Salem’s Fire #43: Assembled Shorts

Just a few short things today, ideas of mine that I could not manage to stretch into a full length article.

If there are any positive sides of being a gamer, learning patience is one of them. We wait. And we wait. And then when waiting is over, we are usually left waiting some more. For instance, just consider Diablo 2. Many of us were waiting about two years for this game to be released. Two years, and that is just from the announcement that it was being worked on. And then we were left waiting on the patches that made the game balanced. If you were not sure what I am talking about, ask a Necro player who has been around since day one. The Necro, I believe, went from underpowered, to super-powered, to worthless as a solo character, and eventually to his present day level of usefulness. Just about every character class in D2 has experienced, at some point, a nice long delay waiting on the patch that finally balances that character with the rest of the game. The ultimate being, of course, 1.10, which even Blizzard admitted took forever to arrive.

Another example would be Doom 3. People waited for Doom 3 (myself not among them), for any word or screen shot of Doom 3. Finally, release was said to be just around the corner. Two weeks later, Doom 3 appears on shelves. And now? The Doom 3 community seems to be collectively holding its breath in anticipation of mods and other games using the Doom 3 engine. Just as soon as waiting is over, we find something else to wait on.

I suspect there might be some sort of mass psychosis going on here. Maybe all of us gamers are just a little insane. Not that this is a bad thing… a little insanity might help the time pass more quickly. After all, Diablo 3 should be out in another half decade or so.

Speaking of Diablo 3, when is Blizzard North going to announce something? Lord of Destruction has been out for an exceedingly long time now, and there is no word out of Blizzard North as to what our favorite programmers are up to. No doubt Diablo 3 is under way, but that could be mean anything from conceptual drawings to engine development to the final finishing touches before a surprise beta is announced next week. Historically, Blizzard has preferred to make their announcements at times and places where they would not be competing with other major projects for press time. When Blizzard launches something new, they want to make sure it is not lost if the headlines. Perhaps, then, they have been waiting to let two other huge media hogs step out of the spotlight, namely Doom 3 and Half-Life 2. Doom 3 is out. It is halfway through its obligatory two weeks of wall to wall press coverage and should be yielding the front row soon. Half-Life 2 is on its way, and in the meantime has somewhat dropped under the radar. Maybe now would be a good time for Blizzard to take the stage? Maybe grab some center stage time at ECTS this September and announce The Lost Vikings 3D? Maybe return to Tokyo and reveal a Diablo RPG for console? Maybe hire a certain fan site columnist to handle the exclusive write-ups of the Next Big Thing (not that I?m volunteering or anything)?

What ever it is and where ever it happens to be announced, I imagine it will be soon. Even by Blizzard standards this long of a delay is, well, long.

On the other end of the delay spectrum is Nintendo, who seems to be pushing hard to get the DS in the news and on the shelves. So far, this looks like a very nice unit. It will be interesting to see how well games adapt to the dual screens on this device. That aside, this little guy has serious potential. Two big questions remain; will it arrive polished or bug ridden, and how much will it cost? The second is the larger question, in my opinion. Right now, handheld consoles fall into two groups, the outdated and cheap GameBoy on side, the more impressive and expensive dual function devices on the other. The Tapwave Zodiac and the Nokia NGage beat the GameBoy silly in every category except price. The GBA is about a third to quarter the price of those other two. Now, however, that field could change significantly. The DS is right now a dedicated gaming system that is just as impressive as the NGage or the Zodiac. If Nintendo brings the DS out under two hundred dollars, the battle for dominance will be over. No one has a library like Nintendo. No one understands the market better than Nintendo. No one is in a better experience to undercut the competition and absolutely dominate the picture like Nintendo. If Nintendo can bring the DS in under $200 and make sure that there is enough of a supply to keep people happy, the Sony PSP is in serious trouble before it even gets out of the gate. The price tag is the question. How low will they go?

And how many gaming houses will start to port titles to mobile screen? I can easily see Quake 2 on the DS. Same with Unreal Tournament. Diablo? Maybe. We will just have to be patient.

Disclaimer: Salem?s Fire was written by Luke Blaize during 2002-2004, and hosted by The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of

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