Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reading [chat] isn't playing D3.

If you are reading this, then you are not playing Diablo 3.

Why the fuck aren't you playing Diablo 3?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Diablo 3: Probably a Failure

Diablo 3 was released about one week and six hours ago.  Having played it for a week, I'm ready to predict that the game will, most likely, be considered a failure.

Let me explain what I mean by "failure".

Diablo 2:  Lord of Destruction was released June 27, 2001.  Nearly eleven years after its release, players still log in to farm gear, beat mobs, and grind out levels.  The game remains compelling eleven years after its release.  I sincerely doubt that we'll be able to say the same thing about Diablo 3 eleven years from now.

This is not to say that every game not still actively played 11 years after its release is a failure.  Some games are great successes, and they shine in their particular spotlights for little more than a few months, or even a year.  For some games, a short lifespan is fine.

But Diablo is not Angry Birds.

We assess instantiations of the Diablo franchise by the Diablo 2 rubric.  And by the Diablo 2 rubric, Diablo 3 terribly, horribly fails.

The game has been out for one week.  I've logged 106 hours and 32 minutes of gameplay.  After this amount of time, here's where I am:

- Level 60 (level cap)
- Act 1 Inferno, beating Skeleton King in a party of 3.
- Soloing Act 4 hell-difficulty bosses.
- Acquired 1.4 million gold from mobs, to which we add about 800K via AH sales.
- 169% Magic Find
- Wearing almost entirely level 60 Rare items, all of which are optimized for my class.

This should not be possible in one week of gameplay, in DIABLO.

Now, admittedly, that's an insane week of gameplay.  However, the point remains that 100 hours into the game, the "game" has ended, and now I've only the grindy grind gearfest to hold my attention.  There are no more levels to attain.  There are no more significant quests to do.  It's just item acquisition from here on out.

And that would be fine, if it weren't for the god damn Auction House.

On my last MF run I found a Blade of Prophecy.  As far as I can tell, it's one of the only weapons that has +Magic Find on it.  That's kinda cool and neat and rare, right?  Well, no, because there are 58 of the damn things on the Auction House.

That's the situation to which I point when proclaiming that Diablo 3 is, most likely, a failure.  One week into the game, nigh-all of the items are available on the Auction House.  All you  have to do is farm the gold to purchase them, or happen upon them while farming your gold.

The lifespan of a Diablo game is directly related to the difficulty of item acquisition.  Diablo 3 has NO difficulty of item acquisition.  In Diablo 2 one had to farm and farm and farm and farm Bosses hundreds, if not thousands, of times to get an SoJ.  In Diablo 3, it is all literally nothing more than a question of farming gold.

There is still a part of me that, every now and then, wants to log into bnet to play my Diablo 2 characters.  I still want to farm Baal in the hopes of seeing an SoJ or a Grandfather drop.  That's not a feeling one has in Diablo 3.  There's no urge to grind to discover to acquire.  The thing that makes Diablo 2 a compelling game after all of this time isn't a component of Diablo 3.

I am glad that I purchased Diablo 3.  I've had a blast playing, and learning to survive without sleep.  The quest to level cap is a great amount of fun, and farming shall most likely remain enjoyable for quite some time to come.  I'll keep grinding through Inferno, farming gear, and checking AH prices to try to nab some MF gear from a noob who can't add.

That being said, I am immensely happy that I decided to frontload all of my fun in this game.  My decision to dump 100 hours into Diablo 3 during its first week was a fantastic, wonderful decision I would definitely make again.

Because this just doesn't seem like the sort of game that's going to be around for very long.

Which is why Diablo 3 is, most likely, a failure.

I sincerely hope that I am incorrect.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Diablo 3: Paper Doll Screen DPS Bug

Here's something to note when you're assessing the DPS values of different items.  On the paper doll screen (inventory) it calculates your overall DPS based upon your gear and skillset.  This can sometime render incorrect information.

For example, my Demon Hunter had these passives skills selected:

Archery:  Hand Crossbows: 10% Critical Hit Chance

Sharpshooter:  Gain 3% Critical Hit Chance every second. This bonus is reset 1 seconds after you successfully critically hit.

When comparing bows, with these passive skills, it weighed a 1H bow with (+ crit dmg) higher than another 1H bow that had higher base stats, but no (+ crit dmg) bonus.  On critical hits, the information was correct:  The bow with (+ crit dmg) was higher.  But, when I'm not doing crits, the other bow is higher dps.

Once I changed my passive skills, the paper doll screen displayed the correct DPS information.

So, when you're working on your build and assessing item values, keep your passive bonuses in mind!  They might be fucking up your numbers on the paper doll screen.

Diablo 3: Nephalem Valor is Win

Diablo 3, like its brother World of Warcraft, is a game that does not start until the end.

Upon reaching level 60, characters who kill an elite pack of mobs gain a buff called 'Nephalem Valor'.  This buff:

1)  Increased your Magic Find by +20%
2)  Stacks 5 times.
3)  Lasts for 30 minutes.

So, after killing 5 packs of elite mobs, a player gains +100% to their magic find.

My initial reaction, after having farmed for a bit, is that this system is fantastic.

First, the buff compels you to keep playing.  When you get the first buff, you want to find another pack so you can get the buff to lvl 2, then lvl 3, etc.  Once you max it at 5, you're then on a quest to keep the buff up.  The game becomes: "I have half an hour to find another elite pack!" and so you merrily romp around the game world finding the elite mobs who can refresh your buff, and drop madd lootz.

Second, the buff makes you feel as if you can get gear.  When you're just farming pre-60, you have a vague idea of the MF on your gear and the hopes of finding some items.  But with the Nephalem Valor buff right there on your bar, you're constantly reminded that you're getting +100% to your MF.  While it may seem like an insignificant aesthetic quirk, I found it to be quite compelling.  When I wanted to get up for more beverage, I first checked the time on the buff, and then assessed whether I could spare the time to make a trip to the fridge or if I needed to find another elite pack first.

Every elite pack becomes a momentary break of relief:  "Shew!  I have another half hour.  Ok, time to find the next pack!"

Third, and perhaps the best feature, is that Nephalem Valor trains players to not be retarded god damned pedophiliac Hitler shitheads.  Persons who routinely dick around, afk, or travel back to town to unload their white gear (that they continue to pick up for God knows what reason) will be passively coerced into staying on the battlefield so that they can refresh their Valor.  If you go afk to jack off to some child porn, you may miss an elite pack, and so miss getting your Valor refreshed.  So, you'd best get your dick out of your hand and fucking farm.

Nephalem Valor teaches people how to play the god damned game:  You fucking sit your ass down and farm elites.  And you only go back to town after you kill a fresh pack of elite mobs, and your bags are full.

The "problem" with the system is that it can make a player feel somewhat trapped within their 30 minute window.  If, for example, a loved one calls you have to quickly assess:

1)  Can I talk to them and farm elites at the same time?
If yes:  Answer the phone.
If no:
2)  Can I end the conversation within 30 minutes?
If yes:  answer the phone.
If no:  Don't answer the phone.

One quickly becomes adept at farming one handed.  It's not too difficult in Act 3 Hell, but my guess is that Inferno may require phones to be turned off, children to starve, and marriages to be annulled.

But that's fine.  I mean, that shit wasn't getting you gear, anyway.

Overall, I think Nephalem Valor is a fantastic addition to the Diablo playstyle.  It compels persons to farm, it teaches them to farm, and it boosts your MF %.

Alright.  Back to questing.  I'm hoping to clear Act 4 Hell before I have to sleep.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Diablo 3: LVL 60!

Woot lvl 60.

Woot making blog post so I can remember the time at which I got to lvl 60.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Diablo 3: Crafting is Inefficient. Thanks, Auction House!

Two new features in Diablo 3 are jewelcrafting and blacksmithing.  You can ignore these, though, because they're both rendered stupid and useless by the Auction House.

To explain the wasteful aspects of Jewelcrafting one need only to look at the math.

The materials required to construct one Square Ruby:
- 3 Radiant Rubies
- 1 Tome of Jewelcrafting
- 7,500 Gold

The prices, according to the Auction House:
Square Ruby:  5,000
Radiant Ruby:  1,800
Tome of Jewelcrafting:  800

So, to construct one square ruby:

(3*1,800) + 800 + 7,500 = 13,700

To buy one square ruby:  5,000

If you construct a square ruby via jewelcrafting, then congratulations!  You've just lost 8,700 gold.  That's not including the gold you spent leveling jewelcrafting, either.


First things first:  STOP SALVAGING ITEMS!  Just fucking stop doing it.  Why?  Well, here are the prices for those salvaged mats you're getting:

Subtle Essence:  19
Fallen Tooth:  7
Shimmering Essence:  30
Lizard Eye:  150
Wishful Essence:  40
Encrusted Hoof:  400
Exquisite Essence:  1200
Iridescent Tear:  3200
Fiery Brimstone:  19,000

So, in normal, when you salvage that magic item that sells for 50 gold, you've just lost 31 gold.  There's no fucking need to salvage anything, because it's more efficient to just sell everything, and buy the crafting mats you need on the Auction House.  This kinda changes once you get to Inferno, depending on the item's sell value, but you aren't in Inferno yet.

Moreover, there's no fucking need to craft anything in the first place.  Sure, you might luck out and get an ok item with ok randomly generated stats.  Maybe.  But if you get on the Auction House, you can just search for the exact item you want and buy it with the gold you saved not leveling your blacksmithing.

"But what about those legendary items I can craft with Blacksmithing!?", you exclaim.

Well, someone else can craft them, and you can get them off the Auction House using the gold you saved by not leveling your blacksmithing.

My hope is that maybe, maybe, things start changing in the next few weeks as people l2math and stop flooding the AH with cheap mats.  Maybe then JC/BS will be viable.

But for now?  Stop wasting your own gold and learn to profit off other's inability to do basic math.

Lazy Sunday Part 2

Good By Andy Samberg.

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.
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.