Friday 27 September 2013

A Tale of Rage in Diablo II - one of my favorite gaming experiences ever. Feel free to share your own.

Anyone who says that videogames cannot be classified as art is a fool. Or, if not a fool, that person is someone I feel pity for due to having never experienced the emotional range that games have brought out in me. While there are many joys in this world that I will never experience, some of my fondest memories have come from 0s and 1s.

I have a beautiful family, a lovely wife, and a kitten who is far too ferocious for his own good. I've traveled, I've gotten multiple degrees, and I've had dinner one table away from Buzz Aldrin. I've had a good life for sure, and videogames are one part of that life that I cherish. I even met my wife while playing games online long before internet dating was common, but that's not the story I'm going to share with you right now.

Today, I'm going to tell you about a time video games made me quite angry. Typically, I am very calm and laid back. I often shy away from conflict when possible, though I will defend myself, and especially those I care about, when it is required. Nonetheless, rage is relatively alien to me. Here, typing with surprisingly painful kitten scratches on my fingertips, I'll tell you how I happened upon this strange emotion without ever seeing it coming.

I'll click, and it will hurt. I'll click again.

The one and only time I've ever gotten worked up enough to strike something in anger was when I fought Mephisto in the Diablo II mod Chaos Empire. I highly recommend it to any and all of you who enjoy Diablo’s brand of action RPG and hope you will give it a chance after you finish this story.

Bosses in this mod had enormous health bars and would regenerate to full if you didn't hit them often enough. They also had new attacks, wicked AIs, cinematic theme music, and head dials set firmly on four. Oh--and there were no town portals of any kind, so you had no prayer at all of resurrecting and returning to the boss before all the damage you suffered for had healed away.

I was under-leveled, under-geared, under-manned (all by my lonesome), and under-skilled (I was a sucker for Fist of the Heavens even if there were better options). It was time for Mephisto to die. I had cleared out everyone in the area aside from boss himself and, in preparation, had even made several trips back and forth from town to litter the ground with health potions. When that was done, I lured Mephisto to my chosen battleground and started the fight.

I worked his health down little by little, each blast of holy lightning taking away a sliver of his life. I dodged around nearly every single one of his attacks, using Vigor to retreat when things got too hairy. Even when dodging, though, I still had to pick moments to take it on the chin and fire off an attack or risk losing all of the progress I had made. There were some scary moments when my health dipped low, but I tore through those ground potions and stood strong.

Thirty minutes into the fight, I had Mephisto down to 5 or 10% of his health where just a few more hits would do him in. Let that sentence sink in for a minute: 30--freaking--minutes. This fight was much closer to a World of Warcraft raid boss than a typical Diablo II mobile treasure chest, and this wasn't even my first attempt on the guy. Yes, I was weaker than I probably should have been going into that fight, but this was a mod designed to create tough and challenging situations for its players. I was breathing hard, sweat was dripping off of me, and I was loving it.

Back to the fight. He was big, and I was little. I was right, but he was strong. After those long and tortuous thirty minutes, I was about to bring this demon-god-whatever down to his knees--and he one shotted me with an ice ball. I was at full health with damn near perfect resists, and I never saw it coming. My health went from 100% to 0% in an instant.

It was so far to run that I knew that I was never going to make it from the waypoint all the way down to him before he healed, but I clung to the hope that some of my gear had inflicted a long lasting poison or would prevent him from healing. I hammered on my keyboard in an attempt to respawn faster.

I shouted at the computer, and it almost seemed as if my sworn enemy understood my pain. Even though his movement should have been basically random with no opponent left to fight, Mephisto floated over to my corpse, standing tall over the words "You have died", and healed back to full.

I wished horrible, horrible things upon that digital lord of hatred and, in a fit of unprecedented rage, slammed my fist into my table. No bones were broken, but the bottom of my right hand stung horrendously and turned increasingly brilliant shades of purple over the following week.

I got up from my chair and took a walk just to get away. Twenty minutes and one repair of my equipment later, however, I was back. Another challenge, another thrill, another fist of the heavens.

I clicked, and it hurt. I clicked again.