Diecast #231: Diablo Immortal, Witch Watch, Enduring Games

By Shamus Posted Monday Nov 12, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 61 comments

This week we bring you yet another show, now with 15 extra minutes of show. You get 25% more show for the same money. That’s a good value! On the other hand, the first 25 minutes are basically a spoiler for my column later in the week.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:00 Blizzard’s new game.

Dear Diecast:

Last year, Shamus wrote an article about stuff the industry should do, and one of the points listed was “hire a gamer.”

This year at Blizzcon, one of the major announcements was a new Diablo game! …for phones! The reaction was negative, to put it lightly.

I’m not going to be one of the “they shouldn’t have made this game” people, but I will say that didn’t anybody in a marketing position realize how this would go over? Did they just not KNOW that there’s a lot of overlap between “willing to go to Blizzcon” and “holds phone games in contempt”? I’m hoping this won’t turn out like Dungeon Keeper Mobile or Command & Conquer Rivals, because Activision isn’t as bad as Electronic Arts, but they’re still pretty bad, and phone games have a reputation for being bad, cash grabby, and frequently both, to the point that it’s newsworthy when a mobile game that gets popular isn’t sucking ass and money at the same time.

In short, do you think if anybody in a position of power actually knew anything about the culture, would the announcement of this have been a quiet aside instead of a major deal?

– MechaCrash

Here is the YongYea video talking about how Blizzard has mobile versions coming out for all of their IP:

Link (YouTube)

20:52 No Time for Programming


24:30 Witch Watch

We’re going to be spoiling most of my book, which you can buy on Amazon. Although now that we’ve spoiled it you’ll probably be less likely to do so. Whoopsie.

45:12 Close Encounters of the Third Kind

During this segment I said that the movie came out in 1979, but it was actually from 1977. I was six when it came out, and probably 10 or so when I saw the movie for the first time. In case you missed yesterday’s post, here’s the music I made as a result of watching the movie:

Link (YouTube)

53:09 California is on fire again?

Or perhaps California is still on fire? I’m not sure how it works.

59:04 Mailbag: Long-lasting games.

Hi there, Diecastians!

Recently, I had to explain in one sentence to a non-gaming person what is Heroes of Might and Magic 3, and I chose to focus on its longevity, since I have friends that still play it on a semi-regular basis. What are your favorite games that have (so far) stood the test of time?

Thank you for your thoughts and lovely voices,

Here is a link to Paul’s World of Warcraft photojournal.

Link (YouTube)


From The Archives:

61 thoughts on “Diecast #231: Diablo Immortal, Witch Watch, Enduring Games

  1. Joe says:

    I don’t play mobile games, freemium games, or MMOs, so this new Diablo holds no interest for me. Maybe I’ll try Torchlight Frontiers, but no promises. However, I appreciated the gameplay trailer. It showed descending a shaft and floating on a raft. Some new environments in ARPGs are always welcome. Maybe they’ll be borrowed for a game I will play.

    Jason Schreier is always interesting. Apparently some of the Diablo 3 devs just want to try a mobile game as a change of pace. But Activision excecs are infiltrating Blizzard. So who knows what it all means?

    As for writing, yeah. I read some old work of mine over the weekend. It’s a little overwritten, but the intrigue is still intriguing and the jokes are still gold. Wish I knew the rest of the story.

    However, Shamus, some of your upcoming ideas have already been done. Urban fantasy with elves and orcs and such performing dodgy deals? That’s pretty much Shadowrun. Still, maybe your story will put a fun new twist on it.

    The immortal game for me is Skyrim. I can’t explain why I love it. But I have over 3,000 hours in it, and still enjoy it. If I stop enjoying it, I give it a break. But I’ll always come back.

    1. MelfinatheBlue says:

      Skyrim’s lovely and full of content and you can noclip through mountains while giggling? Or is that just me?

      ESO’s kinda become that game for me at the moment (was lotro or WoW for a long time). I’ll log in and just run around a particular town for a bit gathering all the things and robbing every chest I can (I don’t rob NPCs as I don’t like the guards attacking me). This might be why I’ve been playing on and off since launch and don’t have one toon to 20 yet (the one that runs around the town’s at 19, so fairly close, but the lockpicking minigame is only like 100 XP a pop).

      Come to think of it, I did sorta the same thing in LotRO. Park farmers in Bree, farm all the things, watch the PCs run by, zone out and relax. My burglar went up 15 levels that way…

  2. Chris says:

    The most enlightening comment I saw about the diablo situation was the comment pinned in this youtube video. For those who do not want to read it. Basically it says that eastern gamers are mostly chinese that spend hours on daily commute and have no free time to spend their money on PC games. So instead they just play on a mobile game and use their disposable income for it.
    Of course this makes phone games ideal for suits, the development is a lot less expensive and takes less time, so its less of a gamble. And it makes way more money if it turns out as a top seller. Yeah, having a big game like fortnite might sound like you’re on the top of the world. But some mobile ripoff called knives out is making way more money. Paying people to polish a game for 5 years before releasing it and only get 60 bucks of every PC gamer in the world just doesn’t stack up against pushing out a mobile game in a couple of months.
    And Shamus says that PC games just want to pay 60 bucks once. But you can see with modern games that publishers dont like that and are trying to find ways to get another cut. See lootboxes.
    About activision-blizzard. Activision did not acquire blizzard, they fused. But It is pretty obvious activision is a dominant partner. First of all they seem to push for is more microtransactions. Just before activision fused with blizzard blizzard seemed to want to prove their worth by adding in paid services like changing your character or changing race or changing realm. Once fused they started to sell transmog stuff for real money. The celestial steed is pretty infamous for starting off the money grubbing situation where cool stuff was no longer linked to hard work. And with free to play games like hearthstone and heroes of the storm trying to tap into booming markets, freemium model, and seemingly doing better than SC2 I think that the marketing and moneymaking side of the team has won control over the gamers that just wanted to make cool games.
    Here is a nice link of how blizzard bent over backwards to activision to make more money and get a deal done

    And lets not forget that like valve blizzard’s production fell. From SC to WC3 to WOW was like 2.5 years between each release. Then it dropped off. I kinda feel like they’ve become valve in that they seem to no longer want to spend a lot of effort and money on big titles for fear they mess up and instead focus on secondary stuff. I’ve heard reports that diablo 4 was in production but was started over 2 times. Kinda like how half life 3 just kept being put off, scrapped, restarted and such. I think the lack of pressure and overbearing management is killing blizzard. I for one already consider them dead.

    PS Why in gods name would they ever pick DIABLO for an all ages mass market appeal game. Why not overwatch.
    PPS Yes Im mad

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      For a mobile game, I feel Diablo makes more sense than Overwatch for all the obvious reasons. Unless you’re thinking an overwatch ARG with the phone as your scope and oh no this would be amazing why didn’t they do that?
      And, to reiterate, I think Blizzard doing mobile games is a great idea. It’s the announcing it at Blizzcon (and with such a poor presentation too) that is puzzling.

      1. Chris says:

        I mean overwatch as an ARPG like diablo is. They already have topdown models they use for heroes of the storm. So use those. They already have a backstory of a robot uprising, use that as a backdrop to shoot baddies. Overwatch has more eastern appeal, is more recent, has cleaner graphics. Instead you pick a game that is rated M for violence, gore and nudity. They said they would tone it down, but then its not really diablo, is it?
        And no, I don’t like blizzard doing mobile games because I believe it will impact any PC gaming ventures they are going for. Sure, in theory they could develop mobile games next to PC games, but I think reality is harsher. It will be hard for blizzard to maintain committing people to PC games when mobile games make way more money. Look at hearthstone versus SC2. SC2 was 3 full games with payment up front. Hearthstone is freemium. Hearthstone ended up a lot better for blizzard. It would be hard to say “lets make SC3 and make it 60 bucks” when at the same table someone mentions making another hearthstone would be cheaper and earn more.

        I know Blizzard wants to make a profit, but as PC gamer I lament the choice. If I want mobile games there are plenty, if I want PC games there are few.

  3. Liessa says:

    I don’t play Diablo, but following the Diablo: Immortal announcement and its aftermath is amusing in a ‘watching a trainwreck’ kind of way, not least because everything ActiBlizzard has said and done since then seems almost deliberately calculated to make things worse. It’s simply staggering that a company with a (relatively) good reputation could be so out of touch with their core fanbase. I don’t blame them for wanting to make a mobile game, and from what I’ve heard from people who talked to the devs, it doesn’t seem like they intended to alienate their existing fans so much. But what they don’t seem to grasp is that the way they announced it – and reacted to the backlash – was so profoundly clueless that to anyone on the receiving end, it seems like a calculated insult.

    You have a group of hardcore PC gamers who’ve been waiting 6 years for the next installment in their favourite series, and have paid hundreds of dollars each to attend your convention. You hype them up beforehand with news of a big upcoming project. Then the big moment comes, and you announce… a F2P mobile game for ‘all the family’, not even made in-house, but farmed out to some Chinese dev with a shitty reputation even among Chinese players. No one could possibly have expected that kind of announcement to go down well with that audience… right? No wonder one of the audience members asked if it was an out-of-season April Fools joke.

  4. JakeyKakey says:

    Every year or two I will fire up Startopia, play through the campaign, then go back to not playing Startopia for another year.

    It’s remarkable no other game has copied the formula.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I played it a bit, and yeah, it has an odd flavor. Like, it’s a city-builder game, but there’s no over-world, so the whole thing feels really claustrophobic by comparison to, say, Cities Skylines. It’s a lot more like Dungeon Keeper, in that respect. Except that the terrain is mostly level and cleared when you get to it, so it also feels less like conquering the wilderness and more like setting up tents in an abandoned warehouse.
      I’d totally be down for a game like this, provided we can figure out what it is that makes it unique. What is it about the game that appealed to you?

      1. Echo Tango says:

        The world, characters, and story of Startopia was what made me replay it twice. Also, the cute cat creatures. But yeah, the flat, empty levels/maps pale in comparison to the rich variety that either Dungeon Keeper 1 or 2 provided us.

        I would love for a new game to take the dungeon-builder-on-a-derelict-space-station concept, and make the levels actually interesting. I mean, you could at least have impassible “junk” or debris, or sections of the map that are caved-in superstructure, beyond your capability to repair, but which must be built around like a tower defense game, and navigated by your city/town denizens.

  5. Kylroy says:

    I love that Crapshots prophecy video.

  6. Mako says:

    I loved the comparison between taking somebody else’s universe as a setting for your own fiction and using a programming language library/framework to build something. Also, it gives me hope that one day in the future we’ll get to see Shamus’ take on the continuation of the Mass Effect series, not from the analytical perspective, but from an authorial one (starting after ME1 of course) :) .

    Also, @Shamus , IIRC you were considering creating a Discord server a couple of Diecasts back. Is this still on the table (mayhaps, perchance)?

  7. Smejki says:

    You are wrong about Activision being Blizzard’s publisher.
    Activision (full name Activision Publishing) and Blizzard (full name Blizzard Entertainment) are two separate entities both engaged in publishing with Blizz also being a development house. And both are subsidiaries of a holding company named Activision Blizzard Inc. And the Activision Publishing subsidiary OWNS other developerment studios (Treyarch, Infinity Ward etc.)
    Yes, it’s strange they never merged their publishing arms but it might be one of the most counter-intuitive yet genuinely smart decisions they ever made.
    That’s why you don’t see Acitivision logo in WoW.

    1. TouToTheHouYo says:

      +1 to this. Activision and Blizzard may have influence on one another to some extent but one does not control the other. It’s more a marriage of convenience rather then a conventional merger of corporate entities.

  8. John says:

    I don’t get the Diablo outrage. I get the Diablo disappointment, sure, but not the outrage. It sucks that the developer you like didn’t announce the game you wanted, it sucks more if you had somehow come to believe that they were going to announce the game you wanted, and it sucks more still if they instead announced a game you don’t like at all. But so what? Unless you were one of the people at the convention, unless you were foolish enough to spend a lot of money to go be marketed at only to end up disappointed, what have you got to be outraged about?

    I haven’t followed the outrage extensively–I’m not a masochist–but I’ve seen people say things like “this is the end of Blizzard” and “Blizzard is dead to me now”. I can’t take statements like this seriously. For one thing, this is exactly the sort of thing that a lot of people were saying back when Diablo 3 launched. I suppose maybe it’s different people this time around, but it’s hard to take this kind of talk seriously when it gets used so often. For another, it suggests a sort of personal attachment to Blizzard that I just can’t understand. Blizzard isn’t a person. Blizzard is a company, and a reasonably big one too. It doesn’t know you or anything about you beyond whatever information it has stored in your Battle.net account. You can’t have a personal relationship with Blizzard. You can only buy Blizzard games or not.

    If there is a reasonable case for anger at Blizzard, I think it would have to be something along the lines of “Blizzard’s actions prior to the convention were deliberately deceptive”. I don’t follow Blizzard’s activities at all–I haven’t even touched a Blizzard game since StarCraft 1–so I don’t have enough information to make that case.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I’m with you in principle.
      But it would be profitable for you to develop a level of empathy which would allow you to understand where these people are coming from. Not everyone is a jaded world-weary radical individualist intellectual like you and I. Lots of people identify with groups; Sports teams, schools, political parties, religions. It’s a very widespread behavior; It’s so widespread that it’s almost certainly objectively useful. Which particular composite entities people identify with, and whether or not they should identify with those specific groups, seems like it’s leaning over the “no politics and religion” line, so I’ll stay away from that. Just wanted to point out that lots of people feel like they are in a relationship with favorite game developers, and those feelings are not easily dismissed, especially if you don’t understand the feelings in the first place.

      1. John says:

        Not everyone is a jaded world-weary radical individualist intellectual like you and I.

        Is that what I am? I don’t even know what that means.

        Just wanted to point out that lots of people feel like they are in a relationship with favorite game developers, and those feelings are not easily dismissed, especially if you don’t understand the feelings in the first place.

        I agree with you here. This is a thing that I have observed and come to expect, even if I don’t personally understand it. I also know that events like BlizzCon are designed (be it implicitly or explicitly) to encourage just this sort of attachment. The sad thing about the Diablo outrage, as far as I’m concerned, is that it is as predictable as it is hyperbolic and disproportionate.

      2. Mako says:

        Beautifully spoken!

      3. Kylroy says:

        I follow a rule of reciprocating the empathy people show. Based on how the anti-Diablo Immortal crowd has behaved, I don’t feel like mustering up a lot of empathy.

    2. Thomas says:

      The outrage is a bit hyperbolic, as outrage always is, but I think it’s pretty understandable.

      Logically, sure not that much reason, but emotionally if you have an event where passionate people build up their expectations and then you disappoint them, people channel disappointment into more active emotions.

      If you’ve ever been to a football match, many fans get furious at everything associated with the team if their team loses. If a couple have just been disappointed mutually, they’re more likely to fight with each other over something meaningless.

      And this has identity themes tied in which just makes it ripe for disaster. BlizzCon is built as an event where the participants are identifying themselves as part of the Blizzard fan community. Mobile games have famously been seen as an ‘othering group’ to communities like that.

      It’s like inviting Justin Bieber on stage at a rock festival or an evengelical wearing a pope t-shirt to the Christmas service.

    3. Ninety-Three says:

      It’s not just that they made a game for mobile players. Have you seen the way they promoted it? It’s being given the standard AAA treatment: “We’re super-excited to bring you the newest great announcement from Blizzard! Do you like Diablo? Then you’ll love Diablo Immortal, coming soon to mobile devices only!” Everything about their pitch is marketed as though their existing fans should like it, even though it’s common knowledge that most of their audience ranks mobile games somewhere between “Ew, I stepped in shit” and radioactive waste. I’m not sure if that’s deserving of outrage, but there’s something insulting about it and I can see why the internet reacted the way it did.

      1. John says:

        How are Blizzard supposed to market a mobile Diablo spinoff without emphasizing its relation to Diablo? I mean, its relation to Diablo is the only notable thing about it at this point.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          There’s always the Fallout Shelter approach: instead of pitching it as “the next evolution” of a beloved series, tell them it’s something to whet their appetites for the real Diablo which is definitely being worked on. Or just don’t push it so hard, if it’s really not for the PC players Blizz could’ve just waited and done a press release where there would be no disappointed crowds and awkward pauses for nonexistent applause.

          I totally understand the business argument for doing it the way they did and marketing outsourced Chinese F2P to a crowd that hates mobile because hey, there’s gotta be at least a few suckers in the crowd. But I also understand why the crowd would object to being treated like suckers.

    4. Olivier FAURE says:

      Blizzard is a company, and a reasonably big one too. It doesn’t know you or anything about you beyond whatever information it has stored in your Battle.net account. You can’t have a personal relationship with Blizzard. You can only buy Blizzard games or not.

      Nailed it.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    Regarding Diablo Immortal being mobile exclusive, Shamus was right about it being designed for touchscreens, the interface has some touchscreeny “move and attack” stuff that wouldn’t translate well to a PC control scheme. Blizzard were asked if it would have microtransactions, and they gave some “can’t say, exploring our options, Diablo So Exciting” corporate non-answer. Cynically, it will have microtransactions and they’re avoiding the negative PR of admitting it. If we take them at their word, they really haven’t made up their minds, but realistically, there’s a reason the mobile market looks the way it does, they’re going to decide on microtransactions.

    Now, at risk of invoking “my uncle who works at Nintendo”… I know a guy who works at Blizzard and he was able to give some insight into this mess. He said that Blizzard knows mobile games have a deservedly awful reputation and they want this one to be different, they’re not going to ship it unless it’s a Blizzard-quality Real Videogame. None of that “it’s a real game, we swear” stuff came across in Blizzard’s PR, everything about the situation looks like Blizzard rented out their IP to a Chinese studio that makes F2P Kung-fu Panda tie-in games.

    He also said that Blizzard had prepped to give their announcement speech with mock hecklers shouting “mobile games suck!”, so supposedly they did anticipate this being badly received, they just… didn’t do anything about it? He sounded frustrated that the public was jumping to the most cynical conclusion about it being a shitty outsourced Chinese game because of course it wouldn’t be, they still have Blizzard standards (and to give them credit for it, they canceled Ghost because they decided it wasn’t fun, and it was also at the “in the hands of players at Blizzcon” stage of development). Maybe the reason they managed their PR as badly as they did is that they were thinking of this as Another Quality Blizzard Game and they were all so close to the project that they forgot the public can’t see that. I like this theory because it explains all the bad decisions around “Why didn’t they do anything to mitigate the obvious backlash to a Chinese-outsourced mobile game?” It’s not that they’ve forgotten those suck, or even that Activision forced them to do it, they were just so used to their own perspective that they failed to consider how their project would look to outsiders. Maybe Blizzard is heavily involved in development, but the public doesn’t know that, the public only knows what “outsourced to a Chinese studio” usually means.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      So, on one hand I understand the “designed for phone” angle, and that they would need to re-work the mechanics from the ground up in order to make it an engaging PC experience.
      On the other hand, it feels like an arbitrary restriction. It’s not like this is going to be some hair-trigger knife-edge balanced symphony of mechanics. You’re going to poke the bad-guys and they will explode in colorful particle effects. 90% of the effort here is art assets and animation, and getting those to run on a last-gen mobile device. So, porting it to the PC is going to be even easier than putting it on a phone in the first place, since the hardware on a laptop is so much more powerful. It just seems like an easy win for Blizzard to appeal to a broader marketplace.

      The reasons against porting to PC look to me like all the normal reasons to do an exclusive, which sum up to “not good” in my opinion.
      On the other hand, even Shamus has a smart phone, so it’s not like this particular platform exclusive is going to exclude anyone in reality.

      1. Steve C says:

        I tend to disagree. I’d say 90% of the *man hours* are the art assets and animation. The other 10% is where the majority of effort is spent. That 10% is the difficult part that makes or breaks a game. For example people are still playing Diablo 2. Not because the art and animation are good, but because the core game is good. Torchlight was an ok game. Looked fine. It was basically Diablo except missing something that made it fun. The studio that made Torchlight is gone now.

      2. Redrock says:

        The reason you don’t want to port Diablo Immortal to PC is the same they never should have ported Deus Ex The Fall to PC: it’ll be terrible. There’s only a handful of mobile games that can make the jump to PC without having all their wrinkles exposed. Inkle games come to mind.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          I don’t know the second thing about mobile app development, or the third thing about PC game development. But pointing out that when you port a mobile game to PC, you find out that the mobile game was shit all along doesn’t seem to be a problem with the porting process or the PC as a platform. If mobile games are objectively so bad that they can’t withstand scrutiny, maybe we should just stop making bad games?

          Like, I understand that you can only engage so much complexity with a touch screen. And there are things you can do with accelerometers and location services on a mobile device that you can’t easily emulate on a PC. The input mappings are different, and maybe that means that the mechanics need to adjust to accomodate it. But that is all about UX, not “wrinkles” in the game itself. Maybe I’m totally wrong about this, but it seems like this is more about exploiting what level of misery and extortion different markets will endure than making a good game that is somehow unfit to port to another (more powerful) platform.

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            If mobile games are objectively so bad that they can’t withstand scrutiny, maybe we should just stop making bad games?

            I don’t understand the point you’re making here. I’m basically with you that this is about exploiting a market willing to tolerate terrible designs, and that means that words like “should” don’t enter into it. If there’s money to be had doing a thing, that thing is going to get done until we change something about either human nature or economics.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              The problem with the sentiment, that it’s only natural for Blizzard to exploit a lucrative market with a cash-grab game, is that they’ve got a reputation built on quality. You can see it in the preceding comments and in the discussion in the show – they historically have built games to a high level of quality, and this is what their customers come to them for. If they tarnish their brand by producing (or appearing to produce) low-quality games, they’ll lose that audience.

          2. Viktor says:

            It’s also about the way the game is played. A mobile game has to work while you wait in line at the grocery store. Or on the bus. Or as a distraction while you watch terrible TV with your kids. It has to be able to be picked up and put down instantly, it needs to work with music or without, and it can’t require serious focus to make progress but it should be engrossing enough to take your mind off your environment. The sort of games used for that are not going to be good for someone to sit down and marathon for 2 hours as the only thing you pay attention to. They won’t survive someone making a wiki with the item interactions all spelled out or Shamus going over the “story” looking for how it hangs together. Different platforms are a different medium, and should be treated as such.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              I agree that mobile games and sit-down games are fundamentally different, but all of the qualities you listed, except for the story, seem to me like strict improvements, to what would otherwise be on computers. Easy to pick up and put down? That just makes it easier for people to enjoy the game on their computer, without needing to worry about being at a “save point” or similar. Distraction while you do something else? That just means it’s a simpler game, which you could play slowly while supervising your children’s TV watching, or speed through on your own. Engrossing? All games benefit from pulling the player into their world!

          3. Redrock says:

            Thing is, mobile games are by design usually more simplistic than console or PC releases. The control limitations mean that all systems need to be pared down. Then, as others have pointed out, there’s the different approach to the length of play sessions. Finally, there’s the monetization issue. All in all, the way mobile games are produced and consumed is completely different. Super Mario Run is pretty good on a mobile game, but I doubt it would satisfy anyone on a Switch. You use different metrics. In some cases, even good mobile games are a chore to play on pc. Like Reigns, for example. It’s a brilliant little game, but everything about it screams mobile. Playing it on a laptop just doesn’t work. Hell, even a great game like Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker feels a bit off when played on a PS3, because you see how it was designed with shorter sessions in mind. Like I said, there are exceptions. I think Sorcery! works both on PC and mobile, as does 80 days. But that’s because they have an inherently platform agnostic design.

      3. Amy says:

        Reviewing the pre-release stuff, it seems they want to have a much more MMO-y experience, and I wonder if trying to mesh multiplayer mobile client and pc clients would be a challenge they found wouldn’t work very well, but I’m far enough behind the times I imagine it wouldn’t work

        Looking at the demo footage it does seem to be as “This is Real Video Game” as much as you could get.

      4. sofawall says:

        You say that even old-man Shamus has a smart phone, but I actually don’t. A “core gamer” with over 1,000 games on Steam, multiple last-gen consoles, a PS4, a 3DS, but no smart phone. Hell, I even work in IT!

  10. Thomas says:

    The most interesting thing about the Diablo scandal is thinking about why the Fallout Shelter announcement succeeded.

    I think they framed it as ‘Hey – we’re giving you the new Fallout game you wanted – oh and here’s a cool little fallout related thing you can have _right now_ whilst you wait’

    1. TouToTheHouYo says:

      Precisely. If Blizzard had properly announced Diablo 4 then no one would rightly care about Immortal. Instead they did it backwards and completely misjudged their audience in the process. Now they can say that D4 is in development all they want, but until something concrete is shown of the game no one will accept it. They could’ve dropped little more then a title card before the Immortal announcement and have avoided most all of this.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Hell, going with the Fallout 4 example, all you’d need is for someone else to create a hoax website announcing it!
        That’ll create buzz without Blizzqrd even needing to pay their advertising team.

  11. Mark says:

    You used the whole show. That’s 25% more show, per show!

  12. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    So Paul,
    Will you check out WarCraft 3 Reforged? It was a much cooler announce at blizzcon, even though apparently it may not include Frozen Throne? That would be very stupid…

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      In a word, no.
      But, in case you’re looking for a bit more meat, I am happy to elucidate.
      WarCraft 3 Reforged is about upgraded graphical presentation. But improved graphics have not been, for years now, the low point of computer games. The problems have been in effectively developing tools that can work with the players to jointly accomplish goals. The original WarCraft 3 did this very effectively, with extensive modding and an exposed map format that fostered the creation of multiple genre of games including DOTA, and TD. Yes, Blizzard has improved their graphics over the years, but they have also consistently reduced their game modding friendliness, locking the community off from experimenting with and building on the engines and assets. There’s nothing wrong with this* but what made WarCraft 3 special was the aspect that will almost certainly be absent in the Reforged edition.

      If I wanted to see high-res orcs and elves and humans, I can go watch the Warcraft movie (which I haven’t seen, because that’s not something I’m interested in). The verisimilitude of the game-world is, for me, more behavioral and narrative than visual. Clearly I’m in a minority here, and WC3R is probably an excellent decision on Blizzard’s part, but you asked for my personal view, so, there you go.

      * I’m deeply opposed to the idea of Intellectual Property, so I actually DO think there’s something wrong with this, but it’s not really on topic and I’m not going to discuss it here even if it were.

      1. TouToTheHouYo says:

        You may be in luck then. Reforged will cover both Reign of Chaos and Frozen Throne as well as the original game’s modding tools. Blizzard is on record stating that Reforged will support any map or mod made for the original WC3, plus an expansion of the tool set to allow for even more creative expression and freedom.

        This has proven somewhat contentious but Blizzard have also said that they plan to alter and/or expand upon certain story elements to better bring WC3 inline with World of Warcraft. What exactly that will entail is unknown. They did display changes made to the Culling of Stratholm mission as an example.

        From the looks of it this isn’t just a fresh coat of paint. It’s well more then the typical remastering treatment. It probably won’t result in anything long term, but I’m at least minutely hopeful that this may mean a realistic chance at future Warcraft RTS games, even if that just means proper remakes of 1&2. With Starcraft on hiatus Blizzard could always try building an eSports scene around a possible Warcraft 4 considering one never materialized around WoW.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Consider my concerns chastised. I guess we’ll see where it goes!

          1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

            Thanks for the additional information TouToTheHouYo and thanks for the interesting answer Paul!
            Wouldn’t it be (sadly) funny if WarCraft 3 had another mod renaissance while the far superior StarCraft 2 editor is still left almost untouched because of their stupid restrictions?

  13. Steve C says:

    Shamus @34min you said you love heist movies. Want to watch a heist with fantasy characters in a modern setting? Have you ever seen the TV show The Magicians? It is a great show. Season 2, episode 7 has a bank robbery with fantasy powers. It works as a stand alone episode too. Just ignore the “previously on” at the start.

    1. Viktor says:

      On this subject, Leverage. It’s 5 seasons, streams through Netflix, and it’s an entire series of heists and cons. It’s got incredible characters and really good writing. Definitely one to watch if you’re looking for a show like that.

  14. RCN says:

    Speaking of Heroes of Might and Magic, I’m currently making a Let’s Play of Heroes 2 and replaying the campaign of Heroes 3 (in order to refresh my mind on its story before possibly tackling a let’s play of it with Darth TNT, who made the Heroes 1 LP for the Something Awful LP archives and is currently my co-collaborator for Heroes 2).

    These games really are something special.

    I only hope that Ubisoft realizes that and stops repeating the same mistake 3DO did time after time that killed New World Computing (the dev house that initially made Heroes of Might and Magic).

    1. RCN says:

      About the secret of the game, Heroes is like the perfect level of strategy depth. It is not too simple, nor too complicated. And it proves that you don’t need to have perfect balance to have a good game.

      And the games are very unbalanced. Heroes 3 in particular. The inferno faction (actually, a space pirate hive-mind species called Kreegan… but that’s delving too much into the Might and Magic RPGs) supposedly the big bads, are by far the weakest of the factions, with no real strengths at any part of the game except, maybe, mobility if you have more than one castle of the inferno. Meanwhile, the Castle, the boring human faction and supposedly the underdogs, are very overpowered with strong early game, mid game AND especially strong in the late game with the strongest unit in the game (until the expansions introduced uber-strong neutrals). The game has tons of mods for people who wanted more depth or more balance, but the base game is still played as it is.

      1. Kylroy says:

        I always referred to the 3rd one as “Heroes of Might and Advanced Earth Magic”, because Advanced Earth Magic lets you Town Portal to the city of your choice. In a game where the tension is between spreading your troops to defend all fronts vs. amassing them to push forward, being able to have your invincible uber-army zip around the board at will is all sorts of broken.

        1. RCN says:

          Town portal, Resurrection, Mass Slow (master slow, that is) and Implosion really skewers Earth magic as the most important school. Though Chain Lightning and Dimension Door makes air magic very powerful too (weird that Air Magic has both Fly and Dimension door at level 5, when one is so clearly better than the other. Fly should be level 4 and should at least increase the hero’s move points. It is not like something like that would be unbalanced compared to Dimension Door).

          Water magic comes in third with Prayer, Clone and Teleport, but can’t compare without a powerful adventure map spell nor a good level 5 spell (only summon elemental).

          Fire comes in dead last with only Berserk and Armageddon as op spells. And Armageddon is only OP with preparation or the right creatures. At least it has blind, but you don’t need any mastery for blind to be useful.

          Strangely, Town Portal was a Water Spell in the RPGs but is Earth in the TBS games.

          1. RCN says:

            If I was going to balance the magic system, first I’d make sure every school has a powerful adventure spell.

            Put town portal on Water since that’s how it is in the RPGs.

            Leave Earth with Dimension Door instead of Air.

            Leave Air with Flight, but make it so that at basic you have 100% move, at advanced you have 150% move and at expert you have 250% move.

            And give fire the ability to destroy certain terrain obstacles. Forests at basic, mountains at advanced and any non-structure features at expert.

      2. Boobah says:

        You say Heroes and unbalanced and the obvious response is: ghosts and peasants.

        Anything killed by a ghost gets raised as a ghost and added to the stack; not so useful when fighting angels or dragons, which if they get an attack off will destroy far more than the one ghost that will be raised when the big guy dies.

        But peasants have one hit point. A ghost that hits a peasant stack for, say, eight points of damage just killed eight peasants and created eight more ghosts.

        Ghosts are a neutral monster that, like all monsters, can be intimidated/bribed into joining your army. Ghosts are fairly common, and peasants even more so. Even a small stack of ghosts in the early game can conquer the world.

        Of course, after Heroes 2 ghosts were no longer recruitable, and Castle towns stopped conscripting peasants without equipping them.

        1. RCN says:

          Ghosts aren’t common. Not as wandering armies, at least. It is almost impossible to find ghosts as wandering armies because they’re usually left out of the sort of the draw when a random monster is set. You’ll only find them in ship wrecks and haunted mines (which are encounters where you can’t negotiate with the monster).

          As far as I can tell you can only find ghosts as wandering monsters in maps that specifically set them there or created maps. At least until the expansion where they added the Barrow Mounds where you can actually recruit them, but I don’t remember if they are available in the campaign. I’ll have to look into that.

          Heroes 2 is actually more balanced than heroes 3. Sure, they done off with ridiculously powerful abilities like the ghost’s spawning and the genie’s decimation, but both of these creatures are also purposefully left out of the draw for random monsters so you have very limited access to them (genies can only be recruited through lamps and the lamps vanish after being used and ghosts, at least in the base game, are impossible to recruit or find in the open map).

          Also, Heroes 2 sets pretty well where the strengths and weaknesses of each faction lies (barbarian and knights have a powerful and fast early game, wizards and warlocks are powerful late game factions that can’t recruit their armies without expanding, and necros and sorceresses have more specialized middle-of-the-road niches).

  15. shoeboxjeddy says:

    Why is the post titled “Diablo Eternal” when the game in question is “Diablo Immortal”? That… seems odd. Were you confusing it with “Doom Eternal”, the sequel to Doom 2016?

    1. Shamus says:

      Whoops. Yeah, that was a mistake.

  16. Distec says:

    This applies to a lot of topics these days, but I guess I might as well plop it here with the latest catastrophe du jour:

    I wish I knew what “outrage” is supposed to look like any more. I wish I knew the scale of it. In the case of Diablo Immortal, is it really the case that huge masses of people are writhing in agony and fury over this announcement? Or is it just a few loudmouths and sternly-worded tweets casting a shadow over everybody else?

    Yesterday, I watched a 5-minute video on Youtube where the presenter explained how he thought Blizzard mishandled their PR and why the ensuing blowback has some justification. On balance, I felt I agreed with his points, and approvingly pressed the ‘Like’ button.


    See also: Ghostbusters 2016, or The Last Jedi, or Wolfenstein II, or any other worthless pop culture controversy that’s taken place over the last 6 years. I am really rather tired about reading about outrage – and outrage about outrage, repeating for infinite into a dark black hole not even Hell itself could claw out of. I get the feeling that the bulk data behind this phenomenon is largely driven by people like myself; people who definitely have opinions on these matters one way or another, but whose expression is typically a passive upvote/downvote before moving onto something else. These, of course, get aggregated into some super number that becomes a club to wield against one’s opponent, and the message of the bannermen subsumes everything beneath them.

    Are you not too bothered by the Diablo Immortal announcement, and maybe kinda looking forward to it?
    Then you are a normie, corporate shill who will cause the gaming medium to disembowel itself of all creativity in the pursuit of lootboxes. As if one of the most enduring and successful video game companies needs you to play fucking defense for them.

    Were you rudely surprised – and maybe a little bit pissed – over Diablo Immortal, and think most of the flames could have been preempted if Blizzard used their noggin’ before unveiling it at Blizzcon?
    Then you are a toxic, entitled manbaby. You are everything that’s wrong with gaming culture, and the biggest obstacle to its maturation. And you probably voted for Trump.

    I propose a moratorium on the use of the word “outrage”. And I will kill anybody who opposes me. :|

    1. Joe says:

      I can’t provide a source for this, but I gather that anger and outrage increase clicks. People get worked up for attention. The audience would rather watch an angry screed than just ‘Well, this isn’t aimed at me. Maybe the next game will be.’

      Why that is, I don’t know. I’ve watched a few negative videos, but they were more interested in looking at the issue over just complaining about it. Anyone else have an idea?

      1. Baron Tanks says:

        It does seem like a significant portion of internet media that is tangentially news related (i.e. something happens, this creates content in the reporting and further content reflecting on this down the line) is fundamentally outrage driven. The uproar seems to be the goal in and of itself, rather than the content of any story. This affects all ranges of the internet (politics/sports/entertainment what have you) and I personally perceive it as extremely tiresome. It looks like it is an engine that is supposed to run out of steam at some point, but the target demographics are such that these outrage cycles are never exhausted. If you step back and take a detached view, all these cycles are very similar and predictable and quite annoying. The internet has become a monster I suppose…

  17. Galad says:

    Thanks for replying to my mail once again :)

    Personally, I don’t really have such a long-lasting game. Well, I did play over many years Neverwinter Nights, now Enhanced Edition – but not that frequently. Also, Sword of the Stars: the Pit, the very first game I ever bought some 5-6 years ago, I still play it, not frequently either, despite some questionable mechanics and balance choices. That being said, it’s easy for me to drop anywhere between 150 and 550 hours on a game, if the core gameplay loop scratches the right unknown, desired itch in my mind.

    Admittedly, these friends of mine that still play HoMM3 probably do it because they can’t justify for themselves splurging on a gaming PC, and something like HoMM3 is the perfect combination of engrossing time waster and quality, relative to the available hardware..

  18. TehShrike says:

    I didn’t particularly disagree with any of your thoughts on Blizzard, but I had two additional thoughts:

    Hearthstone was great as a mobile game that they released several years ago, which predisposes me to be optimistic. It was developed in-house, though.

    I really liked the freemium implementation in Heroes of the Storm. There was a rotating cast of free characters you could play as, but you could pay to unlock specific characters to be able to play with them all the time.

  19. Marr says:

    Is The Witch Watch still available as a non-Amazon ebook anywhere? I’m not interested in locking my mobile reading into their walled garden and the Author page (https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=15169) doesn’t seem to exist on this iteration of Shamus’ website.

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