Bliz Posts on Monk Combos and the Skill Interface

Several blue posts today, but only two with real game significance. The first relates to the Monk and the game controls. Let me explain…

a replyOne of the big selling points for the Monk’s DiabloWikicombos when the class was first revealed at Blizzcon 2009, was that a quick-fingered player could switch between them, rather than just doing all three hits from the same combo every time. For example, DiabloWikiWay of the Hundred Fists for the first dashing punch, DiabloWikiCrippling Wave for a debuff with the second hit, then DiabloWikiExploding Palm for explosive damage on the third hit. Or vice versa. Options abound.

No one’s doing this in the beta since there’s no real reason for it; only the lower level combos are available, there’s no PvP, and the PvM is too easy to require precision skill switching for optimal damage. Moreover, the cumbersome Diablo 3 UI doesn’t really support it, since you can’t simply click hotkeys to instantly change the skills on your left and right mouse click, as you could in D2.

Combo-switching is possible in D3, of course. A Monk could put two combos skills on the LMB and RMB, and in the final game I’m sure players will get used to alternating mouse clicks with the 1234 keys to vary their combos just as expert Paladins used the hotkeys to “flash” different auras in D2. It’ll take some practice and a lot of manual dexterity though, since the simplified and more visual UI in D3 is slower to use and less convenient. That reality prompted a fan to suggest an improvement to the controls, and earned him much the same answers as given above from CM Zarhym.

There should be a little tool for monk with 3 slots for left click for instance where you can insert what generator you want to hit at what specific time in the chain to cut down on swapping skills every 3 hits. That way all you have to do is left click 3 times and it will automatically do the generator that you want with each click.

Does this make sense to anybody?
Zarhym: We definitely want there to be some sort of conscious decisions on the part of the player regarding what Spirit generator skills are used at any given time. Earlier on in the game, you’ll likely just be using one of these skills so you save room in your limited active skill slots for those that cost DiabloWikiSpirit. And you can always manually swap out your Spirit generators to try different ones in various encounters. It provides you with some interesting choices to make when deciding what kind of attacks or effects you’re using with the Spirit generating skill you go with (i.e. maybe you want one with an AoE component, one that dazes targets, one that has further reach, one that applies DoT effects, etc.).

We don’t want all Spirit generating attacks to be accessible with the repeated push of one button. Not only would that make monks play very differently from the other classes, it’s not really how Diablo skill gameplay works fundamentally.

That’s kind of an odd reply. Isn’t he saying that the controls are intentionally gimped to use in order to make advanced playing techniques harder to use? That’s been my impression of the D3 DiabloWikiinterface, anyway. It’s visual and accessible and all that, but slower in function compared to D2’s mouse-clicking system. I guess this is the same logic that led them to ban player UI mods, to remove the DiabloWikiweapon switch hotkey, and to limit active skills to six at a time. Customizable controls would give an advantage to players who really knew what they were doing, and Blizzard wants a dumbed-down noob-friendly playing field?

The other noteworthy blue post is longer, and also relates to the UI, so click through to read it.

This series of posts covers numerous UI improvement issues, with Bash made a post over here.

#1 – Nonskill bar spots
Potions, scrolls?, and regular attack take up space on the ever-coveted action bar/mouse. Now, it’s known that the game is meant to be played with 6 active skills and overall we are supplied with 7 spots to place things (5 being on the bar, and 2 for the mouse). That only leaves 1 spot that is unused by active skills by has competition from the multiple actions described above.

What’s the deal? Are we going to have to make a choice between auto attack (which the demon hunter and wizard seem to be encouraged to use in their passives) and a healing potion? Obviously the healing potion is a valuable asset to have available in dire situations. And does that just leave scrolls out in the dust? Are there any behind-the-scenes plans to address this issue?
Daxxarri: What you place into your various skill slots will vary from player to player and build to build. Depending on your skills you can have both left and right mouse button bound to skills (and pressing ‘x’ will swap your right-mouse with yet another skill button for a total of 3 mouse binds) and if you don’t have the resources to use the skill, then you’ll normal attack instead until you have the necessary resources to use the skill again. There should be space for, at least, a potion. Diablo III isn’t designed with potion spamming in mind anyway, so really, you should have plenty of space on your bars for the elements that will be important to your hero’s success.

#2 – Respeccing skills on the fly
The current system of being allowed to change your active (and passive?) skills at absolutely any time without any restrictions or limitations is generally deemed by the community as not the greatest of ideas. If we are free to respec whatever, whenever, then in theory we are granted access to all skills and the 6 cap just becomes an illusion. It also severely encourages the use of 3rd party macros for fast-swapping on the run.

Daxxarri: We’re currently testing a few different solutions, but I don’t have anything specific to report on that front just yet. We’re okay with players changing their builds while they’re out adventuring, but we’re not comfortable with players running around with their skill pane open swapping skills during combat. We’d also rather not have a system which forces players to return to town. We’ve tried it, and it feels really bad. Of course, worse comes to worse and if our attempts to curb use in combat fail, it could very well be what we have to resort to.

Simple solution – Add a cast time
Daxxarri: That’s one of the options on the table currently.

That still only leaves you with 8 slots.
Daxxarri: There’s not much call for hot-keying scrolls anyway.

7 skill slots + 1 mouse swap = …?
Daxxarri: 6 skill slots, left and right mouse, +x to swap right click.

I see 5 keyboard slots, and your post says we can have 3 skills bound to the mouse. That’s 8 unless I failed second grade…?
Daxxarri: No, that was me. 8 is the correct total. Still, that’s good for skills 1-6, autoattack and a potion key. Or, since builds won’t necessarily need access to autoattack, a scroll if you really, really want to hotkey it.

Daxxarri, so is it okay with players changing their skills before every combat to minimize the obvious risk rather than experiment, especially in Hardcore where death means game over ?
Daxxarri: It’s not something that we’re necessarily opposed to. Bash made a post over here on the subject:

Bash said in there that the feature would most likely be a dual spec sort of thing. I’m not totally opposed to this since there are so many different scenarios you would have to spec efficiently for, that having access to only 2 wouldn’t be terrible. Not ideal, but not terrible.
Daxxarri: Actually, he said that it probably wouldn’t be implemented, but if it was, then it would likely take a form similar to dual spec. I just don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, unnecessarily.

I don’t want to just repeat my comment from above, but this sounds like more of the same. D3’s controls are adequate and easy to learn/see, but they’re not customizable or designed for really expert, dexterous play. And this is by design, almost as a form of game balancing. If players were able to switch weapons, hotkey elixirs, swap instantly between numerous active skills, etc…. that would be bad. Apparently. In the eyes of the developers. I’m fine with them banning UI mods and other macros or automations, but I don’t see removing hotkeys as a great approach.

So now players who know what they’re doing will regularly open their inventory to drink elixirs while less-expert players won’t. And this is a better solution than putting in some hotkeys to drink elixirs, where at least new players would have some hint that they were missing out on something…? (Coming soon: Removed or nerfed elixirs since noobs don’t use them.)

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53 thoughts on “Bliz Posts on Monk Combos and the Skill Interface

  1. I dont think its bad to have limited access to skills in combat, this will show different playstyles. But having to choose between attacks, potions, scroll or elixirs, and yet skills… this does not sound ok.
    Since Potion is not spammable, it could really use a special key, just for it, aside from the 6 (or 7?) slots. Some simple combination, like ctrl+Z, who knows

  2. How on earth is the new system ‘newb friendly?’

    You have access to all of your skills on the fly without having to bind them all to right click before casting.

    • Agreed. Flux needs to play WoW, rather than critisise a system that works better than the D2 system.

      That being said, having to click on some skills and then press a key to access other skills is a bit weird for the Monk imo. But I guess you can just remap LMB and RMB to keys too.

      • According to the in-game options menu, it doesn’t look like you can remap LMB and RMB. But why not just bind combos to the mouse buttons and other skills to the hotkeys? That’s what I would do if I was playing a Monk.

    • I agree with this.  If combo-ing with a combination of mouse and keyboard hotkeys instead of mashing RMB is too hard then YOU are the noob.  Zarhym’s post specifically addresses this.  They don’t want it to become too simplified (aka noob friendly).  Everything he said sounds fine to me.

  3. Is that supposed be to a joke :

    “Moreover, the cumbersome Diablo 3 UI doesn’t really support it, since you can’t simply click hotkeys to instantly change the skills on your left and right mouse click, as you could in D2.”

    “It’s visual and accessible and all that, but slower in function compared to D2?s mouse-clicking system”

    • Have to agree with you, D2 was not faster, in fact it was slower. Hitting a key to swap out skills on my mouse button, then activate the skill by clicking on the mouse button is not faster then just hitting a key to activate a skill?
      You need to play more modern games Flux.  They have evolved past the archaic systems D2 used. D2’s system was like a old telephone switch board, D3’s system is like a cell phones one touch speed dial.

        • Yes limiting hotkeys for pots,elixirs,scrolls, and what ever consumables are in the game is not good. I think they should just let us open the inventory and hot key consumables.

          • You have enough hotkeys for 6 skills, 1 potion, and then 1 extra for basic attack or something else. There really is no need to hotkey scrolls and elixirs, I believe they all have a 5 minute duration, its not hard to open inventory and click the item.

          • Nether is it hard for them to let us hot key the items.  Its not a big deal, it just would have been nice if they had the option.

          • You can actually slot them but its your choice if you want to take up one of the available slots just for that. Adding more slots would take up UI space and they had to decide on a number.

  4. It’s very easy to rm click then lm click with my right hand and then press the number 1 with my left hand. VERY EASY. Combos were not hard to pull of when I played the demo at a Blizzard event. Why is using the keyboard and mouse together difficult? You are not even using wasd to move around so your left hand can always be on the 4 skill keys you need use.

  5. “I’m sure players will get used to alternating mouse clicks with the 1234 keys”

    It’s possible to bind every skill to your mouse, if you have at least 4 buttons on it and a scroll whell. I think binding all of your skills to different keys or buttons like this is actually much better than the system the Diablo games used in the past.

    • This, and let’s not forget you can still switch your RMB between 2 skills using a hotkey (not the same as D2, but it’s there).
      I am somewhat confused how someone can argue that playing the monk with a system like… F1 -> hit -> F2 -> hit -> F5 hit is actually faster than just doing hotkey1 -> hotkey2 -> hotkey3 and you can bind all those to your mouse buttons.
      I know Flux is of a rather sceptic nature and he’s doing a lot to not be seen as a Blizzard fanboy (mission accomplished btw), but abandoning all reasonable research seems like a bad way of running a website, especially one that with such a big and active community.

  6. Limit us to 6 skills is very good thing. Opposite, let us to use all skill is very bad thing with this skill system. It will make everyone the same. Being good at battling UI =/= good player.

  7. Keeping the combo skills on separate keys allows for more control on the fly.  You can decide which attack is best for every combo stage for the situation you’re in, rather than being stuck with the same three-attack sequence for every situation.

    Putting them all on one key would be like playing a one-button fighting game: boring.

    • I was going to post using this point as well, but I see that you have already made it.

      Additionally, I agree with the other players who stated that using a mouse+keyboard is way more effective than using just mouse.  Even Flux agreed when he said that Paladin players were able to flash auras with the F keys — does he not think that Monks will be able to flash Mantras with the number keys?  The Runes are even setup to promote the concept of flashing, by giving bonus effects for a short period after activating the ability.  Example, the Mantra of Healing -> Boon of Protection gives a barrier around all players when the mantra is activated… sounds great for PvP.

      (There could be a huge hole in this argument if the Mantras share cooldowns.)

  8. since the simplified and more visual UI in D3 is slower to use and less convenient.

    Huh, what !!! how is that !!? .. D3 system is far better than D2 .. first it is much faster to use as all you have to do is clikc the skill you want .. BAM .. in D2 you first had to switch to desired skill and then click with mouse to use it .. much slower … second .. you can see all your “chosen” skills in front of you” .. meaning that pulling off combos is way easier than it ever was in D2 where you didn’t even see what skills you have unless you click skill – open skill choice menu – click skill .. or cycle skills till you find the one you want .. way slower and non-combo friendly.

    I don’t know how can using 12345 and RMB and LMB hard for combos … is it super easy and intuitive (and been done in many RPGs games before) .. if for example you want  Way of the Hundred Fists for the first dashing punch, Crippling Wave for a debuff with the second hit, then Exploding Palm for finishing touch .. all you have to do is put Way of the Hundred Fists on (1) … Crippling Wave  on (2) … and Exploding Palm on (3) or RMB … want to pull off combo .. simply tab 1-2-3 or 1-2-LMB .. pulling off something like this in D2 would take three key strokes and three mouse clicks .. 6 different movements …. that’s down right unintuitive and 200% the amount of mouse/keyboard movements you need to pull it off in D3 .. how can D2 system be better !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As for potions and scrolls taking up skill slots .. that’s just wrong .. make a dedicated potion slot and a dedicated scroll slot .. let them be (9) and (0) .. and each can only have one potion and one scroll at a time .. for emergency use .. Titan Quest had something similar .. it worked just fine.

  9. REALLY? How much easier do they want the game to be? This guy (Battlenet poster) wants to be able to set combo rotations so he just has to press the RMB? Go play old star wars galaxies and make some scrips so you just press one button and the game plays for you…
    So, as far as Daxxarri said we will still have a RMB swap key, why isn’t this in the options in the beta?

  10. I came to comment on how could anyone think D3 is more cumbersome than D2, but everyone else beat me to it.

    • Same here.  Monk Combos are so easy.  Hot key your 6 skills.  Press, 1+2+3, or 2+4+RMB, or 2+3+4, or 3+2+1, or LMB+RMB+2, or any other order you want to take advantage of.  If someone is not capable of doing this, play one of the other classes.

      • If you’d read his whole post you’d see that what he’s concerned about is whether or not he can press the buttons fast enough to take full advantage of his attack speed.  Monk skills go off very quick and if you can’t press the button three times a second, you’re losing out.

    • Because opening your inventory to drink potions is cumbersome (since you wont have room for all the stuff on the hotbar).

  11. D3 system is better than D2, but there is still a lack of action buttons.
    If we ever have to open the inventory to use a potion or a scroll, then its a failure of the UI to be honest.

  12. Even if doing multi-combos turns out to be to annoying for a player to do there’s nothing wrong with just using the same combo instead.  It’s Diablo 3, not rocket science, a player may lose a little bit of edge by not using multiple combo skills in the same combo but it’s not like the character won’t be useful.

  13. You make no sense flux… why would they need to use the ui to balance the game between noobs and experts in a co-op game by limiting how much stuff you can put on them? I seriously doubt you will be able to use pots or elixirs in pvp so why does it matter if you need to go to your inventory to use elixirs in pvm? They have a 5 minute duration anyway so it’s not like it will be a constant thing… Also, looks like you are the only one who thinks the d2 way skill hotkeys is somehow faster/better…

  14. “Customizable controls would give an advantage to players who really knew what they were doing” I could not disagree more with this statement. In WoW, custom UI only made the game easier and easier because, mod such as boss alert tell you exactly what and when the boss is going to cast compare to the normal UI which people actually need to know that themselves in addition some mod can predication thing that are suppose to be random. In the end, Blizzard have to include those mod in order to make things fair for everyone. ” [D3’s interface is] slower in function compared to D2?s mouse-clicking system” Did you ever play anything but Diablo games?Seriously? F1 right click is somehow faster than just press num 1 button?

  15. The only weird monk problem I’ve seen is trying to keep track what stage of a combo you’re in. Especially w/ some of the rune effects that add dashes to the first hit. Counting one two three isn’t that hard, but it’s hard enough when you’re frantically running around squashing demons and mixing up Lightning Fists, Crippling Wave, and Exploding Palm. Mistime/misclick or lose count and you miss the runed dash or the exploding DoT or the stunning blow.
    Solution? Some visual cue to let you know what step you’re on. Kind of like the old Druid/Assassin orb charges. Something that let’s the player know what his combo skill is going to do when he presses the button. Whether other players in PvP can see those charges is up for debate. Might not want to telegraph to the opponent that your next attack might stun.
    And finally, when I saw elixirs and gold pet scrolls, that was the first thing I thought; I need more hot bar keys. Opening a menu every two minutes is cumbersome. I like the idea of a consumable bar, where you can only put scrolls, elixirs, and potions in. And yes, it telegraphs to noobs that you should be using consumables, which makes them better players in the long run.

    • Hell, while we’re brainstorming.
      -A couple of “junk” keys. When you hold the key and click on an item in your inventory, it’s automatically salvaged, and a similar one for the Jordan Pot. That way you don’t have to keep toggling the trash cans.
      -Right-clicking on a weapon or gear in your bag will swap it out for your equipped gear.
      -A hot key for Recall
      -The default hot keys set to something less dumb. It’s 2011, nobody who plays PC games should be using their regular number keys for the most common abilities. Especially if they insist on sticking w/ Shift and X as important combat controls. Of course let everyone set up their controls however they want, that’s a no-brainer. But show the noobs a better way. Make the defaults the normal typing setup, ASDF.
      -It’ll never happen, but they should give us a simplified pet bar (every character has pets, even if they’re temporary). Attack, Move, Return. That’s all they need.

      • ” Right-clicking on a weapon or gear in your bag will swap it out for your equipped gear. “

        That is already in the game.

        -It’ll never happen, but they should give us a simplified pet bar (every character has pets, even if they’re temporary). Attack, Move, Return. That’s all they need.

        I so much disagree, not needed at all the Pets are controlled by AI and shall stay there period imo, AT top do like Torchlight do with 2 buttons either they are aggressive towards mobs or they are protective of the caster.

  16. Blizzard always has a clunky UI. SC2 is the blacksheep of this trend, since it actually fixed the clunky interface SC BW had. Their other games always have horrible controls that eat at the gameplay experience. I expect Titan will have to be played with your feet.

  17. I made a comment a few weeks ago that Flux was being overly negative.  I also noted however that he is playing devil’s advocate.  Maybe he really believes what he is saying, I dunno.  But one thing is for sure.  He is doing a great job at driving conversation and increasing page views.  I assume he is making his living off this web site.  (nice job btw..that is extraordinarily hard to do) So his number one priority is to drive traffic and get people engaged.

  18. i was the one who posted this suggestion on the d3 forums and it was strictly for the spirit generator use. i dont mind having the spirit spenders on the hot bar but i was simply suggesting a tool to pre map your selected spirit generators in whatever order you wanted so that you dont have to 1 click 2 click 3 click spender spender all game just click click click spend. alot of people seem to be misunderstanding what i am saying. this isnt noobing anything.

  19. This whole discussion isn’t about noobing anything anyway. Diablo 2 was _extremely_ noob friendly. It’s not the game some people think (or remember?) it to be. It’s a pretty straight forward H&S, like D3. Nothing is wrong, move along.

  20. dunno if i understand the controls yet, do we have to activate a skill before we can use it ? so pressing 2 for a certain skill will just choose it and we have to activate it by pressing left or right mouse button ?  this really sounds like the monk combos are screwed. in Diablo 2 i didn’t have to press a mouse button to activate a certain skill only pressing a certain number already activated it.

  21. The person that wrote this seems to think that only easily accessible skills are those bound to the mouse buttons. That could not be more wrong with Diablo 3’s action bar. You don’t need to click to activate skills with the action bar, just press the number keys. It’s very easy to use a variety of skills with this system, especially if you use the numpad like me. Using 3 different skills will be literally as easy as hitting 1, 2, and 3 on your keyboard. You don’t need mouse clicks at all.

    Stop the Diablo 2 mentality. The action bar system is actually much faster than Diablo 2’s system is your hotkeys are setup in a way you can get to all 6 of them instantly with your fingers.

  22. I may be out of the loop here… Did blizzard say you can hotkey all your skills (or most) if you have a 5 button mouse??? Mine has lmb, rmb, arrow up, arrow down, scrollwheel + click scrollwheel…

    • I’ve always just mapped the buttons to keyboard keys in the mouse program and then told D3 to use those keys.

    • If you have a 8 button mouse you can map all 8 to your mouse. Heck if you want to you can even have Ctrl+Mouse 1 Ctrl +Mouse 2. At least it works like that in the beta. So you could have all 6 skills mapped to Mouse 1 and 2 if you like.

        • Ah, ok. I understand now. I wanted, if it was possible, to place my barb shouts on the two buttons on the left side of my mouse. It appears that’s possible.

          I have a “G5 Logitech” if it makes any difference.

  23. I kinda agree with Flux here.

    The system might not be [i]faster[/i] than D2’s system, but it might be harder to use. I’m beta testing a fairly similar hack ‘n slash game (Path of Exile) which uses the system from D3. The problem is that you have to select an enemy with your mouse cursor (one hand) and than use the skill with the keyboard (the other hand). This makes the targeting of mobs in general a bit harder and therefore I prefer D2’s system. Once you select a skill with your left hand, you can proceed targeting and spamming it with your mouse hand.

    But to each his own I suppose.

    Meh, i’m more concerned about the always available skills… i like that they went with each skill only having one point, but all of them being available almost each level is a bit too much…
    I would have prefered something like being able to pick 12 skills at lvl 60, making you have 2 entirely different skill builds available at any time (and many combinations thereof)… while being able to respec in town…

    Making clicking be the separator between good and mediocre players is not something i find very interesting…


    There is still a hotkey to skill switch for the right click skill. It’s currently not bindable to anything other than default (X) but it IS still in the game, allowing for 8 hotkeys. You can also bind other skills to different extra mouse buttons.

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