If you didn’t catch the Diablo-themed Penny Arcade comic from a week or two ago, you should. Instead of taking the low road and bashing Diablo Immortal, the authors pick on the way the game – and other online games like it – handle seasons. The Barbarian toon in the comic is basically blowing off essential elements of the game story, including the looming threat of Diablo himself, because he’s “only got a few months to open monster skulls and lick out the looty filling.”
“We don’t gotta find shit,” our smarmy protagonist says to the little girl sobbing about Deckard Cain. “This is seasonal play.”
MMO do this all the time. Many developers spend literally years crafting storylines, imbuing quests with pathos, only to upend the whole thing the instant there’s some leaderboard or holiday, dumping immersionists overboard. It’s a pretty rare studio – ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 are coming to mind – that do a decent job of layering new episodic content with the old. So maybe we shouldn’t expect as much from OARPGs like those in the Diablo franchise, but the way seasons work right now, it seems absurd not just from a story development perspective but from a design perspective – it’s like the devs dump a totally different game on top of the old one and ask us to ignore what came before.
Do you think seasonal play in online games is worth the absurdity? How could online games that follow Diablo’s path do it better?