• published the article Followers on Diablo3.com, Cleave Revamped, and an IGN Interview with Jay Wilson
    Followers on Diablo3.com
    Earlier today, Bashiok had tweeted an image of the new followers/hirelings section from the official Diablo III community site, as of then unpublished. The change has since become official: followers now have their own legitimate section on the official site!

    This means that information about the other two followers in the game--those not usable in the beta--are officially up for study. In addition to the fresh lore and media available on each follower's individual page, all of their skills can be observed at large on the latest addition to the official Diablo III tools: the followers' section in the calculator!

    Cleave Revamped
    (Source) Some clarification on the damage mechanics of the Barbarian's DiabloWiki.com - Cleave Cleave skill were prompted on the official Diablo III community forums today. The skill's tooltip seems to lack some vital information regarding its damage application across multiple enemies.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    I would like to know if this results in all targets receiving 90% damage and if all abilities like this have been overlooked by the developers. If not, I think there should be information about this in-game.

    We want as much information available in the game as possible, within reason, and a reasonable amount of information is really fairly basic to keep tooltips from becoming small novels.

    Cleave is an ability we're looking at right now. We may actually make it so that there is no damage disparity between your target and collateral hits. In any case, the way it's intended to work, if you're holding shift and not targeting anything, is that the first creature you hit takes the 120%. I'm not sure if it's actually implemented that way right now, and as I said could change anyway. Our intent is not to make shift+hitting/casting anything act in a way that is less effective than if you were clicking directly on enemies, so I don't see any need to call anything out when the net result is the same (enemies die).

    [...] As an update Wyatt just changed it to be a flat 115% to all targets caught in the swing. We'll see how that works out.

    IGN Interview
    (Source) For its part, the interview on IGN with Jay Wilson was not particularly shocking, but it did cover several topics that beta testers and Diablo III followers at large may find interesting.

    The beta test, which started several months ago, has been going strong. Even in the beginning, Bashiok and others stated multiple times that the primary purpose of the beta is to test infrastructure, but some other useful insights have been gleaned from the testing, too:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    How is the project coming along? Mainly, how is the beta been treating you guys and what have you been learning from it?

    It's been really good. Most of the learning from the beta for us was more technical: standing up the hardware, stress testing it, and optimizing for online play -- things like that. We get a lot of good data just watching players play and we get a lot of good feedback as well. We did restrict the content so it's only the first half of the first act. Which is basically the tutorial.

    You were saying that you got some good stress tests. Are they all things that you anticipated and you're prepared for come launch?

    Yeah, no matter how good your automation programs and software are, you can't emulate having the game out in the real world and that's the only way you can see what the hardware can take, how well the networking works, and optimize and tune to those things. There's just nothing like the real environment for that.
    But the beta wasn't the tip of the iceberg. Wilson went in-depth about how the team looks at classes and decides what skills to add to each class's armament:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    [A] lot of it goes back to the core Blizzard class design philosophy where we look at each class and [ask]: what makes this class special? Why do I want to play it in the first place? What's the fantasy? This is something we ask a lot. And then when we target the key signature [fantasies], we don't let the other classes have those things -- we'd even go so far as to not choose a particular class just based on the fact that its fantasy steps on the fantasy of an existing class.


    For example, the monk is the only class that gets passive movement increases. Other classes can have travel powers but the monk is the only one because he's the fastest. That's his thing: he's fast, he's agile, and he needs things that make him faster and more agile. Each class has rules that we put in; they're loose, but they're strong enough that they make the classes stand apart from one another.
    Continuing on the example of the Monk, Wilson even elaborated on the possible mechanics of a skill that the team is considering adding to the Monk's trees, compensating from what they see as a lack of area-of-effect viability:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Basically what we're talking about is [the monk] needed a damage bomb. He needs the occasional ability to just AOE around him effectively. We used to have an ability that we called Circle of Wrath -- that was like Holy Nova in World of Warcraft -- where it does damage and it heals, but for Diablo we felt like that was a confusing skill so we changed it to just a pure healing skill. We took the wrath out of it. But then we found we missed what wrath used to do.

    And so we decided to separate them. So we'll have two different [abilities], but then we're also talking about a bunch of ideas to make it more interesting than just a way to AOE.
    Finally, Wilson elaborated on one of seven of what he calls "design pillars" of Diablo III, principles that have helped them make decisions in the development process and make the game what it is so far:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Diablo III design pillars. There were seven of them and one of them was replayability and so we really focused on [replayability] over randomness, because randomness is a tool but replayability is the point.

    We used a lot of different systems for replayability: the difficulties, continuing loot past past normal difficulties, random layouts, random monster distribution, adventures. We don't call them "adventures" anymore, I'm the only one who still does. Events -- we have random events that occur in the world so when you go through an area you'll likely see an event that you haven't seen before.

    We encourage you to check out the rest of the interview here for all the bits and bobs we couldn't fit in this article.

    Fan Creations
    Calavera666, whom we interviewed a few weeks ago, has posted a teaser for his coming comic, Aria of Effect, Part 2.

    He hinted only that "the Skyrim shall tremble," a tricky play on the caption accompanying much of the Diablo III merchandise and advertisements, including both this year's and last year's calendars.

    The full comic is coming this Thursday (tomorrow), so keep your eyes peeled!
    Posted in: Followers on Diablo3.com, Cleave Revamped, and an IGN Interview with Jay Wilson
  • published the article Third Conference Call, Beta Notes You Didn't See, and Battle.net's "Cheat Box"
    Today's been a pretty exciting day for Diablo fans, with 200 fresh beta access codes to Blizzard's sweepstakes winners (congratulations!), the third quarterly conference call, and many just beginning to sink their teeth into beta patch five.

    While Bashiok told fans not to get too excited about the conference call, some interesting tidbits did come up; primarily, that the beta period is nearing the testing implementation of the Real Money Auction House, and that the Collector's Edition of Diablo III will come with a toggleable pair of wings and some snazzy dyes.

    Note: The wings and dyes notes have actually been viewable since BlizzCon on the Collector's Edition webpage. The fallout of the quarterly conference did bring some clarification to light:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    The [Collector's Edition] dyes are infinite in their use. Keep them forever, dye as much stuff as you want "Cloud" or "Smoke" colored. The colors are unique to the CE.

    The wings are an item you hold in your inventory (don't take up an equipment slot on your character), and it's a toggle. Use to turn on, use again to turn off. They're awesome looking, and stack with other class effects like Shadow Power and Archon. (Blue Tracker | Official Forums)

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    It's 1 [set of wings] per account. If you want to trade to another character you'd just want to put it in your shared stash before logging out. Same with the dyes. (Blue Tracker | Official Forums)

    While all of these great responses did clear up quite a few things, there is still some confusion about the way the wings will work if in the inventory of a Hardcore character. Obviously, under normal circumstances, the wings would be lost on character death.

    And while we're on the topic of clearing up confusion: last Friday, we posted the supposedly complete patch notes, coinciding with the reset of the testing server. But the official site has since been updated with most of the recent changes. Here, we have the passive skills that were not included in the patch notes, as well as the skill updates that didn't make the official list.

    Skills that were modified to work with weapon damage have not been included in this list because this change was previously announced in the official patch notes. If you would like to see the updated percentages based on weapon damage, please see here.

    The DiabloWiki.com - Barbarian Barbarian
    Unmentioned Modified Skills
    Inspiring Presence has been modified:
    • Now allows Barbarians to regenerate 2% of their maximum Life per second instead of 60% of total Life per minute.
    • Old: The duration of your shouts is doubled. While benefiting from War Cry or Battle Rage you regenerate 60% of your total Life per minute.
    Earthquake has been modified:
    • Now deals its damage as Fire-elemental damage.
    • Old: Shake the ground violently dealing 240% weapon damage followed by an additional 150% weapon damage per second for 8 seconds to all enemies within 15 yards.
    Overpower has been modified:
    • Now has a 15-second cooldown that is reset whenever Overpower gets a critical hit instead of becoming available on critically damaging an enemy.
    • Old: Press the advantage of a powerful attack to overwhelm the enemy for 150% weapon damage to all targets within 9 yards. Overpower becomes available whenever you make a critical hit against an enemy.

    The DiabloWiki.com - Demon Hunter Demon Hunter
    Unmentioned New Passives
    Night Stalker has been added:
    • Unlocked at level 16.
    • Every time you critical hit, gain 1 discipline.
    • Discipline is used to fuel many of your tactical and defensive skills.
    Numbing Traps has been added:
    • Unlocked at level 21.
    • Enemies hit by Fan of Knives, Spike Trap and Caltrops have their damage reduced by 30% for 3 seconds.

    The DiabloWiki.com - Monk Monk
    Unmentioned New Passives
    Combination Strike has been added:
    • Unlocked at level 21.
    • Each different Spirit Generator ability you use increases your damage by 10% for 3 seconds.

    The DiabloWiki.com - Witch Doctor Witch Doctor
    Unmentioned Modified Skills
    Gruesome Feast has been modified:
    • Now: Whenever you are healed by a health globe gain 10% of your maximum Mana and 10% Attack for 10 seconds. The Attack bonus can stack up to 5 times.
    • Old: Gain 10% Attack for 10 seconds whenever you are healed by a health globe. This effect can stack up to 5 times.
    Vermin has been modified:
    • Now includes DiabloWiki.com - Locust Swarm Locust Swarm.
    • Old: Your Plague of Toads, Corpse Spiders and Firebats abilities do 20% more damage.
    Fierce Loyalty has been modified:
    • Now Witch Doctor pets also gain 100% of the player's Health regeneration items.
    • Old: All your pets gain 100% of the benefit of your thorns items.

    Unmentioned New Passives
    Bad Medicine has been added:
    • Unlocked at level 18.
    • Whenever you deal Poison damage to an enemy, their damage is reduced by 40% for 3 seconds.
    Spirit Vessel has been added:
    • Unlocked at level 20.
    • Reduces the cooldown of your Horrify, Spirit Walk and Soul Harvest spells by 2 seconds. In addition, the next time you receive fatal damage you automatically enter the Spirit Realm for 3 seconds and heal to 10% of your maximum Life. This effect cannot occur more than once every 90 seconds.
    Fetish Sycophants has been added:
    • Unlocked at level 21.
    • Whenever you cast a Physical Realm spell you have a 3% chance to summon a dagger-wielding Fetish to fight by your side for 60 seconds.

    The DiabloWiki.com - Wizard Wizard
    Unmentioned Modified Skills
    Arcane Dynamo has been modified:
    • The DiabloWiki.com - Flash of Insight Flash of Insight time restriction has been reduced from 1.5 seconds to 0.9 seconds.
    • Old: When you deal damage with a Signature spell you gain a Flash of Insight. After 8 Flashes of Insight your next non-Signature spell deals 50% additional damage. You cannot gain a Flash of Insight more than once every 1.5 seconds.

    Unmentioned New Passives
    Conflagration has been added:
    • Unlocked at level 21.
    • Dealing fire damage to enemies applies a burning effect, increasing all damage done to them by 15% for 3 seconds.

    Lastly, it's been some years since most gave up on speculating about certain cryptic elements of Diablo, but discovery of an invisible input element on the Battle.net website has curiosity rearing like a bucking bronco. Perhaps now more interesting than even the seemingly useless Flash DiabloWiki.com - chat gemChat_Gem on the official Diablo III website, the invisible box in the web Battle.net interface has finally drawn some interesting official responses:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Giving up so soon?

    Follow the bird as it tweet, tweet, tweets! (Blue Tracker/Official Forums)

    Is the answer to this latest mystery to be found by following @Diablo on Twitter? Is the invisible box another enigma in a decade of Diablo silliness, or is there reason to wonder?

    New Fan Art

    Left: Demon Hunter painting by Wargasmic, Right: Diablo "Heablo" Lord of Terror by MuppZA
    Posted in: Third Conference Call, Beta Notes You Didn't See, and Battle.net's "Cheat Box"
  • published the article Interview with a (Fan) Artist - Calavera666 on Diablo Comics

    Calavera666 discusses his recent work on a series
    of super-stylized Diablo-themed fan art pieces

    If anyone can be considered a fan of the Diablo franchise, perhaps we should look to the talented individuals bringing their own flair of creativity and ingenuity to a series loved by many since childhood. The first in a series of low-profile interviews, Interview with a (Fan) Artist will expose the creative minds of dedicated Diablo artists.

    This week, we had a short interview with Calavera666 (Ismael Bergara) on his series of super-stylized comic entries, as well as his projected plans for his work. For even more of Ismael's work, check out his profile on DeviantArt.com.

    Also, Ismael has recently uploaded his newest comic strip, a parody on the beta patch five updates. Stay tuned to through the interview for this latest piece of his unique comical style!

    DF: Last weekend, you posted that you're working on an exciting new project: a comic strip series including some cynical takes on three Diablo III characters. Will your work be more comical shorts, or can we expect some kind of cohesive story for some, if not all, of these entries?

    Ismael: I've been considering this project for a while now. I'm very passionate about web comics, and I spend most of my free time diving through them. There's something special, unique if you will, that I've always loved about free web comics, and it's the fact that artists work on them purely based on the desire to craft it, and to deliver it to the community. There's no money behind it, so there's no restrictions. You make comics because you want to, and you make it grow with your most pure and basic humor. In the end, you become your own boss. That means you can completely ruin a storyline, and don't give a f*ck about it!

    But yeah, there will be some kind continuity in the strips. Some will be made in two, three, or four parts.

    DF: The Diabolesques, as you've labeled them, are plays on controversial topics (such as player-named "moon physics.") Was it difficult coming up with these witticisms?

    Ismael: Oh yeah, it's really hard to come up with a monk named "Pillar." I've gathered a council of experts on gaming culture and controversial silliness, just to craft the artful names you see on the characters.

    I have to be honest, my one secret is to lurk through the Diablo III forums. The material writes itself!

    DF: One of your comics, which plays on the handful of DiabloWiki.com - Azmodan Azmodan's generals mentioned at this year's BlizzCon, plays on Monsters, Inc. to convey its silliness. Do you think that cultural references like this alienates potential reading audiences?

    Ismael: There's always the possibility that some readers don't get the meaning of the strips. If you haven't seen Monsters, Inc., you probably wont get the Azmodan's strip. If you haven't been around for the last week, you wont get the "Pillar" strip, either.

    I'll do my best to give some hints on the obscure references, yes, but I don't want to explain the jokes. That would kill the whole spirit of the thing.

    Tip: If people don't get the reference, they'll ask around about it. Free advertising.

    DF: It looks like basically everything you've posted on DiabloFans is comic work. Have you ever worked with other mediums?

    Ismael: In fact, comics are the only thing I've never done before! I do illustrations, I do wall paintings, I make sculptures, I forge armor--I ruin lots of materials while forging armor because I suck at it--I do animation, I make 3D modeling, I cook, I write scripts for low budget movies, I do acting.

    I do lots and lots of stuff, but comics are not on the list. Well, at least not on the everyday list.

    DF: What drew you to comics in the first place? Do you happen to have any inspiration for your humor, or does it all just come naturally?

    Ismael: As I've mentioned before, I'm fond of web comics. I've never hopped on the comic bandwagon before, because my work is oriented to illustration.

    Making illustrations, like a book cover for example, takes a lot of time and effort, but you work on a very specific picture. You have take care of the lights, the design, the shapes of the figures. To make an illustration is to make a sculpture out of a painting.

    Comics, in the other hand, are a completely different matter. Comics need humor, they need constant movement, and they need scripts and fresh ideas.

    The process of making comic strips is very exciting to an artist. It forces you to break down your own traditional barriers in order to come up with a funny but graceful result. It's pretty much like dancing with a pencil.

    But, just like dancing, comic making is a tricky art. Very difficult to master. That's why I've always wanted to give it a try. And you need humor. Humor has to come out of you like water. If you have to force it, then it's not gonna work. You'll end up working out of commitment and obligation, and not from the heart.

    DF: The DiabloWiki.com - Lord of Terror Lord of Terror tries to pass through airport security. What are your thoughts?

    Ismael: Nothing happens. His family owns the company.

    DF: Aside from some great entertainment, do you think there's something to be said for the messages of some of your comics? Do you hold strong opinions on some of the content of your work, such as a female Diablo (Diablette) or the Monk summoning pillars ex nihilo (Monk's Problematic Pillars)?

    Ismael: I may have some opinions about this and that, but that will never show in the comics. If you look closely, I've never taken a stand to attack or defend any of the subjects. I try to make fun of things from a neutral point of view.

    But in the end of the day, I must say that I love every single thing about Diablo III.

    Yes, even the ferrets.

    DF: Do you have anything you'd like to share with the Diablo community at large, besides more great humor and iconic artwork?

    Ismael: Feel free to comment, rate, send suggestions, ask questions--all of those things that would make me feel like I'm important. Look, Ma! I'm on Diablofans!

    And last, but certainly not least, Ismael has finished his latest piece in the Diablo world. This strip takes a light-hearted look at one of the notes included in beta patch five. See if you can figure it out (click for full strip):

    That's all for this time. Once again, we highly encourage you to check out his profile on DeviantArt.com for even more of his unique work. Tune in some indefinite point in the future to see our interview with Richwood666, famous on the board for his continuing work on the female DiabloWiki.com - Demon Hunter Demon Hunter!
    Posted in: Interview with a (Fan) Artist - Calavera666 on Diablo Comics
  • published the article Patch Imminent, Test Server Reset in Progress
    (Source) Lylirra posted the update just minutes ago: It's official--the patch is coming, and we might be nearing the next beta wave!

    UPDATE: The return time for the test server has been bumped back by a half hour to 11:00 PM PDT.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We're in the process of bringing down the Diablo III test server to deploy a patch and wipe all characters to continue the testing process (http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3424470536).

    We anticipate the downtime to last until approximately 10:30 p.m. 11:00 PM PDT.

    For a thorough list of the issues the team is already looking at for beta five, see Vasadan's Current Known Issues thread. This post will be updated with the patch notes as soon as they are available. (UPDATE: See here for the patch notes!)
    Posted in: Patch Imminent, Test Server Reset in Progress
  • published the article Selective Beta 5 Footage, 20th Anniversary Special Article, and More Beta Blues
    Diablo III's fifth beta patch brought some big changes to the testing period. To highlight just one of them, here's a short clip showing the graphical changes made for the Demon Hunter's DiabloWiki.com - Impale Impale skill:

    But Impale wasn't the only element to get a graphical update. Much of the Battle.net interface--including the login screen, the character selection screen, and more--saw some changes as well:

    At the launch of the beta patch, though, there were some things missing. The DiabloWiki.com - Cauldron of Jordan Cauldron of Jordan--use to cash in on loot like you would with an in-town NPC while on the battlefield--was moved out of the beta content and into its more permanent position in the overall Diablo III gameplay period. Vasadan responded:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    The Cauldron of Jordan has been moved into a later part of Act 1, meaning it is not in Beta content anymore. I have contacted the Community team to see if we can get the patch notes updated to not cause any more confusion.

    The note has since been added to the list of official patch notes. Bashiok later added that:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    [f]or reasons of mechanic introduction and pacing, the Cauldron of Jordan is now awarded to the player after the Skeleton King fight, which means it isn't obtainable within the beta content. It is still very much a game feature though, of course.

    The DiabloWiki.com - Templar Templar, the only hireable hireling (el oh el) in the beta, also saw a tweak that was not mentioned in the official patch notes. The Templar can now wield any one-handed weapon, as opposed to only being able to carry spears as he had in the past. But the change left something to be desired in the follower's voice-overs:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We changed the Templar so he can now use any one-handed weapon, not just spears. As for that VO that plays, it may technically sound like a bug if he doesn't have a spear, but since the spear is his signature weapon, it may be OK.

    Finally, Blizzard posted a timeline of Diablo III UI artist DiabloWiki.com - Mike Nocholson Mike Nocholson's daily grind to celebrate their twentieth anniversary. Highlights include the most lucky kids on planet Earth, interaction with Technical Artist DiabloWiki.com - Chris Haga Chris Haga, an all-too-humble observation of his work life, and an idea of what it's like to work for one of the greatest game developers in history.
    Posted in: Selective Beta 5 Footage, 20th Anniversary Special Article, and More Beta Blues
  • published the article Diablo III Beta Patch 5 Complete Notes
    The long wait for the fifth beta patch has finally ended. Here's the complete official patch notes for the latest iteration:

    UPDATE (04/11/2011): The official patch notes have been updated; see below. Thanks to PaNtsONhEaD from our IRC (#diablofans on freenode) for the update!

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    • The Cauldron of Jordan is no longer available in beta content. It will be rewarded to players at a higher level in the game.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    • All characters have been wiped. As part of this process, artisans, gold, and items (including those placed on the auction house or in a shared stash) have also been reset.
    • Switching out class skills will now require the use of a new feature known as the Nephalem Altar. Nephalem Altars are currently located in New Tristram, as well as in key locations throughout Act I. Clicking on an altar will open up the skill UI, allowing both active and passive skills to be selected or exchanged.
    • Quests
      • Gold rewarded from quests has been significantly reduced
      • Experience rewarded from quests after level 4 is now based on the number of mobs you’d have to kill to earn the same amount of experience, rather than being a strict percentage of a level

    • Skills
      • New passive skills have been added for all classes. See individual class notes below for more information.
      • AoE (Area of Effect) skills for all classes have had their damage reduced
      • Single-target skills for all classes have had their damage increased
      • All skills are now based off weapon damage

    • User Interface
      • The in-game UI has been updated with general art and usability improvements

    • Barbarian
      • Active Skills
        • The Barbarian's Fury Generators have received a tuning pass. Bash, Cleave, and Frenzy now generate more Fury whereas the other Fury Generators now generate less.
        • Additional changes include:
          • Battle Rage
            • Damage bonus reduced from 30% to 20%
          • Revenge
            • The chance for this ability to activate has been increased from 10% to 15%
          • Weapon Throw
            • Fury cost reduced from 20 to 10
            • Damage decreased from 210% to 180%

      • Passive Skills
        • New passive skills have been added:
          • Nerves of Steel
            • Unlocked at level 12
            • Your defense is increased by 25% of your Vitality

    • Demon Hunter
      • General
        • Maximum Hatred reduced from 150 to 125

      • Active Skills
        • The order in which skills are awarded has been adjusted for levels 1 to 13.
        • Resource management for the Demon Hunter has been reworked significantly. Skills for the class now fall into the three categories: Hatred Generators, Hatred Spenders, and Discipline Spenders
          • Hatred Generators
            • Bola Shot: Generates 2 Hatred
            • Entangling Shot: Generates 4 Hatred
            • Evasive Fire: Generates 4 Hatred*
            • Grenades: Generates 2 Hatred
            • Impale: Generates 6 Hatred

          • Hatred Spenders
            • Chakram: Costs 10 Hatred
            • Elemental Arrow: Costs 5 Hatred
            • Hungering Arrow: Costs 10 Hatred
            • Rapid Fire: Costs 30 Hatred (initially) and 1.5 Hatred per second for each additional shot

          • Discipline Spenders
            • Caltrops: Costs 8 Discipline
            • Shadow Power: Costs 20 Discipline
            • Vault: Costs 10 Discipline
            • Evasive Fire: Costs 4 Discipline to Backflip

        • Additional changes include:
          • Bola Shot
            • On-hit damage increased from 100% to 105%
          • Chakram
            • Damage reduced from 150% to 135%
          • Grenades
            • Damage increased from 75% to 80%
          • Hungering Arrow
            • Damage increased from 115% to 145%
            • Pierce chance is once again a fixed 35% rather than scaling with level
          • Impale
            • Impale has been given a new spell effect. It is now a thrown dagger instead of a bow shot.
          • Rapid Fire
            • Damage increased from 35% weapon damage per shot to 38% weapon damage per shot
          • Shadow Power
            • Attack speed bonus reduced from 50% to 30%

      • Passive Skills
        • New passive skills have been added:
          • Tactical Advantage
            • Unlocked at level 10
            • Whenever you use Vault, Smokescreen, or backflip with Evasive Fire you gain 60% movement speed for 2 seconds

    • Monk

      • Active Skills
        • Mantras
          • All Mantras now have a 15 second cooldown and grant a bonus effect for the first 3 seconds after activation

        • Additional changes include:
          • Blinding Flash
            • Spirit cost reduced from 50 to 30
            • Duration reduced from 5 second to 3 seconds
          • Breath of Heaven
            • Spirit cost reduced from 75 to 25
            • Healing amount reduced
          • Crippling Wave
            • Damage increased from 120% to 135%
          • Deadly Reach
            • Damage increased from 110% to 120%
          • Fists of Thunder
            • Damage increased from 100% to 120%
          • Lashing Tail Kick
            • Spirit cost increased from 25 to 30
            • Damage increased from 130% to 180%

      • Passive Skills
        • Transcendence
        • Healing per Spirit reduced

    • Witch Doctor
      • Active Skills
        • All Witch Doctor skills now do damage based on your weapon damage and cast at a speed based on your weapon attack speed.

      • Passive skills
        • New passive skills have been added:
          • Circle of Life
            • Unlocked at level 12
            • Whenever an enemy dies within 12 yards there is a 5% chance that a Zombie dog will automatically emerge
          • Jungle Fortitude
            • Unlocked at level 10
            • Reduces all damage taken by you and your pets by 20%

    • Wizard
      • Active Skills
        • The order in which skills are awarded from levels 6 to 13 has been adjusted. Players will now unlock offensive and defensive spells in an alternating order.
        • All Wizard skills now do damage based on your weapon damage and cast at a speed based on your weapon attack speed.

      • Passive Skills
        • New passive skills have been added:
          • Critical Mass
            • Unlocked at level 12
            • Your critical hits reduce the cooldown of your spells by 1 second

    • Templar
      • Skills
        • Guardian
          • Ability now unlocks at level 20, instead of level 5
        • Heal
          • Healing provided by this ability will now scale properly
          • When activated, ability will heal you for ¼ of your total health every 15 seconds
          • Will only heal when player is below 50% health, down from 67%
        • Intimidate
          • Slow amount reduced from 80% to 50%
        • Intervene
          • Intervene is the new name for Taunt, and now unlocks at level 5
          • Radius of monsters to be taunted reduced from 30 to 10 yards
          • Duration reduced from 10 seconds to 5 seconds
          • Will now only cast when player is below 50%
          • Cooldown increased from 15 seconds to 30 seconds
        • Loyalty
          • Life regenerated by this ability will now scale properly

    • General
      • Players now start with 5 health potions
      • Health globes now heal you over 1.5 seconds rather than over 5 seconds
      • The number of chests, shrines, and other interactable items (e.g. bookcases and loose stones) has been greatly reduced across the entire game
      • Items sold from vendors will now be at least one item level lower than those that are currently available to a player via drops from monsters
      • The level of an item is now much more likely to match or be close to the level of the monster from which it dropped, and the affixes that appear are much more likely to be from the upper range

    • Weapons
      • Several significant changes have been made to weapons and weapon damage affixes:
        • The damage bonus granted to two-handed weapons over one-handed weapons has been reduced from 15%-38% from level 1-60 to 13%-32%
        • Wands attack speed has been increased from 1.2 to 1.4
        • Quivers, Orbs, and Mojos will now always come with +Min/Max damage
        • Ceremonial Daggers will now frequently come with +Mana Regen
        • Wands will now frequently come with the +Max Arcane Power
      • The amount of inherent slow granted by cold weapons has been reduced from 3 seconds to 1 second
      • One-handed crossbows and daggers now pull from a separate pool of affixes for + damage
      • The damage variance between weapons of the same type has been reduced.

    • Bug Fixes
      • Fixed an issue that was causing two-handed Monk combat staves to not receive the proper damage bonus

    • General
      • A new Mortar affix has been added to the game. Mortar monsters will lob grenades at enemies outside melee range.
      • Lightning bolt damage from Electrified-enchanted monsters has been reduced by 40%
      • Monsters that are enchanted to an element (Molten, Electrified, etc.) now correctly have 50% resistance to their chosen element
        • Ex: Molten monsters will have 50% damage resistance to Fire at equal level
      • Wretched Mothers in Act I can now only summon one zombie at a time
      • Treasure Goblins are now immune to fear

    • Bosses
      • Skeleton King
        • Whirlwind damage increased from 100% to 300%
        • Cleave damage increased from 80% to 100%

    • Artisans
      • Blacksmith
        • Blacksmiths now start with a Fist weapon and a Dagger weapon option to craft
        • Blacksmith leveling and crafting recipes have received a tuning pass

    • Items
      • Pages of Training will now drop starting at level 6, down from level 8
      • The chance for Magic and Rare items to salvage into higher quality crafting material has been increased from 1% to 5%
      • Salvaging blue items now has a 1% chance to salvage into Legendary crafting material
    Posted in: Diablo III Beta Patch 5 Complete Notes
  • published the article Diablo III for Most Anticipated Game of 2012
    Spike recently posted their contest to determine which game of 2012 will be at the top of gamers' wishlists. The Lord of Terror is pitted against giants Bioshock: Infinite, Halo 4, and Mass Effect 3, so Diablo III has some healthy competition.

    User votes determine the winner of the contest, and while we know what we've been waiting for for over a decade, it's time to show the world that Diablo III will take the cake in 2012. So click, vote, and stay tuned for the winner!

    And stick around for tonight's possible launch of Diablo III Beta's latest patch!
    Posted in: Diablo III for Most Anticipated Game of 2012
  • published the article Difficulty Across the Modes
    While we were assured at this year's BlizzCon that DiabloWiki.com - Inferno Inferno difficulty mode will be anything but easy, developments in Diablo III's beta, specifically players being able to kill the DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton King Skeleton King--the biggest, baddest foe in the beta--at level one, as well as Lead Systems Designer DiabloWiki.com - Jason Bender Jason Bender's admission that Nightmare difficulty is more of a ramp to Hell mode than anything else, raise some uncomfortable questions. Primarily, just how hard is the rest of the game?

    Although there's probably a hundred videos on YouTube that attest to feats of extraordinary gear planning and strategy, Jack112 posted a video today (shown below) showcasing the toughest of the tough in Diablo III's beta, the Skeleton King, being beaten by every character class in the game. At level one.

    While Blizzard representatives have stated on multiple occasions that Normal difficulty mode is meant for getting a grip on Diablo III's mechanics and a feel for the game--with a relatively low difficulty threshold--is being able to kill destroy trash the absolute hardest monster in the beta at level one something that the team should be concerned about?

    Further statement in a recent interview with Lead Systems Designer Jason bender on VG24/7 may raise even more concern.

    In response to a question about the difficult of higher-level play modes, Jason said, "Nightmare’s very playable. After you’ve gone all the way through normal, you should have the practice and chops you need to handle Nightmare. We don’t think there’s really a wall there."

    That kind of takes the nightmare out of Nightmare.

    So, with Normal mode being nothing more than an elaborate, testing-the-waters, tutorial-like difficulty, and with Nightmare being little more than a slope to Hell mode, what can we expect from Hell? Jason continued: "On Hell [difficulty], there is a bit of a wall. We don’t expect everybody to play that effectively in Hell. It might be beyond some players’ abilities."

    If Hell mode is anything like Diablo II's Hell mode, then we're certain to have our hands full for a while. It's likely that without the mass availability of cheap gear--mostly due to duping and botting--Hell would have been even more challenging. Just imagine trying to beat Hell mode without that DiabloWiki.com - Enigma Enigma, DiabloWiki.com - Call to Arms Call to Arms, or DiabloWiki.com - Infinity Infinity. Many of us can admit that such a version of the game would require significantly different strategies than the DiabloWiki.com - Teleport Teleport-and-spam-Traps/Hammers/Lightning/Fireballs/insert-your-skill-here that many players are so accustomed to.

    However, if the first couple hours of gameplay, specifically the first major boss in the game, can be beaten by a level one character, what does that say about the rest of the game? Will we see players creaming Nightmare with level fifteen's and Hell with level twenty-five's?

    "And, you know, it’s funny," Jason continued, "because – as casual as it seems – we don’t try to handcraft Diablo so that everyone can beat it all the way through to Inferno."

    With the possible exception of Hell, it's sure sounding quite the contrary. For the full interview from VG24/7, see its posted article. A special thanks goes to Jack112 (as well as some applause!) for posting his brilliant footage. CherubDown also posted a thread specifically about the interview here, if you're interested in more discussion about the VG24/7 article.

    I apologize for any undue amount of negativity that this post conveys. I highly value your feedback and will do my best to improve my approach to writing content that you read in the future. No, no one asked me to say this. I say this because I care about the community that's been gathering here since 2006. When you're not happy, I'm not happy.

    -Magistrate :hammy:
    Posted in: Difficulty Across the Modes
  • published the article GameFront.com Interview with Julian Love
    (Source) The rest of an interview we saw last week has recently been posted on GameFront.com, and the topics are all very near to our hearts. Lead Technical Artist Julian Love, who has been working on the game for some years, had a nice little chat with CJ Miozzi, and while much of the interview is sadly nothing new, there's still a few nuggets that make it worth reading.

    I've included the more interesting bits here. To read the full interview, which we highly encourage you to do, please see the article here. But beware: This may contain some content that some view as spoilers. To read more on the modding portion of this interview, check out our full modding article here.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    GF: Was there ever a point in the development process when D3 would have been an MMO?

    No, I don’t think there was ever a serious point. At the earlier stages, there were certainly many ideas being tossed around. There were many people at that point who where bitten by the MMO bug, but there was also people who thought, “hey, we should make a fighting game, or an adventure game.” So I think there were some phases when we weren’t serious and entertained a lot of ideas, but they were during that early stage when we just wanted to throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and see what stuck. Even then, with the tools we were using, it looked more like a Diablo game than anything else.

    GF: Has development started on any expansions?

    No. We’re really focused on getting the game out the door, which is what we’ve been focused on for the last two years. We want it to be awesome; we want it to be the definitive successor to the Diablo series.

    GF: While there will be no official mod tools for Diablo 3, does Blizzard condone D3 mods? (Covered here)

    There’s no direct intent to say that we don’t want D3 to be moddable. And, to be honest with you, the technology itself, on just a fundamental level, makes this the most moddable version of Diablo there’s ever been.

    However, we have these other goals that supersede modding; we want to provide a safe and secure experience for players to play in and trade items in, and in order to do that, we had to make the game online play only. Once we made that decision, that effectively eliminated the possibility of having moddable games, since you’re going to have to connect to our service in order to play. So that’s a slight consequence of our online-only decision.

    I’ll say that there’s never really been an intention with past Diablo games to make them moddable, either; it’s just that people found a way to make it happen. It’s not necessarily something we went out of our way to support.

    GF: Hacked private servers were created for World of Warcraft; odds are there will eventually be a modded server or a way to play Diablo 3 without b.net, at which point people will be able to make mods. Would blizzard support such actions?

    I think people will have a very difficult time doing that. I don’t think we’d be in a position where we can support that sort of endeavor, because it really falls outside of our development focus, which really is to provide this secure and high-quality experience that really demands an online-only game experience.

    Cover of BlizzCon 2011's Program
    GF: Will D3 compete with League of Legends, DOTA 2, and other MOBA titles in the eSports scene?

    Absolutely not. There is no intention to make D3 into an eSport, and we are actively making design decisions to prevent it as being perceived as or even accidentally falling into the area of eSports. It’s something we’re very aware of. The intention is to recognize that players want to beat the crap out of each other, and to find a better way for them to do so than what D2 offered.

    PvP of the past wasn’t so much a feature as it was an afterthought, or at least that’s the way it felt. So the way people tended to beat each other up was by socially engineering them into a situation in which they could quickly die. And that wasn’t very fun.

    So by creating its own space for PvP, we could keep the element of fun, but do it in a place where it’s fair.

    GF: Diablo is being depicted in a drastically different art style than in D2; less hulking, more slender. Care to comment?

    We had a lot of talk early on about how we should bring Diablo back, what we should aim for in the art style perspective. A lot of monsters are re-treated when brought back from game to game. One of the discussions centered around him being the Lord of Terror, and whether we needed him to be massive in order to equate terror. In the end, the feeling was that wasn’t necessarily the way to convey terror. That’s when we started exploring lots of different takes on Diablo, dozens and dozens and dozens of different concepts, including one where he was half-snake

    GF: You’ve been using the pronoun “he.” Is Diablo definitely male?

    You know, demons don’t really have a gender.

    So, there you have it. Do you think Julian Love's view of dueling's role in Diablo II, and the Diablo franchise, is accurate with your play experiences in previous games? Should attention focus on more "hardcore" PvP aspects, like making Diablo III a viable competitor in the growing eSports community? Does it makes sense for the Lord of Terror to be hyped-up on estrogen?
    Posted in: GameFront.com Interview with Julian Love
  • published the article BlizzCon Question Resurfaces, Sees Internal Consideration
    (Source) The Diablo III Open Q&A panel at this year's BlizzCon was a steady flow of Diablo feedback and query, but not everyone walked away completely satisfied with team responses. A fan recently brought up a clearer and more in-depth version of his Wizard petition hastily sputtered at the panel stage just last weekend, but with better results:

    We encourage you to read the full post here. For simplicity and brevity, much of the technical post was stripped from the following quotation.

    Regarding the DiabloWiki.com - Wizard Wizard and certain gameplay mechanics that interact with weapon speed, self-proclaimed BlizzCon Question Asker Guy asked, "Given the math and change to weapon speeds affecting cast speed, is there anything you were doing to make faster weapons have more incentive to using them [...] [b]is this an intentional design, and slower weapons of equal DPS are just always better[/b] [...], or is this still something that you're looking into and need to work on?"

    Bashiok's response on Technical Designer Wyatt Cheng's behalf is a book in itself, but here's the highlights. I tried to bold the parts that are particularly important and remove the somewhat less helpful (though no less interesting) bits:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    [...]Your build absolutely matters. Some builds may be well designed to favor 2-handers, and some may favor 1-handers. So, the general statement of "the correct weapon depends on your build" overrides everything else I write.

    Additionally, two general rules of Diablo weapon speeds still apply: spilled damage matters, and speed matters for combat effectiveness. [...] When a monster has only 150 health, who really cares that you hit it for 300 damage instead of 200 damage?[/b] Either way it's dead. And if it's dead with a faster weapon, that means you can get to the next monster faster. [b]This means that a weapon with a 1.3-second speed that can one-shot enemies actually has a 30% killing throughput increase over a weapon with a 1.0 speed.[/b]

    [...]For those who are insistent on maximizing theoretical DPS and AP usage, we've decided to cover you, anyways.

    First, all things being equal, 2-handers do more damage than 1-handers. This is pretty obvious, but I want to confirm and validate this. The reason it's important to call this out is that all the calculations assume "for any 2 items of the same DPS". [b]But that's not a great starting point, because for any two comparable items at any given level, 2-handers do at least 15% more damage than 1-handers, and in many cases 20-25% more. [/b]

    To put it another way, many of the posts in the linked thread make an assumption that two weapons have equal DPS. This assumption is flawed. What you really want to ask is, "for the theoretically best 2-hander in the entire world (even though I'll never get one)" vs. "the theoretically best 1-hander in the entire world (even though I'll never get one)."

    However, [b]what you choose to put in your off-hand, should you choose to wield one, matters.[/b]

    [b]First, no matter WHAT you use, you are getting a bunch of extra stats.[/b] In addition to DPS from Attack and Precision, you're getting whatever other item stats are on your offhand. So you're trading off a theoretical Arcane power efficiency boost for the stats of an offhand.

    [b]Furthermore, if you use a shield, you're getting a big armor boost.[/b] If you haven't played Diablo in a while, people easily forget, but a lot of Sorceress players used a shield in Diablo II. For some players there is a "fantasy" of "I don't need a shield 'cause I don't plan on getting hit." The reality is that we don't let you get away with that in Diablo. You get hit. We don't have heal, tank and DPS roles in Diablo, so everybody in Diablo eventually takes damage.

    [b]Additionally, if you choose to use an orb, every Wizard DiabloWiki.com - Orb Orb (and DiabloWiki.com - Witch Doctor Witch Doctor DiabloWiki.com - Mojo Mojo) comes with +damage on it.[/b] So, if your mainhand does 8-10 damage at 1.4-second speed, and your orb adds 3-4 damage, then that means you're doing 11-14 damage at 1.4 speed. [b]In many cases, the orb plus the stats on the orb completely closes the 15-25% DPS gap between 2-handers and 1-handers.[/b]

    Add on top of that +dmg from your rings and amulets, and currently with internal tuning numbers (this may not be how we ship), but 1-handers and offhand out-DPS 2-handers almost all of the time. [b]It takes a luckily-rolled 2-hander to out-DPS most 1-hand and offhand setups if you can also spare some +damage on your rings and amulets.[/b]

    [b]Finally, fast weapons are better at fishing for procs.[/b] Diablo has lots of very cool proc effects. Chance to gain Arcane Power on critical hit. Chance to summon a fetish on spell cast passive on the Witch Doctor. Faster and more frequent casts means more opportunities to fish for procs.

    If you procured a case of TLDR Syndrome while reading over that abbreviated version of a very elaborate response, Wyatt's argument basically came down to this:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    [b]Currently, for internal testing of Inferno mode, the 1-hander and Wizard Orb combination is overwhelmingly better.[/b] You get more damage, better mobility, more stats, and more proc fishing. [b]2-handers get you better Arcane Power efficiency.[/b] If anything, I'm worried that 2-handers are too weak. The most likely solution on this front is to reduce the amount of +damage found on rings and amulets to reel in the damage advantage of 1H+Orb. However, the value of Arcane Power efficiency varies the more you have to run and move. If you're running and moving constantly, then AP efficiency lets you drop big bombs like DiabloWiki.com - Meteor Meteor and DiabloWiki.com - Hydra Hydra when you finally get to stand still. Since the amount of running and moving varies from situation to situation, I'm actually fairly happy with where things are.

    Additionally, to balance the exceptions to the rule that Wyatt so thoroughly attempted to explain, there is also incentive to adjust DiabloWiki.com - Disintegrate Disintegrate and DiabloWiki.com - Arcane Torrent Arcane Torrent AP consumption rates in ratio with the other Wizard skills, although Wyatt confessed that this inconsistency may not be "cool" when considering uniformity across the Wizard spells. This may translate into "breaking the rules" with other current iterations of skills in regards to AP-burning, since we were reminded at the beginning of Wyatt's response that nothing is set in stone.

    Do you think that more tweaking is needed to reward players that choose fast weapons, or is Wyatt's response reasonable and accurate with your knowledge of current gameplay mechanics? Will augmentative gear like jewelry, as well as logical considerations like movement limitations, offset the choice between weapon types faced by said players?

    *Note: Posted this from my phone. Forgive any glaring mistakes :P
    Posted in: BlizzCon Question Resurfaces, Sees Internal Consideration
  • published the article To Pillar or Not to Pillar
    Although BlizzCon 2011's Diablo III: Gameplay and Auction House panel was met with bold applause, not everyone that left the main stage in Hall D with a smile on their lips. Technical artist DiabloWiki.com - Chris Haga Chris Haga led the show for the "Making Skills Awesome" portion of the gameplay panel, but, while many of the skills are obviously quite amazing, some others, particularly one for the DiabloWiki.com - Monk Monk, are noticeably less awesome, or perhaps--more correctly--just plain silly.

    A revisioned skill for the Monk that didn't quite make it into the character's earlier skill list has been stirring up controversy, both here and abroad. The skill originally summoned four ancient stone pillars and a crumbled floor meant to collectively represent a temple. The player would then draw monsters around the pillars and destroy them, each one acting like destructible environment elements as seen in the DiabloWiki.com - Royal Crypts Royal Crypts and other areas that cause falling debris to damage opponents caught in the junkslide.

    While the idea of the "temple aesthetic"-stylized skill was a hit with the Diablo III team--or at least Chris Haga)--they felt that the skill needed a simpler approach. It required a class stylized for quick combat to summon the four pillars, lead monsters into the trap, and then independently attack and destroy each pillar; this didn't really seem to flow with the Monk's gameplay style, and was more than a bit clunky.

    Now, the Monk summons one big, stone pillar that magically explodes in a dazzling display of holy light.

    Just days after the two-day event concluded, the skill now has its own memes associated with it, along with a growing crowd of not-so-happy fans. Some even liked the original implementation--the one that summoned the four pillars--more than the current, "awesome"-ified one.

    With all the negative feedback about the skill so far, it would be more than a bit odd if it remained exactly as it is for release. But does the current iteration of the masonry-stylized skill speak better for the Monk's lore and gameplay than the original? Is it a step forward from a quirky skill, or a step backwards to something less "Diablo"?
    Posted in: To Pillar or Not to Pillar
  • published the article Modding Ain't Dead
    (Source) While Blizzard continues to hold that they will not officially support modding in Diablo III--much like their stance with modding on Diablo II--an interview with Julian Love on GameFront may have a glimmer of hope for would-be Diablo modders:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    There’s no direct intent to say that we don’t want D3 to be moddable. And, to be honest with you, the technology itself, on just a fundamental level, makes this the most moddable version of Diablo there’s ever been.

    However, we have these other goals that supersede modding; we want to provide a safe and secure experience for players to play in and trade items in, and in order to do that, we had to make the game online play only. Once we made that decision, that effectively eliminated the possibility of having moddable games, since you’re going to have to connect to our service in order to play. So that’s a slight consequence of our online-only decision.

    I’ll say that there’s never really been an intention with past Diablo games to make them moddable, either; it’s just that people found a way to make it happen. It’s not necessarily something we went out of our way to support.

    While this seems to be the same case we saw with modding in Diablo II, there is one catch: the lack of any LAN support, and the requirement of a server to handle many basic game mechanics, means that anyone who actually manages to create a mod will have to violate Diablo III's end user license agreement. Perhaps someone will find a way around this, but until then, it's all speculation.

    If you want to learn more about how modding has affected the series, we encourage you to read one of our March articles, Blizzard's "Anti-Modding" Stance: Another Look, which features insights from renowned Diablo I and II modders, some lesser-known details about the Diablo team, and a great deal of history and speculation.

    For discussion on this topic, please see Rhykker's thread.
    Posted in: Modding Ain't Dead
  • published the article Release Date or Release Fake?
    Is it real or is it fake? The fanboy sentiments churning just under the skin of any true Diablo fan make us want to believe in a concrete release date with the recent delay to 2012 and a development cycle that seems an accomplishment on its own.

    Excitement and dashed expectations both contributed to the hype behind a recently posted image, supposedly a leaked email containing the full itinerary of this year's BlizzCon. Among the now-known reveals of the weekend's events, it also contains:

    In addition to the accurate BlizzCon reveals and itinerary, the image also has a unalterable imgur.com upload date for a period two months ago (see bottom of linked web page.) All this together makes for a compelling argument for a leaked release date.

    At a cursory glance, this is all fine and dandy. But maybe there's more to this supposed leak than meets the eye. After letting the initial heat of discovery run its course, deeper inspection implores reason.

    Besides wondering at why someone would go through the trouble of directly posting images of slideshow slides in an email and not simply typing the information out (if this were coming from a legitimate source, why would slides be needed to add authenticity?), the date, itself, is subject to scrutiny. In fact, the date shown below the hosted image reflects only its upload date.

    The email is simple enough. Sending two empty slide images to himself, the supposed email recipient could then snap a picture, upload it to imgur.com, and wait a couple months. With the information revealed at BlizzCon, the uploaded image could then be edited directly with the website's software--without changing the upload date.

    Last, we wonder why on earth Blizzard would want to release a game into the market on Thanksgiving of all days, a day when most Americans--a major audience--aren't even home to rush to the stores or man cash registers?

    All this to say, please be careful when you read supposed "leaks" about release dates. As we like to warn our members, any release date not from the lips--or fingers--of an official Blizzard representative can easily be faked, as we have seen in numerous cases in the past with faked Diablo III game boxes and faked Diablo III announcements. A simple image editor and some human ingenuity can go a long way, and so can gullibility.
    Posted in: Release Date or Release Fake?
  • published the article Great Monsters Aren't Born, They're Spawned

    When we were kids, we thought monsters came from under the bed or in the close. As we grew up, film makers told us they came from outer space. Mary Shelley told us they were created in ghastly laboratories. H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, and any number of abbreviation-happy authors told us otherwise.

    But they were all wrong. Very wrong.

    Today, we'll examine the various ways the baddies in Diablo III beta are able to crawl out of the woodwork and scare la merde (pardon my French) out of the careless adventurer.

    Caution: Contains spoilers; no effort will be made to disguise information after this point.

    In Diablo III, there's hardly a clean-cut way to look at all the ways monsters spawn. For simplicity's sake, we'll break down monster spawn points into three categories: randomized, or spawn points that occur quite commonly and randomly across an environment; reproduced, where we have monsters perpetuating other monsters; and quest-specific, where spawn points are more unique and often have more interesting animations and outcomes.

    This article is not comprehensive. It's not meant to be. But a good effort has been put forth to give you a good idea of where to be cautious when taking your first steps into Sanctuary twenty years after the fall of the three Prime Evils.

    I previously said that randomized spawn points quote "occur quite commonly and randomly across an environment." Several of you are shaming because I used the word in the definition, and the rest of you are likely wondering what I mean by such a vague statement.

    Well, it's all intended.

    This is the catch-all category for the stuff that doesn't quite fit anywhere else. We have environment blocks that have spawn points, monsters that serve as spawn points, crap you click on that spawns stuff. Anything that's not specifically quest-related pretty much got stuffed in here.

    To make things a little easier to digest, we'll look at said spawn points in two subcategories: environmental and triggered.


    It seems the Dead like to squeeze themselves into every crevice imaginable. Erupting from dark, gaping maws in the earth, the DiabloWiki.com - Risen Risen wait in secret to ambush travelers on DiabloWiki.com - Old Tristram Road Old Tristram Road. Occasionally, DiabloWiki.com - Crawling Torso Crawling Torsos are seen shambling from the underbrush, entrails whipping close behind.

    But as strange as it is to see zombies crawling from the underearth to grasp at your throat and heels, Tomb Guardians, a variation on the DiabloWiki.com - Skeletal Summoner Skeletal Summoner monster class, are even more bizarre.

    Gothic Fresco? Nay!
    Passing through the depths of the old DiabloWiki.com - Tristram CathedralAct_I#Tristram_Cathedral, Gothic depictions of the triumphs of the angels and other equally epic scenes can be viewed in floor-to-ceiling artwork. Many of such images are innocent enough, but occasionally the Dead take notice to your passing. In a brilliant flash of violet light and a high-pitched cackle of insanity, a Tomb Guardian breaks through.

    Tomb Guardians have several interesting skills that make them annoying by themselves and deadly in groups. They shoot slow-moving blasts of purple-hued magic, their basic ranged attack, raise minions from the afterlife (which we will talk about later in the reproduction section), and teleport across short distances if given the chance.

    Now that we've established why you should wear full-body armor on your next visit to the Smithsonian Art Museum, we'll examine the case of the DiabloWiki.com - Royal Crypts Royal Crypts.

    Although not nearly as flashy as the Tomb Guardians' entrance, these DiabloWiki.com - SkeletonsSkeleton (Diablo III) still give dragging you kicking and screaming into the afterlife a decent effort. After they successfully reassemble themselves after falling through the crush of stone debris and dry bone matter, two or three of these cadaverous warriors raise their swords against you and your team mates.

    More entertaining still is seeing teams of skeletons vault through the subterranean windows in the lower levels of the Cathedral. Seemingly innocent library wings come alive for a precious few moments as magic whizzes, axes swing, and bones shatter.


    Aside from using the environment for concealment, monsters also spawn from simple containers, like barrels. Levels of the Cathedral and the Royal Crypts both randomly generate loose floor tiles which, when clicked, spit out a bit of loot and occasionally a skeleton that doesn't like its hole being bothered. (Dirty mind. Shame on you.)

    Treasure chests are not your friends. Open with care.
    Even treasure chests are triggers for disaster. On some very rare occasions, special chests known as Resplendent Chests will randomly populate an area. They're distinguishable by their seductive golden glow. Don't be fooled. Many times these chests come accompanied by a throng of jealous adversaries, waiting to spring on you as soon as you loose the latch.

    Sometimes, traps are more obvious. For instance, in the above image (see right), notice the piles of bones around the ordinary treasure chest. Once the chest is opened, each skeleton raises from the dead, ready to assault unwary treasure enthusiasts.

    But not even the recently dead are safe to scavenge. While click-happy players of Diablo II might have found the mutilated victim's of DiabloWiki.com - Diablo Diablo's reign of terror to be excellent sources of income, corpses in Diablo III are just as likely to vomit up a hidden zombie or skeleton as they are to spill some gold or a magical item.

    The lesson: Whether it's a barrel rotting away in the ruins of DiabloWiki.com - Old Tristram Old Tristram, a dusty coffin laid to rest in any of the DiabloWiki.com - Forsaken Cemetery Forsaken Cemetery's many tombs, or a collection of urns stuffed with ashes in the Royal Crypts, smash with care--you never know what might be waiting inside.

    Not all monsters are reclusive moles in the sodden earth. Nor are all of them rattling in their deathbeds, bloodthirsty for action. It would seem that even demons have dysfunctional families.

    If you've read any of the recent beta articles we've been churning out, you're probably already familiar with many of the coming monsters, such as the DiabloWiki.com - Wretched Mother Wretched Mother and the DiabloWiki.com - Grotesque Grotesque. But we're going to charge on through them, anyway, because that's what real fans do.

    Wretched Mothers. Because just when you thought the Diablo III developers couldn't get any more disgusting, they vomit all over your shoes and a zombie pops up.

    Apparently, after a Mother feasts on "the remains of cadavers," they realize that their dinner tasted awful and spit up an acidic solution right before your very eyes. Seconds later, a fresh DiabloWiki.com - Risen Risen rises (I wonder where they got the name from?) from the mess. These bad girls are encountered on the DiabloWiki.com - Old Tristram Road Old Tristram Road.

    And, of course, who could pass up an opportunity to mention the DiabloWiki.com - Grotesque Grotesque in this context? Yes, technically speaking, the Grotesque pictured at the left is of the DiabloWiki.com - Harvester Harvester monster class variety. The same principles apply.

    Beat the snot out of this over-stuffed, fleshy Barta Bus and he pops just like a zit. In addition to puss and some other less appetizing things (if you think puss is appetizing to start with), the vanilla Grotesque spawns a variety of three-pack DiabloWiki.com - Lamprey Lampreys, while the Harvester, a close cousin, will expel a number of cowering, ADD-prone DiabloWiki.com - Imp Imps.

    Tip: Don't kill more than one at a time unless you know you can handle them all. Otherwise, not only will you take damage from their gory explosions, but you will also have to content with a slaughter of annoying minions biting at your feet. Sometimes, after the explosions, the little guys are enough to wear away that last drop of health.

    If you'll remember back to when we explored the spawning mechanic of the DiabloWiki.com - Skeletal Summoner Skeletal Summoner (Tomb Guardian variety), you'll remember that I mentioned that they often raise skeleton minions to fight by their side. Well, not exactly. The skeletons are the annoying meat shields that keep you from actually killing the Guardian. Meanwhile, the Guardian shoots its reasonably powerful blobs of amorphous purple light at you, wearing down your health, and raises even more skeletons. If you encounter any more than one Tomb Guardian at a time, proceed with caution.

    The key difference between the Grotesque, the Wretched Mother, and the Skeletal Summoner is that each employs a slightly different tactic to provide the brunt of the damage. Where the Grotesque largely relies on its physical attack and subsequent body burst to take you down, leaving its minions to do the rest, the Wretched Mother's Risen offspring do most of the damage, themselves, while she stays in the back to spawn more. The Skeletal Summoner relies mostly on its magic missile attack to deal damage, although hordes of skeletons will soon overtake you if you're not careful.

    For the last of the self-replicating monsters, we'll examine a more comical case: the wandering DiabloWiki.com - Crawling Torso Crawling Torso.

    One-half of its legged progenitor, the DiabloWiki.com - Walking Corpse Walking Corpse, the Crawling Torso appears when its original body is re-killed (zombies, remember?), rising again, like an inglorious phoenix, to slay its enemy.

    The Crawling Torso isn't so much a deadly adversary as it is part of the atmosphere of the game. They deal very minimal damage, crawl around by the bony nubs of their finger tips as they drag their useless semi-arses behind (The Walking Dead S01E01, anyone?), and are generally not a threat. Think of them like DiabloWiki.com - the FallenFallen_(Diablo_II) of the beta portion of Act I: powerless filler monsters. For the most part, the Crawling Torso just adds visual variety among its two-legged zombie counterparts.

    Last, but certainly not least, we will explore the (possibly more interesting) quest-specific monster spawning mechanisms. Again, for examination purposes, we'll look at them in respect to two categories: randomized quests and static quests.

    Randomized Quest Spawning

    Part of the allure of Diablo's nostalgic gameplay has always been the unpredictability of what comes next. Okay, if you played any of the games into the wee hours of morning every night for months--maybe years--on end, things got predictable. But to the average, sane, healthy gamer (possibly an oxymoronic phrase), this randomization brought fresh adventures and experiences with nearly every session.

    For Diablo III, Blizzard bumped it up a notch from Diablo II, looking back to a feature of Diablo I that made journeys worth remembering.

    You won't bump into every quest on a single play through with Diablo III. Many interesting quests are randomly generated when your personal game map is created. And these quests are nothing to scoff at. They include unique animations and objects, and some even have their own dialogue and quest objectives.

    Although we're not here to talk about the fine details of randomized quests, we are here to look at the interesting ways monsters spawn during a select few of these random quests.

    Pandora's Box? Try opening this
    bad boy.
    The Jar of Souls

    The DiabloWiki.com - Jar of Souls Jar of Souls event, which pops up in one of the three crypts in the DiabloWiki.com - Forsaken Cemetery Forsaken Cemetery, is one of the more challenging feats available in the beta, maybe more so than even the slaying of the DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton King Skeleton King. Sitting in the center of the room is a single glass jar, glowing with an otherworldly light (a sign that you should not frickin' touch that thing, but you have to, so you will) set on a lone pedestal.

    So you click it. And the jar begins to float, shooting off plumes of ghostly blue light. Another sign that you screwed yourself.

    From four directions in the tomb, the dead begin to rise. DiabloWiki.com - SkeletonSkeleton (Diablo III)s are the first to come, followed by progressively denser mobs and more challenging Undead enemies. If you ever played Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, this event has some marked similarities to the final battle in its first act: waves of the risen dead, a gloomy, dust crypt, and a mysterious, floating center of supernatural activity.

    Enemies continue to spawn for (by my measurements) sixty seconds, after which the jar's magic subsides and you are free to gather all the hard-earned loot. This event is great for experience grinding, to say nothing of the exhilarating challenge.

    Careful not to smash the
    wrong pot!
    The Matriarch's Bones

    By far one of the cooler randomized quests, DiabloWiki.com - The Matriarch's Bones The Matriarch's Bones combines elements of a cute little story, custom dialogue, and waves of Undead minions to send back to the afterlfe. The ghost of the Patriarch's wife desires to join her husband in eternal rest, but her remains seem to have wandered away from the sarcophagus. She implores you to search the area for Funerary Urns, smash them open, and bear her remains back to the coffin.

    Much like trap chests, as mentioned earlier, if a Funerary Urn does not contain the remains of the Patriarch, the dead climb up from the floor for a brief battle. If you're unlucky, you'll have to search several areas and defeat several spawned mobs.

    However, in addition to spawning skeletons and the like, false Funerary Urns also spawn one DiabloWiki.com - Tormented Spirit Tormented Spirit. These guys have more health, more damage, and are generally more annoying to fight than the rest of the walking dead. Luckily, they're only one per false Urn.

    Static Quest Spawning

    New Tristram

    The siege of New Tristram is probably the most well-known spawning event, especially because of the prevalence of beta videos. After some NPC interaction, DiabloWiki.com - Crawling Torso Crawling Torsos and DiabloWiki.com - Risen Risen clamber from the woods immediately to the right of the screen. Several waves of these go by, and then admittance into the fledgling village is granted.

    But the dead aren't very respectful of New Tristram's ramshackle borders. In the DiabloWiki.com - Slaughtered Calf Inn Slaughtered Calf Inn, for instance, we see the development of several villager NPC's into newly risen DiabloWiki.com - Risen Risen. Later, in the Shattered Crown quest sequence, the village blacksmith, DiabloWiki.com - Haedrig Eamon Haedrig Eamon, also has something dark and nasty lurking in his own basement. His wife (beta contest entry number two, anyone?), as well as a nameless rabble of other villagers beginning to turn, pull a Houdini and morph into rotting husks before your very eyes. I'm not even sure if entropy works that fast on human bodies.

    The Templar

    When I say the DiabloWiki.com - Templar Templar is devout, I mean it. When we encounter the holy warrior in the depths of the Tristram Cathedral, he is withstanding the corrupting demonic magic of seven DiabloWiki.com - Dark Cultist Dark Cultists. Upon arrival, heroes are assailed by one of the Cultists, and soon enough the rest begin summoning a contingent of Undead warriors from the circle. Don't worry, they're not particularly threatening. Just your average-grade living dead.

    But the spawn isn't infinite. After a few moments, the last of the skeletons spawns. Killing all of the Cultists or waiting out the spawning period are the only two ways that the spawning stops. And no, no matter how long you wait, the Templar does not get possessed. He apparently has the iron resolve of a saint.

    The Pillars

    This battle is something along the lines of the DiabloWiki.com - Jar of Souls Jar of Souls randomized quest mentioned earlier. Deep, deep in the DiabloWiki.com - Royal Crypts Royal Crypts, our heroes encounter the DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton King Skeleton King's first attempt to frighten them from their objective. After some snappy dialogue iconic of boss fights in the Diablo series, Leoric vanishes, leaving behind the glowing Pillars.

    Like the Jar of Souls quest, the dead start spawning from the pillars, typical skeleton-like enemies. And, like the Jar of Souls quest, the eerie blue light in the pillars is indicative of supernatural magic. The dead spawn in a continual stream until those pillars are smashed.

    Leoric: Before the Battle

    Much like the epic fight with DiabloWiki.com - Baal Baal in the heart of DiabloWiki.com - Mount Arreat Mount Arreat, the confrontation with the Skeleton King is preceded by a tussle with a wave of Undead minions. A handful of skeleton-based enemies raise from the suspended walkways of the deep tomb at the beckon's of King Leoric's ghostly magical beckons, possibly splitting up player parties across the narrow bridge. If not anticipated, they do come as a shock, but since I've ruined that for you, just know that the monsters, themselves, are actually quite easy to kill.

    And there you go, a quick summary of most of the more interesting ways spooks can creep out of the world to catch you when you least expect it. Keep you eyes keen, your crossbows nocked, your swords at the ready, your wands. . . well, you get the idea. Sanctuary is a dangerous place--be careful where you step.
    Posted in: Great Monsters Aren't Born, They're Spawned
  • published the article Diablo III Open Q&A
    After the massive lore panel, it was time to get some feedback from the diehard fans that managed to pilgrimage to this year's convention. Here are the highlights from the Open Q&A; just keep in mind that this isn't meant to be a transcript, so all of it is paraphrased.

    Caution: The following may contain spoilers.

    Q: You made the followers more powerful for end game content. Will they be viable all the way through Inferno?

    Blizzard representatives responded positively, saying that companions will be able to fight adequately alongside heroes through each difficulty. They have done some testing with companions through the difficulties, and although this is a very recent change, they do believe that changes they have incorporated into the hirelings will make then viable in the endgame.

    Q: Is Diablo a girl?

    The cover art for the event booklet made Diablo look anything but the usual muscular, bulky monster we've seen in his more animal incarnations in the previous games. While nothing was confirmed on why Diablo looked so distinctly female, with the sleekness of the abdomen and the wide hips, they did acknowledge that it was done. So it was on purpose. Maybe there's something to the popular Leah-possession lore speculation prevalent in our lore discussion forum.

    Q: Can you elaborate on hardcore mode and how it's different from the previous games?

    They mostly confirmed what is already known about Diablo III's hardcore mode: it will have its own Auction House that does not interact with normal, softcore players, said Auction House will use only gold as a currency (not real money), and so on. However, it was mentioned that if a player is killed, other players will not be able to pick the gear from the fallen character. In Diablo II, players were able to set their hardcore characters to "lootable" to other, trusted party members in the event of an untimely death. Unless misspoken, this is a marked change from the previous games. When you die, your gear is gone. Period.

    Q: Can fresh sixty players succeed in Inferno, and will Inferno ever be nerfed for newer players?

    In step with sentiments spoken yesterday about the difficulty of Inferno mode at the tail end of the Gameplay and Auction House panel the other day, it was confirmed that newly max-leveled characters (sixty is Diablo III's cap) will not be able to succeed easily, if at all, in Inferno mode. It's meant to be a challenge in every sense of the word, no matter what level characters are at.

    While they were vehement about not nerfing it for the newbie's sake, they did add a caveat: as they address hardcore, there may be some balancing to account for hardcore players in Inferno mode. But they will not be simplifying Inferno mode for casual players.

    Q: Why is light radius not in the game?

    Light radius is not entirely gone, and it still works well in some contexts, like deep dungeons, but they found that using the new 3D engine really looked lack-luster when limiting light sources to only that of the player. They really want to utilize different light points to add interest to the 3D environment, so it's no longer a major element throughout the game.

    Q: What's being done to protect against botting?

    Probably a topic near and dear to any players getting ready to compete in Diablo II's upcoming ladder reset, botting has always been a controversial and annoying issue. Bots served as everything from farmers to level grinders, making the ladder ranking system essentially a hopeless, pointless list of bots outstripping human players. It was argued that the actual gameplay of the game renders botting more difficult to achieve, but that they will be policing it well, likely actively and with more robust security measures. It is also important to them to address spam bots, likely by watching join/leave events.

    Q: Will WASD control be available?

    While it had been played around with, they ultimately felt that non-analog controls didn't work well with Diablo's very analog-focused gameplay.

    Q: Will runewords ever be added to the newest game?

    They stated that the new gameplay mechanics and customization options account for what was previously done with runewords. The new, more robust crafting system allows for vast player-generated gear, runestones allow for heavy skill customization, and any other number of mechanics compensate or surpass what was accomplished with runewords in Diablo II.

    Q: Can you confirm a console version?

    They did not want to officially confirm a console version because they want to be completely sure it's something that will work and work well. They have been hiring console developers to work internally on console ideas, and they feel that it plays very well with the kind of game Diablo is, but they don't want to announce anything until they're entirely sure everything will work out.

    Of primary concern is not wanting to compromise the PC version, likely in playability or release (as stated any number of times over the last months.) For now, they're focusing on filling out a console team.

    Q: Attuned runes essentially allow for a ton of specialized runes for each character skill, creating a huge inventory problem with storage. What's being done to address this?

    They acknowledged that they are aware of the issue and are thinking of ways to fix it. They believe that attuned runes add an interesting new facet to skill selection, customization, and build commitment, so they don't foresee removing them, but there is definitely an inventory issue that needs to be addressed.

    Q: What are some of the issues seen in developing a console version?

    Targetting skills becomes more difficult when using a controller and not a mouse and keyboard although they feel that player movement is greatly improved. Monster AI seems somewhat different when interacting with the game in a new way. They found that they spend the most time working with controls with a console iteration. They don't want a potential console version to feel like a port of the PC version, but a quality version that plays well as it is.

    Q: Can we get more beta keys?

    They have more waves coming out after the BlizzCon and are very happy with the feedback that they've received so far. In addition to more beta access sweeping across Battle.net accounts, they also said that a major patch is coming for the beta version of Diablo III very soon. We can guess that this will likely include the skill updates and other changes seen in the beta iteration seen in the PvM demo here at BlizzCon.

    Q: What comes after Inferno?

    While the team feels that Inferno mode will pose huge challenges for players for a long time to come, they have said that they will add more endgame content should they find that players demand more. There's also secret content, which they have confirmed to be in the game, so perhaps we'll see content similar to the Cow Level for endgame enjoyment. At the moment, they are more focused on just getting the game as-is out to the public.

    Q: With the Wizard's cast rate announced as being based on weapon speed, what is being done to reward opting for other items besides cast rate-oriented equipment?

    They believe that choosing cast rate-centric gear versus more obscure equipment is entirely based on the build a player opts for. If a player decides to use skills that benefit more from faster cast rates, it will be logical to use weapons that allow for faster cast rates, while skills which do not focus on cast rates, like Meteor, will allow players to focus on more damage-centric weapons.

    Q: Will there be more skill slots?

    The team believes that allowing more skill slots removes choices and, by extension, build diversity across a playerbase, so they will not be adding more skill slots.

    Q: How will RMAH PvP players be matched with PvP players that do not spend real money on the Auction House for gear?

    Buying higher gear will cause a player to be matched with peers of a like power level through the hidden ranking system, so purchasing gear with real money will only cause players to be matched against more experienced or more powerful characters. The actual outcomes of PvP games will not be affected.

    Q: Will there be more PvP modes besides arena mode?
    The developers found that PvP in Diablo II mostly split players up for fear of getting ganked, meaning more players were playing in private games than playing together in public ones. This led to a focus on on a dedicated PvP mode with dedicated PvP support, the arena, and a PvP progression system. However, more PvP modes are being considered, and Jay Wilson even said that they are looking into a dueling option similar to Diablo II, although nothing concrete is yet known and they aren't sure if such a mode will make the initial release.

    Q: Will there be guild support?

    Guilds and clans in Diablo II were often organized using chat bots and out-of-game online communities. Hope had arisen that this would mean the developers saw this need as enough to implement guild support in Diablo III, but the idea was shot down. They will not have guild functionality available for release, but something may be implemented after release. They saw a lot of guild ideas that didn't get implemented in Diablo II as great mechanics that they want to work on in the future, but they want to make sure that if they do implement guild functionality, they will do it right.

    Q: Will boss AI be scaled with difficulty to allow for more interesting and less repetitive battles at different difficulty levels??

    They're looking across the major bosses for the game and tuning their AI to be refreshing and challenging according to difficulty mode, but they aren't sure if the changes will be really drastic from difficulty to difficulty or only minor, although they want such differences to be big. It seems to be another question of what will make it into the initial release.

    Q: Will players be able to use their skills together in combination attacks?

    They have seen many players using strategic implementation of skills, like a Wizard freezing enemies and then melee characters shattering frozen enemies. They think that more sophisticated team play would be fantastic, but they don't want payers choosing not to play with other players because of class choices in certain situations, which they view as adverse to encouraging group play.

    Q: Will there be an API for the Auction House?

    They have talked about it at length, but it will not make the launch version of the game. It may be added after release. They seemed positive about such an implementation.

    Q: With the 12-month account for WoW players allowing a free digital purchase of Diablo III, will there be any compensation for purchasing a collector's edition of Diablo III?

    Buying a collector's edition of Diablo III will count as credit towards a 12-month account.

    Those were most of the more interesting questions asked, but we encourage you to stay tuned as we upload video versions of each of the panels and keep your eyes peeled for full transcriptions. There may be things that you will find more interesting on a personal level, and with so much up in the air with Diablo III, there are a lot of questions that didn't get answered very directly and were cut from this report.
    Posted in: Diablo III Open Q&A