Stay awhile, and listen.
September 8, 2015 6:56 AM   Subscribe

*Just* got done with a new mod integrating PlugY (unlimited storage space + other cool stuff) and some homemade Horadric Cube recipes. Good timing!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:35 AM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

So many hours lost to this game! Looking forward to the read.
posted by nubs at 7:51 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

"It's funny because one of the things that people don't recall, and a lot of people today, especially younger people today, they don't even understand, is that the game was not super well-received when it came out, but when we put out the expansion a year later, that made a massive difference in people's opinions of the product." - David Brevik

Hmm....that seems familiar.
posted by zabuni at 8:16 AM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Actually, some of the darker times was the end of Diablo II, just because of the growth of the company and the growth of the project to the point where everyone was having to work seven days a week, all waking hours, for almost a year.

Or they could have not worked such intense hours, and likely shipped at the same time, if not earlier. *sigh*
posted by evilangela at 8:23 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not well received? That's funny because our entire college group installed D2 from the 2000 beta on every lab machine and we were addicted to it during our entire tenure. The expansion was icing on a very large cake.

Meanwhile, Hellgate London. I preordered the collector's edition of that piece of shit. Nothing could salvage it. Given that it was basically "oh you're shutting down Blizzard North? Fuck you we'll make our own game!" I had high expectations. Then it was fucking garbage.
posted by Talez at 8:26 AM on September 8, 2015

I loved this game. Mr Sunny still complains about the 'bonk bonk bonk' when battling, because our computers were right next to each other. No sympathy from me, ha!
posted by annsunny at 12:25 PM on September 8, 2015

I wish the article had explained what the abandoned "organs" concept was all about. Like, what they would have actually been used for. The code is still in there and they're easy to reinstate, e.g. as cube ingredients.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:29 PM on September 8, 2015

15 years later and I still play this game.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:06 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

My fun with Diablo is directly proportional to storage space. More storage space = more fun. Same with Borderlands. Why can't developers get it in their thick heads that players are pack rats, and that limiting storage space puts a real damper on the fun? I know. I know. Interesting decisions and all that, but developers need to error on the too much space side, instead of the too little.
posted by Beholder at 2:01 PM on September 8, 2015

That's why you download ATMA!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:23 PM on September 8, 2015

Oh ATMA - I tucked virtually everything into there until I realized I had a few thousand rares and no really good way to sort them to see what might be useful. Maybe a later version built in a search or filter function?
posted by nubs at 2:38 PM on September 8, 2015

I get around that by keeping separate dumps. One for sets, one for uniques, etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:44 PM on September 8, 2015

Oh yeah, I did that too. But still I had more stuff than I could reasonably look at to decide what to do with.

Part of the fun!
posted by nubs at 2:53 PM on September 8, 2015

I'm really bummed that they didn't mention Bill Roper's awesome voiceover work on the series.
posted by culfinglin at 3:03 PM on September 8, 2015

I wish Diablo II hadn't felt like such a departure from Diablo. Diablo felt like a claustrophobic dungeon crawler, and your exact positioning (relative to doors, furniture, etc.) was a matter of life or death. Diablo II's areas are tremendous and repetitive, and often really bright for some reason. I wish Diablo's sequels had stayed closer to the first's roguelike-like design instead of going all in on the Skinner box/MMO approach I now associate with Blizzard.

Also, in case I'm not unpopular enough already, limited inventories forever!
posted by OnSecondThought at 3:13 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Diablo II worked for a lot of reasons, I think:

-item diversity was amazeballs; as mentioned above I stockpiled thousands upon thousands of items because they had good affixes for a build type I might try someday. And then you wanted to hang onto gems and runes too! Plus every fucking Isenhart's Case that ever fell.
-build diversity was also amazeballs; you could do things like naked necromancers and melee sorcs and hunter druids and singing barbs; in part that was because of the item diversity, but it was also because of the diversity of skills and ability to have complete control over attribute & skill point distribution.
-the level of randomization - map randomization combined with the random drops meant a lot of replay-ability in the form of doing runs to try to get that one set/unique/amazeball rare that you needed or wanted.
-decent MP if you wanted it (by which I mean servers and 8 player games supported by Blizzard, and not the quality of those other players), and a SP mode that didn't punish people for playing solo (side-eyes D3) and also allowed for modding, which is where some really really good stuff for D2 that extended the game came out.
-clicky action! Lots of clicking on things to make them die!

So it was really, really good at getting the Skinner box random reward thing going for the player's brains, along with giving you enough control/ability to take the game in your own direction, especially if you were willing to put in some time to find the items to make a build work or get a mod going.

Where it didn't work or overextended itself:

-it did lose that Diablo I feel of claustrophobia and impending menace. Gah, the Butcher! The gorram succubi in the final levels - everything in D1 felt like a struggle to me, and you had to think about how to engage each challenge. In D2, once you had played through once/twice, you kinda knew what to expect and how to handle each area and the challenge kind of dropped away.
-Act V; it was a good idea of have the big sprawling act but the XP rewards were crazy high compared to elsewhere, and the decision to have random spawns of monsters for everywhere in the game for the NM and Hell difficulties robbed Act V of feeling like it had a unique identity.
-Lack of endgame content...once you reach a certain point, you were just down to doing runs to try to get those desired items and doing an XP grind, if you wanted. Hardcore mode kind of addressed this, because it represented a new challenge to play the game without dying, and having to restart if you weren't successful. But even with that I can recall some builds (Fishymancer, I think) where I could do a Baal run and leave the room while Baal was getting beat up by the minions, just leaving something on keyboard to ensure that curses got recast.

I think what it really comes down to is that D2 got copied a lot in the industry, without people necessarily realizing all the factors that made D2 work. I think the iterative design process that they talk about in the interview really had a large influence of making D2 what it was; and then everyone else took the final stages of D2's existence as a cookie cutter for the next ARPG.

Path of Exile got the build diversity and the atmosphere, but doesn't quite have the "feel" somehow - I think it's a graphics thing for me; Torchlight got the build and item diversity, but became a cartoon; and D3 completely forsook diversity and player direction in favor of being a clicky action fest where the devs seem to have largely determined how the game should be played for you, but it looks incredible and plays smooth. I still dabble with all three at times, but I think the ARPG needs to be rethought.
posted by nubs at 4:03 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Man I loved that game and wasted so many hours playing it. As a software developer nowadays hearing about the 1 year if crunch time makes me feel a bit sick at the pit of my stomach. I would not be down for that these days.

Glad to hear they fought to keep hardcore mode and corpse explosion in, my lvl 99 hardcore corpse explosion necro was a lot of fun. Lvl 33 corpse explosion extends beyond the screen.
posted by Joe Chip at 5:15 PM on September 8, 2015

Yeah I'm all about that Diablo I. That game oozes style.

I got a lot of millage out of D2, and I really enjoyed it. I loved doing weird handicapped builds like the bow-using paladin ("ranger"). And just the other day I was thinking about that feeling of getting to Act II for the first time on a character. That moment of first arriving in that foreign desert town... something about it stuck with me (much more than the other act breaks). It's become in my mind the sort of quintessential "arrival at a dusty Arabian town" feeling (which is a strangely specific feeling, now that I think about it, but it's funny how much it comes up). It's this signifier of how far you've traveled / how much you've done, but still, at the same time, how far you are from home / how much you have left to do.

But when it dawned on me how much a bow-using paladin was just like, basically, playing a rogue from the original, I realized my heart and home were in Tristram. In the years that have passed, when I'm feeling nostalgic for that "diablo" feeling, it's always Diablo I return to, not Diablo II. "I sense a soul in search of answers." Dripping, I tell you, dripping with atmosphere!
posted by Flaffigan at 6:36 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

The narrator was amazing. Second only to the narrator for Myth II. That end cutscene of the main D2 game.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:40 PM on September 8, 2015

Metafilter: clicky action! Lots of clicking on things to make them die!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:02 PM on September 8, 2015

This long, rambling review of the game is a fun read.
posted by hal at 7:13 PM on September 8, 2015

I got more lost in that review than I ever did in the jungles of Kurast. But it was a fun read.
posted by nubs at 3:00 PM on September 9, 2015

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