Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Luna Hategood and the Cruel Pants of Cruelty

I should have written this about six weeks ago when people still cared about Diablo III, but I had a little time to kill today so I finished it off.

I picked up Diablo III about two month ago and and I've been playing it on and off since then. Mostly with my brother in Florida or a couple real life friends. It's flawed, but fun.

I wasn't going to get it at first, because I didn't think my puny computer could handle a game released in the past decade, but my friend Greg pointed out that it was in development forever and they kept the specs low.

This is the blog post that got me interested in the game. It's by David Sirlin, one of one the most informed and articulate voices about game design out there.

I played a lot of Diablo 2 and it was neat, but moreso than a lot of games, you had to plan your character out well in advance, as there were  a good deal of newbie traps, and for the longest time, there was no way to respec your character. Put a new point in the wrong ability? Roll up a new character!

Diablo 3 definitely skews in the other direction, effectively allowing you unlimited respecs almost at-will.

I appreciate what they were trying to do, but I think this moves the pendulum too far in the other direction and encourages a certain homogenity in character builds, where gear is the chief differentiation between characters at maximum level.

I enjoy playing my Witch Doctor (DrWitchPhD) but the character design seems a wee bit racist.

Seriously, Blizzard?

My wizard is a lot of fun to play and Luna Hategood is a pleasantly silly name.

It retains a lot of what I liked about D2,  I like the randomly generated magical items. (I swear I remember Luna getting Cruel Pants of Cruelty, but I don't think I've ever gotten another item with the same prefix and suffix, it's possible that I imagined it.)

The NPC companions are fun to have around, (THAT'S how we do it in Kingsport! "Look, more hidden footprints!" "Jon-DAR!!" ) particularly Covetous Shen, voiced by James "You were not put on this Earth to 'get it', Mister Burton!" Hong, and inspired, one would conclude, at least in small part, by Miser Shen from Bridge of Birds.

It's attracted a small amount of well-reasoned criticism on the official boards.

Oops, I meant to type "Frothing, illiterate vitriol".

Man, there's no element of the game too trivial to hate. The stuff they write over there makes Youtube comments look like the Ninety-Five Theses.

It's too much like Diablo 2. It's not enough like Diablo 2. (Same deal with simultaneously being too much and too little like World of Warcraft too.) A strangely common complaint is that characters were no longer blank slates and that's a criticism that just baffles me. Much like Phil over at Adventurous Endeavors, I don't really care for avatar games, and I never associated myself with characters in video games either. I never felt like I was Mario, Lara Croft or a Necromancer when playing these the games featuring these characters. I moved them around the screen and stuff happened. Complaining that giving them a personality that contradicts the user insertion fan fiction you wrote seems outside the scope of which we can reasonably hold the creators accountable.

That's not to say the game is without flaws. Normal mode is insultingly easy, Inferno mode, while not impossible, is just no fun. The game is too heavily integrated with the auction house, and the real money auction house has a distorting effect. You have to be online to play.

A friend said when he uninstalled it "I reached a point where I felt like I wasn't playing it anymore, but just clicking on it repeatedly hoping for fun to pop out."

However, Diablo 2 took a long time to reach maturity, receiving an expansion and eight years of free updates.

Also, when early feedback suggested the game was too colorful, Blizzard doubled down and gave us Whimsyshire as the bonus level, and it's loads of fun.


  1. I'm famous! :D Seriously, I enjoyed the post. I haven't played in ages though, because I got interested in SWTOR again.

    1. You're not just famous, you're INTERNET famous and that's the best kind of famous there is!