Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 9: Shadow Temple

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 9: The Shadow Temple

Kakariko Village

Perculia: Seeing Kakariko Village in flames, the one zone that’s remained relatively stable through Adult Link’s explorations, sets the tone for this creepy segment.

Hamlet: Especially going back to some much earlier comments on the Village, and how it’s the oddly peaceful area with random goofy characters set off from the world. It was always a very comfortable place (interesting distinction from Link to the Past, where Kakariko is transformed and no longer safe in the Dark World).

P: This instance gave me the most initial confusion, even more so than the Water Temple (which was easy to figure out once I mentally reorganized the Temple’s map by water levels instead of the actual map floors). Much of this was due to being able to enter the Shadow Temple and obtain the Hoverboots and Dungeon Map without the Lens of Truth–it didn’t cross my mind to return to this segment as a child because I hadn’t needed to when prepping for the other three temples–Forest, Fire, and Water. It’s logical that the Shadow Temple would build upon the complexity of the Water Temple, and part of that would be elaborating the mini-instance required to access the actual Temple. The Forest Temple required you to race Dampe in the Kakariko graveyard, the Fire Temple had you meet Goron Link, and the Water Temple really kicked things up by sending you through the Ice Temple, a mini-dungeon with a map, compass, and loot chest at the end.

Continue reading

Your Deeds of Valor Will be Remembered

“That bauble around your neck—was it bought with gold or iron?”

Hardcore mode. Sounds intimidating. It’s for “hardcore players,” which as any erstwhile WoW forum reader knows, is the opposite of “casual players.” Which is what, statistically speaking, you probably are. This post is about why, name notwithstanding, Hardcore mode is for you. Paradoxically, it can be not only the most intense way to play, but also the most casual way to play. My goal in writing this is for you (whoever you are) to try it. Nothing more. Next time you’re logging in to D3 and don’t have a pressing goal in mind, or aren’t sure what you want to do, just hit that red button on the character creation screen and see what happens. Don’t have to do it for long, or have any big plan, just try it for an evening. There’s really only one risk: a lot of people never go back.

Do you want your possessions identified?

Diablo was in one sense the first of its kind, but it was really a update of a long-standing game genre, the “roguelike” (most famously Nethack). Diablo added graphics to the then-existing hack-and-slash dungeon crawling game concept. But a brief look back at Nethack, a well-known classic, is informative. Dungeon sizes, spell and monster lists, and item stat combinations were far more vast than we’re used to in the era after text-based games (aside: not having graphics used to leave quite a lot of resources free for other things). People would play for years and stumble across new spell/item/monster interactions, because it was virtually impossible to learn them all on your own. Beating the whole game was hard, and very few people did. The interesting fact for today though, is something that was so obvious there wasn’t even a name for it at the time: it was Hardcore. The whole value of the game was learning from your deaths. The first time I tried playing, my character died of hunger before I made it off the first level (so I don’t leave you in suspense, my next character died of food poisoning). Once I mastered the nuances of eating properly, and other skills, I’d get further with each character. Not because of any in-game property that carried over, but because I learned more about what to do and what not to do.

Continue reading

Diablo III Banner Customization Guide

There isn’t much personalization in Diablo III, but your character can display customizable banner on the menu screen and in-game. Since the banner interface is unwieldy when it comes to matching up locked designs with achievements (it tells you the name of the achievement needed to unlock any design, but doesn’t link you to it or give any other information), this guide covers the information behind all banner shapes, patterns, sigils, and accents. It presents each row of banner shapes, patterns, sigils, and accents as they appear in-game, with a description of all the achievements required.

There are patterns among the types of achievements and rewards: kills on certain difficulties reward specific augmentations, as explained below. Worth noting is that among Co-op kills, only Inferno ones have banner rewards, and among Hardcore boss achievements, only Normal kills have rewards.

Continue reading

The Auction House is Currently Available

Another collaborative essay by Perculia and Hamlet (see About for more info), this time not about WoW.

Diablo has always had a formula: elevating the mundane task of clicking and looting into something inexplicably enthralling. Everyone who’s played any Diablo game understands it, other games have tried to replicate it, but nobody ever seems to know exactly what the secret ingredient is. Diablo 3 looked as though it was going to remain safely in this well-charted territory. But over the hours we’ve spent playing in the first four weeks since the game’s release, one element we didn’t foresee has, for better or for worse, altered the formula on quite a fundamental level. We want to discuss the new system in Diablo 3 that, since it was released into the wild, has bent the entire game around its existence: the Auction House.

Blizzard has remarked that the game’s testing was done in an AH-free environment. While simulating the AH for internal testing would have been obviously difficult, it seems the ramifications of the AH have taken everyone by surprise. Having had time to see it in action, we discuss how the AH has affected players across the spectrum, from low-level first-time players which make up a large part of the user base to high-level Inferno players. We also explain why we now believe the AH’s omnipresence was inevitable once it was introduced.

As of this writing, on the planned eve of the arrival of the real money AH, the effect that will have on the landscape remains speculative. There’s no doubt it will be interesting, and will provide fodder for more analysis once everyone has digested its effects. But we wanted to write this piece before that took place, because the effect of the AH on the nature of the game, even without the more complex real money factor, is quite dramatic in its own right.

Continue reading