Video Comparison: Blizzcon 2008 Gameplay

This afternoon, while doing some research for a Beta article I’m working on, I watched the 2008 Blizzcon gameplay movie for the first time in a couple of years. It’s trippy, since all the levels are identical to the levels in the ongoing beta, and yet they seem very different due to the monsters and some other smaller details. This gameplay movie was the first to feature the Wizard, who was revealed at Blizzcon 2008, and every scene in the demo takes place in areas that were playable in that year’s Blizzcon demo.

It’s interesting to watch that movie now, if you’ve played in the beta or just watched a few hours of footage from it, since so many little things are different. That demo had a large zombie-spawning graveyard immediately to the right of the Tristram Cathedral (you see it from 2:15-3:00), and I noted a couple of barricades in different places, but on the whole, the dungeons were virtually identical to what we see now, more than 3 years later.

So what’s different? The monster types, for one thing. There are different kinds of skeletons, there are Cultists present in numbers, packs of rushing Ghouls are seen, there are no summoner skeletons, the Skeleton King’s ghost spawning animations are a bit different, his skeletal minions appear right at the start of the battle, etc.

The things that really made this feel different to me though, were the subtle details and the overall pace of the play. This demo looks like it’s in slow motion, compare to the game today. The monsters move slower, the spells take longer to cast, the sound effects are less intense, there are fewer monster hit animations, the destructibles aren’t as polished, etc. Though this old movie shows almost the same levels and skills, you can still see lots of the changes that have gone on since then, even in these earliest levels.

What struck you guys about this old movie? Did those of you who aren’t playing the beta (yet) find it as weirdly-altered as I did, almost like this was a toned down mod version of the game?

Tagged As: | Categories: BlizzCon 2008, Diablo 3 Beta, Videos


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  1. “Did those of you who aren’t playing the beta (yet) find it as weirdly-altered as I did”
    I sure did. I recently watched all the official videos again. What struck me the most is how much the lighting and atmosphere of the dungeons improved over time.

    • yeah agreed you look now and the game has an even more diablo feel to it vs back then. Still wished there were summoning failed mini events here and there though.

      • There probably will be once we start encountering the cultists in numbers. In fact I suspect they may be one of the things removed from the beta for spoiler reasons – it seems odd you don’t see any cultists except in the templar quest and the one unique one at the start of cathedral L4 [note that he doesn’t want you to read his secrets on the lecturn but when you do click it all you get is an ID scroll. I suspect a lore tome will be there in the final game.]

        • That’s actually why I watched it. To see if there were cultists present, since I’m doing an article about the changes in the beta from the full game, and the lack of cultists except around the templar is one of the main points.

  2. ok without watching…just reacting to your thoughts Flux…

    This is what we expect from Blizzard.  They iterate, and iterate, and iterate, and….

    Its a blessing and a curse.  The blessing of course is we get very highly polished games.  Will there be bugs?  Sure there will be.  (One of the very first things you learn in computer science in college is: ALL programs have bugs!  Period!)  In the end though, we get highly enjoyable games with attention to detail that is amongst the highest in the industry.

    The curse of course is that it takes them for freaking ever to release their games.  Its so maddening at times.   I would be willing to bet that the 2008 demo would have been near a releasable game for most game studios.  (ya the Acts would need to have been finished but the game play itself was pretty decent)  But here we are, 3 years later, still waiting, index fingers itching…

    • ” (One of the very first things you learn in computer science in college is: ALL programs have bugs!  Period!)”

      You didn’t go to a very good college, then. Formal methods, where you construct a mathematical model of your computer program and prove that it is correct, will produce software without bugs. That’s not the same as being fit-for-purpose though – it could easily 100% match your design without any bugs, but if your design is wrong then the program will still be wrong. This sort of thing is used in mission-critical situations, such as automative and aerospace control systems, as well as power plants and healthcare. It is very expensive and slow, though.

      • what garbage 
        a GOOD college will tell you ALL computer programs will have bugs
        a BAD college will tell you otherwise  

        ” Formal methods, where you construct a mathematical model of your computer program and prove that it is correct, will produce software without bugs. ”

        so obviously no one has ever taken this course, because there has yet to be any software without bugs

        • Actually he is right that such programs would not have bugs, but of course he’s just being a smartass since it’s pretty much impossible to formalise and prove this for any program more complicated than a calculator.
          It’s the same for cryptography, the highest level of security of a protocol or method would be a formalised mathematical model and the associated proof. Very few are on that level and none of them carry any relevance afaik, yet we still use SSH/RSA etc. and they haven’t failed us yet.

      • Programs without bugs exist, yeah. These are called “Mathematical Proofs” and are constructions of the mind. Sadly software without bugs and hardware without bugs don’t exist. What does exist though is damage control for those bugs, by making sure these won’t happen outside of circumstances where another completely different piece of software/hardware specifically designed to handle this case won’t bug out itself.

        Now the switch between the two given programs can itself be bugged, and that’s why in a lot of critical cases (aerospace, nuclear powerplants etc) human inputs is preferred to perform it. In other cases it’s yet another piece of software (for load balancing on an internet service for instance), but even that will never, ever, guarantee 100% uptime.

        This isn’t Computer Science 101, it’s Engineering 101.

  3. One thing I noticed is that back then they actually planned for Mana Pot thingies dropping from monsters, never payed any attention to that till today 🙂

  4. Yes the pace seemed lower, but the thing i found most “amusing” was the fact that you can see her use a WD skill @1:16 (i think) and pickup a mana orb (like a health orb only blue :D)  (@1:36)
    They started with the “same ol same ol” mana rescource system and then they though: “Diversification, thats the key”
    Oh well, we’ll just wait a little longer.

    • Yes, Acid Cloud was originally a Wizard skill back when they had a conjuring skill tree. I actually really liked the idea of the Wiz conjuring up a poison cloud, but the graphic fits the WD better.

  5. I reckon the old Skull of Flame/Firebomb looked so much more impressive than the beta’s one in my opinion. The new one sorta just looks comical in the videos, like it’s Benny Hill-fast, and it gets rid of the close-ranged/long-ranged effect. Looks like it’s basically turned into a Bola Shot that explodes on impact. 

    That’s just from watching videos though. Hoping it feels better in game.

  6. i don’t see why they had to shorten the skeleton kings speech, it was better as the full D1 version. And god i hope they change his other speeches, they are terrible.

  7. Of curse the change the game over years OMG what idiots your are who have wrote this artikel….

  8. Did anyone else notice that the SK had a much higher pitched voice in this old clip? Glad they changed that, he sounded awful.

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