Though I can no longer claim the title there was a time when I considered myself a hardcore gamer.
The games and platforms varied through the years but it was those by Blizzard that left their mark more deeply than others. While Warcraft II forced memorization of my modem's INIT string during the hours of agonizing multiplayer setup it was the Diablo franchise that left a visible callus on the ghost of my gamer's heart.
My buddies from high school, the original crew of tower-toting LAN party professionals, instituted a mandatory cross-country gaming night about a year ago. The four of us span two coasts and three timezones, each with vastly different professions and lifestyles. Despite surprisingly full schedules we all set aside a couple hours each Tuesday night to regress back to our Mountain Dew-can-stacking, dice-rolling, stay-up all-weekend selves. We fire up Vent, shoot the bull, and live the dream that is modern day internet gaming.
When Diablo 3 was announced we knew we had to go back and reinstall The Deuce.
The only thing that surprised me more than an eight-year old game still being stocked was the fact that every brick and mortar I rambled in to sported an empty slot. The multimedia strewn announcement for the third iteration was a taste of warm nostalgia to those that had been sober for years, a drop of blood in the shark infested waters thick with previous addicts that went in to a frenzy snatching up new copies to get that old fix. More than a few gamers had the same idea and even drove this classic to the top of Amazon's game sales (it's currently at #75).
And it was addictive. The sound of an item dropping still elicits a tiny Pavlovian rush of adrenaline, the promise of digital riches in the form of stat-heavy weapons and armor only growing stronger the deeper one delves. Blizzard had to know what they were doing, setting the hooks in the Normal mode with the lure of greater treasure in subsequent difficulties of the same game.
We ate it up.
Hack n' slash is good stuff and randomly generated dungeons with steadily increasing difficulty keep that thrill going three times longer than other games dare. Diablo 2 built on the original's appeal and tipped it over the edge in to a more deeply immersed gaming experience which laid a lot of the groundwork for how the massively successful World of Warcraft would be structured years later.
It's taken just under three months of casual gaming for that thrill to wear off. I now maximize game play for a greater loot to time-spent ratio which was what turned me off of WoW a couple years ago. Blizzard kept the new content coming, engaging to say the least, but advancement was measured in the items acquired and that meant dedication with time-intensive logistical planning separate from actual game play in order to tackle dungeons that often required no less than forty people to complete.
Gaming became Serious Business.
So Diablo 2 is getting replaced in the Tuesday night rotation. Each of us will count the weeks we spend clean while wiping the gradual saliva until we can relapse again with a new Diablo.
With new items.