Down Goes Foreman, I Mean Diablo, And Other D3 Musings

**************** DIABLO 3 SPOILERS BELOW ****************

Diablo 3’s Witch Doctor shakes like he suffers from Parkinson’s. In one hand is his weapon, in his off hand is his wanga doll, both of them are constantly moving. The Witch Doctor is the Michael J. Fox of Diablo 3[D3]. His comical movements add some much needed humor to a plot line and atmosphere that can be, at times, dire. By the time you make it to Leoric’s Manor and delve into its torture chamber depths, you realize D3 is just as dark as its predecesores. The only thing that takes away from the fear that one feels as he or she ventures through the dungeons of Diablo are the in-engine story cinematics.

The games Act transition cinematics (major cinematics play when a player progresses from one Act/Setting to another) are some of the best I have seen and are a testament to Blizzard’s creative ability. The end game cinematic, that follows the slaying of Diablo, is gorgeously rendered and beautifully scored. It’s a cinematic that is befitting of the death of Diablo. Diablo, a character that is the series namesake and its main protagonist, deserved the cinematic given following his death. It’s the juxtaposition of the in-game cinematics and the in-engine ones, that makes it difficult to immerse oneself into the games story.  Most of the in-engine cinematics are forgivable and not so terribly important to the overall game play, or the game’s story-there is one exception however.

Following this quests completion is one of the most befitting cinematics for the death of terror itself.

Deckard Cain has been a reoccurring character in all three of the Diablo games. He is the last of the wise Horadric mages who have spent their lives fighting back the Prime Evils. Throughout all three games he has provided valuable information to the player and the plot,   and more importantly (in Diablo and Diablo 2), he helped identify your magic loot. He is the wise old man that you would gladly give an ear to when asked to, “Stay awhile and listen.” Deckard Cain is/was the Yoda of the Diablo series. His death in D3 was a sad moment but the magnitude of his passing was lessened by the in-engine cinematic that portrayed it.

Deckard Cain receives an in-engine killing blow.

If any plot lines deserved the same cinematic treatment that was given to the Act transitions, Deckard Cain’s death was one of them. Instead of feeling like I just lost my Grandpa, Deckard Cain’s in-engine death came across like the death of a week old pet goldfish. I was sad, but the cartoonish visualization of his death cheapened what should of been a momentous event in the Diablo lore. Even in his death Deckard Cain was working to fight the Prime Evils. As he took his last few breathes he recrafted Tyrael’s sword, letting everyone know that, “The truth lies within,” just as Yoda, on his deathbed, lets everyone know, “There is another Skywalker.”  Deckard will be missed, despite his unceremonious sendoff.

Even right before his death, Deckard Cain continues his fight against the Prime Evils by making Tyrael’s sword whole again.

10 Minutes With The Devil: Diablo 3’s [Error 37] Release

Diablo is just as infuriating and conniving as he was in Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 but for the time being, it’s for the wrong reasons. After setting up my account and installing the game, I feverishly anticipate the opening cinematics. It didn’t matter that I had seen the opening sequence at least a dozen times before, this time was different. This time I was watching Deckard Cain convey his worries to his niece Leah (smart move Blizzard, adding the h at the end will keep the Lucas lawyers away), while my very own copy of the game set in front of me. When Deckard Cain asks Leah, “You do believe me don’t you Leah?” and the sky falls down on them in the Tristam Cathedral, I quickly answer, “Yes.” That however, is where and when my belief in Diablo’s third coming… ended.

As soon as Deckard Cain states, “It has begun,” is when my fun with Diablo 3 concluded. After the excitement of the opening cinematic you arrive at the log in screen for Diablo 3. With my account already created and my email address verified, I input my user name and password. Error 37. Here begins an error that will live on in infamy, via internet memes, for years to come. Of course I cancel and try again. Error 37. And again. Error 37. Taking a breath I exit out of D3 and give it another go. Error 37. The message board on the right hand side of the login screen addresses the issues with logging in, and state they will be fixed by 1:30PDT. I rejoice for a bit, it is 2PM CT and well pass 1:30PDT. I try to log in again.

Internet memes, commence.

Error 75. That is the next error I am faced with after my most recent attempt to log in. My fears of Diablo returning with his minions are replaced with the realization that I will not be able to see them nor stop them for the time being. Diablo will go unchecked in the world of Sanctuary, not because I lack the courage to face him but because of his brothers, the real Prime Evils, Error 37 and Error 75. I understand it is launch day for one of the most anticipated games in recent memory. I understand servers will be under a lot of stress but you can’t help but feel a bit of hell fire on the back of your neck as you stare at another error screen.

One of the lesser known Prim Evils, Error 75.

Once the lava cooled in my veins, and I embraced the teachings of the Dalai Lama for five minutes, I returned to the login screen. This time I am rewarded with a box that puts a check mark next to “Connected to server” then another by “Authenticated” then finally, next to “Retrieving Hero List.” I am logged in and ready to create my character that will push back the hellspawn spewed from the ass of the Devil himself. I create my Monk, Dalai Camel, and exit out. My battle versus the Devil’s minions will have to wait.

*On a side note. Read the brief description for the Barbarian within the Quick Start Guide. Who does the line, “Armored in thick plate and driven by rage, these primal fighters wish only to crush their enemies and see them driven before them,” remind you of?

If You Build It, Kills Will Come.

I’ve been holding on to my Windows XP rig for about 4 years. It is still a fine machine with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8GHz (overclocked to 3.2GHz) processor, a GeForce GTS 250 video card and a XFX NVIDIA 750i SLI Motherboard but it was showing the signs of becoming elderly in online play and while running multiple programs while researching online. It will continue to be a fine machine for my girlfriend who will now be able to write her English papers in lighting speed and, when she plays, game on a rig far superior to her Deckard-Cain-ancient laptop. For me though, it was time for me to move on – to say goodbye to a great companion and allow her to benefit someone else. After shedding a few tears and deciding to use a piece of my severance pay, I started scouting out potential parts like Dr. Frankenstein and make an investment in to a rig that will outlive my last one.

I first perused my last couple of issues of PC Gamer magazine looking at the companies advertising their custom built PCs. Many spend a lot of time deciding on AMD or Intel and I will admit for my first self built rig, this was an intense debate in which AMD won out due to my budget at the time. After spending the last 4 years with an Intel processor I was hooked and admittedly, am now a brand loyal “Intel-lite”. With the processor brand in mind I took to the internet and to the custom built PCs company websites. I took a brief look at the current rigs Alien Ware were producing and then ended up on were I built a couple of rigs within my budget and with all the goodies I required. Once I had an idea of my specs I passed on the info to a friend who did a similar build on Micro Center’s website. At this point I had the itch and only a new rig would be able to scratch it. So after determining on Wednesday that my friend and I would start the build on Saturday, I called him Thursday to start early.

At Micro Center, with parts and DirectX 11 graphics in my head, we went about bargain hunting without cutting quality and below are the final results:

Diabotek EVO ATX Mid Tower (w/4 x 12cm Fans & LED Lighting)

GeForce GTX 570 HD (1280MB GDDR5) Video Card

Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4/3.7GHz Processor

GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3 Motherboard (SLI capable)

Patriot PC3-12800 1600MHz 8GB Kit (DDR3 Memory)

Seagate Barracuda 1TB 32MB CACHE 7200RPM Hard Drive

Antec 650 Watt ATX 12V V2.3 Power Supply

Sony 24x DVD RW AD-7260S

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Fan+Heatsink

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OS

Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010

Wyatt Kovich 2011 Edition (Friend with superior CPU building knowledge) – P.S. Thanks again.

Below is a summary of the build:

Mother fu... I mean board.

Motherboard (in tower) awaiting to be impregnated by processor.

Motherboard/processor sex is hot so you need to cool it.

A very hard drive (lower) and DVD RW disk spinner in place.

Motherboard tag team: GeForce GTX 570HD inserted to board.

Patriot PC3-12800 1600MHz 8GB Kit DDR3 Memory inserted into motherboard (right of cooler fan,background) and Wyatt Kovich 2011 Edition (foreground).

Final steps: installation of the Windows monopoly.

Running bright and ready for the online fight.

Doomsday is Coming: Q3 Diablo beta = holiday release!

Well we made it. The Saturday May 21st Doomsday didn’t happen but don’t worry, the pits of hell still may open up this year. Diablo 3’s [D3] beta will go live in Q3 and perhaps some Activision-Blizzard boardroom bullying will push the actual game out the door just in time for some holiday game bingeing.

With the D3 beta confirmed to be out as early as July will Activision-Blizzard make a push to release D3 before years end? Most who are familiar with Blizzard’s molasses like development  would say no but there is more going on behind the scenes, and in the boardroom, then usual.

Blizzard reported a first for its other mega franchise (World of Warcraft [WOW]), a drop in its monthly player subscriptions of 5%. Around the release of this news Activision-Blizzard stock took a dip. If the subscription drop in WOW accounts becomes a trend expect the stock reaction to follow suit. The same week the news regarding WOW subscriptions went public so did the news about the D3 beta and Activision-Blizzard stocks made a rebound. This wasn’t mere coincidence. This was a cause and effect occurrence. Cause, drop in WOW subscriptions, drop in stock price – Effect, announcement of D3 beta, rise in stock price.

Will drops in WOW subscriptions hasten D3's release?

With a more competitive massive multiplayer online market [MMO], more free-to-play [F2P] options of high quality and MMOs with developing loyal fan basis (SEE EVE Online) will the drop in WOW subscriptions and stock prices continue? I can assure you that those individuals on the Activision-Blizzard board are asking themselves the same question. It is the answer to that question that may influence the final release date of D3. It may be one the first times were we see Blizzards total control of when their games are released be heavily influenced. Blizzards attention to detail and ability to polish their games before release will be challenged by this development but what better publisher to face that confrontation and succeed than Blizzard.

The End Is Nigh! Prepare your hero!

We might just see the master of all betas cycle into a much desired holiday release. Hells gates and Doomsday could be upon us this winter. Deckard Cain and the heroes of Sanctuary are required again!

Shinie Induced Boners

With Diablo 3 on the horizon, like a Rancor in Jabba’s Palace, I can’t help but salivate in anticipation of all the shinies (droped loot from killed enemies i.e. rings, armor, weapons and gold) left behind by fallen foes. Oh to hear the “baaaaaaa!” noise a Satyr makes as he falls and his hoard is laid bare at my feet. Images of Blizzard’s Diablo 2 and its expansion Lord of Destruction keep flashing into my head. I can envision the inventory screen laid out in front of me with all the rare, unique and set items positioned ever-so upon my person or in my stash – with multiple Stone’s of Jordan grouped together.

My precious...

My precious... the Stone of Jordan

Diablo 2 and, even the earlier Diablo, tapped into my O.C.D. like no other game before or since. A slight boner would present itself almost every time Deckard Cain would say, “Hello there.” as he would prepare to identify my newly found magic shinies.

Deckard Cain - Shinie Identifier

Yes. There was a time were this mans voice inspired a chub.

This game created the desire to continue to play even after you finished the main story line once, twice, or even three times. After the first play through you could decide to start the storyline over and play it in a more difficult mode and then do all over again. Each time the game would become harder and your character would seem weaker. Each time the shinies that were dropped were that much more joyous to find…and powerful.

What was it that compelled me to continue my quests to find the next best thing? Did I need to complete a magical, 4 or 5 piece, set of armor and weapons? Did I need to find a helm that was just a little bit better? Or did my amazon warrior just look a bit sexier with a giant rare javelin in her hands [Please insert your own Freud joke here]? The answer is yes to all those questions. The desire for shinies could be justified in so many ways.

With the change in art design from Diablo 2 to 3 and an almost entirely new cast of playable characters, there has been some worry about the game remaining true to its past. I believe as long as they shroud the storyline in the same deathly-dark atmosphere as in Diablo and Diablo 2 then results will be very satisfying – but hey Blizzard, make sure to shed some “light” on the atmosphere with a heavy dose of SHINIES.