Diablo III Emulator Project Images and Video

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.

Tagged As: | Categories: Diablo 3, Fan Stuff, Humour


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  1. this is justice.. F U blizz 4 closed beta, this would never happen if anyone could play my best wishes for authors  :mrgreen:

    • Yeah, I think they should’ve said “starting off closed, but we expect to make it free-for-all eventually, although possibly only a few days or week before the final release”. Especially now that it’s been delayed till next year. If they’d said that, it would have made the market for people wanting to play this hacked server smaller, and possibly have slowed the development time with less motivation to hack it.

      I liked Morhaim’s limp silver lining “on the other hand it means the beta can last longer and we can invite more people!” well duh, of course the beta will last longer.

    • this is ‘justice’ just because they are doing a ‘closed’ beta?  please explain.

      also, whether or not it was an open or closed beta, people would still do this simply because they either enjoy it or because they don’t want to pay for the game.

  2. I think what it shows is that Blizzard’s claim that kicking single players to the curve would prevent hacks, bots, and dupes is nothing but a big fat lie, as if evidence from WOW were not enough.

    • It doesn’t show that at all. That would be the other way around, making a client that feeds the server incorrect data. An emulator has nothing to do with hacks, bots, and dupes.

      • It sort of does, in the sense that it provides a testing ground for bots, where you don’t risk getting banned. But this requires the emulator to have the same behaviour as blizzard’s, which will be hard to do.

        • The most important thing bot developers would need to test is how the game will detect their programs and they can’t do that on third-party servers, since they won’t emulate the hack protection at all. It doesn’t matter how functional your bot is if it gets banned constantly.

          • As a bot developer, people developing private servers is a huge plus. We know know how maps work, how NPCs work, etc. etc. The protection is important in the program, but it’s not the most important. Without the protection it would still run. Without the bot main functions, it wouldn’t. :mrgreen:

  3. “Modding”. Nice euphemism.

  4. This is not modding at all. This is “playing around” with a client. The only thing it makes me cry is… graphics look horrible. Really.

  5. Please don’t hate me for this, but I rather hope they are not able to make a server emulation good enough to give the real game a run for its money. I’m not too keen on pirating. But if they are able to do more of what they are doing at the moment, i.e. no satisfactory gameplay, the end product could be used to make awesome machinima. Could be great for making cool fan-videos.

    I’m wondering what people here think about the possibility that this could lead to a workable emulation and as a result (I’m not saying it will happen, only wondering what you think of the hypothetical situation) that there will be widespread pirating of the game? Do you not care about pirating, are you positive to it or do you consider it an acceptable price for offline play? If would use a pirate-release for non-bnet play, would you pay Blizzard for the game?

    • Don’t get me wrong, I’m buying the game, but I want to be able to play on my own without internet, without other people, without Blizzard owning my character, without auction house. Just me and the mobs. And since Blizzard isn’t giving me this option, I am keeping my fingers crossed for a successful emulation and a cracked D3 asap! 😀

    • Any real Diablo fan will be buying the game because an emulator will not be able to match the real thing.  WoW emulated servers are proof of that.  The key to this work is that once emulation gets to a fair point it will be available to modders to make some amazing new content since they don’t need to perfectly mimic the original game to make it awesome.  New characters, skills, AI, quests, and so forth will be programmed from scratch and make for a fun change once we all get bored of the original game in half a decade.

    • Every hardcore Diablo player will buy that game no matter what (including me), and people who just wants to play offline, won’t buy game anyway.

  6. This is great, because I can spawn bunch of mobs to test my frame rate.

  7. Bit of a turn-off to see stuff like this before the game is even released.

    • agreed.
      …but… blizzard kinda provoked that with their always online DRM, the no MOD and no selective patching rules…
      so yes, it IS sad, but blizzard deserves a pop in the mouth for all that crap they are pulling lately.

  8. @220683, same as I do. Good way to test pc if it will handle game 😉

  9. It’s a shame no one made a nice total conversion for torchlight yet with the editor it has great potential and could easily surpass diablo 3 mods since they give u pretty much all the tools u need maybe torchlight 2 will get more support since it features multiplayer

  10. Guys, no ones going to be able to make a replica of the actual game before it comes out, so those thinking you will have a single player version… give it up.  What immediate significance the diablo III development offers for those working on the project is an understanding of how the game works. I would be suprised if a month from now there is a flawless working game in terms of class mechanics, skill implementation, animations, ai mobs, normal item drops, etc.  No ones going to have a single player version of diablo III before its released.  I am more excited for the mods and fun all of this can offer. custom maps, custom game styles, mods etc.  With all that said, progress is moving along nicely and better than expected.

  11. Diablo III: Dead Rising edition

  12. Being online only far from stops people from modding WoW (the interface anyway…) so I question how much it will do for Diablo 3…

  13. It´s not possible to make a decent diablo 3 pirate server for several reasons. First, you need a server, big enough and powerful enough if you want to play with a few hundred people in a single realm. Secound, almost everything in the game, like monster positions and interractions, drops, quests, dungenos, events, even skill effects are on the server and not on the client, so you will need a dozen people coding for many weeks to achive blizzard like experience and to copy the real game content. And even if they do it, if they find a normal infrastructure to host the server, and many crazy people to code for free, even then its a matter of time before blizzard´s lawyers show them a suit injuction for the copyright thing. The only thing they can achive is to offer a normal singleplayer emulation but again, its nothing to compare with the battle.net and it will cost them months or years to make a decent emulation. I tried the emulation from the article and its good way to test the game´s framrate, but apart from that and no matter how good they make it in the future, ill still buy the game. 6-7 years since wow private servers started to appear, none of them, not even a single one have a blizz like experience and its complete waste of time to make characters and account when they decide to shut down, and they do it every day.

    • … What? lol.
      “First, you need a server, big enough and powerful enough if you want to play with a few hundred people in a single realm.” No you don’t — No you don’t. Diablo isn’t an MMO. But even if you DID, that’s not exactly an impossible barrier. Witness the big WoW servers, Minecraft servers, and lord knows how many other multiplayer game servers that are run by fans for free all the time. The folks who get into this stuff aren’t all impecunious youngsters 🙂
      “Secound, almost everything in the game, like monster positions and interractions, drops, quests, dungenos, events, even skill effects are on the server and not on the client, so you will need a dozen people coding for many weeks to achive blizzard like experience and to copy the real game content.” Yeah? This isn’t exactly a problem either. There are a lot of people who do this for fun. MUCH more fun for them than PLAYING these games. I know dozens of modders for other games who more time into their modding activites than their jobs, and derive great pleasure from it.
      “even then its a matter of time before blizzard´s lawyers show them a suit injuction for the copyright thing.” Maybe… time will tell. Blizz doesn’t seem to have taken any action against the many WoW emulators, though; or if they tried, they didn’t succeed. And that’s true for many other games whose ToSes explicitly prohibit reverse engineering and decompiling, yet have flourishing mod communities acting fully openly who rely on reverse engineering and decompiling in order to make their mods. I could point to the Sims… one of the world’s most popular games… EULA pretty much bans mods, but EA has never made a move to enforce that, and the franchise benefits enormously from the extra content, interest and enthusiasm generated by all the free mods that are available. (Not to mention that the modders are a lot faster than EA at fixing bugs :p )
      “The only thing they can achive is to offer a normal singleplayer emulation”: what on earth makes you think that? 🙂 See above.
      It may well be the case that the gameplay offered on an emulator is never IDENTICAL to what you’d get on battle.net. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be inferior; in fact, based on the history of Diablo modding and mods for other games, there will likely be games that are better than the original, at least according to some people’s taste. There will definitely be more diversity, variety, and player control. All those ideas people have about how they would make different decisions about D3 design than Blizz made? They can explore their ideas, and some of them may be right, at least according to some players 🙂
      ” no matter how good they make it in the future, ill still buy the game” Now THIS I can agree with 🙂 Playing a modded game or an emulated game is no reason not to buy the original… no matter how much it gets converted, and even if you never log on to battle.net, you are going to be using some content developed by Blizz, and you owe them the price of the game. Playing on an emulator does not in itself make you a pirate.

  14. I just did a quick design of two wallpapers for Bleach. Was wondering which one was better as I can’t decide which one to use.


    So if I could get some comments that’d be appreciated. These are very simple so bear with me…

  15. Since when does this site promote blatant hacks of the game.  I remember when hacking was so frowned upon, in the forums talking about duped items was a bannable offense.  Now you have flux posting hacks for D3 as news items? 
    Also, Blizzard should drop the hammer on these projects.

    • This is just modding and playing around with the code now, and we’ve always supported modding and community projects of that sort.  What is anyone hacking? There’s not even a game to buy, yet.

      If/when these projects advance further and there are actual viable emulators, and those are encouraging piracy of D3 (since you wouldn’t need a legit copy of the game to play on an emulator while you would on B.net), we’ll stop posting news about it, since that would be encouraging hacking and warez.  The current activities are purely for fun and experimentation with a non-commercial beta client. Even Bobby wouldn’t get his knickers in too much of a twist over this stuff?

    • @5zigen – ‘Understanding Journalism 101’ – Reporting is not the same as promoting.

      The purpose of a good journalist is to provide information in as accurate, unbiased and complete manner as possible. The use of that information is the responsibility of the reader (viewer, listener, perceiver, whatever.) The truth has always been used for morally questionable purposes. Does that mean we should stop telling it? No, I don’t think so.

      My advice for you would be to try and keep your reactionary impulses in check. I’ve found that a 5 – 10 minute grace period between deciding to speak / write and commiting yourself to your words (hitting enter) is enough to stop most people from making an ass out of themselves in public.
      Take care. X

  16. Hi Flux just to point out that your zombies OMFG image has;

     ‘Giant Cain. Screenshot from an early Diablo III emulator effort, during the Diablo III Beta’
    this caption.

  17. The beta *will* be fully playable through this method eventually. There is nothing that Blizzard can do about it. And it’s not going to make a difference because playing on an emulated server will never be the same as playing on bnet. When the game is released there will be functional emulated servers. The progress you’re seeing here was all done WITHOUT HAVING THE BETA IN HAND. The team working on this does not have beta access and put all of this together without analyzing actual data sent/received from the REAL server.  Anybody who thinks this cannot be done is a fool. Anything that can be done with software, can be undone. It’s only a matter of time. But Blizzard is the shit, Diablo 3 is AMAZING and nobody should worry about this impacting sales. They tried to shut down the cracking of the SC2 beta as well but that still happened. Everyone was playing against AI long before the end of the SC2 beta and the same will happen with D3. I’m excited, because I’m seriously losing my mind waiting for D3 to be released.

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