Diablo® III

Why the story doesn't work in Diablo 3

http://johnaugust.com/2012/why-the-story-doesnt-work-in-diablo-iii

Hollywood screen writer John August explains in his blog why the story doesn't work in Diablo 3.

Brings up some very good points.
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But I’m probably hanging up my mouse on Diablo III. Like its predecessor, it ultimately becomes a game of optimization, and that’s just not my thing.

Apparently, his criticisms are also directed at Diablo prequels, not just Diablo III.

The guy is a Hollywood screenwriter; he writes movies, not video games. He doesn't seem to be very familiar with RPG games, as he complains about the hero taking orders from NPCs with an interrogation mark above their head, which is a staple of the genre.

And he's kinda wrong in places, such as the following:

Remember Raynor and Kerrigan from StarCraft? I became invested in those characters, not because of their cut scenes, but because I got to play as them.

You only get to play as Raynor in Wings of Liberty and you'll have to wait for Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void in order to do the same with Kerrigan and Zeratul, respectively.
Edited by JohnnyZeWolf#1953 on 7/26/2012 8:10 AM PDT
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And he's kinda wrong in places, such as the following:

Remember Raynor and Kerrigan from StarCraft? I became invested in those characters, not because of their cut scenes, but because I got to play as them.

You only get to play as Raynor in Wings of Liberty and you'll have to wait for Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void in order to do the same with Kerrigan and Zeratul, respectively.

He may have meant Starcraft 1.

In any case, there was no new complaint there -- everything he said has been gone over in more depth in these forums already (With stronger reasoning for why it's an issue).
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The fact that he's a Hollywood screen writer and not a story writer for RPGs automatically discredits anything that he can say about storys in RPG. Especially about the Diablo series.
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07/26/2012 08:45 AMPosted by MykeC
The fact that he's a Hollywood screen writer and not a story writer for RPGs automatically discredits anything that he can say about storys in RPG. Especially about the Diablo series.

So the fact that the writers were from Saturday morning cartoons somehow gives them the credentials needed to have written the story in the first place?
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07/26/2012 08:45 AMPosted by MykeC
The fact that he's a Hollywood screen writer and not a story writer for RPGs automatically discredits anything that he can say about storys in RPG. Especially about the Diablo series.


It is a common misconception that reviewers should be qualified to work in the field that they review.
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But I’m probably hanging up my mouse on Diablo III. Like its predecessor, it ultimately becomes a game of optimization, and that’s just not my thing.

Apparently, his criticisms are also directed at Diablo prequels, not just Diablo III.

The guy is a Hollywood screenwriter; he writes movies, not video games. He doesn't seem to be very familiar with RPG games, as he complains about the hero taking orders from NPCs with an interrogation mark above their head, which is a staple of the genre.

Video games are NOT novels, stories or movies.
The mechanics of Video games and the mechanics of novels, stories and movies are at odds.
the Hollywood screen-writer would be correct, a story, novel, movie needs a main character that thinks, feels and has an identity. The Video game just needs an avatar that can hack and slash its way through waves of killable-mobs.

07/26/2012 08:45 AMPosted by MykeC
The fact that he's a Hollywood screen writer and not a story writer for RPGs automatically discredits anything that he can say about storys in RPG. Especially about the Diablo series.

I think this statement is an irony. Everyone accepts, (or even wants) the increasingly intrusive stories in video games of late, but the opinion of an actual story-teller is "automatically discredited" because he knows nothing about Video-games.
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07/26/2012 12:43 PMPosted by wongkeiying
I think this statement is an irony. Everyone accepts, (or even wants) the increasingly intrusive stories in video games of late, but the opinion of an actual story-teller is "automatically discredited" because he knows nothing about Video-games.

Even better: The people disregarding it probably have even less credentials themselves.
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I don't disagree with all his points but I think they are relatively minor. The main problems are big, stupid things in the main plot line. There's no need to critique the finer points when you have Leah's silliness, out of the blue plot twists, and villain taunting being the highlights of the game experience.

Why did Diablo III's story fail?

1) Leah isn't likable or believable from the get go. That's a bad introduction to the game. Also, we have since heard the writers thought they were making an extremely likable character so as to create tragedy when she is possessed, and when this didn't work it really undercut their original concept. This makes it more forgivable than the next two since I can understand how they might have thought it would work differently than it did.

2) That Adria might not be trustworthy and that we should listen more closely to Zolten were telegraphed but just saying that somehow all the prime evils souls are now in the black soulstone just because was lame.

3) After the third time a villain says you can't overcome an obstacle and then says it again for the next one you have to wonder if the writers just gave up halfway through. When you get to the 4th villain giving you the 5th "You cannot defeat me in the realm of terrooar!" speech you have reached a level of writing not seen since Planet 9 from Outerspace.
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07/26/2012 03:52 PMPosted by Marakesh
3) After the third time a villain says you can't overcome an obstacle and then says it again for the next one you have to wonder if the writers just gave up halfway through. When you get to the 4th villain giving you the 5th "You cannot defeat me in the realm of terrooar!" speech you have reached a level of writing not seen since Planet 9 from Outerspace.

I'm pretty sure the writers just gave up immediately after they wrote unique intro cutscenes for each class. You'll notice that every one after that is identical, simply voiced by a different actor.
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07/26/2012 04:26 PMPosted by Bianary
I'm pretty sure the writers just gave up immediately after they wrote unique intro cutscenes for each class. You'll notice that every one after that is identical, simply voiced by a different actor.


Yeah, the free trial version of the game was much better than the full version.
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I agree that the story of D3 isn't exactly the best out there.

Then again, it never bothered me that much: I never expect the story to be particularly strong in an action game with Fantasy RPG trappings (calling D3 an RPG is really an insult to RPGs for anyone who got into RPGs earlier than 1985). For all the niggles about D3, I enjoy it for what it is: a slight diversion for about 2 to 4 hours a day. Sure it can be a gear-check but I think people should be allowed to spend their money however they please -- begrudging someone who wants to blow real money on armor or whatever is a little like getting mad at someone on the highway who drives a better car. Ultimately, it's a little pointless.

Anyway, In case any of you are interested in a game with a strong Story -- a game, coincidentally, that debuted 2 years after the Original Diablo did and is still beloved (in its original form, albeit with community-developed mods) after all these years -- check out Baldurs Gate Enhanced Edition. It's already up for pre-order; the game'll be out by September 19 so it won't be a long wait.

Personally, I'm excited.

What's more, BGEE costs a 3rd of the price of D3 and for the story-inclined of you, you'll probably enjoy the story much, much more than most FRPG games that have come out recently. I hope BGEE succeeds because it'll mean an increased likelihood of BG2EE -- which means the digital return of one of the more complex villains in an RPG, Jon Irenicus.

Interestingly, the much-maligned talking companions of D3 may have had their origin (I say 'may have had' because it's the earliest that I can recall) in Baldurs Gate -- as you adventured throughout the Sword Coast, your companions would randomly blurb random humorous -- or not so humorous comments. Some of those comments had story implications. Nowadays, nearly every RPG has them.

You know, it really says something about the state of games these days when games such as BG and Shadowrun are making a return (the latter through Kickstarter). Evidently, there's still a market for games with solid mechanics, story-telling and replay value. It's no secret that these games were revived by people who actually loved the games.

As I see it, the problem is that a lot of game companies are now owned by corporations run by MBA-types who don't give a damn about games, only profits. Blizzard is only one example; Bioware has begun to turn into that (some will say it already has).

To be fair, I think the game designers probably still love the games they're developing and are mostly proud of their work -- but the reality is that it costs so much money to make a competitive, 'modern' game these days that it's ultimately a trade-off. You need a big corporation to pay for the expensive development and get your game to market. This is why I'm very happy for Kickstarter -- it breaks the mold.

Who knows? Maybe in the future, some people will license Diablo from Blizz, fund it through Kickstarter (or one of its descendants) and churn out a game that pleases everyone who's been complaining on these boards.
Edited by Eisenhorn#6230 on 7/26/2012 6:38 PM PDT
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I agree with John August that it's annoying that NPCs talk to each other rather than your character when deciding what to do. I also found it annoying that Azmodan and Diablo appeared and told you what they were doing. Friendly NPCs should be telling you what you need to do next.

I feel that John missed the large number of plot holes such as why can't you use a rope to get to the fallen star; why does Tyrael become mortal to fight against the demon lords yet spend all his time stand around in the camp doing nothing; why didn't Tyrael prevent Leah getting captured; why was Belial in Caldium; how did Adria capture 5 of the 7 demon lords; why are there so many military inaccuracies at Bastion's Keep; why doesn't Tyrael suspect that Adria is lying about the black soulstone after Azomdan mentions using it to become the prime evil; and why does everyone in the camp know what I'm doing even when I'm in heaven?
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I could never understand why Bioware got such accolades for its stories. I played BG when it came out and thought it was generic and had no emotional impact on me. On the other hand, Planescape and Diablo 2 blew me away in their different ways. I did recognize the followers dialogue as a Bioware thing and it was the one strong point in both D3 and BG. Not enough to carry the rest of the game though.

Blizzard continues to make games with a higher difficulty and does more for patching and improving their released titles than the vast majority of game companies out there. Until that changes I'm not going to subscribe to any of the Kotick conspiracy theories or act like they are one of many grubby corporations. You don't make a game this difficult and continue to patch its 10 yr old precursor if you are trying to make fast $$'s. If the Kotick of game forum lore was in charge D3 would be a pushover and there would be one patch to fix basic bugs a few months after release and then never again. They still consistently deliver a better game than the other 99.99%. Just wish they did better on a couple things in D3, mainly the story.
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I could never understand why Bioware got such accolades for its stories. I played BG when it came out and thought it was generic and had no emotional impact on me. On the other hand, Planescape and Diablo 2 blew me away in their different ways. I did recognize the followers dialogue as a Bioware thing and it was the one strong point in both D3 and BG. Not enough to carry the rest of the game though.

Blizzard continues to make games with a higher difficulty and does more for patching and improving their released titles than the vast majority of game companies out there. Until that changes I'm not going to subscribe to any of the Kotick conspiracy theories or act like they are one of many grubby corporations. You don't make a game this difficult and continue to patch its 10 yr old precursor if you are trying to make fast $$'s. If the Kotick of game forum lore was in charge D3 would be a pushover and there would be one patch to fix basic bugs a few months after release and then never again. They still consistently deliver a better game than the other 99.99%. Just wish they did better on a couple things in D3, mainly the story.


Actually, I think what made the BG franchise was BG2. By then, Bioware had gotten a hang of the AD&D system and one cool bit was that the antagonist, Irenicus, was voiced by a VA who sounded like Jeremy Irons (who has one of the most distinctive voices in film). Furthermore, it was a nice touch that the story was informed by the Forgotten Realms Avatar Trilogy and was part of the wider Forgotten Realms world.

My personal favorite part of BG2 was that I was actually able to meet Drizzt during the game. On one play-through, I went evil and killed him, Wulfgar and Bruenor.

Also, the BG franchise was supported by Bioware for quite some time after -- as were several other games such as Neverwinter Nights.

Bioware only got iffy once EA bought them -- and I still believe that it was EA's meddling that delivered the lousy ending to ME3 that resulted in a such a firestorm that even the mainstream media (Forbes magazine, for one) picked-up on.

To your point that Bioware still cares -- I agree. If anything, it's light years removed from EA. Just think on this: it once had the best basketball game ever (NBA Live) and lost its dominance (to 2K Games), even failing to deliver a PC edition for the last (final?) iteration of NBA Live.

Anyway, I don't dislike Diablo 3 -- in fact, I enjoy it despite wanting to be able to occasionally steamroll Act 4 of Inferno and failing miserably -- but I don't consider it a "true" RPG along the lines of BG.

In my view, its story is MUCH weaker than even classic games like Ultima III. Heck, the Final Fantasy games have more meat to them than Diablo 3 -- which is why I refer to it as an "Action Game with RPG trappings."
Edited by Eisenhorn#6230 on 7/27/2012 10:21 PM PDT
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