Visual Effects of the Necromancer Panel Overview

Visual Effects of the Necromancer Panel Overview

This BlizzCon panel gave us some insight on how Blizzard created some of the visual effects for the Necromancer in Diablo 3. While we didn't get any important pieces of news, we did learn a little bit about how the Necromancer effects were made! Here are some bullet points covering several topics that were discussed.


Skeleton Mage

  • This ability seemed strait forward at first, but it took a long time to find its spot in the Necromancer kit.
  • Pets have an unspoken cool factor, and if they don't immediately feel awesome then it doesn't matter what the pet actually does.
  • Once the team received really cool art from a character artist, it set the tone for the skill.


  • Because of the nature of a Diablo style game, visual readability can often be a problem.
  • With curses in Diablo 2, it was hard to tell what enemies were going to be effected by your curse when you cast it.
  • This lead to a focus on showing the area your curse would effect when it was implemented into Diablo 3, and also if the enemies were effected or not.
  • The icon that shows if an enemy is cursed was at one point multiple colors based on what curses were active or not, but they pulled back on the color since it started to feel clownish and too happy.

Creation of a Skill

  • Starts between a dialog with the artists and designers as they determine what would best suit the skill.
  • What is the best way to express the fantasy of the skill? What is its usage like? How can Players break the skill with legendary items later? What kind of damage type is it?
  • If a skill is going to have a huge effect on screen, it can't also be one that you are spamming.

Poison Skills

  • There weren't many memorable poison skills that the Necromancer had in Diablo 2.
  • The Witch Doctor already had a poison theme.
  • When it came to the death and decay theme of the Necromancer, it took on a dead serious look and tone compared to the silly tone the Witch Doctor has.

Team 3 Workflow

  • The team doesn't use a "Waterfall Workflow" like others in the industry.
  • They create a "Feature Team" that includes many people with all different skills, such as different kinds of artists and designers.
  • The team meets often and discusses what needs to be done, rather than handing off responsibilities to separate departments without communicating between each other.

Command Skeletons

  • Raising Skeletons from dead enemies meant you had to kill enemies before you can have skeletons, which can lead to game play problems.
  • The team wanted to relieve players from the burden of having to raise the skeletons yourselves, but having them all at once made it not seem fun to use as a skill.
  • This lead to the design we currently have. The skeletons summon slowly over time which feels like they are being raised from bodies, but you don't actually need corpses to do it.

Other Classes

  • Playing a Necromancer with other Necromancers lead to a lot of readability issues. This lead to the team developing new tech that allowed some skills to play locally for the player, but not fully to other players.
  • They found time to retrofit all of the other classes with this tech.
  • This tech was added in the Necromancer patch.

Updating the Necromancer from D2 to D3

  • In order to do it properly, they had to love the class and understand what the players loved about the class.


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