Diablo III: The First Year in Review, Part II



Here lies part two of our Diablo 3: Year One wrap up. This article series is covering/reliving/recapping/reanimating the milestones in Diablo 3’s development and other key and controversial events in the Diablo 3 online community. There’s far more to report on than you might think; certainly more than I expected, when I started researching what I thought would be a quick little trip down memory lane. 

Yesterday’s installment covered the first three months of Diablo 3, including the countdown to the debut at last year’s WWI event in Paris.  The next three months, September, October, and November 2008, were no less-action packed, with continuing installments in the DiabloWikiArt Controversy, Diablo 3’s appearance at the European GDC show in Leipzig, several new bestiary updates, the debut of the official and ret-con-tastic Diablo Timeline, and the massive excitement that was Blizzcon 2008. Blizzcon featured the first public play time on Diablo III, the Wizard’s semi-expected debut, the dawn of the auto-allocated attribute controversy, and more in depth D3 write-ups than you can shake a caduceus at.

Click through to read the full piece, and check back tomorrow for part 3.

September 2008


September’s interviews and major media. All September’s headlines.

After the big events of the August, and with Blizzcon coming up in October, September was naturally much more sedate. There was a good amount of new info released, thanks to Bashiok’s forum efforts, as well as including several interviews with Jay Wilson and other designers, plus numerous screenshots and pieces of new artwork.

The first noteworthy event of the month took place on the 1st, when we posted an article that collected all known information about the upcoming Battle.net 2.0, and made various predictions about what the upgraded Battle.net would resemble. Topics covered included Blizzard Accounts, Profiles, Achievements, VOIP, and more. While we’ll have to wait for Starcraft 2 to see B.net 2.0 for real, but early indicators make the article look fairly prescient.

On the 5th Blizzard added an illustrated, highly ret-conned, Diablo Timeline to the official D3 site. It’s a great primer for fans who aren’t all that up on the game lore, and who want to get prepared for the plot of Diablo III.

A few days later, on the 9th, we got our first real taste of the Diablo III soundtrack, when Blizzard made the “Diablo III Overture,” by Russell Brower, recorded by the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, available as a free download on iTunes. Parts of this composition had previously been heard in the WWI gameplay movie, but the whole thing in mp3 form was a nice touch. (This and other compositions were later made available on the Echoes of War release.)

The biggest news of the month broke on the 11th, when we posted a short interview and long video by a Diablo 3 fan named Sozou who had used video editing tools to remix the entire dungeon section of the WWI gameplay movie, making it look darker and grittier than the blue/green, WoW-like lighting so many fans complained about. Short of someone actually creating a mod that remixes the entire game’s graphics, this movie is the ultimate word on the ever-simmering D3 Art Controversy. Opinions on it were, of course, mixed.  The news post thread quickly ballooned with some fans convinced that this proved the supremacy of the darker, grittier graphics, while others were of exactly the opposite opinion.

On September 17th we revealed the winners of one of our Blizzcon ticket contests, with the very cool “Create a D3 Skill Tree” contest winners. I still think the Flagellant is the coolest class, fan-made or official, yet created for Diablo III.

September 18th brought the biggest non-interview game info of the month, when the Bestiary page for the Sand Thresher was unveiled, along with numerous new screenshots and some concept art. Ironically, the Sand Thresher does not appear in any of the screenshots, which are just more views of the same dungeon/monsters we’ve seen a million times since the WWI gameplay movie.

The rest of the month featured some Bashiok forum action and other miscellaneous tidbits, but nothing major; Blizzard, and their fans, were clearly getting ready for Blizzcon, which kicked off in early October.

October 2008

October saw the most coverage of Diablo III in any month yet, thanks to the 100+ substantial features, interviews, reviews, and much more posted from and about Blizzcon. Many of these are linked to in the month’s news headlines, but there’s much more as well.

Early October was mostly a calm before the Blizzcon storm, with little more than Bashiok forum posts to tide us over, along with guides to Blizzcon events and survival. The only chunk of actual game info was released on the 5th, when the Scavenger was added to the Diablo 3 bestiary. Unlike the Dune Thresher we saw in September, the Scavengers actually appeared in screenshots, not just concept art and lore. (They were previously seen in the WWI gameplay movie as well.)

Blizzcon coverage began a few days before the event, when we posted some dispatches from Anaheim. The entire Diii.net staff was on hand (Flux, Elly, Rush, Leord, and some others from IncGamers), and we were quite eager to get our hands on Diablo III. Amusingly, in their typical overly-secretive fashion, Blizzard hadn’t yet confirmed that fans would get to play D3 at Blizzcon, nor had they admitted that they were going to announce the 3rd character at the show.  It was widely expected that they’d do so, of course, but as late as the day before the show we were still reduced to making guesses based on the unlabeled map of the show floor.  We found the first actual confirmation that there would be a new character announced and that D3 would be playable in the show program. It didn’t say which character, but did make clear that one would be revealed, and the show floor map listed the Diablo gameplay area.

Just before the show, we were proud to welcome a new site and staff member to the IncGamers network. Medieval Dragon and his brain child BlizzPlanet.com joined the family, and not just because he was getting ripped off, shat upon, not paid, and used for his extra Blizzcon tickets by his former hosts/affiliates, who I shall not here dignify with a name or link. The timing on that was nice, since we all got to meet MD in person at Blizzcon (and he “got” to meet us), and since his excellent write ups about WoW, SC2, and D3 were posted on our network sites. His first hands on report of D3 was a must read.

The biggest news from Blizzcon was the Wizard. The third character was revealed in the opening ceremony, and we posted our first reactions as soon as we could get back to the press room and fire up a laptop. In addition to the Wizard we were just happy to get a chance to play the game (Blizzcon offered the first opportunity for non-Blizzard employees to get their hands on the game), and we eventually posted very detailed gameplay reports + full skill tree info about the Wizard, Barbarian, and Witch Doctor. There were also discussions of the event panels, short and very long chat transcripts, general info gameplay reports, and much, much more. Far too much to link it all here, which is why I’m glad it’s all linked on the wiki media coverage page. You can also use this news category to see all of our Blizzcon 2008 in-house coverage here. It’s hard to believe that was all last October. It’s harder to believe it’s almost time for this year’s Blizzcon. Just a month and a half to go!

The biggest controversy from Blizzcon 2008 was the news (first reported by us after Jay Wilson revealed it in our interview) that attribute points would be automatically-assigned in D3. This was a very unpopular development, partially since Jay didn’t mention (in our interview) that attribute requirements to equip items were gone. I assumed they were still in, and that this meant it would be impossible to create, for instance, a high strength/defense Wizard. When we got word that there were no dex/str reqs for items a major objection to the change was removed. Not that that stopped the debate…

After Blizzcon there were still two weeks in October, but virtually all of the news was still Blizzcon related, as every website who attended posted their write up, we got the rest of our gameplay reports online, fans chewed over all the new info, etc.  I could link to a tidbit or two, but frankly, this month’s summary has gone on too long already.  It’s time for November, already.

November 2008

November’s interviews and major media. All November’s headlines.

After October’s glut of info, November was understandably slower. Even Bashiok only made a handful of posts, and the general lack of new stuffs spurred some mentions of Leord’s favorite term, the dreaded “Diablo drought.”  (I can not believe we have a wiki page called that.)

We kept things busy with some site stuffs; my semi-annual Halloween short story was posted on… November 1st (as usual), and the winner of our Halloween fan art contest was posted.  We also ran a post-Blizzcon D3 chat, which was fairly packed with readers and far more questions than we could answer.

The first news of note came on the 3rd, when word broke that Diablo 2 Producer and all around Blizzard PR master Bill Roper had resurfaced after the Flagship Studios closure, and was the newest design director at Cryptic Studios, maker of one of those superhero MMORPGs. Bill gets a lot of flack since he was so often in the public eye during his time at Blizzard and then Flagship, but I’ve had the chance to talk with him on a number of occasions—at several E3 shows in the early 00s, at Blizzard North, and Flaghip’s offices, and he was always unfailingly polite and generous with his time. When you add that to the fact that he’s had nothing but nice things to say about this website, we naturally think he’s a great guy, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

The 12th brought news most D2 players wish we saw a lot more of, 350,000 accounts banned for using various cheats and hacks. Needless to say, nothing like this has happened since.


The 13th brought some news that could have been very juicy, but which was quickly defused. New technology IP Booyah debuted, and as we soon found out, it was created by 3 ex-Blizzard employees, all of whom had worked in key positions on Diablo 3. They’d all left Blizzard with very little fanfare in August, and since one of the 3 was Brian Morrisroe, the former Art Director of Diablo III, rumors flew that his departure (dismissal?) had been related to the Color Controversy. If that was true, no one let on, and in several interviews Jay Wilson and other D3 Team members said the departure was totally amicable, that it didn’t affect the game’s progress since the art style was well locked-in by the time Morrisroe left, etc. (Of course, what are they going to say?)

The 18th had some good news, as Mike Morhaime, Blizzard President and CEO (indirectly) announced that there would be more than one expansion to Diablo III. Not exactly a shocking development, but more of a good thing is… a good thing?

The 20th brought more D3 goodness, with the appearance of Blizzcast #6. This podcast covered WoW and SC2 as well, but had a few D3 questions at the end, with Lead Designer Jay Wilson.

The month wrapped up with some amusing nonsense. Play.tm posted a cobwebbed interview with Jay Wilson from the GDC (which took place in August), some other D3 fansites were gullible enough to report on a D3 demo leak (which was actually the WWI and/or Blizzcon gameplay movie, and was about 3gig too small to be a game demo), and Diablo III landed in the 4th spot on the 2008 Lycos’ Top 50 video game list, despite only existing since late June and having no release date in sight.

With that it was on to December, January, and February, months that will be covered tomorrow, in Part III of this never-ending D3:Year One wrap up.

Diablo III: The First Year in Review

  • Part II: Demo, Wizards, Monsters & Skills
  • Part I: Secrets, Announcements & Colours

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