Blizzard is famous for their "It's done when it's done" motto. They play test their own games for countless amounts of hours, days, weeks, and months to polish every little aspect of the game. More importantly, if there is something that they do not like, they take the time and effort to go back and change things. They have stopped using early release dates to make sure that they have the time to go back and make whatever corrections they need to.
Official Blizzard Quote:
When will Diablo III be released?
It's too early to estimate Diablo III's release date. As with all Blizzard Entertainment games, our goal is to create a game that is as fun, balanced, and polished as possible. We intend to take as much time developing Diablo III as is necessary to ensure the game meets our own high expectations and those of our players
It is unclear exactly how long ago they started work on Diablo III but some work dates back to 2003. However, there were some internal issues at Blizzard and the project got delayed. Finally in 2008, came the announcement along with some very basic info about the game. But even since then, many things have already been changed and reiterated. Once again.
One of the biggest changes that happened to Diablo III in the last two years was with the skill system. First the system was very similar to Diablo II. There were three different trees, each tree had skills with some needing prerequisite skills to obtain them. The first change came with the idea of inter-relating the trees. The system went almost to a tier idea where you had to spend so many points into tier 1 to unlock skills in tier 2. It did not matter which tree the points were spent in as long as they were in the same tier. The most recent change, and probably not the last, was the abolishment of the trees all together. No longer are the skills constrained to the given tree titles. It is still unknown exactly how the skill system will work but Blizzard has given us a clue with the two words "Pool and Path". See: The New Skill System Thread for more information.
Official Blizzard Quote:
This new system is still in the development stages and if it does not work, we still have plenty of options to fall back on. Right now, we're just trying different things and getting a feel for the few ideas in regards to the skill system that we have going on right now. It differs from the World of Warcraft/Diablo II type hierarchical styles and is more of a skill pool/path than a tree per se.
http://www.diablofans.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=88&pictureid=1405&thumb=1Another major change that has occurred since Diablo III's announcement is the resource system the characters will be using. Originally, all five characters were designed to use the canon mana system that Diablo has always used. In the first gamelpay video, the Barbarian and the Witch Doctor both use mana to cast their spells. Soon after this, the Barbarian's resource changed to a fury system. Rather than having a pool of energy, the Barbarian will be gaining his up. While the Barbarian had switched from mana, at the time the then revealed Wizard still used it. However, this would also soon change when Blizzard announced that the all five classes would each being using their own unique resource system with the Witch Doctor being the only class to retain the iconic mana system. Little is known exactly what form the Wizard's and the Monk's systems will be but they have given us some hints. It is also important to note that the Monk's system is actually further in completion than the Wizard's. Blizzard has stated that they are having a hard time perfecting hers and that they have gone back and changed it numerous times. See: More Information on the Resource Systems for more information and discussion.
Official Blizzard Quote:
As you may be aware every class in Diablo III will have their own resource system. The Barbarian will use Fury; Witch Doctor, Mana; and Wizard, Instability. We also completed an early implementation of the Monk's resource system just before the holiday break, and that's continuing to undergo programming and visual refinement. It's a resource certainly fitting of a holy warrior.
http://www.diablofans.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=88&pictureid=1412&thumb=1Along with the skill system, the skills themselves have gone through many iterations. Blizzard has stated that the usually go big at first because it is easier to tone down then to boost up. However, some skills were not meeting their illustrious standards. At the 2009 Blizzcon, we were shown an update to the Barbarian's Whirlwind attack. Outdone by a monster in the game, the team went back and changed the looks of his whirl wind to give it a much stronger feel. Another skill that got a huge over haul was the Witch Doctor's Spider Totem spell. Looking back on it, the development team decided that the spell just didn't fit. So they went back and completely changed the spell to the new Corpse Spiders where a zombie emerges from the ground only to have spiders burst out of his chest. They also told us that the Wizard's Stone Skin spell was being changed to reflect the lore of the Wizard better with a more crystalline look. See: SFX on Spells to see an Upgrade for more information and discussion.
There have also been many other skills that have been changed since their initial concept. There was also the highly debated change of the Witch Doctor's mongrels to the tamer sounding Summon Zombie Dog. They also removed the ability to imbue the dogs with fire and poison through the use of spells.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Diablo: Some awesome new spell effects coming out of the tech art team including an updated Acid Cloud (witch doctor) and Magic Missile (wizard).
The inventory system Diablo III will use has also been changed. Originally when announced, the game used a system where each item took up the same amount of space. Rather than constraining the amount a player could carry by the size of objects, they were limited by just the amount of items. The amount of items a player could carry would increase with the addition of bag drops. Higher level bags would allow the player to carry more items. There were also separate bags for weapons/armor, smaller items like scrolls and potions, and a third bag for quest items. Many people were upset that they had gotten rid of the "Tetris" style inventory. Well, Blizzard once again went back and changed the system to one more similar to the inventory system of Diablo II. While the size of the items do not vary as much as they did in the previous game, the inventory is still broken up into a grid where items need to be arranged to maximize the players capacity to hold items.See: Has the Tetris Inventory Returned for more discussion.
Even the character equipment screen changed. The original gameplay video showed us an equipment screen similar to World of Warcraft's where there was an up-close view of your character and the gear slots placed around him. However, they have changed this since then to reflect an equip screen more similar to Diablo II's. They no longer have the close-up of your character but instead is a silhouette of a person with the gear slots located over their respected areas.
http://www.diablofans.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=88&pictureid=1403&thumb=1A feature that they had originally added to the game was dialogue cut scenes. When interacting with NPC's a window would pop up of your character talking to that NPC. This feature was removed, however. Blizzard stated that the cut removed the player too much from the action. Instead, they changed the system with a voice over that gets louder the closer you are to the NPC and fades as you walk away from them. They said that this system allows for player who want the lore to continue to get it without it distracting the players who just want to continue to play the game.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Back when we announced the game we had our dialogue interaction set up where the camera would zoom in, and you'd see the characters up close and they'd talk to each other in this zoomed in view. We threw that out a long time ago though just because it was too intrusive, it stopped the game, pulled you out of the action, and just felt like too much.
The first two classes that were announced were the Barbarian and the Witch Doctor. Since their first announcement, these two classes have gone through some changes.The Barbarian was the first to lose mana as his resource system. Going from mana to fury, however, was not a smooth transition. The first change to his resource system came in the form of Balls ("Balls of Fury" as Bashiok called them). The Barbarian had three Fury Balls that would fill up as he attacked monsters. Then, some of his skills required a different amount of full balls to use. However, even this change was changed to a different look. While the system concept stayed the same, the Balls were replaced by a ring. The ring is separated into three different sections and each section is used to cast his spells. See: About Fury for more information and discussion.
http://www.diablofans.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=88&pictureid=1406&thumb=1The Witch Doctor has gone through more change than any other character since their reveal. While the lore and concept seemed sound for the class, the mechanics were pretty bare to begin with. Very little was known about his skills other than the few given and the concept of summons, poison, and fire. With his summons, the Witch Doctor originally had a summon called the Wickerman. He was a summon that followed the Witch Doctor and attacked close enemies. After some play testing, the development team decided that he was just too "human" and switched him to the Zombie Dogs.
Perhaps the change that I would have loved to have seen the most is a fetish that accompanied the Witch Doctor. While it was removed before the class was even announced, there is a video where the idea is talked about. Basically, the fetish character interacted with the Witch Doctor in various scenarios. The one shown was when the Witch Doctor would be knocked unconscious, the Fetish would emerge and begin hitting the Witch Doctor in the head to wake him up. Unfortunately, we will never get to see this little guy in action.
http://www.diablofans.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=88&pictureid=1410&thumb=1With all of the changes made in the game so far, it is hard to imagine what else will change and what new things will be revealed. I, for one, am glad that Blizzard takes the time to go through these changes to make their games better. While the "It's done when it's done" and the trade mark "Soon" can be annoying, I know that it is all in an effort to make their games as great as possible. With at least eight more months of development for the Diablo team, it is anyone's guess on what else will change and what new features they will show us. They have mentioned at least two more systems that they plan on implementing in the game but they have not revealed much information on them, probably because they are constantly changing them. The only information we do know is that one is called the "Talisman". See: Crafting in Diablo III for more information on the talisman.
And just because nothing is set and anything and everything is subject to change, that does not mean we cannot or should not discuss about everything that has been revealed so far. What changes were you glad to see? Which ones did you wish stayed? What changes do you see happening? and what do you hope to see in the future?