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    posted a message on Wizzin' It Up with the Wizard

    The bad news is that everything "news" about the beta was covered during the Friends and Family testing period, before we were even allowed in. The good news is that I finally had the time to sit down and write about my experiences playing with the DiabloWiki.com - Wizard Wizard, the casting archetype of Diablo III. Along the way, we'll explore some interesting aspects of this decade's iteration of the series, up to the epic battle with the DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton King Skeleton King and including skills ranging from the powerful to the mundane.

    Disclaimer: If you decide to read further than this line, you accept that I may divulge certain bits of information that some may view as spoilers. Beyond this line, I will make no effort, whatsoever, to hide this information, since that is counterproductive to the intent of an informative article.

    The Wizard approaches
    New Tristram
    The beginning has always carried a certain sentimental value to me as a Diablo player. Your character wanders onto the screen, wearing naught but minimum grade armor, a crappy weapon, and a single skill. It's only up from here!

    Not much has changed in that regard except, perhaps, that our characters now have motives. Yes, my friends, our heroes have reasons to be where they are! Hoping to find the Fallen Star that landed in the ruins of DiabloWiki.com - Old Tristram Old Tristram, my male Wizard strode boldly down the path towards DiabloWiki.com - New Tristram New Tristram, with nothing but DiabloWiki.com - Magic Missile Magic Missile and DiabloWiki.com - Frost NovaFrost Nova (Diablo III) at his disposal, ready to take on the hordes of the Undead and the legions of the Burning Hells. How very bold of him.

    The Carnage!
    One of the cooler changes from Diablo III's predecessors is that it's not long before you're in the heat of battle. My Wizard took not ten steps before a DiabloWiki.com - Risen Risen appeared, feasting on a festering pile of human carrion (take that you Diablo-III-isn't-gory-enough crazies!). Body parts flew in majestic arcs through the night air as I slammed the unwitting zombie with Magic Missile, trailing the purple light indicative of arcane-elemental spells. Before I had entered the village proper, a veritable pile of the Undead was mounded before the gate. Diablo magic, I'd say.

    Here I would like to note something of ghastly interest: Frequently enough, the Risen, as their name implies, rise again after they are slaughtered. Crawling forward with bloodthirsty intent, they drag their abdomens through the earth as their severed spines leak out vital fluids, nearing the unaware adventurer handhold by handhold. Moral of the story: When you kill a zombie, make sure it's dead.

    News of the dead rising from their graves has not made every denizen of Sanctuary hop out of bed in the middle of the night and sprint out the door with an axe at the ready. Entering the village of Old Tristram, another neat new feature of Diablo III comes to light: DiabloWiki.com - Brother Malachi the Healer Brother Malachi the Healer, a pious, fire-and-brimstone preaching ex-zealot of the DiabloWiki.com - Zakarum Zakarum faith, is already screaming damnation for the world before I even had the presence of mind to click on him.

    The sky is falling! The
    sky is falling!
    Gossip in the game manifests itself in two primary mediums: the player opting for various discussion topics when interfacing an NPC, much like in the older games, and when passing NPC's. Some even have discussions with each other. While not necessarily a breakthrough in storytelling (games have had this kind of thing for years), it is new to the series and adds a certain level of authenticity to the social vibe.

    Waypoints: Functional and
    Reaching town center, a welcome design change is present: no more wandering all over creation trying to find that accursed waypoint! (DiabloWiki.com - Kurast Docks Kurast Docks, anyone?) Located in scenic downtown New Tristram, the waypoint is surrounded by all the most useful features of the fledgling village: the DiabloWiki.com - Blacksmith Blacksmith, a merchant to the upper right (not pictured), the location to hire your hireling, the entrance to the tavern (whose proprietor peddles potions and other odds and ends), and, eventually, the man himself: DiabloWiki.com - Deckard Cain Deckard Cain.

    The waypoint interface is also more useful, if somewhat cluttered. Collapsible menus now offer categorized destinations, as well as recent destinations. And, if you for some reason can't read your location off your mini-map in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, it even tells you where you are! Nifty.

    Not every NPC in
    Sanctuary stands outside all
    day waiting to dish out quests.
    But not all the action is outside. Indeed, one of the great new aspects of Diablo III that, in my opinion, is a bit down-played is that you can actually go inside multiple structures in towns, with even more NPC's to interact with. While in Diablo II this was evidenced rather minimally, in Diablo III we see full-blown quest points and NPC interaction. The moment my Wizard walked into the inn, the injured gathered there immediately began to rise as the Undead. Leah and myself had to jump into the fray to smooth the situation over. These aren't simply buildings with their roofs fading away, as we saw in Diablo II, but entire new mini-dungeons stuffed with homeliness and NPC goodies. In New Tristram, enterable buildings include the DiabloWiki.com - Slaughtered Calf Inn Slaughtered Calf Inn and Deckard Cain's home.

    Nearly all of the NPC's in New Tristram share one trait that makes them an improvement over the previous games: they don't just stand there all day waiting to give out a quest to whatever lucky adventurer wanders along the road. One can only wonder how much smithing DiabloWiki.com - Griswold Griswold actually did.

    But enough of New Tristram. What about the rest of the game?

    Despite all the cool things there are to take in when visiting the barely-hanging-on village of New Tristram, I was sent on my way nearly the instant I walked into the Slaughtered Calf Inn. Zombie syndrome seemed to spread like a disease, even among those in the village, and one impromptu battle later I was on my way from the inn and down the eerie DiabloWiki.com - Old Tristram Road Old Tristram Road. Murders of crows flapping dramatically off into the night? Check. Creaking wagon wheels moving all on their own? Check. Ruined homes with a murderous history? Check.

    And some of them have nice little dungeons underneath. Oh, and Blizzard wasn't kidding when they said their random dungeons would be cool.

    I must have been through ten random dungeons (sorry folks, I have other time commitments, too) in my various play-throughs of the beta, and each time they feel new and exciting. Entering one Musty Cellar below the ghostly ruins of an old farm home, I see a DiabloWiki.com - Quill Fiend Quill Fiend poking around near the steps. Approaching it, and readying my Wizard to blast it to Hells with my l33t Adventuring Oak Wand of the Oracle, the little critters scuttled off into the darkness. I ran after him, spamming all kinds of flashy stuff, wondering where the rest of the monsters were, until the little guy scurried under a pile of debris in the center of a room down a hall.

    The junk exploded and out poured the entire mob of the dungeon in one instant. Quill Fiends ran everywhere, doing that thing they do (shooting quills, if you haven't figured that part out yet.) One Frost Nova and a quick recovery later, I realized that the @#$%er had tricked me into following him to a whole nest of ravenous, twitchy little scoundrels.

    Of course, there are other variations of the dungeon. Several times, my Wizard entered one such cellar, openly wondering where all the loot was. Rounding a corner, I saw that the Quill Fiends--those fiends!--had already broken open my chest and sacked the place. However, killing their leader dropped the loot that would have generated in the chest. And it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Two birds with one stone.

    Trivia: Zombies reproduce with
    their vomitus!
    Further along the Old Tristram Road, zombie hordes were made even more annoying (but awesome, since zombies are awesome) with the addition of DiabloWiki.com - Wretched Mother Wretched Mothers. These puketastic baddies seem to be stuck on a perpetual hangover, vomiting their guts out--maybe in a literal sense. Not only is it disgusting, but the vomitus propagates another zombie. Until the Wretched Mother is killed, the process continues. TLDR: Kill the Wretched Mother first and save yourself some time and effort.

    A little family gossip...
    A few dead (well, re-dead) Wretched Mothers later, I was heading out with DiabloWiki.com - Leah Leah in pursuit of her mother's old hut. Yes, Diablo I's witch, DiabloWiki.com - Adria Adria, returns. Or at least her house does. And she's got a nice little piece of real estate out in that forsaken sixteenth of an acre of no-man's land. But one of the coolest things about this encounter is that Leah follows you, chats with you, kills monsters with you, and interacts with game world objects. Some of the Wizard's characteristic scholarly mindset sparks up here and other places. It's amazing how fixated the guy is on the Fallen Star.

    The journey from here on out is something of a trip down memory lane.

    (Note: The Wizard likes to point out the obvious.)

    Ah, the DiabloWiki.com - Cathedral Cathedral, how I've missed thee! DiabloWiki.com - Kael Rills Kael Rills is long gone, of course, and I do miss the blood-red light knifing through the dark. But maybe the deceptive serenity surrounding the Cathedral is what makes it most unsettling. Its depths are anything but serene.

    The Fallen Star finally makes its reappearance. In its wake, it's left a tell-tale trail of otherwordly blue flames and a crater big enough to stuff over nine thousand McDonald's regulars. The journey down the old DiabloWiki.com - Horadrim Horadrim bastion is crawling with the Undead. DiabloWiki.com - Ravenous Dead Ravenous Dead prowl the halls, often in groups. DiabloWiki.com - Carrion Bat Carrion Bats stalk in clouds, swarming my Wizard with their annoying little zaps (reminiscent of Diablo II's DiabloWiki.com - Bat DemonBat Demon (Diablo II)s.) And, of course, the DiabloWiki.com - GrotesqueGrotesque (Diablo III).

    While not particularly the most dangerous of enemies, the Grotesque sported a few elements that might prove tricky, especially in later difficulties: a reasonably large amount of health, a corpse explosion guaranteed on death, and a mobile army inside its stomach. Okay, a handful of killer DiabloWiki.com - Lamprey Lampreys (eels) wasn't really that dangerous, either, but it was just freakin' weird. Later in the game, the Grotesque was more likely to expel a number of DiabloWiki.com - Imp Imps, though these, for the most part, ran off in random directions until I sniped them down with DiabloWiki.com - Electrocute Electrocute.

    Oh, the ceiling caves in just in time to kill Cain's pursuers! How convenient for him.

    Eventually--inevitably--Cain popped up. Uncle Deckard had decided to go dumpster diving in the Cathedral for some esoteric lore in his never-ending battle against the forces of the Burning Hells. What a harmless idea.

    Cain's addition to the mix brings another cool feature with Diablo III's take on story-telling: NPC's that talk with each other. Back in town, Cain and Leah catch up on old times: doomsday prophecy, demonic lore, the usual. Their interaction occasionally mixed in the haughty attitude of the Wizard. Were any other character to be the hero in the discussion, he, too, would add his character's flavor to the discussion.

    But Diablo III isn't all idle chatter and zombie pounding. The climax of the beta culminates in the battle with the DiabloWiki.com - Skeleton King Skeleton King, a point which Bashiok has specified as a third of the way through the first act.

    While the battle was not really that difficult (this is, basically, "easy" mode for testing purposes), King Leoric's ghostly remains had a few tricks up its sleeves.

    The battle is initiated by clicking on the King. I started every battle by popping a few DiabloWiki.com - potionsDiablo III Potions to boost my resistances, attack, and defense. The buffs are minimal and last only several minutes, but every little bit helped.

    Leoric has three primary modes: a whirlwind attack similar to the DiabloWiki.com - Barbarian Barbarian crossed with a I-don't-know-how-to-swing-my-weapon frenzy mode, a teleportation spell, and a simple swing attack with his massive mace. Periodically, he disappears from the fray, leaving a rabble of Undead minions in his wake. Of particular use during the skeleton waves was the Wizard's DiabloWiki.com - Wave of Force Wave of Force.

    Wave of Force works great in mobs due to its large area of effect and massive knockback. The damage isn't bad, either, often decimating low-level mobs in a single hit. For my purposes, the wave blew gathering swarms of DiabloWiki.com - Returned Returned and DiabloWiki.com - Forgotten Soldier Forgotten Soldiers away from me, the fragile caster, and off into my patient comrades. Oh, and did I mention the +50% speed impediment?

    Defensively, the battle can be fought with two skills: either DiabloWiki.com - Ice Armor Ice Armor or DiabloWiki.com - Diamond Skin Diamond Skin (we're not even going to talk about DiabloWiki.com - Storm Armor Storm Armor, since it lacks any defensive buffs.) While Diamond Skin is better for straight damage reduction, its relatively short duration (five seconds) makes it more of a cast-in-the-moment-of-need spell. Frozen Armor, while not a big damage absorber, does increase the Wizard's armor significantly (50%), lasts for two glorious minutes, and chills every enemy that attacks you--including the Skeleton King! This also works great in mobs, allowing the unwary Wizard to escape with his skin intact in certain sticky situations.

    From a safe distance, I could then spam them with Electrocute, which works exactly like Diablo II's DiabloWiki.com - Chain Lightning Chain Lightning, or DiabloWiki.com - Energy Twister Energy Twister. (Oh, clever hint: Energy Twister is perfect for kiting. Cast and run, baby!)

    And that about wraps things up. If any of you were fortunate enough to have played the beta yet, we'd love to hear about your experiences playing with the Wizard--any crafty spell tips, survival scenarios, or witty lines the Wizard is so prone to imparting.

    And, if you still can't get enough Wizard (*cough sign of addict cough*), we prescribe Force Gaming Strategy's excellent Wizard playthrough videos on YouTube. Here's one to get you started:

    Posted in: News & Announcements
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    posted a message on D3 Story Fact List
    Quote from Ajnc

    I found this in the database:
    A1_LeahReining_Encounter_Name : The End of the Horadrim Event
    A1_LeahReining_Taunt_Text : You may already be too late...
    A1_LeahReining_Join_Instruction : is about to witness

    Rein is probably code like the rest of the pony/horse codes they seems to have put in to cover spoilers.
    My guess is that this is Leah Turning at the end of act 1.

    A1_C6_SpiderCave_01_Main Caverns of Araneae

    Looks like Araneae the Spider Queen might be the boss of Act 1, or another mini boss.


    A3_AdriaBetrayal_Encounter_Name : Triumph Event
    A3_AdriaBetrayal_Taunt_Text : Fetlock is dead. Celebrate your victory!

    Appears Adria will betray us after we kill Fetlock(Azmodan, Lord of Sin).

    Noooooo! Adria, my love--why?
    Posted in: Lore & Storyline
  • 1

    posted a message on Having to constantly sign in.
    Quote from Molsterr

    Quote from Magistrate

    Quote from Molsterr

    it has to have something to do with your browser and your cookies for sure.

    I believe that some years ago we stopped using cookies to store auto-login data. Instead, it's all handled by databases and the server.
    rofl. All logins are handled by the database and the server. Im not sure what your trying to say? Cookies are used to remember your login when you come back to the site at another time. [Sessions cant do this].
    Plus im looking at the cookie right now =P

    I know. I write such applications all the time. But the site should no longer use the cookies. It should store your IP address and do a lookup whenever a non-logged in user accesses a page, then auto-log you in based on a correlated boolean value assuming a match.

    No need for the rofl :/ I certainly didn't laugh in your face.


    Regardless of whether or not this is the case, this was discussed several years ago--a little bit after the ownership switch. This happened back when we still had vBulletin, but I guess the change didn't get carried over to the (more recent and what you'd be used to) IPBoard.
    Posted in: Site Feedback
  • 1

    posted a message on Sin War Books
    The books are, for me, only there for lore supplementary material, for that which wasn't revealed or elaborated upon in the games. Overall, I don't think most of them are very entertaining and the style and dialogue are shoddy, at best. I don't like the Sin War trilogy much at all; my favorite is the Black Road.
    Posted in: Lore & Storyline
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    posted a message on Skill Points Removal Fuels Game Controversy
    (Source) After the announcement of the removal of yet another point-mashing feature (seen in our coverage of the press event), many are wondering how the Diablo III team rationalizes not having skill points while preaching customization to the masses. A user on the official Battle.net forum board brought the question to Bashiok's table, who responded with the sentiments of the team.

    Their explanation leans back on the "it's not Diablo II" argument which has been touted since the game's announcement back in 2008:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We've been playing the game, we know what skill points were causing, and it was not interesting and unique builds. It was not meaningful customization. It was maxing out a couple skills, and that's it. It was Diablo II. What we have now actually forces people to make interesting choices, to craft interesting builds based on very strict limitations.

    But the Diablo III team wants the latest game in the series to go beyond, as they see it, another shortcoming they saw in Diablo II's skill system. Bashiok says that "one common mistake people are making is thinking all the class skills are straight damaging attack skills... There's no variety because you just pick the most powerful six, and you're done."

    Their latest iteration of the skill system essentially splits what would have been called passive and active skills in Diablo II into two exactly that: passive and active skills. Where passive skills are invested in separately and contribute to your character's brawn in secret, regular skills are the ones you will use to blast your enemies into gooey bits, as well as zip around the screen at lightning speeds and issue combo attacks. Not all of these skills are straight damage dealers. Some of them allow resource regeneration or life steal, which adds another level of tactical flare to your combat experience.

    Whereas in the past you would have used skill points (awarded at each level-up) to augment the power of your favorite skills (or the potency of DiabloWiki.com - synergies synergies), the new skill system in Diablo III scales your skills based on your level. In addition, DiabloWiki.com - runestones runestones, including their numerous tiers, affect the look, feel, and effects of your skills. Beyond them, gear directly affects your battle potency. Bashiok laid out a Diablo II scenario for demonstration:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    The base problem with skill points is that we found they simply put too much incentive toward pumping up one or two skills. If we wanted to balance the game it means we'd have to let someone be able to essentially beat the game with that build since it's the most obvious. You're not going to put a few points here, a few there, you're going to go the D2 route, horde points, and dump them all into a core skill or two. It really limited builds since points always went toward specific types of attacks that scaled well with additional points, and we're not going to keep systems that are stifling (viable) build potential and (meaningful) character customization.

    So, removing functionality encourages customization? While many would argue the case of stat point removal for Diablo III, this might not be exactly the same thing. Regardless, this solution does directly address the "one or two skills" scenario (Diablo II cookie-cutter builds, anyone?), so maybe it is a big step in the right direction.

    Interestingly enough, the removal of skill point allotment indirectly addresses yet another controversial topic: respeccing. Many have argued that allowing for respeccing caters to a "softer" gaming audience and drains the game of an element of challenge (just take a look through a 2008 article's responses). Without skill points, there's no longer any need for respeccing. Whether or not this appeases more hardcore players is another question entirely.

    Force had some excellent one-on-one time with Jay Wilson to get the full story straight from the Diablo man, himself. Wilson talked about everything leading up to the latest decision, including observations from alpha testing and conclusions drawn from prior strategy scenarios in the older games.

    But does all this wishy-washy skill softness mean something more than encouraging more diverse builds? As a user on the Battle.net board asked, "Do you come upon a particularly nasty group that this other skill would just be perfect for, so you hang back, grab that skill, then destroy the group?"

    Bashiok did not shoot the idea down entirely:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    You're far more likely to see a player sticking with a build and working to become better at it than constantly swapping around. That's not a rule, it's player psychology so there's going to be a wide range of variables, but it's what we have found to be true not only for Diablo III, but a lot of the games out there with similar free-swapping of builds.

    The removal of skill points seems like a step away from the spirit of the franchise, instilled in us with Diablo II. It will restrict cookie-cutter and low-skill-count builds to an extent, and it indirectly removes the need for a controversial respeccing system. But it is a far cry different from the original games and many "Diablo clones," possibly alienating parts of an otherwise eager audience.
    Posted in: News & Announcements
  • 1

    posted a message on Sneakydoug Intro!
    I have my eye on you. Sneaky.
    Posted in: Introduction
  • 2

    posted a message on Naughty boy leaking information.
    I can't imagine the logic behind this. If it's for real, then whomever it is would be an official fansite program correspondent. If that's true, then they aren't getting any uber web traffic since they're posting anonymously. If it's for bragging rights, they'll be instantly found out and the future wouldn't look good for them.

    We've seen lots of timely and impressive fakes. Do any of you remember the pre-announcement box art fad, fake release info attempts, and so on?

    If it is for real, then I'm sure he/she would have, at the least, screenshots. It would be a must for fansites. Blizzard wouldn't send everyone away without multimedia material, I don't think.
    Posted in: Diablo III General Discussion
  • 1

    posted a message on Hello I am new...
    Dinosaurs don't brush their teeth. I don't envy you. Welcome to the board :hammy:
    Posted in: Introduction
  • 1

    posted a message on X thanks you for this post
    It primarily didn't work because people could also give a negative mark for it. Along with a message.

    The rep wars...good times.
    Posted in: Site Feedback
  • 2

    posted a message on Skill Cooldowns Elaborated, Respeccing Mechanic on the Horizon
    Since Bashiok's response to a fan inquiry last week (see Alt Options, Tiered Skill Slots, and the Infamous Auction House), the subject of skill cooldowns has been on the rise again in the Diablo fan community. So far, we've learned that in addition to higher resource costs, higher-tiered skills may also have longer cooldown periods, with as much as two minutes for the DiabloWiki.com - Barbarian Barbarian being already known.

    A bit of post-post followup on Bashiok's part left us with the team's reasoning behind the cooldowns, which have been met with both approval and skepticism, as well as a small idea of how DiabloWiki.com - runesRunes (Diablo III) will play into cooldown limitations on higher-end skills.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Q: So teleport has an 8 second cooldown, what about it? For all we know, a Golden rune will decrease the cooldown by 1 second a level, leaving it with a 1 second cooldown with a level 7 rune.

    Bashiok: Or delay the cooldown from triggering for X seconds...


    Bottom line is that cooldowns allow for skill complexity or power by limiting them in a meaningful way because it can mean long-term balance even as stats inflate. We do want to make sure we're only using them where appropriate, though.

    And, of course, cooldown timers are nothing new to the Diablo series. Several skills in Diablo II, including DiabloWiki.com - BlizzardBlizzard (Diablo II) and DiabloWiki.com - Frozen OrbFrozen Orb, among others, forced players to wait precious few seconds, encouraging the usage--or spamming--of other skills in the interim. But Diablo II's timers were significantly shorter than those of Diablo III's highest-tiered skills. We wonder, what makes things different in the latest game to merit such significantly longer cooldowns?

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Diablo II had a single resource mechanic (mana), and the biggest end-game skills in Diablo II are low-to-mid tier skills in Diablo III. The big "end-tier" skills we have are more complex and usually wouldn't make sense as spammable skills, or would likely outright have to be pulled from the game if it turned out they ever could be spammable. And we have varied resource systems that we can't just throw a problem-solver at, like Diablo II could with mana potions.

    For instance Call of the Ancients literally calls down the four barbarian ancients to fight alongside you. How would that work if it was spammable? Should we make it cost 100% resource to keep you from being able to spam it, and then leave you drained to cleave back enough fury to follow it up with anything? That doesn't sound like something *I* would take. Maybe someone could find a build for it, I don't know.

    And in case you invest in skills with long cooldown periods and discover that they don't fit into your playstyle, respeccing will be viable option in Diablo III, if not a panacea. We've known for some time now that the team is intent on implementing respeccing of some caliber in Diablo III (see ScyberDragon's excellent Diablo III FAQ).

    As we draw ever-nearer to the likely third quarter beta release, it looks like Blizzard is holding true to its promise of revealing major game mechanics to an eager fan crowd.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Q: First and foremost, I am not positive if it's been confirmed if we can even respec in Diablo III. I am assuming we can, which leads me to my question

    What is the potential cost for re-specializing your character's talents? Also, is there a limit to how often we can respec? Does the cost for increase for each respec?

    Bashiok: We're going to be ready to share a bit more on this real soon.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    akumagin: @Diablo Any updates on the Demon Hunter resource system?
    Diablo: @akumagin It's in, it's working, and we'll be ready to share more starting next month.

    Oh, you naughty dog, Bashiok, playing the soon(TM) card. Oh well.

    With a new mechanic announcement on the horizon, tons of great information already in our pockets, beta just out of reach, and Blizzcon 2011 fast approaching, it's truly an exciting time to be a Diablo fan. Stick around for all the latest as our decade-long wait finally comes to a close.

    Posted in: News & Announcements
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