The 'Diablo' blues: When the games don't change, but we do
June 4th, 2012
05:51 PM ET

The 'Diablo' blues: When the games don't change, but we do

The word "Diablo" is magical to me. Before 2000, it just represented a Spanish word that I was largely unfamiliar with other than seeing it on bottles of hot sauce.

Then I discovered "Diablo II," and hit me so hard, I couldn't go a day without playing. The recent release of "Diablo III" had me panting for more.

I stayed up until 2 am the night of the release of "Diablo III," watching the game slowly download onto my computer and feeling a nervous, celebratory brand of glee. The first week of play was just like what I remembered, except with more social connectivity than ever before. Within seconds, I could be in a full party, enjoying all the blissful memories of the past, and finding it all fit so well - like a pair of jeans you've had since college and furtively sleep in from time to time because they're so comfortable.

It knows you, because it's been with you for so long. And you know just what to expect from it.

I wasn't much of an MMO gamer before "Diablo II." (Thankfully, the black death known as "Everquest," kindly passed me over - which kept my sanity intact while my friends quit college to make a living hoarding platinum.)

When I looked at these games, I saw gamers as rats in a wheel, running an endless race. I was the type of gamer motivated by stories with a beginning, middle and an end. It made no sense to me to pour so much time and effort into something that essentially had no real finale.

Why did "Diablo II," break my habit? I'm not sure. Truthfully, at first it was fun to play with friends - that held some novelty for a primarily solo gamer. Soon enough, the game became a familiar face. It always felt good to run through those memorized levels or kill that miniboss yet again (Hello, Rakanishu!). No matter how many times I played through the acts of "Diablo II," I never lost my appetite for it.

But after that first week of jumping back into the world of "Diablo III," I realized something was different.

I still wanted to play. And it still felt addictive. The game was just as well-made as one would expect, and it really had a lot of marked improvements from "Diablo II." Yet I had mixed feelings about playing it as often as I played its predecessor.

It wasn't until I was struggling to pencil game time into my daily schedule that it came clear to me: I never had to do that before. Because when "Diablo II" was in its heyday, I was in my early twenties - and I had all the time in the world to play video games.

I joke about being too busy writing about video games to actually play video games all the time, but this was the first time I actually realized the level of conflict involved. As much as I wanted to play, I also had a lot of other things I wanted to do. It wasn't just annoying, grown-up responsibility stuff like cooking dinner or taking the car in for a tune-up. I wanted to do other things that included getting off the internet and going outside.

I was threatened by the realization. Did this mean I'm not a gamer anymore? Am I not truly dedicated to the medium, the way I once was?

When I wrote about "Journey," I talked about how well that game suited me - and how its short length, themes, and overall presentation resonated with me in a way that many of today's titles do not, no matter how well made they may be or how much fun they are to play.

Somewhere in the midst of my Diablo revelation, it came clear that the type of gaming we require to be entertained may change for each of us over the course of our lives. There's nothing to be frightened of when something that once fit us like a glove doesn't fit quite as well.

Will I stop playing "Diablo III?" Absolutely not. Just because I can't spend ten hours a day playing it doesn't mean I don't still enjoy the game. It's great fun. It's also something that I can only take in small doses.Unlike ten years ago, when I could play it with no limits, now I can only click my way through an hour or two of determined demon slaughter before needing to do other things.

There's some part of me that misses being the kid that played it without a care, of course. That was a golden era.

But as I learn to enjoy "Diablo III," I also learn that while the way you play games may change, there's an essential element about the experience that never can.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Richard


    August 3, 2012 at 4:10 am |
  2. Blizzard Stinks

    The experience was blown for me when I perpetually couldn't play my solo stand alone game whenever their servers went down. Game itself was ok, worth the $50 I paid for it but zero replay value.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Sesavong

      heyyy u fool this is not a 2nd string SLn side,all these plryeas all very talented cricketers,looks at SLn bowling Kulasekara,Thushara,Fernando,Randiv,Mendis .is this 2nd string????? what a joke hehe,i can still remember how u guys struggle against Mendis in the last series!!!!!!!!!Ok when it comes to batting .Dilshan,Tharanga,Samaraweera,Angelo is this SLn 2nd string????ohhhhHey SL got the talent who can equal to Mahela,Sanga,Murali,Malinga RIP ZIM! (0)

      August 2, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  3. Baelzebub


    What Doza said.

    Diablo, a 4 player game, preceded ultima online which was a gigantic thousands of players on at the same time. It was the first mmorpg. And is still going to this day, 12+ years later.

    Really? I think that SMAUG and DIKU MUDs might hold that honour since they were out many-many-many years before UO. If your talking about Graphical MMORPGs you may have a vaild point.

    June 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Baelzebub

      *Graphical MMOs/MMORPGs

      June 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  4. Hugh Jass

    Exactly – who has time anymore? It ain't like the old days of hanging around the BugBase and watching Marduk kill everyone willing to fight him.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  5. StokeNY

    I really enjoyed this article because it hit very close to home for me. I love video games and am always awaiting the latest releases, but the reality is that I just don't have the time or drive to play like I used to...I guess family and work obligations are just more important these days.

    June 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  6. Silverkelt

    Diablo is rpg light, doesnt mean its not fun, but its not that hard. Which is fine, there should be games out there that do that. Even most mmorpgs are not that hard, most are easy cake walk from level one to max level, all of which you can do solo, you can even get fairly decent armours in most of these games now solo wise. There is still challening group action to be had though, even doing some group content over and over still can be hard.

    But I understand somewhat what this author is saying, Im even older, I played UO, EQ, and Diablo when they came out, and I was playing pc games for 15 years before that , coding games into a tape deck at the age of 5 , to see a few ascii two characters you can control through a maze on my ViC 20.

    Simply put, I had to give up my latest addicton.. LOTRO becuase I overdid it, it wasnt enough to have one great toon, I had to try to max all of them, and I almost did got 7 out of 9 to end game and was on my way with the 8th , but I relized in the end its a game. No matter your skill, no matter how great of a guild member, where you rank in the player killer side of things... its a game, it doesnt really make you a better person, better parent or husband or worker.

    Eventually time catches up with us all and we have to make decisions. You can "of course" only play a couple hours of week on these games.. but that barely scratches the surface on some of these massive contents, they are literally designed , if you wanted to see every quest you can, every story to last hundreds and hundreds of hours. Let alone the leveling, grinding for traits, race affilations, and gear. The game also never stops, it goes on forever, each time you get totally geared for what you want, they will update it. People eat content then demand more, I dont even know anyone who really is casually. Here is a typical description someone would give "Heck ya Im casually, I only played 20 hours this week", Typical answer, "dude, your not casual, you just suck" L2P =P...

    =) awwww almost makes me want to log in again!


    June 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  7. Rock

    Nice advertisement for Blizzard

    June 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  8. Martin Ferko

    Gamers! WATCH THIS

    June 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • fernand

      ohhh poor little scared man...u are so dumb...there is no extraterrestrial and you will die before the humans can contact or show any real UFO.

      June 7, 2012 at 7:59 am |
      • Laszlo

        being a 10 year vet of Diablo 2, i can safely say that this makes sense on nealry every level. Some of you argue that this doesn't make everyone equal, and some one can buy gear and be good with , well lets think about this? i recall wanting say, a Grandfather Colossus blade back in diablo 2, even with constant farming, the odds of getting that exact item ( not to mention the % Dmg you want, the random stats you wanted on it ) is so low, that a HUGE time investment is required.

        July 3, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Dan

      When they stop filming UFO's with potatos then maybe I will give a crap

      June 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  9. mE

    The Sims are my crack. It's so hard to pull myself away from it.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Mohamed

      England Knack Collection would choose to offer you a good pngecetare of folks information straight into ways car finance interest rates can affect occupation volumes. Vivid connection within a number of ıs incredibly straightforward.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  10. Tany

    "I stayed up until 2 am the night of the release of "Diablo III," watching the game slowly download onto my computer " What kind of real gamer didn't have it already downloaded the week before release?

    June 6, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Athiest

      I don't know if other options were available (such as online purchase and download) but it went on sale at midnight on a weekday, so people had to stand in line at a store, then go home and install it in the middle of the night. And then comes the gigabytes of patches. If you could have received it ahead of time and patched, then you would have people complaining they can't play their game they paid for. So no, what you describe, I don't believe it was possible.

      So glad I did not buy it. Even though many of my best friends of many years bought it. I just know that like the author, I don't have time to put into this stuff any more. And I want time to do stuff like go outdoors.

      June 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
      • The Information Dave

        Millions of people had D3 downloaded and ready to play during the days before the release. Blizzard wanted people to be able to play the SECOND that they turned on the servers at Midnight PST. Great idea in theory, but severe connection issues threw a wrench in the 'Release Day' plans. So yes, it is VERY possible.

        June 15, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  11. Will

    "I wasn't much of an MMO gamer before "Diablo II.""

    Um, what? Who considers Diablo to be an MMO? Sometimes I wonder how many games these game writers have actually played. Seems like they are usually more writer than gamer. Example: CNN suit says "Hey, we need someone to write a column on gaming." Joe raises his hand and says "I played Diablo 2 in college!" CNN suit says "Great! You write the column."

    I must admit though that as a middle aged gamer, I can identify with some of his ideas.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • dozapolis

      MMO = Massive Multiplayer Online
      MMORPG = Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

      Diablo III = MMO
      Diablo III =/= MMORPG

      June 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
      • Athiest

        What Doza said.

        Diablo, a 4 player game, preceded ultima online which was a gigantic thousands of players on at the same time. It was the first mmorpg. And is still going to this day, 12+ years later.

        June 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
      • Moosemilk

        An MMO is Massively Multiplayer Online, 8 player online in Diablo 2 and 4 player online in Diablo 3 are by no means Massively Multiplayer. If we are to consider 4 and 8 player online MMO games, then games like COD, CS, BF and countless other games all fall into the category of MMO. A major characteristic of MMOs is that they have created a persistent universe in which large groups of players can interact, Diablo has not done this and is simply a linear ARPG with multiplayer features.

        Diablo has always been an Action RPG, and has never fit into the MMO category.
        Games like BF3, COD, CS are FPS games, but do not fit with games like Planetside in the MMOFPS category.

        June 8, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  12. PostDiabloDenizen

    I may be the only person who will come out and say it, Diablo III is not that good. If anything it has gone backwards from 2 in terms of allowing players to create their own builds, etc. I have friends who say they are enjoying it once they hit Inferno, but the replay value is just not there for me. With more than 10 years between them, I expected something much better, more immersive, and more customizable than what they delivered. Essentially Diablo has always been a ripoff of Gauntlet, but with the time and talent they had, I wanted more this time.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • PostDiabloDenizen

      replying to myself.. Just wanted to add all that goes double since they went for the money grab and jacked the price by 10 bucks over every other retail video game. I don't think Blizzard will be seeing any more of my money any time soon.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
      • s3rndpt

        I think you've hit it on the head. Diablo III just is not the game Diablo II was. Something's missing. It took me weeks to beat Diablo II way back when I had all the time in the world to play, and now, when I barely have time to play in between work and kids, my husband and I beat it in less than a week, only playing a few hours a night. Halfway through nightmare in a few days, and I just don't feel like I need to play. Even WoW had our attention more than this- we played that for hours and hours a week. It's almost like Blizz threw us a game that they only developed half-azzed. It just doesn't have the depth Diablo II did.

        June 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
      • Rick

        Diablo III just "plays itself" too much with the computer making most of the skill choices and if you're in a team, usually the other people run ahead instead of fully clearing a level.

        Oh, it also makes my video card cry.

        June 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
      • GoTo

        15 years? But warcraft 3 was reealsed around 2003 during my elementary days favorite ko ung lemmings (eto ata ung first game nah ginamitan namin ng mouse), tapos ung mga interactive games like lion king and cool spot, tapos mortal kombat series, then dumating yung monkey island (buhay pa ung cd ko), then ung ultima series, tapos syndicate, blackthorne, vikings, warcraft and warcraft 2, tapos ung command and conquer at ung tiberian sun, diable then nung high school diablo2 and counter strike, age of empires, red alert 2 sa mga games naman ngaun favorite ko ung mass effect, dragon age origins, and neverwinter nights

        July 1, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Dan Hartman

      I agree with what you're saying here. A few of my gripes: Why limit it to 4 players when you have 5 classes? I can understand if the game couldn't handle 8, but at least let me play with a team utilizing all the classes. Also, for a gear grinding game I feel like an Auction House is a terrible idea that really takes away from the playability for me. What's the point of endless grinding if the best geared guys just use the AH. And finally the crafting is absolutely terrible. The first week I played a lot and I got through Nightmare about a week ago. Unfortunately I wasn't at level 50 yet so can't access Hell, and I can't see myself XP grinding in a game like this. Ah well, I got my $50 out of it.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  13. GodlessOpera

    Growing up sucks sometimes. I'd imagine the author and I are of the same generation - I know exactly how they feel about coming to the realization that video games can't consume our schedules anymore even if sometimes we *want* them to.

    Just think, maybe at retirement there will be great games with peripherals that help you play despite arthritis 😉

    June 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Loss of attention span does not equate to growing up.

      June 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
      • Priscila


        August 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Marcelo

      I don't see how some people can defned the undefendable.I don't like to play a feeling that there's cheaters.Rpg are a sort of that rewards your skills AND the time you spend in it.If you got a job and can afford playing to long then play on a lower level and ENJOY!Goldselling ruined wow and it will ruined diablo 3. It is something to prohibit not centralise (because blizz takes his part of the cake, you won't be able to make a living with rmah met's face it )

      July 3, 2012 at 12:35 am |
      • Patience

        they don't give a damn about guys like us. they know they already have our dolalrs (damn them) and they just want more dolalrs from the people that don't have a reason to give them their dolalrs yet.

        September 14, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  14. Sebastian

    I have been struggling with this too. I am played Diablo II for countless hours and picked up Diablo III expecting to have to severely monitor my game time. As you said it is a great game, but it hasn't consumed me like Diablo II did. I can actually play it casually now, which I think I prefer.

    June 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Chris

      , I'm not really sure how much story there will be in the final game. I know they've meiontned cinematic events that seem to bridge the Acts and that there is a beginning and opening cutscene to bookend the story But, I think the majority of the story is going to be given via interactions with the quest NPCs, instead of the story-centered nature of Guild Wars (even though the stories in Guild Wars have ranged from terrible to okay).I also agree that the flexibility present in Guild Wars colors a lot of other games and expectations. I have no problem with static skill trees (GW is the exception in that rule) and I know they are looking into adding the ability to respec your class. But the flexibilty of changing skills inside towns ala Guild Wars won't be here.I'm still on the fence about it, leaning towards wanting to play it, but I've put in a lot more hours agree with pretty much everything you've said, though.

      August 3, 2012 at 4:42 am |