SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: my new piece for Gamemoir just went up!
“What the E.T. Game Taught Me About Life, Criticism, and Self-Doubt”
The short version: I am utterly surprised to find myself thoroughly re-addicted to Diablo III, after spending nearly 2 years away from it in a self-imposed exile.
The question inspired by the long version: How do you make the simple, repetitive, monotonous and tedious act of left- and right-clicking a million times compelling? And when one has spent over 80 hours doing this, thoroughly burning themselves out in the process to the point where the mere idea of playing other, similar games causes mild panic attacks (I again apologize to Torchlight II), how do you get them to come back?
This was a busy and productive weekend as far as non-gaming, family business was concerned – though this is not the proper venue to discuss that (at least not quite yet). But it’s worth bringing up if only to explain what I found myself doing on Saturday morning.
I was a little nervous about our day-trip activities on Saturday; and so, in need of some sort of distraction, I felt compelled to fix my Blizzard account, which had been broken for quite some time. [For purposes of clarity, I’m going to lay this out in bullet points, mostly because it’s Monday and when I wrote this as a long paragraph, even I lost the thread.]
- At the height of my Diablo III addiction, I’d attached an Authenticator to my account in the interest of added security. As you do.
- But then, at a certain point long after I’d stopped playing regularly, the iPhone that the Authenticator app was attached to broke and needed to be replaced.
- When I got my iPhone replaced, and when I got around to re-downloading the Authenticator app, the sync was off and I couldn’t log in.
- As it happens, this wasn’t necessarily the end of the world – my PC hard drive had crashed around the same time, and when I replaced it, I never bothered to reinstall Diablo III, since I figured I was still done with it.
- When the Reaper of Souls expansion was announced, I found myself mildly curious, but, of course, my account was still screwed up and when I looked into how to fix it, it seemed like too much work to bother. (Blizzard is really serious about making sure you want to remove your Authenticator, requiring Government-issued IDs and such.)
- But now there’s Hearthstone, which I’m kinda wanting to start to engage with, and I felt like I really ought to get off my ass and fix the account, since maybe I have friends who are playing?
- And so I bit the bullet and dealt with Blizzard security and fixed my account.
- And then I figured, well, now that I can log in again, why not download Diablo III again while we’re out on our adventure so that I can see what’s up when we came back?
Upon our return, and after the kid went to bed, I saw that Diablo III had, in fact, finished downloading. And so I fired it up. And then I found myself accidentally on purpose buying the aforementioned Reaper of Souls expansion, and then I looked up and saw that 4 hours had flown by.
Now, as far as I can tell, this post from August 2012 marks the last time I spent any significant time with Diablo III, and that was really just to check out the 1.0.4 patch, in hopes that the tweaks were enough to keep me invested. [tl,dr: It was intriguing, but not enough.]
It’s kinda frightening how quickly it all came back. My stats bore out that I’d already sunk over 80 hours into it when it first came out – I’d hit the level cap with my female Monk*, and I’d gotten 2 other classes somewhat up to speed, and I’d ultimately burned myself out because the endgame was repetitive and tedious and the loot was hardly worth the time or effort – most of what I’d been equipping was stuff from the Auction House anyway. Indeed, Blizzard had been aware of this very issue, and if I recall correctly that’s what the 1.0.4 patch was intended to address. It wasn’t enough for me; I’d seen everything the campaign had to offer 10 times over, and the higher loot drop rate just wasn’t enough of a pull anymore.
But nearly 2 years later, the game feels remarkably fresh and revitalized, and – as far as the new campaign is concerned – I’m totally sucked back in. I have barely scratched the surface of what’s new and improved, as I’ve only touched the new act of the campaign, but I can at least verify firsthand that kick-ass, equippable loot is dropping for me about every 5-10 minutes or so, even on Normal difficulty. The mind reels at what will start dropping once I finish this run and start at a higher difficulty level.
In fact, here’s my current build – and I’m nearly positive that everything I’ve equipped is all brand-new stuff I’ve picked up since Saturday night, which is insane. I mean, it used to take me hours just to find one usable weapon that was markedly improved from what I’d equipped; but now, in just a few hours’ worth of play, nearly every equippable slot has seen at least one incredible new drop.
So, yeah, I’m totally enjoying the shit out of it,again, which I suppose is the greatest surprise of all. I suppose I’d sort-of been checking out the PS4 version whenever it came out, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to play through the original campaign again – nor was I sure that I’d have access to my current character roster, and the thought of losing 80+ hours of progress just to play the game on my TV wasn’t particularly appealing. In any event, this is a moot point now – I prefer playing this game with a mouse and keyboard, in the relative quiet of my office, and my PC runs the game quite well.
I’m not sure I can answer the question I posed above – the one about how Blizzard has managed to make me fall in love all over again with something I’d been thoroughly exhausted by – but goddamn, they totally succeeded. Even if it’s simply a matter of performance – and I should definitely point out that the game is running much smoother now than it ever did before (which I’m sure is a combination of both Blizzard fixing things on their end, and my securing of a faster internet connection since the last time I’d played), it’d be enough to have a transformative experience. I’d also wager that having a new campaign to play is helping to keep things fresh.
But I suppose the kick-ass loot has something to do with it too.
* I’m not sure why I took the time to mention that she’s female, except that later this month I’ll be publishing something on Videodame.com about my experiences playing as female characters – whether by the game’s choice or my own – and when I was putting together my research and going through all the times I’ve played as a woman, I guess I’d totally forgotten than I’d rolled a female monk in Diablo III, probably because I’d blocked out Diablo III from my brain.