Diabo III: Antagonism & Screenshots

By Alec Meer on September 22nd, 2008 at 11:06 am.

It’s a funny thing, Diablo III. On the one hand, we know practically everything we need to know about it, based on confirmation that’s it sticking closely to what’s gone before. On the other, we have very little HARD FACT about it. We only know what two of the character classes are, for instance, while multiplayer system Battle.net 2 remains largely under wraps. For now, all a fanbase that can’t wait to hack and slash and slash and hack gets is hints – and oddly antagonistic ones at that.

Speaking to Videogamer.com, lead designer Jay Wilson made this poke: “All the barbarian players are delighted and all the necromancers hate us. I understand, I don’t begrudge them that. I would hate me too! But what I would say is that when we announce the next class, which is quite similar to a previous class, then all those players will hate us too.”

So, Sorceress replaced by fez-wearing Gnome gadgeteer? Paladin’s boots to be filled by Cadfael? We’ll find out soon. Meantime, here are s a few new screenshots to feast those hungry eyes upon. It may just be my paranoid imagination, but it seems as those some of these are deliberately designed to look gloomier than the first screens, perhaps to quiten the perma-outraged “WoW gayness” Angry Internet Men.

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48 Comments »

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  1. Skalpadda says:

    I’m still loving this “painted” look they’ve got going. I also quite like what I’ve seen of the witch doctor so far, but then again I’ve been playing a troll shaman in WoW and always wished she’d be more like the witch doctors of Warcraft III so maybe it’s not that surprising :)

  2. Ketch says:

    “WoW gayness”

    Ha! I do know what you mean though, WoW and Diablo do not mix at all.

    I’m worried Diablo will not have a class for me, I don’t know what to play as anymore!

  3. Stick says:

    The people who are married to a single class will always find a reason to hate. I’m sure the “career” Barbarians will be furious as soon as they have details.

    I dunno, personally, I find it kind of refreshing when devs snark at players. It’s certainly preferable to the slick marketing speech of “we’re certain everyone will be happy”.

  4. YaRisse says:

    I was a necromancer, I’m certainly not best pleased :(
    Until I get to see a full list of classes and can pick that which suits me best I’ll have this horrible nagging feeling in the back of my head about this game, Which is a shame because ITS DIABLO 3 DO WANT!

  5. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Gnome Gadgeteer

    Has someone been playing Wizardry 8? ;)

  6. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I fear the Angry Internet Mans are an unpleasable bunch. Since I never felt too strong an attachment to any of the D2 classes, I can honestly say I won’t be disappointed by any cuts or decisions they decide to make.

    Then again, I was pretty crummy with all classes.

  7. Stick says:

    @Diogo:

    Well, no, but… gnomes. Aren’t they gadgeteers by definition?

  8. gaijin says:

    “gadgeteers” or “lunch”. you pays yer money…

  9. Aftershock says:

    Well, between now and release, i have to play through Diablo 1 and 2, and expansions.
    I also have to play through Fallout 1 and 2.

    I also have to study for end of year exams.
    Sigh.

  10. kibibu says:

    I am far happier with a Blizzard that pastures old game mechanics with care and reason than I would be with a Blizzard that aims to appease single-class fanboys.

  11. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Stick:

    Actually, I always thought of them as businessmen. Nosy ones at that.

  12. Jonathan says:

    I’m afraid I have to agree with the guy at Bethesda. This and the Starcraft sequel seem far too conservative and familiar.

    I mean isometric click fest? Really? After 8 years?

    I sincerely hope there’s more they aren’t telling us.

  13. MrDeVil_909 says:

    Something I find odd is the people who only play one class, one reason I stay away from MMO’s is they need to much focus on a single character so they get boring.

    If Diablo 3 launches with 16 classes that’s 16 times I can play one game and find it different each time.

  14. Alarik says:

    You need to play more classes anyway to learn more. And to perform different tasks. Well, unless you are playing Lammerdin in 1.10+ era, also known as “Hammerfall”, “Hammerfest” or “Diablo 2: Lord of Hammers”, of course :-D .-)

  15. CPY says:

    I liked Diablo II graphics very much not by how it looks i mean high ress textures and so but that style just rocks! Gave you that dark lord feeling!
    Awesome! I wanna play some badass game not some bunny hopping all green happyness nuh-uh.
    Or switch rendering mode option will be welcome.

  16. SwiftRanger says:

    If only WoW had so much gore…

  17. Kast says:

    I would actually consider getting this* if you could play Cadfael, properly voiced by Derek Jacoby.

    * Not a Diablo hater, just not my cup of pistachio milkshake

  18. Caiman says:

    I feel sure there will be a bonus level in Diablo 3 with My Little Pony and lots of rainbows. Just to spite Angry Internet Men.

  19. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    WoW gayness

    They even made a video of their alternate colour scheme, which, to be fair, looks alright if a little too murky.

  20. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Jonathan:

    This and the Starcraft sequel seem far too conservative and familiar.

    As opposed to another original FPS?

  21. Flubb says:

    @Caiman
    I’d be content with the entire Hell level being like that.

  22. Night Elf Mohawk says:

    I’m afraid I have to agree with the guy at Bethesda. This and the Starcraft sequel seem far too conservative and familiar.

    Funny thing: ‘Hardcore’ Fallout 3 fans are moaning over the fact that Bethseda changed the series too much. I’ve read complaints of the new 3D approach.

    You can’t please everyone.

  23. Duoae says:

    I’m really liking the visual aesthetic of this game so far and i hope it stays this way what with the guy (art director? I can’t remember…) resigning and moving onto other things.

    Plus the choice of male/female in the classes is quite refreshing. It means that there won’t be as many similar-looking characters out there as the female versions of the armours will be different.

    I’ve still got my fingers crossed for limited customisability of characters á la Diablo 1…. there was a skill tome in the gameplay video so…. *Crosses fingers even more*

  24. Psychopomp says:

    The Internet Angry Men can go fuck themselves, seriously.

    I get the feeling that the people who say things like “WoW gayness” are the same people who refuse to believe Legend of Zelda:Windwaker/Okami/TF2 are good games, due to their art styles.

    I like GRIMDARK as much as the next person, but to critique a game for having a interesting art-style is juvenile.

    EDIT:Also, am I the only person who realizes that the Witch Doctor is a tweaked Necro with different summons? As things look now, I’m either going Witch Doctor, or whatever they do for a Sorcerer.

  25. Will Tomas says:

    Ironically I happen to think that all the characters and monsters look rather like Warhammer-esque table-top models. Or maybe that’s just me.

  26. Chris R says:

    Know this:

    Diablo 3 WILL be great fun, and there WILL be a class that you enjoy playing. Don’t be afraid of the unknown.

  27. Esha says:

    @Psychopomp

    I don’t know if I can say this without stepping on toes, so I’ll just have to say it anyway…

    I loved Okami, it had an absolutely brilliant art-style. It wasn’t anything to do with it being vibrant though, Okami had an art-style, and that’s an important distinction to make. Okami had a fantastic flow to it, it never really had any visual cracks. The same is true of Team Fortress 2.

    I’ve looked at many Diablo 3 shots so far and I have to say that I do prefer the Angry Men of the Internet (AMI?) variant. And it’s not because it’s less colourful, but because it has more of a decisive feel to it. I look at the Diablo 3 screenshots and I see it trying to be scary dungeon, and I see it trying to be bright, happy forest, and in places I see it trying to be plasticine-land and this makes it feel as though it’s pulling in many different directions at once.

    The art of Diablo 3 feels like… improv. With each bit done by a different person who wanted to pull off in their own particular direction, with nothing linking any two given parts together. And the end result is that–to me, at least–it looks a bit of a mess. What the AMI have that Blizzard doesn’t seem to at the moment is focus, that and direction. They’ve provided a cohesive overlay that links the segments of the game together.

    Perhaps what many people are outraged about (without being entirely aware of it, as they may not be able to put their finger on it) is this aspect of Diablo 3, that really it has an absence, a void if you will, of art-direction. That’s an area where a game like this (look at Titan Quest) needs to be strong, this is where it needs to show its strength, and I don’t think D3 is doing that.

    If one considers all of the Diablo 3 screenshots, and were to spread them out across a table and examine them all at the same time, and then even analyse chunks of them side by side, they look like they could be from different games. That’s what I see when I look at Diablo 3.

    So perhaps not all of the AMI (it’s so fun calling angry people Amy) group are wrong, just those who think that the problem is that the game is too vibrant. The problem isn’t with the game’s vibrancy, as you’ve pointed out with your examples Psycho, a game can be vibrant and still have an excellent flow to its art style, but the problem is with that lack of cohesion.

    I know I’m long-winded but that’s because I have a great deal of trouble making myself understood frequently, I have this great aura of misinterpretation surrounding my views on times, so it pays to go over things to make sure they’re absolutely clear. Plus it has the added bonus that only patient, thinky people will make it to the end, for everyone else my posts will be “TLDR”, and that’s fine.

    Anyway, point is; take shots from TF2, Okami, and so on, and compare them in the way I’ve mentioned and in each case it’ll be clear which ones belong together. But mix up a bunch of shots from D3 with other games, and it won’t be nearly as easy to pick them out. I suppose what I’m saying is that if a game is vibrant, perhaps it’s more important to have a cohesive art-style than if the game were boring and dull of appearance.

  28. onkellou says:

    I couldn’t really care less about the specifics of the classes at this point. Safe to say they will have classes to suit all playsytles, which is more than enough for me. Would have been fine by me if they had replaced the Bararian with a Samurai warrior or Roman legionnaire – as long as I can hack at mobs with sharp metal and wear shiny armour, I’ll be happy!

  29. Ergates says:

    Angry Internet Men should be roundly ignored (or, preferably, killed). They’re just another branch of the “Everything was better in the good old days” brigade. Car manufacturers don’t generally listen to people who claim that things were better when cars had ‘character’ (i.e. broke down all the time).

    Game developers should in fact do exactly the opposite of what the AIMs demand. Partly just to piss them off, and partly because if you don’t, you’ll just end up with your old game again, but with slightly prettier graphics.

    Nostalgia is fun in small doses. Above that however it’s toxic and kills creativity. It mustn’t be allowed to drive developement.

    Or to put it another way – I’ve already played Diablo 2, I don’t want to play it again.

    Change is good. Adapt or die – your choice.

  30. Okami says:

    @Esha: Thanks *blush*

  31. Butler` says:

    Ergates says: Change is good. Adapt or die – your choice.

    And Blizzard are dying so, so rapidly, right?

  32. Butler` says:

    And how can Necro players be upset exactly? Witchdoctors look all kinds of awesome…

    I used to play Pala, I couldn’t give two hoots if it aint mirrored in D3…

    IT’S DIABLO 3 GUYZ.

  33. Tei says:

    Oh noes, another “Space Siege” game…

  34. zima says:

    I’m a corpse lover and I don’t hate Blizzard for D3…I like witchdoctor so far.

    @visuals – current ones look great, but yeah, I would like some continuity with D1/2 and, more importantly, differentiation from WoW. Anyway, I’d guess that after 20 years of peace & happines world might well become more colorfull…but later levels might have more heavy atmosphere due to ongoing demon infestation.

    Plus…we went backwards in one aspect of tech in last 10 years – ability of popular monitors to display accuratelly dark tonnes and black. Now we have often “medium gray” as the darkest colour…might have something to do with art direction of D3.

  35. Ergates says:

    @Butler: In this context, Blizzard are the environment, not the, erm, stegasaurus.

  36. Scandalon says:

    Esha – I don’t have much to say in response (though I think you may have a point), I just want to say “I feel your pain”, as I say things in what I believe to be a straightforward manner, and then have people confused and/or angry. I believe I will appropriate the term “Aura of misinterpretation”. Perhaps it will get my point across better than yelling “Am I speaking Russian?”

  37. josh g. says:

    So, uh, yeah … “Diabo”?

  38. malkav11 says:

    I reserve judgment on Starcraft II, as I haven’t seen nearly enough to have a firm opinion, but it *does* look remarkably similar to the original. Diablo III already has promised significant upgrades to the formula, so criticisms that it’s too similar strike me as odd. I mean, yeah, it’s based around the same formula, but it wouldn’t be much of a sequel if it abandoned that formula altogether. I wouldn’t necessarily mind a Diablo city-builder spinoff or whatever, but it ought to be a spinoff, not the next series sequel.

    I’m not married to the isometric perspective, but frankly I can’t see any benefit to moving away from it, either.

  39. Darth Benedict says:

    I’m going to miss the hilarity of the original Diablos grim and sinister art style mixed with its absurd cartoon gameplay. Having everything look so serious while you clobber loot pinatas makes the experience so much better.

    Now most of the enemies actually look like pinatas.

  40. Cowbane says:

    Seriously, I hate these people saying “I want D3 to go in THIS art direction. I think we forget something when we talk about games and that is, it isn’t ours. It’s theirs. They could replace your character with a happy unicorn made of happiness, sunshine, and lollipops and you have no god damned say in the matter.

  41. GenericKen says:

    Given that most of the photoshopped correction from “teh gayness” to “teh awesome” is just a color palette shift from color to… shades of browns, I don’t see why Blizzard couldn’t just add an Emo bar to the graphics settings.

  42. Psychopomp says:

    @Esha

    See, that’s a valid argument.
    I have, however, heard the Art Director use the work “juxtaposition,” which would explain the seeming lack of direction at this point.

    Unfortunately, thanks to you, now I can’t not notice it.

  43. Naurgul says:

    Given that most of the photoshopped correction from “teh gayness” to “teh awesome” is just a color palette shift from color to… shades of browns, I don’t see why Blizzard couldn’t just add an Emo bar to the graphics settings.

    This is a really good idea. No, really.

  44. Esha says:

    @Okami

    All I have to say really is “Oi!”, I don’t think I can add anything beyond that. ;p

    @Scandalon

    That’s going in my new little book of “What would Niko do?” rules. I needed a new book, because my “What would SHODAN do?” one was getting pretty full.

    I do feel as though I’m speaking Russian sometimes, though.

    Thankfully however, this time it looks like I got my views across without being mistaken for just another veteran of the AMI movement. This is good.

    @Psychopump

    If I were him, I’d make excuses too.

    The visual flow in Diablo is very broken, and I didn’t really know how to convey that very well beyond the huge post that I made. The thing is, I like Diablo as much ast he next gaming-obsessed fellow and nerd, but whenever I look at this new one I can’t help but recall the line that too many cooks spoil the broth. I just think their team was too big and they’re pulling in so many directions. A game can be as vibrant as it wants, but if it’s not cohesive then it’s just a visual junkpile.

    @In General

    I have to say that I did like what the AMI movement did with the game, but not because it robs the game of vibrancy, but more because it gives the game some amount of visual cohesion between stage A and stage B, it helps them look more like they’re from the same game. The AMI achieved something other than what they wanted when they started putting these examples together.

    To me, at least, they didn’t prove that the game needed to be less vibrant (it doesn’t) but they did evidence the complete void of flow, by providing a flow and focus all of their own, and thus linking the sections of the game by overlaying their own desires on top of it, giving the game more of that feeling that section A of the game really does flow into section B.

    And that’s what Diablo III needs at the moment, they need to get their art people to look at the game as a whole and ask themselves how they can make it look as though this is all from the same game, how can they give it that art flow?

    And sometimes, I do wonder if this is what the AMI were seeing when they complained, but at the time some of them just didn’t know what they were complaining about, perhaps they could sense the wrongness of it, but they were attacking the wrong area. I’ve done that before myself, when I’ve been unable to properly pin something down. But in the case of Diablo, I can see the problem.

  45. Janto says:

    @ Esha: It’s still a subjective crit, and I disagree, based on the gameplay videos I’ve seen rather than the static screenshots, that the art direction lacks focus, especially once sound is considered. I understand you’re specifically talking about the visual side, but sound is, I believe, fundamentally more important for establishing continuity and themes across contrasting visuals.

    The whole anti-current art direction argument is actually especially spurious considering we’ve seen a whopping total of 2 locations: Dungeon + Outside Dungeon, one of which is all hard-edged, flame lit architecture and the other of which is primarily organic forms that are diffusely lit. There’s a massive contrast, but saying that they look like different games in-play is a very hard argument to make convincingly, especially since in the cinematic shown, the outdoor section becomes increasingly dark and foreboding as play progresses, and the decayed architectural elements provide some consistency of theme.

  46. MetalCircus says:

    I think developers need to follow their hearts a bit more. Gamers are fickle creatures at heart, and trying to please their every whim is a pointless, futile excercise that ends in many bitter tears. Personally I think if you haven’t pissed someone off, you’re wasting your fucking time. Make a game you think is good, and to hell with what people think. If it sells well, then double bonus.

    I guaruntee you the ratio of good to bad games would then lean heavily to good, because then developers can make a game they want to make rather than what the marketing sector of EA games says they should make.

    :edit: i also think the ridiculous over-analyzing of the Diablo 3 art style is quite representative of the gaming scene at the moment – i.e. quite rubbish. How are the graphics going to impact on the gameplay?

  47. Esha says:

    @Janto

    You’re being amazingly apologist there, suspiciously so even. First of all you say that art direction doesn’t matter, only aural themes do, and then you go on to say that art direction does matter, and you’re probably wrong anyway because we’ve seen so little of the game.

    Because of that contradiction, I find it hard to take your view seriously and I’ll just have to say that we’ll have to agree to disagree. There’ll always be the critical eye, and there’ll always be the fanboy who’ll do his or her respective best to debunk any critical views given. Such has been a truth since the birth of gaming, and likely will be forevermore.

    So as you can tell, I disagree. I think that visual direction is equally as important as aural themes, and personally I think we’ve seen enough to perceive the discordian nature that the lack of art focus has created. I think the point I made there went over your head, my good man, because the point was that despite how different the areas within a game may be, there’s usually a visual cohesion linking all of the art styles together. In my opinion, Okami has it, TF2 has it, Diablo 3 has a laughable lack of it.

    And if the best you can counter that with is that we haven’t seen much of the game yet, then frankly my good man, it is to laugh. I’m sorry.

  48. Janto says:

    I’m actually not a huge fan of Diablo, but I’ve always been impressed by Blizzard’s art direction on previous titles, and based on the limited amount we’ve seen, people are seriously jumping the gun if they think Blizzard has suddenly lost it.

    @ Esha: There is no attack. I am simply pointing out that the critical eye is inherently a subjective, prejudiced one. My opinion differs to yours, but that doesn’t make it less valid, especially since, as far as I’m aware, we’re both artists of some type.

    To me good art directing involves combining visuals and audio with pacing to create a complete experience that complements and supports how the game’s mechanics are designed to be played. And as Metal Circus points out, it’s the experience of playing the actual game that matters. That’s why comparing screengrabs is a very limited exercise.