There's A Chat Feature On Battle.net, Idiots! May 8th, 2001
Randy: What is it this time? Did you break a rib by standing up too fast?
Gary: That's enough with the injury jokes.
Randy: Well, you are the only person I know who broke his finger telling a story.
Gary: Listen, man, knock it off, or...
Randy: Or what? You going to bleed on me?
Gary: Or I won't play Diablo II with you anymore.
Gary has gone and set the city on fire, again!
Randy: Hey, those things could have happened to anyone. It's perfectly normal to tear your achilles tendon walking home.
Gary: Damn straight!
Randy: So why were you screaming?
Gary: Because I just saw my long distance phone bill. You know, we really shouldn't stay on the phone the entire time we are playing Diablo II.
Randy: But it's more fun that way! Two speakerphones and Battle.net is the way to go.
Gary: Most fun you can have with your clothes on.
Randy: Clothes on? I mean, uh, yeah sure, of course I....
Gary: Dude, that is not even funny. And with that disturbing image, let's move on. I bought Diablo II, by Blizzard, as soon as it was released for the Mac last summer, and I enjoyed playing it. I played single player games mostly because every time I went on Battle.net, some moron would join my game and constantly chat or try to fight me or something else just as stupid.
Randy: Maybe we should start out by explaining what Battle.net is.
I got to get me a set of those wings, man.
Gary: Good point. Battle.net is Blizzard's own server network that you can log onto and play against any other person logged in, and there a lot of them. Usually about fifty thousand at any given time. You create characters that reside on the servers, and you can start from where you left off last time.
Randy: But as Gary has mentioned, there are quite a few people out there that would rather ruin other people's games and goof off by chatting with you until you just want to get a shotgun find out there address and hunt them down, at which point you would...
Gary: Hey, there, psycho... chill out.
Randy: Sorry, lost my mind, just for a minute. So, the best thing you can do is find a friend or two, or even as many as eight players who own a copy of Diablo II and set up a password protected game on Battle.net. That way you control who gets in and you can all start a quest together.
Gary: I have to say, this is the way Diablo II was meant to be played. The single player is fun, but nothing like multiplayer games. This is truly the future of gaming. And it's here now. Well, now that you finally ponied up the dough to buy your own copy.
These look like the stairs to the Idiots cave.
Randy: And you do have to buy this one (don't ever bootleg games, kids). Besides the fact that it takes three discs, each play disc is serialized and checked when you log into Battle.net. So bogus discs are not allowed to log on.
Gary: Plus they will find out who you are and sick a pack of hungry credit card telemarketers on your phone number!
Randy: So do your self a favor and buy the real McCoy. Just the cinematics disc alone makes it worth having them. The cut scenes that prelude each of the four "Acts" in Diablo II are nothing short of stunning.
Gary: Absolutely. This kind of CG work belongs on the big screen. This animation alone is a marvel to behold but the visual beauty of this game doesn't stop there. Each location and level you play in Diablo II is filled with superb artwork. Damp caverns and dungeons are rendered in exquisite detail, including an extra helping of gore.
Randy: Aw, sweet Lord, are they ever! Mutilated bodies of victims, puss-oozing giant bugs and slime spitting maggots are strewn through the evil regions of this game. Be forewarned, don't have the younguns around when you play this game and keep a barf bag close at hand.
Could I get a paper towel please?
Gary: That's charming Randy. I sure the guys over at Blizzard will be using that last statement in their next press page. But the visual detail in this game really does make the world of Diablo II come alive.
Randy: Like Diablo, the sequel follows the same game play style. You pick your character from five new character classes and then adventure from town to town fulfilling quests that you are assigned by characters in the game. As you slash your way to glory and complete quests you gain experience points and skills.
Gary: The story of Diablo II is spread over four "Acts". Each act takes place in a new area and gets you closer to your final goal of saving the land from the evil that is Diablo.
Randy: And you will do a lot of hacking in this game. Especially if you don't clear a dungeon on the first try. Diablo II creates all its maps on the fly, so no two game are ever the same. And that dungeon you cleared yesterday will always be full the next time you go back there. The enemies come fast and furious in this game so there is always lots of action. I felt Diablo II had a much higher fun factor than its predecessor.
Gary: I agree. I like details like watching your character's appearance change as you add new armor and weapons. From a lowly pauper in rags with a broken spork to my current suit of magical plate mail and my Sword of Carnage, I now truly kick gluteus maximus.
Randy: And don't forget lots of new visual effects for magical spells and explosions and realtime scenic shadows that move and shift as you travel around the room. All this in a game that plays great on original iMacs with the old Rage Pro graphics chipset. And don't forget there's an expansion pack coming soon for Diablo II called Lord of Destruction!
Gary: Even though we had a blast with Diablo II, there are a few features we wish were there. When playing local games in Diablo II, your characters are stored on your computer. However, when you play a game over Blizzard's Battle.net your character is forever stored on the Battle.net server. The ability to export a character you create on Battle.net for use in single player or local network games via TCP/IP would be nice.
Randy: Another frustration with Battle.net is there is no going back. If you die, you're dead. Of course, you are only penalized in gold pieces when you die, but you can go broke very quickly. I died three times in rapid succession, and lost over 15,000 gold pieces. There is no option to save your game and return to your predead and wealthy self.
Gary: And the thing that can really make you blow a gasket is when the reason you are dying in the first place is Battle.net's fault. I kept using a portal to jump to an area that was surrounded by monsters but by the time the servers could update my screen I had already been killed. This is unacceptable. If I am not getting an image on my screen yet, monsters should not be filleting me like a salmon.
Randy: And an option to automatically party up with the folks you were adventuring with before you died sure would have saved us some frustration. If you forget to rejoin the party, you don't get to share in the reward for completing a quest.
Gary: And while we are complaining, when you get your equipment after dying, why the hell aren't your potions automatically returned to your belt? Now, that's just annoying.
Randy: Well, since we have these complaints, I guess we're done with Diablo II, huh?
Gary: I'm logging on right now.
Randy: There goes my long distance bill. We really should hang up the phone while we play.
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .