The information presented in these archived FotDs is now outdated, but that's often the most interesting thing about them, seeing how much the game has changed from then to now.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.
March 1, 2000
- Charge is a Clvl 12 skill from the Paladin's Combat Skills Tab. This skill enables him to rush at a target, and deliver a smashing attack with his weapon (or even bare-fisted) that knocks the target back and stuns them as well. There is even a cool animation for it, with transparent images of the Paladin left behind as he runs. The drawbacks to this skill are that the Charging speed isn't any faster than a normal running speed, and that it costs 9 mana per use, which is high for a Paladin skill. You can see it in use here, minus the cool graphics.
This was a cool one, we posted the FotD, which is basically as you see it here, but had said it was a shield bash sort of skill. We got an email from Kelly Johnson, Blizzard North artist and Paladin designer/tester informing us of an error in it.
"I was just reading your "Fact of the Day", I think you may be misleading your readers about Charge skill and its effectiveness. First of all its not a shield based attack, the shield has nothing to do with Charge. When you "Charge" an enemy the weapon is used to smack the opponent and not the shield. Charge works with any melee weapon and your bare fists. Charge is one of the Paladins best damage dealing attacks, it gives the same damage bonus as Sacrifice, only Vengeance gives you more bonus damage. The only drawback of Charge is the high mana cost, 9 points per use."
So we updated the FotD with this more accurate info, and left it up a day longer.
March 3, 2000
- Cleansing is a Clvl 12 skill from the Paladin's Defensive Auras Skill Tab. A very defensive aura, Cleansing's only function is to reduce the duration of poison. This will come in handy, since poison attacks in Diablo II do initial poison damage (based on the attack and your poison resistance) but also have a lingering effect, which causes a steady hit point drain, and also turns your health bulb green, and causes your light radius to turn green and shrink as well. It is not known if Cleansing adds to your poison resistance, but apparently it does not.
Unknown if the lowering duration of Curses property of Cleansing was in at this time and we didn't know about it, or if that was added later. Likely we just didn't know about it, since it wasn't in the skill hover info at that time. It seemed odd then that it didn't do poison resistance, since there were Cold/Fire/Lightning resistance auras, but no poison. Should have been a tip off to how unimportant poison res really is in the game.
March 4, 2000
- Increased Speed is a Clvl 24 passive skill from the Barbarian's Combat Masteries Skill Tab. This skill is said to boost the Barbarians foot speed, for both running and walking. Exactly how much of a change in velocity this allows is unknown. Also, with fast walk boots a relatively recent addition to the game, this skill seems prime to be altered or removed completely.
Yes, there weren't always faster run/walk boots. Decreased stamina use as a modifier was in for a long time, one of the oldest previews has Blizzard talking about likely magical modifiers, and "of the horse" is mentioned as one that will occur on boots and cut stamina drain. But nothing about faster running was known at that time.
March 5, 2000
- Several Paladins in the same friendly party can work together very well, since their auras will stack. Picture a mixture of Offensive and Defensive Auras, such as Holy Fire, Holy Shock, and Prayer all at work at the same time, dealing fire and lightning damage to the monsters, while all the Paladins are healing, and taking turns running Prayer, so no one gets too low on mana. One balancing factor is that auras of the same type can not stack, so no triple-fast healing, or triple-Fanaticism for an Attack Rate near the speed of light.
Having not played Paladins yet we didn't know how weak the three auras we listed in our example were. ;) Yes, the stacking same aura question was asked just about every day back then.
March 7, 2000
- Single-player and Multi-player characters are very similar in Diablo II. So much so that telling an SP game from a solo-MP game could be difficult. They have the same quests, difficulty levels, prices in town, number and difficulty of monsters, etc. The added bonus in Diablo II is that single-player characters can be played online, as "open" multi-player characters. The only real difference between playing a multi-player character offline and a single player character is that presumably you'll be able to save the game at any time you like in single-player, and restore from a save if you crash or have some bad luck.
As we know now, you can't save the game any time. Blizzard wanted that option, but with such massive game worlds they couldn't get a workable save game size finished and not buggy. So they just worked the save waypoints from multi to single.
The lack of a SP save game feature was one of the biggest complaints about D2 by game reviewers and early non-online players, who were used to pure SP RPG games that could save at any point, anywhere. Playing until you finished a quest or found a waypoint, then quitting so you could start up right at that point next game wasn't a popular alternative.
March 7, 2000
- Guild Halls will provide great places to meet and chat with others in your guild, but there won't be any sparring allowed there, nor spell-casting. This was something the Diablo II Development Team wanted to allow, but with so many characters allowed into a Guild Hall at once, (The number is not yet finalized, but will be at least 30 or 40.) letting there be combat or spell-casting would have been impossibly-taxing on the computers and internet connections of everyone in the room, not to mention the Bnet servers.
As you know by now, Guild Halls didn't make the final game. Mostly because Blizzard just didn't have time to work on them and get them to a final state, but also the main benefit of one was storage space for items and gold, and with the late addition of the stash covering much of that benefit, Guild Halls didn't seem as necessary.
March 10, 2000
- Masteries are passive skills (meaning they are always in effect; they don't need to be clicked or selected to work) that tend to effect how a number of other skills or abilities work. More information on them can be found in our Character Section. For example, Skeleton Mastery increases the hit points and damage dealt by all of the Necromancer's Raised skeletons or Revived creatures. Fire Mastery increases the damage of all of the Sorceress' fire spells. There are many others, with a variety of effects, including the Barbarian's six Combat Masteries.
FotDs were often just basic game info in a condensed form.
March 11, 2000
- Realms are the term Blizzard North is currently using as a synonym for "servers", the actual computers that you connect to to play Diablo II over Battle.net. Each realm can host thousands of games of Diablo II simultaneously, and the "Closed" Battle.net-only characters are stored on the Realms. "Open" non-Battle.net characters can play online over Battle.net also, but they are not restricted to it or stored anywhere besides your hard drive.
March 12, 2000
- Hardcore characters are a new type in Diablo II that you can only play after you finish the game with a closed character. There are many interesting features to them, but the major difference is that they are mortal. No resurrection or restarting in town upon death; if you die that's it. Dead HC chars may still enter Bnet chat rooms, but they can not enter games, and they look like ghosts in the Battle.net chat. HC chars can not mix with normal chars ever, in any way. They also have their own ladders, different colored names on Bnet, and special titles.
HC was just announced around this time, right before the beta, and was a very hot topic at the time. Immediately there were people springing up with "HC only!" slogans, and insulting others who didn't pledge to play HC only forever and ever. The concept of permanent character death was relatively shocking then, and it's still pretty rare, with most online RPGs having guarantees that you'll never even lose any of your equip when you die, much less your character entirely.
March 13, 2000
- Town Portals exist in Diablo II, and they work more or less the same way they did in Diablo. Changes now include the much spiffier graphic, the requirement that you cast it from a scroll, and the fact that the portal appears right where you are standing when you cast it, rather than being targetable, as it was in Diablo. A nice addition is that when hovered on, the portal says where it is going to take you, as well as the name of the person who cast it. Best of all, travel time with a portal is almost zero, another benefit of the background level loading
The screenshot is interesting, one of the earliest PVP shots, not at all focused on the Town Portal, but as it was one of the few shots with the new TP graphics, we linked to it from this FotD.
March 14, 2000
- There are no penalties upon death in Diablo II, no stat or equipment loss, and not even any dropped equipment. No items are dropped at all, whether you are killed by a player or a monster. The only loss is to the gold in your inventory, since you drop all of it. Half vanishes completely, and the other half lies there in a pile, where any other player can pick it up if they beat you to it. PK'ed characters will drop an ear, or some other token of their demise, however.
How much gold you dropped upon death was changed several times, with Blizzard lowering their initial "all of it" penalty concept. Death penalties were a hot topic for a long time, with many players advocating some sort of penalty, since after all, death is in theory a bad thing. Less skillful players, casual players, and those with bad machines or internet connections were a lot less enthusiastic about death penalties, and everyone agreed there needed to be some sort of work around to it so players could duel without such penalties.
What exactly the PK'ed token would be was debated for a long time, with Blizzard saying and hinting that it would be different than the ear of D1, but in the end they went with that, probably just from a lack of thinking of anything else/better.
March 15, 2000
- NPCs have improved AI for better realism in Diablo II Instead of just standing on one spot forever, the NPCs move around, though the merchants are restricted to the area around their shops. They also have varied animation routines, where they go about restocking shelves or sharpening swords or other more natural activities. Other NPC's can be seen just milling around the town to add realism. You can not interact with the non-essential NPCs. NPCs with something important to tell you about a quest will have an "!" over their heads.
The link is live to one of the Blizzard magazine ads, with our added caption. The shot of Lut Gholein is interesting, for the layout is totally different from the final game. Likely it was just modified for the magazine shot, to put the most interesting features all in sight, rather than the palace being that close to the gate at some time.
March 16, 2000
- Melee weapons in Diablo II all have different ranges. A polearm will hit an enemy farther away than a sword would, and the sword will have greater reach than a dagger, for example. You can actually hit a monster on the other side of a friendly player, or hit a dangerous monster behind a less-dangerous one, if you have a weapon that will reach them. It is unknown if any characters will have greater range/longer arms than the others, but it seems unbalanced, and therefore unlikely.
Typical of the old FotDs, some known fact and then some speculation about things never yet revealed. We were right, in this case.
March 18, 2000
- A 3D card for Diablo II allows you to enjoy the parallax effect. This is a 3D effect in which objects in the background are smaller, and objects in the foreground are larger, and therefore appear to be closer to the eye. When walking or running sideways, distant objects will scroll across the field of view more slowly than ones below your character. Parallax gives the game a sort of "fisheye lens" effect, and looks great. It is demonstrated very clearly in one sequence in the Necromancer gameplay movie.
This was a very new concept back then, and hard to imagine without seeing it in action. You see it most clearly in D2X looking off the top of the Arreat Plateau, where you fight the Ancients, but the Necromancer AVI had a nice demo of it with the Necro walking along in town in Act 3, moving from by Alkor down towards the stash, and passing behind the cobra head carving on top of the temple in town.
March 20, 2000
- The Diablo II beta testers will be chosen from a random list sorted to cover a wide number of U.S./Canadian locations, and a variety of system set-ups. Signups run from 12:01am Monday, March 20th, 2000 to 11:59pm tonight. 23:58 of beta goodness. All applicants will be placed in a giant hat, and specially-engineered Blizzard robo-chimps will be lowered in, where they will pick 1000 winners, based on their computer system, location, and good luck. Announcement of the winners is expected in about a week.
People were absolutely giddy with glee over the beta sign up. We were of course joking in this FotD, Blizzard discontinued their robo-chimps after the Starcraft beta. They use robo-baboons now.
March 21, 2000
- "Closed" characters are the new type of character Blizzard North has created for Diablo II to add security to the game. They will be stored on the Battle.net servers, are only playable online, are intended to be hack-proof, and can only interact (play, trade, Guild Hall) with other "closed" characters. 'Open" characters are like Diablo multi-player characters. They can be played on Bnet or offline, over a LAN, modem, Kali, etc. Single-player characters can be played as open multi-player characters.
Interesting thing about this one is that even in late March, at the time of the Beta sign up, Blizzard still hadn't ruled out Guild Halls (at least not publicly). They were planning on slapping them together at the last minute, since they had most of the concept and art work done, but they just ran out of time.
March 22, 2000
- Axe Mastery is a Clvl 1 mastery from the Barbarian's Combat Masteries Skill Tab. Like the other five weapon masteries, Axe Mastery will increase the Barbarian's skill with an axe, adding substantially to his damage and Attack Rating. The improvement is said to be around 25% at Slvl one, and slightly less with each additional skill point. In terms of throwing axes, axe mastery works for the melee attack with them, but not for throwing. Throwing Mastery takes precedence there, and the masteries do not stack.
We didn't want to do FotDs for all six of the Weapon Masteries, since they are all basically identical, but whenever we'd do one people would email or post in forums asking if Mace or Sword or Polearm worked the same as Throw or Axe, etc. That and if we were pressed for time, we could change 3 words and the icon and have a new FotD!
March 23, 2000
- Ice Blast is a Clvl six spell from the Sorceress' Cold Spells Tab. One of the more powerful Clvl 6 spells in the game, this one works like Ice Bolt, shooting forth a small cold projectile, but instead of just chilling the target, it freezes then, stopping them in their tracks, as well as doing more damage. The freeze doesn't last very long, just a second or two at Slvl One, but it's very useful for the Sorceress, giving her time to attack with a more damaging spell, or to run. Useful in a party as well.
Back in the old days, we assumed character growth would be much slower than it actually is. Blizzard was saying characters took days to work through all 4 acts, and to get to lvl 30+ was a project. So it seemed that skills of every level would be of use. That was the case for some time after the release, but after a month or two people were getting the hang of the game and storing up good equipment, and taking a brand new character to lvl 40 or 50 in a couple of days, blowing the whole leveling curve.
Of course in D2X with the party exp sharing, it's possible to level 10x faster than it was playing solo in D2. People have reached Clvl 99 in less than two days.
March 25, 2000
- Characters in Diablo II will gain titles for finishing the game. All male characters and both female characters share a six titles, three for Hardcore and three for Normal, one for each diff level, though it is hoped that class-specific titles will be implemented before the game is released. For normal characters they are: Sir/Dame for normal, Baron/Baroness for nightmare, and Duke/Duchess for hell. For HC characters, the titles are: Lord/Lady for normal, Count/Countess for nightmare, and King/Queen for hell.
Blizzard considered doing different titles for each class, there are a few of them in the game files, but they never came up with all the names needed and abandoned it. For a while after the announcement of different titles, we had numerous posts in our suggestions forum with everyone adding their list of possible titles. There was a link to one from this FotD, but it's long long gone now.
March 27, 2000
- Guild support is out of Diablo II. Blizzard North had long planned to include Guild Halls, and with them special tags, color schemes, and more. Unfortunately, due to time constraints these features had to be dropped from the game. They were too complicated, and there just was not time to get them all balanced and working in bulletproof fashion. The Diablo II Dev Team hopes to add some sort of guild support after the release.
Blizzard finally admitted that Guild Halls wouldn't be in, and there was great sorrow. I don't recall anyone saying they wouldn't buy the game since Guild support wasn't in, but there was quite a bit of tooth-gnashing and lamentation. Everyone assumed they'd get them in for the Expansion, and Blizzard initially said they would (when they announced the Expansion months later, though everyone was expecting one all along), but they ran out of time on it there also.
I don't think they are all that missed now, it would be sorta cool to have them on Battle.net, where you could meet up with your friends or your guild mates if you are actually in a guild, but the only real benefit was going to be storage space, and Blizzard added in the Stash for that, partially due to Guild Halls being removed.
March 28, 2000
- Mace Mastery is a Clvl 1 mastery from the Barbarian's Combat Masteries Skill Tab. Like the other five weapon masteries, Mace Mastery will increase the Barbarian's skill with an axe, adding substantially to his damage and Attack Rating. The improvement is said to be around 25% at Slvl one, and slightly less with each additional skill point. Maces come in one and two-handed models in Diablo II, and do extra damage against the undead.
March 29, 2000
- Dodge is a passive Clvl 6 skill from the Amazon's Passive and Magic Skill Tab, is the weakest of the Amazon's three "you can't hit me" skills. The other two, Avoid and Evade, have distinct properties of their own, and all three are useful in certain situations. Dodge specifically allows the Amazon a % chance of not being struck by a melee attack, as long as she's not walking or running. Higher Slvls allow a higher % chance of dodging the strike, so a great skill to boost for anyone who plans a toe to toe battle'zon.
March 31, 2000
- The Diablo II closed beta test has begun! Beta CDs were mailed yesterday, via Federal Express overnight delivery, and should be arriving in the US and Canada later today. Overseas testers will probably have to wait a few days longer, due to customs and distance. The closed beta is the full Act One, no special gameplay modifications were made for the beta. All five characters are available, and all Clvl 1, 6, and 12 skills are enabled, as well as all quests, monsters, items, etc that you would normally find in Act One. Tons more info on it will be posted here soon.
The D2 beta began very soon after the sign up, probably since it was just the lower level skills and Act 1, all things Blizzard had been working on for a long time and had quite polished. They were still hard at work on other game issues, getting Act Four finished, tweaking the higher level skills, etc.
The D2X beta started months after the sign up, rather than a couple of weeks, since it was the whole game, basically. Blizzard had to get everything near final, though they did a lot of tweaking during and after the beta, changing skill damages and item stats and such.