Light Radius in Diablo III?

The issue of a light radius in Diablo III came up back in 2008, shortly after the game’s debut, as part of the whole DiabloWikiArt Controversy. Fans accustomed to the 2D visuals of D1/D2 wondered why there was no such circle of illumination around the heroes in the dungeons. DiabloWikiJay Wilson made some comments about that back in the day, asserting that it just didn’t work in the 3D engine and with the atmospheric lightning in their dungeons (See the [/wiki]light radius[/wiki] article in the DiabloWiki for quotes.) and DiabloWikiBashiok returned to the topic today.

We use lighting to add flavor and distinction to each dungeon. A lot of the bigger dungeons tend to be well lit with a specific palette to add to the feel and separate it from other locations. It’s about visual variety. And the absence of light is included in that variety. We do change the amount of light from dungeon to dungeon, cave to cave, and there are specific areas where it’s much, much darker, and the light radius comes into play. But it’s used as a tool to create that visual distinction, and not a rule that applies to the entire game. (We don’t have any intent to add a +light radius affix, just because it’d be less useful than it was in Diablo II.)

We try to keep the visuals changing from area to area, even within the same Act. It keeps the game interesting, and is its own reward when a player makes it to that next area and the color palette does a complete shift and the area changes from a dark and foggy moor with blues and greens to a starkly clear dungeon with reds and purples. It’s a very powerful way of reinforcing progression. Most people don’t think about it as a gameplay mechanic, but it absolutely is.

As Bashiok says there at the end, it’s an important gameplay mechanic. He clearly means that in the Diablo III sense of what you can see, but the real import of your light radius in D1 and D2 was not what you could see, what what could see you.

In the previous games in the Diablo series, your character’s light radius determined how close you could get to monsters before they “saw” you; before they reacted to you. That wasn’t such a huge factor in D2, but it was a big deal in D1, where DiabloWikiwarriors often chose to minimize their light radius in order to play in stealth mode. (Especially with the aid of Infravision.). It was very useful in D1 to have fewer monsters at a time aware of you, so you could kill them one or two at a time (instead of 4 or 5 at a time, which meant retreat in D1), and especially so ranged attackers wouldn’t start firing at you while you were chopping up the melee enemies.

The real question for D3 then, is what determines how and when the DiabloWikimonsters see your character? If there’s no light radius, is there no way to play in stealth mode? Do characters become more or less visible to monsters depending on their Clvl? Equipment? Anything? Do monsters react to spells or projectiles? If you drop a DiabloWikiBlizzard at the edge of the screen, will monsters under it stand there and freeze if they’re beyond their visual range? Or will they know who cast it and attack? How about the other monsters near enough to “see” the spell attack, but not the character who cast it?

One of the theories for DiabloWikiInferno difficulty is that monsters will get better DiabloWikiAI as well as more hit points, higher damage, better DiabloWikiresistances and DiabloWikidefense, etc. If the game code allows the developers to improve the aggressiveness, vision range, reaction time, etc for the monsters, that could make a noticeable difference in how the game plays at the highest difficulty level.

Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard People, Blue Posts, Monsters


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  1. Great post, for sure.  This is pure speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if each monster has an individual aggro radius, WoW style  (but bigger, I would imagine, since all the monsters are there to kill you and be killed by you).  That leaves the question of if there’s any mechanic for a stealthier playstyle, of course.

  2. Jay Wilson has said that they want players in D3 to feel incredibly powerful, for it to feel epic. To me this means that the monsters will have a large vision radius, but our characters will be better equipped to take on a large group of monsters then they were in say Diablo 1.
    Idk if this will progress through the acts or not, but another way to do almost the same thing would be to just spawn more enemies, with a higher density you would be fighting more monsters at once. This may or may not throw off the amount of time it takes to get through an act (too densely pact monsters with high hp in hell could take forever to make an progress).

  3. Glad to know some places will be dark. I was worried.

  4. I was very young when I played D1, and barely defeated Diablo on Normal (or did I just reach him?). I have never knew of this light mechanic, and this brings so much nostalgia about old games like X-COM and Fallout… where everything was accounted for.

  5. “We don’t have any intent to add a +light radius affix, just because it’d be less useful than it was in Diablo II.”

    HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA less useful than +light radius? how is that possible?

    • Maybe it would go into the negative, meaning it’d be harmful to use it. =P

    • Less useful in that it at lest had a beneficial effect in D2 in that you could see more lit up (in all zones).
      My guess is that its less useful as it would result in either no change at all or an over gamma effect (like when you turn gamma up to high).

  6. In the original Diablo, Light Radius also had a tactical aspect, where it would effect when monsters took notice of the player and would begin advancing toward them to attack them. In this way, characters with a large light radius could trigger monsters from far off and save some walking, whereas ones with a small light radius could sneak past groups of them.

    Jeans Online

  7. “We use lighting to add flavor and distinction”, I didn’t even continue reading after that statement.

    If your IQ drops more than a couple of points before even finishing the first sentence then there is something amiss, just a fyi.

    • My IQ dropped reading your post. Permanent light radius in D1/2 was fine because there was nothing pretty to look at. Now there is. Solid black light radius would just ruin the visuals. An example could be a level where a bridge drops away right next to you. Oh wait, nevermind you couldn’t see it because of light radius.

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