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Hollywood Screenwriter Calls Diablo 3 Story "Weak"

By - Source: John August | B 36 comments

The screenwriter behind Charlie's Angels and Big Fish is calling Diablo 3's story weak.

John August, an American screenwriter and film director, recently updated his blog poking fun at Diablo 3's storyline, calling it "pretty damn weak." His opinion is backed by plenty of Hollywood experience having written the two Charlie's Angels movies (screenplay, story), Big Fish (screenplay), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (screenplay), and many more. Needless to say, he may know a thing or two about a dialogue-driven story and plot progression.

The first thing he points out is that the player encounters most of the plot by merely being an observer, listing to NPCs as they talk back and forth. The player character talks every once in a while, but overall the decisions have been made and the player is sent off on an errand.

"I’m a witch doctor. I’ve got an intelligence of 235, and later in the game I’m revealed to be a unique supernatural being.So why am I taking marching orders from you?" he writes. "I’m apparently the only one who can save heaven and earth, so maybe you should shut up and let me talk. Note that I’m not actually demanding choice or free will as a player. Look, I’ve played Diablo. I’ll go kill the next thing. But I’d love to feel like my character was making the choice, rather than being a lackey."

To Blizzard's defense, Diablo 3 is not a true RPG. Players aren't given a list of choices and replies that help shape the outcome. It's an action title that's designed to begin at point A and end at point B with a lot of slashing and exploring in-between. Still, the plot itself seems secondary when it should be just as important as the exploration and sword-swinging.

"At several points in the game, major NPCs betray you and/or die. And you shrug. It doesn’t have to be that way," August writes. "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. 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."

He goes on to assume that the interludes between each act came later on in development, that someone possibly realized that the player/plot relationship was non-existent. These segments go into a completely different style of animation, he says, feeling oddly repetitive and tacked on. "It very much feels like voiceover added to a movie that's not working," he adds.

To read the full scoop, head here. He eventually admits to liking a few story and character elements, so the post isn't entirely negative.

 

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    klavis , July 27, 2012 6:35 AM
    I agree with him but dude...he wrote some crappy screen plays based off what is mentioned in the article.
  • 17 Hide
    jossrik , July 27, 2012 6:45 AM
    I didn't think anyone bought Diablo for the awesome story, if I remember right, none of the Diablo games have had that great of a story, it's more of a loot rush that never quite gets satisfied.
  • 15 Hide
    biggiebody , July 27, 2012 7:36 AM
    ironmbThe guy probably makes x20 as much as you do writing "crappy screen plays". Burger flippers.

    I always find it stupid and annoying when someone says something like this every time somebody gets criticized. "So and so makes more money or so and so won this, what have you done...etc." That has nothing to do with anything. Crappy is crappy whether they make more money or won something before.
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    klavis , July 27, 2012 6:35 AM
    I agree with him but dude...he wrote some crappy screen plays based off what is mentioned in the article.
  • 17 Hide
    jossrik , July 27, 2012 6:45 AM
    I didn't think anyone bought Diablo for the awesome story, if I remember right, none of the Diablo games have had that great of a story, it's more of a loot rush that never quite gets satisfied.
  • 11 Hide
    klavis , July 27, 2012 6:50 AM
    ironmbThe guy probably makes x20 as much as you do writing "crappy screen plays". Burger flippers.


    And your point?
  • 9 Hide
    proxy711 , July 27, 2012 7:00 AM
    jossrikI didn't think anyone bought Diablo for the awesome story, if I remember right, none of the Diablo games have had that great of a story, it's more of a loot rush that never quite gets satisfied.

    Not only that but even the devs said that the story was secondary to the game play. They didn't want it to get in the way of slaying demons. That's why the player was mostly an observer, and the game didn't have Mass Effect style conversation system.

    It would be different if Diablo 3 was marketed as an epic story driven game.
  • -4 Hide
    mylloc , July 27, 2012 7:15 AM
    He never play diablo 2
  • 3 Hide
    kcorp2003 , July 27, 2012 7:23 AM
    lead developer of the BF3 he said this

    "diablo is definitely not exactly Cormac McCarthy. The world lore is good to frame the clicking. That is about it"

    this response came from what i said,

    "i'm just trying to get the storyline in order before i start playing...i'm reading up on the Lore summary."
  • 5 Hide
    peroludiarom , July 27, 2012 7:27 AM
    First of all - yes, the game play is leading development point, but lets be honest - we have to say about the hole game - it is crap right now, and it will be like that until (may be) patch 1.1 (planed for end-of-year).

    And after all - we don't have neither story line nor good game play. THANKS BLIZZARD, I WILL BUY YOUR NEXT GAME FOR SURE!
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , July 27, 2012 7:30 AM
    its an MMO what do you expect?
  • 15 Hide
    biggiebody , July 27, 2012 7:36 AM
    ironmbThe guy probably makes x20 as much as you do writing "crappy screen plays". Burger flippers.

    I always find it stupid and annoying when someone says something like this every time somebody gets criticized. "So and so makes more money or so and so won this, what have you done...etc." That has nothing to do with anything. Crappy is crappy whether they make more money or won something before.
  • 9 Hide
    BringMeAnother , July 27, 2012 7:47 AM
    jossrikI didn't think anyone bought Diablo for the awesome story, if I remember right, none of the Diablo games have had that great of a story, it's more of a loot rush that never quite gets satisfied.

    Yeah, but a good story always adds to a game and since it is Blizzard we are talking about, it's not like they didn't have the time or resources.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , July 27, 2012 7:47 AM
    biggiebodyI always find it stupid and annoying when someone says something like this every time somebody gets criticized. "So and so makes more money or so and so won this, what have you done...etc." That has nothing to do with anything. Crappy is crappy whether they make more money or won something before.


    not only that but if you ever read a screanplay, jesus... are those things badly written, even by the best... mainly because its assumed that the thing will be severely changed from point you hand it in to movie out... but wow.

    that asside. i really wish there was a diablo like rougelike game.
    you know, an armor slot for every body part, earings, rings, all that crap, skill trees and so many resists and checks that even people into the game has a hard time keeping trask of it all... but the game is real time, like diablo, and has diablo style combat, instead of turn based combat, and the game was meant to be a how long can you survive, instead of a go here to here win than do it again.
  • 5 Hide
    Bloob , July 27, 2012 7:54 AM
    jossrikI didn't think anyone bought Diablo for the awesome story, if I remember right, none of the Diablo games have had that great of a story, it's more of a loot rush that never quite gets satisfied.


    Story telling wasn't very strong in the older Diablos, but the stories themselves were pretty good. Diablo 3 has a boring, predictable, kiddy-grade story and characters. Instead of showing and letting the player play through events, everything is just told ( often by the villains no less ).

    Not to mention, the game has some serious flaws in skill, progression and itemizattion departments as well. The fact that this has a WoW team behind it really shows on many of the decisions. The basic hack slash elements are pretty fun, but even there it's got some problems with hit detection etc.
  • -2 Hide
    suture , July 27, 2012 8:05 AM
    heh, again with Diablo 3 news on tom's hardware, its just my impression or ppl love to bash on blizzard games?
    Weird cause i never see them criticize a sh**** netcode on a recent beat'em'up or a sucky gameplay in a action/adventure game, or dunno.. a crappy story on a recent shooter.
  • 0 Hide
    Menigmand , July 27, 2012 8:51 AM
    Why do game developers think we need a story in games?

    Either do a good story, or just leave it out completely and focus on making a good game.

    The old C64 and Amiga games rarely had any story, so I just used my imagination while playing.

    Also, newer games like ICO have had very little story built into them, and I found that game to be very meaningful regardless.

    The old Diablo 1 game basically had a story that said "Go to hell and kill the devil". That is enough :) 

    (I personally love a good story, it's just that either you write one, or you don't. "There is no try".
  • 1 Hide
    nitrium , July 27, 2012 9:01 AM
    Quote:
    most of the plot by merely being an observer, listing to NPCs as they talk back and forth

    Err, listening? That doesn't seem like a typo...

    Anyhow, seriously Charlies Angels (his only story credit)? And he criticizes Diablo III's writing? Black. Kettle. Pot. Calling.
  • 0 Hide
    dauntekong , July 27, 2012 9:05 AM
    Movie scripts are different from gaming scripts. A game is not a movie and if it was to be made into a movie, it'll be sh!++y like Street Fighter, Mortal Combat, Mario, Double Dragon, Resident Evil, and so on.

    John August sucks ass himself too! *COUGH*Which he does with his husband*COUGH*. His movies and scripts sucks and never made it to the top 10 on Theater box office gross. Nothing like Terminator 2, Avatar, Transformer, and so on. What makes his comment so important? I can understand if James Francis Cameron was commenting Diablo 3 or even Micheal Bay or Paul W. S. Anderson.

    Stay in your field of movie scripts (which sucks) and don't try to jump into the gaming script. That's two different world for you.
  • 2 Hide
    GNCD , July 27, 2012 9:22 AM
    dauntekongMovie scripts are different from gaming scripts. A game is not a movie and if it was to be made into a movie, it'll be sh!++y like Street Fighter, Mortal Combat, Mario, Double Dragon, Resident Evil, and so on. John August sucks ass himself too! *COUGH*Which he does with his husband*COUGH*. His movies and scripts sucks and never made it to the top 10 on Theater box office gross. Nothing like Terminator 2, Avatar, Transformer, and so on. What makes his comment so important? I can understand if James Francis Cameron was commenting Diablo 3 or even Micheal Bay or Paul W. S. Anderson.Stay in your field of movie scripts (which sucks) and don't try to jump into the gaming script. That's two different world for you.


    wait a damn minute!
  • -1 Hide
    olaf , July 27, 2012 9:57 AM
    LOL Hollywood known for there shitty writing and not just that, but turning anything they get there hands on into UTTER BULLSHIT (i'm insulting genuine bull made manure here), calls something Shit. Story never really was a forte of the game lets be realistic here, if you want story go play Gothic, Mass Effect, hell even GTA (yes im playing GTA4 just because i'm curious of its story and what they can come up as a mission with so far not impressed ) but Diablo is a hack&slash game period the story is just there as a small distraction and maybe make you hate the things you are killing more.
  • 4 Hide
    edwarddc , July 27, 2012 11:06 AM
    "Still, the plot itself seems secondary when it should be just as important as the exploration and sword-swinging"

    Wrong! Exploration and "sword-swinging" are also secondary. The focal point and the only thing that really matters is the auction house, at least from the blizzard's viewpoint
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