Blizzard Defends Always-Online For Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

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Blizzard Defends Always-Online For Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Reaper of Souls

Lead designer Kevin Martens says people don't remember "how mad they were" that Diablo II had both an online and offline mode.

"If someone has no Internet access, then yeah, Diablo III is not the game for them," Diablo III's lead designer Kevin Martens told Rock, Paper, Shotgun in an interview at Blizzcon. Always-online has been the second most controversial feature of the game, and after Blizzard made the decision to remove the most controversial feature (the Auction House), people assumed that always-online may follow. But, Martens again puts his foot down, stating that people don't remember "how mad they were" that Diablo II had both an online and offline mode.

"I don't think people necessarily remember how mad they themselves were that they had an offline mode and online mode in Diablo II. This will probably be controversial for me to say. People will be like, "I wasn't mad!" But I was there at the time, and then I studied this for a living."

"It sucks when your friend or brother is online and he wants to join this game, but you realize you're an offline character and he's an online character, and there's no way to transfer over because offline characters can be hacked and hex-edited to hell and back, right?" continued Martens, explaining that the company still feels that forcing Diablo III to be online was the right choice.

However, the RPS interviewer continues to press Martens, asking why even an option to play offline isn't made available to those who just want to play by themselves, away from the rest of the community. Martens quite curtly answers "We didn't make that game. That's the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we're not going to turn this game into that game."

So there you have it. Always-online is here to stay, like it or not. As my PC is connected to the internet roughly 99.99% of the time, it's not really a big deal for me, but I can see how people who can't afford good internet, or live in an area with an unstable connection may be peeved.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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Well I guess this isn't the game for me then. Shame they put DRM over customers, ah well. And before someone says it's not about DRM, the guy just admitted it's about preventing hacking with DRM. He's admitted it, DRM isn't just about piracy. It's about control of the game.

Meeeeehhh. I'm not really that convinced. I don't think as an option it had that much value (yay it's so much fun farming for gear with no trading opportunities alone hoping you can actually beat Hell without crying into your keyboard ON YOUR OWN WHY ARE YOU ALONE OH MY GOD AHHH[yes I know mods existed]), but this response is a bit... absolutist? I guess is the word. What exactly do players lose if they play without others? "That game" implies the "being online" is such a core and central feature of the game that there's exactly zero ways around it, when in reality it's usually just... a button.

I'm guessing the majority of this is due to the fact that there is a lot of code that works server-side when someone's playing the game, but consoles somehow managed, so why can't PC's?

You can encourage people all day to "play with others" and "have social times" and "display emoshen" but it's really alienating to those who don't want to be online in a game where the community presence is only really felt through them joining your game/you joining their game. It's not an MMO where there is actual value in having players everywhere because it gives the world some life. It's a game where you're some dude slaughtering the legions of Hell. Sometimes you want to take that journey alone.

MEH I SAY.

Good thing I'll be waiting for it on PS3.

Kevin Martens, in regards to why there was no option for offline:
"We didn't make that game. That's the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we're not going to turn this game into that game."

And yet, the console versions exist...

I guess no one read the article if they're whining about the PS3 version. The freedom to hex edit and such, much easier to do.

Lets see... there was one other company that tried putting DRM on a high pedestal and saying it is mandatory... and over the corporations that pollute, defraud people, and steal, EA had won the worse company in america award. Since then, they worked towards removing DRM. Buuut here is Activision Blizzard, their console version has an offline mode. But they are pushing DRM like it is mandatory on a game that feels like it is a single player game.

I seriously hope Activision Blizzard gets the worse company in america award next year. They totally deserve it.

They couldn't have made two buttons on the menu, one that said "Online" and another that said "Offline." That would have been too hard. It would have been too hard to allow people to level up on the single player content than allow them to jump in to online mode. It would have been too hard. Nah, they were just lazy, and in love with DRM.

Yeah and that game you made was great.
Especially when it automatically connected me to the US servers without telling me, making me play through half the game as it was laggy as hell, only to finally realize what was wrong and then having to find the buried option to change server location.
Oh and would you look at that, I had to start over with a whole new character after doing so.

Meh, I'd rather have a little bit of lag now and then rather than having a hack-fest like it was for D2. There haven't been any proper hacks made so far so at least it's actually working. Unlike pretty much every other form of DRM that devs have used.

"Because I said so?" Gee- thanks, Dad.

This is the kind of crap that makes not buying certain games feel like the responsible move.

I'll add this to the 'absolutely fucking stupid excuse' wagon as Blizzard South made my shit list awhile ago.

Yeah, they didn't make this game, a game that provided more options to make more people happy, because who the hell would ever want that? I miss Blizzard North, the one that actually kept trying to improve with each new game instead of raping the hell out of it.

Heh, I actually had the whole "I can't play with my friend cause he was online and I wasn't" moment way back then. It annoyed me for a bit before I just started a character online, gee that was hard. Lately with all the bind of account news and now this it's really feels like Blizzard is dictating how the game must be played and that it's fans/customers don't know what's good and fun, only the all knowing Blizzard knows that and if you think differently then you must be wrong.

008Zulu:
They couldn't have made two buttons on the menu, one that said "Online" and another that said "Offline." That would have been too hard. It would have been too hard to allow people to level up on the single player content than allow them to jump in to online mode. It would have been too hard. Nah, they were just lazy, and in love with DRM.

To be fair they probably can't do the whole "transfer offline character to online mode" thing since people would just load their single player characters full of hacked items and just flood the online game with them. Sure Blizzard can deleted the hacked items/ban the people that do it, but that sounds like a giant plan in the ass and I don't blame them for not wanting to deal with a massive headache like that.

Why they can't just do the 2 buttons idea I have no clue, maybe they think their fans are so dumb they can't figure it? Or more likely it's their fancy excuse for the DRM.

Yes indeed "you didn't make that game".
I hope you will remember how mad people were about diablo "error 37" 3.

I'm so glad I didn't buy diablo 3 headfirst back then when hearing that idiot trying to tell me what I like now.

Why are company's so dismissive of their customers "Oh you want to play diablo but can't connect to the internet? TOUGHSHIT we don't want your business you pauper." I mean seriously Diablo is a big franchise and blizzard a successful company and they're pleading that they can't get it done... Like how the AH in the game was too integral to the game... sigh. Statements like this make me bitter with this company I have alot of respect for.

Reminds me of BioWare...

Jack Nief:

Kevin Martens, in regards to why there was no option for offline:
"We didn't make that game. That's the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we're not going to turn this game into that game."

And yet, the console versions exist...

To be fair, a different team did the console conversion so he may not view it as the same game as the one he's working on.

Still, from an outside perspective it's still laughable as the exact opposite of what he's saying is indeed a reality in the console version, and I love the console version for it.

Well then, I'll never buy this game, simple as that.

People being mad at them for including an off-line mode for Diablo 2, FUCKING BULLSHIT!!!

Of course people get angry over being fucked over, like it not being clear that single player characters can't be used during multi-player, that is understandable. When you aren't told that when you first play the game and no notice of this is given in the game and then when you first try it and it doesn't work, you get pissed because that kinda ruins a night of gaming. That's understandable, and its also not that big of a deal in the long run.

Making a game without an off-line mode as a response however is fucking ludicrous. All you've had to do is give a one time notice when you start your first character that what mode you create it under is where it stays. It's that simple, but instead you just devalue your entire product and give the finger to anyone who just wants to enjoy a single player game. Its entirely unnecessary, its not warranted and its utter bullshit. You fucked it up!

But you don't care, because you're making money hand over fist anyway.

There are other ways to keep people from being angry at you over Diablo 2. You could just make a system that checks if the character has been tempered with, that then allows for transfers between the two modes. Or you could make a advanced character creation process that allows for higher level starting characters with extra equipment. Very useful for anyone who just wants to game for a night with friends and the levels don't match up. No doubt that there are more ways to go about it but thats all stuff that requires work and work is hard isn't it? Much easier to just nuke these legit grievances from orbit and just lock out part of the gaming community who enjoy single player games.

Jack Nief:

Kevin Martens, in regards to why there was no option for offline:
"We didn't make that game. That's the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we're not going to turn this game into that game."

And yet, the console versions exist...

Well obviously the console version team *did* make that game. Which was nice of them.

Valderis:
People being mad at them for including an off-line mode for Diablo 2, FUCKING BULLSHIT!!!

Actually this is true, at least indirectly. While people weren't really that mad about an offline mode outside of what you mentioned, people were mad about the prevalence of hacking, even on closed bnet. The thing is, having an offline mode puts all of the game's code on your pc. This means that hackers don't have to do any guess work, they can see how they game handles everything and because of that can more easily make a variety of hacks.

You could just make a system that checks if the character has been tempered with, that then allows for transfers between the two modes.

And I suppose you have some sort of solution for this? Afaik, this isn't possible without any form of network connection. For the game to be able to detect tampering there would need to be either a backup somewhere for a comparison or an event log to make sure it all adds up. Problem with that though is that you can just go and edit those as well.

I never had problem with hacking. In fact since I only played single-player Diablo 2, hacking made the game immensely more fun.

Alright i haven't read the article yet but i'd like to make some predictions.
1. its gonna be bullshit
2. no Tyreal nip-slips
3. Bliz your DRM is bad and you should feel bad

edit: I hate how this is justified by its not the game we made and we don't want to turn it into that game. DRM features are no more apart of the game than the menu screen and you know it.

ALSO i do remember the online and offline modes from D2 and being angry that i couldn't play with friends with my offline characters this makes sense and would be a totally valid point had LAN play not existed and you aren't fooling anyone

I'm a little tired of the "my computer is connected to the internet 99% of the time so it isn't such an issue" argument.

It's not about the consumer's computer being connected, it's about the publisher's servers being available, and, furthermore, it is about the undeserved power this setup gives to publishers.

For the former: All online services will be shut down eventually, thus destroying the game and making it unplayable for people who payed for it.

For the later: Publishers have now the power to punish players harshly for whatever offenses they see fit (as has happened already) denying them access to the game they payed for.

So yes, my computer is connected to the net 99% of the time, but I still don't want my rights as a consumer to be trampled in the name of whatever excuse they come up with this time.

You want games to be a service? Fine, charge me a monthly rate and give me the game for free as part of that service. But you're charging a price tag for the game itself, thus it is a product, thus it must be treated as such.

Anything else is dishonest bullshit from an industry terrified of its consumers eventually growing a spine and bitch-slapping publishers with their wallets.

I spent about 80% of my time with Diablo II in the singleplayer or local LAN modes. If I wanted to play with my friends online, with those same offline characters, there was always the "Open" Battle.Net option. I was never "mad" about not being able to mix offline and online characters, and I certainly wouldn't appreciate server lag in singleplayer or LAN games.

I was hoping they'd remove the always-on crap when the auction house went, but so much for that...

Heck, I was even slightly excited for Reaper of Souls, but nope.
Not that internet connection is much of an issue to me, as I have good and stable connection, but I don't want to have to rely on having a stable connection just to play a singleplayer game on my own, that's BS.

So yeah, I might get it on console, but I'm done with D3 on PC until they do a 180 and remove this junk. Until then I'll stick to D2.

Wow this response is just simplistically broken, people complained there was online and offline characters? Yeah, they probably did but went ahead and made an online character to play with a friend. Now, that's not even an option, now you just deal with a shitty online client that limits the amount of enemies on screen with stupid online problems, on top of people either not being able to play the game because of lack of net connection.
This is the weakest deal with it I've heard from a company. Sim City had a less shitty reason and it was a bold faced lie.

Whatever, I have a great solution, I stick to playing Torchlight 2 instead of buying whatever garbage BS Blizzard can kick out.

Yeah, this is annoying, and potentially deal-breaking if the company is unable to uphold their end of the bargain, i.e. maintaining dependable servers 24 hours a day. As for users needing an active internet connection, it's a non-issue. The fact of the matter is that not every game is made for every person. Blizzard advertised this game as an online game, and if you're not in a situation where that is feasible for you, then there are several other games that cater to your needs.

vun:
I was hoping they'd remove the always-on crap when the auction house went, but so much for that...

Heck, I was even slightly excited for Reaper of Souls, but nope.
Not that internet connection is much of an issue to me, as I have good and stable connection, but I don't want to have to rely on having a stable connection just to play a singleplayer game on my own, that's BS.

So yeah, I might get it on console, but I'm done with D3 on PC until they do a 180 and remove this junk. Until then I'll stick to D2.

Or better yet get Torchlight 2, its pretty much and updated and more modern version of Diablo 2 made by the people who did Diablo 2 and its pretty cheap.

black_knight1337:

You could just make a system that checks if the character has been tempered with, that then allows for transfers between the two modes.

And I suppose you have some sort of solution for this? Afaik, this isn't possible without any form of network connection. For the game to be able to detect tampering there would need to be either a backup somewhere for a comparison or an event log to make sure it all adds up. Problem with that though is that you can just go and edit those as well.

It's called a "digital signature". If a file isn't signed by the digital signature of the game executable, the file is corrupted or hacked.

MatsVS:
Yeah, this is annoying, and potentially deal-breaking if the company is unable to uphold their end of the bargain, i.e. maintaining dependable servers 24 hours a day. As for users needing an active internet connection, it's a non-issue. The fact of the matter is that not every game is made for every person. Blizzard advertised this game as an online game, and if you're not in a situation where that is feasible for you, then there are several other games that cater to your needs.

They can't provide that service. Even IF the launch goes without a hitch, those servers are still coming down for half a day or more every week for maintenance, which is already dropping them below a 95% uptime which is absolutely horrible (99.5 should be the goal, 99.95 if this were actually something serious rather than "just" a game people are paying for). That's just scheduled maintenance, throw in emergency maintenance and other server outages and problems that don't quite take the game offline but still make it unplayable (IE massive lag spikes) and that uptime just keeps going down down down.

aaron552:

black_knight1337:

You could just make a system that checks if the character has been tempered with, that then allows for transfers between the two modes.

And I suppose you have some sort of solution for this? Afaik, this isn't possible without any form of network connection. For the game to be able to detect tampering there would need to be either a backup somewhere for a comparison or an event log to make sure it all adds up. Problem with that though is that you can just go and edit those as well.

It's called a "digital signature". If a file isn't signed by the digital signature of the game executable, the file is corrupted or hacked.

Digital signatures work via asymmetric encryption. That basically means that the game executable would have to contain a private key to be able to provide that signature, which means you are relying on that executible's private key to NOT be hacked, which is basically impossible to prevent. You would want to encrypt the key, but it can't be used by your system to create the signature without being decrypted during that process, at which point it is vulnerable. This is why any game can be cracked after release but steam pre-downloads cannot, they become vulnerable only after the game is able to be run to start with.

spartandude:

vun:
I was hoping they'd remove the always-on crap when the auction house went, but so much for that...

Heck, I was even slightly excited for Reaper of Souls, but nope.
Not that internet connection is much of an issue to me, as I have good and stable connection, but I don't want to have to rely on having a stable connection just to play a singleplayer game on my own, that's BS.

So yeah, I might get it on console, but I'm done with D3 on PC until they do a 180 and remove this junk. Until then I'll stick to D2.

Or better yet get Torchlight 2, its pretty much and updated and more modern version of Diablo 2 made by the people who did Diablo 2 and its pretty cheap.

I've played quite a lot of Torchlight as well as a bit of Torchlight 2, but while they're good they don't really do it for me. Hard to put my finger on why that is though.

Sotanaht:
They can't provide that service. Even IF the launch goes without a hitch, those servers are still coming down for half a day or more every week for maintenance, which is already dropping them below a 95% uptime which is absolutely horrible (99.5 should be the goal, 99.95 if this were actually something serious rather than "just" a game people are paying for). That's just scheduled maintenance, throw in emergency maintenance and other server outages and problems that don't quite take the game offline but still make it unplayable (IE massive lag spikes) and that uptime just keeps going down down down.

A very good point and indeed a very compelling argument against this practice.

Sotanaht:

They can't provide that service. Even IF the launch goes without a hitch, those servers are still coming down for half a day or more every week for maintenance, which is already dropping them below a 95% uptime which is absolutely horrible (99.5 should be the goal, 99.95 if this were actually something serious rather than "just" a game people are paying for). That's just scheduled maintenance, throw in emergency maintenance and other server outages and problems that don't quite take the game offline but still make it unplayable (IE massive lag spikes) and that uptime just keeps going down down down.

Why would they go down so much? Most MMOs go about with 10-15 minute downtimes per day. that would amount to.... 1.5 hours in a week?
Granted, there are downtime for half a day when a new expansion is rolling in, and sometimes there is a hour ro two of maintenance (like once a couple month). Smaller patches roll out within those 10-15 minutes. You downtime is highly underestimated.
Lag spikes are almost always caused by local ISPs throttling traffic to hosting ISP and really cannot be deal with server-wise other than calling in and asking them to stop being dicks.

Digital signatures work via asymmetric encryption. That basically means that the game executable would have to contain a private key to be able to provide that signature, which means you are relying on that executible's private key to NOT be hacked, which is basically impossible to prevent. You would want to encrypt the key, but it can't be used by your system to create the signature without being decrypted during that process, at which point it is vulnerable. This is why any game can be cracked after release but steam pre-downloads cannot, they become vulnerable only after the game is able to be run to start with.

do calcualtion online. servers can handle mahematics now. and it wont matter of the files are hacked or not, the gameplay is still dictated by server-side calcualtion. yes, it may look way different on the hacked guys screen, but the gameplay wont be ruined for others by it.

Also, steam pre-downloads do get cracked. not always, but they do. though that involves the fact that steam actually downloads everything preemptively.

Steven Bogos:
"If someone has no Internet access, then yeah, Diablo III is not the game for them,"

Ahhhh, the good ol' XBone argument of "If you don't have an internet connection, we don't want your business." Are we sure Kevin Martens isn't Don Mattrick in disguise? :P

Personally, I just really can't see people raging over the fact that an offline mode existed for Diablo 2. "Oh no!!! I can't bring my offline character online! What ever shall I do?! I mean...it's like I'll have to create an online character so I can play with my friend who just got the game!" Really? They're equating the hassle of starting up a new character for online mode as being as hated as the fact that if you lose your connection for whatever reason you can't play the game at all? Wow, that's one hell of a stretch there, Kevin.

Steven Bogos:

"I don't think people necessarily remember how mad they themselves were that they had an offline mode and online mode in Diablo II. This will probably be controversial for me to say. People will be like, "I wasn't mad!" But I was there at the time, and then I studied this for a living."

No, people were mad that it had an offline mode, they were mad that they realized they couldnt take an offline character online. This was also near the beginning of online gaming. This could be fixed by prompting "Warning, character made in offline mode will not be usable in multiplayer" and be done with it. Gee maybe blizard should employ me, I am smarter than atleast one of their devs.

explaining that the company still feels that forcing Diablo III to be online was the right choice.

ok maybe I am smarter than most of the company...

However, the RPS interviewer continues to press Martens, asking why even an option to play offline isn't made available to those who just want to play by themselves, away from the rest of the community. Martens quite curtly answers "We didn't make that game. That's the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we're not going to turn this game into that game."

No you didnt, the console boys made a better game out of the shit you released Mr Martens. Why dont you just hand the whole shebang over to them and let them do what they seem to do best; fixing the shit you are too stupid to do yourself. (And before any mods get jumpy I am calling Martens of Blizzard an idiot, not Steven, or any other escapist users so I havent broken the code of conduct.)

And as for the "Well my nets online 99% of the times!" sentiment, that worked so well for people who were connected to the internet when Diablo 3 or Sim City launched. By god they were able to connect to the internet, but god help them if they actually wanted to connect to the games, or play without lag, or play without waiting for updates, or...

But hey, so long as they are connected 99% of the time its all cool! Excuse me while I go play my offline games anytime I want, regardless if MY connection is down, or the COMPANIES connection is down.

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