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FRESH MEAT; BACK FOR THIRDS

05 July 2008

So, Diablo 3 finally got announced this weekend to great upheaval in the community, and in my own, personal community of one, here in the room. It's been a good eight years since Diablo 2 was released, and I remember quite well that I had started getting excited for that title some three years before that. In fact, it was one of the first games I really got extremely excited for a long time before its release. Before that time, games seemed to just magically appear one day, or would turn out to have existed for a long time already. The world changed from a static field of resplendent games to a linear progression on a timeline, always pointed towards the future and promises of new experiences never before played.

The first Diablo I played rigourously over a local area network, binding two computers together. It was a fantastic time: me and a friend would spend hours training our little avatars and finding the perfect opportunity to stab each other in the back. Being rather giddy and cautious, I was mostly on the receiving end of things, though I was well prepared to counter-attack. At one point his warrior kept cutting down my sorcerer as soon as I would respawn on the same spot. I painstakingly prepared potions and spells in the single second I would have between spawning and being killed again by the ganking bastard. At one point, after about five resurrections, I had everything in place. Before he could land another blow, I cast Manashield and began gulping blue potions. Sorcerers have an incredible amount of mana, so once I had that, I was set to nuke his unholy ass into oblivion with a reckless amount of fireballs. Amazing fun.

When Diablo 2 arrived, my computer was ill-equipped to deal with its deal-breaking high resolution 2D graphics, but I persevered and finished the game with a rather poorly chosen Paladin (who is a group player, mostly). I couldn't really enjoy the game until I got a better machine, but once that was in place I played the hell out of it for the next five years or so. Only then did it start to lose its appeal, off- and online. I had raised several Sorceresses, Necromancers, Barbarians and Paladins up to that point. It was high time for a sequel.

Which turned out to be quite the wait of course, but Blizzard did not disappoint with their presentation of D3 in Paris last weekend. What a ride! It looks so polished already, though with Blizzard that's never an indication of a nearing release date. They'll continue tweaking until it's absolutely perfect. From the community side there's already a petition lamenting the colourful graphics and Warcrafty design aesthetic; demanding something darker and grittier. I tend to agree in spirit; I found even D2 too cartoony for my tastes and this game looks to be even more so. But their tone is inappropriate: they're playing armchair designer and demanding things of Blizzard, showing not the least bit of respect. Respect that they've earned more than anyone by always making the right calls, never having disappointed with their products and astounding the world with nothing but the highest quality games. To then start second-guessing them and demanding changes is gross and misplaced. A suggestion I could support; a hubris-filled wall of petty complaints I would rather flush down the toilet. You, sirs, suck.

But overall the response has been amazing, and deservedly so. I can't wait to get my hands on Diablo 3 somewhere in 2011!

Roderick.