From Diablo Wiki
A "demo" generally refers to a playable piece of a game. Many game developers release a demo, comprised of some early section of their game, for promotional purposes before or shortly after the release of the full game.
Blizzard has said they will offer a Diablo III demo at some point. (Post release seems most likely.) The Diablo 3 Demo will not be a downloadable, stand-alone product, but will simply be some sort of trial period with limited access to the game via Battle.net. (World of Warcraft offers free trials in much this same fashion.)
Beware of files that advertise themselves as a playable Diablo III Demo. Blizzard has never released such a product and seems very unlikely to do so in the future. Such files are sometimes gameplay movies, but more often are trojans or viruses intended to infect the computer of anyone who uses them.
Diablo III Demo Details
No official plans have yet been revealed, though the developers have long confirmed plans for some sort of free demo version of the game. The most info came from a Bashiok forum post in January 2012.
Diablo III Public Demos
Blizzard has produced playable demo versions of Diablo III for Blizzcon 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. These same demo builds are often reused at other gaming shows, such as Gamescom and PAX, and Diablo III has even been playable at events such as Warcraft III Tournaments..
All Diablo III demos have featured pre-made characters, with their skills, equipment, and rune effects all set in advance. This enables players to leap into the action more quickly, to take full advantage of the limited (15 or 20 minute) play sessions.
Game features are included or excluded from demos depending on what the development team wants to show off at that point. For instance, Runestones were in the 2008 demo, but they were only enabled for Wizard skills. Runestones were not included in the 2009 demo at all since they were under heavy remodeling, but they were a major feature in the 2010 demo, though only for the Wizard, Witch Doctor, and Barbarian, as they were not yet ready for the Monk and Demon Hunter.
Until the 2011 PvE demo, which was virtually identical to the beta build, there were no NPC merchants, towns, or other normal game features. The demos were all specially-made for the game shows, with just a few dungeons strung together and modified versions of quests and story for speedy play at the show. This is a very different approach than the Diablo II team took, where entire acts were made available for play in the demos at E3 and other gaming shows.
2008 WWI Demo
Diablo III was not playable at the WWI debut event in June 2008, but a lengthy gameplay movie was released, with much gameplay action and explanatory narration by Jay Wilson. The demo introduced the Barbarian and Witch Doctor characters, as well as memorable monsters like the Thousand Pounder and the gigantic Siegebreaker.
2008 Blizzcon Demo
The 2008 demo was the first playable build of Diablo III. It introduced the Wizard class, and she was playable in the demo, along with the Barbarian and Witch Doctor. The demo began in the gloomy ruins of New Tristram, before players descended into the Tristram Cathedral and down to the dungeons below, where the Skeleton King awaited as the end boss of the demo.
Starting characters were level 6, the demo was PvM only, and fans on the show floor had 20 minutes per play session.
- Gameplay: Blizzcon 2008: The six-minute gameplay movie showed off much of the dungeons and town.
- View dozens of screenshots from the movie.
2009 Blizzcon Demo
The 2009 demo introduced the Monk, who was playable along with the Wizard, Witch Doctor, and Barbarian. The demo was set in Act Two, in the scorching sandy wastes outside of Caldeum. Players fought through the wastes and several random dungeons, dealing with a wide variety of new monsters on their way to Alcarnus, a ruined, Cultist-infested city at the end of the demo.
This demo contained numerous quests, but almost no plot or story, with only a few NPCs who spoke only of non-story quests. New characters were level 12, and began the demo just outside the gates of Caldeum, just after they would have received a great deal of story and quest information (in the final game). The ending town of Alcarnus was modified for the demo as well, with much of the town unreachable and no particular focus to the final battle there.
- Gameplay: Blizzcon 2009: The eleven-minute gameplay movie showed off much of the playable area.
- View dozens of screenshots from the movie.
2010 Blizzcon Demo
The 2010 demo came in two parts. The PvM demo introduced the Demon Hunter, who was playable along with all the other classes. Numerous new features were in place, including Runestones, the Talisman, traits, and much more. The dungeon area was set below the Tristram Cathedral, in dungeons that were similar to those from 2008. The demo did not include the Skeleton King again, and ended with a battle against the Warden. New characters began at level 9 in this demo.
There was also a PvP demo, which introduced the Battle Arena. Players were pitted in 3v3 teams, with pre-made level 30 characters of the Barbarian, Witch Doctor, and Wizard class to choose from.
- Gameplay: Blizzcon 2010: The fourteen-minute gameplay movie showed off much of the playable area, with four minutes of Arena action at the end.
- View dozens of screenshots from the PvM and from the Battle Arena portion of the video.
2011 Blizzcon Demo
This year brought another two-part demo, with a PvE and a PvP build.
The PvE version was identical to the Diablo III beta test, which had just gotten underway. Players had their choice of all five classes, and all began at level 1, outside the gates of zombie-besieged Tristram. Play from there proceeded just as it does in the beta and as it will in the full game, though with just 15 minutes to play, players could only see the very beginning of the game.
The PvP demo was much more exciting for most show attendees, as it featured Clvl 60 characters and intense 4v4 battle action. Numerous new features of the Arena were displayed, including the removal of rounds for a non-stop respawning style of battle. Numerous ninja videos showing the combat can be seen here.
- It is indeed the siegebreaker’s giant hand that grabs him. It was an extremely difficult and trying shot to create and capture. The way the interior and exterior sections were set up and shot it made it necessary to capture them uncut.
- The hand shot just wasn’t working that well, so we’d tweak it, hope that the physics would move the debris properly. Shoot, it didn’t work right. Tweak it again, reshoot the entire interior run, something else might go wrong, etc. Over and over. In the end we had to settle with what would appear to most as a wall collapse simply because we didn’t have time before the announcement to keep tweaking it and reshooting everything to make it more clear that it was a hand busting through the wall and grabbing him. Especially when the one we went with had some very perfect moments in it (zombie corpse landing on railing).
- I’m glad that someone caught it though, a lot of work went into those animations, and unfortunately we just ran out of time to showcase them.
Demo Machine Specs
Demo machines are generally quite powerful, to handle the pre-optimized demo version of the game. Bashiok spoke about this in May 2009.
- They were insane. There’s a few reasons why it doesn’t matter what those machines were though.
- Most machines are lent to us by hardware vendors. It’s in our interest to have our games look good and run well, and it’s in their interest to show off the latest and greatest their company has to offer. So generally they’re top of the line, using all the newest and best hardware.
- Because we’re working with a pre-release version we work with the hardware that’s going to be on the show floor to build a final show floor build. The game hasn’t hit (obviously) final QA and hardware compatibility testing as it would before release to the public, so we need to ensure it’s going to run smoothly on this one specific set of hardware for the show.
- It can also help, to a degree, overcome some potential technical hurdles we could run into with a pre-optimized build of the game. Throw more CPU/RAM/3D processing at it, and generally those pre-optimized problems won’t throw a wrench into the brief glimpse of a game that isn’t finished yet.
- So, the combination of having hardware vendors showing off the latest and greatest, coupled with our interest to have a unoptimized version of the game look good, leads to show floor specifications that are probably way beyond what even the final “Recommended” specs for the game would be, let alone “Required”.
- This is the general outcome anyway, it could turn out that hardware we had is EXACTLY recommended spec and I’m TOOMA here. But regardless it really wouldn’t matter at this time, and also… I’m noooot goooonna teeeeell yooooou! wink
- Diablo3 Playable at Warcraft III event - Examiner.Com, 5/8/10
- WWI 2008 Demon Behind the Scenes - Bashiok, Blizzard, 2/4/09
- Blizzcon 2008 Demo System Specs - Bashiok, Blizzard, 14/5/09