Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Diablo 3 "game over" issue

You might noticed that the Diablo 3 related blogs are removed from my bloglist. It's not because of the quality of the individual sites, I simply don't consider the whole Diablo 3 topic interesting anymore, as the final endboss was already killed, proving that gathering gear (therefore playing the AH) is pointless. Diablo 3 cannot be "played", which means competitive actions in a simulated environment. Of course one can "consume" Diablo 3, the same way you consume a movie. We will surely as the world created by the developers is really nice. However - just like WoW leveling - Diablo 3 is an interactive movie and not a game.

Many things had been messed up in designing Diablo 3, much much before they coded the popup that informs the player about Error #37. Actually they messed it up on the first meeting when they decided what kind of game they want.

If you'd want to know an exact moment when WoW started to downfall, it would be when one of the devs replied to angry customers over the issue that Malygos, the endboss of the unpatched WotLK expansion was killed 3 days after launch. He said "so you say that WoW is too easy since other people who are not you have finished it?" The problem isn't the arrogance that no corporation can have towards customers they want to keep. The problem is the total ignorance of the problem of the customers. "Corporations sell solutions to the problems of customers" is a cliché repeated million times. Blizzard clearly don't understand their customers.

I wrote a post half year ago that didn't get enough attention. I believe if someone at the Blizzard leadership have read and understood it, they wouldn't lose the millions of dollars they expected to get on the RMAH cuts. Because I doubt if there will be significant trading there.

I wrote that a good game focuses on one of the skills of the players. Let them hone it, compete with other players in it and have fun being proficient, effective and productive with it. Below I list skills that can be used in games aimed at 14+, with some clear example in parenthesis.
  • Physical strength and endurace (marathon running)
  • Dexterity, reaction time, hand-eye coordination (tennis, Super Mario)
  • Thinking (chess, Civ4)
  • Social skills (Black Jack, Poker played at a table)
  • "Work ethic", "hamstering", "completionalism" (Everquest, vanilla WoW)
A game must focus on one and only one. The worst thing a developer can do is creating a game where you can advance using different skills. The player who is playing for skill #1 will feel either cheated by those who beat him using skill #2, or disgruntled for being forced to do #2 which he don't enjoy. Imagine a variation of chess where you can save your piece from being beaten if you can pick it up fast enough when the opponent touches his piece in order to kick yours. I'm sure chess players would be less than happy if fast reacting but otherwise terrible chess players would start to beat them by being invincible to losing pieces. The same thing is not just OK, but it is the gameplay in a Mortal Kombat.

What would FPS players say to a feature that allow opponents to "grind up" skills by shooting NPCs, making their guns much stronger? This was the gameplay in original WoW, and raiders AoE-ing randoms in Alterac Valley was considered well-deserved reward for their superior progression.

Finally imagine the reaction of poker players if you would simply stand up and punch them into the nose to distract them. Everyone would consider that not even cheating but a criminal activity, despite it's the gameplay of boxing and countless other martial arts.

When the players of WoW went to the forums outraged that Malygos is already dead, they couldn't properly tell what their problem is. Customers almost never can. It's the job of the company to find what exactly the problem is and find the solution. The perfect example is the medical industry. The patient comes in with the problem "my tooth hurts". Isn't really scientific right? They pay exactly for the knowledge of the dentist to be able to identify the exact problem and use specialized equipment to solve it. On the side of the customer the process is "I sit in the chair and don't move my head". Similarly from a player the "I'm not having fun" or "I'm not happy that they could already kill Malygos" should be enough. The developer is paid to figure out what the problem is.

They failed and attributed it to trolling or l'art pour l'art forum crying. Let me help. The correct interpretation would be "The customers who expect the game to be a hamstering game are unhappy that they were beaten by high-dexterity players and now consider further hamstering pointless. They don't want to learn dexterity-moves, they rather leave the game". The opposite also happened. When someone "whined" about "no lifers playing 20 hours a day beating him", he meant "I'm unhappy that low-dexterity players can beat me simply by grinding gear".

The problem is unsolvable in the sense of satisfying both of them. The designer must make a choice what kind of game he is making and communicate it explicitly.

In Diablo 3 it wasn't decided what kind of game it should be. It could be a Super Mario like jumping game, which can be completed in 5 minutes with perfect movement - just as a developer of Diablo 3 told in response to the customers outraged over Inferno Diablo being killed in 4 days. Super Mario wasn't a bad game and no one completed it in 5 minutes. I guess the guy who completed one run in 5 minutes must have practiced the moves for hundreds of hours, and I have no doubt that he had fun watching his dexterity improving and seeing how much more control he had over his body than other people.

It could also be a hamstering game where bossfights are gear checks and the challenge is to find the optimal way of gearing up. Those who'd progress in that game would be very happy seeing their character becoming stronger, being able to kill larger and larger monsters due to their busy and properly planned work.

From the fact that they planned the RMAH to be the permanent income source, we can assume that they wanted gear to be meaningful. "Don't stand in the fire!" is incompatible with that approach but perfectly fit to the "hamster all the gear" approach. The bosses must have been tank and spank (and unavoidable AoE) that depend only on gear, and trivial on the clicking speed.

Alternatively the bosses could be "dancy" and every level the appropriate gear is provided by vendors and merely a cosmetic signal of ones progress which solely depend on fast reactions, jumping away from boss attacks.

Since the current Diablo (and WoW) mixes skills, it's unfit for competitive, "serious" playing, so there is no point talking about it. Consume the content and move on!

On the same basis we can see why EVE is holding its customers. It's a thinking game where the outcome depends on calculated decisions. Shall I fit this or that? Due to the long module cycles, reaction times have little effect and one can gank away what you mindlessly farmed for days. Mining is the odd-one-out activity as it's grinding, so everyone avoid it as much as he can. It should be fixed to be similar to PI where you set it up and let it run. Mining ships should be able to automatically fill cans and Orcas, and switch to the next targeted asteroid if the old one is done. By running AFK, mining would be a decision-making thinking game "how to fit my ships, what ships shall I use, jetcan or Orca, leave them totally AFK or guard them in a combat ship" and so on. Strategical decisions with no known optimal solution (I mean if no one comes, guarding was waste of time, but if pirates come it saved you a billion).


EVE Business report: Tuesday morning 25.7B, (0 PLEX behind for second account, 1.1B spent on carrier/titan alt)
Don't forget to join the goblinworks channel to discuss business ideas with 60-80 fellow traders. 

38 comments:

Kreeegor said...

Bosses were never designed to be tough. The fun factor in the game is overpowering the blue and golden packs with painful for your class suffixes. The most disturbing part is that Diablo 3 provides much clearer and satisfying raid experience that wow ever managed by its randomness and clean and dynamic gameplay. No dance at all. Although Blizzard should have implemented tracker for monster type/suffix kills. And don't underestimate the pure pleasure of hitting stuff on the head and watching it explode.

Xlucko said...

I wonder, would game relying on 2 skills be acceptable if it was clear from the beginning that it requires both skills. After all they are team sports which require both physical fitness and teamwork.

Tuzvihar said...

Biathlon both reqires dexterity and endurance don't you think?

Jumina said...

Your theory is interesting but hardly convicing. WoW still has much more subscribers than any other MMO. Also there can be more explanation of current status. For example nobody can be sure how big exactly the market for such games is or what players really like about these games.
You also don't answer the question why was number of subscribers rising during TBC and peaked during WotLK after Malygos. And why the endless nerfs and welfare epics didn't have much influence on TBC population.

Anonymous said...

There are people in EVE who actually enjoy mining. I guess they see it as a relaxing acivity ;)
Anyway, making it an AFK-activity would take away from their game experience.
--------------------

When flying more agile ships (frigates, some cruisers) fitted with guns, dexterity does play a role as flying manually will increase your survivability.

So Eve is not totally like "chess in space" :D

Gesh said...

"What would FPS players say to a feature that allow opponents to "grind up" skills by shooting NPCs, making their guns much stronger?"

They would say that they are playing the killing floor and it's quite addicting.

You don't like Diablo 3 - ok. But this doesn't make it a bad game.

spinksville said...

A good MMO should provide some choice for players in which skills they want to focus on. That's why in EVE you get some PvP players and some economy players.

CRPGs have always been a bit odd about skill vs gear progression. You always were able to either beat a boss underlevelled, or level up and try again, or get better gear and try again. That's the genre, it gave players a lot of choice. But they were never meant to be competitive sports either.

Andru said...

How on earth do you measure 'success'?

Because last I checked, WoW still has 20 times more customers than Eve, despite 'mixing gameplay'.

Gevlon said...

@Andru: WoW is constantly losing customers. It's still live on its old - now undeserved - fame. Players rotate in an out. Soon there will be no new players to lure in.

@Spinks: in EVE every activity is won by thinking. Just because market and PvP looks different, they are not.

@Tuzvihar: and biathlon is a small niche game compared to running or soccer or tennis.

Coralina said...

I don’t buy the WoW analogy. When Blizzard did make the end bosses hard again, some 2 million players packed their bags and walked. The causation is irrelevant because you don’t even have any correlation.

I don’t know what you believe the problem was in Wrath because I saw no problem. I saw a few whiners complaining because a small group of far better players (or rather players that didn’t leave their bedrooms for weeks on end) cleared something that they were not destined to clear for months. Those whiners didn’t quit the game but kept subscribing and at the same time thousands more players joined the game.

In 4.0 it is clear that watching a small percentage of players spending 18 hours a day for months on end trying to kill the final boss was not enough entertainment in itself to motivate 2 million people into paying their subs each month.

At the end of the day only a miniscule percentage of customers care about the issue of whether Maly or any other boss dies after 3 weeks or 3 months. In the real World of Warcraft that the other 97% play it is completely irrelevant and non-news – indeed prior to Raid Finder only a small percentage of customers consumed raid content at all and most didn’t even know who Maly was! Raid progress of the few is big news in the tiny isolated community you find on blogs but understand that you and the people that post on blogs (inc me) do NOT play the real WoW that everyone else plays. We just think we do out of arrogance and delusion.

I believe you had a case when you complained that Blizzard moved to a dance style game with a zero tolerance failure system though. That crippled the majority of players that don’t play in skill-based selection groups.

As a solo game I play Diablo how I want (never used the AH despite being a big WoW AH player) and take no notice of the progression of others. I think as with WoW you will also find that 97% of players that purchased D3 do not know or care whether the final boss has been killed by someone else.

Anonymous said...

Your hypothesis is not correct. The very arbitrary categories you choose don't cover every sport or game, and on the other hand, pretty much all of them fall into more than one category. Football requires both dexterity and stamina, and it's the most popular sport on Earth. Starcraft requires both strategy, but also intentionally includes busy-work, rewarding your for high dexterity, and it's the msot popular competitive game. All fighting games require physical dexterity, but reading your opponent and having a strategy are just as important. Poker? You need to read your opponents, you need to act well, and you must be decent at Math.

Why was Diablo beaten already? Because the game didn't pad out its content needlessly, and make players arbitrarily fail for no reason. Of course someone is going to beat every game where you play against a static script in a very short time.

Kreeegor said...

Okay - so biathlon is niche game. Lets check the requirements towards F1 driver - he must have rattlesnake on a hot pan reflexes. Brutal conditioning and endurance. He have to think all the time about tactics and strategy(he has a saying in the decisions) and he must have good understanding of various engineering disciplines so that he can provide valuable feedback to the team. 3 completely unrelated skills - and F1 is not small business.

Being challenged both mentally and physically is fun for a lot of people. Yeah bridge with bear wrestling can be a bit too much for the faint of heart but is fun non the less.

Clockwork said...

I don't buy the claim that just because someone beat inferno diablo that suddenly there is going to be a mass exodus from D3 and that the RMAH will fail.

Lets remember that the guy who did it used a very specific build (could say it was just as much clever planning as it was dexterity). Just because a Wizard can do it a specific way does not mean the other 4 classes will have it as easy. This may be anecdotal, but outside the blogosphere (which, despite our hope, speaks for a tiny percentage of the gaming audience) almost no one knows or cares who Method is or who killed Deathwing or Diablo first. To them it would be like choosing not to run anymore because El Guerrouj ran a mile in under 4 minutes...ok, someone else did it, they'll still try.

Not only that, the assumption that Blizzard is expecting the RMAH to keep the game going seems like a stretch. They sold millions of copies at $60 each in the states and plenty more outside that. I think the RMAH was meant as an experiment to see how it would be received by players and how it would work.

I am sure other people will try to clear Inferno faster, or with no gear on. Plenty of people out there won't have the quick-clicking that Method players have and will thus end up needing better gear.

Gevlon said...

@clockwork: ONLY RMAH can make D3 running. The initial fees are already paid, Blizzard has it if they shut down the servers. After that you'll have no more payment to them, while they have expenses.

Also, I don't question that "for fun" players will keep playing D3. But they won't spend money on RMAH, so pay no revenues to Blizzard. Players only pay for advantages and in D3 you can't buy dancing skills.

@Kreeegor: F1 is probably the nichest game of the World. Only twenty-something players play it.

Andru said...

"Undeserved fame" you say?

I need to remind you that numbers peaked in TBC, and stagnated in Wrath.

Incidentally, TBC was the expansion where the 'dancy' gameplay took flight, with such bosses as Magtheridon, Kael'Thas, Vashj, Archimonde, Teron Gorefiend, Illidan.

I would have expected the 'undeserved fame' to be spent faster, and not last for over 4 years.

The claim you put forward is unconvincing at best and spurious at worst. No wonder your last post got ignored.

Péter Zoltán said...

Most of the WoW and D3 customers want just that: an interactive movie. People who want to play something meaningful don't even start playing or already stopped.
I don't think Blizzard is doing it wrong. They just decided to cater for the biggest audience.

Clockwork said...

D2 had no subscription fees and the servers went on for years and years; certainly D3 is a bigger undertaking but I doubt blizzard dove into this without thinking about how long they can sustain their operating costs with just initial sales.

Also players will pay for PLENTY of things besides advantages. Case-in-point, League of Legends. The most popular RP purchases by far are skins which provided no mechanical benefit. The popularity of the Sparklepony or other Pet store items in WoW says that people will pay for random things.

Also, better gear (read: Higher vitality, DPS, etc) will help the players who can't beat certain bosses.

But then again, Blizzard has no "officially" recognized Inferno as being cleared yet. Apparently death-flopping doesn't "count" and even before this they were pretty consistent about saying that the "meat" of the game is not the boss-farming. Sure the guy technically "beat" Inferno Diablo, but I am pretty sure Blizz won't consider it finished until someone clears the last zone before him of at least all elites/named and then goes on to take down Diablo.

Also I am not sure you can take two quarters of steady subscriber numbers then claim that WoW is collapsing. If they're pool of players is drying up its taking its sweet time doing so.

Anonymous said...

D2 went for a dozen years with no subscriber fees and no RMAH. I guess I don't see why D3 can't be as profitable.

Every subscription business: WoW, EVE, magazines, & newspapers are losing subscribers daily.

WoW subscription numbers are stable, not falling, during this pre-Panda lull. Nobody expects a new expansion to cause them to fall. CCP #s have fallen this year (400k @ fanfest versus the May numbers being rising to 361k)

I just don't think that everyone agrees on what the EVE competition is: someone who only cares about k/d billboards thinks you're a loser for not PvPing. You think they're a moron for their bad financial decisions. People compete; but their are many personal metrics and I don't see how you can call something a competition when there is not a shared agreement on success.

chewy said...

A very good analysis with which I find myself agreeing. I particularly agree with your list of skills from which one must be chosen to provide the basis of competition, as you say, it will breed contempt if there are a mixture of methods to achieve the same goal.
Previous contributors have suggested you're wrong because WoW still has the highest population, whereas a game's health is the rate of player change, not its current mass.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you say a good game can only be in one of those categories, when 4 of them impact your current favourite game...

When you finally get involved in some proper PvP you'll realise that dexerity/reactions/co-ordination make a difference. Hell, even running away from a gate camp in a hauler requires you to perform a set of actions in sequence in time.

Thinking and strategising obviously is a large part of Eve, whether you're flying ships, or planning industrial activities. You've already indicated that in several blog posts.

Social skills are hugely import in Eve - some say that the Meta-game outside Eve is actually more important than the game you play whilst logged in. You've already starting to plan your parts in the social side of Eve when you outlined your plans for your game-conquering alliance.

Finally on many blogs you've outlined how it's your work-ethic that's putting you "ahead" of most of the other players within Eve.

So I make that 4 of the 5. The only one missing, of course being the physical aspects - after all this is a computer game.

Ry said...

About games that can be won via different avenues: how about MMA? Or, if you want to go old-school, boxing/wrestling/Judo/muaythai/whateverothermartialart.

People in the martial arts regularly beat other plays by being maybe only one or two of smarter, strong, faster, whatever. And they are applauded for it. Why can't a video game be the same? Why not a video game where you can be successful via a few different means?

Jason Ambrye said...

@clockwork: ONLY RMAH can make D3 running. The initial fees are already paid, Blizzard has it if they shut down the servers. After that you'll have no more payment to them, while they have expenses.

Guild Wars (the original) ran for years without a RMAH or much of a cash shop. There were (optional) alternate campaigns to purchase, a single "expansion" (Eye of the North, you needed a max-level -- lvl 20, easily reached after only a short while of playing), and at some point there appeared cosmetic costumes, skill sets for PvP only and for PvE (so you didn't have to discover them in the world) and a good (but not overpowered) set of intermediate weapons. Oh, and extra character slots, extra shared storage and the like.

The game itself could and can be played just fine if you just bought (or buy, it's still available) a single campaign, without any further cash going towards ArenaNet / NCSoft.

It's not like the model cannot work.

Alrenous said...

There's a couple ways to make a multiple-skill thing work.



First, make the secondary skill ridiculously inefficient. Let's say I want dance-style WoW. I'd be okay with grinding if in the time it took me to increase my reflexes through ten boss levels, you could grind out the gear for one boss. If you were on the same boss with me, I'd respect you for the prodigious effort you put into it.

Secondarily, especially with Mist's challenge dungeons, or other official Undergeared support, I can brag by comparing my gear to their gear on any given boss.

Third, if you're on the same boss as me but with gear instead of reflexes, I'm likely to pass you as soon as I feel like it - your grinding can't keep up with my reflex practice.



The other way is to clearly say ahead of time that it is up to the players to work out what to compete in. Put in the possibility of multiple advancements, knowing one will be best and everyone will use it - but not trying to define that one in advance.

RMAH depends on one being defined in advance.
WoW tried to define one in advance and then changed it. I think it wasn't planned out, and they were basically swept along by events. They made molten core and then tuned to last as long as their financial projections said it needed to. Except you really need to do that the other way around.

Problems cropped up and then they tried to solve them, again this backwards way, making something and then trying to fix it to match their business necessities. A few cycles of this and we've got modern WoW.

Let me be blunt. If you need to make money, to make a good game you have to decide how you need to be paid and then choose mechanics that will be fun under those conditions.

Classic WoW was a job because it was so ridiculously time-consuming, and it became even more time-consuming if you fell behind. Cata is a job because it requires utterly professional concentration, as Gevlon mathed out. Cannot relax focus for even a second.( Relaxation? In my game?)



Third, state up front you want the combination of two skills, but in practice this means less popularity as e.g. strength+speed sports will have neither the strongest nor the fastest, and the hardest core speedsters will go for sprinting, and most customers prefer the winner-take-all model of following #1 and ignoring #2.

Anonymous said...

Playing warrior in vanilla was almost literally about endurance and dexterity.

Team sports, teamplay are obviously also about communication, leadership, and roles. This is a different type of skill than the "social skills" you mentioned. You completely neglect this aspect in your post.

PvP in MMO (including EVE) has dexterity, thinking (pre-fight, during fights & adapting, post-analysis), social skills (deceiving the enemy, reading the enemy, negotations), work ethic/hamstering (lvling (incl professions), farming the gear).

Games in general have the hamstering element: medals, achievements. One can run marathons for the achievement of running it on a specific date and location (no marathon is exactly the same due to environmental/weather conditions) and then there are also all kind of ladder systems. In marathon such system is at least gender and -as I happen to know in the amateur ladder- age based, but there are games where there's no gender difference, or where weight plays a role.

And don't forget the real-life gear: ditching that old 17" CRT, switching to a Naga mouse, switching to an ISP without 400 ms lag, a better swimming suit, or even the appropriate running shoes, nevermind F1 which has many aspects where teams are competing. Gear is an important tool, it matters.

How competitive are you playing? With and against whom? What are your goals? That is what matters. Which brings me back to Diablo 3: 99,9% of the WoW or Diablo players cannot (and should not) compare themselves with Method. One person from Method (a guild) killed Diablo on Inferno. What does this change for me? If my goal was to beat Diablo on Inferno as 1st person on planet I've been beaten. However I'm not really much into Diablo. I got Diablo 3 for free with annual pass, and the fact I was unable to play until today except on day 1 clearly proves I wasn't even attempting to compete on this (while many took break from day job, still does not prove it is for competing on this difficulty). For all other goals and achievements this does not apply. And there are many achievements, both personal as well as world first. Examples include: completing Diablo 3 on normal mode, reaching level 60 on every class, completing all in-game achievements, beating it on your main on certain difficulties, beating anything on coop, beating Inferno bosses, heck go try nightmare and hell first. Perhaps none of these appeal to you, but they are sound for other individuals. For legio people there is enough reason to play Diablo for the next years, and you know what? While there was a rat race going on to beat Diablo on Inferno there's still many going on, and you can also play on your own pace because you're not paying a subscription fee nor visibly competing with or against others like in an MMO. If you compete with your self: no need to rush!

Hulfnar said...

I agree with your basic theory of different kinds of fun, but disagree that they can't be in the same game. The problem for the developer is making each kind of fun separate but equal. If they aren't separate, then people resent others using different methods of advancement. If they aren't equal (in a very general sense) then people resent the favored activity.

Eve is an excellent example. It is possible to play in very different ways. Eve involves significant opportunities for "thinking," "social," and "hamstering," and by choosing your skills, friends and activities, you can focus more on one or another. Mining, industry and trading are involve hamstering and thinking. PvP combat is largely thinking, with some social aspects for fleets. PvE combat is largely hamstering. Politics is largely social.

Thinking is the wildcard. By using advanced thinking, a player can leverage hamstering or social activities. For example, undercutting traders are extreme hamsters, relying on lots of work to milk the market. You have demonstrated that a well-thought strategy can destroy their efforts, and they hate you for it because you are sidestepping their hamstering. Another example: "care bears" who whine about ganking are really complaining that their hamstering (i.e. mining, hauling or missioning) is being distrupted. Of course, players who use a little bit of thinking are able to include in their plans the necessary steps to deal with gankers or other problems.

Bristal said...

I may be one of those crossover casual players that also reads blogs. Have been playing WoW for 4 years. Didn't care that Malygos was killed so soon. Did enjoy reading about progress on the Lich King. Raided rarely.

I like to play softball. I also like to watch and follow professional baseball. I love that there is this "pro mode" of WoW that I can follow like sports. LFR is my softball league, loved being able to see the Cata end boss, but understand hard mode is basically a different game.

First time player of Diablo and I'm hooked. Don't care that someone beat it. I've leveled 4 classes to 8, and have settled on a "main" that is now 13. I will be playing for a long time. It's very fun and just deep enough.

I've barely scratched the surface of using the AH, or in understanding gear itemization. I will most definitely pay a few bucks for gear or gold when the RMAH is opened, and when I can evaluate stats.

Avensys said...

"I wrote that a good game focuses on one of the skills of the players. Let them hone it, compete with other players in it and have fun being proficient, effective and productive with it. Below I list skills that can be used in games aimed at 14+, with some clear example in parenthesis.

Physical strength and endurace (marathon running)
Dexterity, reaction time, hand-eye coordination (tennis, Super Mario)
Thinking (chess, Civ4)
Social skills (Black Jack, Poker played at a table)
"Work ethic", "hamstering", "completionalism" (Everquest, vanilla WoW)

A game must focus on one and only one."

Just about every RTS game ever made requires both "Dexterity, reaction time, hand-eye coordination" and "Thinking", the phenomenal success of Starcraft and Warcraft III should be enough to dispose of your theory.

Gevlon said...

@Avensys: no, Starcraft only need dexterity. The proper building queue is memorized.

Try to play a game in the slowest speed settings and you'll find the same game ridiculously easy.

Anonymous said...

I can think right away of one huge exception to the need for a game to focus on any single category for it to be successful: U.S.A. football.

In the United States of America the most celebrated game-player of all is the NFL quarterback. He must have physical strength and endurance, because the longer and harder he can throw and the faster he can run, the broader the field the other team is forced to defend. He also must to be able to get up off the ground when he gets obliterated from his blind side by a defensive end charging him at full speed.

Dexterity, reaction time, and hand-eye coordination are required in that he has less than 3 seconds from the snap to drop back, choose an open receiver, determine whether or not he can successfully complete his throwing motion based on the pressure from the players trying to tackle him, and throw it to just the right spot for the receiver to catch it.

He needs to be able to think because on every play he is expected to learn something about the defense's coverage, and also be able to recognize things before the snap that would aid him in completing his passes. He also has a large catalogue of plays he must memorize.

I would even argue that there is a social expectation since by default he is considered the leader of his team. He has to know what makes his supporting players tick and do his best (either through encouragement or chastisement depending on the situation) to keep them at their psychological optimum so that their physical performance does not decline.

There are quarterbacks that excel or lack in one or two of these areas, and there are some who are proficient in all of them relatively equally; it doesn't subtract from the following the game has and it certainly does not harm the level of competition. Quarterbacks and by extension football teams as a whole can beat each other based on advantages in any four of those categories. I would guess that the average American reveres the competitor that can excel in all the things you stated and not just one, and it is that outlook that informs what kind of games are going to be most successful.

As to your current post, it is pretty obvious what kind of game Diablo III is supposed to be. It is a slot machine (hat tip to Joystiq for that classification) in which a little forward thinking, preparation, and dexterity is going to make it easier to pull the handle. Diablo II was much the same, and that game retained players for years, probably for all the same reasons WoW and craps tables retain players. If Diablo III has anything near that longevity of its predecessor, RMAH becomes less a profitmaking scheme than a creative way to pay for the servers.

Happy Forum said...

@Gevlon

I disagree in that Starcraft ladder only requires dexterity, because at diamond and above rank you also have to think a lot and plan and adjust goals during each match up.

However, your main point is still right as Starcraft ladder at diamond and above is pretty niche. Most people prefer to play relaxing custom games (like tower defenses) with their buddies, and 60% of the people that play ladder are gold ranked or below (where working on dexterity is much more important than planning/adapting).

Though tons of people (esp. in Korea) watch Starcraft on TV, it ends up being like the F1 example in that relatively few people actually play ladder.

Josh said...

It looks like several people here are ignoring the main idea behind Diablo III, namely that Blizzard intends to make a lot of money with the RMAH (cf. this episode of Extra Credits). Their plan, however, can only function if gear matters, i.e. if the game is non-trivial. Plenty of reliable people (Spinks, Tobold, Kadomi, etc.) seem to think otherwise.

One has to ask oneself: what is the point of buying gear with real money if that gear doesn't serve any purpose in the game?

Jack said...

Good analysis. Nearly spot on I'd say, but there could be flaws.

Anyway, my own perception of all this...

Diablo 3 is too easy.

I see three issues with the game.

First, the difficulty. They force me to faceroll normal in order to reach a difficulty fit for my skill level. I must admit that yes, the difficulties are adapted to levels, as nightmare starts at level 30, but that's an issue.

In Diablo 2, normal gave me a little challenge as I continued.

In Diablo 3, it's a pain to faceroll everything.

Having to view the story for free and not work for it, sucks. I don't feel like making alts anymore, because they will force me in mindless facerolling... and when I get to hard, the story becomes meaningless.

The second issue is the AH. Sure, I could not use it. Then again, that would be stupid. If something fair is at my disposal to increase my power, and it's legal, why not use it to my advantage? Goblins do that.

Seriously. Normal gamers (not casuals, normally skilled gamers) should never have to make up self-imposed rules to challenge themselves artificially- the game should be challenging enough- and those who choose to make such challenges to themselves are those who wish to challenge themselves further for fun. But it shouldn't be mandatory.

The AH ruins the game. And even without it, DIII is too easy.

The third problem is all the errors, failures, graphics, frame rate drops, assets loading problems causing frame rate drops...


In contrast, Torchlight 2. I played the Beta.

None of Diablo 3's flaws.
All of it's strengths.

Only thing lacking in TL2 is the story, but that's a non-issue.

You can start playing in Veteran (hard) or Elite (Very hard) at level one. I started in Veteran.

The first random dungeon boss at level 8 approximatly (not even a story boss) took me 5-10 minutes and forced me to get a clever strategy to damage the boss, and also take care of pesky adds. Not to mention he took my life once.

Other bosses I didn't die, but I had to get used to control my enemies and still slowly damage the boss. Strategy was necessary, and it was way more interesting and fun.

And to those saying: Oh, but the fun in DIII (the genre) is to faceroll everything for loot showering" NO. It's not. The fun is overcoming obstacles and killing thougher enemies. Kiting, strategy, clever use of skills and items, etc... Outsmarting the game. That is where the fun is. I shouldn't have to go through the facerolling you love so much in order to have my challenge.

Besides, if Diablo 1 2 3 was all about facerolling, there wouldn't hell and inferno kicking your ass.

I hope I'll enjoy them, at least.

I'm not there yet because I am doing my first run with a friend and we are exploring every single place, finding every lore book in our first playthrough. Then, the challenge begins.

Anonymous said...

Think of WOW as a series of loosely connected minigames.
(1) Solo PvE: pure grind
(2) Collecting, AH: see above, with less killing
(3) Raiding: Dance, with gradually decreasing difficulty
(4) PvP: FPS
(5) Dungeons: Outgearable dance

This seems to be the current design for WOW. There is not a lot of skill mixing at all.

Anonymous said...

Problem with WOW is that they're putting too much effort into raiding and not enough into solo PvE. If solo PvE felt like the endgame - and dancing was just a shortcut - many people would be happier.

Anonymous said...

"no, Starcraft only need dexterity. The proper building queue is memorized."

What makes memorizing SC2 build orders any different from memorizing chess openings?

tangurena said...

Mining is quite often done AFK. That is why goonswarm has an annual Hulkageddon contest to smack down the large mining ships that usually are used for afk-mining.

PS. How do you join a channel in Eve?

Ricardo Chirino said...

Gevlon, I think you analysis is a bit short sighted. Diablo 3 from the goblinish perspective is already a massive success and will probable net ActivisionBlizzard many millions in the years to come. Over 6 millions copies sold already, probably 10 more million to be sold in the coming years.

About the RMAH. My guess is that Blizzard will probably add vanity stuff to Diablo III that will be bought with real currency in the RMAH and other types of things I cannot come up with. Also don't understimate the min maxers, because for them, even if the game is easy, they want to have the very best stats so they'll probably spend real money to get the best itemization, to beat Diablo in 8 seconds instead of 9 or 10 they will probably pay a premium. Also don't forget that PvP will come to D3 someday and maybe there will be some sort of consumables or special gear for that and it could be a big seller in the RMAH. Don't understimate Blizzard on this.

PS: I think that with the amount of money Blizz got from the sales, and will get, because I think they haven't sold even half of the D3's they'll sell in the products life cycle, they can run the servers for as long as they want. Aside from login infrastructure, which is probably shared by Starcraft and WoW (and SC doesn't earn blizz any money other than game sales) so I consider the "running the server" expense a non issue for a company like Blizzard. Also I'm not so sure how much technology and hardware D3's servers need, unless Blizzard reveals some inhouse knowledge or explains their server technology, my guess is that D3s server infrastructure is far more simple and less expensive than say, World of Warcraft or even EVE Online.

Anonymous said...

Blizzard admitted they made Inferno too easy for certain classes. (You should try playing a Barbarian...)

I don't think anyone expected the RMAH to be a WoW-like cash machine.

Vanilla WoW was a heavily social game. The downfall of WoW has lined up perfectly with the gutting of the social aspect (smaller raids, dungeon finder, other ways to get gear, and now raid finder). Not saying your theory is wrong; you simply misclassified WoW. A lot of players "hoped" over the grind by exploiting the social element (get carried, guild hop, get carried, guildh hop).

WoW accounts are "stable" because so many people took the Diablo 3 deal. The game is still in decline.

Build orders are never memorized in SC2 at high level play after the first minute or two. By "high level play" I'm not even talking about professionals, I'm talking about diamond level on battle.net. As casuals move on to other games I doubt dexterity alone would get you out of gold.

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