Diablo 3’s Seven Design Pillars


When DiabloWikiJay Wilson announced his departure from Diablo 3 I read over a bunch of old interviews with him, both to update the wiki article and to refresh my memory on Diablo 3’s development. This interview with GamaSutra from right around the time of the game’s launch last year, had some good stuff, but I especially wanted to highlight the Seven Design Pillars and reflect on how they were incorporated and executed in the game.

Here’s the quote from the interview:

Did Diablo III have an official design document?
Jay Wilson: No, not really. I certainly had a PowerPoint that I put together, which described high-level pillars of the project, and was seven things that we considered to be the core of the game.

Do you remember what those were?
Jay Wilson: Those seven things were: approachable, powerful heroes, highly customizable, great item game, endlessly replayable, strong setting, and cooperative multiplayer.

We basically said these are the pillars we have to live by. Each one has a description of what they mean. And any time that we have a question about what the game should be, we just look back at those pillars. And that was our goal. That was how we set the project up.

We had some others, too, that were more [about] what we’re adding to the project. And they were more feature-based, so for example, the PvP mode was one. The bigger focus on RPG elements was one, because we wanted it to be a more story-based game, without getting in the way of the action. So there were a few more like that.

Let’s take those one by one, shall we? But first a vote. You can pick as many options as you like, so click all of the Design Pillars you think D3 did a good job living up to.

D3's Design Pillars. Vote for as many as you think were done well.

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1) Approachable

They certainly succeeded with this one, though many of our most heated pre-game arguments were about “dumbed down” vs. “accessible.” (For instance, decisions they made regarding skill points, manual stat points, freespecs, skill runes, simplified item modifiers, and more.) I often felt (and argued) that the devs were overly simplifying the game and risking a loss of depth and complexity, and as best I recall comments were often largely in disagreement with me and in support of JW and crew.

It’s a debatable issue; I think the game was very well done on approachability in say, Normal difficulty, but that it didn’t ramp up enough on complexity (retaining very basic itemization, lacking of meaningful monster changes to resistances/immunities, etc) in higher difficulties.


2) Powerful Heroes

I think they did well on this. The custom resources and skills designed to always work, removing D2’s “you’re out of mana so now you’re helpless” issue (which went away with good gear in the late game, but made the early going quite a chore for the untwinked). If there’s a complaint here it’s a lack of balance and equivalence… perhaps now that JW, Barb fan #1, has moved on, we can see some long overdue nerfs to the one far and away most OP build in the game, while other chars get some buffs to match?

I don’t see why anyone would argue this; all you Barb players have already spun2wun your Paragon 100s and grown bored with the silly double tornado build. You’re probably hoping for a big nerf that would give you an excuse to play a “real” class, huh? *ducks*


Click through for points 3-7, and hit the comments to offer your own opinions.

3) Highly Customizable

This one can also be argued both ways. The Freespecs skill system allows for huge variety, as any build can change completely in a blink. On the other hand, most players feel there aren’t enough viable different builds, and there’s plenty of argument that freespecs actually reduce diversity and customization, since everyone just ends up changing to do more of less the same thing, rather than working to find ways to make different builds viable, as you did in old fashioned games like D2 where you couldn’t just change all your skills around.

You could also point to the very generic item system as creating a lack of customization, since there aren’t any items that really have unique properties and open up whole new builds or styles for any characters. Likely we’ll see much more variety in those areas in D3X, but we can only review the game we have at this point, and in Diablo 3 there’s a terrible lack of item diversity, with virtually every character and all five classes seeking the same few mods on all of their gear. During development we saw mods such as +%spell damage, faster cast rate, elemental damage types that did more than change color, attributes that were useful to all classes, and much more that was simplified away before release.


4) Great Item Game

On this one I think there’s fairly general agreement that the initial product fell very far short. Even aside from the pathetic state of Legendary and Set Items at release (still fairly lacking with a handful of legendaries sought by every class and 90% of no use at all), all five classes use the same few offensive mods, leech and LoH work on everything (ranged, spells, etc), more complicated D2 mods like DiabloWikiCrushing Blow and DiabloWikiOpen Wounds (which stopped monster life regen) are nowhere to be seen, cold damage and stun and other CC (from weapons) is irrelevant, the elemental types are identical in function (but not color), the same offensive mods work on every type of item, etc.

The devs did a nice job creating and modeling so many different item types, but they fell way short on making them actually work in different ways.


5) Endlessly Replayable

Everyone’s got a different opinion on this, but I’m still enjoying the game. Plus I let enough natural light past my rose-tinted D1 and D2 glasses to remember that those games were FAR more repetitious than anything in D3.

The lack of diversity in items and builds cuts into this one a bit; I sometimes wish I were playing HC (as Xanth keeps urging me) just so I’d have a reason to reroll a character one day. On the other hand, it’s nice to be able to change around my character’s skills and gear to set them up for fast farming MP0, or more sturdy hunting on MP2, or key farming on MP5+.

This question seems to revolve more around the game world though, and that’s open to argument. D3 obviously gets quite repetitive, especially once you’re farming and feeling like 5 or 6 levels in Act 3 is the only place worth doing it, but that’s still 4 or 5 more levels than were worth farming in D2. My opinion is that D3 didn’t do a great job on making the areas feel different and new endlessly, though it’s a big step up from the old, more-static system of D2.


6) Strong Setting

This was hard to miss on, as Diablo and Diablo 2 had created such an archetypal world in Sanctuary, with a grim, dark, gothic feeling (even when expressed in very bright deserts and neon-colored monsters). I think D3 did a pretty good job of this, though I’ve never felt the level of immersion and creepiness that I did in most of D1 and much of D2.

I think a lot of that is due to D3’s very subtle music, compared to the much louder and more present and immersive tracks Matt Uelmen created for the previous games. It’s hard to say, though. D3’s got some great level art and visuals; I clearly remember leaning in really close to the monitor to try to get a better look at all those chained skinned titan things when I first worked my way down the tower levels in Act 3.


7) Cooperative Multiplayer

And we end on a low point, since this is one area where they failed quite noticeably. Yes, you *can* play D3 with other players, and the auto-party options with friends are nice, and them (finally) enabling Monster Power in public games in v1.07 should help as well.

That said… I’ve never felt the sort of online community on Battle.net or in games that I did with previous Diablo titles. The initial chat channel implementation was terrible, in-game chat has always been bad, the Auction House’s efficiency turns trading into a soulless automated activity, the four player limit keeps games small and quick, the lack of proper experience or item rewards scaling in parties discourages co-op, the lack of game names or a proper game creation system is lame, the matchmaking quest system doesn’t work well everyone endlessly creating “Kill Azmodan” games and then doing everything but, and the problems go on and on.

All of those features/changes probably seemed like good ideas on the drawing board, and most of them are clearly technological improvements, but they conspired to create the same Battle.net ghost town effect that Starcraft 2 has suffered. I don’t know if more or less tech is the answer — the simple IRC-style chat rooms we had in Diablo I in 1996 gave vastly more social value than every B.net 2.0 feature combined — but on this design pillar at least I think the devs came up very short.

Comments

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  1. i only think “approachable” hits the nail on the head –

    i also thought powerful heroes for a second – but you need the feeling of always being in control for that to be true.

    but in d3 is much slower, plagued with lag and assetloading stutter and has an incredible poor pathing for everything movement-related ; especially noticeable on skills like teleport, tempest, vault.

    than there is unavoidable melee attacks which still hit you even though you are already 20 yards away, vortex and jailer.

    that being said i dont feel powerful at all in diablo 3 – i feel being gearchecked.

  2. im starting to really wonder (and im probably way late on this) how much of that “simplification before release” was to hold things back for the expansion. not trying to be cynical, just from a business pov, they are much better off selling two games rather than one especially considering the on line free to play model.
    what also makes me think that is some very simple details (which were in D2) which could add so much depth to D3; ability to equip armor to followers, adding sockets to items, more diverse gems/runes.
    yeah, i could just go and play D2 but i really like the look and feel of D3. it just gets frustrating playing a game that has one hand tied behind its back.

    • I doubt, that they will/can change the way skills are handled (need to put points, that are permanent), which is the biggest flaw in Diablo 3.

  3. The sad true is that only thing which can pull out D3 from the current state is expansion. They are trying to improve game in every patch but it is not enough. Furthermore it can’t be done by using patches. Devs wasted to much time on experiments concerning D3 during developing as if they didn’t know what to do.

    • I think that’s the case, but how are they going to fix itemization? I’m wondering how the items could be made better so there’s more variety and decent chances to use a lower ilvl item. Brother Laz said to dota-ize them, but how effective would that really be? I just hope they don’t introduce new tiers of items that effectively destroy any sense of progression.

      I’m really interested in what you guys think.

      • The one thing I really miss from Diablo 1, that hasn’t shown up in anything else AFAIK, is capped player stats and items with stat requirements.

        It meant, for example, to wear a FPM with 90 str req on your sorcerer, you had to find gear with +45 strength on them. Given the paucity of item slots available, this meant you went in search of a very narrow range of items, and the difference between +19 or +20 on a zodiac jewel would mean the difference between wearing or not wearing the FPM (compared to D2 and D3, where perfection on an item gives bragging rights only).

        But, going FPM wasn’t the only option for your sorc. You could go artillary style and go with Naj’s Light Plate etc.

        Basically the capped character stats forced you to search for particular items, and make choices: do I want the plain zodiac ring so I can wear my FPM, or will I swap to a jade ring of stars + obsidian helm of stars, which has less overall AC but more resistances. D2 never had this, because you could just increase your stats as much as you wanted. Hellgate never had it, because stat points were so easy to come by and again they didn’t have a limit on any particular type. D3 doesn’t have it because there are no stat requirements on gear.

    • I agree. With over a thousand hours logged in this stupid game with the hopes of it getting better, I have simply stopped playing beyond checking auctions a few times a week.

      The expansion is the only possible salvation for this franchise at this time.

      Those seven pillars sure are cute: just reaffirms that Jay did everything in his power to not incorporate those seven “pillars” into the game.

  4. items bad!!! rabble rabble rabble!

  5. *ducks*…

    love it lol!

  6. Being reminded of the “pillars of design” rubs me the wrong way all over; at this point it really emphasizes what an utter failure the game would turn out to be, and not just from fans’ expectations. It also serves to remind me how blindly confident I was that this game was going to succeed, back when I used to devour every little tidbit of information.
    Fail. On almost all accounts except for good, smooth arcade-style gameplay– which, oddly enough, is not a ‘design pillar’.

    • “Utter failure”?

      From what I can tell by the sales figures and the amount people still play the game, you are utterly wrong.

      • If your definition of success for this game is sales figures then we will surely have to agree to disagree and mind each other’s points of views.

      • We don’t have correct data, relation of sold games to constantly playing people. And the number of bots.

        Yep, they scored financial success but I think that people wont jump on expansion as they did on the game, and this is definitely not success.

      • People still use the “sales figures” argument ?

        Also, pray tell, exactly how many people are still playing it ? I figure you must have some “players figures”. Oh, no ? It figures.

        • It’s also just wrong. ATVI peaked for the year the day D3 came out.

          It basically killed the stock despite blops and pandas. Fanbois may have been impressed by the booking of millions of wow sub giveaways as “sales”, but investors don’t have the luxury of stupidity, and clear called the game a flop.

      • Century you know what he means stop trying to be a wise guy please. His comment has got +14 likes while yours has +1. We don’t need trolling posts like this they add absolutely nothing to the discussion.

  7. I just don’t understand how a professional dev team could have such a well-defined list of core features that would make a great ARPG could manage to produce a game that misses the mark so spectacularly on most of them and even downright designs counter to some of those principles.

    • It failed for many reasons, but a few more obvious ones:

      – None of the leads had been a lead on an ARPG before (most had never worked on one, period)

      – Upper management meddling verging on sabotage (I seriously doubt Jay wanted the RMAH)

      – A general yes-man culture at blizz which discourages “rocking the boat” with challenges to bad design calls and encourages political sucking-up

  8. The center pillar is missing: RMAH.

    • Exactly, pretty sure this was the secret main pillar.

    • IIRC, it wasn’t a pillar, it was the cornerstone.

    • I’d say RMAH was the foundation and they later discovered that the original pillars didn’t really fit on that foundation so they ignored them. Why is RMAH so important to them? Basically they decided that since there would be a black market in accounts and items, then they wanted to bring it inhouse and gain control and get their cut. Sadly, security is so bad that bots and duping have destroyed the economy. So the main foundation has failed.

      A couple of examples of failed pillars:

      Great Items:

      The game is item-driven. If item drops and crafting are rubbish then we seek alternative sources: AH and RMAH. The game forcibly directs us to the AH. We can, of course, ignore AH and try to find gear and improve our chars that way, but progress is so slow we lose interest.

      Customization:

      Automatic stat allocation plus ‘all skills/runes always available to all members of the same class’ means that the only difference between your character and mine is the gear we are wearing. This affects replayability: I can’t make different versions of my character (e.g. fire mage, frost mage), so I don’t feel the need to start a new character version from scratch.

      Replayability:

      The ‘random’ areas are so similar to each other that we know where the entry and exit will be, so farming runs are even more tedious.

      I’d say that some of those are expansion-killers. The game is so deeply broken that a rewrite would bring more benefits than an expansion can.

      For me, one of the most successful parts of D3 is the achievements section, especially the challenges, and I don’t know where that really fits into the pillars. Replayability?

      I also very much like the usefulness and entertainment value of the followers: much better than the hirelings in D2. Maybe that’s in the customization pillar….;)

  9. The game is approachable. The rest is fail, some more spectacularly than others.

  10. I. money, II. profit, III. low-cost, IV. more money, V. revenue, VI. monetary benefits, VII. even more money.

    Seriously though, I couldn’t disagree any more with ‘powerful heroes’ one: Is it fun to disintegrate monsters or have their body parts fly over the whole screen with every swing? Certainly! Only for a few hours though.

    I’d much prefer the D1 ‘gothic horror’ approach instead, with a constant feeling of danger looming over your less (demi-)godly, more human character. There’s nothing wrong about learning powerful abilities when your hero has leveled up enough, but each punch of your level 1 n00b surpassing the big bang exponentially grows old really quick and – like the developers have complained multiple times – doesn’t really allow any complex enemy behviour patterns. Character power has to be balanced really carefully against challenge, I think, else it would have very negative impact on both gameplay and atmosphere, which ,unfortunately, D3 proves quite well.

    • This seems like the bigger issue, and you’re the first one to broach it. (I threw in vote option 10 but didn’t spend article time on it.) Were these 7 pillars adequate? Accurate? Intelligent? Even assuming they’d hit all 7 of them, would that have made the game we all wanted? Or were there other Pillars of more importance that weren’t targeted?

      My biggest complaint is that the game is too simple, in the long term. Not enough variety and complexity in the item system, monster strengths/weaknesses, etc. And that’s kind of related to the Endless Replayability, and Items, etc, but it’s a bit of a larger and deeper issue. And true, D2C didn’t at all hit that design pillar either, but grew into it via expansions and patches. D3 may do the same, but the much higher fan expectations upon launch make the learning/growing curve a lot steeper.

  11. What’s sad is not one of the seven pillars was about the most important feature: [b]creating a vibrant in-game community.[/b] Without that, D3 feels like a cartridge game for the Nintendo in the 1980s. This is the 21st century. The big benefit to being online is to interact with others, talk with them, hash out ideas, and watch each other play, as well as play with others.

    Its like they forced everyone to have to be online to play D3, and then removed almost all of the reasons why being online to play games is fun.

  12. I wanted to vote for cooperative multi-player being done well, as I really enjoy playing with friends. But the lack of really good party buffs continues to disappoint me. Mantras are too small, war cry gives a nice buff but you don’t really miss it if it’s not running, etc. The buffs aren’t BAD, but they’re not game-changers like Conviction/Oak Sage/Battle Orders in D2.

    • Agreed; I want to WANT to multi-player and currently there’s just not enough incentive. I do occasionally jump into public games out of sheer boredom and occasionally I’ll even meet someone worth adding to my friend list, but there’s simply not enough advantage to playing with others. My friends and I will do runs together for the sake of company, but not to enjoy any extra advantage in playing through the game. In fact, I actually lower my efficiency by adding friends to my games. Why play with friends and have to lower the MP level to keep the pace moving when I could play solo 1 or 2 MP’s higher and clear the game just as fast, but with higher MF/GF/XP bonuses (not to mention having a follower decked in MF gear as well)?

      Which brings me to a tangent point. I sorely miss being able to have your follower with you in public games. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, however misguided it may be, that come either a future patch or an expansion followers will get a major boost to usefulness (it would be nice if they were more than simply a trailing MF-booster), the ability to have them in public games, and the ability to equip them with additional items. I remember how unenthused I was when I first came to find out that not only did followers get kicked from public games, but at the same time the player-cap per game was axed.

    • This one drives me crazy, as it was such an obvious problem during development. I wrote about it several times, including a whole article just about that from October 2009.

      http://diablo.incgamers.com/blog/comments/on-the-drawing-board-16-party-friendly-skills

      Even 2.5 years before release, there was clearly a big lack of party skills, shared skills, and other actual incentives to play in an MP game. Yet the devs kept doing their “no harm to co-op” mantra for the rest of dev without ever even figuring out that monster hps needed to not scale up so much, and monster exp and drops needed to scale up more, to get people playing in parties. Much less realizing that some skills needed redesign to actually make parties valuable.

      • Hahaha you predicted the state of Diablo 3 party play over 2 years before the release. Maybe they should hire people like you to give them insight on how to actually improve the game instead of slowly burying it into the ground.

        I’m glad they are still address these issues, but it is taking way too long to produce really ‘safe’ and lackluster results. Of course I’m sure the reality is they can’t get things done since the majority of their funding was cut to work on other projects and some second wave money grabbing expansion every couple years.

        /meh

  13. Flux makes some good points. The game never ramps up in complexity; no immunities, diversity of items to socket, weapon switches, types of damage to mitigate (oh I need def, vit, and all res against everything?) charges, breakpoints (devs were trying to specifically avoid bps, but I enjoyed bps as it let me shoot for specific numbers I.e. my sorc needa a gear combo with 86 fhr, 63fcr, 20 fbr, on top of that id like some -lit res,skills, resist all, dr, idr, rip, absorb, max rex, etc. or druid needs a range 5 wpn and at least 30ias w -30wsm weapon and 50 cb, some deadly strike, ctc procs, life tap source, attack rating, -enemy def, etc). Also, the pacing is slow and the items arent as fun to find. I bought the d3 ce and am glad I at least got the soulstone and an extra copy of d2.

    Simply put, D2 is a better game to play right now than D3.

  14. And voting…

    I gave it accessibility…technically its true..but I think they went too far into being accessible and wound up actually hurting the game (making it too simple, taking away far too many choices, etc). I also gave them strong setting, because honestly the moment you play and go through..they are constantly throwing setting piece after settie piece after setting piece into your face. Each time you make a character you gotta hear at least part of every blasted talking point, often the game stopping all action just to make you listen to it. So yeah strong setting…again I think too strong, it gets in the way of gameplay.

    All else though? Even ‘strong heroes’ not really. Some of the heroes are strong..but not all of them feel strong or powerful. It’s obvious the Barbarian was a fav among blizzard and they put a lot into him….but other classes…not so much.

    Otherwise don’t let me get started on the rest of the crap…they failed in all other points, and if I went on to actually rant and rave over it I’d prob wind up with a longer reply to the article than the article itself. Suffice it to say I think Diablo III has a mess of things wrong with it, and the only reason I play DIII over some other game..is I payed money for it and gosh darn it if I’m gonna let that money go to waste by playing some other game. I can just keep hoping that eventually Blizzard will find some way to pull their heads out…and actually put into the game what needs to be put into it.

  15. All 7 pillars are directly gameplay related. No wonder why EVERYTHING else in the game is absurdly shallow and soulless.

    Story, music and art had zero importance.

    This is the secret of Diablo 1 and 2’s success. They were well rounded games. Nothing was perfect, but they compensated each other and created a perfect experience. While Diablo 3 fixated in just one aspect and failed miserably on the overall experience.

  16. “You’re probably hoping for a big nerf that would give you an excuse to play a “real” class, huh? *ducks*”

    lol Right on, Flux!

  17. With all the resources and assets Blizzard north had, Jay and the dev team didn’t think that looking back at the unique qualities and gothic horror present in Diablo 1+2 would have been the right thing? It’s mind boggling to me that a company as successful as Blizzard didn’t look carefully at Diablo’s legacy. Diablo 2 had flaws but the base game with Lord of Destruction was fantastic and I’ve been playing with my recently purchased battle chest, which is a sign that it was a well designed game.

    Reading all of Jay’s interviews and watching videos on Diablo 3, I have this feeling that Diablo 3 did not have much of a vision. I’ve been tackling this thought for a while and this was supported by many things I’ve heard about the billion iterations the team made to the point where they were reinventing the ARPG wheel. Brevik was right when he said that “it’s a shame they had to learn some of these painful lessons.” Why hand the franchise over to someone who didn’t design ARPGSs? Rob Pardo’s forum post on battle.net partially indicates that he was impressed by Jay’s work even though he never designed an action role playing game before, for some odd reason.

    Flux, I’ll have to disagree with you on replayability and repetition. At least in Diablo 2 many acts could be farmed and the lobby system helped to dictate which parts of the game were the focus for farming. Tell me what act people are farming in Diablo 3? 1/4 of the game is being played in the exact same route people have found to be the most efficient. In my opinion the monotony present in doing the same runs in Act 3 ad infinitum just isn’t my cup of tea.

    Here are my thoughts on the other pillars:

    Approachability: This was actually good because it brought many of my friends to this genre. Many of them have become interested in ARPGs because of D3 and ultimately complained about lack of a character identity. Keep in mind that these are casual players who had some experience with the genre.

    Powerful Heroes: This is debatable but I will give the sound + technical team a big thumbs up for making the combat feel powerful. Every crossbow bolt, monk’s thunderpunch, Barbarian’s bash, the Witch doctor’s poison darts, and the Wizard’s arcane attacks are done very well.

    Strong setting: I would have liked to see different settings as opposed to virtually the same settings present in D2’s acts. They rehashed most of Diablo 2’s locations and going so far as to following the same paradigm. Sewers, Desert, and Palace in Act 2 is one, Tristram+Rogue Encampment+Cathedral,and Mount Arreat (except Arreat Summit with the Ancients is far superior :P).

    Great item game: Atrocious. This really didn’t help when classes were restricted to a primary stat and the extremely linear progression in item strength did not allow for lower level uniques or set items to be used at higher levels. When it was my first time playing a barbarian in Diablo 2 (very very first class I tried) I found an angelic wings amulet which granted 20% mana for all damage taken and I used it even well into my 50s to 60s.At the time it really helped managing my mana resource and made it fun to spam warcry stun as a frenzy barb. All my legendaries I found in D3 are vendor trash compared to my DPS at level 60. It’s incredibly frustrating to know that any legendary I pick up early game will be a pile of trash at higher levels.

    Multiplayer: for an online only game this game sure has the weakest incentives to party up. Not all classes bring unique auras or defensive bonuses (aside from the Monk’s auras…which isn’t nearly enough). A necro joining a game, for example, could bring a skelly army + golem while a Barbarian could use his war cries to bring nice benefits to all party members.

    As for the auction house, I understand that there were 3rd party services and shady crap on the internet for items, but that doesn’t mean Blizzard needed to start selling gold or even moderate item sales in game. The auction house in softcore has forever tainted my ability to enjoy finding items in game. It’s too slim to find something useful for my character whereas in Diablo 2 I would find a unique or a set item I really thought was fun for my class. The massive jump in power with the auction house short circuited any enjoyment with finding items in game and I don’t want to farm gold. That’s garbage. I have a burning hatred against farming gold to buy upgrades. I want to find stuff with reasonable drop rates.

    To say that Diablo 3 is a disappointment is a massive understatement. It’s a game without vision and it shows quite well at this point. The devs say they want to be a unique game in the Diablo series but every single change has been stuff that existed in Diablo 2. Ubers, player8 (monster power in D3)….

    • D2C farming was Act 4. Only. Often just the River of Flame and the Chaos Sanctuary (for wiz/amazon). A year of that.

      D2X for a while all of Act 5, but fairly soon it was just Bloody Foothills. Over and over and over again. Then Cow level once it became farmable and more valuable, though at that point Baal runs were good also if you were well-geared (I used to love doing Baal runs with my Bowazon in 8p games while everyone else was in the Cows.)

      Item runs also existed, but these were just Meph, or Pindle, and they were short and quick and of little value other than potential gear.

      D3’s farming isn’t ideal, but we do a lot more of the game, thanks NV and to drops from random bosses being as good as big bosses. Whether that’s an improvement is open to debate, but it’s certainly offering more of the game for replay than D2 did.

      • I see your point and agree with it. I do think the implementation of random champ packs to gain Nephalem Valor was a good system to break up the monotony of farming a single boss over and over again. The dev team did a very good job with that aspect (which I failed to write in my response to the article).

        I guess I’m bitter about items most importantly. I hope they do something to make finding items in game a lot more fun. Perhaps it’s time for me to play some hardcore…

      • You’re forgetting one of the aspects that I like to do in d2x – farm for runes by rushing chars to hell hellforge. To construct my legit Call to Arms weapon for Battle Orders, I need to do about 30 rushes. That requires that I almost play the entire game 30x, unless someone turbos me through it.

        You’re also forgetting farming for keys to do uber tristram.

        There was more than just hell Baal runs, if you played legit and didn’t delve into the hacked community.

  18. The fact that over 30% of the voters (as I write this) have said the game is *not* approachable certainly calls the validity of the results into question. I can accept that a few people will say it’s *too* approachable and a few others will nitpick over dumb ideas like “Elective Mode,” but there’s no way 3 out of 10 people honestly believe they failed at approachability.

    Either people aren’t actually reading, they don’t understand they can vote for more than one option, they’re just trolling, … something. There’s no reasonable explanation.

    • define “approachable”

      how many posts were still being made 6 months after release asking “how do you get your skills like that?”

      not only was “elective mode” a stupid idea, but there was so little info on how to get to it, it’s like they intentionally made the game restrictive

      how about the fact that it’s always online ? that’s fine for WoW and PoE, they’ve always been that way.
      but to take a game that had the option of offline play and now say “it’s online or nothing” is very restrictive; and it’s not just Error 37 but also they take the game down once every couple of weeks so they can upgrade battle.net or whatever

      ok, so it’s online,
      can I name games and find others playing the same quests/goals that I’m interested in ?
      no

      can I travel to Act 1 after completing Act 2 ?
      no

      sure, they’ve made it approachable by taking away skill and stat choices, and that’s fine if that’s your idea of approachable
      you don’t have to know anything about the mechanics of the game to play it

      if that last point was definition of approachable then they succeeded, but I think there’s more to approachable than that

      • “how about the fact that it’s always online ? that’s fine for WoW and PoE, they’ve always been that way.
        but to take a game that had the option of offline play and now say “it’s online or nothing” is very restrictive”

        Especially considering, as Winterfield pointed out above, that the game is more singleplayer centered by design than what D2 had to offer, even at vanilla-stage.

    • Dr Elmer Jiggle, meet the Haters. Haters, meet Dr Elmer Jiggle.

  19. Most of these pillars have crumbled.

  20. Approachable as in “casual friendly” I guess, which is a plus. Every time I play I think there is something I am doing wrong. People with a third of my play time can solo ubers with relative ease on MP8+ and farm MP10. I’ll go out on a limb and say that each ladder in LoD I could at least build a fully functional MF Sorc which I’d refine over time as runes and drops improved. Now, I am slightly ashamed at the play time vs my dps. It is not a bad game and it is improving but… who knows ?

    • Rmah solves all dps problems 🙂

      • Touché.
        But unless I earn some bnet balance before, not gonna happen.

        • Yeah, the RMAH makes it hard to compare yourself to others. (Of course people bought gear in D2 also, but there wasn’t any way to view every char on someone else’s account so the transparency wasn’t there.)

          I often poke through the accounts of higher ranked chars on our ladders site, looking for ideas for gear improvements and build changes and such, and quite often it’s very obvious that someone’s all RMAH. They’ve got 1 char at paragon 45, no real MF on them, no other chars even to lvl 60, and yet they’ve got multiple 100m+ items. Obviously they didn’t find those, or earn them during their own play time.

          http://www.diablo3ladders.com/ladder/heroscore-demon-hunter/

  21. Point 7 is fulfilled.

    Your grouping is fast in this game. And public groups can be a very useful tool for new players leveling up and get Paragon levels rather quickly without bothering too much about the gear. Battlenet interface is just a small layer letting everyone play in his own game.

    The other points were also met as Diablo3 has the better game engine, the better routes in grinding, the better graphics

    Stats and gear specs will always be open to discussion as everyone wants to have the best gear … NOW.

    Those idiots still wanting an off line game will keep sticking their heads in the ground for the internet anno 2013.

    And an in game AH is the best thing that happened for a Diablo game as the alternative is simply dealing with crooks and cracked software maffia websites.

    9/10. Game is MUCH better adapted than other on line games these days and certainly better than the older 2 D games, as they aged terribly compared to say … WoW which was launched a mere 3 years later.

  22. Multiplayer/Co-op is really puzzling in this list, it is one of the biggest failures to me. No reason to group with friends at all, in fact, it was borderline impossible in inferno pre 1.04.

    The giant step backwards that battlenet took is also puzzling. I can’t think of too many other products that regress to a state that is much worse than it was 10 years ago except battlenet. Removal of your geared up avatar from all chat, removal of any community interaction except on their forums, and the removal of the ability to actually name your damn characters and have it shown in game. Completely baffling to me.

    Hope their expansion team can re-design this mess because the graphics and fluid combat sure are fun, but it’s gets overshadowed by all the other design failures.

    • Wait, they don’t show your character names in multiplayer? What do they show?

      • Your battletag name is displayed, which is better since all is account wide in D3.

        Also the MUlti Player is excellent these days . You can group fast, the awards arrive 3 times faster, as each group run is much faster than solo play and the grouping mechanic is smooth as all groups are formed within seconds.

        I have NO clue why anyone would want to play solo these days except for hardcore play and private friends play.

        I guess the guy above did not even plat post patch 1.05.

        • “Also the MUlti Player is excellent these days ”

          do the monsters give more xp or loot when there’s more players in a game ?

          last I heard, they didn’t

          have they fixed the resource system ? so if a WD or Wizard kills 1/2 the monsters are there still enough monsters around that a Barb can build Fury and a DH can build Rage ? or are they just out of luck ?

          when D3 first came out I played a Barb and I HATED playing with Wizards

          I’m trying to pull enemies closer with Leap and Ground Stomp and they keep pushing them away with Wave of Force
          Monks do the same thing

          has the way skills conflict with other classes been fixed ?

          yea! I can do Act 3 runs faster!
          but other than that, what’s the advantage? what’s the point ?

          do the classes have skills that actually boost the effectiveness of other classes ?

          • James summed it up well. One more thing to add, what the hell was going on in their design process when they decided to remove your dressed up avatar from chat? Did they think it would make new players feel bad about themselves if others in the lobby saw their poor gear? Why remove this from battlenet? Too difficult to program? But it was there 10 years ago, couldn’t they just borrow the code from the old bnet?

            Is there one way that battlenet has improved since where it was 12 years ago? Seems to me features were stripped and nothing was added. I can see others meaningless achievements? Don’t get me started on achievements, I am still looking to complete “explore the cathedral” and “use all shrines” after 900 hours of play time. End of rant.

          • Yes, you gain more loot and experience when you are playing in a group. Because of the speed and quadrapule number of players advancing through the content.

            There is no need to give even more exp per mob kill in a group mode.

            Unless key runs I avoid solo play all the time since 3 months.

            It shows people will whine no matter what

            And I couldn’t care less if one class or spec has more speed in grinding. I am not in a competition here.

        • I’ve played plenty post patch, all the way up until last week. No MP in public games is one reason for solo/private games. No friends left in my list of 50+ that are online for private games is another reason.

          It has gotten better since the summer, but I was more referring to their design PILLAR OF CO-OP.

          Your battlenet user id doesn’t feel like a character name to me. Not being able to name your alt differently is minor, I know, just a gripe.

          I admit, I am an old kid with nostalgic glasses somewhat.

          • “Your battlenet user id doesn’t feel like a character name to me. Not being able to name your alt differently is minor, I know, just a gripe.”

            Yeah. It just identifies the player instead what’s needed concerning the rpg-part in arpg: The player identifying with his characters. Instead the feeling comes up that the latter was actively ruled out, where it could possibly come into the game.

  23. In fact I would add one more thing: Diablo 3 will not give your lost youth back, whatever anyone will offer.

    It’s a great game and all I see is old kids with nostalgic glasses remembering an old game that simply never existed.

    • Emotional attachements were built up, that cannot be argued about rationally. There I agree. But D2 is still installed and with exception of the graphics I wouldn’t call it “old” at all. “Old fashioned” perhaps. With a pen&paper-style openness to it that’s clearly adressing the interests and cultural history of the generation now in their 30s to 40s far more, than the newer guard of gamers, indeed. But please stop referring to your point of view as beeing “the truth ™”. You’re starting to sound like a marketing figure.

  24. “3) Highly Customizable

    This one can also be argued both ways. [b]The Freespecs skill system allows for huge variety, as any build can change completely in a blink.[/b] […]”

    The argumentation here is exactly the point, why I can’t acknowledge the term “build” in conjunction with D3 and am instead prefering the term “setup”.

    (I hope the bbcode works…)

  25. Definitely “approachable” any idiot can be good at this game by just stacking DPS items or worse buying them. That makes the heros “powerful” I guess but cookie cutter and boring. I can’t remember anyone’s character or gearout I played with because it’s all a blur of barbs with the same build and gear. Everything else he mentioned was fail city.

    “Highly Customizable” uhhh nope everyone was using the same build and VERY similar gear. “strong setting” well there’s no arguing taste here but in my own opinion the setting and plot were something more befitting children or manchildren than adults. “cooperative multiplayer” there’s no incentive to play with other people. There are dangers in the form of being kicked at certain moments and killed in hardcore games and originally there was a danger of having your items stolen. No benefits all drawbacks in that category terrible lobby design to boot.

    FINALLY “great item game that is endlessly replayable” this is the biggest fail of the seven pillars. If they had just accomplished these two and only these two the game could be considered a quality addition to the diablo franchise.

  26. Interesting poll, so we have 16% of trolls on this site

  27. Great summary Flux and I find myself agreeing with most of what you said. I’ve spent a ton of hours playing this game and am still having fun with it. It’s pretty amazing to look at the way the game started and how much it’s evolved just through patches without the benefit of even it’s first expansion yet. Yet people wail and wail about how Blizzard either doesn’t care about what people say or even worse have some evil plot to just take everybody’s money and rip them off. Huh? Especially puzzling to me are people that sound like they would have been happier if they had just released another D2 clone where the only real change was updated graphics.

    I’m looking forward to the next patch and also to the first expansion.

    • That’s really Diablo 3’s biggest obstacle. Though you might be more level-headed about the whole RMAH and always-online things, and maybe you just are happy that the game is fun to play, for a legion of others it’s far too easy to create a compelling narrative about Blizzard being pure evil.

      I can’t blame them honestly, though I also continue to have fun playing this evil money grubbing game.

      I don’t think Blizzard will ever shake this reputation, regardless of what changes they make.

  28. They literally didn’t do any of these things. I can’t even give them setting because they just copied D2’s set pieces.

  29. Approachable- I counted this as a failure because in their quest to make the game approachable they in fact just dumbed it down.

    Powerful heroes- Mostly a success. The skills do a very good job of making me feel powerful, but items need more interesting and useful mods to make me feel truly powerful.

    Highly customizable- I voted this as a success in the poll, but it’s really a 50/50 kind of thing. I think they clearly succeeded in skill customization and clearly failed in item customization.

    Great item game- Complete and total failure. There is absolutely no excuse for how hard they failed on this.

    Endlessly replayable- Another 50/50 one. On the plus side, the random events make the game much more playable than D2 and D1, and I think D3s events are one of its greatest additions to the series. On the negative side, the failure of Blizz’s part on the end-game item hunt definitely hurts the replayability.

    Strong setting- Technically a success. I say technically because although the setting was strong, it was totally wrong. The dark, gothic fantasy world of D1 and D2 was replaced with a very generic fantasy setting that would have fit better in a Lord of the Rings game or Warcraft game, or just about any other generic fantasy game. It’s clear from playing the game that Blizzard recognized it wasn’t as dark as D1 or D2, and actually believed that they could remedy this simply by throwing in as many corpse piles as they could into the background. Generic fantasy is not bad, it’s just not what Diablo should be.

    Cooperative multiplayer- Failure. B.net 2.0 is an absolute joke and a failure in every sense of the word. As for actual multiplayer gameplay, they really need to add more incentives for playing with other people as D2 did with its experience and item quantity rewards. Currently there is no reason for me to play with other people unless I am playing an extreme glass cannon build and I need some meat shields. 4 player games are inexcusably small in my opinion. You can’t even have one of each character class in a game. Things will be made even worse when 1.0.7. hits. It’s bad enough you can only have 4 people in a game, but after 1.0.7. you will have to deal with people in your game who just wanna duel while others wanna go questing, and vice versa.

    Here’s hoping that as many of these problems that can be fixed, will be fixed in the expansion or future patches.

  30. I’ll preface this by saying that I do enjoy playing Diablo 3 quite a bit. But every time I’ve seen the issue of “Powerful Heroes” come up, I tend to get a little annoyed. If that was their goal, I think they’ve achieved it.

    However, I kind of hate that it was one of their design goals, at least the way they implemented it. One of the things that made the original Diablo (and even Diablo 2 to an extent) more of a “scary” experience for me was that when you started out, you were really weak and vulnerable as a character. Obviously you want to increase and strength as you go and end up being incredibly heroic. But part of the horror genre is that feeling of being overwhelmed and underpowered compared to your enemies, and that’s just not something I get with D3. It seems like you’re super strong from the get-go, and you just get more powerful from there. There’s really not much of a sense of “power” growth.

    Anyway, that’s just my two cents!

    • “But part of the horror genre is that feeling of being overwhelmed and underpowered compared to your enemies, and that’s just not something I get with D3. It seems like you’re super strong from the get-go, and you just get more powerful from there. There’s really not much of a sense of “power” growth.”

      You hit one of the many nails on the head here I think. This was a design choice I believe, and sounds fine in theory, but the reality is it killed a lot of motivation to play.

      This ties into the part of their goals to achieve approachability. Strong from the get go, fun at first, but starts to lack the reward and gratification of becoming more powerful. Seems to be a trend with games this last decade. Similar to the difference between EQ and WoW in terms of character growth/attachment from earning your power vs starting with it. Not all bad, but not all good either.

  31. Honestly the voting right now seems to say it all, under none of them, theres
    Endlessly Replayable
    Highly Customizable
    Other factors were more important than these 7)
    Great Item Game
    All of them
    With great item game at the bottom, where it should be.

  32. I’d like to point out that the average voter has picked ~2 out of 7 boxes (not counting “all of them” and “none of them”). With ~90% of the voters agreeing that these goals were actually the most important ones, Blizzard has scored 2/7 in fansite evaluation. Fair enough.

    • This is no fansite.

      It is the most ridiculous piece of shit talk about Blizzard and Kotick I ever sas in my life.

      No wonder this site was backlisted by Blizzard years ago already.

      • I fail to see any comments regarding Kotick in this thread. I can’t say there is too much **** talk about Blizzard either. And the blacklist thing, I don’t know.

        Your comment seem very hostile though.

      • I accidentally hit “recommend” when I meant to hit reply and let you know that simply stating what most everyone else is thinking is not “**** talking”.

        So, just so you know, the one +1 that you got… Doesn’t count.

      • I love seeing your posts, Winner, because it always means a big chunk of text I can just scroll past.

      • I can understand your misconception: This site is actually a fansite to the whole diablo-franchise, not just D3, with a lot of users frequenting it for years or swapping over, when the userbases of their former, primary diablo fansites were going down. And between fans of the old games and fans of the new game there are bound to be differences, simply as the new game itself differs greatly from it’s predecessors. (With exception of the general gameplay itself and a certain agreement about the engine of D3 itself beeing rather ideal suited to arpg gameplay.)

      • By the way: If you’d written “This is no fanboisite,” I’m sure you would have seen far more of the green 😉

  33. On ship, d3 missed a bunch of these goals, but now it seems to be improving in ways aligned to these pillars.

    My main issue with the game now is the replayability factor. The paragon system really deflate my desire to play any new characters. It means I must gear mf and stick to mp1 on new characters or suffer even worse loot. I can only farm efficiently with 1 character.

    The game is so linear and the story so instrusive that 3 playthroughs feels overly redundant and actually somewhat annoying. Stop shoving the story down my throat! Let me turn it off in inferno so I’m not so bored of it when I make a new character. I liked questing in d2 with a new character BECAUSE I hadn’t done it in ages. D3 gives you no option.

    The other problem is leveling in d3 is so uninteresting compared to d2. There are no awesome low level uniques to look forward to. Skills unlock automatically. Then once at 60, paragon starts, but individual levels are uninteresting. There aren’t low level skills that are good to play with. You just feel like a gimped version of level 60.

    In d2 you had times as necro spamming teeth, or using wands with skills. At level 80, you played differently. In d3, not so much. Its all same same same. I threw javelins with my sorc.

    So this is my prime beef with d3. Alts are heavily discouraged by paragon sytem and forced quest gameplay. And none of those quests give anything good first time through! Further discourages alt play.

    I never rushed a character in d2. It was actually my favorite thing about it – making a new character and twinking items, completing quests. In d3, I want a rush badly – and instant paragon levels. D2, I liked the progressive experience. In d3, all progression is tied to gear and levels are a barrier.

  34. The opening is what makes my eyes go wide.

    Q: Did Diablo III have an official design document?
    A: No.

    Christ. I have dozens of design documents of games I don’t even have an intention of ever making. To think you’d run a zillion dollar, five century man-year project with no solid outline of a plan..

  35. In diablo 2 LOD I play HC untwinked only. Every drop is fun, there is constant tweaking, planning, gambling, crafting, imbueing, re-rolling and more! Just found a Lum rune last night with my newest spearazon and I was excited! Now I can make smoke and help my resistances. (first I have to run the pits to find some decent armor! yes flux…the pits!)

    I guess my point here is that diablo 2 actually gives me many ways to get past the gear checks and obstacles and I end up with different gear every time because its all self found/created.

    I just lost my level 64 spearazon while playing careless in act 1 hell. I re-rolled and now I am using totally different gear this time around and my strategy is different each time as a result!

    I just love the choice and freedom of D2.

    There is still a lot of strategy and thought that goes into the game of d2 via the itemization.

    I really think that the generation gap led to the discrepancy between d2 and d3 in this regard, this goes for the company of blizzard and not just the players. Heck gaming in general.

    Now if you will excuse me, I need to search for some flawless gems to cube up, more runes, and better gear in old stuffy D2.

  36. You think the characters are powerful? The characters have zero power even at 160. The gear is powerful, but not in a good way.

    The game didn’t hit ANY of the above points except maybe Approachable.

  37. Mr fat ass jay wilson, who looks like a retarted barbarian. RUINED d3. The areas are bland too colorful and not creepy or scary at all…the boss fights are something out of every other action game…a stage where u cant leave untill u win or die….unlike d2 or d1 when a boss came out u can run away and save yourself…..and get scared like i did with the butcher in d1 he scared the poop outta me..now its just oh this big fat guy again with his slow predictable spells and moves……bleh d3 could of been much better much much better look at the old vids my barb put up,. when you had customization within spells for instance..you could mix and match your spells and combine them for example locust swarm casted on zombie dogs which made it awesome and intuitive…10 years in the making wtf were they doing? did mr Barb hire a bunch of new devs?. They were probably confused and prob aggrivated with jay cause of all the midway changes he wanted to do….why change somthing great? to make this game more simplistic and boring…for a M rated game should of rated it G for kids 4+ cause the game is too dame simple and lacks complexity and depth….we are not stupid we are not simple mined…im sick of devs taking the easy road when they take a long time to make a small ass game like d3 then something is oboviously wrong here….keep the good stuff in and leave it alone if it takes too much space and time etc…wtf make 3 discs if you have 2… d2 had 3 disc why put a game that should of been huge with 100+ hours of into a small box with 8+ hours and is garbage….I hate you Mr barb I hate blizzard and activision Im dont with your games I want a refund!

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