Diablo III screenshot
Diablo III screenshot

Bill Roper, one of the chief architects behind the Diablo series, has revealed to VideoGamer.com what he thinks of the hotly-anticipated Diablo III.

Blizzard caused an internet storm when it released the first screenshots and gameplay footage of the game in June last year. The game has a brighter, more cartoon-esque art style than previous iterations, similar to that of Blizzard's hugely successful Craft games, World of Warcraft and StarCraft.

Following the reveal fans launched an online petition calling for a "darker, more realistic" look. At the time of writing the petition has 59285 signatories.

Roper, ex-vice president of Blizzard North, the now defunct Blizzard satellite studio that was responsible for the Diablo games, told VideoGamer.com in an interview to be published later this week, that while he "didn't look at it (the released Diablo III gameplay footage) and go, oh my God that's horrible", "as a player it just didn't really ring with Diablo".

He said: "One of the things I always enjoyed about that separation between Blizzard and Blizzard North was that the Diablo games had a very distinct art style. They had different art directors, they had different people working on it, they had a different sensibility about them. Diablo was I think grittier and darker and a little more leaning towards the photo realistic. Whereas the Craft games that were being built down in Irvine were bigger and broader in scope, brighter colours, just different pallets and different presentation. Both of those were very strong from that visual standpoint, for example.

"But it makes complete sense to me where they went because they basically took the Diablo universe and then approached it from the Blizzard Ivine stance for the visuals. That's the way they approach things. It wasn't that I looked at it and went, oh my God that looks terrible. I was like, that looks like Blizzard. The guys in Irvine. That's what it looks like to me. Their interpretation of it."

When asked if he was disappointed or pleased with Diablo's new art style, Roper, who is now design director and executive producer of Atari-owned Cryptic Studios, and in charge of Champions Online, a superhero MMO due out on PC this spring, said: "You know, I liked the darker grittier. I liked the differences in art style, to be honest. So, I think I would personally from a player standpoint prefer that.

"I think that one of the things that we always tried to get across was that Diablo was Gothic fantasy and I think there was just a need that was put in there from the visuals that I didn't necessarily get. I got it from the architecture and to a degree from the character design but not the feeling of the world. I can't say that I dislike it. I didn't look at it and go, oh my God that's horrible. But I looked at it and went, it's not really... to me as a player it just didn't really ring with Diablo."

Diablo III is currently without a release date.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the first part of our mammoth interview with PC gaming legend Bill Roper.

Do you agree with Bill? Do you prefer "darker grittier"? Or are you happy with Diablo III's art style? Let us know in the comments section below.

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kwikwi's Avatar


<--signed up to comment
Reading all of this and mulling, people have a lot of good points. It made me think of things I have not thought of on this before.

Most surprising is I didn't realize how blizzard is showcasing their heroes. They're drumming up suspense by writing fictional articles on them ( which seem severely cornball ) and as someone else mentioned, perhaps T-rate stuff. The classes themselves seem to sidestep a bit of originality, because D2 hogged it all. Also I've got some beef how they're presented. I am glad male and female roles are chosen, but they are a bit mismatched. Readers here have complained about colors and art style, but take the female class of monk or witch doctor. Looks nothing like the rough and edgy male version, and they stand like they're pole dancing as apposed to stiff and at the ready like amazon or assassin. I could break one of their arms over my knee, but that's just me. Other dialogues seemed utterly cheezeball. D2 had some pretty cruddy lines too, like their commentary in dungeons, but they didn't expand on it. Also, if you look at the concept art decorating the D3 website, it seems it's got way too much grandeur, like the Barbarian with the long white almost asian beard and glistening muscles. It's taken on a more conventional, token sword & sorcery look, like many cheap online rpgs. It's not good 'ol Blood Raven in the graveyard of the Blood Moor, with zombies hanging from trees (undead, a subject which is oddly in vogue right now anyway)

There are also some big problems with the world as it is being 3D. Again, like the articles say, it doesn't mesh well with the universe. Remember hard and well Diablo II, got your rugged boots of +20% run or walk, man you're flying. And those hyped up enemies, they fly across the screen and stab you many times a second. That's scary! But if you watch the video teasers, especially of the boss battle, you see the characters run like they're pillow walking. Bounce, bounce. Like leaping in flowers. The speed and jaggedness has been robbed from the game, and that's my biggest concern. It's a little nuance I haven't seen mentioned yet. The missiles and projectiles, too, seem flashy and roundy. The art style has gone into a more plush, round, whimsical approach, more based on lighter-hearted fantasy. Really, it's no wonder the fans clamor WoW ripoff. I understand the 3D constraints and Blizzard's side. Imagine though, if Bethesda (referring to their recent game, Fallout) made Diablo III. How can Blizzard claim impossibility of a dark game with a range of up to a hundred hours? Others already have. Sure, it's probably hard for that team to do a project like diablo III. Another team, simply, would be at hand.

If there was a hypothetical good 3D diablo 3, it'd probably look very similar to D2 only instead of isometric, rotatable. The dolls would be snappy like D2. One of the best parts could be the FOV, where you could zoom in on your character or the hordes you are battling in a sort of fly-camera or fixed system, that'd be really fun. The characters should probably be more STILL, relaxed, moving only slightly when standing. Oh, if you could just see the blink of their eye, pallid flesh of heroes and garish flesh of demons. A very honed, silent, still atmosphere, with dreary drooping trees and sparse dead grass, mud, broken fences and buildings, ruins, occasional dead bodies with loot, good background music, that would be the ticket. Like it's said, there really are bright colors, it's just the feel of the environment that's misleading.

And, lastly, I feel for Bariand. The petition was made to bring attention to the fact that people are unhappy. Did you actually think they'd take it seriously if it was written well? No, but the numbers are pretty convincing. (you know there are going to be hella mods when it comes out anyway, so there, you people who say "make your own game", ha ha)
Posted 04:04 on 30 March 2010
Akkarin's Avatar


Diablo is meant to be really dark and gothic. It's a large part of what made it great. I see how cartoony Warcraft has become since Orcs vs Humans (in particular WOW) and it depresses the hell out of me- don't do the same to Diablo as well. Its like as Blizzards fans get older and more mature, they insist on making their games more and more like the teletubbies. Next thing we'll find out there's a command to make your Barbarian tell a joke or dance...
Posted 18:11 on 25 March 2010
Necromancer's Avatar


The problem with the new game is lying somewhere other than most people think. The problem is not the colors, neither the monsters. Monsters can be silly and colors can be vivid, it is not a problem.

The problem is, character classes are not mirroring the dark sides of human persona anymore.

Look at the old Barbarian. He was not looking like a "good man" in DII. He was screaming angrily and insane. Insanity is one of the lacks of new classes. A dark shadowy smile and the dark persona was the true charisma of Necromancer. Also he is no more.

I think there is a way in gaining fame for media works. "The bad guy must be really charismatic" as well as old Diablo franchises expressed a hero type with dark tendencies inside. ---watch the pre-release videos Sorcerer girl and paladin are not suitable for my description OKAY but lets consider Necromancer and Assassin. This is the dark charisma I am talking about.

People want to identify themselves with these characters they play. A Necromancer fan cannot be satisfied by these new classes. New classes don't represent a dark nobility and they have not a black humor anymore. New Barbarian class is a very good old fellow. He is a devoted patriot. No insanity. He is an old guy, blah!

Nevermind, I will try the game but I don't believe I will insist on continue to play it. And I guess when it is released, the expressions from players made the game unsuccessful.

The problem lies within the new game designers. They have not appropriate cultural hinterland for creating such a Satanic game. This game was satisfying/gratifying our darker/evil sides. I cannot feel myself evilish when I watch on the new Barbarian video. This new guy is a damn good man! Not an angry psycho nomad. And he looks gloomy!

I think the best sample athmosphere can be feeled by this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SJYz...eature=related
(Please try feeling yourself as being this very guy who is talking on the video. It is the feeling WE need I believe.)
Posted 15:36 on 27 February 2010
rustweaver's Avatar


To Robotsteve:

You aren't expected to see more than that. And your ranting about it clearly shows that you didn't understand the game. It is not some mindless soulless RPG like WoW. It is fighting really evil things and game enviroment clearly reflects that.You are supposed to feel helpless and uncomfortable when wandering in diablo dungeons. There are no "tactics" (at least no in a way you would expect) it is a fight for your life. In a sense diablo is somewhat simmilar to left4dead. Diablo 2 on the other hand lacks some of atmosphere of its predecessor, but it has vastly expanded world so it manages to break even. Diablo 2 also concludes the story in a very epic manner, worthy of such series. What does Diablo 3 has to offer? A story along the lines: "Evil has come again" oh reeealyyyyy? No way! And colorful design ripped off from WoW
Posted 00:25 on 06 October 2009
Bariand's Avatar


I don't like this cartoon art style too. For me, that's too far from Diablo. I agree with everyone that this stile is a simple commercial decision, but I don't think there is a way back.

And there are so many english mistakes out there because not everyone in the whole world is american! Its simple to read and listen, but not so to speak and type. If you're studying languages that's basics. So it's a very ignorant and impolite act to depreciate one's tipping in the web. At least we, that do not speak english as the first language, can understand more than two, three, or even more languages at some degree. Stop looking only to your bellies (as always...).
What about we speak in portuguese next time?
Posted 21:56 on 14 September 2009


Funny as a gamer. and some one who loves this series, first thing I think is Diablo :S Because no one has ever done a Dungeon Crawler like them, Sacred two was an attempt but not a good one
Posted 19:35 on 26 August 2009
Hefez's Avatar


To Exarch: true in every word.

To robotsteve:

1: It's up to US ALL will Blizzard really dominate the mmo still, if you like it or not. We're the clients, and without us, without pleasing OUR needs (that is making a real d3, not some wowish junk) Blizzard will dominate nothing at all. Clients are the demanding side, not the other way round. No company, or government ever in history lasted without meeting it's clients needs. Check any history book if you still have any doubts. And do remember that Blizzard has competition still (for example the Star Wars: The Old Republic - which even now gathers millions of future players, even though it has not been started).

2: Turning up the gamma res in previous ds' is an obvious evidence that the game was really gripping, that it was GOOD. Because even if it was dark & gritty players went on, after turning up the gamma. That is a sign of a bestselling game, a classic. Not some 'my little pony' popular (thanks to wow) colours (which are by the way easier to generate than normal darker textures, they have lower hardware demanding, I think that's true the reason for their presence in d3). Good games make us forget their flaws and continue the adventure, lousy one's deter us from further game.

3: Even if some people will buy it (curiosity is the first step to hell, after all), they will find the wowish features spoiling the climate, they will get bored with the game, so obviously it won't become so popular. Effects: how many continuations will there be made after the lost of popularity? And how many players will find d3 totally not 'diablish'? Reclamations are very dangerous for Blizzard, they know it, and we know it. They should make a better effort while taking up such a massive task - which is continuing a legendary game title.
By the way, using the word 'gay colours' is as impolite as suggesting other to 'make your own diablo game, if you don't like this one!' Saying such stuff you sound as if you're working for Blizzard. Are you an employee of blizzard? If so, I would advice you should take more care about what is suggested to you by true fans of Diablo. Because it's we who pay your bills.

Last point: Making a game is about introducing new, original and interesting features into it, yes. But making a sequel of one of the best games of all is not about that. It's about preserving what is the best in the game, lengthening its life; new elements are of course a must, but introducing them should be very carefully planned not to spoil the climate. The 'my little pony' climate does spoil the whole, and that is indisputable. How can we expect to be given a continuation of Diablo if it hasn't got the main features of predecessors? We cannot, we may be only given a piece of junk, but not diablo - not the real gripping atmosphere, not the countless hours of adventure. Some gamers prefer 'the more- the better' rule applied in games, but d3 should not be treated in this way. It has an enormous potential, why the hell destroy it by selling us another version of Wow? If I'd wanted a wow I know where to find it.
That is why over 60k people (including me) signed the petition, not some sets of ungrammatical letters, but an anxiety, an idea standing behind them that one of the best games ever will be spoiled by greed, ignorance, or both by wowish programmers (who by the way HAD NOTHING TO DO with making previous diablo's if you didn't know).
I'm not saying: recruit Bill Roper back!(-though it would be advisable) But I think that Blizzard, a really good game producer, should know better how to treat us- true fans of diablo- and one of it's trademarks -Diablo games. All in all, it is in their own interest, isn't it?
That's all.
Posted 18:41 on 26 August 2009
robotsteve's Avatar


Making my point, all listy like:

1. Nobody "pump[ed] out money" to play Diablo 1 and 2. You paid for the game, then played it endlessly for free. There is no monthly subscription fee. Blizzard will continue to dominate the MMO market whether or not a few pissed off "gothic fantasy" fans decide not to buy the game.

2. Nobody remembers going into a "dark, gritty" dungeon and being so infuriated that they couldn't see anything and had no way to plan their strategy for raiding it that they just ended up going into the options and turning up the gamma? I sure do.

3. Don't like it? I'm with Ogre. Make your own game. Or is it just easier to whine, complain and spread further douchebaggery by using the word "gay" as a derogatory comment - and then just buy the game anyway?

The heart of the issue remains: if you like the new art style, you'll probably play the game. If you hate the new art style, you'll complain, flame, and shake your fist at big bad Blizzard for being capitalistic (when to me it just looks like they're trying to do something new) and then probably play the game. Besides, even the online petition with its hefty 60k signatures damning the new style is rife with spelling and grammatical errors - how serious can you really expect to be taken?
Posted 20:21 on 23 August 2009
Exarch's Avatar


Disagree all you want Maze. But for you, Ogre, and Billyz, The original fanbase for the Diablo series, and those who came after and enjoyed the wonderful products from over the years deserve a game which adheres to the style and feel of which Diablo represents. What BIll Roper is saying here is nothing more than a nice way of saying, Blizzards decision to change the art direction was appalling. And ya know what? He's right, it Is. It's not Diablo at all.

Vasdrakken apparently has no idea what he/she is talking about, as Roper and his team designed a series which introduced and expanded new gaming markets. They definitely know how to sell a game or as you put it "players and money side of thing". News flash: they knew what they were doing, it's why the series is so popular.

billyz, that's an outright lie: it had nothing to do with "limitations". It was a style they created, which Roper himself has stated. Thus it was intentional. It's a game that is defined as "Gothic Fantasy" it's suppose to be dark, gritty, with more realistic color palletes, and washed out values and unsaturated tones. That, coupled with the dark lighting is a major aspect (and appeal) of the Diablo franchies look, style and feel.

The reason they did this is simple: it will allow the game to be desireable to a larger target market; the same target market that plays WoW, which will guarantee high sales, while completely foregoing the people who made their Diablo franchise in the first place. It's certainly one of the finest examples of selling out. It's what most have come to expect from Blizzard. It wont be surprising to see it with an ESRB rating of T either because of it.

And the bottom line is this (this is especially for you Ogre) We don't care what Blizzard wants. Do you know why? Because we're the ones who pump out the money to purchase their product because it's something WE want. If all the Diablo fans want a WoW experience, they'd just go play WoW then. Thus, while there may be a great deal of new features, enemies, weapons, items, blah blah blah, it doesn't excuse the overall style, feel, and artistic design choices of the game, which are solely about making money, and not about pleasing the massive fan-base which made the franchise (and is still making it) what it is today.
Posted 04:38 on 04 August 2009
mazed's Avatar

mazed@ ghost92

I disagree you ghost92. I replayed Diablo 2 not too long ago, and it really wasn't as dark and gritty as most people remeber it as. The graphics do look like they lack detail as of now, but remeber it was the same with starcraft 2 and now they updated it as its nearing release, and im guessing they will do the same with diablo 3.
The level designs were terrible for diablo 1 and 2, yes it was dark but the monsters and what not were bright as hell, i mean for the people that think the art direction for diablo 3 makes it look gay, diablo 1 and 2 used the same models but different colors for different monsters. There were purple and light blue yetis in the game. For me the horror atmosphere came from the audio of the game.
If you've seen the fan made video of what they think diablo 3 should look like, you'll notice that the light radius and darkness cuts out alot of detail from the map, and unlike diablo 1 and 2, in diablo 3 you actually may need to use your surroundings.
Posted 09:59 on 29 July 2009
ghost92's Avatar

ghost92@ Ogre

I registered just to disagree with Ogre. I'm a great fan of the Diablo series. I loved playing Diablo 1 and 2. In my opinion, the third lacks the grit and darkness of its predecessors. It doesn't have a certain sharpness to its graphics that would make the game a legend. I'm not criticizing the way Blizzard make their games (the Starcraft/WoW series are among my favorite!) but I just want to suggest what they can do to tie this game in with the rest of it's category. No doubt it will still sell, but by appealing to its true hardcore fans, D3 revives the epic feel its older games had.
Posted 18:39 on 26 March 2009
Ogre's Avatar


I think a rather harsh but real position to take is - if you don't like it, do/make something yourself. Find an engine, find some tutorials and start messing around! Blizzard are a company but they're still a group of people who (internally) decided that this is what *they* wanted to see. The Diablo III label will sell regardless. It's up to them how they want it to turn out.
Posted 15:02 on 25 March 2009
vasdrakken's Avatar


Blizzard has always stuck insane eye watering colors in their games since they found out how much money was in the Asian market. Some of his points are valid whatever he thinks of blizzard. He may not have clue how games should work but he does know how to make a good looking game. Hellgate for all it flaws looked sweet, roper and company could not get a clue about the players and money side of things.

That aside they did skimp on the details on the floors and walls. Even wow as cartoon as it was still took the time to put the details in.

Do I miss the cool weapons of Diablo I & II yes but they were the same twenty weapons with different stats on them. If D3 has more models of weapons I will forgive that the gritty details that are missing in the environment, if they are in the character. Then again from everything I've seen so far I'm not seeing blizzards level of quality D3.
Posted 13:28 on 20 March 2009
Wizardling's Avatar


I don't want to play a WoWified Diablo. Gah! It is totally possible to have good looking dark and gritty environments. Blizzard North should never have been done away with. Do WoW's art directors even _know_ what gothic fantasy means?
Posted 13:34 on 19 March 2009
twodtoo's Avatar


I must admit when I first saw the trailers for Diablo III... I was a bit taken back with the art direction as well, it just didnt seem to be "Diablo" I guess inside I was expecting and hoping for the same feel as Diablo II but next gen ... but I think it only fair to give it a chance after- all the new art style might grow on me.
Posted 06:20 on 19 March 2009

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Release Date: 15/05/2012
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