Upon Closer Inspection #7: Beta Screenshots Part One

I’ve been playing the DiabloWikiDiablo 3 beta on and off since last week, and while I don’t have any big character analysis reports ready (yet), I have taken a lot of screenshots of various odd and interesting things. I’ve got about 40 (so far) that show unusual things, bugs, dangers, cool monsters or areas, etc. I’m going to be adding them to the gallery this week, and each time I put in another bunch I’ll do a news post with a bit of text describing what’s in the shots and why they’re worth a closer look.

This first update has 9 images; one is below, click through for the others, and each shot is 1920×1200, so click through to see them much larger. You can also browse them via the Beta screenshot gallery; though their captions are a lot shorter and less informative than the ones in this news post. If you’ve got questions about the things show in the shots, feel free to ask in comments and I’ll answer them, assuming some other beta tester doesn’t beat me to it.

Here you see DiabloWikiMira Eamon, the DiabloWikiblacksmith‘s wife. She appears as a shuffling, tiny, hooded complainer at first, but shortly after you arrive she throws off her cloak and becomes… well… rather hot. Any man would prefer this tall, slender, fire-haired version! Well, aside from her murderous, undead, “You forgot our anniversary again!” rage, I guess. But don’t all women display that, from time to time? It’s no reason to smash them with a hammer.

Click through for 8 more shots and info.

The most common bug in the beta is this one, where the Blacksmith’s anvil is invisible. This happens almost every game when you first use him, to repair Leoric’s crown, which you need as a quest item to awaken the DiabloWikiSkeleton King. Haedrig sets the crown down on the anvil, then pounds it a few times. Which is fine, except that the anvil is usually invisible, and the crown just floats in mid air. Other elements of his shop aren’t showing up properly either, as you can see by the odd shadows and floating swords. This display is fixed when you next return to town, and Haedrig’s wagon is open for normal business.

Speaking of the Blacksmith and his wagon, this shot combines 4 different images to show all the clicking options. You don’t just have to click on the NPC himself; you can click on the swords, the anvil, or the weapons, all of which prompt different actions. This is not necessary; you can do any action from any of them, you’ve just got to click different tabs on the Blacksmith’s DiabloWikiinterface window.

The ferry to DiabloWikiWortham is accessible from DiabloWikiTristram (run left at the fork in the road where you first see the Blacksmith, who leads you right to the cellar and the zombie battle) but it can not be used in the beta. It is in the full game; there are multiple levels in Wortham listed in the game code, but they’re not accessible until later in the act. The DiabloWikiScoundrel follower DiabloWikiNPC is found in the Wortham area.

You’ve certainly noticed DiabloWikiArcane Enchanted bosses if you’ve watched any number of gameplay movies, as they are by far the most dangerous boss type in the demo. During the fight, apparently every time they take considerable damage (or die), these bosses spawn one (or sometimes more) purple Arcane-orb firing DiabloWikiHydras. These Hydras do not have huge range, and they only last for a second or so, but they’re able to spit out 5 or 6 Arcane shots in very rapid succession. This screenshot shows why you must keep on your toes even in the back row in Diablo III, as the DiabloWikiWitch Doctor found his many minions of zero protection against the true danger of this boss. (I didn’t die, but only because I ran the instant I clicked the screenshot. The Hydras wait half a second before they start shooting.)

I saw this big circle of runes many times during movies and screenshots pre-beta, and always wondered what it was. It didn’t seem to be any particular skill, and it was shown by several different characters. Mystery! It’s actually quite simple; disappointingly so. It’s the aiming grid for any targetable skill, if you left click on the active skill icon. This almost always happens by accident, when you’re trying to click-and-drag a skill icon from the 1234 keys to the LMB or RMB slot. No one does it on purpose, unless they haven’t yet figured how the hotkeys work.

It’s not exactly an Easter Egg, but one cool little detail of the game is shown here. This is Leah’s Room, as the caption shows, and you can enter it any time from the main room of the DiabloWikiSlaughtered Calf Inn. The cool thing is that if you enter it when DiabloWikiLeah is following you, as she does on the Adria’s Hut quest, she runs in and says, “This is my room. Do you like it?” She’ll even follow you into the bedroom, and stand there uncomplaining while you splat dozens of slimy toads onto her bed. Yes, it reminds me of the dorms in college, too.

There are tons of little artistic details and flourishes all over the dungeons and surface areas in Diablo III. This is one of them from an early surface area, as you see a washed out bridge across this creek. There’s no function here, you don’t get to repair the bridge or anything. It’s just pretty.

A zoomed in view of the Witch Doctor in town, with Leah, Cain, DiabloWikiCaptain Rumford, the Witch Doctor, and his DiabloWikimongrels. Nothing special here; I just like how it looks in the zoomed in view. None of the NPCs or the Witch Doctor ever reaches down and pats one of the Mongrels, but it would be cool if they did.

You also see a little graphical bug I got in a number of my screenshots, as the cursor or one of he NPC dialogue balloons appeared duplicated 5 or 6x. I never saw this in the game, just in the screenshots, and it’s probably an artifact of my not-very-powerful system. I got a second or two of frozen game every time I took a screen, using the in-game PrintScreen option. (Using Fraps didn’t cause as much lock up.)

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20 thoughts on “Upon Closer Inspection #7: Beta Screenshots Part One

  1. Gosh… I really hope they will give us better graphics and a decent antialiasing option. Looking at these screenshots hurts, really. Sure the gaming experience should be above anything else… but if that’s the final engine that we will see in 2012… Well…

    I know it’s not the case, but… it looks like they just converted the WoW engine to something isometric and that’s all. I don’t know where people saw “gorgeous” details, to be honest.

    Not to mention that any zoomed scene is just a texture-homicide and npcs/characters stand out like a copy-paste from another game.

    • This looks nothing like WoW (and that nonsense is getting very old).

      I’ve ‘played’ the sandbox and although character models do deserve some extra detail and AA, the thing that really stands out is the scenery and the illusion of depth because of the silhouette of gnarled dead trees at the foreground.

    • They plan to implement anti-aliasing in the final game, but it will probably require DX11 support from your video card.

    • World of WarCraft’s art style is exaggerated and extremely colorful throughout. Its encounters make use of specific color palettes and size-as-you-like effects to make player actions visible in circumstances where they would, in a realistic game, be lost in the chaff. Its proportions and animations are over-the-top.

      Diablo III’s art style is painterly, and extremely detailed throughout. They’ve gone to a lot of trouble to keep poly count relatively low and put the brunt of the detail on the textures (a choice with which the ‘painterly’ approach synergizes quite well, most noticeable on the ground), and for the most part proportions are kept as they should be, with exceptions for horror-themed changes (bloated, corpulent bodies, etc.) This, along with the more muted palette, allows the more detailed player models (which look less detailed partly BECAUSE they need to move, and so can’t be as painterly and partly because their art style is slightly different to emphasize the difference between player and background.)

      To be frank, you are viewing the game with WOW-tinted goggles. Note the way in which trees and foliage are drawn in DIII, then look back at WOW. Completely different. WoW’s trees are clearly defined, with visible polygons and flat sprite-based leaf constructions. Diablo III’s are dark, almost so dark that they fade into the background, and are made to look almost brushed into position. (If you’ve ever painted, I’m talking about taking splotches of paint on the end of a brush and dotting it into position in successive attempts of darker to lighter color.) Buildings and ruins in World of Warcraft are usually visually distinct from the ground on which they stand, with clear lines and a visual aesthetic that screams ‘look at me!’, as well as textures that look inexpertly resized. (check out Darnassus, for example) Not so in Diablo III, where (look closely!) most of the edges and joints between parts of the scenery are intentionally muted, obscured with foliage, or grown into the ground. Note the characters in WoW and Diablo III – WoW’s humans look as though they have prosthetic shoulderpads, and their arms are almost as wide as their chests. Night elves are worse. Both of them have bug-eyes and are essentially devoid of protrusions below the shoulders, relying on helm/shoulder graphics to differentiate them. Diablo III’s characters are much more reasonably proportioned, with relatively normal faces and much more (especially with later armor types) model detail. 

      If you look for similarities, you’ll find them. Of course! But you’re blinding yourself to the obvious stylistic differences, and in doing so blinding yourself to much of what makes Diablo III an incredibly beautiful game.

    • I did, yes. At the same time I’ve checked some “old” screenshots posted on this website (old news).

      With the best settings turned on and high resolutions the final result is identical. That’s why I am a little worried. It’s just I see a lot of zoomed scenes here, compared to other news where people usually post zoomed-out screens.

      • In the beta the settings only go to high and in most modern games there is a Ultra setting (You can find those settings even in SC2). So in the finale product the game will look better.
        But let me just say the game looks awesome as far as I am concerned. It looks like a painting come to life, I have a BA in art and I can really appreciate what they have done with the game. I am so glad they didn’t just make another Unreal (engine) looking game.

    • I have the settings on high for everything visual, actually. To my surprise; I didn’t think my old tower would be able to manage it on that, but it runs fine. Very reasonable system reqs for D3.

    • And good hollywood effects means movie will be good. Yeah right… Havent seen good one in a long time.

      • I’m watching Terra Nova right now, and never has a comment been more appropriate. Mein Gott, this show is a steaming pile of turd, even by TV standards. But the dinosaurs look pretty cool.

  2. Uh Flux, I think you missed out a specific detail in Leah’s room. Try to read her diary while she is following you, than she has something to say about it ;).
    She is also commenting if you enter Cains room with her, I even think I’ve heard different comments, but that may be my imagination, I didn’t note down what she said.

  3. hey flux if you get a chance can you find out how to throw your banner down on the ground and take a screen shot? And when you find out can you tell us how to drop your banner?

  4. Hey!

    “She appears as a shuffling, tiny, hooded complainer at first, but shortly after you arrive she throws off her cloak and becomes… well… rather hot. Any man would prefer this tall, slender, fire-haired version! Well, aside from her murderous, undead, “You forgot our anniversary again!” rage, I guess. But don’t all women display that, from time to time? It’s no reason to smash them with a hammer.”

    Really, Flux… I’ve admired your work for over a decade now, never took you for a misogynist 🙂

    Though I suppose it’s better than if you said it WAS a reason to smash em with a hammer 😉

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