Original Diablo Dev Roper: Diablo 3 Art Style Doesn't 'Ring with Diablo'

By Nick Breckon, Mar 17, 2009 1:13pm PDT Former Blizzard North VP and original Diablo producer Bill Roper has chimed in on the Diablo 3 art style debate in an interview with VideoGamer, stating that he prefers a "grittier" look to the series rather than Blizzard's current, arguably lighter approach.

"You know, I liked the darker, grittier [style]," said Roper, who chalked up the style of the sequel to the contrary philosophies of Blizzard's Irvine studio and the former home of Diablo, the now-defunct Blizzard North.

"It makes complete sense to me where they went because they basically took the Diablo universe and then approached it from the Blizzard Irvine stance for the visuals," he said.

"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."

Many fans have taken exception to the game's shift in art style, running petitions in protest of light beams and rainbows. The debate continued for months, with Diablo III lead designer Jay Wilson going so far as to pointedly respond to the complaints while refusing to make changes.

Though Roper understands the artistic choices behind Diablo III's look, he doesn't prefer it as a fan of the series.

"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," he added.

"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."

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72 Threads* | 280 Comments

  • Wow, I'm finding it difficult to work up the energy to give a rats ass about the color palette "issue". Maybe its because I'm just happy knowing there's a sequel in my future.

    I guess I can see the validity to the argument that it looks less "gritty" (for whatever that's worth); but that was never what drew me to the first two games. Near as I can tell, it appears to be a slight unification of art style with World of Warcraft and I doubt this is a coincidence.

    If I enjoy the demo (and I'm referring to the gameplay), I'll buy it--rainbows and all. :)

  • I think that the art style that Diablo 3 is using looks great but I agree with Roper that the style doesn't really fit the Diablo theme. It has absolutely nothing to do with the color pallet or lighting. Diablo and specifically Diablo 2 have very fine details to the textures. Diablo 3 looks like a painting and practically an oil painting in the overworld screenshots with textures flowing smoothly into one another. It looks exactly like an upgraded WoW engine. I wouldn't be surprised if it is the WoW engine.

    It's a moot argument at this point and I'm more concerned about the game play. Diablo 2 built onto the Diablo framework. With ever new detail they release it sounds like Diablo 3 is an entirely new beast created from scratch and dare I say it, in the reflection of WoW. It reminds me of Turbine and Asheron's Call where they essentially made a sequel in name and not game play.

    In the end I expect the game will be incredible fun that even the hardcore diablo fans will enjoy it immensely. However if the game play continues on it's current course I won't be surprised if those same hardcore Diablo fans enjoying Diablo 3 turn around to Blizzard and say. "Ok now where's the Diablo 2 sequel"?

  • I see a lot of confusion here about the "colors" vs. the in-game "art design". Which is what Roper is talking about. It's not the colors used. I do agree with him that Diablo 3 doesn't look "demonic" or "dark" enough in terms of architecture and creature design. I want to see pentagrams, blood, bodies being tortured, maimed, and body parts everywhere. You know like the stuff you would see in the old games?

    I also think the main classes just look really bland. No balls to the look of the game. I want a harder edge to the characters and world.

    For a game called "Diablo", it has to invoke that. Well for me anyway.