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  1. #1
    IncGamers Member TopHatCat64's Avatar
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    The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    Why does Diablo 2 have such staying power? We're all still playing a game that came out in the year 2000 and I know plenty of the folks on here have rolled past 10 years on the playtime-o-meter.

    Wrestling for several months with Diablo 3's flaws have only served to further spotlight D2's many successes in my eyes:

    - Every character feels unique and becomes a personal investment due to limited respecing
    - A huge variety of character builds
    - A fantastic itemization system that makes (just about) everything that drops valuable, in some capacity
    - Items that open up new builds and play styles (Beast, charges, procs, Enigma, Passion, oskills in general)

    "Uh yea, THC, everyone on this forum already knows and preaches the gospel of D2"

    Hear me out.

    As I was thinking a little more about D3 vs. D2, it occurred me that so much of what we love about D2 (min maxing, skill planning, weapon speed calculations, item comparisons, breakpoints, etc.) was actually revealed through player testing and datamining. Blizzard did not give us any of this information and I feel like this lack of transparency when it came to game mechanics, has been a great thing because it has driven the community to grow and learn in order to fully explore the vast intricacies of the game.

    But, then that got me thinking, did Blizzard actually try to make this information harder to obtain? Did they intentionally withhold important mechanics information from the player base in hopes that this would improve the depth of our playing experience? Or is this a case of Blizzard simply not deeming this information important (the "lying character screen" comes to mind) enough to the players to include it within the game itself?

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    IncGamers Member SunsetVista's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    I think transparency is important to good game design.
    It's frustrating in a game where you cannot respec to make mistakes because you didn't know about breakpoints, for example.
    I think the designers of D2 intentionally did not focus on explaining mechanics. The dark feeling of desperation you get battling against hordes of demons is better when you don't know how much IAS/FCR/FHR you have.
    That said, I really love mechanics that are so obscure that I have to look things up. Research is an extra game for me.

  3. #3
    IncGamers Member FredOfErik's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatCat64 View Post
    - Items that open up new builds and play styles (Beast, charges, procs, Enigma, Passion, oskills in general)
    Of all people, I would've expected you would include wolfhowl in your list

    But yes, the obscure mechanics gives a whole new dimension to the game. Theroycrafting to reach that specific fcr breakpoint while still maintaining enough res/+skills/whatever is a huge part of the game. I don't know enough about game development to tell whether or not it was intended, but imo it makes the game.

    Edit: also the sheer size of the item system. Getting a 100% perfect gear/charmset is close to impossible, which means that you can always improve.

  4. #4
    IncGamers Member TopHatCat64's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    Does anyone remember a similar game (or games) that came out around 2000? I'm curious if other games followed this "less-transparent" philosophy when it came to game mechanics.

    I wonder if Diablo 2 is a simply a product of an earlier time when our ever-growing desire for convenience was not as strong (D3's auto-item comparisons, the auction house, etc.)

  5. #5
    IncGamers Member Jason Maher's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    I think the delay in the release of Diablo 3 had something to do with it. That gave players the time and the motivation to search out the innards of the game so thoroughly, and to develop a lasting obsession. Doubt it was deliberate on Blizz's part.

  6. #6
    IncGamers Site Pal pharphis's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    I believe a lot of the information isn't shared due to laziness. I mean, other players are able to read the code and tell us. The SPF and amazon basin have more collective knowledge on this game than blizzard does themselves. At least, that's what I think.

    The game has been coded to add some convenience to the majority (respec, ubers, no cd, rune drops), but in general was poorly coded and blizzard has been either too stubborn or lazy to fix many of the bugs that have existed since day 1.

    I obviously love this game, but I feel as though a lot of what makes it so great was unintentional or coincidental.

    As for transparency, that somewhat lies within the laziness aspect to their coding and debugging. I just don't think they care enough to tell us anything detailed, or find out themselves.

  7. #7
    IncGamers Member jiansonz's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    I can't say that lack of transparency has ever had much of an impact on me, apart from my very first noobish characters (played in a time where I did not routinely check the internet for info about things).

  8. #8
    IncGamers Member GooberGrape's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    I believe that the magic of this game lies in this simple and terrifying fact.

    There is no right answer.

    This fact is what drives us to improve, to gather knowledge, to formulate hypothesis and test over and over and over, searching for the right answer. We test builds, spend years perfecting our craft, only to come face to face again and again with the cold stony fact.

    There is no right answer.

    We do thousands and thousands of runs, playing this game far longer and more obsessively than should be considered "fun". To the outside observer it looks like the actions of a madman, turning the light switch on and off compulsively. The difference is, and this is important, we built the switch.

    We haven't lost our sanity, quite the opposite, we've almost found it. We're almost there, soon we can finally say we have beaten the game. We can finally stand on the solid foundation of finding the "perfect build", the "right answer". Then we can walk away satisfied. There's only one problem.

    There is no right answer.

  9. #9
    IncGamers Member FredOfErik's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    Quote Originally Posted by GooberGrape View Post
    I believe that the magic of this game lies in this simple and terrifying fact.

    There is no right answer.

    This fact is what drives us to improve, to gather knowledge, to formulate hypothesis and test over and over and over, searching for the right answer. We test builds, spend years perfecting our craft, only to come face to face again and again with the cold stony fact.

    There is no right answer.

    We do thousands and thousands of runs, playing this game far longer and more obsessively than should be considered "fun". To the outside observer it looks like the actions of a madman, turning the light switch on and off compulsively. The difference is, and this is important, we built the switch.

    We haven't lost our sanity, quite the opposite, we've almost found it. We're almost there, soon we can finally say we have beaten the game. We can finally stand on the solid foundation of finding the "perfect build", the "right answer". Then we can walk away satisfied. There's only one problem.

    There is no right answer.
    This deserves to be put on some pretty wallpaper background..

  10. #10
    IncGamers Member Gripphon's Avatar
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    Re: The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

    To 4 reasons in first post I'll add mine: Complexity of game. Every character really is unique, but spending time planning what to do with it, calculating best equipment possible, searching for balance between power and efficiency, all that makes character even more unique. When you finish him, that feels like a true achievement. And you really need to invest time to do something great, even to "just" level up your character to 97+.

    + there is variety of ways you can play this game. You can farm your equipment for pvp, you can farm all items in game, you can make 99 lvl project, you can play HC with no outside stash, you can test millions of builds, you can simply farm equipment to make your character "perfect"... And bonus to all this characters are easy to make so it's not problem to have like 20 different characters.

    Well, all that + all mentioned in all posts above makes this game excellent with great staying power.

    Similar game is Warcraft, old but so great game, with millions of maps, decent balance, world editor to make your own map... Games like that have great staying power because people have reason to play them. Well I can name like 100 reasons to play Diablo after I finish the game.

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