Apparently, after the Diablo 3 announcement and promotional/demonstrational videos, a couple thousand deluded Diablo 2 fans signed a petition asking for the colors in Diablo 3 to be toned down. This was followed by some silly Photoshop dabblers using the desaturate slider on some of Blizzard’s screenshots to turn down the intensity of the beautiful colors and effects Blizzard has shown to us so far.
So now the Art Director for Diablo 3 has sat down and taken a look at the screenshots and made some comments on why they chose the art direction they did. It’s a pretty interesting look into the rationale of their choices, although the reasons should be pretty apparent– Nevertheless, for things that seem obvious when spoken about in design principle terms, a lot of smart people consistently get this wrong in practice. So perhaps worth reiterating.
The most amusing bit of this story for me is just the patina of nostalgia that is obvious from people who are petitioning for a “darker” feel. Diablo 2 was not all that “dark” at all. 4/5 acts had major overland areas that were substantially non-greyscale. The lands around Tristram, the desert, the jungles of Kurast, and the Barbarian homelands… None of these were dominated by a grey color palette, not even the snowy areas of act 5. Act 4 was pretty grey, but it’s uh, Hell. As for me, I’ll be really happy to see vibrant greens and autumn hues, and then watch it all fall away as my character descends deep into the nightmare of Diablo’s realm.