Travis Day On The Salvation of Diablo 3
A very well received topic on Battle.net, about the flaws and possible fixes of Diablo 3, that garnered lots of feedback caught the attention of game designer Travis Day. Here are his thoughts on the different subjects.
Challenge is certainly something that has value; players can’t feel a sense of accomplishment if everything in the game can be face rolled. I think many people would agree that, at launch, the game was too challenging. It was very difficult to progress through Inferno depending on your class or items and the challenge was a large part of the reason players felt like they were driven to the AH in the first place. When you present players with difficult content they will find a way to overcome it which usually means using only the most powerful items and abilities. The unfortunate side effect is it also drives players away from the play styles they feel are “just fun”. We have taken steps to improve this problem a number of ways; reducing the overall difficulty of Inferno, improving the potency of underused skills to allow players more diversity in their gameplay, and introducing Monster Power to allow players to set the game to a level which they feel is enjoyable. I think the right way to introduce challenge is to make it optional, for example having difficult content for the players that enjoy it without penalizing the players who prefer a more relaxed gameplay experience.
Items and AH
Items are a topic with a tremendous amount of depth and also a very sensitive subject, so I’ll do my best to provide some of our insights into the matter. Removing “bad” affixes is certainly a suggestion that surfaces from time to time, another suggestion is to group all the good affixes into a shared category so that they can’t all roll on the same item. I think on the surface those sound good but the reality of what they would do to the itemization isn’t what we want. I addressed the topic of the “bad” affixes in a prior post about items so I won’t go into too much more detail here, but I think it’s well within our ability to make those affixes compelling for some people, Pickup Radius and Witch Doctors are a good example of this. Specifically as it relates to Thorns, no one will disagree that in its current state is pretty lackluster, but it supports a play style that I’m sure we can capture with enough alterations to both the core mechanic and some supporting class abilities and passives.
As it relates to bucketing affixes so Crit Chance, Crit Damage, and Attack Speed are mutually exclusive, yeah that would add more choice to item selection, but it would be artificial. I think this issue has some underlying causes that we should look at before going to the extreme of preventing them from existing on the same item. One of the first reasons trifecta items are an issue isn’t that they are so good; it’s that they are the only thing that is good. Of course you want the only three stats that increase your character damage in a meaningful way on the same item, because there are ONLY three stats that increase your character damage in a meaningful way other than your primary stat. I don’t want to derail this by getting into why primary stats were introduced or debate whether they are good or bad. I do want to say that Diablo 3 has been through much iteration during which a vast number of approaches to stats and items were tested and in the end we felt primary stats were the right thing for Diablo 3. I think a better approach to this issue is to introduce more affixes that players are interested in, so there is a sense of tension over what the six affixes are on your “ideal gear”. When a perfect pair of gloves is “Core Stat, Vit, Res All, Crit Chance, Crit Dmg, Attack Speed” and you can’t even imagine another stat you would want instead of one of those, we have a bigger problem. Introducing more choice instead of less and giving players more ways to feel like they are customizing their character is what we want to see. If gloves also had the ability to roll +% School Damage, +Life on Hit, Skill specific affixes, plus a couple more things you want, than players may find themselves in a situation where trifecta isn’t as clearly defined anymore.
The “problem” with trifecta items can’t be discussed without also pointing out that it is only a problem because the AH makes obtaining these items so easy. On a basic level, I have no problem with items existing that players highly desire, but when it is a forgone conclusion that you will have those items then we have problems. If the auction house never existed, players wouldn’t be upset that trifecta exists, they would be upset that they haven’t been lucky enough to find their own trifecta items. To summarize, I think the right solution to this problem isn’t cutting trifecta items from the game, but rather it’s about getting to a point where you want more things than you can fit on an item.
I think your affix ideas are cool, and we have spent a lot of time lately talking about what kind of awesome effects we could put on items that we don’t currently have. I’d even say that as cool as some of these ideas are, we can go even further. We are putting a lot of effort into coming up with really awesome item ideas for future content. I’ll give one quick example of my personal favorite so far before moving on and also to give context to the direction we are moving in. Imagine a pair of Legendary boots that read “Makes you ethereal, allowing you to freely move through enemies”. Whether or not that idea makes the final cut is hard to say, but we want to really push the boundaries as much as we can, so legendary items become things that players can get really excited about.
Your system idea for Nephalem Power Stat is basically a roundabout way of suggesting we re-implement the Diablo 2 skill system. The old skill system was fun, back in the day, but I think it’s honestly dated in today’s landscape. People fondly remember making tons of characters and trying out different builds, and while I have a lot of those same fond memories, I also remember that usually the end result of my time investment in my “cool new character” was complete and utter disappointment.
Today the availability of web sites or posts about character builds would mostly overshadow any of that old character rerolling. You would read a post saying someone else tried the build that you had imagined would be amazing, only to find out it was awful, or you would find out it was great and build it also. The skill system today allows people the flexibility to try out things they enjoy without penalizing players who want to experiment with new ideas. The only difference is if their idea doesn’t pan out, you didn’t waste hours leveling a bad character.
Character customization is fun. People want more ways to feel different from their neighbor, and we want to help provide players with more options in this regard as well. There are lots of things that we have discussed and some ideas we have for long term system additions to the game to help in this regard. One of them which I mentioned in another post is the plan to eventually introduce a system to allow players to customize their character appearance more. Another system we haven’t talked about before is the long term plan to change the way the Paragon system works to allow it to offer more character customization in the form of actual power. The details of that system are still being worked out and players probably won’t get their hands on it for quite a while. We do agree that customization is important and we want more ways for players to both express themselves and differentiate themselves from their friends and other members of the community.
Too many items
I cover this topic in some depth in the upcoming Item Blog that community is in the process of getting ready for release next week. I will briefly say that we agree that too many items drop and we have plans to eventually reduce the rate that players see items, while also taking measures to improve the general quality of items you do see. The end result should be fewer items that are better instead of tons of items you don’t want.
Legendary and Set items
This is a topic I’ve touched on some in this thread and it is also a talking point of the upcoming Item Blog, so I’ll just say that we agree and we want Legendary items to feel game changing.
Finding your own gear
Whenever we talk about what the fantasy of Diablo is and what we want the core gameplay to be, never do we say “we want players to farm gold and go buy items off the auction house”. The AH definitely has made an impact on Diablo 3 and we talk about it constantly, but our conversations are usually in the context of “how can we get players to find their own loot instead of just buying it”. The new crafting recipes and Demonic Essences were added to provide a little bit of this gameplay but we have a lot of ideas for the long term about how we want to go about addressing this. At the end of the day, it is our intention that players are able to find their own items, because we feel the game is just more fun that way. There are several reason why it might not feel that way right now. One is the inherent randomness of our loot system. Another is the fact that the AH completely removes all friction between player trades. And another is when players DO find items they should be excited about, they are often disappointed because this items are not very good. All of these are very important and we hope to address them over time.
This is something we constantly strive to improve. Yes, there are a lot of runes and abilities that are lacking, but as you can see with our patches, we try over time to improve the balance of them regularly. In some cases runes are designed just to be fun or cool. In other cases, we try to make a large spectrum of runes competitive, but the math ends up favoring one over the others. In some cases, certain abilities or ability combinations are so potent that they overshadow almost every other option available. WW/Sprint/Battle Rage is a good example of this. There are some cool ideas here, but I don’t want to turn this post into a discussion about specifics of design. This is a problem that we can’t fix overnight, but we are confident that over time we can constantly improve the situation and hopefully the community can see that we are making efforts on this front with every patch we release.
What crafting was meant to be and what it ended up being aren’t necessarily the same. Again there are a long list of reasons why it turned out to be a bit underwhelming for some people. Not the least of which is the existence of the AH. Why make random things when you can buy exactly what you are looking for? We are constantly exploring new ideas for how to make crafting more relevant and trying to carve out a more defined role for it within the scope of Diablo 3 itemization. We have discussed ideas such as letting players have some control over what stats will appear on the item they are crafting, using the crafting system to allow players to reroll the values of affixes an item already has, etc. This is a system that, with time, should be able to find a better place in the overall gameplay experience of Diablo.
This is an area that has a lot of room for improvement. I personally used to talk about the fact that when I would play with my brother and two of my good friends, I constantly felt like they were a detriment to my ability to farm, which is at the core of my enjoyment of the Diablo series. Since then, we have made changes to improve the coop experience like reducing the health multiplier of additional players and removing the damage scaling when more players join the game. However, we need to do more to improve both the in and out of game experience. We want it to be easier for players to find other like-minded people to play with and this is a topic we are actively trying to improve in the near future.
Ok I’ve reread this thing enough times that my brain is starting to melt. The Diablo team is incredibly passionate and constantly striving to make the game we love even better. I hope this post helps clear the air about where we stand on a lot of these topics and I also hope I never find myself never feeling the need to write a post this long again lol.
TLDR – Travis has crit Gosu with Wall of Text for 1 Billlllllllion damage.