Blizzard on Simplified Tooltips – Again


The simplified tooltips have caused a lot of debate since they were announced and Blizzard has once again been explaining the reasons for the changes, like them or not. The obvious choice is to make this an option you can toggle on or off in the game settings and I can see no reason not to have this added. Set it to simple by default and allow players to change it if they want.

Take some comfort in this thread though, Blizzard are listening and ideas are being passed on.

Ok so just logged into patch 10 created my monk and the tooltip for fists of thunder now reads : “attack a single target with a series of rapid punches” what happened to the amount of weapon damage it does? Same for mantra of evasion doesn’t tell how you much dodge it gives?

Please integrate a toggle check box in the options menu for advanced/simple tooltip defaults.

While I’d argue that holding CTRL to view Advanced tooltips is only a mild inconvenience (at worst), this is a reasonable request that I’m happy to pass on to our designers. 🙂

As for why we made the change? We wanted to make ability selection a bit more intuitive for newer players. It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone who’s going to play Diablo III will be veterans of the franchise, or even similar action RPGs. Even though the game’s mechanics are fairly straightforward, the detailed information provided in Advanced tooltips can sometimes be a bit overwhelming if you’re not already familiar with what all the terms mean.

For example, this:

Attack a single target with a series of rapid punches

…is a little cleaner and easier to understand at a glance than:

Unleash a series of extremely fast punches that deal 100% weapon damage as Lightning. Every third hit deals damage to all enemies in front of you and knocks them back a short distance.

Damage as lightning? What does that mean? Does that mean I need to collect lightning damage? Does that mean I’m getting gear with the wrong stats on it?

Simplified tooltips are intended to make it easier for novice players to understand what each of their character’s abilities do, as well as help them better and more quickly differentiate between abilities that are meant for single targets vs. groups vs. situational powers. That said, for more knowledgeable players, to whom the information is more useful, Advanced tooltips are still available with the push of a button.

I think you’re grossly exaggerating how confused a new player has the potential to be. It seems like you’re trying to be Bashiok with this post, but you aren’t quite there on the same level of finesse that he has to make the point you’re trying to make.

You’d be surprised at how alien some basic concepts and mechanics can be to players who’ve never had any experience with action RPGs before. I actually had to spend a lot of time explaining skills and abilities to my mom and grandmother when they first started playing the Diablo III beta. It wasn’t about intelligence, just about familiarity — they had little to no exposure to the terminology we use throughout the game, so there was definitely some confusion around what each of their character’s skills did (or could do). I’m sure they could have eventually figured out things on their own, with the help of the Advanced tooltips, but it would have definitely taken longer and I don’t know if they would have been engaged as quickly.

Of course, that’s just a personal anecdote, so it’s not representative of entire population of players, but I can definitely see the value in providing tooltips that aren’t as technical as the ones we currently have.

I think the problem here is that some of the original tooltips were just written poorly so that they appear to be more confusing than they actually are.

I’d prefer a toggle checkbox in options somewhere, but at least add a line to the bottom of the mouseover tooltips to tell me how to see the useful information.

…these are both fair points which I’ll be happy to bring up along with the request for a option for an Advanced tooltips toggle. Thanks for the good feedback. 🙂

Source: Blues: IncGamers


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  1. A checkbox type option for advanced tooltips is an absolute no-brainer and a win-win for players of all abilities.  If Blizzard can delay the game this long for whatever they’re delay it for, then idea for developing a simple toggle for advanced tooltips should have been on the table for a long time and be (at worst) in development prior to patch 10’s release.  It’s not a new concept even within the company.  Ask WOW players – they’ve got a similar option menu choice, don’t they?

    Simply put – If this toggle isn’t in the final release, they’re basically telling every existing fan of this series that only the new, inexperienced users matter and that Blizzard intends to take the existing fans for granted.

    • If you can just use Ctrl to see the advanced tooltips then it’s worse then that, it means they’re incredibly lazy, as putting in a toggle for a function that already exists should be trivial…
      Hell, i remember in HoMM 5 they put in a wait function but no button for it… fans modded a button in the next day.

  2. For those wondering why so much effort was placed in something like tooltips there’s been a growing field known as User Experience Design focused on issues EXACTLY like this. While it might not seem like much the results from tiny fixes like this can be enormous.  

    If you want a good example of how tiny things can change experience Google around for “online shopping cart studies” and the like. Blizzard was recently hiring for a position like this last winter/spring.

    “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug is another good book focusing on user experience design with plenty of case studies to make you realize its place in most electronic mediums.

    Blizzard isn’t “catering to casuals” or any of the other arguments that have been popping up so frequently; they’re merely using development assets that have become more and more necessary since studies have started showing exactly how important a user interface is and how different user groups must be treated.

    • Personally I don’t see the simplified tooltip as being too bad in the screenshot, although I think it should say the damage and the type still (I mean, we do still have to consider enemy resistances, right?).

      Although partly that’s because I think the ‘advanced’ description is just overly verbose and flowery. The first sentence is just silly and the last sentence isn’t necessary: players would work out this was quicker at generating spirit than other monk skills and if they can’t work it out then they probably don’t deserve to know it.

    • Yeah, this isn’t new. *The problem* is that GuildWars already did this over four years ago, and they did it much better than Blizzard’s attempts. We need to know things like damage, lightning damage, the AoE and especially the knockback. These should be included regardless of flavor text. The devs are trying to simplify something beyond what it should be, and are making the outcome worse than the original. They should remove the flavor text of the original (or save it as the “full skill description” option which should also exist) and not the stuff we actually want to know.

    • you mean studies showing how lazy, oh-the-world-owes-me-internet-on-the-plane and generally retarded the general population has become and the trend is alarming?..oh, wait…

      and seriously. i am not arguing that UI should be counter-intuitive or cumbersome to understand, but to understand sth new actually requires timer and usually some effort, even when its a hobby or “leisure” its just a fact of life.

      Of course one could have ti both ways by using a big text to show the simplified, more flavoury parts, and under it have more info in smaller text (obviously not small enough to strain your eyes).
      And an option to switch their sizes around maybe…

  3. the only thing I got out of this post was…

    “My grandama’s playing beta, and you aren’t, LOL!  While I was trying to explain simple counting and number systems to her (lol, did she even have numbers when she was a kid? 😡 ) she fell asleep in her soup.  I took this to mean that the normal tooltips were too hard to figure out, so we decided to change them!   Not to mention honestly, who wants to KEEP comparing numbers all the time, like, omg BORING.  LOOT PINATAS BABY!” 

    I’m honestly questioning if anyone at blizzard has EVER PLAYED ANY DIABLO GAME (or any f**king RPG) EVER.

  4. While I’d argue that holding CTRL to view Advanced tooltips is only a mild inconvenience (at worst), this is a reasonable request that I’m happy to pass on to our designers.

    The “designers” would have to be chimps to not have thought of this. Therefore they did think of it, and it deliberately wasn’t implemented:
    1. Lack of time / not worth putting into beta patch 10
    2. For some reason they think it’s a bad idea

  5. Holy cow!! They really did this? They removed all the ways for the player to check how much dmg/evasion/whatever a skill has in the tooltips? There’s no way to see what the skill really does inside the game anymore?

    How lame are those devs? Jesus Christ, I’m disgusted…

    “Damage as lightning? What does that mean? Does that mean I need to collect lightning damage? Does that mean I’m getting gear with the wrong stats on it?”

    If it was any other person talking I would say he was trolling, but hey, its Blizzad, so they are serious… Are there people so retarded to the point they can’t understand a tooltip?

    I seriously doubt they will include an option to toggle advanced tooltips later on.

    • “Holy cow!! They really did this? They removed all the ways for the player to check how much dmg/evasion/whatever a skill has in the tooltips? There’s no way to see what the skill really does inside the game anymore?”

      No. Read more carefully next time. Holding ctrl while you hover over the tooltip displays the “advanced” version, which is really the “old” version. You can see what this looks like in the example screenshot.

      • My faith in humanity has been restored, for now…

        But the text i quoted still makes me want to puke. How moronic Blizzard thinks the average player is?
        If they wanted to make a simplified tooltip alleging that the older ones were polluting too much the screen I would say it was OK, but I doubt I’ll ever meet a player that actually won’t have to hold down control every time he wants to check a skill tooltip, because the simplified ones don’t tell shit about what the skill does.

      • I’m guessing you’re new to the franchise. I don’t want to hold CTRL down while I play for every single ability I want to check, or if I want to check it often while gearing up. I want a simple toggle for it and it’s not like it’s difficult to implement or QA.

        It benefits everyone if they get to decide themselves how much information they want. If they’re going to make harder for me to play so newbies can play easier, then I’m not going to buy it – simple as that. And they want everyone to buy it.

        • = then I’m not going to buy it =
          Why do people keep lying like that… it just makes Blizz more convinced it can get away with anything…

  6. And by “different user groups” you do me “inexperienced” or “casual” users, right? After all, the rest of us don’t need things to be dumbed down.

    Seriously though, you make a fair point. However, this isn’t the issue that I think most hardcore Diablo fans take serious issue with Blizzard on when it comes to catering to the inexperienced or novice gamer. I guess you could say that it took time to create the simplified tool tips and that anything that takes extra time that the hardcore fan doesn’t need can be consider nothing but an impediment to release, but this issue now boils down to whether or not experienced players will have to hold down the control key in order to get the information out of the UI that they need. It’s an easy fix for Blizzard. As you state, the user interface is very important to the products success. So build a UI that works for all users, not one that caters more to the inexperienced.

  7. Here’s what Bashiok (perhaps erat D3 devs) fails to understand.

    Bashiok says this:
    “Attack a single target with a series of rapid punches
    …is a little cleaner and easier to understand at a glance than:
    Unleash a series of extremely fast punches that deal 100% weapon damage as Lightning. Every third hit deals damage to all enemies in front of you and knocks them back a short distance.” 

    When this could be easily fixed by changing the entire skill tooltip to:
    Attack a target for 100% weapon damage as lightning. Every third hit deals damage to enemies in front of you and knocks them back.” 

    If not the entire tooltip, the above could serve as the simplified or concise version, and the original would serve as the long version with all the flavor text put in. The toggle in the Options menu would be “Use concise skill descriptions: [ ]”

    We need to know:
    – The skill’s damage, a nice shiny green number with which to slay demons
    – That this damage is lightning damage
    – That the third hit gives AoE
    – That the third hit also gives knockback

    The name of the skill conveys that it’s fast (but just equipping it and using it once can clear any doubts) so using extra words like “unleash a series of extremely fast punches” and “short distance” are unnecessary as a base description.

    • That’s exactly what I dream in any RPG. Some option to pop a window with every piece of information possible about the skill, so I don’t have to google it about the hidden effects. Unfortunately there’s absolutely no chance that this will ever happen in D3 and neither the tooltips you described because the main objective of Blizzard with the new tooltips is not to improve their quality, their real intention is to attract brainless players to the game, which brings another problem: If Blizzard decides that those kinds of brainless people should be able to finish the game without ever pressing the ctrl key (to learn more about the skills and improve) the game will become too unattractively easy to the serious players that spent 5 minutes planning a build.

  8. I’m not a fan of the simplified tooltips, but I understand their need for someone who’s completely new to RPGs, or gaming in general.

    As long as there’s a toggle option for ‘advanced’ tooltips, I’m happy. 🙂

  9. there goes “ma and grandma” again, i cant f***g believe this…God, why games can’t be for gamerz anymore? is that so f***g hard to comprehend?

    • They got shareholders to please, is that difficult to understand? Grandma will pay as much as you do to play the game and they’re a business.

      • I promise you, not a single grandma in the entire human race will buy Diablo 3 to play it.  They will buy it for….GET READY FOR THE SHOCKING NEWS….their grandson.

        • yup, that about right:)

        • Neither will mothers buy this game unless they are already familiar with the style of game, which then they would already understand the concept of how to figure attack dmg.  If a mother or grandmother were to buy the game for themselves it would be because someone they know has an interest in it and then that person could easily explain how the game works.  So dumbed down tool tips make no sense.

          Why couldn’t a tool tip explain the skill function and instead of saying does “100% weapon dmg” actually have the tool tip show total calculated dmg instead.  Would make super simple for people to know what it will do.

  10. They didn’t even put the third strike effect in the simplified tooltip? How the hell are the noobs going to know the real difference between the spirit generators then?

  11. The only thing I got out of this was that they are basing their whole design philosophy around grandma’s playing.  This actually explains a lot about what they are doing.

    Newsflash Blizzard:  Your grandma should not define how you design a f*ing video game.

  12. lol.. What are the other Spirit Generator Tooltips like?
    Okay, I just found this one and I seriously think it’s more confusing than before:
    “Deadly Reach
    Strike multiple enemies in a row with each attack.”
    What does that mean? From what i read, i’d say it’s like D2’s zeal ability. Pretty Confusing 🙄

    • Are they hiring some retarded monkeys to write this stuff now?   How hard can it be to write simple, self explanatory descriptions…

  13. New simplified tooltips are more confusing for anyone who is not braindead.

  14. “I actually had to spend a lot of time explaining skills and abilities to my mom and grandmother when they first started playing the Diablo III beta”

    I do not want to play a game designed for my mother or grand mother. There are games designed especially for them and I’ve never expected those games to be also for me. Thus, I want DIII to be a game designed for gamers as Blizzard used to do for years (ago).
    Unfortunately, as time passes I seriously doubt that previous Diablo games fans are in the market target for DIII. It looks like this game is designed for everyone… and noone in particular.

  15. Has anyone pointed out to Blizzard or just in general that D2 didn’t have to dumb anything down, and look at the fanbase it has. The idea that if the game appears too hard at the beginning will keep new people away is a joke. If reading more than one sentence scares away anyone over 17, we have bigger problems than video game sales… We deserve (since we all play on Bnet) a fanbase of moderate intelligence, Blizzard should want a fanbase that is capable of outsmarting a drunk gorilla.
    But maybe I’m old, I remember NES games that were an actual challenge not like today’s games where if you have half decent toe dexterity you can beat them on normal difficulty.

  16. All I have to say is, how is “attack a single target with a series or rapid punches” clear and easy to understand when this description doesn’t tell you you’ll be doing lightning damage, not physical damage, that you are doing 100% weapon damage with every hit, and that every 3rd hit deals damage to all enemies in front of you and knocks them back?

    Seriously Blizzard, the simple tool-tip is asinine and completely worthless all by itself.  I’m sure lightning damage has it’s own animation, which would leave one going, “WTF are these sparks flying all over the place.  I’m punching.  My fist weapon has no +lightning damage affix.  Whoa.  Why did everyone in front of me just take damage and get pushed back.  The skill said it attacks a single target with a series of rapid punches.  WTF is going on?”

    Now add in a second skill that does 50% weapon damage with a similarly asinine and completely worthless tool-tip and watch the confusion be compounded.  Not only will you have the same WTF scenario with the skill itself, but in addition you’ll be going WTF trying to compare and figure out the damage disparity and/or AOE natures of the skills without a frame of reference (meaningful tool-tip information).

    The advanced tool-tips are way more intuitive and easier to understand, although I will say someone needs to clean up the advanced tool-tips for clarity.  The confusion being caused by the advanced tool-tips is not the content, it’s how the content is conveyed to the player.  The advanced tool-tips can be made clear and concise, someone just needs to take the time and make it happen.

  17. I didn’t know one had to be a “veteran” at Diablo to understand numbers and English. 
    I mean “damage as lightning” what does it MEAN?
    And even if someone has trouble understanding a skill because of it’s complexity (disregarding that there’s NOTHING wrong with people not fully understanding everything immidiatly), how the fuck does simplifying the skills tooltip to not contain any “difficult” information make the person better understand the skill?
    Did his (grand)mother now understand the skill because of all the relevant information the simplified tooltip DOES’NT contain? NOPE!
    I’d like to ask the question to his (grand)mother if it’s fun to be patronized by game that’s about killing demons?
    What a fucking load of bollocks.

  18. Yeah…but your mom and grandmother arent the people who will be playing this game! They probably only played it because they wanted to see what there grandson or son was doing with his life not because they genuinely wanted to play the game! I would take any feedback from your mom and grandma as non-relavent because they are not the target audience…

  19. They absolutely need to add a toggle.  The concept of simplified tooltips is fine – go ahead and attempt to expand your target market, knock yourselves out.  But even though it sounds simple – “just hold CTRL” – in reality that’s a major pain in the ass, and it’s exacerbated by the fact that the more veteran players who would need to hold CTRL are the ones looking at tooltips constantly and obsessing about the nuances of each skill.

    All that said, the hysteria and hyperbole by some posters here is too much.  So what if they try to make the game easy to pick up for novices?  That shouldn’t be any skin off your back.  I expect them to implement a toggle which is set by default to simple – it’s way too obvious a need to be ignored.  But so many folks are raging and raging about the very idea of making a game easy to understand, like it insults their intelligence.  Get over it.

  20. Wait, a series of punches? You mean I have to click mouse button for each punch? That doesn’t sound like a series of punches, that sounds like one punch! I’m freaking confused!

  21. I don’t understand why they use sentences. Why not use the ‘simplified’ version of the tooltip for the skills in the skillbar and when you are looking at the skill menu you see the stats of the skill like this.

    Damage: x-x
    Type: Lightning
    Fully charged: xmeter knockback, x-xdamage in an xdegrees wide cone

    Just list all the variables in the skill menu. Use color codes to indicate what is variable and what is not. I understand exactly what they are trying to do but after the initial newbie phase is over, everyone will want more. That more is just not there. Eventually people will analyze every bit of the game and, if this keeps up, we will need to look on the internet to learn about the mechanics, just like in Diablo 2. Not that that is bad, it is just unnecessary in a modern game.

  22. How, exactly, does Blizzard intend to relay in the simplified tooltips the effect of a given rune if they insist on culling out every reference to elemental damage (fire, ice, etc.) or status (stun, knock-back, etc.)? The default information is thus rendered all but useless as soon as runestones begin dropping.

  23. Anyone know the Series “Sherlock” on BBC? I think, one big reason why it has become such a success is the fact that it doesn’t presume their viewers to be stupid, it doesn’t dumb down the content.
    I think it’s even offending to believe, people are too stupid to make sense out of a few numbers…
    and if someone really doesn’t understand, well usually there’s a manual with the answer.

    • Honestly when it comes to writing, if someone doesn’t understand it, it’s because the writer hasn’t done a good job. Especially with technical writing (like tooltips).

      Something is confusing? Because it’s either natively confusing (like Schroedinger’s Cat or something), or else it was explained very poorly.

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