Funcom has announced that The Secret World has been updated with the latest patch. Issue 5: The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn has been released and brings with it new content and “a brand new and revealing story arc”.

But that is not all you get with Issue #5. On the 21st of December all Hell breaks loose both in the real world and the virtual. The apocalypse is coming just as the Mayans predicted. In The Secret World this will take the form of an End of Days event filled with new monsters and challenges.

The Event will run from the 21st and will last until The Secret World’s servers are destroyed by rampaging zombies or until a new dawn rises on the world once again. A competition will be running during the event, and the players who do the most to stem this tide of darkness will get unique rewards.

Were there any ideas for the intro cinematic that didn’t make the cut?

Nick Carpenter: Earlier versions of the cinematic were much more focused on the characters talking back and forth, mostly about the Eternal Conflict. We ultimately decided it was better to ‘show not tell,’ so we moved away from this direction and instead came up with the idea of establishing the Eternal Conflict by flashing back to it. We loved the concept of angels pouring down from the sky like a waterfall of diamonds into an ocean of demons, but there was no way we could create such sequences and still ship the game on time; it was essentially like adding another entire cinematic relatively late in the schedule.

That’s where the idea of the 2D animations originated. Here, we could show the same backstory in the context of a macabre, living storybook where the images come to life on the page. Through the constraint of time, we came up with the unique ‘storybook’ look for which I think the Diablo III cinematics will be remembered. This storybook grounds the sequence as a flashback — without explicitly explaining that it’s a flashback — and it even gives the viewer the sense that they are witnessing events with the weight of an epic, almost mythological past.

What technologies were used to create the intro cinematic?

Nick Carpenter: We use Pixar’s RenderMan as our primary rendering tool. It’s very good at displacing surfaces and adding both realistic motion blur and depth of field. During the development of StarCraft II’s cinematics it felt at times as though RenderMan was leading us, but for Diablo III we were able to apply what we learned during StarCraft II and get back in the driver’s seat. We also used VRay for matte painting passes, which is the modern equivalent of how 2D painters used to draw environment layers on sheets of glass to create a sense of depth. Also, if you look closely at the 2D storybook sections of the Diablo III intro cinematic, you’ll notice that we took the fibers in the parchment and separated them at different

z-depths in After Effects to create a 3D effect, almost like a star field.

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Insider: Do you think we’ll ever see a full-length theatrical movie from Blizzard Cinematics?

Nick Carpenter: If you look at the way Blizzard’s cinematics have evolved over the years, it’s a good guess that we’re likely headed in that direction. We get this question a lot, and it’s too early to tip our hands on anything specific, but, for now, I can say that we definitely hear you.

Insider: Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to share before you go?

Nick Carpenter/Chris Thunig: I just want to thank everyone involved! Diablo III was one of our biggest challenges yet. It was a labor of love and we can’t wait for everyone to see the story unfold in the final game.

 

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