Great News About Diablo III’s Cinematics

Media reports from the Bliz event last week brought us interesting details about the artistic, 2D style game and character introductions previewed at the event. No images have yet been revealed, (filming was not allowed during the presentation, and Blizzard hasn’t released any official views) but the DiabloWikicinematic was described as similar to an illustrated book coming to life. With sound and narration, and animation, of course.

What we didn’t know is if we’d see just those, or if there would also be the fully, 3D style of cinematics, like what we saw in the 2008 intro cinematic. Bashiok’s answers to a thread today cleared up that confusion nicely:

Are Diablo III cinematics still classic kind of narrative-story-telling, i’m certain 100% of everyone who watched the cinematic thought they were brilliant (Marius’ story to Baal (in disguise).
Bashiok: Those who visited for the recent press tour saw the first minute or so of the intro cinematic, which is done in a stylized ‘sketch’ look. The idea being it’s Cain relating his prophecy via his journal, so it’s sort of his journal come alive, if you will. It’s also a lot cooler than it may sound (and on that note the voice/music/sfx were temp in the version we showed).

The 10 intro class cinematics (one for each class and gender) take the same style, but beyond that everything is high detail, high realism, holy-crap cinematics we’ve all come to love. And there’s a lot of it. And they are so bad ass. You’ll be happy.

So you don’t have a nice, out-of-the-gate, kick to the nuts cinematic like D2? Kind of an odd way to open up a game. Are you shown the intro cinematic, then create a character, see their cinematic? What are these in-game cutscenes like?
Bashiok: Like I said, they only saw the first minute or so of the entire intro cinematic which was the stylized bit with Cain reciting some of his journal. You start up the game, see the intro for the first time, log in, create a character, see the character intro, then start playing. It’s a logical flow.

Will the intro cinematic be included in the beta?
Bashiok: Good question. I’ll find out.

[edit] No cinematics will be present in the DiabloWikiDiablo 3 Beta.

I always skipped Diablo II’s cinematics cause i was online and didnt want to miss the next acts rush or hold up the players. Is there a way to replay them later?
Bashiok: Indeed! But, they’re pretty info-heavy*, I wouldn’t recommend skipping them. Personally I’m going to play the game alone for the first run through Normal, you can take your time, watch cinematics, and you get the extra story from having a follower.

*Info-heavy meaning huge spoilers, meaning I would avoid youtube/forums/the world during your first playthrough (once the game is released) if you want to avoid such things.

That’s great news, IMHO. The stylish 2D character and game intros sounded cool, but not if they came at the expense of the full motion, 3d, realistic cinematic stuff Blizzard’s Cinematic Department turns out. It seemed certain we would, and that the Leah-narrated intro cinematic was a bunch of highlights taken from it, but it’s nice to have that confirmed.

Incidentally, we’ve got a nice presentation of DiabloWikiDeckard Cain’s Journal in the wiki, whence came the sample images embedded into this post. Sadly, you’ll have to use your imagination to see the animations and hear the narration, for now. (Well, not entirely. You can hear a sample of the game intro and the male [/wiki]Demon Hunter[/wiki]‘s dialogue, courtesy of the WorldStone Keep.)

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    37 thoughts on “Great News About Diablo III’s Cinematics

    1. Its hard to comment on it without having seen the “sketch” look. But i doubt the cinematic team will fail.

      • They haven’t yet. They always produce an incredibly solid cinematic. Some of the best in the industry, in my opinion.

        • I’ve talked to 4 or 5 of the attendees about the intro cinematics, and all said they were awesome. Though no one could really describe how they looked, very well. With words. A disability I repeated on the UnicorNDAy podcasts.

          I think Bashiok’s mention of them being an animated version of Cain’s diaries helps. Whcih reminds me; I meant to mention the Book of Cain in this post. To the update!

      • Although I have faith in the Cinematic team, when I hear “stylized ‘sketch’ look” I start to get a bad taste in my mouth. This old video game cliche opening intro has been done to death over the years and most of the time done bad as well. Here is a list of intros I found on Youtube to give you an idea of what I think of when I think “stylized ‘sketch’ look”
        (most of these games were very good outside of the intro)

        baldur’s gate 2

        Baldur’s Gate II: Throne Of Bhaal

         Icewind Dale 1 and 2

        and most recent was Dungeon Siege III

        Non of those were cool and all pale in comparison to D2’s fantastic into.

    2. That was a good thread, yeah.
      What’s really great about forum threads about the cinematics is that, in normal forum threads, it’s people basically saying “listen to what I have to say”. In threads about the cinematics, it’s always people saying “I can’t wait to hear what they have to say”.

      I was a bit disappointed when I heard about the sketch style. I have a bit of a stigma with those cinematics because they’re usually really bland, telling a story about a war no player could possibly care about, and generally signify a bad game. But I haven’t seen these yet, so that’s totally unfair.
      I think we were all hoping for the full-on, detailed cinematics that Blizzard is known for, and it’s great to hear that they’re still available.

      I had been worried that since the cinematics team had been doing such massive amounts of work on SC2 and HotS, that they wouldn’t be able to make “proper” cinematics for D3. That team has to be stretched super thin to do what they do in all three franchises, not including Titan.

      • ” I have a bit of a stigma with those cinematics because they’re usually really bland, telling a story about a war no player could possibly care about”
        I disagree. Try out Icewind Dale 2 – the cinematics are made in ‘sketch storybook style’, immediately refering both to the story and the progress of your team. Sketch style narration can actually tell a story well, but it has to be done with skill, taste and knowledge.

        • I’ve played Icewind Dale 2. That’s why I said they “usually” signify something bad. Every rule has exceptions.
          I’m not even saying that the ones in Diablo will be bad. I was just…saying.

    3. Everyone that has seen them during the August press release event seem to think that they’re incredible.

    4. Ive seen this style before. Dungeon Siege 3 has them and its ok, its not my favorite but then again, that story sucked. Also, as a side note, one of the main characters in Dungeon Siege 3 is an Archon. Isnt that one of the wizard skills? She turns into a living flame or something?

    5. Only game I’ve played that intentionally had 2d cinematics despite having 3d graphics in the normal game is Fable, and those fit well with the game and the story so I’m hopeful that Blizzard will pull it off quite well for their first go at it…

    6. The D2 cinematics (so far) have been my favorite of all Blizzard games- even more so than later games like WoW.  I just loved how it was a continuous story rather than random characters in random moments of action.   

      SC2 would be my second favorite though =)

      • Well WoW’s cinematics can’t be as story driven as other games since it’s an MMO although they’ve done a better job of it with WotLK and Cata’s being more centered around the major villain instead of showing random player characters fighting like BC and vanilla’s… I personally still love the cinematics of Warcraft 3 (both RoC and TFT) the best…

      • D2 were my favourite too. 

        But I have to say, the single best clip was the fight between zeratul and the queen of blades in sc2. The smoke effect in particular was super impressive.

    7. Well at least they know what will be in the beta. They just need to get their ass out of the kitchen and let the beta begin 🙂

    8. this is good news. I would have liked it if all the cinematics(aside form the character related ones) were 3D. I think the stylized movie at the beginning might be great looking in it’s own right but shifting from that to CG kinda gives a disjointed feeling to it. I would have liked it to be like D2’s where the first time I launched the game and the first cinematic started up it was like seeing a really moody movie intro, really immerse!!
      I also think having more thoughtful and slow moments in the cinematics (like D2) where there is good dialog is a must for it to be a great cinematic, it would be childish if all of the cinematics consist of non stop action and epicness, you need to breath and think a little in between. for me that was what made D2 cinematic perhaps the best I have ever seen in a game, not only was it epic and scary, it was also kinda deep.

    9. Good news about the cinematics, terrible news about the graphics (from the broll footage).
      Cinematics are superb! How about the graphics…  It`s getting worse and worse every year compare the b roll footage  with the older videos of D3.

      • I want legendary chest armor for the demon hunter
        “Andariel’s Demon Rack”
        gender exclusive of course.

    10. As long as the intro is one of the only ones in that 2D kind of art style, I’m fine with it. Imagine what the ending of diablo1 would have looked like in that 2D style. The 2D version of stabbing yourself in the head with a giant crystal. lol. 🙂

    11. Honestly, the quality of the movies – whether journal style, 3D or D2 convention – will not matter in the long run, as long as they convey some good story and are consistent with the rest of the game. The problem with D2 scenes was that Marius never actually appeared in the game, so he was quite out place Should Leah be the narrator, I hope that Blizz made some arrangements for us to see her in the actual game. Otherwise she might lose credibility as a narrator.
      Secondly, maybe it’s just me being an experienced gamer but I don’t feel any hype just because Bashiok tells us that d3 filoms will blow our minds away. If the game itself is good, then the graphics – films included – will play a secondary role, instead of primary. Mostly graphics whores will think otherwise. My main concern is that “bad ass” movies are targeted for casual gamers, to erase or cover up the irritating things we hardcore fans are not happy about. It’s been also a sign of times lately – whenever the game was so-so or sucked, the graphics would be extraordinary. Take Final Fantasy XIII as an example – beautiful graphics, but the game itself is linear and hull as hell. And I fear that Blizzard might employ a similar scheme for the use of D3, should that Senior Quest Designer position still be open or the quests be close to what they were in D2.

    12. OK, we just lost one cgi cinematic because of this stylized bullshit again…And that’s the intro. Designers in D3 team always exceed themselves.

      • yup ~20 minutes of stylized 2d Animation = 20 minutes of CGI graphics, your ignorance and lack of insight is truly astounding

      • If you read what he wrote (which obviously you didn’t) you would see that the “stylized ‘sketch’ look” is only the first min or so of the intro, then it goes into the CGI after.  From the words he used the first part is (at the most) only half of the intro.  So we are going to see (at least) a 2min and 30sec intro,  but if we are to take recent blizzard cinematics as a benchmark it will be more like 3 and a half mins.
        I think in the case of diablo they might have the opening cinematic be a little longer, probably more like 4mins+.  (but that’s just more my hope then guess)

    13. 1-minute CGI cinematic is better than 1000-minute stylized 2D animation….

      I’m sad that D3 fanboys can’t exceed themselves when it comes to insulting someone. I have been hearing the same tape since 2008.

      • ye because you can express story-background  the better the more pixels you shove into it – the practicality purpose and ressourcefulness is irrelevant as long as you get satisfied. – and if you tuck a fanboi insult in the end your arguments gain weight. rule one for permaximum`s compendium of online-“discussion”. – since 2008.

      • “1-minute CGI cinematic is better than 1000-minute stylized 2D animation…”

        So by that logic, an episode of Reboot > the original Fantasia… you clearly have skewed taste in artistic media… If using the 2d animation to convey the backstory from the perspective of Cain through his journal is the best way to do it, then that’s the way it should be done… you don’t always have to use the most high-tech shiney means to impart a story… just look at Schindler’s List, all black and white with low-budget documentary style filming despite being made decades after the advent of color motion pictures and steadicams… This kind of graphics whore/cgi overload attitude is sad and it leads to crap like Skyline (which was made just to show off the capabilities of the creators to do high-end CGI special effects) with all visuals and feeble story (if any) being made… While it’s awesome that we have greater and greater technology and thus greater ability to pull off realistic CGI, it doesn’t mean it’s the best tool to use in all situations… I’d say stuff like the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which, despite having several hundred visual effects shots per movie, also utilized many scale miniatures and matte painting backgrounds) that blend many techniques that are both high and low-tech to convey the story do it best…

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