with the Monk's gameplay style, and was more than a bit clunky.
Now, the Monk summons one big, stone pillar that magically explodes in a dazzling display of holy light.
Just days after the two-day event concluded, the skill now has its own memes associated with it, along with a growing crowd of not-so-happy fans. Some even liked the original implementation--the one that summoned the four pillars--more than the current, "awesome"-ified one.
With all the negative feedback about the skill so far, it would be more than a bit odd if it remained exactly as it is for release. But does the current iteration of the masonry-stylized skill speak better for the Monk's lore and gameplay than the original? Is it a step forward from a quirky skill, or a step backwards to something less "Diablo"?
There’s no direct intent to say that we don’t want D3 to be moddable. And, to be honest with you, the technology itself, on just a fundamental level, makes this the most moddable version of Diablo there’s ever been.
However, we have these other goals that supersede modding; we want to provide a safe and secure experience for players to play in and trade items in, and in order to do that, we had to make the game online play only. Once we made that decision, that effectively eliminated the possibility of having moddable games, since you’re going to have to connect to our service in order to play. So that’s a slight consequence of our online-only decision.
I’ll say that there’s never really been an intention with past Diablo games to make them moddable, either; it’s just that people found a way to make it happen. It’s not necessarily something we went out of our way to support.
While this seems to be the same case we saw with modding in Diablo II, there is one catch: the lack of any LAN support, and the requirement of a server to handle many basic game mechanics, means that anyone who actually manages to create a mod will have to violate Diablo III's end user license agreement. Perhaps someone will find a way around this, but until then, it's all speculation.
If you want to learn more about how modding has affected the series, we encourage you to read one of our March articles, Blizzard's "Anti-Modding" Stance: Another Look, which features insights from renowned Diablo I and II modders, some lesser-known details about the Diablo team, and a great deal of history and speculation.
For discussion on this topic, please see Rhykker's thread.
The Diablo II servers are now online and available for play on the new ladder season. See you on Battle.net!
Official Blizzard Quote:
All realms will be available, and ladders reset, starting in one hour at 3:30pm PDT.
Official Blizzard Quote:
The Diablo II servers are currently offline as we make the changes required to reset the ladder. A notification will be posted here 1 hour prior to the servers being made available for play.
As we've informed you not too long ago, D2 ladder season 9 begins tomorrow (later today?), Tuesday, October 25th. Bashiok has already stated that the reset will begin early in the morning (just guessing here, probably around 10AM) and will take a few hours as usual, though we'll be updated of the progress as it happens.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Just a ladder reset information update:
Once maintenance and the ladder reset have been completed on October 25, we will make an announcement one hour in advance of when the realms will become available. Stay tuned for details!
This information has been updated in the original post of this thread.
Stay tuned to this newspost for more information, when Rethek gives us an update, we'll be sure to relay the information to you.
Is it real or is it fake? The fanboy sentiments churning just under the skin of any true Diablo fan make us want to believe in a concrete release date with the recent delay to 2012 and a development cycle that seems an accomplishment on its own.
Excitement and dashed expectations both contributed to the hype behind a recently posted image, supposedly a leaked email containing the full itinerary of this year's BlizzCon. Among the now-known reveals of the weekend's events, it also contains:
In addition to the accurate BlizzCon reveals and itinerary, the image also has a unalterable imgur.com upload date for a period two months ago (see bottom of linked web page.) All this together makes for a compelling argument for a leaked release date.
At a cursory glance, this is all fine and dandy. But maybe there's more to this supposed leak than meets the eye. After letting the initial heat of discovery run its course, deeper inspection implores reason.
Besides wondering at why someone would go through the trouble of directly posting images of slideshow slides in an email and not simply typing the information out (if this were coming from a legitimate source, why would slides be needed to add authenticity?), the date, itself, is subject to scrutiny. In fact, the date shown below the hosted image reflects only its upload date.
The email is simple enough. Sending two empty slide images to himself, the supposed email recipient could then snap a picture, upload it to imgur.com, and wait a couple months. With the information revealed at BlizzCon, the uploaded image could then be edited directly with the website's software--without changing the upload date.
Last, we wonder why on earth Blizzard would want to release a game into the market on Thanksgiving of all days, a day when most Americans--a major audience--aren't even home to rush to the stores or man cash registers?
All this to say, please be careful when you read supposed "leaks" about release dates. As we like to warn our members, any release date not from the lips--or fingers--of an official Blizzard representative can easily be faked, as we have seen in numerous cases in the past with faked Diablo III game boxes and faked Diablo III announcements. A simple image editor and some human ingenuity can go a long way, and so can gullibility.
When we were kids, we thought monsters came from under the bed or in the close. As we grew up, film makers told us they came from outer space. Mary Shelley told us they were created in ghastly laboratories. H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, and any number of abbreviation-happy authors told us otherwise.
But they were all wrong. Very wrong.
Today, we'll examine the various ways the baddies in Diablo III beta are able to crawl out of the woodwork and scare la merde (pardon my French) out of the careless adventurer.
Caution: Contains spoilers; no effort will be made to disguise information after this point.
In Diablo III, there's hardly a clean-cut way to look at all the ways monsters spawn. For simplicity's sake, we'll break down monster spawn points into three categories: randomized, or spawn points that occur quite commonly and randomly across an environment; reproduced, where we have monsters perpetuating other monsters; and quest-specific, where spawn points are more unique and often have more interesting animations and outcomes.
This article is not comprehensive. It's not meant to be. But a good effort has been put forth to give you a good idea of where to be cautious when taking your first steps into Sanctuary twenty years after the fall of the three Prime Evils.
I previously said that randomized spawn points quote "occur quite commonly and randomly across an environment." Several of you are shaming because I used the word in the definition, and the rest of you are likely wondering what I mean by such a vague statement.
Well, it's all intended.
This is the catch-all category for the stuff that doesn't quite fit anywhere else. We have environment blocks that have spawn points, monsters that serve as spawn points, crap you click on that spawns stuff. Anything that's not specifically quest-related pretty much got stuffed in here.
To make things a little easier to digest, we'll look at said spawn points in two subcategories: environmental and triggered.
It seems the Dead like to squeeze themselves into every crevice imaginable. Erupting from dark, gaping maws in the earth, the Risen wait in secret to ambush travelers on Old Tristram Road. Occasionally, Crawling Torsos are seen shambling from the underbrush, entrails whipping close behind.
But as strange as it is to see zombies crawling from the underearth to grasp at your throat and heels, Tomb Guardians, a variation on the Skeletal Summoner monster class, are even more bizarre.
Gothic Fresco? Nay!
Passing through the depths of the old Act_I#Tristram_Cathedral, Gothic depictions of the triumphs of the angels and other equally epic scenes can be viewed in floor-to-ceiling artwork. Many of such images are innocent enough, but occasionally the Dead take notice to your passing. In a brilliant flash of violet light and a high-pitched cackle of insanity, a Tomb Guardian breaks through.
Tomb Guardians have several interesting skills that make them annoying by themselves and deadly in groups. They shoot slow-moving blasts of purple-hued magic, their basic ranged attack, raise minions from the afterlife (which we will talk about later in the reproduction section), and teleport across short distances if given the chance.
Although not nearly as flashy as the Tomb Guardians' entrance, these Skeleton (Diablo III) still give dragging you kicking and screaming into the afterlife a decent effort. After they successfully reassemble themselves after falling through the crush of stone debris and dry bone matter, two or three of these cadaverous warriors raise their swords against you and your team mates.
More entertaining still is seeing teams of skeletons vault through the subterranean windows in the lower levels of the Cathedral. Seemingly innocent library wings come alive for a precious few moments as magic whizzes, axes swing, and bones shatter.
Aside from using the environment for concealment, monsters also spawn from simple containers, like barrels. Levels of the Cathedral and the Royal Crypts both randomly generate loose floor tiles which, when clicked, spit out a bit of loot and occasionally a skeleton that doesn't like its hole being bothered. (Dirty mind. Shame on you.)
Treasure chests are not your friends. Open with care.
Even treasure chests are triggers for disaster. On some very rare occasions, special chests known as Resplendent Chests will randomly populate an area. They're distinguishable by their seductive golden glow. Don't be fooled. Many times these chests come accompanied by a throng of jealous adversaries, waiting to spring on you as soon as you loose the latch.
Sometimes, traps are more obvious. For instance, in the above image (see right), notice the piles of bones around the ordinary treasure chest. Once the chest is opened, each skeleton raises from the dead, ready to assault unwary treasure enthusiasts.
But not even the recently dead are safe to scavenge. While click-happy players of Diablo II might have found the mutilated victim's of Diablo's reign of terror to be excellent sources of income, corpses in Diablo III are just as likely to vomit up a hidden zombie or skeleton as they are to spill some gold or a magical item.
The lesson: Whether it's a barrel rotting away in the ruins of Old Tristram, a dusty coffin laid to rest in any of the Forsaken Cemetery's many tombs, or a collection of urns stuffed with ashes in the Royal Crypts, smash with care--you never know what might be waiting inside.
Not all monsters are reclusive moles in the sodden earth. Nor are all of them rattling in their deathbeds, bloodthirsty for action. It would seem that even demons have dysfunctional families.
If you've read any of the recent beta articles we've been churning out, you're probably already familiar with many of the coming monsters, such as the Wretched Mother and the Grotesque. But we're going to charge on through them, anyway, because that's what real fans do.
Wretched Mothers. Because just when you thought the Diablo III developers couldn't get any more disgusting, they vomit all over your shoes and a zombie pops up.
Apparently, after a Mother feasts on "the remains of cadavers," they realize that their dinner tasted awful and spit up an acidic solution right before your very eyes. Seconds later, a fresh Risen rises (I wonder where they got the name from?) from the mess. These bad girls are encountered on the Old Tristram Road.
And, of course, who could pass up an opportunity to mention the Grotesque in this context? Yes, technically speaking, the Grotesque pictured at the left is of the Harvester monster class variety. The same principles apply.
Beat the snot out of this over-stuffed, fleshy Barta Bus and he pops just like a zit. In addition to puss and some other less appetizing things (if you think puss is appetizing to start with), the vanilla Grotesque spawns a variety of three-pack Lampreys, while the Harvester, a close cousin, will expel a number of cowering, ADD-prone Imps.
Tip: Don't kill more than one at a time unless you know you can handle them all. Otherwise, not only will you take damage from their gory explosions, but you will also have to content with a slaughter of annoying minions biting at your feet. Sometimes, after the explosions, the little guys are enough to wear away that last drop of health.
If you'll remember back to when we explored the spawning mechanic of the Skeletal Summoner (Tomb Guardian variety), you'll remember that I mentioned that they often raise skeleton minions to fight by their side. Well, not exactly. The skeletons are the annoying meat shields that keep you from actually killing the Guardian. Meanwhile, the Guardian shoots its reasonably powerful blobs of amorphous purple light at you, wearing down your health, and raises even more skeletons. If you encounter any more than one Tomb Guardian at a time, proceed with caution.
The key difference between the Grotesque, the Wretched Mother, and the Skeletal Summoner is that each employs a slightly different tactic to provide the brunt of the damage. Where the Grotesque largely relies on its physical attack and subsequent body burst to take you down, leaving its minions to do the rest, the Wretched Mother's Risen offspring do most of the damage, themselves, while she stays in the back to spawn more. The Skeletal Summoner relies mostly on its magic missile attack to deal damage, although hordes of skeletons will soon overtake you if you're not careful.
For the last of the self-replicating monsters, we'll examine a more comical case: the wandering Crawling Torso.
One-half of its legged progenitor, the Walking Corpse, the Crawling Torso appears when its original body is re-killed (zombies, remember?), rising again, like an inglorious phoenix, to slay its enemy.
The Crawling Torso isn't so much a deadly adversary as it is part of the atmosphere of the game. They deal very minimal damage, crawl around by the bony nubs of their finger tips as they drag their useless semi-arses behind (The Walking Dead S01E01, anyone?), and are generally not a threat. Think of them like Fallen_(Diablo_II) of the beta portion of Act I: powerless filler monsters. For the most part, the Crawling Torso just adds visual variety among its two-legged zombie counterparts.
Last, but certainly not least, we will explore the (possibly more interesting) quest-specific monster spawning mechanisms. Again, for examination purposes, we'll look at them in respect to two categories: randomized quests and static quests.
Randomized Quest Spawning
Part of the allure of Diablo's nostalgic gameplay has always been the unpredictability of what comes next. Okay, if you played any of the games into the wee hours of morning every night for months--maybe years--on end, things got predictable. But to the average, sane, healthy gamer (possibly an oxymoronic phrase), this randomization brought fresh adventures and experiences with nearly every session.
For Diablo III, Blizzard bumped it up a notch from Diablo II, looking back to a feature of Diablo I that made journeys worth remembering.
You won't bump into every quest on a single play through with Diablo III. Many interesting quests are randomly generated when your personal game map is created. And these quests are nothing to scoff at. They include unique animations and objects, and some even have their own dialogue and quest objectives.
Although we're not here to talk about the fine details of randomized quests, we are here to look at the interesting ways monsters spawn during a select few of these random quests.
Pandora's Box? Try opening this
The Jar of Souls
The Jar of Souls event, which pops up in one of the three crypts in the Forsaken Cemetery, is one of the more challenging feats available in the beta, maybe more so than even the slaying of the Skeleton King. Sitting in the center of the room is a single glass jar, glowing with an otherworldly light (a sign that you should not frickin' touch that thing, but you have to, so you will) set on a lone pedestal.
So you click it. And the jar begins to float, shooting off plumes of ghostly blue light. Another sign that you screwed yourself.
From four directions in the tomb, the dead begin to rise. Skeleton (Diablo III)s are the first to come, followed by progressively denser mobs and more challenging Undead enemies. If you ever played Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, this event has some marked similarities to the final battle in its first act: waves of the risen dead, a gloomy, dust crypt, and a mysterious, floating center of supernatural activity.
Enemies continue to spawn for (by my measurements) sixty seconds, after which the jar's magic subsides and you are free to gather all the hard-earned loot. This event is great for experience grinding, to say nothing of the exhilarating challenge.
Careful not to smash the
The Matriarch's Bones
By far one of the cooler randomized quests, The Matriarch's Bones combines elements of a cute little story, custom dialogue, and waves of Undead minions to send back to the afterlfe. The ghost of the Patriarch's wife desires to join her husband in eternal rest, but her remains seem to have wandered away from the sarcophagus. She implores you to search the area for Funerary Urns, smash them open, and bear her remains back to the coffin.
Much like trap chests, as mentioned earlier, if a Funerary Urn does not contain the remains of the Patriarch, the dead climb up from the floor for a brief battle. If you're unlucky, you'll have to search several areas and defeat several spawned mobs.
However, in addition to spawning skeletons and the like, false Funerary Urns also spawn one Tormented Spirit. These guys have more health, more damage, and are generally more annoying to fight than the rest of the walking dead. Luckily, they're only one per false Urn.
Static Quest Spawning
The siege of New Tristram is probably the most well-known spawning event, especially because of the prevalence of beta videos. After some NPC interaction, Crawling Torsos and Risen clamber from the woods immediately to the right of the screen. Several waves of these go by, and then admittance into the fledgling village is granted.
But the dead aren't very respectful of New Tristram's ramshackle borders. In the Slaughtered Calf Inn, for instance, we see the development of several villager NPC's into newly risen Risen. Later, in the Shattered Crown quest sequence, the village blacksmith, Haedrig Eamon, also has something dark and nasty lurking in his own basement. His wife (beta contest entry number two, anyone?), as well as a nameless rabble of other villagers beginning to turn, pull a Houdini and morph into rotting husks before your very eyes. I'm not even sure if entropy works that fast on human bodies.
When I say the Templar is devout, I mean it. When we encounter the holy warrior in the depths of the Tristram Cathedral, he is withstanding the corrupting demonic magic of seven Dark Cultists. Upon arrival, heroes are assailed by one of the Cultists, and soon enough the rest begin summoning a contingent of Undead warriors from the circle. Don't worry, they're not particularly threatening. Just your average-grade living dead.
But the spawn isn't infinite. After a few moments, the last of the skeletons spawns. Killing all of the Cultists or waiting out the spawning period are the only two ways that the spawning stops. And no, no matter how long you wait, the Templar does not get possessed. He apparently has the iron resolve of a saint.
This battle is something along the lines of the Jar of Souls randomized quest mentioned earlier. Deep, deep in the Royal Crypts, our heroes encounter the Skeleton King's first attempt to frighten them from their objective. After some snappy dialogue iconic of boss fights in the Diablo series, Leoric vanishes, leaving behind the glowing Pillars.
Like the Jar of Souls quest, the dead start spawning from the pillars, typical skeleton-like enemies. And, like the Jar of Souls quest, the eerie blue light in the pillars is indicative of supernatural magic. The dead spawn in a continual stream until those pillars are smashed.
Leoric: Before the Battle
Much like the epic fight with Baal in the heart of Mount Arreat, the confrontation with the Skeleton King is preceded by a tussle with a wave of Undead minions. A handful of skeleton-based enemies raise from the suspended walkways of the deep tomb at the beckon's of King Leoric's ghostly magical beckons, possibly splitting up player parties across the narrow bridge. If not anticipated, they do come as a shock, but since I've ruined that for you, just know that the monsters, themselves, are actually quite easy to kill.
And there you go, a quick summary of most of the more interesting ways spooks can creep out of the world to catch you when you least expect it. Keep you eyes keen, your crossbows nocked, your swords at the ready, your wands. . . well, you get the idea. Sanctuary is a dangerous place--be careful where you step.