Either Bashiok lost some sort of office Superbowl bet and was assigned impossible forum missions, or he’s been reading Don Quixote and felt like tilting at windmills, since he’s taken on his second lost cause of the day. This time he’s written a small essay in defense of…. Blizzard’s notorious fetish for super-sized shoulder pads! (What’s next on his agenda, a post about how the Necromancer always sucked and the WD was a mercy killing?)
I’ve seen people mentioning it here and there, wondering why a “light” fighter like a monk would have heavy gear or why it’s just so darn pointy.
Essentially it’s a two part answer.
1. Your character should look bad ass toward the end of the game, and that’s what that armor is a concept of; a set later in the game. The concept within the artwork gallery is a lighter armor look.
2. The shoulders may look big in a concept like that, but (and I feel like it’s been two weeks of hearing a broken record about this but…) from the distance the game camera is at they’re going to look downright awesome [see part 1].
So the issue is really just an understanding of how we design characters to be seen from an angle that the concepts just don’t do. Now, maybe the smart thing is not to show concepts like that unless we have screenshots to go with it, but I also don’t know if holding off on releasing this stuff until we have the armor sets done in game is what people want either.
Addressing maybe the most core issue is the weight of the armor and that’s simply a fact of wanting each stage in armor progression to feel like… progression. There’s only so much you can do to make robes look progressively more powerful, and especially from the game’s camera angle. But make no mistake, a monk’s “heavy” armor is going to look nowhere near as heavy as something like a barbarian’s heavy armor. We’re very aware of the look of each character, their style, how they fight, what their spells and feeling of the character mean, and go to great lengths to make sure that each class doesn’t just look like they’re wearing plate mail at the end of the game.
Any realism concerns of “he’d impale himself on his belt!” or “she’d slice her ears off!” is a case of realism being shifted for the sake of fantasy. Which is what this game is based in. Also it looks cool.
So, there you have it. Since the shoulder pads in Diablo 2 weren’t inspired by the Kentucky Derby’s hats, fans have been somewhat taken aback by the giant size of them in some of the Diablo 3 concept art. And they are undeniably huge—but now that you’ve read Bashiok’s explanation, what do you think? Are they silly, or cool, or just necessary to show off your character’s improving armor?
On a related issue, did anyone feel that the armor changes/upgrades in Diablo 2 weren’t visual enough, and if so, would bigger shoulders pads would have made the crucial difference there?