Blue Posts on PvP Balance, Higher Level Caps, and Release Delays


DiabloWikiBashiok continued his post-holiday forum renaissance yesterday evening with additional posts on a variety of topics.

A fan asked if the DiabloWikiMonk or the DiabloWikiWizard was best for PvP. Traditionally, mages own this sort of thing due to their greater maneuverability, but with teleporting on a shorter leash / longer cooldown in Diablo 3, that’s not necessarily going to be the case. If you missed the numerous excellent hands-on PvP Arena reports from last year’s Blizzcon, you should definitely check those at for much more detail on this issue. (The consensus was that Wizard was slightly better than Monk, but there was debate on the rankings, and the pre-made chars in the Blizzcon demo aren’t necessarily a good preview of the real game.)

As for Bashiok’s reply, he goes for a theoretical overview.

I don’t know, ranged does have a damage advantage just because … its ranged. A melee oriented class like the monk has to close the gap to do any damage, but luckily the monk has a few options to close the gap. The monk is going to be beefier though with more defense and vitality over the wizard, ideally that’d negate any extra damage the wizard is able to pull off before getting pommeled.

There isn’t a right answer, though. It comes down to skill selection, gear, and the players. Everything being equal it comes down to balance, and that should be equal as well if we do our jobs right, and if we don’t you can expect some hotfixes or patches to try to make it that way. 😉


Elsewhere, a fan goes for an tortuously-convoluted argument (I TLDRed, but it’s something to do with mlvl and defense progression) that the Diablo III expansions will add levels to the max cap. Of course everyone said this the minute we heard that Clvl 60 was the max in D3C, and back then, Bashiok danced some amusing kabuki as he pretended that might not happen. He’s dropped (most of) that pointless PR evasiveness this year, thankfully, and in this new post, he essentially confirms that the expansion(s) will add to the max Clvl.

Diablo III levels are intended to pace the content, 1-30 in Normal, 30-50 in Nightmare, and 50-60 in Hell. It would stand to reason that were we to release an expansion we’d want additional levels to pace the additional content.

There will absolutely be newer and better items introduced at some point as well, potentially even in patches.


Finally, Bashiok continues to insist the Korean Games Rating Board delays due to the Real Money aspect of Diablo 3’s DiabloWikiAuction House have nothing to do with the fact that the game isn’t ready yet.

When a final decision is rendered and game still isn’t released, finally people will realize the two weren’t linked, as stated. But then the game still won’t be out, so still no one is happy. I suppose those are just the ups and downs you have to expect when following something so closely.

Here’s the new conspiracy theory spin. Blizzard is going to intentionally tack another month or two onto the release delay after the KGRB decision, just to “prove” that they were not related. Hello summer 2012!

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  1. ❗ ❗ ❗  Bashiok confirms that ranged does more dps than melee! Everyone freak out! AHHHHHHHH!  ❗ ❗ ❗

    • I’m wondering why Bashiok doesn’t come out and just admit the obvious: PvP on release is not going to be terribly balanced, and it won’t take long for several character skill fitouts to be found that completely dominate everything else.

      I guess that would blow too many fanbois’ minds, but it seems like he’s just setting everyone up for more gnashing of teeth later: “OMG BlizZARd is retARted! how culd U not se that moNk with XYZ is OP!!!??!?!” and people demanding ‘fixes’ and ‘patches’ that despite all of Bashiok’s talk about “hotfixing” still take 2+ weeks to make.

  2. Hotfixes or patches? Are they actually seriously going to be needing to patch it after 7 years of development as well as an external closed beta running for 4 months? Either Blizzard has secretly turned into a Safeway and started hiring people with Downs to develop games, or they need to have an actual deadline to inspire them to stop fucking with things and just release the damn game. It hasn’t been leaked at an early alpha stage forcing them to remake the game from scratch, the only time it was in limbo was when Blizzard North shut down back around the time the dinosaurs went extinct. No excuses at this point.

    • I think we would all rather have patches at this point, even if there are grievous flaws in class balance.  Anyone remember the Necromancer’s CE bug in D2?  Join a game with 7 players, and Corpse Explosion would scale out of control allowing you to annihilate everything. If I recall the Necromancers beat ladder in the start because of this.

    • Someone doesn’t understand the difference between testing a game with maybe a few thousand of players and actually releasing it into the wild… unless they actually tested it on every possible hardware configuration out there of course it’s gonna need patches, while the availability of 100 times more info will certainly help with balancing the game even if it’s near perfectly balanced…
       

    • When it comes to fixing bugs, there are two general metrics that are used to judge what should be fixed first: severity and priority. Severity measures the technical impact of the specific bug: game crashes, character locks up, skill does way less damage than it should, monster sometimes drops higher loot than it should, graphical glitch in certain dungeon location. Then there is the priority: how frequently does the bug actually happen is a large factor, as is the severity (high severity bugs almost always get high priority).

      However priority is also very much a business decision. The business decision might be “we’re going to fix everything that is priority 3 or lower before we launch the game, try and get as many priority 4 things done as we can and not be too worried about priority 5 things”. Then they fix priority 4 and 5 bugs going forwards in patches, as well as addressing any new bugs (and there will be lots) found as a result of the release.

      Acting like no company should ever be allowed to patch a program they make is frankly bizarre.

  3. One more point:   There was no D2 public beta. It was the D2 Stress Test specifically to test the servers.  This does not bode well. 🙁

  4. And fuck you Blizzard good night…again  << back to Skyrim.

  5. First the new WoW expansion must be ready to be played in beta. Then D3 can be launched to pay for the subscriptions by selling things on the internet.

    WoW brings in 110 to 120 million dollars … each month… Everything is secondary to this money flow.

    Everything.

    Korea has nothing to do with it, unless you would consider the 1 M Korean Wow players that would use the D3 RMAH to buy WoW subscriptions ….

    Reread the last line… Got that ???

    • “WoW brings in 110 to 120 million dollars … each month… ”

      No they don’t. Firstly, their subscriber base has been dropping. Secondly, they never did. People who play from China and other foreign markets like Korea, don’t pay $15/month or whatever it is to play like people in the US and Europe do.  Instead they pay for hours played and their costs are cheaper, so there would only be a small proportion of players from these countries who paid the equivalent of $15/month or more that US players do.

      Simply taking subscriber numbers and multiplying by $15 is incorrect.  The number is more likely to be in the $60-90m range.

      • Oh boy. This figure is coming from tye LATEST FINANCIAL REPORTS.

        The OFFICIAL QUARTERLY Report from the Wow part of Blizzard stated 330 million dollars for the 3rd Q of 2011 and 360 million dollars for the second quarter of 2011′

        Just have a look at the financial reports on the site of Activision Blizzard under Q reports and covers the Wow oart ONLY.

        The MONEY stream of those quarters is well documented in that report and it fits with the subscription numbers of around 10 million + active subscribers. Do the count if you know that many zones don’t pay 15 dollars per month.

        So … WoW brought in 110 million dollars or more PER MONTH in 2011.

        You don’t have to guess: as a stock rated company it is extremely well documented. Just look it up before doing some trolling without substance.

        • It would be nice if you linked to your source. I’ve never actually seen the WoW numbers specifically set out before in any online articles I’ve read (they’ve always talked about it being for all of Blizzard, for example).

          Anyway I found this: http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ACTI/1611021492x0x516266/febb2d7c-0052-4685-9d17-4c7ae775d78b/PR_Tables_Q3CY11_Final.pdf

          In there it has a section called “Online Subscription” which is asterisked to mean all WoW-related income. The GAAP figure is $336m or $112m per month. But crucially this includes deferred revenue: in other words people paying for subscriptions in advance before they have used them up. If you look at the non-GAAP figure, which represents actual subscriptions paid and used in the period, it is only $274m, or $91m per month.

          Now I do realise that you said WoW brings in $110-120m per month, which is not the same as the usual claim “WoW makes $120m from subscribers” because they now make a lot of money from selling vanity items etc that they never used to.

    • Saying “everything is secondary” to WoW is a bit… shortsighted.
       
      Truth of the matter is, WoW subs have been dropping, although they clearly have tons of subscribers. However, from a business standpoint, they have to look at the issue as “how can we survive this?” WoW subs are their comfort zone. They MUST step out of their comfort zone to succeed. That’s Business 101.
       
      Also, I’m sure since the money-loving Activision now owns a stake in Blizzard, the board has critically considered the implications of continuing to operate off of a 7 year old game. How many more patches can they slap on the thing before it bleeds to death? What is the next move? How can they corner the market yet again?
       
      Clearly everything isn’t secondary to WoW. They must innovate to succeed, and generating more revenue from all over the world with new innovative cash-generating IPs isn’t a bad start. I.E. D3 RMAH, Battle.net-wide Blizzard Balance, and upcoming Project Titan.

      • Again.

        See the official financial reports.

        Blizzard made 1.6 billion dollars in fiscal year 2010. And … 1.41 billion dollars came from WOW alone.

        FYI the revenue in 2011 (up to and including the 3rd Quarter) … BEAT every quarter of 2010, despite having a lower subscription number. Reasoning is higher sub rates in the East and new franchising in China.

        So a game like SC2 selling a whopping 5 million copies is equal to a mere 2 months of Wow anno 2011.

        All is very well documented in these financial reports. Just have a look at the Activision Blizzard website. You’ll see that Wow represents around 34% of the complete group of Activision btw. So … EVERYTHING is secondary to WOW @ Blizzard.

        • No doubt, their financials do reveal huge revenues from WoW, but they don’t tell the whole story. Eventually that gold mine will be fully tapped, never gleaming another gold nugget. Here’s an example: Apple sells nothing but the iPhone 4 from now on. No iPhone 5. No iPad 3000 or whatever. They’re gonna go under. Innovation is the key and profits can take a back seat. This is how Blizzard has always functioned and always will (as long as Vivendi owns controlling interest!).
           
          Regardless, the root of your post was that Korea has nothing to do with their cash flow. Obviously its quite the contrary or they wouldn’t be working so hard to get an official rating for release in Korea WITHOUT removing all aspects of the RMAH. They want Korean won and they’ll get it.

  6. About the movebility, in D3 Wizard is actually the least mobile class in the game, Wizard only has Teleport for movement skills and even that is on 16 sec CD, placing Wizard firmly on the bottom of the list.  Second least mobile class would probably be WD, he only has Spirit Walk, which is also, on cooldown, however, WD has numerous slows, snares, fears and pets to place between himself and the monstersm making him still better, IMO. Barbarian is sorta middle ground, he posseses more movebility then WD and Wizard, he has two movement skills, Leap Attack, which is on 15 sec CD, and Sprint which gives him some advantage. Monk is the second most mobile class. I assume due to his position as melee glass cannon, he has the most movement skills in the game. two skills, Dashing Strike and Tempest Rush plus passive Fleet Footed. Him being melee prevents him from being top though, And DH, is the most mobile class in the game, IMO. With super spammable, low-cost Vault, Evasive Fire, various slows and snares, DH will (most likely) be very difficult class to catch up to in the final game. These are all, of course, in my opnion.

  7. Diablo III levels are intended to pace the content, 1-30 in Normal, 30-50 in Nightmare, and 50-60 in Hell. It would stand to reason that were we to release an expansion we’d want additional levels to pace the additional content.
    There will absolutely be newer and better items introduced at some point as well, potentially even in patches.

    Well, dickery. While my dislike for level cap raises went away when levels stopped being, well, relevant; the intention to obsolete older items is gonna suck.

  8. Blizzard wants a simultaneous, world-wide release of D3. South Korea’s GRB has delayed the decision to approve the game for release in South Korea. Blizzard cannot release D3 in South Korea until it has a rating. South Korea is part of the world. Therefore, this issue IS at least part of the holdup. It isn’t a conspiracy theory. It is logic.
     
    “But then the game still won’t be out, so still no one is happy. I suppose those are just the ups and downs you have to expect when following something so closely.”
     
    No, that’s the problem you get when a company announces a game four years before it’s ready. Also, I don’t expect the game to be released the day after the SKGRB approves D3. That still doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a factor.

    • Korea has already approved D3, AFAIK

      • Again, it isn’t the ONLY issue that is delaying the release. Just one of them. No one expects the game to be released the day after approval. That still doesn’t mean that it isn’t a factor.

    • You’re assuming that the game is “Gold Master” ready, in other words ready to ship. Unless the ENTIRE BETA is a coverup for the GRB fiasco, there are significant changes still being made that Blizzard doesn’t want to patch in.  So this nonsense about South Korea holding up release is pretty illogical until someone can confirm the game has gone gold.  This is basic software release cycle stuff.

      • No doubt they are still working on various parts of the game. They are. What they are doing is using the extra time to do yet more re-iteration (let’s face it, seven years just isn’t enough time to complete a hack-n-slash). The GRB isn’t the ONLY thing holding up release, but it is most definitely ONE of them. It isn’t illogical at all. Whether the game is ready or needs more work, it isn’t going to be released until it is approved by the GRB.
         
        Examine the facts: they have had a game that is playable from beginning to end for awhile now. Perhaps it needed polish, but they had a target of the end of 2011. They told us as much, which is pretty out of character for Blizzard. The day after South Korea’s GRB postponed a decision on D3, 2011 was out the window and “early 2012” was the new target. The fact is that Blizzard did not expect to have this much trouble with getting the game approved. They are also very committed to both a simultaneous world-wide release and the RMAH.
         
        It makes sense that they don’t want to admit this is a factor that is stalling the game. It would not go over well at all, and I don’t blame them for trying to play it off.

        • Admittedly I haven’t read up on their commitment to a worldwide release, but still, couldn’t you say that localizing all the versions, marketing, or even producing the actual boxes are just as compelling of reasons for a delay?  They would probably just remove the RMAH feature from the South Korean code until GRB approves it.

          • They can’t just remove the RMAH from the Korean version since it looks like the game isn’t going to be region-locked. Korean players would be able to play on other area’s servers and bypass the removal.

  9. So
    “as levels are intended to pace content […] it’s not unreasonable to assume that additional levels would be present in an expansion”
    is “dancing some amusing kabuki”, but
    “It would stand to reason that were we to release an expansion we’d want additional levels to pace the additional content”
    is talking sense?
     
    Sense, Flux, you make not.

  10. So, conspiracy nuts, where areee youuuu? I can´t hear you over the sound of LOGIC. Korea has approved D3, whole issue is resolved, D3 is delayed (unfortunatly). There are no more comments or wild accusations anymore? l love the fact that now that you have been proven wrong, nobody is even mentioning Korea anymore.

    • How has it been proven wrong exactly? Are you taking the fact that the game isn’t released the same day as the rating is approved to be evidence that it wasn’t a factor in the game’s release? Spurious…

      • Perhaps if Diablo 3 went gold after resolving this problem, or if there was some confirmation of finalisation of its development, but with this new delay, it is painfully obvious to all but conspiracy nuts that Korea HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING.

        • Not familiar with gantt charts and critical path, I see.

        • A conspiracy theory would be that Chris Metzen lead a kill squad into Kim Jong Il’s compound and assassinated him in an attempt to bribe the South Korean GRB into giving D3 a rating.
           
          This is simple cause and effect, and it is deduced by actually examining facts and drawing a reasonable conclusion. It could be an incorrect theory, but that doesn’t mean it’s a conspiracy theory.

  11. Bashiok admits to balancing characters for PvP!!2!
     
    “Everything being equal it comes down to balance, and that should be equal as well if we do our jobs right, and if we don’t you can expect some hotfixes or patches to try to make it that way.”

  12. It’s funny because no one cares if the delay is caused by the Koreans, they just want the damn game.
     
    He says, “…finally people will realize the two weren’t linked.”  No, what people already realize is you guys have taken a lifetime and a half to finish this f’ing game.

    • No, whats funny is that now, that Korea has been proven as a non-factor, all supporters seem to have gotten mass amnesia, and now everybody is interested in talking about PvP and balance. Back when it seemed that Korea is the cause, there were 50+ comments “I knew all along that this Korea´s fault.” and “I´ve been saying this from the beginning”, and now, 20 something comments about everything but Korea.

  13. Either they would still be working on the game anyway, without the Korea situation, or they would have been finished and at gold now.  It boils down to the whether the work they are doing right now is vital pre-release essential or just polishing the polish.

    I’m sure it’ll come out in the wash a bit down the line if the work for the last couple of months was filling the time while Korea was finalised or not.

  14. Btw: My theory that D3 will only be released when the WoW MoP expansion is ready for Beta was confirmed yesterday by Wowinsider (as a prognosis about Blizzard 2012).

    The EXACT same thing happened to the launch of SC2. It launched – in mid summer I might say – a few days before the Beta of CATA.

    So, we see the same thing: Blizzard wants to protect Wow’s massive income (90% of the company revenue) and couple a new game with a new expansion. As D3 is even offered for FREE with a one year Wow subscription AND a free BETA access of MOP, you even have proof how the launch date of D3 is linked to WoW.

    Launching Diablo3 NOW along with NO playable new version of WOW and within the wake of SW TOR would simply be too much for those subscriptions. It would be suicidal.

    So it is very clear DIABLO 3 will launch around Mar with sw tor already losing a LOT of steam and the fans of WOW having a new Wow toy to play with. I am sure Blizzard already’ did this study back in september.

    Amongst our guild and many RL friends I know Diablo3 will be tried much and much more by active Blizzard fans than any other mmorpg.

    It is all very logical and Frank Pierce even said it a year ago, they were afraid of losing subscriptions to Diablo3. Hence the EXCELLENT idea of RMAH and combo selling the 2 games with a one year commitment from WoW fans.

    Battlenet is the glue that hold these 2 games together as the income from one game will support the other and vice versa. In any case: this dual package will be tthe bridge to ensure masses of income until Titan will be launched with a RMAH in 2015.

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