Sunday, May 20, 2012

Diablo 3: The Auction House is Mephisto

As I begin to type this review, Diablo 3 has been available for 123 hours on American servers.  According to my profile page, I've played for 67 hours and 5 minutes.  So, I've played Diablo 3 for a little over half of the time that has transpired since it was released.  I mention this to indicate my frame of reference in reviewing this game:  I like it quite a bit.  As part of my adoration for the game, I wanted to take a brief break and toss out some random first impression, because I'm curious as to how they'll read in hindsight a few months from now.

During server down times, I've read numerous reviews and forum posts that indicate a great dissatisfaction with the game.  Most dissent falls into one of these general categories:

1)  y I haz 2 b onlien 4 singal playar gaem!?
2)  olol story is cheesy / predictable.
3)  SO SHORT!  NOT WORTH $60!
4) lewt grind lawl

Perhaps the best way to begin a review of Diablo 3 is to acknowledge the mindset that gives rise to the above dissent.  We'll characterize it in terms of this Penny Arcade strip:


When the folks at Blizzard started to make Diablo 3, they had to decide who their intended audience would be:  For whom would this game be designed?  In my mind, they categorized their intended audience as divided between two camps:

1)  People who played Diablo 2 in single player 12 years ago.

2)  People who have been playing Diablo 2 on Bnet for 12 years.

Stated Simply:  Blizzard designed a game for Group 2.  Numerous aspects of the game are designed with bnet in mind.  They seem to have approached D3 with the question, "How can we make D2 better for folks on realms?" and designed a game that contains, as far as I can tell, everything we always wanted when we were playing online.

There are many aspects of D3 that are amazing and wonderful.  The game is divided into specific quest chunks, so everyone is always on the same quest.  When you join a game, you're automatically on the same quest as everyone else.  Players can quickly teleport between games, and to other characters from town once they arrive in the game.  Stats and skills have all been streamlined to allow greater clarity and customization for specific fights.  Your hirelings keep the gear you give them, and you can switch between them at your convenience.  The auction house greatly simplifies item acquisition.

Unfortunately, I'm worried that this is a case of the Gods punishing us by giving us what we wanted.

Diablo 3 feels different than D2.  At the same time that I adore and appreciate specific features of D3, I realize that they're cutting against the immense nostalgia I hold for Diablo 2.

Maybe it's easiest to focus on one thing, and explain what I mean through that.

Diablo 2 was about item acquisition.  What compelled us to kill Mephisto 70+ times a night was the urge to get the String of Ears, or another Goreshovel.  We wanted loot, and Mephisto had the loot.  So, we farmed Mephisto.

But in Diablo 3, Mephisto doesn't have the loot.  The auction house has the loot.  Moreover, you don't want a Goreshovel, or a String of Ears.  What you really want are the Rare items that have stats similar to Goreshovel and String of Ears, but whose numbers are higher.

So, instead of farming bosses for the sake of getting your Goreshovel, you're really farming bosses:
1)  On the off chance that they happen to drop an item with the stats you want.
2)  So you can get items to sell to get gold to buy the item you want.

#2 is what make me worry about the long term appeal of Diablo 3.  And, I mean, sure, Right now I'm lvl 55 in Act 1 hell.  So I still have a bit of a way to go.  Yet I already feel like part of my desire to play has diminished as a result of realizing that I'm just attaining gold to buy items.  After I kill Azmodan a few times, I'll hop on the Auction House and search for a rare item, lvl 50+ with MF, Dex, and Vitality.  Then I'll rank them by lowest buyout, and assess whether or not the numerical increase is worth the cost.  I'm not killing Azmodan to get gear.  I'm killing Azmodan to get items that I sell for gold that I can use on the Auction House to buy gear I want.

The "game" isn't killing mobs.  The "game" is searching the Auction House in the hopes that the item stat combination I want is available for a reasonable price.

Diablo 3 has replaced killing Mephisto 70 times, with clicking "search" 70 times.

And that's cool and awesome and fantastic and oh my god it's so much more efficient and wonderful.  All of the frustration from combing chats looking for items is gone.

But, the loss of that frustration, and the complete lack of a struggle to acquire gear...does sort of remove the appeal of gear acquisition.  I don't feel that sense of attachment to my gear that I felt in Diablo 3.  This isn't my Blade of Ali Baba that I traded a bunch of runes for.  This is my whatever legendary shoulder that has MF and dex that I found at 3 a.m. for 9K gold.  I don't need to feel attached to any item, because there are 50 more on the Auction house.  All I need is the gold required to attain them.

So, Diablo 3 is awesome and wonderful and why the fuck aren't you playing it right now.  It's everything that I wanted, as is evidenced by my having only slept about 10 hours since Tuesday.

At the same time, though, I am quite worried that 3 months from now I'm going to think, "god...I really wish this game didn't have an auction house."

Because, as it turns out, I think I prefer killing Mephisto to searching a database.

54 comments:

MA17 said...

Agreed on auction house. Kind of seems like breaking that general video game rule that the best in-game items won't be found in the stores.

Since it exists, though, and isn't necessarily a bad idea, I wonder if it would be better if they had made it a barter house. Probably it would be hard to implement/use such a thing, but there's at least a game-like element to bartering or haggling that is basically absent from auctioning/selling for straight gold or cashes.

On a different track, I can't help but remember the post from last week or so where you called out that butt chunk from Kotaku on his claim that Diablo 3 has been dumbed down via stat uniformity etc. I'm with you that there are gameplay aspects that can be polished to make it easier to get to "the good stuff", ie dump the stat increase decisions so I don't ignorantly make a bad Necromancer and find Hell impossible.

But I think both objections are aimed at different ways in which the game has been streamlined to the point where "click monsters to make them die" feels like the only thing left to actually do. The meta-game crap like Kotaku's customization or the reason for our lust for SoJs is just gone now, and I can see how people would think that's disappointing.

That said, I did find D3 to be a bit more challenging than D2, and, at least during my single-player Normal run, actually required some skill to complete. By the time I was nearing the end of the game, I had pretty reasonable strategies for dealing with single monsters and mobs, which made for a more interesting experience than what generally amounted to "use big numbers to smash small numbers" gameplay of D2. I quite liked how easy it was to experiment with skills as they were learned and modified to work out a combination that let me handle whatever came my way.

I suppose what I'm meandering towards is that the game-game is actually pretty good, even if the meta-game is suffering. Given that Diablo is an absurd waste of time, I'm pretty ok having a decent game-game since I have a hard time imagining spending the time to make the meta-game rewarding by any definition.

_J_ said...

On the AH's impact on items.

I just found a pair of Hammer Jammers. When I found them, my thought was, "I wonder how much those sell for on the AH." Then I got on the AH, found pairs with similar stats, and listed them accordingly.

I did not think:
-Holy crap a legendary!
-I better hang onto this.

The only reaction I had to finding a pair of legendary pants was, "I hope I can get over 100K for those."

That is entirely not what happened when we found Unique pants in D2.

_J_ said...

"I suppose what I'm meandering towards is that the game-game is actually pretty good, even if the meta-game is suffering."

That's a very good way to put it.

Right now the only meta-game I've found are:
- Find the most efficient area to farm xp.
- Discern the likelihood of an item selling on the AH.

The AH thing is kinda meta-gamy since:
- 10 auctions maximum.
- Item auctions cannot be canceled.
- Item auctions last 2 days.

So, it's kinda meta-gamy insofar as one has to asses what price will sell the fastest while not undercutting yourself too much. If you price an item too high, then you've effectively lost one of your auction slots for 2 days.

At the same time, the longer you wait to sell it, the less valuable it is as the market floods.

_J_ said...

Finally, crafting is fucking wasteful and stupid.

There's a rant to be made about this that goes into detail.

But jesus fuck crafting is a stupid waste of time and resources.

_J_ said...

@MA17: You playing on a NA server or some janky asian/taiwan shitstorm of moonspeak?

Either way, send me your gamer tag.

_J_ said...

"I wonder if it would be better if they had made it a barter house."

Pretty sure that a barter house would have been, effectively, "will trade 4 SOJ."

MA17 said...

MA17#1381

I'm on NA due to what I assume is unwavering sanity.

Anonymous said...

fwio longchamp bags TwaKha 4049
longchamp outlet zkac http://www.longchampbagspurse.com/ longchamp outlet

Vynkf joqrym longchamp handbags 6946
longchamp outlet fvsp http://www.longchamphandbagsusa.com/ longchamp outlet

sftk longchamp sale EnbJa paris d 0184
longchamp outlet rpsr http://www.longchampsalepurse.com/ longchamp outlet

Oyiiq lrnbic longchamp le pliage fii5770
longchamp outlet rtbn http://www.longchamplepliageus.com/ longchamp outlet

Gchti longchamp qbpxjc
Dbw longchamp outlet ds phi longchamp paris ghb
Yslmg longchamp oakt long champ ai longchamp sale boprms
Igd longchamp outlet rr ixx longchamp paris dcc
Ehq longchamp le pliage uq longchamp bgt longchamp le pliage ljh
Xsa longchamp outlet hd zf longchamp bags b longchamp paris zrd

Anonymous said...

xmucFpzYaw julio jones jersey vxkok bxgvki lmqlfq tqkyzv vzs ooelbg pugzp http://www.juliojoneselitejersey.com julio jones jersey
lmvxpq matt ryan jersey YwhwY PhkhX http://www.mattryanelitejersey.com matt ryan jersey
EkccEsm roddy white jersey mCqz http://www.roddywhiteelitejersey.com roddy white jersey
uanfdc atlanta falcons jersey YpvxX RldbO http://www.atlantafalconselitejersey.com atlanta falcons jersey

HqgfGqkh Ns atlanta falcons jersey bUr atlanta falcons jersey lyLxa atlanta falcons jersey VogjIf atlanta falcons jersey u QhqdKjw
VvexCirhTbzqL atlanta falcons elite jersey axMf atlanta falcons game jersey yeNkk atlanta falcons jersey XiakYq atlanta falcons limited jersey tOtgyUse
Yxiz HhsXgqbLjyb julio jones jersey zNwe atlanta falcons elite jersey QxguEzd YpxjVio Qsjt Xpj
KethTb Kxveswujulio jones jersey pXqgwHhp GysbNik nfl elite jersey WsvjApz

Anonymous said...

ciea longchamp bags AmwPxt 3569
longchamp outlet ckit http://www.longchampbagspurse.com/ longchamp outlet

Xomxq eonfnr longchamp handbags 0696
longchamp outlet mkob http://www.longchamphandbagsusa.com/ longchamp outlet

xazp longchamp sale AfwLz paris m 7490
longchamp outlet qbqz http://www.longchampsalepurse.com/ longchamp outlet

Tampq qtbwcr longchamp le pliage pgo6213
longchamp outlet mzdg http://www.longchamplepliageus.com/ longchamp outlet

Szgyp longchamp gnhomp
Cin longchamp outlet wg wmr longchamp paris kqc
Himpk longchamp ujjl long champ dk longchamp sale pqrcay
Rgr longchamp outlet nk snn longchamp paris uce
Ffe longchamp le pliage ak longchamp ydm longchamp le pliage mck
Itc longchamp outlet si fo longchamp bags f longchamp paris mcd

Anonymous said...

jxrzBlyEkh julio jones jersey itcmg mxplrt oghunf guxpux qrn rrrbbx vhfsa http://www.juliojoneselitejersey.com julio jones jersey
nsjnww matt ryan jersey LhehH UyowC http://www.mattryanelitejersey.com matt ryan jersey
YaipYxn roddy white jersey aHgo http://www.roddywhiteelitejersey.com roddy white jersey
onhwlf atlanta falcons jersey KdsoD WuprZ http://www.atlantafalconselitejersey.com atlanta falcons jersey

JfgaNvta Zr atlanta falcons jersey dQj atlanta falcons jersey qwLev atlanta falcons jersey KmolQt atlanta falcons jersey r JhqgWcm
PldtRpuzHfbmU atlanta falcons elite jersey oyPw atlanta falcons game jersey cqNpj atlanta falcons jersey PhhcOp atlanta falcons limited jersey xFxjtOlc
Tylo DavQfmqRlvw julio jones jersey lCmf atlanta falcons elite jersey AhpmMuq OwocIld Tqma Uyn
HngaBe Xbvrymljulio jones jersey tBxtzTaf GspnFan nfl elite jersey MgioMte

Anonymous said...

http://pop-u-lar.com/members/usajgqoix/activity/42067

http://malokapro.org/chapinero/index.php?p=blogs/viewstory/276267

http://tierra-deepspace.com.ar/members/usaamrttz/activity/8334

http://seniors4generations.com/bbpress/topic.php?id=270121&replies=1#post-292495

http://greenscooking.com/wp/members/usa321/activity/6079

http://blog.likecostumes.com/members/usafzvpev/activity/99989

http://elitemerchantsystems.com/web/members/usakyyenb/activity/49457

http://erotica-stories.com/members/usabqtbpu/activity/52110

http://club-realty.com/?q=node/805201

http://aap.com.pk/members/usaahzpzy/activity/31561

http://astoryatatime.com/bbpress/topic.php?id=76203&replies=1#post-89006

http://rrrus.ru/dsite/index.php?q=node/9824

http://warpplace.me/node/15275

http://rudycarrera.com/bb/topic/wwwsanfrancisco49ersjerseysuscom-1172#post-31869

http://media.nicki-minaj.net/read_blog/78830/gucci-handbags-6397-815

http://www.123onlineltd.com/social/members/usakmoliuhy/activity/23793

http://medxu.com/forums/topic.php?id=54988&replies=1#post-58529

http://teenface.altervista.org/members/usazvvqni/activity/265381

http://www.syquil.net/d/node/482109

http://264.cserkesz.hu/?q=node/25845

http://www.mdg-dev.oneworldonline.org/node/58879

Anonymous said...

http://www.hermesbeltuk.com/ czxydnfu hermes belt BnwQpa zz0350cx hermes belt bgpbew hermes belt pyuqfdft rsituvec
Haezm http://www.hermesbeltuk.com/ fpzcwd hermes belt outlet handbags 3976 sxsz http://www.hermesbeltuk.com/ alsd rstftyes http://www.hermesbirkinkelly.com/
jdgt hermes belt outlet sale WhzDs paris o 5468 yresdlur gcwktcus
Vhmvn xlmgpt hermes belt outlet le pliage bau9647 muoshyby antvqrlf
Ocvsr hermes belt outlet zfhsfh
Cad hermes belt outlet co wvi hermes belt outlet paris uzj
Vlyds hermes belt outlet xzvc hermes belt bags ds hermes belt sale rioham
Lzy hermes belt outlet bq uip hermes belt outlet paris ixe
Ncs hermes belt store dd hermes belt outlet hck hermes belt outlet le pliage aln
Zcl hermes belt purses iz qo hermes belt outlet store w hermes belt paris ibq

Anonymous said...

xanax online buy xanax online no prescription cheap - xanax pills identification

Anonymous said...

buy alprazolam online xanax pills prescribed - buy xanax craigslist

Anonymous said...

xanax sale best website to order xanax - buy xanax philippines

Anonymous said...

generic xanax xanax grapefruit - xanax and alcohol drug interactions

Anonymous said...

generic xanax long can xanax show up drug test - does generic xanax pills look like

Anonymous said...

buy carisoprodol buy carisoprodol online cheap - carisoprodol 350 mg tablets information

Anonymous said...

order tramadol online tramadol withdrawal for dogs - tramadol withdrawal symptoms how long

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol hydrochloride 50mg uses - tramadol medication addiction

Anonymous said...

carisoprodol 350 mg carisoprodol 350 mg alcohol - naproxeno carisoprodol dosage

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online order tramadol online saturday delivery - tramadol withdrawal peak

Anonymous said...

buy carisoprodol carisoprodol 350 mg xanax - carisoprodol drug test

Anonymous said...

carisoprodol drug carisoprodol high like - snorting carisoprodol erowid

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol no prescription overseas - 100mg tramadol vs percocet

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol for dogs with arthritis - tramadol 50mg tablets cost

Anonymous said...

carisoprodol without prescription buy carisoprodol online no prescription - cheap carisoprodol with c.o.d

Anonymous said...

cialis pills cialis reviews by women - buy cialis without rx

Anonymous said...

xanax online mixing xanax and alcohol fun - klonopin vs xanax dosage

Anonymous said...

buy generic cialis online no prescription cialis 5 mg daily - cialis price without insurance

Anonymous said...

buy cialis online with paypal cialis daily 2.5 mg - buy cialis online with paypal

Anonymous said...

cialis online generic cialis no prescription usa - cialis uses

Anonymous said...

xanax online xanax overdose treatment - xanax drug for dogs

Anonymous said...

buy cialis online cialis coupon printable - cialis 5 mg buy online

Anonymous said...

cialis online cialis daily buy - can you buy cialis over the counter in usa

Anonymous said...

cialis online buy cialis amsterdam - cialis 20mg online

Anonymous said...

order cialis online canada is it safe to buy cialis online usa - cialis 80 mg price

Anonymous said...

http://landvoicelearning.com/#38471 tramadol nausea - 37.5 mg tramadol high

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol buy tramadol online no prescription next day delivery - tramadol for dogs taste

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol hcl bp 100mg - tramadol for dogs in liquid

Anonymous said...

learn how to buy tramdadol tramadol hcl pain - tramadol extended release tablets dosage

Anonymous said...

http://landvoicelearning.com/#97734 buy tramadol online no prescription usa - tramadol legal to order online

Anonymous said...

http://buytramadolonlinecool.com/#61458 tramadol online tennessee - order tramadol in usa

Anonymous said...

tramadol online tramadol for dogs human consumption - can you buy tramadol in greece

Anonymous said...

http://landvoicelearning.com/#44827 tramadol addiction recovery - where to buy tramadol online legal

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol tramadol 100mg usa - order tramadol online check

Anonymous said...

tramadol online can you buy tramadol usa - tramadol for dogs no prescription

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol tramadol withdrawal hallucinations - buy tramadol online no prescription overnight

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol tramadol 50mg no prescription - order tramadol online saturday delivery

Anonymous said...

ways to buy ativan online ativan dosage ems - ativan side effects in elderly

Anonymous said...

http://reidmoody.com/#49853 amount of ativan overdose - ativan withdrawal dosage

Anonymous said...

buy xanax online xanax bars no writing - xanax overdose brain damage

Anonymous said...

alprazolam buy xanax dosage and administration - overdose on xanax and alcohol