Sunday, 23 October 2016

Secret season 8 patchnote, biggest issue in D3 fixed.

Even though we didnt get any new content other than a new pair of wings and a portrait frame, Blizzard manged to fix the problems that really matter to us. For atleast two and half years have we been facing this issue, and every patch and every season the problem didnt go away. But now after all this time........
the water actually moves up with the baskets in the Ancient Waterways.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Diablo 3 Memories: Remember those from the last 8 years?

Since there isn't anything new for the next season, let's revisit some of the great memories, people and events this game has provided since its announcement in 2008.

I have played since D3 vanilla and often see people online who just joined in the last few seasons and missed out on interesting parts (some fun, some not so much) that Diablo offered during the years.


Diablo 3 announcement during BlizzCon 2008. After years of waiting Blizzard finally revealed D3 to the public. It took almost another 4 years until the release and the game changed quite a bit but this was when the hypetrain started to gain some speed.


Some early character trailers with some rather weird ingame cutscenes and early skill concepts:

The crafting and item menu system used to look and work different from what we know today.

Some monk gameplay from 2009. Most of the skills still exist today but with different mechanics (Seven Sided Strike has a much longer cooldown for example).

Early WD and Barb coop gameplay in Act 1 Leorics Highland. The Siegebreaker we know from Act 3 was used in Act 1 at that time. In an early build there were actually "finishing moves" where the character could do a final blow to a boss with a special animation like the Barbarian jumping on the hear of the Siegebreaker to strike it down.


In May 2012 the launch finally came after a beta phase where people could play until the Skeleton king and get up to lvl 13. Diablo 3 became the fastest selling PC game and the launch itself came with a lot of server issues and waitlists. The gameplay itself was good but not as smooth as it is today.


In the early days Diablo had difficulties similar to Diablo 2: Normal, Nightmare, Hell and Inferno (which was new). The monsters strength and hp was fixed in certain areas and difficulties.

Inferno at that time was actually really difficult with most people struggling to get through Act 1. Many monsters (wasps...) would one-shot players and overall damage you could do was far less than it is today. Think about going into T8 with a fresh lvl 70 char. This now infamous tactic was widely used. Todays GR80+ guides are what used to beInferno gear guides.

This HC Inferno kill on the last boss was the world's first at that time.


Apart from playing through the campaign there wasn't much else in real gameplay players could do. Item drops were very rare with most people finding 2-3 legendaries at the most until level 60. On the highest levels more legendaries dropped but it was nothing compared to today. Guides on farming for gold and items were a help to some players back then. The so-called Alkaizer runs were popular - they came from the still active streamer Alkaizer who ran through different high-density zones for hours.

Blizzard changed the difficulty system and released the so called "Monster Powers" similar to Torments today. You could play on MP1 (normal) all the way up to MP10 (similar to T13). Even with perfect gear mobs on MP10 took quite some time.


Next to the regular gameplay many people gamed the Auction House. For those who didn't play back then: The Auction house was an integrated part originally designed to trade items and to prevent third-party sites to establish an ingame-economy. You could buy and sell almost anything through a bidding system for gold or real money. This quickly led to a system where some people would just buy some gold with real money and then spend it on items that would take weeks to farm. People who played a lot or got lucky could make a decent amount of money selling their stuff on the Auction House.

A few of the now inactive streamers/YouTubers releases Auction House guides for Monster Power-levels. The MP10 Critical Mass wizard was really popular at some time. It used a passive skill called Critical Mass that reduced your cooldowns if you land a critical hit. Combined with items that gave 10 arcane power on hit (now capped to 4) you could channel skills like Explosive Blast, Frost Nova and the like.

At that time you could only get up to Paragon 100 which was tied to a character, not account wide.


In 2014 Reaper of Souls was released. Prior to the release a new patch changed much of the basis mechanis. Smart Loot was enabled (most items just drop for your class with useful stats, used to be completely random), prices were adjusted, skills were changed and so on.

The RoS-Launch was a lot of fun and went much better than the original D3 launch. I still remember the race to 70 in clan chat, all the new events in Act 5 and the huge upgrades from lvl 61 weapons that made the most expensive Auction-House-gear obsolete. With the expansion also came hundreds of new crafting materials that were tied to specific bosses throughout the world. Some were rather difficult to farm and the overall system mostly annoyed players. Blizzard removed most of it a few months later. Some items still drop today due to bugs.


With Patch 2.1 came new features like greater rifts. To access those you had to complete bounties which rewarded you with regular rift stones. Completing a regular rift provided a Greater Rift Trial keystone. After completing a trial which tested your strength through waves of mobs that continuously increased in difficulty you could enter a Greater Rift. This took quite some time and you needed a coordinated group to get into higher levels. Solo players often had difficulty completing trials on time, especially if they used ramp-up skills/sets like Firebirds.

The first greater rifts were into the 30s and really low compared to today. Completing Torment 6 was actually difficult at that time. Sets dropped less often and were far weaker than today.


With the release of seasons began a competitive aspect. People reached higher and higher Greater Rifts and raced to reach Paragon 1000. Doing GR37 was in 5-7 minutes was considered speed running at that time.

Optimizing GR Trials also become a favorite hobby of some.

As the seasons progressed and new patches were released, most sets and items became stronger with each change. The power creep was so strong that the damage and rank 1 clears throughout the next seasons became so high that it was sometimes difficult to read damage numbers as they reached into hundreds of billions (50k used to be a lot in the original D3). Here are some rank 1 clears:

The only time that the top level went down was/is in Season 7 for which Blizzard nerfed a few key items.

Throughout the seasons everyone always wanted to know which builds would be the best. Usually a PTR (public test server) went up a few weeks in advance where people could try out new builds. Most of the time the best builds became popular a few weeks into the season though. I still remember everyone playing HOTA-Barb and Dart-WD as damage dealers until someone on the Asian server found out that the neglected skill Static Charge was in fact incredibly strong. Some PTRs were so bugged that they allowed GR151 to be cleared in a few minutes and get up to Paragon 10000.


Patch 2.4 came out almost a year ago and brought some of the biggest changes (new sets, set dungeons, revamped skills, Kanai's cube, new areas) to the game. It is suspected that most of its content was supposed to be used in an expansion which was never released which brings us to the present day, still hoping for new content or, even better, a new game.

I hope you enjoyed this little history trip as much as I did.

What were your favorite moments around Diablo 3?

Friday, 14 October 2016

No Diablo Slots? Play These Fantasy Slot Machines Instead

A year has passed since we've taken a look at how great a slot machine Diablo would be. A year has passed, and there's still no Diablo-inspired slot machine available - not in the >Royal Vegas Mobile Casino, not in the glittery gambling houses of the Las Vegas Strip. Diablo might not have made it to the world of slot machines, but there are still quite a few fantasy-themed slots for us to try - like the ones below.

Dragon's Myth

Any proper fantasy world must have at least one dragon, right? And, as today's most popular fantasy TV series has shown us, a young and relatively innocent female to tame it. You'll find this same idea adopted to the Dragon's Myth slot machine, only in a more playful way. Available for free play at the Royal Vegas Mobile Casino, Dragon's Myth is a beautiful slot machine. Its graphics are crisp and realistic, and its dragons look like they're ready to jump out of the screen and bite you. Our protagonist - a teenage redhead dragon hunter - has to catch one of each dragon species in order to be able to head over to the mountaintop and fight the big dragon - and win big in the process.

Hot as Hades

Fantasy often reaches out for inspiration to mythology - and so does this game. Hot as Hades takes on Greek mythology in a funnier way. First of all, it destroys the myth of Hades being a bad guy (which he wasn't). Instead, the Hades you'll meet at the Royal Vegas Casino is a party animal, looking to make the most of his underground realm: he dives head first into pools of molten lava, he flies around using his (invisible) jet pack, and plays with his puppy, Cerberus, who happens to have two extra heads (and tongues, of course). During the game, Hades has to go on a quest to recover the legendary Crystal Helm. To do this, he has to get past some other mythical Greeks, like Medusa, Poseidon, and Zeus himself. And, of course, he (and the player) has to win big in the process.

Thunderstruck II

Speaking of mythology: thanks to the recent ascension of Marvel's superheroes, the Norse gods are enjoying a newfound fame, even if they are depicted as aliens. Not that they weren't a popular source of inspiration before - just look at Rune, one of the best fantasy / RPG / third person shooter games ever created. Thunderstruck II, a game you'll find at the Royal Vegas Casino, reaches back to the times when Norse gods roamed the land in a unique way - in the form of a slot machine. On its reels you'll have the chance to meet legendary characters, like Odin, Loki, a Valkyrie, and Thor himself. While there's no real story in the game, its

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Diablo 3 pre-launch Runestone system overhaul

I actually really liked a lot of the ideas they explored early on. The first screenshot is oozing with history.

You can tell which skills were passives because they have no rune socket. The initial skill runes that dropped on the ground and would socket to a skill were square shaped. They had names that were evocative of their trait. For example, a Minor Hydra Rune enhanced the multi-target aspect of a skill.

The multi-tab inventory can be seen on the right below the old paper-doll. It was demoed as expandable and later scrapped because they felt like it limited the loot hunt too much early on and then made town visits fiddly once you had multiple tabs.

The talisman button on the bottom right of the paper doll. Oh how I wish we'd seen this thing in action.

A surprisingly minimal amount of UI artwork survived from this stage, less than a year from launch.
Jump to 4:08 and you can see the old (now gone) official page where they explain the Crimson, Alabaster, Obsidian, Indigo, and Golden runes. They were still drops but had a spherical appearance and the actual rune that persisted to the current skill interface. There's an interesting read on why this system was scrapped.
I loved watching the videos of the individual characters with a single skill + rune mods, here's the montage for all of them:
Still kind of amazing how much iteration took place.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Diablo 2 Best Single Player Early game builds

Ive recently pickup up playing diablo 2 again after many years and its still great. It seems like most of the information about the game trailed off around patch 1.11. Blizzard implemented the respec in 1.13 and most guides dont account for this. Im wondering what you guys think are the best builds for each class based on early game requirements. Here are mine.

  • Druid: Fizzure
  • Paladin: Holy Fire
  • Amazon: Charged Strike
  • Sorc: Fire Ball
  • Assassin: Fire Traps
  • Necro: Skeletons
  • Barb: Double Swing

The Necro is obvious being the definitive best single player build IMO. Fire seems to have an advantage because of the Leaf Runeword, so assassin, druid, sorc and possibly pally lean towards fire. Zon could go Poison Jav or Charged strike, and Barb well IDK. Other runewords that might change the meta here? Spirit, Ryhme, Ancients Pledge..?

Friday, 7 October 2016

New job postings for Diablo

There are 3 new job postings to join the Diablo team, they are: Senior User Interface DesignerTechnical Artist, Rigging User Interface Designer

They are all to do with art and UX. Of note is that they don't appear to be related to the "Unannounced Diablo project" although they do mention work for "future projects with the franchise"

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.