Fortuitous Ephiphaneia #12: More V1.10 Thoughts and Feedback


More V1.10 Thoughts and Feedback

Are you ready for patch 1.10 yet? I’m going to make an assumption and answer that with a resounding “yes” for the entire D2 community (even if your answer is really “no”, just play along and humor me). It has been a long wait and with the increased “web traffic” and various forum posts I’m also assuming that it will appear before PC’s become as antiquated as an Atari 2600 or vintage NES. I know, I know, assuming anything – especially game related, is a bad idea but I guess that I enjoy setting myself up for disappointment.

Personally, as much as I am looking forward to playing v.10, I also have some mixed feelings. I figure that I have about 3000 hours into playing D2 over the past 2 years and 10 months. My 3000-hour investment has allowed me to master the sorceress, play a pretty mean paladin, and familiarize myself with the other characters. It has also allowed me to create six Matriarchs and three Patriarchs and find all but 15 of the unique and set items in the game. So, the real question that I am asking myself is whether or not I am prepared to have the rug pulled out from under me and basically start the learning curve and item “Easter egg hunt” all over again. I mean, I’d like to think that I have a life outside of playing D2 and I’m pretty sure that my wife will ensure that I participate in the real world. Spending too much time playing D2 results in “that look” from my significant other. For those of you who have a significant other that just “doesn’t get” D2, then you know the look that I am talking about. When I was single it wasn’t a big deal to waste to 4 hours a day on playing, but now I have to be more responsible whether I want to be or not.

Think about it. What if you are one of the very people who actually own a legit Stormspire, Zod rune, or Griswold’s Vortex Shield or Caduceus and suddenly they start dropping like Isenhart’s Case. Wouldn’t that just make your day! Talk about a major economy shakeup. I’d like to think that things like that won’t happen, but you never know. On a good note the cost per game hour played will definitely make D2 the best game for the money in my collection because I’ll probably be playing 10 years from now still trying to find all the new items. Additionally, I’ll probably end up with three different versions of D2 being loaded onto my PC. I play single player by the way. Which means that I have v1.4 and v1.9 on the same PC and play each of them depending on my need at the time. Since hard drive space is relatively cheap, I’ll probably have v1.10 load right next to the other two.

Since v1.10 has been the hot topic lately and I received tons of feedback on column 10 – “When a patch isn’t a patch” I thought that I would give you – the reader – the loudest voice in this weeks column. Generally speaking, reader feedback is pretty amusing from the writer’s perspective and most of it can be broken down into these 5 categories:
[LIST=1]
[*]“Totally Agree” / “Great Job” feedback
[*]“Agree” with exceptions feedback.
[*]“Disagree” feedback written with logical counterpoints and usually very well thought out.
[*]“Left Field” feedback – Reader doesn’t agree but based on their comments it appears that they may have taken things out of context or read to quickly.
[*]Good Ole’ “Drandimere you’re a blithering idiot” feedback – may or may not have logical counterpoints but usually looks like a flaming forum post. I believe that every writer in the world receives this type of feedback to some degree; otherwise I might actually feel bad about receiving it.
[/LIST]

Most feedback falls into category 2 and 3. Category 1 is always nice to receive but I like to think that readers aren’t totally sheep and you think for yourselves and have your own reasons for agreeing or disagreeing. Thus, in reverse order, here is the feedback for column 10 with comments by yours truly.

Neil writes:

You said:

“To me, a patch is used to fix problems and my Diablo II version 1.09 just doesn’t have any major problems”

Ironically I started my design career with Citroen. Since then, I have developed video games for the last twelve years working for several major companies, played diablo2 for 3 years, reached top10 in the very first ladder, completed six characters to 99, won several Diablo tournaments. I have a highly detailed understanding on how the numerous bugs seriously affect game play on many levels to the detriment of both pvm and pvp. It makes your above statement seem very naive … please think before you write such comments or do you call it fantasy! You also clearly have little detailed knowledge or understanding of the video game development process. The majority of bugs could have been fixed within a very short time period if the original team had not left to set up their own company!

Car design and development has little in common with video game design and development. Lets face fundamental facts – roads have remained the same for 100 years … hardware for PC changes each month!

Well, it is true that I do not have what Neil refers to as “highly detailed understanding of how numerous bugs seriously affect game play”. However, I do know that I can get every character through hell difficulty without too much trouble. Do some things have bugs? Of course, it isn’t a perfect game. In retrospect, when I made the statement that v1.09 doesn’t have any major bugs I was referring to the fact that the game can be completed in its entirety as opposed to other games that could not be completed right out of the new packaging without patches. Additionally, when I paralleled game development to automotive development I was referring to the process of designing, building, and testing that is common to any form of engineering regardless of industry. As for Neil’s comment that roads haven’t changed for 100 years but PC’s change monthly, I would have to point out that he isn’t comparing apples to apples. Roads are to automobiles as binary code is to computers and the 1s and 0s haven’t changed a bit.

Matt writes:

You say that Wizards of the Coast doesn’t do anything to really “shake up the entire game just for the sake of keeping the gamers entertained”, yet they are always adding in new card sets that come out in real life to pretty much totally change how the game is played. How does that not “shake up the entire game just for the sake of keeping the gamers entertained”??????

Commentary: In the column I made the comment that Blizzard seems to go above and beyond with patch development over many other game makers. Matt is correct that Wizards of the Coast adds new card sets. However, I think that his comments may be out of context since the column was about patch releases and thus my comments were aimed towards video games released by Wizards of the Coast.

Craig writes:

In your article “when a patch isn’t a patch”, you make the analogy between computer game design and the auto industry. Though your point about v1.09 (hey remember 1.08) was a finished product, and blizzard didn’t owe us anything was well taken, I hope you realize that you are justifying what is becoming a very disturbing trend in the computer gaming market. That is, the practice of releasing less than perfect, unfinished, or downright broken games to the players, knowing that they can simply ‘patch it’ later. Though this might make for an attractive business model, it has some very serious drawbacks to PC gaming in general.

The first, and I think most important, is the increasing competition of other gaming platforms such as x-box and Playstation, who don’t have the ability to patch, and therefore release games in a more or less finished (at least polished) form. There is no guarantee when you buy a PC game that it will ever be patched, or that expansions will be made available. PC gaming companies rely more and more on the internet environment for their games (what if I don’t have internet access, when did that become a requirement for PC gaming). Manuals which used to be an attractive and informative part of the game, have all but disappeared in lieu of fan sites, FAQs, and the inevitable ‘strategy guides’ (sold separately of course). Diablo aside, consider PC gaming as a whole. This trend has culminated in the MMORPG genre, where game companies actually expect the playing community to help them develop the game (no I’m not talking about betas, I mean after they go ‘gold’). And pay for it, each month.

Back to your auto analogy. Would you pay for an automobile, that didn’t include air conditioning, or a radio, but had to bring it back to the dealer in a month or two in order to have those features installed, or to finally get the paint job you wanted? Games are being released unfinished. Or they are being deliberately released in phases in order to jack the price. Each time I see an x-box commercial on TV I wonder why I put up with it. It’s our own fault as a gaming community for rewarding these business practices. And it’s your fault as one of our spokespersons for making excuses for them.

Craig makes some good points. However, I’m wondering if he read the beginning of my column where I sounded off against those same practices. I pointed out Revenant as an example of what a gaming company should not do and I referenced Lorelorn’s first column, which hammers home those same points. My intention of writing the column was to point out why patch 10 is so much different than a “game fix” patch that we hate having to deal with. But, OK Craig, I accept full responsibility. It is my fault; fortunately I have learned to live with a guilty conscience over the years.

Storm writes:

Hi. I read your article and I somewhat agree, but there are some things I disagree on. Blizzards biggest sales pitch when D2 was almost finished was the hack-free realms. The problem is, Blizzard has done VERY little over the past 2-3 years to stop hacks. Recently they’re gotten somewhat better, but not without hitting quite a few innocents. I couldn’t care less about the new features of 1.10; if 1.10 releases anti-hacking code that a 3 year old can’t crack, I’ll feel I got my money’s worth on D2.

Steve W. writes:

I agree with you on the release of Patch 1.10 being the next step in a product. And I liked your comparison to the automotive industry. I just have one problem and that is where the hacks/dupes/bugged items of Diablo II LOD come in. They have completely ruined the game. I, for one, am tired of waiting for the patch to come out. I have played this game for about 18 months. And short of Magic find and trying to actually find the top items in the game, it’s pretty boring for me now. Now with my boredom came other ideas to continue my game play. I used to do countless runs over and over to pindle/meph. Night after night. It got pretty tedious. Since everyone has duped/bugged/hacked items I felt like there was no point in being legit anymore because Blizz was never going to come out with 1.10 and attempt to maybe fix any of it. Which of course they still haven’t.

So I decided to try a bot for a while. Basically because there was nothing left for me to do. I don’t like all the hacked items that change game play. Yeah I know here I am, the pot calling the kettle black. So now with Blizzards recent banning I lost it all. I mean I have nothing. I have to start over like it was day one. I only botted for 1 month and in the process lost the previous 17 months worth of work. Frankly I am disappointed in Blizzard. For me there is no more point in playing. I guess what I am saying is it never would have come to that for me if they had only released the patch. I would have kept on playing trying out the new stuff. I don’t want to start all over again. It really takes to long. I put allot of hard work into the game only to get disappointed in the end.

So, to sum it all up, if Blizzard had done something sooner to fix all the hacks I would have kept playing without the bot. I might want to still play. Now I am just disappointed in Blizzard and really see no reason to play. And also since now I know how Blizzard treats its customers I don’t see any reason to ever purchase another of their products. Since I know they will just do it again on the next one. Yes I knew their polices. But you really just don’t “know” until it happens to you. Then of course it’s too late. It’s like I never existed on the Realms. But of course the spam bots still run the channels the Iths are still there. Yeah it was fair to ban someones accounts who only botted one month and at the same time let everyone else who uses their Iths everyday to continue on like nothing ever happened. But hey who said life is fair.

Storm and Steve make some good points and I’m sure that many realm players would agree with them. These types of issues are exactly why I started playing single player almost exclusively a few years ago.

Steven writes:

Well I’m one of those people who think that LoD should have be much more complete than it is today.

My biggest complaint is about how the runewords and crafting recipes are much less part of the game than they should be. You make a good point about how gaming companies have a big under taking when developing a game; but, as far as runewords and crafting recipes have to go, the engine and the database is already there. It should even take that much creativity to make the recipes and test them if the engine is good.

I’d happily gave my $30 for LoD when I thought I was getting two good character classes, balancing, a new act, runewords, and crafting. Well, at least I got a new act. I would be happy to pay $10 this patch (a year ago) and still be happy for pay $20 for a new expansion with 2 more characters, balancing, new set items, runewords, and crafting.

Rev. Omestes writes:

Actually I DO think it is owed to us (patch 10). I play SP, and still am waiting for those alleged rune items. Sure we get like 30 of them (with the 15 useless ones, the 10 early useful ones, and 5 uber ones that you can only get at plvl99), but that is not what I wanted when I bought the expansion.

Just a clarification, you made me sound like a malcontent (which I am, but with justification).

Justification well taken! As simple as Runewords and Crafting recipes are to put in the game you would think that Blizzard would spend more time on them. Things were looking up for a little while when versions 1.08 and 1.09 came about with various words and recipes coming and going each month but it seems like Blizzard pulled out too early. I don’t know, maybe they thought that they were making the game too unbalanced in various areas.

Unfortunately, I can’t post all the feedback that I received from you wonderful people. Many of you wrote well thought out comments and ideas that show that our community has a good head on its shoulders as a whole. I will close with this last piece of feedback from Mika, which is a good example of the quality feedback that most readers submit.

Mika writes:

Funny thing you should compare car manufacturing to producing video games, I think there are definite similarities. So much in fact, that reports of new cars being released only to be called back aren’t news. Malicious minds might think the companies are using customers as “free” testers. If no complaints surface they can say “well we saved there, excellent.” But in reality that kind of procedure is costing them arm and a leg, I would imagine.

The computer game industry’s current modus operandi seems to be: 1) Work as much as we can. 2) If deadline is not met release anyway and 3) Begin to work on the patch. This is something that has been bothering me, as it seems ludicrous to expect the customers to have internet connection fast enough to download their huge patches that are vital for enjoyable gaming experience. Again the evil wisecrackers can say, “You use us to test the loopholes because you are lazy” and to be honest I sometimes feel that way myself. What would it take to make them think of their products like they were console games; you can’t correct untested code later. Now this may change too with internet coming to console gaming (terrible thought: same happens to them as well), but somehow it keeps on and on, and any serious pc gamer has to, I mean HAS to have a way to download the patches. It’s a nuisance. But I do agree, in the case of Diablo II cutting it to tinier pieces, first D2, then LOD – the games would be terribly outdated if every single bug had to be squashed to release. Some games have relatively nothing, others completely unplayable. Where to draw the line, “this is enough testing now release and fix rest in patch.” Some companies, not naming any, seem not to get close enough to the poor customer having to struggle with compatibilities, etc. Maybe cutting off the content (shorter game) and focusing on the engine itself, with lowered price, and add-ons at lower price too, final product consisting of two to three parts, with the final price not much over single game price (yes they are damn costly today.) Hope something is done, I feel inclined to change to consoles, something I have sworn time and again not to ever do

Keep up the nice columns.

 

Disclaimer: Fortuitous Ephiphaneia is written by Drandimere (Paul J. Darling) 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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