Designing for a franchise that has spanned much of PC-gaming's history must be a daunting task, especially given the controversial reaction Blizzard was met with when they first unveiled Diablo III's heavily World of Warcraft-inspired look. Just look at the shift from Diablo II's final horned monster to the scaley fanged-mouths-for-shoulders beast we'll see in Diablo III:
IGN recently posted some new pieces of beautiful concept art along with comments from Blizzard's Christian Lichtner about the design process for some of the game's greatest villains:
When designing any major boss or character, Lichtner said Blizzard would go through easily 50 or 60 concepts per character to work on a new design.
To come up with a new Diablo design, the bulk of the art team was roped into the process. Like in Diablo II, the Lord of Terror started off very bulky and spiky, as you can see above, with mouths set in his shoulders.
After a few iterations, the team hit on the idea of slimming down Diablo a bit. "This is probably something we should explore further. Much more sinewy, still very aggressive, the strong sharp shapes that are associated with him," said Lichtner. "We pushed that concept a little further."
"It's not quite what you expect, but still very true to Diablo," said Lichtner of this near final concept. "You can see a lot of spikes, very sharp shapes. It has a Giger-esque quality to it. It's still very beastly and demonic. Ultimately this one led to our last and final version."
"We actually kept the mouths on the shoulders," said Lichtner of the finalized Diablo design. "We felt that adds an extra creepy sort of vibe. We made sure it had a very iconic look, a very iconic silhouette."