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Julian Love, Lead Technical Artist for Diablo 3 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the zombie-bears-are-sweet dept.
At Blizzcon this past weekend, we got a chance to speak with Julian Love, lead technical artist for Diablo 3. We discussed skill runes — items that modify the form and function of your character's spells and abilities — as well as the newly announced PvP Battle Arenas, the Demon Hunter class (and why it took so long to create), the future beta test and the importance of getting the game in front of players to collect feedback. Read on for our discussion about Diablo 3.

Slashdot: Could you explain your role on the Diablo 3 team?

Julian Love: A lot of people don’t know what a lead technical artist does, or even a technical artist. So, the easiest way to understand it is: all the things that your player does in the game, all the skills that they have, have visuals attached to them, usually done with special effects. That’s really the focus of what my team does that you can see in-game. We are very tightly coupled with the design team to help them visualize and even come up with a lot of the player skills – what they are and what they do.

Slashdot: One thing I noticed while playing the demo was that the skill runes modify the art on the abilities quite a bit. That seems like a lot of work.

Julian Love: You bet. It is a lot of work, and it wasn’t our original intention to do that, because we were thinking, “That’s a lot of skills.. .and that’s a lot of runes..how is that even going to be possible?” So, initially we thought, “Well, we’ll just do some things that aren’t so visual.” But, what we found was that they felt kind of broken. We noticed that the players would pick up the game and the places where we had done those kinds of graphical changes, they would play those skills over every other one that didn’t do it. It was clear that if we’re going to have this system, we’re going to have to commit to making graphical changes on everything, so you don’t have this case where people are shying away from a skill simply because it felt unsatisfying.

Slashdot: How much extra work is that for you in the art department?

Julian Love: I can tell you it’s at least five times as much extra work. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. What we’re really shooting for is enough graphical change that the skill doesn’t feel broken and that it contributes strongly to the feel of customizing your character. That’s the other key that we hit on. This is a way for us to bring another level of customization to characters that I don’t think people necessarily think about. The tendency is to think about things like “How come I can’t change his skin color,” or “how come I can’t give him tattoos?” And in our game, your character is this big (holds fingers a few inches apart). It’s not very large on screen. So, those kinds of things don’t have a lot of utility or value. Your character is covered in armor, what good is a tattoo?

But your skills are big and powerful and cover a lot of the screen, so being able to customize those is something that will really have a lot of impact for player customization. So, for that we looked up and just said we’re going to have to commit. We’re going to have to find ways to do it. Sometimes it’ll be a little easier, and sometimes, in the case of things like Hydra, where we’re literally making different hydras, or in the case of, say, Plague of Toads, where we’re making totally different kinds of toads, those are going to be a little harder. But, it’s going to be worth it as long as it’s fun.

Slashdot: Yeah. I was playing a Witch Doctor, and I used the spell that summons a zombie for you, and I got a rune that turned it into a swarm of bears. We got a real kick out of that.

Julian Love: Yeah! Zombie Bears! It’s kind of funny, that’s one of the skills that came up – the way we work is that we sit down and throw a lot of crazy ideas out, and sometimes it’s a little scary, throwing an idea that you think “I’m not sure how the group will react. This is kind of wacky.” And I remember sitting in the group and they were saying, “What are we going to do? We need something else.” And I said, “I’m not even sure why this works, but I’m just going to say it: Zombie Bears!” And everybody went, “Yes!” And that was it. Look at the way to it feels to play that skill in the game – it just sounds fun, right?

Slashdot: Definitely. Now that you can modify these skills so heavily, it seems like you can go through the game as, say, a Wizard, and play it one way, and then play it through again as a Wizard and have a completely different experience.

Julian Love: Absolutely. The character customization is one part of it, but another really important part is replayability. The fact that you can go back and re-explore your class, explore other classes. As limited as Diablo 2 was compared to Diablo 3, you still have people playing it ten years later. You have a hundred thousand people online sometimes, playing Diablo 2. So, replayability is a big, important factor, and skill runes definitely contribute to that by providing so many more build possibilities for people to keep exploring.

Slashdot: Regarding the new PvP system, are there going to more game types than just small teams facing off?

Julian Love: We don’t have any plans right now that we’re announcing for different types of games. It’s an idea we’re a fan of. We think that there are some things we might be able to do with it, but right now we’re primarily focused on bringing Battle Arenas to the game.

Slashdot: How has that affected the way you’re implementing PvP in the rest of the game.

Julian Love: The only place we’re actually implementing PvP is in the Battle Arena structure. That’s a key point. By bringing PvP out of the PvE game and giving it its own space, we’re providing a more structured and fun PvP experience. We can do things there that were much harder to deliver, like team play. It was really hard to do meaningful team play in Diablo 2. Not that some players didn’t find a way to impart that structure. It’s just a lot easier when it’s already there. Especially when you start to bring in Battle.net and being able to do much fairer matches. Really, if you think about the Diablo 2 experience, it’s much more about ganking people who are unsuspecting. People didn’t fight each other unless they thought they could win. It really wasn’t what I would call fun for everyone.

But by bringing it out and giving it its own space, you have a better chance of injecting that fun into the PvP experience. Now, at the same time, we’re really improving what most people consider the PvE experience, especially for those people who weren’t interested in being ganked unfairly. Nobody liked to take a waypoint into a zone and show up dead, and have no idea what happened, only to find out that somebody killed them before they loaded. When you do enough of that, you start chasing people out of those games, and eventually out of Diablo 2 itself. That’s not something we want to provide.

Slashdot: When a new player logs into Diablo 3 and sees the PvP options, what is your goal for what they’re encouraged to try.

Julian Love: Our goal is first to communicate that it’s going to be a fun experience. We’ve done it as short, cycled rounds, and one of the reasons we’ve done that is so when you do die –because if you engage in PvP, you’re going to get killed, right? – but nobody likes to stand around dead for too long, watching all their buddies have fun. So, shortening the rounds gives you a chance to come back and get some revenge before the rounds are up. A part of the reasoning behind that is to make sure people are having fun; to get over the intimidation factor with PvP. “Oh, I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to die!” Well, you die in PvE, right? We want to communicate that this is easy, engaging, and can really be a lot of fun.

Slashdot: Is that where you’re going with skill-matching over Battle.net, to make sure beginners play against beginners?

Julian Love: We’ll have a system very similar to how StarCraft works in terms of trying to match people up fairly. Part of the reason is to avoid people saying, “I’m going to go get my level 80.” “Well, I’m going to go get my level 90.” That kind of thing happened in Diablo 2 where people would just one-up each other to the point where it was a fair fight, at which point everybody left because nobody wants to do that. It’s a lot more fun when everybody is playing together and they are much more on the same level.

Slashdot: It was mentioned at the panel that there would be things like achievements and vanity rewards for PvP. Is that something that will carry over to the PvE game as well?

Julian Love: There will be achievements and vanity rewards for sure in the PvE game. I don’t think we have any plans for how much or what those things are. It’s still a work in progress.

Slashdot: Is there going to be a beta test?

Julian Love: There will be a closed beta. We don’t have an announcement about when that will be. I don’t think we have any specific announcements yet about what you’re going to be able to do in the closed beta.

Slashdot: Is that something you’re more hesitant to put in front of players? Would you rather keep things under wraps?

Julian Love: No, no. Well, there are some things we have to keep under wraps. Story. Diablo 3 is going to be a lot about story. It’s going to have a much deeper story, a much more compelling story, a story you’re much more engaged in. Obviously, there are whole parts of the story we don’t want to reveal. So we’re going to want to be careful about exposing the story to everybody and spoiling the experience. But at the same time, putting the game in front of people and getting feedback is a core part how we go about making games. That’s why there’s a playable build here at Blizzcon. So that we can get it in front of people and find out what works. In fact I was just down on the show floor earlier today, watching people play the game, and I noticed a number of things that made me say, “You know what, we’re got to go back to the office and tweak that!” There’s a few things that aren’t quite right. And the things I’ve noticed today? You know, I’ve been watching this game played at the office for the last year, and the things I saw today aren’t things I’ve seen before. So, there's huge value in having people outside of the office play the game.

Slashdot: Can you give us an example of one of those situations?

Julian Love: I saw a case where somebody hadn’t quite figured out how to get their skills on the left and right mouse button. It was just one person, but I think there’s something to that – people running around without using their skills. I think we’re going to take a look at that. We never really stop iterating on the UI for the game, and I think there’s something more we can do to get it just perfect. So that we don’t have what I would maybe call “fail cases.” We want to make sure that everybody would get it.

Slashdot: So far we’ve seen some very constrained dungeons – a tomb, a fiery dungeon – are we going to see more of the wide-open spaces that were common in Diablo 3?

Julian Love: Absolutely. Last Blizzcon we primarily showed an outdoor, open-space area – the desert – and this year there was a desire to give players something a little bit different. At the same time, we wanted to deliver something that was in line with the development process for the game, and not something that was pulled out and built separately for the show. Even last year’s [build], that’s still content we’re using for the game, but there was more putting it together for the show. This year, we really just wanted to take some section of the game, exactly as it is, put it in front of everybody, and see how it works.

Slashdot: Characters. From a fan perspective, it seems like a very long time between the announcements of, say, the Wizard, the Monk, and the Demon Hunter. Can you explain the timeline of what goes into developing these classes?

Julian Love: We don’t have a fixed timeline. But here’s what happens: We always start out with some really basic goals for a class. How they’re supposed to feel, broad parameters, how they feel thematically, and how they should feel gameplay-wise. For instance, with the Demon Hunter, we wanted a ranged class. But we wrestled with it, early on, about what the thematics would be. And by that I mean the beginning of the Diablo 3 project. That’s how far back the Demon Hunter goes. But we decided at some point to just put it on ice, and that’s a thing we do often. Sometimes you can just work your piece of clay to the point where you don’t know what it’s supposed to be anymore. So the best thing you can do is not to cut it, but to put it on ice for a while. Let it sit, let it percolate. It gives us the space to come back later.

Then, suddenly, it might make a lot more sense. You get this moment of clarity for the class. This has happened to just about every class in some way, shape, or form. Early on with the Barbarian, we had the same kind of thing happen, where we were really trying to push the physicality to the point where we were ignoring ways we could make him more crazy. There was this moment, after getting some space from it, where we were said it was alright to start giving him some of this god-power, through the Ancients. We did the same thing with the Demon Hunter. “You know what would really make this ranged class work is if we underscore the thematic elements going on in the storyline with the incoming demon invasion.” It let us create this bounty hunter-type class with a really dark, gothic vibe, which really suits our world well. It gave us a new feel, a character we didn’t have at that point. It filled the need for a ranged class, giving them the pistol crossbows to shake things up. We thought, “You know what, that just all works.” So what was a struggle before suddenly becomes crystal clear. And that takes time!

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Julian Love, Lead Technical Artist for Diablo 3

Comments Filter:
  • In the cinematic introduction, the demon hunter looks like Kasumi from the Mass Effect 2 Stolen Memories DLC.
  • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Monday October 25, 2010 @01:49PM (#34015122)
    I don't have to click NEARLY enough times for this to be really about Diablo.
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Monday October 25, 2010 @01:50PM (#34015130) Homepage

    ...but Blizzard knows what we are waiting for: a release date. Get on that, Bliz!

    • ...but Blizzard knows what we are waiting for: a release date. Get on that, Bliz!

      You can't have a release date until you've had an open beta. Open betas add an unknown amount of time to a project. Or in other words, its not "done" until the open beta shakes out the balance problems that only tens of thousands of external testers can expose.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Let's see an open beta where a fixed-size player pool gets rotated every 2 weeks or so - this will likely both increase the amount of play time each tester will put in given the constraints, and allow for the technical team to not have the servers crumble under the weight of a full-on stress test. You could then cycle tester pools according to location in the world, or according to any other demographic statistic you choose, all while allowing more people (and thus more points of view) to test the game!

        Ok,

        • by perpenso (1613749)

          ... allow for the technical team to not have the servers crumble under the weight of a full-on stress test ...

          But an important part of beta testing is to stress out the servers and make sure they can handle it.

          • by Yvan256 (722131)

            If the servers are too stressed they should load some hot tea and yoga programs alongside Diablo 3.

            • by Chris Burke (6130)

              If the servers are too stressed they should load some hot tea and yoga programs alongside Diablo 3.

              Oh no, we've already had enough trouble with Hot Coffee.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        You can't have a release date until you've had an open beta.

        Increasingly companies use the release as their open beta, they just don't mention that in the documentation. Sadly my company is among them.

      • I remember when the closed beta of WoW came out and I got in on that. It was fantastic.

        The time between that and the open wasn't that long... though I was still in my 20's when I started. I'VE WASTED HOW MANY YEARS OF MY LIFE NOW????

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigstrat2003 (1058574)
      It's Blizzard. You know that isn't forthcoming until about a month before release!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @01:53PM (#34015176)

    I know I can only truly speak for myself, but I've spoken with lots of other people who at least agree with me to my face regarding Blizzard and their recent bullshit tactics. Whether they vote with their wallets once the game is released, I dunno. What I do know is that I don't give Blizzard money any more. Removing LAN play killed their games for me. I haven't bought Starcraft II, and I won't be buying Diablo III either. I would've had both these titles preordered if they had stuck to their old philosophy of supporting the gamers who buy their products. Now instead we have forced online connectivity shoved down our throats, a single game split into 3 different versions for the sake of exploiting the customer, bullshit bans over cheating in SINGLE PLAYER MODE which WOULDN'T EVEN BE POSSIBLE IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE FIRST OFFENSE ON THIS LIST...gah, fuck 'em. I'm getting so pissed just talking about it that it isn't worth it any more.

    If someone wanted to post an interview THAT MATTERS on a site for STUFF THAT MATTERS, why not get in someone's face and ask the hard questions about why the company seems hell-bent on alienating the people who put them on the map in the first place?

    • by blair1q (305137)

      "I just do eyes."

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:20PM (#34015540)

      I know I can only truly speak for myself, but I've spoken with lots of other people who at least agree with me to my face regarding Blizzard and their recent bullshit tactics. Whether they vote with their wallets once the game is released, I dunno ...

      Yes you do. You know they will buy. The truth is that there are many testimonials like yours right before every every one of Blizzard's "recent" best sellers. This is becoming a slashdot tradition. Long threads extolling the righteousness of a ban or boycott before external beta testing. Followed by long threads explaining that trying the beta is OK since no money goes to Blizzard and that the game looks pretty awesome. Which in turn is followed by long threads explaining how this is the greatest game ever after it is finally released, and that the authorization and anti-cheat stuff isn't that bad and if it does curtail cheating its probably a net positive. This slashdot tradition then ends with a brief article announcing some new industry sales record has been broken by the game. ;-)

      • by nlawalker (804108) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:39PM (#34017312)

        This is becoming an internet tradition

        Publishers of blockbuster multiplayer games have completely stopped listening to their fans when it comes to stuff like removing dedicated servers or LAN play, because they no that no one is going to want to be the one that didn't get the awesome new game on launch day and lose out on playing during the hot couple of months after the game has released, putting themselves behind their friends in skill/experience levels.

        "Boycott" has been redefined to mean "idle complaint" - sure, there are some people that will refuse to buy, but most "boycotters" end up reading all the reviews over and over again, trying to stifle their excitement and convince themselves it's not all that great. Then, they decide it's a good time to rediscover their old game library, twiddling through the first few minutes of some old games they have just to be frustrated and disappointed that the magic is gone. They hear from a friend or two who wonders why they aren't playing Multiplayer Awesomeness 3. They listen to the stories about how you can pilot jetskis with machine guns and fly planes into each other and stare longingly at screenshots, pretending that the game is unfolding in front of them. They run a few benchmarks, confirming that yes, their PC is more than capable of running the game and damn I bet it would look so awesome on my machine. By the next morning, they're wondering why LAN play or dedicated servers are really that big of a deal anyways when the game is so awesome, and by lunchtime the game's almost done installing.

        • I faithfully played Warcraft and Diablo 1. I thought they were the best games ever. Diablo 2 was fantastic and I loved it.

          I considered myself a fanboy of Blizzard Entertainment.

          I have never *ever* seen WoW. I've never played it and after several years, I have no intention of playing it.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        To be honest, the anti-cheating stuff completely turned me off from not just Blizzard's games, but PC gaming in general.

        There are a few publishers who don't require anything more than a key and maybe the CD in the drive to play (which I can then spoof with Daemon Tools so I don't have to keep popping the CD in and out). But it's too hard trying to figure out who's not trying to root my machine at every opportunity, and which games they publish (yes, looking up Stardock is a large pain in the ass, because ga

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yosho (135835)

      I know I can only truly speak for myself [ ... ] Removing LAN play killed their games for me.

      Well, there's your answer. You're only speaking for yourself. Pretty much everybody else doesn't care about the lack of LAN play. 99% of situations where you'd be playing with people over a LAN, you're going to have internet access.

      Yes, there are some situations where you won't have internet access. And there are a few other people besides you who won't buy the games because of it. But the vast majority of fans don't care.

      why not get in someone's face and ask the hard questions about why the company seems hell-bent on alienating the people who put them on the map in the first place?

      They've been asked and answered many times before. Asking again isn't going to c

      • It also helps that Diablo 2 was a widely loved game and there hasn't been a worthy competitor in the same genre in the 10 years since its come out. No, Torchlight was not as good.
        • by chispito (1870390)

          It also helps that Diablo 2 was a widely loved game and there hasn't been a worthy competitor in the same genre in the 10 years since its come out. No, Torchlight was not as good.

          Diablo II had too much running around outside. It turns out randomly generated fields aren't very exciting. For this reason alone, I like Torchlight better (and Diablo I, for that matter).

        • by Omestes (471991)

          To scratch my Diablo 3 itch, I've been playing a ton of Titan Quest. Its actually pretty damn good. Not as good as Diablo 2, but it runs nice, and looks good on modern systems, there also is a fair amount of depth to it. Sacred 2 was a decent time killer, but its MMO style quest system (seven thousand fetch quests not related one bit to the main story) got a bit tedious. Torchlight doesn't really compete, it is more a spiritual successor to Diablo 1 than anything. Torchlight 2 might be a different stor

      • by Vaphell (1489021) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:06PM (#34017676)

        No LAN means problems for tournaments. It's only few months and there were many tournament disasters already, lag and dropped connections. Hell, Blizzcon, their own fucking event was riddled with technical problems. If they can't provide a smooth experience who can? Ok, this affects only competitive scene so what about this: always connected is a problem when the WoW maintenance tuesday happens and the whole battle.net goes down and you can't do shit with your starcraft 2. This one affects everybody, no exceptions.

        • by dakameleon (1126377) on Monday October 25, 2010 @07:12PM (#34019178)

          No LAN means problems for tournaments. It's only few months and there were many tournament disasters already,

          Yep, exactly - just in Australia recently, we had a tournament which failed because BattleNet blocked the single public IP through which all the connections were going, assuming it was an attack. Eventually got some action, but only the pros could play because of limited connections. There needs to be some allowance for these things, a local p2p style play even if it requires the login & occasional ping to BNet.

          • by Bengie (1121981)

            ignoring the real issue of Blizz messing stuff up, IPv6 would've fixed this problem. Public IPs for everyone! :p

    • by afabbro (33948)

      If someone wanted to post an interview THAT MATTERS on a site for STUFF THAT MATTERS, why not get in someone's face and ask the hard questions about why the company seems hell-bent on alienating the people who put them on the map in the first place?

      Because then they might not advertise on Slashdot.

    • by oakwine (1709682)
      100% agree except it's really Activision these days with their unspeakable CEO who holds gamers in contempt. No more for me either.
    • by gatzby3jr (809590)

      I'm in a similar boat.

      It's a small boat.

    • by gknoy (899301)

      I dislike the loss of the LAN play option, but I will absolutely be buying Diablo III. It's a game built by one of the best game houses out there, with fantastic art and story. And killin' baddies. Similarly, I want to play Fallout: New Vegas, despite having been mildly pissed about parts of Oblivion, and having never finished Fallout3 -- I hunger for the game world, and trust that the game devs will create a world which is Awesome.

      Not perfect, but Awesome.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      I can understand being pissed about the lack of LAN play in Starcraft, but the only times I ever played Diablo II off of battle.net was when I was playing it with Wine and battle.net didn't work (and LAN play barely worked).

      So... I still care about Blizzard and Diablo III because I don't care about what has your panties in a bunch. Sorry.

    • Because most of the people who buy their games don't care about any of that.

      Sorry, but there it is.

    • and taking a pissy attitude towards them over how they choose to enforce the intellectual rights and protect their properties does not affect those of us who buy the games to play them. We don't have false bravdo by thumping our chests on message boards. Some of us spend our efforts where it actually matters, like helping out at MUST ministries, doing the quarterly (it seems like more) Habitat for Humanity, and donating time and other monies to charities. Hell I even spend time helping a friend get elect

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We don't have false bravdo by thumping our chests on message boards.

        Except that you spent your entire post doing just that.

    • by HazMathew (207212)

      Dude, you need to get a grip.

    • by brkello (642429)

      You figured it out...since it is not worth it please don't post about Blizzard any more. I am not trolling, I will give you logic to back this up.

      Your post has nothing to do with the article. You are completely offtopic.

      We live in a time when LAN play is not necessary. I understand that every Slashdotter doesn't have an Internet connection and has to play LAN (yet posts 1000 times a day somehow magically) but for the rest of the sane world, we have an Internet connection and it has not be

    • Because most blizzard fans are idiots, it's true. The connoisseurs of gaming are a minority.

      Now blizzard is just running on blind fandom and demographic change, remember a lot of gamers are gamers young/new, many didn't grow up on classic games and ever since games went more mainstream the masses taste in games tends to be awful.

      This is why we see first person shooter as a dominant gaming genre, and why older franchises ditched their roots - like how Fallout 3 went first person.

    • I really don't understand all this annoyance with having no lan play. People pitched a huge fit over it in SC2 and frankly I think it's just a stupid complaint that people bring up because they want to bitch about something and there's nothing else bad to say. The game is missing one feature that might matter to 10% of its total playerbase... it's still a great game, whether it's missing that feature and whether that 10% buys it or not. And to be honest every LAN party I've ever been at had one legal copy o

  • Strange, some acoustic guitar riff keeps repeating in my mind ... it seems very familiar.
  • cool name (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by jwinster (1620555)
    Anyone else think Julian Love is a really cool name? If only he were had a Ph.D. in the study of calendars.
  • by znerk (1162519) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:40PM (#34015764)

    As in, how badly will Blizzard treat its customer base with this game? We've already watched them destroy the Starcraft franchise with their heavy-handed tactics... Will the Diablo franchise get a similar treatment?

    I, for one, will be waiting to see if D3 has LAN play, and whether or not cheating in the single player game gets you banned from playing single-player, and whether the price will be anywhere near reasonable. To be honest, with all the crap they pulled with SC2, I'm not willing to put out more than about US$20 for any product with the Blizzard name on it at this point. I'm sure not going to spend $60 (multiple times, no less) to support these shenanigans.

    To be honest, I didn't even read this "article", because merely seeing Blizzard's name in the title pissed me off.

    I'd like to point out that my wife and I will still whip out D2, make new toons, and go off to kill Andariel... it's still a fun way to waste a couple hours, even more than a decade since its release.

    I'd like to point out that I have several copies of Starcraft, that I keep expressly for the purpose of playing at LAN parties. Owning multiple copies makes it easy to (without even patching!) get my ass kicked by my buddies (I suck at multiplayer, and mostly play single-player (campaign) mode, where I can figure out how to outsmart the AI, and then min-max for greater glory).

    I'd like to point out that I can still lay my hands on my original Diablo disks, and still dust them off occasionally to run around smashing goblins and demons in a 6-hour dungeon crawling spree on a random Saturday. I own the Hellfire expansion, as well.

    In 10 years, will we still be able to play SC2 or D3, or will the product lines have been EOL'd, with the activation servers offline? When I buy a game, I expect to be able to play it indefinitely. Being shut down due to the activation server for an "obsolete" product being offline is not something I'm willing to drop $50-$60 on. Want to "rent" me a game? Charge something that feels more like a rental fee. $10 sounds about right. Want to charge me to "purchase" a game? Make sure it will work without internet access, without any interaction from the corporate overseers. Show me you have no qualms about removing my ability to use the product I actually paid for, and you push me one step closer to the pirates - after all, I *paid* for the product - it's mine. If I can't play the game I paid for, then I'm much more likely to steal the next one.

    I can understand WoW being pay-to-play - the game is online, after all, and a lot of the fun involved is simply the idea of getting together with a couple dozen of your best friends, and smashing down a dungeon. On the other hand, I'd love to be able to play without having to be online... a lot of the content is single-player PvE stuff, and even after 4 years, I haven't seen anywhere near all the content. I'm not saying I want to solo the whole thing, but having the option would be a nice touch. Where will all our max-level toons be, when Blizzard gets tired of hosting 15 million players?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stevesy17 (1199543)
      There are so many things wrong with this.

      We've already watched them destroy the Starcraft franchise with their heavy-handed tactics... Will the Diablo franchise get a similar treatment?

      Have we? Starcraft... destroyed? I'm sorry, I must have missed that memo, I guess I was too busy enjoying a full-length (i.e., not ten measly missions) terran campaign and fun bnet custom games in the wildly succesful and definitely not destroyed starcraft 2.

      I, for one, will be waiting to see if D3 has LAN play, and whether or not cheating in the single player game gets you banned from playing single-player, and whether the price will be anywhere near reasonable. To be honest, with all the crap they pulled with SC2, I'm not willing to put out more than about US$20 for any product with the Blizzard name on it at this point. I'm sure not going to spend $60 (multiple times, no less) to support these shenanigans.

      First off, what is the big deal about lan play?! Look, I can understand way back in the day when people were still playing on 28.8 modems and aol, but for chrissake, this is 2010! Who is forking over $60 for gam

    • by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:46PM (#34017422) Homepage Journal

      ...I'd like to point out that my wife and I will still whip out D2, make new toons, and go off to kill Andariel... it's still a fun way to waste a couple hours, even more than a decade since its release.

      ...

      Yeah. Blizzard makes fun games!

      In 10 years, will we still be able to play SC2 or D3, or will the product lines have been EOL'd, with the activation servers offline? ...

      It doesn't sound like you've bought a blizzard game in the past couple of years - or used bnet. If you register your games online (like SC, D2), you can download them, free. Yeah, those decade old games.

      when Blizzard gets tired of hosting 15 million players?

      You're kidding, right? Blizzard will get tired of 15 million pairs of eyeballs watching and waiting for their next release? Any game company would kill for that kind of anticipation and marketing reach.

      You're right, Blizzard could spontaneously decide to screw all bajillion of its customers (and face a class action suite the size of Texas). So far, their support for all their games (including the oldies) is vastly superior to ... any other game company I can think of. To the point where I can play D2 on my Intel Mac running OSX - a platform and OS undreamt of at the time of release. In fact, those games were originally purchased (by me) for Windows.

      So you can vote with your $s. I continue to buy games from this company that has made killer games with great support.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by znerk (1162519)

        It doesn't sound like you've bought a blizzard game in the past couple of years - or used bnet.

        Hmm... this [google.com] battlenet? The one that people seem to hate? The one that used to be synonymous with "easy way to find games where everyone cheats" and "easy way to find games with 10-year-olds who have nothing better to do than type profanities"? The one that returned 448,000 entries in a 0.17 second google query for "battlenet issues"?

        Yeah, I thought that was the one you were talking about. Why would I ever bother looking at that broken system again, after the experiences I had with it a decade ago? If it wer

    • Welcome to the future, sorry about the lack of jetpacks. The issue is that you have the old school way of doing things vs. the new school way of doing things. So for example, in SC1, who gave a crap if you cheated at single player - it had no bearing whatsoever on anyone else's experience. Now we have externally visible achievements, portraits, etc. - potential bragging rights but when cheating is rampant, they become cheapened, therefore ruining everyone's experience. I just spent a bunch of time unlockin
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by znerk (1162519)

        If I spend $60 on a game, I do not expect to be unable to play it, due to my internet being down, due to my 10-year-old boy downloading cheats, due to my machine having a virus, or for any other reason. I would expect, for $60 of my hard-earned cash, that it would "Just Work", and practically wouldn't even need installation - for that price, it should jump out of the box directly on to every computer in my house, as soon as I get it home.

        If I spend $60 (which is the most I've ever seen a single game priced

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      What wacky alternate universe is this, in which a company that supports its games for more than a decade post-launch (my old SC license validated just fine recently on the new bnet) is characterized as screwing their customers? Have you honestly been getting better value from any other publisher? And if $10 "sounds about right" for a decade of great gameplay, then the future is pretty much all about minesweeper and solitaire, 'cuz game development just won't pay the bills any more.
      • It's not a joke, you just missed my point.
        By a mile.

        (my old SC license validated just fine recently on the new bnet)

        Sure, sure... but if you have the physical disks, with the original case (for the cd-key), then you have an install method that doesn't require access to the internet. This is tons of fun when you're, for instance, in a hotel room where the wifi service works maybe 10% of the time, or out camping in the middle of nowhere and it starts raining.

        If you have two disks, you and a friend can play together, with nothing more than a crossover cable between your 10

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Neoprofin (871029)
          No offense, but if the best thing you can think to do is play Starcraft your example should be "sitting in a basement being bitter" not "camping in the middle of no where". Blizzard doesn't cater to the niche "getting away from it all to do the exact same thing they do at home" crowd.

          That aside, I appreciate the desire to return to a kinder simpler time, but really, I think the scenarios you've created only emphasize the sibling poster's point that broadband internet is so common that the exclusion of LA
          • Re:Whoosh. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by znerk (1162519) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @01:04AM (#34021390)

            ... and if you happen to be at a LAN party where the internet is spotty?
            Case in point: actual LAN party, at a KOA campground's reception hall, nearly 120 people... and the guy with the cablemodem didn't show up on time. No internet for several hours.

            How about a hotel room with crappy wifi that only works 10% of the time, if at all?

            Broadband internet is common in the urban setting, sure, but try smaller towns. There are places that don't have *phone service*, much less broadband, and I'm not talking about some third-world country... I'm talking about places in the US.

            My "scenarios" are based on actual events, with actual people and actual places. I'm glad you have always-on internet no matter where you are, that's awesome - unfortunately, it's not the case for all of us.

            Do you have kids? Can you not imagine a scenario where you hand your child a laptop and a Starcraft disk, plug them into the cigarette-lighter-adaptor power inverter, and enjoy a few miles of silence (thank god for headphones) on the way to grandma's house? With internet access required to install the game, this isn't an option.

            The same goes for a long bus trip, or plane ride, or train ride (although trains are starting to provide free wifi).

            My point is simply that the product is rendered unusable without piracy if internet access is not ubiquitously available.

            • by Z8 (1602647)

              My point is simply that the product is rendered unusable without piracy if internet access is not ubiquitously available.

              Nope, the product is rendered unusable only when internet access is not available. If internet access is not ubiquitous, that doesn't mean the product is unusable.

              Is this hair-splitting? I don't think so. I agree it would be nice to play in a hotel room or whatever. But how often do these cases happen to their player base? Being generous, I'd say 10% of the time max? Then you should

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just like to point out, you aren't going to get ANY company, ANYWHERE to change the price, change the game play or change online functionality by telling them that if you can't play it ten years from now after paying for it, then you'll steal it.

      Quick question; since we are so eager to point the finger for the blame of "piracy" (it shouldn't be a crime the way companies label it, but that's not justification to DO IT) at the major companies for "forcing our hands" into it; you claim to be willing to pay 10

      • by znerk (1162519)

        Just so we all understand what's going on here: you're taking offence to my saying

        Show me you have no qualms about removing my ability to use the product I actually paid for, and you push me one step closer to the pirates - after all, I *paid* for the product - it's mine. If I can't play the game I paid for, then I'm much more likely to steal the next one.

        Seriously? So you think it's ok for them to steal from us, but not the other way around?

        When we purchase a piece of software, we are purchasing a product, just as if we were to go the hardware store and purchase a hammer.

        If my car's manufacturer came to my house and took my paid for car because I got a parking ticket, they'd better be sneaky and fast, or I'd shoot them dead in my driveway.

        How is this any different from my soft

  • Can anyone tell me of any alternatives to Diablo/Blizzard games?

    I mean I LOVE Diablo, but the original team split some 6 or 7 years ago and there have been plenty of knockoffs, but can anyone tell me about a recent game that has such a great play/replayability?

    • by kraln (1477093)
      Torchlight?
    • The original Dungeon Siege was pretty fun, once you modify it slightly to crank up the difficulty: 8 party members in do-or-die :-)

      DS-II ruined the series for a lot of people, Super Powers, no PvP, the same insane abundance of useless treasure and reaming the available spell-lists down to a point where you don't even have options of what you'd like to use.

      I was really hoping for a good Sacred2 (improvement on Sacred1), but the Abilities, skill-lists and Equipment modifiers are so complex as to make it
    • I mentioned this below and then noticed your request. It is not recent it is future (2011 beta) but Path of Exile [pathofexile.com] looks like an interesting alternative to D3
    • by Omestes (471991)

      Titan Quest...

      Torchlight is damn good, but its a bit simple and short, so it gets a bit stale after awhile. Sacred 2 is okay, but it is infected with MMO style quests that have nothing to do with the story, so it too gets damn old fast. Titan Quest seems a good Diablo 2 stand in, has a decent story (not great but..) and a fair amount of depth (can have two classes, and all their synergies, tons of items and stats and modifiers).

      Though if you really want to scratch the Diablo itch, just reinstall Diablo 2

  • by suman28 (558822)
    Does anyone know if I can play "single player" local to my computer, or is there going to be more of the same Starcraft type DRM where you have be connected to the internet(s) all the time? I was looking forward to Diablo 3 for many years now, and after hearing about the Starcraft DRM, I am very very very disappointed that I will not support this game.
    • by admica (1538673)
      If blizzard releases a game with another flaw, the community will pick up the slack yet again. There will be a patch created by the gamers because it's the right thing to do.
    • You can play Starcraft 2 offline. You only need to connect to the Battle.net server once.

    • You can play SC2 in offline mode you ignorant moron. Click "Play as Guest" instead of logging into Battle.net.
    • by Onos (1103517)
      You don't have to be connected to the internet ALL THE TIME to play single player SC2. After you connected once - the first time - for the game to authenticate itself (since your key is attached to your bnet ID) you can play in offline mode (I think it is called Guest - button on the login screen down right)
  • It seems like the skill runes idea was lifted straight from their competitor Path of Exile. Correct me if this is something they announced months ago. It is a good idea though, expanding the sphere of possible builds is always worthwhile.
  • It was nonsense published by a website that sold hacks and cheats, and reported on other gaming news sites. When you play in singleplayer you are logged into Battlenet for achievements, therefore by using third-party cheats in singleplayer you are unlocking achievements on your multiplayer account. Starcraft 2 HAS AN OFFLINE MODE, you click "Play as Guest" from the login screen, instead of logging into Battlenet. Blizzard are simply banning Battlenet accounts, which are they perfectly entitled to do, NOT st
  • Because when Diablo3 comes out I will buy a pc Just for it! Even mod the case! Make it all evil ! FUN! There goes 1000$!

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