Fotds: July 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The information presented in these archived FotDs is now outdated, but that's often the most interesting thing about them, seeing how much the game has changed from then to now.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.
July 2, 1999
- Impale is an Amazon Javelin skill. It works when she throws her javelin and hits a monster with it, and does extra damage. Originally this skill was said to do +damage, with some possibility of shattering the weapon. However, in recent builds the Amazon has unlimited javelins to throw, just requiring the mana to use one of her throwing skills. So the 'shattered weapon' part seems to be no more.
This one it's not clear if the skill changed, or if our info was inaccurate back then. Impale is a melee skill in the final game, and javelins come in stacks, like other throwing weapons. The description here makes it sound as if they worked like Magic Arrow. Which might have been the case, but there's no telling now, unless some Blizzard employee remembered.
July 5, 1999
- Containers of all sizes and shapes and graphics will be used in Diablo II. These will be much like they were in Diablo, with the urns working somewhat like barrels did, and chests of course acting like chests. Expect more devious and dangerous traps this time though. Unknown what sorts, but poison seems a safe bet. Another new feature is locked chests that require keys to open. These chests will (probably) look just like other chests, but it is yet known if they will contain better treasure. Keys are dropped by monsters and sold in town.
It was expected that traps would be much more lethal in D2 than they were in D1. Bliz had hinted at that in previews, and probably planned on it, but for some reason it's not the case in the final game. Traps were much nastier when we played at Blizzard North in December 1999; a Sorceress with low hit points could be felled by one in Act 2 quite easily. Hopefully Bliz didn't see my Sorcy croak to nova chests and nerf them because of that, since they are way too weak to even pay attention to in the final game.
July 8, 1999
- Nova returns in Diablo II, as a Clvl 20 Sorceress spell. It is much improved over the Diablo form of the spell, both graphically and in effect. Now it appears as a thin ring of blue light that moves out from the Sorceress at a high rate of speed. It covers the full visible screen, but does not continue off of it, and does not break up at all, but exists as an expanding ring without any gaps. There are no screenshots yet showing Nova (just Frost Nova) but you can see it in a number of the gameplay movies.
Nova then looks like it does now, so it's one of the older spell graphics to have remained relatively unchanged into the final game. It's location in the skill tree seems to have changed though, since it's now on the 3rd row, Slvl 12, while it was on the 5th row back then, Slvl 20 (Which would be Slvl 24 now, since they changed from 5 to 6 level intervals.)
Probably it was where Thunder Storm is now, but not necessarily, since the pre-req lines connecting the skills in the trees changed many times.
July 13, 1999
- Ice Blast is a new Sorceress skill for Diablo II. It's very impressive graphically, and has been demonstrated in several gameplay movies. The spell appears over the Sorceress' head at the end of her casting motion, and she aims it down at the feet of the targeted monster. The blue blast of ice hits there and deals some damage, as well as freezing the monsters in place for a brief time. As many as four Burning Dead have been seen effected by it at once. We've only seen it used on nearby targets, so we do not know if it has any range limitations, but it seems unlikely.
An odd one, a skill and icon that don't exist in the final game. This is probably Glacial Spike, either it changed somewhat in function, or else we were just seeing things, but in the older gameplay movies it really looks like it hits the ground in front of the target, rather than hitting the targeted monster and blowing up cold.
The sorceress icons changed many times during game development.
July 14, 1999
Back when we had no idea how powerful the Barbarian would be, and how little he'd care about being surrounded.
July 15, 1999
- Frost Nova, a Clvl 5 Sorceress Spell, is a useful addition to her arsenal. It works just like a Nova, shooting out an expanding ring that covers the entire screen, and it deals cold damage, as well as freezing the targets. The damage and duration of the freezing effect is not great, as this is a low-level spell, but it is still effective, and the Sorceress can work fast while the monsters are frozen. You can see it here.
Clvl 5 became Clvl 6 later in development, as every level added 1, thus taking Clvl 25 to Clvl 30 for the highest level skills. Be sure you check out this screenshot, it's a very different (and better) graphic for Frost Nova than we see in the final game. Probably it was too graphic intensive so they nerfed the appearance?
July 17, 1999
- Warmth is a Clvl One Sorceress skill. It was planned to be some sort of a healing spell, but with all of those eliminated from recent builds, this has become a passive skill that increases the Sorceress' mana regeneration rate. We were able to test it at E3, it added about 20% to the regeneration rate at level one, and went up 5% with each additional skill point. Not an enormous boost, but since it's always working, it's not a bad addition.
Warmth certainly got a big boost from this early sighting. It's now 30% to start and +12% per Slvl afterwards. The whole concept of mana regeneration was very new in D2X, since no one had that in D1. You bought and quaffed mana potions when you wanted more mana back then.
July 18, 1999
- The music in Diablo II will be a major part of the enjoyment of the game. It is much like the music in Diablo was, but generally improved upon, and moodier, more thematic, and more of it. Not as much repetition this time around, and those that we've spoken with who have heard a lot of the music are very impressed by Matt Uelmen's work. You can hear three short clips of the music, released a few months ago by Blizzard North, here.
The link is changed to the Blizzard MP3 of the Week page. There were several short clips released by Blizzard in advance as part of previews, Gamespot and some other sites posted them, and there was much interest in them at the time. You've of course heard the music a million times by now, so no point in linking to those short files now.
July 20, 1999
- Static Field is a new Clvl 5 Sorceress Spell. Nothing all that powerful, it's more of a tool than a weapon. It hits every monster on the screen with an electric charge. Not much on damage, it's more to wake them up, or if there is some creature that's almost dead, but is out of range, you could use this to hit it. Sort of like a very weak Apocalypse, in Diablo terms.
Static was changed a lot. Initially it had full screen range at Slvl 1 but did very tiny damage, maybe even a fixed number, rather than the scaling % that makes it so powerful now. During the beta the real power of Static was exploited, where it had huge range and did 1/3 hps per hit, and worked out of line of sight. So you could take things on the other side of a wall down to a sliver of hps. It was lowered to 1/4 per hit and the radius was cut a lot, as well as the line of sight issues being addressed for the final game.
D2X it was further controlled by limiting the total hps reduction from it to 1/4 of full in Nightmare and 1/2 in Hell. In D2 virtually every Sorceress had max Static for the full screen range, and then Frozen Orb or Blizzard to get the last few hits and kill monsters that were already down a sliver from Static.
July 22, 1999
- Lightning returns in Diablo II as Clvl 10 Sorceress spell with a familiar icon, but a much different, and much improved graphic. It's never been featured in a screenshot, but there is a recent shot of Chain Lightning that you can view and get an idea of the new graphic. Lightning was very impressive at E3, coring holes through the monsters at a frightening rate, and moving very fast and looking very purple. The function is the same as it was in Diablo, with the bolts moving in straight lines and passing through multiple monsters. The major change is that Lightning only goes to the edge of the screen, not off into the distance until it hits a wall, as most spells did in Diablo.
The screenshot link is live, to the first look we ever had at Chain Lightning, which looked then about as it does now. I do recall Lightning and Chain Lightning looking amazing at E3 in 1999, just sending out long purple glowing lances that slaughtered the monsters. It was just awesome to behold.
For some reason, the graphics were nerfed a lot by the time we got some actual screenshots of it. Likely the initial ones were too load-intensive.
July 24, 1999
- The Amazon has a skill tab that is currently known as, "Healing, Movement, and Repair". (Even though she doesn't have any known healing OR repair skills at this point.) We don't know much about the Repair either, but as for the movement skills, they include Dodge, which will dodge melee attacks if the Amazon is stationary, Avoid, which avoids melee attacks for the walking or running Amazon, and Evade, which evades missile attacks. Useful tricks.
Either Avoid and Evade switched properties at some point (possible) or we had the descriptions wrong (possible). Lots of the old skill info we had was from some preview, and virtually every preview had at least 3 or 4 errors in their game observations.
Previews are done by one writer on a gaming site/magazine staff, generally one who hasn't been following the title he's writing about all that closely, and mistakes, memory errors, etc are just bound to creep in. We (the fansite) then osmosis every last word from the preview, and update our skill info with the new stuff, and if there are errors in the preview, then there are errors in our info, and no way to know unless Blizzard corrects it. And in any event, half of the stuff is different in the next build anyway.
July 27, 1999
- Frost Bolt is a Clvl 1 Sorceress spell, in her Cold Skills Tab. It's somewhat similar to the familiar Fire Bolt spell, a small projectile that will likely not do too much damage or use too much mana, and both are available at Character level one. Frost Bolt adds one thing to Firebolt; the potential to freeze the monsters. Like most cold spells, Frost Bolt can turn a monster blue, and slow them down. This one only slows them, not actually freezing the monster, but that extra second or two will be very valuable to the wise Sorceress.
This skill turned out about like it was back then, with the same in-game graphic.
July 30, 1999
- Diablo II is not a 3D game, but it will benefit from 3D acceleration. In addition to a faster frame rate, especially on lower end machines, a 3D card will allow all the various types of magic to create glowing colored lighting effects. Fire is orange, Poison is green, Cold is Blue, etc. Also flames will look much more realistic, and be somewhat transparent, dropping Meteors will create a pink glow at the target zone, and everything will just generally look much better. Diablo II supports the Open GL as well as Glide chip sets, so such cards as TNT 1 or 2, and 3Dfx will work with it. Only Direct 3D is not supported.
The announcement of 3d support was big news long ago, especially the cool parallax effect, where objects to the bottom of the screen are larger than the same object on top of the screen.
Early D2 screenshots are in 2d, with no 3d lightning, and you can see the much flatter lighting, lack of nice light to dark transition, no glow from fire or lightning, etc. We started adding the "3dfx shot" note to screenie captions once the info was known, but in fact (as Blizzard told us later on) they'd been putting out 3d shots for weeks before they ever made the announcement, and no one had picked up on it. They were worried someone would do a jigsaw of a shot and figure out the parallax when the pieces didn't mesh up properly, thus ruining their surprise announcement. But no one did. Yes, we were ashamed.