What We’ve Learned: February 2010 in Review


February was a good month for Diablo content, at least for a month without a BlizzCon show. There were several batches of screenshots released, along with some nice concept art. The female monk was revealed, the female Barbarian’s in-game animation was added to the official site, and Bashiok contributed quite a bit to our conversation, via the B.net forums.

The first few days are listed below; click through for the full month’s review.

February 2010 in Review

February 1st started off with a “woot!” when ten new screenshots were added to the official site. Sadly, 7 of the 10 had been previously released, and all 10 were from the same batch the Blizzard Web Team took last year, before Blizzcon; same tile sets, same monsters, same skills, etc. A bunch of shots released in March and April shared the same genesis, making it look like we won’t get any truly *new* screens until Blizzcon in October, when the fifth character is revealed.

The 4th brought a new BlizzCon 2010 rumor: October 22-23 at the Anaheim CC. The convention listing was soon scrubbed from the website, but was proved accurate come April, when the official show date was announced as this same one.

February 5th brought our first look at the female Monk, when concept art of the character was seen on the Jace Hall Show.  Bashiok confirmed that these were real images the next day and promised HQ versions “soon.” Those HQ versions arrived on the 9th, 3 days after a fan sexied the concepts up with some photoshopping that spurred six pages of debate, most of it from fans who preferred the original version.

 

Blizzard’s version of the female monk also proved more popular than any of the fan versions, when we ran a vote with the top three fan concepts against the official one.

February 9th brought another perennial debate topic, when Bashiok once again confirmed that Diablo 3 will remove the DiabloWikiweapon switch hotkey most fans grew to depend on in Diablo 2.  I remain more dismayed by this change than any other design decision yet announced, and grow ever more shocked that so many non-control-optimizing Diablo 2 fans do not share my opinion.

February 10th brought a video demo that provided our first look at the new Battle.net, soon to debut with Starcraft 2. Cynical comments to the order of, “I just watched a five minute movie about an improved friends list?” followed.

Also on the 10th, a fan noted the potentially new and definitely mysterious monsters seen in some of the character paintings on the official character pages. Furious screenshot analysis and debate followed.

February 11th brought a photo of Brom’s version of the DiabloWikiTomb Viper, the upgraded Diablo 3 version of the classic melee brawler. This was the first concept art of this monster, although it had been seen at Blizzcon, back in August 2009.

February 16th continued the busy month of new eye candy when the female Barbarian’s in-game animation was added to her official character page. Six new screenshots were posted as well.

February 17th brought some other game news of note, as the Starcraft 2 beta test began. Beta slots were soon selling on the gray market for over $150; a fair penny, but considerably less than I suspect the Diablo 3 slots will sell for, when that time comes.

February 18th brought a confirmation from Bashiok, as he affirmed that the genders in Diablo 3 are entirely cosmetic; the male and female versions of each character will have identical stats, skills, and abilities. This generated some objections from players who thought there should be some differences; that the females should have more dexterity while the males had more strength and vitality (for example). Bashiok answered this from game design terms, pointing out that one or the other would turn out to be the best, and then everyone would play the M or F, depending on the utility rather than just for their own personal preference.

On February 23rd Bashiok confirmed that the hackable nature of Diablo will/can never be fixed, owing to hardware and manpower limitations.  There was happier Diablo 2 news the next day, when v1.13b went live on the PTR. It took literally minutes before fans were complaining that it didn’t fix all of the problems v1.13a had ignored.

Another perpetual Diablo 3 design feature stirred dust on the 25th, when Bashiok talked about the reasons behind their heavily class-specific assignments of weapon types.  Player objections were partially alievated a week later, when Bashiok announced that some of the class limitations had been recently lifted.

The month ended on the 28th when a Bashiok comment on PuGs set off abig fan debate over a philosophical design issue; should some or any elements of Diablo 3 *require* more than one player to complete them? There is genuinely no consensus on this one, with some players loving the potential of more difficult or complicated encounters, while others absolutely insist that nothing in the game be too hard to complete while playing solo.

  • All of February 2010’s interviews and major media.
  • All of February 2010?s news headlines.

 

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  1. For me, I think the xp based system is more fun. When I hear the ding and see the buttons light up red, I get excited and go back to town racking my brain for what skill I should level up next. With Oblivion though, I occasionally look and see that, yes, the skills I use are higher levels than before.

    A big part of the fun of Diablo is seeing those buttons turn red. The thrill is akin to seeing a unique drop, and I believe that fun and excitement is more thematic for this game than realism, or the quiet satisfaction of effects logically following their respective causes.

    I know that they’re going to change the skill system somewhat, but I’m really hoping they stick to xp format.

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