Blizzard has posted a lengthy response covering numerous hot topics this evening, which includes the IAS nerf, stat stacking, lackluster skills, champion packs and more. It’s a long one so read on for the full post, and I have to say it’s nice to see some constructive comments for once.

    1) Champion packs over Bosses – I understand why you want to push people to fight champion packs. In Diablo 2 they were almost entirely avoided for the sake of getting to the bosses faster for better loot. However you must realize that MANY people find boss fights more entertaining? It also goes against the logic of some random monster is more dangerous than the greatest battle commander in all of the burning hells! Why is blizzard adamant that players avoid bosses and fight champion mobs when the outcry (for the most part) is the opposite?

    Ideally, we’d like both Champion packs and bosses to be satisfying. It’s a tricky balance to get right, though, when you consider that a) player’s gear is always improving, b) new builds and techniques are being discovered pretty regularly, and c) Champion packs are random and bosses are predictable.

    In general, random content (i.e. Champion packs) tends to be more enjoyable over the long-haul because it helps to ease off some of the repetition — not just in terms of what you’re fighting and how you’re fighting it, but also in terms of seeing different environments, dungeons, and events. Predictable content (i.e. bosses) usually doesn’t have that same appeal, at least not for everyone. Not only does the environment remain the same for boss fights, but strategies can be optimized and practiced to the point of efficiency, which often makes killing bosses the path of least resistance to the greater reward. Unfortunately, in the case of bosses, following the path of least resistance can sometimes result in gameplay feeling too repetitive.

    Pre-patch 1.0.3, getting a 5 stack of Nephalem Valor, doing a boss, and then resetting the game and repeating the process was considered to be most optimal. This is probably more interesting than simply doing boss runs only, but we wanted to get players out into the world and exploring more of the Acts. To encourage that, we moved some of the reward from bosses to packs. We’re pretty happy with the results of this change, but we’re also concerned that players appear to be skipping bosses completely, so it’s possible we went too far. Again, it’s a delicate balance.

    Right now, we’re keeping a close eye on how players are adapting in-game to the change as well as continuously reading your feedback online.

    2) Valor buff. Diablo 3 was advertised as having a wide variety of skills that can be swapped in and out at any time, even in battle (with a small delay for use). This allowed greater variety in the abilities that champion mobs could have and provide greater challenges for the player. You also then provided a Valor buff that is supposed to encourage players to kill more champion packs. But oddly you choose to have the valor buffs be removed if the player changes their skills (or even moves a skill on the hot bar from one position to another). This goes against the entire design of the buff and the goal of having players kill as many champion packs as possible, Why was this decision made and with what logic?

    This was actually a decision we made based off player feedback. On the one hand, there’s a lot of enjoyment in being able to swap your skills at will and tailor your builds to the environment around you. On the other, there’s also gameplay to finding a build that really works for you in a variety of situations.

    During beta, we received a lot of feedback from players who wanted to be able to swap skills any time. We also had a large number of players who wanted to have a sense of their characters “build,” or some sort of build identity — especially at later levels. We understood both points of view, so with Nephalem Valor you can still swap a skill out at any time, but there is a penalty for doing so (i.e. losing your stack).

    As sort of an aside, we know that it can be SUPER frustrating for players who use Elective Mode to lose an NV stack due to a poorly-placed click near your Skill bar. Because of this, we’re looking to add an action bar lock for Elective Mode in an upcoming patch.

    3) The IAS nerf was handled poorly in my opinion. I completely understand WHY the nerf was needed and probably agree with the logic that it needed to be changed. However HOW it was handled was a dropped ball. I believe that the best way to handle the situation was to bring in either diminishing returns or a hard cap (like run speed) that a player cannot go over. This allows people to still gain value from their RMAH purchases without feeling ripped off and also discourages people from stacking the stat over other stats which you want to be a greater focus for the character. It also maintains value in the IAS items for future sales. Why was the IAS nerf not handled in this manner?

    When we posted the Patch 1.0.3 Preview, we actually mentioned that we were considering several options to address IAS. Here’s the actual quote from the blog, just for context:

    There are two different solutions we’re considering to reduce the effectiveness of Increased Attack Speed. The first is to simply reduce the value on all the items to their desired values. In general our desire is to never change items as that makes them feel less concrete, but the upside is you would still be able to look at an item and know exactly what you are getting. The other approach is to change the formula used for attack speed aggregation so that stacking attack speed from multiple slots suffers from diminishing returns. The downside of that approach is that it introduces yet another hidden modifier on an item property (and many people dislike hidden modifiers), and complicates the already difficult decision of item gearing.

    As you can see, diminishing returns were on the table. If you look at the blog comments, though, some players said they liked the idea of diminishing returns while others said liked reducing the stat value instead. In the end, we felt that hidden diminishing returns might have made you feel better about your items, but that it addresses the issue with IAS in a much “sneakier” way. Feedback already told us that players disliked hidden modifiers, and we were concerned that diminishing returns would make the gearing process more complicated.

    It was a complicated situation, and there were pros and cons to both solutions (as noted above). As a result, it was a difficult decision to make, but we opted for the more direct, upfront approach of just reducing the stat value.

    4) lackluster skills. Nether tentacles. Fix, bug, nerf or whatever you want to call it was probably deserved and required. However I have a design question based around the outcome of this change. If a skill is changed, updated or fixed to a point where not a single player wants to use that skill anymore wouldn’t that be a bad change or too drastic? Will further skill changes(give wiz tornadoes love) be in the near future to give people more options than just pick the next best skill available?(my hopes are to have several options of equal strength, currently I don’t feel that way with the DH setup)

    We’re planning on doing a lot of skill tuning in patch 1.0.4. We’re also planning on explaining/previewing those changes in a developer blog in the near future.

    5) The pots/breakables Magic find nerf. It seems from the players standpoint that this is an odd change. Nobody that I saw was complaining about having to put on magic gear to maximize their chances and opportunities with pots and breakables. Yet the reasoning given was that you felt it was unfun for the players. Can you elaborate a bit more on this as I feel the players think differently.
    After reviewing all the feedback we received following this change, we’d like to add items back onto breakables as well as allow Magic Find to affect those drops. That said, the issues that motivated those changes still exist, so we want to make sure that when/if we do revise those changes, it doesn’t result in us being right back where we started. We don’t want players avoiding monsters altogether in favor of farming breakables, and we don’t want players feeling like they need to always switch to their Magic Find set before opening Resplendent Chests and other environment objects. I don’t have an ETA to share right now for when those changes might be made.

    6) Stat stacking. It was mentioned that blizzard does not want players to stack stats in a way that they feel it is a must skill over the base stats such as Dex or Str or Vit. If that is true, why do barbarians and monks (and probably everyone else now after the current changes) have to stack resist all up to ridiculous levels just in order to survive?

    I can’t recall who said this, or where it was said, but that’s not our current philosophy. If players want to stack other stats over Dex/Str/Int/Vit/etc, or feel as though they need to in order to get the most of out their game time, then that’s okay.

    If you feel as though the current stat model isn’t ideal, then please let us know — and provide alternative solutions if you’re able!

    7) IAS Side effects. The IAS nerf has had a few side effects which I am not sure were considered in the process. Monks and some barb builds relied on IAS to provide adequate healing through either leech or on hit healing abilities. However with the IAS nerf many are finding that this is no longer a viable path. Is there anything being done internally to consider this unintended consequence?

    Actually, it was quite the opposite. This was one of the main reasons for the IAS nerf. In fact, if it wan’t for those additional side effects, and only about DPS, we likely wouldn’t have changed IAS at all.

    Again, as stated in the Patch 1.0.3 Preview:

    While we don’t have an issue with there being important stats, Increased Attack Speed in particular has secondary effects on mobility in combat, resource generation and resource consumption. We want there to be options and considerations for how you gear up, and one uber trump-everything stat can really work against choice and options.

    8) The repair cost increase I believe is also a fair change; however the unfair part of this change was to the wear and tear of doing battle. Now I know that it has already been stated that this is being looked at for an update, are you able to share any reduction values or ranges that are being considered internally? (ex. 50%, 75%…)

    I’ve mentioned this in other threads already, but we agree with you and we’re looking at reducing the durability hit you take from normal wear-and-tear. No values to share at this time, though.

     Who are you kidding, all the WD re-rolled Barb or DH already!

    See response to #4.

     10) Boss over tuning. In the recent patch there was significant changes done to some boss fights. However there appears to be a bit of over tuning done in a few cases (in others much needed difficulty improvements). In two cases, Seigebreaker and Cydea however there appears to be a bit of excess difficulty added to the point that in most cases the fights are impossible(for some classes). In seigebreakers case the addition of dmg reflect with a short enrage timer makes him quite the fight to handle on ones own. Cydea has had her little spiders amped up in an insidious way where they spread out and virtually refuse to attack or follow the player unless he/she goes near them. This causes the player to have to fight through them to get back to cydea, however once enough spiders are killed cydea auto jumps off the screen and spawns more spiders. Essentially making the fight a burn her down before she jumps or you lose fight. Are any hot fixes or minor updates being planed to fine tune these updates or do you feel that the current difficulty is appropriate?
    I just asked Wyatt Cheng this question and his response was (and I quote): “Bosses are exciting punctuation marks in your Champion and Rare pack wasteland.”

    I’ll be honest and say that I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’ll follow up with him a little later and get back to you. 😛

     10) Boss over tuning. In the recent patch there was significant changes done to some boss fights. However there appears to be a bit of over tuning done in a few cases (in others much needed difficulty 11) The quitters. Many of my friends who played the game have found the recent patch changes to create an unfun atmosphere within the game. They have recently stopped playing entirely in some cases and in others have become frustrated and play much less. While I respect that this is “your game” and you will present the vision that your team has come up with. Are any considerations being made to the players who recently disliked the changes?

    We’re definitely taking all feedback into consideration. In addition to that, we’re already planning to make some changes based on that feedback.

    13) GAH. 13 is my lucky number so this will be the last question. Due to the recent changes and increase cost of playing the game (gold wise) players have to maximize their income to offset these changes. One of the major ways players make money is through the gold auction house. Is there any consideration being made to increasing the limit of 10 items per account that can be up for sale to help compensate for this increase in costs?

    No plans at this time.

    No mention of the overall nerf to drop rates though? Many players now feel act 1 to be the best farming spot in the game. Drop rates for acts 2-4 need a slight buff imo.

    I unfortunately don’t have any specifics to share just yet, but we agree they are low and are looking at adjusting them. We should have more details early next week.

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