Category Archives: Diablo III

Do I Even Like Diablo Anymore?

This is something of a counter-point to last week’s post where I noted that we were in an “Age of Diablo.”   Almost a golden age, really, what with being able to play various incarnations of the Diablo series while waiting for Diablo IV to come out later this year.  How much more Diablo do you want?

Enter The Butcher!

You would think, having put up such a post… and having been effusive about the series on multiple occasions, that I might have spent some time over the weekend… you know… actually playing some Diablo.

I was, after all, getting over a cold this past weekend, which was a perfect excuse to do nothing but sit around and play video games.  But did I play any Diablo?

Well, I did play a little bit of Diablo III on Friday evening, getting myself along to the end of Act I with my Season 28 character, yet another barbarian.  But I was not particularly enthused and I spent most of the rest of the weekend’s video game time playing WoW Classic and EVE Online.

Now, of course, MMORPGs have that whole sunk cost fallacy going for them, so it is hard to compete… but I am literally replaying old content in WoW Classic and was doing so during the EVE Online move op I wrote about yesterday… my time played in EVE is always under counted because I spend so much of it tabbed out and doing something else… so clearly I could have found time for Diablo, but just didn’t.

All of which got me to question whether or not I even like Diablo anymore?  Is it going the way of TorilMUD or EverQuest for me, a game that had a long past happy state that I am never going to relive, so it just exists as a reference point for posts about video game nostalgia and the good old days and whatever it is I have gotten up to here for the last sixteen or so years.

I mean, some of my early posts here were about EverQuest nostalgia, for a game that was all of seven years old at the time.  It is going to be 24 years old in about two weeks.

Some part of me longs to go play it, but some part of me longs to go play those other two titles as well, and that just isn’t going to happen.

It wasn’t as though playing through the story in Diablo III was bad.  The problem is that I have done it before, multiple times.  Many times.

Which led me around to thinking more about what it is I do like about the Diablo series.  Certainly the mood it conveys, and the simplicity of the game play.  Diablo III loses a bit on those fronts, being a little too well lit, a little too neon glowy at points, a little too much in the indirect lighting to get the mood thing on that the first two titles did so well.

Still, it kept me playing through back at launch, with the expansion, and through a few seasons, though not very many seasons.  Maybe that was too much.  There are a lot of games in my history that I have only played once or twice, where the story was good enough, but I didn’t really need to see if through again.

Or maybe I am just not in the mood.  I suppose the real test will be when Diablo IV comes out.  But I felt like I had to ask myself the question, even if I couldn’t really test it right now.  Some things just wear out by the residue of the old enthusiasm remains behind.

The Age of Diablo

It is 2023 and I am able to play on my modern-ish PC three generations of Diablo… four if you insist on counting Diablo Immoral… and we are waiting for a fifth generation of Diablo to be launched come June.

Seriously.  We will soon have all the Diablos available.

Over at you can find the original Diablo in a form playable on modern PCs, which isn’t bad considering it came out 26 years ago.  It predates the launch of the Pentium II processor by 5 months.

Enter The Butcher!

When this playable version appears over on back in 2019 I grabbed a copy right away and played through the game.  It felt very raw two decades down the road, yet you could still see the magic it kindled, the reason that people get excited whenever a new Diablo title is talked about.

Then of course, there is Diablo II Resurrected, the amazing remaster of the second entry in the series.  It is hard to explain just how much it felt like the original release back in 2000 when I first launched it and how startled I am every time I swap over to the original graphics mode… the fact that this is a feature is crazy greatness… and realize that somehow the updated graphic mesh in with my memories of the game so well that I accepted them as being authentic from the get go.

I don’t know how to explain how this is both NOT what the game looked like in 2000 and yet FEELS like the game felt in 2000.

At the Hellforge

I was honestly a little dubious about the remake at first, when it landed in beta.  But it quickly grew on me.  Vicarious Visions, the “nowhere close to Irvine” studio that did the remaster did a better job that we might have expected, especially given the fiasco that was Warcraft III Reforged.

Then there is Diablo III. As I mentioned in my post about the launch of Season 28, a bit of a troubled child of the franchise at launch, but things were sorted out and it has been the primary standard bearer for the franchise over the last decade.

Four players running in Diablo III

It doesn’t *feel* like its two predecessors in some essential way I am still working out… I’ve played all three now in the last three years, I should be able to figure that at some point… I think the lighting is part of it… but it is a solid ARPG title of its own accord and has found a way to keep fans engaged with the regular season mechanic that sees players roll fresh characters every so often to chase down specific goals and grab special cosmetic items and pets and achievements.  Not my cup of tea, not on a regular basis at least, but still solid in its way.

I suppose I will allow Diablo: Immortal into the club as well.  Despite its expected predatory monetization practices, if you can just play the game and steer clear of the cash shop, it does come across as a decent ARPG.

A tiny crusader slaying undead

It has a different “flavor” to it in some ways than the rest of the franchise, but it does capture the dark and brooding atmosphere at times and Blizzard did go and make it playable on the PC rather than just being a mobile only title.

Finally, we have Diablo IV coming up this year.  In fact, this month.  Early Access Open Beta or whatever terms they are using will land soon for those interested in getting an early look at the first 25 levels of the title.

Coming soon

So, at some point this month it will be entirely possible for somebody to play all of the flavors of Diablo in the same week.  And come June and the actual release, we will have five versions of Diablo to choose from spanning the 26 year history of the franchise.

I am trying to think if there are other long lived franchises that offer similar options.  Did they not remaster the Grand Theft Auto series at one point?

February in Review

The Site

Traffic was down for a lot of the month, and not just because February only has 28 days.  Google traffic, which represents almost all traffic above and beyond the 100 or so regulars who hit the site every day or so, has continued to taper off.  I don’t know why, the algorithm just hasn’t favored me.  And, while Bing and its fellow travelers have once again acknowledged my existence once more, the 55 referrals they mustered didn’t really pick up the slack.

I did have a bit of luck with Facebook this month.  It is generally good for a couple views a day if I remember to go there and manually put items from the TAGN Facebook page into my main feed.  But I decided to post that CSM PvE post in the EVE Online Facebook group and it got some traction there.  I usually don’t post there or on Reddit because it attracts too much flak, but the Facebook group users kept all their comments on Facebook where I could easily avoid reading them.

Meanwhile, I got another lesson in how quality ads mean low value payouts.  At the end of January and start of February there was a five day run of absolute garbage ads.  For example, January 30th saw 2,900 ads displayed to people for a total earning of two cents.

Da Fuq were they showing people?

Now, I don’t make a lot on ads, just enough to pay for the hosting, but two cents a day is pretty bad for the number of ads served.  I know some days they simply don’t serve up ads because they don’t have anything in the queue, and I guess I appreciate them finding some ads, but those were some cheap ass ads.

The streak ended on February 5th when things got back to normal-ish.

Woo hoo, 36 cents collected!

But low traffic and low quality ads mean I might clear a good six dollars on the site this month.  Not exactly enough to let me retire early.  If I keep at that rate it won’t even pay the annual hosting fee.

One Year Ago

Nintendo was shutting down more remaining services for the 3DS, so I looked at my activity on that fading platform.

Blizzard was moving towards cross faction raids and dungeon groups and I was watching videos about how the game had changed since the vanilla days and what got left behind.

Blizzard was also down a bit in the Q4 2021 quarterly financials, but with the Microsoft acquisition in motion, Activision Blizzard had gone to the minimal level of effort for financial reporting.

I was playing EverQuest II and the Visions of Vertovia expansion and working on my mercenaries and mounts. I needed to up my game to wrestle with some of the level cap content.  There was also a new Lore & Legend server.

Meanwhile, just before its 23rd birthday, EverQuest was upgraded to 64-bit.

Enad Global 7 has a good Q4 2021, with Daybreak making up the lions share of the game revenue.

I reviewed the EVE Online + Doctor Who event, which was actually pretty good.  The it was on to the Guardians Gala event.

Dracarys member Satoshia found a CCP presentation about World War Bee on the CCP press site, a presentation that the company apparently never presented and disappeared from the site shortly thereafter.  But I grabbed a copy and pulled out some of the details.

Meanwhile, as CCP prepared for Fanfest with some big promises, Pearl Abyss was talking about how they were going to bring blockchain into their games.  CCP was also updating the MER data.

Meanwhile, I let main account lapse due to CCP being dumb about the economy, which led me to wonder what I could fly as an Alpha clone.  Alpha clones don’t get a lot of jump clones, this I learned.

The instance group was still playing New World and working our way towards Starstone Barrows.  However, server merges kicked us to a new world in New World as the population kept declining.  We did make it to Starstone Barrows and its pink beams, but being a group of four we couldn’t finish it.

I was also looking into Lost Ark, another title on Steam that Amazon was publishing.  I played through the opening weekend of the game on Steam.  It was good enough that the group abandoned New World for this new title.  That meant learning how to play together in another game.

Even CarBot got in on the Lost Ark hype.

I was reflecting on the fact that, viewed from the correct angle, I have sort of been playing the same game for 30 years.  Sort of.  And then I wondered what it would have been like if the games had been even more similar, like what if EverQuest had been based on Forgotten Realms?

People were talking about films they had watched at least seven times.  I had a list of titles that met that criteria.

And there was still binge watching happening at our house as I covered Yellow Jackets, Yellowstone, and a couple other titles.

Five Years Ago

I was wondering if EA might be a better company if they were owned by Microsoft.

Trion Worlds announced that Rift Prime would launch on March 7th, putting it a good two weeks ahead of the previous estimated “spring” opening.

SuperData Research released their review of 2017 and it seemed to be missing a key title.

In World of Warcraft it was Battle for Azeroth pre-order time.  I bought it so I could start unlocking allied races.  Not that I needed more alts.  I also did a little raiding with leashes and got the Mr. Bigglesworth drop.

In New Eden the Monthly Economic Report showed a dip in activity , at least in overall NPC bounties, as we all turned to the Million Dollar Battle that January.

CCP was also proposing changes to the CSM election process as well as updating their game news RSS feeds.

The February update for EVE Online saw a change that allowed players to attack Upwell structures at any time and changed it so that unfueled structures only had one timer after hitting the shields rather than two.  That led to a spike in destroyed citadels.  There was also the Guardian’s Gala event and CCP still calling mission spaces “dungeons.”  The coming March update promised players a new ship.

In game I hit the meaningless milestone of 190 million skill points.

Actually out in space, Pandemic Horde gave up their space in Fade and Pure Blind to move to the Vale of the Silent, leaving a hole in null sec for somebody to fill.

Daybreak finally declared H1Z1 out of early access, but the battle royale market had already moved on.  Fortnite, significantly, was now available on PC and consoles.

And Extra Credits was going over the whole lockbox thing some more… back when that channel was about video games.

Ten Years Ago

Raptr sent me a summary of my 2012 gaming.

Google changed how image search worked, causing a precipitous drop in page views.  Google giveth, and Google taketh away… though they have been heavy on the taketh front for the last couple of years.

I wrote of the problem with Bond villains.  And it wasn’t that they failed to drive Jags.  I also looked at the Netflix remake of House of Cards.

RuneScape joined the rare breed of MMOs with an old rules, nostalgia focused server. called Old School RuneScape.

I tinkered with Prose with Bros on the iPad.  That was amusing for about two weeks.

In something of a breath of fresh air in an argument dedicated to absolutes and bad analogies, with some game devs equating buying used games with piracy, EA admitted that the used game market wasn’t all bad and that the ability to trade in games might be propping up new game sales.  They still wanted to kill used games like everybody else in the industry, but at least they were attempting a moment of honesty about it.

The MOBA version of Warhammer Online was declared dead before it even left beta.  The good metacritic score for Warhammer Online remained of little value.

A group got together to create an Age of Empires II: Age of Kings expansion called Forgotten Empires.  This was before it was announced that Age of Kings would be updated and brought to Steam.

Blizzard and ArenaNet were both offering deep discounts on their MMOs.  I opted for Guild Wars 2, which had an awkward start for me.

The instance group was still without a quorum and a fantasy title to call its own.  We were playing a bit of World of Tanks, which gets awkward with four.  I also made some short videos about Crushing your VK and a cliff diving BDR GB1.  And I was working on my Soviet heavies as well as the French heavy tree.

In EVE Online we went back to EWN-2U, the scene of my first real epic null sec battle.  But null sec was pretty quiet, so we also spent time just flying in circles.  The Goons did produce a nice guide to EVE Online in the form of a .pdf called Thrilling Internet Spaceship Stories.

I was considering the REAL problem with levels and was wondering why nobody else did in-game music the way Lord of the Rings Online did.

And I answered the magic question, just how many times do you have to sign or initial things when closing escrow on a home refinance?

Fifteen Years Ago

The month started out with our Pirates of the Burning Sea enthusiasm waning.

The instance group was kicking off its Outlands efforts, after running the required equipment upgrade quests, with Hellfire Ramparts, though first we ran through lower Blackrock Spire and got access to Upper Blackrock Spire.

In EVE Online I lost my Drake to pirates in Rancer.  I wasn’t going to pay any ransom.  And I managed to make a tech II blueprint as I was getting invention going.  I was also wishing for a few things from the game.

Turbine announced that Lord of the Rings Online had extended its agreement with Tolkien Enterprises out until 2014, with an option to go to 2017.  As a lifetime member I applauded this extension.

I went to GDC up in San Francisco and had dinner some members of the VirginWorlds Podcast Collective plus Alan “Brenlo” Crosby, and got pictures to prove it. (I had a beard then… and I have a beard now… this is becoming a winter routine for me.)

My daughter got a Nintendo DS for Valentine’s Day.

We played a little KartRider, which never made it to North America in its original form.

I defended myself against some slander about me being a dwarf.

I summed up the annual EverQuest Nostalgia Tour.

I decided that there was hope for a real science fiction MMORPG.

And I found out my blog was worth $61,534.86, though I couldn’t figure out how to cash in.  Since then, the value of the site has gone down.  A lot.  I blame social media.

Twenty Years Ago

EverQuest Online Adventures, the PlayStation 2 version of EverQuest, launched.

Meanwhile, EverQuest launched The Legacy of Ykesha expansion, which introduced the Froglok race.  It was also the first attempt at an all digital release.  Download demand was high enough that SOE went ahead and burned a CD version for retail sale.  Despite demand, it is generally viewed as a middling, low content expansion.  On progression servers Daybreak generally gives it very little time to itself or lumps it in with the next expansion, Lost Dungeons of Norrath in its release cycle.  That was part of the problem of them doing two expansions a year.

Nintendo released the GameBoy Advance SP, a GameBoy that looked like a flip phone.

And A Tale in the Desert kicked off with its first telling.  2021 saw the start of its 10th telling.

Thirty Years Ago

X-Wing launches on PC and Star Fox on the SNES, two influential space dogfight sims.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Views on Improving EVE Online PvE from the CSM Summit
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Blizzard Continues to Disappoint – Mike Ybarra Edition
  5. Still on Twitter
  6. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  7. The EverQuest Team Expands on their UI Engine Roadmap Update
  8. The Cataclysm Classic Question
  9. Making the Grey Pit in Valheim
  10. The LOTRO 2023 Roadmap – No Consoles, No UI Updates
  11. The WordPress App vs the JetPack App
  12. What Was the Peak Era of WoW Crafting

Search Terms of the Month

lotro private service
[What happens in Bree stays in Bree]

eq night of shadows maps
[Got you with the image search, didn’t I?]

локации майнкрафт большой домик
[You have to buy a map from an NPC to find a mansion]

скачать игру на пк секс игра гей
[I’m pretty sure Putin would not approve… publicly]

Game Time by ManicTime

My ratio of game play went back to being dominated by WoW Classic this month.

  • WoW Classic – 79.21%
  • EVE Online – 12.54%
  • Diablo III – 8.25%

That said, I spent the less time playing video games this past month than I have since I started tracking my play time.

Diablo III

I poked my nose back into the game with the coming of Season 28.  We will see if this is the farewell tour before Diablo IV shows up and how I feel about the title more than a decade down the road.

EVE Online

I managed to get on a couple of homeland defense fleets over the course of the month.  They were to defend local ESSes from robbers.  The main doctrine for that is based on the Rokh battleship, something I haven’t flown since the war.  Trivia: most of the kill mails I was on this month were me in a Rokh without my rigs fit.  Classic “rigs in cargo” mistake.  But at least I didn’t accidentally link to the ESS like that one guy in a fleet.

Pokemon Go

The Vivillon hunt continues.  I have evolved four so far and, with my wife and I trading the scatterbugs we have collected from various friends, we can each evolve 15 of the 18 once we have enough candies.  The elusive regions for us remain Sandstorm, Icy Snow, and Meadow.

We also did a lot of raids during the Hoenn event, and actually went outside with some friends like Niantic demands.  A lot of raids and a lot of lucky eggs later and… we still have a long way to the next level.

  • Level: 43 (42% of the way to 44 in xp, 1 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 756 (+6) caught, 771 (+4) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 23 of 34
  • Pokemon I want: Three specific Scatterbugs; Sandstorm, Icy Snow, and Meadow
  • Current buddy: High Plains Vivillon

WoW Classic

We got out there and finished up the Lunar Festival as a group… and then I at least let Love is in the Air pass without putting in any effort.  I guess I am only good for every other holiday achievement fest in WoW Classic.  And then it was back into dungeons.


It was a slow month for exercise.  I ride on the weekends and we were away on a trip for one weekend… and another weekend I just didn’t feel like it… and then I got sick and really didn’t feel like it.  Being on a trip is a legit excuse.  We even made up for it by walking a lot.  But that other weekend is a warning sign.  It is very easy to simply not get on the bike.

Anyway, I’ll try not to slack as much next month.

  • Level – 18
  • Distanced cycled – 1,520 miles (+27 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 58,891 (+1,053 feet)
  • Calories burned – 47,599 (+765)

Coming Up

I try to force myself not to start each of these with something like, “is it March already?” but I am starting to feel that way more and more as I get older.  I used to think this was because a month is no longer as large a percentage of my life as it was when I was 35 or 20 or 8. But I am starting to believe it is just a memory condition of getting old.  What happened last month?  I guess that is why I write a blog.

But on to March 2023, when EverQuest will celebrate its 24th anniversary.

Blizzard will be out there trying to drum up some cash with a Diablo VI open beta.  Can then recognize pre-oder revenue for that?

There is a State of the Goonion planned for next Saturday, which usually means the Imperium is off to attack somebody.  We shall see if that means some action in EVE Online.

And, of course, I am going to get on that damn exercise bike every weekend.

Is Season 28 the Last Diablo III Season?

I haven’t thought about Diablo III for a while.  It has been nearly 11 years since it launched and now Diablo IV is around the corner.  And yesterday Diablo III kicked off its latest season, number 28, which some suspect might be its final season, what with a successor coming.

Diablo III – Season 28

It has been a long run for Diablo III and, I will say, that Blizzard hasn’t let it languish the way it let Diablo II sit over a decade.  And while Diablo III doesn’t seem to evoke much in the way of emotion these days, it did have a turbulent launch back in 2012.

If you were there and paying attention you probably remember outrage because it was too brightly lit or too colorful, it lacked LAN play, it was going to be always online, it was going to have an auction house… and a real money auction house… and what was Blizzard thinking?

And even as all that was coming up, the team that had made Diablo and Diablo II were rolling up Torchlight II, which many claimed would be the REAL successor to the Diablo franchise… an idea the team making it, still bitter about their split with Blizzard, were happy to encourage.

Then there was the dark horse contender, Path of Exile, which promised to be free to play and had all sorts of crazy ideas about talent trees.

It was a pretty crazy time for Diablo-esque action RPG titles.

And then there was the Diablo III launch and the memes about error 37.

One theory…

That doesn’t even begin to account for the problems like how the auction house, both gold and real world currency, distorted player motivation, helped along by the awful itemization curve… every drop seemed to be far too low level for you… that seemed made by design to drive you to the auction house.

Wyatt “don’t you guys have phones” Cheng to this day bristles when people suggest Blizzard designed it that way on purpose, but the alternative is that Blizzard was really dumb on two things that went together, and I am not sure which is less flattering.  I might opt for the evil over dumb.

It was not a smooth path for the game.

But, to Blizzard’s credit, they did get things right eventually.  With the Reaper of Souls expansion update the auction house went away and itemization was fixed so that the simple reinforcement mechanism of the Diablo series… pick up cool loot and find upgrades that make you more powerful… was back on track.

I still think I like Diablo II more, but Diablo III became fun and much more viable.

It made it to multiple platforms, sold a lot of copies… though 1.2 million of those copies were via people like myself who bought the WoW annual pass to get it for free… and, as noted, it has been maintained and updated and moved to new consoles and had new seasons with new gear and new goodies going for quite a few years.

Which brings us to season 28.  Will it be the last season?

Somehow I think not.  Among other lessons, Blizz has learned over the years that some people will stick with a game and will buy new copies for new platforms as the years wear on.

I am tempted to roll out with the new season.  It has been quite a while since I played Diablo III.  My problem is that I generally only like a couple of the classes and do I want to play yet again as a barbarian or a paladin?  I could try something else, but I have done that in the past and always end up with the classes that suit my own play style.

We shall see.  I am getting a bit ahead in Wrath Classic, so I could use something else to fiddle with.

If you want to see what Season 28 offers, Blizzard has a post with the patch notes to tell you all about it.

A Decade in the Shadow of Error 37

What was going on ten years ago?  I mean, I guess you’ll get a full run down in a couple of days with my inevitable May in Review post, but work with me here for a bit.  But today we have a special anniversary to talk about.

Back in May 2012 people were trying to play the newly launched Diablo III and complaining about the dreaded error 37 that plagued the early days of the game.

Oh, I remember that

That was just the first of many issues Diablo III faced.  For example, there was error 75.

Once we could all log the game wasn’t bad, but there were the problems the itemization and the auction house, both the in game money version and the RMT version.

Wyatt “don’t you guys have phones” Cheng, the principle game designer on the Diablo team, gets irked if you suggest that the itemization was designed to force players to use the auction house (I’m too lazy to find his rant from a few months ago on Twitter), but it sure seemed like the simplest explanation.  If you take that out of the equation, then the team just messed up on itemization horribly because at-level drops were badly under powered for the content and the only way around it was to got to the auction house.

Still, even with that, it wasn’t a bad game.  The most controversial post I wrote in 2012 was probably the one where I said there wasn’t much of a gap between it and Torchlight II, which raised the hackles of a few Torchlight supporters.  A post with 38 comments is what passes for controversy around here.

That was, in part, because there was some rivalry between who would carry inherit the mantle of successor from Diablo II, the official next in the series, Diablo III, or something in the same spirit from a few of the same people who made Diablo II, which was the Torchlight story.

And then there was the dark horse, Path of Exile, the late entry in the race.

In the end, none of them really captured all of Diablo II.

Diablo III got story, Torchlight II got mods, and Path of Exile got atmosphere, but none were really a substitute for the original.  And then Blizzard gave us Diablo II Resurrected, after which nobody was really the successor because the original was alive and well again.

Meanwhile, over the last decade Blizzard spent a lot more time with Diablo III than its predecessor.  It got the Reaper of Souls expansion, which on the PC side of the house fixed itemization and got rid of the auction houses, both gold and RMT based.  That was a HUGE improvement for the game.  Then they did seasons and updates and a mini-expansion.

They did a lot better by it than they did Diablo II… at least until Diablo II Resurrected.

I even named Diablo III my ARPG of the decade, based primarily on play time.  I found it more engaging and playable than either of it rivals… and the Diablo II revival didn’t arrive until last year.

Now we’re about due for another Diablo title.  It took almost a dozen years to go from Diablo II to Diablo III, and we look to be about on the same time track as we wait for Diablo IV.

Diablo II Resurrected Arrives

Diablo II has been resurrected at last.  Well, it never really died, there being a community that still plays it and the various mods to this day.  But it has been remastered.

And it has been a long time getting there.  Much has happened since Blizzard had an ad for developers to work on some remasters they had planned, which was almost six years ago at this point.

The return of the classic

We got a remaster of StarCraft back in 2017, which came quickly enough to give hope that the other two titles were on their way soon.  They weren’t, but at least we had a slightly better looking/sounding version of StarCraft.  A modest update with a modest price that mostly got a modest reaction, but it served an audience.

Then in early 2020 we got Warcraft III Reforged, which was… less good.  Broken and missing features along with a draconian licensing agreement that simply proved that Blizzard remained aggrieved that somebody else was getting paid for Defense of the Ancients.  It was very much a black eye for Blizz, a company that at least had a reputation for polish and quality until then.

We were left hanging on Diablo II until BlizzConline in February of this year, blowing right past the game’s 20th anniversary.  Maybe it wasn’t ready yet.  Maybe Blizz learned a lesson.  But the company was still in mostly good odor at that point.  Shadowlands was still fresh and people were eager for its first big content update, Burning Crusade Classic was keeping the old school Azeroth fans happy, and now they had a classic to update for fans new and old.

And then, of course, Blizzard’s world fell apart when the State of California sued the company based on its two year investigation, which the company denied and minimized, a reaction that just got more people to come forward publicly and tell their tales of the company.  The company that could do no wrong for many is now the pariah that couldn’t get a favorable headline if it suddenly cured COVID and achieved world peace.

But you get to sleep in the bed you made.  These are Bobby Kotick’s chickens coming home to roost and execs down in Irvine have been jumping onto the evacuation slide… or are they being pushed… with grim regularity.  The circus has years to play out I am sure.

But they shipped Diablo II Resurrected.  It went live on Thursday.  I downloaded it when it became available, having pre-ordered it ages ago, but I didn’t even get around to playing it until last night.  I wasn’t in a rush.  I didn’t need to take the day off work or spend that night playing.  I knew what I was getting.

The beta, as I wrote, tempered my enthusiasm for the title a bit, though not necessarily in a bad way.  The title wasn’t going to make be 20 years younger just by playing it and I was reminded, as I have always been reminded when I gone back to play the original, that it is a product of a different time.

Still, I played last night and it was good.  It sticks to the original in the important aspects, even the ones that don’t always thrill me.  That “one respect per play through” is still a huge penalty if you spec wrong.  But I remember Blizz relenting and giving us that respec because it wasn’t there at launch.  Things could be worse.

I gather that the launch was less than perfect.  I saw one article that called it Blizzard’s Latest Disaster.  I kind of want to write in and remind them of the Diablo III launch, next to which the list of issues I saw seemed pretty minor.   I know the editorial slant these days is to hit Blizz hard on everything, which they certainly deserve.  But given the scope of disasters the company has managed so far in 2021, this launch seems like a non-event by comparison.

Of course, that is a problem for Blizz too.  The coverage feels grudging save for sites that have hooked their brand up to the Blizzard name.  Sorry Blizzard Watch, that is kind of the path you chose.

For me, last night, things seemed to be working well.  Though, child of the original Diablo that I am, I remain dubious of making character on unless I have to… as during the beta… and rolled some local characters for my kick off.  That shielded me from many problems I am sure. (Something that wasn’t an option for Diablo III as we all well recall.)

The animation, which seemed a little janky and off back when I played in beta looked to be locked down.  The “weapon swings, hits mob, makes swinging sound, mob dies, makes striking sound…” audio coordination also seemed to have been addressed.  But maybe that was just  I remain wary.

As for the critical aspects of the game, which has always been atmosphere for me, that seems spot on.  The graphical update managed to enhance the light and shadow movements.  Things feel very good, and the old sound track and sounds, tuned up, are all spot on.

Meanwhile, some of the fire and magic effects are huge improvements.  When that shaman throws a fireball at you it looks very good.

Here comes the heat

This isn’t going to be a new obsession.  I’ll want to play through and see all the locations redone.  But the reality of my history with the game is that I have played through Act I dozens of times, and Act II nearly as many, but my enthusiasm tends to wain a bit with the tepid Act III.  If I do get through Act III and generally go straight through Act IV, though its brevity doesn’t make that too difficult.  Then there is Act V, which I think I have played through three times top, and once was in my play through of the original last year.

But it is in my library and I am happy to have the option to play it when the mood strikes me.

BlizzConline is Coming along with the Blizz 30th Anniversary

As I mentioned previously, BlizzConline, the virtual replacement for last year’s cancelled BlizzCon, is coming this month, kicking off on Friday, February 19th.

BlizzCon Online is the way I always attend anyway

With that date rapidly approaching, Blizz has started giving us details about what to expect over the two day virtual event.  There is even a trailer.


The event will be free to watch live on the Blizzard site as well as replays.  There will also be support for a dozen languages for live stream or video replay.  Blizz has even done some interviews about how they reworked BlizzCon into an online only event.

The two days are set to play out as:

  • Day 1 will kick off at 2 p.m. PST on Friday, February 19, with an opening segment that includes a first look at some of the latest game content the development teams have been working on. Then for the next three-plus hours, you’ll have the option to tune in to one of the six different themed channels, so you can decide whether you want to sample a little bit of everything or dig deeper into the games you’re interested in most.
  • Day 2 will pick back up at 12 p.m. PST on Saturday, February 20, with multiple channels once again, until the fun wraps up at later that afternoon. Throughout this second day, we’ll be shining a spotlight on the global Blizzard community, including the winners and outstanding entries in the Community Showcase contests and exhibitions.

All of the streams will be available to rewatch if you miss anything.

Meanwhile, Blizzard is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of their founding, back when Mike Morhaime borrows money from his grandmother to help start the company then known as Silicon & Synapse.

Blizzard – A long way from 1991

Blizzard plans to celebrate this anniversary by selling you a bunch of expensive cosmetic items.  Commemorate 30 years of gaming by giving Blizzard some more money.  Seriously, I was tempted to append “cash grab” to the end of the title of this post, but I was starting to feel excessively cynical, even for me.

There are three different celebration bundles you can purchase.

  • Essentials Pack – $20 includes
    • Moon-Touched Netherwhelp pet for World of Warcraft®
    • Tracer’s OSV-03 Rogue mount with Tracer Hero in Heroes of the Storm®
    • 30th Anniversary Overwatch® player icon and spray (coming soon) plus 5 Loot Boxes
    • A set of StarCraft® II and StarCraft: Remastered portraits commemorating three decades of Blizzard (coming soon)
    • 10 Madness at the Darkmoon Faire™ card packs for Hearthstone®
    • A pet and portrait for Diablo® III (coming soon)
  • Heroic Pack – $40 adds
    • Snowstorm mount for World of Warcraft
    • Raynhardt (legendary) in Overwatch (coming soon)
    • Random Madness at the Darkmoon Faire Legendary card in Hearthstone
    • Diablo III wings (coming soon)
  • Epic Pack – $60 adds
    • 30 days of World of Warcraft game time
    • 5 Golden Madness at the Darkmoon Faire card packs in Hearthstone
    • 3 Golden Loot Boxes for Overwatch
    • Diablo III Helm Transmog Items (coming soon)

There are bits and pieces in each for all of the current Blizzard titles, but if you only play one title regularly like I do, then the pricing might seem a bit dear.  As a WoW player the packs get me:

  • Essentials Pack – pet
  • Heroic Pack – pet and mount
  • Epic Pack – pet and mount and 30 days of game time

So, even if I was a dedicated collector of such things… and I can be… the heroic pack would be the limit to my needs.  Why would I pay $20 more to get $15 worth of game time?

So there it is.  We can start speculating as to what we might hear about come the 19th and whether or not any of this cosmetic fluff is worth the price Blizz is asking.

To the Series Born

There is a bit of a topic trend going on for Blapril, started by Krikket, where people name their top four or five favorite video game series.

The Blapril commeth

This is week four, which has its own topic, but since I haven’t come up with anything else I took “series appreciation” as falling under the “developer/creator appreciation” umbrella and decided I should run with it.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

Looking at video game series seems pretty reasonable.  In the last decade or so especially the large video game publishers have gone all in on series and sequels for games, eschewing much new in favor of a reliable return on investment that churning out annual change ups on standard formula has proven to bring.

So I started thinking about which series I might put on a list… and I sort of ran into a bit of a wall.  This is different than, say, picking my 15 most influential games.

Part of that was I immediately put bounds around the possible answers.  It is just what I do out of habit.  First, to my mind, a “series” requires there to be three or more games.  So as much as I may have enjoyed  Defense Grid and Defense Grid 2, they are only a game and its sequel and not really a series.  And that along knocks off a lot of possible entries listed over on Wikipedia.

I also felt that unless I had played a substantial and representative number of titles in a series… arbitrarily I figured I needed at least half to cover… I couldn’t really count that series as a favorite.  Playing only Need for Speed: World or Dirt 3 does not really give me enough to make a claim on either series.  I can say I love Mario Kart, but I only ever played Mario Kart 64, Double Dash, and that version on the DS.  I never even bought the Wii version!  Can I really complain about the blue shell if that is all I have experienced?

Likewise, although I had played four of the nine games in the Ultima series, those were the first four games of a series that expanded quite a bit from humble origins.  I enjoyed Ultima III the best out of what I played, which probably means I am not down with the series as a whole.

I did wonder for a bit if MMORPG expansions ought to count.  Is EverQuest one game, or a series of 27 games churned out over 21 years?  But I decided that way lay madness and discarded the idea. (Also, how many expansions would I have had to have played to be legit in counting EverQuest?  More than I have I am sure.)

This would have been much easier if I had been a big console gamer.  Or a sports focused gamer.  There are so many series there.  But as an online and/or MMO gamer, series haven’t been a huge thing for me and, as I have noted here in the past, I have been playing online games since 1986.

So what series of games had I played enough of to meet my own criteria?

Cilivization This series of games came up on a some lists and I am good here.  I have owned I-VI and a couple of the side games in the series, like Alpha Centauri.  I played the hell out of the original, the first sequel, and the fifth entry, along with Alpha Centauri.

Pokemon Or at least the main line Pokemon RPG titles.  I think I am covered on that, having played every title on the DS/3DS handheld series as well as Pokemon Sword on the Switch.  I even played two of the GameBoy Advance titled back on my original DS Lite, because it had the GBA cartridge slot.  And I played the re-release of Pokemon Blue on the 3DS and have the blog post to prove it.  I’ve even played Pokemon Ranger and a couple of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon titles.

Age of Empires – The RTS winner here, though of the three core games I was only really a fan of Age of Empires II – The Age of Kings.  That was the pinnacle of the series to my mind, though I owned and played all three.  The original was a bit rough and unbalanced and the third seemed like Ensemble had lost its way.  But I have Age of Empires II in my Steam library.

Diablo –  There are three games there, so meets the bar for a series and I have owned and played all three games plus their expansions… multiple copies of a the first two even.  I owned a copy of Diablo II and the expansion for both home and work because we could play games on the work network after hours back around the turn of the century.  Those days are long gone, but if Blizzard made a credible Diablo II remaster I would throw money at my computer screen.

LEGO Star Wars – I thought I was done when I hit four series, and then this run of games finally popped up into my conscious thought.  There are six titles and we own four of them… more if you count the combo edition that reworked and repacked the first two games when Traveler’s Tales got the vibe right on the series.

And that’s it.

By my own criteria I cannot really come up any more, though at least I made it to five.  I can declare these as my five favorite series by virtue of being the only five.  I imagine if I rack my brain I can probably shake out one or two more… but it would be stuff from the 90s, things long forgotten.

Oddly, I have the games listed in the order to which the series came to mind, which corresponds roughly to a the descending order for both how much time I have spent playing them AND how I would probably rank them.  Seems natural enough.

Others who have posted their lists, some of whom felt less self-constrained than I:

April Fools at Blizzard 2020 is Centered on Overwatch

This year it seems it was the Overwatch teams turn to embrace the day, or at least be the theme of the day.

Googly eyes at the hero select screen

It has become something of an annual tradition here to cover what Blizzard has been up to every April Fools.  There have been years where the company has put a lot of effort into various items for the day and there have been years where April Fools has barely been a thing at Blizzard.

This year seems like an outlier, with a different feel altogether.  In the past the level of effort has often correlated to highs and lows with the company itself.  Last year, for example, was not a great year for the company, so it wasn’t surprising that people had little time for this sort of thing.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging around the world, I was curious to see if there would be any mirth on the first at all.  Blizzard has been giving players benefits in light of the crisis, like an xp boost in WoW and unlocking all the heroes in Heroes of the Storm and co-op commanders in Star Craft II.  It would be completely understandable to give the whole April fools thing a pass.  But a little bit of humor in the right dose wouldn’t go amiss either.

And some of these ideas take a while to put together.  I am going to guess that the giant cat that Bhagpuss wrote about over in Guild Wars II wasn’t rolled up over the weekend but planned well in advance.

Which brings us to Overwatch and its googly eyes on heroes at the select screen, and in the play of the game clip at match end, which I mentioned above. (This came as a tip from Blueline Basher.  The screen shot is one from many in the forum.)

Following on that, over in the Heroes of the Storm forums there were April 1st PTR patch notes posted that included the addition of a new hero, Mercy.  I got that Mercy was an Overwatch hero, but I know so little about HotS that I couldn’t really tell if the patch notes were a joke or if somebody on the team unironically posted an update on April 1st.  And then I watched the video linked in the patch notes, which doesn’t really reveal itself until the very end.


The other Blizzard games, Diablo III, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft have all been quiet so far as April Fools is concerned.  No news items or fresh blue posts with an April 1 date.  It is still early in the day on the west coast, so maybe something else will pop up, in which case I will add it here, but for now that is all I have seen.

Update: We now have the annual WoW April Fools patch notes, in draft form, for patch 8.8.8.  Icluded in the notes:

  • High Dwarves
  • Kul-Tiran Worgen
  • Highmountain Goblins
  • New Essences
  • Class Updates
  • New WoW Classic Flavors

If you are jonsing for a Blizzard April Fools joke beyond those your best bet is to look at past efforts.  You can look at the posts I have done over the last decade:

If you want to go back further than that, there is the official Blizzard April Fool’s archive, though that stops at 2015, which is probably meaningful in some way.

In a way I am kind of happy they did something this year, if only to keep the long tradition alive.  They haven’t missed a year since 1999, even if some years have been rather sparse.

For other games you can check out the post over at Massively OP where they are trying to round up the MMO front.

Other April Fools items:

My Gaming Forecast for 2020

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.

-Woody Allen

There are days when I want to quit my job, sell the house, cash in my 401k, and do whatever the modern MMO equivalent of buying a VW bus and following The Grateful Dead would work out to be.

I can’t quite imagine what that would be, and it is all a bit of fantasy, as much as the virtual worlds I wander around in.  Also, I have a now adult daughter whose college education needs paying for, not to mention what my wife might have to say about such notions.  And my 401k only recovered from the last recession due to the money I have shoveled into it since.

Reality dictates a more modest vision.

So when a part of me wants to fly free, do new things, and maybe actually play Project: Gorgon or some other game less than a decade old, I have to temper myself with an examination of what is really likely to happen.

And so any such list has to start grounded, setting a foundation of the likely or obvious.  What will I play in 2020?  Here is the forecast.

The Sure Things

Games I will almost assuredly play in 2020.

  • WoW Classic

I’ve almost certainly logged in and played this, even if just for a short time, since the clock struck midnight and the new year was rung in.

And why shouldn’t I play it?  I am enjoying it, I have friends to play with, and it is a voyage both nostalgic and fulfilling.  Four months into the game and in our 30s, the instance group is maybe a third of the way

  • EVE Online

The way my main account is setup right now I will remain an Omega clone into 2021 thanks to one final bump from the Fansite program.  There is no reason not to log in and keep things going.  But I am also feeling a bit weary of New Eden.  I have been subscribed and playing since late 2011, when I came back to see if the Crucible expansion would be a worthwhile return point after the fiasco of Incarna.  In December of 2011 I went to null sec and straight into a war and have been there ever since.  But wars in null sec are barely a thing anymore.  I’ll play some EVE Online, but it might be time for a change of scenery.  But what I may or may not do is something for another post.

  • EverQuest II

My last couple of runs back in Norrath have gone pretty well.  In fact, I did so well in November that I bought the Blood of Luclin expansion, having managed to get a character up to the level cap and ready to take part in it.  Having thus invested it seems pretty sure that I will play.  How long I will play is another question though.

The Likely Candidates

Titles that history indicates are probably going to get played.

  • WoW Shadowlands

This would have been a sure thing a couple of years back.  When was the last time I didn’t run straight to a WoW expansion launch? (Answer: Only twice, The Burning Crusade and Mists of Pandaria, both arguably very good expansions.)  But a decade haunted by wrong turns leaves me less than excited at the prospect of another WoW expansion.  We’ll see if I am saying that when the pre-expansion events kick off.

  • RimWorld

It seems probable that I will go back to this for a bit.  The build up part, the struggle to get to a stable state that can withstand setbacks is still quite enjoyable.  Whether I will be able to endure another long mid-game is another story.  But it is an easy game to pick up and while away the hours with as I listen to podcasts or audio books.


Titles I have a fondness for and which I wander back to now and then.

  • Civilization V

When I am in a mood for a strategy game there is always Civ V there waiting for me.

  • Stellaris

If not Civ V, then this is the other likely alternative.

  • World of Tanks

I keep thinking I am going to log in and play this again.  I think I like looking at the tanks more than I like playing, but it is still fun.

  • Minecraft

While I took down the Minecraft Realms server due to nobody playing, a big new update might get me back to poking around.

  • The Witcher

I just bought it on Steam for a buck and half, maybe I should play it.

The Long Shots

I might log into these now and again, but I am not sure I will commit to any real play time.

  • Lord of the Rings Online

The Legendary server proved to me once again how much I like the initial 1-50 content.  I suppose I might wander back into that.  The problem is, as I have said before, the Siege of Mirkwood is an impenetrable barrier for me, and the live servers hold no temptation.

  • EverQuest

For all the nostalgia I spew about EverQuest back in the day, it has not always aged well.  It looks and runs better than any 20 year old game has any right to, but that doesn’t mean it is the best game for me.

  • Diablo III

Not beyond the realm of possibility if I get the simple ARPG urge.  The problem is that I really only enjoy two classes in the game and I have played those multiple times.

  • Elite: Dangerous

Somebody said they have automated docking.  Since I could never quite master that, maybe it is worth a look back in at the game.

  • New World

I played in the closed test phase for Amazon’s new game last year.  It had its merits.  It was kind of interesting.  I just don’t know that it really grabbed me all that much.

I Should Make Time

But if history is any indicator, I likely won’t.

  • Project: Gorgon

I keep thinking I should go play, but it is always a few places down the list.  You find the time to do the things you really want to do, so that I have not found the time must mean I don’t really want to play I guess.

  • Grim Dawn

I should dedicate a month to just getting into this.  I dipped my toes into it previously, but didn’t get that far in.

  • Something Else from Steam

My list of unplayed, or underplayed, games in my Steam library is annoyingly long.  It weighs upon me if I stare at it too long.

Something New?

If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’re probably of the opinion that new isn’t really my thing.  And it would be difficult to argue with that, though I would point out that a lot of “new” seems synonymous with “the same old stuff we’ve seen before.”  I think the only “new” I saw last year was the auto battler genre.

Still, I live in hope.  Maybe there will be something new in 2020 that will catch my eye.