“Why are you attacking the hardcore?” someone asked me when reading one of my Wiikly articles back in 2006 when everyone else was gearing up for ‘Console War’ with all three systems (then, the emphasis was the three fanboy camps). At E3 2007, they jumped the shark when they began proclaiming Wii Fit as the apocalypse, as the End of Gaming. This is why they are portrayed the way they are in the Blue Ocean articles. In the Disruption Chronicles, they have fared little better. Their reaction to this E3 could stun all of us.
“Is there no offense in this?” one industry person asked me. “Why do you keep making fun of the hardcore?”
It has been open season for the hardcore to make fun of non-gamers, former gamers, and generally everyone who doesn’t subscribe to hardcore dogma (which they condemn as ‘casual gamers’). I fit that group as well. I thought it was time that the hardcore got a dose of their own medicine. Instead of making things up about them, one only has to accurately quote them.
I don’t make up quotes for the hardcore. I copy-and-paste what they say and place it in the articles (correcting their capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and spelling, naturally.) Many readers have started laughing now on forums when hardcore appear and talk as if they walked right out of an article. Still, I always think I’ve gone too far in mocking them, but then they pull stunts like the petition.
Blizzard announced Diablo 3. Many don’t realize but Blizzard is a Blue Ocean company. Their games are intended to compete against disinterest and are never in competition against other games. WoW was not in direct competition against Everquest. WoW tried to make MMOs more accessible (rest XP, simpler quests, easy to understand quests, etc.), and it unlocked larger and larger markets for them. Starcraft would not have been so successful in South Korea had the game been trying to compete with regular RTSes at the time. As a Blue Ocean company, Blizzard tries to make their games as accessible to as many people as possible and this means molding the game to be as simple to learn, it also means to attempt to have the game as many PCs as possible.
When Blizzard unveiled Diablo 3, Blizzard was being Blizzard. The hardcore had a cow and demanded (yes demanded) that Blizzard change their ways. Hilariously, they wrote a petition.
Blizzard replied to these angry hardcore (which is an oxymoron for hardcore are always angry… about something… somewhere). “Color is your friend,”
When one looks at the petition, one finds many typical hardcore ‘buzzwords’ they love. My text will be in red.
It is our opinion that the graphic elements that characterize the Diablo universe are not fully present in this sequel, Diablo universe is made of:
- Gothic and obscure scenarios, cryptic, dark and shadowy dungeons They’re in there. But I bet many of these ‘hardcore’ are the goth type.
- Graphically realistic world with realistic, dirty and muddy textures Hardcore wants everything to be ‘realistic’. But earlier Diablos were not intended to be ‘dirty’ and ‘realistic’. The art is just as absurd because it is a video game after all.
- Realistic armory and weaponry without over-sized and exaggerated proportions like big shoulder guards Also was in earlier Diablos.
- A macabre, dark and realistic art style “Dark and realistic” are so important to hardcore that it must be listed several times.
- Light radius, as all of you can remember, Diablo dungeons were characterized by the combination of a light radius system with shadows, everything that resides outside of the character vision sight is shadowed. Yet, another call for ‘darkness’.
What we got in Diablo III:
- Cartoon’ish art direction, obviously influenced by the Warcraft universe, Diablo isnt Warcraft. .Diablo and Diablo 2 are both cartoony. Hardcore didn’t realize this because they ‘grew up with it’. The same complaint was made about Starcraft II. When Starcraft I was released, (I was actually writing PC game reviews for a website then) it was bashed relentlessly because it wasn’t “3D”. People called the game above-average at best. It just shows that no one understands when a classic is released until a decade later.
- Hand made, pastel looking textures with bold lines, defined contours, smooth colors and clean shapes. Oh no! Not the bold, defined colors! Not clean shapes! Why are Next-Gen games full of gritty brown and gray and lack color? The answer is what we expected all along: it is the hardcore. Not hardcore in terms of the gamers but in the developers who are making games for themselves.
- Dungeons with a blue/green environment lighting, technique used in cartoons to depict a dark, creepy and scary feeling but once again, this is Diablo, a mature game, dungeons should have a dark aura with the occasional lights from candles, just like we got in the previews Diablo’s. A MATURE game… Hardcore love using that word.
- Character models defined by cartoon characteristics like over-sized and exaggerated parts, vivid colors and unrealistic elements, almost directly taken away from World of Warcraft and pasted to Diablo. This has always been a feature of Diablo. In fact, every complaint here is found in previous Diablo games.
- Outside scenarios with vivid colors, beautiful forests with colorful vegetation, shinny and beautiful waterfalls where even rainbows take place. Shinny? Isn’t it SHINY? And dear God, not RAINBOWS! Hardcore are too funny.
- Cartoon’ish and unrealistic weaponry and armory, over-sized and stylish armors, over-sized weapons, items that look pasted directly from World of Warcraft. If you are going to do a laundry list, don’t repeat the old points.
- Blocky, cartoon’ish graphic elements like big, over-sized fire braziers in dungeons, heavily influenced by the World of Warcraft art style, over-sized and cartoon’ish scenario decorations like smiling statues, Warcraft styled architecture and decorations. Smiling statues!? Oh no…
What we want: Here come the demands…
- A darker, gothic, cryptic and creepier environment. To whose standards? Why, to the hardcore’s.
- A more realistic artistic direction, more independent from the Warcraft universe art direction. You know a game will succeed when it inspires both LOVE and HATE.
- Darker dungeons without a blue/green environment, Diablo dungeons are dark and shadowy. “Colors are your friend.”
- The return of the light radius / shadow system from Diablo 1 and 2, a concept modified picture made by me roughly shows and suggests how the shadow system should work on Diablo 3: http://i31.tinypic.com/2zta5o7.jpg More darkness.
- Slightly less colorful and less vivid outside scenarios, they are too heavily influenced by the World of Warcraft ones. Yet, the same thing said again.
- Darker and less colorful landscapes, Tristam never was colorful and beautiful: here’s how it looked in Diablo 1 (before the evil was released across the lands): http://img126.imageshack.us/img126/5194/tristram2jh.jpg Colors are your friend.
- And most importantly: An independent and renewed artistic direction, not a recycled art direction taken from the Warcraft world, Diablo never was meant to be as cartoon’ish as Warcraft, they shall have independent and distinct styles, this isnt happening in Diablo 3, at first sight it looks like a remake of World of Warcraft, graphically and artistically speaking.
Now, I’m sure many of you have already jumped to the comments section and began typing, “LOLLERSKATES, MAELSTORM!! U DONT GIT IT. HE HAZ LEGITAMMIT POINTE!!1!!”
I *do* get it, and this petition and wave of complaints has nothing to do about the ‘spirit’ of Diablo. It has everything to do about gamers who played a game so much, who have so much nostalgia for it, that their state of happiness depends on the new sequel obeying their ‘vision’ for it. Many Warcraft 2 fans were unhappy with Warcraft 3. But I remember Warcraft 1 fans being unhappy with Warcraft 2. And many Warcraft fans were unhappy with World of Warcraft. Just because you love a game series doesn’t mean you will enjoy its sequels. If the sequels are nothing more than the older game with ‘enhancements’, the franchise is essentially doomed. You’ve got to do things different with sequels. No one wants to play a game that imitates the graphics of ten years ago.
Can someone’s life be so empty that they have to start up an online petition for a video game? You start petitions up to get the city to fix potholes, not to remove color from video games. If you don’t like what someone is doing with the game, don’t buy it. Believe me, sales speak volumes louder than petitions.
And no, these aren’t Diablo fanboys, these are hardcore. The complaints of not being ‘mature’, of not being ‘dark and gritty’, of having any happiness anywhere, of having any vivid colors, and attacking even lovely rainbows are universal hardcore traits. They assumed Blizzard was a ‘hardcore’ company. Nope, they never were. They are very ‘Blue Ocean’. It is the same with Nintendo. They thought Nintendo was a ‘hardcore’ company which this was never the case. They were always ‘Blue Ocean’, at least toward their software.
No longer are industry officials complaining about my mocking the hardcore. Now, everyone sees them for who they are. And as the influence falls away from them, the hardcore will become more shrill, more obnoxious, because they still believe they matter (when they don’t). Hardcore believe it is their birthright to command the fate of all video games.
While many will be ‘shocked’ by the petition and nonsense coming forth, the hardcore have been saying this for a long, long time. As the Shift slowly occurs, the more and more the hardcore stick out like a sore thumb.