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Richard's Ramblings

Just because sometimes my mind overflows its brainpan. Figured this would make as good of an outlet to catch those overflows as any. No set theme, topic, or schedule, just whatever and whenever. :)

Author: RJCox

Yes, More About Diablo 3

Posted by RJCox Tuesday May 29 2012 at 5:58PM
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Yes, this entry will be about Diablo 3 as well. To be completely honest, I haven't really played much else since it released other than some time spent on Operation Raccoon City for the FPSGuru review. Spoiler: Save yourself the pain, just avoid it.

Anyway, back to D3. 

Progress Report: My main (a Monk) is now level 56, finished with Nightmare and on to (I think) Act 3 in Hell mode. Now some observations on things I've seen/done/experienced since last time we chatted.

Whimsyshire: By now I'm sure you've all seen the video(s) circling the interwebz about D3's "secret" level. Much like Diablo 2's secret cow level, Whimsyshire is hidden and accessed by combining an odd assortment of bits and bobs you come across throughout the game. Chances are, if you've found something that isn't sellable, and you don't know what else to do with it, it is a part of the puzzle. First and foremost I have to give Blizzard some major props for the very concept of the level. Basically, it's a direct trolling response to all the haters who complained about the game being too bring and colorful. I'm all for a developer taking the time to troll some trolls, and building a complete level to do so is just win.

That being said, for as much effort as it takes to gain access to the place, you'd think it would be better farming grounds. I mean, some of the pieces you need have a random chance of spawning from a mob that has a random chance of spawning in a dungeon that has a random chance of appearing on a map... So basically, to farm that piece, you keep loading a game in the correct Act and area, explore the map hoping the right random dungeon appeared, if it did, you explore that dungeon hoping the right special mob inside spawns, and then kill it hoping it drops the right random item... And if not, start all over.

Anyway, once you gain access to the place, you go in and kill a bunch of unicorns, cuddly bears and flowers, some of which will be blues if you're lucky. I've farmed the place a couple dozen times now easily. I've yet to get anything out of there worth equiping.

Difficulty: There's been no shortage of complaints circling the interwebz about how hard Inferno is, I know. And I haven't even made it there yet. I can't imagine it personally, Hell is rough enough at times. At level 56 there are mobs with certain enhancements that I just have to avoid. Even with my Monk's build set to a purely defensive/regen-heavy way I still get once-shot by some things. So in Inferno will regular mobs kill me just by looking in my general direction?

I'm not saying I'd prefer it to be easier. I have to admit, if the whole game was like Normal mode, what would be the point in playing? There has to be some ongoing challenge. I'm not overly displeased with the difficulty levels (again, I haven't made it to Inferno yet, so who knows if that stance will change.) It is definitely frustrating at times, especially on the odd times when there's a set of mobs that repeatedly one-shot me that I can't just avoid. Generally that ends up with me having to leave the game and go back in until the mobs reset with a set of enhancements I can deal with. Damn you laser beams!

Auction House: Another topic with no shortage of complaints on the web. My main complaint on this front is well, how absolutely useless it is. Naturally I'm not talking about the RMAH as that's not even active yet. Just the regular one. Considering I've taken a character to level 56 now, and done an extensive amount of farming on that character, and I've still yet to find my first piece of Legendary gear. Oh, why not pop onto the AH and see what's there... Look, TONS of legendaries suitable for my character... Hmmm... the cheapest of which is millions of gold... I have like 100k gold... Well, NM. I'd sell some of the Rares that I get from farming, but with so many legendaries on the AH, no one gives a damn about rares. Even at bargain basement prices. I'm curious how people are making enough money to afford Legendaries at their current going rate... Like I said, I've spent some time farming... And while I've been leveling up my crafters, even if I hadn't been I don't think I'd be anywhere near a million gold yet, much less several million. So what am I doing wrong?

So that Diablo 3 game... Heard of it?

Posted by RJCox Monday May 21 2012 at 1:12AM
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So I, much like most of the gaming world I'm sure, picked up Diablo 3 on launch day. I've liked the previous Diablo games well enough, and have naturally been looking forward to D3. But I won't call myself a hardcore Diablo series fanboy by any means. I'm much more of a fan of the genre than a fan of Diablo specifically. I also love Titan Quest, Torchlight, etc, heck, even Fate.

There's a lot I like about Diablo 3, but admittedly, there are also things I don't like much at all. And I figured I might as well come ramble a bit here about them all, just cause I can.

First of all, for a bit of reference, I'm playing a Monk, I'm level 45 now or so, about to finish my Nightmare playthrough, so I've put some hours into the game before 'jumping' to these conclussions...

First of all the much talked about new skill system. I went in expecting to hate it, completely. I like trees, they're easy to see and visualize and mentally plan out as you're going along. You see what's next, and what that will lead to, what you need to spend points on to get where you need to go. It's all so logical and makes sense to my OCD personality. This new fangled system they came up with just doesn't make sense. But then I started playing the game, and while I won't say I love the new system, I can't say that I hate it like I figured I would. It's just what it is. I'd probably prefer the old tree system still, but meh, I haven't thrown the disks through the wall or anything yet. It's grown on me.

Crafting system: love it. Great addition, with one minor complaint that I'll get to in a bit. But the system as a whole is just like a new random loot generating machine. "Poof, give me a chest here with a yellow axe in it!" and presto, yellow axe. Granted, the stats are randomized, but that's the fun "slot-machine" aspect to it. "Doh! +102 Int?! I'm a Monk!!!" 

Classes: I played around with all 5 in beta, taking each to 10 or so. I admit, that isn't very high and doesn't give you the best feel for the class. But I fell in love with the Monk and it was never a doubt that'd be my first character come launch. To be fair, I've already created a character in each of the other classes to reserve the names, etc, but they're all still level 1. I'll get to them eventually, but really digging the Monk atm. Also, I have to admit, the Monk/Templar combo is just sick...

Speaking of Followers: Nice, fun, well done, all that. I wish they had inventories to carry a bit of loot so I could run back to town a little less. I also wish there was a bit more customization to them. Meaning, a couple more skill levels to select/choose. Maybe one every 6 levels, giving you 10 skills/powers at max level... Also a couple more choices as far as "classes" go. Maybe a pure healer type? A healer/caster combo? But I can also see this as something to be added in an expansion I guess...

Story/Length: We all knew the story would be top notch, it's Blizzard after all. As for the length of gameplay, there has been a lot of buzz about the game being too short. I guess I can see that if you're comparing it to the RPG genre as a whole instead of just the ARPG subgenre. My first playthough took me around 18-19 hours with exploring every side dungeon/cave/etc I could find. I've heard of people doing it in as few as 9-10 hours. Well, I've heard of as low as 6, but I actually believe the 9-10 hour range if you just fly straight through the main story skipping any optional content.

And that leads me to my main/biggest complaint about the game. Content stripping to force replays. Now first, let me make something clear, I'm not adverse to replaying a good game. Take Borderlands for example. I've played through Borderlands and all the DLC completely through, end to end 8+ times. I've maxed out 5 different characters. My problem with how D3 handles it is that once you finish "Normal" and start playing Nightmare, you realize how they withheld content from Normal. That and how much of a cakewalk it is comparatively. Honestly, I only died 3-4 times on my first playthrough, and every one of those I can chalk up to my own mistake or inattention like alt-tabbing to another window when I thought the area was clear only to come back and find myself dead. There's just little to no challenge Normal. And as for the content stripping: There are no loot drops above Rare/Yellow. The pages you need to continue leveling up the crafters don't drop, so you're restricted in how high you can level them. To be fair, they're also limited in Nightmare as well. 

I get that Blizz wants people to play through multiple times. I get that they want to give people something "new" in those subsequent playthroughs. I just hate that it feels like I'm forced to do the additional playthroughs if I want to see all the content. Like I said in the forums somewhere, I will gladly play a good game multiple times through because I want to, you don't need to "force" me to by doling out bits of content at a time each time I play through it and bump up a difficulty level.

I'd get into the whole "always online DRM" crap, but I can't really say anything about that that hasn't been said on the interwebz a hundred times over. I just assume you already know my feelings on that matter, since I can't imagine anyone who enjoys dealing with rubberbanding and server lag in a single-player game. Or anyone who is happy when they can't play their single player game because the servers are down for maintence, etc.

Anyway, there you have it. Overall I'm really digging the game, moreso now that I'm past Normal and playing on Nightmare. Prolly even moreso in the next day or two when I move on to Hell. There are things I dislike about it, sure. And yes, I'm still eagerly anticipating Torchlight 2.

Wow Is This Place Dusty...

Posted by RJCox Sunday May 13 2012 at 9:01AM
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*blows the dust off the control panel*

Really? Like 3 and a half years since I've updated this blog? Well that's just no good...

Granted, I haven't done much writing in that time. Heck, I haven't even really been playing much MMO type games in that time. But lately I've found myself getting back into MMOs, and since I am, I'll be writing for the site a little again (also for the sister sites RTSGuru and FPSGuru.) So with all that, I guess it's time to dust this thing off and get some use out of it. Not that there's likely many followers out there left after over 3 years of inactivity, but oh well.

So where have I been, what have I been up to? Well, for starters I'm not in the game industry anymore. Well, other than the writing bit on the side of course. But after my last couple stints (Trion and Bioware) I decided I wanted to move back home and do something different with my life, so I became an EMT. Now I ride around in an ambulance and help people. I find there's FAR less bloodshed and drama in EMS than in the game industry.

Gaming wise I've been playing a LOT of console games lately, pushing my XBox Live Gamerscore up over 50k in a short amount of time. For some reason I just wasn't able to get into MMOs for the longest time. But now I'm back into them. Currently playing TERA and really enjoying it. Looking forward to TSW as well. And of course D3, even though it's not really an MMO.

So why TERA? What about it drew me back into MMOs where so many games had failed before? Honestly that's kinda hard to put a finger on... The combat definitely helps. I've always been primarily a RPG gamer on console, and even though I don't use the controller option in TERA, it reminds me a lot of playing a regular single-player RPG on my XBox, primarily because of the combat. Granted, when I first started playing, it was on a Priest, and I didn't see what the big deal about the combat was. Sure, you had to aim a little more, but overall it didn't play very differently than most MMOs as far as the caster class seemed to go. But then I rolled my Zerker and that's when it hit me. I'm not going to sit here and say the combat is the greatest thing since sliced bread (and really, who made that the bar to aim for?) But it DOES add a little something to spice up what is traditionally a very dull combat system. MMOs long ago fell into this "tab to target, hit a sequence of number keys, kill rinse repeat" rutt that has needed to be changed for a long time. I'm glad someone finally has. Maybe this will be the stepping stone other companies need to venture out and test the water on other combat system tweaks and ideas.

What intrigues me most about TSW is the setting. Don't get me wrong, I love me some fantasy/medieval gaming. But I also like a little variety. I mean, I love the 26oz Ribeye at the local steak place, but if I ate it every day, well, I'd prolly end up riding in a difference spot in the back of the ambulance than I normally do. Also, I have to admit, Anarchy Online was one of my very first MMO loves. Sure, it was buggy as all hell, but I loved it. I got into the beta very early on and played all the way through until about a year after launch. Admittedly, Age of Conan didn't really float my boat. So basically I'm hoping that TSW will be a lot like AA, just without all the bugs of course...

Anyway, that's enough rambling for the time being, especially since this is the first post in over 3 years. But I'll try to start swinging by here more often and rambling a bit about what I'm playing or happenings in the industry, etc.