The Ninth Circle #4: Why are we here?


Why Are We Here?

Don’t get worried by the title; this column is not a philosophical musing on the nature of existence. I will be talking about Diablo II the game, and of course this site. Why do we come here and why do we play? While the last three columns did stay on the topic of computer games, the scope ranged from the local to the international. I thought it was time to talk about the central reason that brings us all here.

I have a confession to make; when I first played Diablo II, I didn’t like it. There, I’ve said. I feel better for that.

Now for the one or two of you who have not flicked to another page in disgust, I’ll explain.

I played the Diablo II demo one it became available, and was quite underwhelmed by the experience. Thinking that the full game, with its greater character selection, would offer a better experience, I played the game at a friend’s place. I remember thinking as I went through the process of wandering a drab green and/or brown map before a bout of frenzied left muse button clicking “why did it take 4 years to make this? It’s nothing more than a 600MB patch for Diablo.”

That was all I could see in my first impression, and I played the game for several hours, trying each of the different characters. There was more of everything, of course, more items, starting with the annoying cracked and broken items, and ending with the thrill of finding my first green item, then noting it would be useful for a Necromancer, but not the Paladin who found it.

There was more dungeon space too. I didn’t appreciate running through all those identical moors to get to the few sites of actual interest. The Underground Passage in particular annoyed me greatly, and still does today. For reference, I was also annoyed by the time it took in the original Diablo to walk from the town square of Tristram to the church entrance, so make of that what you will.

In short, I played the game for a short while, didn’t like it, and stopped.

But I never stopped thinking about it.

Even months later, I found myself thinking thoughts like “What if I built a sorceress based around cold?” For I game I didn’t like, it was on my mind a lot. So I went out and bought it, and here I am today. Playing it through this time, I didn?t stumble on the repetitive nature of combat. I looked at how best to organise my skill tree, or how long each of my characters could go through the game without dying once (Travincal remains my record, which probably shows me up as an amateur player). While some aspects still annoyed me, like the Underground Passage, there was so much more good than bad. In particular I remembered how much I loved their system of magic items, the setting of properties against certain names. I started putting a lot of hours into playing the game, and have gotten a lot of enjoyment from doing so.

That’s my Diablo II story. I continue to play the game, more offline than off. Dozens of hours of play later, I do not regret buying it at all. I find it fun to build different characters and take them through the game- they tend to become dormant once they have been through the game once. Like everyone else I have my favourite, and least favourite areas of the game. I would struggle to call Diablo II a ‘classic’ game, but it’s fun. In a game, that’s what counts.

I have had some Battle.net play, but that was curtailed late last year when stability became a real issue. As with the original game, Battle.net access was a big draw for me, and played a part in influencing my decision to buy. For one reason or another though, I have not spent much time playing D2 online. I was curious at Blizzard’s choice of turning Warcraft into an MMOG. I felt (and still do) that Diablo III Online would have been a better idea, but obviously Blizzard felt that the Warcraft brand was the stronger one to take to the field of persistent-world online games.

My playing online of course led me to this site, where I found a wealth of information on characters, items, and everything else I wanted to know about the game, but had never though to ask. I kept coming back for more information, or to re-read the same information again, and one day I saw a news item asking for new columnists, and you can guess the rest.

What did you think of Diablo II when you first played it? Did you like it? Did it grab you instantly and not let go? Do you think it?s the greatest game ever created? Or was your reaction more like mine? Why, after all these years, are you still playing?

Disclaimer: The Ninth Circle was written by Lorelorn (David Kay) and hosted by Diii.net. The views expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

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