Were there any ideas for the intro cinematic that didnâ€™t make the cut?
Nick Carpenter: Earlier versions of the cinematic were much more focused on the characters talking back and forth, mostly about the Eternal Conflict. We ultimately decided it was better to â€˜show not tell,â€™ so we moved away from this direction and instead came up with the idea of establishing the Eternal Conflict by flashing back to it. We loved the concept of angels pouring down from the sky like a waterfall of diamonds into an ocean of demons, but there was no way we could create such sequences and still ship the game on time; it was essentially like adding another entire cinematic relatively late in the schedule.
Thatâ€™s where the idea of the 2D animations originated. Here, we could show the same backstory in the context of a macabre, living storybook where the images come to life on the page. Through the constraint of time, we came up with the unique â€˜storybookâ€™ look for which I think the Diablo III cinematics will be remembered. This storybook grounds the sequence as a flashback â€” without explicitly explaining that itâ€™s a flashback â€” and it even gives the viewer the sense that they are witnessing events with the weight of an epic, almost mythological past.
What technologies were used to create the intro cinematic?
Nick Carpenter: We use Pixarâ€™s RenderMan as our primary rendering tool. Itâ€™s very good at displacing surfaces and adding both realistic motion blur and depth of field. During the development of StarCraft IIâ€™s cinematics it felt at times as though RenderMan was leading us, but for Diablo III we were able to apply what we learned during StarCraft II and get back in the driverâ€™s seat. We also used VRay for matte painting passes, which is the modern equivalent of how 2D painters used to draw environment layers on sheets of glass to create a sense of depth. Also, if you look closely at the 2D storybook sections of the Diablo III intro cinematic, youâ€™ll notice that we took the fibers in the parchment and separated them at different
z-depths in After Effects to create a 3D effect, almost like a star field.The gameplay is simple and to the point. One team fights against another in either team death match or â€œplant the bombâ€ game modes. As is usually the case with realistic first person shooters, head shots are near instant kills, whereas body and limb shots are significantly less lethal. Movement decreases the accuracy of the playerâ€™s weapon, as does sustained fire, which gives the combat a level of tactical nuance commonly found in modern shooters today. However, two things that I found to be curiously absent were weapon iron sights, as well as the ability to either sprint or bunny hop in any shape or form. With that aside, pretty much anything youâ€™d expect to see from a standard shooter, youâ€™ll see in 9mm Online.
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As part of our ever-expanding coverage of all things MMO, weâ€™d like to direct your attention to sister site FPSGuru.com and the latest review by Danny â€œTenebrionâ€ Wojcicki. Danny takes a look at the F2P online shooter, 9mm Online. See what he discovered and then let us know if youâ€™ve played too.