Diablo 3 takes place 20 years after Diablo was defeated in Diablo 2. Tyrael has been told by other dwellers of heaven to not interfere with humanity. The people of Sanctuary know that something bad happened 20 years ago, but the memory of it has faded.
And so begins the story of Diablo 3. Join Leonard Boyarsky, Diablo 3 Lead World Designer, as he leads us through the art and lore of Diablo 3 and answers many of your burning story and rainbow colour-related questions!
"One big advantage in Diablo is the fixed camera design. This allows us to hand craft scenes." A big emphasis in the art style is a hand drawn look that pushes strong silhouettes, that, according to Leonard, lend the game a more "epic feel."
"Film uses colour to establish the mood, and we wanted to make use of that same technique." At this, he showed us how the colour palettes established a horror vibe in the game, and that they're making heavy use of accent colours in order to help guide the player. "This is a fast paced game. We want the player to be able to easily tell where to go. The big bold shapes make the game much easier to read."
Leonard then showed us how much work they're putting into dynamic background animations, including fauna and destructible object movements. "Background movement adds believability, and destructible objects are just plain fun. Our art has to support that fun."
Hit the jump for more information on Diablo 3 dungeon design and the transcript to a very lengthy Q&A session where many of your lore and art questions are answered!
In order to design a dungeon, a designer starts out with a basic sketch of the entrances and exits to the dungeon. The design mantra is very puzzle-piece driven, so that it can be used for Diablo 3's randomised dungeon generator.
Blizzard then comes up with encounter ideas, interactive objects and how the player will use them, and any other sort of situation the player might run into. At this point, the art team "iterates until it's done."
"That's when we enter the concept stage and establish colours and texture. It's really all evolutionary."
Question & Answer
- In Diablo 2, we destroyed the soulstones for Diablo. How is Diablo coming back? A: "Well, you're assuming Diablo is coming back, aren't you?" Leonard smiled. "We're not going to reveal any secrets. What happens will be based on the story in previous games."
- Destructible objects are fun! How much are you going to emphasise them in gameplay? A: "We're making them a big part of the game."
- What about the Church of Zakarum? A: "Well, Mephisto corrupted the church, but the church is a big organisation, and it's managed to bounce back from that. They're gaining their influence back and claiming they're good again."
- Are we going to be seeing heroes and characters from previous games? A: "We'll revisit old NPCs and hero characters. Our focus is on making a living world, so yes, we'll have lots of revisiting."
- Will characters from the books be brought into the game? A: " We're not going to comment on specifics, but we are bringing some of the stuff in the books into the game. We want to integrate them back together."
- Are we going to see more of Leah? (the woman in the teaser trailer for D3) A: "She's very important. She'll be central in the game cinematics and will be very tied to the game play."
- Are you using lots of new graphics technology to push the art? A: "We want lots of people to be able to play the game, so we're not pushing specs. The hand drawn style we've chosen helps lower spec machines look good. We're relying on our strong artists more than technology."
- Baal's soulstone wasn't destroyed in Diablo 2. Is he coming back? A: "No comment."
- Are all dungeons going to be generated randomly? A: "We're going to have varying degrees of randomness. We'll have pockets of planned sequences within the randomness. Quests within dungeons will even be randomised. The main story will be static."
- Will each hero character have a fleshed out backstory? A: "Each character will have a voice, and each will have a specific backstory. They all have their own reason for being here: for example, the Wizard is looking for a challenge. There will be class specific quests to advance the hero's storyline as well."
- Cain grew up with tales of the Horadrim surrounding him. Does Cain know he's the last mage of the Horadrim? A: "He's definitely convinced that he is."
- Will the spell graphics change as you level? A: "The look of spells will change based on the Rune system. We're still exploring all the types of changes that will happen. As far as the Skill system is concerned, that's still a work in progress."
- Are paladins making a comeback? A: "The paladin is not returning as a playable class. They're not related to the lore of D3, and we just didn't want paladins in the game."
- The Diablo 2 story didn't really care about the player, it just ran on rails. Are there plans to make that better? A: "The cinematics will make it better. The character voices and ability to choose your own quests in town will also help."
- What are you doing to address colour blind gamers? A: "We're aware of the issue. It's especially important for telling items apart. We're making sure that each item looks different enough. We restrict colour palettes to ensure that colour blind gamers will be able to distinguish between them. We have a big emphasis on having a background colour and an accent colour that guides the player along. The heavy hand drawn style silhouettes will also aid colour blind gamers."
- Are necromancers going to be in the world? A: "There will be some NPCs who are necromancers. We're not bringing them back as a playable class because the necromancer was pretty much perfect in Diablo 2. We can't improve on him. The barbarian could definitely be improved, which is why he's making a return."
- How is Cain still alive? He's so old! A: "Well, he's part of the Horadrim line; they're magical wizard folk. It's not like he's not feeling the ages, however. He's certainly looking old."
- Are you going to have more armour influence how your character looks? A: "We're going to have shoulder pads, helmets, more customisation options, certainly."
- In Diablo 2, some creatures were just completely surreal and didn't fit their environment. Is this going to be the case in Diablo 3? A: "It's about ecology. We want creatures to fit within the setting. There will be surreal creatures, but there will be backstory for why they're there."
- Since you can now choose gender, will there be explanations in the storyline for that, especially in the case of the barbarian? A: "The barbarian female has a different story from the male barbarian. She's basically had to step up because the men weren't doing their jobs."
- In multiplayer in Diablo 2, you could loose track of what you're doing with so many abilities on the screen. How are we going to be able to tell ourselves apart in multiplayer? A: "We're experimenting with that. Maybe we'll make your own effects more prominent."
- We've seen plenty of Hell, will we be going into Heaven in D3? A: "... maybe."
- How many classes will there be? A: "There will be five playable classes. That's the sweet spot. Each will fill an archetypal slot."
- Will there be unique monsters? A: "Yep, they're making a comeback."
- Is the horadric cube coming back? A: "No. We like the whole lore, so maybe we'll bring other items like it, but definitely not the cube. It was too cheesy. We're fixing the inventory problem, so it won't be needed for that."
- Diablo and Diablo 2 had a linear progression. Will D3 give you more options with different results depending on choice? A: "We're thinking about that. There will be random side quests, and ability to choose quests in town."
- Will other player's abilities interact with yours? A: "There are buffs that players can give each other, but we're exploring more interaction between abilities. No guarantees, though.
This article is one in a series of in-depth articles detailing all the news from BlizzCon 2008.
Stay tuned for the rest of our coverage!
For the rest of the articles, here's the schedule with links to previously published portions of our series: