Diablo III: The Art of Distance

Distance has been a topic of discussion for DiabloWikiDiablo III communities, as there is no real determinable metric that can be gleaned from the interface, nor any specific relative distance to compare with. Generally, players have estimated distance by the use of skills. While that is a very effective way to judge what a skill actually does, it still left many wanting more.

One community member in particular, mwille, took this information into his own hands. By creating an overlay image to match the game, he was able to map the distances of skills to give meaning to the numbers that are pertinent for nearly every skill that has a range. I won’t elaborate, as he provides a very thorough explanation and clear distance guide for everybody to view.

He poses a question at the end of his analysis as well, so if anybody has a definitive answer, please comment.

Update: I’ve updated this article with all of the respective tool tips for skills to aid the distance metric. Hover over the skill names to get the tool tips.

Update 2:  Mwille has been kind enough to provide the images he used and a link to download the program that allows you to have an always-on-top overlay so you can test out your skill distances. As a note, these images cannot be uploaded to the IncGamers galleries because they are PNG, and uploaded files have all transparent areas blocked in with black. These images are hosted on my personal photobucket and are very light on the background. Rest assured that it’s there, just very faint.

You can download the program: here.

Update 3: Below the fold you will see the rest of the article. The following is from mwille to explain some of the problems people might experience with the images and the program:

It wasn’t until I downloaded the overlays you posted & tried them on a Win7 machine instead of XP that I noticed a problem. For some reason it would use a double image (even with only one image in a folder) using the center option. However, I found that it worked using the “Display at Location Offset” option, but had to then change the offset to get it to line up right. Speaking of which, I tweaked the images again so that it outlines the UI at the bottom & added a “pointer” to line up with the center decoration. It should make it easier lining it up. Also, I realized it would be better to have the images with a vertical resolution of 1000 dpi to make it a lot easier to figure out the scale. I uploaded the new images to the hosting account at where I work in case there is a maximum size allowed on photobucket. You can post these links or whatever you think works best.

You can download the proper images:
Image 1
Image 2

Click through to see his general calculations and explanations for available skills and a huge thank you to Mwille for making this available to the community.

I’ve read several forum posts about estimating just how big a yard is in the game. Since there really hasn’t been a definitive answer (due to the camera angle), I decided to do a little more research myself. I looked up a little about drawing in perspective to see if that would help in measuring things. One of the pictures I saw got me to thinking about using a grid of squares & trying to match the game perspective. So that’s what I set out to do. Then it was just a matter of getting the right scale, which I accomplished by using the Vault skill. Of course it’s still just a guessing game, but I think I got it pretty darn close.

Overlay 2Overlay Image

Diablo 3 Distance Map

So what I came up with is what I think of as a “distance map” by adding reference lines to a screen shot. It uses a checkerboard style grid with each square being 10×10 yards. It also has circles centered on the character, each with a radius in 10 yard increments and with minor lines every 2 yards. Then thinking about how several skills have an area effect at the cursor position (or point of impact), every 20 yards out I placed circles serving as “target zones” (each one has a 10 yard radius marked in 2 yard increments). My thought was that it might help give an idea of sizes at a distance (and it’s kind of interesting to see the different shapes of the circles all at once). To finish it off, I added dotted yellow lines showing the visible area for the different resolution aspect ratios. The image is attached.

Note: The lines of potions are from using skills originating at the same spot (the corner on the floor). From the center out, I used Vault, Leap, & then a double Vault.
FYI: While getting the reference lines using Vault I found that its distance isn’t always consistent & posted about it on the official bug forum (link).

After making the “distance map” above, I thought it would be cool to be able to actually use it while playing the game. So, I downloaded a freeware program that keeps an image “always on top” & used just the lines to create an overlay. I then started playing using that overlay which allowed me to estimate distances a lot better, as well as making accurate positioning possible. My curiosity and OCD personality led to the list of ranges & distances below.

Misc. Distances of Interest
2 – stone rings on waypoints (can be used as a reference for +gold/globe pickup radius)
4 – default gold/globe pickup radius
8 – approximate stride while running
10 – radius of town waypoint
20-22 – the radii of the outermost ring on the large circular designs found throughout the cathedral levels

Maximum Distance/Range for Skills
A range of values is listed for a few skills due to them being random. Also, distances for skills that don’t touch the ground (& go past the left/right edge of the screen) have their perspective affected by their casting elevation. I’m not sure how to adjust the perceived distance to compensate, so their actual range will be less than the observed distance listed. The skills that are affected are marked with an “*”. Also, some skills were harder than others to judge so there’s no guarantee it’s error free.

8 – Cleave (12 area effect)
10 – Bash
10 – Frenzy
11 – Revenge
12 – Rend
16 – Hammer of the Ancients (6 radius centered 10 yards in front of the barb)
50 – Seismic Slam (possibly random)
50 – Leap
70* – Ancient Spear

DiabloWikiDemon Hunter
80* – Chakram (with a 3 radius)
80-90* – Rapid Fire (average due to being random)
85* – Bola Shot
86* – Impale
90* – Entangling Shot
100* – plain arrow
120-130* – Hungering Arrow (kind of guessed here since it goes off screen)

9 – Fists of Thunder (no rune, first 2 hits): third hit is 14 yards
10 – Crippling Wave
10 – Lashing Tail Kick
16 – Deadly Reach
27 – Wave of Light (initial area effect has radius of 16 centered 11 yards out from the monk)
28 – Fists of Thunder (with Thunderclap rune, teleport range); only 14 if not targeting
50 – Dashing Strike (only when cursor is close to a target, otherwise 10)

DiabloWikiWitch Doctor
30-50 – Plague of Toads (average due to being random)
30 – Firebats (no rune)
50 – Corpse Spiders (with random radius somewhere around 15 max)
60 – Grasp of the Dead (with 14 radius)
70* – Firebats (Direbats rune) : not the listed 40 (It’s been posted on the official bug forum already.)
78* – Haunt (but when cursor is close to a target, it reaches all the way to the top corners)
100* – Poison Dart

14 – Spectral Blades (only 10 if not targeting)
20 – Frost Nova
20-30 – Shock Pulse (average due to being random)
26 – Wave of Force
50 – Arcane Torrent (with random radius about 8 yards, radius of 4 individually)
50 – Energy Twister (average due to being random) (with 8-10 radius)
55 – Ray of Frost
86* – Magic Missile
88* – plain wand missile
94* – Arcane Orb

Does anyone know if weapons still have ranges like they did in D2? From what I can tell, it doesn’t seem to make a difference when I switch weapons. I tested mainly with Bash, comparing a simple dagger & a flamberge (two-handed sword). I suppose it’s possible that the difference was too small for me to notice.

As far as I understand, the answer to this question is that weapons do not work as they do in Diablo 2. Weapons themselves have an increased range that can offset what is actually seen on screen. In a previous article, Bashiok explained that it was intended, and the range affects enemies as well. If my memory serves me well, they did this because they didn’t want players to feel like it was easy to bypass content and never get hit.

Was there anything I missed, or perhaps the community can elaborate?

Tagged As: | Categories: Diablo III Classes, Fan Stuff, Game Features, Skills


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  1. i can elaborate:
    awesome job.

    • Yes, excellent work! I’ve been hoping for something of this quality to pop up, and here it is. Thank you!
      Other points of interest:
      30 yd ~= width of bottom interface bar thing, and bottom of 30 yd circle almost tangent to the UI bar.
      60 yd ~ tangent to the top of the screen.

  2. This game should be renamed Clash of the Titans.  All they need to do is change all instances of “yards” to “feet” and they’d be good.

    • Except almost no countries use “feet” as a measurement.

    • Yeah, either some kind of invented measurement word or an accurate “meters” measurement would have worked out best for the most people. It is super lame to re-use a known measurement name only to have it be 1/3 what it’s supposed to be.

  3. Diablo III: The Art of Distance — this may be the best post ever 

  4. very helpful. Thank you.

  5. Ooooh… spiffy.  =]

  6. I personally would love a copy of the “distance map” (patent pending?) to overlay my own copy of D3.  I think it’d be useful for those with a little CDO.

  7. so 16:9 is allowing you to see MORE of the game field horizontally than 16:10, while showing the same amount vertically? would have thought that they’d be equal horizontally, with 16:10 giving an advantage vertically… looks like it’s time to switch to a 16:9 monitor.

    • Neither should be inherently true.  Higher resolution should show you more.  1920×1200 (16:10) should show more than 1920×1080 (16:9), but less than 2560×1440 (16:9 again).

      The reference image simply assumes a static height, for which the wider ratio would mean more content. It’s not indicative of what you see in the game itself.

      • That’s only true for a 2D game. In 3D only the aspect ratio matters for your field of view and nothing else. Playing in 1280×720 you’ll have the same field of view as someone playing in 1920×1080, since both resolutions have an aspect ratio of 16:9.

      • Higher resolution doesn’t show you more, because this is a 3d engine.

        That makes sense for 2d games like Diablo 2, where 800×600 resolution made all of the sprites smaller than 640×480, thus allowing you to see more on the screen.

        But for games with 3d engines, increasing or decreasing your resolution doesn’t change how much ‘stuff’ is drawn on the field, it merely changes how ‘sharp’ those things are. That isn’t the same thing as aspect ratio though, which does indeed show more ‘stuff’: otherwise if you went from 4:3 to a widescreen resolution everything would be stretched. Through mathematics we can see that 16:9 will show more horizontal screen space per vertical unit: for 9 vertical units we get 16 horizontal units. 16:10 gives 16 horizontal units for 10 vertical units. If we keep the vertical resolution fixed, then for a 16:9 monitor the ‘unit’ is bigger and therefore we get more horizontal screen space.

        This isn’t the only way it can be done, but this is how D3 and most (all?) 3D games do it. There was a bit of an uproar when Bioshock came out because they took the opposite approach: widescreen resolutions didn’t give you any extra horizontal view at all, instead they chopped the vertical view down. 

    • Yes, 16:9 shows more. This is how it is done it pretty much all games as far as I know.

      As an owner of a 16:10 monitor, it does kind of suck. You could always play it letterbox style though. 

  8. Phenomenal reference.  Thanks, Michael!

  9. To answer his question, no, there don’t seem to be any difference in range with the different weapon types. A dagger will hit enemies from the same distance as a polearm as far as I could tell.
    Spare me the tears please. 🙂

  10. This is amazing work.
    Also – please buff Wave of Light for Ytar’s sake.

  11. do multiple monitors work with D3?

    • Yes.  Mobs just *poof* into existence around the borders of the center monitor, though.
      You can, however, see more of the map this way… 

  12. it still left wont for more

    Sorry to be a pedant but the word ‘wont’ (ie habit) in this context makes absolutely no sense at all!

    Great stuff by the original poster of this though.

  13. The developers are not smart enough to have any cosistency when it comes to distances. They probably throw a random axis amount and leave it at whatever “feels” right, instead of being rigorous with their calculations. These are C students/players, folks, don’t spend too much time trying to place any sort of meaning on most things in the game.

    • “don’t spend too much time trying to place any sort of meaning on most things in the game”
      You won’t see if you aren’t looking.
      Also, where can I get a grade for my playing ability? 🙂

    • Man, you have been phoning it in recently. Heart not in it?

  14. Classic application of projective geometry right there. In perspective the parallel lines of the floor tiles will meet at the hyperplane(line) at infinity. I’m sure there must be some way to make those circles precise? quadrics in projective space? Either way top work 🙂

  15. this is actually really awesome

  16. Thanks for all this work. This will be quite handy in two weeks. 🙂

  17. I don’t get it… I understand converting to a metric that more people are familiar with (I imagine they’ll just rename yards to meters in countries that use them), but if doing so means that you’re completely detaching people from the unit of measurement by making their characters be 18 feet tall, is it really worth it? People will have a much easier time connecting to “feet” as a unit of measurement if it’s actually accurate than they will to “meters” if it means a completely fucked up sense of scale. It’s not like people are too stupid to understand that a “foot” means roughly one foot’s length of distance. If they’re that concerned, they can just call it “footlengths” anyway. 

  18. I knew it, the heroes are 10m giants.

    • Well they wouldn’t be hero’s if they weren’t now would they? :p Hahahaha weapon ranges don’t work in Diablo 3, lmfao this game get’s shitter by the minute.

  19. Thanks everyone for all the positive feedback!  I spent quite a bit of time working on this.  And I’m still working on tweaking the overlay.  I should get it posted soon (hopefully quicker than Blizzard’s standard).  

    • So are you planning on testing and posting the ranges of all the skills/runes from the higher-than-beta levels once the game’s out? Please say yes… it would be a great addition to the wiki. 😀

      • I’m leaning towards that, yes.  Hopefully I can test as I unlock skills, but it may have to wait until I’ve played through at least once.

  20. Awesome job! 😀

    Although, now this makes me realize how overpowered leap is compared to other movement skills… 50 yard range, and it does damage, and it slows, and it generates a good amount of fury, and you get it before every other class’s movement skills… really? 😐

    • Given how long the barb’s stuck around (d1: your namesake, i think), i guess that’s just one of the perks of seniority… 😐

      • I didn’t take my name from Diablo 1’s expansion. I started using this as my online handle back in the early days of high school because I thought it sounded cool and it plays off my real name. I wasn’t even aware that Diablo 1 had an expansion named Hellfire ’til sometime after Diablo 2 came out.
        But anyways, as great as the class is, just because the barb’s been in all 3 installments of the series (sort of) doesn’t mean he gets to have significantly better skills than everyone else… 👿

    • @Scorch
      I think the problem lies in that the original Leap Attack was meant as a single target heavy hitter, but was used as a one point wonder movement skill for most builds.
      In any case, so far, it’s one of the most epic skills available to the Barbarian and I’d hate to see it getting reduced in range – it just wouldn’t be the same.
      Another thing to take into consideration, is that where most movement skills are meant to let you get away from things, Leap is meant to get you into the thick of the action – the damage component encourages you to do so and the fury gain allows you to survive it 🙂 Snare is just icing, I guess 🙂

  21. A friend asked me about the distances during open beta because they seemed weird compared to the characters Height. I told him to just read all the distances as feet. He asked “why aren’t they just called feet?”. To which I replied “Well Blizzard think we’re all to stupid to understand feet so instead they figured they’d just use a special edition spastic version of a yard”.

    To which he made the obvious reply “Well that’s retarded”.

    Nice image btw 😀

    • Truth.

      I mean, think about a (north american) football game in Blizzard’s metric. Touchdowns would happen every minute.

  22. Great quality post.

  23. Well, I just sent an email back with the overlay graphics & instructions on how I used it.  It’s halfpast midnight here, so I’m off to bed now.  I’ll try to answer any questions tomorrow.

  24. Updated for everybody. If you want the more detailed image, please just follow the original link and view the open album on my photobucket account.

    Thanks again mwille! 

  25. Community can work wonders! This is a good enough reason for forming communities: anyone can help, according to his talents.

  26. I see the link to download the program, but not e link to your photobucket to get the image… where is that link, Niz?

    Good work mwille, by the way. Very useful in the retarded distance dynamic that Blizzard has chosen! 

    • I had to right click on the image and open the link from there.  It then takes you to his photobucket page.  However, after downloading them to test it on another computer I realized I still need to make a couple of changes to make it easier getting it lined up & at the right scale.  I’ll work on that later today & get revised images sent in.

  27. i can see now! that’s some incredible work!

  28. Yes, awesome work tyvm!

  29. switch yards to feet… Or else the player would be 6 yards tall and his feet are alomost 3. Lol those proportions are weird

  30. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to get the overlay done before the beta ended, but you can still see what it will be like.  All you need to do is use it while watching a gameplay video fullscreen.  I tried it with one on diablo3.tv & even though it was letterboxed I still got it lined up using the right scale (1.08 in my case for 1080p) & using the center option.

  31. I finally figured out how to adjust for elevation in the perspective view for skills that do not touch the ground.  The only one for which I had sufficient data to calculate is Ray of Frost (which I didn’t even have marked with an “*”.  Its actual range is only 50 yards, not the 55 it looks like.  I’ll work on completing the list (& a related report) when the game is released.

  32. different AR will cover different distances, here an example of 3ple head (5760×1080) and notice how mobs disapear. my question is… what does this? is it a performance limit? security measure or protection against higher res.


  33. Is there an overlay solution for the mac os x? I’ve only found an system add-on, which works for the windows of most applications, but not over full screen applications like Diablo 3.

  34. adore what you have got right here. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. http://www.sunsetcampertrailers.com.au/

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