Theorycrafting: Potential Job Opening for Diablo II: Resurrected?

Diablo II: Resurrected is not a confirmed game in development, but we have seen a few breadcrumbs pointing toward it.

There is a new job opening that feels different in terms of the wording used to describe the tasks or requirements.

The Classic Games team encompasses all these games:

  • StarCraft: Remastered
  • Warcraft III: Reforged
  • StarCraft II
  • Heroes of the Storm

The new job opening for a Senior Technical Artist, Characters was posted somewhere around May 27, 2020 (6 days ago).

UPDATE (June 29): This speculation has been proven incorrect. As of June 29 (or earlier), this job opening has been placed under the Diablo III category. Read more.


(Continue reading the original article before the June 29 update)

Some of the Classic Games job openings are crystal clear on what game you are going to work.

For example, the Test Lead, Classic Games job opening says in its PLUSES section: Passion for StarCraft. This let’s you know that it is to develop content for either StarCraft II or StarCraft: Remastered. StarCraft II feels more appropriate because we know Blizzard releases new Co-op Commanders a few times a year, and you pay real money for them.

But when we take a look at this new Senior Technical Artist, Characters job opening we don’t see any explicit word for existing games: SC:R, StarCraft II, Warcraft III: Reforged, or Heroes of the Storm.

Instead, we encounter a very specific and peculiar wording: “Help manage external vendors.

For Diablo Immortal, Blizzard partnered with NetEase.

For StarCraft II: Remastered and Warcraft III: Reforged, Blizzard partnered with Lemon Sky Studios.

So the question for you, intrepid Diablo fan, is: Does Blizzard need an external vendor (studios) for Heroes of the Storm or StarCraft II?

These are the specific job descriptions that trigger me:

  • Help manage external vendors
  • Strong communication skills and experience supporting multiple animators.
  • Solid track record of developing useful and well-designed animation tools.
  • Fiery passion for Blizzard’s games and characters.

The combination of these 4 hand-picked requirements make me think of two specific games: Heroes of the Storm or Diablo II: Resurrected.

Fiery passion for Blizzard’s games fits with Heroes of the Storm if taken literally. That’s the only one that throws me off the Diablo II scent.

But the animation tools and external vendors portions keep me on track of Diablo II.

In terms of “Strong communication skills and experience supporting multiple animators.” I can’t picture Heroes of the Storm requiring “multiple animators” when you are simply focusing on shipping one new Hero. I might be wrong. But the Classic Games team would certainly need multiple animators if they were working on over 100 monsters and 6 classes.

StarCraft: Remastered has up to 4K art quality. It was modeled and rigged as 3D art, then ported and animated for a 2D engine.

Diablo II is also a 2D engine.

The difference between both games is that Diablo II no longer has a source code (master CD) or art assets to remaster — as revealed by the ex-Blizzard North founders. Those were corrupted and lost.

This means that Diablo II’s 2D engine and most of the art assets need to be rebuilt from scratch in both low and high quality (not just high quality). I am split between cataloging Diablo II: Resurrected as a reboot or a rework (or even a different fancy name). It definitely can’t be designated as a remaster when you no longer have the original source code and art assets.

This increases the amount of work required to renovate Diablo II to modern standards onto the Blizzard Launcher.

But having an external studios like Vicarious Visions splits the heavy work load and speeds up development.

As per Erich Schaefer: “Almost all of Diablo II‘s in-game and cinematic art was constructed and rendered in 3D Studio Max, while textures and 2D interface elements were created primarily with Photoshop. The programmers wrote in C and some C++, using Visual Studio and SourceSafe for version control.”

“Characters and monsters were created in 3D Studio Max. An in-house tool would render the files from many different angles (eight for all monsters, 16 for player characters), and export them in the file formats used in the game.”

Technologies used to develop Diablo II: Glide, Direct3D, RAD Game Tools’ Bink, DirectSound3D, and Creative Labs’ EAX.


Senior Technical Artist, Characters

Powerful. Fast. Reliable. The best rigs are created by rigging artists that understand the needs of a production and are constantly optimizing their work. Blizzard Entertainment is looking for a technical/rigging artist interested in collaborating with world-class artists and engineers to make something truly amazing.  

The ideal candidate for this position is passionately motivated to create and maintain high quality character and prop rigs. We’re looking for someone who loves the art of animation and who has the technical skills to support the creation of responsive rigs, solve problems, and collaborate with other departments’ shared technology.

COVID-19 Hiring Update: We’ve transitioned to a work-from-home model and we’re continuing to interview and hire during this time. This role is expected to begin as a remote position. We understand each person’s circumstances may be unique and will work with you to explore possible interim options.

Responsibilities

  • Primary stakeholder for rigging on the project.
  • Create character rigs that help set the bar for quality and productivity.
  • Help manage external vendors which includes monitoring quality, unblocking resources, and ensuring standards.
  • Work with art leads and production to prioritize asset creation.
  • Collaborate with engineers on engine-side features for characters.

Requirements

  • A minimum of 3 years’ experience creating character rigs in Maya.
  • Strong knowledge of character kinematics, deformations, and edge loop topology.
  • Highly proficient in character skinning, tool creation and technical workflows.

Pluses

  • Thorough knowledge of modeling, rigging, physics simulations, animation, shaders, and the contemporary workflows used within the industry.
  • Strong communication skills and experience supporting multiple animators.
  • Knowledge on subjects such as Maya tool development and pipeline design.
  • Experience in Python or other programming languages.
  • Fiery passion for Blizzard’s games and characters.
  • Solid track record of developing useful and well-designed animation tools.

Submission / Portfolio

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Demo Reel and Shot Breakdown showing rigging / simulation and technical proficiency
    • Only online submissions will be accepted

You can apply for this job here.

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