Bigger Items: New Diablo III Details, Screenshots

By John Walker on March 31st, 2009 at 10:17 am.

Large icons. Let the internet clap as one.

Asking around the RPS Castle chambers if anyone had anything to add to the news that there were some new Diablo III screenshots (click on the pics), Jim Rossignol immediately ran to the projection whiteboard and thoughtwrote, “there are two Diablo games, but now there is three of it.” This is the reason you visit RPS, and not other sites that apparently persist with existing. But look again, gentles, the inventory system has had a bit of an overhaul.

The latest Blizzcast contains a bundle of new details regarding the third dungeon crawling epic, including more on how the new Rune system will allow you to create far more unique character, with far more unique loot, as well as letting us know about the thinking behind the redesign of the inventory. Bashiok, Blizzard’s community manager, is joined by lead technical artist, Julian Love, and senior artist on UI design, Mike Nicholson.

Last year the inventory had been simplified down to a WoW-type system where all items were one block big. Arms went up, of course, because let’s face it, if they changed the length of the tail on the ‘A’ in the title, there’d be a dedicated forum and furious protests outside Blizzard’s HQ. But I liked the old Tetris inventory, and sure, maybe that makes me some kind of bridge-dwelling freakface who’s feared by the locals, but it was an added element of game. Juggling what I was carrying, weighing up whether I should port back to a shop to ditch a load, or carry on and leave stuff behind. Any how, never mind all that as the new version is a compromise between the two. The inventory is now tabbed, with larger items having their own section of your bulging sacks, another for smaller items, and a third for quest items.

This doesn’t mean bags are going anywhere. Mike Nicholson explains,

“Current design right now is to have bags. You’ll get bags and they will expand, you know kind of like in WoW, except you’re not going to open up separate windows. You’ll start off your inventory with say… you know, eight slots, right, and then you’ll get a new bag and that has ten, so two more slots will open up within that tab, but you’ll never have multiple tabs. Like you won’t have two or three ‘large’ tabs.”

There’s a ton more details about the UI to be found, or read, during the podcast. And don’t forget to click on the pics for full size versions. Spotted via Eurogamer.

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123 Comments »

  1. unclelou says:

    Back then, I regarded it as a stupid and mindlessly dumbed down travesty of an RPG, whose only appeal lay in it’s flashy graphics.

    In other words: People are idiots.

    Hmmmm.
    /says nothing

    :)

  2. Zyrusticae says:

    @Xocrates

    Are you being deliberately obtuse?

    We’re talking about the inventory icons, which, if your memory’s lacking, happened to strongly resemble the real-world in terms of material properties, as well as the pre-rendered backgrounds, where stone actually looked like, well, stone, rather than flat, washed-out paper cut-outs. (Which would easily be solved by adding some gawdamn texture noise. Sigh.)

    There’s always Google Image Search, y’know: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=diablo+2&gbv=2

  3. Stenl says:

    @Xocrates
    Don’t you have little red guys running around your backgarden, casting fire spells and with a big barbarian jumping on them and hitting them with an axe ?

  4. unclelou says:

    Yeah, it’s a fair point. I don’t mind the general cartoony and colourful look at all, but I it’s nice if metal glints like metal.

  5. Jeremy says:

    I can’t say I’m disappointed to see the tetris style inventory go away. For me, it was kinda frustrating and pointless since I always had 8000 town portals to use, it just forced me to make 8 trips to town every time I killed 12 enemies. I don’t want my inventory to be a meta-game, ever. Nostalgia can rose-color even the most nagging and annoying design choices. I think the changes to inventory are a welcome thing and, honestly, the new inventory is for a younger audience and for people with short attention spans? Too much drama for your mama. We need a troll killer.

    Now for the discussion on design. Diablo 1 had, what… 4 design tiles? Dungeon, deeper dungeon, lava and even deeper dungeon? If you want the game to have no visual direction and be a drab, uncolored borefest, then just reinstall the original Diablo. Colors do not make something a cartoon, the ability to discern the characters nose from their pixelated eyeball doesn’t make it dumbed down, icons being different than 1 or 2 doesn’t mean this game is betraying the good sensibilities of gothic action. We all see things objectively from the viewpoint of a fan (we like X game for Y reason, so any game similar to X should have Y), but when you begin to see something from the viewpoint of creator, you don’t simply want to recreate something you’ve already done. How boring would that be? Not only that, but it would be unfair to fans to simply make Diablo 1 Redux, that would be a lazy effort.

  6. phuzz says:

    @ChaosSmurf That’s a good question, I’m not sure how I’ve managed to avoid all Blizzard games so far, my only excuse is that up until the last few years I’ve been pretty skint and Blizzard have only really released WoW recently i think? (I don’t do WoW for the same reason I don’t do crack)

    Anyway, How exactly are those screenshots ‘too bright’? The bottom two are about 40% black, and both of them would make me want to turn up my contrast. The 2nd one is quite light certainly, but there seems to be a nice balance, it certainly doesn’t look cheerful. I do see what people mean about the slightly chunky polygon style, personally I like it, but yeah, it is noticeable.
    From the fanboi reaction and the screenshots above I’d have to assume that the typical Diablo 2 screen was completely black with some grey.

    Always fun to get stuck into a flame war when you’re not really bothered much about the game in question, but lets face it, nothing Blizzard do will please the fanbois will it?

  7. Bhazor says:

    I don’t think it’s colourful enough.
    I mean Eternal Sonata, Valkyria Chronicles, Okami, Wind Waker, Dragon Quest V-IIX, The Paper Mario games, The World Ends With You, Earth Bound and so on.
    Each and everyone a beautiful game that I found myself staring at like a boy seeing a real womans nipple for the first time since breast feeding. RPGs set in worlds I actually want to explore, worlds that left a bulge in my screen from the sheer wieght of style and shazzam that they effortlessly poured over me.

    Now imagine those games without the soap opera storylines, dialogue diahorea and irritating characters that plague every rpg I just mentioned. If this is just one step towards getting a mainstream western made rpg with the bravery to make a RPG with more than three colours then it’s already a decade late.

    I still won’t buy Diablo 3 though. Because it just has soo much WOW gayness.

  8. Bhazor says:

    On topic I think the key factor with the inventory is whether management’s in real time or not. Because tetrising (tetrissing? teterising? tetorerising?) your stuff will be dang irritating if your in a hurry to go, say before some respawning buggers respawn like buggers. Though if it does pause then yeah I’d kinda miss the tetris minigame.

  9. fulis says:

    @Stenl stop trolling
    Maybe you don’t know what art style is

    @MaxFrost you’ve played too much WoW
    Diablo is an action game

  10. Dave says:

    axed is perversely amusing.

    Quake and Diablo I are identical because they have the same color scheme!

    Civ 4 and Sid Meier’s Pirates are identical because they have the same color scheme!

    Sims 3 and GTA are identical because they have the same color scheme!

    Crysis and Battlefield Heroes are identical because they have the same color scheme!

  11. Jeremy says:

    Oh man, I forgot how awesome phat lewtz were in Quake.

  12. Gorgeras says:

    The hostility towards people let down by the cartoon colour scheme of Diablo 3 makes hostility towards Blizzard’s approach seem like a complaint about bird poo on park benches.

    My feelings about WoW are mixed; there are bits I adore and bits I see as cynical lowest common denominator gimmicks. WoW’s art direction is by far the thing I am most impressed by. It’s a beautiful virtual world enjoyable to just wander around sometimes. It’s badly let down by a weak core design team that under-use it whilst at the same time over-saturating it and then putting the most viable gameplay not even in the actual world at all. WoW literally could run purely on a lobby system like Battle.net and you team up with a small number of people to fight through a dungeon. No massive server capacity for a persistent world is actually necessary in WoW.

    Rather than keep Diablo and Warcraft more distinct than they have done Warcraft and Starcraft, Diablo has had awfully poor art direction. It’s like someone saw how great WoW’s aesthetics were and decided to copy it by the cart-load without regard to the thought that the style was appropriate *for the setting* that Warcraft is.

    Star Trek has been around long enough that the nerd-rage that would follow if a ST sitcom series was made would be understandable. Hell, the nerd-rage over Enterprise’s theme song was VERY understandable to anyone that ever heard it.

    Warcraft can not dumb down art-wise because it is basically a cartoon on appearance with subtle themes, like South Park: it can only dumb down if the little things that make it great are neglected.

    But Diablo is the anti-Warcraft. It’s a bleak setting, an esoteric nightmare on appearance with a cartoon being it’s subtext, like Evil Dead 2. When people see this realism-based cartoon(like a Manga) change so drastically they realise this is no longer going to be a cartoon inside a nightmare but a cartoon inside a cartoon. It shows that the point of Diablo has been missed and makes me pine for the game that Hellgate should have been. When Warhammer Online looked like it was going to be a very strong MMO, Blizzard reacted and some of the strongest ideas were put in the pipeline. Had Hellgate not been a wet toilet roll with an ill-advised premium subscription, it might have provoked similar reflection of Diablo 3.

    The entire world of imaginary worlds has been turned upside down, imaginably.

  13. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Dave

    Actually I think Pirates! and Civ 4 had the same engine.

  14. Heliocentric says:

    Yo momma has the same colour scheme as a 2c whore.

  15. Kirkburn says:

    And the conversation above is why I love my unicorn Diablo tshirt from NerdyShirts. I love the current design, and I love my tshirt :)

  16. 357SIG says:

    Looks like a lot of you need to give sacred 2 a whirl, the game is nowhere near as buggy as it was on launch and it’s quite good. The world is huge AND fun to explore not only due to how pretty it is but also how much crap there is to do. honestly i think it’s the game that ruined diablo for me. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the character classes are…. different… but the same. Good fun to play with a friend, we’ve played for hours with different characters and still only explored a minute amount of the content.
    http://screenshot.xfire.com/screenshot/natural/a0b51e7209e8e697a8646e89ed19277772146fef.png
    http://screenshot.xfire.com/screenshot/natural/cdfaf6bed09ac15fb73cb91475a30a92bd7fcb82.png
    http://screenshot.xfire.com/screenshot/natural/fbad181f2d8697dafe8661fee8c1671f4ce1f60a.png

  17. dhex says:

    i found the first sacred pretty crap next to titan quest.

    actually i don’t think i’ve enjoyed a roguelike timewaster that hates you more than titan quest.

  18. BigJonno says:

    I never “got” Diablo. I blame the control scheme and my incredibly short attention span when it comes to games revolving around repetitive and allegedly compulsive gameplay.

    Anyway, when I look at or play any of the Diablo-style games, it strikes me how similar they all are. Same perspective, same gameplay mechanics, same loot systems, same levelling systems. Kinda like how most FPS games, or beat ‘em ups, or MMORPGs are, on many levels, virtually identical. However, some of them are great and some of them are complete bollocks.

    What this says to me is that you can’t judge the quality of a game from screenshots and videos, especially Diablo-style ones. Blizzard haven’t made a bad game yet, the fanboys should chill out, wait for the game to be released and have a little faith.

  19. Subject 706 says:

    I kind if look forward to Diablo 3, but a nagging voice in the back of my head keeps telling me I don’t like the ‘click click click splat’ gameplay anymore. I shall try and suppress it.

  20. Nick says:

    Titan Quest coop was amazingly good fun with teamspeak. Hopefully I will be reliving that with Diablo 3 coop and the same people.

  21. Johnny Go-Time says:

    The Jim quote is the funniest thing I’ve read all week!!!

    Well worth the price of clicking on the RPS entry in my bookmarks menu.

  22. Dave says:

    I really don’t like the art direction or style of Warcraft III or WoW, but I am totally not seeing that in Diablo III screenshots. ::shrug::

  23. axed says:

    @ Gorgeras
    Well said. Very well said. If I could only release my mind from the twisted and agonizingly perverse thoughts that bind it to my head perhaps I could have come up with a sensible, calm, and respectable angle of attack such as yours.

    But I would like to make it clear that I am not a Blizzard fan boy nor am I a Diablo fan boy. However, the series nearly defined my gaming youth and I believe I deserve the right to yearn for something better than what is currently cooking in the pot. At this point I don’t want the recipe changed… I want the cook to be fired and I want the restaurant to be shut down… many rats hide within these walls and the air is filled with the stench of feces, and decaying roaches.

  24. Azradesh says:

    @ axed
    Fun fact 1: WoW is heavily based on Diablo 2 if you can’t see that then you’ve not played much D2 :P
    Fun fact 2: D2 is actually quite bright, sometimes even bright neon green.

  25. bhlaab says:

    I’ve never cared for Diablo, and Diablo clones even less. It’s just all so pointless… get equipment in order to get better equipment in order to get better equipment.

    Actually, thinking about it, the only Blizzard game that I can remember enjoying is Lost Vikings. When are they going to do another one of those?

  26. Xocrates says:

    @axed: You manage to conclude all that from a picture of a dish being cooked?

    Do you live under a bridge and give away business cards?

  27. teo says:

    I paid for Sacred 1
    I’m not making that same mistake again

  28. DD says:

    Anything revolving around Diablo 3 just sends chills down my spine at the awesomeness. But not as much as StarCraft 2……
    Blizzard has a flawless track record for game making and i doubt they can screw that up with the mountains of cash they now have.

  29. Funky Badger says:

    Can something be “more unique”?

  30. Fumarole says:

    I say no, but it is just one of those words most people seem to use incorrectly.

    “The primary meaning of unique is ‘one of a kind’; it’s an absolute, so something can’t be more unique than something else.” (Fogarty, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips 66).

  31. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    I still consider Diablo 1 better than Diablo II…. I still can’t get the Hell music from my head, the pureness of the gameplay…ahhhh..alright, alright, I’m out :)

  32. Archonsod says:

    I’ve always preferred the Sacred series. I think where Diablo went wrong was it was a tad too linear. At least in Sacred you get a choice of background upon which to violently assault innocent kobolds for their loot.

    So how long before Jack declares it a mugging simulator then?

  33. Gorgeras says:

    Some facts about Azradesh’s fun facts.

    1. Fact number one is not a fact, it’s an opinion.

    2. Fact number two isn’t quite clear. Diablo 2 has bright points, undeniably. It can not be argued however that they make up the bulk of the art direction at all. The one obviously bright Act in the desert has you frequently popping underground out of the light and Blizz even knew they wouldn’t get away with it without a good old fashioned supernatural eclipse.

    If we are going by a 32-bit colour pallette, then it’s firmly verifiable which range among the shades Diablo 2 favours if we go annoy the artists. But I think it’s sufficient to say that most people simply agree that Diablo 2 was dark.

  34. Zyrusticae says:

    Complaining about the “brightness” or “colorfulness” misses the point – the game is just too “washed-out”, and too primitive-looking in terms of graphics technology. There’s a lack of texture noise, which is particularly noticeable in a comparison between Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 (you rarely ever find two pixels of the same shade sitting right next to each other in Diablo 2), and the graphics no longer have that realistic “sheen” that’s seen in Diablo 2, particularly with the item graphics.

    That’s my primary complaint. It has nothing to do with how “dark” it is, or how many “colors” are on the screen at any one point in time – Diablo 2 had bright points, and it had plenty of colors. It’s the lack of visual noise and, frankly, how utterly craptacular (seriously, Starcraft 2 vs. Diablo 3 – wtf?) the graphics are that has me miffed.

  35. Arathain says:

    You know, if the phrase “dumbed down” utterly disappeared from the vocabulary of everyone in the world (but most particularly that segment of it that posts on the Internet) I think the world would actually be a noticeably better place.

    I find myself feeling strangely nostalgic about the Tetris inventory system, but then I remind myself that when I play Titan Quest I make extensive use of the organise-my-darned-inventory-for-me button. So clearly I won’t miss it at all.

    I’m very excited about D3. I love that they’ve removed player stat upgrades on levelling (pointlessly numerical increases with effects hard to detect or anticipate) in favour of greater skill customisation. Fiddling with numbers: a bit boring. Fiddling with new ways to deliver pyrotechnic thunder-blam-kerpow-death? Eeenteresting

    “Can something be “more unique”?”

    Nope.

  36. Azradesh says:

    You think it’s an opinion? Wow, just wow.
    WoW even shares some of the some spells and abilites as D2 (for example a fury speced warrior is like a crap barbarian). The talent system is based on D2, the item system is based on D2 and I think the whole idea of set items is a diablo thing (I don’t know if some other game did it first)

    As for D2′s darkness, yes it was dark, but that doesn’t mean it lacked colour, that just means it lacked light. The game has quite bright colours.

  37. Panther says:

    Has anyone who has viewed more of the screenshots and videos tell me how the dungeons and backgrounds are in comparison to D2?

    The first time you go into the Harem in Lut Gholein for example, bodies everywhere in various states. It gets you on edge, a little reminder of the demons you are up against.

  38. ack says:

    Can’t help myself. Did someone actually express fear that D3 would be aimed at a younger audience? As in dumbed down? As in not much of depth in any but the clicking department?

    Sounds like it’s going to be its elders peer then.

    /me dons fireproof suit

  39. Logo says:

    Am I missing something or is the UI? Where’s the mana? Is D3 using an alternative energy system for different classes (ala WoW)?

  40. Xocrates says:

    @Logo: Yes, they are. I believe they expand the particular one being shown in the podcast.

  41. 357SIG says:

    @Sacredhaters
    Sacred 2 is a completely different animal

  42. Derek K. says:

    This game looks like a reskinned Doom: Fall of Mars. What’s so interesting about that?

  43. Logo says:

    @Xocrates thanks, read through the transcript and saw the info.

    How originial, barbarian is using the rage system from WoW’s warriors. Sure they call it ‘fury’ but it’s the same freaking mechanic… They could have at least been original and mixed the archetypes that go with the mechanics. I can’t wait for the amazon/assassin hybrid character that has a very limited bar that starts full and regenerates very quickly.

  44. Logo says:

    Wish I had an edit, reading over it again I wanna clarify that I know it’s a tiered rage system rather than the traditional WoW one but it’s still the same system just tweaked to work for the pace of diablo.

  45. unclelou says:

    “@Sacredhaters
    Sacred 2 is a completely different animal”

    Sacred 2 didn’t work for me at all. Can’t really put the finger on it, as the basics are all there, but I didn’ even finish it. As similar as all these games are, if the “flow” doesn’t work for someone, it’s entirely ruined. Sacred and Saced 2 made me understand why some people think Diablo is a boring clickfest. But then I know people felt the same about Titan Quest, which I put more hours in than I would publically post. :-)

    It’s a genre without average games. It either works, then it’s brilliant, or it does’t, and then it’s a total failure. And as this seems to be entirely subjective, only buying all of them and finding out for myself seems to help.

  46. axed says:

    Nope. I live under a business card and pass out bridges.

    There are a lot of comments linking similarities between D3 and WoW and WoW and D2… i see very little discussion linking D2 and D3. HAH! This leads us to believe that WoW built upon many existence mechanics from D2 and, from what we have seen, D3 is doing the same but with WoW as its base and D2 as a distant 2nd cousin it once met at a family gathering.

    Not much has been mentioned, either, regarding the lack of light radius. This may be added in later… it will definitely help. D1 and D2′s light radius really pushed the “alone and hopeless” atmosphere, along with both games’ spectacular soundtracks.

    Isnt the D3 dev team almost void of any D1/D2 devs? I still say D3 should have been an MMO that pushed an absense of cute/cuddly crap and simple environments/textures. Blizzards games always debut with poor performance except to the elite few with $$$ machines. I doubt their main motive for the simple environments/low poly models/lack of texture masks is due to performance efficiency. Its more welcoming to the eye of the casual gamer (most people initially hate the light radius element from the older games) and more importantly for $$$ its very welcoming to a WoW player. Very familiar looking environment… people hate change and this looks lke something every WoW player will want to play, regardless of their interest in the previous ones. [Stop it with the homophobic adjuncts.]

  47. Xocrates says:

    “Blizzards games always debut with poor performance except to the elite few with $$$ machines.”

    @axed: You’re talking about the Blizzard that launched a 2D game locked at 640×480 in 2000?

  48. Kommissar Nicko says:

    This is why we can’t have nice things, RPS. This.

  49. unclelou says:

    “I still say D3 should have been an MMO”

    Burn, heathen.

    “Blizzards games always debut with poor performance except to the elite few with $$$ machines. ”

    Are you quite serious? If there’s one dev that caters for the lowest end possible for an AAA (in lack of a better term) game, with games that are never ever technically anywhere near the top, it’s Blizzard.

  50. Butler` says:

    Blizzards games always debut with poor performance except to the elite few with $$$ machines.

    ye……….

    no.

    And blizzard are KNOWN for average-at-best graphical detail compensated with brilliant art direction. Diablo 2 was a prime example of this at the time.

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