Why Play Single Player D2?, Part Two

    Due to the overwhelming amount of reader feedback that I received on the last column I’ve decided to continue this week with part II of “Why Play Single Player.” Many of you pointed out features or tricks that I left out of the first column, so I will continue to share information that is relevant to Single Player gaming.

    For various reasons, I will not turn the column into a “how to” for the various features related to SP. Over the past two weeks I have received many questions asking how to go about using various features, especially “players x” and self-muling options. I have no problem answering “how to” questions through e-mail if you need assistance, but most of the answers can be found right here on diabloii.net in the Single Player FAQ. My goal is to point out various features and provide tips that many people may not be aware of.

    Like the previous column, some of the features/tips that are provided here may violate your user agreement with Blizzard, or may be considered cheating by your fellow gamers. In my experience the definition of cheating seems to be dependent upon individual likes and dislikes, thus, you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to use a particular feature or tip.

    Character Backup and Saving Your Favorite Maps
    As I mentioned in the previous column, the key difference between realm play and open b.net, or SP is that on the realms your character files are saved on a server and in open b.net and SP your character files are saved on your PC. Even without manipulating the actual files by opening them, there are several benefits that you can take advantage of by having these files on your local hard drive. Located in the “Save” folder of your Diablo directory you will find several types of files related to any characters that you have created. There will be a registry file, a character file, some map files (depending on how far you are in the game), and possibly a key file if you have change your keyboard controls for that character.

    The character file contains all of the information related to your stats, skills, items, etc and it ends with a .d2s extension. Knowing this information allows you to create a copy of the character to save into a backup folder in case your character becomes corrupted for some reason. No, I don’t mean evil “corrupted”, I mean that Diablo will no longer load the character into the game (especially due to 3rd party program issues). You can also save the file to another computer so you can play your character on a different machine. Be forewarned that you will have to create the exact same character on the new machine and then overwrite the newly created .d2s file with the saved .d2s file that you want to play. You can also make backups of your .d2s files in order to put off having to mule immediately if your inventory gets full while you are magic finding. Just exit the game quickly, copy and paste the .d2s into another folder, start the game again and drop everything in your inventory and drive on with MF. If you want to do this more than one time you will need to change the character name in the backup folder for each instance, I usually just add a 1, 2, 3, etc after each occurrence. If you plan to restore the mules and load them into the game you will need to ensure that the character name is correct when you put them back into the saved folder. Now, obviously you could backup your .d2s files to create dupes or restore your hardcore characters, but that would be unethical in most people’s opinion.

    If you understand the logic behind backing up your .d2s files then you have probably already guessed that you can do the same with the map files. If you haven’t already noticed, in SP, as long as your character doesn’t change difficulty levels, or join a multi-player game, the map will not change. This means that once you stumble upon that “sweet” map that has the Durance Waypoint right next to the stairway to Mephisto, you can save that map into a backup folder so that you can always restore it for MF runs. Likewise, you can do this for any map that want to save. If you are playing SP completely solo, it is nice to know that at least you can take advantage of this trick to setup very efficient MF runs.

    Until recently, the only 3rd party programs available for muling were trainer/editor programs who also happened to have a muling function built into them. The two most popular would be Shadowmaster and Jamella. This caused several problems in the past. For one thing, since these programs are really character editors, it is too easy to change your stats and skills using these programs and even if you did only use them for muling there was always the suspicion by others that you were manipulating your character file. Secondly, because the muling functions were never completely finished they have bugs that can cause irritation frustrations and appear at the most inopportune times. Additionally, neither Shadowmaster, nor Jamella is being updated at this time to correct any of the current bugs (that I am aware of). Now, I don’t say these things as a slight to the creators of these programs because they did a great deal of work and made their programs available for free. Programming a character editor or muling program is no easy task and the fact that these people developed the programs as long as they did shows that they can be dedicated to an enormous project. I am merely saying that Shadowmaster and Jamella have never been finished products so the user needs to be aware of the potential problems that may arise from using them.

    Today, we have ATMA. Quote: “ATMA is a muling program for Diablo II (copyright Blizzard North) by Hakai_no_Tenshi. It stands for “A Tenshi Muling Application” and is designed to help you organize and categorize your Diablo II characters, mules and items. The idea behind this is to be able to read your character/item files quickly without having to open them up in the game and to be able to transfer items without the problems of the currently available item editors such as Shadowmaster and Jamella.” Additionally, Hakai_no_Tenshi is a long time member of the Single Player Forum on diabloii.net and you can find links and forum posts about ATMA in the forum.

    There are several things that really make ATMA stand out as the best muling program available. First, if you have used Shadowmaster in the past you know that rare and crafted items were rarely ever read correctly. ATMA on the other hand will provide detailed item information for all item types, even ones that have been socketed with a gem, rune, or jewel. Second, ATMA displays the item “fingerprint” which is generated when an item drops and is completely unique for each item. This is huge! Though ATMA can’t tell you if something is a dupe directly, at least you have the fingerprint which identifies your item and thus you can compare it to other items of the same type that are being traded in your local economy. Theoretically a group of SP gamers could build their own database for cross-referencing to ensure that their members are not trading dupes. Another big bonus of ATMA is that it can be used with items from versions 1.07, 1.08, 1.09 and is compatible with the .d2i files created by Jamella and Shadowmaster.

    ATMA has many great features besides the ones that I have already mentioned. And it’s hosted on diabloii.net.

    Everyone has there own reasons for playing Diablo II in the manner in which they do. There are many great reasons for playing single player. Hopefully, my “Why Play Single Player D2” columns have made you aware of some of the features that are available to SP gamers everywhere.

    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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