Forum Poster: "Artists can't render that many animations" is a bogus excuse.
Bashiok: I don't think we've ever put that forward as the main excuse, but... well, it is the main excuse. It's not bogus though it's absolutely a true and real situation. Animation takes time. There are schedules and we have to try to set realistic goals for what we can achieve so we can try to get this game out sometime before we die of old age.As if there wasn't already a very talented art team at work with lots of time, theres the simple moddability of a replaceable animation; you can have swinging, stabbing, etc and attach the weapon models in there. Thats basic stuff.
You're dismissively downplaying the amount of work needed to animate every weapon type. It's important to note that we aren't going to just slap on animations. We'll do it right or we won't do it. There is some overlap in weapon animations, but generally every weapon needs a full range of adaptation to the character. We can't animate a 1h sword and then equip a 1h axe and be happy with it being wielded in the same manner. In addition we don't want weapons disappearing whenever the hero does anything but a basic attack, so they have to be animated into emotes, idles, and a lot of skills and abilities. Every weapon. Some people noticed weapons disappear during some of the monk abilities. We don't like that. Most of that was due to time constraints to get that demo finished. Again there is some overlap - staves share a lot of the same animation with the other 2h weapons, but to dismiss it as "just animate it and slap it on and it works!" is seriously oversimplifying our processes. Maybe some other games do it that way.
Good news is that animation seems to be ahead of schedule, so we're working on a new definition of restrictions that's based more on class flavor than anything else. (Didn't I just post about this?) For instance we don't want anyone but the barbarian or monk dual-wielding, we don't want anyone but the witch doctor or wizard using wands, we don't want anyone but the wizard to wield orbs, fist weapons will probably only be usable by the monk, etc. etc. but other than for flavor reasons most of the restrictions are being removed.
All subject to change of course. Thanks for your reply and attempting to explain things. Forgive me, though, but I'm not seeing your point. This would have made sense back in the days of D1 and D2 where they had to pre-render sprite combinations. But D3 uses 3D characters. You've got a 3D model for a sword, and a 3D model for a character...and the character is driven by bones and/or hierarchical transforms...so the only thing needed to make a character wield a weapon is the animation keys. Using modern tools such as MotionBuilder, defining a custom animation like this could be done quickly in minutes/hours...especially if you already have a base to work with, such as mocap data, or a previously made animation for a different character which just needs to be tweaked. So I really cannot buy this as a legitimate excuse. Not in this day and age.
There are approximately 30 animations for every weapon type, for every class, for both genders. Now granted again there is some overlap but not to a degree that makes animation inconsequential.
And to reiterate, we're not going to slap things on and call it done. It's true that we could take a stave animation for the wizard and make some minor tweaks and tah-dah, 2h swords work now. But there's a process to each weapon. The animation team meets and determines how the class would wield a specific weapon, what their character imparts to the feeling and tone of the animations, and that the tone is consistent through the character. The animations tell a story about who this person is and what they're capable of. Like, whoa...whoa...whoa....a shield is not a class specific item. A shield is something that any sane person would carry into battle, regardless of gender or class...and it's quite an unreasonable restriction if you ask me.
Bruce Lee would not use a shield, and neither would the monk. lol, really? I thought this is Blizzard.
Being willing to take as much time as necessary is not the same as working without a plan.
I think it's jumping to an extreme conclusion to say that a few weapon restrictions will ruin build and experimentation variety. If it ruins build experimentation and variety then we'll fix it. But I think it is accurate to say that weapon restrictions will encourage trading, but more accurately to the reasons we present - build a sense of immersion with who these heroes are and the character that shows through every aspect of the way they're presented and behave.
I'm not sure barbs running around dual wielding wands is emergent gameplay we want to stomach. Or that makes anyone playing think "That's awesome! This game is awesome!" no, you're going to see a 9-foot tall behemoth running around shooting magic out of little sticks. That's not what a barbarian should be doing, build potential or not.
You say it will lower the amount of possibilities of outfitting a character, and that's obviously true, but we don't feel that the possibilities lost are so vast and substantial as to hurt character customization. If it does, we'll fix it.
We're not going to put out a game that has poor character customization because we don't like the idea of wizards running around dual wielding axes. If that makes character build potential severely limited, that's fine, we were wrong and we'll fix it. I don't think we'll be wrong though.