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Quick facts reported from the hotel, after long play days at Blizzard North during our December 1999 visit.


Day One[edit]

Our Blizzard visit has been fantastic fun so far. It began with David Brevik, Max Schaefer, Matt Householder, and Mike Huang of the Diablo II Team, as well as Tony Gervase of Blizzard Public Relations, collecting us at our hotel for dinner. After a pleasant evening, we settled into our suites to sleep (or try to sleep) in anticipation of a several days of Diablo II ahead of us.

Friday, we were at Blizzard North from morning until past Midnight. Here are some infobites from today's session:

The biggest news of the day is that the Beta Test will not begin before the New Year. Changes are occurring daily and minor tweakings are happening even more frequently.

The test will be broader than we had originally thought, including such popular features as the Guild Halls. Guild Halls are greatly changed in function: There is no initial cost for the deed; the halls could accommodate as many as 128 people in their initial form; they will be enlarged and improved with member investment.

A Hardcore character may only be created after a player has completed the game once.

A tremendous amount of information is displayed when you hover the cursor over an item. The information display for weapons will include name, durability, requirements, class and sockets (if any) and their properties such as added attributes.

Convert and herbs have been removed from the game.

Skill trees continue to undergo numerous changes, especially the Sorceress' Cold Spells, which have had several skills added and others moved around. In addition, the Necromancer's Summoning Skills and the Barbarian's Warcries have undergone substantial revision.

Character Level Requirements, which were initially listed as 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25, are now attained at levels 1, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 30.

An exciting new feature, still in the design stages, is a micromap, which appears on the belt interface to the left of the stamina gauge.

You will be pleased to know that one Diablo tradition continues with Diablo II. When we wrapped up the evening, we thought it was about 8:00 p.m., when it was really after Midnight.

Our exclusive report will continue tomorrow with on-the-spot updates, followed by more detailed reports next week.


Day Two[edit]

Today's events began with the sun shining over San Mateo, California, and us heading to Blizzard North for another full--we mean full day of gaming. We arrived at the offices at 10:00 a.m. and returned to our hotel at Midnight, another of those "fastest four hours we've ever spent." This time we didn't even break for dinner, but snacked on our delicious deli sandwich lunch and burrito dinner right at the computer. Not that any of you have ever had a meal or two at the comp, right?  ;-p

Bear with us, as there is much to digest and much to write about later, and pictures enough to fill a large, industrial-size photo album. But where the larger reports will come along later, here are some off-the-cuff but on-the-spot infobites:

You've wondered about gems? Here is the text on a typical gem screen:

Chipped Amethyst - Cost 500
Can be inserted in socketed weapons, shields, or helms
Weapon: Adds to chance to hit
Shield: Adds to shield's armor rating
Helm: Adds to strength

Locations: Each act has many waypoints, those handy "teleport" type spots that get you immediately from one map area to another. Some areas seem to have more than one waypoint, in which case your map will reflect the level as well as the area. While the locations are listed in the order in which the player or playing team visit the place, and therefore will vary, here is the list that Elly and Gaile had at the end of Act One:

  • Rogue Encampment
  • Cold Plains
  • Stony Field (which features the Cairn Stones referenced in our Quest Section)
  • Dark Woods
  • Black Marsh
  • Outer Cloister
  • Jail (in our case Jail Level 1)
  • Inner Cloister
  • Catacombs (in our case Level 2)
Christmas decorated Diablo.

Equipping: When you find or buy the first of an item, it will automatically equip into its proper spot on your character. In other words, the first time you find a helm, when you click to pick it up, rather than it going into your backpack or inventory screen, it pops right onto your character's head. When you buy or find a different one, however, the item originally in place remains there, as you would assume. And you then can do the "inventory/attribute screen shuffle" to test out which is the better choice for your character.

Incidentals: The voice acting in Act One is very nicely done. Warriv has a pleasant voice as he relates the back story and welcome you into the game. The stately-voiced Akara is extremely helpful with her scrolls, gems, and other items for sale, as well as interesting bits of news. Kharsi sounds cheerful and friendly when she greets you at her blacksmith's shop, and Gheed is voiced as the kind of guy from whom you'd never buy a used car.

Music: When we walked into the room today to play, the five computers were all synched to play the music from the start screen. Surround-sound Diablo score - heaven!

Input: We've been sharing like mad with the Diablo II Development Team. Everything from graphics to gameplay, items to icons - we've been talking, and they've been listening most receptively. It will be fun to see how many of our suggestions, both large and small, are worked into the final product.

So, tomorrow we'll be linking arms and winding down the road singing "We're Off to See the Blizzard," for our final day of gameplay. We'll report back with more information, photographs, and all the skinny on how Diablo really feels about having tinsel hanging from his horns.

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