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Dedication = A Week Of Silence
August 16th 2000, 22:03 CEST by andy

Rejoice! The long-promised answers from Blizzard arrived today. Sort of...



You'll remember that Debra Osborne of Havas Interactive, who handles Blizzard's PR, agreed on Monday of last week to have the Diablo II QA team answer some questions about the v1.03 patch. The answers were supposedly ready by last Wednesday and were on their way, but Debra later explained that she'd been asked to "hold off for a day or so" and wouldn't be sending them.

Blah blah blah... lots of stuff happened... and then yesterday, Blizzard posted a message on the official forum to address people's complaints.

What's weird, is that according to Debra Osborne, the message posted on the official forum yesterday is actually what was going to be sent to me last Wednesday:

[That] is what I as going to send to you in response to your particular questions. As I said, the guys just kind of took all the questions we had received, and answered via this large detailed paragraph. In an effort to answer all the questions, it was determined that this paragraph was the best method and our site was the best forum in which to address.

Okay, hands up if you believe her...

What's that you say? Smells like bullshit? Well, those are your words, not mine. ;-)

Disappointingly, there are a couple of points that Blizzard's "discussion of recent balance changes" doesn't touch upon. They don't explain why the more controversial changes weren't mentioned in the official documentation, and they don't address complaints about ongoing server problems. Obviously just minor stuff that isn't worth talking about.

They do, however, explain that the "bugged behavior" of some skills was only found with "thousands of players" using them. In response to criticisms that online games shouldn't be changed after release, they say that "the vast majority of our fans" wanted it. And as for refunding experience points that some people feel had been wasted on the weakened skills, Blizzard says "this is just an impossibility from a programmatic standpoint".

So there you go. Shame they couldn't have posted the message a week earlier when Debra claims it was written, but I'm sure they had their reasons. Or maybe they were just hoping that the whole sorry mess would go away.

Here's the message in full:

Discussion of recent Balance Changes in the 1.03 Patch

The primary reason for changing the Whirlwind and Corpse Explode skills was that they were simply broken in comparison to the other skills in the game. The huge imbalance these skills granted was only found after the game was widely released. Although we thoroughly tested every skill before the game shipped, it was only after thousands of players using the bugged behavior associated with these skills was it apparent that they requiredfixing. It may help players to understand what was so imbalanced about the spells so that they can understand why we made the changes we did.

At high levels, Whirlwind was making upwards of 15 attack attempts to every monster in its path in the span of 1-2 seconds. Although the character was vulnerable during this period, he could pretty much mow through anything and everything in his path. We adjusted the rate of attack attempts to make this skill fall in line with other skills, such as Zeal, that allow for multiple attacks over time.

Corpse Explode was the only skill in the game that increased in damage based on the number of players in the game. For example, if a Sorceress has a firewall that does 58-72 points of damage, that damage is dealt to a monster regardless of the number of players in the game. Since Corpse Explosion was basing the damage it dealt on the hit points of a monster, when those hit points rose as additional players entered the game, Corpse Explosionbecame dramatically better than any other skill for any other class. This, coupled with the huge radius of effect that was gained at higher levels, allowed Necromancers to clear entire screens of monsters with little to no risk while soloing with 7 other people in the game.

These skills now work as they were intended to and are balanced with the rest of the skills in the game. Whirlwind and Corpse Explode are still excellent skills and are well worth any points invested. While characters that have focused on these skills may now find the game more challenging, they are far from ineffectual and the game has not become unplayable for them. We intended for all characters to find it very difficult to survive in the game's more challenging areas and modes, such as Nightmare and Hell. That game play experience was compromised by these two skills in particular in that they were way out of proportion to not only the other skills for those characters, but for those of the other classes as well.

We have been asked if we can somehow "refund" players their skill points that they invested in the skills that have been balanced. This is just an impossibility from a programmatic standpoint. If we found these characters to be unplayable, we would certainly discuss adjusting the balance changes, but it is certainly too early to tell if this is the case.

Also, many players have expressed the opinion that skills in an online game should not be changed once the game ships, but at the same time, they want us to address bugs and correct balance issues. Something that we learned from Starcraft and Brood War is that making some changes to ensure balanced gameplay for all players is what the vast majority of our fans want. Changes to the Protoss would elicit early cries of, "Now the Protoss are too weak and no one can ever win using them!" While this is a common and understandable reaction to change, in the long run the Protoss were still a strong race to play with the right strategies and, while you couldn't just pick them and win with a Reaver drop, you could beat any opponent by using superior tactics.

While we understand that Diablo II is a very different type of game from Starcraft, the core need to ensure that the game is balanced as originally intended, remains. A look at the ladders will show that the vast majority of high-level characters are Barbarians and Necromancers. This is adirect result of the fact that they both had a skill that was, quite simply, broken.

Finally, it is not our intention to constantly make changes to the skills in Diablo II. We do not foresee having to make further changes to the skills, but we will always consider addressing those that are drastically unbalanced. We hope that our fans will realize that we do care about the way the game plays and have taken dramatic steps to provide them with a fun play experience. Blizzard has spent thousands of man-hours and a substantial amount of money to create a secure place to play the game. We continue to work on improving the play experience on what is, quite possibly, the most heavily trafficked client/server game site ever. Our dedication to our customers is as strong as ever and we will continue to work towards making Diablo II and Battle.net the best experience that we can.

C O M M E N T S
Home » Topic: Dedication = A Week Of Silence

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#1 by "Konrad"
2000-08-16 22:04:14
Moderate this up!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#2 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-08-16 22:15:33
charliew@3drealms.com
I just watched an Amazon play through any dungeon he wanted to choose without having to use a single health or mana potion. He did it by a clever combination of skills and equipment and is now all but invulnerable and was gaining levels faster than I ever saw a barbarian or Necro.

Watch for someone to find that certain way to play the sorceress, etc that suddenly gives them the advantage over the Barbarian and Necro as well.

The Amazon is "going to have to be fixed" once this tactic gets out into common use. I look forward to watching with amusement.

Charlie Wiederhold
#3 by "szcx"
2000-08-16 22:17:58
<B>Here's the teams answers to your questions...</B>
(Score:-1, Flamebait)
by Debra Osborne (debra@blizzard.com) on Wednesday August 16, @04:00PM EST
#4 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-16 22:22:37
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#2</b> by Charlie Wiederhold:
<QUOTE><i>
I just watched an Amazon play through any dungeon he wanted to choose without having to use a single health or mana potion.</i></QUOTE>

Oh yes! /me is a bowazon for a while now, 5% mana/life steal and you are invincible. Much easier than with barb or necro, only a couple of deaths both at Duriel in Nightmare, heading into act 2 of hell diff.

What Blizzard wrote is what the fans wanted to hear, so no surprise there.

By the way, check out the Bliz forums in respond to this press release... Flaming goes on on what is inbalanced now - some say static field, some say conversion kicks much ass, etc. People who are offended by the patch are obviously finding problems with other classes. If Blizzard wants to continue "balancing", this would never stop.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#5 by "crash"
2000-08-16 22:29:33
crash@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
<i>Laughing...</i><I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#6 by "Foogla"
2000-08-16 22:51:47
Foogla@somethingawful.com
re: #5
:D

I don't know if the other classes are too strong now. With sufficient micro-skills the sorceress is broken, but this is balanced out with battle.net's lag. ;) And how can a bowazone be broken when you have to townportal every 5 minutes because your arrows/bolts ran out (1 minute if your using strafe/multishot). A spearazone is balanced out by not having access to lances. ;)
#7 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-08-16 23:00:09
charliew@3drealms.com
The Amazon won't let me tell you about his trick. But he doesn't have to go back to town either unless he needs to make room by getting rid of good equipment. :)
#8 by "Konrad"
2000-08-16 23:01:29
<b>Debra Osborne</b> (Main):
<QUOTE>the guys just <i>kind of</i> took all the questions we had received</QUOTE>
Emphasis mine.  Perhaps this slipped in subconsciously, knowing full well that Andy's questions about the omission of gameplay changes in the patch documentation and server problems weren't addressed.

Or perhaps I'm just reading too much into it.

<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#9 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-16 23:05:39
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#6</b> by Foogla:
<QUOTE><i>
And how can a bowazone be broken when you have to townportal every 5 minutes because your arrows/bolts ran out (1 minute if your using strafe/multishot). A spearazone is balanced out by not having access to lances. ;) </i></QUOTE>

two quivers of arrows - 30-60 minutes no need to go to town. multishot and strafe all use one arrow and split it to many :) ("this is unbalanced! no other class has arrows which split! ah change it I can't stand bowazons clearing entire levels with one arrow!").

Also, is it my lack of knowledge of english or is this sentence really fucked up? :

"Although we <b>thoroughly</b> tested every skill before the game shipped, it was only after <b>thousands</b> of players using the <b>bugged behavior</b> associated with these skills was it apparent that they required fixing." (bolding mine). Erm, yes sure. Nice try.
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#10 by "Tom Cleghorn"
2000-08-16 23:12:36
tc10@st-andrewsspam?tryit.ac.uk http://www.fisty.com/~tom
Ugh... most of this means nowt to me. I should play more online games :)
However, I <i>do</i> want to take issue with '...it was only after thousands of players [played the game]...' - what, were they not <i>expecting</i> to sell thousands of copies? I don't get that at all. Sounds distinctly like corporate hot air to me. Ah well.
#11 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-16 23:22:08
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
few more comments and that's about it because seems that whatever we say does not matter at all - they have their vision and they would keep enforcing it at all costs...

"impossibility from a programmatic standpoint"

As each character and the number of unallocated skill points for the character are stored at Blizzard's servers, programmatic impossibility means that they can't do "character.unallocatedPoints += character.whirlwindPoints; character.whirlwindPoints = 0". Impossible task.

".." starcraft/protoss analogy - nothing to do with diablo. Oh yes, it's a game they created as well. That's about it.

"have taken dramatic steps to provide them with a fun play experience"

Dramatic steps they are. Fun? Nope.

"Blizzard has spent thousands of man-hours and a substantial amount of money to create a secure place to play the game."

And here's the BNet reference. Secure place, which even remotely does not meet the number of requests for games it gets. No, they don't know that they could release a dedicated server executable, which would solve all of their problems. Cheating would then be dependant on each individual server admin, people would have as much games as they need, Blizzard would not have their "most heavily trafficked client/server game site" down to the point where it is unusable most of the time.

Everything else, just a description of the "buggy" skills behaviour which was documented in their manual. Right.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#12 by "Apache"
2000-08-16 23:35:22
apache@voodooextreme.com http://www.voodooextreme.com
now if they can fix that bone-wall harvesting cheat the necro has....
#13 by "Rambar"
2000-08-16 23:42:21
rambar@coldsprings.reno.nv.us
<b>#11</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>
As each character and the number of unallocated skill points for the character are stored at Blizzard's servers, programmatic impossibility means that they can't do "character.unallocatedPoints += character.whirlwindPoints; character.whirlwindPoints = 0". Impossible task.
</QUOTE>

Oh.  We'll believe the man w/o access to the actual servers or source as opposed to the people with the access.  Not at all arrogant.

<b>#12</b> "Apache" wrote...
<QUOTE>

now if they can fix that bone-wall harvesting cheat the necro has.... </QUOTE>

They did and they didn't. :)
It was fixed on the servers but won't be fixed for open/single until the next patch.  Apparently people complained because it wasn't done simaltaneously.  Sheesh.
--
Rambar<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#14 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-16 23:43:09
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#12</b> by Apache:
<QUOTE><i>
now if they can fix that bone-wall harvesting cheat the necro has.... </i></QUOTE>

fixed today, on BNet at least.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#15 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-16 23:46:01
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#13</b> by Rambar:
<QUOTE><i>
Oh. We'll believe the man w/o access to the actual servers or source as opposed to the people with the access. Not at all arrogant.
</i></QUOTE>

Please show me one reason why it can not be done. One. "Programmatic impossibility" is not an answer. Don't forget that people with the access have too many reasons to lie.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#16 by "Rambar"
2000-08-16 23:50:23
rambar@coldsprings.reno.nv.us
<b>#15</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>

Post <B>#13</B> by Rambar:

<quote><I>
Oh. We'll believe the man w/o access to the actual servers or source as opposed to the people with the access. Not at all arrogant.
</I></quote>

Please show me one reason why it can not be done. One. "Programmatic impossibility" is not an answer. Don't forget that people with the access have too many reasons to lie.</QUOTE>

I'm not a programmer.  

Too many reasons to lie?  They'd have enough reason to fix it just to shut people like you up :)
--
Rambar<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#17 by "None-1a"
2000-08-17 00:10:19
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a
<b>#15</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>Please show me one reason why it can not be done. One. "Programmatic
impossibility" is not an answer. Don't forget that people with the access have
too many reasons to lie.</QUOTE>

I can see them trying to prevent people from trying to reallocate constatly and trying new things (wouldn't be right since if  you had played to get the same stats you would not have that chance).

calling it a "programmatic impossibility" is just plane wrong. <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#18 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-17 00:11:08
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#16</b> by Rambar:
<QUOTE><i>
I'm not a programmer.

Too many reasons to lie? They'd have enough reason to fix it just to shut people like you up :)
</i></QUOTE>

Well, was not a reason enough for them.

Reasons why they would say it is impossible - they did not want to do it. Why? Because it would be unfair to other players which can't reallocate skill points, hence more bitching from other side. They decided to cover it up with some imaginary programmatic impossibility. This way, most people believe them and all (except very few) players are happy.

Now, I know this may sound arrogant, but unless they have some absolutely unbreakable password which they completely forgot on the machine(s) which store character data, there is not a single thing that would keep them from refunding the skill points, programmatically. There's no magic involved, really.

It would be much more honest of them to just say "refunding skill points is not an option, because we don't want to refund them". Or something. Anyway, you don't have to take my word for it because I don't know shit. They know. Sometimes I wish that every human being would be naturally unable to say anything but truth, life would be so much easier...<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#19 by "Andy"
2000-08-17 00:13:24
andy@planetcrap.com http://www.meejahor.com/
<b>#18</b>, PiRaMidA:
<QUOTE>
Sometimes I wish that every human being would be naturally unable to say anything but truth, life would be so much easier...
</QUOTE>
Maybe if we close our eyes and wish really hard?
#20 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-17 00:27:26
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#19</b> by Andy:
<QUOTE><i>
Maybe if we close our eyes and wish really hard?
</i></QUOTE>

If it comes true there would always be a psycho with broken brain who would gain wealth abusing the all-trusting society... You know there was an anecdote about one man who plays poker in a new company, and after someone claims to have two pairs he naturally asks to show him the cards. Everyone is amused - "we are gentlemen, we trust each other's word, it is enough!". After that the new dude kept getting pokers all evening long... <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#21 by "Creole Ned"
2000-08-17 00:36:10
cned@telus.net http://www.quirkybastards.com
#18, PiRaMidA:
<quote>Sometimes I wish that every human being would be naturally unable to say anything but truth, life would be so much easier...</quote>

#19, Andy:
<quote>Maybe if we close our eyes and wish really hard?</quote>

Whose truth? :)
#22 by "Tom Cleghorn"
2000-08-17 00:39:24
tc10@st-andrewsspam?tryit.ac.uk http://www.fisty.com/~tom
"I <i>do</i> believe in fairies - I <i>do</i>!"
#23 by "Andy"
2000-08-17 01:03:26
andy@planetcrap.com http://www.meejahor.com/
<b>#20</b>, PiRaMidA:
<QUOTE>
After that the new dude kept getting pokers all evening long...
</QUOTE>
Must have been embarrassing.
#24 by "Apache"
2000-08-17 01:08:23
apache@voodooextreme.com http://www.voodooextreme.com
#14,

ah, cool stuff thx
#25 by "Apache"
2000-08-17 01:10:19
apache@voodooextreme.com http://www.voodooextreme.com
#13, oops, you posted that answer first -- thank you, too :)
#26 by "Rambar"
2000-08-17 01:13:40
rambar@coldsprings.reno.nv.us
<b>#18</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>
Now, I know this may sound arrogant, but unless they have some absolutely unbreakable password which they completely forgot on the machine(s) which store character data, there is not a single thing that would keep them from refunding the skill points, programmatically. There's no magic involved, really.
</QUOTE>

I'd find this much more believable simply because if I have to chose between Blizzard doing this because they're stupid or they feel like being sinister I'm going to side with them being stupid.  Considering their past track record its not that hard to imagine.  They have a remarkable capacity for doing stupid things.  Like letting CE and WW be that bad in the first place.
--
Rambar<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#27 by "Jeremy"
2000-08-17 03:12:09
jnthornh@eos.ncsu.edu
<b>#Main Post</b> "andy" quoted the Blizzard PR spinsters...
<QUOTE>Finally, it is not our intention to constantly make changes to the skills in Diablo II. We do not foresee having to make further changes to the skills, but we will always consider addressing those that are drastically unbalanced. </QUOTE>
I have a confession to make.  I played Everquest.

After that experience, I look at the whining over Diablo and just chuckle.

EQ was a game which was, initially, completely unbalanced.  Clerics had damage spells as strong as wizards.  Necromancers could solo entire dungeons without ever getting hurt.

Verant got around to fixing these things... eventually.  Of course it seems like for everything they fix another problem crops up somewhere... but that is another matter entirely.

The point is, when Verant made the adjustments to game balance, people whined like all hell.  They complained that their classes were "nerfed" and started stupid petitions asking for the classes to be buffed up.  But the overall game was improved; the complainers were eventually drowned out, and life goes on.

While I don't know about Diablo2 balance issues first hand, everything I've seen leads me to believe that the adjustments were needed to keep a couple of classes from totally dominating the game.

Should this adjustment have been made before release?  Of course, that would have been desirable.  But some things will always slip through; I daresay balance issues <b>need</b> to be addressed, and Blizzard has done a much better job of it than Verant did.  Everything I've seen leads me to believe that in this issue Blizzard has done the Right Thing(tm), with the exception being their failure to promptly disclose exactly what changes were made.

Even the mighty Blizzard isn't completely infallible...

Jeremy
--
Despite your efforts to be a romantic hero, you will gradually evolve into a postmodern plot device. <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#28 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-08-17 03:19:42
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#11</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>"impossibility from a programmatic standpoint"

As each character and the number of unallocated skill points for the character are stored at Blizzard's servers, programmatic impossibility means that they can't do "character.unallocatedPoints += character.whirlwindPoints; character.whirlwindPoints = 0". Impossible task.
</QUOTE>

to put it bluntly - you don't know what your talking about :P. It could be as simple as that and there are many many reasons that it could be much less simple. Even if the technical limitations aren't so simple there may be other reasons not to do it.

Why force people to reallocate if they still want old skills ?
Will allowing allocation of a large pool of points be unbalancing ? (Will people be able to exploit this and avoid low levels of a skill that is only useful at highlevels ?)
How do you manage updating - what about non frequent users who aren't 100% aware of situation ? etc

As for releasing the server - it may also be an impossibility. They may connect to a LDAP server a EJB server, a high-end database to provided facilities for the world. No average server op will be able to run these services and thus no userland servers would ever be put up. It would only frustrate players more and end up with you insulting them more.
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#29 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-08-17 03:22:00
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#19</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>

<B>#18</B>, PiRaMidA:

<quote>
Sometimes I wish that every human being would be naturally unable to say anything but truth, life would be so much easier...
</quote>
Maybe if we close our eyes and wish really hard?
</QUOTE>

which particualr version of the truth would you have ?<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#30 by "Bubba-Fett"
2000-08-17 05:32:15
romy_of_antioch@hotmail.com
#29

which particualr version of the truth would you have?

I'm new here, but at this feeble attempt at philosophical sophistry, I must guffaw. Truth is an axiom, if you want an opinion of the truth, than that's fine. There exists a TRUTH which is apparent to all, now whether we all see that truth the same is impossible to say one way or the other.
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#31 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-08-17 05:40:37
charliew@3drealms.com
<quote>Sometimes I wish that every human being would be naturally unable to say anything but truth, life would be so much easier...</quote>

Anybody who has read The Wheel of Time knows that a person who can only tell the truth is actually someone you have to trust even less. There are a lot of ways of phrasing the truth.

Then of course what everyone else has mentioned, who's version of the truth gets spoken?

<quote>I have a confession to make. I played Everquest.

After that experience, I look at the whining over Diablo and just chuckle.</quote>

Everquest survived the changes they made because people didn't have another option. They either didn't play anything, or played Everquest despite having the game fundamentals change on them.

Wait until there are 3-4 really good MMORPG games going and see how well the ones who act like Verant did (and what Blizzard has hinted at so far with Diablo 2). The muds that survived are the muds that didn't change the fundamentals of gameplay that the player had become used to. Having a vision of how people should play the game is a sure fire way to announce "We are going to frustrate you as a player".

Charlie Wiederhold
#32 by "None-1a"
2000-08-17 05:45:39
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#31</b> "Charlie Wiederhold" wrote...
<QUOTE>Everquest survived the changes they made because people didn't have another
option. They either didn't play anything, or played Everquest despite having the
game fundamentals change on them. </QUOTE>

Charlie your forgeting that they could have vary well switched to UO at the time (now they can switch to UO or "what every that one published by microsoft it who's name I can ever remember")

There are also a handfull of smaller MMORPG's around that would take some digging to find.

--
None-1a.

Sure the spelling looks stupid, but how stupid do you look, after all your only argument is that I'm spelling poorly.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#33 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-08-17 05:52:08
charliew@3drealms.com
<quote>Charlie your forgeting that they could have vary well switched to UO at the time (now they can switch to UO or "what every that one published by microsoft it who's name I can ever remember")</quote>

UO doesn't offer remotely the same type of experience as Everquest. Yes they are MMORPG but with the player killer situation, the economy, and most importantly, the top down world, Everquest offered pretty much a completely different game. I never cared for UO, and the people who did like both didn't like them for the same reasons. Not to mention UO was just as bad as EQ for altering established game settings. :)

Asheron's Call came really late in the game compared to Everquest and never really managed to attract players to provide as a viable option. A few people left to play AC but EQ had the iron grip on the old "Word of Mouth" monster and as such had enough new people coming in to replace the people who left.

There still isn't a MMORPG that EQ is having to really consider "competition". Something where if you piss a player off often enough he will have no qualms about switching to.

Charlie Wiederhold
#34 by "Seth Krieg"
2000-08-17 08:11:06
seth@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
"The truth you get isn't always the truth you think it is."

natch<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#35 by "godZero"
2000-08-17 08:46:12
godzero@gmx.de
<b>#4</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>By the way, check out the Bliz forums in respond to this press release...
Flaming goes on on what is inbalanced now - some say static field, some say
conversion kicks much ass, etc. People who are offended by the patch are
obviously finding problems with other classes. If Blizzard wants to continue
"balancing", this would never stop.</QUOTE>

LOL! They should remove ALL spells, weapons, items etc. from the game, so it'll be <b>perfectly balanced then</b>!!!
#36 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-17 09:02:31
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#31</b> by Charlie Wiederhold:
<QUOTE><i>
There are a lot of ways of phrasing the truth.
</i></QUOTE>

Yes, unless the person intends to tell you the full truth as (s)he sees it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#37 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-17 09:15:21
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#28</b> by RahvinTaka:
<quote>to put it bluntly - you don't know what your talking about :P. It could be as simple as that and there are many many reasons that it could be much less simple. Even if the technical limitations aren't so simple there may be other reasons not to do it.</quote>

Then they should list the other reasons, but they did not. I was speaking about programmatic impossiblity as they put it, and I don't see how it can be true. Please open my eyes :) How is that you have some bytes stored on your machine and you can't move one byte from one location to another? What can be less simple?

<quote>No average server op will be able to run these services and thus no userland servers would ever be put up. It would only frustrate players more and end up with you insulting them more. </QUOTE>

Yes, if they built their server without having the release of a dedicated executable in mind. Again, what I said was that *if* they would have considered it from the very beginning they would have no problems at all. Maybe some more thought would go into client-server and data storage model, but the benefits would be huge. You know, before you start doing a game you should have a design stage, where you would think what would happen when two million people would start connecting to your server. Calculate bandwidth needed, see that you can't possibly handle it, do something?

Anyway, I understand that they decided to go with a central server because they thought it would be better, but it certainly is not as good for the community as it is easier for them.
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#38 by "Q"
2000-08-17 13:36:02
chsmith@mediaone.net
<QUOTE>Oh yes! /me is a bowazon for a while now, 5% mana/life steal and you are invincible. Much easier than with barb or necro, only a couple of deaths both at Duriel in Nightmare, heading into act 2 of hell diff.</QUOTE>

If you use mana/life steal with multi-shot or strafe, does the steal get multiplied by the number of arrows generated by the skill?


<QUOTE>The Amazon won't let me tell you about his trick. But he doesn't have to go back to town either unless he needs to make room by getting rid of good equipment. :) </QUOTE>

Hmmm, this certainly makes it sound like he's exploiting something that needs to be fixed.  Generally the only time people say stuff like this is when they know what they're doing isn't quite right.  


<QUOTE>"Although we thoroughly tested every skill before the game shipped, it was only after thousands of players using the bugged behavior associated with these skills was it apparent that they required fixing."  (bolding mine). Erm, yes sure. Nice try.</QUOTE>

Well, it's easy enough to understand that there will be bugs/game balance issues found when thousands of people play the game rather than a handful of QA people.  However, I'm not sure why the problems with CE and WW weren't seen during QA - they were pretty blatant.

<QUOTE>"impossibility from a programmatic standpoint"

As each character and the number of unallocated skill points for the character are stored at Blizzard's servers, programmatic impossibility means that they can't do "character.unallocatedPoints += character.whirlwindPoints; character.whirlwindPoints = 0". Impossible task. </QUOTE>

"Impossible" was probably a bad choice of words.  "Not feasible" would be a better choice.  Programming and execution are two separate things.  Yes, it would probably be simple enough to write a script to run through and edit character files.  However, to actually execute the script would be another matter entirely.  

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of characters on Battlenet.  To back up all of those characters, run the script, and then verify success/failure would probably require several days of downtime.  Doing this would piss off more people than it would please.  Not running the script disappoints some Necromancers and some Barbarians.  Running the script would annoy everyone else.  There is also a high degree of risk associated with doing such a thing.  Even with a 99% success ratio in the script execution, you're still left with thousands of players with screwed up characters.  It's just not worth the risk.
#39 by "Q"
2000-08-17 13:44:34
chsmith@mediaone.net
<QUOTE>The muds that survived are the muds that didn't change the fundamentals of gameplay that the player had become used to. </QUOTE>

This isn't necessarily true.  I've seen muds that have shut down for a week or two to implement major changes and then come back to be more popular than before.  In most cases, the player base from pre-shutdown returned once the mud was back online.  But then again, the player base for muds back then (late 80s-mid 90s) was generally much more mature and forgiving than the online crowd these days.

Besides, CE and WW were NOT changes to fundamental gameplay.  They were tweaks to a couple of overpowered skills.
#40 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-17 14:37:19
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net/
<b>#38</b> "Q" wrote:
<QUOTE>If you use mana/life steal with multi-shot or strafe, does the steal get multiplied by the number of arrows generated by the skill? </quote>

Yes, each hit gives you mana/life percentage of the damage it makes. 20 hits with one strafe arrow, 100dmg each, 100 mana/life plus. Which is more than enough to replenish you fully in a matter of few shots.
 
<quote>There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of characters on Battlenet.  To back up all of those characters, run the script, and then verify success/failure would probably require several days of downtime.</quote>

I can imagine this being a huge task, but what's up with the 99% success rate? If you don't fuck the script up, success rate would be 100%. And as for running time... Two additions repeated million times is about 1 second long. Add the time to actually read/write the files, can be longer but still not the days you are talking about (50Kb per character, approximately means you have to read/write 50Gb of data which is not that much, few hours at most even on common hardware - for a million characters). Also, the modification probably can be ran while the servers are online, but I have no idea how it works so it's just a guess. Anyway, it surely is a big task where errors are unacceptable. Could be they were simply afraid to fuck things up as you are saying. Could be...<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#41 by "Q"
2000-08-17 15:03:10
chsmith@mediaone.net
<QUOTE>Yes, each hit gives you mana/life percentage of the damage it makes. 20 hits with one strafe arrow, 100dmg each, 100 mana/life plus. Which is more than enough to replenish you fully in a matter of few shots. </QUOTE>

Wow.  I guess my girlfriend should've gone with the multi-shot/strafe tree instead of the cold tree ;).


<QUOTE>I can imagine this being a huge task, but what's up with the 99% success rate? If you don't fuck the script up, success rate would be 100%.</QUOTE>

You obviously don't program for a living ;).  Even if you write your code perfectly (which never happens), there is no such thing as 100% guarantee of correct operation.  The program depends on the OS beneath it, and the OS depends on the hardware.  I won't go into details here on all of the possibilities, but I'll leave it at the fact that there is lots of room for a some bad saves.  


<QUOTE>And as for running time... Two additions repeated million times is about 1 second long. Add the time to actually read/write the files, can be longer but still not the days you are talking about (50Kb per character, approximately means you have to read/write 50Gb of data which is not that much, few hours at most even on common hardware - for a million characters).</QUOTE>

Strictly reading/writing 50 gigs does not take days, your are correct.  However, for every 50kb of that 50 gigs, you have to open a file, search through the file, change a couple of things, and write that file to disk.  That process contains a lot of overhead that isn't present when you're simply copying data.  Add in a progress/status monitor (which you would definitely want for a task like this) and things slow down a bit more.  

Even all of that could be measured in terms of hours, but when you include prep time (for taking the servers down and setting up the script to run) and the recovery time (where testing is done and the servers are brought back up), you're definitely talking about a total time period of days.

<QUOTE>Also, the modification probably can be ran while the servers are online, but I have no idea how it works so it's just a guess. Anyway, it surely is a big task where errors are unacceptable. Could be they were simply afraid to fuck things up as you are saying. Could be... </QUOTE>

For something like this, the servers have to be taken down because you can't be modifying character files while people are playing them.  Even if the game doesn't lock the character files while they're in use, any changes made by the script during play will be overwritten by the next character save in the game.
#42 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-17 15:36:41
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net/
<b>#41</b> "Q" wrote:
<QUOTE>You obviously don't program for a living ;). Even if you write your code perfectly (which never happens), there is no such thing as 100% guarantee of correct operation. The program depends on the OS beneath it, and the OS depends on the hardware. I won't go into details here on all of the possibilities, but I'll leave it at the fact that there is lots of room for a some bad saves.</quote>

As a matter of fact, I do ;) Leaving aside the possibility of hardware failure, there are many ways to verify that your read/write operation did not fail. A simple operation of read, verify integrity, modify, write, flush, read again, compare with your memory image of the file would suffice, even if you are being super sceptical about the success of the operation. I can, just for the sake of this argument, write a program like that and run it on 10 local character files for a period of one day in cycles, I can pretty much guarantee that unless my hard drive fails the result would be successfull :)

You also should remember that character read/write operation is performed very often on BNet for every active character. Your pessimistic prediction means that after each 100 saves your character would get corrupt and would be restored from backup. Which does not happen often, if at all, as far as I know.

<quote>For something like this, the servers have to be taken down because you can't be modifying character files while people are playing them. Even if the game doesn't lock the character files while they're in use, any changes made by the script during play will be overwritten by the next character save in the game. </QUOTE>

That is right, but there are about 5% characters online and 95% characters offline at the given time, so you could modify the offline ones leaving pointers to online chars in a queue which checks periodically to see if they are still online or not. We are getting into details, it does not matter :) What matters is - it could be done. It was not impossible. You seem to agree to this as well, and that is enough to say that "impossible from programmatic standpoint" is very close to being a lie (they said "impossible", not "hard").<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#43 by "Q"
2000-08-17 15:51:10
chsmith@mediaone.net
<QUOTE>As a matter of fact, I do ;) Leaving aside the possibility of hardware failure, there are many ways to verify that your read/write operation did not fail. A simple operation of read, verify integrity, modify, write, flush, read again, compare with your memory image of the file would suffice, even if you are being super sceptical about the success of the operation. I can, just for the sake of this argument, write a program like that and run it on 10 local character files for a period of one day in cycles, I can pretty much guarantee that unless my hard drive fails the result would be successfull :) </QUOTE>

Doh - open mouth, insert foot :).  Of course, they're depending on a Microsoft OS most likely, which doesn't guarantee anything *grin*.

<QUOTE>We are getting into details, it does not matter :) What matters is - it could be done. It was not impossible. </QUOTE>

Aye, like I said - they should've gone with "not feasible" rather than "impossible".  It usually a bad idea to talk in absolute terms :).
#44 by "Q"
2000-08-17 15:52:14
chsmith@mediaone.net
Grr...typo in that last one:  "It <B>is</B> usually a bad idea..."
#45 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-08-17 16:12:06
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#30</b> "Bubba-Fett" wrote...
<QUOTE>

#29

which particualr version of the truth would you have?

I'm new here, but at this feeble attempt at philosophical sophistry, I must guffaw. Truth is an axiom, if you want an opinion of the truth, than that's fine. There exists a TRUTH which is apparent to all, now whether we all see that truth the same is impossible to say one way or the other.
</QUOTE>

and the ignorant speak. Don't you know it is considered a faux pau (sp?) to tell a student of logic and philosophy of 4 years that he made a "feeble attempt at philosophical sophistry" ? hmmmmmmmm

then you go on to make so many common mistakes that the ignorant do. ahhhhh. Should I respond ? hmmmm. He prolly doesn't know anything about the subject - barely understands logical positivism if he has even heard of it.

I could dumb it down and use the world is flat "truth" argument. You know the one that goes back in the old days it was true that the world was flat. Until it wasn't. Now it is true that the world is round. In 100 years when we discover that the world is really [insert groovy explanation here]. Then it will be false that the world is round.

Naah the kid is prolly barely literate and shows a surprising degree of idocy. I don't think I will bother responding<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#46 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-08-17 16:13:30
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#36</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>Yes, unless the person intends to tell you the full truth as (s)he sees it.</QUOTE>

I can see the truth in one way and no perfectly well that if targte of your telling would see it differently. If I tell them my truth am I lieing ?<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#47 by "EvilAsh"
2000-08-17 16:18:46
evilash@eviladam.com http://www.eviladam.com
Since the weakening of my Necro.. I have now leveld nearly 16 times.

I am now level 48. :)

Damn that CE tweak has hurt me so bad. ;)
#48 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-17 16:24:49
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net/
<b>#46</b> "RahvinTaka" wrote:
<QUOTE>I can see the truth in one way and no perfectly well that if targte of your telling would see it differently. If I tell them my truth am I lieing ?</QUOTE>

If you know that A is B, and I know that A is C, and you know that I know that A is C, and you tell me that A is B, then you are not lying, but you are mistaken in my world. That's how I see it ;)<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#49 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-08-17 16:32:07
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#48</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>If you know that A is B, and I know that A is C, and you know that I know that A
is C, and you tell me that A is B, then you are not lying, but you are mistaken
in my world. That's how I see it ;)</QUOTE>

You see it correctly... errr ... you have a world model that is consistent with my world model ... err not your world model is .....

/me goes off into thinking about logic

ewwww<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#50 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-08-17 16:46:58
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#37</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>

Post <B>#28</B> by RahvinTaka:

<quote>to put it bluntly - you don't know what your talking about :P. It could be as simple as that and there are many many reasons that it could be much less simple. Even if the technical limitations aren't so simple there may be other reasons not to do it.</quote>

Then they should list the other reasons, but they did not. I was speaking about programmatic impossiblity as they put it, and I don't see how it can be true. Please open my eyes :) How is that you have some bytes stored on your machine and you can't move one byte from one location to another? What can be less simple? </quote>

well - lets pretend it has a complex integrity check. (most databases do). Now we have to alter the whole character profile so that check is verified. (Most transactional databases systems have some form of integrity verification). Okay now assume that the profiles are roaming between elements in server farm and only clone to do a weekly backup which is distributed.

Now assume that each profile has only a smaller field size to hold free points. These need to be adjusted. Thus the full user database has to be exported. Some tools provide exportation of some data but not full database in the volumes that is needed. So you write an appropriate exporter.

The exported format has to be verified and you have to create another set of hardisks to hold this backup. And lets say it is relatively compact - about 1 TB. This may take up to a few days depending on backend.

Now you also want to keep original data - just in case you stuff up - so you need another TB to hold stuff. You alter the scema and assuming you get everything right it is now just the task of inserting data back into database. Could take another day or so. Now you run complex diagnostics to make sure you haven't screwed the pooch.

I could keep adding details here. (And yes this is from experience :[). The end result after the programmers have coded all conversion stuff, added in support at UI level for redistributing large number of points, gone through all various stages of testing, then QA etc etc it could be weeks or even months before everything is back right. I have seen this happen at a company that was a lot more professional than most game companies are so I don't think it is too much a stretch to say it is possible that this would cause much more pain than it is worth.

Alternatively it could be just a simple loop through memory. We just don't know. It would depend on their architecture, the quality and the infrastructure of code.

<quote>

<quote>No average server op will be able to run these services and thus no userland servers would ever be put up. It would only frustrate players more and end up with you insulting them more. </quote>

Yes, if they built their server without having the release of a dedicated executable in mind. Again, what I said was that *if* they would have considered it from the very beginning they would have no problems at all. Maybe some more thought would go into client-server and data storage model, but the benefits would be huge. You know, before you start doing a game you should have a design stage, where you would think what would happen when two million people would start connecting to your server. Calculate bandwidth needed, see that you can't possibly handle it, do something?

Anyway, I understand that they decided to go with a central server because they thought it would be better, but it certainly is not as good for the community as it is easier for them.
</QUOTE>

I know nothing about the game. Can you have large groups of people in the world ? if so it is quite possible that it wasn't feasable for going with decentralized servers. Central servers also mean that there is less chance for cheats to be discovered.

Would you be willing to wait another 2 years for a game if there were distributed servers ? It could be that long before they got architecture right.


I have recently been learning about enterprise level servers and have been *shocked* by some of the approaches and designs. Some were brilliant but so counter-untuitive and others are based on statistical analysis of usage patterns and show somewhat a lacking of design at all. Interesting field and I can understand easily why such a change was deemed impossible. Impossible usually means impossible to do in a reasonable time. Not so long ago it used to be impossible to goto the moon :P
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