Stillman’s Slab #4: Wizard of the Stars?


Past installments of Stillman’s Slab have been fairly cartoonish (often visually) in their arguments, but this time he’s mixing things up. He’s making a seemingly crazy argument, but doing so in serious, and rather convincing terms. Believe it or not, a careful analysis of the Wizard’s spells indicates that the character is much more inspired by Science Fiction than by Fantasy. Spell names, spell functions, the character’s bio… all smack of, or have a direct lineage to SciFi terms, concepts, and archetypes. (Perhaps much to the D3 Team’s surprise.)

Here’s a quote to give you the flavor of things. Click through to read the entire column.

Of course, that is what all this is? crazy theory. But if you look at all of the Wizard’s spell names, they have a steady science theme you simply cannot ignore. The skills Stability Control and Explosive Blast sound very space age to me. They make me think of a spacecrafts stability or controls…after an explosive blast. Meteors are directly from outer space, or if they go with Torrents, that kind of sounds like turrets. The meteors even look like they are being fired from turrets. And Slow Time is about as science fiction as it gets. The skill Wave of Force not only looks like a force field from science fiction movies, but the terms ?wave? and ?force? are terms encountered endlessly in any scientific field. The Conjuring Skill Tree seems to conjure mostly high energy armors and buffs like a spacecraft’s defenses rather than old school things you would expect from a conjuring Wizard. The only exception I noticed is Hydra, but we have yet to see what it looks like. Metal hydras would be my guess! And masterful understanding of weather is something we have in modern times (but not in the Dark Ages), so it is no surprise that our Wizard has a whole Storm Skill Tree. Meanwhile, Fireball (which makes us think of catapulted fireballs of ancient times), Inferno and any old fashioned spell designs from high fantasy settings are a thing of the past. 

 

Wizard of the Stars?

Here she is! Lo and behold: the Wizard. You may be wondering why you see no character on the slab today. Maybe it is because the Diablo 3 Wizard has no character. But that’s OK; who needs personality and character traits when you have awesome skills? Look out!! A wounded DiabloWikiFallen Imp! Drop 50 meteors on his head! Don’t let him get away! Vaporize the blood! Yeah. That’s what she is all about. Today we will be examining the female Wizard, her skills and what it all means to us as future addicts. I mean players. 

Because the Wizard is mainly a copycat of the Diablo 2 Sorceress, finding any sort of revelation or new discovery about her place in Diablo 3 will be challenging. But after a thoughtful examination of her new skills and other decisions by Blizzard discussed below, we learn that her hidden purpose in the game is quite remarkable. The Wizard is designed to have a subliminal effect on all of us without blemishing her disguise as a typical (or shall we say archetypal) fantasy magic user.

And what is this subliminal effect Blizzard wishes to invoke on us? What is the Wizard really doing with her spells and design? Take a deep breath. Ready? Ok. She is present, in part, to appeal to science fiction fans who happen to stumble upon the new drug that will be Diablo 3. The Wizard represents a technological era and play style that has not ever been expressed in a Diablo game. Whether she is using her laser-style Disintegrate to fry enemies or teleporting from one place to another (but not through walls) faster than warp drive, she is very much like a spaceship. Think of her as a nuker class, only literally this time.

A thread in the Wizard forum already brought up Disintegrate’s likeness to something out of science fiction. But what I have found is that nearly all of her skills are combinations of science and fantasy, with the former doing a takeover. Ray of Frost, Disintegrate and Electrocute appear to be beam attacks with different elemental settings as though the Wizard herself were a ray gun in disguise. Although Blizzard stated that many of the Sorceress’ spells from Diablo 2 would be carried over, most of her famous fire spells were not included in the Wizard’s skill trees. Could this be because fire is too primitive of a technology compared to the advanced, futuristic looks of Disintegrate and Arcane Orb? The old fantasy-themed Lightning spell becomes the new modern-sounding Electrocute, and so on.

Changes from the Sorceress’ skills to Wizard skills are one thing. But changes in the Wizard’s skills from the time we first saw her revealed to newer ones are….well, the same thing. They are all shaping up to be part of a new tech theme. Arcane Torrent appears to be the new Meteor Storm which now deals arcane damage rather than fire. Could this change be designed to grant the meteor spell a more modern and high tech aspect? Likewise (and I could be mistaken here), the old Tornado spell seems to have had an overhaul and is now Energy Twister, perhaps because ?energy? has more of a science ring to it. We also refer to them as twisters in modern times, whereas in ancient times they were just called tornadoes. The looks of Stone Skin is being changed to make it more glowing and crystalline rather than the primitive stone look we would expect. In fact, Blizzard even plans to abolish the old mana orb system, instead giving the Wizard a new and currently unknown currency from which to fuel her spells. Could mana be going out the Wizard’s window because they want her to have something more futuristic, leaving primitive mana (with it’s ancient magic affiliation) to the Witch Doctor? Well, if they name the new orb mechanic ?magic? or ?super mana? then it is my theory that goes out the window.   

Of course, that is what all this is? crazy theory. But if you look at all of the Wizard’s spell names, they have a steady science theme you simply cannot ignore. The skills Stability Control and Explosive Blast sound very space age to me. They make me think of a spacecrafts stability or controls…after an explosive blast. Meteors are directly from outer space, or if they go with Torrents, that kind of sounds like turrets. The meteors even look like they are being fired from turrets. And Slow Time is about as science fiction as it gets. The skill Wave of Force not only looks like a force field from science fiction movies, but the terms ?wave? and ?force? are terms encountered endlessly in any scientific field. The Conjuring Skill Tree seems to conjure mostly high energy armors and buffs like a spacecraft’s defenses rather than old school things you would expect from a conjuring Wizard. The only exception I noticed is Hydra, but we have yet to see what it looks like. Metal hydras would be my guess! And masterful understanding of weather is something we have in modern times (but not in the Dark Ages), so it is no surprise that our Wizard has a whole Storm Skill Tree. Meanwhile, Fireball (which makes us think of catapulted fireballs of ancient times), Inferno and any old fashioned spell designs from high fantasy settings are a thing of the past. 
 
Fantasy appearances are also ancient history for the Diablo 3 Wizard. Yes, even her armor has an impressive, unmistakable high tech look. Below we see some leg armor worn by her on Blizzard’s Character Selection screen.

 

It almost looks like a robotic limb. And look at her sophisticated gauntlets and the antenna-like tiara. There are many different colors she has been shown wearing, but my personal favorite is the blue and yellow ensemble seen near the top of this article. Could these colors be a tribute to something?

 

Note that our Star Trek heroes have been silenced by the arcane purple light on their heads.  Nah, just kidding. The colors could be random or represent cold (blue) and lightning (yellow) elemental spells which have been preserved from the Sorceress days. Speaking of color though, the glowing bodies left by arcane spells are reminiscent of radioactive waste, another sign that the Wizard’s quest for forbidden magic in her
Background Story is not much different than mankind’s dangerous ambitions for more advanced weaponry.

This theme of magic and scientific technology sparing with each other is an old yet still satisfying one. For example, in the animated movie The Flight of Dragons games frequently combine both magic and futuristic technology in the stories and background art. Blizzard is just taking it more subtly, being careful as always not to lead a beloved Diablo class too far astray from what the fans know and expect.

You may be wondering, so why do it at all? Why not have the Wizard conjure cruddy brick walls to block her opponents and crude fireballs and messy infernos to destroy them? My guess is that since Blizzard makes hugely popular games, Diablo 3 must appeal to everyone. Science fiction fans must not be left out of Blizzard’s grasp, not even in a Diablo game. If fans somehow dodge StarCraft II, they will be hit up at the door with a science fiction fix in Diablo 3. And they will like it. They will get addicted. And by god, they will skip class to play it.

So should we all be sounding the red alert that ?it’s too StarCraft!?? I would say no, because this transition from fantasy to science, just for the Wizard class, is a dose of originality much needed. The Wizard has already snatched up many of the most well known classic Dungeons & Dragons spells and placed them in her bag of holding. [By the way, there are bags in Diablo 3, bags for holding.] The character itself is copied from Diablo 2, and ?Wizard? is perhaps the most generic recycled class name of all time. With all this blatant copying from successful blueprints of the past, we should look forward to blasting apart mobs with techniques of the future. Even though the ideas for some of her skills are as old as time itself, Blizzard is putting a modern coat of post-assimilation paint on them. Blizzard has the spaceballs to try something new with their caster.

Playing a more high tech Wizard will have a much different feel than using the old fireball way of doing things. The Monk has his arcade fighter genre affiliation, so it is only fair for the Wizard to have her space shooter fetishes. This of course means one thing: anyone who likes anything will be hopelessly addicted to Diablo 3. You know, maybe the Archivist is not a bad choice at all for the fifth class. Anyone who likes paper, text, or who touches a keyboard will be blown away and addicted forever. While the Wizard is not an all out advertisement for StarCraft, she is almost certainly a silent nod to all science fiction fans.

Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.


Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.

Tagged As: | Categories: Diablo III Classes, Retired Columns, Wizard

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