There has been a general lack of new information from Blizzard regarding Diablo III. In the last month, all we really got was a bunch of new concept images, Jay Wilson’s quotes full of sound and fury, and the usual predictable Starcraft II droning on the background, which isn’t worth listening to because it comes down to ‘and today we removed the colossus and gave heal to the siege tank, lol’ anyway.

    So after much whining and pushing by Flux, I gave the forums another quick look and summarised the ‘discussion’ of the past three weeks below.

    TLDR version: Diablo III sucks because it has the witchdoctor.
    There you have it, now you can skip this article and read the work of our other rising star columnists (or as I like to call them, ‘background noise’).

    ‘Meep meep!’

    Judging by the volume of anti-witchdoctor threads, a lot of people really miss the necromancer because the witchdoctor deprives them of the opportunity to be all EEEVIL MUHAHAHA and summon undead monsters before going back to their underpaid day job doing something tedious and useless for a boss who doesn’t care.

    The witchdoctor is supposedly silly and only good for comic relief, as opposed to the dead serious necromancer who by the way uses the same weapon as Harry Potter.

    So why this witchdoctor hate? The whole difference is that the necromancer summons minions from and explodes dead bodies, whereas the witchdoctor is just another druid with curses. This is because bodies go flying, possibly out of bounds. Blizzard implemented this feature to make the barbarian more fun to play. Thanks for your understanding, now head over to the barbarian forum.

    Still, the witchdoctor is not all bad. He can blow up tables, his own minions and, in the classic necromancer tradition, even a bunch of level 1 zombies with reasonable effectiveness.

    Bring him on!

    ‘You can’t see your allies!’

    Jay Wilson replied to the colour controversy. He explained that Blizzard went with dark colours at first and discovered that it would be too hard to make out your allies in a moving image, so they added blacklight to everything to make people’s armor glow.

    This is a revealing quote. Apparently it is no longer possible to see clearly in 3D. Either this is a valuable clue about a planned future port to TI-89 or support for Samsung plasma screens, or it means Blizzard still did not manage to put the avalanche of Duplo bricks that made up most Warcraft 3 battles behind them and make characters stand out from the background in a dark environment, a feat which Quake III managed in ‘98.

    Still, the new palette may turn off a lot of Diablo fans. The barbarian in the video looks almost like a human without that swirling blue cloud around his feet. Even the helms are brown or grey as opposed to the acid green caps and purple skull helms with horns we all love as a part of the grim atmosphere of Sanctuary.

    Which still leaves us with one mystifying question: does the word ‘allies’ mean Diablo III will actually have cooperative multiplayer?

    ‘And then…’

    And then Blizzard opened a job position for a new art director. So they worked on this game for several years, went through three iterations of art design, and then discovered that Tristram looked to the world like a cross between Scholomance and Palmont City despite the demonic five-sided candles.
    This happened one day after valiantly defending their point that running over undead liches with a Murci?lago is the future because, as Jay Wilson screamed in our face, it is impossible to add shadows because dynamic light sources would explode tomorrow’s video cards. Sort of like what the dynamic light sources in D2 did to our 3dfx-powered Pentium 166 gaming rigs back in the day. And we were a bunch of bleeps for not understanding this basic fact about graphics engines.

    So they made Jay Wilson shut up and put up a job opening for a lead designer to save the game from a horrible fate. You would think they could apply a simple colour filter to the game instead, like they did with Starcraft 2 just before the Protoss buildings started looking like electronic plastic duckies.

    What may be more interesting than the very predictable news that the game has been delayed by another two years is the backlash from non-fans on the interwebs. You know, the people who play Call of Duty 4. Yes, that one rainbows and unicorns game.

    ‘It will be easier to find the battle.net button’

    Another Blizzquote a while ago mentioned a tighter integration with battle.net. Apparently the battle.net option was too hard for a newbie to find in Diablo 2, being represented only by a big honking button on the main menu just below the single player button.

    Anyway, said newbies created a single player character, tried to take it online and found out that the game deprived them of the opportunity to totally school all the noobs online with their badass level 32 *SLAYER* chargeadin, blaze sorceress or necromancer. And they apparently quit the game instead.

    In other words, Blizzard found out to their surprise that people quit when they had to reroll because they didn’t read the manual.

    As opposed to because they put a skill point into Armageddon or had a novasorc when 1.10 arrived, I suppose. That was by design.

    ‘HGL art design failed because there is not enough variety in level design!’

    I call shenanigans on that one. You could customise the looks of Hellgate London by changing the desktop background and window theme, giving you a unique experience each time you went through a warp and the game crashed.
    Sadly, the game tanked like an Act 2 Holy Freeze Merc and now many people believe that level randomisation is a crutch or a sign of laziness. Not in the least the Diablo III developers, who made every other level preset. This resulted in a massive outcry of the 17 remaining Diablo 2 players who don’t use maphack. Yet.

    ‘The great darkness is coming’

    Flagship’s fate is sealed. All employees except those who caused the disaster were fired, resulting in the dramatic and much bemourned death of whatever-its-name-was, that one Diablo clone with the three character classes and the cartoon graphics.

    This was a logical move by Flagship. Now that we have a Diablo clone with five character classes and cartoon graphics, Mythos is redundant and obsolete.

    So the exiles started Runic Games, which is exactly the same as Flagship Studios under a new name, to carry out their world-shaking plans to make another Mythos. Come on, pretend to be interested. Its main selling points over Diablo III are… uh… ehm… satyrs?

    ‘More mercs! No, less mercs!’

    Mercenaries were a great addition to Diablo 2. They tanked for you, they increased your MF, they gave you all sorts of godmode auras, their idea of scouting ahead meant killing Baal while you were in the Rogue Encampment spamming IM MEW I NEED FREE WINDFACE PLZ, and they could take on Chuck Norris, Tassadar, Dante, Uldyssian, Gordon Freeman and a level 20 hammerdin at the same time and win.

    More importantly, before the rise of mercenaries, the game was far too hard: your character lost life at an annoying rate of 20 points per game, and in the first few months a character on Asia 3 actually got killed after experiencing major lag and eventually disconnecting in front of a cursed cow king pack.

    What kind of cruel monster are you, denying people the right to live through a lag spike, crash or falling asleep on the trackball? Diablo is supposed to be fun, not a fight for your life against demons from hell. That would be insane!

    ‘Nigma stole my bike!’

    Stuck in a terrible job with a wife who hates you, living in a society that doesn’t care about you? Don’t worry, you too can obtain the best itamses in a virtual computer game and effortlessly destroy large groups of pixels! All you have to do is kill Baal a hundred times per second for the next three million years until you find a Zod rune.

    Or you could try sitting in a random newbie game and spamming PLZ HELP MY ACC GOT HAXED I LOST ALL MY ITAMS GIB FREE EZBOTD PLZZZZZZ.

    Many players on the forums argue that Diablo is about overpowered items, and that being godly takes precedence over challenge which is seen as boring. This goes back all the way to Diablo 1, which was actually quite hard from time to time until everyone had a hacked staff with 255 charges of Apocalypse.

    Diablo 2, being a natural evolution from Diablo 1, upped the ante by introducing white rings, hex charms, occy rings (as well as the rare occy orb), buriza armors, Ith items and bugged charms with +511% MF during daytime.

    So it is only natural that Diablo fans ask for more powerful pre-hacked unique and runeword items to bridge the gap until the first white rings appear, lacking the playing skills to actually fight without having a runeword armor win the game for you while you run after it and leech exp.

    I mean, how dare they suggest ‘balance improvements’ to take away our hard-earned duped gear we paid three perfect gems for! Next thing you know, they’ll force us to start at level 1 instead of 80 and play through the game to level up, too.

    ‘So how about them respecs?’

    The respec-vs.-no-respec debate has raged and burned longer than any of the stars in the sky as the forces of light and darkness constantly vie for control over all creation.

    So far, it seems that readily available respecs are considered to reduce challenge, and only people who just want to pwn instead of playing the game support unlimited respecs. Because Blizzard appeals to the majority, there will be unlimited respecs in Diablo III. The debate is now closed.

    ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you had to pay to play?’

    For some incomprehensible reason, certain otherwise perfectly normal and intelligent gentlemen believe it would be a good idea if Blizzard charged for battle.net. The reasoning seems to be that hackproofing the servers would require constant attention, which would cost such astronomical amounts of money that it would quickly bankrupt the company.

    Blizzard has some of the greatest management talent in the industry, and they all missed this obvious point like an Iron Wolf casting at a zombie until about five years ago a janitor made the following calculation and presented it to the CFO:
    Not including runes in the rust storm: -$500.
    Ignoring realm maintenance: -$5000/mo.
    Implementing useless realm down feature instead of banning bots: -$5000/mo.
    Installing Pentium II realm server in 2005 to replace server cluster: -$10000/mo.
    Total money saved by cost-cutting measures above: A lot.
    Having thousands of people practically beg you to let them pay you $10/mo for better service: Priceless.

    That Gallardo you see in front of Blizzard HQ? That’s his.

    ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had to pay for Enigma?’

    Some people proposed microtransactions as a means of funding, allowing the player to buy otherwise unobtainable uber items for real money.

    You know, like what people have been doing all along in Diablo 2 if the amount of bots spamming—-

    <|#$%? D2NOOB.NET BOTZ = $50 HAX CHARM = $100 BUGGED WIZENDRAW WAND $250 %$*??&>

    >—-o>—- in random colours are any indication.

    Needless to say, people who buy the game ($50), then buy every good item ($200) and then quit out of boredom because there is nothing left for them to do and thereby free up bandwidth would be Blizzard’s dream customers. And Blizzard may take a page from Activision who successfully wrapped the Online Reflex Test into a semi-modern graphics engine, sold it with one of those toy guitars with the sound chip removed for $150 and then squeezed tens of euros more out of those who were too stubborn to admit the above.

    Arguments against microtransactions usually come down to being poor, lazy, unwilling to work, or so out of touch with market economics that they fail to grasp why Google can index the net for $0 and Blizzard cannot afford to press the rust storm button without $50,000,000/month worth of ongoing fees.

    Considering the fate of a certain other Diablo 2 killer that demanded $10/month for potatoes and apple pie, asking money from a playerbase used to paying only for maphacks, hacked and/or bugged items, the ultimate dupe secret on eBay and new CD keys as a result of the above may be a tough sell.


    Stay tuned, Laz Radio will get back to you on Hell Frost Day with the latest news from Blizzard! (More concept art, another battle.net 2.0 preview, oh, and the mothership now has psionic storm and can burrow)

    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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