Sunday, May 20, 2012

Diablo 3 Aftermath

The Diablo III launch party at the Irvine Spectrum in Irvine, CA
A week has passed since Blizzard has released their most anticipated title Diablo III, with much celebration and frustration. Blizzard set up many "launch parties" where Diablo enthusiasts got together to experience the opening of the iconic computer game. The main event was held at the Irvine Spectrum in Irvine California where blizzard's headquarters reside. Others promptly waited in line at the gaming store they pre-ordered from to receive their copy. For people like me who pre-ordered a digital copy, I was sitting back on my computer chair with a cup of coffee eagerly waiting to log in. Little did anyone know, the horrendous amount of traffic the servers had to handle was an understatement. For most online gamers, launch day for a big name like Blizzard is asking for server overload issues. Knowing this, many individuals including myself, inevitably expected for the worst. What many had experienced was beyond their expectations, having login issues for hours after launch as well as servers going down periodically in between causing major down time.

Launch Party Coverage by Gaming Illustrated

The login errors people were having quickly rose to internet fame, grabbing top trending on social media websites such as Twitter and online communities like Reddit. Reddit in particular had a sub-reddit (a sub-community if you will) that participants actively discussed the content of the game even before it was released. Blizzard released the game in multiple countries including the Canada, Europe, South Korea, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia, and the list goes on. It was a historical event for many gamers on the basis that many had grown up playing the first two games in the franchise. On an earlier post, I explained the possible reasons as to why this game had such a influential impact on the global gaming community. One of the points brought up was the idea of "nostalgia", being a "gateway" online game for many present day gamers. Playing the game for almost a week now, I have never played a game that emphasized team work and cooperation along with the joy of playing with friends so pleasingly. This synergy creates a dynamic space for critical thinking and compelling gameplay. I interviewed a fellow UCSD student Brian Im, to see what he thought of the game.

"I've always loved the Diablo games, especially the second one since that one was the one that I had the most closest relationship with. I would remember when I used to come home from school and play with my friends until my mom yelled at us for playing on the computer too long. It just reminds me of those days when we were young and carefree that makes this game so fun for me." 
-- Brian Im, fourth year UCSD economics student

After talking to many other gamers online and in person, they seem to have a general sense that the game's intuitive collaborative play and nostalgia kept them coming back for more. Whatever it may be, Blizzard has done something right. Beyond the server connection issues and reoccurring server maintenance downtimes, they have successfully dominated the online gaming industry at the time being. From the casual gamer to the hardcore enthusiast, this game appeals to a plethora of individuals for different reasons aside from the content. Now go on and plunge into the world of Sanctuary, cause' evil is back!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Diablo Franchise

Diablo Released 1996
Blizzard, one of the most successful video entertainment software developer and publishers in the industry, is notorious for releasing extremely popular video game titles that are worthy of historical recognition. They are responsible for creating titles such as Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and finally Diablo. In this entry, I will be focusing mainly on the Diablo franchise due to its third installment releasing next week. Being one of the most anticipated titles in computer game history, it has already been crowned the most pre sale profits of any game Blizzard has released.

Diablo II Released 2000
The Diablo franchise has won many awards and set many records. It won "Game of the Year" by Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences two years and still going strong. One of the few franchises that even come close to Blizzard's success is Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare selling 6.5 million copies in the United States and the United Kingdom. Blizzard has announced that they expect to sell over five million copies within just a year of release.
So what is so special about this game that created one of the most successful titles in its genre? Innovative? Not so fast. There were other ARPG (Action role playing game) that were released before Diablo such as Ultima VIII and sometimes that were deemed "Diablo clones" such as Titan Quest. One thing that Blizzard is infamous for doing is their impeccable timing. The Diablo franchise was released during a period of time where the internet was readily becoming more accessible by the public. The digital era at this point is rapidly building the infrastructure for the coming future generation of digitized media. I can remember playing the game back in circa 1998, playing on a desktop more primitive than my current HTC smartphone, with dial up 56k internet connection. As painful as it may sound, this game was the pinnacle of my computer gaming passion. It was the stepping stone to many other games that I have experienced such as World of Warcraft and Warcraft III.  Being labeled as a sub-genre of MMORPG's (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game) Diablo also succeeded in creating a game that catered to different types of gamers.  Whether an individual is casual, or a dedicated over achiever, the game can be played at the player's personal pace. This is important because MMO's are often tied to high commitment, high reward style gaming. In order to progress through the game, the player had to devote a large portion of their lives which for many, did not seem appealing. Diablo's "Battle-Net" system for joining and creating games was a different approach from simply logging onto one gigantic server where one could often feel overwhelmed. And for people who did not like socializing with other players, the game created NPC (Non-player Characters) that will help  the player on his quest to progress through the game.
The Diablo franchise now with only five days until the next installment after a long ten year down time with many (and I mean many with no exaggeration) delays will be released. The nostalgic video game that  that made such an important impact on my childhood will finally rein once again.