Why Diablo 3’s Auction House Went Straight to Hell


Wired has posted an article/editorial about the end of the Diablo 3 DiabloWikiAuction House. They tried harder than most gaming/media outlets and didn’t just blurb Blizzard’s official announcement, but I think their explanation is incorrect and misses the larger issues. Quote:

But Diablo III’s main problem was not exclusive to the real-money sector of the market. Rather, most of the game’s woes center on the existence of the auction house in the first place, whether for real cash or fake gold.

MMOs like World of Warcraft have auction houses that don’t upset the gameplay balance. But there are key differences that set Diablo III’ and World of Warcraft’s markets apart.

As a player nears the end of Warcraft, their goal is to continue to complete dungeons and raids and kill higher-level bosses, with the goal of obtaining better equipment that will allow them to kill even harder bosses. The majority of this epic loot is classified as “Bind on Pickup,” meaning that once it enters a player’s inventory it cannot be traded or sold.

In the Warcraft auction house, the most popular, most-traded items aren’t weapons and armor — they’re crafting materials, used to create consumable items (such as potions that grant temporary stat bonuses) used by serious dungeon raiders.

But Diablo doesn’t have more dungeons, more bosses, etc. Players just play the same procession of levels on harder and harder difficulty levels, picking up better and better loot. In other words, the loot isn’t just a helping hand towards their ultimate goal — better loot is the ultimate goal. And with the auction house, players found that the best way to obtain it was to just buy it.

And the next thing you know, they’re not playing the game anymore. Why would they, when the reward structure that would otherwise motivate them to play was no longer there? Without the promise of better stuff, Diablo was all stick and no carrot.

It’s true that Diablo 3 offers a sort of double-edged sword of a feedback loop: you need better loot to do higher level content and you do higher level content to get better loot. Except that many players use super quality loot to do easy content (MP1 farming) at very high speed, and the randomization of the loot drops means that higher level content will not necessarily pay off in better loot. But those features were nearly identical in Diablo 2 and no one was really complaining then.

So what was the real failing of the Diablo 3 auction house? Read on…

First of all, was the AH a failing? I guess we have to bow to majority opinion and say that it was, given the 74% approval for the end of the AH. That was not always the opinion, though. Most players used the AH at some point, and it was very popular (though something of a guilty pleasure for many) shortly after release. I remember clearly how people thought I was weird and crazy for not using it then, to the point that it was fairly controversial when I wrote an article about my first AH use in August 2012. Skim the article or don’t (and gasp at the thought of 18k DPS in Inferno qualifying as “well-geared”) but I strongly recommend viewing the comments since it’s fascinating the see the attitudes players held for the AH back then, 3 months after release.

Flashbacks aside, the main problem with the Diablo 3 Auction House was the Diablo 3 item system.

Some players loved it the AH and some players hated it, but everyone hated the Diablo 3 item system and economy upon release. After all, if you ignore the RMAH as many players did, the D3 AH was just trading made much easier.

There were (are) a lot of issues with itemization in D3, but probably the most complained about is the fact that (especially early on) not enough good items dropped. This was a design choice made at least partially since the devs knew the good items would flood the AH. So D3 had to drop only a few top quality items or else the easy-trading tool that was the AH would cause them to flood the economy and lead to instant gear inflation. That was logical, but had exactly the wrong result since the extreme scarcity of good gear forced everyone to use the AH to gear up for Inferno.

Thus an economy designed to limit gear to thus limit AH use had a doubly-bad result. Players hated not finding any good gear and hated having to use the AH to survive. Mission unaccomplished!

The Future: Different Loot System, Same Result?

Jumping to the future, the benefit (to players) of shutting down the AH isn’t so much that with trading made much more inconvenient we’ll find it harder to instantly obtain great gear… it’s that without an AH the devs don’t need to put such a harsh limit on the quality/quantity of gear that drops. (Item binding on top gear will help as well, of course.)

I think it would be unwise to expect DiabloWikiLoot 2.0 to be quite the orgy of uber gear that the console players keep describing, but from everything the devs have said we should find it much easier to obtain gear upgrades.

Will that change things long term, though?

I think it’ll be great fun early on, along the lines of what the Console players describe with their current “upgrades every run” play experience. Perhaps that won’t literally be the case in D3C’s Loot 2.0, since most players have top gear already… but come RoS the first first weeks/months will be amazing. Much better gear drop rates, tons of new legendaries, and almost everything an upgrade since all the base items will be 64-70 in the expansion content. WANT!

The hardest decision in those early RoS days will be to build up a new Crusader or to play your current mains so they can play with Paragon 2.0 and work through Act Five while finding amazing gear upgrades from the higher level items.

How long will that last, though? The console players have Loot 1.5 with its console-speed of “instant gratification” loot upgrades, but many console players were already worrying about long term viability after just the first week. After all, finding a ton of great gear very quickly is awesome in the short term, but unless there is a steady influx of higher level content/gear, (and there’s not in D3) players are pretty quickly going to move to the top level(s) of the item quality pyramid. And then it’s fun since you have awesome gear on, but it’s no fun since you’ll very seldom find any upgrades. And without an AH you’ve really got no other way to get them but to find them.

In a way, the D3 end game loot is better. Sure, the odds of finding an upgrade are astronomical, but 1) you know exactly where to get upgrades and how much they cost, and 2) all those medium-quality items you find can be sold in the AH. Thus the progress for most high level players in the current D3C is largely to their bank balance. Which isn’t as much fun as finding upgrades (At least I assume so. it’s not like I’ve ever actually found one in D3C.) but at least it’s steady progress towards a clearly-identified goal.

What will we progress towards at the high end in D3X? There’s that one in a million chance of finding an uber item upgrade, but you’ve got that now in D3C (though it’s more like one in ten million). What we (probably) won’t have in D3X is the steady gold-building progress you can get now in D3C. If the economy becomes item-for-item barter that’s hell; it’s hard to fix item value and almost impossible to find someone who has your dream item and who wants what you’ve got to trade for it. Even if gold retains trading value (or some other item or commodity becomes currency, like SoJs and then Runes in D2) it’ll be much more difficult to gain wealth via low and mid-range item trades, since we won’t have an AH to automate that process.

Conclusion

Beware of unintended consequences. We don’t know all the details of the RoS economy yet, so we can only conjecture at this point. I think it’s pretty likely they’ve got some new trading system in the works, and who knows what other changes we’ll see to the economy.

But look back at our expectations pre-D3. Most players and the devs thought the AH would be a nice tool, a way to automate trading, and a way to circumvent black market item sales and the rip offs that came with it. And then the game started and the AH worked well… too well, and a whole raft of (mostly) unforseen complications came floating into existence.

Frankly, I’m surprised they’re dumping the AH entirely. I don’t think the current economy is ideal, but I thought their plans for RoS and Loot 2.0 were going to shake things up nicely. Better drop rates plus a lot of binding on top gear would have made self finding much more viable, and they could have left the AH active to provide convenient exchange of commodities and low/mid level item sales/trading.

it+s+not+about+the+money+_c12e45b923dede0603587df8dea12ca0It seems to me that dumping it entirely was perhaps an overreaction, at least partially (and wisely) meant as a PR move. Blizzard knew that many players blamed the AH for D3’s problems, so while limiting or modifying it might have been more viable for the long term Loot 2.0 economy, the devs went for a more dramatic and headline-grabbing move.

So, anyone agree that we’ll probably miss the AH once it’s gone? That it’s being unfairly blamed for larger issues with the item system and drop rates? That without the AH trading will go from an effortless convenience to an annoying WUGgy time sink? That working your way to upgrades with lots of mid-level item finds will become nearly impossible?

Or do you reject all of those theories since 1) you hated the AH, and/or 2) all you care about is a big boost to the item drop quality?

Comments

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  1. Since the D3 beta test I’ve been concerned/disappointed about three major changes from D2 to D3:

    1) Auction House. I worried that there would be fewer drops and people would end trading instead of fighting monsters for upgrades. This was not hard to predict, and unfortunately it happened. It is easy to say “Then just don’t use the AH”, but it is harder to do when you can’t get any good drops due to the existence of said AH.

    2) Lack of permanent skill point choices / free respecs. Guild Wars had this, and it caused me to lose interest in the game quickly. The same thing has happened in D3. In D2 it was fun to think of new builds, plan the skill points out, build up the character, and see how they compared to your others. Pushing that button to increase a skill was a weighty moment. You got (usually) an immediate improvement of the skill which was much needed. But you also just potentially turned your back on some other skill in the future. With free respecs you can change builds in 10 seconds. There is very little incentive to ever create a 2nd character of the same class. Big loss in replayability IMO.

    3) Reducing weapons to a DPS number. In D2 weapons had different ranges, with a long pole arm fighting very differently than a short sword. The weapon’s plain damage was the main stat shown, making a slow, powerful Battle Hammer look a lot different than a quick Scimitar. There were big tradeoffs in terms of strength/dex requirements too. Did you want to spend enough Dex or Str building your character in order to equip that huge mace or two handed sword? What tradeoffs would result? Now in D3 it is so very, very simple and boring. Weapon X has 291 DPS. Weapon Y has 293 DPS. I choose Weapon Y. Yay. The graphics and other stuff is simply ignored for the most part.

    Removing the AH and boosting drop rates is an excellent decision if your goal is to have players enjoying the game vs. grinding for gold to trade for an upgrade. Wish they’d do something about the other two issues.

    • I think/hope they will add skill point choices (paragon) in D3Y, because, now, they are still fixing/balancing the skills (RoS). I agree free respecs isn’t a good thing to skill points (to the current it’s IMO), if they implement skill points it must come with some kind of cost to respec.

      About the weapons, I don’t agree attribute points have made difference, because almost everyone used to put similar attribute points. I think they should add some kind of behavior/property in each kind of weapon that works differently in each char.

    • And yet The God always hears how ‘visceral’ combat in D3. But why ALL 1-h swords are 1.4 attack/sec, why ALL weapon have same range, why there is no elemental effects (yet, but this ‘yet’ lasts for 16 months and counting), why shield mechanics are not viable…

      But it’s ‘viscerally shiny’

    • This article is spot on, this is exactly why the auction house ruined the game. This is also the reason why no amount of loot changes or itemization fixes could ever fix diablo 3 for as long as the auction house is still around.

      I admit that I was before the release of diablo 3 a big fan of the gold auction house, but I learned the hard way that this is the worst thing blizzard ever did. The auction house was so bad that even while diablo 3 is for me in every other way the best action RPG ever, it came close to ruining it al. Diablo 3 has awesome skills in gigantic amounts, it has the best “flow” of any action RPG and now that they shall finally remove the AH can it become what is was destined to be: the best action RPG ever.

      In diablo 2 created I new chars just because I found 1 item that would be fantastic for them, if they do loot 2.0 well then can those great days come back, were every monster and boss you kill can drop an item that completely changes the game, allowing options that were impossible before.

    • Pretty much exactly how I felt/feel about it. Spot on! (Except I never played Guild Wars.. 🙂 )

    • At least they bring “start points” with p2.0. And about getting rich not playing the game, in D2 I got really wealthy by spending my days on the trade chat and forums, nobody who was actually rich in that game did it by trading or buying on third party sites.

      Nobody got rich on d2:lod no ladder by farming, they weren’t actually rich anyway, so the system is equally flawed unless you throw a ladder system into it.

  2. [quote]“Players hated not finding any good gear and hated having to use the AH to survive. Mission unaccomplished!”[/quote]

    That pretty much says it all. There is no need to hide behind convoluted explanations of the AH did and didn’t work while the white elephant in the room tramples all over every aspect of what originally made the diablo game so revered. WE WANT TO MAKE OUR OWN CHARACTERS! In a game so item focused its no secret we need items to make a character so wtf are Blizzard doing introducing an AH system to begin with???

    • No kidding. In D2 you had three main ways you got to build your character
      1. Skill point allocations
      2. Stat point allocations
      3. Gear

      In D3 #1 has no long term significance (switch at will), #2 is gone, and #3 is done through trading vs. playing the game.

      • Please tell me, if 3 is done through trading vs playing the game, how do you attain the wealth to trade?

        Also, D2 had the exact kind of spinning of items, except in D2 there were only few items that were worth anything, so most people knew their value.

      • Here we go again, the romanticising of D2. We all the same chars and they all had the same outfit. Where do you all get the kool-aid from? I’m a little thirsty myself.

        • You may have, but I didn’t. I enjoyed building a character in D2 how I wanted to build them, not from some guide. I enjoyed the item hunt to gear them, often not optimally as I never found a lot of the high end uniques/runewords to “make them work”. I still enjoyed the game, and I could still complete it with a “less than optimal” build.

        • I probably made over 50 different D2 characters, few of which had standard builds and even fewer had optimal equipment. And it was a blast. I played for many years and quit mainly because my new computer wouldn’t run the game properly.

          I played D3 for about 6 months and quit because I was bored. Waited a decade for D3, and quit in about 6 months. They added great graphics and good monsters but took away the game mechanics that made it fun, like building characters and cool items. I think the decision to have Jay lead D3 was disastrous, not because he is a bad dude but because he did not understand the core systems that made D2 great. He just imported some WoW mechanics into the D2 setting. I didn’t want to play WoW.

  3. 100% agree with you Flux. The AH system was a step forward on trading issues D2 had, but RMT along with low drop rate is what gave it a bad rep. They just needed to fix drops discouraging use of the RMAH.

    They are dropping the AH for the wrong reasons and as a PR stunt.

    • Or maybe they are dropping it so they can have a chance at actually improving the gameplay (considering that should be what the game is about…).

  4. I’m in pretty much complete agreement with you, Flux. Well said. I was hoping for more BoA items but keeping the AH functional.

  5. Drop rates are not reduced because there is an ah! Why do people keep saying this?

    Drop rates are completely irrelevant! They are in no way tied to the ah! What the ah does is pool all the best items ever found in millions of hours of playing by milllions of gamers. Your personal gear level will suck compared to that, unless you shovel money or bots at the game. The “problem” with the ah is it shows you that your gear sucks compared to this pool of best items ever found since last may.

    If you want the very best items in d3, the only way to get there is by trading, rmah, or being literally the luckiest person playing the game.

    The only way to make trading irrelevant is to make it imposible to trade OR remove all variance from gear that drops. Removing the ah just makes it harder to see jus how many items there are that ar better and beyond your means to acuire in game.

    No ah= ignorance is bliss.

    • So all those quotes directly from Blizzard that indicate that the drop rates were in fact reduced due to the AH were… misdirection?

      Drop rates don’t HAVE to be reduced due to the existence of an AH. But Blizzard specifically altered D3 drop rates to levels that would consider the AH as an avenue for obtaining gear, rather than making drop rates acceptable for self-found players and then just putting the AH as icing on the instant gratification cake.

      • What quotes?

        All I have seen is that they considered both systems together. You could make legendaries drop 100x more often, all that means is that the bar for “bad drop” moves up.

        • Think about it more holistically.

          In a game with gear, the developers create some kind of gearing up curve. So maybe when you first reach endgame/some other point of interest you get 2 upgrades an hour, then after 10 hours you’re down to 1 an hour, then after 50 hours you’re down to 1 every 2 hours, etc. etc.

          In D3, the gearing up curve had both the AH and the drops in mind. So, the developers designed drop rates such that you’d still get X upgrades per hour at first, then X/Y later, and ultimately X/Z for the long haul. But in this case, X, Y, and Z were functions not just of drop rates, but also of gold accumulation and what they predicted the AH would allow players to obtain. Since the AH was quite frictionless, the developers torqued the gearing curve such that if X = X1+X2, where X1 = drops and X2 = AH-acquired gear, X2 considerably dominated X1 (note that of course X2 is also a function of X1). As a result, X1, by itself, was quite paltry, for someone that never supplemented their gear/luck via X2.

          This has been explicitly said by Blizzard CMs, and I’m more than happy to dig up the Bashiok faux pas and the subsequent Zarhym attempts at damage control.

          My argument, now and previously, is simply that there was no reason to create a system where X = X1+X2. They should have just left the gear acquisition curve as X = X1, with X2 available for people that don’t really want to wait even an iota to get great gear. With higher drop rates, it is rewarding to find gear for a lot longer without being discouraging, and the subsequent supply-side effect on stuff available in the AH would drive down prices, thus fulfilling the AH’s destiny as an instant gratification dispenser.

          • Not following you at all…sorry.

            There are three primary stats, so in theory if you play only one character class as main, 2/3 items you find are better served as trades for gear you do need. (I..e. the ah). Boa crafts have shifted this so my dh is 5 crafted, 3 found, 5 ah.

            the ah facilitates trade and moving good gear that is useless to someone to somebody who needs it. It gives gold value and allows everyone to turn many mediocre items into one good one that you need to progess. The ah can be abused and there are issues with gear that lasts forever as the playerbase shrinks, but these issues do not mean the ah should be abandond completely.

          • Again, I don’t care about the AH or lack thereof. My point is that drop rates were torqued to assume that players would use the AH. Since using the AH allows easy access to gear, drop rates were emphatically depressed to allow players to still experience a gear curve, even though that gear curve was almost entirely AH-influenced.

            If the drop rates were for a gear curve that assumed no AH existed, even if an AH did, in fact, exist, everyone would be happier. The self-found players would get gear more often, while the AH players would have access to cheaper, more plentiful gear on said AH.

            The issue is that Blizzard did not use this logic when instituting the AH or their drop rates, and as has been reiterated, Blizzard did in fact plan their drop rates to accommodate the fact that players would be gearing up using the AH.

      • What Ivan says matches my opinion and memory. I want to put together an article on the birth – life – death of the AH and if so I’ll dig up quotes, but I clearly recall a big controversy about this pre-game. It was kind of a nontroversy actually, since Bashiok made a forum post about drop rates and the AH, and people misinterpreted (perhaps intentionally) the thrust of his comments to mean “we’ll adjust drops dynamically based on AH sales.” And that became a big thing.

        What he meant, as he explained in damage control, was not that they’d make item X drop less if there were too many of that item in the AH, but that the overall drop rates were calculated with the AH factored in.

        The devs made some bad decisions, but they weren’t idiots. Of course they considered the impact of the AH on the economy, pre-release, and it’s only logical that they’d reduce the total drops of high end gear, knowing there was going to be a very fluid marketplace. Right?

        • Look forward to that.

          They have buffed drops considerably since release. Doubled base drop rates, increased ilvl of affixes, mp and plvl bonuses. All that has done over time is shift what is considered good.

          I do remember them saying it would be silly if you opened the ah to find 100 identical legendaries. So they added variance to the legendaries so you could have them drop with some frequency, they just would not be all ideal. But as far as actual rates of things droping, its not different from d2. You are about as likely to find that 6 cc mempo as a high rune or windforce.

          • Increasing drop rates does mostly shift what is considered good for end-game players.

            However, it is a big deal for people who are leveling up a new character through all difficulty levels of the game.

        • and not only did they nerf the drop rates hard, they removed ALL item rewards compared to d2, guaranteed with AH in mind also. cant really believe they actually went that far.
          “they’ll settle for xp and gold as rewards..”

          ..god i hated seeing that “quest complete” or whatever it said in d3..

  6. I will really miss “working your way to upgrades with lots of mid-level item finds”

    I’m selling those items from a few hundred k to a few million to save up for item that worth 10’s of millions.

    Better item drop won’t fix the fundamental issue because like you said, we will quickly reach a point where upgrades can’t be easily found. This is just a certainty.

    The currently known RoS economy can only work if self-found can get us all the way to the end-game, not half way. And in today’s term, that means being able to do MP10 efficiently, which means nearly finding quint-fecta item with vit or all resist. If self-found only gets us half-way to the end-game (e.g. MP5), then we will miss being able to sell medium gear to buy top end gear, so we can advance to the end-game.

    There is too much variability in D3 items. Legendaries with multiple random properties and value range in them, as well range in the innate properties means the difference between even a good roll and great roll is huge. This means a good roll is very far from end-game quality. That is sad. I missed D2 item where a legendary has no random properties and there is only the damage range, for example, in legendary weapons. I still never found Grandfather in D2, and I have found most of the D3 inferno legendary, but they are all badly rolled and salvaged or sold for a measly couple million. They are not nearly as impactful as any medium-top Grandfather in D2X pre-runeword days.

    To put it another way, with each new “degree of freedom” in the item drop, finding a great drop becomes exponentially harder. Yet the end game content is tuned against great drop.

    We don’t need that many degrees of freedom (DoF). Even if the only variable in all Skorns are the primary stats and damage range, that is still enough for people to keep looking for a better Skorn. But now we also need to worry about the CHD and the 2 random properties and how they roll. Which means most players that put in hudnreds of hours of game time will never find a decent (by today’s standard) Skorn. I have personally found 2 Skorns, and one is pure trash, the other one has “medium” damage but no LL or LoH so still trash. With so many degrees of freedom I would need to find 50 Skorns before I have a great one.

    Just because I automatically rolled the “correct” primary stats Skorn, under the smart-drop system, will not alleviate this because there are still too many DoF.

    Enchanting just removes one DoF from the item drop. But will that make any much difference? The D2 Grandfather analogy only has 1 meaningful DoF (i.e. damage) to begin with and in D3 we are hit with 4 or 5 DoF.

    If the new Level 70 Legendaries still comes with 1 or 2 “random” properties AND great range in innate properties / damage, then I predict we will miss the AH.

    For me, it was premature for Blizzard to announce the shutdown of AH without addressing the item system. It all depends on the item system. In D2C and D2X (perhaps pre-runeword) economy, I assert that AH would not be so hated.

    It was always good to find an IK chest in D2X (again, pre-runeword) but D3 IK chests can be nearly worthless to priceless. And I have found one in D3, and I sold it for 300k. Without AH I can’t even sell it.

    AH is not to blame for the problem.

    • [QUOTE]If the new Level 70 Legendaries still comes with 1 or 2 “random” properties AND great range in innate properties / damage, then I predict we will miss the AH.[/QUOTE] – Zaose

      If you find something that is excellent in its own right then go on the AH only to find that there are 1500 that are better then how does that make you feel? I really doubt you will miss the AH when you start getting some really new and sweet items unless at course you would prefer 1500 people telling you how shit everything is that you find.

      • I disagree. In D3, I feel my gear sucks because my legendary items, which I collected over hundred hours of play time, rolled badly.

        In D2, if you ever find one IK chest, that’s it. It doesn’t matter if the other guy’s IK chest has slightly higher armor. Because that is all the difference there is. I know my IK chest might be SLIGHTLY inferior but not to the point that makes me want to buy a better one from AH.

        Too much variability in item rolls is the true problem.

        I don’t want to be searching for 50 IK chests on my own in order to find a decent one. Now at least I can easily trade for a decent IK chest if I have the gold.

        Without AH, we need to be able to realisticlly find legendaries that roll good. Even with smart drop and mystic, how many of the same legendary do you think we still need to find a well-rolled legendary? Why is the same legendary have so much variability to begin with? If Blizzard will take out the variability in legendaries, then we should all just need find 1 of each. Right now, the same legendary weapon can have more than ~200% difference in effective dps, considering the damage roll, CHD roll, socket roll, and primary stats roll.

        • They need to be further seperated from rares and crafts. Yes I would agree totally to that point. But I think its got more to do with the lack of depth in the combat system that is where these symptoms are arising from. DPS only combat means that the only way to make items interesting is to make boring stats vary. Otherwise its too easy to compare and we all go back on the singletrack of looking for that 1 good only item to have. Which is basically taking the game back to Diablo 1 gameplay.

    • Why does the end goal of “doing MP10 efficiently” have to be achieved quickly? Can’t it just be such that you could do MP2 after 50 endgame farming hours, MP4 after another 60 endgame farming hours, MP6 after another 70 endgame farming hours, etc? Trying to create a gear acquisition schema that cuts out all the interim difficulty settings just kicks away a bunch of potential design space, no matter how uninspiring.

      • In theory I don’t disagree with you. But right now it is too impossible to get to MP10 self-found. How many hours of play time should it require?

        I’m pretty sure I’ve done that many inferno games in total as you mentioned. 50 + 60 + 70 = 180. Let’s say 1 hour per game, that is 180 hours. Lots of people have that much play time and not in MP10. None of the self-found player are.

        • We’re on the same page.

          I don’t know if it’s altogether impossible to get to MP10 self-found. I was able to quickly gear up for MP4ish self-found with every class; the road up to MP5/6 has been a lot choppier and I don’t really foresee myself moving up to MP7 with any class but Barb, just because it’s a lot harder to find upgrades for both damage and survivability at the point that MP6 is a reality.

          The numbers I threw out were just examples — my point was more that while the eventual goal should be MP10, that’s not a reason for creating a gear curve that skips most other MP settings just to shuttle players towards MP10 quickly. There can be a fair bit of rewarding progression if you structure a gear curve to allow players to maybe do every other MP level after a period of time. That way you don’t have players instantly topping out.

    • I agree that there are too many required properties on gear in D3, coupled with too many garbage affixes.

      In D2 you could get life/mana leech from a few pieces, stat boosts from a few, resists from most, and some unique/fun attributes from some like crushing blow. With the nerfing of damage % leach gear, the requirement to get attribute point from gear, and the difficulty in getting good resistances, every piece of gear has way too many *required* properties.

      Rather than search for a way to get the random number generator to roll perfect properties or provide a way to find them via an AH, why not change the game model to NOT require so many properties?

      Somehow the D3 team managed to make both weapons and armor uninteresting and generic IMO. Big loss considering loot is pretty core to the series.

  7. [quote]Drop rates are completely irrelevant! They are in no way tied to the ah! What the ah does is pool all the best items ever found in millions of hours of playing by milllions of gamers. Your personal gear level will suck compared to that[/quote]
    See my post below. I think the problem is having too much variability in an item. If there is not so much variability, then your personal gear will still be worse than that from AH, but not by THAT MUCH!

    [quote]The only way to make trading irrelevant is to make it imposible to trade OR remove all variance from gear that drops[/quote] It is not binary. We can remove SOME variance from gear drops. Think D3X IK chest, Shaftop, Frostburn, etc. The only variability is armor and then people began to value the armor variance, even thoguh having a badly-rolled armor doesn’t make it noticibly worse than a perfectly-rolled armor. It still provides a goal for people to item hunt even if variability is lowered.

    • I agree that the extreme variance within legendaries is probably the most frustrating aspect of d3 for d2 vets. loot 2, 0 is supposed to reduce this with smart drops and the mystic takes it further. I still don’t see why these systems cannot coexist with some form of auction house.

      I do not think the ah is perfect, but I don’t think it is so broken that it should be removed completely. Tweaks, yes, deletion – no.

      • I’m worried that smart drop and mystic won’t be enough to reduce the variance enough.

        Smart drop, which is not guaranteed by the way, gives you your primary stats. Mystics lets you reroll one property infinite times. If a legendary can still suck because it is missing some required properties, then that is a broken item system to me.

        Please give all the required properties to a legendary, and all rolled high in the 90%-100% range, then we won’t need AH. You think I am asking for the sky with the 90% minimum? There is still enough variance in such an item – imagine one that rolled the theoretical max in all properties and one that rolled 90% max in all properties. With just 4 properties (eg. for a weapon, CDH, primary stat, damage, LoH), that means the difference between the two item can be 100% vs 65.61%, so that max 100% item is 50% better than the 90% item. 50% difference between the worst and best roll of the legendary is not insignificant. Right now in D3, it must be like 1000% difference.

        I think AH is not broken at all. Itemization is.

  8. Personally I think Loot 2.0 will make things far more enjoyable and stat allocation in a way comes back with paragon 2.0. They’re moving in the right direction for Diablo. Removing the AH while probably mostly a politics thing does ensure that we can look forward to better items we find ourselves which is exciting to me.

    I look forward to having an even more rewarding time playing D3 than the 700 hours I’ve put in at this point.

  9. QUOTE

    100% agree with you Flux. The AH system was a step forward on trading issues D2 had, but RMT along with low drop rate is what gave it a bad rep. They just needed to fix drops discouraging use of the RMAH.
    
    They are dropping the AH for the wrong reasons and as a PR stunt.

    Exactly.

    The AH fixed one of the most glaring flaws in D2, but itemization in D3 made it overly difficult to find upgrades by playing the game.

  10. QUOTE

    - Zaose
    
    If you find something that is excellent in its own right then go on the AH only to find that there are 1500 that are better then how does that make you feel? I really doubt you will miss the AH when you start getting some really new and sweet items unless at course you would prefer 1500 people telling you how **** everything is that you find.

    So we need to stay ignorant to be happy… not buying it.

  11. QUOTE

    Please tell me, if 3 is done through trading vs playing the game, how do you attain the wealth to trade?
    
    Also, D2 had the exact kind of spinning of items, except in D2 there were only few items that were worth anything, so most people knew their value.
    
    Agree.
    
    
    "how do you attain the wealth to trade?"
    
    credit card
    
    That's an RMAH problem. Not inherent to the AH. Big problem here is a lot of the complainers didn't make the distinction.
    
    I've never used the RMAH, but I did learn enough to better my gear through selling via the GAH. No different than making smart trades for runes in D2, except the D3 interface is better.
  12. The AH should have stayed, but first off, there should have NEVER been a cash AH. It should have always been gold only. Blizzard is to blame though. They let so much bad sentiment and outright hate build towards the AH for so long, that the only way RoS would be a viable purchase to the majority of players would be to remove the AH. They should have removed the cash AH and implemented Loot 2.0 back when Wilson was taken out and made that statement about it hurting the game. That was around 4th quarter 2012 if memory serves. Instead, Blizzard had this attitude of “Yeah, we know the AH is bad, yeah, we know you don’t like it, but tough. It’s here to stay.” And they had a little army of 13 year olds armed with their parents credit cards rubbing salt in everyone’s wounds. They fanned the flames of hatred until everyone decided to leave.

    So yes, although I said before Beta the auction house would be a BAD idea, it probably should have stayed in the game. Loot 2.0 and BoA ould have helped. But there was just no way people were going to even touch the game with the AH still in. And it’s Blizzards fault. They let the infection get so bad there’s no choice but to amputate the AH from the game.

  13. QUOTE

    The AH should have stayed, but first off, there should have NEVER been a cash AH. It should have always been gold only. Blizzard is to blame though. They let so much bad sentiment and outright hate build towards the AH for so long, that the only way RoS would be a viable purchase to the majority of players would be to remove the AH. They should have removed the cash AH and implemented Loot 2.0 back when Wilson was taken out and made that statement about it hurting the game. That was around 4th quarter 2012 if memory serves. Instead, Blizzard had this attitude of "Yeah, we know the AH is bad, yeah, we know you don't like it, but tough. It's here to stay." And they had a little army of 13 year olds armed with their parents credit cards rubbing salt in everyone's wounds. They fanned the flames of hatred until everyone decided to leave.
    
    So yes, although I said before Beta the auction house would be a BAD idea, it probably should have stayed in the game. Loot 2.0 and BoA ould have helped. But there was just no way people were going to even touch the game with the AH still in. And it's Blizzards fault. They let the infection get so bad there's no choice but to amputate the AH from the game.

    Yes, yes and no. Loot 2.0, sharagon, etc., are major changes that are very likely to enhance the game. Now would have been the time to shut down the RMAH and leave the GAH. If new itemization genuinely makes it rewarding to slay monsters and find useful gear, the AH will become less important on its own.

    • Unless most items your find are account bound, it seems like the AH would always be much, much easier and efficient for acquiring gear. If drop rates go up, the AH will be flooded with even more good gear, which will lower the prices more. I guess with good drops a person would have an easier time ignoring the AH, but it would always be there offering radically better gear for a cheap price.

      • I agree with your assessment. Which is why I think the variability in item rolls is the problem.

        If the variability is not so high, AH would not have “radically” better gear. Better gear, yes, absolutely, but not radically better.

        I have found Quint-fecta gloves just twice and they didn’t roll very high. The difference between even the best quint-fecta gloves and worst quint-fecta gloves are absolutely astronomical right now. It shouldn’t be like that. It’s not fun.

  14. Drop rates were never the issue. I could find a legendary monk helm every 30 seconds and they’d still be crap. I could find 300 intelligence bows and strength wands. The awful rolls is what caused a reliance on AH. You had to roll ridiculously well to not have to sell it and buy a better one.

  15. „We don’t know all the details of the RoS economy yet, […]“
    More importantly, the developers themselves should have at very least some vague notion of the game economy’s details and underlying core systems on launch this time.

    Also, there can be absolutely no doubt that closing the AH entirely was 100% PR motivated (supported by the fact that they’ll seamlessly integrate the Blizzard store for buff consumables and transmogrification as an alternate mircrotransaction system). Plus, the AH will now be communicated as the scapegoat, the one and only reason why D3 failed to meet quality expectations – not the design/graphics/music/story, missing gameplay depth, lack of social features, online requirement, third-party spam, costumer communication, …

  16. Completely agree. I think closing the AH is an overreaction. Basically the wrong solution to the right problem. I also think we’re going to discover a lot of unintended consequences.

    One that comes to mind, as an example, is stash size. With trading being more difficult, it’s going to be much more desirable to keep all those oddball uniques that you want to try sometime, all that low level gear that might be useful on some alt, etc. But you have no room for any of it. You’re going to be forced to dump it for space reasons but have no easy way to replace it.

  17. I don’t want to trade socially with random people online. You can’t know what other people value in an item, and they don’t know you. It’s just an awkward waste of time.

    I would sooner go to a third party site. Then I could spend a buck and get something better than if I traded for hours.

  18. I absolutly agree with Flux and especially Zaose.
    The Randomrolls peculiar on Legendarys and the wide Range of Rolls are the Keyproblem in D3(well and the boring Affixes too).
    I can’t see, that Blizzard is going to fix the Problem with the Rolls. Mystic and Smart-drops are just a band aid, but wont fix the Issues with these Randomrolls.
    And here comes the kicker, in Loot 2.0 we’ll have the Low-/Midrange Legendarys in the Infernopool too, who makes it even more highly unlikely, that we get a specific Legendary. Now count a 2+ Randomdice in and you have to find this Item x00.000 times(and/or even more) for the ideal Randomrolls.
    Thats from a psychological standpoint absolutly bad(as we had in D3 from the beginning). Finding even 10 or 20 of the same legendary will be hard and almost always disappointing. Trading will be a must in the end, because you can’t find that high/endgear by yourself.
    The first few weeks/months will be fun with RoS, but in the end it will be the same and you need to trade.
    Thats a keyfactor for me to buy or not to buy RoS.

    I don’t like the AH and the gold inflation is unstoppable. A marketplace for Item / Item trades would be cool.

  19. [QUOTE]
    … “So, anyone agree that we’ll probably miss the AH once it’s gone? That it’s being unfairly blamed for larger issues with the item system and drop rates? That without the AH trading will go from an effortless convenience to an annoying WUGgy time sink? That working your way to upgrades with lots of mid-level item finds will become nearly impossible?

    Or do you reject all of those theories since 1) you hated the AH, and/or 2) all you care about is a big boost to the item drop quality?”
    [/QUOTE]

    (Sorry if) Maybe I’m overreacting but when I first read this I interpreted it as “Anyone agree that we’ll miss the AH (because of list of rational, intelligent, well thought out arguments) or are you just 1) blunt and/or 2)simple minded”

    I guess I’m blunt and (a little) simple minded.. 😛

  20. I think one of the big elements from D2 missing in D3 is different drop rates on legendaries from different bosses. I know they are against the quick boss runs that made up D2 endgame, but being able to increase your chance at the legendary you want by repeatedly killing a particular boss provided a sense of progress and kept you coming back to do one more run. Now you just kill entire acts with max magic find and you have an equal chance at every legendary, so there’s no expectation that the next Skorn or Manticore you need to upgrade your character is right around the corner.

  21. I dont get it, Diablo 2 LoD had the perfect item system, it was DAMN hard to find your perfect items, but with grinding eventually you would

  22. Here is a quote from Wyatt Cheng regarding how drop rates were not tied to the AH.

    ” Alright so I’m going to take a stab at this question.

    As mentioned in a different thread, the drop rates were carefully tuned for a single player playing through from 1 to 60 without ever using the AH.

    All of our items are randomly generated, and so follow a distribution curve in power. Let’s say for the sake of argument that you were to somehow distill an item down to it’s “power level” and created a distribution graph of drop rate vs. power level. This graph would probably be normally distributed with outliers at high power levels dropping at a lower rate.

    Looking at this graph, an average item drops every 5 minutes, a higher power item drops every 15 minutes, even higher power drops every hour. etc. As you move up the curve to ever more powerful items, the amount of time it takes to find such an item increases. This is what makes certain items more desirable, this is how things worked in D2.

    What happens for a standard player who is playing solo when they first hit level 60 is they see an item upgrade every 30 minutes or so. Pretty quickly it becomes every hour, then every 2 hours. The higher the power level of your gear, the longer it takes to find your next upgrade, that’s just the underlying math of this distribution. It’s not really anything we set either. If we magically made all drops rates 10x higher, all it would do is shift the power curve left or right, it would not change the fundamental property that the higher up in power you go, the longer (statistically) it is going to take until you find your next drop.

    So then let’s say you visit the Auction House and get infusion of power that hurls you forward on that power curve. So whereas at one point your gear may be at a point that you are statistically speaking probably going to get an upgrade every 2 hours. After visiting the Auction House you hurl yourself forward on the power curve so far that now you are statistically going to get a drop every 8 hours.

    To further illustrate the point, let’s talk about the coming changes in 1.0.3. In 1.0.3 we’re going to start dropping level 63 items in Act I of Inferno. We’re also reducing incoming damage. What do I expect to happen? I expect that there will be a rapid increase in power across the entire community as all of these items become more widely accessible. It’s like we took the distribution curve of items and made everything drop more. That item that used to take 10 hours to find is now a 2 hour item. An item that used to be a 2 day item is now an 8 hour item. After the initial frenzy of power increase, things are just going to settle again. People who think drop rates are too low now will probably still think drop rates are too low a week later when they move to the new point on the curve. I’ve spent a long time on this question so I’m going to move on but hopefully somebody who gets what I’m saying will be able to expand on it more, maybe draw some graphs to better illustrate the point.

    tl;dr we could make drops 100x what they are now and it would just cause everybody to settle at a new equilibrium point. Anything you can farm in a few hours you’ll already have, anything that takes longer you’ll wish you could get faster.”

    • Sure, but it’s in direct contradiction with what was said elsewhere. I like Wyatt, but when this is floating around on the internet it’s hard to take what he said seriously: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5150764997?page=3#49

      Alternately, we could interpret this as Wyatt is correct, and they actually thought that terrible, terrible drop rate was what players would’ve enjoyed.

      So our choices are to either interpret their drop rate decisions as:

      A) due to feeling that players would use, and enjoy using, the AH to gear up; or
      B) actually tuned to be paltry and unrewarding with the assumption that no one would ever use the AH but continue to play and reap a sea of meaningless yellows and blues.

      • Good on you finding that link.

        I can’t believe the devs didn’t factor in the AH in working on the item system. In fact, I’d lose respect if they said they didn’t, since it was clearly going to be a major issue in the game.

        Also… WTF? The item system was terrible at launch, both on quality and variety. If none of that was due to some quality nerfs to account for ease of access via the AH, then the alternative is that the devs were *really* incompetent. And that’s scary.

  23. Doesnt AH just cost to much to maintain vs the value and use? For some reason they will remove the AH.but there is no talk about making items only tradable in the same game. I want trading disabled outside your current game. Leave a game items become bound to your account. Thats the only way we get rid of 3rd party rubbish. Even now i get plenty if whispers and friends request from gold sellers….ps the problem is the players spoiled and can only compare gear to others so they qq about having a smaller penis then others… So they blame the game and ah

  24. Give end-game a reason …
    Give us a reason to want to keep playing and want to keep getting upgrades.

    PvP
    Showing off (ie lobbys or group games)
    Higher content
    permanence to choices of characters
    Community spirit (atmo D3 is a sterile void) BNET 0.5 (Bring back the old school chat and channels!
    Improve trading
    there still needs to be RARE stuff!
    Let people grind gear how they want 2 .. if they want to kill monsters so be it … if they want to kill end bosses … ok!
    Make characters more customizable .. stats .. gear .. skill points
    I miss being hostiled/ganked .. ok its annoying as hell .. but the fear made it exhilerating! atmo the game has been far too pussyfied stop catering to the general populous and bring back your hardcore fanbase

  25. “Here is a quote from Wyatt Cheng regarding how drop rates were not tied to the AH.

    ” Alright so I’m going to take a stab at this question.

    As mentioned in a different thread, the drop rates were carefully tuned for a single player playing through from 1 to 60 without ever using the AH.”

    And they failed. I recently purchased a 2nd account to play self-found, creating a demon hunter and played through hell difficulty. After killing Diablo in hell, I am still using the 2 ilvl 26 blue rings I bought from a vendor in Nightmare Act 1. In a game where you’re clearly supposed to upgrade your gear every 5 – 10 levels, I couldn’t find even 1 upgrade for either ring slot in gaining 30 character levels.

    It’s not the AH; it’s the itemization/stat system.

    This came off as negative, so let me just clarify that I love playing D3, am looking forward to RoS, but am disappointed they decided to just nuke the AH. (Could not care less about the RMAH; never used it.)

    • I did the same through hardcore and I found the drops plus crafting to be rather smooth throughout. The notable exception are rings and amulets. There’s basically no chance of getting something good there.

      I really wonder sometimes if we are all even playing the same game?

      Self found falls apart for me at about mp3 inferno. By that time I have found some decent stuff for other classes and trading (ah) really becomes necessary to feel like I am progressing, not just spinning my wheels.

      • Maybe you are playing a different game. More frustration last night as I crafted about 50 items for 2 slots (belt and helm) for my level 49 DH. I finally got a slight belt upgrade, although it was less damage (but I’m playing HC on that char). My blue helm has a socket and +VIT. That’s it. I crafted about 25 rares and did not get an upgrade.

        “Carefully tuned,” my ass.

  26. I think Wired was dead-on. Playing WoW, I didn’t necessarily care about the item I was wearing. It wasn’t coveted for itself. It was coveted because it allowed me to do more end-game content, so I could actually be present when BoP items dropped, making me better, making me able to survive and experience more of the actual game.

    • The Wired article was correct about why the AH doesn’t ruin WoW, but not about D3. The problem with D3’s items and AH has virtually nothing to do with the game not adding continual new end game content, WoW-style.

  27. Has anyone pointed out yet the actual problem is RNG trolling, and if say… a Shako could have +2 light radius instead of +2 all skills D2 would have been the subject of constant drop rage as well?

    • Yes I pointed out the variance in legendaries is the real problem.

      Good legendaries like Shakos in D2 were good, period. Now most IK helms in D3 are trash even though it only has 1 random properties as opposed to 2. There is still the CHC roll, life % roll, STR roll, base armor roll.

      In D2, we only had the armor roll, and people would pay for perfect armor rolls. The actual “power” difference (as metioned by Wyatt) between legendaries of slightly different armor would be almost ignorable but people still will play until they get that perfect score.

      With the removal of AH, legendaries need to go back to the D2 days.

  28. I think we also have another factor to consider. While I don’t think the lack of AH , that they will make the loot come as fast as the Console. But I think it will be a lot faster than it is right now.

    I also think they will combat the people getting bored because loot comes so fast with addition of the Ladder System. This allows for a “reset” more often so you are starting that trek over and over again so it doesn’t matter takes a few months to hit paragon 100+ etc. Also allows them to make Ladder only systems like lader specific drops, recipes, etc that will drop back into the non-ladder system after that ladder is complete. And that’s the piece I more am looking forward to.

  29. I disagree with the comments that an AH could never work. In my opinion the two key flaws in the D3 economy were item permanence and lack of rewarding gold sinks.

    If they had given players a real ongoing incentive (or incentives) to salvage/destroy good items it would of gone a long way to curb power level inflation of new players reaching level 60.

    Adding substantial paragon gold find without effective/rewarding/fun long term gold sinks simply makes the gold inflation come even quicker.

    What I do agree with, is that the RMAH was a dumb idea. There is no point going into it, but it fundamentally changes peoples attitudes to playing the game, how Blizz went about designing the game and what options they had for redesigning/patching the game. That said, I do think a RMAH could have been extremely profitable if done right.

    They certainly made some improvements(very slowly) and ironically ladder resets probably could of made for some interesting AH stuff. Anyway, I sort of feel this comment misses my own point, but I am sure most of my points have been covered to death, and I can’t see Blizz bringing any form of AH back short of another expansion anyway.

  30. As pointed out repeatedly in the article and the comments, gear should be a means to an end, not the end in and of itself. Hopefully Neph Trials remedy this somewhat, but then again, we thought PvP arenas were coming, too. I think you also have to balance it, so that the end content has a built in gear check at some point, but not to the point where gear makes mechanics and challenge meaningless. Gear “breaking the game” has been Diablo’s bread and butter forever, but I don’t think it’s very viable. It’s why most D2 players hated Enigma so much.

  31. QUOTE

    Yeah, and now that he's gone things are just starting to get repaired. Unfortunately the damage is to severe :(. It'll probably take 2 expansions and heaps more patches just to get the game back to D2C level of enjoyment.
  32. I don’t mind the AH going away as long as some kind of good “Trading System” can take its place. And by good Trading System, I don’t mean people spamming all the channels with their garbage items or asking for godly legendaries with perfect roles.

    The minimum that I would like to see would be a system somewhat similar to the AH today. Someone posts an item for 36 hours (or whatever duration) and they give a text description of what they are looking for in exchange.

    People could then search the Trading System (just like the AH today) using a variety of criteria. Anyone could offer an (or possibly several) item(s) in response. This offer by the perspective “buyer” can be reneged at any time as long it is has not been accepted.

    As soon as the “seller” accepts any offer in trade, all the other unsuccessful “buyers” that have made offers would immediately get notified and would receive their item(s) back (similar to how an expired auction works today).

    To me, that is the most basic Trading System I can envision, and the good news for Blizzard is that 75% of the code needed to make it work already exist.

    Taking this to the next level would allow the “seller” to specify what they want more specifically (rather than just a text description). Something along the lines of how you can set up more complex search filters (item type, item quality, number of sockets, dmg, crit, etc). In such cases, “buyers” would not be able to offer any item except what was requested by the “seller”. In such a case, those “trade auctions” could (optionally) happen instantly rather than allowing the “seller” to review multiple offers.

  33. QUOTE

    Here we go again, the romanticising of D2.  We all the same chars and they all had the same outfit.  Where do you all get the kool-aid from?  I'm a little thirsty myself.

    probably from this guy

    http://www.x-entertainment.com/pics/kool1.jpg

  34. The drop rates were never influenced by the AH.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/Diablo/comments/1mpn6i/the_drop_rates_were_never_influenced_by_the_ah/

    Playing self found you end up at around 50-60 k DPS after 100 hours of playtime. I call that great balance. It allows you to clear end game at MP2-3 and slowly raise the MP when you get higher and higher DPS.

    Problem is that alot of people want to play self found, and get instant gratification, and be at 200 k DPS after 100 hour playtime killing MP8/10, and be able to compare with the AH users. The game was never designed to allow you to do that.

  35. QUOTE=Mn_Sw
    Meh.

    The drop rates were never influenced by the AH.
    I doubt you, or even Blzizard, could categorically claim that.
    It it just too hard to imagine what would have happened during the development, if AH hadn't existed.
    Blizzard can claim they never conscientiously sat down and balanced droprates for the AH, and it would be hard for anyone to prove otherwise. But claiming it didn't factor into the design, that is even harder.
    
    
    
    
    Jay Wilson, former Game Director:
    
    
    We  tuned and balanced the game without the auction house, as there weren't  enough people internally using it to test it against gameplay, so we  didn't design anything for it.
    
    
    
    
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Diablo/comme...nd_jay/c4x71pw
    
    
    The problem here is, they are arguing here as if they actually tuned and balanced inferno to begin with.
    I'm pretty sure they have also stated, even if not very loudly, that inferno received very very little testing at all.
    Imdoubt anyone is saying that Blizzard played through Inferno and said, '

    oh damn, we better lower these droprates by 63% because AH exists'.
    More likely, they started out with those low droprates, because 'there is trading, so lets be conservative'.

    P.S. 100 hours to get 50-60k dps?
    Granted, I haven't played much in the last year, but at least in the months after release, that sounds really fast/lucky. Especially if we ignore the more exploitable ideas like chest farming etc.
    Even more so on HC, where you couldn't as easy jump ahead of your current gear-curve to get better gear.

  36. QUOTE

    P.S. 100 hours to get 50-60k dps?
    Granted, I haven't played much in the last year, but at least in the months after release, that sounds really fast/lucky. Especially if we ignore the more exploitable ideas like chest farming etc - which cant exactly be considered normal playing behavior.
    Even more so on HC, where you couldn't as easy jump ahead of your current gear-curve to get better gear.

    First, let me say that I fully agree. The game was clearly balanced for an overall gear acquisition curve, of which the AH was a part. They did not balance the game for self-found gear acquisition. I don’t know if my posts on this topic are in this thread or another one, but that was the whole Bashiok unfortunate statement and Zarhym backpedaling thing.

    But, in re: the quoted text, I think that’s actually conservative. My Monk has something like 80 hours played (true playtime, it’s actually 150 hours but 40 of those were messing around pre-Inferno and some chunk of the rest were me just sitting idle while I walked my dog or made dinner or something) – 3,500ish elite kills is a better barometer, and is at ~70K dps self-found, capable of MP5/MP6.

    I think the PROGRESS is relatively well-balanced, but (and we’ve talked this to death already), the GEAR CURVE is not. Moving up MP levels steadily works reasonably well. However, most gear is trash, drop rates for anything other than an endless morass of trash are terrible, and the only real demarcation of notches on the gear curve are well-rolled legendaries. I remember where pretty much every one of my useful legendaries dropped; I have no idea where any of my rares dropped. In addition, I should note that the Archon crafts significantly bump up the gear curve as well as progress curve – it has been much easier to progress through MP levels with these items.

    Basically, more sidegrades, more interesting items, less swamps of nameless, uninteresting crap.

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