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In this episode we take a look at Blizzard & Diablo III News — Is Diablo 3 Is Technically Complete? The ditched Ranger Class Concepts, Skill Trees & Tiers, Lots of Art Updates & More!

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Diablo III ‘Technically Complete’

In some pretty interesting and in my opinion extremely exciting news, Mike Morhaime and Frank Pearce recently commented on Diablo III’s progress saying that the “development is technically complete”, with only internal testing and feedback left to work on. Now, all of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as people often over think things like this. Firstly, this quote, and all the information being talked about here, was taken from an interview that the Blizzard head honchos had with French site, Liberation.fr. So all said, information had to be translated, and, as you all well know, things are often misinterpreted and lost in the translation process. But anyway, even the crudest form of the translated information does give us some hope and what I’d call good news.

Now first, let us have a look at the question asked and answer given. (Bare in mind, the translation might well be a little off!)

Q: I suppose that you do not have a world-hysteria scoop to offer the readers of Liberation concerning the official and definitive release date of Diablo 3?
A: Alas, no. Just to confirm to you that we are full at work for the game to release this year. The development is technically completed. We are in a internal-testing and feedback-gathering phase. Yes, there are good chances of releasing before the end of 2011, but it is impossible to us, at this time, to guarantee you that.

With the help of a few, ever keen, forum members, they came to the conclusion that Mike and Frank were referring to the core engine of the game that had been completed. Now, the team can apparently focus on the content, the game world, the game rules and obviously the polish of the game. They say that to sum things up, we actually learn nothing new here and Diablo INC Gamers feels that this does seem to contradict a lot of what we’ve been hearing recently from Blizzard themselves, with the Male Demon Hunter not being complete, some runes still rough drafts and the Demon Hunter’s dual resource being more of a concept than final product. 

I guess this information and these quotes mean varying amounts to everyone out there. Sure, it’s great that they once again said that they want to release the game in 2011, but one thing I will say is that if the Diablo III team does in fact have the world complete, the story in tact, the quests where they need to be, the skills, mostly at least, working as intended, and have no plans to suddenly add another act or class to the game, then, well, that does shine some hope on our Diablo III beta plight. If all that is true the game may well be ready for us to test it sooner, rather than later, as most of the polish, balancing and all that other goodness would probably be done during the closed beta. What is also worth keeping in mind is what I spoke about a couple of episodes ago, where during the Quarter 1 Activision / Blizzard Conference Call, Mike Morhaime actually mentioned that we might well be hearing more about the Diablo III beta during their next call, happening in May. All of this does sound good and I guess we should all just hold thumbs and hope to hear more, or some clarification on all of this, soon.

Check the links below to read the full stories and let me know what you think.

Diablo III’s “development is technically completed” – Diablo INC Gamers

Diablo III Development “Technically Completed” – Diablofans

Exploiting The Magic Find Stat In Groups

A  fan recently asked a question that has, apparently, come up quite a lot over the past few months on the official Diablo III forums in discussions of Diablo III item hunting.  In short, said fan asked the following – ‘With every character getting their own drops, what’s to to prevent some players from standing in the back row and doing very little, if they’re going to share in the experience and get items anyway?’ The example provided was, what if there is one very powerful level 60 character in hell and he has 3 friends that are following him around doing relatively little work because they are in fact stacked up with Magic Find on their gear, LOTS of magic find. Will the three Magic Find characters be able to leech the drops from the powerful level 60? This is assuming that they are level 60 as well. So, said fan feels that this mechanic might well be abused, and abused hard.

Bashiok replied and he had quite a bit to say about it, starting off by saying that sure, it could be a problem, but… he claims that the entire Magic Find system, the way loot drops and all that entails in co-op play will be fairly heavily restricted to specific sources and amounts. He gave the following example, which is completely hypothetical, of course. Let’s say that the only magic find available is from placing a diamond gem in a head slot. It’s useful because of the amount it provides, but maybe other gems in a head slot provide things like bonus XP, bonus gold, etc. Then it’s not a choice of power vs. MF and building characters around the system, but a choice between interesting bonuses that will probably change through the career of a character. He then says that’s just a thought on how it could work and that it is still under consideration. Blizzard apparently likes the idea of having some way to improve your chances to find magic items, but not as a driving statistic for characters.

Lastly, Bashiok just mentions that it is definitely worth noting in this case that enemies in Diablo III are more sophisticated. You’ll find them targeting characters in your group they perceive as weaker, keeping distance, and cooperating to try to kill you and your group. So having one person run ahead to face pull everything, let alone be able to solo everything in a multiplayer game, probably isn’t going to work out too well. We can also just assume that said monsters will in fact scale, become more powerful, with each extra character in the game, so  that said having one character do most of the work just doesn’t seem that likely.

If you want to read all about this fan’s interactions with Bashiok regarding Magic Find In Groups you can check the post linked below!

Blue on MF Exploits in Groups – Diablo INC Gamers

Tyreal

Win Tyreals Hylt!

The guys and girls over at the Diablo Database have decided that it has been far too long since their last giveaway and oohh does that mean good things for us! So, to slake our thirst, for a little while at least, they just wanted to give us a little reward for being as patient as we are. At the same time, though, this will help us stay even more up-to-date with all the Diablo III happenings out there right now. So, what is this reward, you ask? (Yes, you Diablo guys might not appreciate this quite as much as the WoW guys out there, sorry!)

They’re giving away all 5 of the World of Warcraft digital pets to 3 lucky winners. All you have to do to enter is ‘like’ the Diablo Fan Page on Facebook and follow D3DB on Twitter! But wait, that’s not all! One incredibly lucky winner will also receive the highly sought out, extremely rare and nearly impossible to obtain Tyrael’s Hylt pet code! This pet code was a gift for attending the 2008 Worldwide Invitational in Paris and awards a Feat of Strength in-game along with the amazingly cool pet. Woah. So yes, that is in fact why this is Diablo related. For all you Blizzard fans out there, this is a must enter and you can find the full details, and links to enter, below. Good luck!

1) ‘Like’ the official Diablo page on Facebook – http://facebook.com/Diablo

2) Follow D3DB on Twitter – http://twitter.com/D3DB

3) Email contest@d3db.com with a link to your Facebook & Twitter pages, after this you’ll be entered!.

They let us know that they will randomly select 3 winners on March 15th, 2011. Winners will be contacted via their Facebook or Twitter accounts to confirm ownership and emailed the pet codes afterwards. Rest assured your Facebook and Twitter profile pages will not ever be published publicly for this contest. Lastly, the pet codes are good for European and North American players only.

Diablo 3 Database – D3DB

Diablo Fan Art

More delicious Fan Art! Yes, and there is indeed quite a load of it to look at today. First up we have Diablo INC Gamers Fan Art Watch #78. This post has two really cool pieces, one of a female monk that looks to have taken more than a bit of inspiration from the famous monk cosplayer, Christina Estrada, and secondly a really great speed-painting of an Amazon that seems to have just been in a bit of scrap. In Fan Art Watch #79 we get a look at a few pieces that were actually added to the official Blizzard gallery. Three incredibly detailed barbarians and The Butcher, which is one of my personal favourites, as it brings back a few pretty vivid memories, can be found below.

Diablo Fan Art Watch #78: Amazons and Monks – Diablo INC Gamers

Diablo Fan Art Watch #79: Barbs and the Butcher – Diablo INC Gamers

In some semi-related news it seems like that Limited Edition Diablo III Barbarian Overthrown Statue that was all the rage a while back is going on sale once more over at SideShow Toys, so, if any of you were looking to get your hands on that $300 masterpiece, now’s your chance.

Diablo III Barbarian Statue Back In-Stock – Diablo INC Gamers

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Ranger Class In Diablo III? Concept Art & More!

In what I see as quite an amazing find and an even more set of images, here are a few early concepts for the Ranger which eventually lead to the Demonhunter class in Diablo III. Yes, all those guessers from a couple of months back that thought the fifth class would in fact be a ranger were right, sort of. I have to say it is really great seeing these early concepts of how the class could have looked, compared to what it looks like now. These were all taken from the blog of Phroilan Gardner, a fantasy artist who worked for Blizzard Entertainment for quite a few years a while back. He contributed a lot Diablo III concept art as well as creating a great deal of World of Warcraft stuff, too. He has since parted ways with Blizzard Entertainment and has been posting tons of cool artwork on his blog.

He lets us know that he is happy with the way that the Demon Hunter turned out and that he absolutely can’t wait to play the class, saying that in his opinion it’s the closest thing to a Gothic-fantasy styled character in the current Diablo III hero lineup. These six images are most definitely worth looking at, along with all the other amazingly well done pieces on his blog. You can find the link below, enjoy

Phroilan’s Stuff – blogspot

Skill Trees / Tiers

Bashiok recently got involved in a thread about the skill trees and tiers in Diablo III and provided a nice explanation of how they work and why they’re set up the way they are.

He starts off by saying that skills are tiered out for progression. They serve not only as a reward as you level up, but also to ensure Blizzard is not dumping the entire game on a new player. Early tier skills tend to be cheap or free to cast, and have fairly straight forward mechanics and uses, like dealing damage to enemies. As the tiers progress, though, more complex systems are introduced, avoidance, mobility, maybe skills that cost a little more, or require a bit more finesse to pull off well. Then, the end of the tiers and these are usually the biggest, most expensive, and visually impressive. The tiers do start out simply and progress toward the bigger and ‘cooler’ spells. As they should. He says that Blizzard can also design and tune the beginning of the game with the skills available in mind, which really helps to ensure those first few hours aren’t frustrating.

I guess, while all of that really does make sense, and none of it is really anything new, it is good to hear the reasoning behind them setting it up the way they do. Bashiok then carries on by saying that while he’s sure there will be builds that take all the end tier skills, people will still need to pick skills throughout the tree to create a solid character, and they’re designing the skills to ensure they can continue to be as viable as possible regardless of character level. Some first and second tier skills will scale really well and will most likely be the bread and butter skills for a number of builds.

Bashiok concluded this all by giving us a bit of repeat information – The leveling progression is designed that you’d have all your skill tiers unlocked before you finish Normal. I guess this is the kind of information that players interested in the leveling process would really want to hear. You can have a look at all the full quote and other information included below. And yes, there are even a few images of the previously revealed traits and skill trees, courtesy of Diablo INC Gamers.

Blue on Skill Tiers and Clvl Requirements – Diablo INC Gamers

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Facebook ‘Like’ Updates

The ever entertaining Diablo Facebook Like Campaign has just yielded what is, in my opinion, some of the best artwork thus far. The Diablo Facebook Page hit and passed the 625,000 mark a day or two ago and we have been gifted a brand new piece of concept art and another screenshot!

The screenshot was previously released via the BlizzCon 2010 Diablo III Presskit, but it is still worth a look for those that have not seen it. The good part of this update, though, is definitely this amazing piece of the Tristram Cathedral and much of ‘New Tristram’ laid out in the distance. By far one of my favourite pieces of concept art to date and I absolutely can’t wait for more! Check both of these images out, in full size, below, and if you haven’t already, head on over to the Diablo III facebook page and give it a like!

Below is also a link to Diablo INC Gamers’ post of this update where a few questions about this new and exciting artwork are answered. Check that out, too, if you’re interested.

Diablo Facebook Page – Facebook

The Diablo Facebook Ransom is Paid: Part IV – Diablo INC Gamers

Diablo 3 Smalls

Diablo III Smalls:

Forum Watch #64: Y’all Wanna Debate? – Diablo INC Gamers

Vote: Will you play Hardcore Diablo III? – Diablo INC Gamers

Diablo III Weekly Wallpaper #84: Diablo with Light and Darkness – Diablo INC Gamers

The Dark Library #32 – Diablo INC Gamers

Blizzard’s “Anti-Modding” Stance: Another Look – Diablofans

Diablo II Season 7 Length Poll – Diablofans

ForceD3 – Purgatory Episode 5 – YouTube

Questions & Answers

Q: In game mic chat support? Will there be a Special Edition game with some extras included? Thank you for your time. – IceMan20k
A: Voice chat is a base feature of the new Battle.net platform, so it’s likely. We’ve not announced a collector’s edition. – Diablo

Q: Will gems give the same bonuses they did in Diablo 2? – illthegreat
A: No, they’re all pretty much different. Elemental damage comes from enchantments now, for instance. – Diablo

Q: Zoom. How much will we be able to zoom in D3 compared to SC2? – kiowa81
A: There’s no zoom feature planned beyond a slight perspective shift when engaged in conversations. – Diablo

Q: No zoom? then why there’s zoom in first gameplay trailer? (watch 1:27-2:23) – spareribs17
A: We did have a zoom function back in 2008. It was removed shortly after. – Diablo

Q: Has allowing 8 or 10 skills instead of 7 ever been seriously considered? 7 just seems so few to me… – yovargas
A: Of course. Everything is seriously considered. – Diablo

Q: Can runes be swapped when ever or do you need an artisan to equip/swap out runes? – Scyberdragon
A: Restrictions are likely for when/where you can change them. – Diablo

Q: Since you reworked stats to benefit all classes will gems be treated in the same manner? bc D2 gems in weapons didnt benefit casters – illthegreat
A: There is a “caster gem” for weapons. Potentially two depending on your build. – Diablo

Q: Hi, I’ve noticed two screenshots, on each of them the Barbarian looks different, In one he got warpaint in the other he doesn’t? Is it a new feature that allows you to add warpaint and/or tattoos to your character? Or has the skin of his model been changed? Personally I like the warpaint much more.
A: The barbarian will see a throwback to the classic blue war paint when equipping a specific gear set.

Q: Is it something similar to say, wearing Aldur’s on a Druid and the other class-specific sets for other classes?
A: No, it’s just the effect from the chest piece of one ‘tier’ set. Class specific items are still planned, but this would not be what it is, no.

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