A fan named Starbird posted an impassioned and detailed plea for changes to the newish DiabloWikirunestone system, and got a point by point reply from DiabloWikiBashiok. The start of his comments are below; click through for the whole long post.

    1) “Forced” Experimentation while leveling. Basically, you are forced to play with runeskills you may or may not like until something better unlocks. Under the old system, via the AH and with a bit of luck you could play the build you wanted and refine it. Under the new one you have to play for (potentially) a long time to get the build you want.
    I don’t see that as a negative. Previously you were held to either randomness, or left to your own to pick something with little incentive to jump around. Previously most people would determine what they believe is best and do very little experimentation. With the unlock system there is actually some incentive in the absence of complete choice to try something you otherwise may not have.

    But anyway, it was really a symptom of solving worse problems with the item-based rune system. Both systems have their benefits, both have their downsides, but we know that this system has more ups than downs compared to the others.

    2) The death of customization and specialization. Runes were initially introduced to offset the loss of ‘uniqueness’ in character builds due to the skill system. Runes allowed you to craft a build that was *yours* and finding ranks allowed to you continually refine and improve it. Under the new system, you are a few clicks and a cooldown away from being the same build as the guy next to you.
    No they weren’t. Runes were a part of the Diablo III skill design because we thought it’d be bad [email protected]# to be able to customize skills.

    Rune ranks were never customization, it was a gradual power increase dictated by drop chance. And don’t be fooled that there is customization with skill trees. I’ve yet to see any skill tree that offers anything but the illusion of customization.

    If you mean skill choice permanence, well, we just fundamentally disagree that you need to be locked into something to make your character choices meaningful. There is still plenty to make your character build meaningful that doesn’t require re-rolling, and we believe we’ve achieved that.

    Click through for points 3-6.

    3) Hell is for Heroes, and Inferno is not a place I want to still be ‘trying out’ new skills. In Diablo 2 stuff would unlock at a reasonable rate, and by the end of normal you had your build and were just getting the extras. Under this system, it’s entirely possible that you will be waiting until you have finished Hell to unlock the skill effect you want. I don’t know about you, but by the time I hit Hell I really want to have my build down and be working on gear and technique.
    It’s weird how on one hand we’re asked for limitations, add more limitations, we really want to be punished and forced to level new characters and just be beaten about the face and neck with punishing game mechanics… and then it almost feels like there’s a fear that you won’t have a perfect character to take on the challenging areas of the game.

    You won’t. You’re going to die, a lot, and you’re going to have a horrible character for quite a while. You’re not going to hit 60 and finish the game on Inferno. You’re going to be smashing your face against Act 1 Inferno for weeks. Perfecting your build before then will not matter.

    4) Not everyone is going to get to Inferno. I thought Blizzard said a while back that most players will quit after Normal? So…rather than letting everyone play around with rank 1 runes and at least see the various effects you aren’t going to let them see them at all?
    Totally! Reward for more invested players, and very likely a way to entice players not to just stop at Normal.

    To be honest the repetitive difficulty levels in Diablo games is not a very straightforward mechanic. Plenty of games have difficulty levels, but there are only a handful that use them as progression. If we can communicate the intent of the game to people by showing unlocks in future difficulty levels, maybe we can get more people to play beyond Normal.

    5) It feels like a deliberate delay to extend Diablo 3’s lifespan for casual gamers (who may not have got to 60 otherwise). It’s a lot like those fighting games that lock half the roster until you’ve finished Arcade mode dozens of times. Basically a cheap trick to keep you playing.
    I’m not sure why this is a separate point. Maybe this should be 4a. ?

    I’d agree with you though if the game wasn’t a 1-time price to buy the box. We earn nothing by ‘tricking’ you into playing more. Is it so crazy that we just want to make a fun game you’ll enjoy? Maybe it is these days.

    6) Leveling is a huge focus of D3. This isn’t WoW. Inferno will be nice, but getting there is going to take a long time and for most characters will be the majority of their lifespan. Not being able to do this as the build I want is rather lame.

    However, there are two simple solutions.

    1)Allow players, every 10 levels, to unlock a single runeskill of their choice, in addition to the existing system. This means that there is still something to look forward too, those of us with very specific builds in mind can enjoy them pre-Inferno and the newer players/Zarhym’s Grandmother won’t be affected at all.

    2) Like Crafting, once a runeskill has been unlocked it is available at level 6, or when the base skill unlocks on any new characters of that class.

    A third really good suggestion, made by InfernoBound is giving some free rune choices as quest rewards. I am a big fan of this idea too. Thoughts?
    Ok, so here it is, we do not have any problem with some kind of ‘rune point’ system where you could maybe earn points and then spend them wherever you want. But, and everyone loves this answer I know, it’s not going to make or break an already well-functional system and thus is not worth delaying the game to design and build out one where this is possible. Contrary to popular belief “when it’s done” is not the same as “let’s work on it for 7 more years until we’ve accomplished absolutely everything we can dream of”. Our commitment to quality and polish very much is the intent of our design mantras, though.

    I realize some people are going to really want to be able to get that rune and MAN! it doesn’t unlock until level 58! And honestly that’s something we sympathize with to a degree, but the current system works very well, the current limitations absolutely have their benefits, it’s actually fun to be forced to try other effects, and immediately giving you what you want is usually not a fun game mechanic in the long term.

    In my own personal opinion, it’s Diablo. If you can’t find a workable build without having your own perfect choices being handed to you on a silver platter at the start of the game, good luck in Inferno. Actually, good luck in Nightmare. This game is hard.

    I like the current system from beta testing it (except for the still-lame UI), but of course it’s awesome in the beta, since it gives us access to rune effects early on. Will it work as well in the full game? We’ll never really know, lacking the item-based rune system to compare with it.

    It does feel odd that the game makes you wait until level 60 to get your final skills, though. That seems to contradict much of the dev logic for other game features, where things are made more accessible, players are given more choices and options as soon as possible, there’s no grinding required, etc. And now the whole defense of that system (which most of us think was implemented primarily to eliminate the 30-60 “deadzone” that Bashiok insisted was not a problem) is that we’ll need to grind Hell for weeks to develop our builds and strategies and build up equipment for the super challenge that they keep insisting we’ll face in Inferno.

    I don’t really mind that system since I’m sure I’ll play at least one of each class to 60, and I imagine most of you guys share my goal. But don’t you figure that most of the casuals Bliz has been working so hard to entice into D3 will finish normal (if that much), start Nightmare and see that it’s just Normal +difficulty, see that like half of their skills aren’t even available yet and won’t be for dozens of hours of play time, and get pissed/bored and quit? (At least that’s the argument I’m sure Bashiok would make if the system allowed all rune effects immediately, and some fan argued that they should space them out every 6 levels all the way to 60.)

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