Hype! It’s a marketing director’s favorite tool, but when does it become a bad thing? I understand the need to get your game out there, and get people talking about it, but quite often, in the recent past anyways, games are over-marketed. Expectations are risen so high that there is NO GAME that could  POSSIBLY live up to it. The game comes out, and tons of people rush out to buy it, but as soon as people start to realize the content is not as good as the marketing, sales drop off and the game is chucked in the bargain bin for $15. I wonder if it’s financially beneficial to spend millions on marketing, and sell a bunch at the beginning, but then quickly drop off….hmmm…

The hype doesn’t always come from the publisher or the developer. In the case of Diablo III it seems to be from the strong following that Blizzard has acquired over the years. That’s a lot of free marketing, but it also puts a lot of pressure on the developers to create something amazing.

The only major marketing I’ve noticed that’s officially from Blizzard are the class trailers. Personally I don’t find these to be very exciting. I’ve only seen the mage and monk trailers, but they just feel weak and rushed. The sound, animation, and flow of these trailers just doesn’t represent Blizzard very well. The only explanation for their quality I can see is that they used all game assets, reused some audio, set up some cameras, and laid out a quick introductory story. Likely because they are busy with WoW, a new MMORPG, Starcraft II, and Diablo III. When I see that Blizzard has released a trailer I generally get super excited. Just look at the quality of their cinematics since the very beginning. Always amazing and state of the art. I consider the Diablo II cinematics a major contributor for my desire to be a digital artist. Maybe these trailers are just another example of failing to live up to the hype.

What HAS gotten me super excited are the gameplay videos, which I guess speak much more to the game than any fancy cinematic. They show the hours of work put into the actual game, and it looks amazing. Here are a couple videos that I really enjoyed. They are a bit long, but again… amazing.

Diablo III – Classes Gameplay

Diablo III – Monk Gameplay

The level of interactivity with the environments is fantastic. The falling bridges and debris that does damage to enemies is a great addition. Also, the witchdoctor can create a zombie wall. Yes a fucking wall of zombies! The effects also look awesome, along with the physics and body explosions. There are often so many exploded bodies that some of those dungeon areas are painted completely red after a battle.

If they stick to what made the previous Diablo games amazing it should be a great time. I wonder how many of the original developers are working on Diablo III. A bunch of them left and formed Flagship Studios, which created Hellgate: London, and then went out of business…sad story. After that I don’t know where most of those guys ended up. As long as they maintain the basic formula I will love it. Just to stave off the hack-and-slash demons I started playing Diablo II again a couple months back. I realized that the drug that keeps me addicted is simple; ITEMS! The primary drive is to build up a character to fit your play style, but mostly so you can find better items. I can’t tell you the amount of times I did a little  research to find that so-and-so drops such-and-such item 0.02% of the time, and I would farm that guy over and over and over. I kept track of every single unique, and set item I found. It’s crazy! That still manifests itself in me when playing MMORPGs or Fallout 3. I have shit stored all over the place. In the real world, I throw shit away when I don’t see it’s purpose, but in the virtual world, I’m a horder.

Apart from items, I also enjoyed the way quests were implemented. If you didn’t want to go to town, and talk to someone about something, you didn’t have to. You could play till the bottom of the deepest dungeon, completing things on the way and never have to miss anything! Although doing this meant you missed the dark story that went with it, which is very interesting the first few times you go through. Towards the end of the ‘Classes’ video the narrator mentions the flexibility in the quests, and if they are accented with huge beasts like the one at the end throughout the game, I will be a very happy Diablo fan.

When do we find out whether the hype is too much or not? I wish I knew. I so wish I knew. At least more than the crazy guy that “found” some formula by mixing the amount of hit points that Diablo has in the first game, and some rune in Diablo II, to predict the release of the game at 9-9-9. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Apparently the next installment of Diablo will be released after Starcraft II: Episode 1…that whole episodic thing festers quite a rant in me, but I’m going to fight it for now. That has already been pushed into next year, so who knows. I guess the Koreans will be happy before I am. All I can do is wait. On the positive side, it gives me time to upgrade my computer!

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