Blue Posts on Shrines, Cleave Improvements, and Innovation

There have been several useful Blizzard CM posts of late, and here they are.

DiabloWikiShrines now provide a shiny overhead bonus to DiabloWikiFollowers as well as to your hero. (This could have been in for weeks for all I know, since it’s been that long since I used the DiabloWikiTemplar.) Here’s the quote from Vasadan.

It is currently intended that all buffs in the game, including shrines, buff both the player’s character and follower.

The main addition in the v6 Beta patch was Achievements… at least that was the plan. Bashiok says they should be working soon, though.

Achievements are currently not being awarded, and haven’t been for most of the day due to a server-side issue. We’re aware and working to resolve it. Sorry for the lack of notice before now.

A fan asked an intelligent question about the Barbarian’s DiabloWikiCleave. Since it does 120% damage to the target and 90% damage to other things it hits in the wide sweeping arc, what is the damage if you’re using it with shift+click, so you’re not actually targeting anything? Bashiok replies confusingly, then adds an update with new skill info that makes the question a moot point.

We want as much information available in the game as possible, within reason, and a reasonable amount of information is really fairly basic to keep tooltips from becoming small novels.

Cleave is an ability we’re looking at right now. We may actually make it so that there is no damage disparity between your target and collateral hits. In any case, the way it’s intended to work, if you’re holding shift and not targeting anything, is that the first creature you hit takes the 120%. I’m not sure if it’s actually implemented that way right now, and as I said could change anyway. Our intent is not to make shift+hitting/casting anything act in a way that is less effective than if you were clicking directly on enemies, so I don’t see any need to call anything out when the net result is the same (enemies die).

…As an update Wyatt just changed it to be a flat 115% to all targets caught in the swing. We’ll see how that works out.

Click through for one more post in which Bashiok happily admits that Blizzard doesn’t innovate in their games. (No, really.)

Finally a fan contributed a generally-incoherent rant which brought out the ornery in Bashiok.

I think that can be a game-killer. I feel D3 is beginning to suffer from Over-iteration. Also, Queues?

Give me a break, increase your infrastructure capacity, putting a paying customer in a Queue doesn’t look good, PERIOD. Activsion Blizzard no good. You will become a victim of your success.
No disrespect to my comrades, but what was the last Blizzard game or feature you’d call innovative?

Personally I’m not sure I can think of any except the currency based DiabloWikiauction house and DiabloWikirunestone system, and those are both in the game you’re criticizing.

In my opinion we make awesome, polished, accessible games that are fun for a huge spectrum of people, but when I think of the word innovative our games don’t jump to mind. We make iterations and polish on what are fairly well understood systems and ideas, and that process has created our games and our company.

I realize I’m jumping on one little part of your post, but you ended it with a conspiracy theory Activision|Blizzard boogie-man jab so I think I’m afforded the ability to ignore the rest of it.

Sadly, a Blizzard PR employee referring to the ever-present danger of corporate interference from a company headed by a man with Bobby Kotick’s track record a, “conspiracy theory boogie man” doesn’t make it any less real.

That point aside, is Bashiok being too hard on Blizzard games? Do you think there’s innovation above what he’s saying? Have you ever seen Panda bears in another video game? (Oh wait…) Or is innovation overrated? Are new features in games less important than balance, polish, fun factor, etc?

You could also argue that innovation is better once it’s been reworked. Look at how poorly-produced and packaged new features are their first time out? For instance, take Set Items in D2, and then compare how much better they were handled in D2X. (With hopefully further improvements coming in D3.) What do you want to bet that Runestones will be a much better system in D3X than they are in D3V(anilla)?

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    47 thoughts on “Blue Posts on Shrines, Cleave Improvements, and Innovation

    1. Blizz to me is renowed for refining and polishing concepts that work, as demonstrated in the past. I don’t consider Blizzard that innovative. They just combine and polish old ideas really well.

      (captcha, seriously?)

    2. “What do you want to bet that Runestones will be a much better system in D3X than they are in D3V(anilla)?”

      What a stupid statement, OF COURSE it’s gonna be better in D3X than D3V, skill runestones is a brand new concept in the Diablo universe and by the time we get to D3X there will have been tons of player feedback on what can be improved. Right now there’s hardly any significant amount of player feedback with the tiny amount of testers that most prove to be utter noobs, especially those from the F&F front.

    3. Seem like Flux doesn’t really like Blizzard much lol.  I think what Bashiok said is true lol. I hope he is more harsher toward those stupid forum posters.  Judging from now I don’t think D3 community will be any better than WoW. They always complain when Blizzard try to change thing and also complain that Blizzard lacks of innovation. 

      • You do realize that it’s Bashiok’s job to convince us that his bosses are wonderful and that Activision doesn’t ever interfere with Bliz, etc. Their CMs are allowed to be basically honest about most game feature stuff, and can offer some critiques of Blizzard games and the community, but you will never see them say a word against management or corporate, and if you want to get your account banned, making those types of remarks is about the fastest way to do it.

        Any cursory glance at the past 10 years of Activision will show you dozens of events, including plenty of actual quotes from Bobby Kotick, that make very clear his goals and objectives and the means he’ll use to achieve them. That he has not (yet?) been able to screw over Blizzard the way he has all of Activision’s dev teams is a blessing we should all revel in.

        • Having been “inside” at Blizzard I can tell you there is zero chance of Bobby interfering. Every senior employee made it clear when the merger happened that if they weren’t allowed to operate independently they’d walk. Even Bobby isn’t dumb enough to kill a golden goose. Now, when the day comes that Blizzard isnt making killer games then they’ll lose that leverage. But by then maybe we won’t care if the game are average.

          • Maybe, but I think that just means there isn’t any pressure from above to do things in a certain way.

            Now if Blizzard have some choices to make about an upcoming game, and options 1 and 2 are inline with Activision’s ideals, option 3 is neutral and option 4 is negative, do you think they’ll be choosing option 4?

        • “and if you want to get your account banned, making those types of remarks is about the fastest way to do it.”

          Not really… I’ve seen plenty of people that bash Activision, Bobby, Blizzard execs, etc. without getting in trouble (me being one of them)… The CMs and moderators are not like the PR people they assign to interviews… The real fastest way to get banned on those forums is to troll a lot, make spam posts, curse out people constantly, use bigoted slurs, rage about past bans, etc.

    4. considering cleave costs nothing, why there is normal attacks since it does 115% in aoe? bad design by blizzard

      • They’ve long since made clear that normal isn’t to be used past about clvl 3. As soon as you have skills, you should use them; there are always some low level ones that are better than Attack, on left and right click.

        Like it or don’t.

      • Normal attacks are pretty much intended to be redundant. Most classes have free skills that do more damage (or at least have greater utility) than normal attacks – Fury generators, Hatred generators, Spirit Generators, Signature spells. Only the WD is left out, but mana recovery should largely offset that. Probably the only builds using normal attacks beyond the first few levels will be melee DH’s with the Fundamentals passive, which effectively turns normal attack into a high damage Hatred generator skill.

    5. StarCraft was AFAIK the first RTS to have multiple races with different playstyles instead of mechanical clones of each other. Diabo 1 was pretty different too and led to a lot of “Diablo clones,” although you could criticize Blizz for dumbing it down a lot from previous ARPGs.

      • Dune II(1992) is the first RTS I can think of with races that have different playstyles, Blizzard got alot of ideas from it for their first RTS Warcraft: Orcs and Humans(1994).

        • While they did take some queues from the Dune series (since that was pretty much the first RTS series ever) the factions in Warcraft 1 (which btw was orginally going to be a Warhammer RTS) and 2 didn’t really have different play styles… they mirrored eachother quite closely and it wasn’t til Starcraft that they made their races have distinct mechanics and followed up on that in Warcraft 3…

          • “the factions in Warcraft 1 didn’t really have different play styles”

            That’s true but the factions in Dune II didn’t mirror eachother, they shared some units and had some unique units which lead to different playstyles. So saying “StarCraft was the first RTS to have multiple races with different playstyles” isn’t accurate imo.

            • Dune II went only slightly further than Warcraft II did in making the sides distinct. The overwhelming majority of each side’s units, including pretty much all of the bread-and-butter units, were common to all three sides. All three sides had basically the same building tree, and resource and building mechanics were largely uniform. Each side did have a small number of units that weren’t available to it and a small number of units that were only available to it, and these did have a significant effect on gameplay, but it didn’t go nearly as far as Starcraft did. (Starcraft also, incredibly, managed to, despite using three races that shared absolutely nothing, be much better competitively balanced than anything that came before it.)

    6. Just a reminder, pandas appeared in WC3 earlier, than in Kung-fu Panda: The Game. They are part of WarCraft universe for few years.
      I dont think Blizzard is very innovative. At least now. But their games are very polished, well thought-out and very close to perfection. No revolutionary concepts, but very good high-quality implementation of older ones. And I like it that way 🙂

      • And i’m pretty sure i saw them in Samwise’s art way before that too.   And Blizz was never innovative, not just now…

    7. Blizzard aren’t and never have been very innovative imo, they are mostly good at polishing proven concepts. Innovation isn’t necessary to make good games though as they’ve proven, hopefully they keep that trend going.

      • Precisely. Blizz may not be innovative right now, but they were founded on it. Their three main brands were revolutionary for their time, and it’s a testament to their staying power that a game like Starcraft can become a national sport, or that Warcraft can have the most popular MMO to date.

        I think Bashiok made a disservice to past innovation as it paved the way to the cash cows they have right now.

      • Well it was hard not to be somewhat innovative (I’d say they were more revolutionary than innovative) when there was hardly anything preceeding them in their respective genres…

        • Except there was stuff preceding them, we just didn’t know about them because they faded into obscurity fast…
          Well you should have known about Dune II though… it basically invented RTS’s.

        Diablo maybe (and it didn’t start out as a Blizz game), the other two weren’t, Dune II did the whole two sides with some late game units that are different while basically inventing the RTS genre (Herzog 2 was more of a hybrid), and as i linked before, War Wind had completely different factions and even creeps back in ’96…
        Sure, the Blizz RTS where amongs the first, but even then they where not innovative… just very well polished.

      • Maybe from a tehnical standpoint, having the world change based on your quest progression was been done in RPG, they just addapted it to a MMO…

    8. Is anyone else concerned that the way they adjust the best game in our lives which is in development purgatory is by bashiok trolling on his own forums yelling down the hallway to a programmer, “hey, cleave is messed up! tweak it!” and the response is, “i’ll just make it 115% across the board, that should fix it”.  in the end, its probably the right call, but when reading it, it makes it seem so arbitrary.  didnt give me a lot of confidence.  when i think of blizz, i think of a room full of D&D geeks breaking out charts and graphs for every little thing before the code is even written.  i know that is the fantasy in my head but if this is where they are at or how they do it, maybe its not the holy place that i once thought.  in any event, just release the fracking game already.

      • Yeah, the Cleave change seemed pretty weak, as it removed the one interesting thing about the skill since noobs might not understand it. But as we’ve seen that on about half the features in D3, is there even any point in noting it anymore?

      • “yelling down the hallway to a programmer, “hey, cleave is messed up! tweak it!” and the response is, “i’ll just make it 115% across the board, that should fix it”.”

        You don’t really get how it works do you? Bashiok doesn’t yell anything down hallways to devs… The devs discuss things without needing input from the forums, and in this case, it seems they were already thinking working on cleave anyway… The CMs may relay feedback from the forums to them in meetings or the devs may read the forum posts themselves but don’t think that everything hinges on what a vocal minority complains about… Also the CMs may relay information from the devs about what they are working on, but it is usually something they were already engaged in, not because Bashiok told them some guy on the forums doesn’t like it so they should go into excel and switch a couple of numbers and see if it appeases them…

        Buying items has been a thing in D2 since i can’t remember when… i knew people that sold them for pocket change.
        Hell, a friend of mine who just quit his job was just telling me he was thinking of starting plating Diablo 2 again and get a nice barb helm for 2$.

    9. On one side people want innovations and on the other side are the people that just want another Diablo2.

    10. i agree that blizzard has never been really innovative. it’s not necessarily an insult as innovation for the most part is an illusion. a lot of pc games during the 90’s always advertised some great new innovative feature for their fps’s or what not and on paper these looked like great ideas but they either were poorly executed (to be implemented much better later) or just didn’t pan out and left the game in a garbled mess of unnecessary complications that watered down the gameplay not enhanced it.

      perfecting a tried and true formula is a great thing to have in a company. blizzard first did this (at least imho) with starcraft. three very different races as far as units, construction, tech trees, etc and at the same time for what it’s worth pretty well balanced. some races were better late game or with air units but other races have the opportunity to counter or to attack during a key window of opportunity. i dont really think bashiok meant to bash (hehe pun intended) blizzard.

      he was merely speaking the humbling truth about the company. it’s like a chef that still loves to eat at other restaurants (i use this analogy because i work in that industry). blizzard is the chef that does really awesome authentic style food (kind grandma would make if you will). leaving the fusion and all that other experimental stuff to other restaurants.

      • Thing is, is no one actualy tries sometihng new they don’t have what to polish and we’d have the same game with new graphics over and over… and some of us would get bored with that eventually…

    11. Blizzard does innovate, but it doesn’t take great wild steps. They innovate in small ways. In the end, it makes a difference.

    12. Funny that this came up right now, as I’ve been thinking about it recently, and I’m of almost the same opinion as Bashiok, in that Blizzard hasn’t really been innovative since the late 90’s. I diverge in that I wouldn’t even acknowledge his two examples from D3 as being innovative; the RMAH just copies an idea hundreds of illegitimate services have been doing in online games for many years and incorporates it into a familiar interface, while the runestone system may have started out as a fresh idea, but with the skill system as watered down as it has become we might as well just have five or six times as many free-spec skills from which to choose. He says Blizzard didn’t get to where it is now by innovating, and I can’t really assess whether that’s the case or not.

      • No, it just that in the 90’s you didn’t know enough to see where they where getting their ideas… they where never innovative.

    13. queues?  Aw, man.  I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that that’s a possibility, but it feels like insult upon injury.  Not only are we not even going to be allowed to buy the game (effectively we’ll only be able to rent it), we might not always be able to play the game we’ll be paying good money for?  I mean, aside from the issue of not always having internet connectivity?
      I almost wish D3 was looking boring and/or TL2 looking better so I could just say screw it.  Y’know?  I wish it were all bad or all good.  It’s annoying when a game looks so exciting and fun and simultaneously steps on so many things that I would like to see respected as consumers’ rights.  It’s galling that they can have an attitude of “it doesn’t really matter what we do, they’ll buy it anyway” . . . and be right.
      Ah, maybe I’m overreacting.  Because after all . . . I’ll buy it anyway.

    14. Starcraft was innovative game at its time.   There was RTS with different unit for each race before SC but SC was the first game that each races have completely unique mechanic and play very differently.  Warcraft3 was innovative with its rpg-rts too.  I don’t think Blizzard will make their current franchises into new thing.  They will make a new IP instead and this time I think we will see something interesting.  Keep your eye on Titan project.:D

    15. It’s a truth in almost any industry that the newer smaller upstart companies are more innovative. They need to be since they do not have the resources to do the “old” stuff better than the established companies, it might also be that the people that work there are dissatisfied with the way the older companies rather improve on what they have than take new bold steps.

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