Dead Fish #1, by Brother Laz

    So far, there has been a lot of criticism about Diablo III. Clearly, the game is not holding up against such high quality competition as… uh… Hellgate London? Anyway. The long-awaited spiritual sequel to Titan Quest is coming out, and Blizzard is making it!

    This column summarises the latest hot topics on the forum in the last two days. Or the last two weeks. Hell, I read the forums twice since the announcement of Diablo III and the topics were the exact same. You can put money on the fact that the announcement of the upcoming World of Starcraft will be met with a flood of bitter threads on how ‘This does not look like Diablo!’ and ‘Why did they remove the necromancer?’.

    ‘Thirty thousand signatures!’
    As you all probably know, there is an online petition floating around to make Diablo III look dark like Diablo II. Over thirty thousand people so far have signed, supporting the consensus that Blizzard need to remove all graphics and present us with a black screen to make absolutely sure that no other game will be darker than Diablo III.

    Granted, the game does look a bit odd. Okay, it looks very odd. But then again, Blizzard likes to draw inspiration from proven sources, and 2 Fast 2 Furious and Star Wars are among the most successful modern films ever. The designers at Blizzard said in an interview that they studied horror movies to get the scary feel of Diablo III just right, and it shows: the lighting in the crypts is exactly the same as in Batman & Robin.

    Remember, though, that the exact same thing happened when Starcraft II was first announced. Blizzard toned down the saturation after much fan outcry. The result? The Terrans no longer look like toys. Now the Protoss do. But hell, democracy decided.

    So should you sign this petition? This is a free world, do whatever floats your Silver City. Perhaps if enough people vote, Caldeum will receive a much-needed colour overhaul and perhaps a commemorative statue marking the birthplace of Anakin Skywalker.

    Just remember that if you tell Blizzard the game needs more evil darkness, they just might add more green lights.

    ‘Omg this game is slow!’
    If you have followed the official forums at all, you will probably be aware that Diablo III is headed for the Lofoten Maelstrom and that Blizzard is doomed. The reason? Not the graphics. Not the gameplay. Not even the fact that the witchdoctor looks like a troll shaman, which is completely untrue: the troll has four fingers.

    No, the reason why Diablo III will be epic fail is because there are health orbs. After all, nothing could be worse than having 2 hp left and being all out of healing when there are no orbs in sight. You may suffer the terrible fate of having to press ‘1’ and use a potion!

    Also, what if you are here (@) and the orb is over there—> (O)? Not every class has a mobility skill. Barbs are clearly at a giant advantage because they can leap over to the orb, thereby making them so much more better at Diablo III than any other class.

    Of course, as recent as the D2 beta we assumed that paladins were overpowered because they could easily switch from Defiance to Resist Fire and ready themselves for any of the super dangerous elemental attackers scattered throughout D2.

    But hell, breaking down in tears over health orbs and leap attacks is fun!

    ‘This game needs healers’
    World of Warcraft was a revolutionary game. It was the first game to introduce the concepts of ‘classes’, ‘levels’ and ‘bosses’, and the first game to use the input device that would later be known as the mouse. Also, it sold about twice as many copies as D2 in an era when four times as many people have internet access, and therefore clearly blew D2 out of the water in terms of popularity. For all intents and purposes, D2, like Starcraft (only 4 millon boxes) was a market failure.

    Since World of Warcraft was the first good and popular Blizzard game, it would be a good idea to make Diablo III exactly like it. Think about it. World of Warcraft has the best gameplay this side of Assassin’s Creed. You can even jump!

    So let’s discuss with our friends over at the official forum which World of Warcraft features must be in Diablo III. Healers, for one. It is clear that any game needs a tank, dps and healer class. D2 did not have them and the result was that druids sucked. If only they had Lifebloom.

    Sadly, many of the young and inexperienced Diablo III designers at Blizzard have never played their World of Warcraft and are not yet aware that monsters can only drop a small number of different items. This is called their ‘loot table’ and it is another great feature invented by World of Warcraft. Blizzard seems to have forgotten this and implemented those stupid health orbs that just clutter up the loot tables and make the best unique items much less likely to drop. Perhaps it may even take 10 or even 20 Pindleskin raids now to find that Windforce!

    ‘Can I play with you guys again?’
    So it seems that Flagship is folding. This is terrible news for the gaming community: you won’t be able to return your copy of Hellgate London for a refund anymore.

    Persistent rumours have it that some of the Hellgate London crew are coming back to Blizzard to work on Diablo III. You know, that game they really didn’t want to make. The reason they quit Blizzard to pursue their own vision. Causing Diablo III to suffer a two year setback. Come to think about it, if Bill Roper and crew had just not quit, then Diablo III would be released, say, next week. You could be holding the box right now! You could have been installing it, watching the intro movie, perhaps even clicking the new character button! But you are not. And it is all Bill Roper’s fault.

    Granted, we have no concrete proof that any of this is true, only the kind of flawed rumours like the one that Diablo III would be a MMO with Heaven and Hell factions. Then again, flawed rumours have always been front page material and if this particular rumour proves to be true, then we can make some predictions as to the nature of the next Acts.

    Prepare yourself for an EPIC sewer level.

    Update: looks like Flagship is staying afloat for now, presumably by selling the returned HGL boxes for recycling and ebaying the $1000 Quad Core Extreme processors they had supposedly promised their most devout astroturfers.

    ‘Where is my necromancer?’
    There is much controversy in the forosphere over whether the witchdoctor is a fitting replacement for the necromancer. I say he isn’t. Far from it, in fact. Just watch the video: the witchdoctor is seen doing damage and killing things.

    The female witchdoctor looks very different. Instead of hunching over, like the male witchdoctor and the male trolls in World of Warcraft, she stands upright like, uh, female trolls in World of Warcraft. Thankfully, in order to avoid accusations of recycling content, Blizzard cleverly decided not to reuse the troll animations, but the furbolg animations from Warcraft.

    Some people on the forum also say the little fire spirit that pops out of a Firebomb explosion is out of place and does not suit the character. Admittedly, the spirit is a bit strange, but perhaps they can come up with a good explanation. Perhaps the projectile is an impact-fuzed plasma grenade and the fiery guy is a hologram. It does not have to mean that the witchdoctor summoned the fire spirit, because that would be insane.

    If their lore is dear to them… it must be a hologram. Please, Blizzard, let it be a hologram!

    ‘I found something crazy: the barbarian looks old’
    After Tyrael shattered the Worldstone, the barrier between the world of Sanctuary and the world of Azeroth fell away and a piece of the undead homelands leaked into Sanctuary, known as the Dreadlands.

    The Worldstone itself was created by Inarius to prevent Heaven and Hell from finding Sanctuary (which failed) and to subdue humanity’s ancient powers inherited from their angel father and demon mother: Inarius and Lilith. Those ancient people were known as nephalem, and a minor resurgence of them during the Sin War startled Heaven to such a degree that some angels contemplated destroying humanity to avoid undue interference with the Eternal War.

    So it follows that Diablo III, twenty years after the destruction of the Worldstone, is set in a crazy world where angels and demons rampage freely destroying everything in their path and teenagers are showing the first signs of being able to fly and move mountains with their mind.

    Or not.

    Then again, creating a whole new setting is difficult, and if Blizzard takes too much risks, they may run all out of money, being a tiny startup and all. Taking the old April Fool’s drawings of Lut Gholein and recreating them in glorious 3D is the safe bet.

    Okay, so there are no nephalem, no emissaries of Imperius or Malthael are about to annihilate the world, and the same old barbarian is back. But in order to show how faithful Blizzard is to their own lore, the barbarian has aged! You have to admire their attention to detail.

    At least the male barbarian looks old. Females in the world of Diablo do not age, and look young and pretty until their mandatory termination at the age of 50.

    Those of you who found some interesting similarities between the female barbarian model and the Southern Railways #6133 and suspect intellectual property theft should not worry. The concept of multiple genders is new to the Diablo series, so the artists had to learn about women fast. Their original idea (taking the male barbarian model, painting it pink and giving it an energon bow and motorbike vehicle mode) never made it past quality control, and with mere years before WWI, the artists removed the pink and added the sorceress head.

    The time saved was put to great use modelling those exquisitely detailed lion statues in the crypt, so it is all good.

    ‘You can respec! And?’
    Skill respec, or respecialisation, allows you to retrieve skill points from bad skills and put them into good skills. More to the point, it makes it so you don’t have to make more than 5 characters, ever. Which is a good thing. After all, no one plays D2 anymore because you can’t respec in that game.


    It should be noted that Blizzard did not actually officially admit to having respecs in yet. Right now Blizzard is waiting for the ‘go’ from the World of Starcraft team, which according to the leaked Korean presentation is scheduled to release two months after Diablo III, exactly the amount of time it would take people to get bored with the game.

    ‘I Am The World Trade Center’
    Aside from the health orbs, which are probably going the way of throwing potions in D2 as soon as someone finds the unique shield that makes you indestructible, there is one other significant and irrelevant new feature in Diablo III. You can break walls.

    Aim your Seismic Slam at the wall and it falls down! This looks wicked, and even kills level 1 zombies in one hit! Whereas if you had aimed your Seismic Slam at the zombies instead, it would have taken you no less than one hit to kill them all.

    Walls also cannot be leeched and don’t trigger stun, freeze, knockback, chill, slow, chance to cast skills or crushing blow on the monsters. But it looks cool and it will probably be very effective against quill rats in Act 1 Normal.

    Now, now, don’t cry. It’s just a game…

    ‘Drops need to be realistic!’
    It makes no sense that quill rats drop giant poleaxes. What Diablo III needs is more realism in drops: monsters should only be able to drop what they are wearing. This is 2008, after all.

    Just don’t use fire attacks if you are looking for anything flammable.

    ‘Which classes will return?’
    We have heard the question a million times. Three classes will return, two will be all new. So far, we have seen two of the classes they brought back from D2, meaning there are still two classes with a sparkling new and innovative skill tree out there. I can’t wait.

    The concept art may provide some clues. There is the druid girl with the snake. The male warlock type and the female Maleficent type. And the odd Warhammer paladin holding the blue fire.

    There must be at least one eeeeevil class for the Blizzcon cosplay community, so the warlock will be in. The supposed paladin looks like he is casting a spell and does not seem to be much of a fighter; it is clear that Blizzard wants to stay true to the D2 paladin spirit, though there are rumours that the class will also have a backup melee attack or two. Finally, the druid, by far the most popular D2 class, would be a great crowd pleaser, but werewolves cannot wear shoulder pads and therefore it seems likely that the Diablo III art team would veto this class. Also, the werebear graphic has already been used in the game, as the Female Barbarian.

    So what will be the fifth class? I’d say rogue. The barbarian and witchdoctor artwork make it clear that Blizzard wants to give the gam—website a dark and brooding feel, and the rogue is much more of a hardened warrior than the amazon ever was. And in the actual game, the rogue could look like Daisy Duck and blend in perfectly with the other characters.

    There is the little problem with the Sisters of the Sightless Eye being a female-only order, but I’m sure Blizzard can come up with a clever workaround. Their writers get paid more than you to develop the lore and I’m sure they’ll come up with something good. So far, all I could think of is that the male rogues’ spaceship crashed on Sanctuary after being sabotaged by the amazons. But something like that would be far too silly for Blizzard. Right?

    Not that the story matters much. Do you remember the sacrifice of the nuns who jumped into the lava with the original Blessed Hammer? Of course not. Do you remember how much damage it does with the best gear, though?…

    Hail Diablo III!

    Note: this column may, or may not, be kayfabe. Perhaps I’m really a devout supporter of Blizzard, hired to sow the seeds of dissent by the makers of Warhammer Age of Reckoning. Or perhaps I’m trapped in a column sweatshop and this is my message in a bottle.
    Note: the views expressed in this column yada blah. Now give me my QX6800.

    Disclaimer: Dead Fish is written by Brother Laz and hosted by Diii.net. The views expressed in this column are those of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of Diii.net.

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