In the wake of Diablo III’s recent unexpected delay, modders and hackers are desperately trying to get the latest version of the game working on any platform they can. One of the most common ways to do this is to use a piece of software called a “hack.” It’s a program that modifies the game’s files in order to fix bugs or add new features.

Blizzard’s recent crackdown on the Diablo II Resurrection mod, which allowed players to resurrect their characters by exploiting a bug in the game, has many people talking about the future of mods. Some think the decision will be good for modders, while others think it will end modding for good. An interesting debate has been started in the Diablo II community about what modding is and is not allowed.

Diablo II’s interface has always been a bit of a mess. Multiplayer games require you to connect to a dedicated server – and Blizzard is trying to make that process as easy as possible, but they’re making people jump through hoops to do it.

Apparently, Blizzard has decided to go all the way into the modeling community that has grown up around Diablo II:. Risen. After a technical alpha version that looked great, the modders came up with the idea of doing everything from unlocking classes to playing on their own servers. A programmer nicknamed Ferib Hellscream created a tool called D2ROffline, originally intended as a private tool for his friends to help them play offline without invitation in the alpha version of the client, bypassing Blizzard’s account and login validation. The tool eventually became open source, and then another modder, Shalzuth, opened D2RModding to allow modding on a larger scale. There were complications. According to Hellscream and Shalzuth, Blizzard sent them letters demanding that they stop cooperating and even sent a private investigator to one of their homes in a transparent attempt to intimidate them. None of the modders seem particularly concerned, despite a C&D calling for a complete halt to all development related to Activision Blizzard games. (The C&D sent to the US modder apparently only included a request to stop violating Blizzard’s user agreements.) We recognize that the modding community plays a big role in the longevity of Diablo II , and we appreciate their enthusiasm for the game, studio representatives told Kotaku. The classic Diablo II and its mods will continue to exist, and we will do our best to continue supporting mods for Diablo II: resurrect as well. However, some mods are atypical and pose a security risk to our games. Safety is always our top priority, and programs that may cause serious safety issues will not be accepted. It’s good to feel sorry for Blizzard, because cheaters cost developers and lawyers a lot of time and money, and there’s no doubt that these tools, as they were written, enabled exploits and hacking in the alpha version. But Blizzard’s interests obviously include controlling the flow of new content and preventing legal offline play, and there’s something troubling about a $75 billion mega-corporation sending asymmetrical legal threats to random players during alpha testing of a 20-year-old game. Still, before waving pitchforks, it might be a good idea to wait and see how the company handles content creation and legitimate tools after launch. View

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