Diablo 3 Would be Great for Modding….

I was going to ignore this preview for now, since the intro says that they’re going to post the full Julian Love transcript later this week. But since several readers have sent in tips about it, we might as well run with the teaser. Here’s the quote from GameFront.

GameFront: While there will be no official mod tools for Diablo 3, does Blizzard condone D3 mods?

Julian Love: There’s no direct intent to say that we don’t want D3 to be moddable. And, to be honest with you, the technology itself, on just a fundamental level, makes this the most moddable version of Diablo there’s ever been.

However, we have these other goals that supersede modding; we want to provide a safe and secure experience for players to play in and trade items in, and in order to do that, we had to make the game online play only. Once we made that decision, that effectively eliminated the possibility of having moddable games, since you’re going to have to connect to our service in order to play. So that’s a slight consequence of our online-only decision.

I’ll say that there’s never really been an intention with past Diablo games to make them moddable, either; it’s just that people found a way to make it happen. It’s not necessarily something we went out of our way to support.

Well, that’s that, then.

Julian is a very nice guy, but even if he wasn’t I couldn’t hate on him here since he’s completely honest. Like he says, Diablo 3 would be awesome for modders, but it won’t be since they made it playable only over Battle.net. (And since they don’t care about modding enough to enable mods to be made/played over Battle.net.) I’ll even give Julian bonus points for not trotting out that ludicrous, “some guy made a D2 SP char and then couldn’t play with his friends online” excuse we’ve heard other devs resort to when faced with this topic in the past.

I suppose the lack of outrage over this topic is a testimonial to the faith fans have in Blizzard — if another company had a very hotly-anticipated game, and right before release they suddenly announced that it would only be playable over their servers, which they could shut down at any moment, or start charging an access fee, or start selling the best items in a cash shop, etc, leaving their customers with nothing but bitter memories and a lot of $60 shiny silver coasters… there would be um… problems. Like massive boycotts, canceled pre-orders, flaming online petitions, etc. Yet Blizzard did that with Diablo III, and the “I’m always online anyway.” option was the big winner in our vote on this issue, a week later.

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37 thoughts on “Diablo 3 Would be Great for Modding….

  1. Blizzard got away with it because of their name and track record. I pre-ordered a CE, but the whole OO thing has sullied the entire experience, and it’ll only get worse when the actual game is released. (Look at those laughable hit lag videos, and the massive list of lost MAJOR features just so we can have a RMAH) I’ve bought other ARPGs, and will always look into other alternatives to Blizzard titles now, something I didn’t do in the past. So for me, this’s definitely thepoint where they become ‘just another developer’ in my eyes. Was pretty much inevitable in my case I guess anyway, seeing as I never got onboard for WoW and their business revolves around that game.

    • I’m curious about those hit lags you mentioned. Could you give us a video as an example? You may attribute a hit lag to network latency, while it could be simply the result of a design decision that allows monsters to hit you in melee, even if you run out of their range. D2 (and kinda even D1) worked the same way, even in singleplayer. I’ve seen this reported as lag by more than one people, while in fact it’s not lag at all.
      Also, what do you mean by features lost because of the RMAH?

  2. Can someone explain to me how making it online only is necessary to make it “safe and secure?”  It’s not like they need to ship it with open battlenet as well.  Why don’t they just come out and say that the auction house is the reason they went online only.

    • The reason online only is being used to make the game safe and secure is understandable. I can’t say that it’s the only way to accomplish a safe and secure game – I don’t know enough about programming – but they do have their reasons here.

      In D2, items existed in the code differently. You would have various locations and those locations would be marked if the item was there or not. For example, if you have an item in your inventory and you move it to your stash, you are essentially simultaneously hitting a switch that toggles “item in inventory of playerX” and another switch that toggles “item in stash of playerX”. This enabled duping on a massive scale when people figured out how to toggle one switch without toggling the other.

      D3 will be different. Instead of items being toggles at various locations, items will each have their own code. The item will have it own unique ID and part of that ID will express its location. Online only is one solution to ensuring that the location of items is not manipulated by players. Instead, chances are you will log in, your inventory, stash, equipped items, etc. will have the unique IDs for items on it, the server will retrieve the item information based on those IDs and part of that retrieval process will be verifying that the location stored on the item matches your player number. Since the server-side item code will only have one possible location, it will be easy to tell if the item is legit or not.

      I don’t have the information to know if Blizzard could secure the item location and IDs without locating this code on their servers, but if not, then online only makes sense, particularly if they are going to have an RMAH.

    • Disagree (although I understand your frustration).  Online only allows things like client datafile checksums to be matched to the values on the server – any mismatch indicates a client-side mod.  Another method (which I’m not sure if Blizz is implementing here) is to have a custom server-side database format that strips call names and table structures – these are only known server-side and can be rolling.  There is also evidence of Blizz patching in mod scanners that flagged accounts using WoWGlider and sent the info back to the server for banning.
      How well has this worked?  Let’s look at WoW as of 2011 (not early on-those issues are ancient history) Although problems have popped up in WoW, they have largely been eliminated (even bot miners have dwindled now that /macros have limitations).  The other bigger issue was account hacking and subsequent hijacking which effectively disappears with the application of a mobile authenticator.
      All this goes to say is that in D1 or D2 with client mods you could do your homework offline and then go online and maphack, dupe, etc and corrupt the online experience.  If you do that now, I would expect your account to be closed ASAP World of Warcraft style.

    • Online only allows Blizzard total control of practically everything in the game world. The client will be “dumb” this time around, leaving most logic to the server. This prevents chest hack style like in D2 where a modified client could essentially lie to the server about your whereabouts, what items you can see, what you’re clicking on etc.
      Also, their online-only system will prevent dupes because every item will have a unique id attached to it, unlike Diablo 2 where each item was generated from a seed value and each item was just a copy of that seed value, so the servers could be tricked (with lag) into assigning the same seed to two items. So Blizzard ensures that each unique item is never copied or duplicated in any fashion except for at their “item factory” that will determine loot drops and other things.
      But you are right. The auction house is the primary reason, but you can’t blame them. They’re trying something new (hats off to them!), and the only way anyone would want to participate in such a system, or continue to participate in it, is to ensure the economy doesn’t crash by having total control of a “safe and secure” environment. No dupes = Stable economy = steady cash flow.

  3. “Like he says, Diablo 3 can’t be modded since they made it playable only over Battle.net.”

    I’m not sure if you’re hearing that right. Reading between the lines I would say that he’s implicating that unofficial modding for D3 will exist and maybe to a much higher degree than it previously did. It just won’t be anything that Blizzard will support or even allow (as it probably breaks a whole host of ToS rules). We’ll never see a hacked D3 that works like the online thing, just like you’ll never see a private WoW server that works exactly like the official ones, but we will see modded D3 versions, I’m 100% sure of that.
    “I’ll even give him bonus points for not trotting out that ludicrous, “some guy made a D2 SP char and then couldn’t play with his friends online” excuse we’ve heard other devs resort to when faced with this topic in the past.”

    Actually, I was in that situation back when I first connected to battle.net. I was sort of a general newb back then I suppose, but it was definitely frustrating to find out that I couldn’t play with my char on battle.net, so I am quite certain that it’s not an excuse but that this was actually a real issue back then. Your arguments that you did a while ago were (I believe?) something along the lines of “well, if you were going to play online, you’d know you wouldn’t be able to use that char and besides there’s open bnet”. Open bnet was a mess and while it’s true that it doesn’t make much sense to assume that you can use your single player character, that’s stored on your computer, on a closed internet platform, that does require some computer knowledge that many people simply don’t have.
    So, the statement itself really is not all that ludicrous, and they have been pretty clear that that is not the reason for there not being an offline option, it’s more like an “this should be beneficial to most people” argument, at least the way I understood it.

    • Ofcourse, that statement isn’t at all ludicrous. Happened to me as well. If only everyone were as smart as Flux, but alas, software has to made keeping a wide variety of users in mind.

      Then again, calling this ludicrous kind of negates the smart thing again.

    • I’m in favor of OO, but just a note here that the “D2 SP char is not available for online play” is a situation that could be solved through improved messaging and notices to the players during character creation.  OO is all about eliminating duping and maphacks.  A side benefit is solving this SP char issue, but if there was a magic wand that could eliminate all maphacks and dupes without OO, they wouldn’t need OO just for the SP char issue.  Like Flux, I’ve always felt including that as a reason for OO was disingenuous.

    • That statement is utterly ludicrous. They could simply make online play the default option and have an offline button hidden in the corner that brings up a warning when you click it (can’t make use of their online systems, trade, play with friends. etc). That seems a bit easier than to exclude or inconvenience thousands of players across the globe with inconsistent or slow internet, whether due to distance from their servers or connection speed.

      Not having offline play because it’s harder for hackers to figure out and crack their system – that makes sense.

      • Exactly what I’m thinking. Make online play the default option, problem solved.
        The real reasons for OO are piracy and hacking.

      • The statement that it was a problem is not ludicrous, using it as the sole reason for not including offline play, which they have not done, now that would be ludicrous.
        If you choose to interpret something whichever way you like, you will always be right in your pocket of reality. That may go both ways, but assuming that the Blizzard devs would even try to tell us that the reason for no offline play is the fact that it might be confusing, that is even more ludicrous.

        They have provided lots of reasons and you can come up with more if you think about it. For instance a single player version would be a different game from an architecture point of view and would need separate support. All content updates would have to be duplicated for the single player version, all testing etc. Could they do it? I’m pretty sure they could, it’s just not important enough, for yet other reasons.
        Picking one reason that wouldn’t make sense as the sole reason and was thrown in there more as a “bonus”, then going nerdrage on it, doesn’t exactly improve your credibility and puts you right at the Fox News level of a sensible discussion.

  4. Don’t know about you guys, but online only and modding support don’t come anywhere close to ruining the game for me.  Okay, the game’s not out yet, so maybe I’ll eat my words… but I’d be surprised.
    I wonder when or if issues like online only and mods will become forgotten notions once the game is actually out and people are playing it like mad.  I would tend to think so.

    • For a game like Diablo, I don’t really care about mods either, I’ve never found one that really improved the game for me (unlike for the Elder Scrolls series for example). The game’s randomness should provide more than enough content for us and I have feeling we’ll get content patches much more regularly for D3 than we did for D2.
      The online requirement bugs me a little, even though I have a stable and fast connection, because I know that whatever I do, eventually I’ll get disconnected at the worst moment possible and will lose a hardcore character because of this. Playing HC with this knowledge isn’t the best feeling and now every hardcore player will have to come to terms with this truth: no matter how good you are, you will die eventually. I’ll have a feeling that pet-heavy Witch Doctors will be really popular in HC for this reason.

    • What I keep noticing here is that there is absolutely NO mention of INTERFACE mods, which WOW has by the cartload.  It is most certainly an online-only game, yet, no mention is made of UI or interface mods being doable?  At the bare minimum, I’d love to see a Recount type mod, that will track my damage and give me an indication of my dps, mostly for tracking purposes.  I’d like to know if using a particular spell is more dps than using another, such as disintegrate vs charged bolt spam, for instance.

      • Good point.  Add-ons in WoW (such as Arkinventory and Auctioneer) are a must.  I should at least be able to play a Peggle add-on while waiting in town for my friends to log in. 😀

      • They’ve talked about UI mods a few times in the past, and why they’re not allowing any of them in D3. Basically it’s to control the difficulty by keeping the base controls to everyone. Iif fans could mod the UI there would be gear swapping hotkeys, map hacks, and all sorts of other little improvements and changes, all of which would make the game easier for their users.

  5. I hope, we get#nt any playermade customition, i dont like it and it opens ways, to made the game “unsaver”..

  6. The “some guy made a D2 SP char and then couldn’t play with his friends online” is quite a good excuse though.

    • Except that he could, because open b.net and tcp/ip and LAN. And since D2 was all about rerolling and making lots of different chars/builds, such a setback would last for about 2 hours at most.

      Much better odds of being unable to pay with your friends online with modern bliz games, with region locking and 300 different WoW realms in the US/EU, etc.

  7. I figure I’m always logged in on WoW anyways, except with WoW I have to pay $15 a month to play.  With D3 I realize I’ll still have to log in, but at least I won’t be paying for it in the same way.  From my point of view, as I switch my gaming from WoW to D3 the net change will be positive for me. Though I can see where a person whom played D2 but is not an avid WoW player would likewise be experiencing a net negative change as they move from free local play to free always-online play.

  8. You can almost count the people who played mods with Diablo on 1 hand.* There were not that many mods for and even few were really great.
    I’d rather have a save online happening where you can do a bossrun or rushthingy without EVERY SINGLE TIME having a noob running around with maphack.

    *statement using figurative “speach”

  9. hm… I bet there will be other servers, with modded versions of D3 on it. Ofc, it’s not quite legal, at least not in the USA. But if Germany is the one exception (again, like it was/is for D2), that is allowed, to start their own servers, it could be possible, for modders to be creative, and for players to enjoy those modded versions legally. 

    However, I guess people will be able to play modded versions on illegal servers as well, just like all those modded, illegal WoW servers, where you can start on lvl 70 already, which you can find all over the internet

  10. The main want I have in regards to modding D3, is not so much in the line of modding. I would love to see a level-editor of sorts, that will allow users to create their own random events. It could be online only, and would require subbmission and approval to actually be encorporated into the game, but I think this would allow a great level of creativity for the modding community that actually end up in the game and bring some serious end game content to the table! Please Blizzard do this 😀

  11. Simple fact is that It would be impossible for Blizz to support mods

    Two big problems in D2 were hacks/dupes and outside item selling sites. Blizzard has decided to fix both of these problems by making it more secure. You can’t dupe because every item has an ID; similarly how you can’t dupe in WoW. Unfortunately you can’t support mods with this model because the Blizz security system would recognize it as a hack. It would be impossible for them to make exceptions for each individual mod. They can’t ensure both moddability and security.

    Similarly, the reason it is online only even for single player, is that that is the best way to ensure that people aren’t pirating their shit. I don’t want to turn this into a drm argument, but simple fact is PC developers need tonprotect their products.

    This also ties into the RMAH; you cannot have an RMAH if there is not strong security. .

    They chose address address item selling by making themselves the mediator for something which is inevitable- the sale of items. This way they at least know it is secure, and that they are benefitting from it, not third parties.

  12. 1% over those who disagreed doesn’t seem like a big winner to me. I do hope the modding community is successful, but for the selfish reason of wanting to see them create a single player version of the game so I can buy and play it the same way I did the previous games.

  13. I dont know about you guys, but content patch in DII (it was just one – ubertristram) was ridiculous and out of context. This will be a major challenge for blizz developers. If they want to go on throwing content they must have a plan way before. It mustn’t be some bandage they use just to please idiotic players – people who uses Xx and numbers on nicknames, for example. The story must sustain its coherence.

  14. or the lack of outrage is simply because the majority of people could give a rats ass about mods.   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  99% of mods suck.  Sure there have been some brilliant mods out there for games, like Desert Combat, CTF in Quake, just to name a couple.  But the number of those really good mods that truly extend a game are so few.   I never played a D2 mod, nor do I have any desire to. (ya i’ve heard of meridian…maybe i’m missing something special there, but it just doesn’t entice me that much to play it)  Ditto for D3.   Torchlight is moddable and I haven’t seen a single mod that makes me want to run back and play.   Neverwinter Nights comes to mind too.  I had tried a few in that game and nothing grabbed me the way the original game did.  The idea that gamers will create something special with  mod tools is a fantasy driven by the RARE successes.
    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those that want to try their hand at modding a game they love.  It’s just that I really don’t care if a developer puts the effort into making it easy to do or not.   I for one would prefer these coders, whom I recognize are really gifted coders, to make their own game.  If something like Meridian had come out as it’s own game with updated graphics…I would have bought and played it.

    • I doubt many people’s main objection to the online-only was about modding. Most of the protesters were from places with poor internet connection, people who wanted to play LANs with friends, people worried that Bliz might shut down bnet, start charging a fee to use it, people who wanted D3 only for SP, etc.

      • i misread what you meant….i thought u meant there was a lack of outrage about modding.   you were talking about OO.   Certainly some people have a reason to be upset.  Especially those that travel a lot.  I would assume most gamers tho are online anyway. They might not like the online requirement…but they live with it.
        For instance, I love steam.  It is so damn convenient.  that said, I HATE its online restrictions for launching games.  Especially on the rare occasions when the net goes out.  (tho it gives me a reason to find something else to do..like work)   Still, it’s convenience factor is just so good that we all put up with it.

        • Steam has an offline option. Battle.net doesn’t. I can play (most of) my Steam games at my parents’ place or visiting the in-laws. I won’t be able to play DIII. Since, for me, about 60% of my play time is spent in places where I don’t have (regular) internet, DIII went from pre-order to no-buy over it. *shrug*

  15. They could have had their RMAH security and functionality without going fully online-only, imo. The AH already functions on a totally different architecture. It’s even on completely different servers.
    IE, when the servers go down and you can’t play the game (outside of normal maintenance), you still have access to the AH.

    I think that, given more time, they could have figured this out.

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