Diablo 3’s DRM and FPS Debated

Two interesting articles about D3 popped up online today. The first is kind of a flashback to August 1st when this issue first arose and was much debated, but some guy from Rock Paper Shotgun got disconnected during his beta play and he’s now advocating an offline play mode for Diablo III. Good luck with that, dude. Thanks to Philip for the tip.

Over an Gamespy is where the real controversy lies, thanks to an article about what Diablo 3 might have been if it were presented from the first person view. It’s a legitimate issue to ponder; Blizzard addressed it shortly after the game’s reveal when they talked about various experiments they’d done with PoV, light radius, and other fundamental game mechanics. There’s no hard and fast reason why not, and there have been plenty of successful action RPGs seen from the first person view — the D3 Team just didn’t think was the best way to present D3. It wasn’t Diablo, basically. There’s a Jay Wilson quote about it from the audience Q&A at the Denizens of Diablo panel from June 2008. (Last question on the page.)

The problem with today’s Gamespy piece, and the reason it’s touched off such a hate-fest in comments on the Gamespy page and in a forum thread here, is that the author prefaces his theories by admitting his complete noobdom when it comes to Diablo III. His first 3 hours of Diablo ever were with the D3 beta a couple of days ago, and thus the piece comes off like he’s trying to reinvent the wheel without ever having driven a car, while also stirring up the “Why is this non-fan asshat in the beta and I’m not?” resentment that (understandably) lies not very far below the surface of many in the community.

Here’s a quote to give you a sense of the basic argument.

Ever since gamers first wandered the pixelated halls of Wolfenstein 3D, the first person perspective has been the character viewpoint of choice in today’s games, as witnessed by the popularity of the perspective across genres. It’s no surprise really — if you want the player to feel as if they’re actually inside the game world, you should present them with a view that matches our real world. Admittedly the first person perspective still isn’t a perfect representation of our human vision system, lacking the wider field of view that our amazing eyeballs deliver. Unless you’re packing a 3D monitor this view also lacks the stereoscopic vision delivered courtesy of evolution’s clever decision to equip us with not one but two eyes. And yet, despite these limitations, the first person game view remains the closest to the experience we have when viewing the real world. I can only imagine how much spookier Diablo III would have been if I could have explored every nook and cranny of the New Tristram Cathedral, or to zoom in on the pulsing gut flesh of a worm-packed Grotesque.

Instead Diablo III gives us an isometric viewpoint, presenting the player with a small action figure on screen that they’re supposed to identify with. Unless you’re having a near death experience, this viewpoint doesn’t quite gel with our real world view.

The article presents several pros and cons about the 1st vs. 3rd person view angle, and it’s an interesting argument… if you can get past the who and why of the presentation.

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28 thoughts on “Diablo 3’s DRM and FPS Debated

  1. “Why is this non-fan asshat in the beta and I’m not?” –

    This was my most prominent thought after hearing about the article. The whole article is just mind boggling, and shows just how poor Gamespy is as a gaming news site.

    • However bad the article might be, it still accomplishes Blizzard’s primary objective for Diablo 3. Because Gamespy is a mass media, and the lame guy works for the media, that send through Blizzard’s info feed to literally millions of people, Gamespy gets a beta key and the guy get to do the beta testing. The guy just got lucky he got chosen by Gamespy to do the beta testing. We may be pisseed, but it’s business and PR policy that get those kind of morons the things WE dream about (beta access).

  2. Lol, this is called Nerd Baiting, he makes a complete fool out of himself to infuriate the fans and get loads of comments and traffic in order to make money. No one is that stupid to believe that Diablo3 should be an FPS… you guys shouldn’t have linked this bullshit, like this you are helping the nab get what he wants. Please don’t read that shit and don’t click the link to give him traffic….

    • The jokes on him when he doesn’t get any viewers for any piece he ever writes again.  If he plans on quitting then he wins out otherwise he might have killed his career there.

  3. The article is pathetic. The 1st person perspective is niether immersive nor realistic, and the reason it sells better has little to do with avatar identification.

    The article writer is an  idiot.

  4. Didn’t really read much on the 3d article dont really care what he wrote..
    What I thought was more interesting was the rock paper shotgun article.. some very good points he has.. Just what I want in a sp game, the ability to not be able to step away from computer and leave game running..
    oh hey, im between checkpoints i can’t leave now.. gotta help the wife, sorry wife, i might be idle to long and get booted..
    thats a bunch of b.s.

  5. The Gamespy article was obviously written by someone completely new to the Diablo universe. The isometric view is what anybody that’s ever played diablo before immediately recognizes, why change that? That’s like saying Doom 4 should be isometric because that’s what im use to as a ARPG player. Each game has their own look and feel to it, that’s what makes them different.

  6. The article writer is a moron. Why should 1st person be better for a ARPG? He is probably a little FPS-idiot who never played RTS (Iso), ARPG (Iso), economy simulation (Iso), RPG (3rd person) or ANY other game except FPS games. So yeah, “Why is this non-fan asshat in the beta and I’m not?”, except that I do not want to participate in betas and wait for the full game or the demo (which in this case wont be needed).

    • That would at least make more sense, as long as it wasn’t an RTS.
      Diablo III would work fine in an oblivion-type game, I think. But it wouldn’t be Diablo III, or Diablo IV, or Diablo V. It would be a game set in the Diablo universe.

  7. Well, I don’t think the graphics of the current engine would look that great if you’d get to close to things, but having the option to press a button that switches the camera to FP and being able to walk through Tristram in a first person perspective or to look Diablo directly in the eye is something that doesn’t sound too bad.

    And why all the hate because the guy is not a seasoned fan? People who are not influenced by the experience of playing through the previous games thousands of times and who are not firmly set in their opinion of how it has to be at least can bring a fresh perspective. For example I’d never have thought of a new skill system like we have now exactly because of that, but it’s clearly a good thing.
    There are old players who hate the Witch Doctor and still pine for the Necro. If Blizzard would listen only to those guys we’d never get anything new.

    • not all changes are on the same plane though. making a new class/skill system is nothing like changing the entire POV of the game. yes some people don’t want things to change, and they’re no good to listen to. but neither are the people like this guy.
      some games have done that in the past (well i can only think of 1: Dune 1 vs Dune 2). and games in the star wars universe or something have many different types of games. but the background/story already existed prior to the game. the diablo games were created with their unique view, and you can’t go and make a Diablo 3 FPS and Diablo 4 RTS. this is not bringing a fresh perspective.

  8. People would expect much better graphics out of an FPS, Blizzard wouldn’t be able to cater to the wide audience that they normally do.
    Plus, why would anyone want D3 to be a first person anyway.

  9. What an absolutely redicioulous thing to say from Gamespy.

    1) The game is an, ARPG NOT an FPS.
    2) If the game was in first person view, I might aswell be killing zombies on WoW in the Brill area.
    3) If an FPS playstyle, and view was brought in.. It just wouldn’t be classed as part of the Diablo series, in which everyone loved before, and currently upto now. (Obvs not this guy moaning on the Gs forums)

    Overall, it almost sounds pathetic, that he got a beta key after never playing any of the Diablo series before and then has the ordasity to say something like that.

    I hate it when people like this come along and almost destroy what they do not know about. All I can say is go back to your FPS and leave us proper fans of Diablo to carry on in peace. 😡

  10. Though it’s an interesting idea to think about, I’m happy that Diablo stays ‘diabloish’ and that the pseudo-isometric view has been retained. I agree with Jay that it just wouldn’t be Diablo. On the other hand, I agree with Flux that there were very successful FPP RPGs, one being Summoner particularly in my humble opinion. We may also go way back to 1995 and name Dungeon Master 2 or Stonekeep. Still, it’s good Diablo remains Diablo, though every game (including Diablo) needs some new ideas from time to time, just like PLanewalker points out.

  11. OMG. Even if the guy never played Diablo, that is just a lame argument. There are both sides to this, it’s true, but is just a matter of choice in the end. Trading the proximity, detail and aim(?) for a wider view of the battlefield, and a sense of greter destruction… which IS DIABLO.
    I can’t even… argh

  12. I guess I tend to look at things from the editorial perspective, rather than the author’s perspective.

    Yeah, they guy is putting forward a bit of geek-heresy here, but the real question is why the editor would even assign this story to someone who hadn’t played a Diablo game before?  It’d be like asking someone to go review one of the Star Wars prequels, without having ever seen the original movie–it simply doesn’t make much sense.

    I don’t begrudge GameSpy any amount–the guy’s opinion is fairly interesting, if one that I disagree with–but I think they’re more guilty of gross ignorance than malice.

  13. Wow, you really glossed over the RPS article.  The biggest PC-only gaming blog on the ‘net flat-out called the game “broken” based on their experiences with the beta – yes, that’s a quote – and you give it a small paragraph.  It may not be a new issue to diehard fans, but it’s certainly a new level plateau of annoyance when the press has that reaction.

  14. The worst part of this always online bullshit will be the AFK disconnects. I guess its OK for the server to disconnect you after a large AFK period. The problem is that at least in WoW they detect when you minimize your game and a few moments later they kick you from the game. I really think the same thing will happen in D3.

  15. Yawn the “diablo bnet went down” argument. Its in beta of cause there will downtime. Try get uptime stats on SC2/WoW, I played WoW for 5 years, in the past 3 years it has rarely been down besides from the weekely downtime when I was at work midweek anyway.

    People need to chill.

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