Bashiok has made some good replies in the forums this afternoon. Here’s the run down:
A hopeful fan points to the 3:39 point in the Blizzcon 2009 gameplay movie, when the Witch Doctor “casts an AOE warcry-like shout around himself, then blinks/flashes/teleports forward several character spaces accompanied by a high pitched wind-like “whiiish” sound.” Bashiok is forced to shoot him down.
He doesn’t have any abilities like that.
I’ll also point out that the WD wasn’t casting any AoE anything. He was standing beside the Wizard who was casting a spell that created a Nova-like ring of damage. (Teleport + damage from a skill rune? Wave of Force with newer graphics?)
Elsewhere, a fan asks for little movie demos of what skills do when you mouse over them, since just the hover text and icon aren’t clear enough for him. Bashiok replies:
I think that more than anything it comes down to usability in our UI goals. We don’t pause the game when the skill tree is open, we don’t have full screen ‘level up’ interfaces, we specifically want the game space to be viewable (and playable) even when you have certain UI elements open. So more than anything it would be a matter of making sure it doesn’t interfere with important UI design goals, and of course ultimately that we’d have the desire and time to implement them.
But yeah, cool stuff.
I have to say I think this would be a horrible idea. Imagine the annoyance of little movies playing every time you opened the skill tree? Sure, it would be sort of cool the first week you had the game, but you’ll learn what the skills do on your own or from online sources, and never use them again after that. Besides, what happened to actually, you know, playing the game and figuring stuff out? Should D3 ship with build guides and equipment recommendations too?
Finally, a fan posted a screenshot showing an odd defensive trap pillar thing, seen in one of the desert tombs we explored in this year’s Blizzcon build, wondering what it was and what it did. Bashiok replied cryptically…
*Never is defined as the length of time before the game is released.
…Haha oops. I didn’t mean that how it sounded. I was saying ‘you’ll never know’ but actually meaning ‘you won’t know until the game is released’.
I vaguely recall seeing some of these during my playtime at Blizzcon, but if they did anything I missed it, didn’t wait around long enough to see it, or it wasn’t enabled in the demo. I assumed the pillars were just for show, or were like the easily-ignored spikes that would pop up under your feet in some Diablo 2 dungeons. Looking at the screenshot now though, notice the huge ball off to the top left of the screen? Those were seen just off the edges of lots of dungeons, and they could not be moved or interacted with at all, which seemed odd. Perhaps in the final game those balls will fall down from the roof, or roll across the level, Indiana Jones style, crushing enemies in their path.