Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gaming environment

A lot of games these days make a huge focus of setting up their players' social networks in an effort to use social connections to create sales and keep customers.  Managing your friends list in an online game has become a major and expected part of the experience and we are becoming used to meeting up with people from game to game and maintaining those networks as people change what games they play.  Blizzard is certainly no different in this regard; they made a very big deal out of their RealID program and really worked hard to get all of their players into guilds and part of social webs to keep them in the game (I mean, improve their experience!  Right!)

All of this is why I am so very puzzled by the communication blockages in Diablo 3.  D3 obviously was designed to make joining other players' games quick and easy and at this it succeeded.  Unfortunately the communication between friends is really quite clunky because we don't have proper guild support or chat rooms.  While I can jump into games with friends I can't ask people to find out if they have certain recipes, offer gear, or even comment on the state of my favourite celebrity's secondary sexual characteristics.  Given that D3 made such an effort to be a group game and Blizzard is trying so hard to preserve our social networks I am really pretty shocked at how effectively they blocked our ability to communicate with each other.  Blizzard isn't new at this; they have a very customizable chat window in WOW and good guild and channel support.  Why none of this translated over I really can't say.

There are a few other features that didn't make it into D3 that puzzle me.  In particular I can't figure out how the trade window is so completely abusable.  If you change what you have in the window right before clicking accept there is nothing stopping you from scamming the person you are trading with.  Granted we are generally supposed to use the AH for selling and buying goods instead but a simple counter that blocked clicking 'accept' for 5 seconds after anyone changed the goods in the window would secure this very cleanly and that feature isn't at all new.  You can't just set up a system where people can use click scripts to scam others and expect people to not get burned by it and of course they have and are.

There are plenty of whiners on the Blizzard forums complaining about things that make no sense and complaining about things that are *extremely* difficult to test in a small, secret environment.  That certain chest and goblin spawns were too easy to get to is completely understandable and unavoidable but things like player communication and security of trades are very easy to understand and test well before the game goes live.  These sorts of issues need to be sorted out both for Blizzard's good and my own.  I will definitely play the game more and longer if I can chat with my friends effectively.  I like having a group environment and I loathe my memories of trying to avoid scammers and bots and other undesirables in D2.  These issues really should have been sorted out before launch and need to be addressed asap.

1 comment:

  1. Of everything they did with D3, the no chat rooms thing is the thing that makes me wonder if the project was managed by someone who was really incompetent. Lot's of decisions you can make could go either way, and a lot of the decisions I disagree with I still can't say that what the did was abjectly stupid.

    Having no way to have a group chat with whichever of your friends happen to be online either completely insane or extremely amateurish.