A fan tweeted Bashiok a question about how the Nephalem Valor system, which grants you a bonus to your Magic Find for X seconds after you kill a boss, will interact or stack with Magic Find. Bashiok replied, but didn’t exactly answer.

Hey Bash can you tell us if there will be Diminishing Return in magic find and if yes how is gonna work with Nephalem Valor? –hungrak
Well I don’t think it’s a linear scale, if that’s what you mean. We might share what it is on our game guide sometime after launch. –Bashiok

I think Bashiok’s non-answer stems from two sources. 1) He doesn’t know (and wouldn’t tell us if he did) the actual formulas for Magic Find in D3, and 2) He doesn’t know how diminishing returns worked on Magic Find in D2. (If you want to add a third option, and attribute it to Bashiok’s legendary “Tai Chi B” style of evasive communication, that’s up to you.)

I suspect he’s not alone in #2, though. After all, D2 was a long time ago, and lots of people just played the game without getting into the calculations and such. So here’s a reminder, with a table taken directly from our exhaustively-informative Magic Find article from the Diablo 2 wiki.

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but the values in the columns show exactly what’s meant by “diminishing returns.” Every point of MF in D2 boosts your odds of finding more blue items (instead of white or gray), but only some % of that applies to your odds of finding rare, set, or unique items. These diminishing returns were added shortly after D2C’s launch, when players accumulated more MF than the devs ever imagined we would, and broke the drop system to the point that monsters were dropping only rares and better.

So, taking that knowledge back to the original tweet, hungrat is asking, or at least spurring me to ask, two questions that need answers: 1) Will MF in D3 will have diminishing returns, and 2) How is the MF bonus from Nephalem Valor calculated? Does it work independently from, parallel to, or just add onto your existing Magic Find?

I’ll construct a D2 example, for the sake of the argument. We haven’t been given the details of the Nephalem Valor system yet, but say it adds 50% MF, and can stack up to five bonuses. That’s a great benefit if you’ve got zero MF, but if you’ve got 500% MF already, boosting that up to 750% doesn’t do much, in terms of finding more Set or Unique items.

This might not matter much, since Inferno is supposed to be too hard to go around with much Magic Find, rather than stat bonuses that add to your survival. (Personally, I’ll believe in that kind of difficulty in a Blizzard game when I see it with my own eyes.) But as we know nothing about modifier scarcity at the high end, or the sorts of bonuses we’ll see on Set and Legendary items, we can’t even speculate about how common high Magic Find will be on level 60 characters. Much less how hypothetical diminishing returns may or may not affect that.

But speculate anyway! We’ve got 50 days yet to amuse ourselves, after all.

Incidentally, I’d love if Wyatt or someone proved me wrong, but I’m not expecting Blizzard to ever divulge the really detailed info, in terms of math and orders of operations and such, that powers the game engine. After all, almost all the technical details and inside info we know now has come from datamining during the beta, rather than official disclosures.

When it comes to D1 and D2, we know pretty much everything about how items are generated, how combat works, why there are so many errors in the LCS, why some modifiers will or won’t generate on different items, why some item types don’t drop properly, why some unique and set rings/amulets are so much more or less common than others, etc… but that info came almost entirely from the cracking and decoding done by code wizards in the Diablo community.

I suspect we’ll repeat that process in D3, with no more info than you can read in tool tips offered up by Blizzard’s official website, and the real nuts and bolts calculations (and all the bugs and oddities inherent in it) not discovered until fans dig it out, and share it in forums like this one. Someone light the Bat Signal for the D3 version of Jarulf and Ruvenal!

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