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Author Topic: Game Design Update  (Read 13727 times)
waffel
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on: May 28, 2012, 09:41:03 AM

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/6018173

Quoted for people at work or whatever:
Quote
With Diablo III out for nearly two weeks now, millions of players around the world are storming Sanctuary and joining the battle against the Burning Hells. At the same time, we continue to work around the clock to make sure you have an epic online gaming experience.

As more and more players begin to perfect their character builds and progress into Diablo III’s higher difficultly levels, some of the most prominent feedback lately has been about game balance and design, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today. As with any new game, gameplay issues are inevitable, and we hear a lot of feedback regarding what‘s balanced, what’s not, and everything else in between. We recently made some decisions to adjust (or outright nerf) a few class skills, and today we wanted to explain our overall philosophy on design changes -- as well as give some insight into some more changes that are coming up.

Before we get to that, though, we thought it'd be fun to share a few interesting stats we've collected since Diablo III's release:
On average players have created 3 characters each
80% of characters are between levels 1 and 30
1.9% of characters have unlocked Inferno difficulty
54% of Hardcore players chose a female character
The majority of Hardcore deaths (35%) occur in Act I Normal
The most common level 60 build in the game is only used by 0.7% of level 60 characters of that class (not including Passive diversity)
The most used runes for each class at level 60 are Barbarian: Best Served Cold, Demon Hunter: Lingering Fog, Wizard: Mirror Skin, Monk: Peaceful Repose, Witch Doctor: Numbing Dart
 

 
When it comes to making game changes, in general, our intent is to react quickly to critical design and balance issues, bugs, and other problems that seriously conflict with our design intent through hotfixes. For issues which aren’t as severely out of line, we plan to react in a more measured fashion -- through client patches. We have a patch coming within the next week (patch 1.0.2) that has been in development since the game’s launch and is mainly aimed at addressing service issues. The first real game balance changes, outside of hotfixes, will be coming in patch 1.0.3. We expect that because the game is new, some other issues will arise that will need to be immediately addressed through hotfixes, but in general, most changes will arrive through patches.

Regarding the changes to Lingering Fog, Boon of Protection, and Force Armor: we determined these skills were simply more powerful than they should be, and we felt their impact on class balance and how each class was perceived warranted hotfixes as soon as we were able. However, we don't want you to be worried that a hotfix nerf is lurking around the corner every day. If a skill is strong, but isn't really breaking the game, we want you to have your fun. Part of the enjoyment of Diablo is finding those super-strong builds, and we want players to be excited to use something they discovered that feels overpowered. A good example of this is the monk Overawe rune, which many players have identified as being quite good. We agree it's good, but we don't think it's so far out of line that we're going to swoop in and hotfix it out of existence.

Inferno is intended to be extremely difficult, but with some specific skills, a few classes were simply able to progress far more easily than intended. This made the classes, which were about where they were supposed to be, seem very underpowered. It also created the perception that the classes doing well were intended to rely on specific runes in all their builds, and the other classes were just broken. This is the opposite of what’s true. If any single skill or rune feels absolutely required to progress, it means that skill is working against our goal of encouraging build diversity -- and those “required” skills need to be corrected. We know these hotfixes snuck up on people, and it took us a day or so to communicate that they had gone live. However, our intent moving forward is that when there are circumstances where a hotfix is necessary, we’ll  communicate changes that could impact your ability to play your class through ‘Upcoming Changes’ posts in the General forum. Ideally, we’ll let you know as soon as we even have the idea that we want to make that kind of change.

That said, we also wanted to let you know we’re keeping a close eye on Inferno. The intent of incoming damage is that it should be a very consistent drain on your health, and mitigating that drain is a major part of what makes Inferno mode difficult. Right now, there’s a lot more damage “spikiness” occurring than feels right, and that’s one major area we’re looking to adjust in patch 1.0.3. While we don’t have any specifics yet, our design goals are to support and promote build diversity; continue to ensure that a mix of champion packs, rare packs, and boss fights are the most efficient way to acquire the best items in the game; and ensure that all classes are viable in Inferno.

From a high-level perspective, we think a more fundamentally fun way to approach difficulty in Inferno isn't seeing how much incoming damage you can avoid or mitigate, but rather to see how efficient you can be while voluntarily taking on a challenge that pushes you. For anybody who's ever died because they chased a Treasure Goblin too aggressively, you know what we mean; dying because you got greedy or overconfident can actually be a lot of fun. Now that the skills mentioned above have been brought more in line, we’ll be keeping a close eye on balance.

We've also seen some people saying our intention with Inferno is just one-shot you to make it difficult. While damage is a bit spikier than we'd like, we're actually seeing a pretty significant number of people attempting Inferno without sufficient gear. There's a good chance that returning to the previous Act to farm upgrades will do the most to help you survive. That said, we’d like to shift some of the focus away from survival and more toward using a variety of offensive tactics to succeed. Survival will still be important, but finding ways to maximize your damage while staying alive is more exciting. We’re not particularly concerned with whether or not a boss is “beatable,” though it should feel epic and challenging to defeat it. We’re more concerned with ensuring that acquiring 5 stacks of Nephalem Valor and taking on as many Champions and Rares as you can remains the most challenging and rewarding way to play.
 

 
On to items! One of the biggest pieces of feedback we’ve received regarding items is the relative power of Legendaries. This isn’t a simple issue to address, as it involves some intentional design decisions as well as expectations built by other games. First and foremost, Legendary items are not designed to necessarily be the best items in the game. They’re just one additional type of item as you level up, and they are not meant to be the primary items you’re chasing at the end-game. They can -- and should -- be exciting to find, but they’re not supposed to serve as the single driving force of the item hunt. Rare items, for example, have the possibility to roll up “perfect” stats that can, if you’re lucky, outpace the predetermined stats of a Legendary. That’s by design.

One problem we’ve seen -- and intend to correct quickly -- is players comparing high-level Magic (blue) items to lower-level Legendary items as “proof” of an imbalance. To help correct misconceptions of the actual stat budgets allocated to items, we’ll be exposing item levels (ilvl) of 60+ items in patch 1.0.3. Comparing an ilvl 63 blue to an ilvl 60 Legendary will hopefully make a bit more sense afterward. In addition, we’re planning to just straight-out buff Legendary items in a future patch, likely the PvP patch (1.1). These buffs will not be retroactive, and so they’ll only apply to new Legendary items found after the patch. In the long term, we’re looking at simply expanding the affix diversity and unique bonuses of Legendary items, and we’ll be able to share more details after the PvP patch.

Other areas of concern have been both the gem combination system and Blacksmith leveling and crafting costs. The intent, especially with the Blacksmith, is that he’s leveling with you, you’re able to use him as an alternate source for upgrades. Our design goal is that once you get to level 60, his recipes are actually good enough to help fill a character’s potential itemization gaps. To correct these issues, we’re looking to adjust the Blacksmith costs for training (gold and pages) and crafting from levels 1-59, and reduce the cost of combining gems so that it only requires two gems instead of three (up to Flawless Square). Both of these changes are scheduled for patch 1.0.3.

Of course, these are just a few of the more prominent issues we wanted to let you know we’re working on. In addition, we’ll be addressing a number of specific game bugs and other issues through future hotfixes and patches. We’re going full steam ahead on the PvP patch, which will also include a number of game changes unrelated to PvP, and we look forward to sharing more about that as we get closer to opening up a PTR, where you’ll be able to test out our changes -- and enjoy mercilessly slaughtering one another in the PvP arena.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2012, 09:43:25 AM by waffel »
Malakili
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Reply #1 on: May 28, 2012, 09:52:44 AM

Edit: Nevermind.
Amaron
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Reply #2 on: May 28, 2012, 10:02:04 AM

Two things make me rage in that post.

1) Hell damage is also too excessive compared to the gear available yet they see that as proof that people aren't at "Inferno" yet.
2) They actually think you can farm for gear in Act 1 to do Act 2.

The whole item system of a diablo game is not that hard to figure out.   It's easy to see what CAN drop even if you aren't lucky enough to get it.
Malakili
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Reply #3 on: May 28, 2012, 10:07:50 AM

Two things make me rage in that post.

1) Hell damage is also too excessive compared to the gear available yet they see that as proof that people aren't at "Inferno" yet.
2) They actually think you can farm for gear in Act 1 to do Act 2.

The whole item system of a diablo game is not that hard to figure out.   It's easy to see what CAN drop even if you aren't lucky enough to get it.

What?  They said Inferno damage is a little on the spiky side, and that as a separate issue, many people are trying to do inferno without sufficient gear. Also, Inferno also ramps up differently than the previous difficulty levels, so farming act 1 inferno so you can do act 2 inferno actually DOES make sense. 
waffel
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Reply #4 on: May 28, 2012, 10:12:18 AM

Two things make me rage in that post.

1) Hell damage is also too excessive compared to the gear available yet they see that as proof that people aren't at "Inferno" yet.
2) They actually think you can farm for gear in Act 1 to do Act 2.

The whole item system of a diablo game is not that hard to figure out.   It's easy to see what CAN drop even if you aren't lucky enough to get it.

What?  They said Inferno damage is a little on the spiky side, and that as a separate issue, many people are trying to do inferno without sufficient gear. Also, Inferno also ramps up differently than the previous difficulty levels, so farming act 1 inferno so you can do act 2 inferno actually DOES make sense. 

They suggested farming Hell for gear to do Inferno. As a monk, that suggestion is ridiculous.  Simple hell gear isn't good enough to survive in Inferno, at least not as a melee. I'm not sure what gear I have, and have been buying, but I'd imagine it is a lot of Act 2 gear which allows me to barely do Act 1 without dying half a dozen times.
Threash
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Reply #5 on: May 28, 2012, 10:13:46 AM

Exactly, you can't do act 1 inferno in hell gear you need act 2 inferno gear to do act 1 inferno.  And it is the same for the lower difficulties too, just less pronounced.

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Amaron
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Reply #6 on: May 28, 2012, 10:19:52 AM

Quote
What?  They said Inferno damage is a little on the spiky side, and that as a separate issue, many people are trying to do inferno without sufficient gear.

The sufficient gear bit is the problem here.

Quote
Also, Inferno also ramps up differently than the previous difficulty levels, so farming act 1 inferno so you can do act 2 inferno actually DOES make sense. 

You can't do that.   Everyone who's ever set foot into inferno agrees on this.   Lots of people think the difficulty is good.   Nobody thinks the gearing makes any sense though.
Abelian75
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Reply #7 on: May 28, 2012, 10:42:39 AM

Damn, 1.9% of characters have unlocked inferno?  That is a fuckload.  That suggests a whole lot of people are playing quite a lot.
Jeff Kelly
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Reply #8 on: May 28, 2012, 10:54:56 AM

As others pointed out you can't really "farm for gear" the way D3's loot system is set up. Which is annoying even when you start Nightmare.
MuffinMan
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Reply #9 on: May 28, 2012, 11:02:20 AM

It really screws trying to stay with friends too. If you want to join them and they are an act ahead of you then you're going to be REALLY squishy.

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Jeff Kelly
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Reply #10 on: May 28, 2012, 11:09:18 AM

It's basically a "trickle down" economy using the AH where you buy leftover gear from people a few acts farther ahead than you.
Thrawn
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Reply #11 on: May 28, 2012, 11:23:40 AM

People think Hell is too difficult too now?  swamp poop

If you can only ever beat Inferno by farming later Inferno gear then how are people progressing in Inferno?  Someone needed to beat it with normal gear to start the ball rolling then.  I decided to try and finish Hell and start Inferno last night, I beat up through Skeleton King Inferno with very little issues and only a few deaths.  I'm also up to about 45k hp, 200 all resists and 20k dps because I spent time improving my gear.  I joined an Inferno game with a Monk who had about 10k health, he died, a lot.  I think too many people just expect that they beat Hell so they should now be able to beat Inferno.  If your gear is so bad that you can't farm far enough to get better gear, use the AH and get some upgrades.  If you refuse to use the AH, that's your problem, not Blizzards.  Although the fact that it's about a 50/50 crap shoot if the AH will be working at any given time is certainly Blizzards problem.

Inferno damage spikes in crazy ways sometimes, and some elite packs are almost un-killable and gear drops for you that is way too far behind where you are at sometimes - I agree with that.  But I think the majority of the people upset (not in this thread, in D3 in general) are just upset because they can't beat it yet and not because of the few real issues with it.

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Azuredream
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Reply #12 on: May 28, 2012, 11:30:06 AM

I'm surprised there's so much attention being given to Inferno. I thought it was supposed to be like hard mode raids in WoW, as in: if you aren't crazy hardcore about the game you should ignore it.

The Lord of the Land approaches..
Soulflame
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Reply #13 on: May 28, 2012, 11:42:47 AM

People initially progressed in Inferno by using broken survival builds.
waffel
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Reply #14 on: May 28, 2012, 12:35:49 PM

I'm also up to about 45k hp, 200 all resists and 20k dps because I spent time improving my gear.

What class are you?
apocrypha
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Reply #15 on: May 28, 2012, 12:45:15 PM

2 things I'd like to comment on from that info post.

First:
Quote
when there are circumstances where a hotfix is necessary, we’ll  communicate changes that could impact your ability to play your class through ‘Upcoming Changes’ posts in the General forum

So we have to check the FORUMS every time we play a hardcore character to see if any of our key skills have been nerfed? WTF is wrong with the Breaking News box in-game or the launcher? I thought one of the key design goals was to remove the necessity to access information outside of the game!



Second:
Quote
we’re planning to just straight-out buff Legendary items in a future patch, likely the PvP patch (1.1). These buffs will not be retroactive, and so they’ll only apply to new Legendary items found after the patch

Way to crash the market in Legendary items.

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murdoc
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Reply #16 on: May 28, 2012, 02:31:28 PM




Second:
Quote
we’re planning to just straight-out buff Legendary items in a future patch, likely the PvP patch (1.1). These buffs will not be retroactive, and so they’ll only apply to new Legendary items found after the patch

Way to crash the market in Legendary items.

But.. but.. but... they'll be ULTRA RARE LEGENDARY ITEMS.

Have you tried the internet? It's made out of millions of people missing the point of everything and then getting angry about it
Thrawn
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Reply #17 on: May 28, 2012, 03:55:34 PM

I'm also up to about 45k hp, 200 all resists and 20k dps because I spent time improving my gear.

What class are you?

Barbarian, resists are counting the 50% improved shout.

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Amaron
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Reply #18 on: May 28, 2012, 05:06:23 PM

I'm also up to about 45k hp, 200 all resists and 20k dps because I spent time improving my gear.

What class are you?

Barbarian, resists are counting the 50% improved shout.

I have 450 resists, 55k life, 5000 armor, ~45% dodge and %20 block.   Trash mobs in act 2 face roll me if I try to melee.  You did fine in act 1 because your gear is pretty good act 1/2 stuff.   You are also a barb which means you can restore your life fairly easily.   Come act 2 none of that is going to matter.    Everything will near on 1 shot you making any life restore meaningless.   Nothing you farm in act 1 will be an upgrade either.    Don't forget simply killing the boss doesn't help either.   You have to kill the boss with 5 stacks of neph which means no spec switching.

Welcome to inferno btw.  why so serious?
MuffinMan
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Reply #19 on: May 28, 2012, 06:09:39 PM

So who wants to combine gems right now if they are just going to lower the cost soon? Might as well just get all your gems from the AH until then? Haha too bad fuckers, the commodities AH has been down for days now.

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Phred
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Reply #20 on: May 28, 2012, 06:15:20 PM


Second:
Quote
we’re planning to just straight-out buff Legendary items in a future patch, likely the PvP patch (1.1). These buffs will not be retroactive, and so they’ll only apply to new Legendary items found after the patch

Way to crash the market in Legendary items.

Lol with prices ranging from 30k to 200 million I think the players can take responsibility for that. Besides isn't the consensus that legendaries are currently useless? How do you crash the market in useless items. Just sell it as pre-patch as if that adds some collector value.
Thrawn
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Reply #21 on: May 28, 2012, 06:22:46 PM

I have 450 resists, 55k life, 5000 armor, ~45% dodge and %20 block.   Trash mobs in act 2 face roll me if I try to melee.  You did fine in act 1 because your gear is pretty good act 1/2 stuff.   You are also a barb which means you can restore your life fairly easily.   Come act 2 none of that is going to matter.    Everything will near on 1 shot you making any life restore meaningless.   Nothing you farm in act 1 will be an upgrade either.    Don't forget simply killing the boss doesn't help either.   You have to kill the boss with 5 stacks of neph which means no spec switching.

I read this of course as I just hit Act 2 and logged off for a bit before I did anything in it.  Ohhhhh, I see.

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Lakov_Sanite
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Reply #22 on: May 28, 2012, 06:26:05 PM

I'm starting to wonder why exactly this game is supposed to be fun in inferno.

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Phred
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Reply #23 on: May 28, 2012, 06:34:17 PM

I'm starting to wonder why exactly this game is supposed to be fun in inferno.
It's not. It's for the e-peen crowd, the obsessive ADD types that ruin normal gaming.
Margalis
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Reply #24 on: May 28, 2012, 06:37:31 PM

Item level returns!

Edit: Having to introduce item level is symptomatic of a larger problem, and if you are constantly getting level 60 legendary items and level 63 non-legendary items while that may explain why the non-legendaries are better it doesn't explain why the game is deciding to give you better non-legendaries.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2012, 06:39:26 PM by Margalis »

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Amaron
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Reply #25 on: May 28, 2012, 08:28:41 PM

I'm starting to wonder why exactly this game is supposed to be fun in inferno.

The reality is what Baishok admitted a few days ago.   They overtuned inferno on purpose to ferret out the broken powers.
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Reply #26 on: May 29, 2012, 12:52:29 AM

So who wants to combine gems right now if they are just going to lower the cost soon? Might as well just get all your gems from the AH until then? Haha too bad fuckers, the commodities AH has been down for days now.
On the EU servers gems of all tiers have, so far, always been cheaper on the AH then just the gold cost to combine 3 lower tier ones.


Lol with prices ranging from 30k to 200 million I think the players can take responsibility for that. Besides isn't the consensus that legendaries are currently useless? How do you crash the market in useless items. Just sell it as pre-patch as if that adds some collector value.
Yeah good point. Maybe if he prices drop massively some of them might actually be worth buying  awesome, for real

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Ironwood
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Reply #27 on: May 29, 2012, 04:38:59 AM

Yeah, I noticed that myself and didn't really understand it.  All the gems I've bought out so far have just been dirt, dirt cheap.

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Reply #28 on: May 29, 2012, 05:59:56 AM

I think it follows from the fact that gems keep entering the system but never get destroyed due to the unslot system.
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Reply #29 on: May 29, 2012, 06:20:35 AM

Well, sure, but to enter the system there's an initial cost.  And a recurring cost for every upgrade.

We're eating this cost every time we upgrade, and yet it's just being 'lost' in the system.

This is bad economics.


 why so serious?

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K9
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Reply #30 on: May 29, 2012, 08:31:09 AM

What tier are you buying at? In act I of hell square and radiant gems drop with good frequency. Almost any rare/champion pack or radiant chest offers a shot at one or two gems. If you just stockpile them rather than combine them up then there'd be plenty to drop on the AH for instant profit. I imagine by later acts of hell you are seeing the T9-10 gems dropping often enough to keep the market going.

Not having an outlet for gems is going to cause the price to crash in the long run; which may or may not be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view.

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Ironwood
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Reply #31 on: May 29, 2012, 08:32:43 AM

How do I enlarge this thing ?

 why so serious?

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01101010
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Reply #32 on: May 29, 2012, 08:34:30 AM

What tier are you buying at? In act I of hell square and radiant gems drop with good frequency. Almost any rare/champion pack or radiant chest offers a shot at one or two gems. If you just stockpile them rather than combine them up then there'd be plenty to drop on the AH for instant profit. I imagine by later acts of hell you are seeing the T9-10 gems dropping often enough to keep the market going.

Not having an outlet for gems is going to cause the price to crash in the long run; which may or may not be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view.

Until Bliz decides to make some super gem that requires an ass load of lower tiered gems, some book/recipe (one time use), and a wizard.

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Amaron
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Reply #33 on: May 29, 2012, 10:22:04 AM

What tier are you buying at? In act I of hell square and radiant gems drop with good frequency. Almost any rare/champion pack or radiant chest offers a shot at one or two gems. If you just stockpile them rather than combine them up then there'd be plenty to drop on the AH for instant profit. I imagine by later acts of hell you are seeing the T9-10 gems dropping often enough to keep the market going.

Not having an outlet for gems is going to cause the price to crash in the long run; which may or may not be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view.

Until Bliz decides to make some super gem that requires an ass load of lower tiered gems, some book/recipe (one time use), and a wizard.

The highest tier gem requires 531,441 chipped gems to make.   Or 243 Flawless Squares which are probably the highest level gem that drops.
Mrbloodworth
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Reply #34 on: May 29, 2012, 10:35:32 AM

It's basically a "trickle down" economy using the AH where you buy leftover gear from people a few acts farther ahead than you.

Do tell!

 Ohhhhh, I see.

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