Its Dead, but I Cannot really say if It Was a Horse or Not
We definitely want there to be a PvP mode for PvP players, and we would like that mode to be a really serious, skill-based, very strong [aspect of the game]. I feel that on the side of all our games, we really try to make PvP games that cater to a competitive player, first and foremost. We don’t try to dumb down or tone down our PvP games. We make [them] good, strong competitive games. StarCraft is one of the best examples. But in terms of what our actual plans are for Diablo III, we don’t have anything to specifically announce right now, mostly because we’re still messing around with a bunch of different ideas.
Let’s face it: No matter what we do, the Horse is Dead. Player Killing as we know it in Diablo is coming to a full stop, thanks to Blizzard, and both the SC and the HC players will breathe a little bit more easily. Regardless of whether you think PKing is ok or not, the point is moot. Hardcore DII is dying faster than the Fallen in the Den of Evil, and softcore DII is still alive and kicking, but everyone is waiting for the next generation of Zombie-like Diablo, which is called Diablo III, and the next generation of our favourite hack and slash game will have regulated Player versus Player combat. Before I will write down my own expectations, and indeed hopes, I will first explain why this is A Good Thing. Before I explain why this is A Good Thing, I’ll explain a little about my past. It will help to give you some perspective. Or maybe you’ll just want to make fun of me? whatever floats your sheet of ice.
My name is Baranor, and I used to kill people’s HC characters for kicks and giggles. Long story short, I fled form SC for the oncoming horde of leechers and cheaters, and then I ran into another sort of scum on HC: The PKs. Since PKs were scum, which was my point of view at that particular point in time, I made a couple of hugely succesfull PKK (player killer killers), and hunted the scum. Shalla_Quickbow was the name of the most successful one, which saw several iterations. She worked her way through most of 1.09, using a Riphook, a bunch of carnage jewels and a boatload of charms, shooting at 8 fpa, and killed a variety of PK’s, died a few times herself.
Eventually I decided to try the other side of the line. My first PK, aptly called A_BearsHate, notched off 70+ ears both in duels and straight pk-ing. Since I was getting thoroughly bored with PvM having about a dozen chars in the 70+ area and all strong enough to beat Hell, PK-ing and dueling was an excellent outlet. I reinvented myself as a player killer, and killed players and player killers alike. Everything gets boring in the end though, and after roughly 1700 ears I could no longer bring myself to kill anyone, as the fights were about as inspiring as a Chuck Norris movie. (i.e. get beaten to a pulp or crush the opposition, and a lot of times it went both ways). So, in short, been there, done that.
I went from being a strong advocate of the anti-PK bunch to a strong advocate of pro-PK, and ran through all the arguments there were. I applied for the Amazon Basin, but since I was unwilling to relinquish my DII.net handle and sneak in under a different name they decided it was not really in their best interests to let me join. Some people even considered me to be only marginally better than a wild animal and wondered whether or not I would simply try to PK everyone on sight. I can understand where they are coming from
There is one thing that I still consider to be true: The real problem on battlenet is not the legit pk, but the player that uses a hack or a cheat to gain an unfair advantage over the rest. They are the issue. With non-consensual PK-ing and all its repercussions, the current incarnation of Battlenet is simply not able to put up with that kind of behavior. There are too many loopholes in the code, too many ways to beat the system to prevent hacking from happening. We saw the Hydra PK, Drophack, the Amazon TPPK, a few days of Hammerdins TPPK-ing entire parties at once, and a variety of other dirty tricks that killed plenty of players. These were the ones that eventually killed the non-consensual PKing. They are also one of the reasons that Blizzard gave for dropping our particular brand of hostile system. And rightly so! No game has ever been completely safe from cheating. There is even a fishing bot for World of Warcraft (or was, at one point).
Since there cannot ever be a level playing field there is no reason to provide one player the option to really grief another player. If the option to grief exists, someone will use it, abuse it, and they will kill you faster than you can say “Sandwhich with chicken-curry”? preferably they will kill you forty times over. If you both agreed to a fight, at least you are getting what you paid for, but if you did not then you are going to be sorely disappointed(i.e. look like Saddam Hussein on the day he was finally captured.) when someone abuses a game bug and you die instantly. Since Blizzard does realize they cannot ever stop all the cheating scum, they decided to not bother and simply remove the hostile-function from D3. Although I’d have loved to hunt people in Sanctuary again, I can agree with the decision. In the end, PK-ing leads to too much grief and pain. Little kids get disappointed, large kids yell insults, adult kids get vengeful and all that because of a game. So, we’re done for. Now we move on to the New PvP! Hurray!
What can we expect of the new PvP? We all have high hopes here? I for one am rooting for a dedicated dueling arena, where players of equal skill can fight to the “death”. I’m of course one of those HC geeks, so “to the death, and to the victor the spoils” sounds nice. If we get really lucky we might even have an Arena where the terrain has an actual effect, and where it is interactive. Imagine an arena where flamepits belch fire at random intervals, or where you could collide a wall on someone’s head if he was not paying attention. Cliffs to fall off would also be fun?. Though we’d better hope no-one uses knock back in that case? muhahahaha. I’d reasonably expect a dueling arena though, as in a dedicated area in a city where we can meet and shed blood. Yes, it might look or feel like World of Warcraft, but then again, it also looks and feels like Conan the Barbarian (the movie, not Age of Conan the game), or for that matter the history of mankind itself.
I’d also love to see some variation apart from the normal PvP single combat system. Team-based combat would be excellent and interesting for HC, as would capture the flag, although capture the flag would most likely result in “who kills the other team first?” with an interesting option in that whomever captures the flag first gets an auto-kill on the other team. Evil? indeed 😀 For SC, it could follow the normal rules. Of course, the investment for high level HC PvP would be a tad on the steep side, so I could see myself sticking to SC PvP for this kind of thing only. I also hope that Low Level Dueling will still be alive in Diablo 3. There’s hardly any more fun to be had than to beat the living daylights out of each other with level 9 characters, preferably with no gear whatsoever other than what they managed to find during a single game, and that while they were partied up (its called an “Ironman” contest by the community). Last man standing wins? excellent fun, if I may add.
As for player killing? I have no doubt that within a week or two the first lamers will come and trap some TP’s? perhaps within 2 minutes after the onset of D3 online. There will also be a lot of other ways to grief people, to kill them, grab their gear and make a run for it. Things the programmers did not see, bugs to abuse, etc? and eventually someone will come with a lame hack and kill people. Hell, perhaps even the old Diablo 1 “negative healing” might arise again? how about a healing spell for -1500 HP? Is that not nice? But the one thing we will never again see in Diablo 3 is someone purposefully assaulting an entire party, with the intent to kill off all characters without remorse or guilt, and without their consent. Then again, they might also add a “kick” function to D3’s games, so that the “creator” of the game can kick people out if they harass him. Griefing problem? Kick? solved? much easier, nicer and simpler. Whatever will happen, Sanctuary might not be a much safer place, but at least it will be a little-less-lame place. And that’s all we can hope for.
Baranor’s Den is a weekly column that explores all things RPG and fantasy, with a special focus on the Diablo series. Views expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net. Leave your comment after the column, or email Baranor directly.