Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trapped in the Hells

So. Like (almost) every other gamer on the planet right now, I purchased and have begun playing the long-anticipated Blizzard game, Diablo III - the sequel 12 years in the making after the ridiculously successful Diablo II.

I, for one, absolutely adore the universe and the gameplay in these games. The world is filled with interesting characters, the missions are intriguing and the monsters are grotesque and evil. You, as hero, stand as the lone light of salvation in the doomed world.

Set 20 years after the events of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, wherein the last of the three Prime Evils, Baal, is killed last after his brothers - Mephisto and the eponymous Diablo - were killed, the heroes must rise again to fend off the encroaching hell hordes. The last of the Lesser Evils have surfaced after a mysterious fireball smashes into the Earth and causes the dead to rise.

If you were one of the many who received their game on its May 15 release date, odds are, you were met with the various Error messages, informing you that you couldn't log on. The servers had crashed with the traffic.

"What?" you may ask. "How can the servers of a single player game crash?"
Good question. Let me tell you.

In a move that has royally pissed off more than a fair share of people, something which is concisely summed up in this article. The main problem being that, in an attempt to curtail piracy - which has run rampant in the gaming community for, well, ever - Activision/Blizzard have decided that you have to log in to the server to be able to play your game.

"Hell," you say, "that's not so bad! You have to do that for Starcraft II and it works just fine!"

Oh, but you see, for Starcraft II, you have the option to play offline. Not so with Diablo III. You must be online at all times with Diablo III. It's no longer a "single player game with an online/multiplayer option", it's an online single player game that has the option of being played alone. But never offline.

And god help you if you have anyone on your friends list, because they can just pop into your game whenever they please. Without asking. Just PING! and they're in. But, that's neither here nor there.

My main gripe is the fact that, as happened to me on Tuesday night, if their servers are down or if my internet just plain isn't working that day, I have paid $69 for a game that I can't play. I know this is the case with World of Warcraft or any other number of MMORPGs, but those are designed for online play. You play them, you accept that servers need maintenance and sometimes they're going to go offline. But, when I purchase a single player game, I expect to be able to play it whenever I damn well feel like.

This means that unless my train has wireless, I can't play on the train. I can't play at someone else's house who's internet I can't get into. I can't play anywhere where there is no internet. And that just shits me.

That said, it's a pretty damn great game.



  1. I'm less bothered than most by the "must have internet connection to play" design choice. Compare it to: "You mean I have to enter a serial key when I play!?!" and "The CD has to stay in the drive all the time!?!". It used to be code-wheels and hidden icons in the corner of game manuals.

    However, draconian as it may feel, it actually wouldn't be an inconvenience for people who legitimately purchased the game....


    1. I for one, would like to go back to serials and having the CD in the drive all the time than have to play online in a single player game.

      Besides, if you have bought the game legit, you HAVE everything needed to play. Not everyone has an internet connection, let alone one reliable enough for this sort of BS.

  2. Yes to the comments people have made, but also look at the reasoning and the benefits.
    1) We can use our singleplayer character as our multiplayer character.
    2) We can do so without fear of people cracking the game and giving themselves items, as that's being handled serverside (This is the main reason behind the shift)
    3) Due to 2, the auction house isn't going to get royally fucked, which means it should work for its intended function (maybe it won't be great, but I haven't paid much attention to it so far).

    Yes, the servers are fucked, and yes a constant internet connection is annoying (especially given how unstable my internet is locally, let alone on their end). So keep in mind there ARE unmistakable benefits to this, in fact one of the core aspects of the hardcore Diablo fanbase is their desire to sink as much time and effort into the multiplayer as possible, and MANY lamented how fucked d2 got economically, and with hackers. This is a good way around this at least for quite a while, albeit with some major oversights from blizzard. (But it's okay that they were unprepared, because they didn't stress test the servers, they've never had to deal with issues like this, there was nothing they could've done to mitigate server stress, they had no idea they had a large fanbase and it's their first game release.... oh.)