Diablo 3 Forum Watch #96: The Promise of Runes


We usually point to several interesting threads in a Diablo 3 Forum Watch, but this time I’m just highlighting one, with multiple quotes from it. The thread is The Promise of Runes, and in the OP and the 50+ replies a bunch of theory-crafting fans debate the lack of varied popularity in the skill runes in most skills in Diablo 3.

Here are some abbreviated quotes from the OP and some of the best points made in follow up. There are 52 replies to the thread now, so I’m not even scratching the surface here, so check out the thread if you’re interested in a lot more theory and criticism on this issue.

Yovargas: I decided to check out how many skills had at least 4 runes being used by at least 5% of players using the skill. The answer was pretty pathetic – there are only 4 such skills:

  • DiabloWikiWave of Light (Monk)
  • DiabloWikiTeleport (Wizard)
  • DiabloWikiPreparation (Demon Hunter)
  • DiabloWikiBola Shot – (this is maybe the game’s best balanced skill going by usage – 4 runes are used almost equally) (Demon Hunter)
  • The vast majority of skills are hugely dominated by a single rune (though only DiabloWikiZombie Charger has 4 runes used by literally nobody). The question is – does anybody have any realistic ideas of what could really be done about this? (As a side note – the Wizard clearly needs the most balancing help. A full ELEVEN of their skills are used by less than 3% of players, by FAR the worst of any class!)


    Bad Ash: I wonder if it would help if you could hotbar a skill more than once? This would allow people to use the same skill with a different rune on its own cooldown. I could see this being game breaking in C.C. but maybe leave C.C. skills out of it?


    IvanE:

  • 1) >Some rune effects are holdovers from when the system had “colored” runes that caused a similar effect for each skill
  • 2) Some rune effects are clearly wacky and gimmicky
  • 3) There was clearly no thought given to actually balancing some of the runes for what players would want to accomplish while playing the game — in other words, some runes are the means to ends that don’t exist
  • 4) Some runes probably would’ve scaled better than they did when there were rune ranks, but shoving everything to rune rank 3 or 4 really gimped them
  • 5) I think this is the most important one — because of some kind of art assets / programming complexity crunch in alpha, beta, or some other pre-launch phase, there ended up being too many generic runes that bore everyone to sleep

  • Themeros: Runes as item drops with levels seemed like a great idea at first, but now I understand how much of a hassle it would be. Some runes would be so expensive and, due to RNG, so limited in supply that normal players would just end up using whatever runes they had, which would lead to frustration and rage. — I want my dual lazors!!!


    IvanE: I disagree that the skill system doesn’t allow any expression – no one is forcing you to use a cookie cutter build except your own internal comparison with everyone else. It’s perfectly fine to do something quirky and less effective, if that floats your boat. I do think, given my earlier posts, that both the itemization and the specific skills / runes themselves are not out-of-the-box enough to really give players a complete sandbox to come up with crazy ways to kill monsters. But I think Blizzard cared too much about balance for that (and failed anyway).

    I agree with a lot of the observations made in the thread, but just to do my usual contrarian thing and re-examine the entire premise… do we want skills to be balanced? Obviously we want multiple options for DiabloWikibuilds and play styles, but for some things to be good, other things have to be bad less good. That’s almost the central logic behind items, and maybe it applies to skills as well?

    It’s impossible for every skill in a game to be perfectly balanced (at least no game with complexity great than that of Rock-Paper-Scissors has done it yet), but is it more fun if a game has some meh skills, a lot of okay skills, some good skills, and a few great ones? Doesn’t that make it more fun when you reach the level req to start using one of the great skills? Or are skills somehow fundamentally different than items, and with skills you want balance that yields variety, rather than the peaks and valleys of quality that make items fun?

    Tagged As: | Categories: Forums, Skillrunes, Skills

    Comments

    You're not logged in but can still post comments. Register or login to remember your details.
    1. To find out how tough and his terrific performance of PS4 in playing Diablo III, the following is a video test Diablo III when it was played in the PS4.
      Please see his video review >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no4KnuMz-DM

    2. I would definitely like to see more balance.

      Playing a quirky build is fun for a few minutes, but being very ineffective tends to kill the fun very quickly and you switch back to the effective ones everyone uses. =(

    3. I’d think most people definitely want skills balanced. That doesn’t mean all of them of exactly equal killing power or defensive protection in all possible scenarios, but roughly equally useful and appealing in a roughly equal number of significant situations of roughly equal significance.

      Most people don’t seem to care too much about every rune and every skill being of equal worth, but they want their skills and their runes to be of great worth, while other want unpopular skills and runes to be of great worth as well, which means to satisfy the bulk of the population you wind back around to the goal of trying to ensure that most skills and most runs are of roughly equal worth.

      Skills are fundamentally different from items in that they define how you play the game. Items refine how you play the game (and how well your skills can help you achieve your goals) within what the skills allow you to do. If the skill system is built such that only 2 builds are useful or viable for a class (the definition of viable I’m leaving untouched for now), then there are effectively only two ways to play that class in Diablo 3 that make sense, unless the player wants to be wacky and different for the sake of being wacky and different.

      Some skills and combinations are going to rise to the top no matter what you do, even if the numbers say all things are equal. However, the distance between two builds shouldn’t be night and day like for example, Spin-2-Win and everything else the Barbarian can try, and if one build is significantly better than the rest, it shouldn’t be better than the rest in all situations, even at the top end of gear.

      Or think of it another way: what if the reason some people bought Diablo 3 was to play with skills like Wave of Force and Hydra, simply because those people thought those skills looked fun? Shouldn’t an effort be made to make it so those skills are worth the spot on a bar in a viable build? Whose pet skill gets to be the one that remains garbage forever, those who liked Call of the Ancients?

    4. I would add another thing to IvanE’s list: many skills were most likely designed with PvP in mind. The skill variations focusing on CC definitely fall into this category.

    5. The solution to me seems really simple. Either balance the skills as much as you can (which may lead to boredom) or just make the better runes/skills aquirable through some resources gained from playing.

      With the second option they would be killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

    6. Having many viable skill builds is one of the most important parts of diablo. After all, diablo is about killing monsters. What makes the game fun is being able to destroy monsters in DIFFERENT / EFFICIENT fun ways. If you only have 1 or 2 ways to do it then the game gets boring very quickly. What kept me playing D2 for so long was that each class had quite a few different ways to be played. When I got tired of playing one way I would create a new character with a different build, and the game would feel fresh again. What D3 needs is more build variety to give each class a different feel when I respec.

      Lets start by looking at the Druid for build variety.
      -Werebear
      -Werewolf
      -Rabies
      -Hurricane / Wind
      -Armageddon / Fire

      Not all of these builds were as powerful as each other, but they were certainly viable. MOST IMPORTANTLY each build felt very different to play. Maybe this was an inherent part of the druid being a caster / melee, but i feel the same is true for other classes in D2.

      Sorceress (though not all of these builds existed during the same patch)
      -Nova (side note – this was some of the most fun I had in D2)
      -Fireball
      -meteor / meteorb
      – Frozen orb
      -Lightning
      -Glacial spike
      -charged bolt
      -blizzard
      -Enchantress

      Some of these builds were stronger / more efficient than others, but IMO it really comes down to personal preference on how I wanted to play the class.

      What I’m looking for in D3 are build variants that make the class feel different to play. I’m alright with having 1 or 2 builds that may be clearly better than all the rest, but other builds need to be more viable and efficient to farm with. I think the solution to this will be completely changing the effects of some of the rune variants. It would be best to leave current viable builds to be the same.

      • Have to point out that for the first 3 years of D2X, the viable Druid builds were Werewolf… and maybe Werebear, if you were patient and liked to tank with a lot of CC. None of the elemental skills were viable beyond Nightmare until v1.10, and really v1.11 and later when all the synergies and supporting runewords came in.

        Everyone (including me) expects D3 to do everything D2 did and do it now, but D2X became what it was years after release thanks to several very large and bold patches. Which isn’t to say we can’t critique the game today, since that’s what pushes patches and fixes, but these things do seem to take time. Alas.

        • I remember making an elemental druid as my first D2X character… and persisting to clear Hell with him. Ah it was painful, but it was still possible because v1.07 was so rediculously easy anyway.

          It wasn’t until years later that I made another elemental druid, when the synergy bonuses came in and I could cast armageddon while in wolf form. Good times…

        • This is a HORRID statement, that almost all D3 fanboys fall into saying. Just because it took 3+ years for D2LOD to become better doesn’t give D3 any right not to be equally good or better than D2X as of TODAY.

          I don’t see car companies bring out a new car without air conditioning, then saying…well yes we don’t have it because our previous cars took YEARS to get those installed, so just be patient.

          • But you do see GM recalling the 2013 Cadillacs because of a faulty brake lamps. Those lamps aren’t exactly new inventions and yet when you design a completely new car even those could break down. Who would have thought, right?

    7. Soul-bound consumables and BAM, done. Was it that hard? Just adjust drop-rate to eliminate frustration but still require some time to acquire all (at least 200 hours of playing and also make certain unique boss have a higher chance of dropping them)) and for CHRIST sake make them different colour again it was way more cooler and distinguishable… sigh… the Diablo 3 2009-2010 was my favourite with all the cool features.

    8. I agree with a lot of the observations made in the thread, but just to do my usual contrarian thing and re-examine the entire premise… do we want skills to be balanced? Obviously we want multiple options for DiabloWikibuilds and play styles, but for some things to be good, other things have to be bad less good. That’s almost the central logic behind items, and maybe it applies to skills as well?

      ——

      I think you have spent too much time listening to the bullshit excuses made by the developers in recent interviews to realize what you are saying here, unbalanced skills? why on earth would you want that?

      Skills are simply a way to express the way you want your game experience to play out, its blizzard’s job as game designers to give the option, not to force you into a playstyle you’d rather not utilize because its superior in every way.
      This is not starcraft, you don’t need to balance every ability perfectly against every other ability based on the results of the population that has devoted their lives to playing your game, you simply have to make sure that choices still exist that don’t make you feel like an idiot for chosing them.
      Take zombie bears. All the non zombie bear runes have some requirement to make them useful, enemies in a line and must not die instantly to someone elses attack in groups for your skill to do anything, enemies have to die to proc more zombies, enemies must be very tightly packed for flaming beast. All these requirements… and only to do 1/3 of the damage of standing next to a wall and casting zombie bears with more range, more area of effect and a piercing effect.

    9. Woo hoo, my thread on the front page! 😀

      Alas it would’ve been a much better thread if the forums had even a quarter of the regular posters it had 2 years ago….

      And to answer Flux’s contrarian question – is it more fun if a game has some meh skills, a lot of okay skills, some good skills, and a few great ones? The answer is: No. Bad skills are never good, they are bad. That’s why they’re bad skills. What you want is skills that are all powerful and useful but each in a distinct, non-overlapping way. Zombie Bear shouldn’t be “better” than Zombie Wall, it should be better at some things and worse at others. (This becomes a problem when the game’s play styles are too limited – ie. mass AOE DPS ruling completely over everything else.)

      • That’s a prime reason for doing forum watches regularly again. Trying to encourage more readers to dip into the forums for the deeper conversation and debate. Main page threads get a lot of comments, but they’re gone in a day or 3, so it’s not the same thing as a really in depth forum debate.

        • You could put your front page news/threads in a separate ‘front news section’ in the forums. That’s the standard approach. I see you are already trying to do something that with some front page news, since there is a ‘Hound’ posting some of them as threads in the D3 general forum. However, it seems very glitchy.

    10. It would be impossible to have every skill run balanced, because the effectiveness of each skill and rune depends on the rest of your build as well as your gear and maybe even *gasp* your play style. There’s too many moving variables. But I do think that it’s worthwhile looking skills and runes that are WAY under utilised and giving them some love.

      There are 22 skills x 5 runes. So if every rune was equally loved at level 60 it would by used by 5.5% characters of that class. I actually wouldn’t want to see that, that would actually mean that choice was meaningless and whatever you chose would give you the same outcome. Having a rune being used by 1% of the characters I think is OK, it’s clearly viable and perhaps requires a certain gear level or playstyle to get the most out of it. However, once we get down to 0.1% of all characters and below I think is starting to show an underpowered or underwhelming skill.

      I think some skills need a wholesale makeover, but that’s unlikely to happen until the expansion. In the meantime though I think a lot could be achieved just by buffing the least used runes until they get above 0.1% use.

      • “There are 22 skills x 5 runes. So if every rune was equally loved at level 60 it would by used by 5.5% characters of that class. I actually wouldn’t want to see that, that would actually mean that choice was meaningless and whatever you chose would give you the same outcome.”

        While we’ll never get to that magic 5% for every rune number (in part because even if everything was awesomely useful, some are just going to be more fun and popular than others), I disagree with “that would actually mean that choice was meaningless”. Again, done really well, it could means that there’s an enormous amount of effective but *different* ways to play. This is the key – different but of similar power. Of similar power does not mean meaningless homogeneity.

    11. QUOTE

      Everyone (including me) expects D3 to do everything D2 did and do it now, but D2X became what it was years after release thanks to several very large and bold patches. Which isn't to say we can't critique the game today, since that's what pushes patches and fixes, but these things do seem to take time. Alas.

      Time you say? Like 10 years time or…? :p
      I’m not trying to turn this into a “RAH RAH D2 IS BETER” argument, I’m just making analogies.

      I would like to see more viable builds in D3. Also, not necessarily have UBER builds with uber skills. I like to see multiple builds that are relatively equal.

      For me, the fun of having different builds isn’t that I’m using a gimped build so its novel. The fun of different builds is using the same character a different way, to get a different feel and play style.

    12. I’ve quite enjoyed using different skills and runes as I have leveled up my characters only to find these skills that I have started to really like not translate well into lvl 60, inferno. Having them scale or the be fairly balanced would be the holy grail as far as I’m concerned.

      It would be as good as saying ‘Hmmm, today I might play my Wiz using spectral blade and arcane torment’with some complimentary skills, then swap a day later to archon or ray of frost and not find much of a drop, if any, in dps

    Comments are closed.