Jun 05 2012

The Diablo 3 Journal: Day 22 – The End

Published by at 12:00 pm under Journals,Video Games

Read Journals #1 and #2 first.

This is how my time with Diablo 3 ends, not with a ragequit, but with a whimper.

This will likely be the final journal installment chronicling my time with Diablo 3, at least for a good long while. After having a decent amount of fun initially, I learned many things about the game as I progressed in difficulty and level, and have come to realize that it’s fundamentally broken for anyone wishing to play it for a prolonged period of time the way we all did Diablo 2.

In short, unless some serious changes are made, this will not be the decade-long phenomenon that D2 was. Read on to see why.

I’ll start with one of the primary reasons my time with the game has ground to a halt: hacking. For those of you who hadn’t heard, my account was hacked last week, and I lost all my gold and items instantaneously. Now, that alone isn’t necessarily reason to quit. Blizzard has a (generally) excellent restoration system in place, and my character was “rolled backed” to the day before the hack, and I got everything back a mere hour after a phone call with customer support.

Hackers: More evil than Diablo himself.

The hacking issue sparked a raging debate on a pair of articles I posted over on Forbes. The first told how it feels like to be hacked, and how I was confused as to how it happened, suggesting Blizzard needed to examine its security practices a bit more. I was met with an downpour of comments suggesting that I was an idiot with an unsecure computer and account. According to them, account compromise is always on the user’s end, and as I wasn’t using Blizzard’s optional “authenticator” it was entirely my fault I was hacked, despite a clean PC and nary a phishing email or keylogger in sight. Pardon me if I roll my eyes at those telling me if I’ve ever watched a flash video, I’ve opened my PC up to seven hells worth of malware and my account being compromised is entirely my doing.

I don’t want to start this debate again over here, but even if my first account across email, banking or any other game to ever be compromised WAS Diablo 3 for some reason that was my fault, I maintain there needs to be additional security measures in place to prevent what happened to me. Was my account suddenly accessed from another country? Red flag. Was all my gear and gold liquidated in a matter of minutes? Red flag. Even if the problem IS on the user side, it seems there need to be additional measures in place to prevent what happened to me.

And it didn’t just happen to me, it’s happened to thousands of others, including my high level wizard friend the day before me. He too found his entire character stripped bare, and if you remember from past journals, we’ve been duo-ing the game from day 1. When he lost his gear and gold, we were in Act 3 Hell, only a few levels away from 60. His story is even more frustrating than mine. After submitting a rollback ticket, he got a message saying his account was restored. When he logged in to check (with a new, reset password), he found he had indeed lost a level of progress, he still had no items or gold. Blizzard got back to him and informed him that before he even had a chance to log in, his account had been hacked again, and they would only roll him back this time if he got an authenticator.

“It’s the only way to truly secure your account!” Then you should just be giving them out.

Now, my friend does not have a smart phone so he can’t get the free app, and really does not want to be forced to buy a $7 physical authenticator. As such, he maintains he’s quitting, and our quest will forever be left unfinished. I can’t blame him for taking a stand out of principle, and it’s hard to argue that being re-hacked before you can even log back in to your restored character is absolutely ridiculous.

So with him gone, that just leaves my poor Barbarian to face the wilds of Hell alone, and this game is far less fun by yourself than it is with friends. I got him to level 60, and leveled a Witch Doctor to level 35 and a Monk to 31 in my spare time. But I have no motivation to go further, as the endless grind of attempting to find gear is leagues less fruitful than it was in Diablo 2, and is the second primary reason why the game now feels like a chore.

Hacking aside, the number one issue breaking Diablo 3 is the Auction House. Whether intentionally or accidentally, Blizzard has taken a game whose joy was found in killing monsters for better loot, and turned it into a spreadsheet simulator where the correct answer to find the best gear is always, always buying it at the Auction House. And most players would agree with me that this is the opposite of fun, and negates the entire reason people play Diablo in the first place.

For lower levels, you’re stupid not to buy gear at the Auction House rather than waiting for it to drop naturally. Low level gear is so cheap, fifteen  minutes of questing to get a thousand or two gold will automatically afford you gear twice as good than whatever you’ve found randomly in the wild. However, the game is so easy at lower difficulties, you can avoid the temptation of the AH if you want to, simply because you can plow through Normal and Nightmare even with sub-par gear.

Well, this looks familiar.

Not so with Hell, and it’s straight up impossible to avoid the Auction House in Inferno when you’ve stopped leveling and the only way forward is better equipment. And the only way to get such gear? Spending hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of gold on top tier items in the Auction House. Farming for items is largely pointless, as Blizzard has explicitly stated that drop rates are now much, much lower for good gear as to not flood the Auction House. As such, the chance you’ll find something actually useful to you from drops is practically nonexistent, and the only, only way you can advance in Inferno is to spend millions on other people’s gear.

The Auction House is simply not fun. It’s not fun to sell, as even spending time running elaborate price cross comparisons of gear you’re trying to unload will often result in no sale 36 hours later. It’s often just a guessing game as you try to figure out if anyone would actually want what you have, and it takes a lot of research to know if you’re pricing something way too high or way too low.

It’s not fun to buy, as scrolling down an endless list of gear with the exact properties you’re looking for just feels…wrong. The joy of Diablo has always been in finding the best gear from drops, or at the very least, arranging a mutually beneficial trade where it feels like you’re getting a good deal. But here? Just trying to pounce on the person who has mispriced their good gear the lowest? There’s no satisfaction in it. And the same is true for farming, which is now borderline useless. In 66 hours of Barbarian play, I’ve found exactly one legendary item, which was only useful for a few levels, and worse than 1,000 other belts I could have bought at the Auction House. The vast majority of my rarely-dropped yellows have been completely useless, and it’s just annoying when blues are inexplicably better than the more rare gear you’re already wearing. The entire loot system is complete garbage right now, which is a problem considering it’s well…the entire point of the game.

All of this is obviously in service to push people toward the Real Money Auction House, set to launch sometime this summer. The idea is that if it takes a dozen hours to farm a million gold to buy something on the AH, the only place to actually find good gear, perhaps players will just plunk down $5 or $10 instead, 15% of which automatically goes to Blizzard. Who benefits in such a system? Blizzard, as they get a cut of it all, and the hackers who have already amassed hundreds of millions in gold and items at the expense of accounts like mine and my friends. The RMAH is essentially Blizzard employing hackers and gold farmers for their own purposes, as they will likely make up the majority of what’s offered. Blizzard doesn’t care, so long as they get their 15%.

The unbridled joy of sifting through menus!

And what do players get? I don’t understand why people would spend real money to buy virtual items when the entire POINT of Diablo 3 is to find and acquire the best gear and weapons. It’s bad enough that endless gold grinding is the only way to do it now, but when real money is in play? Why would someone shell out $50 for a set of awesome gear just so they can beat Inferno with ease? Then what? It’d be like paying someone to beat Skyrim or Mass Effect for you when the entire point is to do it yourself.

I understand that Diablo 3 is a work in progress, and I’m not swearing it off forever. Perhaps I’ll farm and level from time to time when I’m bored, but it’s all just so…empty right now. The AH has made the game feel soulless, and even if I did manage to deck out my character in the finest of gear, who’s to say I won’t log in tomorrow and find it all stripped away and resold by hackers?

Hack and slashing for a while is jolly good fun, and for as long as you can avoid relying on the Auction House, you’ll probably have a good time. But at high levels the game ceases to be amusing and is much more of a chore than actual entertainment. It’s nothing a mammoth series of patches couldn’t fix, but we’ll see how much Blizzard wants to cling to making everything about the game serve the Auction House.





More Unreal Posts


22 responses so far

  • Chooch

    Yeah, um…this is exactly how MMO’s have been for years and years and years. Stop kidding yourself that Diablo 3 is anything but a F2P MMO. This is how gear/lotting/AH have ALWAYS worked in these types of games; this is nothing new.

    You unfortunately just had the wrong expectations about what Diablo 3 was going to be, unrealistic or not based on past Diablo offerings.

  • Bakakyo

    I couldnt agree more. While I was lvl 20 I discovered that if just sold all the item drops to the NPC and then used the money to buy the materials at AH it would be a lot cheaper to use the blacksmith. By the lvl 30 I discovered that it was easier to just buy the items themselves at AH… I never felt that nightmare was any hard after this and not even Hell… The game is broken and there’s no chance at all that this will be fixed cause its just too deeply rooted at the design of the game.

    If you want a game thats based on loot, try Path of Exile, even though the game has lots of other problems, at least I was excited to find new loot.

  • Daximus

    Then Blizzard should have marketed it as a F2P (Free to Play) MMO. They didn’t.

    I said this on Paul’s Forbes article, I’ll say it here. The Auction House is a serious detriment to the game’s security, and frankly the fact that I found out from a third-party (Paul on Forbes) that hacking had become so widespread RATHER than Blizzard means that Blizzard dropped the ball. A simple email sent to all subscribers simply warning what was going on would have saved thousands of people from heartache. It’s possible that it is all site-key based, and a few password changes may not have made a difference in how many people got hacked, but at least it would have looked like Blizzard cared enough to DO SOMETHING about it. Even if that was just a PR email to cover their asses.

    The Hackers are the problem, Blizzard isn’t offering a solution. I’m with Paul 100%.

  • Beorach

    Your timing is similar to mine. I went with a wizard to start because I thought it would be practical for farming (not having realized how much teleport sucks relative to its previous Diablo incarnation) but I can’t farm Inferno in the gear I can “pwn” Hell in… The fix seems to be buying stuff from Inferno A3+ but I’m not sure I have the patience to keep running Hell difficulty quests for millions. I have seen one legendary item drop in well over 100 hours of play and not one set item. For what it’s worth, your friend doesn’t need an authenticator nor a smartphone to get some added security. You can set up a regular land line service for free when those red flags arise per Blizzard security.

    -Beorach#1340

  • Pijus

    “I understand that Diablo 3 is a work in progress”

    It’s being sold for 60 dollars, + 7 for an autheticator. In my eyes it has no right to be a work in progress.

  • http://nerd-wiki.de Nerd Wiki

    Yep Paul, exactly what I am experiencing right now. So sad. And stupid of Blizz…

  • http://nerdaverse.com theButterFly

    @chooch,

    Unfortunately, your comparison to D3 being a F2P MMO falls apart when you consider the nature of the game itself. I wont lie, I am making liberal use of the AH on my characters, because as it was said by Paul and many others, it sadly is the most efficient way to build the character you want as waiting for drops is kind of pointless. The problem with D3 when viewed in this light, is the ultimately limited amount of content to experience once you’ve acquired these powerful AH items. When you’re making an AH purchase for some sweet gear in WoW for instance it goes towards the goal of helping you potentially explore new areas of content. Be it a new dungeon, or whatever. In D3 your new gear just makes it easier to replay the same content you’ve already cleared at the very least 3 or 4 times before if you’ve advanced your character to the higher difficulty levels.

    What I am finding in my personal experiences with D3 thus far, is that after my initial completion of the story line my enjoyment of the game is now being derived from playing with other players be they existing friends or random pugs. If the always on requirement is to be seen as a success or to at least have merit, it is in this aspect. The co-op implementation is quite excellent, and works really well. I just wish that there was more content to explore.

    Also, a big thanks to Paul, for recently appearing on my podcast “Across the Nerdaverse” to talk about D3. I have some final touchs to put on the episode, but I anticipate it will be ready before the end of the week.

  • http://nope hallam

    I shouldn’t have been interested in this article, since I’ve never played a MMO. But this game seems so relevant that I thought I’d give it a read. And boy, everything you describe sounds awful.

    As for the hacking, I agree with you. People on the internet will take any opportunity to explain how it would never happen to them.

    That’s bullshit. Some people never get hacked despite not knowing what a firewall is. They’re either lucky or don’t have anything anybody wants. Some well-informed people get hacked, not because they don’t know any advanced security measures, but because they can’t always implement them, or because they don’t think they’ll be necessary.

    For instance, a well-made car must be objectively hard to break into, period. Yet we all know it’s impossible to make all cars 100% theft-proof; so you have to take some common-sense precautions yourself, like avoiding bad neighborhoods, not leaving bags inside and so on. Now, it’s theoretically possible to go the extra mile; meaning you’d rather walk than park in a dubious spot for 5 minutes, have a camera and some traceable device inside the car at all times, have all sort of locks that take you 5 minutes to remove every time you get on the move and what not. Well, a lot of people in the internet will claim you’re an idiot if you don’t act like these overzealaous owners. However, if you did take the basic precautions and left your car with the alarm on, and it still got jacked, it doesn’t mean you handed it to the crooks on a silver plate. It means there are people who are experts in stealing cars and that’s why you get insurance.

    In the case of a gaming account I don’t see why the users should have complete responsibility. At one point I fixed computers for a living. But I know I’d have better things to do than thinking of ways to protect that particular account, considering I have a dozen more important ones. Especially when the company didn’t bother to make it objectively hard to hack, with measures even the CRAPPIEST bank account would have in place. The second the items get “real money” value, the accounts should go bank-account safe, not twitter-account safe.

  • Draugr

    I remember talking about how the game was basically designed to encourage the AH exclusively – seeing this isn’t surprising.

    One of the very reasons I forgoed the game was because, while diablo 2 had a lot of stress on gear, the only area they seemed to be interested in stressing for diablo 3 was gear.
    Combine this with the fact that they put in a RMAH, and it becomes clear where their priorities lie (though I think the RMAH still isn’t up, I bet its getting a lot of attention on their end though.)

    Path of Exile and Torchlight 2 are both excellent ARPGs, I recommend checking them out. PoE especially, it’ll be open beta soon and it’s free to play, so checking it out is of no risk to your wallet.

    Blizzard needs to ship authenticator vouchers with their games or something if they are so insistent on it being the resolution to their issue.

  • Beorach

    I wanted to add the free (dumb?) phone option details:

    http://us.battle.net/support/en/article/authenticator-add-dial-in

  • Beorach

    D’oh! Someone posted on the official forums indicating the dial-in option isn’t available for D3. I don’t know why it wouldn’t be but I apologize for the misinformation.

  • Chooch

    @thebutterfly

    Congratulations…you just described every MMO in existence.

    Every game is a gear grind, the problem is D3 is simply exacerbated to holy hell because there is so LITTLE content, thus the AH is simply the most cost effective way to play the game. If you’ve already beaten the game multiple times WHY DO YOU NEED THE NEW GEAR? To simply do it better; this is no different than any MMO. It’s a paradox; if the gear dropped by the boss at the end of the raid was required to beat the boss, NO ONE COULD HAVE IT. It just lets you do it better is all.

    Blizzard can market their game any way they want, surely you don’t believe Activision when they say Black Ops Deuce is “groundbreaking original and innovative” do you? No, so as soon as you saw AH and then RMAH, you should have known immediately that this was an MMO, period. Paul runs a videogame website, he’s no stranger to the industry. His reactions to the AH and how it works in the Forbes article made me scratch my head…this is something that has been going on for almost a solid decade now, this isn’t a new model at all.

    And no it’s not his fault for being hacked, it’s just an accepted part of the industry sadly. Not knowing how rampant it is, however, is naive.

  • Johnny D

    I quit Diablo simply because it was boring and the opposite of engaging. I can’t believe it took them .. what… 10 years to come up with a mediocre 3rd person hack and slash with no soul.

    Paul, after reading this post, I am glad I quit before I got to this level.

  • David Forck

    After reading your three journal entries, I think I’m going to pass on Diablo 3 for now. I might come back to it in a year or so when they’ve had more time to work out some of the bugs.

  • CPLane

    I personally agree with Paul’s points, as far as what the AH takes away from the overall experience. However, I’m not sure the comparisons with D2 are sound. If you played that game a lot, you’d know that the players essentially developed a currency system, whether it be with SOJs, runes, or establishing clear trade values for certain items. And real money purchases were just as easy to make. All Blizzard did was ensure that players wouldn’t have to develop their own make-shift currencies, and establish a system where they would get a cut of real-money sales. 15% might be high, but why shouldn’t they get the cut instead of E-Bay?

    Should Blizzard have left an archaic trade system in place just because it “feels” more profound, more rewarding? Maybe, but in the modern gaming era, I don’t think you could get away with that.

    I’d argue the main problem with the game is the itemization. First, too many items drop that are worthless to everyone. Stat combos that wouldn’t be used by any class need to be cut out altogether. Also, legendaries and rares have to be improved to be a clear-cut choice over blues of equal level (something that’s already confirmed as something Blizz is addressing). If you fix these issues, then at least the drops you get are useful for, if not your main character, one of your alts. There should still be variety, but some stuff is just plain useless, and that needs to be cut out of the game. The game needs to be playable at its highest level without having to use the AH, because of the very reasons Paul points out, and if this is addressed, I think it could be, though your progress is going to be slower.

    Aside from the AH/itemization problems, a lot of people seem to dislike the redundant nature of the game. I think these people though just had skewed expectations for what D3 was going to offer. One of the main differences between D2 and D3, besides the auction house, is the added difficulty of Inferno. Nothing comparable existed in D2. Keep in mind, Blizz wants this game to last. They’ve already made it so you’re never going to roll more than 1 of each class, so that time sink is gone. If they increase the drop rates too much, why would anyone keep playing after they’re geared up? This added difficulty wasn’t put in place so that it could be beat in 3 weeks. It was supposed to be a long-term challenge for those committed enough to attempt it. Now, I think it should be possible to tackle it without the AH, which isn’t entirely the case now, but that, I believe, will be addressed. If you have a problem with replaying the same thing over and over, you signed up for the wrong game, and maybe need to take off the rose-tinted glasses when looking back at D2.

    Also, keep in mind PvP will be added, something that will somewhat address this lack of end-game content. If you expected more than that though, again, your expectations weren’t in line with what this franchise offers. Is that a bad thing, and should they have pushed the envelope further? Maybe. But then you need to stop praising D2 as a better game.

    In the end, most of the criticism seems to come from players who expected a transcendent gaming experience. Instead, they got D2.5–with crappier itemization. The latter can be fixed The former is something that’s just a fundamental part of how this game was designed, for better or worse.

    And have some faith–Blizz, for all the flack they’re getting, is still a great game designer and should be at least given a chance to improve on their game. I’m sure they’re listening to the criticism, and we’ll be playing a markedly different game 6 months to a year from now. Very few online games are perfect at release, or even a shadow of what they’ll eventually become.

  • Kienan

    At first I didn’t really care about the RMAH, in fact maybe was a little excited for it, because I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything from it and maybe, just maybe, I thought I might find a item worth 5 dollars in my 6 months of playing or whatever. How awesome would that be! The longer the RMAH gets pushed back for a release, though, the funnier and funnier I find it. I wonder how much potential free money Blizzard has lost out on from the 5 weeks or whatever of this game being out?

  • aaron

    you should try out torchlight, its a dungeon crawler like d3, but cheaper, unfortunately it doesnt have multiplayer but the second game coming out this summer does

  • Joel C

    Just so you know. I do have an authenticator. And for some reason D3 only asks for the code sometimes. And it’s on the lower end. So yeah, getting an authenticator isn’t going to help when the system doesn’t even ask for it.

  • Draugr

    @Joel C

    There is an option in your account settings to make it ask for it every time -or something like that. If you have an authenticator I recommend toggling that on, as otherwise it may not be as effective.

    Torchlight 2 and Path of Exile.
    Check ‘em out!

  • Nick D Pags

    That company that everyone looked up to as one of the few that delivered ceaseless quality is gone.
    Activision Blizzard is all that remains.

  • AetherMcLoud

    I’m sorry but you’re jaded and viewing Diablo 2 through nostalgia glasses:

    If you wanted to succeed in Diablo 2 you had to trade. There was simply no way to farm the equipment you needed. You got drops, you traded those drops with the drops of other people. When the economy was established you traded everything for Stones of Jordan, the defacto currency.

    Jeez kinda sounds like… auctioning.

    Also getting hacked IS your problem. You can set some account settings that you get flaged when you log in from another country, you can activate the authenticator, etc.

  • Wermine

    What happened in D2? I progressed through content and then met the nightmare act III boss, Mephisto. Down he went.. like 500 times. Then I could continue my merry way… to hell Mephisto and he went down at least 5000 times. At least in D3 the farming is a bit more varied.

    AH is a minigame to me. I constantly sell stuff in there and major part of my gold income is from AH. My witch doctor has 130 hours under his belt and I’ve found three uniques. Zero when I was progressing and all three when I was purposefully farming with 200% magic find gear with friends. Two were crap and one was awesome upgrade for me.

    There are a lot of things which I would change in D3. Unfortunately (for me) this game is not designed for me alone. It is designed for general audience. Although I’m sure that this game will be improved through patches and that one inevitable expansion with fifth act and at least two new characters.

    At first, I was disappointed by the uniques. Then I realized that some stats (like attack speed) can’t spawn to some slots (head) unless the item was an unique. So the Andariel’s Visage gave a lot of dps (15% ias gives the same amount of dps as 209 intelligence atm for my WD). Nevertheless I still wait uniques with unique stats. Ones who transform me to another being, procs on hit, auras, completely new skills, one which forces new and powerful rune to existing skill, allows me to summon another gargantuan, etc.

    I hope that Paul doesn’t have biased opinion about Diablo 3 because he got hacked. I keep enjoying this game and I eagerly wait new patches.

    @Joel C
    By default, Diablo doesn’t ask the authenticator code if your IP address hasn’t changed and you have already given one auth code from that IP. It’s made that way to avoid hassle.

Celebrity Toob

Celebrity Gossip, Pictures, Videos, Net Worth & Bios

Categories

Archives