Blizzard on the Demon Hunter’s “Rockets”

There’s been some dismay expressed about the terms used in a number of DiabloWikiDemon Hunter skills and rune effects. Dismay over the mentions of “rockets” and sometimes “missiles,” which seem anachronistic and inappropriate in the no-guns world of Sanctuary. A fan brought up that concern in the forums, and gave Bashiok some finger exercise.

Whats the deal with the DH and rocket launchers? What did she do, take a time machine to the future and grab modern weapons?
We’re being careful to maintain the gothic/renaissance theme, but we are attempting to push the visual and conceptual boundaries of what that means. If we want to go with technical accuracy on an Earthly basis, rockets have been around since (at least) the 13th century. This is in the prime of the European Middle Ages, including The Renaissance, as well as the Gothic architecture from which it came, and Diablo is so heavily based. So if we’re using our own human history as a backdrop, rockets aren’t anything out of the realm of possibility. And if you want to get crazy we use the term missiles all over the place, but in modern military terms a missile is a more advanced form of rocket, with built in homing/guidance systems.

So back to what we are doing – in Diablo III, which is influenced by but decidedly not Earth, rockets are simply defined as ‘alchemical fireworks’, such as grenades, and yes, rockets. The world of Sanctuary doesn’t have gunpowder, but what it does have is magic and use of chemical elements or reagents in vague amalgamations. Haphazard creations of clever and desperate men and women, working each day to craft and create anything they can to fight off the coming invasion.

To clarify, there are no “rocket launchers” in the game. What we’re referring to are skills that simply use the word “rocket”. Upon seeing the spell effects of these so called ‘rockets’ you will likely immediately say “that’s not a rocket!” Because it isn’t, not in the sense of what you’d associate with the modern projectile. When you see the effect you’d be more inclined to understand that these aren’t rockets in any Earthly definition, but are using the term as an alternate to ‘missile’ more for clarity of description than anything, in that they are using a explosive reagent to fuel their destructive power.

This came up on the recent runestone discussion podcast, and we concluded it was just inexact wording, and would probably get some editing and improvements before the final game. And after all, it’s magic.

Helpfully, we’ve had a pic that compiles the various Demon Hunter “rocket” tool tips in our gallery for a while. Here’s a SFW version that I just edited from the original, which expressed some editorial dismay at this apparent intrusion of inappropriate technology.

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60 thoughts on “Blizzard on the Demon Hunter’s “Rockets”

  1. They’re military fireworks. Think ancient China.
    When I first heard rockets in terms of D3 that is immediately where my mind turned, and it fits quite nicely into the style to have a desperate character — bordering on insanity in their hunt for demons — use what is arguably the most dangerous small-arms weapon ever devised to raise the stakes, so to speak. Not only is the weapon dangerous to enemies, but usually dangerous to yourself (though I doubt there will be self-damage in the game, I mean in terms of character flavor). Since the Demon Hunter does not appear to have quite the magical prowess or brute force the other characters do, it makes sense they’d have to invent new technology to keep pace. Especially since they are the characters who want to kill demons just for the sake of there being fewer demons. I like it.

    • He says if we want “technical accuracy” rockets were around in the 13th century, then goes on to say gunpowder doesnt exist in Sanctuary…Well “technically” you need gunpowder for rockets to be invented.  Anybody still see something else wrong with this? They may as well go ahead and create a laser or jet engine skill while theyre at it, if they dont actually mean what theyre defined as.

      • No you don’t need Gunpowder for rockets in Sancutary … they could simply work with alchemy like the throwing explosive potion from D2 or even magic.

        And yes .. there is absolutely nothing wrong with this .. stop overreacting.

  2. I have no objection in principle to anachronism in games. But I think Bashiok’s “explanation” is completely incoherent, and I do not think the DH’s skills “work”, aesthetically speaking, with the rest of the universe… at least, as much as I’ve seen of it. If it is integrated into the wider world by having locations and enemies which use similar effects, I would feel much better about it :p A steampunk city or a rocket-tossing imp or demon, for instance. And maybe it is, I certainly haven’t seen the whole world yet… but in the absence of that kind of integration, yeah. Doesn’t fit.

  3. Hey Bashiok, how about you just post a couple of screenshots so we don’t have to take your word for it?

    The game’s in beta now, all he has to do is go to some early Act 1 locale we’re bored to death of and fire off a few skills into the wilderness.

  4. People who are against aesthetics of a rocket barrage are godless heathens. Just like the naysayers against the Wizard Laz0r goodness, they will bow to the technological superiority squishy classes or be swept aside by progress.

  5. Why don’t they just swap out the word ‘rocket’ or ‘missile’ for ‘projectile’? If, as Bash says, the skills look nothing like rockets and people are just bitching about the name, then there shouldn’t be a problem with renaming them.

    • Because ‘projectiles’ is too vague and general… although they could have easily just make them fire balls or something more magical to avoid all of this… people are willing to accept anything magical in Sanctuary with open arms but apparently not technology…

      • That’s exactly right. Because usually “magic” and “technology” don’t go hand in hand, unless you’re reading/playing some kind of midieval sci/fi. In times where magic is accepted, usually you don’t have this big sci fi techno push. Just my input…But I do think they should change the name/atmosphere of the whole “rocket” concept to fit with what Diablo is and has been about. There’s a reason it’s controversial.

        • I agree.  I really dislike it when sword & sorcery type games sprinkle in guns or other modern technology.  Just feels like a force fit in order to reach out to sci fi fans or have something another game doesn’t have.  Breaks the whole look & feel for me.  I didn’t like them in Wizardy 7 or Torchlight.

        • It’s controversial because people love to nit-pick stupid things and complain about them.  This isn’t about something that really affects the game like always-online to play or the RMAH.

          It’s about a damn word.

          Diablo is based on later middle ages/renaissance era Europe.  Firearms existed back them, from small pistols to giant cannons.

          I’m sorry if the game doesn’t conform to people’s incorrect assumption of what “fits” within that time frame.

        • No it isn’t controversial, that’s just some people overreacting … magic and technology go hand in hand like it or not … armor crafting, blacksmithing weapons, masonry, .. etc etc .. all these are technological advancements at their age … and they all exist in Diablo .. rockets too are ancient and existed during the middle ages (the late middle ages to be specific) … they are technology (like a ton of stuff from Diablo) but they are in no way modern.

  6. He probably meant they look nothing like modern rockets. They are still explosive projectile which is the definition of rockets. In 13 cent, some rocket was explosive attach to arrows.

  7. FREAKING ROCKETS MAN! no seriously how awesome would it to be to blow up a demon or zombie with a RPG? Thats like the classic move in any zombie movie. Don’t tell me that you wouldn’t want to blow up a Justin Bieber zombie with a missile.

  8. If they are actually  “alchemical fireworks” composed of “chemical elements or reagents” then…say so. Grenades should’ve been “Explosive potions”. Problem solved.

  9. They still need to clear up how we have “bullets” coming from two runed versions of Evasive Fire… bullets from bows/crossbows with no gun powder…

    • Like we talked about on the podcast i linked to from the OP… there aren’t a lot of English majors and writers on game dev teams. Tool tips and other text remain rough and unpolished and imprecise far longer than any other game content, despite the ease with which someone who had some writing ability (and new some synonyms) could fix it all up as the game was under development. I’m sure by the expansion they’ll have the tool tips for vanilla D3 all reading nicely.

    • Bullets dont just mean firearm ammo, which is really a cartridge, which is a combination of the bullet, case/shell, powder, and primer. The bullet is a projectile that is launched from a sling or a firearm, as such the bullet is one of the oldest if not oldest projectile ever.

  10. DH is going to be my first character, second only to monk, but if i wasnt so familiar with D3s development i would have assumed from the Utoob footage that she was using flintlock pistols and steam punk technology for half of the time mainly because of the muzzle flashes and sound effects, rockets merley compounds this impression, its as if they want to use guns and steampunk tech without actually using it.
    that said the assassin did have deployable gadget traps

  11. Rename Grenades to Exploding Potions;
    Rename Homing Missiles to Guided Blasts (or something of that sort).

    There, everyone’s happy.

  12. I’d kind of assumed from the beginning that the Demon Hunter’s rockets would look more like fantasy flares or bottle rockets and not, like, say, a tiny V2. You can get something that’s sort of rockety-feeling without using a modern missile graphic by having the projectile move in the arc a self-propelled missile would take. I also prefer the DH’s grenades to exploding potions; even if they’re operating using similar magical “technology”, the grenades feel much grimmer in tone. The DH has harnessed this alchemical reaction into a much more brutal and efficient form, wrapping the payload in a rough metal shell that sprays shrapnel everywhere upon detonation and can be more easily transported. They had to perfect it to a more brutal and efficient delivery method. Throwing a brightly-colored potion at someone is silly. Throwing a grim alchemical and chemical explosive at someone is badass.
    Re: bullets – People do realize that bullets are older than arrows, right?

    • Actually i’m not sure there is any actual evidence that prove which is older (arrows or bullets)…
      But they where both older then most of the building techniques employed by most Sanctuary towns (in all the games)…

  13. What the hell? I don’t see anything Renaissance-inspired in the previous two games. The architecture, weapons etc. clearly have an atmosphere of the High Middle Ages (well, some of the plate armor would belong to the the Late Middle Ages). And no, Renaissance is NOT part of the Middle Ages, it belongs to the early Modern area.
    Unfortunately, the D3 world has lost any kind of historical flair, with all the gigantic shoulder pad / larger-than-human swords silliness, so it’s kind of pointless to discuss which period it was inspired by…

    • I don’t entirely agree with you on this one.
      Indeed, the renassaince didn’t achieve the form that we talk about right now until after the start of de Modern Area, but the renassaince didn’t start overnight either. A lot of renassaince thinking started in the late Middle Ages. Dante for example is known to be one of the first rennasaince thinkers, and that man was born in the 13th century! And the same goes for quite a few other great intellectuals of the late Middle Ages.

    • and dont forget that diablo is NOT based on anything connected to the real world anymore. like crosses or pentagrams.. so bashioks argument is void anyway.

    • Welcome to a world obsessed with anime.  I’m surprised all the characters don’t have blue or purple spiky hair and constant, wildly exaggerated emotional outbursts.

    • Except history doesn’t work that way.  It is a constantly flowing progression of events, discoveries, etc.,  We categorize it because it is easier to digest information that way.

      It should also be noted that Diablo 3 takes place 20 years after the events of Diablo 2.  It is perfectly reasonable that technology like early firearms could have either been invented or passed along through trade with a more technologically advanced society by then.

    • Alchemical explosives existed in D2. Larzuk had plans for balloons and cannons. Also, rocket weapons existed during the Middle Ages. Did you actually watch the footage? Rockets that go “fweeee” and fly in random directions are not the same thing as anti-tank missiles.

      In Median XL I actually have “modern” alchemical weaponry, wielded by the necromancer (the class most familiar with alchemy). Crossbows can fire a short ranged blast of buckshot, shoot alchemical grenades or yes, primitive rockets. For a short time those were the randomly firing “fweeee” type until this was removed because they were useless. No one complains.

      Hell, the MXL assassin has a psionic trap that causes a black hole. No one complains. You know which spells people complain about? The barbarian’s rocks from the sky (“where do they come from?” – answer: eruption from Mount Arreat + shamanic magic). And the amazon’s dragon arrow because dragons don’t exist in the Diablo universe! But black holes are okay. xD

      In a world where one mage can destroy the planet, technology needs to be strong to be viable. (This is why technology did not break through in the Diablo universe: magic is too powerful so there is no need)

      Ps. Yes, D3 introduced gigantic shoulder pAHEM DRUIDads…

  14. The problem I have isn’t about ‘rockets’ or ‘missiles’, it’s about the use of the word ‘homing’ when talking about ‘missiles’ or ‘rockets’. They definitely weren’t homing back in the 13th century and such thoughts of ‘homing missiles’ result in nothing but 20th/21st century technology.

    I don’t find it to be a big issue though.

    • “Guided Arrow” from D2…Although I am to believe it was a force of magic. I wish they would do something like that. “Guided” missle as opposed to “homing” missile sounds better to me personally. But then again, we have to realize that Blizzard is dealing with a much younger crowd. Homing may be acceptable to them. Fucking youngsters…

      • Pretty sure neither guided nor homing where applied to any type of missiles before the 20th century… so it’s just your subjective feelings that make you have a problem with the description…
        CAPTCHA: well read
        Is the captcha spying on me or something?

  15. WAYNE ?

    i dont really understand why bash is responding with a wall of text to that crap
    there must be a lot of guys crying like babys about “rockets” xD

    i mean come on blizz just tries to describe how skills work in one short and informative sentence
    (called tooltip) so that everyone gets a hint how a skill or rune works

    i think thats great for d3 because if there is nothing else to complain for the masses than the term “rockets” (aka trivial stuff) diablo is on a good way 😉

    cant wait to play =) go go go blizz release it =)

  16. LOL hipster nerds galore..  There have always been a ton of ridiculous shit in diablo, this is just ridiculous and awesome at the same time. Can’t wait to shoot a crossbow with the power and kick of a bazooka or slam something with my hammer so hard it flies of the screen. Love it.

  17. I’m completely fine with “rockets” being in the game, but I’d prefer if they where ‘Explosive Arrows’ like in D2 and ‘Guided Explosive Arrows’ for the homing stuff that explodes.

  18. “but are using the term as an alternate to ‘missile’ more for clarity of description than anything”
    The irony makes me laugh

  19. I think of Gandalf’s fireworks from The Fellowship of the Ring only deadly and everything makes sense.

  20. I’m sorry, but when it comes to anachronism the DH has NOTHING on D2’s Assassin. As has been stated basic rockets are not beyond the means of Sanctuary’s tech level and it is explicitly stated in the DH lore that they use Shadow Magic, so things like homing can readily be explained in this fantasy setting.
    But the Assassin? She had electric traps and magnetically controlled blade armour. And the Assassin lore explicity stated that they do NOT use magic, so it’s much harder to hand wave the problems away. Of course the Assassin clearly has psychic abilities (which I would call magic, but they don’t) which could explain the blade skills, but how that helps lightning sentry (not to mention death sentry’s potent chemical catalysts(!)) I can’t imagine.
    It just seems a little late to be crying foul when there were far more grievous breaches a decade ago.

  21. Rockets in Diablo ? I think they just love being controversial just so people talk about Diablo 24/7 considering we aren’t going to see a release anytime soon.

  22. They need to release some more information or videos quick.

    With the release date further off than we had hoped Diablo 3 conversations have degenerated to the point where people are concerned over a word.

    A single, f’n word.

  23. I don’t truly understand why people are freaking out about “rockets”…
    I mean, does no one seem to remember the staple of Dungeons & Dragons…?

    …Magic Missile?

    I’m fair certain no one believed there was a Patriot Missile emerging from their robes.  😉

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