Thoughts on Diablo III

“And so, you call me your friend but you only want my gifts
And I’ll never see you if I had no loot, I’ll never see them
I’m just glad I know the truth and I’m payin’ my own bills
and I’ll never ever depend on you”

— Tony Toni Tone “If I Had No Loot”

Diablo III starts with something falling from the sky which the hero naturally had to go check out.  Wait, let’s cut the pretense right off the bat and just be honest about all this – I’m in it for the stuff.  All the character development and storytelling in both the real world and the realm of sanctuary have taken a back seat to the one primary motivation that called shotgun years ago when I last left it somewhere near Mt. Arreat: looting corpses.  This is the story of all things Diablo: I hit monster piñatas, they go splat and boom, things drop loot for me to pick up.  Lather, rinse, repeat.


Very briefly about the plot, though – there is a lot of betrayal in the story.  Some of them are actually pretty obvious, like the sorcerer with the gruff voice and the maniacal laugh whom I had to revive sometime in Act II only to predictably turn against me at an opportune moment.  All he ever did was talk about world domination while we were in the quest series.  In fact, all of Diablo 3 could have probably been mitigated if the hero just burned New Tristram to the ground within the first two minutes of the game.  The hero could have then gone about looting corpses uninterrupted.

In a game about breaking piñatas, Blizzard provided numerous different methods to do so as the character levels up to unlock skills and runes.  I found it a bit sad, however, that I favored the lower-level skills since they appeared to deal damage to more people than the higher-level skills did.  Then again, I’m actually not sure if the damage is the same, since regardless of slotted skill (with one notable exception), the DPS indicator had the same number.  Does one shot of force lightning do the same amount of damage as one shot of magic missile?  No idea.  In the end, I prefer AoE with the implied splash damage over breaking one piñata at a time.

Overall, the game is great and highly addictive.  The character classes and skills allow for a variety of play styles and the auction house addresses any equipment deficiencies that come up from time to time.  There is a story narrated through wonderfully rendered cut-scenes with quality voice work.  Most of all, there are piñatas – lots and lots of piñatas that drop all kinds of loot.

I’m not too sure how I’d feel about Diablo III if it had no loot.  Leah, on the other hand, “you can new jack swing…”

Faraday Cage

Faraday cage
keeps me from posting
on a far away page
keeps me suppressing
all this ire and rage
I spend my time just keeping track
of all the wars that I’d wage
soon as they let me out of this
Faraday cage

Weekend at Deckard’s

I spent a significant portion of this past weekend along with other gaming enthusiasts trying to set fire to Blizzard’s Diablo 3 servers. At times, it seemed we were successful in this endeavor. Those times were spent frantically punching in login credentials over and over in an attempt to reach through the net and into the alternate world where, years ago, we were once guests, brave heroes, obsessive compulsive corpse looters.

When I finally returned into this alternate world, I called for Eberlin, the necromancer who once commanded an army of skeleton warriors and mages. Eberlin, who augmented his troops with the reanimated corpses of fallen enemies. I missed the sights and sounds of exploding corpses, the high pitched whir of a spirit projectile tracking down its target, and the distinct gurgling noise that only a golem made of coagulated blood could make as it loyally walked alongside its creator. I called for Eberlin but he was not there. This alternate world has done without necromancers.

In their place were the witch doctors. Alkor from old Kurast must have found his friends. Though not as mighty a summoner as the old necromancer, the witch doctor was a fun class in its own right. Pierre was able to summon zombie dogs along with a seemingly limitless supply of bats, spiders, and frogs. One can assume that he has a well-worn discount card at the New Tristram pet store.

A wizard came forth, and presented himself as Eberlin. He had long dark hair and a confident swagger that almost seemed like what a necromancer in his youth would have looked like before the call to study necromancy deprived him of sunlight and empathy. He, too, was a formidable hero, thanks to a new system that provided ample, though definitely not over-abundant arcane energy to cast magic missiles and lightning bolts.

Though there were other classes, the wizard and the witch doctor drew most of my attention as I attempted to fill the void left by not having a necromancer available in the game. Within the limits of the beta, the spell choices fell into two offensive weapon categories: the sniper rifle (deal heavy damage to one enemy) or the shotgun (deal smaller damage, but to more enemies at once). Having to deal mostly with mobs of cannon fodder, the shotgun method was the best approach. Spells that hit multiple enemies, or explode for area-of-effect damage were more efficient at clearing out multiple attackers. The one exception was when dealing with special enemies where a strong, focused attack was needed on a single target. Even then, explosive splash damage had proven to be very effective.

The leveling system seemed nice, no longer having to worry about wrongly allocating stat points and suffering the consequences for the rest of the character’s life. Spells can be reconfigured and the runes that augment their effects can be swapped out. The artisan crafting system seems like a more controlled version of the old merchant “gamble” options but from my limited experience, constantly gave better items than most anything I had picked up from adventuring.

The storytelling, as expected from all things Blizzard, was intriguing and well done. The ability to quickly join a friend’s game is great, and the banner system which transports friends from town to a friend’s location in the adventure area is a hazardous, but welcome work-around to the new teleporting dynamic. My biggest issue to multiplayer is that there is no built-in voice chat. I had to yell across the room to the wife who was wearing headphones to ask for help from her barbarian. How analog is that? Yes, I know there are canned num-pad voice cues, but I don’t have them memorized just yet. Yelling “this is for you” when I meant “help me!” is a very “uh, oops” moment.

Overall, if the beta gameplay is any indication of things to come when the full game is released, Diablo 3 will be another amazing, lengthy trip into the Diablo universe. Hopefully the high amount of traffic we generated and the fires we set during the open beta were helpful in uncovering and ironing out any issues Blizzard may have had with their servers.

How Deckard Cain managed to survive through catastrophe while necromancers did not is a story I’d like to hear. Maybe it is a story Mr. Cain will share, in time, to the new Eberlin as they face new threats in the new chapter of the old Diablo storyline. It will be fun to fight evil once again. It will be fun to don magic-find items and do loot runs again. It will be fun to stay awhile and listen again.

Dungeons and Dragons Online Vignette — ElTechno Dance Club

The Guild of Estoceans had earned enough renown and platinum within the realm to afford their very first guild airship. Though by no means as luxurious as the ships flown by higher-level guilds, it still gave El Techno’s friends a more convenient mode of transportation. Not everyone was as cool as El Techno with his teleport spell and all.

To celebrate, El Techno found himself a photographer as he reminisced through his early days in and around Korthos Village and Stormreach Harbor. Afterwards, he commissioned a dance video featuring his guild members and the beats he himself came up with, “El Ritmo de El Techno”


The mood just got sour
and someone’s ’bout to
feel the wrath of my power
quick, someone tell Matt Lauer
get the cameras here
they’ve got less than a half hour
’cause someone just offered me
a copy of “The Watchtower”
I was dumbfounded, witless
How the hell could she know
that I was Hova’s witness?
Jay-Z’s words like a right cross
from the science of sweetness —
So I lifted my voice
with a psalm of praise
and instead of a quote,
here’s a
remixed paraphrase:
If you’re having faith problems
I feel bad for you, son.
I’ve got 99 problems
but your God ain’t one.