Fotds: August 1999
The information presented in these archived FotDs is now outdated, but that's often the most interesting thing about them, seeing how much the game has changed from then to now.
The original FotDs are indented and italicized. Explanatory comments below them were written by Flux at the time the FotDs were archived, usually a couple/few months after the original FotDs had been presented.
August 2, 1999
- Blizzard is a Clvl 20 Sorceress spell. The title is interesting, obviously the same as the company, but also the same as a spell in Warcraft 2, that works somewhat the same. Blizzard is much like Ice Storm, which has been shown in a couple of gameplay movies so far. Basically ice hailing down on an area, much like the spell Blizzard in Warcraft 2. The difference between Blizzard and Ice Storm seems to be that Blizzard "Clouds monster vision and destroys missiles" as the in-game description read. Probably this does something like blind the monsters, as they look rather disoriented in the screenshot we have of Blizzard in action.
Ice Storm was eventually removed, and Frozen Orb took its place in the skill tree. Blizzard did basically the same thing, just with less damage, so both would have been redundant. Blizzard used to be more than damage, as you see by the quoted skill description in the FotD, it was somewhat of a defensive skill, destroying missiles and packing some sort of Dim Vision-like monster effect.
August 4, 1999
- Energy Shield is a Clvl 20 Sorceress Spell. It shares an icon with Mana Shield from Diablo, and the function is somewhat similar. It diverts some of the damage the Sorceress takes to her mana, but instead of taking 100% of all damage, as Mana Shield did in Diablo, Energy Shield is said to take all magical damage, and 1/2 of physical damage. So as long as you keep your Sorceress out of the thick of the melee, it can be nearly as useful as Mana Shield was.
The function of Energy Shield changed over time, as you can read here. The little gold dot was always thought to be a place holder, until Bliz could come up with something more visually striking, but either the graphic grew on them, or they just never got around to it. Clvl 20 became Clvl 24 when the level progressions changed from 5's to 6's.
August 6, 1999
- Shout is a Clvl 1 Barbarian Skill. From the War Cry Skill Tab, Shout sends out an expanding ring of yellow light, much like a Nova. The range is much smaller though, extending only 3 or 4 spaces away from the Barbarian. Shout adds to the Barbarian's Armor Class, and also extends this benefit to other players within the range of the skill. Exactly how much of an AC boost, what duration the benefit last for, and how it is graphically indicated on the effected characters is not yet known. Shout was recently featured in a screenshot, the first War Cry to be shown.
The screenshot is live, but looks about the same as the skill graphic looks now. It's unclear how large the radius of the skill actually was back then, if it was full screen like in D2X, or much smaller, and thus harder to share with others in the party. We also didn't see the glowing aura-like underfoot graphic for a long time, so speculation about how Warcries looked once cast ran wild.
August 8, 1999
- Frozen Armor is a Clvl 1 Sorceress skill. This is a sort of protection spell for the weak and lightly-armored Sorceress. It works like a defensive aura, increasing her Armor Class, as well as dealing some cold damage to melee attackers. It is unknown if this skill can be cast on other characters. Higher levels of the skill will increase the duration, cold damage, and armor class. Keep in mind that all skill info can and probably will change before the final game, so as Blizzard often says, "Nothing is final until the game is in the box." and even then there could be patches. ;)
August 11, 1999
- Reanimate is a Clvl 1 Necromancer skill, in the Summoning and Control Skill Tree. This skill is used to raise skeletons up from the corpses of monsters. These skeletons will then fight for the Necromancer, though as this is only a Clvl 1 skill, they won't be too mighty. It is not known how many can be summoned at a time. A recent screenshot showed two, along with a Clay Golem, so there will likely be more than two allowed in the final game, but the number will probably depend on a number of variables, including the skill level, the Necromancer's Clvl, and possibly what other creatures he has summoned already.
This skill's name was changed to the more obvious but less interesting "Raise Skeleton" later in development. Lots of skill names changed, but few were for the better, though most did at least make their function clearer in meaning. The screenshot is the first ever screenie of a Necromancer with a summon other than Clay Golem, so check it out.
August 13, 1999
- Familiar is a Clvl 1 Necromancer skill in the Summoning and Control Skill Tab. This skill works as a scouting device, sending out a large, glowing white sort of jellyfish-looking creature. The player controls it, leaving the Necromancer standing still, and sees what's on the screen with the Familiar as it moves around wherever the cursor is pointed. Monsters will probably not see or react to the Familiar. After a few seconds, the screen will snap back to the Necromancer. He's helpless for the duration of the skill, so use with caution.
A skill that didn't make it in any form to the final game, likely since in play testing Blizzard realized that there wasn't any real use for such a skill. The Familiar graphic we saw at E3 in 1999, but it was never in a screenshot or seen anywhere, until now. It looked like a jelly fish, large, maybe the size of a Bone Spirit, but with long wavy tentacles, as best I remember from almost 3 years ago. The icon was in a couple of screenshots, but never with the skill being used.
Check out this animation extracted from the unused game art and sent in by Caerlink and Bard.
August 15, 1999
- One major change in Diablo II is how dying is handled. In Diablo, death to a monster resulted in your character falling to the ground, and a veritable fountain of gold spewing from them, along with all of your equipped items. In Diablo II, the amount of gold you drop upon death has not been determined yet, but the biggest change is in your equipment. It will stay on your corpse, where only you, or a character you have set to "friend" can loot it. Items in your inventory will still be there when you restart in town.
This was a radical concept back then, after the total item loss risk of Diablo. There was no corpse at all in D1, you could see dead bodies, character and monster, but they could not be clicked on for any reason, they were just ground decoration.
August 17, 1999
- Items will be much different in Diablo II. In addition to several new types of weapons and armor, including crossbows, belts, polearms, boots, and wands, there will be many more types of body and head armor, varying ranges for different melee weapons, tons of new prefixes and suffixes, and modifiers more closely-related to the item they occur on. (Such as boots that increase walking or running speed.) See a new item in a screenshot here.
The link goes to the shot from March 22's FotD, the oldest known shot of the Character Inventory. It's weird and frightening.
August 19, 1999
- The Diablo II Beta test will begin around the 1st of September, and run for 2 or 3 months. 1000 lucky souls will be in it from the start, with possibly more being added later, and there will be several hundred spots available to win as part of a semi-random drawing. The beta will consist of all five characters, most of Act One, most of the skills, and lots of MP Bnet features.
Bit of an optimistic start date, since the actual beta didn't get going until around March 2000. Blizzard kept saying the game would be out Xmas 1999, and since we knew the beta would have to run at least 2 months, that meant it had to start in Sept or Oct at the absolute latest. When the beta did begin, it ran much as predicted here, at least.
August 24, 1999
- Eye of Zeus, a Clvl One Amazon skill, is an interesting toy. Though it reuses the Infravision icon from Diablo, it works very little like that spell. Eye of Zeus pops up a small, glowing star near each monster it effects, lighting them up and basically making easier targets of them, as can be seen here. It also apparently "Makes them easier to hit." though whether this is because they are more easily seen, or due to some reduction in a stat, such as AC, is not yet known. Example here.
The caption on this screenie is pretty amusing, for the lack of knowledge we had about things at the time. Many of the Amazon skills changed names, and we liked the initial names more than the final ones. Eye of Zeus became Inner Sight, and she had several other Greek God themed skill names that all went away. You'll see others elsewhere in these FotD archives.
August 26, 1999
- Previously known as the Reaper, the Greater Mummy, revealed in name by the recently released picture of its namesake action figure, is known to feature a short range poison breath attack in addition to a melee attack using its vicious bladed arm. Most intriguing, however, is its ranged attack in which it shoots out writhing snake-like projectiles. No word yet from Blizzard on whether the magical snake "bolts" are poisonous
If you've never looked at the action figure artwork, those little black holy bolt things Greater Mummies use for projectiles are meant to be wiggling balls of snakes, fired from the nest of them in its abdomen. They aren't poisonous, as we know now.
August 28, 1999
- The Cinematics in Diablo II will be vastly improved over the ones from Diablo. Much longer movies to watch, and they will be tightly integrated with the plot. There will be a 4-5 minute movie as an intro to the game, and then after each of the three acts and the finale. As a bonus, once you have defeated the entire game, all the movies, plus some short connecting portions, can be watched as one twenty-five minute mini-movie.
The plan to tie all of the cinematics together into one long movie, with some added transition scenes, never came together, mostly due to changes in the game plot requiring edits and changes in the cinematics, from how they were originally storyboarded out. Also the length changed, with a longer movie at the start and shorter ones in between the acts.
August 30, 1999
- Fallen Shaman - Noted to have a fireball ranged attack and usually found in packs, accompanied by lesser Fallen, the Shaman also possess the ability to resurrect their freshly-killed brethren. It therefore becomes imperative that they be eliminated early in any engagement so as to avoid fighting endless battles with resurrected Fallen warriors. In gameplay videos when the Fallen Shaman is killed, the rest of the pack immediately exhibit the flight response typical of the Fallen from the original Diablo.
Fallen had all of their tricks even way back then, apparently.