Unveiling Sanctuary: The Core Idea of Diablo

I’ve talked about this on my streams. But it’s probably worth mentioning here as well, as it’s not too obvious.

In the first two parts of Diablo, the storyline and lore were quite straightforward and clear: Diablo (Mephisto/Baal) – bad; angels – good. Kill the bad, help the good.

Starting with Diablo 3, the focus shifted. There was a transition from a black-and-white moral dichotomy to a more complex and multifaceted worldview. (Almost all) angels in the world of Sanctuary turned out to be not “fathers”, but deceivers. And humans (nephalems) – an independent and no less worthy representative of fauna, emerged from the interbreeding of angels and demons. In this context, the threat from angels to human existence (potentially) is much greater than from demons; as demons largely revel in human imperfections, while most angels find humans irritating.

The main idea of the world of Sanctuary is:

Humans are Captives in the Hands of the World’s Mighty.

We are like tiny insects, manipulated one way or another by angels (the so-called ‘good’) and demons (kinda ‘bad’) for their own interests.

This is, of course, the cover. Inside is the idea is in striving for a deeper understanding of human nature. Traditional moral absolutism (good and evil seen as immutable and universal categories) gives way to postmodern pluralism and relativism (the rejection of universal truths and the recognition of multiple realities). Instead of a clear understanding of the world, players face a multitude of perspectives and interpretations of events, which makes them question the absolute nature of good and evil. In a way, the evolution of the Diablo series’ storyline is a conflict between Idealism and Realism. Idealism, represented in the earlier parts, gives way to a more realistic and pragmatic view of the world, where moral dilemmas do not always have clear and definitive solutions.

The idea is correct, beautiful, philosophical, deep. It resonates with the real world. The plot of D4 finally brought this idea to a climax. If in D3 we simply methodically beat up the winged and horned – in D4 we primarily feel the impact of the Eternal Conflict on the lives of ordinary people; each individual representing a universe in themselves; and these universes collapse one after another, burning like moths on a lamp. The townee side-quests, which are abundant in D4, very organically complement the epic storyline.

One thing’s for certain, the scriptwriters at Blizzard are competent – were, are (and probably will be). I would say this – the only aspect in which new Blizzard games (or expansions) get better every year is the lore, world setting development, and plotline evolution. Gameplay occasionally degrades – so D2 is better than D3-4; and vanilla WoW is better than all the expansions combined… but in terms of the storyline, Diablo has grown into something more than just banal chopping up baddies; so too has the WoW setting developed quite multifacetedly and organically. Many WoW players pay for subscriptions and buy expansions exclusively for the continuation of the storyline.

But what’s missing? Existentialism – that is, freedom of choice and personal responsibility. In Diablo, as in WoW, players are rarely given the opportunity for non-linear quest progression. Usually, all dialogues do not imply branching, and here lacks the spirit of Fallout series – where characters face moral dilemmas that require players to make choices based not on imposed moral norms, but on personal responsibility and understanding of the world… Perhaps we will see this aspect in Diablo 5.

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Cheap endorphins in online games

I’ve created an interesting video on how to play games correctly. Comments from the bearish editorial:

The concept of “cheap endorphins” – getting quick and easy pleasure without significant effort. In MMORPGs, where players constantly feel satisfaction from easy-to-access achievements and rewards (ding!), this can create an illusion of productivity and success, promoting the release of endorphins – “happiness hormones.” This is normal…

Continue reading

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Don’t drink wine in one gulp

Wrote the last preview in a hurry. Got Diablo 4 for a 3-day trial and scratched the surface… Survivor’s error out of mind. Such games should be savored slowly.

Now I’ve bought D4 with a 50% discount and I’m chilling out. I’m noticing some aspects of the lore that I hadn’t thought about before (see last stream). The game is solid… though I don’t retract my previous words about its downsides. But the positives still prevail; especially for old farts like me, who:
a) have nothing else to play (literally nothing)
b) want to chill without hardcore grinding. D4 is super-casual, which I like today… though my younger (pimply hardcore gamer) self would have despised it (well, I’m getting old, what can I say).

But let’s return to the main point – it’s important not to chug down collectible wine in one go. What taste can you experience if you just suck it out of the bottle neck? At best, you’ll get acidity and the prevailing sensation will be heartburn…

Wine is to be savored. Sipping it slowly from a glass after a hard day’s work. Then the bouquet truly unfolds.

And there’s no need to burn out immediately. A session longer than 2 hours is evil. This is again an analogy to drinking. A couple of glasses with dinner – fine. But guzzling like a pig every day, lapping up a liter at a time – will quickly kill the desire (or you’ll just become a plain drunk, nothing good about it).

In short, there will be many streams about D4, subscribe to the channel

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Diablo 4 preview: delicious plastic curd

Update: preview updated

Unfortunately, lately Blizzard has been slowly digesting its own innards fattened during the prosperous years. This includes Diablo 4… Is it a success or just another commercial reflection of the legendary Diablo 2?

Let me start by saying that this article is written based on a trial version where you could only reach level 20 in a couple of days. So, this is a preview, not a full review (which will come a bit later).

So, first, let’s talk about the pros of Diablo 4… although, there are some cons leaking through.

Pros of Diablo 4

Continue reading

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Survey analysis: “Have you played Tangaria?”

The survey “Have you played Tangaria?” has concluded. For your information: Tangaria is my MMO-roguelike, and in my opinion, it’s the most challenging MMORPG in the world (a bit boastful, but what can you do if it’s true?). Survey’s results (total votes: 267):

  1. Never heard of it (38%, 102 Votes)
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  2. Haven’t played, but know what it is (23%, 62 Votes)
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  3. Yes, played a bit (16%, 42 Votes)
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  4. Started and exited (10%, 26 Votes)
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  5. Yes, played quite a lot (8%, 21 Votes)
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  6. Heard the name, but don’t remember what it is (5%, 14 Votes)
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Review of the results Continue reading

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The Cyclic Nature of Online Games

Inspired by recent WoW streams

Our (gamers’) life is funny. We start playing a game, delve into everything there, milk all its juicy content, and memorize all its mechanics. The game becomes predictable and boring. We get tired of it.

A year goes by. Two. Or five (it varies for everyone). And during a “drought”, when no new interesting games come out, we’re drawn back to this old game. The “drought” – it is when no new exciting games are released. And they aren’t being released because the paradox of the MMORPG genre is that the best of its kind – the sacred Ultima Online – still remains unmatched in terms of quality and depth of gameplay. This is especially felt when compared to the plastic feel of something like Albion Online (which appeared 20 years after UO).

So, there’s a life cycle of MMORPG gameplay:

  1. You play a new game (new to you).
  2. You explore everything in it, “drain the cup,” so to speak.
  3. ??? (you move on to something else).
  4. A year-two-five goes by.
  5. You return to the game. Here are the options:
    • They’ve introduced something new during that time (then it’s great, and you can play for UP TO A MONTH).
    • Or nothing new has been introduced, then you (often with a fresh perspective) roam around for a WEEK or TWO.
  6. Refer to point #4 (i.e., another year-two-five passes, and you’ll log into it again).

There are exceptions. For instance, my MMO-roguelike 🙂 It has such high replayability that you can play for years. But still, after about 5 years, you start taking breaks (for a month, two, five) because even the most diverse gameplay gets stale once you’ve delved deeply into it. You need to forget to make it interesting again.

So, yes. The essence is that we need to FORGET. If you’ve properly forgotten a game, it becomes interesting to return to it. If the gameplay is simple and there’s little to forget, the likelihood of returning is quite low. That’s why we often get hooked on hardcore games. That’s why the modern casualized (castrated) WoW, where a third of the skills have been removed, is much worse than the classic vanilla (Turtle server, for example). Fewer buttons to press, simpler gameplay – less to forget; you’ll get bored faster upon returning.

Of course, there’s the community aspect. Sometimes people return for the company, or a particular clan. But nowadays, people are mostly leaning towards individualism, and this factor is gradually diminishing. At least, mature players are mainly “lone wolves.”

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MMORPG: then and now

From the notes of someone who experienced Ultima Online in 1999

Today MMORPGs are reduced to farming…

How it used to be:

The game was a magical, unexplored, unknown adventure. You didn’t know what to expect from today’s “stroll.” Now they aren’t strolls, they’re “sessions.” Such a repulsive word. Sessions… As if you’re eating plastic curd from The Matrix.

Before, we played for the sensations and emotions. Now, we play for numbers and colorful pixels.

We used to play for the social interactions (ranging from fierce hatred to brotherly love). Now, interaction is a waste of time, time better spent farming more numbers in your character’s database column.

There’s no warmth or coziness. It only remains in our memories. And all further gaming is about trying to rekindle those memories. To capture nostalgia. But the further we go, the worse it gets.

Both we and the games are tainted, as if cursed. Corrupted, immolate improved.

All that remains is to come to terms with it. With our age, sessions, plastic curd, and… farming. Grinding. The slow dying out and extinction of that subspecies of cozy gamer.

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The essence of game design

The main task of a game designer is to find simple solutions. We’re all @#$%%% fantasists, and can generate a huge number of stories about “korovany” (russian gamedev meme), and so on. The point is to generate solutions that dramatically change (improve) the gameplay and at the same time, that they were as easy to implement.

Typically, newcomers start with the worst, most difficult solution… It’s also the most obvious. Well, as you get more experience you start to use your head and think over the variants starting from the most minimalistic (“simple” hehe) ones. They are very hard to get to, actually… )

And the main problem is the deadline. Even working on a non-commercial open source project I’m relying on it. When the server is down and I need to make a hotfix – players sit and wait. I need to implement the feature as quickly as possible so the server doesn’t get idle… This is where you have to fight the desire to immediately start eating the elephant in its entirety.

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Problem Solving in Game Development

It’s funny, but usually when there’s a need to implement a certain feature, the most obvious solution lies within the realm of programming. But this is often far from the best solution. The most intriguing and optimal solutions usually reside in the field of game design.

That is, game design tasks should be contemplated as a game designer first and foremost, and only then as a programmer. Recently, I’ve leaned heavily into coding and I see that I often start moving in the wrong direction. This became particularly evident when implementing features in Rage of Mages 2

The algorithm:

  1. When a task arises – compile a list of potential solutions within the current gameplay mechanics.
  2. Then, drawing from these ideas, if they do not solve the problem – compile a few more hybrid variants that combine game design and coding.
  3. If nothing works – it’s time to implement a new mechanic from scratch, rolling out the big guns.

This approach allows you to first explore existing possibilities, then seek creative combinations, and finally, if necessary, consider developing new elements (among other things, this is the most resource-intensive).

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A new season in “Rage of Mages 2”: the best Russian MMORPG

A NEW season begins on my RoM2 server! https://rom2.ru/

Rage of Mages 2 (Allods 2) – the best old-school MMORPG from domestic developers (Nival). Recommended!

For this season, I’ve made 100500 cool new things. The game is close to perfect. I’m happy as an elephant 😉 The best feeling – it when you implement the gameplay, which itself causes you pleasure!.. despite the fact that in the process of sawing these features to bloody soapy eyes… and still in the game pulls you up. So you’ve got a good thing going 😉 That’s my criteria.

Stream from launch (in Russian):

See you in the game!

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The new site of my server in “Rage of Mages 2”

Finally managed to make a separate site for my server in RoM2 (Allods 2). For 4 years the server is successfully functioning and it’s time for it to move from just a page on my blog – to a separate house. Check it out!

https://rom2.ru

Now I’m moving the content there and writing a new one.

See you in-game!

Update: Added mobile version of the website (it will appear there too pretty soon).

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My idle MMORPG: beginning

I decided to keep a screenshot of the draft of the (already working) pre-alpha of my game. How it all started…

Basically, on the server, the whole framework is ready under the hood. It remains to think of some things, fill with content and write the client. The hardest part is over 🙂

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Rage of Mages 2 in 2023: the adventures of smg2

Allods 2 (Rage of Mages 2) continues to live on the internet for over 24 years. Come play on my server of this wonderful Russian MMORPG. Here’s a little feedback from a new player.

Author of the tale: smg2

Ugh, describe my impressions in Allods 2 played as an amateur, starting with the first, occasionally racing through the hamachi with a friend. What can I say?

1. hardcore in today’s time. – I love mages, not a second can you relax – the absence of equipment – all only from mobs to drink – died – no one to revive you, start over – full drop in Allods.. I am not that I was not surprised; I would be surprised if it was not there.

2. What seemed inconvenient? Continue reading

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The new MMORPG by igroglaz

My new project is a text-based idle sandbox MMORPG. A couple of dates to start with, just so I don’t forget.

January 5, 2023 – started learning Go language. Before that, I spent a long time studying cs50 and a couple of years coding Tangaria in C.

February 15 – first commit to a new project.

March 11 (almost a month later): I implemented the base – figured out http, sessions, cookies, made alpha  idle gameplay.

Now, after another month (today April 13) – made two testing gameplay models and the map… at the map there are several layers and quite a lot of work. Plus a lot of things I redo, optimize. I constantly have to rename variables, because I don’t fully understand the final product and do everything “on the fly”. As a result code becomes a mess and after implementing another feature I have to straighten it out by string.

Now I am actually finishing the map. It’s ready (already rendered in UI, you can walk around and stuff), but I think to make it more complicated and do it all “straight from scratch”. I hope I do not regret it.

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Hotseat-text-RPG – text-based RPG for two

While I was learning Go, I made a little console game – two players on one keyboard:

https://github.com/igroglaz/Hotseat-text-RPG

Hotseat-text-RPG is a local text-based multiplayer role-playing game for two players. Your goal is to defeat the Dragon.

The game is raw, for now I don’t have time to test it.. but it’s playable… good stuff to play with a wife, for example =) Despite the minimalism, there are some interesting ideas. In fact, this is kinda a text-based “board game” 🙂 Just balance it a bit and you can publish it in a “paper” form.

Now I’ll finally start doing my multiplayer game in the browser. Technology chosen, a little mastered, it’s time to move forward.

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