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Archives: Arena Games

From Diablo 2 Wiki

This is another page resurrected from the archives. It's presented here for posterity and amusement; the info on it was last updated pre-game, in 2000.

Arena Games

In the webmaster chat on 11 November 1999 Bill Roper stated that:

"The concept of arena combat exists in Diablo II because players can draw steel or spells against each other whenever they both choose to do so. While we are not including and actual setting for this style of play in the shipping version of the game we may address adding an "arena" to gameworlds in patches or future games."

Bill's words have been repeated and reiterated numerous times since then, so So Arena Games are not going to be in Diablo II, but as they might be in a future product, this page should still be of some interest.

Another new feature for Diablo II are Arena Games, a game type intended solely for PvP combat. From two to eight or more players will be allowed into the same game, and there they will fight in an area much smaller than a normal Act of Diablo II. There are many different features of Arena Games, including: a wide variety of games and game types, numerous tile sets, pre-battle wagering, and much more, along with world-wide player rankings derived from Arena game combat. Arenas are still a very new feature, and they will be extensively evaluated during the beta test, so at this point most of the features are purely in the planning stages.

General Information

Arena Games will be accessed from, via a separate menu specifically for them. While Diablo had only one game type, the regular "Quest" game, Diablo II will boast at least three game options: Quest Games, Arena Games, and Guild Hall Games. These three (and possibly unknown others) will have separate buttons for creating and joining them, and will be listed on separate menus. (Technically, no one will "create" a Guild Hall Game, since the Guild Hall exists perpetually on the server, but you get the idea.)

Selecting the Arena Games option will take you to a menu of current public games to choose from, as well as allowing you to enter the name and password for a private game, just like game creation in Diablo. Expect to see a screen of pre-duel options with such features as arena type, tile set, and numerous character options, (number allowed, classes allowed, character levels allowed, etc) before you enter the arena. There will be a large variety of arena sizes and tile sets and number of players allowed, but basically they are a place where players can battle head to head in a controlled environment. How many players? Obviously at least two, up to twelve or sixteen or maybe even more. It will depend on technical issues, latency and server side lag, but also how large the arenas are. We expect there to be multiple sizes of arena maps, some allowing more players than others. Also fun factor enters into it. If twelve in a particular arena is feasible, but not much fun, then it could be lowered to ten or eight, and twelve would be in an arena with more floor space.

Pre-Duel Settings

You won't just click on an Arena Game and leap into it in Diablo II, of course. First and foremost, (we believe) there will be ladder and regular duels. Just like in Starcraft, you can choose to battle someone off the official record, if you are playing just for fun, or wanting to try out some new items or new tactics or the like. We also assume that, like in SC/BW, a character will have to win a set number of regular games to become eligible to play ladder games. This sort of thing is mainly a precaution against ladder abuses, since it prevents trolls from getting friends who weren't into Ladder Gaming to join games and lose them, and also rules out simply creating a new character to lose to a friend and boost their rating.

Other pre-duel settings will be in the actual game set up, and in addition to possibly betting some item with your opponent(s), tile set, map size, day/night, monsters spawning, and many other things might be options. What would be the largest option, determining if the loser dropped any items upon death, seems to not be an option, as Blizzard North has stated that neither your inventory nor your gold will be at risk. The replacement for that is pre-duel wagering, where each of the combatants could wager an agreed upon item, with the winner getting his item back and of course the item wagered by the loser. This interface would likely be a modified version of the new trading window, altered to store the items on a time delay until the fight was decided.

How long will the fights run? It would seem a simple answer, based on how long you can last without dying, but consider how short the battles were in Diablo. Possibly there will be damage settings, like each player could agree to cut damage from normal game play by 50%, or 90%, or whatever, to make for a longer battle. Many imbalances would have to be worked out in this though. Also, there could possibly be an option for best of three or five falls. If damage is big, then one or two hits could decide a winner, or who gets in the first hit, and that's not a real true test of skill. Someone can get lucky one time, but how about three out of five times? One major issue with this and other games is...

...stocking or restocking for a fight. As we know by now, you will not be able to simply purchase potions in Diablo II. You will have to kill monsters and collect the body parts they drop, and then use Convert to turn them into mana or health potions, or arrows or bolts or other things for that matter, but you can at least buy those. So does this mean that to engage in an Arena duel, you will have to first play some Quest game and run around an easy area stocking up on eyes and hearts and converting them into potions? That would be inconvenient, especially if you just wanted to duel one day, not pop off to stock up on potions after every duel or two. Also, limited potions for arenas would alter the game play, since having twenty potions would give you a big advantage over another player who didn't have time to stock up and only had half a dozen. Perhaps there will be a way to buy potions that would only be of use while you were in the Arena game? Or maybe an option to not allow any potion consumption during the battle? Or you would just get ten of each every time you started an arena game, to make it fair? Unknown, and probably not yet determined.

Player Ranking System

The ranking system for Arena play is projected to be set up in different ladders by character class, and possibly further divided by character level. That's only fair, since even a very skilful lvl 20 Necromancer is going to be a stain on the floor if he takes on a lvl 45 character, who would have higher levels in every skill, much higher damage, and 200 more hit points. However Blizzard has not said anything about there being separate ladders, except for class, so perhaps they are just going to leave it up to the players to get to a higher level, and battle it out.

In terms of points awarded for winning or losing, expect a complicated system, somewhat like the current Starcraft/Brood War ladders, with the results ranked by numerous factors, including the level of the players in the fight, their ladder rankings, and other things that have yet to be determined. All of this will have to be fine-tuned and balanced during the beta and after the game's release as well. We at had a hand in the early formation of the ideas for how Arenas and the Player Ranking System could/should work. We brought this topic up during an interview of Max Schaefer at ECTS in 1998, and he asked us to get input from the readers, and make up a document detailing what people thought would be good to include in player rankings and arena games. We of course did so, with a lot of input from various players, and the resulting report was sent to Blizzard North and distributed to all involved. May 1999 at E3 we talked to a number of the programmers, and many of them mentioned it unprompted, saying that they had all read it, and though some of our suggestions were technically impossible, (we prefer to think of them as "pushing the envelope";) there were many features we mentioned that they liked a lot. You can see what we had to say here.

Additional information on everything related to this topic can be found in our Player Rankings page.

The Arena's Environment and Physical Options

Arenas will come in several different tile sets that have yet to be determined, but likely most of the sets that we will see in Diablo II will be represented. There will be a large variety of tile sets, though we are just guessing about it, as Blizzard has said nothing on them as of yet. Expect forest, perhaps with settings for tree-density, desert, dungeons, outdoor sets with streams or other obstacles, indoor arenas with rooms and walls, and many more things we can't even imagine yet. Obviously some characters will prefer some maps more than others. A Sorceress would love islands or something with lots of impediments to foot travel, so she could teleport around and drop Meteors and shoot off novas, while a Barbarian would want a small open area to get in close and murder.

Other than the level layout, options could include day/night, weather, number of characters allowed, wandering monsters to get in the way or turn into Necromancer toys, randomly placed mana or health potions, random starting positions, variable mana regeneration rate, and much more.

Penalties and Rewards

Another issue to be decided upon are the consequences of the duel. Apparently there will be no real risk in an Arena Game. No items or gold will be dropped upon death. Your biggest unavoidable risk will be possible damage to your player ranking, but of course you can avoid that by winning, or you can always play non-ladder games. And if you don't like the risk, you shouldn't be in a duel, now should you? So aside from the fun of the battle, what is your possible reward? Wagering with the other combatants, of course.

In a head to head duel, each person can put up some item, using a modified version of the trading interface, and the items will be held in a virtual storage space during the fight, with the winner getting them at the end. Of course each player can look at what the other is wagering, and everyone would have to agree and click "okay" or some similar button for their items to be included and the battle begin. Presumably anything could be wagered against anything else. Gold, gems, potions, weapons or armour, or any combination thereof. There would seem to be no limit, aside from what your character could carry. Obviously if you bet 2 suits of armour and a sword against the same thing, then that's about it for your inventory, you'll need to have nothing in there while you are duelling, or you can't carry back your items and the other person's items when you win.

Wagering gets more complicated when more players enter into the contest. In a team game each team could put up an item. However, since each person can't win 1/3 of a sword, that would be up to the team to work out ahead of time. Or each member of a team could bring an item, with the winning team getting to take one each, again, up to them to work it out. This would be very difficult to agree upon ahead of time though, with 4, 6 or 8 people all looking at what items were being proffered and haggling over it.

Free For All games add wagering complexity. It is unlikely that any 5, 6 or 8 people could all agree on the items that each person wanted to wager; some would want swords, others staves or bows or armour, etc. Plus you couldn't carry them all anyway. So probably those sorts of games will be just played for fun, or maybe everyone could bet 500 gold, or 6 healing potions, or something non-negotiable. That's assuming the "Highlander" game model, where everyone starts at the same time, and the last one alive is the winner, and he gets all the goodies in the end. There will also be ongoing sort of "Frag-Fests", where anyone can join into the arena battle, and just jump in and kill things. Probably this type of game would have an option for all dead to be resurrected in a neutral area, and come back into the fray when they are ready. Something like this could have a cover charge, say in the game info it says that 500 gold will be deducted from your account each time you die, and for each person you kill you'll get 500 gold. And you can play as long as you like, or until your gold runs out.

As with so many other areas of play, much of this is yet to be worked out, and will be finalised during the beta test.

Special Arenas

PvP fights will get more complicated with more combatants, and duels in Diablo II will be much shorter than games of Starcraft or Brood War. It is possible that there will be some sort of allowance for best of three, five or seven falls in a head to head duel. Team support seems likely, but since the fights go so quickly, teams will have to be decided upon before the game. No fiddling around for twenty minutes at the start of the game, then selecting some allies.

There are a number of different planned game types:

  • King of the Hill - This game would require some sort of geographic feature right in the tile set: probably a hill (literally), and perhaps at a set time the player who was on the very top of the hill would be the winner.
  • Highlander - This is of course based on the saying from the Highlander movies and TV show, "There can be only one." This would be a sort of Free For All game with everyone starting at the same time, and each dead player leaving the game. The last one standing would win the prizes, if people had bet things. Strategy would include staying out of big fights to avoid dying early. Some sneaky types could hide until nearly everyone else was dead, then swoop in and get the last kill and take the purse.
  • Free For All - This could be an ongoing game, where you would just join in and fight whoever else was in there. Probably there would be automatic resurrection, either at a random location, or else in a safe area. There could be various games of this sort ongoing all day on, with possible class or level restrictions to join in. Barbarians-only, between Clvl 20-25, for example.
  • Capture the Flag - Some sort of team capture the flag game. Very cool for guilds.
  • Siege - This would require some sort of customised tile set. Some players would be in a defensible position, the others would try to get in and kill them, or perhaps just breaching the defence would award a victory. Archers on a tower, or something of that nature.

As you can see from just this brief selection, there are many possible styles of games. It is unknown how these would work with the player ranking system. We suspect that many of these would just be for fun, or for practice, since it would be very complex to try and work out a fair ranking system based on these sorts of uncontrolled games. They will, no doubt, require specially made arenas to operate: A castle for each team in capture the flag, a series of hills around a larger hill for King of the Hill. This is a very exciting feature that will, no doubt, result in many a sleepless night and countless hours of play.

Nothing Is Final

Nothing is final at this point. Blizzard has mentioned a lot of these possible features, but they are just that, possible features. What works well and is popular in the beta will be kept in the final game, what doesn't work well or isn't liked by anyone will be altered or removed. We know very little "confirmed" info about Arena Games at this point, and we have engaged in some speculation here. Most of the new features are based on player requests, with Blizzard implementing the features that are most wanted while still being balanced and technically feasible. So head to our Player Suggestions Forum and you can make your voice heard, and if your idea is wonderful, it will probably catch on and you might see it in Diablo II. [Top]