How Soon is Soon™

Blizzard is known for their "It's done when it's done" slogan and their trademark "Soon™" which can cause much debate and mystery over their games' progress. While there has been no official word of how far along in development Diablo III is, there is some interesting information floating about that may just give us a hint and a guess of where they are at. With some careful reading and in-depth investigation, we can get some sort of idea on where they are at with Diablo III's progress.

Starting broadly, we know for sure that Diablo III will not be released in 2010. There is still plenty of information out there proving that they are still hard at work on this game and it is far from being completed. Their plans are to release StarCraft 2 July 27th, 2010 and the WoW expansion Cataclsym later this year. Blizzard has stated that these are the only two games they will be releasing this year. There is some good news to this and some insight if we look further into this however. Rob Pardo, Executive Producer of Diablo III, said at the 2008 WWI that the plan is to release Diablo III before the first StarCraft 2 Expansion is released . Along with this, it was also said that they plan on releasing the first expansion around a year after the game is released.

Official Blizzard Quote:

With "Warcraft III," we hit a year for the expansion. We'd love to hit that for "Starcraft II"
With this information, we can guess that Diablo III will be coming out sometime in 2011. There is also the June 28th/29th date that has become synonymous with Diablo releases which would conveniently land about a year from now.

Moving beyond speculation of a release date, it is important to try to figure out just how far in development they are with Diablo III. The first thing that must be noted is that not everything they have completed has been shown to the public. We cannot assume that more Acts have not been worked on just because we have only seen the first two. Same can be said for the characters development. In fact, it was said that the last class, yet to be announced, was actually the first concept they came up with for a class. However, since that first development, the team has gone back and re-iterated the character and this could explain why it has not be revealed yet despite being the first character created. We also know that they have at least two more systems announced, one probably the new crafting system, that they have not shared any information about. Much of this game has been developed, even though we have not seen it yet. There is also the fact that the Diablo team is not developing the game in a linear fashion. Meaning, that Act I is not developed completely before Act II and so on. Therefore, all Acts, characters, and monster are all being worked on simultaneously.

Next, we need to figure out what we know for sure has been developed. As of 2008, Diablo III had been worked on for three years excluding the initial work done by Blizzard North dating back to 2003 which means the game has been in development for seven years, five of which have been work on the current version of the game. It was also said that the game was well into development.

Official Blizzard Quote:

The game's really far along and it's really fun to play already even though we're not having a playable build here at the show it's pretty far along and it's already a fun game to play
One of the major aspects for Diablo III is the characters. While it is unknown just how fully developed each character is, we do know that all five exist and many skills for most of the classes have been created. In fact, back in 2008, there was an interview claiming that all five classes were playable in the game. We also know for sure that the themes for the first two Acts have been created and that Act I is close to completion. We know that the skill rune system has been created and re-worked. Two other systems have been created although we do not know what they are. We know that at least a dozen or so monsters have been created and added into the game including major bosses. While this does not tell us anything new about how far into development they are, it does give us a base for the rest of our speculation.

Moving onto the guessing game of Diablo III's progress, there are some hard facts that we can use to figure out current progress. Perhaps the biggest clue given was spotted by Dauroth after a recent Twitter update. In fact, quite a few of Twitter updates have recently been about item progression and development. Ranging from the Barbarian's Epic Armor, Jungle Themed Armor, and the Witch Doctor's Varying Looks, itemization has been a focus of theirs lately. While this may seem like more generic information with no concern to overall progress, Dauroth remembered a key quote that may just shed some light.

Official Blizzard Quote:

The game’s itemization is done fairly late in development. The itemization in general is done fairly late in development. So at that point we’ll be building unique items.
Looking at this quote, Jay Wilson has stated that itemization is one of the last things done in development of Diablo III and with the recent influx of item updates, we can guess that the game may be in the latter parts of its development. While I am sure there is still plenty to do to complete the game, there is a small glimmer of hope that maybe this game is not as far out for it release as some may think. With Blizzcon only two months away, we can all cross our fingers and hope to get tons of new information.

Official Blizzard Quote:

We'll share lots of information in our upcoming BlizzCon. Don't you worry!

UPDATE 7/25/2010 :
Bashiok commented on a users question about just how much progress has been made. His response?

Official Blizzard Quote:

Stupid amounts of progress have been made. It's stupid. The amounts. They're just silly in the enormity of them. And the progress.


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