Bashiok is back from BlizzCon and composed after the closing afterparty at the hotel, and he is kicking with various answers and clarifications concerning the panels and gameplay articles circulating around the net. (source). He made a long reply to one of the dozens of threads full of players asking questions (complaining) about the removal of player-assigned attribute points in D3, citing some quotes from the first post to break the news (here) and correcting an error Flux made in assuming there would still be attribute requirements to equip items. Bashiok’s post is quite lengthy, so click through to read the whole thing.
The below was all in Bashiok’s post: the quoted bits inside the blue are user posts he was commenting on.
Jay Wilson, according to the interview, stated that this helps development on items as they will be able to predict the attributes of characters at certain levels and it puts more emphasis on items giving stat points for your attribute customization.
Bashiok: First let me state that the interview article has an error in that “You still get attributes, and they will still be required for equipment use” is incorrect. I’ve already let the Diii.net guys know. There are no attribute requirements for items, that would essentially limit items to specific classes which we don’t intend to do outside of actual class specific items, like the Wizard’s off-hand orb for instance.
I can’t think of anything else that could be considered positive, so lets go to the theoretical negatives.
Bashiok: You missed probably the biggest positive, and if you watch the video interview (from which the Diii.net article was written) he goes in to it a bit. (http://www.diii.net/blog/comments/diiinet-jay-wilson-video-interview/)
To quote Jay “For the most part attribute spending in Diablo II was a great way – when you didn’t know how to play the game – to break your character. Most people didn’t know where to put them and when they found out the answer was always kind of weird like “Put 5 points in Energy and then all the rest of the points in Vitality.”
To expand on it a bit more when you don’t know what you’re doing you’re essentially lost, and you sort of spend points how you think you might want to. When you finally have an idea of how a character should be built, stat distribution generally comes in the form of “this is exactly what you need for x build” and there’s little variation. At that point it’s pretty easy to remove that system and instead offload the potential build ‘requirements’ to something more interesting and something that’s actually more engaging and fun.
The first problem that comes to mind is, character customization is exactly what made Diablo3’s predecessors successful, and that’s what is being hurt by the implementation of this mechanic as it takes away control from the player, essentially, dictating how they will develop their character. It was that aspect that had players coming back again and again over the years just to make a new build or try out something new and attributes were a BIG part of that.
Bashiok: Definitely agree. I’m going to give you a bit of a cop-out answer, but we have quite a few game systems we haven’t even talked about. Those aside, I would argue that the rune system – something we have announced – adds quite a bit of customization, and in a more interesting way than attribute distribution.
The other aspect that quickly becomes apparent is the limitations of itemization for characters to use. What I mean is, because characters have pre-planned stats that when you reach the highest level, there will be item types that your character might not be able to use.
Hypothetical example; I think we can be fairly certain that the Wizard isn’t going to be a strength based character by any means. If this is the case, late game, can we hope to be able to use upper tier heavy armor? If there is an item that might significantly benefit a build but is unachievable due to pre-allocated stat limitations, that is going to be severely detrimental to the game experience.
Bashiok: So as I already said the information in the article is incorrect, so happy happy joy joy this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
It seems like a minor thing, maybe, but it’s the little things that can break a great game.
Bashiok: I don’t think it’s minor at all, character builds and customization is a HUGE thing, and it’s important you be concerned with it. It’s important that we be concerned with it, and customization and differentiating one person from another is a pretty big deal. Being able to try different things with the same class is a pretty big deal.
At this point someone brings up that respecs are going to ruin wanting to replay the same classes over and over again, and you’d be right, if we weren’t already thinking about it and potential solutions.
By shifting itemization focus slightly from more unique and compelling stats like +skills, crushing blow, open wounds, resists, faster cast rate, etc, it puts too much emphasis on stats, as they were already important in itemization before pre-allocated stats.
Bashiok: Hrm, I’ll have to talk to the designers about this but I think you might taking a little bit too much Diablo II experience and overlaying it on Diablo III. Itemization and stat distribution and their relative balance of attributes to unique stats (as you put it) is a bit of a stretch at the moment. I’ll see what they have to say though.
Hopefully I’ve clarified something at this point, the error in the article seemed to be a decent piece of many people’s ire over the situation so I hope that helped. Now, just to read the rest of the thread… and the hundreds of others that have built up.