Category Archives: Diablo III

September in Review

The Site

Well, one thing I never quite got around to doing this month was some sort of final, post-Blaugust wrap up.  Of course, Belghast has already summed the whole thing up, listed everybody out, and handed out awards.  I got the right to display this logo.

Made it all the way, second year running

Made it all the way, second year running

I was also going to collect up and link to everybody else’s summary to merge it all into some sort of mega meta summary or some such… and then my wife said it was time for dinner and I forgot about the whole thing until I found it in my Drafts folder yesterday along with something I was writing for the NBI… back in 2014 judging from the date… and that idea I had for picking the most negatively influential games I have played.  Anyway, these are the links I collected before I got distracted:

Maybe next year I will remember to finish what I started.

One Year Ago

Blizzard said no to its Titan project.

ArcheAge went live, was overwhelmed, and pissed off some people.  But everybody is happy now, right?

Destiny also launched and though I went nowhere near that, I was interested in Bungie’s seven design point.

Project: Gorgon was coming to the end of its second Kickstarter campaign and it clearly wasn’t going to make it.  On the other hand Defense Grid 2 was headed for release even though Hidden Path didn’t make all of their Kickstarter stretch goals.

Also on the developer front, Notch sold Minecraft to Microsoft for 2.5 billion dollars.  Since then sales have gone past the 20 million copies mark, which I am sure Michael Pachter thinks is nothing.

Rift was set to join the insta-levels club as part of their Nightmare Tide expansion announcement.

EVE Online had the Oceanus release.  We all remember that, right? Parlez-vous français?

Meanwhile the Lords of Null Sec put our their Null Deal proposal.  In actual space, we left Delve yet again to come home and clean up Deklein. We were out numbered at one point, but we ended up with a nice op at the end of the month.

As part of my Pokemon binge I finished up Pokemon White Version 2.  I still think that is a horrible name, but it was a good entry in the Pokemon RPG series.

In World of Warcraft I managed to get the Brewfest Kodo.  However, my Loremaster project started to fall apart in the Blade’s Edge mountains.  Well, we had more details about Warlords of Draenor to fuss over.

The strategy group was putting on a shameful display in Total War: Rome II.

I was wondering how long you had to be away before an MMO changed so much it became like a foreign country.

For the blog itself, I was on to the third iteration of my sidebar feed and it had been eight years since I started blogging.  And finally there was a review of the first Blaugust.

Five Years Ago

Well, there was that whole four year anniversary thing.

Planet Michael, the Michael Jackson virtual world, was announced.  How is that coming along?

The whole David Allen, Derek Smart, Quest Online public blame and shame fest ended when Quest Online gave David Allen some money and he went away.  Derek Smart could not help but throw in a couple final comments.  Good thing he’s been quiet since then… *cough*

CCP was talking about Public Fleets and such that were planned for their Incursions expansion.  That got delayed long enough for me to get tired of waiting.  Still, it was better than Incarna.

More interesting was a guide to suicide ganking in EVE Online put up by TooNuRacoon.

Meanwhile, I was kicking off my EVE Online screen shot contest.  All of the entries are now posted on my other site.

I tried turning an old joke into an MMO joke.  Some people got it.  Some did not.  Some got angry, because this is the internet and that is what people do on the internet.

I looked at cloaks in MMOs, and how little they resemble what we would call a cloak in the real world.

In World of Warcraft I finally got that Brewmaster achievement.

Lord of the Rings Online flipped the switch and went free to play.  We were truly among the free (to play) peoples Middle-earth then.  There were some issues with Turbine Points, though I did get my 5,000 point pay-off.

The instance group was still summering in Middle-earth.  The group was finally into the meat of the Lone Lands.  We also tried some skirmishes and talked about Anderson Cooper.

In LOTRO I also ran into somebody who was looking for a social environment similar to old EverQuest.  I wonder if he ended up on Fippy Darkpaw which, for a short time, had all the best aspects of early EverQuest.

New Linking Blogs

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  2. When is WoW Legion?
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. EverQuest Expansion Plans and Progression Server Polls
  5. Once Upon a Lifetime Subscription…
  6. EverQuest Next Five Years Down the Road
  7. Flying Comes to Draenor
  8. Nine is a Magic Number
  9. GuildWars 2 and What Free Really Means
  10. Minecraft – Our World
  11. The Demise of NetherByte and the Portability of Worlds
  12. The Unusual Scent of Victory in Period Basis

Search Terms of the Month

i am getting adventurous dreams after wearing emerald
[You go… um… girl?]

pokemon x shot 3ds nintendo tea
[I like some Nintendo tea in the morning]

rerolled killed pantheon
[Not yet]

an ancient raft
[Like this one? I think that is an ArcheAge screen shot.]

эверквест Интор
[The EverQuest II Russian server lives I guess]

Diablo III

I spent some time playing this, far more time than I spent playing EQII, so swapped this in for the other on the side bar list of games I am playing.  It is fun, immersive, and I remain impressed with how good it looks every time I play.  It just isn’t a game that sparks much blogging interest in me.  Weeee, I followed the same linear path as everybody else and got some interesting somewhat randomized loot.

EVE Online

Just enough happened in New Eden to make me feel like I did something without me burning a lot of hours in the game.  A short deployment, a couple of fun roams, a couple of homeland defense ops, and here we are done with the month.  It wasn’t as interesting as a good war, but it was enjoyable.

EverQuest II

Post-cataclysmic Norrath fell off the end of the list.  I can only really play three ongoing video games at a time, and as noted above, Diablo III bumped EQII into the oblivion of fourth place.  A pity, as I was enjoying a bit of nostalgia on the Stormhold server… just not enough to actually play I guess.  Time to cancel that subscription.


Again this month, the game that eats up most of my gaming free time is Minecraft.  The game is definitely better with a few people playing in the world, so I am glad we have a hosted server so that the five regulars can play.  But with the bump in price due to changing hosts, I have again started thinking about the whole renting vs. owning calculation.  Expect a post again about that I suppose.

Coming Up

It is October and suddenly the end of the year looms as we rush towards Halloween and the blur of the holiday season that will inevitably spit us out at the far end in the bleak landscape of January.

And so much is coming up.  Daybreak is supposed to spill the beans on the EQ and EQII expansions… well, tomorrow… with an official reveal.  The GW2 expansion Heart of Thorns is coming out later this month.  SWTOR and UItima Online also have expansions slated for this month.  People will be passing judgement on the WildStar free to play conversion.  There is EVE Vegas, which signs indicate I may very well attend, and the reveals that CCP will have there.  And then there will be the run up to BlizzCon.  While that is actually in the first week of November, I am sure people will begin to speculate about what we might see there.

Which is all good because, as noted, I am not at all inspired to write about Diablo III, no matter how enjoyable it is, EVE Online content can rarely be predicted in advance, and I am not sure I have a lot to say about Minecraft at the moment besides server logistics and how I built yet another crude structure or fell off of some high place yet again.

So time to start thinking about the inevitable “hopes and expectations” post about BlizzCon I guess.  It is either that or take up the offer I got in email earlier to go review Aeria Games’ upcoming title Dragomon Hunter…. which would mean trying yet again to fit four games into a three game time budget.  Oh well,  I am going to bet that somebody Massively OP has that game covered already.

A Diablo for All Seasons

Like a few other people in the neighborhood, I have been dabbling again with Diablo III.

I will reiterate what I believe I have said elsewhere, that the re-itemized, post-auction house Diablo III has really shaped up into a very nice game.  The base game was always beautiful, with a world that set a mood and shook or came apart in the face of your wrath, so shaping up the loose ends made it into a winner.  That opinion led me to pick up the Reaper of Souls expansion back around Christmas when it was half off.


It has just been a matter of there always being a couple of games ahead of Diablo III on my list of things to do that has kept me from playing it.  However, as summer has drawn to a close it finally bubbled up the list enough for me to start playing.

I rolled up a crusader… because of course I did, the crusader being the new class in the expansions… and started in with the story again.  I hadn’t gotten very far when Gaff pinged me on IM about playing Diablo III.  He got in game with me with a barbarian of about the same level and we ran through most of Act II together this past weekend.

Gaff and I in some dark tunnel

Gaff and I in some dark tunnel

Barbarian and crusader worked pretty well together, though one of the powers of Diablo III as I understand it is that most classes work well together.  It was fun to play with somebody else again and having another player in game notches difficulty and rewards up a bit as well, so all good there.

However, now that character is my “play with Gaff” character, and I don’t want to run away from him in levels.  So when Gaff had to log off I stopped as well.  The ever present problem of keeping in sync and party progression.

I could have brought out one of my older characters… I have a post-2.0 patch barbarian that should be good, though I wonder about the viability of the pre-2.0 characters in my stable… but Gaff was talking about rolling up a season 4 character, which got me pointed at the whole season thing with Diablo III.

I don’t get it.

Yes, I get the whole special rewards things.  I even took a screen shot of the new season splash screen.

Season 4 specials

Season 4 specials

And I get the concept I guess.  I’ve read the update they posted, with the key quote being:

Seasons are an optional, recurring game mode that offers PC players the opportunity to periodically start fresh, leveling new Normal or Hardcore heroes from level 1 without any currency, resources, items, or previously earned Paragon experience.

A way to start really fresh… I guess.  The problems with sharing between characters, you hate to have to re-do some things, right up until you want to re-do those things.  So that and special prizes and leader board for the competitive and such, I get that.

I guess I am struggling with the why, as in why is Blizzard doing this?

Yes, keeping people interested in the game will sell more boxes.  But they have already sold a lot of boxes, to the point that I have to think they’ve hit the state of diminishing returns.

Meanwhile, with no other income… there are no subscriptions and there was no cash shop the last time I looked… for a game that requires you to be online and logged in to play… and that is my one remaining major complaint about Diablo III, that you have to stay logged in and you get kicked (and lose your progress) if you AFK for too long… it feels like promoting this sort of thing actually costs Blizzard more money with not much in the revenue cards.  Maybe box sales are still strong enough to justify this?  I don’t know.

But it is starting to feel like they are treating Diablo III like an MMO.  Sure, it opened with achievements, but lots of games have those, and the disaster of the auction house.  But now there is the whole cosmetic system so you can customize your character to get the look you want along with the whole season thing, things that are obvious hooks to keep people engaged with a game that, given the historical context of Blizzard and their tradition of one expansion for Diablo games, ought to be done, for lack of a better word.

But is it done?

Can we expect another box… another expansion… with more levels, another act, another class, and whatever at some point?  Or will we just be getting a cash shop at some point to fund the ongoing work on the game?  Patch 2.2.0 opened up a cash shop in Asia, complete with pets, cosmetic items, experience boosts, and the like.  Is that in the future for US/EU players?  Or did the taint of the real money auction house taint that idea forever in the west?

Things to watch for at BlizzCon I suppose.

It isn’t that I am unhappy with Blizzard continuing to work on the game.  Far from it.  But that costs money, which means it needs revenue.

Anyway, I made a demon hunter as a season 4 character to play when Gaff isn’t on.  We’ll see how that progresses.

August in Review

The Site

Well, I already wrapped up Blaugust in the previous post and, this being my 42nd post in August,  With this I managed to cover at least the “post every day” aspect of the event.

That done, I can go back to my usual routine of complaining about  This month they did a couple of things to annoy me, the primary one being the addition a little floating control bar to the bottom right of the site.  This is what it looks like to me.

WPCustomizeIf you are logged in to a account, you will see it as well, though it you are on somebody else’s site it might look more like this.

WPFollowI found it distracting and annoying almost immediately, so when eventually got around to putting up a post about it, I was in there immediately with a comment asking if I could turn it off.  I got the expected “but it is a wonderful thing, why would you want to turn it off” level of response.  WP can do no wrong in their own eyes and all changes are improvements.  Or maybe I am just a grumpy old man.

I did get a direct response from one of their staff offering up a way to turn it off in CSS, which I have not tried yet.  That was both unexpected and literally the high point of my customer experience relationship with WP.

While I had that person’s attention, I asked why WP implements changes on their production servers and then gets around to telling people about them half a day or more later.  There is almost always at least a six hour gap between “Wait, what happened?” and WP actually telling people what they did.

Unfortunately, the response I got was that they don’t always tell people about changes… I already knew that, as they screwed up how embedded links work in the editor this month and didn’t post about that… which, while a frank admission of their policy, didn’t actually explain why they thought that policy was a good idea.

I try to imagine making changes first and telling customers later in my job and I can only picture people’s heads exploding.

Anyway, I got a CSS fix that appears to remove the floating bar.  However, in giving this to me I was told that they would be moving features from the perfectly serviceable and stationary menu bar at the top of the page to this annoying winky blinky tool bar in the future, so I might have to turn it back on again at a later date.

The CSS, should you have access to such things on your hosted site, which requires at least having purchased the Custom Design option, is:

#actionbar {
display: none;

You can pop that into the CSS window in the Customize editor and you should be set.  Enjoy.

If you are not logged in or do not have a account, I am sure most of this is pretty meaningless to you.

One Year Ago

I was marveling at the prescience of some quotes from GDC 2007.

We had a couple more SOE games close.  Vanguard saw some touching tributes, while Wizardry Online pretty much passed without comment.  Then Dragon’s Prophet launched without comment, which I suspected might be a sign.

The last ever SOE Live tried to get us excited about EverQuest Next again.  Otherwise it was sort of business as usual on the Norrath front.  I wished for more than I got certainly.

Project: Gorgon was having a Kickstarter and was asking for $100,000.  I was dubious.

Google was forcing me to make bad referential post titles.

Our months long Civilization V game wrapped up with victory for mattman and China.

DarkFall introduced another PLEX-like currency, DUEL.

I was wondering what to do about Raptr.

Blizzard gave us a date when they would tell us the launch date for Warlords of Draenor,  then eventually told us November 13th.  Meanwhile WoW subscriptions were down 800K during the long summer of mild discontent.  But people were in the beta for the expansion at least.

I took my lormaster project into Outland and content from The Burning Crusade., staring with what I consider the worst zone in the game.  Then I had to search hard in Terokkar, and had trouble in Nagrand.

We also had that whole 10 Years, 10 Questions thing about WoW to write about.

EVE Online gave us the Hyperion expansion, which included burner missions that killed a lot of player ships.  I was on about hats in New Eden.  We also deployed to Delve, because we always deploy to Delve at some point during the summer, and hung around towers.  There was also a fight at our staging system.

And then there was the first Blaugust, from which I at least got a post out of a questionnaire.

Five Years Ago

Let’s see… five years ago people were hating on GameStop for selling used games, which was equated with stealing.  That was before GameStop actually started officially stealing.

Massive Blips went away.  I miss it.

I made my position on raspberries perfectly clear.

Yahoo had a couple game related lists.  I love lists.

Cryptic and Atari announced they were doing the game Neverwinter.

Runic started talking about Torchlight II.

Stunt Rock.  I need say no more.

EverQuest Next was announced at Fan Faire, and I was wondering about the lessons SOE has learned after a few turns of the EverQuest wheel.  We’re still pretty much in the dark as to when (and if) we will ever get EverQuest Next.

In the real world, boars were starting to become more like their MMO counterparts.

WoW account hacking was still a big deal, though getting to be common enough as to not be news on an individual level any more.  People have their views on whose fault it is.  But was any game facing as much account hacking as WoW?

My daughter got into the WoW Cataclysm beta.  She got me some screen shots of StormwindSouthshore and the Barrens.  This, by the way, probably killed her interest in Cata when it finally did ship.

Blizzard got a serious judgement against somebody running a for-profit WoW pirate server.

The instance group, done in WoW and on the now usual summer hiatus, was spending some time in Middle-earth, which required a bit of selling.  We made it through Othrongroth, and to the North Downs and the Lone Lands.  I finally found my way to Evendim, which I had never  managed to visit before.  It was in a state of change, pre-quest revamp but after they added in the boat routes.

And, finally, in EVE Online, there was the PLEX story we had all been waiting for.

New Linking Blogs

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  2. WoW Legion – Slouching Towards The Broken Isles
  3. When is WoW Legion?
  4. In Which I Predict The Next Big World of Warcraft Feature
  5. WoW Needs Expansion Badly – Subs Fall to 5.6 Million
  6. Mordus Angels Overrunning West Pure Blind!
  7. The Invasion of Providence – ADM Can Save Your Systems
  8. WoW and the Token Subscriber
  9. The Imperium goes to Providence!
  10. The First EverQuest II Progression Server Polls and Some Details
  11. The Evolution of Fozzie Sov
  12. Leaving Providence

Search Terms of the Month

wow legion broken iskies
[Wait, what?]

why is my computer crashing in new pvp zone in lotro
[I thought Turbine said people don’t PvP in LOTRO]

2017 new middle earth mmorpg
[Only in your dreams]

[You’ve been using Bing again, haven’t you?]

Diablo III

A co-worked has been talking about Diablo III and, with the coming of a new patch, I did spend a bit of time playing the game this month.  The game still looks very good and I remain quite happy with the post-auction house state of the game.  The game is just a bit too far down my list of things to do for me to get very far in it.

EVE Online

In New Eden August was a month of complaining about and testing Fozzie Sov.  Lots of sovereignty holding entities are not happy with it, though in the grand tradition of EVE Online, plenty of groups that do not hold, and have no interest in holding, sovereignty were gleeful in expressing their satisfaction that somebody else was unhappy.

Think of it as sort of the traditional MMO “raiders vs. non-raiders” or “pvp vs. pve” player conflicts, only cranked up to 11.

CCP did tweak Fozzie Sov some this month with the Galatea expansion and promised to look into further changes.  Meanwhile, the first big operational test of Fozzie Sov happened with the five day war in Providence which was mostly great fun for those who participated.

EverQuest II

As with Diablo III above, I have been keen to play a bit of EverQuest II, on the Stormhold TLE server at least, but haven’t really found the time to do very much.  At least the population of the server voted to push the Desert of Flames expansion off for another 30 days, so I am not behind on expansions yet!


This is the game that has eaten all of my play time recently.  It is one of those games where, once I come up with a plan, I can invest hours of digging up and placing blocks while trying to light my environment and fighting off zombies and skeletons and what not.  And when I don’t have a plan I go explore or mine or modify and improve what I have already built.  Oh, and patch over holes in things cause by creeper explosions.  They are the bane of the builder in survival mode.

World of Warcraft

My account is still active, but I have no desire to log in.  It will lapse eventually and then I will have to decide whether or not to spend some gold to keep it active or not.  We’ll see.  I did log in once, but logged back out within five minutes.  I also logged into Heroes of the Storm because, as a Warlords of Draenor owner, I get some sort of special mount there.  I didn’t actually play any HotS, but I got my mount

Coming Up

September will be probably start off here with me cleaning up all the topics I accrued in my attempt to make sure I had something to write about every day during Blaugust.  As I noted in my wrap up of the event, I ended up with more half finished drafts at the end of the month than I started with.

Other than that, I cannot think of something coming up in September.  I suppose there is flying in Draenor coming tomorrow.  Something worth noting, though I am not sure I have much to say about it otherwise.

There is the usual EVE Online expansion coming, titled Vanguard.  But the every six weeks train for those has ended up making them less special, as I suspected they would.

I think Lords of the Rings Online will start letting people transfer off of the closing servers at some point next month.  Or maybe that was October.

Otherwise, aside from those and another blogiversary, which means a great big post full of numbers and lists, I don’t see anything spectacular on the horizon.  I am sure I am forgetting something.

So September is mostly about settling down, getting back to school, the end of summer, and all that… which generally means more time to play games, so I have that to look forward to.  Maybe it will even rain.


And The Sims Shall Continue to Rule Them All

I haven’t seen an Entertainment Software Associate sales chart in a while, so I was keen to see their new 2015 Essential Facts publication that includes a couple such charts.  The big news, The Sims still dominate the chart when it comes to PC gaming.


The Sims and a few of the usual suspects

The Sims and a few of the usual suspects

Yes, the source is NPD, whose data collection has flaws.  But some data is better than no data I guess.  They say they are better at collecting data on digital distribution in any case.

Blizzard is pretty well represent, with World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Diablo III all hitting the charts for both base games and expansions.  And you can see the hole that The Elder Scrolls still has on gamers.  It is also nice to see Civilization V on the list.  But 8 out of 20 on the list for The Sims is pretty funny.

On the console list, which holds less interest for me, I will note that Mario Kart 8 made the cut for the Top 20, which I am going to guess means that every single Wii U owner bought a copy.

And then there was how we buy games.

Digital vs. Physical

Digital vs. Physical

Digital sales are clearly the bigger slice of the pie now, though if you look at that footnote as to what counts as digital, that casts a pretty wide net.  For what NPD counted, physical still looks like a force that cannot be ignored.  I guess GameStop won’t be going out of business any time soon.

Anyway, the report is an interesting little glimpse at video games in 2014.  Game Informer sums it up if you don’t want to look at the PDF.

April Fools at Blizzard – 2015

The date is upon us, the usual suspects are out complaining about it or feeling the need to warn people (just in case you’ve never run across the phenomena before I guess), and so we have another in an ongoing series of posts about April Fools and Blizzard.  Previous entries:

This is what I found this morning rummaging through Blizzard’s various sites.


The first entry for April Fools this year is the B’Motes Expression Packs that allow a wide variety of pre-recorded emotes and expressions to be applied to Blizzard games.

BMotesPacksPacks are available for everything including BNet chat.

World of Warcraft

In Azeroth we have T.I.N.D.R. (like Tinder) a matchmaking application to allow your followers to find their perfect match… for adventure.

On the T.I.N.D.R. box mission

On the T.I.N.D.R. box mission

When matched up, your followers can use their S.E.L.F.I.E. to record their results of their date.

And, of course, there is the usual round of patch notes to go with the date.

StarCraft 2

On the StarCraft 2 front, Blizzard has come up with an item to celebrate the Legacy of the Void expansion going into beta, the Spear of Adun.

The Spear of Adun keepsake

The Spear of Adun keepsake

The page describing the Spear of Adun links to the Blizzard store where the item appears to be out of stock… and a bit pricy.

Add it to your wish list

Add it to your wish list

Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm introduces Big Head Mode for April Fools.

Boom, headshot

Boom, head shot

Wasn’t that an EverQuest II April Fools think like eight years ago?

There is also a Noblegarden skin available, but I am not sure if that is a joke or not.  I’ve seen goofier things in other games that were not a joke.


As with the Noblegarden skin, Hearthstone has a special April item that may or may not be an April Fools.  Announced yesterday, there is a new card back with a cupcake on it.

Cupcake Card Back

Cupcake Card Back

Whether or not is is real, it seems to be in the spirit of the day all the same.  And there are always those April 1st patch notes.


Diablo III only had the B’Motes item (and their latest patch notes look real) while the Overwatch site was still in full “some day” mode, as it has been since around BlizzCon.

All in all, an okay array of jokes.  Nothing too over the top, like some of the past entries.  The Blizzard folks must be hard at work, as they did not have time to put together a full fledged browser game like they did back in 2012.

What else is going on in the world on April Fools Day? and Massively OP both have columns up this morning covering the wider world of MMOs and their April Fools fun.


Diablo III on the PlayStation

I mentioned a while back that my daughter bought a couple of PlayStation 3 games with a GameStop gift card she received for her birthday.

One of them was Dragon Age: Inquisition, which turned out to be not so hot on the PS3.

The other was the Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition, which combined the original game with the expansion in an easy to swallow, new in box, $20 package.  I sort of pressured her on that one because I wanted to try the game out on the PS3 and because it appeared to be a hell of a deal for the whole thing at that price.

Bad parent buys 17+ game for a 13 year old...

Bad parent buys 17+ game for a 13 year old…

And while Dragon Age: Inquisition went back to GameStop, Diablo III actually plays pretty well on the PS3.  It comes across as something of a quality title right out of the box because you can actually play it right out of the box.

I asked my daughter to put the disk in and start it up expecting that we would be 45 minutes to an hour patching things up before we could actually play, which is part of the standard PlayStation experience as far as I can tell. Certainly DA:I was a long time patching.  But she put the disk in, launched the game, and then shouted across the house to me… seriously, what is it with teens, my wife will ask my daughter to tell me dinner is ready an she will simply turn and shout the news, something my wife could have done if that was what she wanted… that the game was ready to go.

No patching?  Runs right off the disk?  Will wonders never cease?

It is like we were playing some console game of yore!

Anyway, by the time I wandered out to the television, she had already created a character, having claimed the new crusader class, so I decided to go with a demon hunter.  I would let her go in and take the hits while I stood back and played the ranged DPS role.

The character I created was associated with my PlayStation account, however it looks like you could move characters over from other accounts.  And, of course, you could play with other people on the PlayStation network.  However, since it was just the two of us in the same room with one account, we chose the path we did.

Jumping right in, the game played very well.  It looks good on the big screen, the controls were relatively intuitive once I got used to them… and I say this as somebody who always feels awkward trying to use a gamepad to control a game.  This is helped by the fact that Diablo III limits skills and abilities, so there are not a whole bunch of options.

Each player gets their own health, action pool, and ability display in one corner of the screen.  I always have to sit on the same side, relative to the other player, as my health bar and such or I get confused.  Fortunately we were aligned correctly to start.

Combat is the same mayhem as on the PC with a few minor changes.  Lacking mouse controls to specify targets, each character gets a color coded caret over their current target so they can see what they are aiming at.  I am not sure that is totally necessary with the close-in melee classes like the Crusader, but playing the ranged Demon Hunter it was very useful.  The only problem is that fine control of targeting is a bit finicky.  I could often see who I was hitting but couldn’t really control my choice of targets.  But they all must die in any case, right?  Lacking screen shot capability, here is a multiplayer example I pulled from the internet.

Four players running in Diablo III

Four players running in Diablo III

And, when your characters start getting separated or when somebody falls behind, the game will put them back up with the party to keep things together.  Given our tug-of-war escapades with LEGO Star Wars back in the days, that worked out well enough.

Basically, fast and furious action just like on the computer… until you want to deal with equipment.

Here is where the whole console controller gets in the way.  You have to open up your character window… one character at a time, please… and navigate inventory, slot by slot, with the analog stick and various buttons.  Again, since I don’t know squat about getting screen shots from the PS3, I am going to borrow an image from the internet.

Diablo III inventory screen

Diablo III inventory screen

You can see in that screen shot all of the equipment slots arrayed about the character in a circle.  You navigate that with the analog stick, moving the focus around the clock face with a circular motion.  When you stop on a slot, it shows you what you have in your inventory for that slot. (Vendors work the same way.)  You can then compare or swap out equipment.  If you have picked up something since you last hit that window, the slot where it landed has a star over it so you know where to look.

All in all, it isn’t a bad system given the tools you have at your disposal.  And if you were playing solo I don’t suppose it would be much of a drawback.  However, if you and three of your friends are sitting in the same room playing and everybody wants to check their inventory after a big fight or some such, I could see that getting old very fast.  My daughter and I had to set some basic rules about when it was okay to check inventory.  The same interface also goes for skills, though at least you don’t pick up a dozen skills while crossing the average zone.

The only other thing I noticed during our initial games was that it seemed to access the optical drive a lot more than I was used to with other games.  Of course, this was natural as it was literally running from the optical disk.  Later on I found the option to install the game on the system’s hard drive, at which point things sped up.  We ended up playing most of the way through the first act and had a good time.

All in all, I am pretty happy with how the game turned out when translated to console.  And for $20 for both the base game and the expansion, I can highly recommend it if you have any inclination to play Diablo III from your couch as opposed to at your desk.  The main problem I have is finding a time when my daughter and I both want to play.  We’re well past the days of her waking me up on Saturday morning to play video games with her.

Small Items for a Friday in February

Well, small in terms my point of view.  More like things I wanted to mention, but which didn’t quite justify a full blog post.

Five Years of Star Trek Online

I got an email from… whoever it is that runs STO these days… that the five year anniversary was upon us.

That five year graphic

That five year graphic

I like that they zero-padded the number.  It shows a determination to get to ten years.

Five years is bitter sweet, as this was perhaps the second-to-last MMO I was very excited about before launch, but which I ended up putting down very quickly.  I have been reading about Werit’s return to the game, and have been tempted myself.  But I always want to play every game that launches or that announces an expansion or that says “pink fuzzy bunny” five times fast.

That I have a lifetime subscription also weighs a bit on me, though I am not sure how I would go about even finding my account again, much less getting it all squared away with whatever operational entity now runs the game. (Werit’s troubles in that regard serve as a warning.)

So rather than get into that tangle and stretch myself even more thinly… I have five freakin’ garrisons to maintain dammit… I will just note the anniversary and wish the game well.  Five years is not nothing in this field.

Heroes of the Storm Closed Beta

One of the comments I heard a number of times after Blizzard announced the Heroes of the Storm Founder’s Pack was that nobody was ever going to be invited to the closed beta again.  If you wanted in, you were going to have to pay the $40 toll.

And, while I am mildly interested in seeing what Blizzard has done with the MOBA thing for mopes like me (and even more so after Ben Kuchera’ article at Polygon), there was no way I was going to pay to get in.

So color me surprised to find myself invited to the closed beta.

Heroes of the Storm calling...

Heroes of the Storm calling…

And, while people get grumpy about the whole Blizzard launcher thing, and I personally got a bit shirty on that past push by Blizzard to combine all of our accounts into a single account, the combination of the two meant that actually getting the game on my machine was a snap.  I went to the “already there” button for Heroes of the Storm on the launcher where I found the “Buy the damn Founder’s Pack!” button had been replaced with an “Install” button.  4GB later, I was all set.

I have yet to launch the game, but it is there to try out… once I finish working on my garrisons.

Owning Dragon Age: Inquisition for about a Day

Last weekend my daughter and I were out shopping for a birthday present for my wife.  Once we had completed that, we headed straight to GameStop to look at all the things they had for sale… mostly because my daughter had received a $50 gift card for the store at Christmas.

The GameStop experience… it is a thing.  We wandered around a somewhat cramped little store while a very enthusiastic employee shadowed us, asking if we were looking for anything in particular and handing us print outs of games on sale.  We were happy when somebody else walked in and such attention was halved.

Platform wise, we were only really interested in PlayStation 3 or Nintendos 3DS games, though we did take a moment to look at the sad little display of used Wii games in the corner.

Eventually my daughter’s eyes landed on a used copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition for the PlayStation 3.

You don't see a left handed hero every day

You don’t see a left handed hero every day

She showed it to me and I said, “Well, I don’t like BioWare games (or at least any BioWare game since Baldur’s Gate), but this is YOUR money, so it is up to you.”  And then we had a long discussion about the merits of BioWare, which at least established our nerd cred in the room, during which she said she had read some good things about it on the WoW forums and wanted to give it a try.  Again, her money.

So she ended up getting a used copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition and a new copy of Diablo III – Ultimate Evil Edition  (which includes the base game plus the expansion, all for only $20, so hurrah for arriving late to the party) both for the PS3.  The checkout process was the usual amount of “Our club, corporate policy requires I spend five minutes telling you about it no matter how often you ask me to stop, so let’s just get through this together, just say “no” whenever I make eye contact, because this is my job and I’d like to keep it for now” before I was allowed to pay and walk out of the store.

Once home, my daughter spent about two hours playing DA:I and then asked if we could return it.  She didn’t like it.  The text was really tough to read on screen, even for her young eyes, and it really felt like a game that needed to be played on the PC to her.

Fortunately, GameStop’s policy is that you can return used games for a full refund, no questions asked, so long as you keep your receipt and do it within three days.  Or five days.  I forget.  But we did it the next day.

And, to GameStop’s credit, they took the game back and even credited my AMEX rather than giving me store credit or another gift card.  I did have to quickly affirm that I had heard the full club spiel in the last 48 hours before the clerk felt safe in skipping the hard sell on that front.

He did ask, after we had the refund, why we brought it back, and we related the whole text and complexity thing.  He said that there had been a number of complaints about text legibility on the PS3 and figured that BioWare had botched something when porting the game back from the PlayStation 4.

And so we owned Dragon Age: Inquisition for less than 24 hours and now she has a credit at the Bank of Dad.  We are going to give Diablo III on the PS3 a shot this weekend.

I did have a fourth item for this post, but it actually grew into a full blog post as I wrote it… so I guess I was wrong up at the top.  That will show up at a future date.