A fan asked about monster types in Diablo 3 and whether the total will be inflated by a lot of palette swapping; the same monster type appearing in multiple different colors. (Which was a staple of Diablo 1 and Diablo 2’s bestiary.) Bashiok says no, there won’t be that much palette swapping, and elaborates with good news galore.
We generally have a number of texture variants for each enemy, mostly so they better match the feeling of the area where they’re placed. Even within the same act an enemy may use a different texture so it matches the theme of the location. It also shows progression and helps the player recognize that the creature they’re fighting now isn’t the same as the one they fought before; sometimes because they’re just tougher, and sometimes because their actual attack and damage types are different.
What about texture variants within a group, Bashiok? You know, to promote variety in tone, is it something you would like to do, or do you feel it might convolute gameplay?
It can and does happen, as well as actual geometrical differences. It’s more of an issue of time than anything. If we have the time to put in a bunch of variants to remove some of the visual repetition then we will, but it’s a wish list item.
We haven’t seen anything outside of Acts 1 and 2 thus far, and we’ve already got more than 35 monster types listed in the wiki. Plus quite a few more unique boss types. Those 35 are all different models; none are just palette swapped, so the current evidence certainly seems to back up Bashiok’s claims.
And since the OP asked, there wasn’t any palette swapping in evidence during the BlizzCon builds. Not even Fallen or Desert Wasps or Scavengers or Skeletons or other small monsters appeared in various colors/types.