Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The slow-burn Diablo teaser from 2008

Remember these? I was so stoked/hopeful that it was going to be an announcement for Diablo III:

For the unfamiliar: Blizzard put up a page on the main home page the Monday before the WWI Invitational in 2008. It had been years of famine for the Diablo franchise, so hope was faint and tainted.

I remember examining those runes in detail, finding hidden (i.e. non-existent) patterns in the ice, inverting the image, etc. At the time the presentation was generic enough that we weren't sure that it was Diablo (unlike the SC2 reveal), which made the slow roll even better. There was also a hidden 'red herring' image embedded in the css:

Would love another reveal like this. Mostly because it means there's something to reveal.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

This is what happened to every single company started up by former Blizzard employees

So I know how much you guys love watching 30 minute YouTube videos, but this is basically a documentary going over about 25 years of history. It started off as a quick video talking about the recent news of Josh Mosqueira forming Bonfire Studios with other Blizzard alumni, but turned into a huge research project in which I made an infographic timeline of every company started up by former Blizzard employees, what games they made, and whether (and when) they shut down.

The TL:DW would be the infographic. The original is way too massive for image hosts, so here's a smaller version. It doesn't have all the info from the video, but should be good enough to convey the overall message.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

WoW patch 7.1 points to a lot of 20-year anniversary Diablo items

Scroll down to 'Items'. There's items such as a horadric cube bag, a guitar toy playing the first few notes from the Tristram song, few other things.

Could this mean they're making a big deal out of the 20-year anniversary? Maybe we'll get a moderately big update? Looks like there'll be a short cow level event in WoW as well.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Does Blizzcon Have Something for Diablo Fans?

Proper news regarding Diablo III have been few and far between lately, but the fans of the game have obviously not given up on hearing something significant about the IP. Every time there's a major industry event somewhere, rumors arise followed by expectation and then - all too often - disappointment. That was exactly the case at  last month's Gamescom, which came and went without having delivered a single digit of Diablo III-related news. Granted though, Blizzard hadn't mentioned anything Diablo-related in the run-up to Gamescom either.

The next such event on the radar is Blizzcon, which is due to land on November 4 and 5. While Blizzard have yet again kept mum about Diablo in regards to Blizzcon, the community is once again full of hope thanks to a seemingly random exchange of tweets between a fan and the official Blizzard Twitter account. The said fan had tweeted at the official account that he hoped something big would be announced Diablo-wise at Blizzcon, in response to which Blizzard tweeted out that "Blizzcon will be really cool this year". That reply has been taken as a sure sign by some Diablo fans that something big is in the works.

While announcements will definitely be made at Blizzcon, they're far from guaranteed to be about Diablo at all. Some say Blizzard will announce a sort of re-mastering of its old games like Diablo II and Starcraft, but some hope that Diablo II will be remade using current graphics-engines. A sequel reboot or an another Diablo III expansion is also hoped for. Obviously, the idea of a Diablo IV announcement was floated as well, but that is admittedly the least likely at this point.

Perhaps the most interesting hypothesis is that Blizzard may announce a mobile Diablo version, something that would indeed fit into the picture and would definitely be as "big" as they come...

While you wait for this announcement, why not explore the world of online casino games for your phone or tablet device? There are a range of online slots with themes drawn from popular video game and movie franchises including Terminator, Tomb Raider, Game of Thrones, Jurassic Park and more.

Philip Thalberg is tasked with the coverage of Overwatch events at GGnet, the world's premiere eSports destination.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Diablo III Loses Out to Overwatch in China

Ok, everyone knew this one was coming. With so much of Blizzard's resources going into Overwatch and with Diablo III all but sidelined, it was always a question on "when" not "if" that the latter would have to give up all the lofty records it had set following its controversial yet superb launch. Overwatch has become the most popular game ever some time ago, but the other day, it took ownership of another significant record, yet again dethroning Diablo III: Overwatch has just become the fastest-selling PC game in China, a position previously held by Diablo III.

While the pedigree of the two games is obviously the same, they are as different from one another as possible. Unlike Overwatch, which is a brand new IP, Diablo III was a highly anticipated sequel of a superb and highly successful IP, which obviously gave it a major head start marketing-wise. It came out almost a decade after Diablo II and it made its debut to raving reviews, despite the controversy caused by its DRM scheme, which required it to be online all the time, even in single-player mode. With consoles, this was not a problem though and in the end it all got brushed aside in the frenzy surrounding the launch.

Being the shooter that it is, Overwatch is clearly a different breed, for which constant connection is a given. Despite all the differences between the two titles though, it is clear they have been cast from the same mould: they both feature characters recognizable through their silhouettes alone, and the red outline for the said silhouettes is the same for both.

Overall, Overwatch has generated a bump of some 13% in the active player count through Blizzard's various IPs and that's massive. Diablo III has doubtlessly generated quite a bump of its own back in its heyday, but lately, it has probably been bleeding players massively.

Philip Thalberg has been an e-sport junkie since 2004, when he started working for the world's top competitive gaming operation.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Diablo III Opening Town New Tristram Built With LEGO Bricks

With the stream of new content completely dried up for their favorite game, Diablo III fans are apparently looking for new ways through which they can express their creative urges inspired and generated by the Diablo III universe. One such creative expression is the recreation of the first besieged town of the Diablo III campaign, New Tristram, through the use of Lego bricks. The one who built the "set" is experienced Lego builder Sam Wright, who has used a bunch of tiny plastic bricks and thousands upon thousands of one-piece studs, to bring the starting town hub of the game to life the Lego way.

Wright's creation is based on the Adventure Mode version of New Tristram. The Story Mode version of the town is a little different in that it's indeed a little larger. Wright's town isn't a lifeless sort of 3D blueprint of New Tristram either: it is populated with some of the main characters of the game. Tyrael is present with his flaming sword, as is the ghost of Zoltan Khule. Even the central waypoint of the town has been included in the representation.

Apparently, the beginning of the end of the doomed town is included in the model as well: the first monster encounter, which has the undead hordes rushing the gates and murdering some of the remaining guards of the town. Those interested in feasting their eyes on the model will find some high resolution shots of it on Sam Wright's Flickr.
Philip Thalberg works for the best destination for eSports odds comparison,

Diablo 2 had a number of SERIOUS faults. Be careful what you ask for.

D2 was great for its time, but gaming has (welcomingly) advanced beyond those days.

D2 was plagued by a number serious faults, including: useless stats, traps that resulted in permanently crippling your character, the most repetitive play many of us have experienced, and one of the very worst resource systems known to any rpg.

I do not want development time spent on a game where I have to store skill points until level 24 for an optimal build, or can not reassign stats.

I love the features that make D3 what it is. Please remember what D2 was, i.e. a great game for its time. It is missing so much of what we expect from a good game today.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Keeping Diablo III Alive with Seasons

While keeping Diablo III fresh with new content and maybe an additional add-on or two has turned out to be a path Blizzard did not deem worthy of following, it is still keeping the game alive through a system called Seasons. Seasons represent new beginnings for players. Season 7 has kicked off on August 5 and it is currently in full swing.

What is it though that makes Seasons so attractive for veteran players? To begin with, Seasonal characters are completely distinct from what someone has developed in the game. They are a clean slate, without weapons stashes, gems, gold or legendary items, but they are wonderfully suited to acquiring brand new unique items. The objectives and the rewards within a season are unique and new as well.

With Season 7, the challenges have been upped through a patch (2.4.2) which seriously tweaked the stakes for veterans.  The patch delivered three new levels of Torment difficulty (a feature that was indeed sorely needed) and that makes the earning of progressively better loot possible. New items have also been introduced for all levels of difficulty and the rewards have been increased for Adventure Mode. Other, more subtle tweaks landed too through patch 2.4.2, like the possibility to hide the UI when taking screenshots.

Many of the areas of the Season 7 reward system have been tweaked as well. Haedrig's gift is unlocked differently now: instead of completing specific goals, players can now simply complete game chapters to get their hands on this bundle of goodies. Completing Act IV of the Season will unlock the cosmetic and the new portrait.
The cosmetic pet that players can earn this season is a hell unicorn type of creature. Only one set of rewards can be claimed per account. 

Philip Thalberg has been working with esports one way or another, since 2004. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

My proof Diablo 4 is being announced at BlizzCon

I have 7 pieces of proof for you.

1) Reaper of Souls was released in 2014. It's been 2 years. Diablo 3 itself was released in 2012. Both were two year intervals, so let's add up this nonsense information and we get 4. Clearly there will be another major Diablo release this year.

2) So, in 2004, I started playing World of Warcraft, which as we know, is becoming more and more like Diablo as of late. 2016 - 2004 = 12 / 3 diablo games = 4. More Diablo. Diablo 4. It fits, like when I try to take my wizard without any gear into Torment 13 and run behind everyone trying to get the fast XP but die like a filthy casual.

3) But wait, there's more! Diablo 1 was released in 1996. 2016 - 1996 = 20. There will be 6 expansions released for WoW by the end of this month. 20 / 6 = 3.333~. If you take a random number, say, 0.7, 20 / 6 + 0.7 = 4. This is probably the best proof because random numbers along with fabulous information are always correct but there is more if you aren't convinced yet. (I couldn't make this work, as I pulled this proof out of my ass, so I had to chose a very specific random number, hence 0.7.)

4) Blizzard has 4 major triple-A games out right now: Diablo 3, Starcraft II, Overwatch and WoW. I really don't know where I'm going with this but it's another 4 so fuck you, Diablo 4. There's three more.

5) In 11 days from now, BlizzCon will be in 64 days. Remember the 16 from earlier? That's right, I'm going to divide. Also, your processor has precisely 64 bits. 64 is a magic number. 64 / 16 = 4. Diablo 4. Just two more. I'm getting good at this.

6) There is no 6. That's the number of the beast. You would know this if you played Diablo instead of trolling the forums.

7) I've picked up 4 legendary staves on my wizard that have fucking strength instead of int. We won't speak of this ever again.

8) Bonus. 8 / 2 = 4. Why? Fuck you, that's why.

And finally, let's link it all together. If you take all the proof I have above, 6, and divide it by the real number of proofs I have minus 2 because Diablo 2 was our favorite, 6, you get 1. Then, take the latest Diablo 2 patch number, 1.14, multiply it by 100 (mostly because I don't like decimals), 114, add those two together, 115, subtract a random number like 3, 112, then divide by all the crack people are smoking in hopes to actually have a new major Diablo announcement since RoS was released, a number which is precisely 28, you get 4.

DIABLO 4 GUYS! (Also, Half-Life 3 will be announced at BlizzCon and then delayed another 10 years.)

(Or maybe people should stop putting words in Blizzard's mouth and calm down about BlizzCon.)


Oh shit, my first gold. Thank you!

[Edit 2]

9) If you take Starcraft 2 - Overwatch 1 and multiply it by four oh holy SHIT IT'S ANOTHER FOUR!!!!!!111!1!1!11!4!!1!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

I don't want Diablo 4, I want a Diablo 3 expansion. The game is really fun now, please capitalize on that!

I'm sure Diablo 4 will be fantastic, but I'm really digging Diablo 3.

I'm guessing my positive view of the game is because I play it a lot more casually than others. I started a few months after RoS came out, and I'm still under paragon 600. I will play for a month or two, maybe eight hours a week. I'd finish a build, play around with it doing grifts, maybe do a new seasonal character, etc. Then I'll just stop playing for a few months and move on.

Then when I come back the game seems pretty fresh and fun, I will play the latest season, try out a different class or build, etc. Right now I am in the midst of my return to D3 and just finished getting the newer items for my main characters. Now I'm playing a seasonal Witch Doctor and trying out the Jade Harvester build.

So I guess if I kept playing longer than I usually do, I'd probably start to dislike it and see how everything really is. People keep asking me if I am some anti-meta person because I like to use various skills and items that I find enjoyable. I'd probably suck if I actually tried pushing into the higher GR's that everyone else is on, and realize that all my characters builds are bad.

Anyways, just thought I'd give some insight on my point of view

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Need a Fantasy Fix? Try These Slot Machines!

Players had to wait over a decade for Diablo III, which was followed by an expansion two years later. But now work on the third installment of the game has stopped, and Blizzard has barely even started to look for a game director for the fourth episode of the epic saga. Which means that it could once again be years until the new game is released. If we are lucky, we might see it before the end of the decade. This is a very long wait, even in the Diablo universe. So, let's see what other games - more casual in nature - can help us through the years to come.

Dragon's Myth

Here be dragons! This game, available for free play at the All Slots Casino, has everything a fantasy fan might need for a quick fix: a fantastic scenery, a fearless heroine, and dragons - lots of dragons! The game was built by Rabcat, a game designer known for its contributions to titles like Silent Hill: Origin, Cursed Mountain. Which means that its visuals are as amazing as they can be. Try slot machines here. The game takes players on a quest to capture four dragons among the mystic mountains, and fight the Legendary Dragon itself. To this end, they need to land a Dragon symbol in the bottom right corner of the screen. When all four of them are caught, players proceed to the mountaintop to fight the beast - and win massive bonuses. A simple quest where you have to be lucky to proceed - but the game's visuals will make up for its shortcomings. Dragon's Myth is one of the funnier games at the All Slots Casino. It is a Flash game, built to run on virtually any desktop computer despite its high-quality visuals.

Hot as Hades

This game takes players into a different world, inspired by the myths of the Greeks. The protagonist of the game is Hades, the fearsome ruler of the underworld - who is a surprisingly entertaining guy. Hades sends All Slots Casino players on a quest to recover the Crystal Helm. Players need to pass through the seas, outwitting Poseidon in the process, defeat Medusa, and reach Zeus' chamber where they can play for the Helm itself. All this in the funniest way possible. The All Slots Casino is a trusted gaming destination with a respectable age. Founded over 10 years ago, it offers its players not only the most secure environment to play in, but also an amazing variety of games, both on desktop and mobile devices. Its games can be tried for free, or played for real on any platform.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Diablo III's Problems: Shallowness and Bad Writing

Diablo III and its expansion, Reaper of Souls, were without a doubt massive hits, both of them living up to their Blizzard pedigree. Despite that though, the game seems to have fallen out of favor with its creators - who are currently focused on other projects - and with its player-base too lately. While the former of those two problems is part of a sort of natural progression within the life-span of an IP, the latter is much more alarming, given how it calls the IP's very viability into question. Obviously, the lack of player interest has been driven by the lack of significant content-additions lately, but there are deeper-reaching problems at work here too, problems which some players had pointed out way back when the game was first released. These problems are mostly anchored in the shallowness of the story most people playing the game simply ignore. The mechanics are enjoyable but at the end of the day quite repetitive as well...the game still gets some hooked on its peculiar brand of bubble-wrap popping charm, and that's pretty much all it has  left going these days.

Beyond the silly fantasy names and the excruciatingly cliche story-line of some sort of demons being fought by angels over control of an imaginary realm, the actual story behind the game has no personality and no presence whatsoever. Marred by hilariously bad writing here and there, Diablo III's story is more of a nuisance than an asset for most players, leading some of the bloggers still roaming the Diablo III realm to proclaim that the game works best when one simply doesn't think about it.

The visuals are great obviously, as are the physics-based elements of combat, but there have been complaints in this respect as well, claiming that the game simply lacked the dark atmosphere of its predecessor and that it was way too cartoony to properly suck an old fan in.

At the end of the day, the game is a hack and slash and it stays true to those roots. When comparing it to Diablo II, one also can't ignore the possibility that those who had played that game too are now grown up and on to just how simplistic and mindless the Diablo brand of fun has always been.

Philip Thalberg has been involved in eSports coverage since 2004, as a member of GosuTeam.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Without a new Diablo game Blizzcon 2016 will be lackluster.

So I was thinking of getting the Blizzcon Virtual Ticket and mentally going through Blizzard's games to guess what there might be news on. As I went through the list I came to the conclusion that without a new Diablo game there won't be much at Blizzcon worthwhile.

WoW: Legion comes out next month. Won't be much to talk about in November beyond maybe the next raid tier.

Hearthstone: New adventure likely to be announced Friday in China. It's likely that the adventure will have come out recently by November so not much to talk about here either.

HotS: Sure they'll talk about a couple new heroes but nothing big here either.

Starcraft: Legacy of the Void will have been out for only a year so it's a bit too early for any big announcements in the Starcraft universe.

Overwatch: The game will have only been out for about 6 months so outside of a new character or something there won't be much big here either.

So that just leaves us with Diablo unless they have something completely out of the ordinary like a new IP or something planned.


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Patch 2.4.2 Brings Increased Difficulty, Better Loot

For some people, grinding away in Diablo III is an aggravating activity leading up to the onset of boredom fast - hence all the complaints about the lack of new content lately and about how the game has been reduced to a senseless grind for many. Then, there are those for whom Torment X is a piece of cake. Such players have already reached "end game" so to speak, so things have become rather stale for them too lately. While the former, above mentioned category won't gain much in the way of revived interest through patch 2.4.2 of the game, for the latter category, hours upon hours of more top-level grinding are in the books thanks to it. Patch 2.4.2 accomplishes a lot: it delivers the usual medley of tweaks and improvements, but its  main appeal is the fact that it adds Torment XI through XIII, reigniting the fire in the hearts of hardcore Diablo III grinders. The increase in difficulty comes hand-in-hand with much better loot, including legendary powers and exciting new items.

The Adventure Mode rewards have also been upped with the new patch, and the Nephalem Rifts are the targets of most of these improvements. Upon the completion of any Rift, players are now guaranteed a Greater Rift Key and they may even get a second or a third such key as the difficulty is ramped up. The drop rate for Infernal Machines has been tinkered with as well, in the sense that in Torment IV, the drop chance is now 100%. As with the Greater Rift Keys, players can get a second Infernal Machine as the difficulty goes up.

The bottom line: patch 2.4.2 delivers for diehard Diablo III players, giving them a little bit more to do as they await the official announcement regarding another expansion or Diablo IV even.

Philip Thalberg covers the International 6 for the world's top eSports spot, GosuGamers.