First of all, I would like to thank Blizzard for creating a game that has passed more time and money away than any other game! I played Diablo off and on for over 3 years before Diablo 2 came out. I also am thankful that the items I would have changed were now in place, but for the most part, this article is NOT about reviewing Diablo 2, it is about getting the most from the game.
If you want to pass this information along, please tell people about my pages. Don’t take credit where credit is not due.
I have worked hard to bring this information to you, please respect that. Now, on with the show!
Mule’s date back as far as multiplayer RPG’s. Usually, the extra storage space (hence “mule”) or the security of the game “always being online” is a good thing… a flash back from the days of compatibility and crash nightmares. As an example, you could toss all your items on the ground in town while adventuring, and if the “lockup beast” attacked, you could rejoin and all of the items will still be in place! But, there has not been more of a reason to Mule than with Diablo 2. The rewards are many.
- Having 8 times the storage available is a HUGE concern with the amount of available items and sets in the game. Not to mention the fact that I am a big pack rat when it comes to equipment, you just never know when you are going to need an item.
- The increases in experience points are huge. Makes the difference between a few hours and a few days in leveling up at the later stages of the game.
- Serving the game from a different computer than what you are playing on, keeps the “speed freak” in all of us at bay.
- Having the “Party Screen” filled up is a reward in its self!
- Quest rewards are multiplied by 8. “Here is a Magic Ring,” or “Add Sockets.”
Needless to say, not everything is ever perfect when it comes to doing something that is out of the norm, there is some quirks that need to be addressed and questions answered and that is where this article comes in. I hope to get some information out as to what can and cannot be done as well as help Blizzard sell 50 million more copies?
Wondering what I am running? View the computers stats… [link removed]
Well folks, this is the major issues and FAQ when starting this plan:
Q: “How do you get 8 Mules with only one computer.”
A: You don’t. As of this writing, I have 8 computers in the house. Yes, you read that correctly. There are 8 computers running Diablo 2 when
Q: “How do you run 8 computers with one CD?!?”
A: You don’t. I purchased all 8 copies, including the expansion packs. I never said this was going to be a CHEAP topic!
Q: “I cannot afford 8 Pentium 4 computers! What do I do?”
A: You don’t have to. The lowest end computer that I have running is a P166 with 64 MB EDO memory and an “onboard” S3 video card. As long as the hardware supports Direct 2D (read DirectDraw) then you are good to go! The P166 is not really “playable” by any means (about 3 to 11 FPS at the lowest setting). Blizzard recommends a 233 MHz or 300 MHz for a reason, but for a character to just stand in town, there is no NEED (hehe) for all of the computers to be high end, unless you plan on hosting a LAN party or running SETI@home on the few hours that you are not playing.
Q: “Can I play on Battle.net with this setup?!?”
A: Yes and no. You can play as much as you want on Battle.net, to some degree. There is no restriction on how many different accounts you may create (as long as you comply with the Battle.net rules). There is an issue, however, associated with how NAT works (Internet Connection Sharing, WinGate, etc?) and the different ways it interacts with Battle.net and Diablo 2 itself. The limit for computers using NAT is 4. If you join a game with the 5th computer, the 4th computer that joined the game will be booted and the 5th one will also fail to join. I did contact Blizzard support regarding this issue and the reply was that they know of the issue and have no plans on changing it.
Q: “Can I get around the 4 Mule/NAT problem?”
A: Yes. You can have 2 ISP accounts, 2 phone lines, 2 “gateways” (as in ICS, etc) and have WinXP (using 2 network adapters) bridge the 2 “separate” networks so you could still file share, etc, but the logistics of accomplishing that is BEYOND this article. Maybe someday. If you have DSL or cable, you could always purchase 2 to 8 separate static IPaddresses to use on all of the computers. Expensive? Well, yeah, but remember, this is not a cheap adventure in gaming! It can be done, but it is not for the light hearted.
Q: “Ok, any other ways?”
A: You may try a “software” solution from Connectix called “Virtual PC.” This offers a kind of PC within a PC environment that is meant for development purposes, test different software on different OS’s without the need to reboot. I have (not yet) tried this software solution, but the initial reports that I am getting from the Virtual PC for Windows forums is that the “guest” OS in fact DOES support Direct X in a limited capacity. There is still some networking issues that need to be addressed in a future build that may enable full support of “client/server” gaming, but for now, be aware that the software is $200 US, but still cheaper than 7 more computers! Also, the hardware requirement for running SEVEN Virtual PC’s maybe a little much. 64 to 128 MB per VPC, a CPU that is split (plus overhead) between the VPC’s (no SMP support as of now) and the disk space requirements (2 GB each just for Diablo 2 full install, plus OS) may be another draw back (even though HD space is low priced anymore). Implementing this solution, in any case, is NOT recommended on the primary computer that you are using! It would be WAY too much for the system to be able to handle. Also, even though the VPC’s share the SAME CD drive, you would have to install DIFFERENT CD Keys on each to be able to play properly. Connectix rival, VMWare, does NOT support Direct X (DirectDraw) in the latest and greatest build as of this writing. Discovered this during the “trial period.”
With the release of Virtual PC 4.2 Trial Version, I was able to test my theory out. Unfortunately, the copy protection built into the product prevented me from finding out if this actually would work (Play CD not detected). I could have always downloaded a “No CD Crack,” but that kind of defeats the purpose. Also, Win95 and WinXP would not work with detecting DirectDraw to Play 2D in a Virtual PC, but Win98 did!
Software: The Diablo 2 Pyramid
Between my Battle.net checks the CD keys installed for each computer. You will not be able to play on Battle.net without unique CD Keys. Are there other options? Sure, check the Options and FAQ section later on in this article.and I, we have purchased 8 copies each of Diablo 2 and D2 LOD. Needless to say, between $50 each ($70 for the 2 collectors we have) and $40 for LOD, this is also not for the limited budget. Why purchase 8 of each?
Naming Mules and Class selection
Last year, I had little problem naming my Mules. StuffSTO, GemSTO, etc was great names for the permanent town residences. Then a problem surfaced. As more computers were added, the more “unique” names were required. Also, the more “real” characters that were used, the more Mules were required. There is nothing to say that you cannot have only 8 characters and after completing the game in “Hell,” use those same ones (except for the reasons listed in the next section). But, as all Mules do, they begin to fill up. There is little point if you are already creating a new character to play, start up new Mules! Here is where the naming scheme came into play.
I began writing down what quest each of the Mules ended up on, and that started to become a pain. Too much admin work for such a “simple” task, so I came up with a better solution. Name the Mules according to generation. Example “Fred” “FredII” “Fred-III” or “Fred_IV” etc, since you cannot have numbers in character names; the roman numerals were an obvious choice! Now, when firing up a game, you know that all the “IV” characters GO together! I also use my computer names (since they are all 4 letters) in naming my Mules. Not only does this make the names short, but in game, you know what character goes with what computer, and trust me when I say that this is important also.
Another good thing to do is create different “Classes” for your Mules. For example, I did have “BowSTO” an Amazon; carry all good bows, but then what happens? What computer is “BowSTO?” Now, you have, say “Bart-I” and “Fred-I” (note: my computers are NOT named Bart or Fred) Bart is a Barbarian, Fred a Druid. Give all Barbarian equipment to Bart and all Druid stuff to Fred. Simple, huh? Usually, I have the 6 Mules (2 characters being played, myself and G-Fri) each be different classes. No matter what you find, you can have a place to put that “just to good to sell” stuff.
Also, try to set up a system to handle other items, such as gems, runes, rings, amulets, etc, you could make a modification to the naming scheme to accommodate it! For example “BartRING-I” and “FredRUNE-I.”
HAVE YOUR Mules JOIN YOUR PARTY! This is VERY important! While you are down killing and completing quests, your Mule is in town and NOT in the same area (map location) as you are! Since this is the case, you must have everyone in the game be in the same party. After you complete particular quests, the result will be displayed on the quest screen as completed, more on this later.
With (and only with) patch 1.08, the gold accumulated via selling was split with everyone in the party whether or not they were in town or not! This is to include Mules! This is really not a bad thing, since it saves you in transferring (10000 gold at a time) money to your Mules for safekeeping. With v1.09, this bug was fixed.
Q: “There is a “level” requirement to complete the game, right?”
As of 1.09 (and all previous versions, including the retail 1.0) there is no level requirement to go to nightmare and hell (like Diablo 1 did). There is a couple, rather strange, exception, though.
For one, the Charsi “imbue” quest may be completed by the Mules, but you must be “level 8” before she will imbue anything. Really, this is not a big problem since Charsi’s imbue is CHARACTER level based. You would not get anything worth much with a level 1 Mule.
For two, the “Ancients” quest DOES require you to be of a certain level to get the EXPERIENCE from it, but since the Mules are not there anyway, they do not get any experience! Regardless, this does not stop the Mules from going further to “beat” Baal and head to the next difficulty.
Quest rewards are always a plus, and the Mules also receive them! The extra skill points, hit point vial “From the ashes” as well as the new “resistances” and “add sockets” quests. More about this area in the “Bonuses from Mules” section, up next.
Q: “How do I get all the “Quest Items” IE: the staff, heart, cube???”
A: As long as all the Mules and you are in the same party, the items will drop upon killing/opening/finding the particular “Quest Item.” If the Mules were NOT in the same party, the items may still drop, but “cannot complete this quest in this game” may result. Even though that under certain circumstances, this is ok (like talking with someone following picking up an item may still work to “complete” that particular portion), I do not recommend forgetting to finish any step. A “do over” may result, and that is just a bummer.
Q: “What quests must I complete?”
A: Very little, actually.
- After “saving Cain,” make sure that each Mule talks with him. This is to ensure that that particular quest “reward” is earned for everyone to avoid having to do it again. Sucks to go to act two and have Cain not be there when the “server Mule” did not talk with Cain.
- After “killing Andarial,” talk with Wariv and “Go East.”
- You may want to also pick up the bonus magic ring, but not “required.”
- You can also receive your “free” hireling (Merc), but they serve really no purpose other than to make the town crowded. You also cannot get rid of them, short of committing Mule suicide.
It starts to get a little touchier now.
- You do not have to send a Town Portal (TP from now on?) to have your Mules pick up the “Horadric Scroll” or the “Skill book” (from the sewers).
- After finding the Cube, send a TP and have all the Mules get it. This is essential to finishing many other quests and also extra “storage” space, plus, you only have to do this once, no need to get it for the “Nightmare” or “Hell” difficulties, not like there is a different one. (Hint, hint, wish list for Blizzard?!?)
- Get the Staff in the Maggot Lair. Send TP (after poison is done spewing) and pick it up. Note: All the Mules must get all the items to create the final product. Otherwise, you will not be able to transfer to the next act!
- Get the Amulet. Send TP and pick it up!
- Place all the items in each cube and transmute them. Note, there is also no need to “Identify” them via Cain first. You can chat with him AFTER transmuting to save time and ensure that the “quest” is completed.
- After killing Durial, all the Mules must chat with Jerhyn by the temple and then Meshif to head to Act 3.
Even more shuffling is required here.
- Getting the “Gidban” and “Statue” is not required, unless you want the “This magic ring does me no good” bonus from the Mules and the extra hit points for those rush moments of going down the WRONG TP!!! Heeheheh. Note: The magic ring offers do NOT seem to be level based. The Mules usually get BETTER stuff than I do!
- Get the Eye in the Spider Caverns. Send TP and pick it up!
- Get the Brain in the Dungeon. Send TP and pick it up!
- Get the Heart under the Bazaar. Send TP and pick it up!
- Kill all Councilmen for the Flail. Send TP and pick it up! Warning: this is one of the more difficult levels to make sure the coast is clear before having all the Mules go through the TP. A few times, they have been DOA!
- Put all the items in the Cube and transmute. Again, no need to identify the items beforehand, just after it is done. Cain still will want to chat about the individual items, but what the hell.
- Kill Mephisto. Send TP and head through the portal to Act four. This is another situation to make sure that the area is clear before sending them down. Note: Even though the person that threw the TP had entered the Portal, it will still be there, until it is “recast.” Not so with Act five!
- You only have to kill Diablo and go through the resulting portal to finish this act. (In regular Diablo 2, the game will timeout and everyone will exit at the same time. Quest completed.)
- Through out this act, the Mules really do not need to do much. You can complete the “Add Sockets,” the bonus “Item,” and the “3 Rune” quests by chatting with the appropriate people after the “Real” character is finished, but they are all optional. And even if the Mules do not talk with anyone, they will still be able to finish the game.
- After killing Baal, a portal appears. Have each of the Mules (and real characters) “Save and Exit” the game BEFORE the server does.You do not have to have all the Mules go through the portal to be able to get to the next difficulty level. Everyone should be finished and the “level 1” Mules are now labeled as “Slayer” etc.
That’s all there is to it! Simple, huh? There is a few quirks that you may find, but over all, it is a seemingly easy process. You can then have the server Mule start a Nightmare game and have everyone join in and start over.
You may want to only have the 6 or so Mules to avoid having to repeat the quest completion process each time for new Mules and new Real characters, but be warned, the server Mule MUST be a new character! If it is not, all the “quests” will be completed and unavailable! After the server Mule character is created, everyone else may join (even the newly finished “Slayer” Mules). As I said before, I do not advise of this just because you will soon run out of space. If creating new characters, you may as well create new Mules too!
Bonuses from Mules
The “Bonuses” you receive from doing this are plenty.
- Free Items! The quest reward rings and items are great! Don’t let this be underestimated!
- More free Quest Rewards! Even though Charsi refuses to imbue a level one characters stuff, the “Add Sockets” may be enough to say, hell yeah!
- Extra Stash! This was a little “better” before the 1.08 patch came out. Why? There were no level requirements on unique items. A level one Barb could easily wear any item (especially with the “bonus stat points” that you may also receive with quest rewards?) Unfortunately, the resulting v1.08+ patch added level requirements that are rather high for Mules to obtain, but they can still CARRY them! Don’t forget about those “pre-patch” items still floating around out there, also.
- Extra Gold! Even though the cap for stash gold is 50000 for a level one character and 10000 inventory gold, 60k is 60k, especially in the beginning, fortify your Mules and get a game going, even a TP is expensive in the beginning. You may even choose to “play” your mules for a few levels, just to get the extra gold stash and ability to carry more gold in inventory. Whether you choose to gain levels to be able to “use” a few Uniques (should “Uniques” be plural?!? Big oxymoron), that is up to you!
- Probably one of the bigger bonuses is the fact that all the experience (as well as difficulty) is multiplied with more people (read Mules). Your experience is NOT split with the characters in town. Only on the same map “area” (Blood Moor, etc). Since this is true, A level one Matriarch is possible and common in my house.
- The biggest bonus may just be the added item chance of dropping from monsters with more people in the game and in your party! This could be the difference between completing that kick butt set or not?
Are all of these bonuses worth the hassle of running 8 computers and Mule management? Well, that is up to you.
Q: How about using the “players 8” command in V1.09:
A: I took a new character out to Blood Moor and killed one zombie using the command and also having 8 LAN players in the game. The results? 148 EXP in “players 8” or “not in party” and “in party.”
Scroll through the various screen shots and view the description below them…Note: I know that “some” of the names are spelled wrong…they just DIDN’T fit! 🙂
The EXP given is the SAME as having 8 players in or out of your party on a LAN. The pictures show that fact.
- Using 8 computers in and out of party
- Using “players x” with 1, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 options
- Used “players 8” with 2 people in Blood Moor (EXP = 99)
- Used 8 computers in party with 2 people in Blood Moor (EXP=99)
Looks to me that this is a great options IF you do not need the extra storage, nor have the need to play on Battle.net AND you have no feelings about cheating!
Needless to say, I have been enjoying this feature for awhile and not just with v1.09. The other grace? I can say that ALL of what I do is “supported” by Blizzard… 🙂
Not supported? Well, I believe that this “feature” is a crack, cheat, etc…
Why? After you use “players x,” you can hit “P” for your “Party” screen and it pops up blank. If you also use the command line option, for example, “diabloii.exe -players 8,” you will ALSO be able to hit “P” for your “Party” screen, but it does NOT add the experience as the chat box version does. Also, neither version works on Battle.net.
If you created a “normal” game, “P” for the party screen would NOT appear…
If Blizzard “meant” to have this as a VALID play option, even as a single player game, they would have:
- Placed the information in the “readme” file
- Placed the information in the “patch” fixes
- Posted the updated information on the Summit
- AND made a GUI (idiot box, check box, drop down menu, what ever) for this option IN GAME!!! Create game, select “players” amount, start…
Since NONE of these were actually done, and it “just” appeared, I have concluded that this is NOT how it was intended. The command is a DEVELOPERS option for working on the game and NOT intended for the end user…
A reader informed me that I should reread the patch.txt that came with v1.09. In doing so, I did find this little tidbit:
– Typing “players X,” where X is a number between the current number of players and the maximum (8), in the message
box will now set the effective number of players in the game (in single player, open Battle.net and TCP/IP games only).
After finding out about this information, I stand corrected on the “undocumented” reference in regards to this cheat. “Wait a minute” you say, “don’t you think this is REALLY not a cheat after all?” Well, no. It is still a development option that is placed in the game to be able to test certain functions without having 8 people actually in the game. The other is that the patch.txt states that “maximum (8),” of which is not true. You may use
(I believe) up to 255! Now, if someone uses “players 8,” is that considered cheating, but “players 16” is, since it is NOT supported in the patch.txt? Give it up. You cannot use it on Battle.net, the “secure” servers run by Blizzard, It is a cheat.
Furthermore, since “players x” is a CHEAT CODE, it is discounted as a viable option for me. Period.
Upon further investigation, I have discovered that it “appears” that only the experience points that are gained by using this cheat are actually multiplied, NOT the item drops and bonus’s that occur when their is additional people in the game AND in the same party… In fact, it does not seem to me that the item drops are any better than with only one person. It is a fact, though, that upon completion of certain quests, the more people you have in the party, the better your drops (soul stone/gem drop is a good one). This is not the case with players x. It does NOT drop more gems if using this cheat, but acts as though you only have 1 person in game (probably to avoid the “massive” drops that would occur with “players 254”). Thus, I will stick with my 8 computer configuration since I DO get a bit of a benefit from it.
Options that I have not checked out, due to various reasons and other questions are:
Q: “Do I need to even complete THAT many items in the quests?”
A: It is not really that many, so, sure, why not?
Q: “I don’t have cable/DSL. Can I do this?”
A: Sure. The bandwidth that the Mules use while in town is minimal and should have little, if any, impact on your play experience.
Q: “Can I make CDR’s of one Diablo 2 disk and use that on all of the computers?”
A: The short answer, No. The long answer, maybe. Battle.net does use the CD Key from whatever version you are running, whether it is the Expansion or original Diablo 2. Does it work locally (LAN)? Don’t know… don’t care.
Q: “Can I use a copy of Diablo 2 disk, install on all of the computers, and buy 8 copies of the expansion and save a boat load of money?”
A: Don’t know. Don’t care! I am for supporting Blizzard in their efforts in funding this piece of work that has consumed MANY hours of my time (as well as my roommate) over the last year. I neither recommend pirating software, nor condone it. Go to your local software store and buy the copies, build a box pyramid of your own, and enjoy the fruits of having many Mules available at a moments notice, it only hurts for a little while, the first Diablo 2 boxes I purchased had no stickers on them, then I got one with “one million sold.” The latest was “3 million sold.” Maybe when all the geeks find out about this, many more will be sold? I also got funny looks at the local software store purchasing many copies of LOD, “Hosting a LAN party?” “No, just for me.”
Q: “Isn’t this “cheating?””
A: Depends. I consider cheating, well, the definition changes for any given circumstance. Using “outside” help to get ahead could be construed as cheating. Example: A modification to the .exe code to allow 8 players to be in game with one computer. I am not modifying any code in any way, cracking, taking advantage of a “loophole” or “backdoor,” nor copying software to violate the EULA. I have done nothing that is not available right out of the box from Blizzard. Is this cheating? Not in my opinion, and if you think it is, I am happy for you. If you would rather use the “players x” developers hack explained above, more power to you…
Q: “Mods can do most of this already, why spend the money?”
A: I hate mods. I believe that there is great people in the world that try to help others in everyway possible, but there is also others that do not give a damn and try to destroy what people build up as a way of “having fun.” All installed mods, whether it be a “trainer,” or modification of game code itself, have the potential of creating a “backdoor” for crackers to enter your system, steal information, make a very stable game unstable or generally create havoc. I try not to make it easy for this to happen. Not to say that there may be some GREAT mods out there, but they are just not for me, so don’t ask.
Q: “How about Hardcore?”
A: YEAH! Like, why not? Many times, before I transferred my “older” equipment to the Mule, I would die. Plenty of colorful words would then be spoken. You could even go as far as giving permission to your Mules to loot your dead corps. Not a wise idea if you just died with a bunch of monsters around. But if you die via barrel or trap, this could be an option. Then again, if you die by barrel, you may wish to choose not to play hardcore.
Q: “Does Blizzard know about this?”
A: I am sure they soon will. They have yet to “Nerf” the Mule scene, nor squish the “eBay” situation. I have thought that the very FIRST patch would have made SOME sort of level requirements. As of v1.09, there is none. Needless to say, I am hoping that if there ever is a “Nerf” of the level requirements, existing characters will not be affected. I have plenty already, anyway.
Q: “Can I copy my “old” high level characters and convert them as Mules? LAN? Battle.net?”
A: Yes, and No. You can only have ONE character at a time with any given name in any given game. And don’t forget that the server Mule must be a new character when starting up a “New” game, Battle.net has no way of transferring characters from one account to another, but you may make a character on one account, finish the game, make a new account, and have the old character come in. But if you are anything like I am, those “old” characters still carry plenty of stuff that is too good to sell, that eats up space available for new junk!
Q: “Do you backup your characters?”
A: YES. Every so often, I back up my LAN characters to avoid having to REDO quests or lose any items. Another good idea is to backup your characters BEFORE converting them to the expansion. Is this cheating? Sure, maybe not, don’t know, don’t care, but if you lost 70 Mules and plenty of high level items/characters in a power outage/hard drive crash/nuclear blast, you would not care much if it was considered “cheating” by the casual gamer. Trust me, you will thank me for your backups if/when it happens.
Q: “Do you use your LAN backups to “dupe” items and such?”
A: No. I am firmly against that kind of “cheating” in any regard.
Q: “Do you move “used” items from your good characters to your new ones?”
A: I choose not to answer this. Actually, for the most part, no. When I start new, the slate is totally clean. This kind of brings up the point of having Mules to begin with!
Q: “Why have Mules if you are not going to use the damn items anyway?!?”
A: Well, the experience was the number one reason for me. I have transferred items from characters I will not play again, to a new one to help “boost” the character and ease the difficulty (8 people games remember!). Is this a habit?
No. Try to think of it this way, you are “trading” with yourself!!! That’s not cheating, is it?!?
Q: “Do you sell any of my items on eBay?”
A: Not anymore. I did raise extra cash to help pay for the additional game CD’s (can you believe it? Diablo 2 paid for ITSELF!!!) Did I make enough for all of the games? No. Not even close.
Q: “Why no more selling on eBay?”
A: The main reason is that I purchased a house in an area that is obviously ANTI DSL/cable. Even though modems (even only one) is sufficient for your Battle.net bandwidth needs, it still is frustrating. LAN=zero lag. I like it that way, and it is tough to find a buyer for “open” items. With all of the cracks on Battle.net, there is little “value” for “legit” items anymore…
Q: “Does this method work with other games?”
A: Sure, why not? But, for all of you EverCrack addicts, do you want to pay money for 7 ADDITIONAL accounts?!? If so, you are THE hardest of hard core, especially when there is no REAL benefit (IE experience points) from doing so, just a monthly pocket book drain.
If you have the money, desire, willpower (if you had that, you would NEVER get 8 computers anyway) or want to try something different, give it a go. If you upgrade your hardware a lot, you may have 2 or 3 computers already sitting around! Remember, they do not need to be super computers to be Mules. They just need to WORK! Diablo 2 does NOT check the “specs” of your system to make sure that you can run the game (thanks Blizzard). As a side note, I hate games that do that.
Q: “What can I do with the computers in the off hours? What do you do?”
A: Off hours? HAHA! Seriously, you can do 8 times more stuff with them than you can do with ONE! Really, though, I have been running SETI@home for 3 years now. Takes care of TWO habits, gaming and alien searching.