Morning recap: Diablo III

Guest author: Orlowski

Blizzcon is now over and I’m sad that I’ll have to wait probably 6 months to a year to play Diablo III again, but I’ve had a great weekend. I went to Medieval Times last night and, to my dismay, I kept thinking about my Diablo III experience.  MT was great fun. We got to cheer our hearts out for the Black and White knight (That green knight has serious issues). Maybe it was the high-impact sword fighting or the sparks from the zinc/magnesium-embossed polearms but my mind kept meandering back to the fights in D3. Maybe if I tell you guys more about it, I can get it out of my system.

Look and feel:

Much like the old Diablo games, you start by choosing a character and gender. I chose a male barbarian, much like the one in the demo video.  Hulking and strong, probably 6’8”, his frame towers over the npcs and the monsters. They have really gotten the feel of scale. The way he interacts with the environment is very satisfying; smashing tables, tearing down walls, doing a thunderclap type ability that knocks enemies back.  It all ‘feels’ right.

The pace of the game keeps up with the feel, too. The action doesnt really stop, and if it does, you know something is about to happen. There are lots of clues from the environment and music that further engross the player into the storyline. As usual with Blizzard, the attention to detail is outstanding in Diablo III. Zombies and ghouls climb like fleshy spiders from holes in the ground and you can find yourself quickly surrounded. In these cases, there is some decision-making to be made. Do you try to cut through one side of the encircling monsters or do you use an area of effect ability to destroy them all? The fun part is that there isn’t one answer.

Mechanics:


The mechanics of the barbarian are much like that of the rage mechanic in WoW. The longer you are in battle and the more consecutive kills you have the more your ‘rage’ bar fills up. certain abilities like the area knockback require a good amount of rage, so you have to time the positioning and rage generation right if you don’t want to take much damage. The abilites are as simple and as complex as they need to be. Granted, this was only a 20 minute demo, but the abilities have a good synergy, and there are many options for how to chain attacks and which combos are most effective. Attacking a bunch of sheild-weilding skeletons with a cleave probably won’t be as productive as knocking them off their balance so they put down their guard and THEN smashing them to bits.  One thing is that it’s easy to take damage in D3, but as you kill monsters, they drop health ‘orbs’ so you can re-fill during a fight.  I never really got in over my head in any of the encounters, but I’m sure I’ll get into plenty of trouble in the real game.

Monsters:

Attention to detail, attention to detail, attention to detail. One of the things that really added to the engrossing nature of D3 was the monsters. Not only did interacting with the environment feel solid and real, but the monsters did also. In Wow, there isn’t clipping with other monsters, so you were never really ‘surrounded’, but the throngs that can encircle you in D3 actually force you to smash your way out of a bad situation, using aforementioned tactics.  Some of the coolest monsters I saw were the big abomination-like giants and the vomit-wrenching zombies.

Last impressions:
This game has already grabbed a hold of some place in my subconscious.  Like Diablo and Diablo 2, this game has incredible potential for continuous solid and engrossing gameplay, and with the multiplayer options, it could be even worse as you are drafted by your friends to help out on even more missions and quests.  I can only hope that I don’t drive myself crazy waiting for this game to come out. I could definitely see Blizzard being their own worst enemy when people stop playing WoW and move to Diablo III.

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Blizzcon, Day 1

Guest Post: Orlowski

First and foremost, the lack of public internet in Anaheim is very frustrating. I hoped to be able to post more frequently, but internet is either A: not available or B: $10.00 pr 6 hour period. I finally broke down and bought 2 hours of internet in starbucks, so here i am.

Inro speech:

I was honestly somewhat disappointed by the intro speech to Blizzcon. As I’m sure many of you have heard, there weren’t really any new announcements other than the Wizard class for Diablo III. They DID play some of the cinematic sequences for WOTLK and Diablo II and I must admit that it was awesome watching those videos with 7999 other Blizzard fans.  It was also interesting hearing the CEO speak with love for his company and the work he does. It is obvious why Blizzard’s products are the best electronic games in history.

The other 7999 Blizzard fans

The other 7999 Blizzard fans

Nifty Gadgets:

Some time after the intro speech, the throngs dissolved a bit and I could move around and look at some of the vendor booths. One of the coolest things I saw was the booth for the custom figurines (site). They were demonstrating the process of the creation of these figures and had some cool ones on display. One of them was a gnome ‘towering’ over a slain Tauren. They also had on display the panda pet

Figurine of Collectors Edition panda vanity pet

from the collector’s edition of classic WoW. The creation process is pretty much like you might expect. There is a ‘printer’ that progressively plasters layers of glue, building the 3d representation from the ground up. In the second phase, the printer prints the color onto the dried model. There were many other booths to explore, but I left most of them for today. The volume of people crowding different booths made even some meek peeking unproductive. I do have a ‘quest’ card from Brady Games from my SWAG bag that I’m going to turn in today. Hopefully I’ll get some sort of coupon that will make me buy something. I also plan on buying some shirts today.

FigurePrints figurine printer

FigurePrints figurine printer

Devoted fans:

The imagination and enthusiasm of the fans was on full display. I’m not sure what today will bring as far as costumes, but the contest yesterday attracted some very impressive creations. I saw multiple (tired, imho) succubus costumes, other scantily clad women in harpy and more than one High Inquisitor Whitemane. One of the fans had constructed her own working, ridable turtle mount, acquired in-game by entering a code found on a rare wow trading card (She was an industrial engineering major).

Druid? and High Inqusitor Whitemane

Druid? and High Inqusitor Whiteman

WOTLK:

After a bit of enjoying the fans, booths and the ambiance, I decided it was time to try out some of the games.  There were three main corrals of computers set up for each of 3 games: Diablo III, Starcraft II and WOTLK.  I started with WOTLK.  The line moved swiftly, as there were over 100 computers and each user was limited to 20 mins per turn.  Using their custom accounts, I created a level 80 death knight and started playing around. I don’t know what the numbers SHOULD be like for a new 80, but I was doing a fun amount of damage. The mechanics also look like they’re going to be interactive and thought-provoking. It’s not just a xxxxstrike spam.  The ‘rain of zombies’ was particularly cool. It’s a channeled spell where you keep summoning ghouls/zombies the longer you channel and they hang around and kill stuff with you for a bit.
Today I plan on waiting in line and trying out some of the Balance druid talents, like starfall.

Diablo III:

Talk about nostalgia. A few months back, I re-installed Diablo II to remind myself of how I spent so many hours in my early high-school career and a tear almost appeared in my eye. After sitting down and logging into Diablo III, that same feeling washed over me as I was immediately drawn into both the story and the  gameplay. The same interface is there but it seems 1000 times smoother.  Lots of things in the environment are destructable now and the game really feels satisfying to cast a huge explosion or slam a group of ghouls back.  At one point I was forced to eliminate some vomiting zombies. At least I didn’t have to clean up that mess.

Diablo III is going to be amazing. Not only will the single-player aspect grab players by the throat, but the co-op multiplayer is going to ruin lives. It’s amazing (and scary) how quickly 20 minutes can go by. Perhaps they will need a warning label on the box.

Undetermined characters + lady from Ohio + Scantily clad harpy

Undetermined characters + lady from Ohio + Scantily clad harpy

Starcraft II:

I was a pretty big Starcraft fan. I’ll admit that I was never that great, but I’ll use the excuse that I was 15 when I was in my Starcraft prime.  Starcraft II definitely has the ‘Blizzard Polish’ on it, similar to that on Diablo III, and it’s not even done yet. The mechanics are mainly the same: resource management, territorial expansion, industrial sabotage, but I need some more time to figure out some of the tactical and aesthetic differences Starcraft II will bring.  I was playing it at the end of the day, so I was tired and not on top of my game. I think I’ll give it another go today. FOR THE ZERG!!!

[Orlo] whispers:

Guest post: by orlowski

Blizzcon has been going great. Having learned my lesson from last night, I showed up an hour in advance of the doors opening. I was greeted with a hefty line but was confident because I already had my badge, bag and mount; not much to lose now. For at least 30 minutes people were streaming past me, towards the end of the line, so I felt like I had come just at the right time. The line went into and out of the adjacent arena, but by the time I reached the outside, it was 10:00 and the doors opened. The line quickly dissolved into the convention center and I was in!

I will let some of these pictures speak for themselves. I do have one mystery to solve this weekend, though. I’m pretty sure I understand the sources of the smell of rotting clothes, but the *multiple* sources of the smell of baby powder are still elusive.

http://picasaweb.google.com/Nick.orlowski/Blizzcon

You Received Item: [BlizzCon Ticket]

Guest post: by orlowski

I’ve been playing a game for the past 24 hours. It’s called “Who is going to Blizzcon?”. You play the game by looking around and trying to guess if whether a person is going to Blizzcon. I’m pretty good. Meg (girlfriend) played the game: “Maybe there is another girlfriend here who wants to go shopping tomorrow”. I don’t think she fared as well.

After some anxiety, I finally picked up my Blizzcon ticket and goodybag tonight. Around 3:00 (pacific time) I showed up with Meg for pre-registration. I thought “Oh, its 3 in the afternoon. Surely, most people already have their tickets and I can just waltz right in and pick mine up”.

We parked the car and followed the shallow herd of people around the corner, looking for the registration booth. I imagined we would come upon some neatly-trimmed, slightly tired co-ed team in white blizzard polo shirts, standing behind a weathered folding table handing out passes. Boy was I wrong. The building is one big circle, so there aren’t exactly ‘corners’ to walk around; but as we circumscribed the building, the image of a line of people began to appear. We walked further. The line got longer. Further, longer… until finally it ended. The reason it ended was because it was going BACK INSIDE THE BUILDING. Disheartened but not defeated, we decided that since I had already purchased my ticket, there was no need to stress out in this line and went to eat Chinese food.

We returned nearly 3 hours later, fortified by lo-mein and greanbeans, and decided to stick through the line and just get it over with. This was when the true amazement set in. We returned to the same place in this Klein bottle of a line and walked to find the end of it where we left it, inside the building. We went inside, and kept walking, kept walking, kept walking. Thirty yards we did this until finally the line turned a corner and… went into what looked like the floor of an empty UPS warehouse hub. I estimated that four concurrent football games could be played in this space without confusing one field goal. The line was no longer restricted to run along the outer wall of the convention center, but was let loose in this grand arena to twist and wind its way 6 times. I’ll have pictures as soon as I can get a converter for Megs camera.

The line moved quickly and I spoke with the people around me, eagerly awaiting what would be in the SWAG bag. We soon found ourselves near the front of the fast-moving line, and finally were sequestered into a second line for the ngu-pas section of the alphabet to recieve our ticket. This line was short and the people lively. The friend of the kids in front of us had already gotten their bags and were showing off what was inside:

  • 1 Box QQ n00b tissues
  • 1 Tin Diablo III ‘Sinamints’
  • 1 Inflatable Frostmourne
  • 3 Keychains
  • 1 Blizzard Authenticator key
  • 1 Starter set Wow TCG deck
  • 1 Orc halloween mask
  • 1 Glowy Blizzcon pen
  • 1 Canister zerg creep with zergling
  • 1 Stress ball of some sort from diablo III

and of course…

  • 1 Polar bear mount code
  • There were some other cool things in the pack that will be revealed throughout the course of this weekend by Blizzard via RL quests and such, so there will be even more to stay tuned for.

Notes from Blizzcon

Guest post: by orlowski

Dear Gregorus readers,

This is Orlowski, a newly-appointed guest author for Gregorus. I’ll be contributing this weekend about my trip to Blizzcon in Anaheim, CA. Try to keep up!

It’s 6:30, way too early to be up. Not only am I up, but I am already at the Dulles airport waiting to board my flight. My typical schedule involves consciousness no earlier than 8:45 am, but today I’m going to California. The thought of the 5 hour nap in the sky is keeping me going long enough to eat my bacon egg and cheese sandwich from the airport version of Five Guys (which emulates the real Five Guys very well).

Why the land of raisins and wine you ask? I’m going to Blizzcon, Blizzard Entertainment’s quasi-annual celebration of their fantastic game universes: Warcraft (1,2 and world of), Starcraft and Diablo. Gregorus has been gracious and courageous enough to allow me to contribute as a guest author, so I’ll be keeping you all updated on the goings on at Blizzcon, as well as some of my reactions, opinions and first glances at all the snazzy new stuff Blizzard is putting out. I’ll also be gloating about the sweet SWAG I’ll be hoarding.

So stay tuned for more Blizzcon pics and info tomorrow and Saturday!