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    We’re going to post articles on several of the most contentious issues in the game today, analyzing what the Devs said about them during this week’s live chat. First up is a topic that’s been bubbling for months (years?), the limits on displaying buff icons in Diablo 3.

    I remember way back in the D3v days when only 5 buff and 5 debuff icons would show at the same time. Players often asked for more to show, and there was special annoyance at the game reserving space for 5 each, since players often had 4-8 buffs and almost never had more 2 or 3 debuffs, which made it seem like there was room for more buffs to show, but it was wasted, reserved as space for debuffs that would never come. Later patches upped the buff display to 8, but that’s still far too few for many builds, especially in multiplayer games and double-especially with DiabloWikiKanai’s Cube now adding 2 or 3 more to most players toolbars.

    Wyatt Cheng addressed this issue in depth during the live chat, and I’m curious what you guys think of his argument. Here’s a short excerpt:

    The inability to see important buffs that affect your moment-to-moment gameplay is something we want to address.

    Path of Exile=Visual buff spam?

    Path of Exile = Visual buff spam?

    We have been avoiding simply adding more buffs because having a large number of buffs on the screen is not only visually unappealing, but it can be just as frustrating to locate the buff that you care about in a sea of buffs.

    I laughed reading that, since some time ago I worked on but never completed/posted an article about this “show all the buffs” issue, and one of the main points of debate was the sort of thing you see in the image to the right. That’s from Path of Exile, and those 23 (!) icons along the top of the screen are all the buffs currently in effect for that player. Case in point of Wyatt’s comment, in which he was too polite to say something like, “too many buffs showing at once are visual pollution.”

    Possibly since there’s another well-known Blizzard RPG that can be modded to make PoE look positively minimalist.

    Click through for Wyatt’s full quote from the chat, and share your opinions in comments. Would you rather have an instant patch to show 12 or 16 or an unlimited number of buffs at once, clutter be damned? Or are you happy to wait for the ideal solution Wyatt discusses? (Why not both?)

    Blizzard on UI Buff Display Issues:

    Certain builds require keeping an eye on your buffs to maximize your damage (for example Tal’Rasha, Taeguk, Convention of Elements). However, when playing in a party, these buffs can disappear once you get more than 8 buffs. Is it possible to allow players to choose which buffs they always want to see, so these buffs are easier to track?
    WyattCheng: The inability to see important buffs that affect your moment-to-moment gameplay is something we want to address.

    We have been avoiding simply adding more buffs because having a large number of buffs on the screen is not only visually unappealing, but it can be just as frustrating to locate the buff that you care about in a sea of buffs.

    WoW.  No,seriously. Wow!

    WoW. No,seriously. Wow!

    I view buffs broadly in 3 categories:

  • Category 1: “Always On” buffs. Really obvious ones are the Multiplayer buff, or when there is a Community event in place. These buffs are great to know, but they take up one of your precious buff slots. Monk Mantras are a slightly less “always” version of this. If I’m in a party with a monk wearing Inna’s, suddenly all players in the party have half of their buff slots tied up.
  • Category 2: “Reassuring buffs”. These are buffs that you want to know they are on you, but they don’t affect your moment to moment gameplay. A good example of this would be Storm armor on the Wizard, or Frenzy stacks on a Barbarian. Many times you want to know the skill is working correctly, but you aren’t checking on the buff in the heat of combat

  • Category 3: “Moment-to-moment buffs”. These are the buffs that actually affect you moment-to-moment and are usually the source of complaints. Focus and Restraint are a great example here.
  • Overall our goal is to find alternate ways to communicate Category 1 and Category 2 buffs so that Category 3 buffs can take center stage on the buff bar.

    We don’t have anything to share at this time, but I assure you that with the introduction of all the extra powers players have from Kanai’s Cube, combined with new legendary items that make you powerful but require some degree of buff tracking (vyr’s / chantodo’s comes to mind) the desire to address this is greater than ever.

    why arent you able to see all your buffs ?
    KevinMartens: So Wyatt just answered re: how we categorize buffs and some possible work on how we display them. I think it is interesting to note, from a behind the scenes development POV, that sometimes issues like this rise in priority as unintended consequences for otherwise highly desire features. In this case, the too many buffs to display issue has been a little more class or situation specific (monk auras, anyone?) but now that Kanai’s Cube is out, people can almost at will choose a wider variety of items with buffs on them which meant addressing the display problem rose higher on the priority list vs. new feature development.

    Diablo development works very much in concert with player feedback, as we have said before, but the priorities are often heavily influenced by our piling on of ever-more legendary powers and all of the ripples of work that come from that. Hope this is interesting for you to know!

    What do you think of Wyatt’s comments? The theory seems like a good one, but this might become another area where “the perfect is the enemy of the good” takes over, and we spend years enduring the inadequate, “only show the oldest 8 buffs” system while Bliz endlessly tinkers with the UI to enable the perfect ideal system, completing it just in time for D3X3 and Patch 7.1…

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