BlizzCon 2016 Diablo 20th Anniversary Panel Transcript

The Necromancer

John: Wasn’t it amazing? That was created by the Blizzard in-game cinematic team, so quick round of applause for them. That was awesome. OK, so I’m excited to be here representing the Diablo art team to walk you guys through what it was like reimagining the necromancer for Diablo III, and this really gets to what sounds like a simple question.



But when we kind of got into it, got a little bit complex, because we had to answer this question: “Who is the necromancer?” and that question on the surface, well, the Necromancer is a priest of Rathma who wields powers of the undead.



Well, that sounds kind of boring, because with the necromancer… actually as we found is 16 years of player experiences, and when we started to talk to the team, we realized we had to go far and wide, and this is where at Blizzard we use this process called brainstorming and ideation; and that’s where we get all the best ideas from all of our developers to get the best results we can get.

Now this first concept was– now this is all stuff that sort of influenced where we arrived about who the Necromancer was. This was created by Aaron Gaines (character artist), and this is sort of this theme of the necromancers: the king of the dead. Right? This was a very common theme that came up as we were developing the class.



This next one, this is by Victor Lee, I call this one “The Hunter,” and this one is like the necromancer… this fearsome character who like wears the trophies of the dead on his armor. He’s got the demon head in his hand, and he’s got the scythe. Just looks completely badass, and then I call this guy this is by Michael Franchina and I call this guy “the Crypt Keeper” because he’s sort of like looks like he is literally living with the dead. He’s sort of got his hand out, he’s smiling, his eyes are torn out, and he’s sort of like welcome to my crypt you know like just a very happy necromancer living with the dead.



Okay, so where did we arrive through this sort of ideation process? and this landed us at this very simple statement which is that the Necromancer is the commander of the dead, that he is a rockstar. This was an interesting theme that came up because he’s got like an entourage of skeletons, right? Like the coolest entourage any rock star could ever dream of, and we thought that this was a really cool theme that we could access to bring the class forward into Diablo III, and most importantly, the necromancer is just cool. He’s one of the coolest classes.



This is when we talked to everybody. The players stories: “Wouldn’t it be cool if the necromancer did this…” there was just so much that we accessed there, and additionally, we had the fun task of introducing the first female necromancer into the world of Diablo.

Okay, so now we know who the Necromancer is. The necromancer is the commander of the dead. Now production begins. This is sort of we start to put all the pixels and polygons in their plates, and this is the classic set. Our goal is to stay true to the necromancer to make sure that we are accessing those players’ stories as well as adding our own flavors to it, and we start to begin to add these flavors, and this is that Hunter theme reimagined by Ryan Metcalf, and this is wearing the trophies of his enemies. This is trying to get all the themes of the sort of paganism that we liked about that theme of sacrifice; and of course, we have this idea that the Necromancer is also a sophisticated character, and this comes through in the sort of aristocratic theme that we came up with.



Okay, now it’s hard to have some fun, because we start to mix and match some of these themes that we discovered, and this is the — what I call the bone saint, and this is where we take the idea that the Necromancer is all about the dead, but he’s also a king. He’s also you know kind of like a saint of the dead; and of course, now we have these really cool themes that are pure themes, and this is something that we added to the class which is like we want to do a whole armor set that is just all about blood; and the necromancer’s shoulderpads which are hearts that literally pump blood as he runs through the world wreaking havoc; and of course, what necromancer would be complete without a full Akushima of Bone Armor that was sort of like … we knew we were going to do that one of those pure themes that we are going to explore. That’s by Victor Lee.



So on the left, you can see the necromancer from Diablo II. On the right, you can see our reimagined Necromancer in Diablo III, and this was the first set that we did, this is that classic armor set you saw in the intro cinematic trailer.



We really knew that we had to get this part of it right, and then we could begin to add all the cool themes that we had come up with in our journey of reimagining what this class would be like in Diablo III.

And of course, here they are together. The legacy continues. The necromancers are back in Sanctuary, and we just couldn’t be more excited about it. That’s for like giving you a little tour of what it was like reimagining the necromancer.



Next up, our Master of Disaster our lead FX artist: Mr Julian Love.


Next: Necromancer Gameplay

BlizzCon 2016 Diablo 20th Anniversary Panel Transcript
Panel IntroDarkening of TristramThe ArmoryThe NecromancerNecromancer Gameplay

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

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