Thanks, Lyquid.Mike Huang: When I left Blizzard in '03, Blizzard North had done quite a bit of pre-production work on Diablo III, as well as some protoyping on the 3d-game engine. Today at the Blizzard Invitational in Paris, they announced the release of Diablo III. Since much of the work we had done on Diablo III was concept and prototype work, seeing the development they've done over the last 5 years was very interesting; while some of the concepts we were developing definitely looks like it made it through to the version of the game they displayed, some of the design choices they appear to have made seem counter to the decisions the original Diablo team members would have made had they remained on development of the title -- the most apparent change that I can point to is the appearance of "floating numbers" as seen in the gameplay video -- this was a feature that Blizzard Irvine continually "suggested" during development on Diablo II, which Blizzard North refused to implement -- with development now located within Irvine, the decision to add floating numbers to the game isn't one which surprises me.
One of the design choices which again shows Blizzard Irvine's hand in the changes made is the re-appearance of the Barbarian character class -- the original design documents for Diablo III included a set of all new character classes, with no reappearance of old character classes (our reasons for this was simple -- since we were enhancing and improving the skill system, we didn't want to try and adapt old skills into a new system -- we'd rather create all new skills for the new character classes. The return of the Barbarian class feels like a change that was made after development of the title was moved to Irvine 3 years ago. -- this is an excerpt only. Read the full article at Mike Huang's blog