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    The earliest concept art?

    Since the Blizzard web team have abandoned the Diablo community as surely as the community managers have, we’ve not seen any new concept art posted since long before the game was released. This is a shame, since they’ve got digital books full of concept art for things from Act Three and Four and Act Bosses and other stuff we never got to see pre-release, and I think we’d all enjoy seeing it. Even the haters who are (justifiably?) angry about Diablo III design decisions enjoy the concept art. Right?

    I know I want more of it, and as one of the people responsible for maintaining the most comprehensive gallery of Diablo artwork on the internet, my vote counts double. DOUBLE! Happily, when I (recently) finally got around to watching the Diablo III Behind the Scenes DVD, I noticed quite a few never-before-revealed pieces of concept art for the classes, monsters, and environments. They’ve all been added to our galleries now, and in the days to come I’m going to post an article or two focusing on some pieces of concept art (of monsters and environments) that closely match (or not) their final game artwork.

    For today though, how about a closer look at Big Red’s design evolution?

    The most extensive coverage in the Behind the Scenes video focused on the efforts of the D3 Team to create a believable “female” version of Diablo, a creation that fans have long since dubbed DiabloWikiSheablo, or “Leahablo.” The video content and overly-spliced interviews didn’t shed much light on the creative process, but there were eight pieces of art that showed how the character evolved over time.

    There’s no telling if these are presented in chronological order (I kind of doubt it, given the usual Blizzard interate/de-iterate/re-iterate dev process) but if you look at the eight arts in the order they were presented in, they do show a nice transition from an awkward, scaly, Diablo-with-boobs thing, to the final, polished, sleekly-reptilian creation. I wouldn’t say the in-game version is “female,” not with that terr-roar-able singing voice, but you can at least get a kind of ambiguously-gendered vibe, especially from the cinematic.

    Whether or not fans approve of that vibe is another question, one that might be influenced by how many times you’ve sat through a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We did run a recent vote on Sheablo, but it was more of a survey than an opinion poll, so it’s not exactly authoritative of fan opinions on the D3’s biggest gender/plot twist.

    Here’s the full Behind the Scenes movie via YouTube. The Sheablo section begins at 17:40.

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