Stillman’s Slab #24: Blizzard and the SiegebreakerPosted 29 January 2010 by Flux
This week’s Slab examines the Siegebreaker and about a dozen or so other things we can only hope will remain in Diablo 3. Do you suppose it is possible that Blizzard snips away too many pieces of their game like they have a slab of their own? The first paragraph is below; click through to read the rest.
Blizzard and the Siegebreaker
The Siegebreaker was the exciting ‘mini’ boss we all saw at the end of the Diablo 3 Gameplay Video way back when. Some people got a bad impression from the Siegebreaker because he was so big and arcade-like. However, in a fantasy world it can be fun to beat up Godzilla from that little space between his toes. The Siegebreaker, and giant bosses bosses like him, will introduce some fun new challenges to the game. He reminds me of Duriel; however, Duriel was annoying and poorly designed whereas the Siegebreaker is a fresh way of getting a Duriel-type of monster done right. But today, I will be looking back and exploring not just the Siegebreaker, but another giant monster: Blizzard!
The Siegebreaker looks somewhat like this boss from the arcade game Smash TV:
I did find one flaw with the Siegebreaker: there aren’t any sieges to break. There are some trees you fight before him and lots of zombieeees, but no siege. And there won’t be any war faring for quite some time. There might not even be a Siegebreaker in the final game, according to some Blizzard quote from long ago! I guess Blizzard going through all the trouble of designing, sketching, animating, and perfecting him may have been a waste of time. Well I sure hope he is in the final draft because: A-he looks like a lot of fun and B-shouldn’t they be designing, sketching, animating and perfecting stuff that is going to be in the game?
As it turns out, the Siegebreaker is a good representation of how Blizzard does things in general. They spend many hours or days working on things that may never make it into the game. Hell, they scratched the whole game at one point and started over. I guess they did not don black albs and sit around a big table in the beginning to make commandments. Instead of declaring from day one ?There shalt be no town portals!!? they just went ahead and drew up some town portal scrolls and a town portal animation. And later, they talked about getting rid of them forever. I’m no expert or anything, but shouldn’t this decision have come way earlier so they could bypass the part where they design stuff that won’t ever be in the game? It kind of looks like they are shooting in the dark.
There are endless examples of the way Blizzard does things. They had a nice 3D model for a paper doll in the inventory screen which they replaced with an old-school flat one. And remember when they drew two right hands on him?
That was funny. They probably just said: ?Ha ha, who cares man? We’re going to spend all year undoing all the work we did last year! Ha ha, let’s waste hours putting fishnet stockings on the Barbarian! Then, we’ll redesign the stockings 50 times and get rid of them altogether, he he. Hey…oh my god guys, do you want to include pants as an item??
They also changed the ability to cast locusts or a fire effect on the Witch Doctor’s pets right when players were getting to like the whole concept. Sure, it was removed for a good reason. But it just seems like they could have foreseen that reason before they even drew a pet if they had just done a bit of planning in advance. Isn’t it common knowledge that players click like mad all over the screen and the fire/locust spells have AoE which will constantly re-enchant the pets? They could have just put two and two together instead of programming a big problem for them to delete. And then there are those skill icons. They eventually told us they spend endless hours working on changing those. The skill icons? Ok…
More importantly (and surprising) is how they had a melee character in mind, then they just go ahead and change him into the Barbarian. You mean…none of this key stuff is nailed down?? The characters are so unimportant they can just get a lobotomy and start a new life? Jeeze. And then, out of the blue, they decide to get rid of mana orbs and go with a different resource mechanic for everyone. A great idea, but shouldn’t this sort of major decision occur during, I don’t know, the major decisions stage years ago? Mana globes?no mana globes. Redesign the whole game now….again. Talisman?no talisman?maybe talisman after all. You get the idea. Plus, they say they redesign the whole game after creating each character anyway based on how the new character turns out. I guess this means they are just making all this stuff up as they go along?
They came up with some skill trees for their current characters, and then out of the blue, they decide there will be no more skill trees. So I guess designing all the skills with trees in mind from the start was just a huge waste of time. I’m not a programmer or anything, but isn’t the skill system overhaul going to affect almost everything in the game? Couldn’t they have decided this in a big room lit with skull sconces as they glared at each other through hoods so very long ago? I have this fantasy where they are all spending a few months not touching computers or anything and just laying down the foundations of the game like: skill trees and town portals, yes or no to each.
They say they have a big ?bible? on the Diablo universe and lore and such, but shouldn’t they have written one for Diablo 3? At least, couldn’t they have written chapters 1-2 laying down the crucial problems they want gone forever or stuff they definitely want in for sure? I think the Diablo 3 bible will end up being like a bible in real life: they just make stuff up, and it’s definitely not a rule book anyone will follow.
So I guess a good chunk of Diablo 3 will never make it out of the office cubicles alive. Maybe the Siegebreaker is in a paper shredder somewhere, being replaced by some other goon who is superior…who will then get replaced with Ivan Drago. That said, I can tell from everything so far that Diablo 3 is going to be revolutionary?it’s going to be that good of a game. If this is the process they have to go through to get it done right, then so be it.
One consideration, however, is that not every company can produce 20 games worth of content and chip it all away until only the best one remains. Only a very rich company can afford this torturous route. That said, there are many great games out there from poorhouse companies who could not afford to be so wasteful. I can’t help but wonder what their approach was. I’m guessing they sat down, made decisions and stuck to their guns afterwards. But there are no guns in Diablo 3.
With the design of Super Mario Bros back in the day, I like to picture someone saying ?Ok, we got 8 colors here (in the entire game). How about red for the hat? Everyone cool with that?? The guy looks around and sees he is alone in his apartment, the tap is dripping, and he is out of Kraft Dinner. ?Ok, it’s red. Moving on. He’ll need a mustache because the pixels are too big for a mouth.? What I am sure he did not say was, ?Nah, I don’t like the cut of his jaw anymore…let’s design Mario hats all week long until he looks like god. God in a hat.? So Blizzard could be making a game to conquer all games, but you’ve got to wonder how this will affect other games from smaller companies. Maybe a bunch of them will have no chance of standing up to Diablo 3. Or, maybe people will be driven to put on their albs and plan religiously how they will spend their precious little money on their next game…while sipping from skull goblets.
But not Blizzard. The cobwebs need more man hours! The Witch Doctor’s locust need to have its wings selected from a thousand wing types, all of which need to be designed from scratch, and then only one gets selected. No wait. I don’t like that one. Start again with another thousand wing designs. Don’t use any of the previous thousand. And apparently, they go through this ordeal for every part of the game. I just cannot get my head around why so much of Diablo 3 was unplanned, or why the plan keeps changing like a game of Spin the Bottle. I can understand the learning process, evolution of ideas, and polishing that must go on, but in my humble opinion, some things should have been set in stone. For instance: ?And the Barbarian shalt have one left hand and one right hand, and we shalt never bring this up again or stray from the true design of the hands his mother doth gave him.?
In conclusion, Blizzard manufactures things like those hospital contact measures gowns I have to keep wearing, most of which are petite size even though many of the nurses are about the size of our good friend the Siegebreaker. Why don’t they just make the gowns really big in the first place?I mean why don’t they decide which inventory screen paper doll model looks best in the first place and do it up? This is the first time I have ever followed a games production, and I have got to say it has been quite a roller coaster ride. And of course, I only know what little the company mentions; so imagine how much sawdust that used to be game stuff there really is. You could probably construct an awesome game from the scraps Blizzard leaves on the slaughterhouse floor. But, I guess we will just have to wait until Diablo 3 is finally out in stores…in 2015.
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Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.