Blizzard on Skill Swapping and Unattuned Runestones

Bashoik added another forum reply Wednesday evening, in response to a fan’s comments about why the unattuned DiabloWikirunestones system can’t work as previously described. Too many runes, too many options, no inventory space for all of them, no way to sort them in the Auction House, etc. And then he got Bashioked!

We have no idea how the unattuned system is going to work. Or if it’ll end up working at all. We’re trying out some different options, but we’re not likely to reveal much until we’re more certain. Maybe it’ll be something we feel comfortable discussing at BlizzCon? … maybe not.

On a slightly related (?) note we’re playing around with having skill swapping locked to being in-town only. We’re definitely not sold on it, but it could appear at some time in a beta patch, so FYI. Just be aware it’s only something we’re trying, and not a permanent solution.

I certainly hope they have *some* idea how the runes system will work, or the several thousand of you guys who voted for January, February, or March 2012 on the current release date vote are going to be very wrong. And if they have no idea how, they’d better get one quick if they’re going to present the whole system in four weeks at their big convention.

As for skill DiabloWikifreespecs… eh. It’s fun to do it every time you want in the beta/at early levels, but it feels like an exploit, and it starts to get boring quickly, like you’re using a trainer or playing in god mode.

The assumption by most players has been that DiabloWikiskill swapping will be less instantaneous later in the game, or on higher difficulty levels. Or that removing the runestone, or putting in a new one, would be something of an obstacle to the quick switching exploit. But since we don’t know how runestones will work, especially in regard to them being attuned or not, that’s all up in the air.

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51 thoughts on “Blizzard on Skill Swapping and Unattuned Runestones

  1. Im not in a beta yet, so i cant talk from experience. I can see myself changing the skills around alot in the beginning, but i think in the end (bout half way through most probly) i would settle with a set of skills i felt most comfortable with and stick to it most of the way. It is just a play style difference. Im the kind that always go to the same shop and order the same food every other day until the peeps in the shop just havta see me and they know what to serve me with. So yeh, for me it is finding the best suited, and stick with it. 

    On the other note about skill swapping in town or out of town, like the dude on the previous topic said to my comment about single player: “you can choose to  play alone in D3” and another comment that added “need the will power”. So im gonna give the dudes who doesnt like the current “swap skills whenever u like” method the same idea: will yourself to not change the skills, and only do it in town. Is not exactly a new idea mind, ive heard of ppl who played through the whole D2 without using a pot, or equipments, etc.

    If you just dont like the idea coz u think the rest of the ppl who accepts it will play the game easier or more smoothly, well, i cant do much. If it is coz u think it will be too easy for u and felt like god mode, will yourself to not do it.

  2. Wtf is going on over there?  Slap a random additional affix on the runes but keep them the same.  Done.  Allow skill swapping at any time up to level 30.  Normal mode is over, you have access to all skills and skill slots and have had an opportunity to experiment.  Then make all respecs in town only (as many, many, many people have already suggested.  Done.

    Please spend your time on REAL issues… we’re not getting any younger! 🙂

    • why cant they have all skill availible for use!? and put stones in them where they are in a skill tree. I don see the problem of having all the skills avalible. like wow I hade like 60 hotkeys or something ( 1,2,3,4,5,q,e,r,t,<,z,x,c,v,§,f,g ::: shift,Ctrl,Alt to em.  

      the char in Diablo might be very powerfull with lots of “low level” skills that are as powerfull as the once that you get at later lvl. But I like the fact that you need to be skilled in order to win in PvP rather than getting gear to fit one or to skill to spam.

      If you have more spells in pvp its more skills than just gear.

  3. While the poster’s math is compelling, Diablo III’s auction house will have to deal with similar problems of scale with regards to item variety regardless of the rune situation. Any item with random affixes will have a large number of variations, but as different players and builds will favor certain stats over others, (I assume, considering e.g. the nature of the passive skills in favoring certain stat types and the nature of players wanting different levels of security vs. damage, etc.) a simple ‘threshold’ system similar to the one wowhead uses in its item database would probably be ideal.

    That sort of system could be extended to work even for procs (req: proc spell_name, level X), and the more specific a search can be made, the more an excessively large set of potential items on the auction house can be quickly limited to a very small number of options. Of course, at this point we run into another problem: If people are searching for very specific bonuses, what are the chances that ITEM X will sell?

    This, too, is solved by simple market forces; just as sufficiently useless greens in WoW still sell for a decent amount because of disenchanters, so too will players looking to craft such-and-such item buy up any superfluous items (whose lack of demand forces low prices) that would not otherwise sell in order to melt them down into component parts. (Or, of course, the sufficiently weary seller could break the item down themselves and sell the components.) In the case of runes, even if they can’t be broken down into components, theorycrafting and min/maxing will very likely serve to limit the number of items that are worth people’s time to sell.

    A huge variety of items is not a problem for an auction house with a wowhead-level filtering system, but an opportunity. Unfortunately, if Blizzard does not enable such a system themselves, I’m afraid third party sites will inevitably do it for them, and the auction house may be de facto relegated to more highly-sought or commonly used items.

    That simple fact – that because Wowhead and its competitors exist for WoW, a market-friendly version of them will very likely spring up for Diablo III in the event of an insufficient auction house – leads me to believe Blizzard will head them off at the pass (I hate that expression!) and do it first, or at least fairly quickly after such a site becomes commonly used.

    Ain’t competition grand? Granted, any market system will have huge issues in an economy where wealth can be quickly manufactured by killing monsters, but hopefully gold sinks will exist to stabilize it. (Or RMT / alternate currencies (runes, etc.) will become the only game in town, of course, but I hope we manage to avoid that particular fate, if only to spare my pocketbook when the inevitable addiction sets in.)

  4. Respecs in town have their disadvantage. They motivate players to go to town each time they see more or less tough opponent to adopt their strategy. Attuning runes to skills do respec limitation better, but not much, as you can’t put more than 1 rune in 1 skill at the same time.
    So I understand their confusion. I don’t see any obvious system, which:
    – Allows people to fix mistakes of bad early builds (or intended early optimizations).
    – Have quite stable character builds.
    – Don’t motivate people to do boring things.

  5. to me freespecs i.e. with absolutely no cost, is silly, that is why you get 10 chara slots, you simply will not be excited enough to re-roll a chara, why would you do this? basically all you can do is change loot and play around with runes, and the chara with the auto stat allocation and freespecs will always be the same.

  6. I have a suggestion, and feel free to criticize  it however you’d like.
    How about have skill swapping be unrestrained, or possibly only restrained in town, until, say, level 30.  Then at level 30, you’re only allowed to respec your skills every 5 levels, which don’t stack (i.g. you can respec once from 30-35, and once from 36-40, but if you don’t respec in 30-35, you aren’t allowed to respec twice from 36-40).  This gives each player ample time to try out different combos, but as the character progresses, it makes the “path” they’ve chosen more concrete.  This might even have more of a “real life” feel to it as well.

    • Well, till the 30 level it will not look good. And after level 30 it would look as almost no respecs – they are too rare to adopt player strategy with good item found.
      I have a feeling what Titan Quest system of paid respecs with increasing cost is one of the best. It doesn’t put any real constraints, but still people didn’t respec before each boss. Although their system was rather different.

  7. We have no idea how the unattuned system is going to work. Or if it’ll end up working at all. We’re trying out some different options, but we’re not likely to reveal much until we’re more certain. Maybe it’ll be something we feel comfortable discussing at BlizzCon? … maybe not.

    Say goodbye to “early 2012” release date.

    • They wont say anything more as it not set in stone or even semi-stone.
      And they most likely got 3-4 different options under going testing and all they need to do is pick one and ping it’s done.

  8. Is it just me or anyone else worried about the progress of the game? They sounded like the game’s still a year away. By this time, they should ‘know’ and just doing tweaks on the game.

    • I think/hope they’re further along with the unattuned runes than Bashiok suggests in this post. And that he was just going to say nothing about what they are doing, so as not to give any hints in any direction. They pretty much have to be narrowing down on a final form, if they hope to have anything to say about it by Blizzcon…

  9. Why is Blues post always so cryptic “we’re not likely to reveal much until we’re more certain. Maybe it’ll be something we feel comfortable discussing at BlizzCon? … maybe not.”

    I am tired of these Blues post and have since stopped following them. They are always like yeh maybe, probably, could be, its a possibility.

  10. It’s certainly getting very annyoing listening to the Blizz “Bling”. How on earth they ever thought they would make a 2011 release date is anyones guess.

    • I think it’s simple. They had some system they thought they’ll use. But later they found flows in it, so they delayed the release date and are now uncertain.

      • Only a crazy project goes into a BETA with a partially completed project.  I think it’s got too complex for the developers working against the clock.  It would explain why they appear to have simplified some of the functionality.  I do agree with the comments above  and reckon “early” might be april/may/june but still can’t understand Blizzards reluctance to be open about it –  company performance probably.

        • They stated what it’s server load testing beta. It’s not intended to test gameplay systems – it’s too limited in content and character level for this. And such technical beta don’t need any content to be ready. Although it needs something to attract testers.

          • Well that’s my point really, they are obviously developing on the fly and since they can’t test the changes via BETA they need to delay implementation to make sure it works.  

          • It’s not intended to test gameplay systems because they themselves still don’t know how the gameplay systems are going to work.

            The next new info we are going to get is that runestones are being dropped, just like they did with the talisman when they couldn’t figure out how to make it work either.

  11. “We have no idea how the unattuned system is going to work. Or if it’ll end up working at all.”

    Oh sh!t..  now I *know* my Febuary guess at a release date was hopelessly optimistic.

  12. About skill swapping, my only worry about it is that if it ends up to be (almost) free to do when you want, they don’t except you to do it all the time to survive.
    I’d like to stick with one setup I have found that works, perhaps little alter it against main bosses or because I found some gear that boosts some skill not currently in use, but to need to change it against every other mini boss would suck big time.

  13. Lady: “Bashiok, do you want to marry me?”
    Bashiok: “I’m not sure how that would work. Or if it would work at all. I’m still trying out different things, and I’m not likely to reveal any more information about that until things are more certain. Maybe it’s something I will feel comfortable discussing next month… or not! […] I’m definitely not sold on it, but it could happen in the future, so FYI. Just be aware it’s only something I’m trying, and not a permanent solution. A decision may be reached soon™, that is sometimes next year (maybe). “

    • True, if he had to answer that question as an official spokesperson of Blizzard PR.  I’m sure he can speak comprehensibly in real life, when it’s not about his job. Unless the PR weaseltry rubs off and taints all other human interactions?

      • Well, Bashiok represents the entire D3 team / Blizzard in the allegory, so I didn’t mean this to be about him personally.

  14. I am really happy they are considering preventing freespec’s .. I think if they intend on you using many skills, then the interface should support it .. otherwise people will use programmable keyboards/macros or have their skill ui open half the time taking up half the screen. I see two situations .. first is that you come against a mob immune to most of your attacks .. either you chose poorly on your skills or you need to retreat to a safe location (using defensive skills) and respec safely. The second situation is that you want to tailor your skills to the group vs when you play solo. For both cases I feel in combat skill swapping is unnecessary. With 10 second portals to town I prefer the idea that you can choose skills anytime, but once locked in have to be wiped in town .. I don’t see the issue jumping back to town to ‘wipe’ your spec, then running back through the portal a few seconds later back into the fight .. you could then even leave a skill slot blank and choose a skill on the fly if a boss is unpredictable if you want that flexibility.

    • Agreed… they might as well just put in a 10 second cast time on skill swapping if they are going to make people go back to town because people will just run away from a tough situation then use the stone of recall to go respec and come back and then do it again after they are past the thing they changed for…

  15. I like the idea of in town only skill changes, if allows the player to test bur you cant change sjills on a whim because there better for that spot or do def,off/heal skill trading if u find u need it.

    To me that just fills like the mid-ground

  16. First of all respec must not be allowed at all in pvp. (Obvious reason)
    about infinite free respec in town i agree with it because suppose that i am playing inferno (which is very difficult as they claim i hope so) then when i clear areas i will use most powerful AOE skills but wehn i face act boss i will need skill that focus on 1 target so i will respec in town before entering boss chamber.(got the idea) 

  17. Forcing you to go to down to respec is not a better option. It sets the price of a respec to a slight amount of boredom, the discouragement against respeccing is that it’s tedious. That’s bad design and it never works because players will always do what’s most optimal, if taking 20s to go to town just to respec is the most optimal thing to do then they will do that. At that point your design has achieved nothing except for making the game more tedious.
    I agree with what a few other posters suggested, let people respec freely until they’ve had the chance to try all the skills, then at level 30+ have a quest that locks your skills in semi-permanently but also gives you some kind of benefit. Like, you do a quest that forces you to lock your skills but you gain 20% power on all your abilities or something.

  18. Respec available only when you level up – DONE. 
    Also, this adds (some) meaning to the level up deadzone of 31-60.

  19. Maybe this could work: Put a cost on Respec, linked to your char level and to frequency of respecs. Something like this:
    ( CharLvl / PlayHoursAfterLastRespec ) x 100g.

    Low level chars could Respec frequently and cheap. Experiment
    The higher the level, the higher the price. Specially if you respec a lot, like in every tough guy you find.
    If you do it only from time to time, even at higher levels you could respec without losing much gold.

    Sounds good? ( GOLD SINK anyone? :mrgreen:  )

  20. obviously the “playhours” would round up the numbers. The formula is a proposal, but ‘the simpler the better’.

  21. i really dont see this as something to keep people up at night deeply vexed and troubled
    normal – swap all you like.
    nightmare  – swap in town.
    Hell / inferno  –  swap in town , but the runes in & out will kill your cashflow
    problem solved.

  22. I do not see changing skills as cheating. I see it as “phew now I don’t need to have x numbers of y character”. To me this is one of the best new changes to Diablo, when you are 30+ and don’t have 8+ hours a day to play. I spent a long time on my sorc, got tirred of having only 4-5 skills I used. I pretty much stopped playing around that time because leveling up a new sorc to 90+ would be such a pain.

    With no skill points and free “respec” you can play how you like and change it up all the time.

    If some people see the free respec as cheating, then grow a pair and don’t use it. I wish the news posters of this site would stop advocating the free respec as being bad all the time.

    I do agree on the scary part of them not being sure on rune system, and yeah I hope voted for feb2012. :S

  23. lol @ blizz. “we have no idea how our system works”. “were releasing a 30 minute long beta to only test server stability [bc our game is basically done]“. “we decided we need to push back the release to “early” 2012 [at the earliest]…and we’ve given more than enough explanation as to why”.

    Early 3012 maybe.

  24. I think it’s likely much of the runestone system will be scaled back to make it less complex – such as reducing the number to 3 runestones.  the problem with the system now is the complexity and explaining the variation in skill effects in a compact manner in game that is newbie friendly. The amount of information is staggering, and will overwhelm the casual gamer market blizz tries to tap. This system is a perfect example what feature creep and bloat you get in a long duration project at a company with blizz’s resources.

    • To which I’d like to add:
      Feature creep and the deliberate spoonerism creature feep should not be confused with the “creature feature,” the kind of horror movie that might be popular at Halloween.

    • Yeah, I can’t believe they have enough time to work out the programming and artwork for all of these runstone effects.  There’s going to be custom graphics for about 3/5 runestone effects per skill.  5 characters x ~22 skills x 3 = 330 custom runestone effects.  Thats a TON of work.  I wonder how many of these effects are actually functioning and how many are just theorycraft on Jay’s whiteboard?

      • No, there’s going to be new graphics for every runestone effect… although sometimes that’s mostly a shift in color to existing spell animation, but still…

    • You know what? They should just ship the game immediately (hello EA!) and add the runes at a later date. There’s already tons of skills, crafting and cool items which should keep people busy for at least 6 months.

      • What cool items?  It’s already been established that the items are not done either.  All the item affixes are not even in the game.

  25. After second thought. What does this change?
    I mean they know, what at point X character has about Y level with Z rune level. They can ignore how the skills and runes are assigned, they could balance content and items without it. Everything they need is just not rely on people having access to having all skills. So, for example, they shouldn’t add any content which require Barbarian to have Leap attack without any options.
    Respec system is important, but it doesn’t move game too far away from release.

  26. Having people go back to town is a band-aid fix… they need to add a solid restriction that keeps pace with the characters progression and ramps up the more it is used to discourage constant respeccing…

    Like maybe let respeccing be done anywhere but make it require the use of a reagent that is bought from the mystic which costs an amount of gold relative to your level and doubles in cost everytime you buy one so that you can buy a lot when you are a lowbie but once you get into the upper half of the levels it gets much more costly the more you do it… the only thing with gold costs is that, because of the shared gold, it can become negligible for low level characters but you want it to still be accessible, so maybe when you switch to a low level character the cost goes down relative to that character’s level but is still higher than it was for your first character, as in the cost scales for how many characters you have as well… and also the reagent would need to be unstorable in the shared stash to prevent people from stocking up on lowbie characters and given them to other high level characters…

    Or instead they could just make respeccing take away experience relative to the character using the respec item to avoid all the complications with scaling gold costs… so you can buy all that you want but it essentially makes you unlearn things and thus makes you forget your last 10th of a level’s worth of experience or something…

    • It sounds like what I said, and I think it’s good. Making the respec an item could bring problems via shared stash though, so maybe just make it an option on the Skills Interface. Click in the little scroll, and you respec, losing an amount of gold related to your level and your frequency of respec.:wink:

  27. I’m interested in being able to try out different skills in Normal to discover my playstyle, so I am all for the option to respec. As to it having a cost, be it going to town or costing gold, I’m comfortable with that. The important thing to me is having the option to try out skills in different base combinations in Normal gameplay.

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