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ArtStation posted an article on the modeling on "By Three They Come," the announcement cinematic for Diablo 4 that was 16 months in the making.
Diablo 4 was unveiled in style at BlizzCon 2019, and here is the official announcement cinematic trailer.
For the Blizzard cinematics modeling team, the most difficult things to tackle were character performances, dialogue, and close-ups, according to Modeling Supervisor Shannon Thomas.
The team chose to cast actors for facial reference.
At Blizzard, they don't want characters to be photorealistic, which is why they've also been given concept art.
The director gravitated toward the actor for the cleric because he liked his appearance, but this was more of an exception, and they pushed the swordsman more towards the concept and away from the character.
All the animations in the cinematic trailer were handcrafted, including the close-up facial animations.
You can read more in the article on ArtStation.Source: ArtStation
Here comes another interesting Diablo 4 hire, as Blizzard are looking for a Cinematic Designer for real-time cutscenes. These are the in-game variety, usually for quests and similar.
This couldindicate a larger amount of these cinematics in the game, and whether they'd be just for showcasing the environments or we could get some more action-oriented, or even character-development ones, which would be great.
The specific nature of the cinematics in question is a little unclear, but presumably they would be similar to this one we already saw in the BlizzCon demo:
While the new skill and talent tree was mostly received very positively, it seems players have been having some concerns over the readability and specific skill layout. Community managed PezRadar has responded to these concerns, commenting that the tree is very much work in progress and the main goal of the presentation was to make its intentions clear.
Skill Tree (source)
Just wanted to clarify a bit on a few comments regarding the tree. It is still very much a WIP item with the team. It obviously will get a lot of passes on the UI/UX front, so we hear the comments loud and clear regarding readability and making sure it isn’t confusing to the players. The goal was to make sure you all could understand the concept with the skill tree and where skills and passive nodes would lie with the system.
As we progress through development, you will see more newer iterations on it.
Thanks again for all the great feedback in here as well.
One of Diablo 3's best features was definitely the different resource pools for each class - and while some of them were just different colored globes you need to fill to use spenders, the concept of very different class mechanics is a great one. Luckily for us, the Diablo 4 developers have realized this and we will be getting unique class mechanics for each class in the fourth installment of the franchise, which is amazing news!
We already knew that Barbarians were getting the Arsenal system, where they can use and switch between different weapon setups, but now we know that every class will get a similar and completely unique system as well. The bigger news, now that we've seen the Sorceress unique system, is that all of these systems are actually very, very impactful on how the class plays and how different it is from the others. So let's take a look at the two systems we know about so far.
Barbarian Arsenal System
While the system itself isn't very complex and doesn't take long to explain, it is massively impactful to gameplay. Barbarians will have 4 weapons available to them at all times and will be able to switch through them, and will also able to save weapon "sets" to switch through, for those dual-wield enthusiasts. The bigger feature here is that players will be able to bind specific skills to specific weapon sets, so you will be able to automatically bring out your big two-hander when using an expensive spender to get the most out of it.
With 4 weapons available at all times the variety of builds and options here is immense, especially when you consider each of those 4 weapons can be a legendary and each has its own unique and powerful legendary affix. So while it is a simple system, it's massively impactful on the class and especially build options. One thing we're not quite sure of is whether we'll get to actually pick 4 two handers and switch between those, but it seems very likely that we will be able to, and that's just plain awesome. That's 8 hands!!
Arsenal System (source)
With the Arsenal system, Barbarians can swap between different types of weapons, such as from a heavy two-handed mace to a pair of sharp, agile hand axes, depending on the situation, skill, and your player needs.
Barbarians will be able to haul around four total weapons and swap between them dynamically at any time. You’ll also be able to assign specific weapons to different skills, allowing advanced players even greater depths of customization.
Sorceress Enchantment System
The Enchantment system is more complex than its Barbarian counterpart, with more player interaction present. Basically each skill you unlock can be used in 2 ways with the Sorceress, either as a regular active skill that goes on your hotbar and you can cast at enemies, or you can make it an "enchant", which gives you some passive bonus related to the skill in question. With the examples provided for now, it's looking like they're mostly different ways you can proc the skill in question rather than actually casting it, with Ball Lightning appearing when a certain status effect triggers, and Meteor randomly dropping on top of enemies.
The big takeaway here is that, with the new skill tree system and its limited nature, choosing whether to make a skill active or an enchant will be a very big deal and, depending on how limited our skill tree selection will be, some Sorceresses might even have empty slots on their skill hotbars! For now it's looking like we'll have 6 active skill slots and only 3 enchant slots, but hopefully Blizzard widen that enchant number so players can actually just stack themselves up with passives and have only a couple of active skill if they so choose.
Enchantment System (source)
Many of you might remember the Barbarian’s unique Arsenal system—their ability to carry and smoothly swap between multiple deadly weapons—which greatly increased their power. We’ve also been exploring unique class mechanics for our other classes. The main goal for us here is to have very unique class-specific mechanics in Diablo IV. We have this goal because Diablo is the kind of game where many players try out different builds or classes, especially during seasonal play. We believe that unique class mechanics with very different strengths and playstyles compared to other classes will make exploring the different classes—and playing the game—much more fun.
For the Sorceress, we’ve been trying out the Enchantment System. This is how it works:
The Ball Lightning skill. Unlike other classes, each Sorceress skill has two possible effects.
Sorceress skills can be placed into two locations: an active skill slot (that every other class also has access to), and an Enchantment slot. If you place a skill in the Enchantment slot, you can no longer use it as an active skill, but your character instead gains a secondary bonus power.
Ball Lightning as an enchantment. You can gain the secondary effect of a skill by placing it in an Enchantment slot instead of an active skill slot.
The power you gain from Enchantments is extremely significant, and you can currently make builds based around your Enchantments, your active skills, or a mix of both.
Here is an example of this system using the Meteor skill. Meteor allows you to call a fiery chunk of rock from the sky. If you choose to slot it as an Enchantment, you won’t be able to control your Meteors, but they’ll fall onto enemies periodically. This skill is still under development and may be different in the final game.
We’ve been testing this class mechanic for a while now, and the team feedback has been really positive. This new system now empowers you to make some interesting choices to strategize around which skills you would want to slot in as an Enchantment, as you won’t be able to put one skill in both places.
Blizzard also mentioned that the Druid class mechanic is being worked on and we'll find out more about it soon as well. While we still don't know what the final 2 classes are (although there are solid rumors), they'll also get very unique class identities thanks to this new design decision! This is one of the best decisions the Diablo 4 team has made and it's really looking like it will improve the game immensely, especially in conjunction with the limited selection of skills in the skill tree.
Much has been said about the previously announced Diablo 4 skill system, and not much of it good. Luckily for us, the D4 team has been very consistent in their listening to the community and have taken steps to significantly improve the situation.
We now have a pretty big collective skill and talent (literal) tree, with the understanding that we'll only be able to gain access to 30-40% of the skills and upgrades available. This makes our skill choices matter, unlike the previous system where we'd just gather rank-ups for the skills. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two, really accentuating the differences:
While some of the new branches may seem like basically the same as linear ranks, the fact that we will have a limited amount of skillpoints makes all the difference here, as we can actually plan out a build instead of just collecting upgrades for each skill as we go until all of them are maxed out.
This is part of Blizzard's push to take away some player power from the itemization system and place it back into the character system, which is a very good direction to take. Whether the current skill and talent tree is good enough remains to be seen, but the biggest message from these developments is that the Diablo 4 team is really listening to the community and we should be as vocal as possible about anything we feel isn't right for the game. I'll start myself, saying I feel that the tree looks good, but there needs to be more diversity in the skill paths on the branches, even interconnecting ones for certain skills, as right now it is very linear for the majority of skills, even those that have 2 additional branches coming out of them.
The passive "root" portion seems to replace talents and definitely looks better, but has pretty much the same functionality as before. While it's now completely clear that the roots are actually a replacement of talents, it seems very likely as they serve much the same purpose. In any case, the specific layout of passives doesn't matter much, but it's always a plus when they look better.
And here are the full details from the update:
New Skill and Talent System (source)
As Luis mentioned, we have made some major changes to Diablo IV’s Skills and Talent systems. We’ve been reading through a lot of the comments from the community and agree that the Talent system needs more depth. Similarly, Skill system progression felt too simple, which created issues where a player would have no meaningful reason to spend their skill points. With this valuable feedback in mind, we’ve have been iterating on a new Skill System.
As you can see from the screenshot below, we have separate sections for Skills and Passives in our freshly painted Skill Tree. Take a look:
The Sorcress skill tree. The branches contain skills and skill upgrades, while the roots contain powerful passive effects.
The upper Skills section is where you will spend the Skill Points that you earn by leveling up. Here, you unlock brand new skills, unlock additional functionality for these skills, and unlock Passive Points that you can then spend on the lower Passive section of the tree.
You can spend skill points on square nodes to unlock new active skills for your character.
Spend points on circular upgrade nodes to enhance active skills you've unlocked.
As you explore the branches of the tree, you will find passive points.
You can spend passive points in the roots of the tree to unlock powerful effects.
The Skill Tree you see above consists of many specific nodes, a sample of which you can see in the screenshots above. If we imagine every single node on that massive Skill Tree affecting different skills in different ways, the path that you decide to take will determine big power increases and playstyle choices.
The Passive part of this system is where you will find more general upgrades to your character. These effects are not specific to particular skills. Therefore, the Skill Tree will have a good mix of all types of different choices for players to make.
One last thing we want to point out is that players will not be able to acquire every Skill Tree node. We’re currently aiming for 30~40% of the nodes filled in for end game, so that players can have very distinct, and different ways they build out their character.