us to SiliconEra which points us to the blog of Alan Ackerman, an artist and designer at Blizzard North from 1998-2003. In an update from last August (which no one had noticed until now) he posted multiple images of two monsters from an “Unreleased Blizzard North Project.”
Alan worked on D2 and D2X, and while he doesn’t (can’t) say what game these monsters were created for, his resume lists his Bliz North projects as D2, D2X, and an “Unreleased Sequel,” which makes it pretty easy to guess.
Blizzard North, Unreleased Sequel
- Designed, modeled, texture-mapped, and rigged real time 3D enemies
- Designed and executed 3D animating background objects, enemy weapons, and items
There are 9 images of the two monsters, including various angles, wireframes, and texture maps. Click to the gallery folder to see them all. Note that Alan left Blizzard North in 2003 to co-found Castaway Entertainment, so these monsters are clearly from early in the development of Diablo III.
Before everyone follows the lead ofand points out that these are fairly ugly images… remember that they’re from 2003 at the latest, and that they look out of place in a still image, rather than seen from the isometric view, standing on a dungeon floor. Furthermore, they aren’t the final graphics, since as the massive Diablo III History article details, the game was canceled along with Blizzard North in 2005. The current version of Diablo III began almost from scratch later that year, with a new dev team at Blizzard Irvine.
One other interesting tidbit comes in Alan’s caption for the Flayed Hound texture map.
We used pretty simple texture maps; at the time, massively multi-player engines limited the technology that could be used on models. It also did not make much sense to use normal maps and such objects that were going to be pretty small in game (at the time there was no planned zoom or camera controls).
“MMO engine” doesn’t (necessarily) mean that early version of D3 was being designed as a full-on WoW-style MMO. The point is that graphics had to be fairly simplistic and of minimal file size, compared to the level of detail possible in single player games un-bottle necked by 2003’s narrowband limitations.. But feel free to engage in wild World of Diablo speculation if it makes you happy. That’s what comments are for, after all.