Blizzard Disputes the Clvl 30-60 “Deadzone”

A fan makes a good point that Bashiok rises to dispute. Won’t character leveling be a lot less fun from Clvl 30+, now that we don’t get level up points to put into stats/skills/traits/anything? Here’s the conversation.

From what I’ve read it seems as though you unlock all of your skill / passive slots by level 30 so what do you gain leveling from there to 60 besides auto-stats and new loot?

It seems likes there is a whole zone where nothing really happens to your character. Am I missing something here?

Bashiok: You’ll have access to all the systems by the end of Normal, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to scratch the surface with them.

You’ll be leveling your artisans, teaching them to make new items, finding higher quality runes, finding higher quality gems, combining gems, finding loot in Nightmare that doesn’t drop in Normal, finding loot in Hell that doesn’t drop in Nightmare, etc. and really continuing to max out use of each of the available power adjustments.

Plus the need to really tighten up builds, get a good mix of skills, pick the right passives to support them, and gear out in specific directions becomes more and more important as the game gets tougher.

I don’t think having to become a better player and invest more in all the game systems is a “deadzone”, it’s where the game gets challenging.

DiabloWikiBashiok‘s examples are sound, and clearly the game will be changing a lot over those levels. I doubt we’ll miss the character customization stuff on our first few characters. But after a while we’ll know which skills we want to use from past experience, so we won’t be changing those around. And we wont be upgrading our gear since it’s DiabloWikitwinked. And we won’t be bothering to upgrade that char’s DiabloWikiArtisans since other chars on our account are higher level and handle the DiabloWikicrafting… so what does that leave?

What’s the point in the big *WHONG* sound and graphical splash of a level up if we don’t get to click any numbers or enable any new toys as a result?

Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard People, Blue Posts


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  1. “But after a while we’ll know which skills we want to use from past experience, so we won’t be changing those around. And we wont be upgrading our gear since it’s twinked.”
    That only really applies to hardcore characters as with the infinite free respec system there is never any incentive to create new characters unless your current one dies permanently.

    • Enjoyment of making a new char. Also, at high levels just freespecs aren’t enough to change around. You’d need to switch all of your gear and runestones as well, moving from one optimized build to another.  Imagine changing oh… a Zealot into a Hammerdin in D2? Lot more to it than skill swaps. I think D3 players will wind up with 2 or 3 versions of their favorite chars, optimized for different builds, PvE  or PvP, etc.

      • You’re arguing that people will spend tens of hours making alts solely because they’re too lazy to swap gear?
        No.  You’ll have five characters, maybe a few more for hard/softcore, maybe a few more if you’re crazy enough to want female/male versions of a character… and that’s it.  Even the most addicted player isn’t going to roll a new character when, with gear removed, every single level 60 of his class is identical.

        • Well, from what I understand, there’s a 10 character limit.  For me that will be enough for one class of each gender on softcore, After that, there won’t be room for alts, however, what that means is that my females will probably be different characters leveling up.  For instance, maybe a buttkicing ball of death monk male, while a heallie/survivalist female.  Or a furious 2 weapon female barb and a big fat 2 hander whirlwind of death male barb.
          Of course, that’s also assuming a softcore player.  There’s many ways to balance out that 10 character limit, I would also be a fan of 1 softcore and 1 hardcore.  I have a character to fool around and take chances with, and one character where I’ll always have to be on top of my game.  In fact, that rout is starting to sound even better than the male/female approach.

  2. I still don’t get the advancement of those skills…Since we’re not putting points, how are they scaling? Based on character level, respective stat, usage…other? And yes, as of currently, I don’t find anything rewarding other than items, that is making the feeling of: LEVEL UP!!

  3. I think it’s a bigger problem than Bashiok thinking. Especially after ppl play enough with rune effects during Nightmare, Hell can be rly boring with DING means nothing. Also, no freaking sexy red “+” button :'( That’s so sad.

    • Exactly!! The FIRST thing you look for after the level up is the red + button. How can, how dare they remove such basic things? They’re turning D3 into a joke….their experimentation sucks bigtime, its beta and they still cant finalize their systems? There were reports they were working day and night….for this? 

      I am a student of corporate strategy and seriously, I can tell you they need to have a look at their work processes. Seriously.

      • Not a student of game design though, so…

        • Screw that…a kid would tell you its dumb to work on a game for atleast 6 freaking years and not yet achieve lockdown on systems! Its crazy. How are they going to do end-game balance when so much is still up in the air?

          • I guess you guys didn’t notice the possibility of a 4th difficulty: Inferno. Check the Exclusive Interview on the site for that information “slip.” I imagine there will be some challenges and fun waiting there.

          • How does that change anything? But btw where is info about Inferno?

  4. Good points there, Elly. I think their solution is not having the ding, one of the many things carved out of the game. Only 60 levels and no leveling after that. No need to reroll characters, so again, no leveling up.

  5. random poster on any diablo forum asking question relating to any of the new changes:
    I’m not sure I like the new xyz. Why did you do it this way ?
    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.

  6. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Granted Diablo has always been about the gear, and Blizzard is very good at providing in that respect. But to a point, I agree with Elly’s last statement:

    “What’s the point in the big *WHONG* sound and graphical splash of a level up if we don’t get to click any numbers or enable any new toys as a result?”

    If you break it down, Diablo (and most RPG’s for that matter) are really just math. The challenge of a game creator at this point is to make the math exciting. One of the ways you do that is giving the player control (even if it’s illusory) over the numbers.

    So when a character levels up, you WANT the player to be able to allocate the numbers, to feel that they remain in control – that the character is something that they own, and have taken part in creating.

    When you automate scaling of stat/skill points, all you really have is this:

    Let’s call DEX, STR, and STA stats 1, 2, 3, and seeking shot skill 5.

    I ding lvl 33 on my vanquisher.


    Hooray math. No, wait, this is monumentally boring. Why am I doing this? If I wanted to look at math all day, I’d be a CPA, where at least I’d make money doing it. I’m going to go play Peggle now. I need more flashing lights and bright colors.

    Then again, Blizzard (at least pre Kotik) was the king of making games that were fun, and keeping them fun. One of their core philosophies was “if it’s not fun, we’re not doing it.” That and their willingness to listen to and implement community suggestions has made them the powerhouse they are. So I’ll have a little faith (at least till 31).

  7. In Diablo II you were essentially in the same position at level 30. You had finally gotten Frozen Orb/Frenzy, whatever and from that point on leveling up meant you click +1. This is no different. It’s not like Diablo II let you continue to customize your character all that much beyond those top tier abilities. You were essentially hoping for some nice drops to compliment your skill set at that point.
    Rose tinted glasses guys, c’mon.

    • This is a good point, but I think what we’re talking about is mostly psychological. Someone put it above, “the illusion of control.” Yeah, maybe you will be pouring those points into the same buckets until the end of your character’s life, but you actually have to do it. When they automate everything, they’re removing play from the game. It’s just plain *fun* to have the opportunity to physically boost your character yourself. It feels like you’re making a decision, feels like you had a hand in the training/improvement, and attaches you more to your character and the game. It’s a subtle reward/incentive system that they would be wrong to discount. If there is absolutely no reason to even pause when you level up from 30-60, it makes it less significant, it removes fun and interaction from the game, and that is what people care about.

  8. I’m not really sure how I feel about all this, but let me play the defender of blizzard role for a moment. You guys are screaming bloody murder over a freaking click of a + button. All of you big time Diablo players usually knew exactly what you were gonna put your points into anyway. Now you are saved the pleasure of clicking a little + icon. Are you telling me that you get so much joy out of that, that without it you aren’t going to play? Seriously?

    It is about the loot! It has ALWAYS been about the loot. I want to play this game with my wife. And she has no time or interest in reading how-to guides on making sure you don’t fubar your character. She has no time or interest in rolling multiple characters to see if she messed up the first time. She actually made fun of me for reading them a few months ago when I was trying to figure out how on earth all you people made it thru hell mode. She also never found it fun when I try explaining to her that she doesn’t need to put points in X instead of Y. I am going to be saved that trouble and I am happy about that. I will be able now to STFU and simply play a great (god i hope) game with my wife.

    The only thing you folks will be prevented from doing is experimenting with multiple builds in the sense that you have to roll a new character in order to do so. (robbing you of the vast amount of time it takes to do so..or is that saving you?) You will still be able to experiment with multiple builds. In order to do that experimentation, you will still need to think about and find the appropriate gear/rune combos to make that build something special. You will still need to go out there and fight mobs and kill and loot in order to make it all work.

    The only thing you are deprived of is the click of a + icon. If that truly ruins it for you, I’m sorry. I really am. But you are going to be in the vast minority of people who care about it. (though your voices are loud, and I would never want that taken away from you. It is your right to be heard and sometimes you all have great points that should be listened to. And sometimes your voices lead to changes for the better) I just am not sure this is one of those times.

    I may be wrong and when I get my hands on the game I may very well go WTF! I doubt it though.

    • You will. And you will wring your hands in misery and tear your hair in grief. Because, believe me, the joy of hovering your mouse over all the skill choices, thinking “omg…both of these look cool…should I try this one? Or this one? maybe the other one next time…” is a wonderful part of what makes leveling up so awesome. The Blizzcon 2010 had Skills AND Traits AND Runes…it was the best thing ever for a customization freak like me…and believe me…they’ve just killed my interest off entirely with this stupid skill dumbdown.

      I find myself anticipating TL2 more than Diablo 3 for the first time.

    • IMO the only reason this shitty skill system had bee brought about it because they allowed infinite respecs, or “Freespecs”. Their primary argument was that people were going into town and respecing their skills to get the max skill level on any one powerful skill. Which would obviously happen!!! I dont understand how Blizzard doesn;t have the minimum amount of foresight to anticipate something like this.

      Why did they allow infinite repsecs in the first place? :-O

    • Many people use D2 analogies for features, but in this case I think earlier states of D3 are more relevant. I thought the skill point system sounded very cool in D3. Max of 15 (probably) and 7 skills to use meant you could only max out 3 or 4 skills.

      So you’d have had to make decisions about which you wanted stronger, and if they had a system where you couldn’t just dump one point every level (maybe every 3rd or 4th?) on higher tier skills, your level up path from 20-60 or so would have been very interesting, and varied between builds and chars. Which skill do you stack first? Which do you stack long term?

      Now all that’s gone. You just pick your skills and then they get better, or not. And maybe you can modify that a bit with equipment bonuses and traits. But the specific nature of choosing to focus your strength on X or Y is no longer part of the game.

  9. Don’t despair, faithful fans! Just recall the days of yore – when old-timers like me crawled out of the mud and told you that there are some things being changed to get that +3 to mass appeal, copied from WoW and generally streamlined. You laughed and voted \-1\ at those posts – after all, the game was shaping as a copy of your favorite one. Carma payback time, I guess – you are feeling exactly what we felt all this time: it’s called obsolescence. Blizzard goes for the throat of Facebook- and iPhone-loving gamers, makes a game that’s firmly based in the latest definition of \fun\ – and it doesn’t really care about your opinion, it has its market value to uphold. So, don’t despair. You’ve just grown a bit older, it’s not the end of the world. Welcome to the club. Path of Exile, Torchlight 2, here we come…

  10. Frank_the_tank makes this comment in a forum post: “Looks like we’ve come a long way since ‘every level should feel significant'”

    I, too, worry about the range between 30 – 60.  I see Bashiok’s stance about progression in other areas, but being able to immediately affect something about my character upon leveling up is something that feels good. 

    I guess they could still have the red “+” button, only have it add facial hair or something every time.  Or maybe a red “-” button!

  11. I prephere combining skills with an endless variery of runes for a crazy variety of effects then clicking a boring + just to reach a similar if not identycal build with all other players.
    The system presented has alot more benefits and adds alot more value to the game. This is my opinion and I can’t w8 playing the game.

    More does not necessarily mean better – value and quality of gaming makes perfect in D3. Love what they did with the system.

  12. Bashiok: 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. I am one of those players that never logged into, and I definitely played past Normal.  They have no idea how far those of us who didn’t log into played.  I will probably not be buying the game now, after such a long wait, because of their awful changes.  Why force those of us who like to play alone to play online?  I refuse to play online games.  What about those who may not have internet/ have limited internet service? I started dozens of characters in D2 precisely because of the enjoyment of trying/ figuring out new and sometimes unusual builds.  The single biggest deciding factor for me in buying PC games is REPLAYABILITY!  The have drastically cut replayability by cutting down on traits, removing point allocation, and making everything so easy to respec. Why would I ever need to start a new character after having finished the game ONCE?!? It seems that they have taken most of the really good ideas that they had and changed them, removing the original thought process behind them.  They have ruined D3 for me!  I cannot see any way for D3 to last as long as D2 did.  So much for a great series.  I guess I’ll go play Torchlight instead.

  13. I wouldn’t usually post on a forum, but I feel that the defense of the system is somewhat lacking. While I understand that we will lose a perceived feeling of character control with the stat and skill points removed, it also addresses an issue with making their present system work. Blizzard wants you to implement six skills this time around instead of two, and in order to do that they needed to alter the system. There is an interview with Jay Wilson where he outlines the process and that should allay any worries about the point system. As for the dead zone area, I think that runes will keep us more than busy along with artisans. The problem I see, is that most people aren’t looking at the big picture, seeing how all these systems interact as a whole. People are taking the individual system out of context and then ripping it to pieces. Anyways, I’m not a huge fan of everything blizzard has done, but this is a new game with different dynamics. I’m sure when the game comes out, all the naysayers will still buy the game and forget all about their reservations. Have a pleasant day everyone.

  14. “But after a while we’ll know which skills we want to use from past experience, so we won’t be changing those around. And we wont be upgrading our gear since it’s twinked. And we won’t be bothering to upgrade that char’s Artisans since other chars on our account are higher level and handle the crafting… so what does that leave?”
    Seriously? It was the same exact thing in Diablo 2, everyone used the same cookie cutter spec on every character farmed up twinked characters and just kept farming and leveling. I still don’t get any of these arguments against Blizzards changes. Also, if you want to level up a new character just do it? It’s not like leveling a character up to 85 in D2 was that much of a challenge (A couple hours) and that game lasted 10+ years. Give it a break.

  15. i find it funny how many people seem to be upset with this AWESOME change. i love it. i hated using the 5 points out of 4 options to stack into my character. it was very unbalanced. it was pointless for someone to stack tons of points into strength or vitality. having a set scale helps give the character the balance they need. there are so many other customization systems to look forward to. i mean. 30-60 a deadzone??? no way thats where the fun begins in my opinion. you have all the skills to your availability and you can switch out and mix and match skill runes to try with all your skills to see what fits your needs, new gear, higher gems, higher runes, more challenging monsters, thats what im looking forward to is just altering my character to try new things as i level. i dont like to be a basic frenzy or whirlwind barb. or a summoning necro. i want to be able to make a wizard who can switch out his skills and try everything and see what works best. and maybe id want to use different weapons that arent class associated. so lets say i spent all my attribute points in attack but now my precision is low and i cant use a bow or something for my barb or wizard.. which it gives them a unique feel. it doesnt have to be the strongest to be the best character. the scale for attributes will be a benefit to all. so all you people complaining. just wait til game release if you dont like it quit playing cuz the vast majority of people i talk to love it

  16. There are some compelling arguments from both sides… you have to be mindful of oversimplification but at the same time, the stat system from D2 wasn’t very dynamic.  There were some crazy character builds that could bend the rules of “enough strength for gear, rest vitality” with gear that was virtually unattainable through legitimate means, but I’m personally glad that’s gone because that element of variety can easily be implemented somewhere else.
    The “deadzone” doesn’t really bother me much because most of the allure of these games comes (at least in my opinion) from chasing better equipment, not following around Baal bots with hacked equipment endlessly trying to finish off the last 10 levels to complete a build… a build that in most cases wasn’t much more powerful than it was 10 or 20 levels before, minus natural resists and such.

  17. I think I like the no skill point and always on respec for D3.  It comes back to the runes.  Yeah, if Blizz forced you to pick a skill and really limited respecs it would encourage a lot of people to roll multiple characters of the same class.  After all, how else are you going to figure out if this rune with that skill was better than it would have been with the skill you didn’t pick?  I would like to believe the rune system is going to replace and in fact surpass the customization you could achieve by choosing which skills to add points to.  Now we will be deciding, hey I have a level 3 indigo rune and a level 2 alabaster.  Which skill gets the more powerful rune.  But depending on the skill, perhaps the level 2 rune is the better choice.  If we could not experiment, it would be a long, frustrating time indeed.

    Having said all of that, I do worry about the grind after normal.  Again, I think the runes and other systems will keep the game interesting, but will you really care when you level?  You get a nice *DING* (*WHONG*?) and, sure, your skills auto level, but will you *feel* it?  I’m not sure  I hope they have something held in reserve to keep gaining a level interesting

  18. Well with all this recent news, it is safe to say that Blizzard no longer intends on releasing games for Hardcore players that want a difficult and meaningful gameplay experience. It’s very obvious that they would rather make the game much more casual and accessable. This will allow everyone to get into higher areas of the game and use the Real Money Auction House! Yay for Blizzard, they will get to reap the benefits of making shit loads of cash through micro-transactions. Superb!! Goodlord, with any luck SWTOR will be amazing, and I can avoid this train wreck of a diablo game… =(

  19. /* Style Definitions */
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    Um everything that Bashiok says would happen anyway, what the problem is that he avoided answering is that when u hit that level from 30ish – 60 with the flashy lights and cool sound, what happens? NOTHING. You get nothing. No attribute points, no skill points and no more skills to choose cause they already been chosen. :O

  20. There’s two games that made up my youth.
    Pokemon and Diablo II.
    At first I was not fond of this automated leveling being introduced in Diablo III. Then I read your post and agreed completely. But then I got to this little bit:
    I ding lvl 33 on my vanquisher.

    And I remembered Pokemon. Leveling my Pokemon was super exciting even though moves and stats were allocated automatically (some influence with IV). Though I could customize my Pokemon a little bit by providing HM/TM, which you could relate to Runes in D3. Diablo III will still be fun because, well, Pokemon says so (:

  21. What will happen when you have all 5 of your characters at level 60?
    Sure you can just look for items and fight in pvp arenas but what happens when you have all the best stuff and pvp becomes stale? And yea inferno might be interesting… but will the fun last?
    I think there should be more arena styles games like a pvm challenge mode… or a mode where 1 player is super buffed, has minion re spawns that help; while the other players try and bring this titan down.
    The more content outside the game itself (akin to pvp arena) the longer this game will last when it comes to being fresh and enjoyable.

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