Diablo 3 Monster Density: To Nerf or Not…

Two recent Blue posts about areas that received a nerf to the monster density/value… or not. The first is about The Weeping Hollow, that big surface area between town and the cemetery in Act One. It was massively-buffed in v1.08, becoming a sort of Zombie Spawning Grounds… until it got turned down… temporarily!

Sorry for being to harsh, but this zone was so amazing… I can’t fathom the reasons for the nerf.
Lylirra: Not harsh, just passionate. No worries. 🙂

The changes we made to The Weeping Hollow in the most recent PTR patch were really just an experiment. Based on feedback we’d seen regarding density (in terms of monster spawn pacing), it wasn’t totally clear what players preferred; some wanted more clumps, some wanted less, and some liked things just the way they were. There wasn’t a clear-cut answer, so our designers made a change to see what would happen. Rapid iteration like that is one of the cool things we can do with the PTR.

Given the response from players since the change went live (thanks for all your posts, btw), we’re going to be restoring monster density and spawn pacing in The Weeping Hollow to its earlier PTR levels, and that will most likely be what we stick with for 1.0.8.

So nerf-crisis averted. Another area wasn’t so fortunate, and it’s not just a PTR issue:

I cannot find Watch Tower since a long time… is that being nerfed already???
Grimiku: The Watch Tower was changed because of how insanely good it was compared to most farming locations. It benefited from having an abnormally high Elite density, resplendent chest spawn, and was located conveniently close to a waypoint (a combination which made it an outlier as well as a go-to spot for a large number of players). While there’s nothing wrong with a particular farming location being good, it becomes an issue when one spot starts to eclipse everything else. We wanted to make sure players didn’t feel like they had to farm that spot or else they’d be missing out, so in patch 1.0.5 we moved it from Northern Highlands to Southern Highlands with the idea that it would require spending some extra time to find it. Initially we didn’t want to nerf the dungeon, but eventually the Elite density was toned down anyway, and the tower remains in Southern Highlands.

To answer your question, though, parts of the Watch Tower were nerfed, but the chances for it (and the merchant) to spawn have not changed. I wish you good luck in your search for the merchant, but it’ll probably take a few attempts!

“There is an effective area for finding loot in a loot finding game?!’ “We will change that….”
Grimiku: I think this is a pretty simplistic way to view the situation, but I agree that having a favorite farming spot nerfed doesn’t feel great. We get that. The alternative, though, (at least in situations like this, where that spot is way beyond the norm) is that people feel forced into playing one tiny section of the game, and that’s arguably worse for the health of the game overall.

Given that DiabloWikiPatch 1.0.5 was released back in 16 October, 2012 (and yes, the Watch Tower change was listed in the General section of the notes) it’s interesting that someone just noticed/cared enough about this to post about it now. I’m actually impressed that Grimiku remembered enough about the reason for the change to comment on it, 6+ months later.

(Consider this: 6 months ago means the Watch Tower has been in the Southern longer than it was in the Northern Highlands. Yes, we’re all very old, now. I vaguely remember doing that dungeon and finding it surprisingly Elite-filled, but not in a long time. Happily, v1.08 will make farming in Act One worth the trouble, so perhaps a return visit is in order.)

Tagged As: | Categories: Blue Posts, Ex-Blizzard, Experience


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  1. i used to run act one, it was still not as good as act 3 but if was different. when they nerfed the Watchtower act one felt a lot more pointless. the reasons they give for th nerf apply to most of act 3. bit of an imbecilic decision tbh. so nerf watchtower so now we have no choice but to do act 3 or VoA runs…..

  2. need patch.
    need now.
    dont care for bs change/unchange time wasting/ intentional delay.

    release and make me happy plz

  3. They need to stop nerfing dungeons… We need more not less. The nerfing they did at release was so damn annoying and they are still doing it. F*** that.

  4. Speaking of hidden merchants, they should add one that is super hard to find but sells a random legendary for gold. Right now, the hidden merchants are completely useless other than for buying cheap dyes and potions.

  5. it is funny when they say “rapid iteration” when it is ridiculously slow.

    If they actually cared about the PTR, patches would be up there much more frequently, and changes made on a weekly or bi-weekly basis based on feedback or just trying out things to get feedback. They fail on all counts here. Moreover, they put patches on PTR for 3-4 weeks, and make 1-2 minor changes and call it a day. That isn’t a PTR, that is just a preview mechanism which pretty much does nothing as all real feedback is ignored.

    • If they were really committed to changing this game into a true successor to d2, they would have had this patch up on the ptr for less than 2 weeks and put it out within the 3rd week. They would actually have some form of working pvp they are “testing” on the ptr already even if its just to test the waters with it, they would also start putting items in the ptr that they are working on so people can give feedback.

      The problem is they have a PTR and they don’t really test it for anything. Almost anything put up on the PTR is set in stone to ship in the coming patch. It’s ridiculous that they don’t actively seek out worthwhile community feedback for major changes in the game.

  6. LOL Thank god that watchtower is gone. Wouldn’t want anyone to have even the smallest amount of fun running Act I. Back to being a uniform ocean of #*$% as intended.

    • seriously,
      Grimiku’s response and Blizzard’s attitude is the dumbest thing ever

      “We wanted to make sure players didn’t feel like they had to farm that spot or else they’d be missing out,”

      are you freaking kidding me ?
      nobody felt FORCED to go there
      but once it was moved there was certainly no reason to do the Northern Highlands anymore
      and the vast emptiness of the Northern Highlands made running to the Southern Highlands in the hope that the Tower MIGHT be there a complete waste of time

      I just don’t get it

      “hey, look, here’s an area that’s really fun for the players, let’s change it”

      hopefully the increase in monster density will make running the Highlands profitable and fun even if the Tower doesn’t spawn

      • Players (sometimes) went there because it was fun. Someone screwed up when they designed it and accidentally made farming loot in a loot farming game FUN in that one tiny spot. It was almost like a poor man’s cow level.

        Blizzards response: “We did not intend for you to have fun here. The glitch has been fixed. Move along.”

        …as they continue to hemorrhage players seeking “fun” from other games.

      • Couldn’t agree more, James. I wish their approach was more, “Okay, this area is being highly populated by players and here are the reasons why. Now, let’s create an area like that in Act 2, Act 3, and Act 4, so that they have more choices on what to farm, rather than just doing the same one in Act 1 all the time.”

        That would make a lot more sense than, “Okay, this area is being highly populated by players and here are the reasons why. Now, let’s remove those reasons so that they don’t feel compelled to play that area any more.”

  7. I will not talk about nerfing bug game dessign…3 creatures shooting spheres…if one touch you, you lose a high % armor…then 5 huge 1 hit teleporting mobs 1 hit you at the same time…you are dead. -% armor, +5 enemies with high damage at 1 hit, at the same time.

    And the second thing is the Kamikazes, if you see a group at high MP, just run like a girl, coz there will be always the last of them begin the door and will kill you without catching your sight.

    Those are my 2 most usual deads.

  8. I think I remember the Watch Tower, but the last time I was there in Inferno was maybe two/three weeks after launch, and my two friends (WD and Barb) and I just kept dying. Then, along came the Alkaizer age.
    I still think that many areas need more monsters and this patch could be a step in the right direction. If everyone feels compelled to find the watch tower because of (supposedly) high elite density. So what ?
    If something gives me either more exp/h or more Legs/h I’ll run it.
    As I see it now though, VotA needs more defensive stats then I can currently afford, so I’ll probably go A1, but we’ll see.

    • Hmm no it must have been later than that. But we died nonetheless. Also enrage timer, monsters regen, invulnerable minions etc…. fun times :/

  9. Imo they should buff pretty much all the random caves with more monsters and more elites, but then make them truly random. Result being that you can’t really only farm these spots because they can show up a bit anywhere and sometimes they do not even exist, but the farming runs when you do find them you get that “oh yeah!” feeling. The Watch Tower in the beginning has been the only area in this game to ever give me that feeling and it was awesome.

  10. “…people feel forced into playing one tiny section of the game, and that’s arguably worse for the health of the game overall.”

    How on EARTH do they draw this conclusion?????

    Did they NOT play D2? D2 had the exact same situation. People were forced into one tiny section of the game. And D2 was a smashing success!!!!!

    You don’t even have to go back that far. Just look at WoW. WoW has this HUGE world featuring 4-5 continents….and they funnel everyone into 1-2 dungeons and a daily hub. And WoW is a smashing success!!!!

    But, somehow, in D3, this is bad.

    Its like the whole POINT just flies way over their head. The way to make D3 better is NOT to destroy the best places to visit. The way you make it better is by leaving those spots alone as successes, and then create NEW areas that are also interesting to visit.

    If these guys were in charge of D2, the first thing they would do is nerf Baal runs / meph runs into the ground, and randomly implement some other idea that was half thought out and essentially kill the game. Then they would stand around and act puzzled about why everyone is leaving D2 in droves. Thank god they weren’t around then.

    • “Its like the whole POINT just flies way over their head. The way to make D3 better is NOT to destroy the best places to visit. The way you make it better is by leaving those spots alone as successes, and then create NEW areas that are also interesting to visit.”

      What the hell do you think is the point of buffing the monster density in A1-2-4, if not to create new areas that are fun and worth to visit?

      • Apparently everyone above you forgot the central point of the next patch…

        • Can’t let logic get in the way of the usual whine-a-thon, now can we?

          • and the game has been out how long ?

            the point stands – the design decisions from the beginning were ridiculous – nerfing, changing and removing the fun areas of the game

            they’re only now – a year after release – beginning to fix their mistakes

      • i agree, but they are buffing too few areas density imo… theres such a small list of places that are getting changes (unless there are some that im just not seeing).

        they really should make all the random dungeons hugely packed, in all the acts. they should be buffing density in act 3 as well (obviously not the highly packed areas). that and they arent even adding elite monsters to the places where they are buffing density… one of the reasons VotA is such an awesome place, is cause you can sometimes get up to 7 elites, so theres more cannon fodder in the weeping willow, still are going to run around the whole place and only find a few elites.

        • I don’t know much about A4, but they noticably buffed almost every area in A1 and A2. The latest PTR patch notes only mentioned the areas that were changed AFTER the initial patch.

          I think the majority of A3’s areas are absolutely fine in terms of enemy density. The fact that almost every map appeared in so called most efficient runs at one time or another should proof enough of this. Basically, where you want to run in A3 depends on your gear and build. Some random dungeons could use a buff and it’s probably not off the table, but obviously A1-2-4 needs much more love, that’s why the devs are concentrating on them first.

          As for Elite vs trash density, I think it’s a very good thing that it varies so much, because it promotes different runs for different builds and gear levels. My WW Barb friend doesn’t care about VotA, because he skips 99% of Elite groups when he’s soloing, its simply more efficient and fun for him. He’ll love 1.0.8 A1. My Monk on the other hand? Well… I love VotA, but it can spawn some really nasty Elites (shout-out to those Blazing Construct peepz) and since my gear kinda sucks I can’t do VotA comfortably on an MP level, where otherwise I got much safer and much worse options Elite density-wise.

  11. Watch tower was a lot of fun. Not just the elites/chest but the environment, destructables, and overall map.

    How about this:
    1. Restore Watch tower to at least its original size/elite density.
    2. Return it to the original location and make it permanent (not random)
    3. Require a key(switch,etc. or maybe rescuing an NPC…) to unlock the tower.
    4. Hide the key randomly in one of three areas of act one.

    This adds a time cost (to balance the profitability of watch tower) and eliminates the problem of people starting game after game until watch tower spawns.

    • Because it’s much easier to remove something than it is to have an original thought (or hell, steal a thought from the community) and add something instead. Blizzard is clearly interested in the easiest paths to “fixing” these issues when they come about and that seems to be simply removing the issue, rather than attempting to balance it by creating something else to work in concert.

  12. This is a perfect example why Diablo 3 “failed” so hard in the beginning. You can balance a game to death by flattening out each and everything. “Hot spots” are big part of the fun. Instead of eliminating them, they should just lower their spawn rate.

    • Except that when “hot spots” are too hot, everyone complains about running the same areas over and over (see: complaints about repetitive Act 3 runs).

      Diablo fans are an incredibly complainy group of people and Blizz is stuck in perpetual lose/lose situations in trying to please them.

      • i dont think its diablo fans specifically. back in the day me and my fellow diablo fans weren’t so moan and groany…. its blizzard games in general these days, and it started with WoW. when the old days WoW development team proved that if a big enough group whines loud enough things will get nerfed, that opened the floodgates, and now blizzard games (and some other big ones) are just straight FULL of entitled people with loud voices.

  13. “We don’t want players to feel like they have to run small part of the map, bla bla yap yap…”.Hypocrites. For example, when Paragon levels were introduced many people were “forced” back to act 2 normal to farm Leoric Signet and wasted a lots of hours there. Did they raise the drop rate of that goddamn ring to make players feel like they are not forced to spend so much time there? No.

  14. I am still trying to comprehend why it’s taking this long for the patch to be implemented. There is no way in hell they have more than a couple people working on the game right now. I realize it takes time to go in and tweak the code, or to add a couple features like ID all and craft all, but it’s been over a month since they started talking about what was going to be in the patch. I am fine with having a PTR for a few weeks to let the players test everything out to reveal any bugs. I know how I treat things I prioritize in my life, and Diablo 3 for the PC is not high on their priority list right now according to my standards. They have the money from sales, and they are concentrating on the next influx of money from D3 on the PS3.

    I hate to put myself in the cry baby category, but damn. I have been playing since launch, no breaks, and I have been so aggravated with the progress on fixing and patching. The game has been making a turn for the better in most aspects, but the constant nerfing of things in the name of balance is fucking stupid. I do agree with an above poster, in that certain things in D2 would have never existed if these people were around then. They would have nerfed the shit out of Pindle runs, Meph and Baal would have never worked for them, and the Ancient tunnels and The Pit would not have survived. I love the game, but it frustrates me to no end at times.

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