Ain’t No Pleasin’ Some Folks

By Alec Meer on July 1st, 2008 at 6:10 pm.

Just like WoW, eh?

You’d have thought “sequel to beloved game announced after eight year silence” would be good news for Diablo fans. And to most, it was. Not everyone felt the same way though – an undercurrent of disappointed muttering had it that the game looked too bright and cartoonish compared to its darker predecessors. Most of us will doubtless wait to see what the game’s actually like before passing judgement based on its appearance alone, but slighted naysayers have banded together for one of those e-petition thingies, determined to talk Blizzard into changing the game’s art style after just four years of development. Can’t fail, surely.

“What we ask Blizzard is to find a way of pleasing the fans of the Diablo universe by giving us a true sequel to Diablo 2 that is graphically coherent with the Diablo universe it belongs to.” Inevitably, they also bitch that they think it looks like “a remake” of WoW. Never forget, folks – A Bit More Colourful and Exactly Like World of Warcraft are in fact one and the same, no matter what the logical part of your brain might be telling you.

There are currently 9352 signatures on the petition, which, while a fair old chunk of disgruntlement, will probably need at least a couple more zeros on the end before Blizzard even read it. So, y’know, good luck with that.

Here’s one of the Photoshopped screenshots they’re using to state their case (original here). My, what elegant captioning:

Joining the ranks of Angries, albeit in rather more restrained fashion, is Fallout 3 producer Ashley Chen [Source]. “I must say I am disappointed that Blizzard has stayed on the conservative side in terms of design with their updates to Diablo and Starcraft”, he notes in a recent blog post, carefully sugar-coating the barb with comments about Blizzard’s knack for fun and polish.

Which is an interesting/brave statement for a rival RPG developer to make in public. While I believe there’s much we’ve yet to see – most especially in terms of co-op/multiplayer – I’m inclined to agree a little at this stage. That D3 is so hugely similar to its eight-year-old predecessor in its play style seems a greater cause for potential concern than that it’s using a few more primary colours. I do hope there are some meaty surprises to come.

, , .

163 Comments »

  1. andy says:

    while i like the fact that D3 seems to have a lot of the same feel as D1 (which D2 completely missed and caused me to hate it), i agree that the graphics direction is a tad bit ‘old’. not everything needs to look like crappy warcraft3 and wow.

  2. slang says:

    Certainly dark enough for me…

  3. Duoae says:

    Wha? I’ve said this on several places but i’ll chime in here. I think the graphics direction is great. I don’t agree with the petition because Diablo was dark and gothic but Diablo 2 was far from it. D2 was muddy at best. Diablo 3 looks a bit brighter – which is where i suppose they get the WoW comment from… but it looks nothing like WoW!

  4. DASH says:

    The question is, if WoW was never released would these guy even have an argument for how D3 looks?

  5. Mo says:

    I love their before/after shots. The formula goes: Diablo 3 screenshot + lower brightness & contrast = t3h 4wes0m3 gaem!!

    I like the art direction Diablo 3 has taken. It struck me while looking at the screenshots that Blizzard are one of the few companies who’s artstyle has become more defined/unique with the jump to 3D as opposed to the other way around.

  6. fluffy bunny says:

    Heh, people on the internet. Always fun to see what they come up with next.

  7. Al3xand3r says:

    I’m sure it will have some pretty dark and gloomy and bloody and hideous environments to show off. Wouldn’t the effect wear out if EVERY area was like that? I’m sure it’s more intimidating to get in some dark cave or dungeon after being on the lush outdoors for a while…

    People whine just because they showed something less than Diablo’s lair and showed off outdoors as well as indoor stuff. You know, Diablo 2 would have looked pretty happy also if you took a screenshot of the plains with some better real time lighting.

    And I hope to god Blizzard doesn’t make everything pitch black five feet away from you like it happens in D2 in the dark because it would just be annoying, not atmospheric… Unless the particular area required such a feel.

  8. Jimi Hendrix says:

    The screenshots do look a tad to bright hopefully it’ll be toned down but certainly aint game breaking
    its not like say, making a isometric turn based RPG turn into a first person shooter.

  9. Cigol says:

    @mo; what did you expect them to do exactly, break into Blizzards offices, steal the game and alter it themselves?

    It’s a simple photoshop to accentuate the kind of ambience many long time fans of Diablo wished for. NOBODY IS CALLING THE ART DIRECTION IN DIABLO 3 BAD… They’d merely prefer it if it were more in line with the original; focused on horror, grime, grit and all that jazz.

    When did expressing ones opinion or constructive criticism become the greatest insult?

  10. PaulMorel says:

    Well, if anyone needed evidence that the proletariat is indeed a fickle bunch …

    I am as big a Diablo fan as anyone, and I think that D3 is looking great! I wish it was being released next week!

  11. RichPowers says:

    Couldn’t you adjust the in-game brightness and contrast sliders until it’s dark enough? Failing that, fiddle with your monitor’s settings. Instant darkness!

  12. The Hammer says:

    “- Cartoon’ish art direction, obviously influenced by the Warcraft universe, Diablo isnt Warcraft.”

    Wow. I think Blizzard will be very grateful for this petition to tell them that…

  13. cyrenic says:

    I thought everyone was getting tired of the “n’th shade of gray/brown” art design trend. Guess not.

  14. mysticsika says:

    1 outdoor enviroment * 1 indoor enviroment/pretty extensive gameplay video = vocal minority whining.

    *has no math*

  15. Robin says:

    I hated WC3′s art style and felt WoW’s was tolerable at best, but I have to say I quite like the look of Diablo 3. It’s more atmospheric and less goofy.

    I’m also surprised at the level of blood and grue, I thought that usually got the (conspicuously bloodless) chop in favour of a lower age rating these days.

  16. Raptornas says:

    Never really got diablo, I can understand the whole collecting addiction thing but I like to be in control of what I’m “collecting” which is why i think Eve grabbed me as I was able to say I want to get that and then focus on doing it.

    Also clicking on bad guys repeatedly just didn’t do it for me. Then again it could have been magic online but I just didn’t bother.

  17. derFeef says:

    Whats wrong with that people. That comparison images are ridiculous. They even can achieve that with adjusting the monitors. I like art direction D3 has. It looks painted with watercolors, especially at outside areas. Its amazing and that is how a game should look.

  18. Ohle says:

    Unfortunately I have to agree with those who are a bit put off by the lack of gore/blood/darkness. I like my Diablo with clear satanistic overtones, and the Teen-friendly gameplay vids just don’t fill me with that same sense of dread I’d get as I moved into the catacombs and deeper into hell.

  19. gulag says:

    “It’s a simple photoshop to accentuate the kind of ambience many long time fans of Diablo wished for.”

    Oh good! I suppose all they need to do is run a couple of filters and it’s all down the pub before closing.

  20. Seniath says:

    “Unfortunately I have to agree with those who are a bit put off by the lack of gore/blood/darkness.”

    The Living Siege Engine of Hell (or whatever it was called) tore someone’s head off in a spray of blood and guts (to whoops from the crowd). What more do you want?

  21. Natus says:

    Wow, Ohle, I don’t get you guys. I really don’t. I thought D2 was plagued by the same darkn’creepy environment time after bloody time. As the posters above stated more clearly than I will: you NEED a bit of light and air (only a bit, mind you!) before you go back into the next crypt. Otherwise, like D2, it’s depressingly the same.

    And if you were put off by the lack of gore and blood after watching the gameplay video, then NO game is going to satisfy you. Honestly, what will?

  22. J. Prevost says:

    I’m just wondering how long it’ll take these folks to realize that their monitors have BRIGHTNESS CONTROLS.

  23. The Hammer says:

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/images/june08/diab1.jpg

    Nope. No blood/gore/darkness to see there.

  24. Bowl of Snakes says:

    I thought that trailer was for a Simpsons game, the balls of those damn blizzard people!

    Seriosly, I’m sure there will be plenty of flaming blood drenched pentagrams to go round the table when its all said and done.

  25. alphaxion says:

    derfeef: that’s because all blizzard textures are painted and then put through a diffuse map.

    I have to go on the side of the current art direction, it looks stunning and I have no problems with the elemental damage and death animations.

    Do they really want everything to look like 1990′s software rendering?

  26. Tak says:

    I’m withholding judgement. I honestly think WC3 looks bad, and prefer WoW over it if left to pick between the two styles (similar though they are, WC3 is hyper-exaggerated). SC2 looks a bit too much of that ‘skewed proportion polygons’ like WC3 from the screenies I’ve seen (but again, waiting for release to condemn it) for my liking.

    Diablo 3 vids look like they got rid of the bloated polies thing, but kept the larger color range, which IMO isn’t a bad thing. It’s all in the application. I expect my outdoors to be bright (when it’s daytime without demonic locust clouds, of course) and my dungeons to be dark, and the video and caps look like they’re going for that. I would hope they don’t put their darkest nastiest dungeon in the promo vid. Also, Diablo 2 tended to get darker the closer you got to ‘evil’ (Diablo 1 not so much, but the entire game was underground and the tech was limited). If they keep with that trend in D3, having the larger color range and more variance in the environments will help make the deeper dungeons all that much more evil and dark.

    Seriously though, crying foul over a few minutes and some screen caps is just not right. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had this same discussion with friends after seeing the vid, but out of respect for a proven studio at the very least we all can agree to wait for the finished product before we jump in completely for or against.

  27. Meat Circus says:

    NEEDS MORE DANK

  28. Hermes says:

    @Ohle

    Teen-Friendly? I’m not so sure, it looks gory enough. Limbs popping off and blood cascading whenever the barbarian does that leap ability.

    Have to say though some of those doctored shots do look quite good, but like everyone is saying it may just be down to a contrast and brightness setting in the final version of D3 to allay these fears. For the presentation they had to up the brightness to show off the engine. The final version will likely not be that bright.

  29. Crispy says:

    I thought WC3 was fine, it has it’s own style contrinued over from the previous games and it’s never supposed to be gritty, dark or serious. It is light fantasy and nothing more. This was carried over into WoW.

    D3 looks fine to me as well. I think it looks ever so slightly cheerier than Diablo, but it’s definitely nothing like WoW, so where’s the problem?

    P.S. I’d love to see some of the great musical styles of Diablo revisited for D3.

  30. Noc says:

    The silliness of the whole petition thing aside, (“How DARE they make design choices I wouldn’t!”) I think there is something of merit in the criticism. It’s the same thing, I think, as what DoW did with WH40K: It’s got the same stuff, and it’s pretty, but it looks more like [Titan Quest and Warcraft 3 respectively] than it does the source material. On the before/after things, the light radius shots were specifically interesting. That’s something that’s also bothered me about Oblivion: when I fiddled with the construction set, I was able to make, pretty easily, these really powerful lighting schemes with a few strong sources of light, but all of the caves and dungeons in the game seemed to be lit with an inexplicably uniform ambient light.

    Then again, on the gameplay front: if this is the flak they’re getting for tweaking the ambiance, imagine what people would say if they, god forbid, made changes to the gameplay? I agree with the criticisms because I sort of feel that an art direction that’s evocative of something is probably superior to an art direction that’s kind of pretty but evocative of nothing in particular – but I think the argument here is that instead of making a new game, huge fans of Diablo 2 want Diablo 2 again.

  31. alphaxion says:

    not forgetting the explosion of the fat guys into piles of worms/maggots.. I actually heard a few people near me in the crowd going “eurgh” when they happened.

    argh, will someone help me to get the D2 act 1 music out of my head >.<

  32. Chris R says:

    Whhaa??

    D1 was very dark/moody… D2 was much more bright and less scary than D1… D3 looks like a mix between D1 and D2 as far as dark atmosphere goes.

    It looks fine to me, in fact it looks great. No need to change anything… and if you want the game to be darker, then lower the brightness and contrast on your monitor. And in the game.

  33. Ojive says:

    Is it just me, or is the only difference in the before/after pics a layer of gray added over the environment?

  34. Noc says:

    D2 was brighter, but it looked . . . desolate. Maybe it was just the graphics of the time.

  35. Mark-P says:

    I have to say I agree with them. :/ I prefer their filtered shots, and not just by a small amount. Especially ones like: http://img180.imageshack.us/my.php?image=makeluvnotwarcraftzs3.jpg

    They seem more in keeping with the ambience of the previous 2 games. Unfortunately this is an e-petition, and therefore a complete waste of time for everyone involved.

  36. Converted Sceptic says:

    I was initially a little disappointed in the art direction showed by diablo 3.

    But then I watched the whole gameplay video and I must say I’m convinced by diablo 3. Graphics looks ok- I just hope there will be some gruesome and dark setting somewhere, something full of dismembered body parts everywhere etc- but the game play is amazing. I’m not some ex diablo junkie- so clickfest doesn’t do much for me, but the game trailer showed something that looked pretty fun to play. Also the scripted sequences, the variety of attacks and enemy behaviour seemed to add some much needed diversion to the click click click sequence.

    Also Leonard Boyarsky as lead world designer is great news

  37. Jacques says:

    I’ve got to say I really don’t like the character design of the two characters we’ve seen so far, they do look cartoony, and I’m not a fan of that. I’m happy with everything else though.

  38. Shon says:

    These must the jerks who keep insisting that every FPS takes place in a green/gray industrial setting. Who are they kidding? Diablo 3 could take place in a primary color amusement park filled with clowns and cheery robots and they would still play it.

  39. SwiftRanger says:

    “I’m also surprised at the level of blood and grue, I thought that usually got the (conspicuously bloodless) chop in favour of a lower age rating these days.”

    Well, that’s basically a core element of the Diablo franchise. The room in which you found the Butcher in Diablo, or Diablo’s death (there hasn’t been a more joyful waiting time until the cd gets running to show the death animation), the slaughterfest in the Lut Gholein harem in Diablo II, the funny explosion of blood in the Lord of Destruction intro cinematic… it’s very reassuring that the ‘new’ devs are continuing the gore tradition with virginal sacrifices to build up a mini-boss out of human blood and bones or how a mini-boss creature can rip apart a player character at once. A pity the corpses don’t stay though, I hope there’ll be an option for that.

    Diablo III looks and seems to play the same but if anyone has actually listened to what Jay Wilson & co were saying then there are a lot of improvements and new bits announced already if you think about it, at least a lot more than that StarCraft-remake they’re doing. It’s all in the many details, people said the same thing about Diablo II and that just blew away any previous Diablo-clone (Darkstone, Revenant, Nox) when it came out, not because of its name but because it expanded the hack & slash gameplay with brilliant and extensive skilltrees and an itemhunt like no-one had ever seen before. I couldn’t stop playing it for a whole week, and then that replayability… simply crazy stuff, right up there with BGII and JA2, games like they don’t make them anymore. :(

    I have a feeling it will be the same again with DIII (they said they still have a lot under wraps, that white/red theme in the logo must mean something in terms of gameplay as well I think), though probably because the competition isn’t that big now.

  40. mcw says:

    I think the involvement of Leonard Boyarsky (Fallout 1 and 2, Arcanum, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines) should be proof enough that Diablo 3 will not turn out to be a game with rainbows and funky colors.

  41. Darkelp says:

    *sigh*
    Petition’s are so stupid.
    Well, petition’s about the art style of a game are stupid.
    Petition’s should be left to freeing political prisoners and being against the war.
    So Diablo 3 has kept up with the times, used new graphics to create what could very well be the original design the artists had in mind at the time, but technical restraints stopped them.

    I say we petition to ban petition’s.

    Yes, darkly ironic.

    As Noc said, its just some people upset that the people who own the product decided to make a design choice that they wouldn’t of done.

  42. Freeid says:

    I have to agree with the petition guys, after seeing the giant shoulderpads bleeding over from WoW into Diablo I am not suprised they want to try and head it off.

  43. kenok says:

    I’ll blame samwise for his art style in the Warcraft universe. Hopes he doesn’t get involved in any D3 meetings. ;)

  44. Tak says:

    In so many ways, clowns and cheery robots in full primary colors would be far, far creepier than anything Diablo could touch.

    NCTPCCAR?
    (nothing compared to primary colored clowns and robots!)

  45. Tr00jg says:

    New Blizzard is not really reknown for innovation, but rather polishing a game to death, and we all know that makes the better game in the end.

  46. Someone says:

    I actually agree with this petition at parts and like their changes to the screenshots.
    But I know blizzard won’t change the game just because of that.

    http://img180.imageshack.us/my.php?image=makeluvnotwarcraftzs3.jpg
    (A screenshot someone gave a few posts above) I just like to point out that after the edit it looks so much more awesome.It just looks like WC3 otherwise.

  47. alphaxion says:

    the “necro version” has lost a shitload of definition on the image (inevitable when you mess about with a jpg, I know).

    I still prefer the “wow gayness” version because it’s a breath of fresh air – it’s something new instead of a continuation of a starved colour pallet.
    Yes, the gore gets lost in a brighter world compared to an almost sin city style but I’d rather have a varied environment instead of having my memories blur into a single image that reminds me of how I recall my time playing delta force 1.

  48. Ted says:

    Fallout 3 is going to be a piece of crap. I’m pretty certain of that after being bored to tears by Oblivion. So I don’t much care what the clowns at Bethesda think.

  49. CobaltLion says:

    People are saying it looks “Cartoonish?” What kind of cartoons did these people watch growing up?