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The unintentional/intentional magic of Diablo 2

Discussion in 'Single Player Forum' started by TopHatCat64, Feb 15, 2013. | Replies: 18 | Views: 1858

  1. TopHatCat64

    TopHatCat64 IncGamers Member

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    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. SunsetVista

    SunsetVista IncGamers Member

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    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. FredOfErik

    FredOfErik IncGamers Member

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    Of all people, I would've expected you would include wolfhowl in your list :p

    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. TopHatCat64

    TopHatCat64 IncGamers Member

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    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. Jason Maher

    Jason Maher IncGamers Member

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    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. pharphis

    pharphis IncGamers Site Pal

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    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. jiansonz

    jiansonz IncGamers Member

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    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. GooberGrape

    GooberGrape IncGamers Member

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    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. FredOfErik

    FredOfErik IncGamers Member

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    This deserves to be put on some pretty wallpaper background.. :p
  10. Gripphon

    Gripphon IncGamers Member

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    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.
  11. MYK

    MYK Diablo: IncGamers Member

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    I don't think it's that important to the community that people had to dig and pull apart bits of D2. If we had known what the inner workings are, it would have been a lot easier for *everyone* to do what they wanted: beat the game. The fiddling modding guys still would have tinkered with the game anyways, because that's what they do in every game community... unless it's D3 and you can't, much. Sigh.

    I think they did the important thing: shipped a good game. That's a lot more important than proper documentation, modding support, multi-player, and whatever else - you know, unless one of those other things is a core tenant to your game, so adjust accordingly.

    Judging by the huge effort from Blizzard to make a successor to D2, these games aren't easy to make. It looks like they took the opposite approach this time: They've got the engine working, and everything is nice and straightforward most of the time, but games are more than engines.

    D2 is a good game because it's more than just graphics and text on a screen running on some engine on your computer. Razortail has it's own color, uses and place in the player's mind. Does a D3 item have the same thing? Most of them just look like some bell curve, power:rarity generated affix soup thing. Razortail is almost breathing by comparison.
  12. Fizoo

    Fizoo IncGamers Member

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    D2 is a very good game with addictive qualities but there are many games like that. What made d2 special was battle.net. Bnet circa 2000 was cutting edge in streamlining the process of creating clans and entire communities. With a vibrant community base, d2 became special.D3 is on bnet 2.0, which lacks clan and community tools. Without interaction with other people pulling them back in, d3 becomes just another game to beat and throw away.
  13. Fizoo

    Fizoo IncGamers Member

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    If torchlight 2 had a bnet 1.0, it would become quite popular. Its definitely a better game than d3. But no bnet equivalent means it also wont become special. I cant comment on poe's community as i have not played it. I may download it this weekend to check out its community tools.
  14. FredOfErik

    FredOfErik IncGamers Member

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    no doubt that this made it for tons of people and created an entirely new dimension for gaming, but we are currently posting in the single player forum where some people might not share same enthusiam about bnet ;)
  15. japanzaman

    japanzaman IncGamers Member

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    The game is HARD. It's not tailored for newbies, and takes a considerable amount of knowledge and patience to reach the highest levels or take a completely untwinked HC character through hell. Actually, just beating the original game on normal sc is tough on the first time through- remember the first time you ran into Duriel?

    The game is UNFORGIVING. Glitches, overpowered enemies (dolls, gloams, Diablo), bad luck. Doesn't matter. You lose tons of exp or your entire character depending on what you are playing. Throw in server lag, pkers, hacks, dupes, and you get a very real microcosm of the real world. Thriving in that environment is both rewarding and addictive.

    The game can be SUBLIME. Randomness is really the carrot that keeps the mule plowing. You really don't know what's going to drop today. Probably nothing. Probably.

    People like it for different reasons. I've never been a social animal regarding this game. I like going solo. Always have, always will. Others like breaking down code, others like pissing people off. Doesn't matter. We're all still here, so let's enjoy it while we are.
  16. felixbavaria

    felixbavaria IncGamers Site Pal

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    The D2 philosophy is like the opposite of "everyone's a winner". It's frustrating in the beginning but exceptionally rewarding in the end.

    Also, the sheer amount of randomness is amazing. While modern games do have tough enemies, it seems that you are not going to encounter a random cursed extra strong archer pack backed up by extra fast melee enemies, and get a magical short sword as reward.
  17. Korlic

    Korlic IncGamers Member

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    I dont think Blizz withheld this info intentionally, rather they focused on other aspects of the game. As we all know IAS was broken in v.1.00 of this game, and I think Blizzard corrected these things more as a chore than anything else really. If they withheld anything it was prolly to slow the discovery of OP builds, that would mean they would have to rebalance the game yet again. My father is a computer programmer and he says laziness is what drives programmers ;)

    I have yet to play D3, but I could imagine a lot of this has changed with that title, simply because Blizz wants to make it more accessible.

    I guess the development of RPGs is similar to that of FPS in the sense that the players are spoken down to in some ways. Here is a funny yet in my mind thought provoking illustration of said development in the FPS games:



    I guess you could compare it to how builds, research etc. are becomming less and less important in RPGs like D3.
  18. zaphodbrx

    zaphodbrx IncGamers Member

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    What really sets D2 apart from the others for me is the complexity of the item system. D2 just offers so much. So many affixes, certain breakpoints for ias, fcr, oskills, chance to cast, auras, etc. I enjoy planning a character with certain items in mind. Not so much the 'ohh, items? I'll just go along and use whatever I find' type of approach that other ARPGs seem to have taken.

    Many of the items are also really unique and special. You tend to remember their names and what they do.
    I refitted my Torchlight 2 glaivelander two weeks ago with over +228% poison skill damage. Yet that is sort of the only thing I remember about the items. Don't remember their names, or what they are, except for that stat and also picked the stuff that gave the biggest boost to life, and maybe mana and fcr. And thats it. Compared with Diablo 2 that is sort of lame.

    Also I really like runewords. See, whenever a rune drop, it gives you a choice to make. Supposing a windforce and a vex rune were to be of the same rarity, there are multiple ways to use a vex rune but only a limited way to use a windforce and the choice is up to us. I like that choice, rather than having some rare item drop that I don't really want. Runewords are there pretty much only in D2.

    I have no idea how the other games dropped the ball with itemization like this. Okay they want to appeal to casuals fine, but they could still have done that and made an interesting item system. Disappointing really.
  19. felixbavaria

    felixbavaria IncGamers Site Pal

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    Good example. Imagine +% PSD could spawn in D2 on a crappy blue item you find in Act I Normal, it would be just silly.

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