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Wyatt Cheng on Set Dungeons

Posted 30 Nov 2015 by at 09:09 GMT

Behind the green portal...

Behind the green portal…

Several interesting posts by Wyatt Cheng on Set Dungeons, debating with fans about how the new pre-designed challenge levels work and how they should work during the ongoing PTR testing.

I really do not think set dungeons should punish you for having too much damage or survivability.

I’m working on the firebirds one right now. Too much damage to get 45 enemies burning at once and too much survivability to die and proc meteor. Both of these are quests in the dungeon. It feels more like I’m fighting the game than fighting the monsters or trying to play well.
Wyatt Cheng: We totally agree but we don’t have a lot of awesome solutions at this time.

I know that’s not a very satisfying answer, but it’s the truth. We have had the same feedback come up internally. We looked at scaling the dungeon based on gear but that ran into other problems too (such as min/maxing the types of gear that you wore to “fool” the autoscaler, which given the variety of legendary items in the game, the auto-scaler was very, very easy to fool).

During development we were juggling lots of conflicting design challenges and we found that in order to make Set Dungeons work as a feature at all we had to pick one of the following:

  1. not making the dungeons require much execution on the part of the player
  2. making the set dungeons more gear dependent to succeed
  3. implement auto-scaling and accept that there will be some weird gearing strategies that you could use to overcome the logic of the auto-scaler because auto-scaling 24 dungeons given the depth of our legendary pool and the rate at which power scales is pretty much impossible.
  4. Only design dungeon objectives that would never degrade when you overgeared them.
  5. Have some dungeons that were actually harder with good gear that you’d have to deliberate gear down for.

We opted for a mix of all, but mostly #4 and #5. We want the Set Dungeons to be accessible to a wide audience, but we don’t want them to be trivialized by gear. We do #4 quite often, but every so often we had a quest objective that was particularly flavorful for the set and we opted to accept #5 as a consequence. The Firebirds dungeon is an example of this.

This was the main point of debate about Set Dungeons on our recent podcasts. How do the devs balance pre-made dungeon encounters without endless scaling, given how much characters vary in gear and power levels? It’s made more complicated by sets + legs that require a lot of wind up or that boost power depending on how many monsters are in the area, or under some proc effect, etc. As Wyatt says, in some testing they found that the highest quality equipment didn’t work well with the dungeon (e.g. killing enemies too quickly to get proper proc effects built up) and testers would actually do better with less power.

Obviously the Set Dungeons are getting a lot of tweaking on the PTR, and player feedback is essential to the process.

Click through for several more Wyatt replies/explanations about Set Dungeon design and implementation.

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Is Blizzard leaving its 1990s PC gaming roots behind?

Posted 28 Nov 2015 by at 20:52 GMT

An article on Ars Technica this week called “From Warcraft to Hearthstone: How Blizzard is leaving its 1990s PC gaming roots behind” discusses how this year’s BlizzCon felt different from previous years and how the company appears to be moving on from what made it such a success.

Diablo players will probably be more aware of the how the company has changed than perhaps other fans who have been playing World of Warcraft or StarCraft. This year at BlizzCon the Diablo franchise received a small amount of attention, certainly a lot less than previous years. The enthusiasm for World of Warcraft looked to have also waned, the crowd didn’t sound as excited with the announcements compared to previous BlizzCon events.

This is not a bad thing, it’s just different. Blizzard has become a little more adventurous with the success of Hearthstone, their Heroes of the Storm MOBA and the announcement of their first shooter Overwatch. Blizzard are moving into new areas which is exciting but there’s no doubt the core audience is changing.

This snip from the article might sum up how some of the Diablo community feel about the new direction.

That’s a pretty massive shift for Blizzard, which has spent the last two decades being the “Warcraft, StarCraft, and sometimes Diablo” company. It also reflects a broader change. While Blizzard always cultivated a reputation for excellence, that excellence was also tied to a degree of conservatism. Blizzard games were polished, perfected versions of good things that either existed elsewhere, or that Blizzard had made before. For a long time, the most daring thing Blizzard did was create an in-game auction house for Diablo III… and its eventual removal was the greatest moment in franchise history since Diablo II.

World of Warcraft is waning, the subscriber numbers show that, and I think we can agree that the Diablo 3 launch was a bit of a disaster and it’s taken some time to fix the game. So how to you feel about this apparent shift? Has Blizzard lost it’s 90s roots?

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Diablo 3 Podcast #193: Monstrous @ Blizzcon 2015

Posted 24 Nov 2015 by at 11:12 GMT

Monstrous shares his Blizzcon 2015 experience, including much Developer chat time and even Chicken & Waffles with Wyatt! Also Patch 2.4 and Snapshotting. Featuring Monstrous, HolyKnight, and Flux.

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Patch 2.4 PTR Focused Feedback

Posted 24 Nov 2015 by at 08:43 GMT

Greyhollow Island

Greyhollow Island

Blizzard has posted several forum threads asking for focused feedback on specific aspects of the new content in Patch 2.4. The posts are interesting reads even if you don’t have time for the PTR, and there’s a lot of useful info in the replies, as players discuss early bugs and other issues.

The focused feedback threads ask for comments on Set Dungeons, Item Sets, new Monsters, and UI improvements. Here’s a quote from that last topic:

Buff Bar UI

This Focused Feedback thread is dedicated to revisions made to the Buff Bar and user interface. Several changes have been made to the user interface, as detailed in our PTR Preview here. Many buffs have been removed from the traditional buff bar area and either have indicators on the action bar, have been moved to the new buff holder icon, or removed entirely.

Here are a few baseline questions to get you started:

  • Are there any buffs that are showing up on the buff bar currently that you would rather have hidden in the buff holder?
  • Is there a point during regular game play where you feel you are missing important information?
  • Click through for focused feedback on Item Sets, Set Dungeons, and new Monsters on Greyhollow Island.

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    Diablo 3 Podcast #192: Tech Issues and PTR Patch 2.4

    Posted 19 Nov 2015 by at 08:00 GMT

    Tyr describes his awesome first Blizzcon experience, plus Patch 2.4 discussion, D3X2 renewed hopes, Set Dungeons debate, D3’s tech issues lead to Devs dodging questions, Legacy of Nightmares loses sleep, and more. Featuring Tyr, MJinSpace, and Flux.

    Click through for more details and segment starting times.

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    Wyatt Cheng: A Primer on Snapshotting

    Posted 19 Nov 2015 by at 01:00 GMT

    There have been debates on the good and the bad when it comes to DiabloWikiSnapshotting. Wyatt brings to light all of the things entailed in it. Plus the fact that it is built into the game and how important it is. Time your potions for this one its a long one.

    I want to clarify a few things about many recent discussions of snapshotting and make sure we’re all on the same page as to what that means.

    Snapshotting is very fundamental mechanic in Diablo III that allows the game to work correctly and according to player expectations most of the time. It’s a bit like having electricity in your home; you never really think about it when it’s working correctly, but you sure do notice when it’s not! By and large most skills should snapshot the state of your character at the time your ability is used unless there is a good reason not to. This is what allows you to cast Rend just before Wrath of the Berserker expires and retain the damage bonus. You hit that monster really hard didn’t you? Not only does Rend snapshotting the damage at the time the ability is cast allow for skilled players to time their abilities for maximum effect, it’s also what you would expect the skill to do mechanically—bleed a lot because you hit really hard! As another example, you wouldn’t want to have a character equip a very high-speed dagger, cast a bunch of projectiles, and then switch to a high-damage two-hander to artificially boost your damage by using the damage of your character at the time the projectiles landed. Projectiles should do the damage the caster had at the time the projectile was fired. They need to snapshot.

    All of this is the intended and necessary design of Diablo III.

    This brings us to the confusion we see when people refer to snapshotting as if it were a global bug. There’s a huge, important difference. While most skills should snapshot, some skills and items with long or persistent effects should instead update continuously. To use my analogy from earlier – sometimes the light switch doesn’t work and you REALLY notice.

    Whether a skill is subject to snapshotting is not a black and white decision either. If I cast a 5 second Rend, I expect it to do damage based on the strength of my character at the time that I cast it. What about a 12 second Haunt? Should that damage be determined at cast time? What happens when that Haunt lasts 5 minutes? Rain of Vengeance snapshots your damage at the time you cast it, but what if we were to make a Legendary that made Rain of Vengeance last forever? No, we’re not doing that, but if we did then we would probably want to make it so that each Rain of Vengeance cast while that Legendary is equipped updates continuously. There are some skills where snapshotting is debatable, and there’s a tipping point over which you no longer want to snapshot because of negative gameplay that results. Huge thanks to those who have detailed instances (such as Bane of the Stricken) where a change is needed.

    As you can see, general discussions about snapshotting don’t help as its existence is an important element of the game design. As you continue to play on the PTR and experience new item and skill behavior, please let us know when you encounter specific skills or instances where you feel a skill should update continuously rather than snapshot at the point of cast. Thank you for helping us make patch 2.4 awesome! :)

    Examples brought up:

    Bane of the Stricken – Updates now with your overall attack speed but NOT with the attack speed of specific skills (bracers of the first men). This is something we’re investigating but no promises and we may leave the design as being based on your overall attack speed.

    Iron Maiden – Fixed in PTR Patch 1.

    Uliana’s with Power Pylon – Under investigation

    Chantodo stack speed – Under investigation

    Could you also please address Potions and zoning snapshotting stats, such as Thorns.

    Thorns snapshotting was due to the passive Iron Maiden – and is fixed and should work correctly next PTR patch (no ETA)

    Uliana’s having to snapshot power pylons and spread it around the entire floor is terrible design. Has this been fixed so that Uliana can just be competitive on its own?

    Will investigate.

    What do you guys think of snapshotting now that Wyatt has brought everything forward?

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    Diablo 3 Podcast #192: Early Pals’ Access

    Posted 18 Nov 2015 by at 08:36 GMT

    The newest installment of the Diablo 3 Podcast is now online, a day early for an exclusive preview for our Site Pals’. The podcast will go live for everyone early Thursday morning, but Pals can view it now via this thread in our Pals’ Forum. Support the site and earn perks by becoming a Site Pal.

    Tyr describes his awesome first Blizzcon experience, plus Patch 2.4 discussion, D3X2 renewed hopes, Set Dungeons debate, D3’s tech issues lead to Devs dodging questions, Legacy of Nightmares loses sleep, and more. Featuring Tyr, MJinSpace, and Flux.

  • 0:30 — Tyr describes his first trip to Blizzcon and the great excite of meeting D3 devs over brews in the Slaughtered Calf Inn.
  • 9:00 — Set Dungeons in the words of their designer, plus player feedback. Debate over no perma-HC death in them. Should Greater Rifts get a similar death penalty difficulty upgrade?
  • 22:00 — Tyr’s other Blizzcon activities. Overwatch will be the next huge thing? Earning the Blizz Store gold pin and merch self-loathing.
  • 37:00 — Quin’s interview with Wyatt Cheng and dodged questions… for technical reasons? D3’s antiquated engine can not keep up with the current super-busy state of the game.
  • 46:00 — Infinite free content in D3 patches instead of a 2nd expansion? Mike Morhaime’s plan to win back skeptical fans.
  • 53:00 — What would be the point in an expansion instead of just patches? Major game changes. Tyr expects to (eventually) see another full expansion, based on his Blizzcon dev conversations.
  • 1:01:00 — Legendary Gem augmentation, for all your excess rank 50+ gems. Too much of a “rich get richer” feature raising the baseline so much higher than most players can reach?
  • 1:05:05 — Item Set improvements in Patch 2.4. Tanky Demon Hunters coming soon?
  • 1:08:00 — Everyone loves the new wilderness island tile set.
  • 1:10:00 — Legacy of Nightmares deep dives debate…
  • 1:24:30 — The guests get to opinion on the added stash space… is the real issue technical issues and botting?
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    Seasonal [4] Greater Rift Video Watch #5

    Posted 14 Nov 2015 by at 08:00 GMT

    Greetings all and welcome to the next installment of the Seasonal [4] Greater Rift Video Watch. This time post Blizzcon 2015 we have three videos from players during the season plowing through some greater rifts.

    First off TopTop strafes his way through Khazra and Unburied to complete a greater rift 70 on the US. Next Danta takes a group in to battle their way through a greater rift 85 and completes it to tackle Voracity for the win. Lastly Drahque takes his clan-mates in a 4 man team to tackle and clear a greater rift 86 to face off with the Crusader King for the win.

    TopTop(Jon): GR70 (14:45) DH clear – Rank 1 US

    Check below for the other videos.

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    Tagged As: , | Categories: Greater Rifts, Videos | 1 Comment