My first week with Diablo III

My first week with Diablo III
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It's funny how Diablo III has pretty much taken over. That first week my Facebook was absolutely flooded with posts expressing excitement about playing and annoyance at the server. My coworkers, mostly middle-aged men in an office of a technology company, talked about it at lunch and were playing it. My friends were all playing it. My guildmates from WoW and TOR were all playing it. My roommates were playing it way too much. My girlfriend and I were playing it.

There have been a lot of problems with the launch. Obviously, there were issues with the server. There was my personal issue with trying to get the Collector's Edition. (Don't trust Walmart if they tell you they have something in stock when you call. It might turn out they never even received a shipment.) There's the lack of offline play. There's the issue that the only way to friend someone is to friend them completely across all of (I think only my girlfriend and I are mad about this.) Fellow staffer Jamie has been doing an excellent job bringing a lot of the problems to your attention. With all the talk everywhere about Diablo III, I thought I'd take a few minutes to talk about my experiences with it.

For the first few days, I was extremely annoyed at the amount of time people were putting into the game. I had a lot of friends confused over the fact that come Wednesday I hadn't played it yet. I self identify as a gamer, but I also have a 9 to 5 office job. I get up at 6 in the morning. I get home around 7 at night. I like to get a full night's sleep (because I respect my job), so I sleep around 10 or 11. Heck, I play in a golf league at work on Tuesdays. That gives me 3 to 4 hours a night to play as well as eat or take care of chores, and it rules out Tuesday evenings completely. Jumping straight into a new game is not a top priority. Of course, I was interested, but I try to temper my urge to play. It'll always be there later. That's why I waited until Saturday to even install it.

There's another reason why I tried to wait. I've been through this. I know what WoW expansions are like. It blew my mind how many people were frantically updating Facebook statuses with things like "omg the server's down! Blizzard, why didn't you plan for this?" It's not that I think Blizzard is in the right. It's that I'm not surprised. Blizzard makes great games, but they also repeatedly make the same mistakes. Of course the servers were down! But they weren't down Saturday or Sunday when I tried playing.

It's hard to talk with any certainty about the hacked accounts. I can say that when it comes to World of Warcraft at least, Blizzard is always fantastic about taking care of things quickly and restoring hacked characters and items. The launch of a new game usually brings a spike of hacks. Was D3's spike larger than usual? Somehow I don't expect Blizzard to release the numbers. I'm sure they try to spin things around in their favor quickly as well. To be honest, the whole hacked accounts thing wouldn't matter to me at all if it weren't for the Real Money Auction House. I'm not sure how that's going to be implemented, but I'll be paying very close attention now. I'm not against spending a few dollars on virtual goods on ocassion. I have to admit to purchasing WoW pets and mounts on Blizzard's store (as gifts, not for myself, I swear). And I'm decent at playing the Auction House in WoW. Could this translate into giving me real money from Diablo III? Now I wonder how secure the system will be and how the secure the system will be in general.

I have a couple friends sad about needing to be connected. I admit that I probably wouldn't have noticed if someone hadn't said something to me. I'm very accustomed to needing to be online. However, it seems mind-boggling. Why not include an offline experience? Piracy? Come on, Blizzard. You should worry about delivering a good product, not stopping pirates. The server downtime certainly angered a lot of my friends, but I've played so infrequently that it hasn't bothered me. I also don't know anyone who has been hacked.

I can say that my side-project blog, Kor'kron 501st (a reference to WoW's Kor'kron Guard and the 501st Legion: Vader's Fist from Star Wars) saw a spike of attention after I began writing about Diablo III. Full disclosure: a spike means its busiest day was 25 hits. It's really just read by personal friends and chronicles my thoughts on WoW, TOR, and D3. Diablo III has definitely dominated my thoughts since release. I'm still not done with Act I, but I'm looking forward to playing more. I'm a very slow gamer. I tend not to give up other things. I still sleep full nights. If I only have two hours to play, I'd rather not play at all. I don't eat at the computer; I prefer to go enjoy my dinner. It means that with all this focus on D3, I'm only about 8 hours into the game.

For now, I play only with my girlfriend. I don't play with anyone else, and I don't play alone. This is just how we play WoW and TOR (unless it's PVP - something that doesn't "consume" content). Once we beat the game on normal mode, we'll open ourselves up to playing with others. I can't wait to try hardcore mode. I always enjoyed that challenge in Diablo II. I'm also looking forwad to PVP! I PVP'd at BlizzCon a couple years ago, and it was a lot of fun. Actually, I helped out a few people by taking their photos at BlizzCon. They asked what I was planning on doing next, and I told them that I was hoping to check out D3 but found the line too long. They held up their badges - Blizzard employees. A few minutes later I was in an extra long session of PVP. I don't like arena-based PVP as much as I like objective-based PVP (give me capture the flag any day), but I still enjoyed it. Hopefully it's just as good, if not better, when it hits the retail version.

For now, I'm going to stay away from public games. Allegedly the hacked accounts have all been in public games. Besides that, I'm not going to worry too much. We're still going to slowly hack and slash our way through normal mode. With the many small WoW blogs I read now talking about D3 and the news from sites like Game Boyz, I'm confident I'll hear about any D3 news.


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