The information presented in these archived FotDs is now outdated, but that's often the most interesting thing about them, seeing how much the game has changed from then to now.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.
Most of the FotDs this month are strictly about the Expansion.
May 3, 2001
- Hired mercenaries in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction are much improved from the weak, quickly-dead mercs in Diablo II. Improvements include the ability to feed them healing potions and equip them with a better weapon, shield, helm, and armor. They also have an Inventory window that displays their resistances, damage, Str, Dex, and more. They will also follow you between acts, difficulty levels and can be resurrected.
The screenshot is the first ever look at the Merc's window, and it's unchanged in the final game, though the merc in it has one difference in their properties.
May 7, 2001
- There are a lot of changes to how gambling works in the Expansion. It's much more convenient now, every time you click the NPC they re-spawn their inventory, so no more running out of town, and they always have at least one ring and amulet. You also can gamble exceptional and elite items if you are high enough level (you see normal item in the gamble window). Prices increase for most things based on your Clvl, and you can not gamble any set or unique items ever.
The possibility to gamble Set and Unique items was added back in a patch, but the odds to do so are so astronomically remote that it's hardly worth considering. The changes to item spawning is nice, D2X players have trouble remembering that they had to run in and out of town every single time to get new items to show up on the gamble NPC.
May 9, 2001
- A very nice change in the Expansion is somewhat unrealistic, but we'll still give it a gold star. Your minions of every type (Merc, Valk, Revived, Golem, etc) no longer bump into you or other players at all. You can walk right through each other, so it's much easier and smoother and no de-synch walking around. Necros can even go into town in Act Three now!
This was a great change, making it much easier to play with minions, especially in tight spaces like the Maggot Lair. Of course Necros were ruined in the Expansion so now no one without a lot of free time or a Masochistic streak, but at least you don't get stuck behind your own worthless minions anymore.
May 11, 2001
- There are new titles in the Expansion, bestowed when you defeat Baal on each difficulty. There is a new congrats screen as well, at which time your softcore character becomes a Slayer (normal), Champion (NM), Matriarch or Patriarch on Hell, depending on character gender. For Hardcore you are a Destroyer, Conqueror (NM), and congrats to Guardian Zen, 89 Necro, for being the first and so far only Hell/HC winner. Unknown if there is a female title for Hell/HC yet.
We found out soon afterwards that Guardian was the female HC Hell title also. In the beta Hell Baal seemed terribly fearsome, even with very good equipment. His elemental attacks did hundreds of points of damage, and he seemed to duplicate the minute you entered his level. Blizzard toned him down a lot in testing, probably too much, since most characters walk all over him in Hell now. He's certainly much easier than Diablo.
May 14, 2001
- Gold sharing is enhanced in the beta. All gold picked up shares to the party members in the area, but you also share gold received from NPCs for your item sales. You can actually lose money selling items now, if you repair them first, since you pay the full repair cost, but then share in a % of the gold for selling it. 60/40 with 2 players, even if they are in the dungeon. This may yet change, however.
Gold sharing on item sales was enormously unpopular, and Blizzard removed it in a patch, after a month of near-unanimous negative feedback. Gold sharing on ground pick ups in parties is a decent feature, it's just annoying if someone in the party is too lazy to pick up gold, knowing that others will and they'll get the same share either way. The person who picks it up should probably get the majority of it as a reward for bending over.
May 18, 2001
- The greater resolution of 800x600 added as an option in the Expansion is great. It's hard to stand the game in 640x480 after you run a game in 800x600, you get used to the size so quickly. The game works the resolution size totally on your end. The game works just the same for both resolutions, sending the same info, and all of the interface windows (Inv, Char, Skills, etc) are identical, it's just that more of the area is seen . You just see more of the screen in 800x600, and the game windows have a border around them. Comparison of resolution size seen here.
The screenshot was the first 800x600 shot released, and the comparison is interesting to see, how much less screen there is. By the time of this FotD the beta had been going for a while, and we were speaking from experience about the superiority of the higher resolution.
May 21, 2001
- The characters on the Beta Realm are copies of all characters on USWest at the time it was cloned to the Beta Realm in late April, and new characters created since then. The Beta Realm exists only for the beta test though, it and all the characters on it will be wiped when the beta ends, and no, there's no way to convert characters or save items from Beta to any other Realms.
People often ask about Betas if the testers get a head start and get their characters saved, and the answer is always no, since it wouldn't be fair to others who didn't get into the beta.
May 24, 2001
- Characters converted to the Expansion transfer exactly as they are, including quest status, so yes, you can transfer a character with Imbues and still have them in the Expansion. Higher level characters can also go back and do all of Act Five on Normal and Nightmare at any time, earning the tasty quest rewards for that act.
This was a commonly-asked question, at the time. Most converted characters were worthless in the Expansion, due to skill changes making them high-level mules, but were helpful to get the extra socket quests to improve your converted items.
One funny thing were all of the players who made Imbue chars in D2, with Normal and Nightmare at Clvl 29, ready to Imbue Elite weapons in D2X, thinking that would be the best way to get big weapons in D2X, as it was in D2. When of course Rare weapons are worthless in D2X, and lower level chars can't get much of use on Imbues either.
May 30, 2001
- While there haven't been any changes to how hostility works in the Expansion, there are some improvements to the Party window. The hostile button is over the to far left now, so no more accidental clicks of it aiming for loot or squelch. There is no more "loot" button for Softcore characters, and the ability to use to hostile and party invite buttons to spam has been fixed as well. Comparison of the D2 and D2X party windows here.
The windows are interesting to compare side by side. Which is of course why we did the screenshot.