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Chris

Idle Thumbs 65: Dance of the Treasure Goblin

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We're answering your question on the next cast (spoiler) -- but I will say here, which I didn't say on mic -- that criticizing the shit out of something and pushing it to be better probably means you like and care about a thing.

a) sweet. Didn't mean to sound pushy/asshole-ish if I did; just genuinely curious, and I respect your opinions.

B) That's a fair enough point to make. I think that the vast amount of praise that TWD has received for being different (and, dare I say, 'better' in some respects) definitely appears as the result of intense inspection of the medium. I think the reason I feel bummed about the state of video games, without the shining light that you guys have, is because I have no way of changing things right now. When I start up my podcast again and try making it bigger, maybe I could feel more empowered, but right now I don't feel like there's anything in video games for me anymore.

It may be as a result of my age - just finished my first year at Uni, surrounded by people far more intelligent than myself, a lot of whom are cultured, funny, interesting etc. I want to spend my time doing something that I feel is worthwhile, like reading a really astonishingly good book or watching an incredible film -- experience some form of story that makes me into a better, more interesting person. I don't think there are any games that have done that for me yet, and none that exist that will do that to me.

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What's pitifully sad about the treasure goblin is that the desire to chase and explode him comes from no tangible possibility of reward. In my time playing D3, the best drops have been from townspeople's corpses and random urns (pre-patch). Yet whenever I see that little glowing bastard my obsessive drive kicks in and hones my focus on him and him alone as I give chase through hordes of very dangerous monsters until I catch him. And when I lose him to the treasure zone (my name for whatever exists behind that portal) I feel like I've just lost the entire game.

It's a hilarious and weird trope of video gaming, the thief/goblin character that happens to attract more attention and ire than even the final boss. I'm also reminded (in addition to the Golden Axe ref) of those asshole thief/goblin/lizards in Castle Crashers which were probably a reference to the Golden Axe guys now that I think about it. It felt so good to pummel those dudes.

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It's a hilarious and weird trope of video gaming, the thief/goblin character that happens to attract more attention and ire than even the final boss. I'm also reminded (in addition to the Golden Axe ref) of those asshole thief/goblin/lizards in Castle Crashers which were probably a reference to the Golden Axe guys now that I think about it. It felt so good to pummel those dudes.

It's because the goofy goblin is actually affecting YOU, whereas the "villain" is only affecting the made-up story which may not actually be convincing or interesting.

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It's because the goofy goblin is actually affecting YOU, whereas the "villain" is only affecting the made-up story which may not actually be convincing or interesting.

So Diablo 3 would have been a better game if the Treasure Goblin turned out to be the final boss?

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I, for one, would welcome an expansion pack that allowed you to travel to the treasure zone and take your sweet, sweet revenge on all those escaped little buggers.

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My friend and I once chased the treasure goblin through multiple rooms filled with enemies, brutally killing everything that dared come between us and our trophy. I think we both experienced the same sort of hangover when we had finally slain the poor thing and were tracing our steps back to where we had started, the floors littered with leather boots and almost no recollection of some of the rooms: "I think we got a little carried away there."

I think that is my only memorable experience with Diablo III so far.

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I love the Treasure Goblins and would definitely be up for going to Greed's domain in an expansion or something. From the game's lore on the topic:

Some devious little goblins have been robbing our merchants! When pursued, they simply open portals and disappear with a most aggravating chuckle. The peasantry seem to believe that the goblins serve a great demon lord known as Greed and furthermore, that their portals lead to Greed's domain! A ludicrous notion, truly.

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I love the Treasure Goblins and would definitely be up for going to Greed's domain in an expansion or something. From the game's lore on the topic:

What's funny to me is that that little blurb immediately makes the Treasure Goblin less memorable in my brain. Suddenly it's just yet another enemy described in generic fantasy-novel prose.

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I love the Treasure Goblins and would definitely be up for going to Greed's domain in an expansion or something. From the game's lore on the topic:

When I saw that in a loading screen tip I thought it was a (not especially) subtle hint. Next time I saw a Treasure Goblin I didn't attack, just chased him until he opened the portal, then I ran straight after him into it. Nothing happened.

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It's a hilarious and weird trope of video gaming, the thief/goblin character that happens to attract more attention and ire than even the final boss. I'm also reminded (in addition to the Golden Axe ref) of those asshole thief/goblin/lizards in Castle Crashers which were probably a reference to the Golden Axe guys now that I think about it. It felt so good to pummel those dudes.

Descent 2 is easily the most anxiety-ridden example of this, with the Thiefbot that can steal your previous upgrades that you've spent many levels slowly accumulating. Just hearing it in the distance could shove me into total paranoia in any level—he could come from all six directions, remember—and once I spotted it, I'd often give chase thoughout the whole level, relying on my speed and dodging to avoid all the other enemies encountered during the pursuit.

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When I saw that in a loading screen tip I thought it was a (not especially) subtle hint. Next time I saw a Treasure Goblin I didn't attack, just chased him until he opened the portal, then I ran straight after him into it. Nothing happened.

Due to my previous experience with the Phase Beast in Torchlight, I was expecting to be able to jump into the portal.

I am kind of with Chris in that the explanation kills some of the joy I get at seeing the thing. It's such a ridiculous little creature that I liked it being there for the sake of being there. At the very least, I would've appreciated a more sassy explanation for the goblin's existence. Something to get a laugh out of me, rather than something that actually fits the lore. More sass would also make me more interested in Greed's domain. If they were to open that up in the future, I worry that it'd be too SERIOUS to be fun, anymore.

Still, as a pure game mechanic, I love the absolute chaos the treasure goblin creates. Even in hardcore mode, I would often surrender entirely to the whim of the goblin and chase it into multiple groups of elites, only to end up failing to kill it, and putting myself in increasing levels of danger.

Man I am such a video gamer.

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Regarding Matt Uelmen getting an orchestra to work with, as I recall Blizzard also set him up with one to work with for the Diablo 2 expansion (which had an amazing soundtrack) and also I think one of the WoW expansions. I haven't heard the WoW stuff, but from Lord of Destruction and the samples linked earlier in this thread I can't wait to hear the Torchlight 2 soundtrack.

I look forward to seeing where they go with the design of the game as well. I thought the first game did a lot right, but in terms of the soundtrack and general structure it owed a lot to Diablo and didn't really do it as well as Diablo did. I'm hoping that Torchlight 2 will be ditching a lot of those elements cribbed from Diablo; being set in a more open world should do well for it, since it doesn't really benefit from the sense of claustrophobia the way Diablo did, and I'm hoping they completely ditch the whole plotline with the giant corrupting demon deep under the earth. The underground fairy cities certainly implied a far more interesting plot than the trite Diablo riff of the forgettable demon beast.

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What's funny to me is that that little blurb immediately makes the Treasure Goblin less memorable in my brain. Suddenly it's just yet another enemy described in generic fantasy-novel prose.

That's a totally valid point, but not something that ruins it for me personally (I was never into Diablo for the lore or amazing writing to begin with). I like to think this great Greed demon is actually Gheed though, the gambling merchant from Act I of Diablo II.

Which reminds me, they removed gambling for Diablo III. I hadn't realized that I missed it until just now.

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It would probably actually be illegal in several states for them to have it in now. Crazy.

The heck? Why is 'gambling' (random roll items bought from an NPC) illegal?

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You're spending gold to do it, which now has an exchange rate with real currency, and you're getting items that you can also sell for real currency. So you are (or could be) effectively gambling with real money.

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You're spending gold to do it, which now has an exchange rate with real currency, and you're getting items that you can also sell for real currency. So you are (or could be) effectively gambling with real money.

But the route is so convoluted that... ugh. Whatever. It's Schrodinger's Gamble.

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I understand the route that makes "gambled" assets in Diablo 3 real world gambling, but disagree with that assessment. A better argument for why gambling being removed would be that the gambling NPCs are all about money sinks, but since your real world dollars can be turned into gold and thus pissed away into nothingness... It's consumer protection, but gambling?

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Well it's a game of pure chance where you can either gain or lose money or equivalent assets, so that's pretty definitely gambling, but that's not what I was confused about. Most I'm confused about what you meant by "Schrodinger's Gamble," which seems kind of nonsensical... am I missing something?

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I could imagine, like I said on the cast, a GTA where they just give you New York for free and you buy 10 dollar 2-4hr. episodes. Rad.

This is the sort of structure I've hoped for in the Sam & Max episodic franchise since a while back. Please push for it! :)

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But wouldn't those experiences have been better prompted by something in the game world, or that fit in with the narrative, rather than some out of game check list or generic pop-up window?

I think, for the experiences I have enjoyed that have been prompted by achievements, that this is basically impossible to do in a way that isn't hideously transparent.

For instance, Blizzard games these days have a set of achievements based around revisiting a boss and beating it with a specific condition, like a time limit or by triggering a specific mechanic. Would the game be better served by having an old man standing at the entrance to the boss fight, saying, "I'll be very impressed if you manage to convince the Skeleton King to kill his own army! You should try it out."? Or would that be even worse? Having a checklist somewhere else that can be ignored or noticed as the player decides feels to me a better way of handling it than trying to justify an in-world reason why you'd go back and kill that boss again and this time make it harder on yourself.

Having it in an out-of-game checklist serves another purpose, as well: as a suggestion list. I spent about a year on WoW using its extensive achievement system as prompters for things to try instead of running on the treadmill of 'current' content. Often designers will take that tendency into account: both Geometry wars and Pac-Mac CE had an achievement that encouraged players to play in a way that they wouldn't naturally, but would improve players' skills by giving it a go.

This isn't to say that achievements can be done poorly - honestly it's rare that I see a game that I feel has well-thought out achievement design. "Earn large number x kills/dollars/what have you" is almost never worth anything, and the only reason to have progress achievements like level or plot event achievements is for the social comparison aspect, which is an important part of achievement design and what give the whole exercise any kind of meaning. Fewer still put any thought into when achievements are actually triggered so that they don't interrupt - for all its sins, FFXIII had the decency to wait until the cutscenes were over to award achievements for finishing the previous chapter.

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I am a fan of them when they actually provide 1) a challenge or 2) motivation to do something weird or out of the ordinary. Progress and grinding cheesemints are literally the worst thing in video games these days. LITERALLY.

Okay maybe not actually literally.

The fact that they're always completely optional helps me to not be bothered by their existence. Even if I didn't ever want to do any of them, I'd find it difficult to outright hate them! I would also be lying if I said I didn't get some level of enjoyment from that little pop-up. Sometimes it's inappropriate, like in, say, The Walking Dead... U: But at the same time, I like the little bit of levity those ones add to the SERIOUSNESS of whatever just happened.

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I am the hypothetical person you talked about on the podcast in regards to my opinion on Diablo 1 and 2, except I was much younger at the time. Diablo 1 is the only game in the series that actually pulls off a tangible sense of atmosphere or a consistent tone. By the time the sequel came around, it seems like they stopped putting any effort into things like that in favour of making a gothic horror themed slot machine. Diablo 3 is just another step in that direction.

I'm mostly OK with that, though. Bursting pinatas and collecting prizes is what Diablo has always really been about anyway.

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