Diabolical Temptations and Time Sinks

Diablo3 - Tyrael

As much as I love World of Warcraft, it’s strength and weakness is that it is a living world. It changes over time, and the challenges grow ever stronger.

If you want to stay current with the challenges you will face, you have to give your characters constant attention. Feed them raids and instances, complete daily quests for Lesser Charms, improve your gear and unlock the content, get those legendary questline drops.

I love the feeling of having a persistent world to drop into, the sense of accomplishment in achieving raid goals, finishing the legendary, cleaning up some old goals that were left by the wayside.

Yep, I love it. Yep.


What, we’re in a lull? Nothing at all whatsoever new coming in WoW for months and months as we wait for the other new Blizzard games to be released to our undivided attention and wallets?

Thank GOD that’s over! Seriously, I need a break, man.

I like having that living world to play in with my friends, but seriously, there is more to gaming than WoW. There is, right?

Coincidentally, a new patch was released for Diablo 3, a game I last played when Dragon Soul was a thing. I had reached level 36 on my Wizard, beaten the first difficulty of the game, and faced having to do it all over again a second time in a more difficult setting just to hopefully someday reach level 60.

Nothing sucked WORSE than beating the first play through of Diablo 3 without coming close to reaching level 60 and the unlocking of equal-opportunity multiplayer.

Also, I had a love/hate with the Auction House.

On the one hand, I could try and get great items for reasonable prices that increased my power. On the other hand, if all the best upgrades came from the AH, why the fuck was I playing in a game that was about loot drops? At level 36, loot runs aren’t happening. I’d just be running to get gold to buy better loot. And my apologies to all of those that love economy games, but playing the AH isn’t a fun game to me. Too much time investment to get a means to an end, gold for better gear.

So, I guess my problems with Diablo 3 were running out of game before hitting end level, and missing the point in playing when you can buy the best gear.

Enter the most recent patch. Everything revamped, quest XP boosted to heck and gone, and smart loot drops so the stuff that drops is far more likely to be of use to you.

Also, the promise that the auction house is going away very soon.

Well played, Blizzard. Even knowing that you’re setting everything up so there is nothing new to do in World of Warcraft right while things are heating up in Diablo 3 for the new expansion, here I am, logging in to D3.

Well played, indeed.

By way of comparison, I reached level 36 when Diablo 3 first came out having cleared all four acts and completing the game. A little over 20 hours played, level 36.

I now have a little over 10 hours played on my newly started Demon Hunter, I am level 33, and I JUST completed act 1. Just now moved to act 2 and Caldeaum.

If the XP continues as it has, I should be hitting level 60 and have all my core abilities and runes unlocked by the time I’m reaching the end of my first complete lay through the story.

This feels perfect to me. THIS is the rate of progression in a game I like.

I have purchased nothing for my Demon Hunter, and yet at the recommendation of my friend Arrakeen, I moved the difficulty of the game to Hard for better XP and drops, and I am managing just fine. Maybe a little slower, but the satisfaction at having a legendary drop off a boss kill is HUGE when leveling.

Oh yeah, did I mention I’ve had legendary drops? I’ve actually had six legendary drops since I moved it to Hard difficulty immediately after killing the Skeleton King. I got Leoric’s Crown twice, bracers twice and a ring twice. They seem to scale to the level you are when you identify them, so you can use them immediately, it’s awesome.

A bunch of my guild friends have made a Diablo 3 clan and seem to be even more active in it since the patch than I am. One of the great things about being in a clan with them is that they are all level 60 already, and I get to see the gear they loot.

Did you know that awesome loot from World of Warcraft is also in Diablo 3? I didn’t.

Alke looted Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker. In Diablo 3.

I asked what it looked like, and he said it looks like it does in WoW. I saw him with it in a quick multiplayer team up, and yep, it looks freaking awesome.

That is not the only WoW item in Diablo 3. Far from it. I’ve seen a lot of very cool weapon designs from WoW in Diablo 3, and it’s just too cool seeing these items I am familiar with in a different game, in a different context.

I’m just… I’m having a blast. Demon Hunters are so satisfying to play. I remember loving the graphics of my Wizard spells, but this is just as cool, and I get a pet, too! Demon Hunters get companions, and they are up ALL the time!

I asked Arrakeen what companion she liked, and she said the ferrets. Ferrets? Ferret pets that run out and gather loot off the ground for you?

Oh my god, yes, give me my Beastmaster fix! I grew up on that movie, oh yes oh yes, gimme! FERRETS!

The other thing that’s amazing is, even though I’m barely half way to max level, my character looks cool. Nothing like the incredible looks of max level characters with amazing legendary gear, but still satisfying;

Beartrap the Demon Hunter

Yeah, I know. Nothing is color changed, but I’m replacing stuff too fast to worry about it.

Using a bow is very satisfying. And I like that I can equip a quiver in the offhand and still use two handed bows, I’m not limited to a two-hander, or a one-handed crowbow and quiver.

Sorry, irrelevant.

My point is, the changes they made to Diablo 3 have really transformed the game experience for me.

I know it’s an evil plan, I know I’m falling right into their diabolical clutches, I know that all of this is just ensuring that I’ll be buying the expansion for a game I haven’t played or even thought about in what, two years?


And yet, here we are, and here I am, and damn you Blizzard, it’s working.

If they had released new content right now, I’d never have logged into Diablo 3. I’d have had to stay logged into WoW every night to keep up with everything. Like a job.

I’m being manipulated, and you know what? I’ve decided I’m all right with that.

Can’t wait until I get to 60 and get that legendary ring that gives me my own Treasure Goblin to follow me around!

Diabloe 3 seems to be the game where all the cool magic toy ideas Blizzard has gets brought to life.

I guess having had a Cow Level takes some of the credibility out of “we can’t do goofy stuff like that because it would ruin your immersion in the game. WE’d have people raiding with fish as a weapon.”

I’ve heard tell of a chicken gun. I don’t know anything about it, but my imagination is picturing me wielding a gun that shoots chickens at a target.

In Rapid Fire.

In flames.

Rapid Fire stream of flaming chickens at my opponents.

That explode.

I’m all right with that. No, really, I have no problems with this concept.

I only pray it’s true.

See you in hell?

Shhh, be vewy, vewy quiet, I’m hunting DEMONS!

Bearwall! Ah, the smell of fresh bear droppings  on a nice clean blog page.

It smells like… oh, damn.

Smelly bear, smelly bear, what have they been feeding you?
Beer and bacon and BBQ beans, that’s what a big butted bear is made of.

Surprise, surprise, I have been playing a little Diablo 3 this week.

I don’t know that my experiences are going to be all that interesting, but my approach to the game has been to ignore it and all related discussions completely until release.

I wouldn’t say I’ve taken pleasure in ignoring the latest details MMO Champion would release during Beta, or in passing by the fevered, frenzied arguments about it’s features that popped up like shrooms all over the blogosphere.

Well, yeah, I guess I would.

I was playing World of Warcraft, and while it’s nice to see what is intended in a beta for a game I’m actively playing, like WoW, I really couldn’t get into following all the details of a game that was unplayable.

Basically, I ask this of a company – if you’re creating a game, give me a video pimping your art design and music to entice my imagination, then give me some gameplay videos showing me what it’s like to actually get embedded into it. That’s it, I’ll take it from there. The more detail you tell me, the less left to my imagination. Give me a good view of the gameplay, I’ll see all I need for a snap judgment.

I played Diablo, Diablo II, and the expansions. I’ve got fond memories of them all, but the gameplay… they are, at their hearts, button mashing hack and slash dungeon crawlers, and there was nothing wrong with that at all. But the tastiest bits of those dungeon crawlers was exploring the world, the lore, and the specifics of the gameplay as it unfolded through the levels, so why would I want to spoil the mysterious bits with spoilers before I even crack the can?

Plus… one of the things I loved about my previous Diablo experiences was how rock-solid polished they were. Shit worked, no bugs. Why spoil by trying them when they’re all buggy?

I wanted to walk into the new game just like I did the old ones, to get immersed in a POLISHED game experience and enjoy my ignorance.

The best reason I could think of to follow the development would be to see if I felt enticed enough to buy it for $60, so as soon as they announced you got the game for free with an Annual Pass in WoW, well, I stopped following the news. Purchase was a done deal, I’ll play it when I get it, and see what it’s like then.

Fast forward to launch week, my friends. Ooh, new game, cool, time to see what all the hype was about. I hope it doesn’t suck!

I’ve been so successful at remaining spoiler free (that sounds better than ignorant, doesn’t it?) that I had to no shit look up how many classes there were and watch the “What the heck does this class do” videos on MMO Champion just to get some idea of which one I might try first.

I didn’t have even the most basic awareness of what was going to happen when I fired it up. Except, like, you know.

Demons and shit.

I watched the Barbarian video, the Demon Hunter and the Monk. I didn’t watch the Witch Doctor because the gameplay description was all “lol pets lol”, and I didn’t watch the Wizard because, well, squishy was my first impression, and squishy is for after you play around with it.

A heavy plate wearing class, a damage sponge, that is just the thing for a training wheels experience.

I didn’t think I’d start with a Barbarian though, because, well, it looked identical to a WoW Warrior, been there done that, I deal with rage issues enough as it is. If I want to deal with rage, I can just catch up on Twitter, plenty of rage to be found there.

I didn’t think I wanted to start with a Demon Hunter because, and this is the only real reason, I didn’t fancy micro-managing traps. Demon Hunter went on my mental “try when I’m bored with my first character, twin crossbows look sweet” list.

So I watched the Monk video, and I thought it looked pretty cool. It is about damn time someone decided that what the world lacked was Hungarian Ninjas, and I for one welcome our new Hungarian Ninja lightning-fisted overlords.

Awesome voice acting on the accents. I started off with a male one, booted through the startup intro and then thought, “Holy crap, this guy is so awesome, what does a female Hungarian Ninja sound like, OMIGOD RUN GO SEE GO SEEEEE”

I do not regret my decision. Sunshatter the female Hungarian Ninja is a lot of fun.

In getting started, the Monk certainly felt powerful, I kicked some skeleton ass. It was pretty cool. Nice effects, a melee class with lots of “get to the bad guy fast” abilities, very nice.

The more things change, though, the more they feel the same.

The first thing that really got into my head like Deja-Diablo-Vue was how like Diablo II the gear situation felt.

One of the things I carried forward from Diablo II was my irritation with their loot system.

Drops were always random, and it was difficult to know what stats you wanted, and if you did know exactly what was optimal, good luck ever finding it.

I only ever played Diablo II single player, and I remember feeling really irritated that they couldn’t have drops that were a little more… focused towards being useful, but in different ways.

I’m a warrior, what do I need Intellect on my plate helm for? Why does my two handed flamberge give me +Arcane Power? WTF?

At the time, I figured it was so that, when playing Diablo II in a group for years, the drop of an actually USEFUL piece of gear would be cause for celebration, acrimonious arguments, and furious dissention. All the stuff that helps bond a group.

So, yeah, when I saw the return of some of the silly stat combinations, it brought me right back.

The reality of Diablo III is better, much better, the new game does not bear any real resemblance to how bad Diablo II gear drop stats were, but the feel is there on each wtf drop.

See, the reason it’s all good is, all that crap gear has a point! You can destroy it for component parts without regret. Plus, and this is amazing, as far as I can see there is NO soulbinding, so you can equip a drop, use it as long as you’d like, and then trade it to someone else.

Oh yeah, did I mention my shock at that change before? There is an Auction House, and you don’t have to decide between equipping an awesome item to level with or selling it. You can do both!

Level with that awesome item, then when you get an upgrade, turn around and break it up into forging mats, or sell it on the AH to someone else. Or stick it in your shared stash for an alt to use someday.

That… that is pretty amazing to me. It seems almost TOO useful, too considerate to players, to be a Blizzard game design decision.

Then again, the Black Market Auction House is coming soon, as well as account-wide shared mounts, and those are a bit of a shocker too. I thought Blizzard wanted us to run things a bazillion times hoping for that rare drop, and then suffer the anguish of the “soulbound on the wrong character that ran it once to help a friend” tragedy.

Your tears nourish the black soul of Blizzard developers, who, or so I’ve heard, are all retired Special Forces E&E Trainer cadre who miss torturing willing participants in a myriad of perfectly legal ways.

My amazement of the transferrable loot system was overshadowed by my annoyance at how confused I feel at Blizzard’s itemization.

Understand, I could answer all of these questions with a 30 second web search. That’s not the point. The point is to have the joy of discovery all on my own, and that joy has to be balanced by my inevitable irritation when I’m ignorant, and can’t figure out a solution quickly.

As much else that I love, I continue to feel confused with armor and weapons.

For example… are there actual armor types?

I look at an item description, and it seems sometimes it says an item is cloth, other times leather, but many other times there is no actual ‘armor class’ or type listed, just an armor value.

Stats are fairly obvious in association, but can my Wizard wear the same types of armor as my Barbarian? There are class-specific items with a class name in some pieces, but in others, it seems pretty shaky.

It’s not quite as obvious as the system that I, as a WoW player, am used to. Such as “You are a Mage, you wear Cloth. Suck it up, silk-boy.” Or “You are a Druid, you can wear Cloth or Leather armor, you have a level 60 Skill that says if you wear all Leather you get stat bonuses so you are intended to wear leather whenever possible, if you don’t like it go stick a feather in your butt and pop flight form, bird-brain.”

Not a big issue, just… ah, the feel of Diablo II in the air. Refreshing!

When I’d played my Monk for a while, I decided I wanted to try a ranged class. I was having fun, but I was curious if a Wizard would feel noticeably squishier, and if so, would that be more challenging? The Monk was feeling a bit too easy mode.

I created a Wizard. A male Wizard. I refrained from making the obvious emo jokes when I saw his default pose, I just named him Unbearable, and really, when you look at his pose, why wouldn’t you? I look at him and I know *I* want to smack that smug know-it-all smirk off his face.

Here is the funny thing.

Because my monk was a melee combatant, I worked hard to get weapon upgrades. More powerful paired Vampiric daggers means more stabby-stab damage, right? Sorta?

But the Wizard is a spell-casting inferno of magical destruction. I am throwing lightning bolts and orbs of arcane might at the bad guys, all doing with the blowing up thing.

What does the DPS of a sword have to do with the damage my fireball does?

Well, it doesn’t, or so I reason out, and off I went through most of the first act ignoring my weapon unless a Wand dropped, since Wands might affect my Magic Missile.

I was having a pretty hard time towards the end, fighting the waves of bad guys in the Cathedral leading up to the Skeleton King. I was getting swamped, and as good as Arcane Orb is, it was taking every bit of skillful use of Frost Nova and that Arcane Explosion thingie AoE and running and gunning to stay alive.

Then, I decided to toss a 14.5 DPS flaming spear into my weapon slot. Just cause, you know. Flaming javelin mages are so the thing, right?


It turns out, and this was a hell of a surprise, it turns out that the higher the DPS rating on my melee weapon, the more powerful my magical spells are.

So… my weapon is a stat stick that has no intuitive link with my magical power, but does anyway. Fair enough, lesson learned, time to toast some Horny Tauren… err, goatmens.

It’s been lots of fun, dungeon crawling has never been more interesting. Learning to hold down the shift button whenever I want to blow stuff up at range (it keeps me from moving when I click), learning that I can click on my Templar companion’s portrait and train his skills and GIVE HIM gear to make him more powerful, there are all sorts of fun little discoveries so far.

And I’ll be honest with you, the fact that I am trying, screwing it up, getting myself in stupid situations and then discovering my error later? That is actually a large part of the fun.

There is something inherently perverse in how I’m playing the game. The moments that stand out for me as the best are the ones where I go “Oh shit! THAT’S what I was supposed to do! Well, duh.”

And yet… it’s been good.

I’ve been thinking, I’m having so much fun and being delighted by wonder and getting surprised by my mistakes and working through them, that I’m thinking I ought to try working ignorance into the rest of my day to day activities.

I’m thinking, from now on, when I’m driving I might want to stop turning my head around to see what is behind me and to the sides before I make a lane change. I think going to that extra effort to actually SEE the blind spots and make sure they’re clear before I change lanes is keeping me from having a certain taste of mystery, of wonder in my life. I think I should cut back on being informed, no turn signals either (why should I prevent other drivers from enjoying their own moment of enjoyable surprise learning experiences) and just glance in the side mirror and pop over in the same movement.

What could possibly go wrong with this plan?

Don’t worry though, I know I’m not the first one to think of this as a way to add a certain flair and excitement to my day. Hell, from what I can see on the road, I’m apparently the last one to realize how fun it must be.

Here’s hoping that you and yours are having a great time in whatever game you may be playing, and I’ll leave you with this tagline:

“Ignorance – It’s not just a playstyle choice, it’s a LIFESTYLE choice.”