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[D3] Beta Netbook Performance

I was hoping that my HP DM1 Netbook was going to able to handle Diablo 3, but it’s not looking good. Here are the computer’s specs:

AMD E-450 CPU @ 1.65GHz
Integrated AMD Radeon 6320 GPU
4GB RAM
500GB 7200rpm
Windows 7 64-Bit (Clean Install)

First off, loading up the game gives you a warning that your drivers may be out of date or unsupported! Yikes! However, you can still load up the game. Here are the settings I used for the game options:

Resolution: 1366×768
Vertical Sync: True
Max Foreground FPS: 30
Max Background FPS: 1
Texture Quality: Low
Shadow Quality: Off
Physics: Low
Clutter Density: Off
Anti-Aliasing: False
Low FX: True

With these settings I was getting between 15 – 21 fps, and usually at the lower end when in combat. Unfortunately, this not exactly playable. Hopefully, Blizzard will add more options to get the game performing on lesser computers, but I’m not going to count on it.

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[D3] Beta First Impressions

“You’re not reading it right!”

Well, by some miracle I got extremely lucky and won a beta key.  As a result, I was able to log about 2 hours of playtime last night.  Electing to be a Demon Hunter, my first impression of the game is positive, but there are some issues that bother me.

The Good

Combat – The combat was good. Much more involved than other action RPGs, including Diablo 2, Torchlight, and Titan Quest. I only reached level 7, but with 3 skills on my bar there was good synergy. Not every skill is just ‘spam and do damage’, so I appreciate having skills that let me put my thought into how I dispensed with the denizens of hell.

Graphics – With all of the complaints about the art direction in Diablo 3, I think it still maintains the dark eerie feel of the original titles just fine. So what, if zombies bleed purple?!

Tomes – You discover tomes, journals, and other books that give you tales from the residents in this plagued world. I find little snippets like this really add to the depth of world and immerse you in the fiction.

Lore – As you encounter new demons in the game, you get a little lore voice over from none other than Deckard Cain. Again, great immersion value to get some context in history on the monster who you just splattered into the stonework.

The Bad

User-Inteface – The user interface is just odd. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the customization you get in World of Warcraft (excluding add-ons), Guild Wars, and Rift. There’s no UI scaling, elements like the map can’t be hidden, etc. If this is the action RPG you’ll be playing for the next 15 years, then they’ve got to make this UI more customizable!

Camera – Since games like StarCraft II, Warcraft III, and Titan Quest allow you to zoom and rotate the camera, if only temporarily, it seems lacking that Diablo 3 doesn’t support this. It goes to immersion to be able to look around your environment and not be completely fixed to the isometric view.  UPDATE: Found that you can press the Z key to zoom in the camera, but I still have not found a way to rotate the camera like in Warcraft III.

Stats – Maybe I’m missing something, but I’d like a basic view where I see my character and have access to basic stats including character level. I couldn’t find this in the game. For example if I wanted to see my character’s level, then I had to hover over the experience bar.  UPDATE: Looks like they’ve combined the character level and basic stats into the equipment window. I don’t know why I didn’t notice, perhaps cause I’m use to them being separate windows in World of Warcraft.

Lore/Tomes – While I love the addition of these items, the interface doesn’t take into consideration real life distractions. First, this really needs a window where all of the lore and tomes you’ve discovered can be replayed. Second, the icon showing the voice over playback is crying for a play/pause toggle. Again, this content is such a welcome addition to the game, but it’s a shame that it is consumed and then gone forever.  UPDATE: Found that this is all stored in the Journal.

So, maybe what I find bad about the game is minor, but nonetheless it would nice to see these issues addressed. Overall though, I have no regrets pre-ordering or recommending the game to other just on the couple hours I’ve played. Of course my opinion could change, but I doubt it. I’ll try and post more thoughts as I continue through the beta.

UPDATE: I guess in my excitement playing the game for the first time, I overlooked some obvious things.  So, most of my issues have been addressed!  What can I say?

[D3] No Beta for You!

“Oh com’on!”

Like so many other desperate fans of Diablo, I’ve been running through the hurdles trying to win a beta key to preview the game.  I’ve been signing up for just about every Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube contest I come across.  Sadly, I’ve not received a beta key.  What a frustrating experience!

Not to be bitter, but I do wonder if Blizzard’s handling of beta access is poor.  They’ve handed out thousands of beta keys to game magazines and fan sites, which is a good reward to all the free marketing they get out of them.  However, because each respective site can choose how they award the keys, some have you running through a gauntlet of liking and sharing links all over the place.  And me, like some addict who’s relapsing after 15 years of putting down the Diablo 2 crack pipe, I jumping through every last hoop!  It’s just an awful experience, and I wonder does it reflect back negatively on Blizzard?

Anyway, I need to take a long look at myself in the mirror.  Do I even recognize this person any more?  I’m better than this!  I can change!  I WILL NOT LET THIS CONSUME ME!

…but um, seriously if anybody has a spare Diable 3 beta key, could you send it my way. 😉

[GW2] Micro your Payo!

“We’re in some pretty deep shit now!”

So, last week Mike O’Brien of ArenaNet blogged about microtransactions in Guild Wars 2.  He presents ArenaNet’s philosophies and goals for microtransactions and declares, “But it’s never OK for players to buy a game and not be able to enjoy what they paid for without additional purchases, and it’s never OK for players who spend money to have an unfair advantage over players who spend time.”  However, one thing they see as acceptable is ” time-saving convenience items.”

Well, it looks like time-saving convenience items include temporary boosts to XP, crafting, karma, magic find and more.  I’m tending to agree with a post I read by Keen, where I guess these bonuses are not individually horrendous, but the sum of them all doesn’t sit well with me.  And it puts the game on a slippery slope where more questionable items go up for sale, potentially crossing the line between “time-saving convenience” to “pay-to-win”.  I mean, perhaps the item hunt (discounting the developers intentions) is what’s most important in the game for you.  Well, the boosts to magic find is you paying to win at that meta game!

I wish they would limit the store to cosmetic and account services, including character slots, pets, dyes, clothes, etc.  I’m sure they will make good money doing that alone.  I know I will definitely be purchasing a few pets over the course of playing the game.  Paying £50 for the standard digital edition of the game plus feeling like you have to buy a plethora of Mystic Keys to experience the full game just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.