Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Diablo 3 and what should have been

Well I have to applaud Blizzard in all reality. From a business stand point it would seem like you're on the perfect track to make the shareholders at Activision very, very pleased.

You've taken a game with so much hype built around it, a game with a rabid and wildly large fan base, a game vaulting off of the massive success of the previous generation - and you've turned it into your sacrificial lamb.

I understand that WoW is dying. The cash cow that you have been able to depend on to fill your coffers is finally drying up. It had a great run. MoP is not likely to defibrillate the failing heart of what was once the WoW empire, and you know this. Starcraft 2, while an amazing game, cannot replace this cash cow - then again it wasn't meant to. How could it? Your business foresight is very, very attuned. Because of this you carefully planned your next chess move: Diablo 3.

What better way to birth another golden goose than to bank an entire game off of the most addictive part of what Diablo 2 was: the item grind. Pure brilliance. And so, from the ground up, you formed this game to be solely about item exchange - this would be the titan built to replace WoW's subscription based bankroll in the form of micro transactions.

Except one thing: you're boring.

On May 15th 2012, after nearly a decade of anticipation, we were given Diablo 3! Except, it's not quite Diablo 3. It's a slimmed down, cut up version of the Diablo 3 everyone was taught to expect. Except, it wasn't given to us, we still had to pay you full price for it: $60.

My how the mighty hath fallen. Why is it not Diablo 3, you say? Well let's see. Anyone remember all those teaser videos spoon fed to the community over the past 3 years? Videos slowly leaking to us glimpses of the content we could expect to experience? I do.

From nearly FOUR years ago:

@2:10 "These current weapons just won't do!":


I guess scrapping this idea all together was more developmentally cost effective.

@6:30 "Let's see what a real fight looks like."


Indeed, lets. I'm still waiting, actually. Is it just me or does that environment look entirely more engaging than the atmosphere we've purchased at release?

@2:00 Did he say randomized, dungeons, quests and encounters?


If their idea of newly generated fights, quests and environments is a continuous cycle of the same things from a pre-conceived list, he's spot on!

So where's the beef? - some might say. The beef is that this is not Diablo 3, this is an imposter. A hologram. An artificial replacement. A lame duck substitute for what hype built it up to be. A cut up and slimmed down version of what should have been. In essence: a slaughtered, sacrificial lamb.

That leaves myself and thousands of others saying indeed, where is the beef? Blizzard's answer: there is no cow level. But hey, we got rainbows and unicorns!

Is anyone still in complete denial about how truly boring this game is or have people started to shake off the honey moon dust?

You eliminated enchanting, PvP, pet companions and other things from the release version so that you could market it as part of a later expansion for more money. (This is a trend in gaming that several developers have been following; withhold content you've been advertising for the past two years and charge a premium for it at a later date. I shouldn't have expected Activision-Blizzard to be any different, and that is my fault. I wrongly assumed this group was made of trend setters and leaders, not followers - so shame on me.)

You didn't include a single player mode because you can't make money off of people if they aren't using the AH in a multiplayer format. Less work for you in the development stages, and forces people to engage in the micro-economy that your bankroll is based on. Again, brilliance. Which leads me to my final point:

There is so LITTLE dynamic to this game I cannot believe it took this many years to create it. In fact, I don't. So why the long wait? I'll tell you: economic law.

More specifically, the legality and complications that stemmed from the idea of a multinational game built around a Real Money Auction House. This process, I imagine, took years to iron out - while the game itself probably took no more than a few actual working years to complete (and it truly shows).

It doesn't take an overly intelligent mind to figure WHY they would want to use a RMAH and get a cut of (a lot of) the transactions. That's fine. Here's the problem: you built the entire game around a pure gear grind, and then force that gear grind to revolve around the AH, specifically the RMAH. There is literally no other dynamic. When you build a game from a purely business stand point, you're not building a great game - and a great game this is not.

In conclusion, gamers, do you really want to spend your time on yet another slave-like gear grind? If so, eat your heart out. You'll find no better place to do it! If not, there are a plethora of other games out there much more deserving of your $60, I promise.

Diablo 3 was built around Activision's greed. Participate at your own will.

Gamers hold grudges and people aren't going to forget this disaster. If you obliterate your true fan base, the pillars of your success come falling soon after.

I give this post less than a few hours before it is deleted by Blizzard moderators. Can't have that bad flavor out there, can we? Truth hurts.

Regards, a long time fan.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Bastion" Game Review.

First game I've beat this year is a good one, thankfully. I finally beat Bastion. I bought it last year during a Steam sale and played for the first 2-3 hours of it then quit. I did this type of thing A LOT in '11. Too often, honestly. I beat a small handful of games in 2011 and that's going to change, so here's my thoughts on the first game I've beaten this year: Bastion. 
Bastion was one of the games I looked at all the time whenever there was someone talking about it. They always said how awesome the game was, how amazing the narrator was and the phenomenal soundtrack tied into the game. I thought they were exaggerating. I was wrong. From the get go, you already feel like something big has happened. The simple fact that you start the game lying in bed and there's little to no ground around you. There's a piece of a wall, some floor, your bed, you and nothing else. From the get go you know something has happened and it's something big. 
So the first thing you do, of course, is get out of bed. This is immediately recognized by the narrator, who in my humble opinion has a fantastic voice, with the best part being that the gameplay continues. The simple fact that the game is narrated as you progress without it interrupting the game makes it feel fantastic. The whole game is told through the perspective of the narrator as he recounts your tales of dread, angst and woe as you venture through the completely decimated world and it makes the game feel fantastic. It makes it feel as though you're playing a story that's being told to you as it happens while also making you feel as though you are the story teller. It's a quite awesome experience and the story becomes so engrossing and in-depth the further you go, which keeps you playing.
As the kid wakes up and you move, the world rebuilds itself around you. This game is an extremely gorgeous game to watch as you're playing it. The walkway, ledges, barricades and whatnot rebuild as you move with possible holes in them that allow you to fall into nothingness. You don't die, though, which is great. You fall back onto the walkway, take a bit of damage, and the narrator makes a small quip about it and the game continues. The artistic touch on this game really shows with how the world reacts to your movements and actions as well. 
Then there's the score. The score for this game is one of the best I've heard in a very long time. I loved listening to the music in this game. Enough that I bought the soundtrack for it. I haven't bought a soundtrack for a video game in who knows how long, but I did for this one. It's a fantastic score with memorable songs. A masterpiece you could say. It's very well integrated into the gameplay also as you move from world to world to world as well as event to event. Then there's the "Grammaphone" as it's called in game which lets you listen to the majority of the soundtrack. 
Then, of course, there's the gameplay. The most important part of the game. The gameplay and flow are very smooth with a leveling system and a variety of awesome weapons. The leveling system is easy to understand with the ability to customize what your levels do. You gain a flat amount of health with each level followed by choosing a "Spirit" at the Bastion. You choose the spirit at the distillery which gives you some kind of perk with an example being the "Squirt Cider" which gives you a flat +10 health or the "Mender Mead" which gives you the ability to gain some health back with each successful counter-block. 
They did an amazing job with the weapons also. My personal favorite combo was the Breaker Bow and the Brusher's Pike while swapping the Bow for the Dueling Pistols depending on the situation. There's a huge variety of weapons with 55 different combinations total while also giving you the ability to upgrade and customize your weapons allowing for very personalized load-outs. For instance, the first tier of upgrades for the Pike you can choose from either +15% crit chance or +50% reload speed for throws. 
Overall for this game, it's a wonderful experience with a deep, rich story and a very polished experience. I would recommend this game to nearly anyone and everyone to play. Games like this really don't come around too often. When they do, though, they're games that shouldn't be missed and this is easily one of those great sought after games that doesn't come around too often. With the addition of a very low price point ($15) it's a must have. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

I've got to finish my games!

So I’ve had this awful habit of not finishing any of my video games as of late. Awful habit. So I’m going to be posting the games I finish here on Tumblr as well as my blogspot account (oogzi.blogspot.com) with a, maybe, short review of the game and what I thought of it. 

I have been buying games and not finishing them, for a good while now, for stupid reasons so now’s the time to start. I’ll be trying to hit the shorter games first then go to the longer ones. I’ll probably finish Skyrim last simply because there’s so many damn things I want to do in that game! 

Well, here’s to a fresh(ish) start.