Tag Archives: Diablo II

Reflecting on Diablo II at Twenty

Despite my writing what might be accurately called a video game oriented blog, I can be remarkably narrow in focus when it comes to the breadth of video games out there… except maybe when I am complaining about how much crap there is on Steam.

But there are some games that I am just into, that mean something to me, and that I will carry a torch for long past when said games have faded from the mainstream.  Diablo II is definitely on that list, and the 20 year anniversary is this past Monday, which means it is time to reflect.

Blizzard has their own set of celebrations to commemorate the anniversary, but we’re still missing the Diablo II remaster.  It could still be coming.  Some news has leaked, but the problems facing such a remaster loom still as well.

The last time I checked Diablo II still ran on current machines.  That was a while ago, but there is still a good chance I could install it and play.  The problem is that 20 years back monitor sizes were much smaller.  The game shipped with 640×480 as its maximum resolution, though that was bumped up to e 800 x 600 with the Lord of Destruction expansion.

My current main monitor runs as 1,920 x 1200, which means I could fit four screens of Diablo II on it, with some space left over.  And if I go full screen , the graphics get almost Minecraft blocky and the image is distorted as we’ve gone from 4:3 as the standard screen ratio to 16:9 or 16:10.

So Diablo II today does not deliver the best experience.

And why am I so interested in Diablo II?  As noted above, it is one of those games that I was just really into back in the day.

The original Diablo set the stage.  That was amazing in its time, and I enjoyed player the GoG.com remaster when that came out last year.

So when Blizzard announced Diablo II back in the late 90s, I was all over that.  It was one of the few games I paid attention to before it shipped.  I remember staring at their web site.  I recall the original specs, which included the requirement to have a 3dfx Interactive video card if you wanted the full graphical effects.

That was later dropped as a requirement, but it caused some serious discussions with my friends.  Were we going to have to get a Voodoo 2 card just for this game? (One friend got himself setup with dual Voodoo 2 cards… early SLI… which worked out well when EverQuest hit, though hardware was changing so much back then that I am sure we were all running GeForce TNT cards not long after that. It was a crazy market for video cards back then with several competing brands rather than the two we have now.)

The wait was long… at least it felt long at the time… and there were delays… but when it did ship, it lived up to our expectations.  Rare for me is a sequel that outshines an original I really enjoyed.  My attempt at an objective measure on that front is, once the sequel shipped, did I ever feel like going back and playing the original?

For example, when Civilization II shipped, I never played Civilization again.

And when it came to Diablo II, I never had the urge to go back to the original until GoG.com released their version last year in conjunction with Blizzard.  And by that point Diablo II wasn’t all that interesting, it being in such need of a rework itself.

But back in 2000 we played a lot of it.  People dropped out of EverQuest and TorilMUD to devote time to the game.  I ended up owning two copies because we would play it at the office after hours together and you only have to forget your disk and miss a game night once to feel the need to have a second copy.  It was, for its time, so engaging.  I still marvel at the use of lighting, something that the games successors have really never matched.

In the end, I have enjoyed Diablo III, it official successor, and have played pretty much every other claimants to its ARPG mantle, from Titan Quest to the recent Minecraft Dungeons, but I have never enjoyed or been as into any of them as much as I did Diablo II at its peak.

There are a lot of nit-picky reasons why that might be the case, related to game play, graphics, story, and that always online thing.

But I wonder if Diablo II just happened along at the right moment for me.

I still want a remaster though.  I’ll buy it.  I might not end up liking it as much as I did back in the day, but there is enough memories there to make it a must have.

May in Review

The Site

As predicted, the disruption of being laid off meant less posts.  Theoretically, I have much more time in which to write.  However, I had a writing routine which is broken without the whole job thing around which it was structured, leading to less writing over all.

Well, less blog writing.  I’ve been writing lots of email, updating my resume, writing cover letters, and so on.  So the amount of writing I’m doing is going up over all.  You just don’t see as much of my output now.

My mother was also out to visit recently, which really has nothing to do with the site, but gives me an excuse to post a picture.

Authenticators Three

It turns out that while my mother, myself, and my daughter all have Blizzard authenticators, we all have different ones.  I am sure there is somebody out there who collects this sort of thing and who is saying, “Hey, where did you get that middle one?”

One Year Ago

It was just a year ago when I was able to expose the true conspiracy behind the EuroGamer Darkfall review.  Powerful forces have been suppressing this story ever since.

Meanwhile, EverQuest was celebrating its 10 year anniversary by putting up a new server.  Polled on what it should be, people chose the 51/50 rule set.  I’m sure that, somehow, that say something about MMOs and nostalgia.  And did anybody go play on that new server?  How did it work out?

I went back and played some Blizzard classics, Diablo II and StarCraft, both of which have patches now that mean you do not need the CD to play.  This was prompted by Blizzard’s pushing people towards Battle.net and the announcement of the opt-in for the StarCraft II beta.  I opted in right away.  I hear that some people got in to the beta almost a year later. *cough*

In New Eden, it was new ship time, as I picked up both an Orca and a Buzzard.  I also managed to lose my Cerebus.   Oops.

And speaking of EVE Online, it was a year ago that I announced my one year experiment, EVE Online Pictures.  That site is now two years old.

The instance group was moving along slowly.  We did hit Azjol Nerub, but vacations and such kept us down to four people, so we spent a bit of time back in Burning Crusade doing heroics and generally messing around.  That included our run into Ogrimmar to do Ragefire Chasm.

And a year ago Playboy’s “Massively Casual Online Game” Playboy Manager was announced.  The game was supposed to launch in the summer of 2009 according to the press release.  The site for the game is still there (go Google it) but it still mentions signing up for beta invites.  Casual might refer to the development plan I guess.

New Linking Sites

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Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. Pokewalker Winner’s Path WiFi Event
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Pokewalker Twinking
  4. Battle of the Immortals – Key Features
  5. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  6. Starting Fresh in Middle-earth Three Years Later
  7. So This is Where EQII Marketing is Headed
  8. April Fools at Blizzard
  9. TTH Picks the Top Ten PvP MMOs
  10. The Agency… on Facebook
  11. Re-Entering Middle-earth
  12. Of Server Merges, Memorial Dings, Vanity Mounts, and Predictions

Search Terms of the Month

freeport housing looks like shit
[Well, I hear the Halas housing is much better.]

how do i hack the arceus event
[I make a pokewalker cheat and this is what I get?]

MLB dugout blueprints
[I’m calling homeland security on this one.]

white mouse
[My first thought was, “Seriously?”  But it turns out the site is the number one response when you search Google images for “white mouse.”  Go figure.]

Spam Comment of the Month

Tom Cruise is a fudge packer
[This was on a Pokemon post.  Again, go figure.]

EVE Online

The wormhole expedition seems to be back on.  Potshot has been leading on this, and has a couple of posts on the subject. (In order, Spaaace, Parking, Defenses, and Room.)  I opted-in by taking my pile of ISK and buying a couple of PLEX so I could be around to help out and still keep up my embargo on new expenses.  I also trained up Starbase Defense Management so I could man the guns should it come to pew-pew.

Lord of the Rings Online

I have a couple of posts backed up on LOTRO.  I have been playing my two new characters on Firefoot.  They are both past level 25 at this point and it feels like I could keep going at a moderate pace and make my goal from last year of at least seeing Moria.  Then again, things could flatten out.  We’ll see.

Lord of Ultima

A friend of mine thought Lord of Ultima looked neat, so I joined him in playing.  He has since stopped, but I plug along.  I am WilhelmIV on World 3.  It isn’t really anything like the Ultima series up to and including Ultima Online.  It is more like Evony without the ads, scams, and stolen artwork.  I’m about ready to build a castle, which makes you open to attack, to see how quickly I will get wiped out.  I am surrounded by BioWare Edmonton players.

World of Warcraft

After throwing out tons of different ideas and possible alternative games, it sounds like we are going to press on with our team of horde characters on Lightninghoof and see if we cannot blast through the Outlands doing only random instances via the dungeon finder.

Nintendo DS/Wii

Pokemon is still in play.  My daughter and I are both in Kanto now, another item I should post about, since we managed it in very different styles.  I was disappointed to find that Pokemon Ranch does not work with HeartGold and SoulSilver, and I am going to guess that Pokemon Battle Revolution is likewise incompatible.

While we have a new, favorite disk for the Wii, I will write about that later.

And we pulled out Wii Fit, which my wife got for her birthday in 2009 (she asked for it!).  The body evaluation section of the program declared my daughter obese.  We had to go in and change her profile.  She had grown over 7 inches since we last played.  Once fixed, she was again at the skinny end of healthy.

Coming Up

More sporadic posting, and it will get worse before it gets better, as once I get a new job (please!) there will be coming up to speed with the new position and the eventual creation of a new routine which may allow even less time to write, like if I get that job over in Emeryville for which I applied.  I would end up spending a lot more time commuting and a lot less time writing in that case.

But I should always have time for at least the weekly instance group write-ups.  We shall see what the future brings.

Desperately Seeking Diablo III

As I have previously noted, I am subject to bouts of game nostalgia. And, after more than 30 years since I received an Atari 2600 for Christmas, that is a lot of gaming ground to cover.

Lately I have been feeling the urge to play Diablo II. I blame Michael Zenke for this, as he put an article up on Massively a week or so back that triggered it.

The article itself was about Hellgate: London and was primarily posted to point out an excellent analysis of HGL by Shamus Young on his site Twenty Sided.

(And, as an aside, while you are there you should also check out his web comic, DM of the Rings.)

And how did this lead to Diablo II? I’m getting to that.

Shamus chose, as a major vehicle for his review, to compare HGL with the development team’s previous project, Diablo II. A good chunk of the team at Flagship Studios, where HGL was developed, came from Blizzard North, the group that was responsible for Diablo II. And so the two products end up being laid side by side at different points throughout the series of posts.

This not only highlighted the flaws of HGL in both a dramatic and a tangible fashion, but it also brought out what was done so well in Diablo II.

This lead to me digging out my Diablo II CDs.

Which, in turn, lead to a minor conflict between my memories and reality.

I decided to just install Diablo II and not the expansion. The four acts of the original game were all quite enjoyable and I did not think I would need any more than that to cover nostalgia.

After installation the game launched and resize the display down to 640 x 480. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just go into the options and fix that once I get into the game.”

I had forgotten that, in the base game, there is no resolution beyond 640 x 480. Digging around I discovered that and alternate resolution did not come into the game until the expansion, The Lord of Destruction. And even then, that alternate was only 800 x 600.

I figured that might be tough to cope with on my 1600 x 1200 LCD monitor.

I was committed by this point though, so I loaded up the expansion. And, yes, seeing the game running at one quarter the resolution of my monitor was a bit taxing.

At first.

But then I started playing, getting into the clicking rhythm of the game. It took a few minutes to stop putting my fingers on the WASD keys. Soon though, I was under the spell of the game.

It is a very good game, even today.. It always feels so dark and gloomy. Even in the bright sunlit areas, there is a sense of foreboding and the feeling that clouds are going to pass over the sun at any moment. The graphics startlingly good for their low resolution. The map system is outstanding. It feeds that obsessive compulsive desire to make sure you see everything. The difficulty of the whole game scales when you have more people playing with you. And, of course, there are elements of that game that we now recognize in our favorite MMOs. For example, punctuation marks anybody?

I found myself plunging into the game, appreciating both its simplicity and its depth.

This lead me to wish, yet again, that they would make a new version of this game. I want Diablo III!

Only, in my gut, I know this is never going to happen, for one of two reasons.

The first reason is that, theoretically, it already has been made, it was called Hellgate: London, and it stank on ice.

The second reason is that, while Blizzard no doubt has the talent on hand to create a Diablo III, that talent was put into making World of Warcraft. WoW owes so much to Diablo II that it is, for all intents and purposes, the technical sequel to Diablo II. After playing WoW for a couple of years, going back and picking up Diablo II can be a stunner. You start to see the logical progression of features, the things improved, borrowed, or lifted outright.

The only thing wrong is that Blizzard chose to place the game in Azeroth and give it a brightly colored appearance rather than setting it in that dark world of Diablo II. And that makes all the difference.

Not that WoW is a bad game, but it certainly does not feel like Diablo.

There have been a number of Diablo knock-offs as well, with Titan Quest probably being the most well known and best reviewed, but none of them have quite captured that Diablo feel either.

So I suppose I will go on wishing for a new version of Diablo while poking around again in Diablo II. I have friends and family who still play the game.

Do you think Blizzard will make another Diablo game?