Fresh back to the press room after attending the D3 Lore and Art Panel, and here are some highlights. We’ll post the full video of this panel later today.

    The main presentation was largely repeated from the
    Lore and Environmental Art Panel we saw at the WWI event in June. The story and art design fundamentals were covered again, with emphasis on continuity of design from D1 and D2, stylization in art design, big sounds and strong profiles, and so forth. They had added a few elements to the presentation; some sample NPC dialogues from the new BlizzCon demo build were shown to illustrate how the NPCs react differently to each character, for instance. They also talked about how the story is conveyed by visual events as well as words; one example was comparing how 3 enemy cultists might be seen failing to summon a demon (it turned on them) while 5 cultists could successfully call up the demon and turn it against the player. We were invited to speculate on what might happen if a large circle of cultists was found, and several of them were killed before the summoning was completed…

    Surprisingly, they dared to go into the art controversy again, with the whole, “We remembered D1/D2 as very dark, but when we went back and looked at them, they were actually quite colorful!” Let’s hope that’s not enough to start up the damn fool petitions again.  For some newer info, of which there was a fair amount… check below the fold.

    The speakers confirmed that we will see more old characters, old NPCs, and old locations in D3. Harrogath and the Barbarians were mentioned, or at least very strongly hinted at. In the most interesting news of the panel, Leonard Boyarsky confirmed (in answer to a question) that we will see “one or two” Necromancers in Diablo III. Not playable, but apparently as NPCs, or perhaps even as hireables or freelance NPCs you’ll encounter in the dungeons. He also confirmed that we will see various characters from the Diablo novels; especially from the recently-published Sin War trilogy, which hews much closer to the ongoing game lore and events than previous Diablo novels did.

    Dungeon randomization was also discussed, with word that the dungeons in the BlizzCon demo are fully random, and much smaller than most dungeons we’ll see in the full game. There are also two random events in the demo, so players who were fortunate (or patient) enough to play through the demo several times should see some different events/quests as they proceed. (I was able to speak one on one with Leonard this morning, and he told me that the top two levels of the demo dungeon were random, but the lowest level, where King Leoric is encountered, is a set level design. He also said that the design team expected players to take longer to finish it; players are evidently running straight through to get to lower areas and see more, instead of exploring every bit of the dungeons.)

    I personally got up and asked a two-parter I had to know about. I asked if monsters, especially boss monsters, would display visual indications that they were losing health or nearing death. Thousand Pounder did so in the WWI demo, but nothing else has been seen to do so. The answer was what we hear quite often from the team, they want to get that sort of thing in, but they can’t commit to it yet.  I two-parted my question to ask the same thing about player spells; will they grow more visually impressive with more points in them? Larger magic missiles, more sizzly lightning, etc. The same answer came back. They want to, but it’s not something that’s in the game yet.

    There were quite a few other questions, and we’ll post them all with the full video later this weekend.

    All the Blizzcon 2008 Coverage.

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