Four New Diablo III Wallpapers 1/20

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Diablo 3 News

Blizzard released four new wallpapers available in many sizes and resolutions. The first one is the rendered 3D image of Tyrael shown in the front page of the official Diablo III website.  The second wallpaper is the map of Sanctuary shown in the World Map section. The last two wallpapers are concept arts of the city of Caldeum. It’s cool to have some updates this often. Keeps our passion for Diablo III alive and continuous. Let’s hope a Bestiary Update and more gameplay screenshots follow next.

 
 

Diii.net - Possible Death Knight Class and Ureh

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Diablo 3 News

I posted an article over at Diii.net to discuss a possible paladin-like class based on some concept art shown within Cain’s Journal. It wouldn’t completely be like the original Paladin class however, but a darker version of it with other class traits.

When I played the Diablo III demo at Blizzcon, the Wizard felt very much like a merge of the Sorceress and the Assassin classes. The Wizard can melee and you can even assign points to the dagger’s abilities in the talent trees.

The Witch Doctor has some traits of the Necromancer merged with traits of the Druid class, summoning pets.

So, would it be too far-fetched to think the Paladin will have traits from another class? The Amazon, or even the Necromancer? One of the concept arts shows a warrior/paladin like class wearing skeletal shoulderpads. A Death Knight or Darker Zealot?

Here is the article in question. Any thoughts on the possible Paladin-like class or Ureh are welcome. Discuss.
http://www.n4g.com/NewsPendingCom-262562.aspx?CT=1&Page=1&Page2=1#C1956553

Dropped Items Degrade Diablo 3 Performance

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News

Most players have had a thought and wish in common at some point … “Blizzard should allow items dropped to the ground, near the stash, to stay there forever instead of disappearing”.  Someone new to the game may have tried that at least once to find that item disappear next time they return to town. Bashiok explains why keeping dropped items on the ground is a very bad and harmful idea performance-wise.

Blizzard Quote:
Blue

Kitsunestrife (USWest): Please let us drop items in town without fear of them disappearing over time. I know there is a stash, but that’s like for items that you want to travel with you, whatever land you want to be in. But I’d like to have items stay where they are when I drop them in town.
At least have this option open in single player mode. That’s one thing I loved about Diablo 1.

Bashiok: It could potentially and probably fairly easily drag down game performance, or worse yet potentially affect server performance in online games. We’re actually using 3D items that drop to the ground, but even Diablo II sprites cost something – performance wise. If items stay forever then it’s essentially an infinite amount of storage, and if not and they disappear when you save and exit, how is that communicated to the player so they don’t lose important items. In regards to it being possible in single player, again game performance comes into it. Allowing the player to substantially degrade game performance is never a good idea, they will do it, and in essence it’s the game’s fault for allowing them to. It’s also a better approach to not change up unspoken rules in different areas of the game whenever possible. Making items disappear in multiplayer but not single player would be potentially be a very devastating piece of information not to have.

Ayynoo (USEast): Could we have a larger stash in Diablo 3? the stash in Diablo 2 is painfully small, and it requires us to make like 10 mules to carry things we want but dont have space for. i think that is one major shortcoming in Diablo 2, i would really like it if the problem was solved in Diablo 3.

Bashiok: I don’t think there could ever be enough space to keep some players from shuttling items to mules. It’s going to happen. But making it a comfortable amount of storage, as well as having ways to easily and safely get items to and from characters are definitely goals to have.

Diablo III: Build Customization, UI, Economy and More

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blue Posts, Diablo 3 News

This past week Bashiok has been on a roll posting and replying to fans on the official Diablo 3 forums. Among the topics discussed were the stat points allocation concerns which seem to be the new kid on the block after the Art Direction uproar a few months ago. Bashiok continues to tease and hint many Character build customization options that are still unrevealed. He also mentioned that any buttons we saw in the Blizzcon 2008 hands-on demo were placeholders and that none are recycled from World of Warcraft, but unique to Diablo III. There are other topics. You can read them below after the break. Share your thoughts with other fans.

Blizzard Quote:

Inventory

Maphack @ Azeroth: Well your developers seem to feel that putting items into boxes with the classic inventory was punishing to players, as if we weren’t beyond the level of tinker toys.

Bashiok: No I’m sure you’re a very intelligent person, but at it’s core elements Diablo is not about pouring over the worth of a single inventory square. That’s not what makes the game.

The grid system puts a secondary value on an item, one of how much space it actually takes up. That amount of space, unless it’s broken up in to minuscule segments, can’t be properly attributed to the actual worth of the item.

So you have a grand charm, three spaces, is it a good charm or a crappy charm? If it’s worth keeping is it worth taking up three inventory spots? If it’s worth taking up three inventory spots with that grand charm is there any other combination of lesser charms that could…

That’s just a lot of ridiculous work to figure out the worth of each single square of inventory space, and it’s pretty much unnecessarily punishing, yes.

Blizzard Quote:

Trade House System, Not Auction House

Qookie @ USEast: Now in World of Warcraft , using the Auction House is the biggest method of getting rich with gold cause gold is one way to get the best item in the game and another way is dueling in Arena or BattleGround for points and these points you can use to buy special items which some are the best item in the game and some aren’t. The problem with the Auction House is that it takes away with the interaction with other players to talk to each other and bargin items to a lower price and are that fun stuff you can do in diablo but not with gold, but with items. You can still trade with other people but mostly doesn’t happen because of course you can get mostly everything from your guild/Clan or your Auction House.

Bashiok: I’m not sure I understood all of what you said, sorry, it sort of read like stereo instructions written by the guy that scares people away from using the pay phone at the 7-11 down the street.

Just a couple of my own cents on the system. First off we really don’t have a solid plan for any sort of external trading system, that is anything beyond being in the same game with the person. We know we’d like something like that though if at all possible.

Foremost – spamming is bad. I think trade channels usually suck because of the requirement to spam. The amount of time and effort spent just to get your items noticed borders on brain-explosiony. Throw in the lack of easily gauged economy and you’re usually left out in the dark, laughed at, ripped off, etc. Your suggestion seems to mix the idea of an auction house and trade channel, in that you can use a channel in-game to spam, and then have some sort of UI to trade the item. That definitely solves one issue, which is needing to leave the game and just sit in a chat channel. What it doesn’t solve is needing to sit in a chat channel and spam. Sure, you could probably play and spam the channel every once in a while but it’s really not the cleanest approach. You’re still spamming a chat channel, you’re still limited to the people that want to see that spam (ie not many).

Since you brought it up let’s move on to the World of Warcraft’s auction house. World of Warcraft did not invent the auction house trading system. It may have certainly refined it, but an irrational hatred of the game that some of you seem to have really shouldn’t translate to game systems that aren’t original to it. There are some major advantages to an auction house similar to WoW’s. You don’t have to be present being the biggest and best. You can be playing with friends, PvPing, asleep, at school or work, and someone has the ability to see your items, and you have a greater chance to sell/trade them. You don’t have to spam a channel, you don’t have to even be online and playing. That’s HUGE, and really the main reason so many people use trading systems such as websites and forums for Diablo II. You want to focus on playing the game or not playing the game, not sitting around hoping someone wants your item.

It also helps form a visible and easily identified economy. I’m a new player, I got a sword I think it’s probably pretty nice, I can go on an auction house and search for it or similar swords and get an idea of how much it should sell for. In this case being in a trade channel is no better whether it’s in-game or out of game. What you’d probably end up with is people still going to forums and more static styles of trading found on websites, but even then any unified sense of economy is spread thin. Maybe that’s not such a bad system in itself, and an official trading site could work. Of course what you lose either way though, auction house or website, is in-game player interaction. Which is what I assume you’re striving to keep.

When it comes down to it, any change or addition or removal of any systems have to be weighed. Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

I’ll go back to what I said at the beginning and state we don’t know what if any types of trading systems will be in the final game. Maybe there won’t be, it may be that eventually we settle on leaving it Diablo II style. We have some ideas of what would be cool, but at the end of the day we’re not going to do anything that isn’t far and away a more positive change for the game.

Character Build Customization

Deliras @ Europe: As some forumers have stated before I want to recall that one of the greatest and most enjoyable aspects of the DIablo series (specially D2 and D2-LoD), is the amazing variety of character builds you were able to create.

Bashiok: Agreed, and we’ll probably surpass them for viable number of character builds. With runes it’s actually kind of scary. Seeing the game in the wild and what people will come up with… eek. But it’s exciting, making a character that almost feels too powerful is pretty damn fun.

Many Build Customization Options Unrevealed

Deliras @ Europe: If you were to build your uberpwnzor pvp bowazon for example, every single stat had to be allocated carefully.

Bashiok: Ah, so then stat points were just a means to an end then, weren’t they? In almost all cases anyway. They were a requirement to the items, clicking a button to raise a number to a required value. The items and abilities chosen are really what created the character, not figuring out item requirements.

You could argue about it forever if you wanted to. The stat points didn’t make the character, but little extra math problems are fun, but little extra math problems don’t really equate to fun or interesting character building, but I think that math problems are fun and interesting, but … etc. etc. etc.

And of course all I can attempt to do is assure you that there’s going to be plenty of build potential, plenty of customization, and plenty of math to dive into, if that’s your thing.

Diablo 3 UI Unique, not WoW Clone. BlizzCon UI buttons were Placeholder

Qookie @ USEast: … Blizzard needs to understand they cannot be lazy and take ideas from World of Warcraft just because it’s a good idea. …

Bashiok: Uhm, well out of all the things you said I guess I could probably talk about the icons. All of the Diablo III UI and icons are created by the Diablo III team, mainly our UI designer Mike Nicholson. We’re not taking any art from other games, it’s all created for Diablo III. It should also be noted that everything seen thus far should be considered placeholder, a lot of the UI has already changed fairly significantly.

DX10 and OpenGL 3.0

Spherous @ USEast: Does Blizzard plan to make use of Direct X 10 and OpenGL 3.0?

Bashiok: We’re not currently using any specific DirectX 10 features in Diablo III. That could potentially change of course, but if it did we don’t have any plans to then require DirectX 10 to play the game.

2008 Xmas: Diablo II Collector’s Edition Contest

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Site News, Diablo 2 News, Diablo 3 News

Our sister site Diii.net has a very interesting prize to giveaway during the Christmas Season: The Diablo II Collector’s Edition. All you need to do is to post a comment at the following thread. That simple. Want to know what’s within the Collector’s Edition?

  • Diablo II Game

  • Exclusive Diablo II DVD Movie – All 24 minutes of the Diablo II game cinematics digitally re-mastered for enhanced picture quality on your DVD player in Widescreen format.
  • View Storyboards & listen to audio commentary from the Diablo II cinematics team
  • Original Cinematic Trailer
  • Commemorative Game Manual – Collector

Echoes of War Now Available On iTunes

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Merchandise, Blizzard Products News, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft, StarCraft 2 News, Starcraft: Ghost, Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft News

Blizzard has announced the Echoes of War soundtracks are now available on iTunes store allowing you to purchase individual tracks or the whole album.

Blizzard Quote:
Head on over to the iTunes store to get your copy of one or all of the 15 unique arrangements from Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment. This new album was recently released on CD, and has now been added to iTunes as well. It features 90 minutes of music in all, based on tracks from our games, including the upcoming StarCraft II and Diablo III. Individual tracks are available on iTunes for 99 cents each. For more details, check out the Echoes of War site or head to the Eminence Online Store to order a physical copy.

Blizzplanet’s Blizzard Music: Echoes of War Drawing Contest

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Site News, Diablo 2 News, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, Starcraft: Ghost, Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft News

Celebrating the Christmas season, Blizzplanet launches a new contest that will chill everyone’s heart with joy. The prize of this contest is courtesy and sponsored by Eminence:

The Music of Blizzard Entertainment: Echoes of War

It contains music from Starcraft, Diablo II, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Starcraft: Ghost, Diablo III and Starcraft II. You can take home this product by participating in this contest. Ends on January 2, 2009 at 11:59 EST (New York time)

Simply folloiw and complete all of the instructions listed below:

  • Make sure to type your main character’s username and server. (Whether Battle.net or WoW—for winner announcement purposes)

  • Answer the following Trivia questions after visiting the official Echoes of War website: All the answers may be found here:
    (http://www.echoes-of-war.com)

    1. Who is the Eminence Artistic Director involved in the production of Echoes of War?
    2. What was the previous Namco game soundtrack produced by Eminence prior to Echoes of War?
    3. Mention six Blizzard composers involved in Echoes of War.
    4. Who is the principal conductor of the Eminence Symphony Orchestra?
    5. What Blizzard music composer created the Diablo 3 Overture music?
    6. Which Blizzard music composer inspired his themes from Africa and India music influences?
    7. What European orchestra did play the Diablo II expansion music?
    8. Mention three projects previously created by Kow Otani.
    9. Name the Echoes of War soundtrack title that Go Shiina arranged with Derek Duke.
    10. Listen to the four audio-samples and tell us which you like best and why.

  • Mail your submission at

Blizzplanet is currently spotlighted at the official World of Warcraft website. Read our Echoes of War review to find out what’s inside the prize’s box in detail.

December: Diablo III Media Update

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News

Blizzard has updated the Diablo III media just prior to the Christmas holidays. Fans are greeted with three new concept artworks and five new gameplay screenshots to hold your breath until the next update.

The first concept art tells us a few things. It is Caldeum and it is described as a bandit city. It is unknown if the place will be hostile to players or if it is just a market place where adventurers may spend some coins on merchadise and to be able to hire mercenaries (followers). The art is signed by Trent (2007). The second artwork shows the beautiful interiors of a palace with a large central pool. It is signed by Peter Lee (2006). The third artwork shows the entrance to a dungeon, presumably. It is signed by Victor Lee (March 2007). So we are seeing three different concept artists and artwork dating back to 2006 and 2007.


The five screenshots show off the female Wizard, the Witch Doctor and the Barbarian in action. The Wizard’s spell graphics is with no doubt awesome. She hurls a lightning bolt across half the screen to hit a target on the other side of the room. The Witch Doctor throws an explosive concoction and up to four fiery pets engage ghostly spellcasters that seem to have been triggered by a trap mechanism that introduces them into the room from the below the ground. The third screenshot shows the Wizard casting a very powerful laser-like beam of fire. It looks more like a continuous redish photon stream that desintegrates anything caught in its path. It covers a large area of the screen. The stream doesn’t stop on the target, it goes through it and continues all the way off the screen.

Something I am liking a lot from these five pictures is that the dungeon is dark. The candles do offer some illumination, but for the most part some areas are dark. Your character and incoming mobs are brighter so that you are able to identify the mobs. The spells are represented with bright and intense pitch white and many variations of pleasant colors. This is not only appealing to your visual input. It gives you a new perspective of the Diablo II dungeons in full 3D, allowing you to recognize and identify monsters around you easier than before, and the spells are just gorgeous. The art direction is going smoothly on my book.

 




Warcraft Pocket Star Book Editor Marco Palmieri Laid Off

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Diablo 3 News, Lore, Novels, StarCraft, StarCraft 2 News, Starcraft: Ghost, Warcraft 3

The economic recession across the United States is seriously affecting every industry: from General Motors and other Automobile manufacturers down to book publishers and beyond. Sadly, I have to inform that my personal contacts at Pocket Star Books and Tokyopop have been laid off. I had heard a few weeks ago that Tim Beedle (Starcraft/ Warcraft manga editor) and Susan Hale were no longer at Tokyopop. I don’t know the perks, but now I have figured out it is due to lay offs.

Today, after visiting Keith R.A. DeCandido’s blog, I found out that Marco Palmieri was among the 35 employees laid off by Simon & Schuster on December 3.  He was the editor of all Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo novels, and more notoriously known as editor of 65% of the Star Trek pocket star books published in the past 11 years. It is a very sad day for hundreds of writers, including Richard A. Knaak, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Christie Golden, Jeff Grubb, Graham McNeill, and Aaron Rosenberg who had the opportunity to meet and work with him. I am still in shock. I sent him an email just a day ago on Saturday not even knowing he may not even be able to read it from the office.

In my email I was letting him know the URL to the Night of the Dragon review and to ask a few things about the Starcraft Ghost: Spectre. I am really saddened to hear about his sudden departure. I have been in contact with Marco Palmieri for about two or three years. He would ship review copies of most Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft pocket star books to my home. The latest ones Diablo Archive, World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal and World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon.

I have no words to thank him for his great support to keep fans updated with lore and upcoming books. Thanks to him,  Blizzplanet has been the main source of Blizzard novel news for other fansites, fans and even wiki enthusiasts in the past years. I had the opportunity to hand-shake Marco Palmieri this year at the New York Comic Con and to thank him face-to-face. I was looking forward to meeting him again on 2009. I will get in contact with the new editor, but it will not be the same without Marco. I am not the only one with that sentiment. All of the Blizzard novel writers feel the same way. We hope Marco Palmieri finds a new job doing what he does and loves best. Not only for him, but for his wife and two children. Best wishes to the other 34 employees who were laid off too.

The next Warcraft novel is expected to hit bookstores on April 21 as a hardcover (retail price: $ 25) under the title World of Warcraft: Arthas, The Rise of the Lich King—by Christie Golden. Hopefully, the layoffs won’t delay the release dates and script proposal and revisions for upcoming books.

Source: Keith R.A. DeCandido’s blog

Massive Inc. and Blizzard Entertainment Form Multi-Year Advertising Relationship

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, General News, StarCraft 2 News, Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft News

Blizzard Entertainment and Massive, Inc. stroke an exclusive deal to advertise on Battle.net. Before you freak out, this deal does not include in-game advertisement. Blizzard respects the integrity of their games and fans. Microsoft’s Massive. Inc will advertise in World of Warcraft and other game websites.

NEW YORK

Diablo 3 Demo Leak Hoax

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News

Diii.net reports certain sites are claiming to have a Diablo III demo leak. If you see a site on the search engines in the net or on a torrent that claims to have a Diablo III demo be very wary of downloading it. There is no leak of this game. Leaks usually happen when a friends and family tester or beta tester breaks an NDA.  Diablo III is not in Alpha nor Beta testing.  It can only be played on Battle.net 2.0.

Use common sense. What is being distributed is a trojan horse / malware. Beware.

Dreamhack 2008: No Diablo 3 Demo Hands-On

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News

Diablo III Forum Rep Aguilar replied to a fan there won’t be a Diablo 3 demo at Dreamhack this year—the LAN party competition held in Sweden through November 27-30th. Blizzard will offer Starcraft II and Wrath of the Lich King Hands-on gameplay to attendees. You can find the Telia and Blizzard booth in Hall C right next to DreamArena. It’s a pity not to see Diablo 3 demo there. However, if you are going to be an attendee, you may ask the developers questions related to Diablo 3. Are you attending Dreamhack this year?  Let us know.

Blizzard Quote:
Aguilar: I’m afraid you won’t play Diablo 3 at Dreamhack this year, but you’re right saying Starcraft 2 and WotLK will be in our luggage!
And yes, members of the European community team will be there to answer your questions.

Sources: Dreamhack Official Site and Battle.net Diablo 3 Forums.

New Diablo III Art Director

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News

Shortly after the announcement of Diablo III at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals, former Art Director Brian Morrisroe departed Blizzard to pursue a personal non-gaming business. We recently reported Brian and some friends launched Booyah.

Job openings for the Art Director position were posted at the Blizzard Jobs section for months. The long wait is over. The Art Director and other positions were removed from the jobs section. We contacted Blizzard Public Relations to find out the name of the new director, but at the moment it is kept under wraps. We will get back on this once the name is revealed. What matters is that Diablo III has a new Art Director to move forward.

Thanks, Lyquid.

Share your comments

BlizzCon 2008 - Diablo III Hands-On Gameplay Impressions

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, BlizzPlanet Articles, Diablo 3 News, Event Coverage

I am fortunate to be one of the lucky people who played the Diablo III demo showcased at Blizzcon 2008 in Anaheim. Not only was it a pleasure to play it, but left me craving for more. I decided to create a female Wizard. She spawns in the outskirts of the Tristram Woods where Captain Rumford and an armored warrior are piling up a bonfire of corpses. The warrior can be seen transporting the corpses off a wagon and into the bonfire.

Captain Rumford says they are burning the corpses to prevent them from rising as undead. NPCs that have something to say have a black oval with dots hovering above them when you place the cursor over them.  A popup window displays the “introduction” option, feature that remains a constant from Diablo II. However, not only does each NPC talk to you.  Your very own character talks back, interacting with the NPCs.  By saying talk, I mean both: the NPC and your character have voice over actors adding emotion and life to the Action / RPG.

Read below a lengthy preview on various features observed in the Diablo III hands-on demo

I started pressing keys to see what options were available.  Pressing (C) opens the Character window, Inventory (I), Quest (Q), Skill trees (S), and mini-map toogle (N), Game Menu (ESCAPE button)

CHARACTER STATS

At level 5, these were the stats I found on my Wizard character. Hope these stats offer you a better scope of how the Wizard stats and abilities work:

Melee damage: 2-8 |  Spell damage: 12-23 |  Armor: 34

  • 16 Strength – Physical damage bonus: 16%  |  Armor Bonus 26%

  • 28 Dexterity – Crit chance 7.0%  |  Dodge chance: 7.0
  • 18 Vitality – Life: 56 |  Mana Regen: 0.9 sec.
  • 94 Willpower – Spell damage bonus: 52.8%  |  Health globe bonus: 0.0%

In Diablo II, you get points after leveling to spend on these four stats. In Diablo III, thus far, these stats increase automatically. You no longer have control over where these points are spent into. At the bottom of the Character (C) window, you can find a table with two columns displaying the following data:

Physical Offense Defense
1.20 Attacks per second
70% Physical crit chance
150.0% Physical crit damage
0.0% Block amount
6.0% Block chance
34.0 Armor
2.5% Physical damage reduction

At the bottom left of the Character (C) window you will find your character resistances. These can be determined by icons:

Blue snowflake = Frost
Red Flame = Fire
Purple Thunder = Lightning
Green Skull = Poison
Yellow icon = Arcane

INVENTORY

The Inventory window shows a lot of visual information. It has a simple and intuitive UI frame with colorful gradients of orange and dark brown, and stylized symbols that highlight a gothic-like feeling. You can see your character model viewer which allows you to rotate your character. Around the viewer, you have 12 gear slots: helm, medallion, chest, sash, 2 rings, weapon, shield, boots, pants, gloves, and shoulder. Between the weapon and the shield is a strange circle. When clicking it, a new window pops forward. Based on the demo observation and loot, this window with 9 circles resembles the Glyphs window from World of Warcraft. In the case of Diablo 3, these 9 circles are reserved for Runes.  Thus far in the Blizzcon demo, only the Wizard can equip runes. (i.e. certain monsters may randomly drop a minor power rune).

Beneath the character viewer and gear slots can be seen the bag inventory—all in the same window.  There are 30 slots, but only a few are enabled. You can expand to the full 30 slots by adding bags into the bag slots.  On the bottom-right you can see four slots. There is where you drag the bags into. By dropping the bag item into that slot, you increase the amount of slots enabled.  Eventually your goal is to enable all 30 slots.  Each slot is thin and tall, and certain items can stack in the same slot. Doesn’t look like there is a special slot bar for potions, but mini-health potions have been seen, as well as elixir of dexterity and elixir of vitality which may have durations of up to 300 seconds (5 minutes).

RUNES

Not much was revealed about [WIKI]Runes[/WIKI]. [WIKI]Barbarian[/WIKI] and [WIKI]Witchdoctor[/WIKI] classes don’t have runes enabled in the Blizzcon demo, so it looks like it is something still in the works. In a press panel, [WIKI]Jay Wilson[/WIKI] revealed these runes will change the visual effects of your character and its spells/abilities. Imagine your lightning spell increasing its glow making it look more powerful and actually increasing your damage output.

MINI-MAP

You may toggle the mini-map by pressing (N).  It is more effective than the old Diablo II map overlay (tab). The mini-map is located on the upper-right corner.  It has no frame like the World of Warcraft circle framed mini-map.  It has an unframed tall rectangular area. By pressing the arrow keys you can move the mini-map in any direction. To reset simply press (N) twice, or escape.

How is this new mini-map more effective?  Diablo II’s overlay map would take the whole screen, and would interfere your line of sight affecting what you could see on-screen.  By placing the overlay map to the upper-right corner, your whole screen is visible for gameplay purposes.  Each [WIKI]NPC[/WIKI] is displayed as a tiny yellow dot. Place your mouse cursor over the yellow dots, and automatically a window pops up above the dot displaying the name of the NPC.  You can see and identify NPCs ahead of you, not yet within visual range. Update: Monsters are not displayed by the mini-map. You will still have the element of surprise. The mini-map helps you locate NPCs that might have a quest for you, or some interaction options to learn some lore.

RARE MONSTERS /  BOSS

In Diablo II, it was hard sometimes to notice a rare [WIKI]monster[/WIKI] among a bunch of mobs. Sometimes you would even get killed before noticing a rare was behind that bunch of mobs. In Diablo III, before the rare monster or boss enters into view, a name tag pops at the top-center with a health bar.  The health bar is divided into a few rectangles.  The health bar / name tag window displays the special attributes of the monster (i.e. a rare named Head of Grief had three attributes beneath its name tag: Vampiric, Froze, Fast.

QUESTS

While exploring the world, you will find NPCs with a yellow exclamation sign floating above their head.  When you accept the [WIKI]quest[/WIKI], the title and objectives are displayed onscreen at the right-center for few seconds, then fades out.  You can access the quest window by pressing (Q). It’s very similar to World of Warcraft.  After walking away from the bonefire of corpses at the Tristram Woods, you enter the Ruins of Tristram. There are a few destroyed buildings. You can see the Physix engine in action when randomly some debris of the ruins crumble down. Placing your mouse cursor over some of the door signs you will find Griswold’s Blacksmith Shop. While exploring, you find a well. It can be highlighted if you place your cursor on.  A quest starts and it is automatically displayed onscreen to the right: Little Girl Lost. Objective: Find a way to free the little girl’s spirit from the old well in Tristram.

When you stand near the well you can hear the girl’s voice over and weeping. She is trapped inside the well. Something funny … some of her quotes resemble that of the girl in the Poltergeist film.  Exploring further into the Tristram ruins you find a female ghost and listen to her voice over which is repeated over and over randomly: Where has gone my girl?  She must be so lonely.  She never goes away without her doll.  She’s lost without it!

Not far from the ghost you will find a chest on the ground. Within lies the doll. Loot it and return to the well. The quest is completed as you return the doll.  The spirit of the girl ascends from within the deep well and thank you. A reward is automatically placed in your inventory.  You will read a message onscreen saying how much XP (experience) you gained, and the name of the looted item. In my case, a Socketed Boots of Brawn (+9 armor, 1 socket, + 2 strength).

Before reaching the Cathedral of Tristram entrance, you will find [WIKI]zombies[/WIKI] kneeled on the ground as if eating from a body. Once you kill them, the body on the ground – tagged Dying Adventurer – automatically highlights a yellow exclamation sign enabling a new quest: The Return of the Skeleton King.

The voice over says something along these lines: “Please … listen to me!  The fire, somehow … it awoke him. The Skeleton King’s evil haunts the cathedral once more.”

Your character’s voice over says: “Skeleton King, huh?  Sounds interesting. Rest easy. I will show him the err of his ways.”

Enter the cathedral. Eventually you will find an NPC with a yellow sign on his head. Take the quest. Guess who the NPC is? If you have played Diablo 1 or have visited DiabloWiki.net the name Lachdanan will ring a bell. He was the loyal friend of King Leoric in Diablo 1.  Lachdanan killed King Leoric, who cursed him on his last dying breath.

SCROLLS & BOOKS

This is probably the most lovely lore source feature for players who decide to immerse themselves into the world of Sanctuary.  Let’s say you enter a dungeon, and find a pedestal. When you highlight the pedestal, by moving your mouse cursor over it and clicking it, you loot the book.  Open your Inventory (I) and click the book or scroll.  A sound clip pops up at the bottom-right of the screen. Underneath the clip are three buttons: play, stop, close. It is a voice over recording telling the story within the book.

For example, in the Cathedral of Tristram, the Journal of King Leoric tells his story during the time Diablo possessed his son Albrecht (Diablo I).

BUTTONS

The three buttons to the right of the main UI correspond to the Left Mouse button, Right Mouse button and an alternate Right button that switches those last two by pressing TAB button.

  • Click the left mouse button to move and attack enemies.

  • Click right mouse button to use the assigned skill
  • Press the alt key to show all dropped items
  • Use the 1-4 keys to activate assigned hot bar skills
  • Right-click on a hot bar, or mouse button slot to assign a new skill.
  • Press TAB or scroll the mouse wheel to swap between right mouse and alternate right mouse skills.

SKELETON KING

The Skeleton King appears at the third level of the Tristram Cathedral. Former King Leoric has a large axe. As told by Jay Wilson in the past, boss events can feel epic without the town portal escape trick or the heal potion spam mechanic. Once the Skeleton King engages in combat, dozens of zombies enter the room to attack you. The boss has an animation that alerts you when he is about to slam his long axe toward you. The idea here is to attack him a few times, and run away before he slams the axe in front of him. It can be avoided. Kill a few mobs for health orbs, and attack the Skeleton King again. Rinse and repeat. I was able to kill King Leoric without dying by doing these steps. Sadly, the Diablo III demo finished after killing this first boss, with a message from Blizzard congratulating me for killing the Skeleton King in this BlizzCon 2008 demo.

THOUGHTS

After playing the demo at Blizzcon, I can only say—hopefully not sounding heretic – that I loved Diablo III, and look forward for the announcement of the remaining two classes. No release date for Diablo III unfortunately, but personally I wish this game was on stores around October 2009. Gameplay mechanics are very similar to Diablo II,  except much better. The graphics are vibrant and colorful, without taking away the epic and dark feel of the previous games. The Physix engine honors the [WIKI]Barbarian[/WIKI] class pretty well, smashing stuff and debris in all directions.

You can click emblems on the walls, that activate a mechanism that drops a candelabrum. If timed correctly, it could smash onto a group of mobs. If you move your character quickly into the area the candelabrum drops on, your character gains daze effect for a few seconds (funny). It would be cool to interact more with objects and traps using the Physix engine to benefit you on bosses and monster encounters. For those who asked me recently if [WIKI]Stashes[/WIKI] and [WIKI]Waypoints[/WIKI] are returning in Diablo III, I asked [WIKI]Jay Wilson[/WIKI] and the answer is yes.  Waypoints however will play a different function this time around.  Upon death you respawn at the [WIKI]check point[/WIKI].  Check points I observed in the BlizzCon demo happen by the door toward the next catacomb (for example).  Some objects spawn near you at the check point. You need to equip them again.  This means no more running back to your corpse which is surrounded by 15 monsters. Diablo III is enhancing everything that was broken in Diablo II.

Diablo Archive – Diablo: Demonsbane Review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, Diablo 3 News

After receiving the Diablo Archive, boasting 752 pages, just recently, I decided to read through it backwards starting with Diablo: Demonsbane by Robert B. Marks (of Garwulf’s Corner fame).

I am sure the Diablo Archive will be a jewel among my Blizzard novels collection. Better to have four Diablo novels on a single tome, than have invididual books all around the place unable to find them at times. There is one thing I disapprove from the Diablo Archive however.  For such a big tome, and quiet heavy in weight, the cover designer Richard Yoo or whoever chose the cover material should have gone for thick cardboard material. This huge archive is no pocket book. It is about two inches thick. The cover material is made of the same material as any other pocket book with the same thin thickness. The result is a jellyfish-effect when you handle the heavy book around. I usually read on my bed. At times when I am uncomfortable, I usually lie on my back and rise the book above me in the air. The weight is almost unbearable after 20 minutes, but the material doesn’t help. Enough with the material rant.

What can be found inside is worth the nuisance. For years, I have heard of Diablo: Demonsbane. A lecture painted in myth. Something I knew existed, but couldn’t reach. It was a few years ago, when I first heard of its existence. It was released on 2000 in ebook format. I have a lot of Warcraft RPG books in ebook format, and even purchased Warcraft: Of Blood and Honor as an ebook.  But for some odd reason I never got around reading Diablo: Demonsbane, even when I craved it more than any other book. Curiosity compels one’s craving. I have never read a review of Demonsbane, or heard what it was about. I just knew it was the first of the Diablo stories ever released.

I reported about the first printing of Diablo: Demonsbane on paper two years ago on July 2, 2006. It was titled Blizzard Legends Vol. 1.  It contained a printed version of three ebooks from each game franchise: Warcraft: Of Blood and Honor (by Chris Metzen), Starcraft: Uprising (by Micky Neilson), and Diablo: Demonsbane (by Robert B. Marks).

However, it is now with the release of Diablo Archive that fans have the opportunity to get this craved story more broadly as it comes bundled along with Diablo: Kingdom of Shadow, Diablo: The Black Road, and Diablo: Legacy of Blood.

Personally, I was expecting something different in Diablo: Demonsbane. More of a dark fantasy meets Lord of the Rings with some fancy Shakesperian old-english language accent. Part of the myth I envisioned for lack of any knowledge of a Demonsbane’s summary.

I started reading on Sunday evening and couldn’t stop reading. It caught my attention. It is a short novella spanning through page 685-738. According to the epilogue, these events take place on year 302 and seem to happen during the Sin War.  Right at the end when I read the epilogue, it made me wonder.  Did Diablo: The Sin War somehow retconned Demonsbane? I have no idea. What I do know is that none of the events of the Sin War trilogy seem to be mentioned in it. Nor did the main character in Demonsbane show up in the Sin War trilogy.

Which book comes first in the timeline is also a mystery to me. One thing does gets mentioned that might help those who have better knowledge of the timeline than me.  Sarnakyle the Kejistan mage of the Spirit Mage Clan mentioned he was among the party of mages that killed Bartuc the Warlord of Blood at Viz-jun two years earlier.

The story is centered around Siggard, a warrior who fought at Blackmarch with the Entsteig’s army. They had fought demons there led by the favored archdemon of the Lord of Terror: Lord Assur. This archdemon has a peculiar glyph of invincibility that makes him feared by the Vizjerei Mage clans. There is however one thing that may kill him, and that would be spoiling it. I did see it coming when I read what could kill him, but was unsure as the requirements for it to happen were not clear at sight, specially with the interaction of Siggard with the other characters.

Ever since the Night of Souls through the events in Brennor, it kept bouncing around my mind why Siggard can’t remember anything about Blackmarch until certain point as if he had magically forgotten. As I was reaching the last pages of the story, it was more evident my suspicions were right, but the idea resulted contradictory. Making me doubt.  Robert B. Marks wrote here a very nice story, and wrapped up with a surprise few could have seen coming. It keeps a fast pace, while adding elements of suspense. I enjoyed the read and don’t regret it. One well-known character appears a couple of times, but heavily weights on the outcome of the story: Tyrael.

I will be reading through the Diablo Archive in upcoming days. One thing I am glad of doing, however, is to have started backwards, reading Diablo: Demonsbane first. It is a pity this story was brought as an ebook and as a short novella. As an ebook, it didn’t get the attention it deserved in 2000. And as a novella, it was too short. The story was worth an entire book of 378 pages. I hope the author writes a continuation of Siggard’s adventures.  Otherwise, I would like to read a new story from him again. Take note Blizzard. Cheers, Robert B. Marks.

Go grab your copy of the Diablo Archive.

Blizzard’s Fourth Game – Next-Gen MMO Still Unannounced

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Next-Gen MMO

So Diablo III was announced last week at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals.  That leaves one unannounced game unaccounted for … the Next-Gen MMO.  Diablo III is not it according to Rob Pardo during an OnlineWelten video interview.

What would this new Next-Gen MMO game be?

  • Starcraft Online?

  • Starcraft: Ghost?
  • New IP?
  • Diablo MMO?

During the Teaser Splash pages days before the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals, fans started to lose morale and hopes on a Diablo announcement. I quickly posted my personal views supporting that this new game announcement would be a Diablo game.

At this point it is too early to make a prediction on what the Next-Gen MMO is all about, but I have a theory.

If we took Warcraft III and its expansion Frozen Throne as an example, both RTS games and the MMO were in development basically simultaneously, with Warcraft III introducing a lot of new lore.  Kalimdor, Northrend and the Night Elves did not exist in previous Warcraft games. So this game served to expand the lore, and set things in motion for the MMO—whose quests match up and start a year after the death of Admiral Proudmoore.

So how does that translates with Diablo III?  This is speculation, but Diablo III is naturally adding a lot of new areas that players have never explored.  NPCs were hinted to be more talkative of their history. We have the Diablo: The Sin War trilogy adding a lot of new lore into the mix, as well as previous books.  The lost city of Ureh from Kingdom of Shadow by Richard A. Knaak appears on the map of Sanctuary—a clue that elements from the novels’ lore are swiftly making its way into the game.

Those who read Diablo: The Sin War Trilogy may have read at page 168 of book three: The Veiled Prophet that Trag’Oul the dragon was stopped by other sentinels such as himself from entering the world of Sanctuary, revealing there were other worlds out there whose fate depends on Sanctuary’s fate.

“The gateway was nearly complete, and then the voices struck him from all directions. You cannot! You cannot! You cannot! At the same time, the gateway disintegrated despite his best efforts to keep it from doing so. Filled with an unaccustomed anger, he confronted the voices. This is my burden! This is my duty! You have no say in this, none of you! There was a moment of silence, and then, together, they responded, But we do … this goes beyond Sanctuary now. Beyond all of us who stand sentinel.

The dragon grew wary. How so? How can that be?.

Their words struck him as nothing else could. Because the war is coming to Sanctuary, and if you interfere with what the Balance demands, it and all existence may be forfeit.”

They left him, then, all the others who stood guard as he did over their separate worlds, left him with the knowledge that it was his Sanctuary whose imminent fate might decide theirs.—The Veiled Prophet, page 168.

With such a setting in the novel, it is now official that there is more than just the High Heavens, Sanctuary and the Burning Hells … but more worlds out there as playground for both forces.  This quietly sounds like the other worlds Blizzard plans to make accessible in World of Warcraft through the portals found in Outland.

Of course, the same Warcraft III + World of Warcraft formulae applies to the Starcraft franchise, with Starcraft II being in development. Only time may tell what’s brewing at one of Blizzard’s departments heavily guarded by men in black suits.

It is still early to figure out what the new Next-Gen MMO is. However, I can’t help thinking of previous Blizzard history with developing Warcraft III and World of Warcraft simultaneously.