The information presented in these archived FotDs is now outdated, but that's often the most interesting thing about them, seeing how much the game has changed from then to now.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.
The D2X Beta was growing closer at this time, and there were lots of previews coming out, with much more info on the Expansion, so our FotDs began to more often discuss things in the Expansion, or if they mentioned Diablo II stuff it would include a preview of what changes might be made to it in the Expansion.
March 1, 2001
- Monsters killed over open spaces in Diablo II will never drop an item or any gold. This is most often seen with flying monsters over (or in) rivers, over the black space in the Arcane, or the glowing cliffs in Act Four. Generally this isn't a big deal, but if you have a boss very low, you might want to wait and let them move over land, so you don't lose whatever they are going to drop.
Knockback attacks can cost you many an item drop this way, and it's sort of a pain for Druids who use Grizzlies for their minion in D2X, knocking back Succubi over the rivers in the Act 5 ice caves and such. Knockback bows are annoying for the same reason.
March 4, 2001
- The Barbarian's Find Item skill isn't needed to survive, but it can be fun and quite profitable. Using it on corpses in Act Four uncovers an incredible amount of additional staves, scepters, and wands, which sell for a ton, and it's also very useful on nightmare and hell difficulties to find socketed exceptional items, and is the only way to get low quality exceptional items, if you for some reason wanted some.
In the old days Magic Find didn't work with this skill, and it couldn't be used on bosses, so the odds of finding anything magical or better were very poor. It's been vastly improved in D2X.
March 9, 2001
- The quests in Diablo II were initially much more difficulty to complete, for example, the task of discovering which was the correct tomb of Tal Rasha required you to view the six glowing symbols after killing the Summoner, and figuring which one was not pictured, and knowing that it was the true tomb. In the final game this has been made so easy by the true symbol being shown in the Quest window that most players have never even noticed the six symbols by the Summoner, or the explanation in the book.
There are other quests like this, initially Act Three you were going to have to search out all the parts of Khalim with very few clues as to where they were located, and would have had to find the various things in Act One to save Cain, etc. In play testing people found them hard, and Blizzard realized the fun of the game was in killing things and getting items, not in solving elaborate riddle quests. Some RPGs are like that, with very complicated quests and much NPC talking, but they are always less popular than the more action-oriented ones. Some prefer the more cerebral, work for your reward style, but generally instant gratification is more popular, in life.
March 15, 2001
- The keyboard keys for all functions in Diablo II are fully-customizable. This includes all 8 skill hotkeys (there will be 16 in the Expansion), as well as the various window-opening keys (Character, Inventory, Quests, Party, etc) and even the 1-4 keys most use for their belt. You can set them to anything you like, including letters, as you see in this shot that a lot of people have asked about.
We'd never done any straight out Expansion only FotDs yet, but many of them around this time and in the months to come were about current Diablo II features, and included a remark on how they might be altered in the Expansion, which was due in just a few months from this date.
The screenshot linked to was the first ever in our x-items section, which grew to well over 200 pics, with all of the shots of new items in the beta. These were enormously popular. Site visitors were much more interested in seeing the new items and possible mods than in seeing monsters and action shots from Act Five.
March 23, 2001
- Elite Items are one of the most anticipated features in the Expansion Pack. Elites are a new type of item, a step up from Exceptional items, with higher damage or defense than anything to be found in Diablo II. Elite items can only be found on Hell difficulty, and in addition to their very high Str and Dex reqs, they will all require a character be Clvl 50 or even higher to equip them. Full info here.
The requirements for Elite items were changed a lot during the Beta. Initially they were all much higher Clvl reqs than they are in the final game, and all of the Str and Dex requirements were determined with a simple formula, based on the Str/Dex the base item of that type required. Everything was tweaked and customized quite a bit before the game was released though, and then much more in the patches once the game was out.