$mash@bradmash.com: <br/> Technology Enthusiast

How Diablo II captivated a generation.

The Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Hero Characters

What was it about Diablo II that captivated an entire generation of pc gamers? Even as of the time of this writing (2019), logging into the U.S. East servers reveal a few thousand active players at any given time, with hundreds of public games to join. Now a legend, Diablo II has become the defining video game to showcase how an action RPG hack ‘n slash is supposed to be done.

Blizzard North

Blizzard North

Blizzard North was originally a third party development team (Condor) and were not originally a “part of the [Blizzard] family” according to Diablo II senior producer Bill Roper. The company was headed by president at the time David Brevik, and vice presidents and brothers Erich Schaefer and Max Schaefer. However, the company was eventually acquired by Blizzard and became known as Blizzard North (as their office resided in northern California). Brevik ran the company from 1993 to 2003, during which time Blizzard North was virtually sovereign from their parent company, Blizzard.

Low Level of Entry

Logitech Mouse

CLICK! CLICK! The average computer user can install Diablo II and start slaying demons. Every action in the game can be accomplished solely with a mouse. The pc hack ‘n slash genre was born with Diablo I, but perfected with Diablo II’s mindless clicking to vanquish demons. According to Roper this was by design to make the Diablo trilogy as accessible as possible to players.

Battle.Net

This is Diablo II’s Battle.net interface.
An improvement over Diablo I’s chunky and dry interface.

Diablo I was released at the end of 1996 and showcased for the first time Battle.net. D1’s interface was clunky compared to its new interface in Diablo II. But at the time of Diablo’s first debut, Battle.net was a hit. Gamers played cooperatively (pve), deathmatch/team deathmatch (pvp), and chat in-game over a standard TCP/IP protocol Blizzard North developed and unleashed Battle.net to the world at the very end of 1996.

Once Battle.net was upgraded with Diablo II, all hell broke loose. A clean way to find, create, and search for public and private games made the online community surge.

According to Roper, the idea for Battle.Net came about in E3 of 1996 and a ton of work went into perfecting Battle.net both from its inception, and its later update with Diablo II.

Gameplay & Story

Diablo has always put an emphasis on developing its story through gameplay. Diablo II’s gameplay and story has been enhanced by its state of the art (at least for the time) integrated cinematics. Showing the wandering traveler on his journey against the Prime Evils.

Diablo put the emphasis on the player to develop their hero character in every respect. Taking a metric ton of elements from Dungeons & Dragons, the player had a few options when it came to developing their character. As one would advance in the game, their character would level up. As their character would level up, stat points and skill points were allotted to the player to spend for reaching their new rank. This allowed the player to “build” their character.

The Classes

Diablo 2 Characters

Rather than get lost in details, I recommend just picking up a copy of Diablo II with the expansion (Lord of Destruction) and playing the game. Diablo II came with 5 playable character classes (Paladin, Barbarian, Necromancer, Sorceress, and Amazon), and two additional character classes in the Lord of Destruction expansion (Assassin and Druid).

Necromancer in Diablo II
A necromancer in Diablo II showing off his legion army of skeleton warriors.

As time went on, various “builds” started to become popular. The amount of builds on the internet were in the hundreds and possibly thousands, some cookie cutter, while other builds where experimental in nature. Diablo II perfected giving the player enough choice so that decisions actually mattered, but enough limitation so that the player could always see direction with their build.

The Loot

Diablo 2 Loot

Players would grind for hours to level their character. But with the grind came loot. Diablo II’s loot system was implemented with granularity in respect to how often certain items and types of items would drop, which enemy types could drop certain types of items, which locations could drop which items as well as other factors such as the players current “magic find” attribute value. The higher a player’s “magic find”(mf for short) the higher chance they had at finding better items.

In Diablo II, players who joined public games via the Battle.net service, would find that fast clicking paid off when it came to snatching loot. Unlike many arpg’s and mmo’s today, when loot “dropped” it was first come first serve. In other words, if an item dropped on the ground, whoever picked the item up first got the item and the other players were out of luck.

This type of loot system arched Diablo II’s player community to be somewhat stingy. People would steal items, and generally it was a good idea to not trust anyone on battlenet unless you actually knew them in real life, or had played with them for an extended period of time (months to years).

Runewords

With the expansion Lord of Destruction came runewords. Items which were socketed could have runes injected into them. If runes of specific types were put into socketable items, in specific orders, runewords would be created.

Ebotdz Runeword

Recipes were a source of mystery, but to the general public’s knowledge, all runewords have been discovered and cataloged by the writing of this post.

The Secret Cow Level

The legend of the Secret Cow Level is all to familiar to avid fans of Diablo. Just get yourself a Town Portal Tome and Wart’s Leg, and combine the two itemswith the Horadric Cube in Act 1 Rogue Encampment… and slay some cows.

The Secret Cow Level

Conclusion

This article could be quadruple its size and still not cover everything. Many details have been missed in terms of what makes Diablo II such a great video game. However, the intent of this article was to remain as objective as possible. What made Diablo II such a success? Blizzard North, low level of entry, Battle.Net (revamp), the new and refined classes, the new loot, runewords, and the Secret Cow Level (don’t kill the king!).

DOOM Eternal Pre-Release Review

DOOM Eternal Game Artwork

I have played Doom since I was about 5 years old. I can remember sitting on my grandpa’s lap, he would make the doom slayer run and I would do the shooting. Growing up I loved Doom 1 & 2! The second installment (Doom II) in the series is what I played the most growing up. I still occasionally install Doom 1&2 and get my demon slaying on. From what I can tell, DOOM: Eternal is going to be a return to nostalgia, with Hell on Earth crazy as ever. Let’s take a look.

DOOM: Eternal Returns to More Classic Enemies

This may be the most exciting thing about DOOM: Eternal for me. From what I can tell, the Id team is really doing their best to get these models and concepts to feel right. They’re keeping the nostalgia alive by doing their best to stay true to their classic counterparts, but also revamping them to be bigger than life.

Let’s take it from square one. You want a modern take on your early Id Doom days? Let’s compare the new concepts to the models from days of old. However, below is not an exhaustive list of all demons in the game, or even returning demons from 2016 (some from 2016 return with slight modifications, but from my viewpoint did not change enough to warrant mentioning here). All of the below concepts and models are brand new and make a first appearance in DOOM: Eternal

Zombieman

The zombieman is back!

DOOM Eternal Zombie
Top left classic Doom zombie, main image DOOM: Eternal zombie.




Arachnotron

The main difference seems to be the new cannon sitting on top of the Arachnotron.

DOOM Eternal Arachnotron
Bottom right classic Doom II Arachnotron, main image DOOM: Eternal Arachnotron.




Arch-Vile

The arch-vile is back!

DOOM Eternal Arch-Vile
Left classic Doom II Arch-Vile, right DOOM: Eternal Arch-Vile.




Mancubus

The mancubus is back!

DOOM Eternal Mancubus
Top right classic Doom II Mancubus, main image DOOM: Eternal Mancubus.




Pain Elemental

The Pain Elemental is back! Personally, strictly in terms of how this demon was reincarnated, to me, looks seriously awesome!

DOOM II Pain Elemental
Classic Doom II Pain Elemental.
DOOM Eternal Pain Elemental
DOOM: Eternal Pain Elemental.

Final thoughts on Classic Enemy Reintroduction

From what I can see, the five brand new enemies to the new DOOM titles (2016+), as seen above, really look nothing short of amazing. It seems id has really taken time to try and keep the retro-nostalgic feel to these enemies while updating them contextual to DOOM: Eternal. I hope you’re as excited as I am to see these brought back!

DOOM: Eternal Invasion Mode

From what I have seen, not much has been revealed about this play mode. The concept is exactly as it sounds, you can invade the single player campaign of people around the world and try and kill the doom slayer. You can choose between a select demon set. This is a 2 versus 1 style of deathmatch.

If executed well, I think this is a great change to the franchise, and offers players a fresh experience on DOOM multiplayer.

In conclusion, you can at the end of this video if you start the video at 16:40 (I’ve gone ahead and done that for you if you just press play) that two players join before the gameplay footage stops. What a teaser!

DOOM: Eternal Level Design

From what we get in early gameplay footage, it seems that the overall level design for DOOM: Eternal is much more open as compared to the level design in DOOM 2016. The latter did feature open environments, but this seems like a staple in DOOM: Eternal. This probably stems from the fact that it’s set on Earth just as classic Doom II. At the very least, this is evidenced by more vertical mobility in the game, featuring a new grappling hook.

DOOM: Eternal Movement & Grappling Hook

DOOM: Eternal Grappling Hook.
The new grappling hook featured on the the bottom of the double-barrel shotgun (super shotgun).

The grappling hook mechanic in DOOM: Eternal is another staple to the franchise as a whole. The vertical mobility it offers for doom guy to slay enemies are endless. Chaining together grapples can lead to some serious air time! Combined with double jumping and wall climbing, the movement in DOOM is better than ever.

Let’s not forget about the new strafing! The quick strafes that doom guy can now perform look amazing. This will offer players better defense from escaping close calls with enemies. Combined with the other new movement mechanics the overall gameplay in DOOM: Eternal compared to DOOM 2016 will be eons apart from each other.

DOOM: Eternal New Guns and Weapons

We won’t spend time looking at guns that have changed only visually, or that are not totally new to the franchise. With that out of the way, check these out.

DOOM: Eternal – Flamethrower

If they came from Hell, they should feel right at home.

DOOM: Eternal Flamethrower
The Flamethrower.




DOOM: Eternal – Heavy Cannon

Although very similar to DOOM 2016’s heavy assault rifle, it is actually a brand new gun and according to some sources is presumed to replace the heavy assault rifle. There are two additional modes the gun can be used in: “Precision bolt” for sniping; and mini-missiles that alternate when fired off of both sides of the weapon.

DOOM: Eternal Heavy Cannon
The Heavy Cannon.




Doom: Eternal – Doom Blade

Ready for some new and awesome glory kills? Then get ready for the doom blade.

DOOM: Eternal Doom Blade
The doom blade.




DOOM: Eternal – Shotgun

Alright, so… yeah it’s not a new weapon. But what kind of DOOM review doesn’t talk about the shotgun?! The one thing to mention here is that in DOOM: Eternal there is a mode for the shotgun that makes it an automatic weapon. Nuff said.

DOOM: Eternal Shotgun
Long live the shotgun.




DOOM: Eternal – Grenade Launcher

This is a presumption that some sources have talked about but has not yet been confirmed. That is to say, this is not the same weapon as the Rocket Launcher.

Final Thoughts on Teaser Trailers

Having watched the trailers a few times, I just want to play the game. At the beginning of this article I mentioned that my favorite Doom game ever is Doom II: Hell on Earth. Knowing that this is the second DOOM game in the new revamped DOOM titles… it makes me smile knowing it takes place on Earth. Just as Doom II: Hell on Earth was Doom I with more content, it seems like DOOM: Eternal is DOOM 2016 with more content, and I’m totally okay with that. The music still sounds great from what we hear in the trailers – thank you Mick Gordon. Speaking of Mick Gordon, if you missed this great GDC talk he gave on how he made the original music for DOOM 2016 you should check it out.

Mick Gordon, music producer for DOOM 2016 talks about how he worked on the project.

It seems to me that this installment, like the last, would make the 90’s id team proud. I can see John Romero and John Carmack smiling at its release, although Carmack will likely not say a word about the release ( https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/03/john-carmack-zenimax-owes-me-22-5m-as-part-of-2009-id-software-deal/ ). It will be interesting to see if the others comment on it. Romero on the other hand is a vocal dude, and was for DOOM 2016, which I don’t really see changing for this release.

Official DOOM: Eternal Story Trailer E3 2019

Your thoughts?

What are your thoughts on DOOM: Eternal up to this point? What excites you the most about this upcoming release? How do you see this release comparing with the last? What are your thoughts on the Invasion multiplayer mode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Primordia Review: Why you should play it.

Primordia banner image, official logo.

Looking for a new video game to get sucked into? If you’re a fan of story driven games, sci-fi, interesting artwork, and atmospheric music look no further! Although relatively speaking Primordia is an older title by today’s standards (released originally in 2012), I believe it didn’t get the attention it deserved. I don’t blame the gaming communities at large though, it’s definitely a niche genre of video games – point and click.

However this may be perceived, it doesn’t really feel like a point and click. Well, maybe it does, but I guess the point is the game is so engaging and interesting that you don’t mind that you are mindless pointing and clicking all over the place to progress.

Horatio (left), Crispin (Right)
Horatio (left), Crispin (Right)

The Primordia World

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, you play as Horatio Nullbuilt a robot who has crashed his ship on a desert planet inhabited by other robots. Horatio is not lonely on his adventure to fix his ship, he is accompanied by his pesky companion Crispin Horatiobuilt.

As the two explore the world, it becomes obvious fairly early in the game that Horatio is fascinated with “Man”. Horatio has a copy of the Book of Man, which to Horatio is everything including divine in a sense. The beginning passage reads:

In the beginning, all was still and silent. Then, Man the All-Builder spoke Word, and the Word begat the Code, and so the world began to spin. Thus dawned the Primordium, the first age, the age of building.

The Book of Man
The Book of Man

Primordia Game Mechanics

The main mechanics of the game are world exploration, crafting, and puzzle solving. The items you find in the game each have pre-determined usage, but figuring out how to use your items, how to craft what you need for any given job makes you feel like a genius. As a programmer by profession, the puzzles make me smile as they are realistic and grounded in real-world mechanics, ideas, and logic. Many of the puzzles do not have simple solutions either. And map reuse is a key part of the game. Obtain one item at X, travel back to W, before going to Y. I honestly wrote some things down to better manage what I had going on in the game (mainly numbers for key codes and such).

Metropol

Final Remarks

The world is believable and enthralling as you embark to uncover the darker places in search of the energy power source you need to leave this crazy place. Eventually your journey will lead you to the city of Metropol where Horatio and Crispin fight for their very lives.

Compared to other games in the same vain such as Beneath a Steel Sky and Machinarium, Primordia offers an amazing and rememberable experience which is why you should play Primordia.