Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Diablo 2: Still Grinding After All These Years

Been fidgeting with this one for a while, if only because I still fantasize that somehow, someway, I can write something that isn't going to have one kneejerk commenter on a linking site accuse me of wasting their time.

I'm still playing with different approaches to multiplayer games. The L4D piece tried to establish the different categories of players using a couple of different people's stories and ideas. The game is unique in that it's about getting all those different groups to get along. Diablo 2 doesn't quite work that way. In fact, you could argue it's the polar opposite. The difference between a casual player and someone playing for system gank is night and day. I decided to contrast my casual experience (I only play the game on Normal, but with different classes) with a more sophisticated group of players. Some kind folks over at Diii.net answered some questions in a forum for me.

A lot of the conversation revolved around how the game stayed interesting for these folks for ten years. There are a handful of games I will replay like Super Mario World or Audiosurf, but ten years is totally out of my range. Finding out how the game stayed appealing to them ended up being a solid approach because it got the discussion of how the game changed over the years and what made it appealing in the first place. Good people.

It's still a damn nightmare to write about a game that you know has millions of people with differing opinions.


Daniel said...

I found your essay really interesting, because I've been a longtime player of the game, on and off for a decade, but never beyond a casual level. I was probably more 'into it' than you, and I think I gleaned a little about the workings of its economy (now THERES a topic someone could write a long essay about), but overall the hardcore player base was always this bizarre, mysterious, almost invisible ivory tower. At least with other games you know that the hardcore players are playing the same game as you, but better and more often. With Diablo 2, everything is a mystery.

My mind just boggles to think about the amount of time devoted to Blizzard-made and other games whose followings last for years and years, especially those that are popular in Asia. Whole communities and mini-cultures and _movements_ must develop and disappear within them, all invisibly.

L.B. Jeffries said...

When I was thinking about games where the people who were intense about it really required a massive change, this one immediately came to mind. It was almost like the difference between screwing around with a basketball in the park and the NBA, the refinement of the tactics I was reading in the faq's (and the amount of time it took) was amazing.

It's funny you should mention economy structures though, I've got a blog post coming down the pipeline on just that using the same ideas from Diablo 2.