Screenwriter John August has a pretty extensive resume. His writing credits include Big Fish, two Charlie’s Angels films, and a number of Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborations including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, and their most recent endeavor, Dark Shadows. In addition to the multiple criticisms that Blizzard and Diablo 3 have already faced since its launch in May, August would like to point out that the story is another facet of the game that sucks.
August notes that Diablo 3 forces the player to be an objective spectator in the game’s events, requiring that he/she watch NPCs make important decisions rather than enabling the player to make any kind of choice. He cites StarCraft as a game that utilizes the NPC properly and develops them in a way that causes the player to establish an emotional investment with them.
“Remember Raynor and Kerrigan from StarCraft? I became invested in those characters, not because of their cut scenes, but because I got to play as them,” said August. “I kept them alive through zerg rushes, and watched as they made sacrifices that transformed them. So even when I wasn’t playing those characters, I knew them…The only NPC I cared about a little was my sidekick/meatshield, Kormac the Templar. He had a limited set of phrases, but he made an effort, and our canned conversations felt at least a little humanizing. Here’s the test: When I could have switched to a different hireling, I didn’t, because I would have missed him. A little.”
August goes on to criticize the redundancy of the voiceover recaps between narrative chapters and is of the belief that these cinematic interludes were a ploy by Blizzard after the development team came to the conclusion that the story did a poor job of connecting with the player.
“At several moments in the game — generally at act breaks — the game goes to a completely different animation style. Your character gives voiceover to recap what’s just happened and where they’re headed next. It’s oddly repetitive and tacked-on,” he said. “My hunch, though I have no proof, is that these interludes came very late in the development of the game, when someone at Blizzard realized that the player/plot relationship was non-existant. It very much feels like voiceover added to a movie that’s not working.”
Source: johnaugust.com via Kotaku