Seven Years in Sanctuary

Blizzard Archive
Prev 1 152 153 154 225 Next

Very proud of what D3 accomplished? What exactly did it accomplish besides ruining the diablo franchise? And obviously, the community deserves a better game. Or even a remotely good game.

Reading some of the replies in this thread, I begin to doubt this community DESERVES anything at all.
Don't quote a 2 page wall of text just to say +1. Learn 2 forum.
I don't think it's right to kick someone when they are already down, bye Jay.

I bought this game because I was a fan of D2 and expect to get a similar experience I certainly didn't buy this game because it was being run by X person.

But if Jay is to head another project I can guarantee you I will still hold off till the game is released and reviewed by the player base. This game was butchered.

Personally I'd rather be playing the day one version of D3 + the legendary item patch.

removed the AH's
make the maps truely random
Implement jumping between acts
improve loot quality and quantity
create loot tables
improve character design
increase party sizes
implement features from D2 and then improve on them
offline mode
go back to D2 system lobby till you think of something better
make the game slightly darker
implement better anti bot features
I vote with my dollar. I'm done buying Blizzard games until I see substantial improvement that starts to rectify the substantial failure of this game.

How can you be saddened by this thread, Rob? You should be saddened by the product. I bet if you were to take a poll you'd find that the vast majority of Blizzard vets are incredibly frustrated with the path you took.

And we were screaming the whole way, stop, stop stop.

You want to know what you can do to help? READ THIS:

Before I begin I want to make it clear that while I have my share of criticisms of Blizzard’s latest, it must absolutely be stressed that Blizzard is the one who makes their games. I have never made a game in my life. I have theories and they have experience. I believe that there are some useful extrapolations we can make from my theories but in the end they are simply that: ideas from someone who lacks experience in this particular field.

It should also be noted that we need to understand that success is measured in different ways. Regardless of what we believe about Diablo III it is the most successful PC game of all time- it has earned Blizzard Entertainment millions upon millions of dollars that will serve to fund their future projects. We cannot say that they are incompetent or uncaring in their work. They accomplished their goal, which was to market and sell a product. Whatever we may believe about the means they have used to acquire success, it cannot be doubted that they have indeed succeeded on many levels.

With those preliminary thoughts in mind—

Diablo III was announced during the summer of 2008. I remember that day because Blizzard had been teasing us all week with a very cryptic piece of art which was slightly altered each day until the reveal of the game. People speculated and argued over what this could be, and I actually suspected Diablo but quickly dismissed it from my mind simply because that was what I wanted it to be.

And then I saw exactly what I wanted to. The fire and teeth blazing on the screen, a video of the reveal in which the excitement and utter nerdiness was so thick you could smell the B.O., and then finally of course the Blizz rep grinning ear to ear telling us that it will be “ready when it’s ready.” They had their website all ready with a couple classes, and as the years rolled by they threw us a nugget every now and then.

And then they released the game. When I look back on the release of Diablo III I remember the launch as underwhelming. Not because of a lack of excitement—I was ecstatic, and so was the rest of the world. I preordered the Collector’s Edition and drooled over it for months, looking at the pearly white box with fine red and black scratchy font etched into the ivory. And it wasn’t a lack of advertising and production value either. Blizzard is king of cinematics, toppling even Square. There were TV spots, promos, pre-order bonuses that actually were worth the pre-ordering, and of course the history of the franchise. The legacy of Diablo, what it was when you played such a game.

I’m trying to be as objective as I can here, and what I’m about to say will probably destroy any perception that I’m attempting to do so. But the only thing underwhelming about the launch of Diablo III was Diablo III itself. It was awesome blazing through the game because you were making progress, but as soon as you were done, you were done. For some nigh-intangible reason, this game was forgotten quickly. 6.5 million people bought the game and by as soon as July 5.9 million people stopped playing. Even to the financially inept that is a pale, pale drop. World of WarCraft sales have dropped violently since Cataclysm but it has been a steady, slow rate. This is a jarring, violent shift in install base, and it is unprecedented. It is also evident that the empire’s leaders are sweating, because they know this is an unprecedented drop. Lead game designer Jay Wilson’s FaceBook outburst


against a comment by Dave Brevik, the father of the franchise and creative director of both Diablo and Diablo II, is indicative of how sensitive these people are to any criticism of this latest work. And THAT is indicative of some doubts they themselves have with their own product.

What is wrong with Diablo III? Is there anything wrong at all? Does this problem simply originate from impossible expectations that come from galvanized memories of childhood hack ‘n slash? Or does the latest offering from the garrison of Blizzard Entertainment reinforce what we all fear—the impending doom of RPG’s and indeed videogames altogether?

Fortunately for you, I know the answer. Aren’t I smart?

What’s wrong with Diablo III? Several things.

Diablo is about atmosphere. If we’re going to stroll down this road, we are inevitably going to reach some criticisms I hold against Diablo II which will ignite the fury of many, many fans, as Diablo II is held by the vast majority to be the indisputable champion of the series. I would agree that for the most of the facets to examine, this is the case. Except here. The atmosphere of Diablo is utterly hostile. Suppressed, subtle hostility. You start out as one guy in a town of about eight people. There’s a creepy old cathedral on the edge of town and people have been going in to worship, and they come out, some of them bleeding from the nose, some of them losing their minds, some of them with gnawed limbs. One day a friggin’ skeleton comes out. It is clear that evil is coming from that direction but you are not told the dreadful “what’s” and “how’s”. So you, the goof with the red jerkin and the wooden sword, go into the cathedral to find out what’s going on.

And with each level you descend, you drift farther and farther away from those who care about you. Diablo employed (whether it was intentional or happenstance I don’t know) a psychological tactic that we frequently see in our own lives, though I suspect we do not frequently detect it. Let me give you an example—

I went to a friend’s wedding in Rhode Island, and the night before the ceremony I stayed with the family of my friend. The house did not possess much square footage, and my friends told me this was common in that area because of limited space. To make up for the lack of horizontal space, most houses had numerous floors; in the case of my friend’s house, six.
Six floors. Growing up we had two. Three if you want to split hairs but they were the staggered floors- you know, the ones where you have one on another and then a middle floor to the side of them? Six floors is a tower. My eyes were wide with curiosity and as I prodded them for more they told me that they only use the first two. And THEN they told me one time they discovered that a random person had actually been living on the fifth floor unbeknownst to them. That is just creepy. And so after this conversation I asked them if I could ascend the stairs myself and take a look.

As I climbed I could hear the chatter and laughter of civilization getting quieter and quieter. When I looked down the stairwell I could just barely see the faint glow that came from that one floor where people dwelt. And in the dark I looked up and saw more floors and more darkness. When I climbed those stairs I understood why Diablo is so creepy- it’s a simple, simple concept: you are alone.
Simple being the operative word here. If you have too many moving parts the object will break down. We see this all the time in a practical sense. The more complicated a car manufacturer makes its vehicle, the more likelihood of things going wrong because there’s an increased potential of things going wrong. As an artist I have found that my best drawings are usually really simple in their design. When I keep refining a shale work it becomes more detailed, but most of the time it seems to actually diminish in quality. You ever watch one of the new Star Wars movies and look at the dazzling effects with the huge ships and all their moving parts? Because it’s not feasible the mind rejects it- we have a natural tendency to gravitate toward simplicity.

And that’s the huge problem with the atmosphere in Diablo III. Someone in that dev team decided that more necessarily means better, and that was a huge mistake. Everything going on with Nephalem, a kid emperor, Azmodan texting you every five minutes to tell you that he’s still going to kill you even though you just destroyed his greatest lieutenant… these are all parts of a huge machine with gears and cogs that don’t work properly. It’s noisy, clunky, and worst of all boring. Diablo is a block of granite that has been chiseled into a sculpture.
I could point out some of the many problems with the story of Diablo III; that it’s horrendously predictable, but to be fair the story of Diablo as a franchise has never been compelling- none of them are particularly well-penned. It has always been about atmosphere, and that is where the game fails. Diablo is nowhere near as intimidating as he was in the first two games. When he confronts Imperious it sounds like the two of them were dating at one time. In the first two games Diablo’s voice was so horrifying you actually believed the guy when he told you that “not even death can save you from me.” And I know that the host of the Diablo curse in this game is a woman, but there are better ways to design a monstrosity of feminine origin (Andariel?). Floppy demonic breasts are comical, not intimidating. Diablo is huge, bulky, and charges at you with a hideous, reptilian-like gait. There is absolutely no reason to fear the creatures in this game. It has wonderful art design overall, and I think in the latter part of Act III goes to some unnerving places psychologically but it never pans out. It’s just polish, no substance. Like I said, cogs and gears versus a thick slab of granite.

Another one of my criticisms is against the actual gameplay mechanics. Regardless of story, regardless of atmosphere, it is the gameplay mechanics of a game that will determine whether the product has solid replay value. Diablo II was lacking in atmosphere yet because of what you were able to actually do, it was played frequently up to ten years after its release. What is polluting Diablo III?

At the core, it is the Real Money Auction House. When I first heard about this feature, I was excited. Selling virtual items for real money is not a new idea. It has been around since Diablo II and I imagine before then in smaller capacities. Adding an auction house mechanism that would be wired into the interface and guarded by Blizzard security seemed to be a wonderful idea.

Maybe I should preface before going further, for the sake of those who might not know what Diablo is all about. At its very center, Diablo is about killing stuff and sifting through the tons of things the killed stuff drops so you can find things that make you more effective at killing stuff. When you kill a little imp, he explodes in gold and items. It might be 1 gold. It might be 200 gold. It could drop a broken axe, but it could also drop a weapon that is better than the one you’re using right now.

And that’s the charm of Diablo. You have NO idea what you’re going to get. You hit the piñata and candy comes out, and you don’t know if it’s gonna be a single Sweet Tart or a huge Snicker’s bar. Most of the stuff you find is worthless but other times you get items that allow you to become more powerful, and enhance the skills you are using in your quest to get more stuff. And in exceedingly rare cases you find things that completely dwarf what you’ve been using all this time. Those are the moments that propel the Diablo experience and make it so addictive for such long periods of time.

And the Auction House was put into the game so that if you find something that’s awesome but not what you need… you can trade it with someone else for something awesome you DO need.

But what we didn’t know until later is that the game itself, and all its tenets, are built around this. It doesn’t even suffice to say that the RMAH changes Diablo III. It is Diablo III. Everything about the game orbits around it. And that has made for a very different experience in the game. Bashiok, one of the Blizzard Entertainment reps, made a post in the Diablo III forums conceding that when they programmed the game’s system of what items drop, they designed that with the Auction House in mind:

with far more players and an increased proliferation of item trade, we have to factor in how many items are being found by players and how quickly a player can gear up by ‘sourcing’ items from others through trade and the convenience of the gold auction house.
If we say “a player should have X power in Y amount of time through drops” and completely ignore that the time factor can be reduced by simply having access to more drops through trading and the auction house, players would be gearing up far quicker than we’ve determined they should. It has nothing to do with the auction house per se, but the general ease at which players have access to more items than they would without it and us needing to keep that in mind while balancing drops. It would be rather poorly thought out if we balanced drops completely ignoring all of the ways players can gear up, and trading is certainly one of them.
Obviously everyone wants the best gear possible as quickly as possible, and us attempting to mediate that through design that takes all factors into account is not always going to be a popular notion.

People thought that this meant that if there were tons of a certain item in the Auction House, that this would mean diminished drops of that particular item in game. But this is much, much worse than that. Do we understand what the problem is here? The developers created the game with the intent of you buying things at the auction house. They did not want to include a working drop system because that in conjunction with the Auction House would result in some players gearing up too quickly. So what did they do? They created the game with the Auction House in mind. Or to be more precise, they arranged the mechanics, specifically the item drop mechanics, so that you have to use the RMAH.

I suspect that many might not understand why this is such a big deal. After all, both Blizzard and their loyal followers have stated numerous times that you don’t have to use the Auction House at all. This way of thinking is a total cop-out. Allow me to explain. I recently moved down here to Florida, and because I didn’t spend $2500.00 on a Uhaul, I wasn’t able to bring my furniture, since I was using only my car to pack. When I settled in I had to purchase some new furniture, and when it came time to buy a computer desk, I happened upon an interesting circumstance.

Ikea sells a plethora of computer desks, two of which caught my eye. One was relatively simple in design. Four legs and two drawers, but there was an additional accessory you could purchase alongside it if you wanted. It was a side desk that connected to the primary piece- it was clearly designed to go along with the desk but it was by no means required; if you wanted, you could buy just the desk, and save yourself some bucks at the cost of some extra space.

There was also another desk that was similar in design except for one minor detail—the appendix held with it the two legs of the other desk. Meaning that you could indeed purchase just the main desk portion, but you would be purchasing a desk that had only two legs and therefore could not stand upright, and therefore was a useless piece of furniture. If you wanted your desk to function properly, you HAD to buy the piece that complimented it.
So when someone tells you, or Blizzard tells you that you don’t need to use the Auction House if you don’t want to, what they’re essentially telling you is that you don’t need four legs on your table if you don’t want to. And in a way, they’re right. You don’t need to use the Auction House, just like you don’t really need a table with four legs. But if you want the table to work properly, you do. The RMAH is not an appendix- it is an integral part of the game because the game was designed around it.

From an adult gamer’s perspective, this sucks. I do not have time to farm 250,000,000 Gold for ONE legendary item. And I don’t have $250.00 (x8 for each equipment slot) to spend on every single piece of legendary equipment. When you kill Andariel in Hell mode, you get a Unique item from time to time. I have spent hours and hours playing Diablo III. I have multiple level 60 characters. You know how many Legendary items have dropped for me? Do you know how many set items have dropped for me?

This is unacceptable. The whole time Blizzard is saying that the RMAH is great because you can take part in it if you want to, and if you don’t want to you that’s great too. But that is a bald-faced lie, because what they’re saying is “You don’t need a table with four legs if you don’t want it, you can enjoy the two-legged table.” This is absolute garbage. To make the game deliberately in such a way so that you cannot enjoy it to its full extent unless you continuously pay more money is deceptive and disheartening to anyone who bought this software hoping to have a good time.

It can’t hurt to add that whatever sales are made using the RMAH yield a %15 cut to Blizzard Entertainment. There’s your monthly subscription fee for your new MMO.

But the biggest problem with this game is that when you boil down to it, it just isn’t fun.
In Diablo and Diablo II when you leveled up, you got stat points to put wherever you wanted. If you wanted to make a Barbarian with every point put into strength so you could detonate anything you hit, you could DO that. If you wanted to make a Sorceress that carried around a huge Maul with strength as her primary stat, you could DO that (I did, and I named her Barborceress). You could manipulate skills however you wanted. Your skills affected other skills. You could put runes into weapons and armor to make them completely different items. You could customize your character so that there was absolutely no other character like it, and the only way anyone could ever duplicate it would be if you told them exactly what you did.

Diablo III does not have anywhere near that level of customization. I need to be clear here because it is usually at this point that someone says “This is Diablo III, not Diablo II.” This response does not address the issue that is being raised. I don’t think anyone would be happy if Blizzard duplicated the workings of Diablo II into the new entry. But no one is asking for that now either. What we’re asking for is the same level of complexity and customization. This is not a different game. It is a lesser game. With Diablo II, Blizzard North said to us, “You can do hundreds and hundreds of things.” With Diablo III, Blizzard has essentially said to us, “You can do six things.” Back in 1995 I played Myst, and when they announced its sequel, I was excited because I knew they were going to improve on the formula they had concocted. But I’ll tell you something. If Riven had been Zack and Wiki for the Wii I would have been just as happy. Zack and Wiki from a story-wise and atmospheric standpoint is nothing like Myst, but it improves on the type of game Myst was trying to be.

Now, I want to be clear here. I do not support trickling of game mechanics through near-identical sequels. That’s not what I’m talking about here. In fact I despise all these sequels Gears of War 2-3, BioShock 2, Assassin’s Creed, ALL of the Call of Duty games. I’m not going to buy your stupid game made on the same stupid engine just because you put in a new map and gave Altair the ability to dual-wield. In fact, this is another thing that is hurting the industry, and I just don’t have enough time to devote to the subject entirely right now. But I will say this. Look at Mario. Mario, Mario World, Super Mario 64, and Mario Galaxy… those are all very, very different games, and the only thing they really have in common is the fact that Mario’s in them. And that’s it. Each one centers on a different nuance. Mario World was all about implementing Yoshi. Mario Sunshine was all about water. Galaxy was all about manipulating gravity, and as a result every single one of them was nothing like the other.

And you look at Diablo, and Diablo II, and they are nothing like each other. Same flavor, same character tree, but different gameplay, improved gameplay, and no mistaking each other.

At the end of the day we must concede something here- the gameplay experience of Diablo III has been dumbed down. The runewords are gone. The skill bonuses are gone. And they’re not just gone, guys. They have been removed with no gameplay equivalents.
You now have a skill, and five variations of that skill. What we choose to call them is irrelevant; they are what they are, and they are overly-simplistic. The sense of awe has been lost because the options a player has are constricted. The freedom to look for insane combinations, the freedom to make a mistake in building a character… those things contribute to making Diablo what it is and this is not Diablo.

Why the dumbing down of what you can actually do in the game? I’ll tell you why. And it’s probably at this point that most will object to my musings.

To call it corporate greed would be woefully inadequate. That would be like calling the ocean wet. It’s not just greed. And it’s certainly not laziness, as many have implied.

Let’s take a step back and examine another big game in recent history that has come under scrutiny. Mass Effect 3. But in order to talk about that, I need to tell you about one of my favorite games, Jade Empire. You know why I loved Jade Empire so much? Because of huge diversity in what you can do. You can choose to spare the soul of your nemesis, or enslave him and bind him to your will. You can save the world or rule it with an iron fist. You can win the loyalty of your friends or crush it and eventually them. And these were not just differences in script—these variations altered the way the game was played. If you made a certain choice you dealt with the consequences of it, and by virtue of the fact that you made a choice, other choices were now unavailable to you.

As most of us probably know, whatever forces of untold alchemy that pumped out the magic that used to come from BioWare’s chimney have now been exhausted. And the question is… why? Why would EA buying BioWare necessarily mean that the quality of games just spontaneously diminishes? Does EA really want to just make people miserable, and make people hate them? Does Activision want to run Blizzard into the ground just to dash our hopes and fond memories?

My hypothesis is far less interesting, though its implications are much more sinister. If you make a game where you can have numerous, varying experiences and outcomes, you are always going to get different responses, because people are not going to play that highly customizable game the same. Because people are different, they’re going to do different things, and if the software they’ve purchased permits it, they’re going to get different results. One of the cool and persistent things about BioShock was established very early in the game- the first Boss, you can kill him in so many different ways, and some of them are much more effective than others. Now as a result of this, you’re going to see different things, because let’s face it, some people are just better at games than others. Some people are just smarter in general, and some people just have better affinity for certain games than others. My little brother is much, much better than me at GoldenEye, Punch Out, and Mario games. I tend to excel more with Bethesda games, Blizzard, and Zelda games. People are different.
Because of this, the success of games that allow for more levels of depth resulting in different results is difficult to measure, because you’re going to get different responses. Some people are going to like their particular results, and others might not like it as much. But the problem this presents to large companies is that it becomes extremely difficult for them to gauge what people like and what they don’t like. Maybe person A didn’t like his ending because his ending is just the fruition of his choices and, had he played the game differently, he would have liked a different ending, or different elements of the game, leading to a positive overall experience for him. Or maybe he didn’t like it because he just didn’t like it. Concordantly if person B liked the game, the question is why did he like it? Was it his particular experience? If he played through it again would he still like it even though it unraveled differently?

It’s extremely difficult for these companies to tell what people like and what they don’t, and just as importantly, why they like or don’t like it. Unless they go to every person individually and ask them why, and they’re not going to do that.

So what can they do? They’ve already done it. They’ve homogenized the industry. You want to know why Diablo III seems dumbed down? You want to know why Mass Effect 3 seems dumbed down? It’s because giving you a single, streamlined, pre-chewed experience is the ONLY way they can effectively determine what sells, because whether we like it or not this is at the end of all things about money. It’s easier to make an invariably similar experience for everyone and then listen to the feedback from the masses so they know how to better market their next game. In Mass Effect 2 and 3, nothing you do really impacts the pre-set narrative. It ends the same way. Even with Mass Effect 2’s big decision, the choice to either download the Reaper code or destroy it, has absolutely no bearing on the gameplay. And while some people say “Well that’s because it’s at the end of the game,” it had no bearing on ME3 either. None of the major choices did for that matter. Did you save the Rachni queen or kill her in ME1? Well guess what, it doesn’t matter, because the Rachni are alive in ME3. Did you talk Wrex down or did you put him down? It doesn’t matter, because if he’s dead, you have Wreave, who is the exact same dude with virtually identical dialogue. And most important of all, these things don’t affect how the game is played. Mass Effect had a ton of promise, and something went horribly, horribly wrong in the later titles.

Now I understand that companies want to make money. And I think it is also normal, and acceptable for them to want to make more money. But when you start looking for methods to make money more easily, and in the process undermine your own product, you are no longer okay with me. In fact this pathology is highly immoral in my opinion.

Look at the food industry. It’s easier to get thousands of cows and pump them with hormones to make them grow more quickly. It’s easier to feed them corn instead of their natural diet. It’s easier to keep them lined up so that they don’t wander, and so they’ll do what you want them to do, eat, so you can get the beef more quickly. But here’s the problem with that- it’s not good for the industry you’re trying to capitalize. You can leave the dilemma of your responsibility to the animal entirely. I do believe we have responsibilities to the animals, because we’re superior to them. We’re supposed to be good people, not because the animals deserve it, but because it’s the right thing to do. But if you wave that away entirely, there is still the plain and simple fact—you’re supposed to take care of your food because you’re eating it! Imagine someone who doesn’t put their leftover sandwich in the fridge. Imagine someone who doesn’t take care of his tools. That person is at the end of the day doing harm to himself, and these huge companies are doing harm to the industry because it’s easier.

Another thing that is destroying the industry is the ever-increasing frequency of games whose core hinges on a cinematic experience. Interestingly enough the origin of this problem resides with my favorite game of all time: Final Fantasy III for the Super NES. The innovative design behind FFIII was its powerful cinematic aspects that resonated with its audience. It had multiple storylines within it that could all have easily been made into their own games with their own characters and plotlines. It had an amazing musical score with different themes for each character, and different arrangements of those themes as you encountered the unique events those characters experienced. It had an opera, an emerging hero, an emerging villain and numerous subvillains, with some characters so deep and nuanced they could not be classified as hero or antagonist. The texture of Final Fantasy III was unmatched and quality of that texture is demonstrated in the games longevity and countless victories in comparisons to other games of its genre. But I believe that a major part of the reason Final Fantasy III is so amazing is because it really was the first of its kind. Until that point no one had successfully composed such a massive and emotional narrative within a game. Others had tried, and though I know many will hate me for this, the dialogue and story of Final Fantasy IV were so cheesy and so contrived that it simply cannot be counted as the masterpiece that FFVI is. It was a valiant effort but it just wasn’t done quite right. You look at the holy trinity, FFVI, Chrono Trigger, and Super Mario RPG, all developed by the same year and all created in 1994, 1995, and 1996 and it’s clear that SquareSoft was in its golden years. But it is also clear that because of this successful method, everyone decided it was time to cash in on this ONE technique in the industry, including SquareSoft itself.

Everyone decided that making a cinematic experience was the way to go. It was the bridge between cinema and video games, and it more than anything else, even Doom itself, began to dissolve the idea that games were for kids. Final Fantasy VI has some of the most somber and mature themes to ever grace the industry, and the developers saw that and the success it brought. Now I know it’s no coincidence that the overall tone of games has grown up with the average gamer. In the mid eighties gamers were 5-10 years old, and now the vast majority of big-budged games are targeted at adults, the same adults who were kids buying Mario and Zelda back in the late eighties. But even granting that, the fact is that everyone, everyone is now being pushed to sculpt their games using the mold of cinema. Even Nintendo. A Link To The Past may have a generous portion of dialogue, but as a cinematic presentation it’s extremely meager. As a game it’s a monster and one of the best, but it doesn’t use the cinematic approach. That all changed by the time we got to Ocarina of Time.
I don’t want anyone to misunderstand—the Zelda games are immaculate. Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess in particular are perfect, perfect games. But they still draw from the well of cinema, and if Nintendo of all people is doing it, you can bet everyone else is too.

Now you may be asking yourself, so what? Who cares if games start all converging on this path? If that’s the way the industry grows, so be it. It will keep going as it always has.
The problem emerges from multiple fronts. First of all, that’s not growth. That is called stagnation. It’s the opposite of growth. It’s basically fitting a child with a certain type of shoe that will constrict growth and force it to grow in a certain manner, and the result will be gnarled. If you want to see growth you really need to look at the third and fourth generation of consoles, especially the Nintendo. Do you ever wonder why there were so many weird games for the Nintendo? It’s because people were experimenting. The industry was still in its infancy, and developers, even the big developers which were at the time small developers had to experiment. There was no golden goose, there was no iron clad formula, and so when people sat down to make a game, they had to go off of nothing but their own creativity. Have you ever asked yourself exactly what the inspiration for Mario was? When you break it down to what it truly is, it’s insane. There’s a man in overalls running around hitting wooden blocks, stomping on mushrooms and turtles and jumping onto bizarre and physics defying yet irrefutably man-made structures. There is no cohesion in that game. But that’s one of the things that makes it fun--- it was truly a trailblazer. There was nothing like it, not just in thematic elements and artistic design, but also in terms of what you do. You jump around stomping on things. I know that’s a staple these days but back then that was unheard of. And people knew it, and they loved it. What kinds of minds collaborated to create games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the game? How do you classify that game? Action-platform-strategy with superficial RPG elements?

That’s not what happens today. Nobody makes a game from the bottom up. They get together in a room and say let’s make an RPG. Or let’s make an action game. Or an FPS. They have these pre-set molds, these cookie-cutters, taken from things THEY deem as successful (And the operative word there is successful, not necessarily fun) and they go from there. And while they may tell you that they are trying to innovate, they can only innovate from within the confines of that mold. And when you have nothing but action, strategy, RPG, and FPS, you are severely hampering your options for this so called innovation. It’s like if you’re playing chess and you put your knight on the far side of the board, you are slicing your units effectiveness by half. You are limiting what you can do.

Why would developers do this? Because it’s easier. If you could make a million dollars for doing 40 hours of work or for 20 hours of work what would you pick? People might say “I’d be just as happy to make it for 40 hours of work.” That’s great, but they’re not. And as long as you keep buying their stuff, they’re going to keep making it, and they’ll make it the same way. There is no reason to make a new kind of game as long as people are willing to be fat cash cows for the companies making these games.

This goes back to what I was saying earlier. The more they streamline the gaming experience, the easier it is to turn a profit. The nature of large corporation mentality is not just to make a lot of money, but to keep making money and continue to increase the margin of profit. The thing is, this is an unnatural occurrence. Do you keep growing, getting bigger and bigger as you eat? Of course not. My beef is this does not happen naturally, and so if it is happening, it should not be. This is true in the case of video games too. And the reason is obvious.

Black Ops II came out recently and people are going nuts about it. Why? It’s the same game. You’re doing the exact same thing. People say it’s different but what they really mean is there’s a new story, new characters, new music, and new factions with new maps. The problem is none of those things have anything to do with what you actually do in the game. You’re still aiming, shooting and corpse humping. That’s it. And every year CoD makes millions upon millions.

That’s another reason the cinematic experience bothers me: it is independent from the gameplay itself, and is starting to take priority over the gameplay. Someone called Metroid Prime the Citizen Kane of video games, and I agree wholeheartedly. If you don’t know what that means, stop what you’re doing right now, go get your gun and shoot yourself in the face. If you don’t have a gun, go outside and headbutt the sidewalk until you can’t do anything anymore, ever again.

Metroid Prime is in my opinion the greatest game to represent the industry as an art form. And the plain and simple reason is this—there is no cinematic experience. That is, everything about the game, from the story to the characters, is integrated into the gameplay itself. What do I mean?
Look at Mass Effect 3. There’s dialogue everywhere. When you’re choosing and listening to dialogue that’s time you’re spending NOT PLAYING. You’re watching. You’re being fed. Even something as amazing as BioShock… as much as I love BioShock, and I do—BioShock does the same thing to some extent. The audio logs you listen to have nothing to do with what you’re doing in the game.

Metroid Prime is all about what you’re doing. Even the story. The only story you ever experience is what’s going on when you’re playing. You’re killing enemies. The rain is splashing on your visor. You’re screaming because you fell into lava. You’re freezing Metroids and detonating them. You can only learn about things by scanning them. Everything centers around the things you do.

Compare this to one of the more recent so-called story driven games, Heavy Rain. You do NOTHING except choose quicktime videos. That’s it. That’s the game. The problem is, that’s not a game. That’s a DVD menu. The problem is that these kinds of “games” are easy to make, and they’re popular. I played Mario Galaxy 2 until my eyelid was twitching. It’s high-stress, high-activity gameplay. It is a substantial effort to play a Mario game. You don’t have to do anything in Heavy Rain. All you have to do is sit back, eat some popcorn, and keep one hand free to hit a button, and open wide as you are fed Sony’s shriveled, flaccid !@#$%.
And perhaps that’s what’s really wrong with the industry- not the industry itself but those who gorge upon it. The companies are going to cater to the demographics that will give them the most money. And if those people want a hundred gigs of movies put onto a disc, then that’s what they’re going to make. Unfortunately there are some of us who remember what makes gaming fun—the gaming part of it. As this slide toward the cinematic experience accelerates, there is a horrendous threat looming ahead, one I’m surprised no one has pointed out- the inevitable end of video games. If things keep going the way they are, games are simply going to be absorbed into a kind of interactive entertainment, where the interaction part is severely minimized. Like a choose your own adventure movie, which is really all some games like Heavy Rain are. When that happens, video games won’t exist anymore. It’ll just be movies.

I hope that day never comes. But as I see circumstances unraveling it really seems like people are okay with this. There’s no sense of urgency, not even a simple acknowledgement of what is happening to the industry.

I honestly believe that these are the core problems with Diablo III. And while I would applaud the team for providing amendments (most recently 1.0.4 and 1.0.5), these do not address the issues because the problems I’ve outlined are fundamental ones, ones within the DNA of this game itself. Tweaking will not save Diablo III. Diablo III has to become not Diablo III.

Written by me, WhiteMousse, the Religious Gamer.
I like D3. Thanks Jay.
that is one wall of text. you should turn that into an item. it would be worth a couple bil in gold.
7 years in Sanctuary

So you released the game in it's current state and it took 7 yrs,failure at it's highest level,thanks for your resignation.
This thread saddens me greatly. I know that the forums have earned a reputation for rough justice, but I do not believe justice is being served by how people are speaking about Jay’s departure from Diablo III.

Perhaps the responses would be different if Jay hadn't

1) Damaged the Diablo Franchise
2) Cursed at David Brevik
3) Ignored significant player feedback before the game came out
4) Had not come across as an arrogrant jerk

I'm sure there is more I missed but those 4 things are enough imo.
The internet really scares me--you may not agree with Diablo III's design direction (I myself am pretty dissatisfied with item affixes) but that doesn't mean it's acceptable to be cruel.

On the topic of Jay's post: this post has actually rekindled my interest in the game. The best way to show a customer that you care is to make the hard choices to steer the product in a better direction.

I think it's pretty big of Jay to know when it's time to move on and maybe let someone else take the reins. Part of being a strong person is knowing when to throw in the towel.

But if anything reaches Jay or Rob Pardo's desk please let it be this:

For every cruel, hateful anonymous poster there is a dedicated fan, someone who believes in the game you created and wants only for it to be as good as it can be (like you surely do). Don't let your attention rest too long on the insulting posts and offensive comments--I believe it can do real damage to your enthusiasm for gaming.

Keep making and supporting great games--we know perfection won't happen overnight, but we know that you guys can get pretty darn close.
Well I guess he will be working on Titan with some of the other WoW devs
Okay take a look at it now. Several posts up.

Join the Conversation

Return to Forum