• published the article Diablo III Making Of "Black SoulStone"
    Click to see The Black Soulstone Cinematic

    All too often the cinematic side of games are overlooked by the majority of players. In many cases, especially in todays day and age, more effort is placed into these short hyper-detailed cinematographs than any scene of similar length from most full length movies. An exceptionally executed short clip often suffers due to its length. Being so short, it can be easily overlooked, or skipped without much second thought.

    What I'd like to help get across in this article is how much collaboration and skill it takes to create a truly fantastic cinematic. To fabricate such a believable, and detailed world through a computer takes an insane amount of time and precision. It could take thousands of man hours to create a three minute clip as seen in The Black Soulstone. I'll do my best to convoy the process as talked about at this panel. Also for the sake of not turning this article into a picture book, I'm going to link relative picture to text, so click the links to check out the pics.

    Before the presentation had even really begun, we found out that The Black Soulstone clip (which is not the full clip due to spoilers) is only 3 out of 27 minutes of cinematic cutscenes that will be in Diablo III. I don't know about you guys, but 27 minutes of cutscenes like this is in itself enough for me to get a bag of popcorn and watch one by one.

    The most important part of a cinematic is how well it tells a story. This process starts off as storyboards, a collective effort from the team to sketch out in minimal detail scenes they want to link together forming the cinematic. A directer and their crew sits down and forms the storyboard, with close collaboration of the relative crews that will help work on it. This process covers the entire production from start to finish. Be it visual, musical, or character progression; everything has to be planned in the storyboard.

    An example given was how Leah is afraid of Azmodan. How she expresses this fear has to be planned in the storyboard. This one small choice can make a huge impact on Leahs' character progression. If she screams and freaks out, this says something completely different about her than if she just flinches and shies away. Camera angles and focal points also help convoy character emotion. Again, this is where it all begins.

    Color Scripting

    Color has a huge effect on how a scene is perceived, this fact is supported by mentioning there is an entire crew devoted to just color scripting. Diablo with all of its earthy hues is particularly sensitive to this color directing. It is so important in fact that the color translation from early rendering to final production is very often spot on the same.

    The development of a character in Diablo III pivots around three main concepts, game relevance, suiting to the story, and available technology. Azmodan has gone through many iterations, from a mix of Angel and Demon, through a kind of warrior look, and finally to the crab/sumo wrestler you see today. This final concept was chosen because it represents all of the seven sins in which Azmodan, the Lord Of Sin encompasses. For example the shape of his body suggests gluttony and greed, while his body decorations suggest pride and vanity.

    After a characters concept is complete, it must be brought to life. Through a massive effort from many teams, a character is modeled in 3D, textured & colored, rigged for ease of animation, animated, and tweaked for who knows how long before finally making the directors standard. To state that this is an over-simplification is a understatement.

    At this level of professionalism, not everything takes as long as you may think though. For example most of the demon horde you seen in the cinematic was conceptualized and preliminarily modeled in just two days. Life is in the details though, and these details are what take the most time to perfect in these creature models. After initial modeling, the item is passed onto the next team which specializes in texturing. Using the initial 2D concept art, the texture team works on translating that 2D texture into 3D, and accurately spreading it around the creature. They aim to perfectly match the 2D concept, since that is indeed where the director chose to finalize the creature.

    Particle Effects

    Beyond the character models themselves, there are tons of surrounding particle effects that add just as much "character" to the character as the traditional traits like skin, voice, and attitude do. For example, the smokey effect from the Lich Kings eyes adds a lot of supernatural meaning to him. Another example is the smoke rolling off the demons in the Black Soulstone cinematic. These effects have to be subtle, for if they draw too much attention to themselves it distracts the viewer from much more important things happening on screen.

    Reference From Real Life

    When you're aiming to make something believable, what better way than to study related things in real life? This is exactly what the cinematic teams do throughout their work. This is done through setting up target textures, lighting effects, skin tones/textures, etc and photographing them in real life. Then after capturing their target images, the team recreates them over the computer. This is painstakingly done brush stroke by brush stroke using various software.

    The results of this can be truly amazing

    As with perfecting textures and lighting effects, to perfect a believable rendered human first you must study one. To drive the development of Leah, the teams studied how things appear in real life when under similar conditions to what they wanted to reproduce in the cinematic. In general they setup a photographic environment like the one at the beginning of the cinematic, complete with a stone, a girl (their producer), candles, and great lighting. The photograph was then manipulated to closer match what the director wanted to see as the final result in the cinematic.

    Continuing with their study, they took close-up shots of various eyes and facial expressions to better understand how to accurately reproduce a face, which is arguably the hardest thing to do when speaking of realistic art. In Blizzard fashion, they went so much further than just simple photos. They setup a specialized camera rig to capture light exposure, color saturation, and texture mapping of various faces, which they can directly use while creating the character model. From early rendering to near completion takes hundreds and hundreds of tweaks to everything from lighting, to textures, shaders, and many other factors even with the assistance of real life examples.

    Facial Animation

    As with lighting and texturing, the animation team began their study via photographing relative real life objects. They first took hundreds of photos of different facial expressions to identify how the different facial muscles moved during each expression. Their goal in this was to replicate every muscle in the face into their character model so they would be able to perfectly reproduce different emotions through the character, they reached this goal, and the results speak for themselves.

    They did the same thing for eye expressions. When observed closely, the human eyes and eyelids have tiny micro twitches, which we don't even notice until they're not there. When viewing older character models up close in cinematics, something looks off. You can't always place your finger on it, but something tips your brain off that this isn't real, and that negatively effects how that character conveys emotions. It's through these tiny movements that the character comes to life, and suddenly all of their emotions become so much more believable. This can be seen as Leah falls asleep into her dream during the cinematic.

    This trend of study also made its way into hand and writing observations. Little things like how a pen indents the paper as you write, or how certain small muscles contract during tiny movements. Through the close collaboration of the animation, rigging, and modeling teams they eventually achieved their goals of a believable character, interacting with a believable world.

    Dynamic Systems

    Features of a character which constantly change drastically are known as Dynamic Systems. Take hair, and clothes for example. With their success in real life studies, similar simulation techniques were used to perfect hair animation. They tracked down a coworker with similar hair to Leah, found a fan, and went to work replicating movements Leah had to do in the cinematic, with the added effect of wind.

    After they had all the info and observations they needed, they moved onto modeling, and animation. Hair poses a problem in that there are hundreds of thousands of strands of air, which are near impossible to compute or individually animate. So instead of dealing with each strand one by one, they start off with very large chunks, maybe five in total. Then they'll break those chunks up to say 200. Those smaller number of strands are what actually move individually. On top of those large strands they add in hair models and effects in order to make it look like there are hundreds of thousands of strands moving.

    Another thing the Dynamic Systems Team covers are rigs. Essentially rigs are basic models of the character that are broken down into separate parts and placed on different pivot points to enable the animation team to make the characters move. Think of a rig like an action figure. This process in itself is precision work, since if a model isn't rigged correctly, it will be impossible to creature realistic movements in the end character.

    What's interesting is that the movements don't always have to make perfect sense, as long as you're not looking at the entire model. In the scene to the bottom left Azmodan is completely hunched over, which looks reasonable from that camera angle. Now if you zoom out and look at the entire rig to the bottom center, you now see he is actually broken, which says that his movement was impossible speaking realistically.

    To make those believable movements, first the team had to observe similar creatures in real life. Sad fact though, nothing on Earth is exactly like Azmodan. So instead, they choice to observe crabs for lower body movements, and sumo wrestlers for his upper body movements. Through excellent creativity they managed to merge these two and were left with a very believable rig.

    Azmodan Speaks

    Their next production challenge was to get Azmodan to believably speak without any lips. In order to produce sounds such as "P" and "B" you need to have a way to block air flow for a second. It just so happens Azmodan has no lips, so instead they used very pronounced movements of his mandibles and tongue to create relative actions to syllables. The end result comes across great, and adds to his creepy factor during the close-up shots.

    The Hordes Of Hell

    During the end of the cinematic there are tons of creatures marching around, each seemingly doing their own things. In order to populate the entire screen with great looking creature animations, they needed to use some smoke and mirrors. The creatures in the far back are using very simple animations, which don't have those little detailed movements we see in more important close-up shots. The more important, and unique animations are called "Hero Animations". As the link shows, this classification of animation is not bound to living creatures. Another trick they used in order to create the illusion of every creature having uniqueness, is to individually tweak how they hold their weapons. By tweaking this they create a great silhouette across the entire army, where no two spears are tilted in the exact same direction.

    The Right Stuff

    Not everything makes it into the final cut, in fact most of the original concepts don't. On of these that they talked about was Azmodans lava drool. They tested all different kind of viscosities until they found one that worked, they added lighting and texture, and even went as far as you add it on the finial model. Even through all this, the end result didn't come across right. They felt it made Azmo feel sloppy, and even comical, two things that are not part of Azmodans characteristics; so they cut it completely. Some effects that did make the final cut for Azmodan include awesome things like active lighting effects from his mouth and eyes along side a heat distortion filter.

    Lighting Effects

    Lighting effects can make or break everything in a cinematic. During the panel Blizzard mentioned how they adopted the same cutting edge effects major motion picture companies are using. These effects make for great lighting across the entire world, but in particular, faces. No one looks good under a harsh light, it blows out every little detail to an undesirable degree. Through combining the crisp detail of a hard light, and the blended effects of a soft light, they achieved a great shot which looks both crisp and delicate.

    A character has many different light sources effecting them at once. The example they showed was of Leah, which is under five completely different light sources when she faces Azmodan in her dream. When combining all of these, they can go back and tweak each one until they are happy with the result. The second type of lighting passes they spoke about are called render elements. These are essentially just the various layers of each shot. Each other these layers have their own effects which add to the shot, but don't effect one another directly.

    Bringing Down The Walls

    Moving onto the scene where Azmodan brings down the rock wall, revealing his plan to evade Sanctuary, how this was achieved is pretty amazing. Aside from all the lighting effects which had to be changed as the wall comes down, how they broke the wall itself is pretty interesting. They used a shaping technique called Voronoi. Essentially, they place random dots across a plane, draw lines equal distances from these dots, then uses the lines to create organic shapes which look very natural.

    It is also worth mentioning that the falling rocks didn't go through any type of physics simulator. The director had a very specific visual in mind, and so every single one of the 40,000+ rocks you see were animated individually as the fell and interacted with each other.

    Well that about wraps it up, I hope you enjoyed our journey through the making of the Black Soulstone Cinematic, and learned a little bit about the absurd amount of effort that goes into creating these windows into Sanctuary.

    For the full experience be sure to watch the panel!
    Special thanks to Verity for uploading it.

    If you missed any of our other Blizzcon coverages, by sure to check out the Blizzcon Hub, and catch up on what happened regarding Diablo III.
    Posted in: Diablo III Making Of "Black SoulStone"
  • published the article Blizzcon DIII Gameplay & Auction House Panel

    With the game drawing tantalizingly close to completion, there wasn't any ground braking announcements in this particular panel, but one could say none were expected. Most, if not all of the game features have been announced prior, even if they have not been detailed yet. So in that light, while nothing completely new was founded, we received a great deal of detail on already existent features.

    Achievements & Banner
    As the panel opened they jumped right into it, beginning with DiabloWiki.com - Achievements Achievements. We've heard very little on this front in the past, so any news on them was welcomed. There are three main ways to progress through your achievements.

    • Game Progression:
    This is rather self explanatory, there will be achievements for progressing through the game such as completing a difficulty, or defeating a boss.

    • Obscure Gameplay:
    So you've defeated the normal difficulty, neat. How about weaponless, or even gear-less? Such feats of insanity will be rewarded via achievements.

    • Longterm Goals:
    These goals include things such as completing the Bestiary, a feature while tracks what creatures you've encountered. Or finding every lore book in the game.

    Your achievements progress reflects onto your DiabloWiki.com - Banner Banner, slowly but surely adding new ribbons, facets, or other features. New ways to personalize your banner may become available through these achievements also. These small additions to your banner themselves expand as you complete more and more achievements. For example, as you progress in a certain category of achievements more gems may start appearing on a ribbon dangling from your banner. Or as you play through more Hardcore content the mound of skulls and bones under your banner will grow.


    Crafting is getting an overhaul in Diablo III, becoming more viable for any stage of the game. In this topic we got a good amount of confirmation on the abilities that each of our three DiabloWiki.com - Artisans Artisans will provide.

    This Artisan offers item enchantments. This may ring a bell, as a similar system was in place in Diablo II. With the new system you'll not only be able to enchant your items, but continuously do so, each time rolling better and better stats. This enables a player with enough focus and funds to eventually achieve very high stats on his or her item.

    Through these enchantments, you can also take advantage of very off-class type items on your character. An example the developers gave was a Demon Hunter using a one handed axe and a shield, both of which being enchanted with Hatred regeneration, something that wouldn't natural spawn on such weapons. As the Mystic levels up, she will have access to more powerful enchantments, which are dropped as recipes in the game.

    This old man has very simple, yet essential talents. He can combine DiabloWiki.com - Gems Gems, add sockets to items, and remove gems from items. Exactly what scales as he levels isn't entirely clear yet, but one could imagine a few scalable aspects, such as what level gems he can combine, or what level item he can add sockets to.

    We know more of this Artisan than the other two, both through more exposure via Blizzard, and presents in the beta. The Blacksmith can forge a huge variety of items, some are unlocked as he levels up, others only through recipes you find as drops. He even has the ability to forge legendary items, some with set values. This is a beautiful thing, since through the randomness of Diablos' drop system, by the time you find every item in a set for a mid-level character, you've likely already out leveled the set, making it useless.

    Now through the Blacksmith you'll be able to craft your way to a full set if you're willing to front the needed materials and gold, making those low-mid range set items a viable choice. Besides crafting he can also repair your items, something that will likely need to be done regularly come Inferno, seeing as you loose 10% of your item durability with each death in the game.

    PvP: DiabloWiki.com - PvP PvP hasn't undergone very much change, which at this stage of the game shows how solid it is at heart. As was discovered a while back, the Arena will now have a team death match style of scoring. Meaning that your lives are infinite, you respawn shortly after each death, and the team with the most kills at the end of the game wins. Exactly how long each round will be isn't clear, though one full game will likely be around ten minute. The system of health globes that spawn at certain points on the map wasn't spoken of, so where they are with that is unknown.

    Something that has changed is the amount of players in each match, moving from 3v3 to 4v4. Another useful tidbit of knowledge is that you will not be able to swap skills in between matches. This makes it so a team can adapt their play style to counter an opposing team, without worrying about them having an entirely different skill-set from round to round, making it so comebacks are very possible if a team can adapt efficiently. This forces players to think strategically, instead of just swapping skills to deal with a problem.

    Auction House: As known, you'll be able to trade nearly anything you find in-game through the DiabloWiki.com - Auction House Auction House, be it gold, gems, crafting materials, tombs, etc. Whole character selling will not be available at launch, but will likely be added later on. Search features will be extensive, including a "smart search" which detects common stats across your character and searches for items with similar stats. For the more picky person there will be an advanced search feature where you'll be able to pin point exactly the item you're looking for.

    Life Cycle Of Items

    With the introduction of the auction house, comes a new level of item recycling that had never been seen in a Diablo game. Whereas in Diablo II items more or less drifted around form player to player endlessly rotating, in Diablo III these items can be transformed into many forms, and then like a Phoenix reborn, take shape into new amazing forms.

    In Diablo II the ideal life cycle of an item was as follows: Drop > Wear > Trade > Eventually Sold. That's about as far as it went in the best case scenario. This wouldn't be so terrible if gold had any true value in the game, a purpose.

    In Diablo III this is the ideal life cycle of an item: Drop > Wear> Trade > Eventually Salvaged > Crafted into new item > Eventually Sold. Not only are there many more things you can do with an item, but when it is eventually sold for gold, that gold can be used to continue feeding the economy, or even better, sunk into one of the many gold sinks, removing it from the game and delaying the build up of gold in the economy.

    Final Game Tuning

    Those words have a great ring to them, or maybe just the word "final" being used at all. Tuning, or polishing if you will, comes as the last stage of development. It's where numbers are tweaked, and features are perfected for release. This polishing happens across the entire game, so we'll touch on the interesting topics which were presented.
    • Monster Improvements:
    The creatures of Sanctuary are a formidable bunch, each with a role to play in the heat of battle. Fulfilling these roles is an important job, and sometimes new roles need to be created to address balancing issues. One of these issues that's very clear for any Diablo player is how casters can often avoid affixes of creatures, such as lightning, thorns, or other short distance AoE effects.

    To adress this, the new affix called Mortar was introduced, where a creature will lob fireballs across the screen, endangering casters while flying right over melee characters' heads.

    • Passive Skills & Synergies:
    True to their claims of nothing being final, there have been small tweaks all cross the passive skills. In some cases is may just be a number change, though as they displayed there are a couple of new passive skills to support different builds.

    • Synergies:
    Another way Blizzard is supporting build diversity is by cutting down on synergies. While synergies may look appealing, they actually drastically decrease the amount of viable builds. This is due to the very nature of them, where if you have one skill you're most likely best off following it up with skills that all have corresponding synergies. This forces the player down a certain path in order to maximize the effects. While they're not removing synergies all together, they will be down-tuning their effects, or removing certain corresponding effects completely.

    Class Tuning

    With the idea of class specific resources surely came a huge amount of development to get to this point. As with any complex feature, constant polishing is the only way to achieve balance. While each class is fairing well with no major setbacks, small tweaks are being made to adjust how each class handles.

    The trend Blizzard has noticed in the beta is players will skip the small Fury generators such as DiabloWiki.com - Bash Bash or DiabloWiki.com - Frenzy Frenzy in favor for the larger ones like DiabloWiki.com - Leap Attack Leap Attack, or DiabloWiki.com - Ground Stomp Ground Stomp. To account for this the amount of Fury the smaller generators will create is getting bumped up. They also found that come late game the Barb is having a tough time surviving due to the classes' need to be within melee range of creatures. This is a little more complex polish, and will involve a few defensive changes.

    As we've known, a certain section of skills will slowly become less costly as you level, eventually becoming completely free. This system is undergoing small changes which weren't clearly detailed. All spells are also moving to % weapon damage, making weapon more important to casters than before.

    A common concern with this change is - well if casters depend on weapon damage, shouldn't I just run around with a two handed axe? - This is being addressed by also having the casting speed rely on weapon speed, so while your attack may do more damage with a two handed axe, your DPS may be less than if you were to use a wand with a lower attack, but faster attack speed. There are also class specific buffs on many casting oriented weapons that could sway a players choice from say a sword, or axe.

    Mana seems to be unlimited in the beta, and at this early stage of the game it essentially is. Though as the game progresses you'll have to make crucial choices that will effect how your Mana will behave. It was stated that if one were so inclined, they could form a build where you do indeed have infinite Mana, though they'd be sacrificing other aspects of the class, such as damage, or defense.

    Mantras are now going to have a three second period when first cast where they'll grant double the buff they normally would. This makes them feel like less like a maintenance skill, and more like an active skill that needs to be paid attention to. Combo skills are also undergoing some small changes in their basic functionality, both in how they are combined, and how powerful each level of attack is. For example they plan to increase the range in Deadly Reach to make it more viable.

    As touched on not too long again, the DH will have a completely new Hatred system than as the class does now. At this very moment in the beta Hatred constantly regenerates, though as many have found, you end up constantly low,if not drained of it. To remedy this there will be Hatred generating skills and spending skills, much like Fury. Snares will also see some buffs to better keep enemies at range, or help better preform their role.

    While each class have some very specific changes coming, one change is reaching across every class - awesomeness. Through feedback from the community, and internal testing, a lot of players have found skills as a whole don't make them feel as awesome as they'd prefer. Blizzard has heard the cries, and plan to increase the visual effects of many skills, helping enforce the fact that you're a badass demon-slaying demigod.


    Many fans have speculated on exactly how difficult each act will be. Some even feel the entire game will be relatively easy. This may be due to the easy content we've seen in the beta, which is indeed very casual. This is by design though, normal difficulty is meant to be a kind of
    tutorial, which teaches you everything you'll need to know, while not punishing you too hard for making mistakes.

    Very casual players will enjoy this first difficulty, while more serious players will find it laughable. This again is by design, because in essence every serious gamer was once a casual gamer. At one point in time we all were n00bs. Blizzard understands this, and wishes to help turn those casual gamers into more dedicated gamers through nice and easy difficulty transitions.

    Blizzard also understands that a large portion of their fan base are hardcore gamers looking for a challenge. Thus comes the concern that even in later difficulties the game will not present an adequate challenge, well Jay Willson assured us that this isn't something we should be worried about. Through a display of testimonials from in-house testers who have been put up against the Inferno difficulty, we're given an idea of how difficult endgame content will truly be.


    Followers replacing mercenaries wasn't all too popular among the community. The fact that these new side-kicks were only available in single player was a big change it itself, but the added hit of them only being viable in normal difficulty never settled well with the majority of the fan base. In good fashion Blizzard has listened to these concerns and tweaked followers to be viable through all levels of content, though still only useable while playing solo.

    Town Only Skill Swapping

    The title speaks for itself, but the reasoning behind why this change is being made is interesting. The dev team found that more and more often players would have their skill UI open while slaying monsters, swapping skills out multiple times as they played through small areas. This would make for some problems if left unattended. Not only does it take up a large amount of screen real-estate, but it takes away from the feeling of identity with your character when you're changing such a core aspect so often.

    So right now they're testing town only skill swapping where you'll walk over to this area or NPC to swap out your skills. Jay didn't seem very happy about this, and stated how this isn't the final solution. If this doesn't work they will also be testing an out of combat swap system. This second option could make for some heavy development, since it have been stated that Diablo has no in, or out of combat tracker that these type of systems can communicate with.
    Posted in: Blizzcon DIII Gameplay & Auction House Panel
  • published the article Cinematic Preview

    ... for there is always something peering back.

    Today Blizzard released two pictures which look to be cut from a cinematic scene in Diablo III. One portraying DiabloWiki.com - Leah Leah looking rather bewildered, and another introducing an enormous creature who doesn't look too friendly. With right around the corner, one could imagine this is a sign of things to come. With the Beta released and much about the game now on display at the Diablo III site, what else could Blizzard wow us with while not giving too much away? Could these images be leading up to our first look at the introduction cinematic, or a trailer of some sort? We'll have to wait and see.

    Click for full-size image

    Click for full-size image

    Special thanks to Doomscream for promptly bringing these images to light.

    While we don't have any solid information on this creature, we do have a portrait of it, which suggests it will have dialog in the game. One could also suggest this creature is the "greater evil" DiabloWiki.com - Cain Cain speaks of, which supposedly constructs the DiabloWiki.com - Grotesque Grotesques.

    "The grotesques may seem slow and senseless, but they hide many dangers within their hideously malformed bodies. A set of spikes lurks beneath the monsters' flesh and foul parasites nest within them. It is said that these horrors themselves are constructed by a greater evil... a darkness that I cannot even fathom."

    - Deckard Cain

    Creature portrait
    Posted in: Cinematic Preview
  • published the article Bul-Kathos Guides My Hand!

    Well, lets face it. The Beta has been out for a while now, and you've likely watched enough footage to write one of these yourself. So, why exercise your eye muscles on this instead of more furious, Hulk smashing gameplay? Truthfully, if I may turn the camera towards myself for a second, I love the DiabloWiki.com - Barbarian Barbarian class. Throughout the Diablo franchise I've been intrigued by no other class, and even with the introduction of the Monk, I've yet to budge in my interests. That being said, I've focused my playtime almost entirely on this class, and have done my best to learn its ins and outs in Diablo III so far. Rather than take you through the story line of the Beta through the eyes of the Barbarian, I'll be diving into the different aspects of the class itself.

    Throughout the Diablo series there has been one primary tanking archetype, be it the Warrior in DiabloWiki.com - Diablo I Diablo I, or the Barbarian in DiabloWiki.com - Diablo II Diablo II and now DiabloWiki.com - Diablo III Diablo III. While other classes can often be built to play a similar role, one could argue it comes most easily to the Barbarian. This is due to three main factors.

    Warning: No information from my experiences will be withheld.

    Through a multitude of skills the Barbarian uses super natural strength to pulverize foes (and barrels ;)). Most of these skills help enforce the feeling that the Barbarian is a heavy hitting character, dealing large chunks of damage with each hit, while not typically as quick or agile as the other classes. The Barbarians' skills are broken down into three groups, Fury Generators, Fury Spenders, and Situational. Though we only get access to a few of each in the Beta, there are still many potent combinations to play around with.

    Many of these skills surprised me with their efficiency. When the Fury System was first announced I had some concern the Fury Generators would pale in comparison to the damage and efficiency of the Spenders. While the Spenders do typically pack more punch, either through pure damage or other effects, the Generators get the job done just fine.

    The skills available in this category during the Beta include DiabloWiki.com - Bash Bash, DiabloWiki.com - Cleave Cleave, DiabloWiki.com - Leap Attack Leap Attack, DiabloWiki.com - Ground Stomp Ground Stomp, and DiabloWiki.com - Frenzy Frenzy.

    I found myself hard pressed to choice between these skills when all of them became available. Since for the most part the Beta is easy as pie, I narrowed it down to which I took the most pleasure in using, which is Bash and Leap Attack. All of the skills are efficient though, and could easily fit into many different builds. Speaking strictly for the Beta, at level 13 (level cap) you out class the monsters by enough that it really doesn't matter what skills you use, so it comes down to preference rather than necessity.

    Sure, the Generators get the job done, but the Spenders bring more to the table in general, after all you have to work for these. These skills are so fun to use; each time I swing my Hammer Of The Ancients I feel like a boss.

    The skills in this category available in the Beta are DiabloWiki.com - Hammer Of The Ancients Hammer Of The Ancients, DiabloWiki.com - Threatening Shout Threatening Shout, DiabloWiki.com - Battle Rage Battle Rage, DiabloWiki.com - Weapon Throw Weapon Throw, and DiabloWiki.com - Rend Rend.

    Each one of these skills is a blast to use, though in most cases some seem to be more preferred than others. Since this is about my honest impressions of the class, I'll say I rarely use Threatening Shout, or Rend. While I could see their use when things get challenging, I find their effects less desirable than other more powerful skills such as Weapon Throw, or Hammer Of The Ancients in the easy atmosphere of the Beta. Even Weapon Throw seems to fall short, not in damage (it does an insane amount), but instead in availability.

    At full Fury you only have enough to use Weapon Throw five times, and un-runed the skill only hits one enemy. So at best, you only get five kills out of a full Fury orb by using it. There is a Passive Skill to remedy this though, DiabloWiki.com - No Escape No Escape, which offers not only a 100% damage boost to Weapon Throw (and Ancient Spear), but returns 20 Fury for each enemy killed with it. Sadly, this Passive Skill is not available in the Beta.

    Unlike the other categories, we only get access to two of these skills in the Beta.

    These two skills are DiabloWiki.com - Ignore Pain Ignore Pain, and DiabloWiki.com - Revenge Revenge.

    Both certainly will have their uses come challenging encounters, but like some other skills, they are just unnecessary in easy environments. Either way, I gave them a try to understand how they could be used if need be. Ignore Pain could be great for a whole bunch of clutch situations, need those extra few seconds to rush through a crowd and attack a primary target? Low on heath and need to get out of there? Ignore Pain certainly has a niche.

    Revenge also has plenty of situational uses, and saved my life once during early gameplay. During one of my early play-throughs of the Beta I came across a mod of Illusionist DiabloWiki.com - Grotesque Grotesque mixed with some DiabloWiki.com - Skeletal Archer Skeletal Archers and regular DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton Skeletons. Mods who are classified as Illusionists split into three when at 30% health or lower, each of the copies spawn with the same amount of heath the original creature had when it split.

    So upon my slaying of the first Grotesque, it predictably exploded. What I didn't realize was the explosion had brought all of the other Grotesque to below 30% heath, so they each split into three. There was now give or take 15 Grotesque surrounding me. On top of that, the explosion killed the two Grotesque the original one split into, so a chain reaction of explosions occurred all around me, nearly killing me instantly (I wish I had a screen shot). Lucky for me, I had Revenge equipped and it had activated. I swiftly deployed the skill, killing most of the Corpse Worms which would have surely taken me, regained a good amount of health from the hits, which granted me enough time to grab some nearby health globes; effectively saving me from a certain and comical death.

    The Passive Skills for the Barb add a mammoth amount options to toy with. Each has a very appealing buff, so choosing between them largely comes down to what you have in mind for your build. These are the toppings to the Barb pizza, adding just the right flavor to your build.

    Click for larger image
    During the Beta four Passive Skills become available, DiabloWiki.com - Blood Thirst Blood Thirst, DiabloWiki.com - Pound Of Flesh Pound Of Flesh, DiabloWiki.com - Ruthless Ruthless, and DiabloWiki.com - Weapons Master Weapons Master.

    As with the Active Skills, some of these Passive Skills will have more appeal to the in high difficulties. Take Pound Of Flesh (Pictured right) for example, during easy, or even mildly difficult situations this may seem unnecessary, maybe the occasional life potion is enough. I'll willing to bet though, that during DiabloWiki.com - Inferno Inferno Difficulty the cooldown on potions will hinder their usefulness greatly, making health globes all the more valuable. These are the situations where less exciting, more tactical skills (both active and passive) will be used.

    Life And Fury

    As with the previous installments, the heavy melee class starts with more life points, a necessary aspect of a tanking class. The Barb starts off with 84 life, compared to the Witch Doctors' 80, and the other classes' 76; this gap only increases with level. Aside from life, the Barb also starts off with 11 Defense, compared to the Monks' 10, Demon Hunters' and Witch Doctors' 9, and the Wizards' 8. Those few points make a world of difference. The Barbarians' 11 Defense grants 50% reduced damage, while the Wizards' 8 offers none at all.

    DiabloWiki.com - Fury Fury has sure turned out to be a great system for the Barbarian. Since the only way to build it is to smash things or take damage (unless you have the DiabloWiki.com - Unforgiving Unforgiving Passive Skill), it pushes you to participate in combat. While some of the other classes have mild issues with their resource, as it stands right now the Fury system works wonderfully. There is no abundance, or lack of Fury during combat. If you need Fury you build it, if you have Fury you spend it, and everything around you is dead by the end of it all.

    If I could think of anything to be tweaked regarding Fury, it wouldn't be Fury itself, but instead how much Fury some Fury Spending skills use. As I mentioned before Weapon Throw is expensive, costing 20 Fury, which only goes into 100 five times. I'd like to see some changes to skills like that, where even if you don't have the perfect build (No Escape for Weapon Throw for example), you can still somewhat efficiently use the skills. This isn't game breaking, but it does deter the use of those over priced skills to some extent.

    Also, I support this message. Special thanks to CherubDown for relaying it.

    Blizzard is making sure all classes rely heavily on gear in Diablo III. The recent switch-up of base damage, to % weapon damage of almost every skill on every class pushes this even further. This change isn't reflected in the Beta, but you can head over to the
    Click for larger image
    Blizzard Skill Calculator to see the changes yourself.

    Being a Barbarian player through the series, you get used to the fact that you are your gear. Small upgrades in armor or weapons can have a huge effect in gameplay. Throughout my experiences with the Barb so far, this holds true in Diablo III just as much as the previous games. The excitement of finding a new, better weapon is relatable to finding a $20 bill on the ground.

    Sadly though, the Beta currently has a very limited amount of content. The only rare items I've seen drop are from the first slaying of the Skeleton King, and the only Legendary item I've seen is Griswold's Edge, which is only found on a randomly appearing Anvil in the Old Tristram Ruins, to which I have found three. I personally am near certain this isn't how the drop tables will be come release.

    Aside from drops, crafting is a very viable means to get great items. In fact, most of the best items in the Beta right now can only be crafted. This is due to the fact that you are able to level your DiabloWiki.com - Black Smith Black Smith higher than you normally would have by the time you defeat the Skeleton King on this difficulty, thus granting you access to gear that out classes the drops at this point in the game. This isn't to say you can just craft a perfect item, there are many variables which lend itself to a great crafted item. These variables are completely random, so getting a great roll can be very rare. This is where the DiabloWiki.com - Auction House Auction House comes in. I personally have used to Auction House for most of my gear. I tried to roll good items, but it just didn't happen.
    What's interesting is for the most part, every class is looking for the same armor. Since the only restriction is level (unless it's class specific), and the Beta has so few sought after stats, as a Barb I'm looking for the same Gloves of many Wizards. This makes for a very competitive atmosphere in the Auction House, which is a great sign for the future.

    As one would expect from a player based economy, most items are ridiculously overpriced at first. Something wonderful is starting to happen though, those overpriced items are not selling. Even in the Beta where players know nothing they're accomplishing will carry over to release, people are still refusing to pay for overpriced items. This brings the item price down, and slowly but surely will come to a standard price for that item depending on stats.

    Blizzard has done a fine job at maintaining the heaviness that characterizes this class. Every time I see an enemy I'm drawn towards it like a magnet. The feeling that comes from knocking skeletons clean from your enemies' flesh is empowering, and extremely satisfying. The physics that ensue after these powerful strikes may look silly while watching gameplay footage, but let me assure you it feels just right when you're behind the controls. There are some tweaks to be done in this area if you scrutinize it, but nothing that will ruin your ground and pounding experience with the Barbarian. This class is for those who love being toe-to-toe with yo foes, ya dig?
    Posted in: Bul-Kathos Guides My Hand!
  • published the article Diablo 3 Has Officially Been Pushed Back
    2012, The Year Of Diablo III

    It saddens us at Diablofans to have to announce this, but bad news is best served fresh. The target release window for Diablo III has officially been pushed into 2012.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We commonly use the term “soon” when referring to Blizzard releases, because we know that no matter how hard we’re working to reach a target, we’re not going to compromise and launch a game before it’s ready. For Diablo III, we were aiming to launch by the end of 2011. As we’re announcing globally today, our new target for the game is early 2012.

    While this news might not be a complete surprise, I know that many of you were hopeful that Diablo III would ship this year. We were too. However, this week we pulled together people from all of the teams involved with the game to decide whether we felt it would be ready before the end of December, and we grudgingly came to the conclusion that it would not. Ultimately, we feel that to deliver an awesome Diablo sequel that lives up to our expectations and yours as well, we should take a little more time and add further polish to a few different elements of the game.

    The upside of today’s announcement is that we will be running the beta test longer than we initially planned, which will allow us to invite more of you who have opted in.

    For those taking on the Diableard challenge, we salute you -- and now fear for your well-being and personal hygiene. We hereby issue an official reprieve to all Diableard participants, including Blizzard employees, if you want to trim or otherwise manage the lower half of your face. We’d still love to see your beardly achievements, and we look forward to seeing more of your efforts as we move into 2012, but not to the detriment of your workplaces and significant others.

    Thank you everyone for your support and anticipation for Diablo III. We’re still moving ahead at full pace, and we’ll be keeping you fully informed of any news and developments here at Diablo3.com, including the specific release date when the time comes, so stay tuned.

    -Mike Morhaime
    UPDATE: As you have likely noticed, the original Blue post has been deleted off of the Official Site. We'll wait for further word on the matter and update this post accordingly.

    UPDATE 2: A fellow Diablo follower from another site was able to capture the linked post in its entirety. With this as further evidence, it seems the Blue post itself was in fact legitimate. As it looks, the post was promptly taken down shortly after its publishing.

    A special thanks to Soul for bringing the image to my attention.

    UPDATE 3: The post is back up on the Official Site.
    Posted in: Diablo 3 Has Officially Been Pushed Back
  • published the article Change, It's Only Natural
    I Feel A Change In The Wind, Says I

    Over the past few hours a good amount has changed around the Diablo III Community Site, some of these additions are more potent than other. Lets work our way through these updates, shall we?

    The Official Item Page Is Up

    It seems the page is still under mild construction, with some item icons repeating themselves, and others simply nonexistent. All and all though you can clearly see how the page will pan out, categorizing items by body slot, with class specifics gear being conveniently identified by class.

    Through this one page, we have many significant topics to touch on.

    Follower Specific Items

    On top of being able to equip your Follower with standard gear, there will also be follower specific items which are only usable by the item's specified follower. These items don't have stats to them yet, so it's still unknown exactly what buffs they'll grant your follower.

    Her items seem to be based on magical trinkets, such as mirrors and amulets.

    The Scoundrel's items suit his character very well, consisting of such things as dice and satchels.

    For the Templar, we find items like Tomes and Vials of Tears.

    Amulets & Rings Have Sockets

    Confirmed by multiple examples for either item, it's evident both amulets and rings can have sockets. Now to what extent this goes is unknown, can you add sockets to them? If so, can you add sockets to legendaries that don't already have them? Multiple sockets? These are questions without answers at the moments.


    Potion Revisions
    Potions seem to have gotten a nice upgrade graphically, alongside a confirmed "Other" category of potion which grants a buff for a certain length of time.

    If there was any doubt that Scrolls will play a large role in Diablo III, the fact that they have their own page should alleviate any lingering doubts. There are currently three different types of scrolls. The Scroll of Companion, which summons a temporary critter who picks up gold for you, the Scroll of Identity, that identifies rare and legendary items (magic items no longer need to be identified), and the Scroll or Reforging, which re-rolls your item at the cost of negative 10% max durability (there are three ranks of these scrolls, each used for either magic, rare, or legendary items).

    Throughout the world you will find Pages of Training, these alone do nothing. After collecting five Pages of Training, you may combine them to form a Tome of Training which is used to level up the Artisan of your choice. It takes multiple Tomes of Training to level your chosen Artisan.

    Crafting Materials

    As it stands, each difficulty will have four different crafting materials, one salvaged from each corresponding item class (Common, Magic, Rare, and Legendary). Gems will be broken down into Gem Dust which may have many uses, one surely being to craft higher tier gems.

    Crafting Recipes..

    Along your journey you will find Crafting Recipes, which may be given to the corresponding Artisan to teach him or her how to craft a new item.

    The Black Smith recipe pages on the Diablo 3 Community Site not only list the item stats, but also the required Black Smith level, materials needed, and gold cost. These recipes will grant the Black Smith the ability to craft new items.

    Recipes are also required for the Jeweler to craft high level gems. Three of one tier gem will be needed to craft the next tier gem.

    Recipes will provide your Mystic with new Enchantments that she can imbue your items with.

    Armor Dyes

    Not everything about Diablo 3 is about how your gear functions. Making an item your own is very important, it helps you to feel connected with your character. Thankfully armor dyes have been granted their own page in homage of this. There is even a Vanishing Dye, in case you don't want a certain item to show at all.

    Gems Get Overhauled

    Gems have gone through a few public revisions over their development, most have been just graphical. Now it seems there will only be four gem types, instead of the six we've seen previously. Diamond and Sapphire didn't make the cut for one reason or another, leaving only the Amethyst, Emerald, Ruby, and Topaz.

    This decision may have been made a while back, as looking back on the last showing of gems there were only four types on screen.

    Unattuned Rune System

    A while back our own Kickin_It reported on how the Rune System could very well change from its form we've seen in the past, and indeed it has. In short, the new system adds another type of Rune drop, one that will drop blank. This Unattuned Rune would only attain a type when you place it into a skill. Furthermore, even after you've taken the Rune out of your skill, it will forever remain attributed to that skill, and may only be used in that skill, even when traded to others. There was talk that the Mystic might be able to clear a Rune, essentially returning it to an unattuned Rune, but this remains unknown. With the new system the Unattuned Runes will also roll random attributes upon attaining a type, further extending the range in which a single rune can vary. For the whole story I highly suggest you read Kickin_It's article on the matter, since it has indeed come to reality.

    Demon Hunter Resource Changes

    As reported on by our own Magistrate in his recent article on the topic, it seems the Demon Hunter's resource has undergone a large revision.

    There has been a consistent trend in the responses of current Beta testers regarding the Demon Hunter's Hatred resource. The complaint was that it simply runs out too quickly, leaving the class unable to use its offensive abilities. Blizzard has heard these claims, and changed the system according.

    Where as the Demon Hunter's skills used to be categorized under Hatred, Discipline, and Utility, now there are both Hatred Generators, and Hatred Spenders, alongside a Discipline category. With this change the class will now be able to strategically choose both hatred generators, and spenders to keep the pain rolling at a consistent rate.

    Complete Skill Damage Overhaul

    While this topic doesn't have it's own page, or even a single mention on the entire site, one could say this is the most drastic change of them all.

    Skills across all five classes generally were based off two types of damage, % weapon damage, or scaling damage which only changes with the rank of the skill; this posed a big problem. When a player found a decent weapon, all of the skills based off of scaling damage instantly became obsolete. In Force's recent Let's Play series he came across this issue many times, where he wouldn't use certain skills simply because the ones based off weapon damage outclassed the ones based of scaling damage.

    What Blizzard has done is base almost every single offensive skill off % weapon damage. This will make nearly every skill viable, where as before it was almost always the better choice to stick with the % weapon damage based skills. This trend can be seen across all five classes. In concept, this change greatly broadens the number of viable skills, though only time will tell how it will turn out.
    Posted in: Change, It's Only Natural
  • published the article Make The Most Of Your Beta
    Make The Most Of Your Beta

    So, you were lucky enough to get into the Beta. Awesome! Enjoy your early look at the game! Though as a Beta participant, you do have a certain level of responsibility to fulfill. After all, the whole point of a Beta is to polish the game for release. So with that in mind, here's what you need to know to help make Diablo III even better.

    Think You Found A Bug?

    So you think you found a bug, and want to squash that sucker. Before taking any action on the forums, be sure to check it against this list of non-bugs which may be mistaken as one.

    Check this often, it will likely be updated regularly
    Turns Out It Was A Bug?

    Great! Just be sure to check your bug against this list of known bugs before writing up your bug report.

    Check this often, it will likely be updated regularly
    How To Write A Good Bug Report

    So your bug is neither a non-bug, or a known bug, congrats! To be as helpful as possible in reporting your bug, be sure to read through Vasadan's proper bug reporting guide before posting in the Bug Report Forum.

    Reporting Hacks, Cheating, And Exploits

    Due to the viral nature of these problems, they must be handled differently than other issues. Never under any circumstance post a thread about one of these on the forums, it'll just spread the problem. Your thread will be deleted, and you could be facing a permanent ban. If you find an issue of this type please send a detailed Email to hacks@blizzard.com, or fill out a form here.

    Beta Feedback

    Squashing bugs and reporting hacks aren't the only productive parts of a Beta. Player feedback is also very important for bettering the game before release. Before you express your suggestions for the game on the Beta Feedback Forums, make sure you've read through the Feedback Guidelines.

    Problems With Streaming And Downloading

    Having trouble downloading the game, or streaming it to hungry viewers? Check your issues against the currently known problems, and possible solutions here, or if you're on a Mac here.

    Now that you know how to handle any potential problems, enjoy your time playing !

    Diablofans Social Media

    For those who weren't granted Beta access yet, don't fret. We here at Diablofans have a robust, ever expanding collection of Diablo III content just waiting for you to check it out! Be sure to regularly visit all of our branches for your recommended daily amount of Diablo III. Subscribe to our YouTube, Like us on FaceBook, follow us on Twitter, and join us in IRC!

    Posted in: Make The Most Of Your Beta
  • published the article The F&F Beta Testing Has Begun, With No NDA.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    FYI, we’re getting very close to starting the closed public beta test for Diablo III. You might start seeing some new reports about the beta client as we’ve begun limited external testing with employees and their families, and there is no non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for that. We look forward to sharing more info about the beta test in the near future. Stay tuned.

    If you have a beta license, you are free to show, share, or talk about any portion of the beta content to which you have access, as this beta test is not confidential.
    That's right, it's official. The Friends and Family Beta testing has begun! Also note that there is no NDA (No Disclosure Agreement) bound to any F&F Beta participants. This means any content they encounter can be shared openly. This would explain all of the recent leaks over the past day or so. No one knows how long the F&F phase will last, but one thing is for certain, "very close" sounds much better than "Soon™".

    Several streams are currently up for the Beta, check out our complete list.
    Posted in: The F&F Beta Testing Has Begun, With No NDA.
  • published the article Character Resource Page
    Finalized Character Resources

    With the Beta tantalizingly close, Blizzard continues adding to their new Diablo 3 Community Site. This afternoon we got a glimpse of each classes' Resource System, complete with animated globes! Though this information is generally already known, by Blizzard posting an official page on the topic it seems the function of each system is finalized. Each system specifically supports the classes' generic role in combat, though doesn't completely prevent the possibility of creative, wild builds.

    DiabloWiki.com - Barbarian Barbarians use Fury, which is generated by both landing and taking hits. Some skills generate more fury than others, such as Leap Attack and Ground Stomp. While other skills are Fury heavy, such as Whirl Wind and Threatening Shout. The Barbarian will begin to lose Fury if he or she is out of combat for too long. The Fury System urges the Barbarian to be aggressive by generating Fury from both damage given, and received. Yet punishes the player for staying out of combat for too long.

    The DiabloWiki.com - Demon Hunter Demon Hunter has a split system, using both Hatred and Discipline. Hatred regenerates quickly, and is diminished by using offensive skills such as Bola Shot. On the other hand Discipline regenerates slowly, and is used for more defensive skills such as Smoke Screen, and traps. The Hatred/Discipline resources grant the Demon Hunter the ability to inflict damage from a far, or lure enemies into deadly traps.

    A DiabloWiki.com - Monk Monk relies on Spirit, which is gained from landing swift attacks such as Fists of Thunder, along with other special Spirit generating abilities. Other powerful attacks only deplete the resource, such as Seven Sided Strike. Spirit does not diminish when the Monk is out of battle, as the Barbarian's Fury does. Spirit guides the Monk to dish out as much damage as possible, while receiving as little as possible. Many of the Monk's skills aid in not getting surrounded.

    Mana fuels the DiabloWiki.com - Witch Doctor Witch Doctor, like in Diablo 2 Mana is gathered slowly, yet has a deep pool. The Witch Doctor may also take advantage of Mana generating skills such as Mana Steal, along with Passive DiabloWiki.com - Traits Traits to help quicken the process. Most other attacks aside from Mana generating skills only diminish the resource. With the slow regeneration of Mana, the Witch Doctor is best off keeping an eye on his or her reserve. Fall too low and you may find yourself hopelessly thirsting for Mana in the heat of battle.

    DiabloWiki.com - Wizard Wizards will use Arcane Power, a fast regenerating resource to fuel their vast array of magical spells and abilities. Using skills will only drain your Arcane Power, so pacing yourself in battle will be key to maintaining a constant bombardment of pain. The fast regenerating, yet shallow pool of Arcane Power supports all of the Wizard's skill disciplines, yet limits the amount of spamming which can be done at one time.

    Though each resource system has its general function for its specified class, this in no way limits your personal play style.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Maximizing the Devastation
    While the fundamental rules of each resource are set in stone, how they’re strategically spent can be greatly customized through passive skills, which can drastically alter how quickly and efficiently your resources generate or regenerate. Through the use of specific skills, as well as the near unlimited combinations offered by skill runes, you can fine-tune your character’s power through resource management and control. Now the choice is yours. Pick your favored class and learn to maximize the benefits of the resources at your disposal, rendering you an incredibly powerful hero and deadly foe of the forces of darkness.

    Special thanks to Verity for the lead, and Zhuge for helping extract those nice resource globes.

    Oh yes, the Beta is coming.. Find out what to expect From the beta and DiabloFans!

    Also be sure to vote in our latest poll, and listen to this week's DiabloCast here!
    Posted in: Character Resource Page
  • published the article Diablo Tweet Spree
    Diablo Tweet Spree

    Over the past few days the Diablo Twitter Page has had a consistent amount of Tweets. These small tidbits of information can give us some insight on how the development team feels on certain subjects, and what they're working on currently.

    Starting off, there has been short mentions on how many characters will be allowed per account. This topic has often went hand and hand with mention of the large capacity of the shared stash. Responding to a Tweet asking if ten would be the final number of characters allowed per account, Blizzard responded uncertainly. This Tweet also notes how the team is still unsure of how they will handle death in the HC Arena.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Less final than the witch doctor is a class, and more final than what happens to hardcore characters when they die in the arena.
    Since the announcement of an internet connection being required to play D3, there has been many issues voiced by fans. Some of there concerns were based around single player mode. It seems some fans have misinterpreted this required connection, as a single player killer. You'll never be forced to play with others, in fact the Follower System was created to allowed you to play alone, but still have an ally. Single player will even be the default setting when first installing the game.

    On the topic of game settings, besides a confirmed private game option, and game search feature, there will also be a match-making system that will pair you with players who are on the same quest as you. This is a very useful feature, for in Diablo 2 it was very difficult to find players who were on the same quest as you; unless you count rushing..

    A lengthy Tweet chain on the Diablo 3 Economy revealed some of Blizzard's feelings regarding the matter. Comparing the economy of D3 with D2 is kind of like comparing an electric car to a gas car. Same function, same general mechanisms, yet very different at heart. Blizzard knows the problems with Diablo 2's economy, and have taken grand action to correct them for Diablo 3. A huge problem with the old economy was duplicating, be it actual items for use, or item currencies such as Sojs, 290s, etc. Blizzard is confident this issue won't exist in D3. A huge part in this claim is the required connection to play the game. Any suspicious activity can be instantly saved on record, and acted on accordingly.

    Even without duping, a valid concern for the longevity of the economy in a game such as Diablo is reasonable. Seeing as Blizzard is very against soulbinding items, even the rarest of items will inevitably build up in the economy. There are widly varying opinions on soulbinding, both for and against. It seems Blizzard is still settled on not implementing such a binding system.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    It's just not a great system for how item drops work in Diablo. And this is too complex to discuss over Twitter. ;)
    Through this, other systems such as salvaging are necessary to delay this build up of rare items for as long as possible. Item sink systems are a great way to remove such rare DiabloWiki.com - items items from the economy, though even more fundamental than that is how many of the items get introduced into the economy in the first place. At the heart of Diablo is randomness, be it environmental, monster mods, or items. Items in particular play a supporting role in what drives players to keep playing Diablo after they've maxed their character's stats through leveling. The rarity of high tier drops, and even the variable stats attributed to those drops all come down to luck. This luck factor plays into the economy in that the more rare the item, the longer it will be until it builds up in to economy. Well, it turns out some items are extremely rare.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    -let's be crazy and say 1% of end game items are awesome.

    1% is ridiculous because the best items will be far, far rarer that 1%. 1% is common in how many drops fly out. But anyway...
    As for our ever continuing wait for the Beta, as expected, they're getting there.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    gavilanex @Diablo wazzup bash?! How's the beta going??

    Diablo @gavilanex Beta hasn't started yet, we're getting there. Hopefully well once it does. :)

    Be sure to vote in the latest poll, and listen to DiabloCast Episode XXI here!

    Diablo 3 at Gamescom? Yup, check out what's expected!

    Missed out on the past few weeks of heavy D3 news? Relive The Flood and quench that thirst for D3 info!
    Posted in: Diablo Tweet Spree
  • published the article PvP in Diablo 3
    PvP in Diablo 3

    Since the first announcement of the DiabloWiki.com - PvP PvP system being limited to the DiabloWiki.com - Battle Arena Battle Arenas, there has been controversy. Questions and concerns arose from the community commonly, many of which Blizzard has responded to. Most recently, during the exclusive Beta meeting which Sixen and Force attended, PvP was one of the many topics discussed with DiabloWiki.com - Jay Wilson Jay Wilson via face to face interviews. We'll be viewing quotes mostly from both Force's PvP interview segment with Jay, and from Sixen's Press Event article. Unfortunately the Beta will be lacking the PvP portion of the game all together. Seeing as this information won't be materialized in game for us until release, following the PvP development is the closest we can get to playing it.


    In the PvP model at Blizzcon, when you died you were out until the round ended, only able to view the battle from a ghost form which is incapable of interacting with the battle. This caused some gameplay issues seeing as it would always end up being a "last man standing" situation, which Blizzard didn't feel suited their casual approach to PvP. As of now the PvP system supports a team death match style of spawning, where when you die you have X seconds until you respawn into battle. This system bases the winning team off total kills between all players on the team. As team death matches tend to go, the round ends when either team hits the kill cap, or the time limit runs out. Through internal testing they found that players generally enjoyed the PvP experience more seeing as they felt like death didn't remove them from the game. Blizzard also found that this gave players a chance to figure out counters to the opposing team's strategy, which often made for epic come backs.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    -Still same arena environment, still kind of feels the same, but when you die, you stay out for a few seconds and then you come back. It bases more on time limit and kill count, which we actually found was a lot more approachable and a lot more fun.

    With the announcement of the real currency DiabloWiki.com - auction house auction house came some concerns about how this will effect the PvP system. The fear is as with Diablo 2's third party vendors, a player willing to spend the money can simply buy their way to victory. Although Blizzard won't be creating, or selling items themselves the ability to buy items, and thus power still remains via purchasing from other players through the AH. In Blizzard's eyes this is all the more reason to avoid a hyper competitive PvP environment.

    This power purchasing situation is unavoidable, players will find a way to buy items no matter what. The concept of a separate Arena for non-currency traded items only has been brought up among PvP enthusiasts. Problem is this would segregate the PvP community, which is something Blizzard stands firmly against.

    Due to the integrated match-making system even if someone spent the money on a leveled character, and all the greatest gear, they would be matched with players with similar character capability. So chances are buying all perfect end game gear for PvP will just pit you against very high caliber players, not some noobs you can smash.

    Moving along to PvP player caps, the Blizzcon PvP model only supported 2v2, and 3v3; limiting the player cap to 6. The reasoning behind this low number is not due to technical limitations, but rather clean gameplay, and low visual pollution; same as the 4 player cap in PvE. Many players bring up how Diablo 2 had an 8 player cap. Diablo 3 isn't Diablo 2, both player and monster skills are more visually flashy in D3. Through internal testing they've found the sweet spot for PvP player caps sits between 6 and 8 (3v3 or 4v4). The current 3v3 PvP limitation isn't finalized, as Blizzard is currently testing 4v4 matches in the Arena.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We’re actually playing around with the max being 4 per team, which is 8 players total, but that’s still 4 per party. By the way, that’s not confirmed, we’re just playing around with it. Ideally, we’d love for parties in PvP to be 4 players.
    The infamous Hardcore PvP mode has yet to be discussed thoroughly, likely because it seems to be constantly undergoing changes. On the topic of HC Arena deaths, it turns out Jay's ability to get a crowd cheering isn't enough to sell the rest of the development team his views on Hardcore mode. At Blizzcon while talking about the HC Arena, his response to death in the mode was as follows:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    You're gonna die, cause it's hardcore mode. So if you don't want to die don't go into the Arena.
    While the crowd seemed to be all for it at the time, since then a lot of controversy has been stirring in the community expressing how there is a good portion of HC players that don't like this concept. These HC players feel they should be able to participate in PvP with their HC character without risking so much. Blizzard has yet to finalize their plans for the PvP HC mode, but never the less Jay had something to say about it at the recent Beta meeting.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    The PvP strike team that focuses on that area, they are pretty nervous about it. Their basic feeling is that if that is what happens, then hardcore characters just won’t PvP. But then there was hardcore dueling in D2 so we may change that. We may allow hardcore PvP players to play without dying. That being said, I still want a way for hardcore players to duel even if not at ship. I am going to push for a way. Even if its basically just a place where you can go in the world where you are flagged for PvP. Even if it is that simple, there is a community, even if it’s a small community that I want to support. Those fuckers are crazy. Part of me is like aww you crazy bastards.

    Non-competitive PvP Environment
    Blizzard has long made games based on close competition. Ranging from the calculated multitasking of StarCraft, to the skill casting hot key tracking ways of World of Warcraft. In both franchises the games have been balanced around PvP; Diablo 3 will be different. Blizzard has chosen to persistently steer clear of heated competition while developing Diablo 3. Determine to base the game around PvE, it seems PvP comes secondary when making development decisions.

    Skills in PvP will not be reworked from the ground up, but will instead be tweaked via under-the-hood changes. Things such as stun, freeze, or snare effects will be tuned down for PvP separate from PvE. A main reason for Blizzard not completely overhauling each skill for PvP separately is that it would cause your character to play very differently in PvP than in PvE, thus causing a disconnection of the gametypes. Even further detailing this concept, Force asked Jay Wilson about this during their interview over at Blizzard headquarters.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    What we have is within the data of the skill, we have these things called snows that are little containments of data. You can open up the magic missile snow and see everything that magic missile does. We have this other column that is for PvP and it can take any of the attributes for the regular skill and change it. We primarily use it to change how long a stun lasts or… We don’t have any diminishing returns and we are hoping not to. Cooldowns and damage could change but we try not to mess with those because they are really tricky. Crowd control durations; those are the big things that tend to change that are game breaking.

    During this interview Sixen asked Jay if the community were to try to turn PvP into an e-sport, would Blizzard stop them in any way? The simple answer is no, they would not. Jay goes on to explain how they wouldn't stop them, but they sure won't support them. Blizzard doesn't plan on extensively balancing PvP, if a player base wishes to form a e-sport like group it seems they'll have to deal with the imbalances that will come with the PvP game.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    -when people say “BARB IS TOTALLY OP!!!” we’re going to be like “yeah… he probably is.”
    Many players who understand these concepts ask the question, why can't they just balance PvP completely separately from PvE? Or add features that a lot of the PvP player base wants. The way the development team is approaching this is black and white, either they market PvP as an e-sport and add all the e-sport features, or they don't add any of those features in at all. Seeing as they have limited time and money, choices have to be made on where they can put their effort into.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    You can’t give the people an e-sport set up and then say it’s not an e-sport. If you are going to commit to that, then you have to commit to it. It’s not an e-sport, we are not going to do that high of level of feature set. It’s also one of those things where, from the outside it looks like we have endless time and budget but the truth is we don’t. The truth is we work our butts off to get the game out and we make choices and adding features like that to make it an e-sport when it’s not a goal for us, when we could be spending those dollars making the PvP game better or the PvE game better, we are going to spend the money there.

    On the topic of PvP ranking, currently there is no true ranking system. Along with this, they do not plan to track stats for the purpose of displaying them, but instead to form a fair and accurate match-making system. The reasoning for not visually tracking stats is no one likes losses on their record, some players are so irked by them, they'll recycle accounts to improve their stats, sometimes spending large amounts of money in the process.

    Instead of a stat based ranking system, players will have a PvP "level" that will be viewable right on your character banner. These levels are progressed through by simply playing the PvP game mode. Winning will progress you faster through the levels, but it is possible to reach the same levels no matter how much you lose. Jay touches on this during an interview with Force. There will also be no win/loss ratio stats being tracked. Your PvP level will represent how much time you've played in the Arena, not at all being based on any sort of ratios.

    Rewards, and Wishlist Features.

    While understanding Blizzard's firm stance on a casual PvP mode one might ask, what features will PvP be lacking?

    One idea currently endangered is the spectator mode. In StarCraft2 this feature is necessary considering the e-sport aspect of the game. In Diablo 3 the feature still has a niche, and surely would be entertaining but due to the time constraints the development team is under, unnecessary features are put on the back burner.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    It is actually on a list, but it’s pretty low down on the list because there are a lot of things that would be cooler to do and without it being an e-sport… replay is kind of an e-sport feature.
    Another common request regarding PvP is the addition of secondary game types such as CTF, VIP, or a type of "Horde Mode". While Jay didn't completely shoot down these ideas, he explained how at the moment their focus is to polish the current PvP model.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    -We know we are going to have some balance issues, and it’s a lot easier to control if we’re not balancing for different kinds of modes, so right now we’re just focused on the one.
    These features may not be lost forever though, as the development team sees the fun in them and hopes to add them in sometime after release. Secondary game types can flourish if done properly, SC2 being an excellent example of this with their very popular tower defense games just as one example. Diablo 3 certainly has the capability to support a massive array of secondary game types for when PvE and PvP just aren't enough, the question is if or when they will be implemented.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We have definitely talked about some other modes. Not at ship but who knows about the future. I really like the idea of a mode that involves monsters and players of some kind. We have played around with modes like that but the biggest issue was that they didn’t feel like Diablo. I think that was just the design we had but there is a way to do it that feels like Diablo.
    Another wishlist feature is a wagering system, where a player could bet gold, or possibly real currency on a PvP match. This feature would have to go hand and hand with the spectator feature. It was not denied to be possible, but since it does suit an e-sport like setup, there will surely be resistance to it's implementing.

    As for rewards is seems there will be many achievements to complete in PvP, which could provide some type of reward. There are also titles, which will likely be similar to the Diablo 2 title system.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Right now there is a whole array of PvP oriented achievements and titles and part of the banner, the crest of the banner, is dedicated just for PvP. So as you get to higher and higher ranks, it levels that up.
    Click for larger image

    • PvP Crest (Top of the banner): Where your PvP, "Level" will be showcased on your banner.
    • Achievement Tally Marker: Your completed achievements will be showcased on either side of your banner.
    • Highest Completed Difficulty Status: Highest difficulty completion is shown.
    • Hardcore Identifier: Do you not fear death?
    • Party Member Listing: Each player in your party is represented by their unique banner flag.
    • Quick Join Listing: Located under the banner, you'll be able to join other players also looking for matches.
    • "Social" Button: Presumably all of your friends will be listed, even while playing other Blizzard games.
    • Profile (Helm): Where you view your in-game possessions and character details.
    • Achievements (Shield): View you achievement progress.
    • Auction House (Gavel): Links directly to the AH.
    • Drop Listing: (Bottom left) This drop listing hasn't been detailed, though from its location it could have something to do with the chat box.
    • Chat Box : Can't have Diablo without one!
    • General Menu Listing:

    All in all Blizzard has taken a different approach to PvP in Diablo 3. Instead of being the end game jewel it was for Diablo 2, it is now simply another way to test your character with friends. Through extensive PvE development, we can only hope there is a lasting PvE endgame being stowed away beyond our knowledge, since PvP isn't looking to be developed to fill in endgame content. Although PvP is not the main focus of the development team, it is sure to acquire a fan base all its own.

    Be sure to check out Sixen's Give Me Options or Give Me DEATH! article where you can vote on your preferred type of auction house, and listen to DiabloCast Episode 20.

    Get pumped for the Beta by reading Magistrate's More Beta Buildup article.

    Don't forget to update your Beta profile! More details in ScyberDragon's Important Beta Profile Update article.
    Posted in: PvP in Diablo 3
  • published the article Monsters have Flavor!
    A Monster's Life

    Diablo in its most simple form is loot, skills, and monsters. Slaying monsters allows the player to level their skills, and gives them loot so they can kill more monsters. Developers have only three opportunities to showcase a monster in a game such as Diablo. First is during spawn, when the monster appears on screen. Secondly in combat, where the player interacts with the monster. Then finally in death, when the player receives their loot, and moves onto the next target. We'll be visiting each one of these stages with numerous examples to get an idea of how Diablo III's development team is flavoring each monster; having it tell a story through the brief time it's on screen. Throughout this article I will note encounters of all three types from 5 rich gameplay footage sources, the 2008 Barb/Witch Doctor Gameplay Trailer, 2010 Demon Hunter Gameplay Trailer Part one/Part two, the 2010 Monk Gameplay Trailer, and the 2010 Wizard Gameplay Trailer. Click the time stamp to skip to the time relating to the corresponding encounter. Open the time stamp in a new tab, then close after the example is over to navigate the article smoothly. Lets begin our tour through the lives of monsters in Diablo III.

    Spawning, first impressions

    In DiabloWiki.com - Diablo 2 Diablo 2 monsters, and even bosses were standing idle waiting for the player to approach them; this sometimes made for bland first impressions. How enemies appear on screen and approach you says a lot about them. It readies the player for what's to come, be it a weak Skeleton stumbling along. Or the powerful Siegebreaker Assault Beast plowing through a thick stone wall. Within the 2008 Gameplay Trailer there are many examples of unique spawns. Our first taste of a unique monster spawn was when we saw a mass of DiabloWiki.com - Ghoul Ghouls climbing up the vertical walls of an elevated walkway (00:25). Shortly after we see a Grotesque, which itself doesn't have a unique spawn, but the
    Grotesque about to burst
    DiabloWiki.com - Lamprey Lamprey that explode from its corpse make for an interesting appearance (2:29). Next we see a DiabloWiki.com - Dark Demon Dark Demon being spawned center right on the screen by a DiabloWiki.com - Dark Cultists Dark Cultists (4:06). After slashing through those encounters the Barbarian comes across a DiabloWiki.com - Chest Chest container, which when opened spawns four Ghostly Orbs that in turn spawn Wraiths until the Ghostly Orbs are destroyed (4:41). After acquiring a scripted full set of gear from the chest, the Barb leaps over a break in a bridge and uses DiabloWiki.com - Whirlwind Whirlwind on some DiabloWiki.com - Walking Corpse Walking Corpses, which happens to turn them into DiabloWiki.com - Crawling Torso Crawling Torsos (6:37), reinforcing the fact that these are indeed undead creatures we are dealing with. Later on we see a Dark Vessel transform into an Activated Vessel, who attacks the player viciously until destroyed (9:30). They have a nice death animation also, more on this later.

    Click for larger image
    Continuing with the 2008 footage we have one of the most intricate spawning animations yet seen. Summoned by Dark Cultists in a special sacrificial ritual the DiabloWiki.com - Thousand Pounder Thousand Pounder bursts to life. During this animation you see first his bones, then flesh molding into shape until he explodes into existence, killing the Dark Cultists who summoned him, and shattering nearby stone columns (10:19). After slaying the mini boss, outside the dungeon we see some run-of-the-mill Zombies rising from the ground; still a nice touch (12:10). Next we see a Skeletal Summoner bring a Skeleton to life via a purple mist of energy (13:27). Thereafter we witness a slew of DiabloWiki.com - Scavenger Scavengers pop out of the ground when the DiabloWiki.com - Witch Doctor Witch Doctor overturns a corpse (13:43). Come (16:29) we see the huge Gnarled Walkers creek and rattle into combat. Finally the players encounter certainly the biggest creature seen thus far, the DiabloWiki.com - Siegebreaker Assault Beast Siegebreaker Assault Beast, who runs through a solid stone structure into battle where he wreaks havoc on the 4 players, killing 2 of them via special kills. More on that in the combat segment. Last but not least, we see a mass of skeletons summoned from five portals which shoot from the Siegebreaker's corpse (18:50).

    The 3 Bosses we've seen in game so far; Thousand Pounder, Siegebreaker, and Skeleton King

    Dark Berserker
    Moving along to the DiabloWiki.com - Demon Hunter Demon Hunter Gameplay Trailer, on the upper right of the screen two Zombies are seen lumbering out from a fiery room, to which the metal door has been broken (0:29). Right after, the Treasure Seeker is encountered, more on him in the combat segment. (2:39) Ghouls once again surround the player via climbing up from below, and a large unnamed skeleton jumps from the ground wielding a large one handed mace. While not mini boss status, he is certainly unique. Next, though not a creature, we see a ghostly scene playing out of DiabloWiki.com - King Leoric King Leoric beheading his wife; likely while under the corruptive influence of DiabloWiki.com - Diablo Diablo (3:00). Later we see Walking Corpses climbing out from an underground chamber at the top left of the screen (4:55). Lastly three DiabloWiki.com - Dark Berserker Dark Berserkers attack under command of a Dark Cultist noted by how he says, "Kill them my pets" (7:29).

    Dune Thresher
    Now on the DiabloWiki.com - Monk Monk Gameplay Trailer. First two Lacuni Warriors are seen, both seem to be able to teleport (0:31). Also in the mix at this encounter is a Lacuni Huntress who also can teleport, and is noted to have a lightning aura around her hinting that she is a lieutenant class creature. (1:38) marks our first encounter with three Dune Threshers. One dives under the sand and swims near the player. Following, the Monk is surrounded by Lacunis popping from the sand triggered by a chest (2:27). Next a Dune Dervish makes its first appearance, launching from the sand in a spinning fury alongside a few others, which seem to be spawning around a suiting large tornado (5:14). Come 7:47 the Tomb Vipers are spotted to the upper right. At a distance they are invisible, as they approach the player they appear as a glowing orb, and only when in close range they're seen in their true form.

    During the first 1:30 of the Wizard Gameplay Trailer, DiabloWiki.com - Zombie Zombies emerge from the ground commonly. Later Skeletons are seen jumping into battle from the windows on the upper right (3:44). Most notable in this video though, we see the DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton King Skeleton King who is the undead King Leoric. In a unique spawning animation his spirit rises from the ground, then is thrust into the the lifeless skeleton which is instantly brought to life (4:50).

    Combat, a role to play

    First impressions over you want it dead, combat will get you there. Diablo 2 had a good variation of monster blends, keeping the player on their feet. As with most everything though, the D3 team is taking this a step farther, adding new monster types, each of them having different roles to play in battle.

    During the 2009 Heroes & Monsters Blizzcon Panel, DiabloWiki.com - Jay Wilson Jay Wilson discusses monster archetypes. He goes on to say there are about 100 monsters planned for the game give or take, each with its own function in battle (28:34).

    Advance to 28:34 for monster archetypes

    Monster Archetypes

    • Swarmers - Weak, Typically Melee
    • Ranged - Prjectile Speed, Arc, Direct
    • Lieutenant - Resurrect, Buff, Spawners
    • Elite - Tough, Stronger Attacks, or Both
    • AOE - Point Blank, Line, Radial, Cone
    • Weakener - Debuff, Slow, Drainer
    • One Offs: Sleeper, Alarm, Bee Hive, Linked, Sapper, Thief

    Through many combinations of those functions, different groups of monsters form different challenges, which each class has to approach suiting to their play style. During the 2010 Blizzcon Crafting Sanctuary Panel 2/4, DiabloWiki.com - Jason Bender Jason Bender touches on this concept addressing how a room full of fallen isn't always fun, and how mixing up the game mechanics with interesting mixes of creatures is key to battle variability (6:16). As you roll through the examples below, give some thought to the archetypes listed, and what one the monster is fulfilling.

    Skeletal Shieldmen
    To note some of these mechanics in action, starting in the 2008 Gameplay Video, Jay Wilson elaborates on how to properly approach a Dark Berserker. "These Berserkers have a powerful attack that does massive damage, it's best to avoid it, then retaliate while he recovers" (3:07). Jay goes on to describe the Dark Cultist and their threat on the field, "The Cultist that are joining the fight are weak and easy to kill, but the demon spawn the summon are not. The Barbarian must dispatch the Cultist quickly before he is overrun" (3:18). He goes onto explain how these two monsters complement each other, "Working together the Berserkers provide a tough obstacle, allowing the Cultist time to stack the odds against our hero." Next the Barb triggers the four DiabloWiki.com - Ghostly Orb Ghostly Orbs, notice how the DiabloWiki.com - Wraith Wraiths have a slowing attribute to their attack, making it difficult to reach them, or the Orbs which respawn them (4:41). Afterward the player runs across a mass of DiabloWiki.com - Skeletal Shieldman Skeletal Shieldman Jay narrates with, "The Barbarian can use his Ground Stomp attack to stun these skeletons, causing them to drop their shields and become venerable" (8:40). Also notice how the Skeletal Shieldman make a barrier between the player and the less resilient DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton Archer Skeleton Archers in the back.

    Our next encounter marks where two groups of Dark Vessels are seen; these monsters are high priority targets. In this case there are no other creatures around to distract the player, though even if there were, killing as many of the vessels as possible before they transform into Activated Vessels would likely be the best game plan (9:24). Soon after during the mini boss battle the Thousand Pounder reaches half heath, which sends him into a frenzy. This increases his movement speed, attack speed, and likely attack damage (10:52). These type of monster mechanics can make longer combat encounters more diverse and difficult. At 12:56 we see an example of a enemy charge attack by the DiabloWiki.com - Beast Beast, clearing the whole length of the screen instantly. Then a DiabloWiki.com - Skeletal Summoner Skeletal Summoner strategically brings forth a DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton Skeleton behind the player, when he could have easily summoned it in front instead (13:27). This I suspect is purposeful, and implemented into the AI of the Summoner to better surround the player. Next at (13:42) the Witch Doctor gets jumped by many Scavengers. Falling under the "Swarmers" archetype, these creatures attack in numbers, are melee, and rather easy to kill. Lastly in the 2008 Gameplay Video from 16:30 on we see an example of a multi tiered fight, beginning with the the Gnarled Walkers, climaxing with the Siegebreaker Assault Beast, and ending with the mass of Skeletons.

    Male Demon Hunter
    During the Demon Hunter Gameplay footage, a strange creature is noted. This is the Treasure Seeker, this monster doesn't attack the player, instead it will run away in attempts to keep its stolen loot. With each hit the Treasure Seeker will drop gold, loot, or both (0:39). The next encounter introduces environmental hazards, note the huge metal grate on the ground, periodically bursting into a huge inferno which would most definitely harm the player (0:43). Next is something reminiscent of Diablo 2, when a Skeleton Archer fires upon the player from behind a barred cell wall (1:21). I remember that being extra annoying as a Barbarian in D2. Afterward marks an Elite class creature encounter, as the player reaches the center of a four way walk bridge, an event is triggered as Ghouls climb up from every direction surrounding the player, then a huge Skeleton jumps up from the ground, becoming a top priority target (1:21). Note how the Demon Hunter volts over the fiery grates to avoid taking unnecessary damage (3:43). Shortly after another environmental hazard is seen in the form of giant falling blades (4:42). Next we stumble upon an interesting mixture of monsters. A DiabloWiki.com - Spike Fiend Spike Fiend launches spines from its back, attacking the player from a far while the Dark Cultists use summoned Dark Demons to attack the player up close while they themselves cast fireballs. All the while the DiabloWiki.com - Dark Vessel Dark Vessels tap their staff menacingly, at any moment could turn into DiabloWiki.com - Activated Vessel Activated Vessels (5:58). Lastly three Dark Berserkers under command of an Dark Cultist make for a dangerous encounter (7:28).

    Activated Vessel Concept Art, Treasure Seeker Reward Poster, Tomb Viper Concept Art
    Fallen shaman
    Right off the bat in the Monk Gameplay Video a few DiabloWiki.com - Fallen Shaman Fallen Shaman cast fire balls at the player walling him on a wooden bridge as the pack of Fallen Hounds wait behind them until the player draws closer (0:05). These kind of choke points can make it hard to avoid from casters, thus why the Monk uses a damage reflection skill. At 1:28 as before we see the three DiabloWiki.com - Dune Thresher Dune Threshers, as two waddle over, one dives into the sand and quickly snakes its way over, surfacing near the player. While the Dune Thresher is under the sand it is likely immune to damage. Next the player comes agross a very large amount of Dark Cultist, and a few Activated Vessels. At high difficulties a ball of casters like that would likely be a large threat (2:09). Shortly after the Monk sets off a sabotaged chest, causing multiple Lacuni Huntresses to spring from the sand (2:27). Following that, we see a melting pot of creatures including Lacuni Warriors, Lacuni Huntresses, DiabloWiki.com - Desert Wasp Desert Wasps, and a DiabloWiki.com - Dune Dervish Dune Dervish. Together offering a chaotic battle for the four players (2:41). Next marks my favorite part of the video, where multiple clans of Fallen attack the four players at a choke point. Masses of fallen charge in as the front lines get mowed down while the players break through and finish off the few left behind (4:22). It's times like that where you feel the power of your character. At 5:13 a strange tornado coming from a rocky hole in the ground is seen. Around this tornado are swirling symbols on the ground, soon after the players enter the area multiple Dune Dervish leap from the sand. From 5:59 to 7:29 we see chaotic battles break out as the players enter an overtaken desert city now inhabited by the forces of Hell. Afterward are the DiabloWiki.com - Tomb Viper Tomb Vipers, which at a far are invisible, at mid-range appear as glowing orbs, and only when in close range do you see them for what they are (7:47). This could make for quick surrounds when venturing through dark tombs.

    Lastly the Wizard Gameplay Video, while few mentions of intricate combat exist in this video, the ones that do are very interesting. After being threatened by the Skeleton King, the Wizard is attacked by Skeleton Shieldmen, that have excellent attack resistance, DiabloWiki.com - Skeletal Executioner Skeletal Executioner who have large damage output, Skeleton Archers that chip away at health from a far, and regular armed Skeletons playing the role of the main swarmers. This makes for a good battle, as there are many of the archetypes mentioned by Jay (1:53). Secondly we see a large lumbering DiabloWiki.com - Unburied Unburied accompanied by bat like creatures resembling the DiabloWiki.com - Bat Demon Bat Demons from Diablo 2, a few Zombies, and Skeletons which leap from an overlooking window (3:31). Lastly during the battle with the Skeleton King, the player has their large objective target (Skeleton King), yet all the while has to keep the Skeletons around her at bay (4:53).

    Aside from regular foreseeable encounters as listed, there are also random events. As Jason Bender explains to us during the Crafting Sanctuary Panel, random encounters can occur in many places throughout the world, which are themselves randomized. "You could just be walking thought a swamp and boom, 500 Zombies pop up." Surely an overstatement, though the In Game Example gives us a realistic idea.

    Death, the most important part of a Monster's Life

    "One of the most important stages of any monster's life, is really, death." - DiabloWiki.com - Jill Harrington Jill Harrington

    Often times the most exciting part of an encounter with a monster is indeed its death. In Diablo 2 we had a handful of unique death animations. Many of you remember DiabloWiki.com - Coldworm the Burrower Coldworm the Burrower, which when killed explodes into a volcano of green entrails. These type of experiences will be much less rare in Diablo 3. Jill goes on to show us some examples of, "Epic Death Experiences (10:04)."

    Advance video to 10:04 for Monster Deaths

    Wraith and Ghostly Orb
    Starting with the 2008 Gameplay Footage, as mentioned in the Spawning segment we come across a DiabloWiki.com - Grotesque Grotesque, which in its own interesting death, brings to life multiple Lamprey (2:28). Next a defeated Wraith implodes before degenerating into a mist of ghostly energy (4:51). Third we have the death animation for the Activated Vessel, twitching as the demonic energy which brought it to life escapes upward until its body finally explodes, bits fly everywhere (9:45). Afterwards the player witnesses the death of the Thousand Pounder, his innards spray out and up, leaving just his skeleton laying lifeless (11:06). Following the mini boss we see how the Witch Doctor's Locust Swarm attack eats the flesh right down to the bone, more on these type of skill caused death animations soon (12:14). Next marks the death of an Skeleton Summoner, flickering for a split second, then bones and all degenerating upward into a purple mist (13:33). Later on the DiabloWiki.com - Gnarled Walker Gnarled Walkers begin to fall, breaking down with green ooze rupturing from each (16:35).

    On the topic of deaths, special player deaths are in the game. At 17:28 we see the Siegebreaker Assault Beast, pick up the Female Which Doctor, roar in her face, and chuck her at the ground killing her instantly. Soon after, the Male DiabloWiki.com - Barbarian Barbarian gets his own pwning from the Siegebreaker as he is picked up and bitten in half, innards are left hanging from the beasts mouth (18:05). Shortly after the Siegebreaker falls, its body smoldering. It then catches on fire, falling apart as a demonic force flies out of it, opening 5 portals around the players where massive amount of Skeletons emerge (18:36).

    In the Demon Hunter Gameplay footage we see the death of the large skeleton mentioned in all 3 segments of this article. Sadly his death isn't very interesting, as his body just goes limp, and falls off the ledge (0:37). I feel a giant explosion of bone would have been much more suiting. Secondly something neat happens. Due to the physics in the game the Dark Cultist's body flies past the camera (5:27).

    Female Monk
    Onto the notable death animations in the Monk Gameplay video. Seeing as the Monk often uses combo moves, causing the monster to violently explode, sometimes what appears to be a unique monster death is just the end result of combination of attacks from the Monk, and not to be confused with the explosions of higher class monsters. Firstly the death of a Frozen Mage, its limbs fly outward falling and scatting nicely due to the in house physics engine (1:32).

    Lastly for our Gameplay videos, during the Wizard footage, we have an Unburied's death animation. Falling backward and decomposing down to its rib cage (3:45). Suiting since after all it is just a multitude of corpses bound together by demonic forces. We don't get to witness the death of the Skeleton King, that is left to our imaginations.

    Aside from standard death animations, there are also critical kill deaths which have their own effects. During a 2008 D3 Blizzcon Panel, Monster Deaths were showcased. Jay Wilson goes on to talk about how during a critical hit kill the monster will explode, and also show which primary damage type ended its life. He then talks about what you've just seem through a multitude of examples, how certain monsters have unique specialty deaths. Lastly he showcases how skills with specific damage types effect monsters differently. We see how the Witch Doctor's Locust Swarm eats the flesh off its victims, how Burst of Acid melts the flesh off, and how rare monsters are filled with a lot of energy, so they obviously have to explode upon death.

    Diablo 3 Monster Deaths - BlizzCon 2008

    Another great example of how different damage types effect the death animation of monsters is at 50:10 in the Diablo III Gameplay Panel, Blizzcon 2010; where the Wizard's Hydra skill is showcased, showing how each of the five DiabloWiki.com - Runestone Runestones effect it, and the effect it has on its victim's death animations.

    The Diablo universe would be nothing without the monsters which inhabit it. Blizzard is going the extra mile to make sure our experiences with them this time round are varied, and challenging. I hope you enjoyed our journey through the life and death of monsters in Diablo 3. Thank you for reading, see you next time!

    More Diablo you say? Ophion also covered creature encounters, in the Diablo Chronicles. Further into the chronicles he details the randomization of these encounters through the Diablo series, some new creature behaviors in Diablo 3, Boss mechanics, and discussion of some character/follower mechanic evolution. Swing by the article and get your read on.

    It's not too late to vote in our most recent poll, Cooling Down with Cooldowns, or listen to Force's DiabloCast XVIII, The Armory Will Expose You! where the Trio talks about skill cooldowns, beta speculation, and much more.

    Also be sure to check out ScyberDragon's How Soon is Soon™ article where Diablo 3's unknown release date is discussed.

    Dying for more? Check out Don_guillotine's Editorial on death, and the toll it could take in Diablo 3.
    Posted in: Monsters have Flavor!
  • published the article Alt Options, Tiered Skill Slots, and the Infamous Auction House
    If this past week has been the calm, today surely was the storm as Bashiok responded to three threads on the Battle.net forums following Kaivax's minor Blue post yesterday on Diablo 3's music. In Diablo 2 when an item drops its title remains unseen unless you mouse over it, or press the Alt key. Pressing Alt has the added function of showing every item title on screen. This feature helps the player instantly take quota to what has just dropped anywhere on screen.

    Diablo 3 brings options to this feature allowing the player to choice when they'd like to view item titles, and even what key they'd like to use:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We have a few different options you can pick from to display item names while they're on the ground.

    The default option is that names will show for 10 seconds when the item drops, and then the name fades out. You can hit Alt again to show them for another 10 seconds. (Diablo III default)
    You can also forego showing item names automatically when they drop and choose to just use Alt to show item names while it's held down. (classic functionality)
    You can also choose to always show item names, and hold Alt to hide them. (I'm not sure how useful this is, but it's there)
    There's also an option to make Alt toggle showing item names on/off. (my personal favorite)

    We're also looking to bring back the /nopickup option from Diablo II, but it's currently a nice-to-have feature and so may not make initial release.

    Additionally you can rebind any and all keys in the game, so you can easily make something like the Tab (for example) key show item names instead of Alt, if you prefer.
    A special thanks to CherubDown for bringing this Blue to light promptly.
    Rebinding to any key is great, but what about a mouse button or tilt wheel? Many mice now have programmable hot keys which help free up your alternate hand. For now this remains unknown, though hopefully in the not to distance future Bashiok will return with an answer:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Good question. I don't know and don't use a mouse with a tilt wheel. I can try to find out.
    On a related topic item title filters were mentioned. Such a filter would allow the player to choose what type of items would be seen on screen when viewing item titles with the Alt function. For example, a player interested only in legendary items could filter out all other item classifications from the Alt key function. These types of filters won't be making their way into the game. Reason being, between the ability to salvage items from anywhere, and a larger inventory, picking up most items you see could pay off.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    That's not an option currently and as far as I know we don't have any plans to implement. I think the argument against such a thing could be that since you're able to pick up and immediately salvage/sell any items without going back to town, as well as just having a great deal more storage space, means there's a good reason to pick up everything. I suspect that may not hold true for all levels of play, but we'll see.
    Auto gold pickup still remains. This feature can be seen as early as the 2008 Gameplay Trailer. At 6:45 in the trailer you see the Barb walk past two small gold drops, missing them slightly. On his return trip at 6:53 you see both gold stacks be picked up, while his mouse cursor was clearly guiding him forward. Auto item pickup on the other hand has been denied, reason being it would lesson the choices available to the player.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    No, we want players to be clicking on items still to pick them up. Gold is auto-pickup because there's never a reason to not pick it up, but creating 'loot vacuum' mechanics for actual items removes several layers of player decision and interaction.
    In Diablo 3 this would be a lot easier to clean up.

    Without any direct clarification, Skill Slots have been somewhat of a blurry topic concerning their limitations. Bashiok helps clear this up with a brief post adding to another member's prompt response:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Q u o t e:
    From information I had read, it sounds like you can have all of the "high level / tier" abilities if you save your points, but it has been mentioned that the first tier items have little, to no cooldown, and the "top tier" ones have "lengthy cooldowns."

    So take that as you wish, but it would lead me to believe that if you have only high end cooldowns, it might suck when you have nothing to cast :(

    Right, so for example, the three final skills of the barbarian tree all currently have 2 minute cooldowns. There are ways to augment those cooldowns slightly of course, but you're still going to want a mix of skills that complement each other.
    Last, and surely least we have a pretty standard response, or lack there of, regarding the unannounced Trading System. This infamous system will likely be revealed at the Blizzard Beta meeting July 27th along with a slew of other information leading to the Beta release targeted sometime in Q3.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We haven't made any announcements yet regarding trade systems, but it's something we'll be prepared to reveal soon™.

    I think it's something people are going to be pretty psyched about, if not passionately indifferent.
    To this our own CherubDown responded accordingly:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Q u o t e:
    You think only 2 different opinions will come out of the reveal? You should know this community better by now. :)

    No, no, of course not. I totally expect a veritable rainbow of positive reactions. From joy, to elation, to admiration, all the way down to a mild pledging of undying fealty.
    Seeing as this Trading System will be one of the most important features in the game, surely a wide range of responses will echo around the community upon it's announcement. It will need to stand up to the expectations of tens of thousands of fans, bringing simplicity, efficiency, and player immersion together in a nice organized package; in Blizzard we trust.

    In other news Thursday July 21st in San Diego, California Blizzard will be making an appearance at Comic Con 2011. At the event Blizzard, and companies licences with them will likely announce new unseen merchandise for Diablo, Starcraft 2, and World of Warcraft. The entire event runs from the 21st through the 24th, with the 20th being preview day.

    Special thanks to Medievaldragon for bringing this Diablo related news to light.
    Can't make it to Comic Con? Live around Cologne, Germany? Head on over to Gamescom 2011 for Europe's first chance to play the latest Blizzcon 2011 version of Diablo 3.
    Posted in: Alt Options, Tiered Skill Slots, and the Infamous Auction House
  • published the article Diablo 3 at Gamescom after all?
    Recently on June 24th Blizzard posted a small article confirming that they will be attending Gamescom 2011, which will run August 17th through August 21st in Cologne, Germany. In this article both Starcraft 2, and World of Warcraft are listed as attractions, Diablo 3 having no mention. This lead most of the community to believe Diablo 3 wouldn't be making an appearance. This has turned out to be false, as today on the European Blizzard site branch an article was posted listing Diablo 3 as a playable game at the event, marking the first time a playable version will be demoed in Europe.

    News from the event is sure to yield footage of Diablo 3. Though by that point we will have already had a wealth of news from the Diablo 3 Beta meeting which Sixen, and Force will be attending the 27th of July. Information from the meeting won't be available to the masses until August 1st, when the embargo is lifted. During this event the Beta will be avalible for playing, alongside news on Bnet 2.0, and questions for the development team. For more information on this meeting view Sixen's article, We're Off to See the Beta. If you have any questions you'd like to be asked at the meeting, post them in the Blizzard Press Event Questions thread.

    Force has posted a new episode of Purgatory, where he covers the length of Act 4 in Diablo 3, the return of Town Portals, The Book of Cain, and Blog Shenanigans.

    Today Kaivax also commented on how he feels about the Diablo 3 sound track so far.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    I have heard some of the music that's coming with Diablo 3, and all I can say is - I'm very excited about it.
    Players of Diablo 1 have often voiced how any music has yet to match the Gothic feel of the original soundtracks. Such works as Diablo 1's Cave Theme certainly set a dark tone. Another common favorite is the Tristram Theme. Musical tastes vary greatly from person to person, so we'll have to wait and see what Diablo 3 brings to our ears.

    It's not to late to vote in this weeks poll The Future of Item Selling, and check out Blizzard's Video Contest Results, where a fellow Diablo follower placed 3rd, winning many prizes. Also if you haven't already, listen to this weeks Diablocast where Town Portals, the Book of Cain, Item Stores / Item Selling, and The Future of Item Selling Poll are all discussed.
    Posted in: Diablo 3 at Gamescom after all?
  • published the article Clarification on the 18 Tiers of Armor
    During the 2010 Blizzcon Diablo III Q&A Panel, Blizzard revealed that while players venture through Diablo III's three difficulties settings they will discover 18 unique tiers of armor.

    Advance video to 10:18

    Afterwards, Blizzard responded via their Twitter, clarifying how each item slot has 18 unique tiers.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Theeliminator2k - @diablo when you say 18 sets you mean 18 different boots, leggings,etc? And does that 18 include unique armor or are they totally different?

    Diablo - @Theeliminator2k To clarify, there are 18 complete tier looks. Complete. 18 individual looks for each item slot.
    Recently members of the official forums have started to voice their doubt that the 18 tiers will be enough to last through the entire game. The fear is that 18 tiers will be spread too thin over all normal, nightmare and hell difficulties. Recently Bashiok responded to a thread based on this topic.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    in diablo 2 sure they repeated the graphics but we did have 15 tiers of armor that were repeated.

    i hope in the case of chest piece armor they have more armor since it is not repeating something in the area of 30 or so would seem good.

    with only 18 tiers and 3 difficulties if they only have 4 acts ( just a total guess ) we are looking at only 1-2 new armor looks in a new act

    Diablo 2 did not have 15. It had 5. And those were mostly recolored versions of each other with extra pieces stuck on to make them look different.

    Not to knock Diablo 2. The number of looks it had are amazing considering what it took to render them out.
    By considering what DiabloWiki.com - Jay Wilson Jay Wilson said in the 2010 Blizzcon Q&A response, and what Bashiok posted, we can gather there were 5 - 8 truly unique tiers of gear per item slot in Diablo 2, each resetting every difficulty back to tier one. A member farther clarified this, and in turn received assurance from Bashiok.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    He means, when you equip them, 3 look very much alike with minor changes. Not that, in your inventory, they're unique looking.

    Oh, yeah, icons don't count. :P Those will be unique per item though, too, FYI.
    Each tier of gear will have its own unique icon which corresponds with the way it looks on your character. This is also discussed in the Blizzcon Panel at 3:32. Later in the thread, a member links a chart showing 15 different visual tiers of chest armor from Diablo II.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    these look all different


    Look closer?
    Speaking of the icons, yes each tier looks different. When looking at the characters though, most look almost indistinguishable. Bashiok follows this with examples of unique armor tiers on the DiabloWiki.com - Witch Doctor Witch Doctor.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Hopefully this will help. These aren't new, they're from the BlizzCon 2010 panel. There are most certainly already pictures out there of these slides (if not video). These are 4 of the set appearances for the witch doctor. They're unique from each other in every way, including unique geometry, textures, and in some cases animations, and that is true of the other 14 'tiers'.


    These visual looks do not determine anything about the item stats, name, quality, etc.

    For the video of these examples, view 1:42 in the Blizzcon 2010 D3 Crafting Sanctuary Panel 4/4.

    Next a member states how 18 tiers may not be enough to share through each act, in each difficulty. Bashiok responds explaining how there are 720 unique armor pieces in the game, not including weapons, or other item slots. Also in the mix are the dozen or so DiabloWiki.com - Armor Dyes Armor Dyes which can be placed in each item slot to change its color. Bashiok also makes it clear that he is strictly speaking visually, and not about item stat variations.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    it will not be cool to play a whole act and only have 1 ( 2 sometimes ) new type of armor available to find

    Hrm. Not cool compared to what? I don't think this is being compared accurately to what Diablo II or even other games offer as far as visual upgrades to a character. 18 tiers, times 5 classes, times 8 armor slots is 720 unique pieces of armor in Diablo III. That's not counting weapons, or alterations to make each armor piece fit both genders. Oh, and right, the dozen or so different colors you can dye each of those pieces.

    I also hope this isn't being confused with actual diversity in item drops. You're still going to be finding tons of items with varying quality levels and stats, but the best are going to always be pushing your character's aesthetic 'impressiveness' forward.
    Lastly, a member writes about how in Diablo II when you venture into a new act, you have a number of new armors available to you. Whereas in Diablo III less new tiers will be offered per act.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    as compared to d2 you joined a new act and had access to 3-4 or so new armor types

    Aside from those 3-4 being minimal changes from one another, they repeated per difficulty. We don't think that's nearly as cool.

    Numbers-wise, yes, absolutely Diablo II had more "unique looks" per act. From a viewpoint of actually considering what's available in Diablo III, we've got a ton more items for you to find, and they're all unique, and amazing looking.
    It's true in Diablo II, when entering a new act a number of new item tiers become available to you, some unique for that act. The problem is they repeat per difficulty, causing the visual tier to reset when advancing to a higher difficulty. In Diablo III this will not happen, as you progress through the game your character will aesthetically grow more and more impressive alongside your power. The effect is that your character feels more and more "awesome" both in gameplay, and visuals. For more information on DiabloWiki.com - Items Items, or anything else Diablo, be sure to visit our Wiki.
    Posted in: Clarification on the 18 Tiers of Armor