Since the release of the Diablo III Beta Client, modding enthusiasts have been eagerly doing their thing. Fan-made mods have always been a big part of the Diablo community, and even though Blizzard has never provided any official support for mod-makers, there were numerous excellent mods created for Diablo I and Diablo II, often with more features, difficulty, and complexity than the base game.

    During Diablo III’s development, the designers commented on modding on several occasions, always in fairly ambiguous terms. They never outright said they’d try to prohibit it, but they often said it wasn’t something they were going to support, since the random level design and the complexity of the tools required to make Diablo III did not lend themselves to amateur enthusiasts. This argument cut no water with the mod makers though, many of whom had done total conversions of D1 and D2, overcoming many more complicated issues than random map generation.

    More recently, modding in Diablo III seemed to be dealt a death blow by the revelation that Diablo III would only be playable online, via Battle.net. This changed the idea of modding D3 to one of “emulation” since the player’s game client is not the whole game (as it was in D1 and D2).

    With a client/server architecture, most of the game is run by the server (Battle.net) while the client (your computer) just handles the graphics. All of the AI, the game commands, the item drop calculators, etc, lie on the server as a security measure. This works well to stop hacking and piracy, but it’s murder on a mod makers.

    Well… perhaps not murder, since as you see in these screenshots and the video below, clever hackers have already made a great deal of progress. There’s nothing to play yet, since the spells don’t work and the monsters don’t move (there’s no AI, no combat engine, etc) but it’s a cool sandbox, and the visuals are amusing.

    This sort of thing is, of course, a violation of the TOS and EULA, and it’s unlikely that Activition/Blizzard’s lawyers will allow emulators to remain online if/when they become functional for the final game, even though D3 is not a subscription-based MMO like WoW. Thus we’re not recommending anyone do it; just reporting on the issue, mostly since the screenshots are awesome.

    More screenshots in this thread, and there’s much more in the D3 modding mega-thread in our Diablo 3 Beta forum. Click through for the video.

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