Diablo® III

All hail to the old lore, new story is awful

Brunobyof: I don't know if we understand each other. I understand the new ,,lore", the problem is I don't like it at all and find it much weaker in comparsion. I find all those changes of what previously happened intrusing and irritating and for me it ruins the previously great experience. See, if they made retrospective changes to LOTR in order to publish a sequel, which would then be much shallower and less atmospheric, I would be mad about it too no matter how much it would fit into what they reworked.
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great post op, thumbs up!
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Retcon is always the mark of bad writing. If you retcon something it means that:

a) You wrote yourself in the corner and can't find any way to get out of it (bad writing)
b) You have no idea what was written before and can't be bothered to check it (bad writer)
c) You don't care about consistency of your plot and just shove in anything that goes into your story (bad writing).

And retcons are only one of numerous facets of bad writing there are in Diablo 3.

Say what you want about Diablo 1 and 2. Yeah, they premises and plots were very simplistic. Shallow even. But at least they came neatly together and served as axis of the simple, but sublime story.

One more observation, on my part,:

If you look at those games wholistically, you will realise that they were close in construction to Operas. I mean by that, that just like music, singing, acting and costumes in opera are devices of telling one thematically consistent story (and plots in Opera are pretty simple, bordering on stupid, at times) it is the all elements put together which make or break the performance. In other words the act of storytelling through all the possible means is the thing which creates a story - the plot is merely its bone.

Bearing that in mind, you will realise that Diablo 1 and in (IMO) lesser extent Diablo 2 did as great job as they could at storytelling with simple plots, consistent tone, well-realised themes, graphical presentation, musical performance, cinematics and gameplay. Admittedly there wasn't much 'content' (words, dialogues) in the story but 'contentless' elements (graphics, music, voiceacting) more than made up for it. And frankly, in their minimalistic standards the content was quite good.

Diablo 3 screwed this perfect balance royally. The content - the writing is pretty bad to begin with, with bland characters and cringeworthy dialogue-lines, and inept presentation (foreshadowing). What's worse the themes are shoehorned there and *explained* to the audience instead of being constantly developed throughout the game; the graphical presentation abandoned medieval-horror-gothic theme altogether (it happened in Diablo 2, but notw it got whole lot of worse) and employed wowish, generic-fantasy with demons vibe; the musical performance is again generic-fantasy; previously sublime cinematics are now full of powerful, all-wise beings acting like spoiled brats playing Power Rangers in a sandbox. Even the gameplay - while admittedly very good - doesn't give you the scary "I'm gonna die!" feeling any more as death means nothing now. Bad storytelling is bad.

This game is Diablo only in name - for marketing recognition. There's very little that connects this title to previous Diablo installments, which is made even more heartfelt by the retcons. It's fun to play, but there's that.
Edited by Mrowaksu#2788 on 5/25/2012 6:58 AM PDT
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I've mentioned this elsewhere, but the previous titles were far better at providing self-motivation for the player via a visual narrative than in Diablo 3. In Diablo 2, no one flat out told the player that the dark wanderer was evil, yet it was blatantly obvious by the signs of sadistic cruelty written upon the flesh of his victims and the moldering ruins left in his wake. Diablo 3 has no sense of how the player is being psychologically motivated by the visual narrative, which can be seen by how they attempt to use Cain's death as motive for going after Magda. Excuse me, but hundreds of people have been systematically tortured to death or outright murdered in horrible ways by Magda and her coven, which is blatantly obvious by all the locales visited in Act I. THAT is the primary motive for going after Magda, NOT Cain's death, yet the game pretends that the only soul motive for going after Magda was to avenge Cain.

How Cain was treated also shows that the story team had no concept of what part Cain's part was in the narrative of the previous titles. He wasn't some hero that we had deeply invested emotions in like the heroes from Warcraft or Starcraft. He was a kindly old man who shared the concerns of the heroes and always had an interesting story to tell. He served as an elderly friend and tutor to the hero that would be there for him whenever he returned from his latest quest to vanquish evil. My first impression upon Cain's death was "well that sucks, I really liked that guy." His death didn't add any more motivation to hunting down Magda than already given, and his daughter certainly wasn't any replacement for Cain (she was out stealing the main character's thunder half the time). So, the writers essentially killed the most iconic side character of the entire series to create a cheesy, unnecessary motive for advancing the plot while failing to create an adequate replacement for him. And his death was entirely unnecessary since it is revealed that Magda has every intent to turn her sadistic ways into a worldwide phenomena under Belial during the same act in which Cain dies.
Edited by Akrem#1768 on 5/25/2012 7:06 AM PDT
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I've mentioned this elsewhere, but the previous titles were far better at providing self-motivation for the player via a visual narrative than in Diablo 3. In Diablo 2, no one flat out told the player that the dark wanderer was evil, yet it was blatantly obvious by the signs of sadistic cruelty written upon the flesh of his victims and the moldering ruins left in his wake. Diablo 3 has no sense of how the player is being psychologically motivated by the visual narrative, which can be seen by how they attempt to use Cain's death as motive for going after Magda. Excuse me, but hundreds of people have been systematically tortured to death or outright murdered in horrible ways by Magda and her coven, which is blatantly obvious by all the locales visited in Act I. THAT is the primary motive for going after Magda, NOT Cain's death, yet the game pretends that the only soul motive for going after Magda was to avenge Cain.

How Cain was treated also shows that the story team had no concept of what part Cain's part was in the narrative of the previous titles. He wasn't some hero that we had deeply invested emotions in like the heroes from Warcraft or Starcraft. He was a kindly old man who shared the concerns of the heroes and always had an interesting story to tell. He served as an elderly friend and tutor to the hero that would be there for him whenever he returned from his latest quest to vanquish evil. My first impression upon Cain's death was "well that sucks, I really liked that guy." His death didn't add any more motivation to hunting down Magda than already given, and his daughter certainly wasn't any replacement for Cain (she was out stealing the main character's thunder half the time). So, the writers essentially killed the most iconic side character of the entire series to create a cheesy, unnecessary motive for advancing the plot while failing to create an adequate replacement for him. And his death was entirely unnecessary since it is revealed that Magda has every intent to turn her sadistic ways into a worldwide phenomena under Belial during the same act in which Cain dies.


To be fair, Cain probably did need to die because he would have been aware of what Adria was really up to and who she really was, and hence if he was around than the party would have never trusted Adria to help them because he would have exposed who Adria was

In any case, I do agree that the story, at least in execution, is downright terrible. When I look back at it, the plot wasn't that bad. Putting things together (and ignoring all of D1/D2), the plot does make sense. Diablo knowing that Cain had died, used Adria to trick the party into thinking that she was helping them (this also alludes to when you get pieces of that holy sword, forgot what it was called, and Magda mentioning that Leah's mother is alive, your characters says "be careful, things aren't what they seem")

However repeating myself again, the plot execution was terrible. The forshadowing was not needed, and ended up making the prime evils sound like Power Ranges. Regarding making Tyrial human, that act in itself wasn't terrible. What was terrible was making Tyrial part of the party, which removed all the mystery. They could have instead had him randomly join and dissapear every now and then (lets say to slay some deamons or something) to keep his mystery about, and explain some of the story through lore obtained through the books, but having him part of the party completely blew everything.

The ending also leaves a lot to be desired, sounds awefully like "evil is slain, now lets dance" type of story. Some bits were very nice, like the end of Act One in Leoric's manor (thematically it was done great, and Loeric being mental and crazy explained why there is blood everywhere and all the torture chambers) but from the end of Act II, it really started going downhill
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I haven't played D1 and D2 only briefly and still found the story quite bad. Then I found this topic. I have read the old manuals, listened to music from previous titles and I must say I am not surprised the older fans are so pissed off by D3. The change from dark fantasy to more mainstream, children-friendly hack and slash is truly obvious.
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It is always a wonderful treat to see arguments that cite source material and are so well put together. You are a Diablo scholar, Mira.
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05/25/2012 07:03 AMPosted by Akrem
I've mentioned this elsewhere, but the previous titles were far better at providing self-motivation for the player via a visual narrative than in Diablo 3. In Diablo 2, no one flat out told the player that the dark wanderer was evil, yet it was blatantly obvious by the signs of sadistic cruelty written upon the flesh of his victims and the moldering ruins left in his wake. Diablo 3 has no sense of how the player is being psychologically motivated by the visual narrative, which can be seen by how they attempt to use Cain's death as motive for going after Magda. Excuse me, but hundreds of people have been systematically tortured to death or outright murdered in horrible ways by Magda and her coven, which is blatantly obvious by all the locales visited in Act I. THAT is the primary motive for going after Magda, NOT Cain's death, yet the game pretends that the only soul motive for going after Magda was to avenge Cain.
You must have missed the part where they say "the dark wanderer was Diablo himself!" The point is made quite early in the game that the Dark Wanderer is evil through dialogue.

And I have said this before in another thread, but d3 does a much better job of keeping the narrative going. Diablo 2 had you do silly little side quests that had nothing to do with the overall plot. Killing the evil mummy in the sewers for one of the townspeople or going to kill some random creatures in a random cave doesn't do it for me. Neither does your character just wandering into insect caverns to find pieces of ancient weapons (which is never explained how you knew they were there in the first place). In D3, every quest has something to do with what you are trying to achieve. Even hunting down Maghda had a purpose. She was killing refugees and townsfolk, as well as helping Beliel strengthen his hold over the region.

Yes the story itself isn't told in the best of ways, but if you look at the events as they take place it is much better than D2. In D2 you chase the Dark Wanderer around the whole game. Yes he is the old hero from D1, but it barely focuses on that at all. You get no sympathy for how this once great warrior has fallen to Diablo's will. Having grown up and replayed the game, that plot is quite frankly awful. Marius was also a terrible character who was just plain dumb. The setting is what made D2, not how the story evolved. You couldn't grow attached to any of the characters because you met new ones each act and the old ones never traveled with you. Your follower was just a person who never said anything.

In D3 you travel with an ordinary girl. You both (as well as all of creation) get betrayed by her long lost mother, who was good in the first game, and she is ultimately sacrificed by her mother to become the new Prime Evil. The main characters travel with you through the whole game. The blacksmith and jeweler offer interesting discussions. Your followers interact with you and have interesting backgrounds as well.

Like I said, the overall plot in D3 is much, much better than D2's was. The problem is the execution of some of the characters and some of the key points in the game (hellooo floating demon head).
Edited by Herby20#1244 on 5/27/2012 12:51 PM PDT
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90 Night Elf Rogue
11905
05/25/2012 06:50 AMPosted by Mrowaksu
Retcon is always the mark of bad writing.


Somebody writes books 1 and 2. Suddenly they quit and you're tasked with writing book 3. You have no idea what books 1 and 2 were leading to.

Now tell me retcons aren't sometimes understandable?
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05/27/2012 12:56 PMPosted by Melyria
Retcon is always the mark of bad writing.


Somebody writes books 1 and 2. Suddenly they quit and you're tasked with writing book 3. You have no idea what books 1 and 2 were leading to.

Now tell me retcons aren't sometimes understandable?


Only if books 1 and 2 weren't clear. What was not clear about 1 and 2? The reason for getting rid of the Worldstone was, as i recall, made abundantly clear.

Also, Metzen had a hand in 1 and 2, did he not?
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90 Night Elf Rogue
11905
05/27/2012 01:09 PMPosted by Erra
Only if books 1 and 2 weren't clear. What was not clear about 1 and 2?


The origin story, for instance, wasn't clear at all. It didn't explain humanity, it didn't set up the world well enough and it, frankly, was cliche and matched modern mythos of heaven and hell.

Blizzard changed the origin story to better create a fantasy world that is unique beyond heaven and hell, using the same characters. The Sin War trilogy ended up giving characters like Mephisto and Tyrael some much needed character and also set up a reason as to why Hell wants to enslave humanity and why humans are capable of killing Prime Evils.

05/27/2012 01:09 PMPosted by Erra
The reason for getting rid of the Worldstone was, as i recall, made abundantly clear.


And then what? The problem was that Blizzard didn't know what the destruction of the Worldstone was supposed to do for the third game. How did it relate? How would Azmodan and Belial work around that? Things were vague.

When Blizzard North left, they took everything Diablo 3 was supposed to be. This left Blizzard holding Diablo 2 and having to craft a story, from scratch, from it.

05/27/2012 01:09 PMPosted by Erra
Also, Metzen had a hand in 1 and 2, did he not?


Writing credits
Stieg Hedlund (story and dialogue) &
Matthew Householder (story and dialogue) (as Matt Householder) &
Phil Shenk (story and dialogue) &
Kurt Beaver (story and dialogue) &
Bob Vieira (story and dialogue)
Edited by Melyria#1246 on 5/27/2012 1:17 PM PDT
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Retcon is always the mark of bad writing.


Somebody writes books 1 and 2. Suddenly they quit and you're tasked with writing book 3. You have no idea what books 1 and 2 were leading to.


You are talking about things that didn't happen i.e. book number 3 was never written. That's called development.

However, if you are tasked to write book 3, you should familiarise yourself very, Very, VERY well with books 1 and 2. I mean, not only the general plot (events that happened) but conduct the entire analysis of the story: its tone, key themes, message, narrative techniques etc. in order to reflect all the important aspects of the two noble predecessors. After all, every self-respecting writer should be able to carry out that. It's called being professional.

If you can't be bothered to do even the most superficial thing - checking the plot - and thus cannot portray the events so that they logically stem from books 1 and 2, you are a hack of a writer. It's bad writing, clear and simple.

Now tell me retcons aren't sometimes understandable?


I can't think of a situation where they would be acceptable, but I know for sure, retcons weren't acceptable here. They were contrived - they really showed how powerless the writing team was.
Edited by Mrowaksu#2788 on 5/27/2012 2:24 PM PDT
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If you can't be bothered to do even the most superficial thing - checking the plot - and thus cannot portray the events so that they logically stem from books 1 and 2, you are a hack of a writer. It's bad writing, clear and simple.
It's hard to write a book 3 when the author wrote themselves into a corner in book 2. 5 of the 7 Evils were dead/in the abyss.

Personally, I am glad they retconned some things. The Diablo universe is much more fleshed out, and much more interesting thanks to some of the changes they made.
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05/27/2012 12:49 PMPosted by Herby
Like I said, the overall plot in D3 is much, much better than D2's was.


Well, you're certainly entitled to think that. Just don't expect many people to agree with you.

Somebody writes books 1 and 2. Suddenly they quit and you're tasked with writing book 3. You have no idea what books 1 and 2 were leading to.


What does that have to do with D3? Blizzard wanted to go in an arbitrary direction with D3's story and had to butcher the established story to make it fit. Even if Metzen didn't write the story himself, he was still a senior member of the creative development department at Blizzard... He knew what was going on.

Aidan fits perfectly in the new lore as the elder son of Leoric, father of Leah, brother of Albretch


I would hope so, after the amount of collateral damage his retcon caused.
Edited by Hexxus#1912 on 5/27/2012 3:15 PM PDT
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05/27/2012 03:08 PMPosted by Redrum
Like I said, the overall plot in D3 is much, much better than D2's was.


Well, you're certainly entitled to think that. Just don't expect many people to agree with you.
You are confusing how the story is told with the story itself. Quite honestly, D3 did a terrible job with how the events unfolded. Talking demon heads and fairly obvious foreshadowing dampened what could have been a pretty good story as far as video games go.

D2's story was told much better. But if you look at the events that happened, it doesn't hold a candle to D3. D2 is just "chase down the demon" for literally 3/5ths of the game. The story just seems better because you don't get annoyed by all the obvious foreshadowing in the dialogue and the constant "haha well I did this while you were doing that!" moments.
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05/27/2012 03:15 PMPosted by Herby
You are confusing how the story is told with the story itself.


They were both bad in D3.

D2 is just "chase down the demon" for literally 3/5ths of the game


As opposed to 90% of D3?
Edited by Hexxus#1912 on 5/27/2012 3:19 PM PDT
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As opposed to 90% of D3?
Beliel and Azmodan aren't running from you. In fact, they are trying to kill you as their whole plot point. There goes half the game, and your imaginary statistic with it. The first 2/3rds of Act 1 is trying to reach the fallen star and then find the sword pieces to restore Tyreal's memory,. No chasing down demons there. The only time you chase down anything is the end and beginning of Act I and II respectively, and Act IV. Try again?
Edited by Herby20#1244 on 5/27/2012 3:24 PM PDT
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As opposed to 90% of D3?
Beliel and Azmodan aren't running from you. In fact, they are trying to kill you as their whole plot point. There goes half the game, and your imaginary statistic with it. The first 2/3rds of Act 1 is trying to reach the fallen star and then find the sword pieces to restore Tyreal's memory,. No chasing down demons there. Try again?


So they're stationary. The situation remains the same: They're in a place where you're not and you can't readily get to, and you're trying to get there. Diablo/Act 4 included.

And I was counting Magdha as a demon, but hey sue me if she isn't. She's an antagonist that, you guessed it, you're chasing down.

So wait, you think the whole mortal-Tyrael-falling-from-heaven-getting-amnesia-and-raising-a-horde-of-ravenous-dead-on-accident-until-you-find-his-conveniently-shattered-sword thing is a STRONG point of D3's plot?
Edited by Hexxus#1912 on 5/27/2012 3:31 PM PDT
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[quote][quote]
So wait, you think the whole mortal-Tyrael-falling-from-heaven-getting-amnesia-and-raising-a-horde-of-ravenous-dead-on-accident-until-you-find-his-conveniently-shattered-sword thing is a STRONG point of D3's plot?


Yes, because it's evidence that Blizzard CARES enough about the franchise to take risks. Considering that this is installment 1 of X (2 expansions, I have heard, might be plotted), is it unreasonable to assume that more information will come in the future? Are you really expecting to know the goings-on about everything immediately?

Tyreal's fall was a dramatic and unexpected twist, certainly deepening the interest in Angels, and what they're capable of. I would guess that his 'fall from justice' leaves an open seat, which has some unknown effect on the 'world'. They haven't really stated what caused the undead to rise (they mention that those who died to Injustice rose again), but maybe we're not supposed to make the connections.

Maybe it's that mystery that keeps us interested, and guessing. Sanctuary isn't necessarily 'related' to heaven, but this happening had a powerful effect on it nonetheless. Shouldn't that be invigorating to consider, rather than frustrating? This provides some incredible groundwork for future events, I think, and helps us prepare to read between the lines.

I'm not sure how the shattered El'druin is 'convenient' by any means. It makes 'sense' that it would break with his fall, since it is an angelic relic, and it makes 'sense' that a Horadrim would be able to reforge it through the magic the Angels had passed on to a select few. So, it makes sense to me that when he reclaims the blade, it might have an effect on his memory. Once more wielding a familiar, magical blade could certainly affect him. We've seen curious power in El'druin, after all.

As for retcons, they're necessary. Sometimes (if you write at all), you sit there and think 'Whoa, I just had a really great idea for this story" and then realize that you would have to make a few changes to implement it. Sometimes it's worth altering past information to pave the way for exciting new information for the future. That's a literary sacrifice with a positive intention. D1 and D2, while certainly not poorly written, had a lot of scattered information that needed to be 'streamlined' for the masses. D3 (perhaps not perfectly( did a considerable job with linearity and continuity all things considered, and made it all the easier for expansions to be a possibility.

So, yeah. I don't see much of a problem. It's not what I would have written, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good job nonetheless.
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