Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Future Is AWESOME!

Like everyone else on the planet, this is what I currently get when I try to get a little hot single-player Diablo 3 action in.

The reason that this bothers me so much is that this sort of thing is bad for PC/Mac gaming. It's not bad for Blizzard. They'll still make a mint. But this sort of thing tarnishes the entire platform. Every gamer who gets hit with this sort of thing has a chance of being pushed away from the PC (and with good reason!) and toward consoles and iOS, platforms that don't have these hassles.

My business will, in a small way, get tarred with this brush, and it hurts my bottom line. Which makes me sad.

Oh well. I guess I'll spend time with my family instead. Sigh. If I wanted to spend more time with my family, you think I would have bought Diablo III?


  1. Bought it off Battlenet last night and after about five hours downloading and installing, I've had no problems playing aside from occasional lag. Could be down to my time-zone in the UK of course.

    It does depress me that games are doing this, and I told myself I wouldn't buy it at launch. I'd wait for Torchlight 2 or Grim Dawn to come out first, maybe pick it up once all the DLC and expansions are out, but who can resist?

    I played Quakeworld on-line as a slide-show back in the day so maybe I'm just more tolerant to lag, but it is odd I should accept on-line problems in my exclusively single player play-through.

  2. I have to wonder why Blizzard didn't allow offline play with the mandatory caveats of having to register the game once installed, sign up for a BattleNet account and register any created characters should a solo player want to venture online at some point.

    I keep hearing reasons for the always online thing that don't quite make sense or any money at all for Blizzard from potential new players who don't wish to be logged on or simply live in areas where they CAN'T stay logged on for ages... or at all.

    I can't play DIII on my PC thanks to a crappy internet connection, but it's installed at a friend's place and as he's in no hurry to play it, he'll be running around as a nicely leveled character once I'm done.

    Of course, this is only ONE game. Imagine a new console with a mandatory always on connection not working for ANY game when something goes wrong with those servers or isn't a hardware issue that can be easily resolved?

    Oh, that's going to be a fun pic-a-nic when it happens, Boo-Boo!

    1. Really, if it was all about keeping online balanced and hack-free, they could have simply made offline solo characters completely unable to go online. A very simple, obvious solution.

      It's clear that it's primarily an antipiracy measure. By making the game completely unplayable, even solo, with no Battle.net connection, it prevents piracy entirely.. in theory. I wonder how long it'll be until someone will be able to set up a private server for DIII. Would probably require a leak of the back-end.

  3. Real money auction houses mandate that the single player game is just a multiplayer game with one person in it.

    Otherwise the RMAH would just be full of ledgendary items for 10 cents within, what, 30 secs? Maybe before it even opened.

    1. They could have easily solved this problem by separating single player characters and multiplayer characters and preventing the solo characters from using the auction house.

      Basically the Open vs Closed system they used in Diablo 2 would have worked fine. Requiring everybody to be online all the time is overkill.

    2. You are obviously correct that splitting single and multi was the solution to the current (99.99% confidence temporary) problems.

      I think that would be a pyrrhic victory for Blizz.

      I like the design that means there is no real difference between game types.

      The ambition of having a playing separately but together world where there is very little compromise between single and multi is great.

      I like the gold auction house (apart from the ridiculous price deflation that will ensue) but not the RMAH and am pleased it is not required.

      I guess the problem with the whole thing is this massive launch peak. I am disappointed that they didn't cover it as if anyone has the experience and cash it is them. I guess even for them, provisioning, what, 20 times the capacity they will need in 3 month's time was still a stretch.

  4. I think this also calls into question some of the strategy game developers have been considering for the next generation of games - console games as well. There are rumors that the PS Orbis and Xbox Durango will require perpetual internet connections to play games. While a server busy situation is obviously different, there are similarities as well in that it if there is any sort of networking problem outside of the console/person's home, either with their ISP or the gaming network, players might not have access to the titles they just purchased.

    I have four friends here at work who all bought D3 right away, and so far only 2 have really been able to play so far, and neither extensively. It is something that will no doubt get resolved shortly, but it's a troubling sight, I agree.

  5. Sorry, Blizzard, not interested. Also, I no longer play games that require a CD/DVD in the drive. For PC gaming, that reduces me to Steam, shareware/downloadable and a few miscellaneous options like the Mac App Store. I'm old enough to deal with that, and you kids can stay off of my lawn.

  6. i waited for them to process my order for a long time (20 hours?), so i couldnt even log into the game. That's ok with me, but what was annoying was downloading the client, typing in my credentials and then having a disabled login button.

    There was no indication of what was wrong or why i couldnt play.

  7. "Real money auction houses mandate that the single player game is just a multiplayer game with one person in it. "

    Real money transactions in the real world mandate that the plastic disk I blew sixty bucks on it be usable to do something.

    But hey, you're right. These outages are totally preventing people from selling fake items in the auction house!

    - Jeff Vogel

  8. The problem is the Blizzard doesn't really care. No one will lose their job over it, no one will be demoted, nothing of significance will happen to the people at fault. They will continue as normal and hope it just goes away which of course it will and the same thing will just repeat itself for other single player games because Blizzard got away with it :9 pretty sad for the pc gamers

  9. Hah! Had the exact same reaction when this all started. Didn't think for a moment that it was still going to be a problem days later, though.

    You're dead-on about it hurting the platform, too. Diablo 3 is going to be a lot of people's reintroduction to PC gaming, and it's aggravating that they're going to see it as a giant hassle when it's improved so much over the last few years.

  10. Oh, and Jeff -

    I actually DID think of your business during the DIII downtime. I wished I was playing an Avernum game instead of staring at yet another error screen.

    I think your business is safe from most, if not all backlash, as at least anyone who buys one of your games can play it when they want to...

  11. "platforms that don't have these hassles."

    Ummm, you must not play a lot of big name online console games then. :) I've seen the exact same kind of issues with Xbox multiplayer games.

  12. @Machaira "I've seen the exact same kind of issues with Xbox MULTIPLAYER games."

    Emphasis added by me.

    I've played a million AAA XBox games. Multiplayer will always go down sometimes. That's life. But I've never been locked out of a SINGLE PLAYER XBox experience.

    - Jeff Vogel

  13. Interestingly enough, I'm seeing a lot of defending of Blizzard about this on industry sites that mash up the SP versus MP issues and end with a "Hey, get over it" or "We're gamers - we just move on" or something similar. Which, by the way... is pure nonsense from a common sense perspective.

    Sure, EVERY single MMO needs fixes and patches and yes, every MP game will have those times when crap happens and no one can play or play suffers from all sorts of technical issues that get tackled as they arise.

    However, the fact that you can't even play the single player component of a game because the servers are crowded or whatever else is happening that's never happened before just gets my goat because I want the game to be spectacular (which it is... when I can play it) for everyone who wants to enjoy it.

    And yes, I wanted Blizzard to realize that they can be complete mercenaries by taking money from those players NEW to Diablo III who might have wanted to try the SP without dealing with online at all.

  14. I read so many fans on the Diablo forums eager to defend Activision's decision about the single-player DRM. Very clever how Blizzard only allows those who have purchased their game to comment on the forum, because I would love to explain exactly why I won't be picking it up. The silent minority who have reservations with business decisions destroying an _entertainment_ culture, can only vote with our dollars (or lack of dollars). How does someone discern that the lack of sales was due to reasons such as this, and not that they didn't flog their developers sufficiently?

  15. After 75 minutes on the phone, I finally got my refund. The DRM thing was bad, but the lack of half-way decent Mac support was unacceptable. Even though the GeForce 9400M card on a lot of older MacBook Pros is officially supported, in reality it only gets about 10 FPS during any fighting even at the lowest settings, rendering the game more-or-less unplayable. Pretty lame Blizzard.

  16. I found the launch to be very telling of how people will react to this kind of thing in the future.

    Tech geeks and nerds always go on about how we are getting closer and closer to an always online experience. But that's just it, we are getting closer, but we are just not there yet, we are not in that golden sweet spot of an always online media.

    Blizzard made the mistake of thinking now was the time, that it would just be accepted that this was the future of games. But the Truth is no one wants the future they envisioned for their product, but them.

  17. I hear a lot of complaints about the DRM in Diablo III in review comments all over the internet, but this time all the players actually had to buy the game. There were some server drop issues at first as in all on line games. There have been no surprises, this is the game we were promised in the format we were promised and its a damn good game. I seriously doubt that DRM is this format will drive anyone except the thieves away.

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