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Author Topic: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!  (Read 1958 times)

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Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« on: February 11, 2011, 09:53:06 PM »
http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/b20/videos.html

Videos on their 20th anniversary site.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2011, 03:50:25 PM »
Yeah, but be fair. Everyone else might get a twenty-year anniversary, with Blizzards long waits it should be more like ten in real time. :)

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2011, 05:40:31 PM »
Quality > quantity. I play Blizzard games longer than most developers' games by a margin roughly equivalent to their difference in production times. Valve's in that bucket, too.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2011, 06:06:42 PM »
Even at their worse (Ghost) they rarely go more than five years without doing the 'shit or get off the pot' decision. I mean unlike some folks. I mean Daikatanna was what.. twelve years and Duke was what... nineteen?

Offline Wolfy

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2011, 10:58:31 PM »
Even at their worse (Ghost) they rarely go more than five years without doing the 'shit or get off the pot' decision. I mean unlike some folks. I mean Daikatanna was what.. twelve years and Duke was what... nineteen?

Yes...but Duke is coming out, and it's looking good. :D

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2011, 11:12:06 PM »
Yes...but Duke is coming out, and it's looking good. :D

Sorry Wolfy.. til I hold the game in hand and put it in the PC/Xbox/PS it doesn't exist.

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2011, 11:34:37 PM »

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2011, 11:53:40 PM »
You made me sad D:

You've got company.. I was looking forward to it.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2011, 10:14:00 AM »
I hope they start exceeding my expectations in a good way, because things have really been going downhill in the last few years.

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2011, 11:13:53 AM »
How do you figure, Hemingway?

Offline Hemingway

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 11:45:35 AM »
Well, if you compare the games they're making nowadays, to the ones from the 90s and early 2000s, they're really ... well, back in the day, the used to be groundbreaking ... now, they get more and more similar, in terms of style and gameplay, and the complete lack of focus on, well, story.

Don't get me wrong, Starcraft 2 was a fantastic game from a gameplay perspective ... but so much about it felt more like a sequel to Warcraft 3, than to Starcraft. And by the looks of it, Diablo 3 will play more like an action RPG version of WoW, than Diablo.

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2011, 12:01:00 PM »
Don't get me wrong, Starcraft 2 was a fantastic game from a gameplay perspective ... but so much about it felt more like a sequel to Warcraft 3, than to Starcraft. And by the looks of it, Diablo 3 will play more like an action RPG version of WoW, than Diablo.
Blizzard's kinda always been about refining game mechanics rather than making new ones. Almost none of their games are really original - they're all a mix of borrowed elements streamlined and tightened to a shinier level of shine than their origins were. Hell, Warcraft, the "groundbreaking" game back in the 90's? It's basically a Warhammer variant. They just made it really good. Gameplay mechanics is what Blizzard does best; story, not so much. Always been that way.

I'm not sure what you mean by the latter bits. Starcraft 2 is still more Starcraft than Warcraft 3 - notably the lack of hero units, the closer racial balance, and the overall unit counts that tend to be involved - and Diablo 2 was already an action-RPG version of WoW. Or, rather, since WoW came afterward, WoW is a less-actiony MMO version of Diablo 2, if you're going to look at things that broadly for "sameness."

Blizz isn't really the place to look for new frontiers of gaming. It's the place to look for setting the bar on current frontiers of gaming. Less "this is the new big thing" and more "top this, X game genre!"

Offline Hemingway

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2011, 12:17:41 PM »
I was going to write a lengthy post explaining my exact thoughts, but I figured out a better approach. Diablo in particular, Warcraft ( Warcraft 2 more so than the first, in my opinion ) and Starcraft were groundbreaking pioneers. The best adjective for describing recent Blizzard games, is cookie-cutter. "Refining" a genre isn't much good when your products steadily become more and more similar.

Oh, and I disagree about story. Diablo had some fantastic storylines, Starcraft had actual twists and turns, and Warcraft ... well, Warcraft is probably the weakest, story-wise, but even that was way better than Starcraft 2. Its narrative structure is all over the place, the story is weak at best, and completely devoid of twists. It's probably not a coincidence that the best missions, story-wise, are the first few, and the last few - the ones where you're not hopping around performing arbitrary tasks, but rather have actual goals.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2011, 01:01:26 PM »
I was going to write a lengthy post explaining my exact thoughts, but I figured out a better approach. Diablo in particular, Warcraft ( Warcraft 2 more so than the first, in my opinion ) and Starcraft were groundbreaking pioneers. The best adjective for describing recent Blizzard games, is cookie-cutter. "Refining" a genre isn't much good when your products steadily become more and more similar.

Oh, and I disagree about story. Diablo had some fantastic storylines, Starcraft had actual twists and turns, and Warcraft ... well, Warcraft is probably the weakest, story-wise, but even that was way better than Starcraft 2. Its narrative structure is all over the place, the story is weak at best, and completely devoid of twists. It's probably not a coincidence that the best missions, story-wise, are the first few, and the last few - the ones where you're not hopping around performing arbitrary tasks, but rather have actual goals.
Exactly. The quality over quantity argument is steadily losing ground in regards to Blizzard's defense. Believe me, I'm all for quality games, but if every game every company ever produced took ten years plus to release there would be no video game industry. Blizzard is steadily adopting the Japanese way of thinking. Don't bother with anything new refine the hell out of what you have. That works... for a while and certainly not forever. New games, I.P., and sequels are the lifeblood of the video game industry. Without them we'd all be stuck playing the heck out of 2-D Mario Bros.

Blizzard is one side of the extreme and lets say... Guitar Hero is the other. One takes forever, the other over saturates. Why hasn't the next Starcraft game come out yet? Oh, right they can milk more money out of one game, and if they release the other factions games too soon it will look like they really were money whoring. So Blizzard in my mind has been out of business since 2001. Whatever, their fans let them do it so people get exactly what they want.

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2011, 01:22:22 PM »
Diablo's storyline: there are devils in crystals. They got out and did bad things. You want to stop them from doing these bad things by re-imprisoning them and/or banishing them back to hell.

...that's about it. I've heard more than a few people talk about how Diablo's story really drew them in/was great/etc., but I've never really understood what they're talking about when there's barely any story in the games. It's hack'n'slash with a goal; it's Gauntlet with voiceovers. Where's the epic story? Seriously, I don't think I've had someone give me an example yet.

Starcraft did have one major high point in the story: New Gettysburg. The rest seemed...well, for lack of a better word, "standard" to me. Cowboy forced to deal with scumbags for the greater good, can't stand the man when he goes too far, sides with the noble demons and finds out they're Not So Different when it comes to core values in some ways. The woman scorned comes back with a vengeance. Heroic sacrifices ensue. It had twists and turns but they all had clearly-marked Detour signs before they arrived.

Starcraft 2's storyline suffers from choose-your-path syndrome: it's hard to make a coherent and complex story work if various pieces of it can come at different times. I imagine if they'd had all 20-something missions in a linear order they'd have made a more sensible plot throughout, but when you can out the Korhal empire's evils early on and then backtrack to save idealistic colonists afterward or save the colonists and do some covert ops before you ever bother downing the empire, you can't really expect the pieces to fit together very neatly. Fun mechanics, not so good for story.

I know I'm more critical of writing than almost any aspect of a game - it's what I know best - but even so, Blizzard games have never so much as been on my radar as examples of great storytelling. They do a passable job, but that's about it; the gameplay overshadows the writing every time.

Not really sure how to address the cookie-cutter comment as I'm unsure what you think their cookies are cut from. If you mean they're cookie-cutters of their own games, Diablo 2 is pretty distinct from Diablo as far as character customization and abilities go, and Starcraft 2's gameplay is significantly varied from Starcraft - the mass uproar from fans about various parts of the original game that were removed or exaggerated or dumbed down or changed at all seems like a pretty good indicator of that even if I didn't notice it in my own play. The core's the same - it's an RTS with the same mineral/gas baseline economy - but the layers added onto it have definitive variance. Watching some pro games of Starcraft and then a few of Starcraft 2 makes the differences in strategy more readily apparent.

If you meant they're cookie-cutter versions of other games...which ones?

@Inkidu: I'm still not sure what to think of releasing SC2 in race-based installments, to be honest. From a payment standpoint I can't say I like it 'cause, well, it means paying more to get the other campaigns, which obviously isn't cool for me. From the standpoint of actually playing the game, I dunno, it's about as much content as the initial Starcraft's 3 campaigns put together with a lot of extras on top, so it's not like I feel robbed by getting just the Terran campaign alone. Call me Undecided-Frowny on the subject for now, I guess. At least they didn't end the story on a cliffhanger; you could take it as the end of the story if you wanted, though for anyone who's been playing from the first game it's unlikely to feel complete there.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2011, 02:01:46 PM »
I think what Hemingway means by cookie cutter is that you can play one type of Blizzard game and you've played them all. Honestly though I think Blizzard is just dated. I haven't played a Blizzard RTS but I have played Diablo 1, 2, and Lord of Destruction. From what I've seen of WoW its also the same as follows.

You pick from a standard (if expanding) group of generic characters that everyone else will get to pick from. You get little to no customization in your physical features (I don't know if they're bringing that in for Diablo 3 or not, but tell me in fifteen years when it comes out). Character picking is done (from what I played of W.O.W which was free trial you couldn't really customize your looks either)

They drop you in a game, they give you some story which is entirely optional and then they set you on the task of of killing everything that doesn't sell you stuff. You kill, loot, return to town, sell, and repeat. Honestly the loot is fun, but I think I'd much rather have Fable III's ideas of evolving weapons over a sword that's marginally better than the last one I got ten minutes ago.

Anyway you're looting for virtually identical pieces of swag that only differ in art and what someone says their numbers are. Does it matter that its leather? Not really it just has 2 defense over my plate steel (I'm aware that this isn't true, but it illustrates my point). So you've killed all this crap. You've moved through virtually identical levels with repainted bad guy. You've fought seventeen monsters that call themselves bosses only on the merit that they have a gold name and there is one of them (which doesn't stop them from coming back).

So at the end of your long blood swath of destruction why have you done it all. Why did you become level, umpteenth billion with a magical toothpick of godslaying, why did you max out the same predictable tech trees with their intangible bonuses that only exist in the statistics-based jack-offery? Why? That's my question, and the answer is unfathomable to me. I have none. You didn't do it to save the princess, there was no story, no dialogue, no choice, no nothing but loot and swag and crap! Plus there's no environmental destruction ever.

How does anyone get any sense of fulfillment and accomplishment from a Blizzard hack and slash game. They don't even make you feel like you've saved the world. Hell all your work is for naught because enemies re-spawn for camping purposes. Its a game in the most clinical sense of the word. Its so sterile and shallow I don't know why people give up hours upon hours of their lives to do it. Why Blizzard is still in business to celebrate its twenty years of banality I don't know. Can someone explain it to me?

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2011, 02:31:45 PM »
I don't know what you mean by "it's a game in the most clinical sense of the word," Inkidu. It's a game because it's fun to play. Some people really like the whole spreadsheets-of-stats and hope-I-get-that-0.001%-chance-to-drop-rare-thing kind of gameplay; me, not so much, but I do love exploring character builds and large worlds and options and so on. It's why I played WoW a hell of a lot longer than I played Diablo 2: class variety and a massive world. The story? Pfft, the story is Warcraft. Orcs vs. Humans + demons are also bad for everyoe - there, story's done. The story's not the point for me, the gameplay is. This is why when I hit endgame I get bored and stop playing: the level-capped all you can do now is kill the same dudes repeatedly for shiny loot aspect of the game doesn't appeal to me. It's the improvement and exploration leading up to that point I like the most.

Really though, what did you mean by the clinical game concept? If it's fun to play, what's the problem? Okay, so it's not fun for you, but it is to the people who play it. Whether it's a good game or not is another debate, but I'm not sure I see the argument for its validity as a game or being barely one. I mean, how are there gradations of being a game? Is Tag less a game than Capture the Flag because there are fewer rules? What are you going for there?

Offline Hemingway

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2011, 03:15:45 PM »
The story? Pfft, the story is Warcraft. Orcs vs. Humans + demons are also bad for everyoe - there, story's done. The story's not the point for me, the gameplay is. This is why when I hit endgame I get bored and stop playing: the level-capped all you can do now is kill the same dudes repeatedly for shiny loot aspect of the game doesn't appeal to me. It's the improvement and exploration leading up to that point I like the most.

WoW is a perfect example of everything I dislike about Blizzard games.

If you don't care about story, I won't bother trying to point out all the ways in which Blizzard fails. It is a big thing for me, though. Saying Blizzard's games were never about the story is a weak defense in my eyes. I'd rather play a game with a great story and poor gameplay, than the other way around.

My biggest problem with WoW, aside from the ways in which the story gets butchered ( and Warcraft, especially Reign of Chaos, which was probably the high point, did have story up until WoW ), is the sense that nothing matters. I can no longer suspend my disbelief with regards to the game's villains, grinding gear has gotten dull ( a combination of gear becoming more and more standardized stat-wise, and the design deviating further and further from the original style of Warcraft ), and all in all it's just not bringing anything new. They get points for their effort to remake the talent system, but ... too little too late, if you ask me.

As for them being cookie cutter games ... it's like Inkidu said. They find a formula they like, and then implement that in all their games, rather than trying to keep them separate and unique. This goes for gameplay features, art style, everything. There was a time when Diablo had a gritty, gothic style distinct from Warcraft.

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2011, 06:17:49 PM »
My biggest problem with WoW, aside from the ways in which the story gets butchered ( and Warcraft, especially Reign of Chaos, which was probably the high point, did have story up until WoW ), is the sense that nothing matters. I can no longer suspend my disbelief with regards to the game's villains, grinding gear has gotten dull ( a combination of gear becoming more and more standardized stat-wise, and the design deviating further and further from the original style of Warcraft ), and all in all it's just not bringing anything new. They get points for their effort to remake the talent system, but ... too little too late, if you ask me.
You misunderstand: my summary of Warcraft's story was pre-WoW. Orcs vs. Humans + demons against everybody (and, later, undead). It's never been particularly deep or involving and the characters have all been pretty one-note throughout. It's not a bad story, but it's not a spellbinder, either - it's serviceable. The gameplay carries it. Really, aside from the randomwtfspacegoats insertion of Burning Crusade, nothing changed all that much from the Warcraft games to WoW story-wise, particularly given Warcraft 3 didn't even have a proper war going on (unlike the previous two games which were completely war-centric). It comes across in a less linear fashion due to the widespread nature of the game, but it's still there relatively intact in the lore if you really want to dig for it. I never bothered digging because it didn't really concern me that much.

That's not to say I don't care about story in games. I love a game with a good story. It will sometimes keep me interested in gameplay that wouldn't otherwise hold me for more than a few minutes. That said, great gameplay + weak story will keep my attention more readily than weak gameplay + great story. Why? Because I don't care enough about a game's story to finish it if playing the game itself bores or annoys me, whereas I can ignore a weak story to enjoy great gameplay. It's much harder to ignore the game you're playing (and, really, why would you want to?) than the essentially irrelevant plot behind it in cases where you don't need it to enjoy the game. Personally, I make my own lore for MMOs when I'm in the mood for story, and that suits me fine.

As for art disparity, have you looked at the D3 site? I can't say I see much artistic crossover between Diablo and WoW. Warcraft's always been the more cartoony of the two with occasional tech input in the form of goblin and gnome/dwarf inventions (I suspect that's the part you meant was deviating from Warcraft's original style as well? The high-tech toys have been around since WC2 with its fliers and submarines - I missed them in WC3, to be honest.) and Diablo's the more grimdark young brother with the occasional splash of color in a jungle setting or through blasts of magic. Diablo 3 screenshots still look like they follow that theme to me, albeit with flashier magic now. Or were you saying WoW's gone too dark and gritty? Grim Batol is, well, grim, and Tol Barad's not a fun place to be, but Vashj'ir is beautiful and vibrant and the Twilight Highlands, despite being torn up by power struggles, is a nice mix of green landscapes and torn-up purple cosmos slashes. World that big, you're bound to end up with some dark spots in your variety. *shrugs*

Offline Hemingway

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2011, 06:51:32 PM »
As for art disparity, have you looked at the D3 site? I can't say I see much artistic crossover between Diablo and WoW. Warcraft's always been the more cartoony of the two with occasional tech input in the form of goblin and gnome/dwarf inventions (I suspect that's the part you meant was deviating from Warcraft's original style as well? The high-tech toys have been around since WC2 with its fliers and submarines - I missed them in WC3, to be honest.) and Diablo's the more grimdark young brother with the occasional splash of color in a jungle setting or through blasts of magic. Diablo 3 screenshots still look like they follow that theme to me, albeit with flashier magic now. Or were you saying WoW's gone too dark and gritty? Grim Batol is, well, grim, and Tol Barad's not a fun place to be, but Vashj'ir is beautiful and vibrant and the Twilight Highlands, despite being torn up by power struggles, is a nice mix of green landscapes and torn-up purple cosmos slashes. World that big, you're bound to end up with some dark spots in your variety. *shrugs*

It's hard to describe exactly what happened to WoW, but if you compare armor and equipment in early Classic ( tier 1 & 2 ), to later stuff, there's a distinct difference. In my opinion, the earlier ones were more true to Warcraft.

As for Diablo and the art styles being similar, well, the simplest thing would be to point to the fact that both SC2 and Diablo 3 both look significantly more cartoonish than the other games in the series, even disregarding the obvious gap in technology. I'm not saying that's a bad thing in and of itself, but I do think Diablo 3's atmosphere will suffer because of it.

But this really is a pointless discussion. I'm losing respect for Blizzard, and I find that their games are getting progressively less interesting. I'll probably get the next SC chapter, being the weak-willed person I am, but it's not certain. The point is that their games could be so much better, and I don't see the point in accepting half-good stuff that just follows the same formula. I agree that changing a formula that works isn't always a good idea, but I would argue that neither is adapting that formula to everything.

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2011, 07:12:03 PM »
I definitely agree about the more smoothed-over cel-suggestive look on SC2. It's particularly noticeable at minimal graphics (which I have to use on my compy), especially with Zerg units. At higher graphics levels it seems much sharper, though, as when I'm watching replays on Day9's casts and analyses; at those levels it looks more like a colorful update to SC1, though it is still smoother. Hydralisks in particular look sorta goofy to me in the ultra-low texture settings. Sucks. :|

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2011, 04:33:13 PM »
In order to explain myself further.

Clinical: extremely objective and realistic; dispassionately analytic; unemotionally critical.

What I mean is its a game just because you can play it, clear and objective, and win. You use capture the flag and tag as examples but that's like comparing chess to tic-tac-toe. My argument was not that Blizzard games are good or bad; it is that they are dated. Blizzard was in vogue and on the cutting edge in 2001. Now they're still stuck in 2001. Video games are evolving and becoming something much more than kill everything and win. They want to evoke emotions like fear, happiness, terror, and sadness. They want to make you laugh and cry and flavor the experience instead of it just being he rolled one and you rolled two.

Now don't get me wrong. Some people can have a lot of fun with the "stat porn" but the days where stats are all you get is over. Its just as easy to go stat-crazy on Dragon Age Origins and make up all the parties you want. However, you also get a story with it that isn't half-assed, that makes you care, and that isn't their just because it has to be their. Baseball fans love to talk about stats all day long, but if you ask them its really about the crack of the bat, the lukewarm hot dog, and the stale, overpriced beer.

So like I said. It's not that Blizzard games are bad or good. It's that Blizzard games are and continue to be the same spiel from 2001.

Offline mystictiger

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2011, 02:09:14 AM »
I'm absolutely not a Blizzard fanboy (unlike some people in this thread).

I found the [noun]craft games to be a less fun, less interesting version of the C&C games. In particular, I found the obsession with building bases to be utterly tedious. Company of Heroes and Dawn of War do it so much better.

What I look for in a game is 'beautiful story'. I think of games like Ultima VII, or Knights of the Old Republic, or Thief, or Dragon Age, or Mass Effect. A game in which the plot is fun and engaging. I find none of this in Blizzard games. WoW and SC2's plots were derivative and predictable. When a trope is done well, we call it an archetype, but when it is done poorly it is called a cliche. Both SC2 and WoW are so filled with cliches and homages as to make Tarantino blush.

Offline Shjade

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2011, 10:24:31 AM »
I found the [noun]craft games to be a less fun, less interesting version of the C&C games.
I remember playing both Warcraft 2 and Command & Conquer around the same time and finding C&C the more annoying of the two, mainly because of inconsistency in combat maneuvers (trying to kill infantry was obnoxious when shots kept missing or not doing full damage or whatever, they'd take cover seemingly at random, movements often went just to the left or right of where I was actually clicking, etc.) and some glitchy game mechanics (I never could finish the NOD campaign because my engineers wouldn't capture heliports with the helicopters landed on them in one mission in which the mission was...to capture heliports with the helicopters on them so you could use them to fly across the river and blow some stuff up. Awesome.). On the other hand, the GDI campaign was a hilarious cakewalk because of the Sandbag Wall mechanic. I'm sure you know the one I mean.

Dawn of War 2 is weird, but I've heard from several people that the first one was much better from an RTS standpoint. I'll just take your word for it on that.

Offline mystictiger

Re: Whoa! 20 years of blizzard!
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2011, 10:51:57 AM »
What I liked about the DoW2 / CoH approach was that the tactical element became important. When you have limited troops and no bases to fall back on, it became important to feint and use terrain rather than just churn out units and structures. I've not played WC3 as  was put off by WC1 and 2's obsession with civil engineering.