So I did actually get a copy of Diablo III launch night, thanks to a friend at Blizzard whom will remain nameless to whom I am eternally grateful. I have been playing pretty regularly since launch and I have to say that all things are not well with the game.

I know, I know pretty much all you have read about Diablo III since launch has been people complaining about one thing or another. I am sure you have read it all and probably are as sick of it as I am. But it doesn’t mean the game is not a mess at the moment and I think I have figured out why.

Diablo and Diablo II were both Action Role Playing Games, hell they basically invented and perfected the genre. They are both easy games to learn to play and are rewarding for nearly any type of player if they have 10 minutes to play or 10 hours. The ARPG genre is wonderful in that respect as you can sit down, discover new ways to play it, get rewarded and most importantly have fun.

Fun… you know the whole reason why you play a game. That thing where you do something for no reason other than enjoyment; see also anything that is not a chore or work.

Diablo III on the other hand seems to have not been designed for this thing called “fun”. Seemingly the design of the game seems to be radically different than what most players want or expect to be able to do. See the massive nerfs to pretty much anything but doing what the developers want you to do; which is start a game, progress through the entire Act/Storyline, kill Elite mobs, get the buffs from them and hopefully get some loot from things you kill, if you can actually kill them. Sadly this design philosophy contradicts pretty much the entire reason why people play these types of games and how they play them.

In a MMO like World of Warcraft one takes on quests and follows a loose storyline to gain loot, IE items and money. In such a open type of game it is a needed element as you need some structure to allow people to play and to lead them to where you want them to ultimately go. It works quite well as Blizzard themselves learned after you reached the level cap many people who were not interested in either end game raiding or PVP had nothing to do anymore. They then created daily quests to do to try to appease that playerbase to various levels of success.

In Diablo III it seems they tried to do much the same thing, which is give a questline and much handholding through the entire game. Ultimately this is done less for a narrative reasoning but more to attempt to keep the playerbase to play the game as they designed. What the problem is that which works for a MMO like WoW does not work for a ARPG like Diablo. Diablo is about one thing and one thing only: loot. The game is effect a giant casino game with pretty colors. You farm various things over and over again to attempt to get that jackpot of loot. You kill things>you get loot>you have fun.

Right now all three of these things are in short supply. First off whomever is in charge of the class ability decisions right now needs to have their head examined. I will come out and say it, ALL THE CLASSES ARE SCREWED RIGHT NOW. The design philosophy oh “If something is working too well or is too good it must be nerfed.” is not only short sighted but ultimately dumb. This is not a MMO, we have no need for class balance. I understand that they want all abilities and builds to be viable but perhaps instead of nerfing the stuff that is obviously working, how about you focus on the things that are not working and instead perhaps bring them in line with the things that are working. Wizards, Demon Hunters and Monks have all been utterly devastated by the recent nerfs and poor Witch Doctors can barely play right now. Diablo is not a game about balance. At a certain point you want to be able to get to a point where you are powerful so the mobs that used to give you trouble eventually become a joke. This brings in reward and fun.

Secondly the design philosophy of playing through the Acts to kill Champion packs and Elites to be able to get gear and the only way is frankly dumb. Instead of effectively forcing people to play the game as they want or envision perhaps the best idea would be to perhaps embrace the new ways people have found to do things. Things like stacking Gold Find to break Pots is a brilliant idea and if someone is having fun doing that then it should be embraced instead of killed. Blizzard is acting like the little kid on the playground when they don’t get their way they take their ball and go home. Many of the “fixes” in the last several patches have tried to punish the people who don’t want or don’t enjoy playing the game as Blizzard designed it. This is ultimately only hurting Blizzard as they turn more and more people off from being able to play and enjoy the game there will be less people playing it.

Which ultimately leads too…

Thirdly, the Auction House… I am actually a fan of the auction house. Well, at least the Gold Auction House. I think it was one of the few things missing from Diablo II and may have stopped the proliferation of the shady third party sites. The problem with it in Diablo III is that they did it all about as bad as they possibly could have. First off I am level 60, I haven’t had a single item drop for me that I could personally use since the teens. For a game that is ultimately about loot, there is a major problem here. I don’t want to use the Auction House solely as my option for gearing up my character. It is much more satisfying to fight and earn something on your own. As it stands I know of no one that is or even can do this. This is a problem. The Auction House should be a resource of last resort or convenience.  It should not be factored into the drop rates of anything. But here in lays the problem with this, the Real Money Auction House. Blizzard can’t make their 15% if people can earn (yes I said EARN) the gear they want, especially on the end game gear. While I understand how and why the design choices were and are made it doesn’t mean I agree with them or that they are right. There will always be a market for people that will spend real money on perfect items, however small that is. That is what the RMAH should be for and if Blizzard wants a cut of that more power to them. But a majority of the player base wants to be able to earn their items mainly by playing the game or if their luck is incredibly bad by the gold they earned by playing the game on the Auction House. As it stands right now none of these things are happening and in turn people are not getting rewarded and having fun.

So what have we ultimately learned by this long winded article? Mainly that the developers right now have the wrong mindset to how to properly design the game. They have taken too many of their design choices from MMOs which does not ultimately work in a ARPG. The game is just not very fun to play at the moment for a multitude of reasons not just what I have wrote about here. I have hope that in time the game will someday become what we all want it to be, but I fear that the bullheadedness of the developers will continue for some time due to recent postings about upcoming changes and patches.

Personally I am likely done playing for awhile. I, like many people, am just not having any fun playing it. I can see a fun, good game lurking underneath the surface and when it finally comes around I will happily come back to play. Until then there are plenty of games for me to play where the goal is to actually enjoy myself.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Review, Video Games. Date: June 21, 2012, 3:58 pm | No Comments »

So I won’t be getting a Diablo III Collectors Edition. This isn’t due to a lack off effort or planning on my part either. Here is the sad story of how I won’t be enjoying Diablo III tonight.

Back in February I decided to preorder a Collectors Edition from GameStop.com. I had the money and really wanted the extras in the package. Ok, to be honest I was slightly obsessed about getting the Diablo skull, take that how you will. I placed my order and took ease in the fact that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a copy anymore.

Fast forward to last Thursday, May 10th. Around noon I received a mail stating my order had been canceled. I called their customer service line to figure out why my order was canceled as I have plenty of money in my bank account and I hadn’t canceled the order myself, let alone less than a week before the game was released. After about a hour of being on hold and dealing with a representative whom couldn’t tell me anything other than, “Your order had been canceled, sorry about your luck.”, I talked to a manager who informed me that GameStop was not receiving enough copies to fill their orders. I was told that they were trying to get more copies but they were not hopeful. Needless to say I was not pleased not only for my order being canceled but it being less than a week before release so my hopes of actually getting a copy elsewhere was next to impossible. Add to this the fact that GameStop would do nothing to ease the heavy burden not placed on me.

I went around to various retailers locally to see if I could get a copy and they had all sold out themselves.  I had resigned myself to trying to get a copy waiting at a retailer at midnight on the 15th. Later that night I saw that Walmart.com had opened up their preorders and I luckily scored another copy from them. I was saddened to see it would not come until the 22nd at earliest but I was just happy to get a copy.

Around 8:00 PM tonight I received a email from Walmart.com stating that my order had been canceled due to them not getting enough copies. Needless to say I was livid. To add further insult to injury they had already charged my card for the game and I would not be receiving a refund for 10 days. So not only did they take my money and not give me my game, I don’t have the money now to try and get a copy elsewhere tonight.

I am pretty distraught over the entire ordeal. I have been crying a bit. It might be silly for a grown man to cry about not getting a video game but the Diablo series has meant a lot to me over the years. Also you add the fact that I did everything in my power to get a copy and I am still sitting here tonight without a copy and no way to get a copy at all.

So in closing Dear GameStop and Walmart: You ruined what was supposed to be a enjoyable experience for me. Thank you for screwing over not only me but probably thousands of other gamers who are stuck in the same situation tonight. I hope we all band together and sue your asses over it like I hope the Aussies do to GAME. Needless to say I will NEVER shop at either of your businesses anymore. I will take my dollars to establishments that don’t take advantage of their customers.

PS: FUCK YOU!

Posted by Djarum, filed under Personal, Video Games. Date: May 14, 2012, 10:53 pm | No Comments »

There has been a lot of talk in the last several days about Ubisoft’s controversial decision to not release a version of the new Ghost Recon game on the PC. Their reason; piracy.

Ubisoft more than any other publisher in recent memory has tried to blame their poor sales of their PC games on piracy instead of the truth. They have released cruddy ports of lackluster games with draconian DRM. People aren’t buying your games because “they are just pirating them from the Pirate Bay”. People aren’t buying them because they are rubbish. When is the last time you have read anything about a Ubisoft title other than the silly DRM included? That’s right you haven’t.

Gabe Newell of Valve Software has basically said it best that if you make a quality product, give it a fair price and make it easily and simply available you don’t have a piracy problem nor a sales one. I don’t hear Bethesda, Activision or EA complaining about PC piracy effecting the sales of their latest games and all of their latest big titles have been available pirated either before or right at release.

Piracy is the boogyman excuse in the PC gaming world for the last several years, as if publishers just discovered the practice and that it hasn’t been going on since the beginning of computers. The real facts for it becoming such a hot topic now is that the large public companies whom publish terrible games need excuses for the shareholders why their awful games aren’t selling. The world of video games is still basing itself on the Hollywood movie model of production which in the modern game development world is quickly starting to run to the end of it’s course.

Where with Hollywood you can release a couple of bombs but a cheap movie that becomes a hit subsidizes the losses of the failures. With the ever rising costs of creating video games even a crappy shovelware title costs a great deal of money and manpower to create. It is not like the 8-bit days where a publisher like LJN could get a license, put 3 guys to make a game regardless of quality and shove it out the door in a couple of months and recoup the costs and then some. Even a terrible game, and this is according to Ubisoft themselves, $18.8m-$28.2m to create. This is not counting the marketing that is put behind it as well.

I think the best solution is this, publishers need to stop trying to over saturate the market with software. We all need to take a page from the book of developers like Blizzard, Valve, Nintendo and iD. Make a quality product, release it when it is done and support it post release without nickel and diming you without crazy DRM. Sure you might not have a new version of Call of the Battlefield Hero Creed every year. But, you will have a fanbase whom will be glad and eager to put down the cash for your title.

Gamers are pretty smart, crafty folk. We can smell a lemon.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Video Games. Date: November 26, 2011, 12:38 am | No Comments »

19  Sep
Nintendo Fail

8 bit pirate

Every so often I see something happen that is such the opposite of what the company wanted it just is funny. Most of the time this comes in the copy protection/DRM world. Today’s example is Nintendo. As most people know the Flash Cart devices for the Nintendo DS are very popular around the world as they let you play games, homebrew and media from a single cart. Nintendo hates them as they allow folks to pirate software and more importantly run unapproved code on their system. For the last year or so Nintendo and several other software development houses (most notably Square-Enix) have been putting new copy protections on to some of their games. Most of the time it is a minor inconvenience for those whom wish to play the game as the protection is defeated within a day or so.

When Mario and Luigi 3 was released this week Nintendo put a new protection on to the game which has not been defeated for many of the Flash Carts available. Now one would think “Well I am sure that makes Nintendo very pleased to hear, since more people will go buy the game.” I am sure Nintendo thinks this as well, the problem is that it is not happening. What I have seen evidence for is that a overwhelming amount of people are using it as a excuse to upgrade their carts to newer and better supported versions. As the cart that was first working with the game is found for between $8-$12 USD online, one would be stupid to not get the newer cart instead of spending 3-4 times that on the single retail game and Nintendo is back at square one again.

My advice for Nintendo is this, with the new DSi having the ability to use a SD card in the system make the ability to copy games to the card and also open up the system to some homebrew legitimately.You need to take away the main legitimate reasons for those to own and use a Flash Cart and give a incentive for those to use the your alternatives, otherwise you are going to see more folks plucking down those couple of bucks for a Flash Cart and less buying your software.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Video Games. Date: September 19, 2009, 4:48 pm | No Comments »

Daft Punk DJ Hero

I have been sitting on this for a little bit. Activison announced that our favorite robots will be characters in their new music game “DJ Hero” and they are going to include 11 Daft Punk tracks; the 8 below, 2 “mega mixes” and something that is still “secret” and most likely won’t amount to anything worthwhile.

  • Daft Punk “Around the World” vs. Young MC “Bust A Move”
  • Daft Punk “Da Funk” vs. NASA “Strange Enough ft. Karen O, ODB and Fatlip”
  • Daft Punk “Da Funk” vs. Queen “Another One Bites the Dust”
  • Daft Punk “Robot Rock” vs. Hashim “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)” – Produced and mixed by The Scratch Perverts
  • Daft Punk “Robot Rock” vs. Queen “We Will Rock You”
  • Daft Punk “Short Circuit” vs. Boogie Down Productions “Jack Of Spades”
  • Daft Punk “Technologic” vs. Gary Numan “Cars”
  • Daft Punk “Television Rules The Nation” vs. No Doubt “Hella Good”

I am not too crazy about the DJ Hero gameplay or the mashup/scratching centric music. You can watch the trailer below for a idea of the sights, sounds and gameplay.

Now onto perhaps more exciting news, the Dead Cruiser himself Kavinsky made a mix for the Aussie radio station Triple J. Guess what the first track is? DOWNLOAD

Posted by Djarum, filed under mp3, Music, News, Video Games, Videos. Date: September 15, 2009, 7:24 pm | No Comments »

Yea sure everyone loves the Nintendo DS. Sadly it very well may have best quality games of this generation but there are some games that seem to be no-brainers that have not ended up on the platform yet.

The list was made to try to keep only one title of each genre and/or developer. This is to avoid putting every Square-Soft RPG or Treasure shooter on the list.

10: Rad Racer DS

Rad Racer

One of the major lacks on the DS is a solid racing title. There has been a couple titles that have tried but when Mario Kart is still the best racing title on the system you have some problems. Why Rad Racer? Well for most that grew up on the NES it is still the benchmark on which racing titles are measured by. It is easy to pick up and play, the controls are spot on and the most important part it is really fun. Square tried to break back into the driving title game with Racing Lagoon and Driving Emotion Type-S respectively where in they tried to mix some light RPG mechanics into the game. The idea was mostly sound just the gameplay itself just wasn’t any fun. I think a jump back into the Rad Racer world with a focus on fun and easy, quick controls would be a winner on the DS.

9: Wing Commander

Wing Commander

Wing Commander, one of the hallowed names of early PC gaming. Now virtually unknown to most gamers today which is a shame. Wing Commander on paper seems to be a sure fire hit for whomever would pick it back up from the rubbish and dust it off. Why would it be a good fit on the DS? One simple reason: the touch screen. For those whom didn’t play Chris Robert’s spiritual successor Freelancer (and if you haven’t do so now you are missing out) figured the best controls for a space fighter game ever. You could easily take a modified version of that and make a Wing Commander DS game that is a blast to play. Give some online massive multiplayer dogfights and smuggling and you got a recipe for a huge hit. Come on EA, I know you are full of Madden profits but throw us a bone here.

8: SCUMM Engine Games

SCUMM

This is really a “why has this not happened yet?” sorta thing. For those who do not know what a SCUMM game is let me explain. SCUMM stands for “Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion” which was a a scripting language/game engine that was used by LucasArts for most of their Adventure games from the 1990s. For those whom are not old enough to remember when LucasArts was not synonymous with awful, awful Star Wars and Indiana Jones games they once were perhaps the best developer of PC games in the world. The crown jewel for them were the truely amazing Point and Click Adventure games such as Day of the Tentacle,  Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Secret of Monkey Island, Full Throttle and my personal favorite Sam & Max Hit the Road. Sadly the day of the Adventure game died and along with it most of the quality from LucasArts. A few years ago although a few smart fellows decided to make a updated engine to run all of the old SCUMM games on modern and different hardware in which they called ScummVM, which there is a Nintendo DS port. When LucasArts was asked about releasing the old SCUMM games to the DS they responded that the DS couldn’t handle them. I feel the real reason is they just don’t like money.

7: Baldur’s Gate

Baldur's Gate

I know your saying right now, “But the DS isn’t hurting for RPGs!” and you would be correct. But friends this is a real man’s RPG, the type that isn’t made anymore. For those whom have never had the pleasure of playing any of the Baldur’s Gate games they are a isometric PC RPG based on the Dungeon and Dragons “Forgotten Realms” setting. I could have very well put Diablo in place of this because on paper they are very similar. Both are 3rd person isometric, hack and slash RPGs, but the differences lay in that while Diablo is almost pure nonstop action Baldur’s Gate is much, much more than that. Much like Fallout you have a entire world to explore and many different ways and options to go about your journey. The only thing I dread is trying to read all the text on the DS’s screen.

6: Phantasy Star Collection DS

Phantasy Star Collection

This one I really don’t understand at all. Really Sega is it that hard to put all four Phantasy Star games on a DS cart and sell it to me? I mean I know you are trying to destroy what little good will and value that is left in your franchises and lose all the money you have but come on… Seriously someone needs to be smacked in the head and HARD on this one. If Square is remaking the same Final Fantasy games over and over and people are buying them FOR MORE THAN THE PRICE OF NORMAL DS GAMES I am pretty sure Sega could do the same with these. Heck while you’re at it do that same for the Shining Force and Panzer Dragoon games. No one will buy those either, I promise.

5: Donkey Kong DS

Now I know you are saying, “But there is already a Mario Vs. Donkey Kong game for the DS!” And, you are right there is… in name only. What I am talking about is a real sequel to the Game Boy’s Donkey Kong 94 and the Game Boy Advance’s Mario Vs. Donkey Kong. As the video above shows it is almost a puzzle game as you lead Mario through levels to collect a key to advance to the next level using gameplay mechanics reminiscent of the original Donkey Kong arcade game. If you haven’t played either you are missing out as they are regarded as one of the best games on either system. Originally MvDK2 was supposed to be a upgrade of the GBA version with the ability to create your own levels. But for whatever reason Nintendo released the weird Lemmings type of game that we got. I still want my old game back and I am sure you would too.

4: Starcraft DS

Starcraft

Now this one really throws me for a loop. Pretty much every Blizzard game could be put on the DS and it would sell like gangbusters. Diablo, The Lost Vikings, Warcraft… but, Starcraft is the one we really want. Being able to play on the go with online play with voice chat… On second thought maybe this isn’t such a good idea as most of the world economy would collapse or at least Korea’s.

3: Punch-Out!! DS

Punch Out

Now this one doesn’t puzzle me. It took Nintendo almost 15 years to come out with another Punch-Out title. But I feel like the DS is the system made for a Punch-Out game. For those whom have not played the original arcade version, it has two screens much like a certain hand held. Take the arcade’s concept with some training minigames and online play and we got a winner here.

2: Super Smash Bros DS

Smash Bros

Perhaps the biggest oversight on Nintendo’s part EVER!  The DS is much more powerful than the Nintendo 64 ever was and has a smaller resolution to output to. Also there was that vastly upgraded version of Mario 64 when the system was released. Come on Nintendo you can’t tell me that the DS couldn’t do a proper Smash Bros game. I know there is the similar in feel 2D, Jump Super\Ultimate Stars but they are Japan only and not really the same. Come on and give us some portable Smash!

1: A New 2D Metroid

Metroid DS

I know a lot of people out there love the Metroid Prime series. They are fine games, but they just don’t feel like Metroid to me. After the two fantastic GBA Metroid adventures we have been teased with a fabled “Metroid Dread” for years now. Can we just have it already? Please? Pretty please? You can make all the Team Ninja 3D games you want on the Wii just give us a new 2D adventure with spin jumps and Ridley on the DS.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Video Games. Date: July 12, 2009, 3:10 am | 2 Comments »

26  Jun
Fuck You Konami!

Castlevania Fighter

The Castlevania Wii game EVERYONE has been wanting is of course Castlevania Judgement, a 3D fighting game.  You know Konami looked into it and found out no one wanted a first person 3D game with Wii Whip controls. Nope, as it is reported in the new issue of Nintendo Power, everyone REALLY wants a 3D fighter where Dracula, Simon, Alucard, Shanoa, and Maria Renard are locked in mortal combat.

Posted by Djarum, filed under News, Video Games. Date: June 26, 2008, 6:58 pm | No Comments »

Mega Man 9 article 1Mega Man 9 article 2

So my prayers have been answered in the worst way. Capcom announced Mega Man 9 officially in the newest issue of Nintendo Power. Being developed by Inti Creates, a group of former Capcom staffers that worked on the first three Mega Man X games, the team behind the Mega Man ZERO and Mega Man ZX series, for Nintendo’s WiiWare service.

Now on paper this sounds awesome. New Mega Man on the Wii, done by a group of former 2D Mega Man staffers, what could possibility go wrong?

MM9 screen 1

It’s FUCKING 8-Bit.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am as about a big Mega Man fan as there is and I love and play the NES games on a fairly regular basis. I am just not clamoring for another one. I loved where Mega Man 7 and 8 were taking the series and personally I would love to see a Mega Man game with super high quality 2D animation ala Guilty Gear or Metal Slug. I don’t think going backwards in terms of gameplay and graphics is the best idea. After seeing the wonderful remakes/updates Capcom has been doing to their other franchises I can’t help but feel shafted a little bit.

What is your opinions?

Posted by Djarum, filed under News, Video Games. Date: June 26, 2008, 3:44 pm | 2 Comments »