Blizzard on Elective Mode, Artisans, and Firing Bashiok

A selection of Blue posts from the day, as their CMs were busy as the proverbial beavers.

A fan voiced a common complaint and asked why the skill UI has DiabloWikiElective Mode turned off by default, when no one uses it if they know any better. The whole thread is pretty long, so check it out for every post, some of which are kind of OT. I’m only quoting the core bits below:

Why does Elective Mode exist?

Make what is currently an obscure setting in the options into the default. Most players don’t even realize they can use multiple types of skills from the same category.
Nethaera: We could, but this isn’t useful to players who are completely new to the game or the genre. So, instead, we made sure to add in the setting for those who are more experienced players.

It would help to have a pop up in game to introduce ‘elective mode’ to players, instead of a pop up reminding people about loot in multiplayer 😉
Nethaera: I’ll pass along the feedback. 😉 I’ve seen more than a couple of people say that it’s not a very visible option.

It honestly seems like elective mode was added as a last minute addition and then not explained or advertised. There was no in game instruction about it or how it works. In fact not only did I not find out about it till someone on vent was discussing having multiple skills from the same page at once (which made me go huh?) but even after finding it I needed to get instruction from that person as to how the button assigning even works because it is not naturally intuitive.

So yes, option for experienced players = good, hiding it under the bed, inside a locked box with the key in a 3 foot hole in the neighbors back yard guarded by a Doberman = not so good.
I totally understand. For those that have taken the time to post their viewpoints, it’s appreciated. Again, we do love getting constructive feedback provided it’s kept constructive. In this case, feedback is noted and will be passed along. I can’t promise anything more than that.

We haven’t run a vote specifically on it, but virtually every Diablo player I’ve seen comment on the topic uses EM, thinks it should be the default, and is puzzled that they had to hunt through unintuitive options menus to enable it. Look at the skills menu we had before the new one went in. Isn’t that a lot easier to use?

I’ve seen a lot of theories about why EM is hidden when no one who knows about it fails to use it, and the only one that actually sort of explains things is, “someone at Bliz wants to force us to play with gimped default builds.” Why that would be requires more theories. One possibility is that it’s about balancing. If players can’t mix and match skills however they like, it’s much easier for the devs to predict and balance for build strength (and to avoid build weakness). Or perhaps some WoW dev stuck it in because they hate Diablo and hate our freedom?

Whatever the reason, it’s abundantly obvious that if the default is Dictatorial Mode, there should be a very obvious tool tip pop up button, right in the interface, explaining that you can check it and choose skills from categories as you wish. The fact that this hasn’t been implemented shows that someone in the game’s development is putting his own preferences ahead of what would be best for the players, which is generally considered a game design no-no.

A new player asked if it’s worth it to level up the DiabloWikiBlacksmith and DiabloWikiJeweler, and got a reply.

I was wondering if its worth training and what level does blacksmith go to? ANd where do i get the jewel pages to train further?
Kaviax: I’ve been prioritizing the jeweler over the blacksmith, but I’m playing multiple characters, and it makes sense to me to keep the crafters as highly-ranked as possible, because they benefit my lowest-level characters the most.

One (unintentional?) result of the Auction House is that it’s rendered Jeweler training obsolete. He can unsocket right from the start, so the only reason to train him is to enable higher level jewel combining. However you can just go on the GAH and buy the higher level gems for a less gold than it costs to upgrade the Jeweler and upgrade the gems in the first place. You may choose to play the game instead of exploiting the system with GAH transactions, but they’re certainly there if you wish to take the shortcuts.

Finally, someone’s demanding that Bashiok be fired. Yes, again. This one makes a bit more effort though, and gets a lot of (not entirely stupid) replies. Bashiok eventually offered an essay-length defense of his behavior before locking the thread. Click through to read it.

Full thread here:

I understand that you have limitations of what you can and cannot say. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to build a product over a decade and fall in love with it, have people play it for a week or a short beta period, and bash it like it is the worst game ever made.

This game is incredible. Hands down.

Yes, it has its flaws. But every game, ever, does. They are in the process of being fixed. Most people are excited for that moment.

However, you are condescending and mean. You treat the majority of people on this forum as trash. Your initial answers are insulting and frequently are followed up with “I made it in jest, if you didn’t see that you are dumb.” You provide no real value.

It is unbecoming of this brand to have someone like you as its main representative.

I truly appreciate the time you have put into this campaign, but I think you are simply burnt out. You can no longer hold back your initial reaction and instead lash out at your customer base.

I am truly sorry that I feel the need to post this. I expect this is my last post ever.

Good luck and goodbye.

Bashiok: 🙁

Well, I haven’t seen a thread calling for my head for… jeez, I’d say early Wrath days at the latest. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I would be remiss if I did not call out that asking for “X should be fired!” is actually a technical forum violation, would normally earn you a short vacay from the forums, and you should direct all feedback to [email protected] (we really need a more generic address).

Look, I don’t agree all my actions are always a positive for what I’m trying to accomplish. Sometimes I think of something funny, and in an endless pursuit to amuse myself I post it. Smart? Probably not. But like I said if I don’t give myself something to enjoy I might likely implode from the seething hatred directed at the game I’ve spent much of my career here working toward, and a game that I’ve seen countless people pour their lives and souls into for years. My ability to cope with that isn’t without flaws.

I would say I misjudge, at times, my own knowledge of the game and outlook, against the perspective of the player/forum goer. My intent isn’t to be flippant, although that’s certainly a great word for it sometimes. I suppose it’s better to say that I return in-kind, and believe that as a community manager my job is not to pander and say what you want to hear, but attempt to interact as an equal. For some people that isn’t what they want. I should be giving important information or shut the hell up. I respect that perspective. I’m not going to comply, but I respect that it’s a valid perspective. There is a balancing act, though, of choosing when to post things that aren’t sterile and purely informative. My argument would be that we’ve reached that point.

Anyway, all that aside a lot of us have been working very hard and focusing on a lot of non-fun and very non-informative things behind the scenes to address service issues, and plan messaging, and next steps and all these things that go with the job. I understand a lot of the tension is just feeling a bit in the dark, and having some first communication being me acting like a dork is not very helpful in showing we’re taking these things seriously (which we are). We’re now starting to see more people in Inferno, design issues are emerging, and we’re hitting that feedback loop where you’ll be seeing more of us and more communication abound, which should help. Within reason, of course.

Bashiok, will you take a moment to discount the claims you made in vent? Was that really you, or just an imposter?
How flattering someone is impersonating me. I don’t even have vent installed.

Let’s turn our attention back toward the game, now.

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32 thoughts on “Blizzard on Elective Mode, Artisans, and Firing Bashiok

  1. They’ve been total asses regarding elective mode.  During the beta there were many enourmously long threads about the current skill interface and elective mode being hidden that were spontaneously deleted, and not once did a Blizzard rep make a single comment on the subject.  I’m willing to bet that more than half of the playerbase still doesn’t know that elective mode exists.

    • I don’t get it.
      PC gamers are used to checking the options menu! Why bitch about an option that is clearly at your service in the options??

      If you don’t take the time to check the options menu and see what it offers, that’s your own damn fault.

      • I agree, Asgaro; I can’t imagine why someone would not check out and TEST every option in a video game.  I’m guessing it’s that so-called “sense of entitlement” so prevelant today.

        I also wonder why “virtually every Diablo player I’ve seen comment on the topic uses EM, (and) thinks it should be the default….”  Once they activate it in options, making it the default does nothing for them.

  2. I do not think bashiok personally is the problem. Support towards Europe seems.. rather low on the priority list at blizzard. 
    I’ve always been the guy telling my friends to shush and they dont know whats going on at a company, how much actually happens behind the curtains.
    However communication towards the european community compared to the US community is sloppy at best. All I ask is to be treated equally as them. So either reduce your support to the US or imrpove it to the european community. Obviously I vow for option 2 😉

  3. you know the GAH it currently completely broken 
    you can’t buy gems on it at all
    Blizzard conspiracy to force us to use the Jeweler ? 

  4. Why does everyone feel so obliged to play the most effective way possible if it’s not even fun for them? For example I don’t like AH so I craft my jewels myself and it’s FUN for me so I don’t give a shit that it’s NOT EFFECTIVE.

    • So you’re fine to play in a way that is fun for you, but other people aren’t?
      I see.

      • You misread my post. I was talking about people who complaints about AH made jeweler useless coz it’s more effective to buy jewels instead of crafting. If you use AH and like it then no problems but if you use it coz it’s just more effective but don’t like it – it’s nonsense as for me.

        • Not really. It is a relevant point to make, seeing as how their goal as designers is to make the game fun, but if the most efficient way is to avoid the fun parts, they’re doing something wrong.

  5. i know blizzard comes on diablo.incgamers, and im sure bashiok is going to be reading this. so im going to use this as a place to say something without threat of loosing my d3 account.
    Bashiok- when people get a topic flowing and going, its really noticeable that when we do get a post from a blizzard employee it usually comes out snippy and rude, it feels like you guys do not want to hear anything negative about your games so you choose to ignore it. as a example, i know alot of people go on incgamers, we like reading what flux has to say about game mechanics and thoughts and opinions on what he likes and thinks works best. its a damn shame to have had missed the opportunity to have OUR community manager flux not be able to visit blizzard and do things like the fansite summit, or be able to go to blizzcons, your trying to prove some kind of point?

    • You do realize that easily 99.8% of the forum posts and replies there are completely snippy, rude, and condescending, and that’s from the userbase and not Blizzard? And even when a blue posts, they get bashed, called liars, told they’re being flippant (even if they’re not) and otherwise harassed until the thread gets closed? If I were a blue, I’d likely avoid replying to anything period on those forums. They’re toxic.

  6. Must everything be a conspiracy. NON-Elective mode is for people without prior experience with Diablo, who do not know what is a generator skill and what is a spender skill. They need the hand holding. Is that so difficult to understand?

    Yes, perhaps we all would benefit if the option of elctive mode is advertise somewhere but it is not that difficult to imagine Blizzard is not targeting Diablo at core fans only.  

    • Here’s the thing, every fucking newbie that didn’t have prior experience with Diablo IS ALWAYS infuriated that they didn’t know that elective mode was available upon find out.  Its a poor design choice, plain and simple.

      • Anone who plays a video game without checking out the Options and testing them deserves the default.

        • I’m betting you knew all about it from followiing the game during beta when the new system first went in and EM was in the news.  How “everyone should try out every vaguely-informative options box” would you be if you were the one who didn’t know going in?


        • Yes, because people should innately know what an \Elective Mode\ is and should therefore go look for it in options.  Everyone should also have been following Diablo for the past 4 months, long enough to know that Blizzard has this said mode disabled by default.  This is totally intuitive and logical.
          I can’t speak for everyone, but most of my friends (all of whom have been PC gaming for years) had no idea about this until I’ve explained to them about this design choice.  Some were well into Hell mode, before i got the word out to them.  Most players would naturally assume that you were limited to the set number of skills that each skill slot provides, and that the game was designed to be restrictive like that.

          I can’t think of many games (or any for that matter) that have an “easy-mode” and a “hardcore mode” where the game limits your options depending on a toggle. The closest i can think of is the easy-input feature they have in some fighting games like SFxTekken (which BTW has the “easymode” disabled by default because it just makes more sense). If this type of design isn’t common place, why would it be intuitive for someone to go actively search for or mess with.

          If you go to an uninitiated, experienced PC gamer who hasn’t been following D3 news religiously, do you honestly expect them to know what an “Elective Mode” is and that they should test out this toggle (nested in the gameplay options)? It’s not like it’s common in games. Almost all options in games affect the technical aspects of the game, not the gameplay aspects.

          • You are missing the point.  One doesn’t go into Options looking for Elective Mode or any other particular setting; the smart thing to do with ANY new game is to investigate the Options for the game before playing (even if only to see the “technical aspects” that can be changed).  In the case of Diablo 3, the smart gamer who never visited a Diablo 3 fan site would find, under Options, a Gameplay section and, in this section, an Elective Mode setting.  While moving the cursor on the screen, the smart gamer couldn’t help but notice that each selection has a tooltip.  The smart gamer would then read the tooltip for Elective Mode and discover what it’s for:  “Enable full customization of skill selection and placement on the action bar.”

            I am an experienced gamer (my first game was Zork) and that is how I found out about Elective Mode AND Advanced Tooltips immediately before playing during the open beta weekend.  To quote the comedian Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.” 

  7. If you made Elective Mode the default, there would be no point in non-Elective Mode. Not that I would mind that but making it the default literally removes the purpose of the mode to begin with.

  8. I’m going to start by saying that I think the whole elective mod distinction is silly and unnecessary if you are already splitting the skills into reasonable groups. The skill interface as it stands sucks; pretty much everyone agrees on this.

    That being said, I have a belief that the highest echelon of play should only be doable by people with the right level of skill and the intellect to understand and learn the math and mechanics of all the game systems. Elective mode is pretty much only required at the high level of play, and I’m supposed to feel sorry for those that don’t have even the ounce of intellectual curiosity necessary to take a brief look through the game options?

    I repeat, elective mode is stupid. However, it’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Just turn it on, tell your friends to turn it on, and move on with life. Anyone who needs to know about it, will know about it.

  9. What baffles me is that elective mode actually seems to be mandatory for success, especially past Normal. I thought Blizzard made elective mode an optional, hidden away thing because they actually believed the suggested skill organization was the optimal way to play (a resource generator, a spender, 1 defensive, and 3 advanced tactical/high-powered skills). But it isn’t… at all. They’re sending me mixed messages, they tell me this is the best way to organize my skills and then the monsters kick my butt for going along with it.

  10. I think elective mode should be the default. Or, if they’re worried about new players, give an option at startup that allows the choice. That said, I think there should be two UIs to the system to benefit elective mode. Elective mode with the current way the “skill tree” is implemented feels clunky. I don’t like having to flip pages to find what goes where. I didn’t really have a problem with it in beta, since I rarely used elective mode. But now that I’ve been through the game and use stuff from the same category, yeah.. The old one looked and felt functionally better. Even as it is now wouldn’t be so bad if there were separate tabs for each category that could allow you to jump to it, without having to page through three others to get there.

  11. The Checkbox for elective mode needs (also) to be present in the skill interface with a good tooltip explaining what it does.
    At least it neads to be shown there in Nightmare or higher difficulty games. But it should be activated there by default.
    The reason why Blizzard is closing / deleting the forum posts about elective mode is probably because people are rightly complaining that the interface looks and feels like a console game interface.

  12. The auction house also mostly obsoletes most uses of the blacksmith. The AH is just beyond flooded with good-to-great gear at prices that are a tiny fraction of the amount you’d have to pour into crafting to get a bit of gear at that quality. Yes, you have a chance of getting a total god item from the blacksmith for relatively little investment, but the odds of that are pretty dang low. As more and more gear floods into the game, the price of gear of a given quality will only continue to fall, while the expected amount of money you’d have to put into the blacksmith to get gear of that quality will stay the same, making him more and more inefficient as the game gets older.

    • yes, this does seem to be a sad fact 🙁 The AH seems to have made the artisans much less useful. My Barb is in ACt 2 NM and I’ve levelled the smith quite high (Pages of Blacksmithing permitting) and I still can’t really get him to make me a decent 1h sword. The highest available is a Bastard Sword with like 36 base dmg, same sword I’ve been able to get in Normal. It gets a bit better on the armour side, but even then then the # of pages dropping is quite scarce for levelling the guy up and making items at the same time. And while I am always low on the Smith pages, I have an excess of Jewel pages that are sitting useless.

      I dunno, perhaps I am trying to go too fast? But even with the weapon I got from AH, which has more dmg than the best sword from the smith I don’t really OWN every monster, so it wouldn’t seem like I’m trying to forge something too good for my own good.

      This must be a hard problem for them to address, I am curious what (if) they come up with anything.

      • No, I’ve had the same experience with almost all of my items.  Crafted items were viable until about clvl 25 for me.  Once I hit Act 4 Normal and on into NM I had to scour the AH for higher DPS weapons and armor with +DMG and Dex stats.  None of the craft-able items from the Smith are very useful at level 45.  However, and I am not at this point yet, Blizzard says some of the high-level recipes will definitely be viable.  Thus I think the Smith gets set to the side for the middle portions of the game.  Hopefully the crafting will pick up at lvl 60!

  13. The thing I really don’t get about Elective Mode is, what % of players are new to the Diablo Universe. Are we so new that we need Blizzard to hold our hand through the game, until, umm, how would you learn about elective mode if you didn’t read the websites that had long since discussed it?

    So people in the know can customize their builds, and the noobs will all start keeling over dead continuously in Act 4 Nightmare when the difficulty starts to ramp up.

    • You learn about it by clicking on the Options button.  Anyone who plays a video game without checking the options deserves the default.

  14. What’s sad is, every single one of my friends didn’t realize what Elective Mode was until I told them specifically to enable it. My core group that i ran with were lucky that i told them about it right at the start.  Some of my friends, who i didn’t play with as frequently because they were way ahead, got well into Hell mode without realizing these two \features\ existed.  Lets just say it was world changer for them when I told them about it.  I can’t even begin to imagine being so restricted on your build choices or even trying to compare runes/skills when you have no idea how much they do. 

    I tried turning Advanced Tooltips off just to see how it’s like, and it baffles my mind how people can play with that on as default – especially on the higher difficulty modes.  I just can’t see how making it harder to compare skills is more user friendly for newbies… it just doesn’t make any sense to me.  At least Elective mode has some sort of rationale, even if I totally disagree with it.  The Advanced tooltips off by default is just counter-intuitive.

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