Diablo 3 Character Naming Update

Posted by Daeity On Monday, August 29, 2011

Apparently, Blizzard might be changing their Character Naming process and are considering a switch to the StarCraft 2 naming system.

We’re very likely following the StarCraft II character name system in Diablo III, but it’s something we’re still discussing.

We think the ability to name your character anything you want (barring restricted words, of course) even if someone else picked it is just a more positive experience for the user. You want your barbarian named Baba? Cool, have fun playing the game. The World of Warcraft experience of sitting there trying names for 30+ minutes until you find one that isn’t taken can be very frustrating, and ultimately you end up with a name you didn’t really want. Granted that’s for a well-aged game with a lot of characters created over the years, but it’s also a game that’s broken down into hundreds of separate servers. In Diablo III everyone in a region is in the same boat, so unique-naming difficulties could get pretty out of hand even in the first few months.

As I said it’s something we’re discussing and could have some different angles on those ideas, but that’s essentially where we see the benefits of a non-unique naming system. [Source]
If so, then this won't be a viable gold making strategy anymore, and you'll see thousands of characters ingame named Legolas.

I can understand their reasoning.. there are pros and cons to doing it either way. They could make a lot of money from the old fashioned WoW style naming approach and players would be very happy to have unique names. On the other hand, it alienates newer players as the names dry up. With the StarCraft 2 naming method, it appeals to more newer players but takes away the pride of having a one-of-a-kind name.

It's something they're still discussing though, so they're still weighing the pros and cons themselves.

New Titan MMO Details Spotted

Posted by Daeity On Friday, August 26, 2011

Following the path left behind by some of Daeity's old drafts, I did a little investigation and came across some interesting information. You can't really call these leaks as it's just information I spotted on a publicly accessible website. The term "leaks" tends to get overused a lot.. it should only be reserved for actual leaks of insider information from real employees. If you stumble upon information on a blog, for example, it's not considered "a leak".

This is definitely new information though, I didn't find any references anywhere else to this.

So.. Cameron here was on the Titan team for 2 years as their World Designer, and then transitioned to Writing and Development for other Blizzard (trans)media in August 2010.

Here's what he had to say about their Next-Gen MMO:

Imagining, creating, and writing the universe for Blizzard's new MMO (working title: Titan) from the ground up -- the history, philosophy, heroes, and villains. In addition to the core construction of the game's story, I wrote flavor pieces for the main characters and important events to lend depth and immersion for our team. Much of my time involved meeting with the art and animation team to ensure their work wove into the narrative.
So, apparently it will be storyline driven, have main characters, histories, and heroes/villains. It won't be completely like a Second Life type game, but probably a combination of sorts with a real world, actors, story, and history.

Cameron also has a twitter account here. He makes references to the Titan project a few times, like when it's existence was first discovered. [Links: 1 2 3]

On June 10, 2010, he tweeted: 'I just got to tell the one of our artists "Yes, Stan Sakai is definitely on board."'

This was while Cameron was working on Titan and "Much of (his) time involved meeting with the art and animation team to ensure work woke into the narrative." Also, Stan Sakai at the time was already working for Blizzard on the separate World of Warcraft magazine. He had a recurring comic strip called "Goblin vs. Gnome."

This would imply that the legendary artist Stan Sakai was brought on board into the Titan MMO as a writer. :)

Cameron's first tweet (while working on Titan), was that he's "shifting tectonic plates, raising Atlantis, and reviving Teotihuacan. Damn I love my job." This might just be a figure of speech, and have nothing to do with Titan, but I figured I would make note of it.

The other discoveries, however, are certainly interesting and confirm some of Daeity's old blogposts about multiple environments (or universes) and societies intended to attract a wider audience of players. Blizzard has also been snagging up employees who previously worked on RAGE (Post-Apocalyptic), the Halo MMO, and a "next gen NCSOFT game". Also, audio engineers who developed the CryTek engine.

Here are some of the assumptions I'm adding to "the list":

* Titan is possibly taking a "The Secret World" type approach. Wide variety of environments or "universes" and many different types of gameplay.
* One of these worlds may have a Stan Sakai influence, but there will be elements of fantasy and scifi from the other writers.
* Possible change in gameplay depending on the "world" you're in.
* Designed with real world payment systems from the ground up with heavy social integration. Not an Auction House, but rather a way to buy, sell, rent, or trade virtual constructions or items.
* Game will have multiple expansion packs.
* Not a casual game, but will have casual elements in the gameplay. Blizzard looking to compete with Zynga and snag their customers.

I'll continue hunting around to see if there's anything else out there. This only took me about 30 minutes to find, and I'm surprised that this information hasn't been published anywhere else on the web.

There are websites out there completely dedicated to collecting Titan information, and they didn't even know this. Most of them just have outdated information, and short employee lists of people suspected to be working on Titan. It's kind of sad.

Minor Rockstar Update

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, August 25, 2011

The RockstarToronto.com and RockstarVancouver webpages are no more, they've taken them down and are now being re directed to the main Rockstargames.com website. Those are the only two sites I had followed, but if there were any other independent Rockstar websites, they would all have been changed as well.

The new Rockstar Toronto website has also been updated with the following statement: "Presently, Rockstar Toronto is working away on multiple titles, including the forthcoming Max Payne 3."

They been hiring many new employees over the past few months, for both console and PC positions. Once Max Payne 3 is finally completed, we'll have a much better idea of the other titles they're working on. Hopefully RDR PC.

The Rockstar Vancouver page mentions that they're only working on Max Payne 3 right now. Rockstar has been very quiet about the MP3 development progress and there hasn't been a release date although it's suspected to be late 2012. It's been delayed multiple times so far.

Rockstar Vancouver has been hiring for Audio/Gameplay Programmer and Level Scripter/QA positions over the past several months. I can't tell if they are hiring for the same position over and over though. All of the other Rockstar divisions are currently hiring, but Vancouver has nothing on their job board as of today. Rockstar Toronto, though, has been on hiring blitzes all year for several different jobs and they're still hiring.

That raises an eyebrow. Everyone is hiring except for Rockstar Vancouver, they're only working on Max Payne 3, possibly hiring for a couple replacement jobs only, it's been delayed multiple times, and Rockstar doesn't like talking about it.

Rockstar just announced (a day before the webpage changes) that they'll be presenting at the upcoming 8th Annual Equity Growth Conference. It will be taking place on September 13, 2011. I'm not expecting any big announcements from this conference.. the only thing that came out of last years talk was that "Kids Are Embarrassed To Play Wii According To Take-Two". However, a few weeks later there were huge shake ups within Take Two, and Ben Feder (the guy who gave the talk at G7 Equity Growth) stepped down as CEO of Take Two.

I wonder if there will be any other shake ups (e.g. firings or layoffs) this coming October or sooner. September might be a good time to sell stock and then purchase back in November at a lower value. :)

Blizzard Favoritism

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earlier this month, I saw an interesting read on a player / GM interaction. These kinds of posts come up all the time, but they're always fun to read (e.g. "GM threatened me", "the GM was rude", "the GM wasn't helpful", etc.)

This particular one was about a GM threat and it went something like this:

Player: Can I talk to a supervisor?
GM #1: No. If you ask again, I'll suspend your account.
Player: A GM threatened me!
GM #2: He acted appropriately within our policies. Let's end the one-sided conjecture here. *thread closed*

Even AT&T doesn't do this. Typically, when you contact customer service departments for help, but you're not getting any assistance, consumers will ask for a supervisor. Blizzard's customer service is different though, they're not under any obligation to escalate your request or transfer to a supervisor. They'll also never speak bad about another GM. Even if they personally don't agree with their decisions, they'll still have to say "they followed our policies" in a public forum.

And a lot of their decisions will be personally motivated, just like any typical customer service provider. Or really any job when you think about it. If they like you, you'll get more leeway. If they don't like you or you asked the wrong questions, be prepared for the absolute minimum service or worse.

This situation of favoritism reminded me of a personal World of Warcraft related anecdote.

If you weren't already aware, there are multiple guilds out there that are (or were) populated by Blizzard employees. There are guilds of CMs, GMs, Management, Developers and Artists, etc. They often find their own cliques, and identities in the general populace are kept secret for obvious reasons.

An old friend of mine used to go to school with a couple of the developers, and he's been in the Dev Guild for a very long time. For the most part, he was very secretive about the Guild and he treated it like an elite society. However, when TBC was in it's prime he told me, with a wink and a smile, that his friends set him up with a "Level 71". He's not the kind of person to make a joke either and he was quite serious. He was very active in raids and very well geared already through his own work, so it didn't sound like he was just given amazing gear. From what was implied, on the surface the character looked like any other Level 70, but it had hidden modifiers that would be invisible to players inspecting his character. For example, his crit chance would show 34%, but it would actually be 49% during the hit calculations. He didn't go into any specifics, but I think that there were just subtle changes made to the character giving it a slightly better advantage that wouldn't be noticed too often (to most people, it would just be really good luck on combat rolls.) Conveniently enough, he also only partied with other Blizzard developers and their friends, didn't PVP, and didn't interact with "the lower class" WoW denizens. :)

I honestly believed what he told me.. he wasn't the type of person to make this sort of thing up. Plus, I always suspected that this sort of thing always happened and it was nice to see it confirmed. If I owned a MMORPG myself, I mean I would definitely do it. :)

I haven't spoken to him in a few years, but I continued to follow the guild and it's activities since then. These days though, they're very quiet.

Favoritism like this happens in every business, but instances of special treatment very rarely make it public. Mostly because it's just between two trusting individuals. When more individuals are party to special treatment, though, the more likely the information is leaked or witnessed (like the Martin Fury scandal). Blizzard, for example, has a lot of information about them in the wild web concerning favoritism and it's actually an issue that have addressed in the past.

Back in 2005, Blizzard transferred an entire guild from one realm to another. This was long before even Character Transfers were made publicly available too. :)

Blizzard has always had to justify why their paid services cost so much, but it's funny how all of that just gets thrown right out the window when friends or family members are involved. :)

Here's a link to the old 2005 scandal. You can also use Archive.org to see some of the old postings. Basically, an entire guild (all players) was transferred with no restrictions (they kept all gold, loot, etc no matter how large).

Blizzard said that it was a mistake, and that they'd never do it again.

Then, in August 2007 Blizzard gave freebie PVE to PVP realm transfers to more friends. (Once again, long before PVE to PVP was implemented.)

And these are just the cases that we know about. :)

If you have any personal stories, or ones you've heard about, I'd love to hear about them.

The outrage!

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's funny watching everyone flip out about EAs Origin EULA and its "shocking" revelations.

It's creepy and watches you sleep!
This is ridiculous!
I'm never buying any of their games anymore!
Why don't more people know about this?? The outrage!
This is spying, plain and simple, and I'm fairly certain it's against the law.
Can't we do anything about this?
Rabble rabble rabble..


History is repeating itself, but it's even more entertaining when you see history repeating itself of people flipping out over history repeating itself.

Here's the section of the EULA that gamers are upset about:

You agree that EA may collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol 37683v1 Address), operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware, that may be gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, dynamically served content, product support and other services to you, including online services. EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services. We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you. IF YOU DO NOT WANT EA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, TRANSMIT OR DISPLAY THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE APPLICATION.
So basically,

* EA might collect information about your PC including software and hardware to assist in product support.
* EA might also use this with personal information for marketing purposes or to improve their products or services.
* EA might share this information with third parties that does not personally identify you.
* If you don't want EA to do this, just don't install the application.

All of this anger and yet they've already accepted EULAs from other game publishers without question. And yet, there's no outrage. (Well.. we all know that hardly anyone ever reads those things.)

Here's a EULA comparison to a very popular MMORPG:

* Blizzard might collect information about your PC including, but not limited to, software and hardware to assist in product support.
* Blizzard might also use this with personal information for marketing purposes or to improve their products or services.
* Blizzard might share this information with third parties that WILL personally identify you.
* Blizzard can alter this information (chat sessions) before submitting your personally identifiable information to third parties.
* If you don't want Blizzard to do this, just don't install the application.

Here are the excerpts from their EULA:
"WHEN THE GAME IS RUNNING, BLIZZARD MAY OBTAIN CERTAIN IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR COMPUTER, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION YOUR HARD DRIVES, CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT, IP ADDRESS(ES) AND OPERATING SYSTEM(S), FOR PURPOSES OF IMPROVING THE GAME AND/OR THE SERVICE"

"WHEN RUNNING, THE GAME MAY MONITOR YOUR COMPUTER'S RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY (RAM) AND/OR CPU PROCESSES FOR UNAUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY PROGRAMS RUNNING CONCURRENTLY WITH WORLD OF WARCRAFT."

"Blizzard may, with or without notice to you, disclose your Internet Protocol (IP) address(es), personal information, chat logs, and other information about you and your activities"
.. to ANY third parties, not just associated with law enforcement.

"BLIZZARD MAY MONITOR, RECORD, REVIEW, MODIFY AND/OR DISCLOSE YOUR CHAT SESSIONS, WHETHER VOICE OR TEXT, WITHOUT NOTICE TO YOU, AND YOU HEREBY CONSENT TO SUCH MONITORING, RECORDING, REVIEW, MODIFICATION AND/OR DISCLOSURE."
The EFF has even labeled World of Warcraft (Warden) as official Spyware.

They're not alone though, almost everyone does this and it shouldn't come as a surprise. Steam, Microsoft operating systems and applications, Google, Youtube, Facebook, MySpace, etc.. they all do this kind of stuff.

Random thoughts about Diablo 3

Posted by Daeity On Monday, August 22, 2011

* Unannounced features in Diablo 3?

This topic should have some pretty fun speculation. I wonder, for example, if there's going to be a special menu for the virtual merchandise you can purchase from the Blizzard store. For example, a pet container, pet skins, or other visual appearances like in World of Warcraft.

I had always thought that an "Art Style" feature in the game would be a really brilliant idea considering the D3 art controversy. It wouldn't be that hard to do, and players would love it. Normally, they'd just do it themselves through graphics mods. but those have been restricted. So, what if Blizzard were to implement a feature to turn on or off "Classic Diablo Art Style" versus "Diablo 3 Art Style"? Much like switching back and forth between control schemes. Not only would that be awesome, but it would also demonstrate that Blizzard listens to their customers. :)

It would be fairly straightforwards too; apply a filter, adjust contrast levels, turn off glows, tone down special effects, turn off bloom, change ambient light effects, alter player light radius, palette swap out, and even possibly have alternative graphics content available.

Maybe a future patch?

* Blizzard Coercion

If you followed Diablo tweets, you might have caught this earlier inappropriateness during Gamescom.

#D3 is up for a People's Choice Award at @IGNUK If we win we'll release the beta, or will we!? Only one way to be sure. http://ow.ly/67OC4
That's not even funny. They're basically saying, "vote for us or else". If you vote, we might release it early.. if you don't vote, we'll withhold the beta.

That's just terrible. Was this another great PR idea? Or were they just getting all of their pre-Blizzcon trolling out of the way so that they don't have another Paul Sams incident? With everything being announced this year, I hope they won't have time for another "Geek Is.." speech either. >:(

* Illegal Online Gambling?

Online gambling is illegal for the most part in the US. And, Blizzard has stated that their lawyers have looked into the Diablo 3 game, don't consider it gambling, and players are all assuming it's perfectly safe.. but is it really?

I wonder how long it will take before certain people with connections wise up and start asking the right questions? Say for example, making inquiries to a State Representative, an Anti-Gambling Coalition, members of the Government, or maybe even the FBI Cybercrime disivision?

The Real Money Auction House is one of the biggest technical issues still holding back the Diablo 3 release. That and their 3rd party payment system still requires a ton of testing. The game itself is pretty much done, now Blizzard just needs to test all of their servers, transactional and cash payment systems, and logistics. If the right people were notified and started asking Blizzard some serious questions at this juncture, it could seriously delay the release of Diablo 3.

Credit cards associated with Internet gambling sites are usually rejected, but Blizzard has entered into a special relationship with an unannounced 3rd party to handle this cash money trade service. It's a good idea they're outsourcing this too.. perhaps they have some clauses in their contract that give them indemnity in case something were to happen.

Blizzard could have easily done this themselves, but they're involving a 3rd party.. it could just be related to workload, but maybe there's another reason. You know.. a "just in case" scenario. Blizzard also has the ability to flip a switch on the Cash Auction House at any time. :) If I were them, I'd be worried.

And, it probably wouldn't take much on an explanation to a non-gaming government official. What's the simpliest way to explain how the Diablo 3 Real Money Auction House works?

1. You pay to play on a live gaming service.
2. This game is played by adults and minors.
3. You can put your real money into this gaming service and use it to make more money.
4. While playing on the live gaming system, there are multiple different kinds of games that you can play. Games of chance and games of skill. Much like an online casino.
5. These games are played against the "house" who makes money because the odds are in their favor and they can control the odds.
6. While playing some of the games, there are random chances of winning "tokens" that represent real cash value.
7. You make money by random chance winnings.
8. There is also another game of chance where you can gamble your token to see if you can convert it into varying levels of real money. (RMAH)
9. When you gamble your token, you must pay a fixed fee for every gamble. Whether you win or lose, you must pay for the gamble.
10. Blizzard can control how many gambles each players makes during the day, and change volumes of gambling attempts.
11. Player winnings and fixed fees are very small (e.g. $0.05-$1.00), however these involve millions of players with multi-millions of transactions per day. Imagine billions of "microgambling" games.
12. Servers for this online gaming service can be at offshore locations. Players from all over the world can access this gaming system from any other country. Or play on multiple countries with different currencies.

It sure sounds like gambling to me. There are layers upon layers of varying forms of gambling and indirect gambling. Some of these layers aren't even obvious yet to most players; the listing fee is gambling where the house always wins and controls the odds. There's a reason why online auction services don't have listing fees when they lose auction attempts.

Diablo 2 "Gheed Gambling" is also completely available in Diablo 3, but now it's in the form of Artisan crafters. It's not gambling now, it's "crafting with a random chance". Basically, you take a token that represent real money, gamble it, and you can convert it into an item of much greater value.

The new RMAH system also will be allowing vast amounts of money laundering in multiple countries. In other gambling systems where there is a transfer of money involved, it often requires people playing the game for long periods of time to transfer money to another account for laundering purposes (or the money launderers own the business and use the transactions to hide money). In Diablo 3, though, users can now just buy large quantities of virtual tokens, transfer to another account, and cash out all in the same day. It's easy, fast, not monitored (unless reported), and it can also be fully automated. There's also less risk involved because they don't own the business and they are just using a legitimate service. It's scary to think of the possibilities here.

That thing I was mulling around..

Posted by Daeity On Sunday, August 21, 2011

I had mentioned that it could really be explained in one sentence. Well, here it is; Blizzard's Developer Guild has been very "inactive" over the past 4 months.

What I mean by "inactive" is that there's hardly anyone logging in or playing any more. Many of them have frozen their accounts and it's just very quiet these days. Nothing like what it used pre-Cataclysm. It's something that I thought would be interesting to share and it says a lot right there. Even people who can play the game for free haven't been playing since Cataclysm. And, they're also the people who "represent" the game in a way.

Mind you, the Dev Guild isn't made up entirely of developers or even Blizzard employees. It used to be in the beginning, but over time they have invited many friends and family members who are now in the guild.

I just thought it was kind of interesting that even they seem to have gotten bored by the game, and it's not just us lowly gamers. :)

I'll have more to talk on another subject relating to the Dev Guild in future post.

Oh also, there was another thing I was mulling around. :) It's become quite an annoyance to keep switching users when posting new stuff, so I'm just going to be using the Daeity name for blogposts moving forwards. I'm not sure if Blogger has any way of changing the name, but I'll look into it. It's much easier just using a single account.

Mudslingers

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paraphrased of course. :)


Activision (Source):
Game publishers really shouldn't throw insults around at their competitors. Whoever does this is mean and unprofessional. Looking at you EA.


Earlier..


Activision (Source):
I've only seen Battlefied 3 on a PC. It's just a PC title, a very small audience, and not on console where most business is.




Activision (Source):
There’s not a studio at this company that will tell you: 'Activision is forcing us to get the game out.' Our people have personalities, are autonomous, responsible, creative, serious, and they want to make great games. EA is the exact opposite.



Activision (Source):
Indie developers suck ass. Bungie is "probably the last remaining high quality independent developer. It's very hard to... that has sort of has institutional skills and capabilities. And they're a real company."


Sad to see Destructoid defending Activision (first link) and calling EA's responses "petty antics." Both of these companies have been firing shots at each other for years, and no one should be taking any sides in the matter. This is just what competitors have been doing for thousands of years, and they both put themselves on high pedestals (which is also tiring and cliche). War never changes.

Weak-ly Posts

Posted by Dave On Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm starting to notice many highs and lows of information, so there might be periods where I'll take long breaks from writing. Sometimes though, there are a lot of little things going on that I just can't put into one post.. so, I was thinking of making some of the more "weaker" posts into a smorgasbord of unrelated quick posts. I might have to make it a tradition too depending on my available time.

* I just feel really bored today and I don't really feel like researching anything at the moment. Maybe later this week.. I was thinking about reviewing Diablo 3 alternatives like Path of Exile, Grim Dawn, or Torchlight 2. Grim Dawn looks very awesome.

* TV shows are starting to dry up. The final season of Breaking Bad is apparently closer than I thought, so I'm sad to see that the series will be gone in 1-2 years. Walt's hubris keeps making more appearances.. I think everyone's anticipating a pride before the fall type situation in the final season. :)

* True Blood 4x08 happened exactly as I thought it would. :) The show routine is getting a little annoying, writers are getting lazy, and there are more plot holes developing (like a werewolf with heightened senses not knowing he's being followed by someone 30 feet behind them). Looks like it might have been the ghost after all that wrote that message on the wall.. I have no idea how, though, considering that they need a medium to be able to interact with the real world (like picking up a marker) as explained by the show. I hope it was her other son though.. it's the only way to explain the scene. Writers change the laws of physics too often.

* I was also thinking about creating a list of things that cause virtual economy imbalances or disruptions. They're very delicate and fragile after all, and small things can completely change the value of gold and items in Diablo 3. But, it's all pretty common sense; exploits cause hyperinflation, new items in expansion packs, hotfixes and even patches can cause major changes in gold value. I'm still thinking about this one.

* I might have made a mistake in that 11.1 million subscriber clarification post. I'm waiting for more details, and if I'm wrong I'll make a correction to it.

* Daeity wasn't kidding when he said that the blog gets a lot of visits from Blizzard offices. There's been a lot of activity the past couple weeks. Most recently, a Blizzard visitor (216.148.0.72) came from the Somethingawful.com forums, meaning that he has a personally paid registered account or Blizzard pays for accounts so that they can monitor communications about their company. They were really interested in the Daeity's old post about "Subs in Trouble". The other one that Blizzard employees are very interested are the articles about RMT where Blizzard had stated in the past that they consider RMT illegal. Like this one. The link is still working as of today even though it was edited by Nephadne on 03/06/11 from an original posting date of Dec 2010. All of the focus has been on subscribers and contradictions about RMT.. hardly anything else is being read.

* Apparently Square Enix might be creating a "Square Games" division to re-brand themselves. To do this right, their first game better be a proper sequel to Chrono Trigger.

* Finally, that thing I was mulling over.. I might post about it in the next couple of days or so.

The other grumbling is about the new cash auction house. As a "simple solution" to this problem, gamers are being encouraged to "just go Hardcore". Some jokingly, some serious.

Hardcore players will have access to a separate gold-based auction house for HC players only and they will not have a currency-based auction house.

Everyone seems to think that this is the only option available for players who don't want a currency based auction house. But Blizzard is very good at providing options, because options can come with price tags.

Blizzard already has a method in place to restrict groups of users to certain Auction Houses so it's very easy to create AH options for different player needs. Once they have enough players, I think you'll start to see new servers being created to accommodate new demands.

It's a good excuse to show that they're listening to the players, while also making a profit. Paid services are a big money maker, so you know that different options for server transfers will be available eventually (even though they have only announced regional based servers.) I wonder if these servers will be available by launch, or if they'll come out a couple months after? If they come out a month or two after, for example, all of the people who joined the server they didn't like can pay for a transfer to the gold-only AH server.

What would be really interesting is a cash-only server.. maybe that will be implemented in Diablo X1. :D

The new paid services should be interesting, especially with the implementation of the CAH and B.NET/PayPal cash system. There will be server transfers, paid name changes, paid class changes, pets, appearance changes.. I wonder what else? Probably an option to convert a Hardcore character to normal (they lose some titles of course). They certainly wouldn't allow a normal player to be converted into Hardcore of course.. it's not like Blizzard would ever allow PVE players to pay for a PVP conversion. :)

Unrealized Reality of Diablo 3 -- Part 1

Posted by Dave On Saturday, August 13, 2011

Players grumbling about the persistent online-only requirement for Diablo 3 are being encouraged to "just grab the crack" to play offline. It sounds simple enough, but they're assuming that D3 is similar to Starcraft 2. :)

Starcraft 2 is considered an "online" game, but that's only for authentication DRM. SC2 has all of the level design, maps, single player missions/campaigns, and assets built right into the game and it was designed to be playable offline. That can be cracked.

Diablo 3, however, is more like World of Warcraft but also a slightly different creature.

World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 both come with all media assets, maps, and levels built into the game. But, movement, player development and the characters themselves are controlled and stored on the server.

I think some gamers just haven't realized this. A "crack" will be possible eventually, but it will actually come in the form of an emulated server that will take weeks or even months to implement. Diablo 3 simply can't be played offline. Everything about your character is controlled by the server.

In World of Warcraft, all of the maps and levels are static (fixed). But in Diablo, the dungeons and levels are dynamically generated. It hasn't been mentioned in any interviews, but it's the SERVER that creates these random maps, random dungeons, random event scripting, mob locations, random NPCs, and vendor items for sale. The server might even control boss AI. All of this data is transferred to your client.

The game has been designed from the ground up for the server to generate all of the random content in the game.

We'll learn more soon enough (Diablo 3 beta invites next week), but because levels are randomly generated this makes botting, teleportation and speedhacks much more difficult. To conserve bandwidth, not all map data is going to be transferred to the client at once. I'm assuming that the map data will be transferred as you move throughout the world.. that is, the world is created around you (and cached) as you explore. If you jump too quickly to an area beyond an acceptable range, it makes teleportation and speedhacking very easy to detect. Imagine it like an invisible circle surrounding you.. it only caches land at its outer perimeter as you explore. The game code allows for a certain amount of flexibility, but if you go beyond its borders too quickly, it knows something is wrong. Movement tracking in D3 is more 2-dimensional too as opposed to World of Warcrafts 3-dimensional character location (making internal calculations and hack detection algorithms that much easier.)

(** Update: Here's an example of what happens when random map data created by the server isn't transferred quickly enough to the client. Local model editing for the purposes of world building or area changes, like in WOW, is not possible on live Diablo 3 servers because of this new system. However, the fastest way of getting an emulated server up-and-running is to simply create static maps and fixed weapon and item drops. It would be very easy to capture one randomly generated map, for example, from the live beta server and just use that as the template for the emulated server. So yeah.. the fastest way to "crack" the game is just to remove the random generation.)

It's easier to cheat in World of Warcraft because "explored land" is fixed and always there. Diablo 3 randomly generated terrain is more tricky though as you're now beginning to realize. :)

It's actually quite brilliant for both hack detection, preventation of botting (which relies of pre programming pathing), and DRM. It ensures that everyone buys the game once they realize "it can't be hacked" at least in the beginning.

And, Blizzard is not going to share this information with anyone. Why? Because when the game comes out, no one will be able to create an offline crack for it. Everyone will assume it's uncrackable and not realize that an emulated server needs to be constructed first.

"Dude. This game is like uncrackable.. there hasn't been a crack for weeks now and everyone's been begging for one. I'm just gonna go buy it."

During the beta, however, some clever programmers will start building a server emulator.. so if Blizzard can roll out the retail very quickly, they can hit retail a long time before the first B.NET emulators hit. They also have legal precedent on their side to combat B.NET emulators.. remember BNETD? :)

This is a great form of DRM, since it's not "persistent online authentication style DRM" that can be cracked but more like WoW with server generated levels and maps. It will eliminate piracy, at least in the beginning, and generate even more sales than an offline capable (aka "crackable") Diablo 3.

If you step back and look at all this holistically, you'll see some connections happening here.

* Only the server generates random content and stores the character, so the game client must be connected at all times.
* In order to crack the game, a server emulator will be required.
* They don't want users to know this until it's too late (e.g. they bought the game, emulated server comes out months later).
* Blizzard already has legal backing to prevent the creation of a server emulator.
* Because terrain is randomly generated, it makes teleportation and speedhacking much more difficult. Botting is also more difficult since pathing changes with each game session.
* The online-only component allows Blizzard to implement paid auction houses, and because of their immense popularity they can create a new standard for other businesses. Not only for RMT, but also their online-only approach.
* Any single player game can be redesigned so that a server is required to transfer simple on-the-fly content.
* While other game developers will be "indebted" to Blizzard, this opens up more business opportunities for their new 3rd party RMT partner (PayPal?).
* This RMT scheme also makes the Titan MMO RMT surprises much easier to accept when it's finally announced. Titan RMT will be D3 RMT v2.0. If Titan were announced today, I think there would be a LOT of angry people. D3, though, will get their feet wet and ease them into this new business paradigm.

Blizzard has some really smart people working for them.

I can't believe I missed this!

Remember that MTV interview where Blizzard was shocked about the fans reaction to the Diablo 3 persistent online requirement?

Well, Robert Bridenbecker also stated that by implementing these online requirements:

You're guaranteeing that there are no hacks, no dupes.
Let me repeat that. The Blizzards Vice President of Online Technologies just said that they're GUARANTEEING no hacks and no dupes because it's online.

I have no words for this.

Quick Updates

Posted by Dave On

* I'm working on a new page for the front page and it should be available in a few days. It's somewhat of an overview for the site and important notices of information that everyone should be aware of. It might contain some really important information some day. I wonder if anyone will actually read it? :)

* I found out something rather interesting about World of Warcraft. I'm not sure sure how to approach it or write a blogpost about it. Hardly anyone knows about it, and everything would make sense by just describing it in one sentence really. So, I'm still mulling it over.

* Here are a couple quotes where Blizzard called RMT illegal. This goes along with that previous blogpost entitled "Blizzard v. RMT". I was able to find multiple sources for this information, but I'm quickly discovering that these quotes are disappearing all over the verse.

Here's one with a screenshot I took, just in case it vanishes. Make note of their EDIT TIME at the bottom of their posting. :)

Here's another official Blizzard quote too in regards to DRM:

"Not only do we believe that doing so would be illegal, but it also has the potential to damage the game economy and overall experience.."
This particular quote has been disappearing everywhere and I regret not taking screenshots of it earlier. Bashiok is most famous for saying it, but there were other representatives who re used it as well. If I ever find the old posts, I'll put them up here.

Diablo was a clone?

Posted by Dave On

Diablo was massively unoriginal and just a clone of other popular games.

You don't hear that very often do you? In fact, it would be considered blasphemy these days.

That's not how it was when Blizzard's games were first released however. Here are some old magazine scans from a 1997 issue of PC Gamer that you might find entertaining:

And, here are some of the interesting parts they had to say:

"So Diablo, well... it's fun, by and large, but it's massively unoriginal."

"It's not that Diablo's a bad game - far from it. It's just that it's not the game I was hoping for. You see, Diablo is a Gauntlet clone... Sure, Diablo's a very sophisticated, gorgeous to look at, multi-layered Gauntlet clone. But it's still just a Gauntlet clone."
Diablo's innovative random dungeon generation? They had something different to say about that back in 1997 too:
"So if you decide to start a new character and take him adventuring, you'll find that everything has move around. Pretty clever and, unfortunately, also an idea that's been around a long time, in the hugely popular shareware game Rogue."
If you listened to the marketing and hype you'd believe that C&C, Warcraft, and Starcraft were not clones of Dune II, or that they didn't copy the Fog of War feature, that Diablo didn't copy heavily from Ultima VIII and that there weren't any MMORPGs before World of Warcraft. I wouldn't be surprised if kids right now believe that Blizzard created the MMO genre. That's how good their marketing department is. :)

XS.TO Update 2

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, August 11, 2011

Okay, all fixed. I've moved the image hosting and everything appears to be showing up properly. I think I'll take this opportunity to go through and add tags to all of the migrated posts.

XS.TO Update

Posted by Daeity On

I gave them the benefit of the doubt, but it's been 24 hours now and they still haven't responded back. It's also been a couple days since the image hosting issues started and there are no updates or signs of resolution. Daeity seemed to prefer IMGUR.COM, so I'll give them a shot.

Diablo 3 Auto-Looting?

Posted by Dave On Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This is something that didn't have much discussion after the recent press event. From the gameplay videos, it looks like the loot is being picked up automatically.. but, the mouse and interface is hidden so it's impossible to determine for sure.

Gamers have been asking for an auto-loot or AOE looting feature as it's been highly successful in RIFT, but apparently only gold and health orbs will be automatically collected.

According to Blizzard, they will never be implementing a "loot vacuum" function because it lessons the choices available to the player. Yes, you heard that right.

No, we want players to be clicking on items still to pick them up. Gold is auto-pickup because there's never a reason to not pick it up, but creating 'loot vacuum' mechanics for actual items removes several layers of player decision and interaction.
If this is the case, and they will never be implementing a auto-loot feature for Diablo 3 and each item needs to be interacted with individually. This makes me wonder how they'll be implementing the looting system in their console versions.

Will a selection box appear over top of loot piles and the user needs to scroll up and down to hot pick items?

Do you think that if they add auto-looting to the console version, they'll implement it for the PC to keep things fair. It might be implemented as a "new" feature at a later date.

Or maybe they'll just throw caution to the wind, implement it the way it should be done, and just say "Bah.. let's just do it and forget what we said" like so many other "Blizzard would never" statements.

It's a really awesome feature after all, and has been proven to work really well in other games. Loot vacuums are the future, and this is something that should be implemented in Diablo and WOW. Game developers borrow features and ideas from Blizzard, and Blizzard has done the same. Quality of life needs to come before pride.

XS.TO Image Hosting Problems

Posted by Daeity On

If you've noticed some missing images, it's because I've been using an image host called XS.TO. Apparently, they've lost all of the images I uploaded.

It's no big deal really, I can just find another image host.. but it didn't take very long for this to happen (it might just be a highly unstable service) and I'm investigating the issue from my end.

This is a good opportunity though to test out their Customer Service department and provide a good review of the service. :)

I've already initiated a support request, so I'll let you know how it goes. Their response and helpfulness will determine my future use of the service and my own recommendations to others.

Diablo 3 Gold Guide -- Maximizing Cash Profits

Posted by Dave On Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Here's an awesome tip for single-players who are interested in cashing in and leveling quickly.

* Diablo 3 is a one-time cost and there are no monthly fees.
* There is a party limit of 4, and the game is designed for the more difficult encounters to be handled by 4 people.
* Each player has their own drop modifiers for personal drops and magic finds. There will be group drops and personal drops for each player in the group.
* When playing in co-op, you kill faster and there's much better loot available.

The tip? MULTI-BOXING!

And you only need to buy a maximum of 4 copies!

With your own party of 4 and in your own game instances, you can level faster and get better loot than most of the competition. All of your characters can stack on top of each other too and they don't all require varying locations in combat. :)

Blizzard has no problem with this, it's not against the rules and is widely used in World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs.

With a powerful enough PC, you should be able to get away with this on a single PC. Each Diablo window, though, might require lower graphics settings. It will take a while for the Diablo 3 retail price to drop too, so this is something you need to decide whether to do right in the beginning or not.

There's still 4-5 months to go, so take this time to research and prepare. :)

Some links to get you started; What is Multiboxing, Dual-boxing.com Forums, MMOWNED Forums

If you guys know of any other good starter sites, let me know. I'll write more about this in the future too as this is probably what I'll be doing.

More lovin' for botters

Posted by Dave On Monday, August 8, 2011

This is a continuation of the RMT discussion, but on the subject of botting.

Remember that the decision to implement RMT into Diablo 3 was not an easy one. Blizzard, not Activision, makes these decisions and they're not made lightly. They're thoroughly researched, well thought out, considered, and all angles investigated.

EVP Rob Pardo said that they were "thinking about the trading game for a while" and one of the reasons for doing this was because of the changing landscape of games, the different business models, and it "benefits the players, provides more entertainment, is more fun".

So, you can assume that Blizzard already knows the following;

* In black marketing trading, the two traders are known to each other. The trade is made knowingly, meaning that both accounts are susceptible to banning.
* The Cash Auction House is anonymous.
* If a player buys a new character on the CAH that was botted, they have plausible deniability. Meaning that the receiver of the botted character is free of disciplinary action.
* If a player buys an item gained through exploitation, the same. (Item duping, speed hacking, and teleporting will happen.)
* These are all immediate and final sales. The innocent receiver cannot be banned, only the guilty seller.

Under the old system, buyers and sellers alike work through blackmarket websites and there are systems in place to monitor shady dealings like transferring ownership of B.NET accounts.

Under the new system, there is only a monitoring system for catching the guilty seller. A cheater could sell 40 accounts before they get caught, but Blizzard can't just reclaim those accounts since most of them could have been in use for several months after purchase. The same is true for duped items or loot gained through exploitation.. several days or weeks after the sale, Blizzard can't just repossess them or rollback the account to weeks past. It wouldn't be fair.

Repossession or rollbacks of ill-gotten gains could only happen fairly if it happens within hours or a couple days at most. And that's after a full investigation is completed.

Blizzard would know all of this.. ie, that people will be "legitimately" playing botted-accounts or using items gained through exploitation.

So really, this is a method of almost legitimizing botting. :) Sales are immediate and final, and the buyer of the botted account or exploited gold can't be punished. It's a long process before the seller is caught, so the legit gold selling system and enforced anonymity permits this to happen and Blizzard should know this.

Not only that, but the new Auction House system makes botting much easier. In World of Warcraft, botters would need to travel back to cities to sell items or manually list on the Auction House. This is no longer the case. Players can now open the auction house interface from anywhere in the game to sell items. That is a huge advantage for botters.. I can't even begin to describe how amazingly great this is for botters and farmers. So far, things are getting much easier for botting and not more difficult.

On a side note, I've seen that a lot of people are defending the implementation of RMT by saying that "it's already happened." They forget, though, that it was a blackmarket and there's a ton of high risk involved from both the seller and Blizzard. Not only that, but it was only used by a small percentage of players. It's like going from 5% of subscribers on the blackmarket to 80% of subscribers in the new legit system. There's no comparison here, and you can't say "well, it's already been happening and players pay to win already.."

Personally speaking, I'm not for or against RMT officially, I'm just detailing what's happening and what will happen. I'll be playing the RMT system though for entertainment purposes.. I can see the negatives and positives, and I'll just personally weigh accordingly as I experiment with it.

Diablo 3 Gold Guide -- Player Auctions

Posted by Dave On Sunday, August 7, 2011

Internet first! Well, it's not anything to really brag about since there aren't actually any real Diablo 3 gold guides out there yet (it's all just simple guesswork and guides on what might make money.. like "farm mobs"). :)

This however is a cool approach that not many people know about or even consider as a gold making technique but it works.

And, the strategy is sheer elegance in its simplicity; character name auctions!

* People will be playing this game for years to come, so it's vital to get a great name as soon as possible.
* The regional servers allow you to create 10 Hero names. I would recommend that you create one for yourself and 9 others for selling purposes. Don't waste your time playing the game right away, just try to reserve 9 of the best names you can.
* Even better if you have multiple accounts.
* Remember that these regional servers are not like WoW. In WoW, you're competing with 40-60,000 other players for names per realm and it's possible to have the same name on multiple realms. In Diablo 3, it's one server for potentially millions of players. Character names will be an extremely rare commodity.
* So far, Blizzard has not announced a new ID based naming convention. For example; Diablo3_Char_Name.AccountID. If this was the case, you'd probably see a half-million Legolas's running around.
* It's more likely you'll see a lot of xXxDestroy3rxXx naming conventions.

You could try and sell these names right away, but I would recommend holding onto them until the naming pool dries up and their value increases.

The new Cash Auction House is region wide, meaning that your Character Auction will be visible to millions of players. And the characters name will be important in their decision to purchase.

(On a side note; buying a bad character name encourages you to change it's name. So, it's in Blizzards best interest to not allow post-auction name changes and force users to use their paid services.)

Selecting character names ahead of time should be a pretty easy process for you. You'll want fantasy centric names, names similar to Diablo key-players, simple or short words, aggressive language, and real names. Short names are more valuable, and they must not contain special characters.

Remember that internal Diablo names will be reserved, so don't set your hopes too high for Deckard, Diablo, Tristram, Barbarian, Blizzard, etc. Blizzard, friends, and family will also have first pick of the litter before you. :)

Some names to get you started - Legolas, Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, Lich, Blood, Death, Killer, Jason, Timmy, Tim, Bob, Bruce, Glob, Ghost, Smite, Shock, Nope, Purple, Pink, Orange, Focus, Strength, Panda, Dyablo, Wicked, Nasty, Wild, Banker, Vendor, Frost, Awesome, Awesomesauce, etc.

Remember to make a list well ahead of time with all of your top choices and backups.

To get a good idea of popular names, search Google for "naming your wow character" or use WoW Armory to find out which names are used the most (and then compare to your own list to determine the most valuable ones).

tl;dr; Character names will be a highly valued commodity. Servers are regional/country based, whereas WoW had multiple realms per region, so you will be competing for awesome names against many more players.

A puzzle for you..

Posted by Dave On

Picture the following scenario.

* You need real money to be able to play this game.
* While playing the game, you don't actually use real money but rather special "chips".
* You pay to play the game, but it can be taken away from you at any time. The people who own the game can tell you to stop playing due to cheating or for no reason at all.
* It's a game of chance, and your level of winnings or losses are random.
* You have the option to cash out and convert your chips back into real money.
* The owner of the game provides complimentary items (comps) to encourage players to continue playing this game of chance.
* Whether you win or lose, the owner of the game will always make a profit from you.

Am I describing a slot machine, a game of roulette, a table game, or Diablo 3?

(And yes, Blizzard is waiving the listing portion of the fee for a limited number of transactions... this feels just like a casino comping players to keep them gambling or to experiment first to get hooked.)

Diablo 3 Duplication Exploits

Posted by Dave On

I will be creating some blogposts about gold/cash making in Diablo 3. The new RMT system really interests me, so I'll be jumping right into that. It will be easier once the game comes out, of course, but for now I already know of some sneaky (and currently unpublished) methods. Most of them will be legitimate methods of gold farming and I haven't decided yet whether to create the more shady guides. :)

But first, there's something I need to get off my chest.

If anyone ever says that World of Warcraft has never had duping or that Diablo 3 will never have duplication exploits because WoW has never had them; I am sorry, but you are completely wrong.

Anyone who believes this is;

* Misinformed and they believed it without question
* or, they don't know for sure but go with the flow
* or, they only read official Blizzard press releases and didn't read other WoW news sites
* or, they never read the forums
* or, they know it happened but they drank the blue kool-aid, pushed it into the back of their memories, will only say positive things about Blizzard, and will try to convince everyone else in their beliefs.

Diablo 3 will have dupe exploits and tricks as well, I have no doubt in my mind. Item duping, gold duping, point duping, or stat duping (e.g. stacking of stats).. users will always find a way.

Blizzard has a great team of programmers but a lot of these exploits slip by. They have a limited quantity of QA Testers, and besides, they are tasked with testing the gameplay, quests, and bugs that appear in normal gaming sessions for the casual player. They don't sit there with WPE trying to exploit the game.

Exploits are discovered over a long period of time and after thousands of players have played the game and stretched the variety of gameplay in ever which direction.

Unfortunately, most gamers believe "Diablo = Serverside = no Dupes/Hacks". I am completely shocked by the amount of players who believe this. Wikipedia and even wowwiki even have "duping" articles because they're so common. Please, question everything.

If anyone every does tell you that "wow duping never happened", just send them a link back here. Below are some examples of item duplication exploits and tricks that have taken place on the official World of Warcraft realms.

* From 2004-2005 [LINK 1] [LINK 2]

a. Player 1 hands player 2 a large amount of gold
b. Player 1 goes into the instance. If the bug works, he/she will get kicked back out after a delay.
c. Player 1 will have the original amount of gold he had before he traded and player 2 will still have the traded gold he received as well.
d. Rince and Repeat
* They extended maintenance in late July to fix the dupe exploit that had been around since beta. [LINK]
* After this issue was fixed, players found out another method by fearing players (or mind controlling them) into bugged instances and duped items and gold again. This method still worked in TBC.
* From 2004-2008 [LINK 1] [LINK 2]
Trade equipment with another player, make a character with an inappropriate name to have it reported and reset or con a GM. Policy exploitation could also be used by claiming hacks, and having the account reset. All items/gold duped.
* From 2004-2010 Trade gold/items with another player, have the character rolled back to the state before the trade by entering bugged instances, realm reset exploits, or GM request.
* 2004-2009 Duplication and control of disenchants by filling up bag slots, cancelling, and trading items.
* 2004-2010 Recharging items with limited charges by re stacking items with newer timers.
* 2007 Guild Bank rollbacks.
* 2008 Rolling BG instability issue, causing players to DC and rollback (trade items first).
* 2004-2006 Auction House duping. Players were duping nexus crystals mostly, but any item could be duped. You would place multiple items in the Auction House as quickly as possible. As soon as the first item expires, you cancel the rest of our auctions. You would get back all of the cancelled items (20 crystals) and you would also get back the "expired items" (19 crystals.) That's 39 Nexus crystals duped from 20 posted.
* 2004-2005 Warsong Badge Dupe [LINK]
* 2010 The loot bag duping trick for infinite Justice Points [LINK]
* 2010-2011 Non-combat pet dupe exploit.
* 2011 Daily quest duping by exploiting the time zones of shared instance servers to reset timer.

And remember.. these are just the ones that made it public because they were so exhaustively exploited. How many dupe exploits are there that only a couple, very cautious, people know about?

RMAH is gambling indeed..

Posted by Dave On Saturday, August 6, 2011

Blizzard has been banning players for getting angry about the RMT AH, but I found this one interesting Blizzard response regarding the RMT AH.


Blizzard claims that Diablo 3 and its RMT is a free market, there is no gambling, there are no risks associated with the RMT system, lottery tickets in RL can only be bought if you exchange money directly for them, and that their current RMT system has been thoroughly researched and approved by their legal department.

But, this is what is really happening:

* Diablo 3 has listing fees, auction cuts, and cash out fees.
* Auction cuts and cash out fees are not related to chance. They only happen after a successful transaction.
* The listing fee, however, is a gamble every time you post an item. There is a risk that you might not sell the item.
* If your auction does not sell, you lose money. This is a game of chance, there are high stakes in volume, and you are gambling with your money.
* The game is all about volume. Blizzard stated that Diablo 3 was "item centric". There are high stakes and losses associated with high volumes of transactions.
* Blizzard is making most of their profits from listing fees.
* If there was no listing fee, there would be no gambling or "games of chance".
* These aren't 1-10 day EBay auctions or 24-48 hour WoW auctions. These auctions are very short. The shorter the time span; the less likely chance of finding a successful buyer. When you only have 30 minute (or 60 max) auction intervals, you will be hard-pressed to win.
* You are also paying higher listing charges for longer auction periods.
* Auction Houses are regional so there will be millions of players that can be involved in random undercutting of items leading to the house (Blizzard) winning. Item drops are randomly created, meaning that the AH posts are also random in nature.
* It's not a free market when the supply and demand is controlled by a governing body.
* The retailers example is also a poor analogy. When you buy milk from a store, the retailer doesn't charge you a fixed fee, and then check to see if there's a random chance of milk being available because milk is delivered randomly.

Because of the listing fee, it's a game of chance every time and Blizzard has created a brilliant method of indirect gambling to avoid licensing.

By changing loot tables and random chance algorithms, Blizzard can alter volume. Volume or rarity = more listings = gambling by the players (but this is not a gamble for the house) = more listing fee revenue (the house always wins)

Selling an item is a game of chance, there's high risk involved, there's monetary loss involved due to random chance, and it's gambling. If the Auction House is changed so that there is only a cut after a successful auction, then it is not gambling. On a related note, EBay charges insertion fees, however the fee is refunded if your item does not sell.

Even if you're dealing with pennies per transaction, it's still gambling. In the case of Diablo, though, you're dealing with greater volumes of transactions. The game is "item centric" after all with massive quantities of loot dropping from the heavens with random real money value.

I must have missed this, but apparently the new Diablo 3 RMT Auction House transactions "will be managed by a yet-to-be-announced third party vendor." [LINK]

During their other interviews with GamePlanet, Blizzard spokespersons were very careful not to mention the word PayPal when speaking about RMT.. but they were perfectly casual about comparing their new system to EBay. In the other news releases from August 1st I don't recall them mentioning PayPal either.

What do you think?

If they are getting into bed with PayPal, it would certainly explain how they got PayPal to hunt down and kill all of the RMT competition out there. There must have been something more to that story. Can't wait to see who the third party vendor will be, but my money is on PayPal. :)

November 15 release date?

Posted by Dave On

There's been some speculation about Diablo 3 launching on November 15, 2011. The reason for this is because Chris Metzen had said "The Book of Cain" would be released simultaneously to the launch of D3. And, Amazon.com accidentally posted a release date of Nov 15 for the book. Sources? [LINK 1] [LINK 2]

But while you're speculating, please remember the following releases;

Nov 01 Uncharted 3
Nov 08 COD: MF3
Nov 11 Minecraft
Nov 11 "Scrolls" Skyrim
Nov 15 Saints Row The Third
Nov 15 Assassin's Creed: Revelations

There's a LOT of competition around the 11/11/11 date, and Blizzard wouldn't risk releasing their game around such other high profile games. I think it would be safe to assume that Blizzard won't be releasing any games around the 12/12/12 period either.

DIABLO 3 X1

Posted by Dave On

Based on everything I've read about D3, here's how I'm expecting the Diablo 3 expansion pack announcement at BlizzCon 2013 to go;

DIABLO 3 EXPANSION PACK UNVEILED

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced plans for the first expansion pack to Diablo 3, its award-winning online action role-playing cash grab game.

Unveiled at the company’s seventh BlizzCon® gaming festival, Diablo 3: Raging Mists of Travincal will bring sweeping changes to the world of Sanctuary. Players will be able to adventure as one new playable race, the taxman, and take on new challenging zones that have twice the amount of item drops.

“In addition to the new referral systems, Diablo 3: RMT will add new features and a large amount of new items and loot for players to sell,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re excited to be offering a first glimpse of RMT for attendees of BlizzCon, and we look forward to sharing more information with everyone as development progresses.”

There are a couple new zones and stuff, maybe some new quests, but all of that is insignificant compared to the major enhancements we have made to the game. This is what our players wanted, not what we wanted. New features coming with the game’s first expansion include:

  • One New Playable Class: The Taxman
  • More Loot: Monsters and bosses will be dropping twice the amount of items and gold now. All players can now sell even more stuff!
  • Casino: The much anticipated in-game casinos have been constructed at 30 locations in Sanctuary. Players wanted it, players get it! To avoid any possible gambling legislation issues, please do not refer to this as "gambling". These are skills-based virtual games and there is no actual gambling taking place.
  • Increased Storage Cap: More space for all of your items! Every player will now be provided a 400% increase to their storage space and bags.
  • Increased Gold Cap: To meet the demanding requirements of players that are having a hard time selling their gold. Fret not, even though there are 1 million players competing with you, it will eventually sell. This is the Blizzard Promise™.
  • Gold and Cash Arena: Implemented by popular demand! New interfaces available for PVP players who want to set stakes and cash limits for matches. Spectators can also participate by betting for real money!
  • Paid Pet Fights: Pit your pets against other in the Pet Cash Arena! For a nominal fee, new combat pets can be purchased in the Blizzard Store.
  • Pet Upgrade: Coming soon, players can upgrade their non-combat pets into an Arena-only combat pet for the small price of $25. Feed them, raise them, level them, turn them into fighting machines in brutal dog-eat-dog cage matches.
  • Stables: The world of Sanctuary now offers mules that can be purchased or rented, and follow you on your adventures. Mules cannot be mounted, but the extra storage space for all item drops will be invaluable!
  • New Banners: For those that want to show off the number of items sold, and how much you have profited!
  • New Achievements to Unlock: Examples such as "Millionaire", "Billionaire", "Greed is King", "Always Be Closing", "Pickpocket", "Auction Sniper", and "Time is Money.. Friend."
  • Referral System: When you get your friends to join, you will immediately receive a payment of 50,000 gold. Also, for every direct referral, you will receive a small percentage cut of their of the Auction House sales. For any indirect referrals (your friends make more referrals), you will be a smaller cut from those indirect friends as well. All of this cash will be trickling to you! (Note: This is not a pyramid scheme. This is the Blizzard Promise™.)
  • New Features: Blizzard is now implementing a new method to deal with the massive influx of gold beggars and solicitation since the launch of Diablo 3. All players will be placed in wealth brackets, where lower brackets cannot communicate with you. You can talk down to them, but the poorer classes will be unable to speak up to you. For a nominal fee, all players can purchase a service that upgrades them to a higher level class of Trade Chat and provide a 200 yard knockback effect to lower class players in your immediate presence.
  • New High-Level Content: Explore newly opened parts of the world that are offering even more items and drops that can be sold.
  • Mining Profession: Master a new profession to unearth valuable minerals and sell for more gold. Convert that gold into cash!
  • Improved Random Loot Generator: Creates even more random drops of unique items that can be sold for profit on the Auction House.
  • More New Paid Services: Only because you demanded them! For a small fee, Hardcore Players can be resurrected with all original equipment at time of death. We also have a new Gold and Cash Mobile Auction House to monitor your listings on the fly. Paid Mobile Chat to chat with friends, invite them to join the game and make easy cash!
  • Improved Authenticators: Our new version provides twice the amount of protection! It costs twice as much, but it's worth it. Since account hacking is on the rise, we are also implementing two new in-game authentication methods (free of charge) in addition to your personal authenticator.
It is anticipated that Diablo 3: RMT will become the world’s most popular online action role-playing cash grab game (OCGG).

For more information on Diablo 3: RMT, visit Blizzard Entertainment’s official website at www.diablocash.com. To keep pace with the continued growth of Diablo 3 as well as development on other Blizzard games, the company is currently hiring for numerous banking, financial, security specialists (with an emphasis on money laundering), promotional marketing specialist positions, and PR wizards.

(Cautionary Note: The Blizzard Promise™ is a trademarked property of Activision Blizzard Inc. and does not necessarily mean an actual promise. In fact, it's just a word that doesn't actually mean anything at all.)

Sony DCUO promises

Posted by Dave On

I thought that this old post on DC Universe's promised monthly content patches deserved a follow up; [LINK]

With considerable doubt, Sony promised that significant content would be released for DC Universe Online every month. That is, new raids, new races, new collections, new missions, new events, new items, gear, and appearances... every month.

So, what is their track record in just the past 8 months?

Jan 2011 DCUO Released
Feb 2011 Major content patch (Update 1)
Mar 2011 Social and chat features added
Apr 2011 Partial content (Update 2)
May 2011 Regular maintenance
Jun 2011 A couple new missions and a lot of fixes (Update 3)
Jul 2011 Regular maintenance
Aug 2011 Regular maintenance

That didn't take very long at all.. they promised to release major content every month. This promise was made 1 month before the first content patch, and then it just ended. They only got past the first content patch before breaking their promise.

The sign of end times for DCUO

Posted by Dave On

DC Universe Online is merging all of their servers into "megaservers"; [LINK]

As everyone knows, when servers, realms or shards are shutdown or merged that usually means dwindling subscribers.

In this specific situation, 26 servers are being merged into 4. There are so few people playing now, apparently they can make them into regional servers.

Don't let the public relations and marketing spin of "super servers" or "mega servers" fool you.. they're just being called that to lighten the blow of what's really happening. Merging servers is a death knell, and calling them "mega servers" is smokescreen.

The Diablo 3 design philosophy

Posted by Daeity On Friday, August 5, 2011

"We really tried to design the features of these games to leverage the needs of the games. And so Diablo III is -- and previous Diablo games as well we're very item-centric games with the a lot of item trading, without a good mechanism really for doing that." -- Michael Morhaime from the 2nd Quarter Earnings call [LINK]
I'm surprised that this didn't receive any media attention. This was during the QA period when the C-levels weren't prepared with scripts. According to Blizzard, Diablo 3 is a "VERY ITEM-CENTRIC" game.

During that same QA session, Michael Morhaime also went on to compare this to the SC2 Map Marketplace revenue generator; "I think that some of the things we're doing on the back end to support the Diablo III (RMT) actually can be leveraged in StarCraft II to support that system which is great."

From everything else I've read about Blizzard and Diablo 3, here's how I see everything connected together;

* the current state of Blizzard games is seeing a "dumbing down" of their games to make them more "accessible" for more people
* simplified gameplay where anyone can jump in
* the games are getting less fun and are more interested in building up a player base, creating more microtransactions, and finding new ways to generate revenue through services
* the Diablo 3 game is built around items. Even Blizzard said it's a "very item-centric game."
* you can cube deconstruct items on the spot or wherever you are in-game
* there's a shared stash that is accessible by all of your characters
* items can be sold or auctioned wherever you are, you don't need to be at a vendor
* salvaging and scrolls of wealth
* there are gold sales values attached to all items which are visible even when you're not at a vendor so that you can immediately see it's gold value
* banks/stashes are really large for all of the loot you'll be collecting
* the interface is designed around item management
* the AH allows for auto-bidding, instant buyouts, secure item transfers
* Blizzard wants to give players "more options for the items they don't want"
* Jay Wilson said that a mailing system for giving items is not high priority for them. The selling of items is more important apparently.
* also according to Jay Wilson, the high end items in Diablo 3 will be BOE
"We do have bind-on-equip for the highest end items in the game."
"The reason for this is that we want people to be able to trade them, but we also want to remove the high-end items from the economy."
Do you see a pattern developing here? Everything about the game is about the ITEMS.. and what happens to those items? They're sold and Blizzard profits.

The skill system has been completely revamped with all skills removed. Where do this skills come from now? Well, ITEMS of course. Instead of traits or skills, everything can be customized through the items you wear now; life or energy stealing, knockbacks, random effects, improving skills, distances, or cooldowns, you name it. Instead of having a talents interface for example, you can do all of the same but through items.. making them more important for gameplay.

Blizzard said that this is what the players want too. Rob Pardo said; "Players want this.. we could take a harder stance, but with Diablo, we think (the Auction House) will end up being a good thing." How can they know so little about what players want? This sounds like just a smoke screen.

Here's what the game has become;

* the game has been simplified so that anyone can play it
* the game was designed from the ground up with item trading and sales in mind like an addiction card collection game
* the game is all about the items, it does not require skill
* player growth is all about the items
* skills and talents were all removed, it's all based on items now
* questing and raiding is all about the items.. it takes items to do it, and you do it for more items to sell
* game enjoyment can only be accomplished by having the right items
* in order to get items, you have to pay for them

There's also a domino effect taking place here. Because the entire game was built from the ground up to be based on RMT, many of Diablos features were changed to accommodate the design philosophy. They're not permitting mods so that the RMT system can't be exploited or users can't automated sales. A persistent online connection is required. They have heavy social integration to bring in more players and get them addicted to item farming.

And then there are the players who have been fooled by this. They imagine themselves being able to play Diablo 3 as a job that will be able to support them financially.

Gold sales is a very niche activity, and the very few people who do it can make a lot of money. One person playing all day might be able to walk away with $50-100 per day, but that's only because there are so little players doing it. By legitimizing RMT, suddenly that $100 for 1 person becomes that same $100 for 100 people.

Not only that but because everyone will be doing it, and everyone is going to be extremely frugal about buying but not selling, it will completely devalue all items within the economy.

If you want to make some real profit, sell items during the stupidity period.. the first couple months of the release. Item farming is much more dangerous for Hardcore Players too, so those items will be worth more if you want to take the risk. Blizzard thought ahead for this too, apparently there will be restrictions on the buying and selling of goods for those who play in Hardcore mode. They put a lot of thought into this RMT system, and it just seems that Diablo 3 was built FROM an earlier RMT game prototype.

I wonder when Blizzard will be launching they're in-game Casino service so that players can gamble real money with other players.

Correction: After listening to the conference call recording, Michael Morhaime did in fact attribute the 11.1 million subscribers to the end of Q2 only, so I heard it wrong. The Q3 meeting should be very interesting now and after the "F2P" WOW Starter pack I'm curious if they'll be reworking their Subscriber definition.

-----

Michael Morhaime adjusted their total subscriber levels to 11.4 to 11.1 million during yesterday's financial call. I've noticed that many people are, for some reason, saying that it only dipped to 11.1 for that quarter alone but it's higher now.

In actuality, Morhaime was reporting the 11.1 million subscribers as it stands right now (August 3 2011). It's not just subscribers for the second quarter 2011 ending June 30th, it's at this present moment.

This means that almost a month after the Cataclysm launch in China (July 12 2011), and over a month after the 4.2 content launch and simultaneous WoW Starter Edition launch (June 29 2011), they have still lost a considerable number of players.

The first month of a launch is when the largest number of players join too, and if you remember China made up about 50% of World of Warcraft's worldwide subscribers.

Something to think about.

I think there needs to be expansions into new territory and countries due to the growing boredom being experienced in existing regions. It's mostly the novelty wearing off too, and the "boredom" is typical of every game after a certain period of time. That seems to be one of their new strategies to increase subscribership.. but I wonder which countries are still left.

Robert Bridenbecker, VP of Blizzard Online Technologies had an interview with MTV where he described his surprise surrounding fans reactions to Diablo 3's online requirements. [LINK]

One of revelations that got the most attention was the fact that both the beta and the final version of "Diablo 3" would require a constant internet connection to play.
Does this remind you of the plot to "Wag the Dog"?

While everyone is really upset over another more important issue (RMT), Blizzard is diverting everyones attention to more minor concerns (Online Connection).

They didn't even mention RMT in the interview.

This either means that Blizzard is NOT surprised at all over the negative fan reaction to the new RMT system. Or, they're simply trying to change the subject and tell fans what they're "really" mad about. :)

B.NET Bucks are virtual rubles

Posted by Dave On Thursday, August 4, 2011

Transferred from paxdora.blogspot.com [LINK]
Original Post Date: 8/2/11

"It's highly unlikely that RMT will be permitted in Diablo 3, though it's certain that some players will choose to engage in it, as they have in every such game so far released." - http://www.diablowiki.net/Real_Money_Trading
In Blizzard's new RMT Auction House, each item you post for sale will cost a fixed rate. It's not a percentage of the value of the item either.. this way people will only sell valuable items and so the AH doesn't get overloaded. That's the reason they're telling people, but there are other reasons.

B.NET will now operate like PayPal where it will store your hard earned cash and you will have an option to "Cash Out". Of course, there will probably be restrictions in place as well as transaction fees, logistics, and shipping fees to cash out. They've learned a lot from PayPal. After all, they have a very loving relationship with PayPal.. they helped Blizzard destroy all of their RMT competition after all.

This is also a great way to get people's feet wet in anticipation of Blizzard's upcoming games and especially Titan. Rob Pardo said that this was the changing landscape of games and "it's more fun" this way. [LINK]

What Blizzard isn't saying about this is that there are a lot of negative impacts to running an in-house RMT service. Blizzard has already admitted that RMT destroys the economy, destroys the game, ruins the game playing experience, and encourages increased botting and account hacking. But what else is going on that hasn't been shared?

* Blizzard claims that all transactions will be between players but everything is done completely anonymous. What's to stop Blizzard from selling items themselves using their own conjured characters? They'll be practically printing their own money.
* There are many more incentives now to hack accounts, scam and bot.
* Because of the limitations in the AH and random generators for loot, Blizzard can control the quantity and costs of items at whim. Blizzard has found a loop hole to legalize gambling in Diablo 3.
* They get a cut from the amount of players making AH posts, but since they can basically control how often players make the posts, or find ways of encouraging them to make posts, they can control how much revenue they make from this new type of gambling.
* And it is a big gamble for the players. You'll post an item for $3, and someone will undercut you. To cancel and resubmit, you need to pay a new service fee. Each time they post an item, and it doesn't succeed, you lose money. And Blizzard can control all of these odds just like casino machines.
* It's a very dubious method of creating indirect virtual gambling without actually calling it gambling or applying for licensing. They can alter loot statistics to increase sales per person.
* All of this sounds highly illegal if you ask me.. but that's what loopholes are for. Blizzard is using a brilliant method of manipulating players; they can control the odds of how many unsuccessful sales there are, how many people are selling, and how many people are undercut. And each one of those counts as a win to the House (that is, "Blizzard").
* We'll be able to tell right away if they do indeed consider this gambling. For example, real auctions will last several days to weeks. But, if the Diablo 3 AH has auctions that only last for minutes or hours (less than 24 hours), then you'll know right away that they want players to post as many different auctions as much as possible since all of the unsuccessful auctions will generate revenue.
* Since they can practically print their own money, this is going to completely destroy the in-game economy.. just like what happened to the ruble. They're not selling gold directly, but they are creating virtual items of value and it's the same thing.
* This new feature will also make big changes to player attitudes. There's now a lot more desperation and consequences associated with auctioning items now. Players will be so desperate to sell their auctions (if it doesn't sell, they lose the down payment fee) that they'll advertise in "trade chat" with much more fervor. Imagine all of the spamming, tricks, and bad things associated with AH sales, and then multiply that by ten.
* Also, imagine the amplification of anger when things don't work out.. rather than fake money, you're now dealing with your own pocket.
* The other thing that happens is that this becomes a PAY2WIN game. You pay $5 for max gear, it's no fun, and unfair for all other players. If you're rich, you'll always to better than everyone else no matter how hard they work.

This will all be very interesting to see what happens.

One thing is certainly clear; the new B.NET bucks are a really awesome way to launder money in the real world. Thanks Blizzard for making things easier for criminals.

Blizzard v. RMT

Posted by Dave On

Transferred from paxdora.blogspot.com [LINK]
Original Post Date: 8/2/11 (with new edits and additions below)

After years and years of anti-RMT posts, idealism, the lawsuits against RMT companies, and official statements regarding the negative impacts of RMT.. Blizzard is now joining them because the money is just too much to pass up.

We're all hypocrits, but it's even worse for those who situate themselves on high horses.

Blizzard even made an official "We would like to make a clear statement here.." anti-gold post at one point.. it was online for 3 years, but then promptly removed before making the D3 announcement; http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/info/basics/antigold.html

So, I've attached it here for your enjoyment. Oh, and this too [LINK]

So, what exactly has Blizzard had to say about RMT in the past? What were their ideals, beliefs, and values?

* Blizzard says RMT has "detrimental effects they have on all players, including their own customers, as well as on the game environment as a whole."
* Blizzard says players who participate in RMT are supporting spamming, botting, and keylogging.
* Blizzard says that these activities diminish the gameplay experience for everyone.
* Blizzard says RMT encourages and increases botting, spamming, and account hacking.
* Blizzard says that people don't realize "the large impact it has on the game economy".
* Blizzard says RMT is unethical.
* Blizzard has even gone as far to say that RMT is "illegal".
* Blizzard considers it exploitative activity as it abuses the economy.
* Blizzard says RMT exchange "negatively impacts" the game environment by "detracting from the value of the in-game economy."
* Blizzard says RMT devalues everything in-game and it ruins the economy.
* Blizzard says as a result it also ruins the gaming experience for everyone.
* Blizzard stated that they're not interested in RMT.
* Blizzard has always had a firm opposition to RMT, but justifies the use of "cosmetic RMT" (that is, pet sales, texture changes, mounts, etc.) because it doesn't impact fairness of the game.

By the way, if you're a gamer, please don't use the word legal or illegal when referring to RMT. It's very embarrassing when I see forum or blog comments that say "Blizzard is now making it LEGAL to sell virtual items!"

There's a huge difference between internal company policies and actual law.

Here are some other related links for your enjoyment.

* "The Lawbringer: Legal gold sales? Not a Blizzard's chance in Hell" [LINK]
* "Blizzard Won't Support Legit RMT Service" [LINK]
* "You won't buy gold in World of Warcraft from Blizzard. You just won't." [LINK]
* Blizzard lawsuit v. RMT [LINK]
* "Blizzard has rules for their RMT.. they won't charge for any item that means anything in game -- cosmetic items and looks are fair game, but actual gear or "integral services" (whatever that means exactly) is a no for them." [LINK]
* Rob Pardo: No Microtransactions in D3, only WOW. [LINK]
* For other interesting stuff, just do a Google search for "Blizzard will never" and "Blizzard would never", etc. :)

Blizzard sells out... again!

Posted by Dave On

Transferred from paxdora.blogspot.com [LINK]
Original Post Date: 7/31/11

Well.. looks like it's been confirmed that Blizzard will indeed be launching a Real Money Trading system for Diablo 3!

They said they would never do this for any of their games.. but then again, they've done this a lot: said one thing, did the opposite.

They're incorporating this new system into Battle.net, so it's pretty clear that they have this new "revenue generator" planned for their future games. The Titan MMO has been rumored to include a quite substantial buy/sell system in real life (for example, a lot of virtual and real products and services), so this is all starting to make more sense now.

I can't believe they're doing this.. maybe with enough fan uproar, this new paid service can be shelved just like Real ID? Doubtful.. this is going to make them a lot of money and it can't be ignored.