Diconstruction #12: Party Play - Diabloii.Net

Diconstruction #12: Party Play


After enraging pretty much everyone with his last offering on Hardcore, Chris Marks returns with a more conciliatory column, this one discussing the joys (and non-joys) of party play in Diablo I and Diablo II. D2 made “improvements,” mostly in the form of not letting you kill, or be killed, by accidental Chain Lightning from seven screens away, but did the carebearism of no Friendly Fire actually improve the experience? And what else distinguishes the multiplayer experience offer by the previous games in the Diablo series?

In the original Diablo, the progenitor if you will, multiplayer was seemingly built on the assumption that people would be evil toward each other. By that I mean it was realistic: if I was playing a Rogue, and I fired an arrow from across the screen at some creature with uncomfortably poor dental hygiene, and you stepped in the way, you got to take an arrow to the face, bravely sacrificing yourself for those less fortunate, just like in real life. Lucky you!

Click through to read the full column.

There’s A Party In My Pants

Something that really should be a bigger part of Diablo than it is, is party play. You have the ability to join online games and play with each other in the most seductive ways possible, helping each other out in order to get those few extra kills to reach your next level of awesome. Well, as awesome as you can be playing a video game, anyway.

“But Chris!” I hear you cry, “Haven’t you already talked about multiplayer Diablo 5 articles ago?” Yes, person who yells at their computer screen, I did talk about Diablo multiplayer 5 columns ago, and thank you for demonstrating that even though my columns have been arriving late due to my job stealing away all my time, you still read and remember them; I’m touched by your thoughtfulness.

Yes, I talked about multiplayer, but only insofar as it was relevant to cheating and changing gameplay. This article is specifically about how Diablo handles people playing in a group, rather than how people handle Diablo letting them play in a group. And having an article talking about itself makes it classy. You know, for anyone who was wondering. This sentence is a lie.

Who Spiked the Punch?

In the original Diablo, the progenitor if you will, multiplayer was seemingly built on the assumption that people would be evil toward each other. By that I mean it was realistic: if I was playing a Rogue, and I fired an arrow from across the screen at some creature with uncomfortably poor dental hygiene, and you stepped in the way, you got to take an arrow to the face, bravely sacrificing yourself for those less fortunate, just like in real life. Lucky you!

See, unlike its successor, Diablo didn’t think players were too good to accidentally shoot each other in the back of the head just because they were on the same team. My sword is big and made of metal, and if you’re standing in front of me when I accidentally swing it (which happens so frequently in real life), you’re going to be in some serious pain. This meant that if we were playing together, and you were being an idiot (because we all know the problem is never me) rather than being restricted to yelling at you through my keyboard I could just turn around and murder you and steal your stuff, just like real friends do (aren’t parentheses fun?).

This all happens for one good reason: there isn’t actually party play in the original Diablo. Instead, there’s just a bunch of people who are armed to the teeth, and who go out to secluded areas containing “monsters” so that some of them can “not make it back.” I like to imagine the following conversation in Diablo:

Sorceror:Hey, do you want to leave town where I can’t attack you and go attack things that can kill or horribly disfigure us?
Warrior:That depends, are you going to kill me before they get a chance?
Sorceror:Frankly, I’d rather not answer that, and I’m offended that you even feel the need to ask.
Warrior:Really though, are you going to kill me?
Sorceror:Only one way to find out.
Warrior:Sounds good. Let’s go murder you!
Sorceror:What?
Warrior:Nothing.

This DJ Sucks!


Diablo 2 introduced actual party play. The idea is that because you and I are on the same team, my arrows now magically go through your torso without touching or hurting you in order to hit the thing on the other side of you, which obviously wants to kill you more than I do. Now, we can only help each other (unless one of us is using the hack that allows you to kill people in your party), and we get to share the experience for doing so. The trick is to find people worth being in a party with, which is harder than it sounds.

Let’s face it, most people who play in multiplayer games on Diablo 2 do it for one of two reasons: to run through the same set of monsters again and again in order to level faster, or to kill things in a game that has lots of people far away from you so you get more experience per kill, in order to level faster. Real parties, people who want to play the game together and fairly distribute the loot that the monsters drop, are few and far between.

That’s why I’m so impressed when I read about something like these guys, starting a party specifically for party play. They’re not in it for greed, they’re in it for the joy of playing together and being awesome (well, as awesome as… you know). Party play is something that has a lot of solid potential, but for whatever reason it wasn’t latched on to by the community as well as, or in the way that it should have been.

What we get instead, when a random party actually does form, tends to be people who are still self-interested enough to take loot they have no use for just because it’s loot, instead of leaving it for someone else in the party who can actually use it right away to perform better in the party. This even happens between people who know each other in real life sometimes, as two of my friends were playing, a Burrito Cannon fell, and rather than let the Amazon pick it up my other friend grabbed it for himself because “now he’s going to build an Amazon.”

Alright, Everybody Out of the Pool

When you get right down to it, the only real difference between playing in a party in Diablo 2 and playing in a “party” in Diablo is that if you’re actually interested in not killing each other, party play takes more skill in the original. In Diablo, you had to coordinate who was going to go where to be out of the line of fire. In Diablo 2, it doesn’t matter where you are, because unless you specifically indicate that you’re hostile toward someone (anyone ever notice the Paladin is black?) you couldn’t hurt them if you tried. And believe me, I’ve tried.

It really sounds like I prefer the original Diablo’s party play, doesn’t it? Well, the truth is that Diablo 2’s is more convenient and easier, which is good. People play video games to relax, and if you have to constantly worry about where everyone else in the game is so you don’t accidentally maul them then it’s easier to have a fun time. Unless you’re a battle re-enactor, in which case you’re probably too busy pretending to die in real life to even read this column. And people think gamers have no life.


Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

Diconstruction (Diablo Deconstruction) is written by Chris Marks.  It examines differences between the two (soon to be three) Diablo games, as well as comparing them to other games, in a hopefully amusing style.  Diconstruction is published on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Leave your comments below, or contact the author directly.

Tagged As: | Categories: Diabloii.Net Columns

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  1. You know what guys, I was one of the people who criticized HolyKnight on this series and I really believe that he has made great improvements.

    He took great care in making sure that all parts of the image are crisp and in full-resolution (instead of being blurry). He made his name smaller and much less intrusive to the eye. He also really took things a step further with the rune beneath the Monk. This image is a great blend of personal artistry from HolyKnight and Blizzard art.

    I agree that still keeping the fiery rune ring is kind of cheesy, but there are so many improvements that just I overlook that.

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