Bashiok and the Customizable Story

DiabloWikiBashiok has entered one of the longest back-and forth debates on customization that I’ve seen in a long time. In fact, rarely has a thread racked up 13 responses before. We’ve recently reported on Bashiok’s response on a similar thread, but he elaborates his points in a fashion that has not been witnessed in quite some time. While he maintains the familiar line on customization and the ideals of the beta and its designed hand-holding, there are some insights (albeit few) to be gained from both the OP and subsequent responses.

The growing total of similar threads have been increasing in our general forums at an unprecedented rate as well. Since the total of people that have experienced the beta has now grown probably 100-fold, if not more, many of these arguments are beginning to crop up once again. One of the funny things in this debate, though, is that Bashiok’s first response was aimed at “not getting into the debate.” Apparently he failed to keep his distance. The read is extremely long, and not everything is pertinent, but the full transcript can be read below:

I’ve tried to reply to a couple threads, and it seems like there’s just a desire to argue about it. I don’t get a lot of sense that people want to really understand why, just that they played up to level 13, saw that the game is not Diablo II, and are upset about that. I’m not really sure how to have a conversation about it when there’s just bad feelings and no one asking questions or wanting to learn more.

I can say “Wait until you have the entire game and its systems before passing judgment on the first few guided levels.” but that doesn’t go very far. People have seen skill trees before, they know what they are, and a diversion away from them is jarring. People like clicking a + button to spend attribute points, any systems attempting to make that more interesting or engaging is met with skepticism. I get it. It’s tough to really understand how this is all going to play out together. I just constantly wish people took an approach of wanting to understand something before deeming it bad or wrong. Not to get preachy, but it’s a nature that certainly extends beyond video games.

One thing I’m sure of, and why I don’t find much interest in entering the argument, is that it’ll all change after the game is released and people can see the full game and its design for what it is. It makes me sad seeing someone put off the game entirely because they want that + button, and anything but that is wrong, but … ashamedly I also am at a loss of how to counter that way of thinking.

Click through to read the whole transcript.

This was a bad experience. The demo was not well put together. It was insulting, mundane, and demonstrated so very little that people couldn’t walk away with anything more than aspirations that the full game will be better, and that’s what you’re saying. “We know what we are doing, have faith.”

Experience tells a story that you are trying to fight against. The demo did not reflect 100% positively on a game that I’m sure will be amazing.

Well, first off I’ll personally disagree with you, and the thousands of thank yous and excited voices I’ve received and throughout the internet after having played this weekend would disagree with you.

That aside, I think that’s decent feedback and I agree that being able to offer more of the game would certainly help people get a better feel for the game and its systems. Unfortunately right after the SK fight some pretty major plot development happens, and we simply aren’t willing to compromise the enjoyment and discovery people will have on launch day by extending the ‘barrier’ of the beta.

So I guess it’s a trade off of not showing enough of the game, or showing too much, and we went with the prior. We think it’s ultimately the better decision.

bashiok…come on…I know you’re trying to defend your game, but I think a lot of people would be satisfied if you just admitted that you are dumbing things down for the masses. It’s a completely reasonable thing to do; you guys are doing it in WoW, it’s obviously the direction you guys have decided to go with things, but nobody at Blizzard will just admit it. just come out and say that at some time WoW was not casual-friendly and that everything was becoming too complex both for Blizzard and for players, and that you guys have decided to simplify things for everyone. I think a lot of people don’t like that there is no real, difficult decision making, because you can’t really ever make a mistake. You can make all your soft-core characters the very first day and never have to make another toon again even if you play the game for 20 years. That’s good for some people, but obviously a lot of seasoned gamers wont like that.

Yeah, I guess that’s the mentality I just can’t understand. WoW players should be especially aware that skill tress provided them no choice. You had your build, and then you’d have a few ‘left over points’ that you could spend anywhere, and you could spend them anywhere because they didn’t matter. What mattered was the way you spent down the tree, and there was really one one or two right ways to do that per spec. I can’t understand how anyone could logically look at that situation and say “I have a lot of choices!” unless the answer is they have no idea how to play the game and actually are making a bunch of choices, which are the wrong ones, and building horrible characters.

Diablo II was the exact same way. If you’re not spending into synergies and boosting up a skill or two to max, you’re probably doing it wrong.

How, in the wide wide world of sports, is having potentially hundreds of viable skills and the ability to only choose 6 of them, which means billions of possible build combinations, worse than a skill tree where you have one or two correct decisions?

There’s only one logical answer to this, and that is people want to be locked into their decisions for better or worse because they feel that gives value to their choices. They are smart for picking the right answer and building a better or more interesting character. That is absolutely a noble concept, but we fundamentally just don’t agree that people need to be locked into something for their choices to be smart or meaningful. How does a 15g respec make your choices instantly more palatable? You’re suddenly a character building genius because the guy next to you has to pay 15g to copy you? Come on.

With billions of possible builds you will absolutely be doing something different than the guy next to you, and you making the skills you want to use work for you and be viable is a great achievement, because out of billions of possible builds how many do you think will actually work?

It’s interesting to me that someone would value the permanence of their choices over being able to actually make choices at all.

Although I agree with you, I am curious about something: How has build diversity “performed” in internal testing? Do people tend to gravitate towards certain skills/builds, or is there actually a large amount of diversity in play?

There’s a large amount of diversity, and some of that is afforded by overlap in skills. With ~150 skills per class they of course aren’t all going to unique in their function, which allows for overlap and customization in build choice. In addition, we find that gear as well as just play experience will influence someone’s build as they go. Someone might pick up an item with a +skill mod, and decide to swap around their build to benefit from the item. If they enjoy it they’ll start building out a set that really feeds that new build. In addition to the Nephalem Valor buff which penalizes changing builds mid-game, there’s a large amount of item and skill investment in perfecting a build that lends itself to sticking with it. I know people have a concept that players are just going to be swapping around their builds all the time, and that’s certainly true as things are unlocking, but at high levels there’s enough investment in a build that it just doesn’t really happen.

I’ve said this elsewhere recently, but the designers knew they were on the right track for diversity and balance when people would come up to them and say “This skill is absolutely overpowered and required to play this class” and right behind them would be another person saying the exact same thing about another skill. There are absolutely skills that are very tempting, but different skills appeal to different people, and our intent (and what we believe we’ve achieved) is the ability for someone to choose a build that appeals to them and to make it work. A lot of personal taste, play style, experience, and even just aesthetics play more into build choices than people usually expect. And that’s insanely exciting from both a design and player perspective.

It would be a lot more exciting for more players if they knew about elective mode.
Seriously, why is elective mode hidden? It’s causing a lot of unnecessary frustration, confusion and complaints.

Well I wouldn’t say it’s hidden, and we have a loading screen tip that calls it out. We honestly didn’t want to continue adding things to the skill UI, and as a more advanced option it felt right for it to be found or learned about through ‘tribal knowledge’, as it were. We intend for the game to be played at first with the current set up, and if someone wants to try a more advanced option they can turn on Elective.

You put out a system that moves you along and does not give you a SINGLE choice in the matter

Hrm. Oh, you mean until level 13? Well we specifically unlock very few abilities to start, but pretty quickly we have to be dumping handfuls on you every level. With as many skills and passives as there are it very quickly ramps up where every level you’re getting four or five new things to try out, in addition to everything before it. There’s no shortage of choice. I agree the choices are unlocked in a pre-determined way, but so are skill trees.

Why are you confused? They have to have some sort of stopping point in a beta. The SK boss happened to be a perfect stopping point. Bashiok stated that following the SK, there were events in the plot that they didn’t want to reveal.

No, Grug thinks the beginning of the game is boring. I don’t really have anything to say about it except that we disagree. I guess I’d add that many people tend to think other people know what they know, or have been following the game, or understand all of the game mechanics, etc.

For someone that’s been following the game closely, and furthermore is in the beta, yeah I bet up to the SK is old news by now. That’s not the case for everyone that will pick up the game, obviously.

By whose standards is it “Bad” , Yours? , well guess what, YOUR opinion on how I build my character have exactly 0 impact on my enjoyment of a game, and by taking away my freedom to make a mistake you basically sit us down and tell us “no no no, we don’t have faith that you can enjoy this GAME without us holding your hand”

It’s wrong, and it is insulting.
Woah, let’s step back because that’s not what I meant. You have total freedom of choice in Diablo III, and that includes making mistakes. You’ll have a great time playing the game how you want to play it, and having the ability to make a bad choice, figure out what the problem is, and work to correct it. You’re going to have a blast with it.

My point was directed at those saying skill trees are a superior system, and in the case of both Diablo II and World of Warcraft they’ve been proven to be very fundamentally flawed in a few significant ways. If you never looked up a guide to see how to build the best character, that’s awesome, but many people who really want ‘the best’ character don’t play through trial and error (unless they’re the frontline theorycrafters actually doing the math).

I think Diablo III will be the perfect game for you. You’ll be able to experiment, you’ll have billions of possible skill combinations to try out, and as you make bad decisions it’s not going to be automatically clear what the problem is. There’s plenty of critical thinking to try to find a viable build, but it doesn’t come at the punishment of making you level a new character.

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137 thoughts on “Bashiok and the Customizable Story

  1. All boils down to the illusion of choice evident in those older games. Either you gimp yourself because youve not researched how to build something correct, or you take one of the predefined cookiecutter builds theory crafted to have max output. And where is the choice really in that?
    Im glad to see blizzard finally burrying the flawed skilltree concept. Maybe other games will start to follow suit.

    • Tell me how exactly the current system solves that, please.

      Tell me exactly how the current system will prevent people from taking predefined cookiecutter builds to have max output, and tell me exactly how we have more choice now than before.

      Skill tree was never flawed. It was the inability to balance a skill tree that led to all the problems.

      A lot of people are falsely attributing the merits of the runes to the skill system we have now, when in fact the runes were never mutually exclusive with skill tree.

      If nothing else, a system with zero sense of commitment will encourage everyone to go the cookiecutter route.  🙄

      • I found myself constantly experimenting as I leveled up, trying out different new combinations to see how they meshed with other skills I learned. It made it quite exciting to level up, learning a new skill or a rune that transformed an existing skill into something else.   Thats the plus of the new skill system.
        Regarding ability points, good riddance. Considering how in d2 the ideal was to have just enough strenght for best armor and weapon, enough dex for max block and rest in vit, nothing in energy. Pretty much meaning that your first untwinked char essentially is gimped, as you dont have endgame equipment ready to be twinked down. And remember the horror of having to use a level 1 frost bolt all the way to level 30 for frozen orb to not waste precious skillpoint. Sure you felt like a god for pulling it off, but it wasnt very compelling gameplay, leading blizzard to introduce synergies to make the leveling experience less punishing, but costing you skillpoints in the long run and reducing choice, because you simply -HAD- to maximise your main attack.

        • You realize making an easily respec option, as Blizzard had originally opt for, would work as well?

          Incurring some form of effort on the part of the player would, at the very least, discourage on-the-fly changes.

          Keeping a skill tree in place, while implementing the rune system, as Blizzard had initially planned, would serve the exact purpose. Nothing you said is exclusive to the current system. It’s not either or.

          As for the horror of using level 1 frost bolt, once again, easily solved by respecialization, or even the system Blizzard had in place prior to scratching the entire skill tree concept. It was, all in all, a design oversight of a very old game. It is not equally applicable on Diablo 3, and does not warrant the exclusion of the skill tree system.

          I’m not arguing the current system is bad, nor am I saying that the skill tree system is vastly superior.

          All I’m saying is that the new system is not better. The absolute freedom that comes with it, given the lack of penalty, will only serve to compound the issues caused by the skill tree system. 

          • You should really do more research if you rant on this topic. They have stated in some interview, that if people change on the fly, they will change the system by adding more penalties. They have also stated that penalties are not fun, so they have added a reward for not respeccing.

          • Ehhwut but its essentialy going back 🙂 You will be awarded for not respeccing = being awarded for choosing most appropriate/best build. Not that im saying that new system is bad or good just every argument shows that there is really not much difference, its all cosmetics. People will be running with best builds, with the chance to find someone experimenting if he doesnt care about Nephalem or he’s not playing HC or Hell/Inf. It will also depend on repair costs as its the only penalty for SC characters. Thankfully ill be playing HC so ill have all the punishments in place 🙂

          • A token form of effort to switch specs won’t discourage people from going with cookie-cutter builds at all – those are the people who will gladly pay any cost to respec in order to boost their numbers by even a tiny fraction. The costs might, however, discourage other players from experimenting.

            When there’s a guaranteed gain (e.g. switching to a proven cookie-cutter build), people will gladly pay a cost for it. When the gain is a risk (e.g. paying a respec cost just for the sake of experimenting with different skills), people will be much more cautious. Having a respec cost in place discourages experimentation more than a free-respec system does.

            I’m not sure the new system is perfect, but I do think it addresses some of the concerns of the “skill tree” model we’ve seen in previous versions of the game. 

        • [quote]Regarding ability points, good riddance. Considering how in d2 the ideal was to have just enough strenght for best armor and weapon, enough dex for max block and rest in vit, nothing in energy. Pretty much meaning that your first untwinked char essentially is gimped, as you dont have endgame equipment ready to be twinked down. And remember the horror of having to use a level 1 frost bolt all the way to level 30 for frozen orb to not waste precious skillpoint. Sure you felt like a god for pulling it off, but it wasnt very compelling gameplay, leading blizzard to introduce synergies to make the leveling experience less punishing, but costing you skillpoints in the long run and reducing choice, because you simply -HAD- to maximise your main attack.[/quote]

          I am a fan of the automatic stat point distribution.. really I am. But what you’re saying here is utter crap. My sorcs never had any dex past the required amount for wiz spike. Ive always pumped 100 vit, 75 dex, rest in energy. Combined with the energy shield and the telekinesis synergy this kicked ass. Block was merely for people not understanding the telekinesis synergy combined with energy shield. 

          However let me point out I only played hardcore. I consider softcore cheating with godmode, hope I dont offend anyone by that. Let me also point out that on hardcore this build allowed me to solo up to baal hell with no problem and that I don’t think any of my sorcs ever died after 1.10 even though I never really joined public games due to pk hacks. Even the ancients on hell were easy mode. 


          • actually you agree with him more than you think. Besides the sorc any other char in hc hat to put the whole rest of attribute points into vitality, while the sorc had that special refilling extended vitality bulb…

          •  So you put points into Energy because you could use mana as life… it’s a nice mechanic, but it’s more or less the same as putting the points into Vitality, as in “points here let you take more hits”.

      • 1. Every skill scales with level instead of skill points, and we are instead limited by the number of skills we can choose. This means that there are no longer any one point wonders, since every skill is just as useful as the other. One point wonders made it possible to have everything without basicly sacrificing anything. A terrible system. 

        2. The removal synergies and pre-required skills (tree structure) creates a lot of freedom. Imagine for example that you want to pick charged bolt as you main spammer, backed up with hydras and thunder storm. Then mix in some defense with energy shield and teleport. In d2, that not simply possible, you would screw your build up so miserably that you probably would have trouble getting past the first acts of nightmare. If you want hydra to be viable, then you are stuck with all this other abilities that you ether dont want, or need, like fire bolt. In d3, its more than possible to go for exactly this build and every skill will be useful and viable. On top of that, in d3, you can also argument your skills to make up for any weakness your build have with passives and runes.

        3. Passives and active skills separated. In diablo 2 there were only a few passives that was worth maxing out. Why? Simply because 20 points into one passive meant 20 points less in that synergy you need to even be viable in hell. Separating the systems means that you now can pick any passive you want without sacrificing firepower or build diversity.

        Maybe a more balanced skill tree could have fixed a lot of these problems. But then why have skill trees at all? The nature of skill trees suggests that you choose a path or predefined buildorder for your character. You are then stuck with that path in order to be successful. It’s the exact opposite to freedom if you ask me.   

        •  To be fair, synergies where and exp (patch actually if i remember right, it’s been a while) feature meant to encourage using previously “useless” skills, they just didn’t realise how it would just lead to standard builds at the expense of everything else.

      • Try this on for size.
        “tell me exactly how we have more choice now than before.”
        If every girl in town gave you their number and said call me we will hang out, how many choices would you have come the weekend for dates?  (the D3 option)

        Now lets say you married the first girl you saw one day, now many choices do you have come the weekend for dates? (the D2 option)

        “a system with zero sense of commitment will encourage everyone to go the cookiecutter route”
        People put down a 60 dollar commitment for Call of Duty/Modern Warfare and they are cookie cutter FPS.  😈  
        To sum up commitment has nothing to do with cookie cutter builds.  Well balanced skills has everything to do with diversity in builds. 

      • Iwould have thought the exact opposite was true.  Having the freedom to change basically on demand will mean I can experiment with any new unlocked skill I want, or one that suit an item I just found. 
        Knowing there is an “optimum” build and that there is no going back(aside from building a new character back to lvl 30) is going to limit the experimentation I will risk and also the enjoyment I get from playing thegamer. 

      • [i really need to stop engaging in these posts] @Ocajavati you have selective amnesia.  D2X was exclusively cookiecutter builds.  the only time those builds changed was when a new patch came out.  your argument for what D2X REALLY WAS has no merit.  yes we all loved it, but all played essentially 1-2 builds per class at the most.  D3 is looking to expand that tenfold at least.

        Commitment? you seem to not know the definition.  Commitment comes from the person not the system it is engaging in.  you are committed or you are not.  Do not blame the system.  perhaps what some people are simply mad about is this: you just don’t like D3.  its not a bad thing.  Sometimes you fall out of love with something (or someone).  There have been games that I liked and then I hated the sequel.  It is what it is.  

        I think blizz is on the right track with the skill/game system.  what needs improvement is the chat/public games system (sucks) and the AH (i need more data and data crunching features!!) 

        • First: Let me say that I don’t condemn the D3 system and that I’m really excited to see how it works out.
          But still I think you (not only you – a lot of other posts share the same thought) are wrong when you say, that “we […] all played essentially 1-2 builds per class”. Just because this is true for you, it doesn’t have to be true for others or even for the majority. A lot of people I know including myself did 4,5, or even more builds per character. It is possible in D2 (Barb FrostZealot wielding Passion and Doom? gg!) and it will be possible in D3 (at least I hope so). Granted, economy and single player community differ(ed) greatly in these regards…
          Item restriction might make it more difficult in D3 to make some novelty builds (Drummer barb?) though, but the number of skills might make up for it.
          D2 and D3 simply are two different games, each with its merit and flaws, but that doesn’t mean one is necessarily better than the other 🙂

          • You make some very good points and I agree with what you say. 

            From my experience (and yes this probably does not apply to the majority but it applies to me) I had always wanted to try those ridiculous builds of mismatching character types. The problem in D2 for me is the time it took to see if those builds worked. Getting a character to lvl 30 or 40 would take me weeks of game time nt to mention finding the right item and looking up the right stat ratios.

            After all that and getting into nightmare, while the journey may have been fun, finding out it wasnt viable, was not.

            The difference for me is with D3 that non-viable build can still be a fun journey but doesn’t need to end in frustration and thinking “if only I had chosen skill X or stat ratio Y”.

            I’m not dismissing the enjoyment many many people get from that but after a while it wasn’t for me. I admire the thought some people put into that sort of thing and have read plenty of articles on D2 character builds, but really I just want to play the game and try things out myself without the consequence of starting over. I’d rather start a new character by choice rather than necessity to progress further.

            Anyway I hope we both enjoy the game and get things out of it we  are yet to imagine. I think it looks great and has great potential. 

      • @ocajavati you must be joking. all skills are relatively balanced meaning you can use any as opposed to select few….. ANY SKILL! magic missile ffs go ice bolt something to death in d2 and telll me ur not gimped

    • Since there will still be optimal builds in D3, all they’ve really “burned down” is the illusion of choice and replaced it with…  Well, nothing really.  Some people prefer at least having the illusion that they’re making a meaningful decision, not just being spoon-fed everything.

      • I’d like to have what you are smoking, because I would like to see into the future as well. Don’t make absurd claims if you cannot back them up with data.

        • It is not possible to balance D3 to the point where there are no optimal builds.  If you want to be a frost-based all-out DPS Wizard, there WILL be an optimal build for it.  Some runes/skills are just mathematically better than others for that purpose.  PERIOD. Have a look at the skill calculator for your data. You’ll find that it’s all there.

          Blizzard is constantly struggling to balance every game they currently support.  No matter how hard they try, by their own admission, they will never be “done”.  Every time they fix something, it has a ripple effect on the rest of the game.  This will always skew the gameplay in a different direction that will inevitably require rebalancing.  And so on and so forth.

          Diablo 3 is no exception to any of this, and only a complete idiot who does not understand the complexities of balancing a game this complex would believe otherwise.  Ergo, optimal builds are here to stay.  Period, the end.  My original point still stands:  Some people would rather have this inevitability hidden by the illusion of a choice.

          • Uhmm… Still, some spells might be focusing on high dmg to a single target, others on AOE. And you have skills that boosts your toon, or your resources, maybe you pick something with crowd control etc?…
            All the diffrent setups might be optimal, just at diffrent things in diffrent scenarios. 

            So, to me it seems like you have a good amount of choices?

            And since you easily can change skills without any real loss, ppl will probably tend to try out more unusual builds. Which will result in more diversity. Even if I miss the commitment you had in D2, this seems like an exciting alteration.  I guess the commitment will be when you have a complete set of legendary armor that boosts some specific spells!.. You will probably stick with those! 😉

          • Have you never played a game where you decided not to use a certain skill/talent/item because it was ultimately game breaking?
            Having looked at the skills as well, it’s going to be very hard to do the ‘optimal’ build, as you’re sacrificing too many defensive options by going all offense, and vice versa. Doing a crapload of damage counts for nothing if you die in two seconds, like taking virtually no damage counts for nothing, if you can’t kill anything.

            You’re claiming that what you say is the ultimate truth, which is a horribly arrogant thing to do. None of us have yet played the game from end to end, much less the other difficulties, so you have no real knowledge to base that claim on. Yes, I’m sure there will be ‘optimal’ builds for certain aspects of the game, but I’m also fairly sure you won’t find a single ‘optimal’ bulld that can deal with everything without major sacrifices.

            Tri-sorcs in D2 are ‘useless’ – Orb, Thunderstorm and Hydra, in my case – but I refused to play a 1-2 tree sorc because I didn’t want to have to run from 1/3 of all mobs, or relying on a suicide merc to kill them for me.
            It wasn’t optimal by any means, but it could handle just about everything that was thrown in its path.  

            At the end of the day, it matters little whether there’s optimal builds or not. The joy should come from playing the game the way people want to play it. If someone wants to just copy a template off the internet, bless them – bet they won’t know how to make it work effectively without having experience with the individual skills. – But that’s their call, ultimately.

          • FlawNess:  Yes, you use different skills.  That’s what a build is.  :golfclap:  And there will be an optimal one for anything you want to do.

            HerlockS:  It’s not arrogant, it’s just true.  For any given purpose, there will be a mathematically superior (ie, optimal) build.  I never claimed there would be an ultimate build that can handle everything.  I made it very clear that FOR ANY GIVEN PURPOSE– NOT *EVERY PURPOSE*–, there will be an optimal build.

          •  But see, the real problem is not optimal builds, but the fact that the other possible builds suck… as long as the other builds are viable and the most optimal builds only help you kill 10% faster or survive 5-10 more seconds/hits etc the existence of optimal builds only affect min-maxers, everyone else can enjoy the game regardless…

    • It is beyond me why people say that D3 will solve the ‘cookiecutter’ thing. D3 is going to have a few optimal skill combinations (highest damage numbers) just like any other game. The only difference is that once an optimal build is found, everyone else on will be able to copy it within 5min (10min if it requires specific items that they need to buy from the auction house first).

      • i expect every third build to be a cookiecutter-thingie, ergo we get like hundreds and more cookie cutters while in D2 we had just 10 of them. cookie-cutter will be the norm and not the exception.

    • I would have more confidence in Blizzard if the skill system they decided upon 3 years ago is still solid today. But it isn’t. They have changed major systems just up until release, and it tells me the chance they got it right is slim.  

    • Bash should take heart – most of us, especially the more mature players, ‘get it’.
      Regarding attribute points, just take one example and you’ll see the old system was not real ‘choice’: Stack Dex on a Sorc or Energy on a Barb, and see how viable your ‘choice’ is to actually play. It doesn’t work, you have a broken character – what’s worse is, it’s one that you can’t fix.
      The illusion of choice in the old skills system is not quite as pronounced, however it still Discourages Experimentation, as they’ve been stressing, because choices are more or less permanent. And still, most of the choice is still an illusion. Mistakes made in the tree, points wasted on the less useful skills, often do not become painfully apparent until higher-level play, when you are completely screwed – there’s 50 hours down the drain, woops!  
      If there is only one “right” way to spend attributes, then the attribute system was only an illusion of choice. If there were only two or three really effective ways to spend skill points for high-level play, again there was a lot of illusion there – most available paths would never be taken by any sane player.
      The new system is a result of painful and brutally self-honest examination on their part, I for one believe they have most definitely achieved what needed to be done. I can’t wait to play around with hundreds of subtle and not-so-subtle variations on a level 60 char, assuming i can ever get there (I’m not all that great). 8)

    • I gotta call BS. There’s a difference between boredom and being engaged.

      For instance, in World of WarCraft, compare what the skill system is currently like to what’s in the MoP beta.

      You may get a new skill ever five to fifteen levels, and that’s it. You get a talent choice, on average, every twenty levels. It’s absurdly bad. It doesn’t matter that it makes more sense, or that there is an “illusion” of choices. What matters is that it’s boring and it isn’t fun. In an RPG, if you’re going to have levels, then you have to reward the player with each level in some way. I think this is why they went the way they did with the rune system in D3, but that process is incredibly flawed (although it has potential). 

  2. I’m pretty sure my character’s development will not get any less static after level 13.

    • Really? While blizzard keep saying that they don’t reveal the whole diversity of the game in beta, you are still sure? Remember d2, how many levels did you need to make your build actually work? On what levels build’s key skills were unlocked?

    • I don’t know man, that list of passives looks pretty long…
      Also I have noticed that most of the skills have % modifiers, which would make them viable across the game, so you can still use some early skills in late game if that’s your fancy.

      • The *development* of his character is what he’s saying is static.  He can’t choose what attributes to increase, which skills/runes he can unlock and when, and how powerful each skill/rune can become.

        It’s all pre-determined/linear/static/whatever you want to call it. 

        • For the millionth time: there. is. no. stat. choice. in. Diablo2. If you think there is freedom in allocating stats in Diablo 2, you are a casual or just plain bad player.

          • I didn’t say anything about Diablo 2– the OP did.

            The things I mentioned are common in almost every RPG known to man. If you were to tell me that you had no choice in stat allocation in D&D, for example, I’d say you’re a huge imbecile.

          • There was no stat choice… you simple get enough Str to equip it all your gear and enough Dex for block (yes that includes gear stat modifier calculation duhhhh!) and the rest just dumped into Vit… WOOOOOOOOW SO MUCH DIVERSITY!!!

            Diablo 3 will spare me the trouble of stupid calculations to get exactly those “perfect” stats like it was done in D2X.

            Oh the same goes for skills… D2X actually started on lvl 30 because before that it’s all saving up skillpts and taking those few skill required slots… It’s stupid!! and especially FLAWED. If people are unable to open their soupeyes and not see this they can just …… yea whatever.

            Anybody that disagree with Bashiok should go back to the stone age and play their 640×480 enigmateleportingbottinghammerdindoingboringbaalruns… because that is sooo muchhhh funnnnn………

          • @Zeramus
             There’s a reason why D&D stats are normally betweenn 10 and 20… and unlike in D2 each has a use, even if just for certain classes (ergo dump stats)… ad when it doesn’t they can always add new feats and spells etc that use that stat…

          • @Risingred:

            “Ehhwut?” was clearly referring to stat allocation, as the second part of his (or her) comment makes quite clear. That said, if “modifiers” allow choice, then we haven’t really lost any customization since you can still customize your character with “modifiers” in D3 as well.

  3. Here’s my problem.

    Bashiok, and Blizzard as a whole, has been telling us why skill tree is bad.

    Yet all the problems they’ve pointed out concurrently exist in the system adopted in Diablo 3. In fact, it makes it easier for everyone to jump ship onto one single cookie cutter build than ever.

    The key lies in balancing the skills so every skill and every rune is equally desirable. In the old system and in the new system. The choices were illusions precisely because, well, while some skills were good, others were garbage.

    Blizzard gave up trying to balance the skill tree in an adequate manner, so it pushes what we are getting now. I have, honestly, yet to see how the current system is superior, nor has there been any reason to believe that all the so-called horrors of skill tree won’t exist in the current system.


    • The current system is superior because:
      1. People’s play style will ultimately be different
      2. We will have the ability to try skill diversity w/o being locked in to permanent trees
      3. It will make people better players due to the fact they will/should try out every skill combination to suit their taste or situation. Skill trees NEVER allowed this whether it be in D2 or WoW and remain effective.
      As players we have no idea what lies behind the SK, what possible mechanics exists for future boss encounters or how they will play out in a group. If a player wants to look up a generic “cookie cutter” build for a particular class, good luck to them but they are usually the people that like to enter cheat codes to beat games.

      • “Skill trees NEVER allowed this ..” 

        of course they did

        points 2 and 3 were solved with the last patch to D2
        it allowed you to respec  

        that gave people the ability to try skill diversity  
        and it allowed then to try out every skill

        you did NOT have to get rid of skill trees to accomplish points 2 and 3
        they could have kept skill trees and increased the number of respecs you’re allowed and it would have accomplished the same thing  

        “It will make people better players due to the fact they will/should try out every skill combination to suit their taste or situation”

        again, something that was already possible in D2 
        there was nothing stopping you from respeccing, or building a char from scratch before respecs were possible 

        and there is no evidence that allowing people to try out every skill combination will make them a better players. 
        In fact, it may make them worse. Now they can be lazy. Instead of being smart, learning from their mistakes and developing strategies, they’ll just swap skills.

        • They did try respec internally and what happened was that people were respecing every level up to try new stuff. Arcane orb unlcoke, respecing all points into arcane orb. Hydra unlocked, respecing all points into hydra and so on. So this respecing becomes anti-immersive and tedious. So why just let people experiment when they want to experiment? Hence the current system. I am just saying this to let you know they did try the respec option during internal testing.  

        • @jamesL
          What a load of rubbish. What the respecs allowed people to do in D2, was actually placing skill points while leveling up. so they didn’t have to go from 1-30 using 1p skills.
          Making new chars was easy, sure – but having made more characters than I want to admit to, the idea of having to make yet another, just to try a certain combination out, makes me sick.
          You made a build, or copied one from a strategy site. Next thing was to find the gear that made the build work, because without the correct gear, even the most uber cookie-cutter build was mediocre at best. So not only did you get locked in skills, but also in equipment.
          Before the respec option was enabled, which isn’t that long ago, making one freaking mistake could mean a ruined character – don’t know about you, but I can’t accept a character that is not the way I intended it to be. New clone, go from level 1-30, yet again using 1p skills because you need to horde the points…Yuck!   

    • I agree with you 100%.  The D2 system was broken, we all know that, well, most of us do.  The key to fixing it was to make every skill + runes viable in the endgame.  No one said it would be easy, but if any game company could put the time and resources into trying to balance, it would be Blizzard.  That way you eliminate cookie cutter builds and broken characters.  Players would then have the freedom to make their character as they see fit, from the beginning.  No fear of breaking a character.  Instead, we have this super static character development path where skills plus runes unlock at a predetermined sequence akin to an FPS.  

      In my opinion, having the player feel like they are in control of their character’s development is a genre-defining feature. 

      BUT, talking about this issue, kinda bleeds into another.  We’re all basically being corralled into purchasing items from the RMAH anyways.  So trying to get “customization” out of a skill system will be like trying to draw blood from a turnip.

      It’s all just BS rhetoric from the Blizzard CMs on the issue.  They’re just masking they’re real desire to milk us via the RMAH.  They don’t actually think this current skill system gives us any real choice.  There is only a 5 second cooldown (30 in nm and beyond) for switching skills.  It’s the same path to the same endpoint!  I am befuddled as to why people can’t see this.

      • People keep forgeting you can always buy using gold not real money. That’s what I plan to do when the game lauches.

    • Someone please remind me why did they not introduce a 50.000 gold tax per skill point change?

      • This. It would be a good gold sink, and at least somewhat encourage people to give their changes some thought.

        •  Or you know, people could just give some thought on how they want to play the game when changing skill instead of on how to get the biggest advantage because otherwise they wasted all that time getting that gold…
           Let’s face it, any cost would just make people choose the “best” (as determined by math) skills instead of the skill that plays the way they want…
           Frankly i’d prefer it would just be limited to changing skill in town, and at level up you could put the new skill in a slot… with TP ther’s no real cost, but that way there’s no more dead time in co-op while the other guy changes skills without telling you, as a TP is easier to notice.

  4. Seems people are just afraid of change. They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round. Probably best to withhold judgement at this point.

  5. seriously people 🙄   skill tree had more diversity?! come on now…look at wow. cookie cutter builds. diablo 2…cookie cutter builds..
    you guys have only been supplied with the start of a game 1-13. start talking crap when you have single handedly tried every billion combinations. each skill has a certain ammount of rune selections. passives. stat changes. gems. If all of you were in on designing the game internally from the ground up…im sure you would all be on blizzards side. whats sad is..
    your rants wont matter because in all truth youre going to buy it and play it. and if you play1-20 and stick up your noses through the first play through and STILL call it a flawed system. youre stupid. why? youre one out of millions of people. shut your mouths and wait for the game gawd.
    a PLUS BUTTON REALLY!? people are getting soo ridiculous. people bitching about elective mode being so hidden? its not that hard to find…unless youre lazy.  

  6. There’s honestly no point in continually arguing with idiots.  

    If you sit there and tell me “D3 has cookie cutter builds too” you are either in denial or you didn’t play the beta more than 10 minutes. Yes, there were predefined skills and runes which unlocked at each level, but by level 10, you had several choices.  There were many public games I played which contained 3 or 4 of a single class.  Guess what?  All of us used different skills. That speaks volumes to what is possible later in the game.

    Bashiok hit the nail right on the head:

    …they played up to level 13, saw that the game is not Diablo II, and are upset about that. I’m not really sure how to have a conversation about it when there’s just bad feelings and no one asking questions or wanting to learn more.

    edit: not sure why quote tags don’t work.  

    • D3 has cookie cutter builds.  If you disagree, you are either in denial or you didn’t play the beta more than 10 minutes.

      • I gave you a specific example of why you are wrong, and all you can reply with is parroting me? So typical.

        • You gave specific example as to why the rune system is a good idea.

          You do realize nothing you’ve listed support to current skill system, correct?

          • I said runes in reference to leveling up. But in my example I specifically said skills for a reason.    

        • No, you did not 

          Your example does not prove that cookie builds do not exist. 
          There are OBVIOUSLY builds (for each class) that are superior builds.
          Just because people in your game chose to try out different skills doesn’t mean cookie cutter builds don’t exist.
          You could play the first 13 levels of D2 as a barb using a bow. Just because you see that variation, does that mean barbs in D2 didn’t have cookie cutter builds ?

          • Maybe you should go hunting sasquatch or the Loch ness monster, because I have a feeling you believe those exist too if you ensist on Cookie cutters existing in D3 before even playing the damn game.

          • Barbarians typically did not use bows in Diablo 2.  If I saw one using a bow, I thought “that must be a f*cking awesome bow, or he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”  

            On the other hand, Barbarians in Diablo 3 have 10 skills to choose from by level 13, all of which are viable in one form or another.

            Will a lot of Barbarians use Leap and Cleave?  Yes.  They are awesome skills.  Many Barbarians will also use Frenzy, Rend, Ground Slam, or Ancient Spear. They are all useful.  That doesn’t make them cookie cutter.  That means the player has a choice in which skills to use.   


        • You mentioned some anecdotal BS that I could have easily counter-fabricated.  I decided not to because, as you said, there’s really no point in arguing with idiots.

          • First, it wasn’t anecdotal BS (I assume you mean Anecdotal Evidence?), because it was the typical experience of both myself and several others whom I spoke with about their own beta experience. Now, granted that TarnishedHope may be correct, in that all of the different play-styles I saw may simply be the result of early game. But that’s the only example we have to go on, so it stands. Secondly, it wasn’t bullshit because I did not fabricate it.

            I used a sound example and logic to explain why the D3 system works.  In response, the only thing you did was 1) parrot me, and 2) attempted to sound condescending in a failed attempt to ignore the obvious flaws in your own argument.  

            I’m guessing you’re either a troll or simply not mature enough to handle this discussion.  But, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.  Why don’t you just drop the childishness and give some logical examples and reasons why the D3 system does not work?  

      • You Zeramus, I really want that stuff you are smoking. Seems to last for quite long as well.

    • That is the benefit of BETA, and early game.

      People experiment when the game first comes out. If you never noticed, the game is horribly easy right now, and no one has the incentive to min/max.

      It is a matter of time before everyone settle into one dominant skill. As the game gets harder and progresses into harder difficulty, the incentive to maximize one’s efficiency increases, and that is precisely when people begin to seek out cookie cutter builds.

      Given how easily we can now swap between skills and runes, you can be assured that the in-class difference will be minimal.

      And I still don’t see how anything you’ve said provide merits exclusive to the current system, and not the skill tree system. 

      • I appreciate your better-than-typical response.  

        Yes, you are correct that experimenting occurs most often early game.  However, min/maxing will not necessarily lead to the same types of cookie-cutter builds that D2 has, due to several reasons.  Here’s a few:

        1) Gear scaling.  All skills are viable due to weapon damage.  Whether or not it’s good that they are based on weapon damage, is a different matter. Admittedly, there is also resource cost and cooldowns to consider. Theorycrafters will provide all the necessary min/maxing details, but I bet the differences will be so narrow that it won’t affect much if I use Skill A instead of Skill B.

        2) Runes.  While I admit that many of the runes are terribly boring, they do provide diversity in how to use individual skills.  One player might use Cleave with Rupture for better AoE damage, and another might use Cleave with Reaping Swing for better resource control; another might use Cleave with Scattering Blast if he is going for a strong Critical Strike build.   

        3) Passive Skills.  One Barbarian might use Pound of Flesh if he plays as a tank for his group.  Another Barbarian might use Ruthless for a Critical Strike build.  I haven’t done the math yet, but combining 3 Passives (out of 16 choices) with the already 6 chosen active skills leads to a significant build diversity.

        Now, lets briefly compare this with the skill tree from Diablo 2.  Leaving out Runeword or otherwise less-than-optimal builds, lets examine just the Sorceress.  For viable builds, she had Lightning, Pure Fire, Pure Cold, Meteorb, and Blizzball.  Each of those builds consists of 1-4 skills, which are permanently locked in. Early skills became useless after X amount of time, for which purpose they unlocked more powerful skills.  In D3, instead of obsoleting half the skills half way through the game and focusing only on a select few, we have 20+ Active skills, 3 Passives, and 5 Runes, all of which are viable.

        In the end, I could be totally wrong. If I am, I will stand corrected and we can all go back to Diablo 2’s fantastic, diverse skill system.

  7. oh come on, just understand one thing already: in Diablo III ALL skills are tied to weapon damage. what that means? that means that EVERY skill of EVERY class SCALES with your equipment, thats freaking awesome way of making all skills viable in any point of the game. 

    • “all skills viable in any point of the game”
      no, they are not 

      there is SO much more going on than just weapon damage.
      There’s resource cost, cool downs, range of attack, whether or not the attack is directional and you can actually control it.
      There are obviously skills and skill combos that are worse than others and are not viable.

      • You don’t seem to understand that the weapondmg modifier is a godsent for balancing. You only have to lower the coefficient of that to decrease the viability of a skill. But hey, just keep on spewing unchecked facts as if they were they truth.

        • Yes, it is a useful tool for balancing.  That fact that such a tool is necessary, however, demonstrates that skill imbalances and inviabilities can, do, and will exist.  And if those things exist, then optimal builds will exist as well.  Why is that hard for you to understand?

          • Because there are so many different situations and roles to play, that even if cookie-cutter builds exist, there will be a huge number of them to each conform to certain situations. This is Diablo – the end goal of a build won’t always be “maximum damage possible”.

  8. It would be nice to at least have something akin to what Skyrim has with their character customization system. Where you put points into skill specializations which helps separate you apart from other characters in multiple ways. It’s an robust and dynamic system that works amazingly.

    Now, I’m not saying they should be trees like in Skyrim..I’m just referring to how it works it works..not how it looks.

    I also can’t help but mention that, other RPG’s are still using the manual stat point allocation system and is NOT broken, like D2 was. So the system still works if its balanced properly. Hell, Torchlight 1 and 2 is using it. So something must be working. If that method of customization was as bad/broken as so many people claim..than you wouldn’t see other games still using it.

    Which clearly isn’t the case.

    • “It’s an robust and dynamic system that works amazingly.”

      No, it doesn’t work amazingly. It leads to cookie cutter builds, and if you think it doesn’t then you need to read more about the game, because then you clearly do not understand optimizing. 

      Also, if others think the system is good enough, that doesn’t mean it is the best system. If that were the case, we would still be hunting with bows and be dressed in bear skins.

    • Pls explain me how casting soul trap on dead body hundreds time for conjuration leveling purpose was fun?

  9. Well I usually laugh at Bashioks non-answers and his transparent always-agree-with-devs attitude, but here I whole-heartedly agree with their approach. I think the new skill system is fantastic! It rewards experimenting while you level and unlock new things, and if all goes well with Nephalem valor system, it will reward sticking to a single, balanced build later on.

    As long as the skill runes are varied enough, and gear will be diverse enough to not be interchangeable to work with every build, I think this new system will work out great. 

    edit: About the diversity from runes: Having just played during the open beta weekend, I was amazed how a single rune could change my whole strategy. Unlocking the thunder clap rune (I think that’s the name) made me switch out blinding light to instead jump into a pack of mobs, lashing tail-kick (again, think that’s the name?) to knock-back all other mobs and tele again to the elite mob to single it out.

    Sure, the beta is really easy so there’s no real need for strategy. But the feeling of stumbling on to something like that early in the game – Awesome!

  10. Admittedly, I was skeptical of this new skill system. At level 13 you have 4 slots with 10 skills available to you. That’s 210 different variants at level 13 not including passives which would give you nearly 630 different variants  not including runes. That’s staggering!
    Although I do agree that skills being hand fed to you is kind of disappointing especially if you are planning a build using the skill calculator. I think that is where most players find the argument for lack of customization.  There will be millions of combination. 
    After reading Bashiok’s comments though he clearly stated that you should wait to the later levels. I want to experience a build rather early than say level 50 or even 60. Most runes are going to be in the later half of leveling. I don’t want to have to wait for my thought out build till late in the leveling process.
    Aside from that I’m eager to see what’s available after 13 even though my WD might not be viable pet class early on, I wish it was the case rather than when I reach level 60 with Gargantuan and zombie dogs as my pet of choice.

  11. I don’t get what all  the fuzz is about. In D2 each class had two builds, that’s it. If you disagree go play a few games and prove me wrong. WoW just the same thing, FOTM anyone? Trying to scare people by adding costs to respecs is laughable, after a few stages you earn money like crazy.

    As for the system in D2: it sucked on two fronts. For the players who didn’t read up on which path to follow before they started, they ended up with what might be a flawed build, no way back but to create another char. Those who did read up didn’t really get to enjoy and experience the game. Which one type of these two are the people breaking down the current skill system? 

    I for one like it the way it is implemented, you can try whatever you want and stick with what works.

    And as for stats, a sorc with 120+ strength? Yeah that’s pure RPG right!

    My 2 cents. 

  12. With every Level in Diablo III I have made choices. Do I want that new skill ? No. Do I want this Rune ? Yes. You are constantly making choices. Thats a fact. Different people will make different choices. I don´t see how this logic can be argued about except by sheer willpower to gainsay.

    Will there be cookiecutter-builts in Diablo III ? Sure ! But there will be a fundamentally difference to Diablo II: No one will EVER know if he HAS the cookiecutter-built ! The people who posted the Diablo II cookiecutter-builts were RIGHT. Those WERE the best builts.

    The difference to Diablo III: They will post their builts again but You can NEVER be sure if there isn´t someting EVEN BETTER among the billions of possibilities. So You can CLAIM being right about Your built but no one will ever know.

    So everybody is entitled to try better and is safe from being called names just because he does things differently. Thats the beauty of the system.

  13. I find it interesting how both sides of this debate are citing the same evidence – the ease of choosing a new spec – to prove their case. The ease of respeccing could promote experimentation, or some claim it will make it easier for people to shift to a flavor-of-the-month cookie-cutter build.

    Question: How much do you think a respec cost really stops people from switching to a cookie-cutter build?

    My experience with this sort of system suggests that it doesn’t stop them at all. People would respec at the drop of a hat in WoW if a different spec would increase their damage. The gold cost didn’t matter.

    So, I think at worst things will be equal in terms of how much people gravitate toward cookie-cutter builds, but I also think the system opens up the possibility for experimentation to increase. Overall I expect more experimentation as a result.

    People are also neglecting to take into account the changes in D3’s action. You don’t just spam one skill any more, and the situations are too dynamic to model mathematically with ease or precision. How do you expect to calculate the DPS value of having Teleport as an active skill? What about Slow Time or Ice Armor? These skills all can be used to increase your DPS, sometimes dramatically, even if they don’t directly increase your damage. I think it’s quite presumptuous that people are predicting easy cookie-cutter builds so early.

  14. I’ve played Diablo 2 for 5 years constantly and then after 2005 I replayed from time to time.
    – the + stat system is useless. Only one really viable solution.
    – the + skill system limits the player to his choices, making the game fun for only a few players that can dedicate 25% of their life to a video game. For a player like myself, who likes to search every corner of the map, complete all quests, get as many achievements as possible, finish inferno with all classes in normal and afterwards in hardcore with items found solely from playing solo and with friends, I think that Diablo 3 as it is built now is perfect. Imagine getting to Inferno with your favorite class, only to find out that there is no possible way to revert the changes you’ve made. Maybe you will start again with that class, but if it happens again or with another class I’m sure the first thing to do for 90% of the players will be to search for a good build online or to pay for some great items. You will say that you have respecs, but how many? because even one respec cancels all that sense of a personalized build. So in the end, Diablo 3 with the mecahnics of Diablo 2 would mean that it will take about 5 years of playing 3-4 hours a day to be able to construct that good build for all classes in normal and hardcore, get all achievements, finish inferno with all of them. And after 5 years, you will be at the point where you only tried 30 % of the skills in Diablo 3 because you struggled so hard to create an excellent build, which of course with the Diablo 2 mechanics, so you were denied trying all the skills because that would have meant spending points where you shouldn’t. So everyone will resort to the internet to make calculation and presumptions about what is good and what is bad, without really trying the game.
    So no work, no family, no sports, no food, no face to face socializing, no vacations, no music , no nothing. Only Diablo 3 all day long if you are a person that loves the franchise and that would like feel that you took advantage of all that Diablo 3 offers.
    IMO, what the real game will offer will be unbelievable and I’m sure everyone will be satisfied with the experience in the end.

    • This explained everything i tryed to say in mine but also WAY more for i didnt wana type that much! More people need to read pieufius comment for the love of god lol

  15. I think, the new skillsystem is a medal with 2 sides. The one offers us more freedom, all skills are aviable for all. The point here is, that from Blizz side it is VERY IMPORTAND, that they made a fantastic job and BALANCED the skills very well. If is not so, people, will enjoy surly the strongest skills….
    So Blizz go on knifes edge, go they wrong, the system fall down also…
    The other side of the medal is the replayability. What will be a realy reason, that i will made a second char. The skills will be the same, so if i wnat other skills, so i can switch it by the first char. The question is, does the equipment has thsi huge effect? Not sure atm…
    Ok, we will see it by the game launch…

  16. There can only be one \optimal\ build, by definition, and D3 will have one. It might take the community a hell of a lot more time to find it though, since without skill dependencies there are so many more possible combinations. And during that learning time, which might last a year or more, people will be experimenting with an awful lot of different builds. By which time there’ll be a balance patch that changes the equation and forces us to start over 😉 So if you’re the type of player for whom the fun is not in PLAYING the cookie-cutter… it’s in DISCOVERING it… the numbers suggest that process will last much longer in D3 than in D2.  

    Remember moreover that you can swap out between acts, areas, and bosses. So what is more likely is that there’ll be a SET of optimal builds per class, used situationally which already makes for a lot more gameplay variety than D2 had… and which by adding complexity further prolongs the amount of time and experimentation that will be required for the community to sort out the cookie cutters.  

    But in a way that only matters to a few players, because the idea is that there will be a lot more slightly sub-optimal but VIABLE builds in D3 than in D2, including builds that are so close in effectiveness to the optimal build that there really is no reason to go for the optimal one except for the OCD among us. Remains to be seen whether that’s really true or not, but it seems plausible just because of the sheer number of combinations. Seems most likely that there’ll be at least several and possibly a whole lot of these.   

    I would have to agree that D3 can’t eliminate cookie-cutters, but it CAN ameliorate the issue by making them a) much slower to identify, b) each build more complex and diverse gameplay-wise, by being situational, and c) just a lot more of them. Which is good enough.

    • I think the key is to understand the difference between “viable build” and “optimal build”. In Wow, when tackling the most difficult raid content, it is important to use optimal build. But Diablo is more about a game of viable builds where experimentation is the key to making the game fun.

      If that is the case, does D3 promote more experimentaion? Probably yes.

      Will D3 accomodate more viable builds? Probably yes.

      Then the game is more fun.      

    • Maybe there will be a optimal build, BUT it will impossible to prove that it is the best one. In D2 it was easy: the one build that was optimal was the one that killed stuff the fastest. Finding that build was easy since it consisted of 1 or 2 active skills and synergies that made those skills better. 

      What you and a lot of people don’t seem to realize, is now you can freely choose out of more than 60 skills and passives freely WITHOUT locking yourself out of other choices. Add to that the fact that a lot of these skills are not quantifiable in numbers (telefport, snares etc.) AND the fact that you HAVE to choose 6 skills and presto; you have a number of viable builds that is enormous. And to top it all off, you can actually use skills that have mechanics that you prefer, because they now all scale on weapon damage so they will be useful throughout the entire game! Because of the sheer number of possible builds and the fact of player preference, it might still be easy to say wether a build is good or not, but saying that it that specific build is the best is like saying apples taste better than oranges to someone: it’s mostly a matter of preference and argueing about it is retarded (which is also what this whole discussion is).

  17. To anyone still telling us there will be optimal builds and there is no freedom..and bla bla bla.. please watch this once again..especially last part

    Yes..there will be optimal builds..we know it.. but it’s not important at all. It doesn’t matter… hopefully you will see why.

    • Blizzard claims Inferno will be really difficulty.
      Blizzard claims optimal builds wont matter (much).
      Only one of the above can be true. I’m not convinced Inferno will be difficult, but its pretty much guaranteed that optimal builds will matter, otherwise Blizzard would have failed quite hard when it comes to Inferno.

      • “Blizzard claims Inferno will be really difficulty. Blizzard claims optimal builds wont matter (much).Only one of the above can be true.”

        Wutwutwut? Why can only one be true? Ever heard of skill and items?  

        • If it is difficult then you will need an optimized build, good gear etc. to handle it.
          If most builds can handle Inferno then optimized builds will have an easier time in it => Both cant be true at the same time.

  18. How is this better? You plan your build, you suffer by not having any fucking fun and just cast that one shitty spell half way through the game. And then you are left with one or two viable skills to grind the rest of the game. PERIOD! Tell me. How is that fun? Skill trees are not fun, point allocation is not fun, locking yourself into a build is not fun. Variety and experimentation are fun! Stop living in the past man. D1 and D2 where VERY FLAWED.  But it’s just my opinion so it don’t matter.  

    • Ahh, another person who was already lucky enough to play the entire game and was kind enough to enlighten us with his experience in a wellmannered way. Thank you kind sir.

      Edit: oh you are talking about d2? Never mind then.

  19. Know what would be fun? If Blizzard put in an option to lock your skills, but you could only activate it once per character, and after that every first choice in a given category would remain locked for the life of the char.
    That way all the whiners would be happy – until they started moaning about having to remake new chars all the time… 

  20. I think it’s rather simple. In d2 there were 2-3 optimal builds per class.

    In d3 there will be 20-30 (or even more) optimal builds per class.

    So now you have a much larger pool of optimal builds to choose for your class.

    And best thing is, you can actually discover these builds yourself having fun along the way.

    Is this so hard to grasp? 

  21. Reading Bashiok answering stuff makes me cry. He is building straw-men like if there was no tomorrow.

  22. I think one of the things to take into account here is the shear number of skill combinations available to each class. For each individual class, in elective mode, there are literally billions of different skill combinations. And to each and every one of you saying “optimal this, cookiecutter that” I implore you, go find that cookiecutter build. If you experiment with every available build, it will be like browsing over a billion people individually to find the prettiest one. Go ahead, it will only take you several lifetimes.
    And it looks like a lot of people here are refusing to take into account playstyle and how it pertains to builds. Someone might come out on the forums in a couple of months with a link to the skill calculator and say “hey I’ve found it, this is the greatest build known to man, you will breeze through inferno just like I did if you use it” and everyone who reads that will log in, switch to that build, and get utterly destroyed because they have no clue how to use that specific build. Diablo III’s combat, from what I have seen, is quite deep, especially compared to Diablo II. Diablo II was much more of a min/maxing game, where the character sheet, skill tree, and inventory was where success was found or lost. Diablo III, on the other hand, while builds and inventory are still of vast importance, this game is much more tactical. How do you play this certain type of enemy, how does your skill match up to the next challenge? The question might not be “is my build optimal?” but rather “am I using this build optimally?”
    That being said, I think we best defer our judgements until release. We have played through a very, very small portion of the game. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

    • Well said. I will still make 2 of each class. Not necessarily A hard-core character but one that is different from the other. I want to make a WD that is a caster and one that is based around pets.
      Or 2 monks – 1 a in your face melee character and maybe 1 that is mid ranged based.
      Although barbarians are mostly melee, I would still most likely make 2  
      In diablo 3 you can do that or do that with one character if you want to change you style constantly. The choice is yours. Lack of customization? Heck no but I have to say that in the early part of the game, It does feel like you don’t have much choices. At level 13 I felt I had tons of choices.
      I can see the argument that if 2 players likely happen to have the same skill choices with the same runes etc. That maybe they feel like they aren’t different at all aside from the gear you wear, I think that will unlikely be the case. at level 13 you have around 210 possible builds not including passive which could give you 630 and then there are the runes to consider. Staggering isn’t it?

  23. I hope for the sake of all of you that Blizzard gets onto releasing PvP very quickly after release, if only so that you can take out your rage on each other where it actually matters. I for one had a lot of fun with the beta, and think the new system is awesome and refreshing. This is simply the impression I got, so I won’t argue specifically why or try to justify my enjoying the game. Two big thumbs up! 

  24. The sheer number of active skills in D3 will provide more builds than D2.  It’s ok to have the best build as long as that build is not so good that it shut down all other builds.  How people can think D2’s skill system has more diversity than D3’s is beyond me.  We are talking about the system that you have to save your skill points and gimp yourselft to have high end skill.  In D3 I can problably make the build that center around only spam electocute which is just signature skill works.

  25. It is going to be fun watching people say how much Diablo 4 is going to suck and read how Diablo 3 did it right. No wait, its going to be boring. I am just happy that blizzard is designing games and not 99.9% of the community.


  26.  “People like clicking a + button to spend attribute points, any systems attempting to make that more interesting or engaging is met with skepticism”

    So Blizzards idea of “more interesting and engaging” is to remove the feature entirely and have it automated?  That sure doesnt sound engaging to me…

  27. Re elective mode being hidden:

    I considered the new skill UI terrible when it was revealed.   Now after beta, I actually think its fine.  It gets the job done.  It does require a few too many clicks, but overall its fine.   And what’s even more funny, I actually liked not having elective mode turned on.  When it was revealed, I assumed that would be the first thing I’d do.   I’m sure at some point I’ll get to the stage where I want elective mode on, but for the early going while I was being introduced to skills, having it off was actually easier.    I guess as I’ve aged, I’ve simply become more casual.  Being guided in the sense of hey, you should try having 1 primary, 1 secondary, 1 defensive, etc… It was actually quite a nice experience while being introduced to what each of the skills did.   I think they have struck a nice balance between appealing to casuals and hardcore gamers.  

    Just an opinion I thought of while playing beta.  

  28. Being over-philosophical: The ilusion of choice sometimes is more important than the choice itself. Removing the skill tree system saying “it’s useless” is a step on the road of: “your opinions and whataver else that makes you unique just don’t matter – buy the game, trust us for your well being”. Ok, skill tree and choices are useless, but playing computer games isn’t the pinnacle of usefulness in one’s life. So, let the crowd “have ilusions”, make mistakes, feel more important and talk about your product… They kinda are paying for it…

    The “skill trees are dumb” has another humongous side-effect – all characters are the same. There’s no “my barbarian”, there’s “a barbarian, equiping my stuff”. Every cold-sorc is almost the same, but they didn’t came out from the box, we “choosed” them that way. You just don’t remove choices because (mostly) everyone will choose the same.

    By removing the +button, choices, etc.,  you’re removing individuality from characters – and that’s what makes the decision bad. Also, removing the choices and imperfections in order to populate a world with perfect beings, making what you have more important than what you are, in name of a well-being stat, well… You can justify an alien invasion with that… And normally that kind of train of thought ends up bad.

    The ilusion of choice is important for the human being, even if a lot of human “decisions” on real life is automated… So, if the +button is useless but have an important psychologial appeal, why not let it there. Maybe a lot of people hate the skill system not because it’s flawed or wrong (in fact, it’s not, just unusual on the series), but because it feels wrong.

    Anyway, the + button isn’t a big deal for me, as I’m a cookie-cutting person and, also, an alien overlord. Problems are:

    – DRM (and the online only thing) and RMAH (it’s ok on mmo, but finding you stuff is a very core thing on d2 experience).
    – Replayability (will the game be replayable in 2022?)
    – Couldn’t you make D3 more diablo-ish (skill trees, no RMAH, etc.) and save some systems and changes for a, idk, “Warcraft:Heroes”  – a hero arena style game on warcraft world. Because I kinda liked D3, but not for the reasons that made me like Diablo series, for the reasons that Hero Arena Maps on Warcraft3 were the only stuff I ever like on Warcraft Universe… I had a feeling closer to Hero Arena playing Diablo 3 and will buy the game because of it.

  29. Bashiok shouldn’t really acknowledge these people with such lengthy posts. There is no rational answer to their complaints because they want things to go back to the way they were. 

  30. Thank god Bash put someone in their place again. Are people really that stupid to realize this is a new game? It’s not old to those of you who are big D2 nerds. I played the shit outta D2, but I wasn’t one of the people that talked shit and thought they were king of whatever in it… Me playing D2 a lot and going to D3 opened me up to a lot of choices with just the level 1-13 skills/runes. Anyone saying that there is no customization can go die. Because I tried out many different things, I could work with a shield/rend spec, Onslaught/hammer, etc. And that’s just through 1-13! You unlock all the skills at 30 people! So you can do a lot of shit with your character at level 30! Then you just keep getting runes and passives till 60! That is so damn nice and I love it! The system is beautiful and deep, just most people that complain about stupid shit, need to get their damn heads outta their ass.
    Anyways… Keep up the great work blizzard. Keep the whiners out, and keep us Adults that have learned through the years not to bitch about something good, let’s keep them in the game and unite. =)   

  31. Diablo 3 only has an illusion of choice, unlike D2. There are NO choices in D3 as you are granted all class skills and runes and can freely swap them at will.
    The folks saying D2 had no customization choices obviously never played D2 or only played on Cattlenet where they are rushed to level 85 and bought their gear from third party sites.
    Choosing your stats is not illusion. Choosing which skills to boost and by how much is not an illusion. There are lots of ways to build a character and they won’t have all the same stats unless you are an idiot.

    • An illusion of choice? Wrong. Last time I checked it’s a choice to choose which skills you want and don’t want to use. Just 1-13 I had a lot of choices to use just for my barb. Every single one of them was fun! I got to test out stuff see how effective they were and so on, some things I saw though would limit me a little with, ‘This move requires 30fury, which I could generate much faster later on rather than the beginning.’ Other than that though I felt as if I had complete control. I played D2 a lot, and there was customization in it, just not effective customization. To those saying you can customize like everything in D2 are wrong. You simply can’t if you want to be efficient and effective. And stat point are a thing of the past now. You need to step away from D2 and open your senses to the mind blowing effects of D3! =P It will consume you if you weren’t so stubborn. =D

  32. I think its funny how people throw around the word cookiecutter like it’s exclusive to Diablo or Blizzard… Of course there will be optimal builds that people will copy and essentially become cookiecutter builds. So what? If you can name one ARPG, hell, how about ANY kind of RPG, that didn’t have popular/optimal/cookiecutter builds, then go right ahead. Of course all games have skills/attributes or whatever that are more popular among the players. WHY? Because that is what some players do…look for the best or most efficient way of completing their objective. There’s simply no way around it. Stop treating it like a bad thing or handicap for the rest of the playerbese… We’re still going to play the way we want to regardless. 
      D3 has taken a step in the right direction by allowing the player to test out the skills/rune variations for themselves and find out what they like, rather than being force to either remake characters or go to a website/wiki to find out whats the “best” option for them.  
    Having permanent skills choices or allocatable stat points is not going to stop cookiecutter builds one bit. Someone who wants to follow a cookiecutter build will do so no matter what system is in place. If you don’t like cookiecutters, then don’t use them. Only the players who want to compare epeens give a damn about what choices other players make. BTW, this is a minority. Most people couldn’t care less about what the guy next to us is doing, so long as he is attacking the badguys.    
    Furthermore, it’s incredibly asinine to think that every barb will need to use  A, B, and C skills and every monk will be required to use skills X, Y, and Z simply because they are considered the best.  With over 150 skill variations per class, I’m willing to bet most players will choose the ones they enjoy using most. This isn’t WoW, where you needed a certain spec or else be kicked from groups…

    • Yes choices are great and I agree. I was skeptical until I played the beta. That said early on is where I thought there was no diversity. At level 13 however I was impressed.
      I think most of the complaints is the illusion of choice. Many like the choice matters aspect of RPG of old. Old school mentality is not going to work in today’s gaming scene. I was one of those that wanted the old style where choice matters. If it doesn’t work try something else, make another character etc I was fine with that. Now with all the skills and combinations available, it’s open for experimentation. you can change things however you like. That is a big plus especially if you have a life in general and don’t have much time to play.
      I will still make 2 of each class. mostly for diversities sake. May 15th wont come quick enough. sigh…….

  33. Here’s my 2 cents.. In any game in the world, there will always be optimal builds for certain situations. It’s human nature to get better and better. In a game with customization, like a race car game with customizing the engine or what not, someone will always find the best way to do it, and slowly others will copy.

    Now in regards to D3, I believe this new system will make that process a lot slower. Sure people will find more effective combinations of skills, but it might take 3 times longer for that process to become more aware and normal than it was with the older D2 system. You cannot stop optimal builds, but you can slow it down. I think they are doing this effectively by doing the following:

    1). All skills are usefull in any part of the game, in D2, you only used lvl 1-3 level 30 skills, maybe a lvl 24 skills, and lvl 18 skill. Max 5-6 skills were used. I might only use 5-6 skills in D3 also, but I can swap one of the skills for something else if I get an item that boosts the affects of a skill I wasnt using before. Items make the skills now, in D2, skills made the items. And there is a lot more randomness in items, than in skills.

    2) The game will definitely be more enjoyable from lvl 1 to 30. Since there is no punishement for a decision, I can freely play with many skills, 20 skills if i like until lvl 30. In D2, i put 1 skill in each to get to Orb or Blizzard, making me useless until lvl 30. The prime skill.

    3). Since in D3, the lvl 30 skill may not be as dominating as a lvl 30 skill in D2, you will be swapping more freely.  With cooldowns of up to 2 minutes, I may find spamming a lvl 10 skill more effective than a lvl 30 skill with 10 times more dmg but with a 2 minute cooldown.

    In the end, I think this system will be rewarding in the sense that from the beginning you will play with many different skills. You wont be holding skills, and it will slow down the eventual optimal builds than the D2 skill tree system.

    Side Note: Same concept goes for attribute points being removed. Eventually everyone knows where to add stat points. No decisions need to be made, its automatic. enough strength to wear the same armor, shako, oculus, sojs or whatever it be. If it was manual in D3 also, everyone would screw up the first time around, then learn the optimal setting.       

  34. In D2 you can put energy into a barb — if you decided to to use warcries.  If you wanted to be a melee sorc – you would need some dex to get block and AR up.  A key point that needs to be made is that there should not be ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ just ‘suboptimal’  

    • I agree with you Norselord, but how many melee sorce’s did you make and how many barbs did you make with added energy before scrapping the character?

  35. I agree with Blizz’s skill system for the most part but people need to stop being hyperbolic about D2 builds. There’s a LOT more cookie cutters per class than “2-3.” And that was after Blizzard introduced the horrible synergy system which pretty much ruined so many fun hybrid builds.
    Another thing about D3 is that it’ll just have modern standards in general. There probably won’t be a Wiz spell that is just plain broken and doesn’t work right for 12 years.

  36. Omg people here it is plain and simple eather you like the game and you dont cry about every single damn thing or you dont and cry about everything and personally dont judge a game that everyone knows very little about and what itll be like at lvl 60 so if you would just stop whineing and play the game when it comes out because when it comes down to may 15th we will all be playing the damn game so jsut stop ur crying for another month and let everyone have some peace and queit for all the love thats holy!

  37. People complaining that D3 has no choice don’t understand that the choices in D3 are different from D2, but they are actually plenty more. In D2 if memory serves me right, you have 6 choices per level, 1 skill point and 5 attribute points to assign each level. So in essence if you level a character to 99 you have 594 choices in total. If you chose a cookie cutter build you were essentially making 1 choice, which is which build to use, since the build makes all the point choices for you. In D3 the choice doesn’t come from figuring out which attribute or skill to level, but from which skill to assign from the ones you have unlocked -at any given moment-, which means there are unlimited choices as you try new combinations. Furthermore, you can choose from our older skills because they are kept being upgraded with runes as you level up. And finally once you hit max level and if your build is not working out, you can choose to use one of the cookie cutter builds and then choose yet another one if that one is not to your liking. So I think D3 makes D2 seem so static and boring by comparison. I personally could never be bothered to find a cookie cutter build in D2 and finish the game in hell, but in D3 I might just will.

    Edit: it’s 5 attribute points per level instead of 1, but the point still stands, you have limited choices in D2 vs D3’s unlimited.

  38. People are acting like Diablo 3 is some kind of racing game where faster car win. Last time i checked you can solo game and do not care about rest of the world and their cookiecutters.
    But honestly even in racing game you have various cars balanced around different scenarios.
    And so same will be in Diablo 3. Of course so spells/runes will be better than other but even if you cut 80% of them it still be enough to have several various builds per class.

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