Stropp's World

Games And Gamery

If It Smells Like Spin

Posted by Stropp on March 29, 2013

An interesting post by Green Armadillo over at PvD about player motivations. Mysterious player motivations actually. In it GA references two games and recent comments made by those responsible for them.

I don’t want to get into debates about the merits of these games or systems in this post, but I do want to talk about why these comments don’t ring true to me.

First of all these comments are coming from two veterans of the computer game industry, and not just that these are guys that have been in the front lines of game development for many years. We should also consider that they have worked on some of the biggest and most anticipated games to date; they’re not lightweights. They’ve been around the block a few times. They are the cream of the crop.

Game developers, and particularly MMORPG developers, have known since the first MMOs, that players have a tendency to rush to the level cap. MMO players consume content like a zombie consumes brains. How many games release one day, then two or three days later have players announcing they’ve capped.

How many articles and blog posts have we read about players complaining that a game has no high end content because they’ve rushed and run out of content well in advance of what the developers planned for?

And look at auction houses with the millions of words written about them. How we see players aggressively pursuing the market, and engaging in trading practices that would make the NYSE blush or proud depending on who was running it at the time.

Right from the start of MMO gaming, players have looked for ways to make their characters as effective as they possibly can be. Asheron’s Call players may be familiar with such things as 10/100/10/100/100 (I think I got the attributes for a mage correct there.) Players will min/max to make the right character, even if more distributed settings will create a more well rounded but weaker character.

So to hear a pair of veteran game developers, in 2013, say they underestimated what players would do with the long standing and well understood systems they were putting in their games…


Diablo 3 Playable Offline

Posted by Stropp on February 27, 2013

but only on the Playstation 3 and newly announced Playstation 4.

Why is the PC version only playable online again?

Oh. I think it’s because it’s a better experience, according to the propaganda.

But it’s really because Blizztard want you to buy as much gear as possible from their real money auction house, because, well you know… profit.

Sorry. Having a bit of cynicism this morning with my coffee.

Diablo is Dead

Posted by Stropp on February 18, 2013

I killed him, and his little friends too…

It was shorter than I remember previously, I reckon I got through the game on normal in about 25 hours, whereas Diablo 2 took me closer to 50 if I recall correctly. Maybe I’m just better at this type of gameplay these days.

I died a few times on the way to heaven. Twice when the client switched out when another process started up, and a couple of other times when I wasn’t paying attention. Any other game the client would have paused when it lost focus, unfortunately Blizzards decision to do this online only, never pause, MMO version of Diablo has its drawbacks.

Other than disconnecting from the servers when I left it idle too long, the only other technical issue was when I was initially downloading the client. The download killed my router a number of times which required a off/on restart. Apparently this is a know issue, but usually when the game is running. I had no problems there. Oh, but I did have problems buying the game online, Blizzard kept rejecting my credit card (and was charging 79 Aussie dollars) I ended up going into a store and buying it for $59.

As I said the game felt shorter, especially the last act. I remember hell in D2 being very large, much larger than heaven in D3. I guess that’s because hell needs more space for residents than heaven does.

The graphics were fine, very nice and atmospheric in fact. I don’t know what the fuss about it being too colorful back in the day was about.

I didn’t use any auction house facilities, gold or real money, I decided to be stubborn about this. I hated the idea when it was announced, and still do. I’ve come to the conclusion that auction houses of any kind destroy games, WoW included. But that’s another post.

There were some incongruities with the difficulty of various bosses. Killing the spider lady Cydaea in Act III was orders of magnitude harder than the next boss, Azmodan who was a complete walkover. The boss fights seemed to be escalating and I was expecting a tough battle, I was a little disappointed there.

The voice acting was excellent. I recognized Claudia Black as soon as Cydaea spoke, I love her in game roles, always comes across brilliantly.

I also liked the story overall and how it tied together with Diablo 2. This is a spoiler free zone though. :)

Overall, I’d say it was worth the $59. At $2.36 an hour it’s not bad value.

Will I play it again at a higher difficulty? Maybe. I tend to play games through once for the story, but I’m not into repetition that much. I might leave it for a while and come back to it.

Launch Day Blues…

Posted by Stropp on May 16, 2012

…for a single player game. What the hell is that about?

You kinda expect it for a MMORPG, but lots of players just want to play the single player mode. Why Blizzard didn’t allow an offline mode like they did in Starcraft 2 is beyond me. Dumb move.

If you’re prepared to get kicked out of the game at a whim, or wait in a queue to play single player Diablo 3, then by all means buy it now. Otherwise, wait until everything has died down and get it when this rediculous always on thing gets fixed.

Games, Incoming.

Posted by Stropp on April 22, 2012

I reckon if I had a Dalmation I’d be outside sitting on the hood of my car waiting.

The Diablo 3 beta is open for valid Battlenet accounts, which means the game is very close to release. Tera is also in beta. Torchlight 2 is anticipated for release a month after Diablo3. Around the same time as Torchlight is The Secret World.

At the same time Eve Online is gearing up for some fairly major changes that will affect the economy, and improve the user interface experience.

Lots of stuff then.

The trick, for someone with limited time like me, is to work out which games I actually want to play.

Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 are very similar, both being Action RPGs. I have played and enjoyed both Diablo 2 and Torchlight (1), completing both of them. I’m not sure Torchlight warrants me getting Torchlight 2 at release. While I enjoyed it, it didn’t grab me like D2 did. However, I’m less than enamored with Blizzards focus with Diablo 3. The real money aspects concern me. If I don’t spend real money to buy equipment will my progress through the game be slower?

So I doubt I’ll get D3 or T2 at release. I’ll probably wait until the end of the year and make a choice then.

Likewise Tera doesn’t grab me. I’m seeing lots of news about it, but I feel kind of meh about it. I think it’s the fact that it’s another fantasy game, with the standard fare of fantasy characters. It would be nice to see something completely different in the fantasy genre. Of course I felt that way about Rift too, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. So it might be, once the game gets released, I’ll start reading some real details and feel compelled to have a go.

The only game so far that really has my attention is The Secret World. I like the modern day mythological conspiracy setting. I like the skill system, and the fact that I don’t have to create a thousand alts to try everything. I even like what I’ve seen of the crafting system so far.

I just hope I’ll have enough time to play it when it is released.


Diablo 3 No PvP At Release

Posted by Stropp on March 14, 2012

If there is anything I could care less about, it is the announcement that Diablo 3 won’t have PvP at release.

In fact that’s probably a good thing.

Even so I don’t really look forward to when Blizzard manage to shoehorn this particular feature in at some time after release.

If D3PvP becomes a force in the game what’s the bet that Blizzard will nerf single player abilities along with multiplayer when a big enough crowd cries that one class or another is overpowered?


Posted by Stropp on October 22, 2011

Pandas eh?

Panda excitement is in the air, but Blizz appear to still feel the need to bribe players into a 12month sub with the promise of Diablo 3. That’s $180 for a game (D3) that will cost sixty or seventy. I hope there’s 12 months of content in the panda expansion.

BTW, the Panda is an endangered species.

Is this a sign of things to come with WoW?

Side Effects

Posted by Stropp on October 8, 2011

If you read Tobold’s blog you would have seen a post a few days ago where he lamented the loss of his Facebook account. It’s in Facebook’s terms of service that the name you use must be ‘real.’ And by real, I guess that means the one on your birth certificate.

(I wonder when Stephen King will have his account banned.)

Today, Tobold posts about one of the consequences of that banning. He used Facebook Connect to add some social functionality to Castle Empires Online (aka The Settlers Online.) This linked the game to his Facebook account via an app, and now he cannot access that game until he removes the app. Of course he cannot remove the app because he can’t log in to that Facebook account.

No Castle Empires Online for you. Catch 22. That’s some catch, that Catch 22. It’s the best there is.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve recently noticed a number of blogs sporting a comment section that is basically a Facebook widget that requires a guest to login to their Facebook account in order to comment.

Aside from the questionable practice of forcing someone who may not want to have a FB account to have one to comment, or to have every comment they make replicated in their FB feed, the bigger issue to me is the loss of control the blog owner is giving to Facebook. No longer does the blog own the comments, they are now Facebook property. And if Facebook decides for one reason or another to ban that blog, well, what happens to all those comments?

This Tobold Facebook banning has brought another issue to mind.

Blizzard now has a policy of linking their various games together in the same account. Your World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and soon Diablo 3 games will all be linked together, if you use the same Battlenet account.

Now what happens if in one of those games you do something against the terms of service and get yourself an account ban. Do you lose access to every Blizzard game linked to that account?

And hey, it might not even be you doing the dirty deed. Account hacks are not unknown, and folks have been banned temporarily on that basis. So your WoW account is hacked, and Blizzard shuts you down for two weeks while it investigates. And during this time you don’t have access to SG2, or D3 to fill the gaming gap. Nice.

That’s why it’s been my policy for some time to not do things like use Facebook Connect. If a game offers an update service such as tweeting achievements, fine. You can turn those off in game. But a game should never be disabled by the failure of an optional third party service. That is unacceptable.

This is also why I create a separate Battlenet account for each of my Blizzard games. I have used different emails for both WoW and SC2, and I’ll be creating a new email address for Diablo 3 when I buy that.

The world is rushing headlong towards a completely connected state where everything is linked. Don’t get me wrong, this can be very useful and save time by simplifying online life, but the problem here is if one link fails, does it bring down the rest?

Is anyone considering the side effects, or building in redundancy?

Diablo 3 Sounds Promising

Posted by Stropp on September 21, 2011

The Diablo 3 beta has started, and the reports are starting to trickle into the Interwebs.

I like what I’m reading too. All of the reports are early impressions, and all seem to be pretty positive. A lot of the concerns about candyland graphics appear to be unfounded, with the game being somewhat dark and gritty. (Actually if you have a dark game, you need a lot of color otherwise the game looks dull and monochrome.)

The classes also have been reported as being fun. And there appears to be plenty to do, with large levels and lots of side quests. RPS has said that Diablo 3 has a more RPG feel to it as well.

I’m not sure when Diablo 3 will be released, but I doubt it will be much longer. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some time over Christmas to enjoy it.

Blizzard Surprised By Diablo III Reaction

Posted by Stropp on August 6, 2011

Via RPS from MTV Multiplayer, Robert Bridenbecker one of the Blizzard VPs commenting on the fuss caused by the reaction to Blizzards recent announcement on Diablo 3 say he is surprised by it all.

Really? Surprised?

Surprised that people don’t like the whole real money auction house, even if it offers a solution to the RMT in Diablo 2, are concerned because they see it as a pay to win scenario, or legitimizing the RMT trade?

Surprised that people who have found the always on DRM that Ubisoft implemented didn’t really work all that well, or who may not have reliable internet connections, are miffed?

Surprised that the loyal community of fans who have extended the longevity of Diablo 2 through mods aren’t happy that they won’t be able to do the same with Diablo 3?

I don’t know about you, but I’m less and less surprised by anything I see on the web these days. Jaded? Perhaps. Perhaps, I’ve seen these sort of reactions before to similar announcements by other devs.

The same things were said about Assassins Creed and Settlers when Ubisoft announced that they would always have to be connected to the Internet. With some gamers unable to play the game they paid for due to problems with the servers, the critics were proved right. That Blizzards potential customers are concerned about the same thing happening doesn’t really surprise anyone, does it?