Tomorrow we will be five years down the road from the Diablo III launch, so this seemed appropriate.
Tomorrow we will be five years down the road from the Diablo III launch, so this seemed appropriate.
I remain mildly stunned that WordPress.com decided to forego their briefly traditional yearly summary report for people’s blogs. So I’ll just take last year’s main chart and update it for the year.
Oddly, that list is almost all EVE Online driven, save for Reddit. The majority of the Reddit traffic came from repeated links to my homage to/preservation of Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
That aside, I do have more tangible WordPress.com issues to complain about. The new stats page is still broken as I indicated last month. Furthermore, comments have been acting oddly for a while now. I will get a notification that somebody has left a comment on the blog, I will be able to see the comment on the admin page, but the comment won’t actually be visible on the post in question for quite some time. The comment count on the post will take even longer to update. And the comment in question won’t show up in the Recent Comments list on the side bar for ages, often only showing up when somebody else leaves a comment, which then follows the same routine. Ah well.
And then, as the month went along, WP.com did another revamp of the UI, which made things tangibly worse for me. But I can at least still find the old (and reliably functional) editor and most of the functionality I am used to hidden away under a menu at the bottom of the list.
They also changed up their subscription packages in a way that is going to complicate things for me, but I will get into that in another post at some point. No need to spend all my anger here!
My blog did hit a record high number of page views this month… not this blog, my other blog. CCP Phantom used a picture from the blog and linked back to its source in an EVE Online news post, which led to a spike in traffic yesterday.
As it so happened, traffic here was down… skill point posts are dull, I understand… leading to the first time ever when daily page views for EVE Online Pictures exceeded the page views here by 81. Usually the ratio is something like 8 -20 to 1 in favor of TAGN. Strange times.
On the bright side, at some point Google finally mumbled something about how they changed the G+ API and WP.com dragged themselves over to update that bit of code.
That connection broke just about a year ago for me, causing posts to be shared, but only with myself. Not all that useful. All you have to do to make it work again is disconnect G+ from your blog then connect again and it seems to start working again. So now the five people who both follow me on G+ AND still actually use G+ will get spammed by my posts yet again. Blame
One Year Ago
I was also included on some sort of MMO info page thing.
It was the end of another Steam Winter Sale.
People were troubled by a potential paywall in Rift.
The price for the Occulus Rift was announced, which led to quite a sum if all I wanted to do is play EVE Valkyrie.
In EVE Online I ran my first incursion boss. We also got the first of the “no name” monthly updates. Karma Fleet turned one. CCP told us about skill extractors. Blog Banter 71 was about spaceships. Also, there was some sort of conflict going on between I Want ISK and SpaceMonkeys Alliance.
Daybreak announced that they were going to port the five year old DC Universe Online to the XBox.
I wrote a bit about The Force Awakens.
Finally, I was marveling at all the movies from 1986 that I remembered. Aliens! Top Gun! Platoon! Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! It was a hell of a year for movies.
Five Years Ago
I updated the About Page to its “Infrequently Asked Questions” format. Has it really been like that for five years already? It is probably due for an update.
There was that whole SOPA thing. We still live in peril of its return.
I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.
I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.
LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.
SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition. As part of that conversion, EverQuest Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived… for a while) Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.
Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.
Blizzard said they were going to be too busy in 2012 for a BlizzCon. Speaking of Blizzard, I hit level 85 at last in WoW. And then there was a panic about Diablo III maybe launching in February. (It didn’t)
Turbine announced that their fall LOTRO expansion would be Rider of Rohan.
There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode. My favorite (now deleted, but still on the Internet Archive) angry post called it a hate crime.
I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion. This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings. Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.
In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north. But a conflict with Raiden was looming. during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*. Boring no more!
In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server. We regrouped on a new server. We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps. That last was a struggle.
The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.
And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.
Ten Years Ago
I wrote 59 blog posts, which remains a monthly record here at TAGN. Of course, that was before Twitter, so I was more likely to do shorter posts. If I had the patience I would track the average word count per post per month over the life of the blog to see how I changed from short posts to more of a long form/long winded approach.
I gave a brief recount of 2006 in what I find is my first high/low post on the blog. I had forgotten that I had done that post. I also uninstalled some games I was no longer playing. I was also looking forward towards Lord of the Rings Online.
Blintz, my fae swashbuckler in EverQuest II was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath, as well as hunting for Blood Talon in order to get my dwarven work boots.
Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark. I also discovered that Sony slipped a promo for the Transformers movie in with the Echoes of Faydwer installation. That was back when SOE was under Sony Pictures.
I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded. The team was still working on a lot of polishing and features. The launch date was announced somewhat late, but when the game actually launched (on the same day as the much maligned Microsoft Vista), I declined to buy the box even though it was on Station Access. I thought one of the game’s potential flaws might be the inability to make a “hot” character. A female half-elf was the best I could manage. The character models were not pretty despite a profusion of sliders and options in the creation process.
Blizzard launched The Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that generally accompanied an expansions back in the day, though I couldn’t figure out why I bothered to buy a copy. I was wondering how long it would hold its $40 price tag. It stayed at that price for quite a long time. These days we get a discount before a game even goes live.
Given that expansions were on my mind, I was wondering what the best timing for expansions really was. EverQuest was still doing two a year back then, while Blizzard took more than two years to get to its first one.
I gave a brief review of Massive Magazine issue #2.
And I found that SOE had provided the industry standard definition for the word “soon.”
Most Viewed Posts in January
Search Terms of the Month
what does dellmon mean
[Been asking what he means for years]
pretty alien sto
[The one in Kirk’s quarters]
everquest imperfect diamond
[Summed up correctly]
what is vanilla wow
[A unicorn we all want to find or slay]
Broadband Advertising Church
[Our Latency of Perpetual Round Trip?]
“pantheon: rise of the fallen” pipe dream
[So you may think]
The 20 year anniversary event, The Darkening of Tristram, got me to patch up and log into Diablo III again. It was an interesting little distraction, some additional content, but beyond superficial graphical tweaks, it had about as much to do with 1996 as Twitter and the iPhone. It did get me to go find the soundtrack from the 15 year anniversary, which is available on iTunes. But I got the bulk of the achievements and the pet all the same. I am just not sure that the event is something that will necessarily be a draw for people every year. Anyway, if you want to see it this year, you had best patch up and try it, as it is supposed to go away soon.
I started off with a bang in New Eden around New Years, with the battle over the two Fortizars. But then it was back to work where I caught the flu that was going around and I found I didn’t really have the stamina for ops at that point. I joined in the return from Catch, but that was about it. Once I was better I started getting my carrier together to see if I could join in on the promised training ops.
Somewhere along the line I fell off the wagon when it came to Norrath. The single quest chain I was able to find wasn’t thrilling me so I was just logging in daily to do a couple of crafting writs and maybe just enough harvesting to get the daily loyalty token reward. I have about 500 of those and have yet to spend a one. I haven’t unsubscribed yet, but it seems likely to happen before the next billing cycle.
While I was slacking off elsewhere, I was putting a bunch of my free time into Minecraft. Not only do I have a big project under way, but I was ill for a week or so and Minecraft is conducive to playing when you’re not feeling well. The long road hasn’t reached the half way point yet, but I moved the end of the road forward several kilometers over the course of the month.
Bad weather and illness kept me from playing very much… though there was at least one evening where you could have seen me leaving the house past 10pm to get in the car in order to drive the half mile to the nearest Pokestop because dammit, it was Day 7 of my streak and I wasn’t going to give up on that big payoff just because I wasn’t feeling well.
As with a couple of other titles, I fell off the Pokemon Sun bandwagon for a good stretch of the month. You would think that Pokemon would be a good game to play when you’re sick, but for some reason whenever I picked it up, I fell asleep. Late in the month I did finally get back on track and finished up the final trial on Poni island, finished the main story line, and made Nebby get in the goddam bag for the last time. On to the Pokeleague and then endgame activities.
For once the Steam Winter Sale actually distracted me from other games. I bought a few budget titles and actually played through them. Train Valley probably got the most attention. I did start off in Stardew Valley, but wasn’t really in the mood to get through the inevitable initial hurdles any building/farming sim puts you through. I will get back to that later.
The Activision-Blizzard 2016 financial report ought to be rolling in next month. While the first rule of subscription club remains “don’t talk about subscription club,” I do look forward to seeing what I can divine from whatever clever number arrangements and MAUs charts the company puts out.
There is the inevitable monthly patch headed for EVE Online. Also the CSM 12 candidate period will be in full swing and we should know by the end of the month who will be on the final ballot. Then there is the Winter War in the south and a plan for another Burn Jita, though no final date has been set for the latter yet.
There are some things afoot with Lord of the Rings Online… something about a horse… while their partners at Daybreak will be putting and end to Landmark. And, as I mentioned in the post earlier today (I am writing this before I have written that post, so I hope I didn’t forget to write it!) there is some distant rumor that we might hear something later this week from Turbine about the final fate of Asheron’s Call... something besides “bye!”
Also, wasn’t the EverQuest II Race to Trakanon server supposed to close in January? I haven’t seen an announcement yet. Was the team was too busy with server issued this month? Maybe that will be something for February.
Also, after writing a ranty opinion piece about an EverQuest successor, I suddenly feel like I should got back and revisit a few other opinions. Maybe. My writing has strayed from opinions towards reporting on what I am doing over the years. It might be time to update some views that may have been altered with the passage of time.
And, in a final question, when did my month in review posts start passing 2,500 words on a regular basis?
Last week I ran through the Darkening of Tristram event in Diablo III with my best equipped character. That got me a look at the whole thing, but left me shy on the achievement and rewards front. Specifically, I wanted to get what seemed to be the main achievement for the event, which had a pet included.
That required rolling up a level 1 character and running through the event. So, in a fit of unoriginality, I created another crusader… I really like the class… named Maurice (Steve Miller Band joke here) and set off to run the event one more time.
Unfortunately I got a little bit lost on the was in, as I started out in campaign mode and then tried to blitz through the whole thing until I got to the portal. However, the portal is only there in adventure mode, which is the free form, open world. I figured that out after a bit of fruitless searching, then exited that game, changed modes, and started over again. The portal was listed on the map, so I jumped straight there and off I went.
I have already advanced to nearly level 4 at that point, but for the event you just have to start a level 1 character and eventually run through and slay Diablo. This was the first alt I had made since I ran through season six and got into Paragon levels, so I a bit surprised to find that I had access to those as a low level. Still, waste not want not, so I allocated those and headed into the dungeon.
The Crusader excelling at defense, the paragon levels, and a series of fortuitous equipment drops meant that the run was pretty easy. I waded into mobs and slew them with abandon as I made my way down the 16 levels to finally face and defeat Diablo.
That got me the achievement, the pet, level 26, and a third crusader that I probably won’t ever use again. The whole thing also felt a bit easy, as with my first run. So I decided to go up a notch. Season 9 had just begun, so I figured I ought to do the run with a seasonal character.
That would cut off access to paragon levels, gold, extra equipment and such. I also decided to go with a Barbarian. While not completely out of my comfort zone, I have not played one for ages, so it would be at least a bit of a change. I couldn’t just count on the Crusader’s defense to get through the massed of mobs. I thought about making this a hardcore character… one death and he’s done… but decided that might be too much. I’d hate to die way down at level 16 and have to start from scratch again. And finally I decided to do it real old school and never return to town. No vendors on the run, just going with what I could pick up.
Sigwerd the Barbarian was rolled up. I set the game to Adventure and the difficulty to Hard and set off for the event.
One of the things with starting out as a level 1 is that you do level up quickly. This makes getting regular gear drops somewhat critical to progress. Since the mobs scale with you as you level up, having old gear starts to really weigh against you. Worst of all is being left with an old weapon, as killing stuff becomes a chore, and all the more so when your defense pretty much depends on killing stuff before it kills you.
And weapon upgrades were in very short supply. I didn’t get my first weapon upgrade until I was already level 7 and it was taking 10 hits or more with my primary attack to kill random mobs. Fortunately the game relented literally one room away from the Butcher. It wasn’t a huge upgrade, but it was better than the no-stats, 3.0 DPS gray starter axe I had been swinging up until then.
I thought perhaps the game had relented at that point, but I was wrong. The game seemed keen to keep me on the hair edge of viable gear. The fight with the Skeleton King was especially taxing as I was several levels up but was still chopping away with the same axe I had against the Butcher. With the mass of skeletons the Skeleton King has with him… and he summons more the longer the fight goes… the battle went on for several minutes with me kiting him about, clearing his helpers, and running after health globes that the game seemed as tight-fisted with as it did gear drops. I came away victorious, but it was some work.
By this point I had also noticed a problem with health potions. They didn’t seem to be working reliably. If I was in combat and clicking then hit Q for a potion, the timer for the next potion would start, but I wouldn’t get healed. I had to make sure I wasn’t clicking or hitting any other controls before I hit Q to get that critical heal.
Down I went, level by level, always hungry for a gear update, but the game seemed to want to keep me that way. I got a very nice orange axe at one point that sustained me for quite a few levels, but eventually fell behind and left me beating on mobs for ages to slay them.
Around the 15th level of the dungeon I got my last weapon upgrade, a 60DPS 2-handed sword. I didn’t mind laying aside my shield and going with that as I had not seen a buckler upgrade during the whole run so still had the wee level 1 buckler I started out with. I was level 22 by that point. And I finally got pants during the big fight to open up the portal to final level of the dungeon. Up until that point I had gone pantsless.
I had also gotten the whirlwind skill for my Barbaian, a signature skill for dealing with rooms full of foes. I got that setup on the right mouse button and headed into the final level, knowing that I would be facing rooms full of mobs. And then I ran straight into the first full room on that level and promptly died. The skill isn’t all powerful.
Up until that point I had been wondering if I should have gone heroic. Wouldn’t that have been a pisser, having gotten all the way to the final level only to have to pack it in?
Instead I revived at the previous checkpoint, which was the portal into that level, so I could finish it up. Having to start back without a full globe of fury meant taking it careful, which I should have done in the first place. I cleared the first few rooms, unlocked Diablo, cleared off his helpers, then danced with him for a while, chipping away until he was finally defeated.
That finished up the event for me. There are a couple more achievements left, but I am not sure I want to hang about re-running the whole thing until I slay every single possible named mob that can spawn. I saw the place, I got the pet, I had a bit of a challenge, I think I might be set.
I am still not feeling the full rush of nostalgic enthusiasm I thought I might for this event. Putting it in Adventure mode in the game meant you could run it with any character you had, which was convenient. But it also marked it as just some additional content. There isn’t any real story around the event like there was back in the day, just the achievements and an in-game goal to slay Diablo. I am not sure this will be a big drawn as a yearly month-long event unless Blizzard drops in more rewards/achievements.
This also makes me think about any potential plans Blizzard might have for Diablo II. Some time back there was an indication Blizzard was hiring to convert/create HD versions of Diablo II, Warcraft III, and StarCraft. That still sounds like the best plan to me for Diablo II.
Mistakes were made. Also, there may be some spoilers.
When I got home from work yesterday I got to check out the new anniversary event in Diablo III, the Darkening of Tristram. The patch had been deployed, the event was live, it was time to log in. And, upon doing so I was greeted with the announcement.
At the bottom of the announcement was a button that opened up the achievement list for the event, because how else will you know you’ve done the event unless you get the T-shirt? Yes, I know some of you will object, but I admit I like getting the T-shirt.
After that I got into my character, got into the Act I area of Tristram and looked around on the map until I found the marker for the event portal.
I immediately went there and started running around… and died. It had been more than six months since I last played, the game was set to torment level VII, which I think was me pushing things last I played. I decided that I ought to dial that back a bit. So I dropped it down to level VI, then V, then down to III because I really couldn’t recall how bit the jump between torment levels was and I wasn’t sure if this event was going to be harder, easier, or the same difficulty curve as everything else. Paranoia.
At Torment level III I was able to clear my way to the portal to the even easily enough.
The portal has a pixelated texture to indicate that you will be going back in time. It also causes some sort of glitch with the cursor when you take a screen shot. On my screen there was just one fist cursor, but in the screen shot it shows the six variations that make up the animation, all laid out in a row. I went back and tried that screen shot a couple more times and always got the same result when it was over the pixelated portal to Tristram.
Glitch aside, it was time to go through the portal and see what lay on the other side.
Now we where the rubber meets the road and I was not sure what to expect.
There are a couple of problems with Diablo nostalgia for me. For openers, it has been nearly 20 years since I first played it and maybe 17 since I last played it in earnest. So I remember some bits quite clearly. I recall going to town, piles of excess gold laying about, the Skeleton King and The Butcher, the alternate entrances to the dungeon that allowed you to pick up your quest in progress between sessions so you didn’t have to start back at the repopulated level 1 every time, and that last level with Diablo himself, where you had to clear the level around him in order to unlock his chamber to fight him.
But it is all pretty hazy and a lot of my memories are clearly Diablo II graphics and features impinging on the memories of the original game. The problem is that, for me, Diablo II was such a good sequel that it overshadowed the original. The way I never even considered going back to play the original Civilization once Civilization II came out, I never thought to set foot in the original Diablo after Diablo II came out. One just eclipsed the other and that was that.
So there in old Tristram, I had to sort through mixed memories. The event itself doesn’t have the story of the original. It is more like a massive dungeon with that single “Kill the Dark Lord” objective. You just have to go get him, and so off I went.
My feelings on the whole thing are bit mixed.
Overall I am happy. A five year old game got some new content. All else aside, that is a plus.
While I appreciate the work done on the graphic filter to make things feel more like 1996 than 2016, I am not sure how well that has really paid off. The problem is that even with fuzzed up visuals, the whole thing is clearly made up of assets from the current game. You would have to pixelate the visuals into oblivion to hide the fact that you’ve seen all these dungeon tiles and layouts before.
Without wanting to spoil the event, I sort of wish there was a “Diablo III visuals” version of the dungeon.
The pixelation also didn’t help with one memory I had of the original game, which was that of different parts of the labyrinth feeling distinctly different. The top part was an architectural basement of sorts with lots of skeletons, and then there was the tunnels with the goat men, then magic users then demons. The blur of everything managed to wipe out some of that feeling of distinctness. Yes, it did progress from skeletons to goat men and so on, but was so indistinct in color/tone/visuals that they blended together.
And then I added to the problems by dropping the difficulty down to Torment III, which made everything trivially easy to kill with my current gear. I was tearing through things like no other, to the point that even bosses were like soap bubbles. I tried to get a screenie of The Butcher, but I clicked first and one-shotted him.
The experience was good. I managed to get seven paragon levels running through the whole thing, which I did in one sitting. That, too, is true enough to the original I suppose. I remember starting new characters in the evening with friends and running through and killing Diablo before the night was through.
The loot was almost a bit too good. Lots of stuff dropping everywhere in a game that already drops things everywhere.
I had to go back to town a few of times to clear my bags. There were even some good old reminders of loot from days gone by, including the coveted Godly Plate of the Whale that everybody wanted.
I actually got six of those on the run, no doubt a nod (as is the description at the bottom) to the fact that back in the day somebody had a hack or exploit to obtain them well beyond what Blizzard expected.
Also a plus was the sounds and music, which certainly did their bit to evoke the spirit of the original.
Another item true to the old game was the ability to sort of rush on past things. Bosses like the Skeleton King and the Butcher were optional in the old days, and if you pressed on every time you found the way down to the next level you might very well miss them. I managed to miss the Skeleton King on my first run as I was taking every downward option, which got me down to the portal to level 16 in under an hour.
As with the Butcher, I clicked on Diablo before I managed to get a screen shot, so he was dead before the camera went off.
If you look at the time stamp at the top, I walked in at 4:19pm and Diablo was dead by 5:09pm, which left me time to go pick up my daughter by 5:30pm. Such timing.
As I noted above, despite some issue, overall I am happy to have the new content this month. The speediness of the run was largely my fault. However, one of the achievements for the event is to take a level 1 character into the event and run them through to slay Diablo. I will have to find time on the weekend to do that, during which I will give the whole thing a much more thorough examination.
But now I have had a preview of it, a mission, and I am back playing the game. A success on that front.
Am I the only one who logged into the Blizzard launcher on January 2nd (I allowed them the first, a Sunday, off) wondering where the 20th Anniversary event was?
I knew it wasn’t likely to be there, but I was keen to check just in case. Then the news came yesterday that the 20th Anniversary event update was in the 2.4.3 patch and was going live in Diablo III at midnight. We would at last be able to play the throw back to the original Diablo that was being put in the Diablo III.
Of course, on a work/school night, midnight was too late for me… midnight was frankly too late for me on New Year’s Eve… so I will have to wait until after work today to check the event out.
I am actually looking forward to this enough that I even attempted to give the event a whirl while it was on the Diablo III Public Test Realm, only to find that trying load PTR build crashed for me every single time I launched it. So I have been waiting.
This is, of course, a risky nostalgia venture, attempting to recreate the old game within the new. It could be quite the event or it could be soundly rejected by fans. Until I get home though I will have had to content myself with Blizzard’s anniversary retrospective video.
Lord, what did we do to deserve this year? I’ll just steer away from politics, the world, and celebrity deaths for this if you don’t mind. Wow, 2016.
Still, it is time for this post, where I look back at the year gone by and look at some aspects over it, a tradition going back to 2010. Past entries:
This annual post tends to be even more haphazard than my standard fare, an exercise in stream of consciousness writing as I add things to the list as they pop into my head. No links, no explanations, minimal punctuation, and lots and lots of bullet points.
Daybreak Game Company
Standing Stone Games
The Blog and Blogging and The Internet
Anyway, that is what I have in my brain here at the end of 2016. I am sure I left a lot out, so feel free to add anything you feel needs a mention in the comments.
A new year approaches, which at least implies two more of my yearly posts are yet to come, my outlook for 2017 and the inevitable New Years Day predictions post.
Others looking back at 2016:
The tenth BlizzCon has come and gone. It always seems short at just two days. Even wee EVE Vegas ran into Sunday. But Blizzard knows how to pack a bunch of stuff into two days.
Granted, most of what was packed into those two days wasn’t of interest to me. If you got the Virtual Ticket as I did you found out pretty quickly that four of the six available streams were devoted exclusively to “esports.”
I was also mildly amused at the confusion over this being the tenth BlizzCon, as announcers kept saying “ten years of BlizzCon,” which is incorrect. The first BlizzCon was in 2005, but they skipped 2006 and 2012. So ten BlizzCons, not ten years.
However I was not amused at all to find out that the “Weird Al” concert at the closing ceremony was only viewable live with the Virtual Ticket. We were out when th concert kicked off, but I figured I could watch it the replay the next day. Blizzard makes a point of saying that we get to view replays for 14 days.
The concert appears to be an exception though, as it is not available in the video archive. Since that was one of the key reasons I bought the damn virtual ticket, I am pretty unhappy with that. I am sure it says something about the concert in the fine print somewhere, but if it had been more obvious I would only have the one chance to see it, I would have made an effort to be home for it.
Anyway, enough carping about that I guess. Did Blizzard cover what I thought they would?
World of Warcraft
There was a time when BlizzCon could have been called “WoWCon.” A decade back World of Warcraft was pretty much their only going concern, the company having been practically swallowed by the overwhelming success of the game. The next release after WoW was StarCraft II, six years later.
For long time observers of BlizzCon, the event has gone from WoW being the only story to now having to share the stage with five siblings. And since WoW is clearly past its peak, it is in Blizzard’s interest to promote other titles. The Azeroth gravy train isn’t dead yet, but some alternative revenue streams are clearly part of the plan.
So WoW, which just got an expansion (along with a movie) recently, did not get much attention at the keynote. I saw some bitter comments on Twitter about Blizz passing over WoW, but it is to be expected. You had to get into the “Legion – What’s Next” panel to get any details about the game. Here is what I thought Blizz was going to talk about when it came to WoW:
expect to see:
want to see:
We got a bit of the “woo hoo! Legion!” at the keynote (fastest selling blah blah), along with a mention that Blizz would continue delivering content for the expansion, and a plug for the film (now available on DVD and Blu-Ray).
At the Legion panel they went much deeper and covered what will come before 7.2, 7.2 itself, and and eye to what 7.3 will bring.
So what I would consider the minimum was pretty well covered. I do wish that Blizz was still announcing subscriber numbers, if only to see if a constant stream of content really does make a difference. After all, Warlords of Draenor may have left people high and dry for a year, but the big dive in subscriber numbers started well before we hit the 6.2 patch that opened up new content and, eventually, flying.
Speaking of flying, 7.2 patch is also supposed to bring us to the point where we will be able to unlock flying in the expansion. That will give us all something to work on when it hits. I doubt I will move a single alt in the Broken Isles until I unlock that with my main. So that point was covered.
I saw nothing about any special, nostalgia, or retro servers, so pretty much as expected. This did not sit well with the Nostalrius crew, which vowed to return. I don’t think they understand how slowly (and conservatively) the wheels grind at Blizzard.
And I didn’t hear any Tom Chilton quotes, regrettable or not, so I guess Blizz kept him busy elsewhere.
All in all, not a ton of news about WoW, but about the minimum amount of news that Blizz needed to provide to keep fans going.
Here is where I had high expectations. With the 20th anniversary of the franchise just weeks away, I expected the announcement of Diablo IV or, at a minimum, a new expansion for Diablo III. Diablo III is well past the four year mark, and the Reaper of Souls expansion is 2.5 years old now. As a franchise that makes money by selling boxes, it sounds like it needs a new box on the market. Anyway, this was what I put down:
expect to see:
want to see:
We didn’t get anything about MEUs or China, but the Diablo 20th anniversary was covered and we are getting something new.
Just not a new game or an expansion. Well, “sort of” on the expansion front, but I’ll get to that. And there will be new zone content coming to appease the people doing season runs.
Instead, to feed the nostalgia hungry, they are remaking the original Diablo in Diablo III.
I think this is something I actually put forth as an option in a previous post. Yes, here it is… “Diablo and/or Diablo II being ported to the Diablo III engine.”
So that sounds pretty interesting, especially since they are attempting to simulate the more primitive graphical style, movements, and sounds of the original. I am very interested to see how this ends up playing.
The downside is that they are going to make this a special event called “The Darkening of Tristram.” This event will only be available every January in order to mark the launch of the series. So I hope you are in the mood for nostalgia then, because you won’t get to play it for the rest of the year.
The other big announcement was the addition of a Diablo II class to Diablo III, the necromancer. Blizzard has a post here about it. Interesting, and a clear nostalgia play, but the necromancer was never a big deal for me. This will be part of a Rise of the Necromancer “pack” which will be available at some future date with some unspecified amount of content (or not) for some unspecified price.
So you can say they announced an expansion… they just didn’t tell us enough about it to get a feel for what it will really be. If it is just a “buy a new class” thing that they have announced so far, then it doesn’t really count as much of an expansion in my opinion. If it ends up including more levels (which will be awkward after paragon levels and all that) or a new story line, then we are there.
Finally, we did not hear anything about the Diablo II remaster that they were advertising for last year though.
My interest starts to wane about here. I like StarCraft for nostalgia reasons, I played a lot of the original back in the day. But I don’t even own StarCraft II, much less any of the expansions, so my opinions here are dubious at best. All I know is what I heard at the keynote. What I said:
There was a firm date announced for Nova Covert Ops part III. Previously listed as “before December 1” it will be available on November 22. There was also something about StarCraft II being used in conjunction with AI research, a new story line, new maps, and “War Chests” coming to the game.
There was also plenty of tournament play. There was, however, no mention of the original StarCraft being remastered.
And then we get to the three Blizzard titles where I have no investment.
No Manic Murloc Melodrama mobile app. No Overwatch on MacOS either.
On the other hand, SynCaine’s suggestion that Blizz might not mention Heroes of the Storm was totally unfounded. They are still fully behind the game and, as you can see by the schedule snippet I have at the top, it had a whole channel dedicate to league play. They even mentioned the Cho’gall unit from last year, though they did not say if it ended up being all that popular or not.
In fact, most of the keynote seemed to be devoted to these three titles and all of the new stuff they are getting, with Overwatch even getting a new league devoted to it, and how much Blizzard has been paying out in prize money over the last year. None of that interested me as I am not an “esportsball” fan.
And, of course, I may never know if “Weird Al” had a song about a Blizzard product.
So that was that. It was interesting to see the keynote and a couple of the panels, but without the concert I feel like I wasted $40 as I could have gleaned all that information and more by just reading the gaming news.
Remind me of that in a year when BlizzCon returns.