Blizzard Defends Skill Point Removal and Freespecs

Bashiok hopped onto the forums to defend the latest game changes to skills and respecs. Taking on a fan who makes strong arguments against the loss of character customization that no-skill-points seems to portend, Bashiok made some good counter points.

So you figured out it’s better to pump all your points into one or two skills. What a smart gamer you are.

How long do you think it would have taken even bad players to look up on a website that it’s the best way to play a game where skills have to scale with more points?

We’ve been playing the game, we know what skill points were causing, and it was not interesting and unique builds. It was not meaningful customization. It was maxing out a couple skills, and that’s it. It was Diablo II. What we have now actually forces people to make interesting choices, to craft interesting builds based on very strict limitations.

One common mistake people are making is thinking all the class skills are straight damaging attack skills, and they pick six of those, and they’re on their way. There’s no variety because you just pick the most powerful six, and you’re done. You can do that, but you’re either going to straight up die, run out of resources and waste time dying or running away, or you’re going to have to figure out some godly resource regen stacking gear setup. One of those sounds fun, and challenging, which makes even crazy builds like using six straight damage skills potentially viable if you can game it right.

The current iteration of the skill system will work just fine. My only concern is the limiteless ability to change skills (either out in the field, or in town) with no cost. I know you said you are taking a “wait and see” approach.

What I am wondering is if you, personally, can say how you feel while out in the world being able to change skills on the fly. Do you come upon a particularly nasty group that this other skill would just be perfect for, so you hang back, grab that skill, then destroy the group?

Maybe my concern with this is unfounded, but I just like the idea of a character build having more permanence.. so a “Whirlwind/Ancient Spear Barbarian” actually means something, instead of what you feel like playing that day. I understand the need to experiment early.. but can’t there be a comprimise in that late game build changing could be more restrictive?

Bashiok: I think that someone choosing to hang back and switch up their build for a specific pack is totally possible, but experience shows that it’s not something most players want to spend the time to do. And that’s more about build identity than min/maxing.

It’s far more lucrative and time effective to create a viable build that can deal with a variety of situations, and we also find that players want to create and stick with an identity even if there’s the ability to freely swap. It’s generally a matter of finding the way you want to play, and fine tuning. And really we’re not talking about skills so specific in function that it’s going to be that enticing. You’re pretty much either killing enemies, or protecting yourself. There’s a ton of variety within offense and defense, but I don’t think it’s so ideal as to make someone stop and switch out their entire build.

Like I said players inherently want to stick with a specific character identity. You’re far more likely to see a player sticking with a build and working to become better at it than constantly swapping around. That’s not a rule, it’s player psychology so there’s going to be a wide range of variables, but it’s what we have found to be true not only for Diablo III, but a lot of the games out there with similar free-swapping of builds.

Bashiok doesn’t quite make the argument here, but like I said on podcast part two (coming soon) skill balance was probably a big contributor to the removal of skill points. The D3 devs have often said that they don’t want one-point-wonders, like DiabloWikiTeleport or a lot of the DiabloWikiCurses and DiabloWikiAuras were in D2. They want all the skills in D3 to need lots of points, and for each point to make a real difference. Perhaps that just wasn’t possible, and nothing they did could make DiabloWikiVault or DiabloWikiTeleport or DiabloWikiGrasp of the Dead or other such skills improve with each point, or *need* 15 points, in the same way an attack skill does.

And like Bashiok says in the top post, if everyone just maxed out the same skills, then having points isn’t adding any variety. It’s basically the same argument they’ve made against custom attributes. In D2 most many builds had the same Dex for blocking, Str for eq reqs, and all the rest into Vit. Thus manual attributes didn’t really do anything to differentiate between characters.

The instant, free, anytime skill swapping I’m less sanguine about. It just seems cheesy, and I like chars to have some kind of identity, and for builds to have strengths and weaknesses. If any character can switch almost instantly between builds, why have limits on the number of skills at all? Just let everyone enable all 20~ skills at once, and make the only slow down the time required to change hotkeys. Or better yet, make the game smart enough to switch your skills situationally, and auto-change your LMB and RMB options from Lightning, to Fire, to Arcane, etc, depending on what monster you’re shooting at? Why shouldn’t players have every skill at all times without any effort? Don’t we want to make this game casual-friendly?

Sarcasm aside, Bashiok doesn’t mention it, but hopefully Runestones will have an effect, there. High level chars will have gear designed to complement their skills, socketed by Runestones that provide appropriate bonuses to each skill. The rune that gives the best bonus to your DiabloWikiArcane Torrent is probably not the one that you’ll want in DiabloWikiHydra, or DiabloWikiBlizzard, or DiabloWikiDisintegrate. (So chars will just carry a few spare runes to click in when they respec between encounters/before big DiabloWikiboss fights?)

On that note, I do hope the devs are putting enough variety into the DiabloWikiAct Boss encounters to make them tough against all sorts of attacks. It’ll suck if we find that Skill X or Skill Y is by far the most effective against Diablo, or whoever. Since then everyone would always respec to that skill before the big fight, and turn it into tediously-easy, repetitious piñata bash.

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47 thoughts on “Blizzard Defends Skill Point Removal and Freespecs

  1. I was very resistant to the idea of no skill points, but after listening to the responses I think I’ve come around to that aspect of it. However the 3 passive skills and being able to swap out skills whenever still rubs me the wrong way. It seems they don’t want to make the game replayable at all with the same chars. Why bother when I can swap out skills and shoot for making real money feeding my game addiction :D. Maybe there’s something I’m missing??

  2. Well, I for one will miss having what I do and the choices I make during my playthrough affect and mold my character as I play. Now characters are just generic blobs only defined by what you stick on them. I wonder if this was done in part to encourage more item trading and increse profits. Anything that actually affects your character can now be bought with real money.

    (PS the new AD driven quote thing for posting is really annoying. I have to type the advertisers tagline to post… really?)

    • It goes away for sure if you are a Site Pal. It might just be anyone who is registered, though.

    • We gotta pay the mammoth server bills somehow.

      It is gone for all PALs and registered members.

  3. I was thoroughly against this change when I first read it, but after hearing their explanations, it does make sense in a twisted way. They are right that the D2X system by necessity was:

    1. Take any 1 point wonders you need as soon as available
    2. Max your 1 or 2 main attacks
    3. Max any necessary passives
    4. Put the rest in useless synergy skills for your attacks.

    I’m ok with the attempt to improve that mechanic and hope it really does leave the door open for using all the skills more. But this decision implies a few things about the game. First, that all skills will be viable in the end-game. But second, that there will be no content that is especially challenging unless you can do a particular kind of damage or attack a certain way. This second point is important because we are all thinking of this in D2 terms, where, say, immunities or high resists made certain mob or boss spawns hellacious for certain classes or builds.

    I agree with Flux that I hope they compromise here and find a way to make character identity a part of the game too. I’ve seen it suggested that your build gets locked down after Normal. That seems fair to me – once you start your first nightmare game, it’s locked. You have time to play with all the skills by that point, but you still have the character identity later, as well as the challenge of overcoming situations that your character is ill-suited for.

    There’s a sort of concept in film production that some of the greatest, most memorable scenes in film came about because of artificial limitations – budget, location, technology. (The classic example that is cited is the shark in Jaws). With the advent of CG and the possibility that literally ANYTHING you can imagine can be created, the ingenuity of overcoming limits gets removed. I didn’t HAVE to take down those MSLEBs, but damn if it didn’t feel like an accomplishment when I did. Or making it through the Chaos Sanctuary alive with a HC Frenzy Barb.

    Yeah, you can still impose those limits on yourself not to respec, but I think some things should be inherent in the game. Character identity is one of them. Yes, ultimately we may end up with similar stats and similar skill point assignments if we do it ourselves, cookie-cutter-style, but the important thing, it seems to me, is not the outcome, but the process. It’s simply more fun to add them yourself. You feel more attached to the character, more of a hand in the creation. There’s more of a feeling of improvement and getting stronger, hitting that + button is rewarding. I hope they manage to keep that feeling somehow of ownership, as it’s an important part of the franchise to many.

  4. I think the idea of having limitless combinations and freedom generates variety – variety is the key word here > it is something that most games nowdays don’t have and I am sure it will assure the success of D3 on aiming to be a long term game through many years.
    Being as modular as possible will make no character look like another > I really like the idea of building sort of personallity in characters in this way – I think it balances very well with all the auction house machine way of working (e.g. all chars may have the same skills in one class and be differentiated just by gear is not relevant anymore; in D3 as one can buy those items for money and not even work for them anymore if they don’t feel like it or just do not like that part of the game is balanced by the fact that one can make the difference by aiming at the skills building > the combination makes one more deadly, nut just one part like skills alone, or gear) – which is a side that D2 lacks in alot.

    So the strategy in building a char using both elements (skills and gear) will make the difference, not just pumping like crazy into one or another. In D2 skills were brought to no meaning in the context in which everyone had the same builds ultimately. So importance of skills is brought on the map again in this way and I totally agree with it.

    I am really surprised and pleased by these latest fetures revealed by Blizzard, they demonstrated maturity and proffesionalism. 

    Can’t wait to play the game!

  5. Thanks for bringing this up.  I’ve seen a lot of rage about the AH and the no-offline, but things are strangely quiet about this.  I think free-changing of your skills at any time is the biggest ‘game-changer’ we’ve heard about so far.  In many ways, it makes Diablo 3 a COMPLETELY different game.

    In Diablo II, finding new gear for a build that you aren’t playing meant you had incentive to make a new character.  Some people hate that, but I don’t understand their argument that it is redundant and a worthless time sink; Leveling a Firewall sorceress is an entirely different gameplay experience than leveling a Nova sorceress, for example.  They almost play as completely different classes!

    According to Diablo 3, if I find new gear I want to use, all I have to do is change my build with a few clicks.  This destroys the incentive to roll new characters, and makes the character you choose to play feel watery and insubstantial.  Like you said, they might as well just give us all the skills in a menu and let us drag them freely to our hotbar!  There’s really no difference.  The ‘value’ of something is lost when it is given away for free.

    There was more to the successful Diablo 2 formula than “Kill monsters, get loot”, and they are tampering with it too much.

    • Being able to freely swap skills, is there any motivation for creating a second character of the same class? So much of the replayability of D2 came with creating new chars and new builds. It really sounds like D3 lacks that.

  6. I think that even something as simple as making it so you could only swap skills around in a town would go a long way, but I’m frankly inclined to believe that the overwhelming majority of players are more likely to be inclined to just roll with what they have almost all of the time, switching only very rarely and then only switching out a few things. In D2, you could theoretically switch all your armor around any time you wanted. Did anyone switch all their armor around from pack to pack? No. That’d be stupid, would eat dramatically into your kill speed and eat dramatically into your fun. Now, the comparison isn’t perfectly fair because skills make a bigger difference than armor and bag space would have been an issue for that sort of strategy, but I honestly do believe that incidences of characters rapidly switching skills (except when they’re explicitly experimenting) will be awfully rare, and even then will rarely be total character overhauls. Remember, you get six slots; that’s enough for several offensive options and several defensive and support options. Changing things up even for a tough boss is probably a matter of -at most- swapping one or two things out. They don’t have to make it a huge hassle to switch skills to get people to not do it all the time. It’s people’s natural inclination, because who would rather drag things around a menu than kill tons of monsters?

  7. Actually, the main problem for me is to lacking of charachter unique sence. In D2 “lighting sorceress” doesnt use fire and ice a lot. So, after respec, you feel a big difference. In d3 you just mix all effective spells and now its just a “pew-pew wizard”.
    Also, the moment when you stop playing with handmaded casual builds and finally switch to one from guide is extremely satisfaying for me.

  8. All day I have been reading and watching interviews at the various Diablo fan sites. Sorry Flux, I prefer this site out of them all but the site has been down most of the day so I had to find the news else were for the time being. All I can say is wow! That was a lot to take in as a big Diablo series fan….. So many changes all at once. I think a lot of people like myself included were upset and first. But the more I thought about it reading and watching the explanations it started to make since why they did what they did. Taking away skill points and traits has taken the risk away. Loot and Runes are the modifiers now. Think about it… If you had a choice to spend points into skills and traits. Wouldn’t you put them in all the high abilities? So aren’t you doing acutely what you did in D2? Spamming 2 or 3 spells in the high difficulties? That kind got repetitive and boring. Didn’t anybody wish they could use all their spells or attacks they had? You couldn’t do it because you did not have enough points to spend into every single skill that made them powerful enough. This new system makes all skills available. It would be like being a sorc in D2 and being able to use fire, ice, and lightning. Not just a master of one. I can use any skill for any situation that best fits my needs. That’s awesome! You have 20-26? I can’t remember how many skills they have but you can have up to 6 active and 3 passive. You get tired of that, or it’s not working well anymore no need to respec because I have plenty more to choose from already. Loot and Runes are the damage modifiers. Makes since now the auction house with real money trading is in the game. Your forced to trade or buy items now to customize your character. Smart move Blizzard. It sucks but change happens. Money talks and it will always be the major decision maker. Let’s cut the B.S. If Blizzard ever says it’s all about the players and not the money…. It’s about one thing…. The money. That’s a fact. They’re not fooling anybody. Which is fine it’s a business. That’s what they do. Flux thanks for never kissing ass and being a yes man to Blizzard. Love the site can’t wait to play D3 and I think everybody will enjoy the game when it’s out.

    • good job, you perfectly pointed out how blizzard’s move eliminated builds. now each character what we want it at that moment, there is no identity to that character, just give em so equipment and do a skill adjustment and you are good to at any point.
      unfortunately many don’t really understand the severity of the situation cause they so want to think that things will work out for the best, I do to my friend but it won’t like this, blizzard already fucked up SC2’s story and nothing prevented that and if these changes go to release nothing will prevent from diablo 3 being a game reduced in quality and replayability.

  9. “The instant, free, anytime skill swapping I’m less sanguine about. It just seems cheesy, and I like chars to have some kind of identity, and for builds to have strengths and weaknesses.”
    Precisely.  I love being able to experiment with skills so the player can find a build through experience that fits their play style, but this is a bit too generous.  I fear that builds will become a function of encounters, not players.

  10. I posted this on the forums and no one really seemed to want to talk about it there, maybe they are bad ideas but I’d still like to hear what people think.
    First off let me state that I’m a really big fan of assigning points in an RPG. I feel like it is the core reward of any good RPG leveling experience, and that it is a lot of fun to have to make a tough choice such as what skill or attribute I want to make more powerful and as such a decision on where I take a hit. I appreciate this concept that everybody wants to play the biggest, most amazing hero Sanctuary has ever seen. However, I also think the concept that all heroes have weaknesses is actually important to a good story and also to good gameplay (maybe they use gear to overcome this weakness, or perhaps a cleaver strategy). I think entirely removing the point system is a dangerous idea for a few reasons and I’ll briefly try to cover my thoughts and suggest some possible solutions. 

    1) Attribute points:  I actually totally agree with removing attribute points but think it was a pity they removed the talisman. I think overall the player is picking an archetype and as such should scale differently from other archetypes, but the nice thing about the talisman seemed to be that it was another way other than gear to make that character that was a little more dexterous then say his friend of the same archetype who was a little stronger or had more health. That being said I think this removal is fine because primary gear should cover this I assume, but I’ve always been a fan of more items and more stuff to collect. 

    2) Skill Points:  I think this is an idea that  has some issues. I see some merit as far as making life less monotonious and avoiding having to reroll a character entirely (which I for one really enjoy, but it is not for everybody ). That being said I like having to make the choice of not only what I’m going to do but the scale to which I’m doing it and the things I have to sacrifice for the sake of other choices. I understand the argument that you don’t want people to make mistakes but I think that is a really pessimistic attitude to the whole scenario. Look at it this way you are not making a mistake you are making a choice (keyword there is choice). That is what roleplaying is all about the choices “good” or “bad” that define and develop a character throughout a story. I fear that by taking away skill points and allowing me to choose from all the skill at any time that pulls all that choice away. So here are two compromise ideas: 

    a) Take away points but make me pick 6 skills and stick with them. They can level with me I can have no direct effect on their base power that is fine, just make me make a choice. You could even bring back respecs (in fact I highly encourage that) that way you can still change your build but again you have to make a choice of do I want to keep my gold and my current pretty cool skills or lose a little gold and get a different set of cool skills, the way you guys have sold this, all skills should be viable and fun. 

    b) Let me swap skills out at will but make me distribute power among my 6 active skills. This allows for points without the need for respecing but still makes me make a choice in terms of where I’m strong and where I’m a little less strong. It also means that at lvl X I can have an entirely different power distribution than someone else at lvl X even though we are the same lvl and it is not entirely dependent on my gear.  By the way I like the runes I think they are as they stand one of the coolest ideas to hit action RPGs in a long time. 

    3) Trait Points:  I have essentially my same stance as skill points. When I first heard that we would get skill and trait points, I thought excellent, Blizzard found a way to give just that little extra classic paper and pencil feel to D3. I really like the idea of every couple levels getting something extra that had a little more impact and resulted in yet another customization/choice I have to make. I have another suggestion on this front: 

    a) Keep the current skill system, but make the passives point based, award them every level and let me distribute them how I see fit. Sure they would be awarded every level so perhaps they should not have as much impact as say something that is awarded every other level or every 5 levels but again this makes me make a choice every time II ding it makes me interact and think about my character more. Sure Diablo is a visceral hack and slash experience but it should also be a thought provoking and involving experience. 

    I like a lot of what Blizzard has done and I think the majority of their ideas are really well developed. I think the D3 team has this amazing gear customization system and the effects that it has on character development/customization, based on my limited experiences with the variants game (BlizzCon ‘09 and ’10), will be great But personally I like the idea of two people with the same character class having different levels of customization regardless of their gear; I should be able to strip my wizard naked (so to speak) and have a meaningfully (by this I mean a choice that has been made that constitutes both a sacrifice and a reward) different character then the other naked wizard standing next to me.

    • I am with keeping auto skill leveling to a degree, but I think a partial skill addition system is a must. we must be able to make a choice about which skill we want to bump up a little and boost it’s power relative to the other skills we have, it’s simply is a basic requirement of character customization.
      I also think it goes with out saying that skill swap should be out. if it’s in there will never be another reason to start a new game with the same character.

  11. i think what they are trying to do is improve customization with the rune system whilst taking away from the skill points system which could actually work because that way they are unique to each person. whilst i think you guys are right about the lack of incentive to make a new same class character i think they are aiming to make more people use the same character but on each difficulty, especially now that items carry over.  that way you basically have 3 of the same class to play over , i also think that the difficulties are gonna improve monsters so that you will again need to change tactics and swap again so im not too worried. i myself though i am ashamed to say, didnt play the other difficulties as much on D2 because i liked running around killing things easily haha, but now they have implemented advanced runes which make your spells even more visually appealing and the greater armours i think there is a great incentive to play a harder difficulty :). dont worry guys the class customisation will still be there, even now there are dyes. as much as Blizz are taking away with one hand i feel they are improving and giving back with another.

  12. So, I guess for me it removes a lot of the challenge builds from the game. I had a mana shield chantress, glass cannons and plenty of other characters that didn’t fit a mold. I stopped playing Diablo 2 the day they introduced respecs. I don’t know why, it’s just not what I look for in my Diablo games. Being able to change skills was fine in Guild Wars, and to be fair, ya, most of the time you stick to a group of skills. However, if I want to be online, and playing a game like this, why won’t I just continue to play Guild Wars or GW2 when it comes out? The worlds will be bigger, the art will be better, and the story will not be retconned to make  the past games irrelevant.
    I was initially pissed about the cash auction house, especially because I feel most people will put their items there, but I got over it, mostly because I no longer believe I will even play the game. I like the Auction House idea though and I didn’t play much SP so having to play online is fine with me. The no mods thing though…does suck. The only SP I played were some of the amazing mods like Median and a few others. I guess I can still play them, but it kind of sucks. Look at how well CIV 5 did with the modding community, why can’t more companies try to replicate that?
    I rail against gaming companies removing choice from games all the time. I had that concern when they said they would try to kill our mercs outside of normal. Why should they make that choice for us? However, all these notes don’t really reduce choice, but make the consequences of the choices you do make almost negligible, kind of the same thing in the end. Freedom without consequence or sacrifice has less value. It has never been so difficult to build a new character in Diablo that I minded doing a rebuild to try something else.
    After the crapfest that was Dragon Age 2, I was still looking forward to this game, now I’m not. I may buy it, but I won’t be pre-ordering and will be waiting for some reviews at a trustworthy site or two before I shell money out for it.

  13. i think it is definitely possible that we dont loose customisation threw that new “no skill points”. because it will still require gear to play a certain character build. therefore its not “use the skills you want, and switch them every 5 minutes if youu want”
    but: i really dont like the idea that for maximum kill speed i will have to have like 5 special gear sets in my backpack, so that i can switch out my skills and put on the suiting gear for every new dungeon…

    hm… as im thinking about it… its not .. a “bad thing”… its just weired. normally i would have 5 WDs with different gear and skills. now i will have 1 WD with 5 different gear sets who will switch skills accorant to monsters.

  14. i think it is definitely possible that we dont loose customisation threw that new “no skill points”. because it will still require gear to play a certain character build. therefore its not “use the skills you want, and switch them every 5 minutes if youu want”
    but: i really dont like the idea that for maximum kill speed i will have to have like 5 special gear sets in my backpack, so that i can switch out my skills and put on the suiting gear for every new dungeon…

    hm… as im thinking about it… its not .. a “bad thing”… its just weired. normally i would have 5 WDs with different gear and skills. now i will have 1 WD with 5 different gear sets who will switch skills accorant to monsters.

  15. This is my stand on this issue.

    First off, I understand where Bashiok is coming from. I too hated the cheapskate way of investing a lot of points to a weaker skill first only to respec and max the strongest skill. Things will become very predictable, as so sane player would ever skip the top tier skills. Every class will have a “panic button” of their own that once they used it, it can completely turn the tide around. Not that it is a terrible thing, but with the old system, you can most defintiely expect that a Barbarian will either Whirlwind, Ancients, Earthquake or all of them (if they are crazy enough). In short, playing a class means choosing their “signature skill”. You pick a class because of what their top tier skill looks like because it is what mattered the most. The rest of the skills in their repertoire are commonly neglected.

    So, I am okay with the removal of skill points. Now, it makes me feel that picking a class means learning ALL of their skills because I get the opportunity to use them. Bashilok was right on that matter, most players have a “set path” already in mind in the old system, with the remaining undesired skills are probably going to be untouched nor even tested once.

    Although, it is the “freeswapping” part that I don’t get. If having the ability to change your skills is forever available to us, I don’t want that to happen at any given time, ie. in combat. It seems cheap to me. I thought that the whole point of having 6 action bars is to limit our options in order to play wisely. If the rest of the skills will be available to us anyway during combat, what is the point?

    And I wouldn’t probably freeswapping my Active Skills very often. It is those precious Passive Skills I am going to freeswap (if you can trully freeswap in battle, or before). The option of instantly boosting your +damage to beast, undead or instantly giving you +defense is very handy in battle. AND THAT SUCKS.

    “Okay guys, boss time, he is an undead by the way, so change to your +dmg undead skill! After that, switch +HP because the next boss is hard!”

    I am okay with ONLY FREESWAPPING ACTIVE SKILLS, because they still require ability and management to pull off effectively. DO NOT FREESWAP PASSIVE SKILLS however because, well, they are freaking PASSIVES! They are like bonuses and freebies that are so idiotproof and ruins the game entirely.

    I guess the best solution here is to HAVE A COOLDOWN ON SKILL SWAPPING. Say, for a day, you cannot touch your action bar if you swapped something from it. In that way, nobody can be stuck with a build they don’t like, the system won’t be abused or spammed at any given time, and it kinda forces us to stick to a certain build, even only for a short period of time.

      I don’t see that happening, as some passives effect active skill choices.  So, if you allow players to change their active, thus making the passives that effected said active skills useless, no one will ever chose those particular passives (unless, they plan on never switching out their active skills).  Not saying (at all) that I agree with their choices, but there it is.  Now, I’m really sick of typing “active” and “passive”, I’m going to nap.

  16. Bashioks arguments for the respec is very strange, if players dont want to use it, why have it there then? I am most afraid that this will lower the replayability of the game, it was fun to make a new char just to try a new build and skills, perhaps skills that you had never used before. And if the game is balanced enough all builds would be playable (some worse than others but could still be fun and challenging)

    • Leveling will prolly end up more like WoW, where after a few times of 0-60, 0-70, or 0-85, you kind of get tired of leveling so many chars and welcome the fact you can just respec, regear and be done with it.

  17. Once the rune attunement idea gets the green light, this won’t be a problem as people will stick to only using the skills that they’ve geared for and that they’ve rune attuned for.

    • Agreed. I think they are just shifting customization from skill points to runes. That way your skill power will be affected by drops/randomness, not by static number of skill points.
      – make significiant dmg/effect increase between rune levels
      – make high level runes really really really rare
      – make runes to be attuned for certain skill
      That way you’ll have to carefully choose which six of your skills to rune. (like old way – choose which skills to assign skill points to ..). Not runed skills will be weak/useless  – you won’t use them.

  18. It will still take some time once you reach max level to fully be able to us all of your skills to the same effect.  The current system they have in mind for runes is that the rune gets ‘saved’ once you add it to a skill.  That lvl 7 crimson rune will become a lvl 7 magic missile crimson rune once you put it into magic missile and will have no effect on any other skill.  Depending on the rarity of the higher level runes (they seem to be rather uncommon from the interviews) it’ll take you some time just to get your core 7 skills runed and ready to go, let alone have enough runes to equip your other 17 skills and still have some misc runes left over for certain effects you might want for bosses and pvp.
    Just given what the hassle will be of juggling that kind of inventory I still plan on having separate characters for PvP and PvE so I don’t have to constantly switch out a vast assortment of skills and skill runes every time I may want to try getting my face melted.

  19. Still not a fan of respecs.. they should be few and far between. Once per difficulty.
    Really starting to worry about the longevity of this game.

  20. I think that no skill points does bring another issue with it though.
    Most skills take more “mana” (or other resource) the higher they usually get. Before, with points you could intentionally keep a skill’s damage or effect lower to maintain a lower resource cost. Now on the other hand you’ll be paying to full resource cost for every skill you pick while for some skills it might not be necesary for your build.

  21. I wouldn’t mind seeing a 2 second process or something when swapping skills and passives in and out. Ie, you click on your skill, the skill menu appears, you click on the skill you want to replace it with, a 2 second wait occurs and then it happens. I’d like this just to ram home the point that swapping skills in and out isn’t going to be apart of the normal process.

  22. I hate skill point removal with all of my heart, and I wake up every morning cursing the dreaded unicornda reveal of it.      Nevertheless, I’m willing to try it out before giving up on d3 for good.     I’ll try it and give it a fair shot, but if they have ruined my diablo, I’ll never forgive them.         :p

  23. Among the issues that I’ve seen brought up about this are time costs (both in terms of switching out skills and replayability reduced from not having to re-roll a character) and build diversity.  They’re both linked, but for now, I’ll address directly time costs:

    The way the system seems to be described is that it essentially allows “respec” at any time, anywhere.  Some people seem to feel that this will result in players – in the field – swapping out skills to adapt to each different situation that arises.  That may turn out to be the case, but what are some of the practicalities to consider?

    How long does it *really* take to switch out skills from their slots?  You have to deal with the UI a bit, unless it’s streamlined such that you can just hover over the skill and switch it instantly.  Let’s say it would take, at most 5 to 10 seconds.  Some kind of time cost to this in such a fast paced game would probably end up being very annoying and not really fun.  That’s just the UI side of things.  

    You’re not going to be able to reliably gauge what you’re going to come up against because of the randomization of monster placement and composition.  And with champions, you’re not going to be able anticipate the exact modifiers they’re going to spawn with.  So, what do you do?  Run forward, see what kind of monsters are there, what champions (if any) are present and tooltip to see their modifiers… then, run away and respec your skills?  That, really, sounds like too much hassle.  Put on top of that the runes you may want to socket.  What if removing a skill from its skill slot makes the rune unequip from it?  That adds to the time sink and you’d also need to carry around all the runes you could see yourself *potentially* using.  I think you’re better off choosing a build/skill set that is fun and/or versatile and viable.

    Ah, what about bosses?  Those are predictable!  With some sort of respec system in place in the old build, there’s nothing stopping someone (aside from not wanting to spend the gold or TIME to do it) from clearing to the boss and then going back to town to respec to whatever they think would be optimum for the boss encounter once they get there.

    This new system lowers the barriers that the previous respec system had.  I think time barriers in place from using the UI as well as not being able to reliably predict the monsters you’re going to encounter with each step will discourage swapping skills all the time.  The system could be cumbersome enough even without some kind of gold cost to discourage constant skill swapping.  You’d probably be better off designing a build that doesn’t have to constantly change skills to be effective.

  24. problem: all skill points are pumped into a single skill
    solution: require X points to be allocated into tier N-1 to unlock tier N. Do not allow to keep unassigned skillpoints (or put a limit, say 5 or so).

    problem: respecs make skill trees obsolete and irrelevant anyway
    solution: remove complete char respec. introduce some new ultra-rare “respec item”, allowing to reassign a single skill point. It cannot be purchased, only acquired by defeating bosses. 5-8 items for the entire game.

    • i also think they could have thought of something else, using the Tiers or defeating monsters for skill points, now that’s fun


  25. every time you wonder why Blizzard made the changes they made, just remember

    Quote Bashiok:
    I don’t mean any offense, but you don’t represent the majority of people that will play the game. For better or worse. People here, logging in with their Diablo II keys to talk about an unreleased product – – on an essentially hidden forum – – do not represent the vast majority of people that will play the game. Which doesn’t mean we don’t want the game to appeal to you or be a lasting game you’ll want to play as long as you played Diablo II, it very much is our intent to be, but we have a broad range of Diablo fans to appeal to.

    Looking at Diablo II the amount of people that bought the game, never logged on to, and never went beyond Normal are not insignificant. In fact, they’re a substantial portion of the people that bought copies throughout the life of the game.

  26. I agree with everyone about keeping it original. Having choice good/bad. I would love to have a choice but I think Blizzard is thinking long term. Not short term. At release of the game the spending skills and traits works great because no one knows how to build a character? All good right? Yea for a few months then what happens? Someone starts to post builds online and tell you where to dump your points in. Guess what happens to your choice now. You listen to someone else. If you argue you want look it up thats fine. If you have the time to spend figuring out the perfect build go for it, think realistic not everyone has the time to do that. What is the most fun way to play diablo. Dying all the time, or owning? Once you start dying all the time what do you do? Get pissed off and go online and start looking at cookie cutter builds again. Re-spec your skills to the ight ones so you can progress. Great back to D2 style again. Great customizing characters guys. Then a year or two into the game everyone has the same builds. Like I said think long term. They test it everyday. They know the community would do the same thing the team was doing as time went on. Real quick on Neinball’s comment. Jay says its theroy and they still need to test it. So if that does come into the game your point makes sence.

  27. Being able to switch between all skills basically at any time could be a problem. It means that your identity as player is hot-switchable skill wise. A bit cumbersome to switch items, but basically, it seems all that is doable in a rather quick manner on the battle field. I just hope Blizzard has tried this out, and know what they are doing.

  28. I think some pretty good ideas have already been talked about in this forum (e.g. limiting respecs, character customization through gear/runes). As a current player of D2, I am not terribly surprised about some of the changes. I thought the respec system in the most recent patch of D2 works well. It is limited in use, and functions to customize your character to the gear you find or to the increasing difficulty of nightmare and hell. The skills I use in the beginning of the game are quite different from what I use later.

    The replayability of D2 (at least for me) is the thrill of finding some new item that I can either use, collect, or trade to get better items. No matter what my skill levels or attributes are, I need some decent gear to survive in the later difficulties. I think D3 is capitalizing on the thrill of loot finding by focusing the character customization solely on items and runes. And let’s not forget, third party companies that sell gear for real money have always existed. The AH allows Blizzard to control the transactions and ultimately profit from them (it keeps online play free).

    Without playing D3, it’s hard for me to tell how the option of frequent skill swapping will influence the game. My feeling is that it does need to be limited to force players to head down a certain path. As many people here have already stated, ‘What’s the point of creating another Barb or Witch Doctor?’. One of each is all you need. There is something to be said about starting a new character – another fun aspect about D2.

    I am looking forward to the beta and will reserve final judgment until I get to play the game.

  29. I feel like I’m the only one who’s ABSOLUTELY ECSTATIC over this change. Ever since I heard about the 7 skill issue I was SO UPSET that I would have to feel like I was being PUNISHED for making my choices in what skills to use for my character.
    I want to be able to use as many skills as I can. It should be more about HOW you use your skills instead of WHAT skills you have, and I think that’s what they’re more concerned about creating with these changes.

  30. I went to the bathroom and i was thinking on how to think about the new skill mechanics, i mean, after level 30 you will have no more surprise on skills because you will unlock nothing. I thought about “what if instead of no skill points there only is reset skill points anywhere and anytime? You will say “NO! YOU WILL DO WANDER POINTS AND MAX OUT THE BEST ABILITY” so … haven’t Blizzard made all the skills cool and viable for all players? of course there has to be auras and teleports so, why didn’t they just made something special for those skills, like complementing them closer with runestones and other mechanics: TELEPORT: “each level increases the atributtes of the runestone that is socketed in it”, and “when you reach level 5 in teleport, you leave behind you a blast of (SOMETHING) that does damage/that freezes monsters/ that burn monsters, etc. This change on the ability can go on levels 5, 10, 15 of that ONE POINT WONDER ABILITY.

    If that isn’t of your joy, i was thinking also on the possibility of start SKILL POINTS when you reach level 30, because by that level you have all skills, but don’t we want to be powerful and distintive from the others? we could start levelling skills in level 30 so we hear that sound when we level up that means “OH, I HAVE SKILL POINTS TO USE”

    That’s all, do some changes blizzard, this is what we’ve all been waiting for

  31. They could implement Teleport etc as having a % chance to teleport, increasing as you level the skill. No more 1-point wonder. But all in all I like the new system as well.

  32. I for one am really excited about the changes.  And I’ll try to explain why.

    I played diablo 1 for years on end,  the game was all about smashing monsters and grabbing loot with your buddies.   I can’t remember once googling something like “Warrior build to solo hell baal”.   It was just plain fun.   Didnt need an abacus or google to figure out how to play it,  we just played it.

    Diablo to me is all about smashing monsters and grabbing loot with my friends.   And these changes make that the focus of the game,  not sifting through forums for hours for optimal builds or farming silly mats off of bosses to respec.    To me it sounds like people want diablo to shift more torwards the RPG side of things.  Which im having a real difficult time understanding.

    Just an opinion about diablo 2.  It was REALLY fun once i located the optimal build,  rerolled or respeced to put optimal build in place.   Leveled to where where I actually managed to start using the skills to their intended power.   Personally I’d rather never have to waste my time sifting through 100s of builds trying to find something i MIGHT find fun.   I loved the multishot amazon,  but the explosive arrow didnt appeal to me whatsoever.  

    imho blizzard is trying to make the game more about what I’ve grown to really like about the diablo series. 

    Maybe I’m wrong. 

  33. There’s a difference between Diablo fans and people who bought the game and played it a few times.  Anyone who only played single player and never went beyond Normal difficulty is NOT a Diablo fan.  He or she bought the game, tried it out, and could probably care less how the skill system works in the next game.  The majority of REAL fans want to be able to distribute skill points.  We don’t want restrictions on how many skills we can have.  Pointing out that runes allow for X number of different builds doesn’t mean we don’t want MORE options.  Not all characters in Diablo II that used the same skills were necessarily the same build – one might have 15 points in that skill while another might put 20.  (A great example is multishot for a bowazon – which was used by all bowazons but people could range from putting 5 or 6 points into it, to maxing it out.  Those two bowazons are DIFFERENT and UNIQUE builds!)  In Diablo 3, that will never be the case for two players of the same level.  Additionally, what in the world makes Blizzard think that every character won’t have a guide online for the ‘best’ six skills to choose to use the majority of the time?  This probably hasn’t happened yet for the testers, because they JUST implemented this new system, but I guarantee it will soon enough. Also, I really think that the majority of REAL Diablo fans dislike respecing altogether.  I want how I build my character to MATTER.   All in all, Blizzard needs to stop basing their choices on what they THINK the majority of ‘players’ will like, and think more about what they are BEING TOLD the majority of real fans like.  The ‘fans’ actually care – casual players could care less.

    • They’re updating a 15 year old concept.   They say it works better than the antiquated skill/stat point system of diablo 2.
      I’m inclined to believe the devs know what theyre talking about more so than some tool box on the forums.  Even if I didn’t like the idea,  I would have to say to myself “Well they probably know better than I do”, considering I haven’t played Diablo 3 yet.  
      That’s aside from the fact although I played diablo 2 for 1000s of hours,  I agree with Jay that the stat/ skill point system felt “Shitty” and “Horrible”

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