28 July 2007

Virtual Mules

The one thing that would vastly improve Diablo II for me is a single big stash space, shared by every character I have on a given account. Right now it's eight little spaces. As a result, I spend at least half of my playtime passing items back and forth among them (a process called "muling"). Last night I started a second "real" character, and it took me five hours of muling to set him up with items collected by the first "real" character, before I even started playing. This is retarded. It's a game. Why am I spending my playtime doing mindless tedious tasks?

Yes, I know, the creators of Diablo II insist that item collecting is not the point of the game. I say to them, you're the ones who are missing the point. The storyline and quests are only entertaining the first time (and for some people, sometimes not even then). Once you've done them, there is nothing else to do.


1. What's a mule?
A mule is a character that was created for the express purpose of storing things in its stash space. The term "muling" means "transfer of items from one character to another." How to mule in Diablo 2 explains it in more detail.

2. Why did it take me five hours?
a) Because I only have two computers, and can therefore only have two characters in a game at a time. This means that on one computer, I have one character stand in the game, while on the other computer, other characters take turns coming and going, and they pass items back and forth a little at a time. I had a total of one "real" character and seven mules when I started setting up the second one. By the time I was done, I'd decided to start the second one on a different account, where he now already has one mule of his own. To make it more complicated, I had to delete one of the mules of the first character, because I wanted to use his name for the second character, which meant scrounging together enough space to hold all of the stuff he was holding.

b) Because I'm terribly disorganized about stashing things wherever they fit. I do have a system, but I refuse to go to the lengths of actually creating a spreadsheet to track everything, the way some of the hardcore players do. Also, half of my good beginning-level equipment was being worn by the mules, and I had to look at the clothes on each one individually (seven total mules plus their hirelings, which are mostly where I store my low-level bows). Also also, once I had multiple versions of the same items next to each other, there was a lengthy winnowing process of discarding inferior copies.

And also also also, there's been a bug since the latest version was implemented, which sometimes causes the game to crash when I exit games. This is why my slower computer just has the one character standing there the whole time, instead of also switching them in and out; on its older operating system, game crash means having to reboot.

3. If I hate it so much, why do I bother collecting stuff at all?
Because you never know when you might need something! Unfortunately, I am a hopeless packrat, and even though I consciously threw away a whole ton of crap that I didn't want (or, more accurately, dumped them in "mule park" games where people stand around in camp with their mule characters while organizing their stuff; one player's trash is another player's treasure), and even some relatively good items that I should've kept, my first character still somehow ended up with a staff of seven mules. (He's a paladin. He'd probably like the idea of having staff.)

It's a slow upgrade process of constantly improving stuff. Items that were good when I started from scratch are now crap, and much of the stuff I consider good now will be crap later, and I'll throw them all out. But I need to keep them now because they're the best I have right now.

At some point in the future, I will hopefully get around to writing a post drawing some parallels between Diablo II items and Wikipedia articles. The lengthy process of starting a second character has been rather enlightening in some interesting ways.

No comments: