Shamelessly snatched from Gamespy:
"When Diablo III was announced at the Paris World Wide Invitational event, one of the first reactions from Diablo fans was surprising -- dismay at the new art direction. Fans objected to what they saw as the "World of Warcraft-ization of the franchise via the addition of brighter colors to what had been a dark and gothic landscape. these objectors have a surprising new ally in Bill Roper, one of the original Diablo developers, who is now at Cryptic Studios working on Champions Online.
Speaking to Videogamer.com, Roper hedges his words carefully but does say "...they basically took the Diablo universe and then approached it from the Blizzard Irvine stance for the visuals." He also details what he sees as the differences in art style between the Irvine branch of the company and Blizzard North, where Diablo was developed.
As for his own personal opinion, Roper apparently feels that "I didn't look at it and go, oh my God that's horrible. But I looked at it and went, it's not really... to me as a player it just didn't really ring with Diablo."
To which Allen, from Gamespy, comments:
"Nostalgia is the most dangerous drug. As the Diablo III developers have pointed out, a lot of what players remember as "dark and gothic" was just Blizzard North making the best of the limited tools of the time. I've played Diablo III several times now in both Paris and BlizzCon and this all strikes me as a lot of "make it the same but also totally different." With all due respect to Bill Roper, I think this "controversy" is way overblown and will be forgotten on release day."
What it looks like/what it should look like
I'm relieved that someone who truly knows and understands the Diablo franchise (after all we're talking about one of the original developers) agrees that, so far, D3 is looking quite different from what we expected. That thought is kind of reassuring, in a way that maybe we're not wrong for thinking that, after all.
About Allen's comment, it immediately made me think if Silent Hill. The fog, a feature so dear to the franchise, started as a way to make the best out of the PS1's limited hardware. That didn't prevent it to become a staple of the series, a key feature in the games' atmosphere and something prevalent throughout the series ever since. I honestly don't see why it should be any different with Diablo's "dark and gothic" look.
Note: I know this is the second time I talk about this matter, which may seem rather irrelevant and/or uninteresting to most of you. I just want to point out that I'm not obsessed with it, this article just caught my curiosity and, since I haven't updated this blog that much lately, thought it would be something relevant to write about.