Diablo 3 Survival Bonuses vs. Death Penalties


An old issue is popping up again with some fan conversation about Diablo 3 Survival Bonuses vs. Death Penalties. These are meant as an alternative to death penalties that modify player behavior by, as the cliche goes, using a carrot instead of a stick.

I would like to see a survival bonus… This bonus would give:

  • +% of all stats
  • +% armor and all resist
  • +% life
  • +% health regen and life on hit/life after kill
  • +% max resource and resource regeneration
  • +% gold find, magic find and exp gain
  • Here are some positive effects I can see this having on gameplay:

  • This would make gear important, but would allow character progression that wasn’t dependent on gear alone so long as they didn’t die.
  • It would encourage balancing between offensive and defensive gearing/building.
  • It would encourage players to play in a difficulty setting that is manageable yet challenging.
  • It would discourage players from trying to leech on higher difficulty settings.
  • It would make mindless botting even less appealing.
  • Players who want to play glass cannon will be rewarded for playing well or hindered by sloppy gameplay.

  • Grimiku: I overheard a developer once say that they like the idea of a survival bonus more than a death penalty. We don’t currently have a plan to implement a survival bonus or change the death penalty, but what kind of survival bonus would you implement? How strong should a survival bonus be?

    I’ve long liked the idea of survival bonuses, and it was a topic we debated a fair amount back in the day. Here’s a Survival Bonus forum thread from 2009, for instance. While it was a topic discussed, and the devs shifted their stance (enjoy this Bashiok 180!) on death penalties a lot, they never had any working model of survival bonuses in the game (unless you count Hardcore). I thought they could easily have been tacked onto the Nephalem Valor system; you die you lose a stack, but that obviously didn’t happen.

    There’s a lot to unpack on the issue, starting right at the top. Should there even be death penalties/survival bonuses? Player opinions differ; some feel that dying should come with a price that’s steeper than repair costs and having to wait a few seconds to resurrect, and that no penalty for dying encourages cheesy glass cannon play where players beat bosses by simply Zerging them. But is that a bad thing? Open to debate.

    Hence the idea of Survival Bonuses which are all about reward for not dying rather than punishment for doing so. They’re optional in that way; if you want to play a difficulty level that’s over your head and die repeatedly, no one’s stopping you. The issue, as always, is balance. Making the SB good, but not so good that it feels mandatory. Do you guys like the idea of a survival bonus? Would it impact your play style or fun, positively or negatively? Or do you think people who want to not die should go play Hardcore and leave this sort of feature entirely out of the normal game?

    If there was a survival bonus, what should it be? How should it tabulate? I think the B.net forum OP bonuses are too big; that would make people play very cautiously just to get up their bonuses, and then make them OP with a big stack of the bonuses. I’d want to just boost MF/GF, plus maybe Movement Speed so it’s a fun bonus that you notice, but not a real game-changer. You may disagree, of course.

    Tagged As: | Categories: Blue Posts, Ex-Blizzard, Experience

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    1. “…no penalty for dying encourages cheesy glass cannon play where players beat bosses by simply Zerging them. But is that a bad thing? Open to debate.”

      Yes. Debate over.

      • Then play hardcore. Now the debate is over.

        As for the article, I would keep everything as is. If I were a HC player I would be livid if they gave bonuses for SC “survival”. The whole essence of HC is that you have bragging rights as long as you survive. Give them the bonus.

        • Personally, I and many others already do and it made me realize that D3’s itemization and skill system isn’t half bad, when you actually have a reason to fully utilize them. People like to complain about DPS and how nothing else matters, but what they don’t realize is that defense and CC absolutely matters, it’s just that in SC you don’t have any reason to use them. If SC players want a better item game, then death must be meaningful even in SC.

          • I guess I could cut and paste my post from above. This is almost as silly as the “self-found” garbage. If you don’t want to use the AH, don’t. If you want death to be meaningful, play hardcore. This issue was put to bed in D2.

      • A simple statistic in the public character screen like “time played since this character last died” would be enough to encourage more reasonable defenses… No need for bonuses or punishment needed imho.

    2. Survival bonus will be either useless or mandatory. If it’s the latter people will get used to certain amount of bonuses and dying will have even longer lasting effect, basically a long term death penalty. Getting it back will feel like a chore the same way Nefalem Valor worked.
      Some short term death penalty is a the correct encouragement to play smarter.

      • This is exactly what will happen. Every bonus system created so far has become the new normal, and it just creates more penalty when it’s gone.

        I say, leave SC alone and let HC fill the role of challenge for those who want it.

    3. A simple concept:
      Nephalem Valor as survival bonus (numbers below are somewhat arbitrary)

      Every 100 million XP gained gives you a survival bonus stack.
      Max stacks are 20.
      Each stack gives 10% XP, MF, GF.
      Survival buff lasts between sessions/log outs!
      All stacks is lost upon death.

      Or a more engaging concept: (not originally mine, but I like it and has expanded on it):
      (The numbers are still arbitrarily chosen)
      Every 50 million XP gained – without dying – gives you a Survival Coin (or whatever name, the point is; it is a currency).
      If you die you lose ALL your Survival Coins. Yo obviously keep your coins between game sessions.
      Survival coins can be spend at a vendor in towns:
      You can buy stuff like:
      5 coins: Survival Potion: Adds 50k HP for 15 minutes – could have other variants as well.
      10 coins: XP potion: Adds 25% xp bonus for 30 minutes
      10 coins: Horardric Cache (containing crafting mats, chances for items etc)
      40 coins: 5 Horardric caches
      100 coins: “Epic” Horadric Cache(even better stuff in it)
      500 coins: Legendary Horadric Cache (even better stuff in it)

      For the most part, it gives you the same rewards as a simple XP,MF,GF buff, BUT it doesn something more.
      It adds a choice.
      Do I cash in the coins I have earned now, so I dont risk losing it all? Or do I keep playing to have a chance for even better rewards when I get more coins?
      For those who has played Demon souls/Dark Souls, the concept is a bit similar.

      The potions you can by serve mostly one reason, it gives hardcore players something useful to spend coins on. Without consumables, a HC player would always be incentivized to go for the biggest rewards in a shop like this, since in HC you will always base be basing your decision-making on not dying ever.
      Potions add a choice between: more survival now vs better rewards (caches) later.

      The above would add both a survival bonus to the game; with the obvious benefits of making combat more exiting and meaningful, and creating a better balance between offensive and defensive stats/skills.
      But it would also add interesting choices and risk/reward calculations at the same time.

      Also, the bonuses are not, imo, overpowered, and they can still be gained even if you play a suicidal glass cannon – since the rewards are just more items, xp etc. (well, the survival potions would be unique benefits, but also the easiest thing to get).
      A glass cannon will still be competitive – as it should be – since they will kill faster than someone who tries to play defensive, thus compensating for the potential lack of survival bonus, if you die more.

      • I personally really like the idea of a survival bonus granting Magic Find. They’re already trying to move it off of gear, and given the fact that it now supposedly gives diminishing returns on legendary drops I don’t see it being mandatory. It would reward you for playing on a difficulty matched to your gear level while giving you a bonus to drop rate that would in theory help you move up in difficulty through good gameplay. It’d also give something more to defensive builds (with the assumption that all-out offense can no longer guarantee survival with the removal of LS).

    4. The God declares that survivability bonuses are not needed, if survival is not important, only ability to kill efficiently.

      [The God ponders awhile if the ‘high survivability’ may brings more rpg-like parties with dedicated tanking characters. Heavenly being decides that answer must be ‘no’ in game with D3 mechanics]

      Divine being states this changes nothing, being able to be punched longer on higher difficulty will always be opposite with dps-centric builds, and since all item slots allow at least medium +dps potential, it is pickup radius vs. +trifecta all again.

      • Not needed? What do you think is the reason for players largely ignoring defense and going for full DPS most of the time, aka. one of the largest problem with the whole item game?

        • Damn, should have said “perceived problem”.

          • The God declares that root cause of many D3 evils is “one size fits all” approach, accompanied with several controversial decisions which support it.

            Divine being would, of course, like to have attack/defense gradients in builds, which would result in build/itemization diversity – eg:
            – The God will kill 10% less efficiently, but will have 10% greater survivability

            There is nothing wrong with this, except that it is not the case in D3. Having 10% greater survivability is just that. Having 10% greater attack means also having greater survivability (LS, LoH, LoK, numerous procs) – at the end, +10% dps is way way more than +10% toughness (rightfully, they summed up affixes which do the same thing – divine being of course doesn’t believe Blizzard a word when balancing is in question – they said resistX will be better than resist all, yet divine being seen up to 150 resistX and ~100 resist all on sample pictures)

            Also, there is ‘inherent’ survivability – regeneration measured in thousands per second – “we shall remove potions to reduce spamming them, but we’ll add perma-potion which heals for, say 10% HP/sec, cause we solve D2 problems, we are NEW BLIZZARD” – potions weren’t ‘modern’ enough, The God suspects, were ‘out’ in seasons Q3/Q4 2012, continued in whole season 2013, but in season Q1/Q2 2014 they will become ‘in’ again – such is a world of fashion game design!

            Where are those perilous perils from D2 which player needed special protection from? Lighting resist and MSLE? “Cannot being frozen”? Nah, lets put them all in same basket, to avoid unnecessary thinking!

            No, in game where player attacks with ‘the damage’ and defends with ‘the toughness’, there is no finesses at all

            Defense is much weaker than offense, and bonuses making it CONCURRENT to offense are, well, weaker. To the point of not needing them. Sadly. If defense were SUPPLEMENT to offense, then again, it is offense what really matters, and ‘have as much as you can of other one’.

            This doesn’t apply fully to HC, but most people play SC. Which is way to ‘soft’ – dying means nothing, consequently reducing it means nothing too, as long as player is able to kill efficiently. Reducing dying effectively brings a little boon to player, but nothing more.

            Divine being stated many times that itemization is purely stupid – The God wants shield do be defensive, and to have %-based damage reduction, NOT “increased CC chance”. Helm and body armour should be defensive items also, yet we constantly have some kind of ‘mempos’ which boast dps skyhigh. Certain affixes should be restricted from certain items and that would be ‘smart’ – armour or boots that makes player more intelligent (sic!) and more vital? ‘Smart drop’ indeed (a divine pun!)

    5. If the goal is to stop players mindlessly throwing their characters at a problem then no survival bonus will help while monster HP don’t reset on death.

    6. Do you still die from random spike damage? (answer: yes)

      Therefore, is dying/not dying meaningless? Answer: Also yes.

      • Almost true, but not quite. People chose to die from spike damage, because death is meaningless.

        Every class has ways to prevent death even against the most obscene Elite mod combinations, but why should you waste your precious skill slots on these, when you can just respawn and continue where you left off? SC is laughable even in classic and it will get worse in the expansion because of the new 5 seconds respawn-in-place system.

        • What? That’s the new respawn system? *Facepalm*

          Geezer voice: I remember when I had to go down 15 flights of dungeon to find my corpse. Kids these days.

        • Death itself is only meanignless if you play in solo games, but when you play in a team, then the dynamics suddenly change.

          If you are in a good farming team playing on mp lvl 10 or torment and dying a lot, then the team would probably kick you for slowing them down and being a noob. So psychologically dying a lot is actually deterrence, as it makes you look bad in front of your team members.

    7. Terrible idea. Death penalties make sense; you have to build your character around the content to make sure you dont die every few screens. The opposite is stupid because it makes the game easier the tankier you are. Its positive feedback where death penalties are negative feedback. The only positive feedback process in the human body is the orgasm….. This will just lead to being just tanky enough to kill things slowly to get god mode.

      • “The only positive feedback process in the human body is the orgasm.”

        I’m fairly sure that’s wrong, unless I’m always having an orgams while eating a pizza.

      • There is really no difference between a survival bonus and a death penalty, if the game is balanced equally around them.

        Not having the bonus simply becomes the penalty, or vice versa.

    8. QUOTE=ShadoutMapes;85
      Don’t you mean

      Every 100 million XP gained gives you a Nephalem bonus stack.
      Max stacks are 20.
      Each stack gives 10% XP, MF, GF, Nephalems.
      Survival buff lasts between sessions/log outs/Nephalems!
      All stacks Nephalem lost upon death.
      
      Every 50 million XP gained - without dying - gives you a Nephalem Coin.
      If you die you lose ALL your Nephalem Coins. Yo obviously keep your coins between game sessions.
      Nephalem Coins can be spend at a Nephalem in towns:
      You can buy stuff like:
      5 coins: Nephalem Potion: Adds 50k HP for 15 minutes - could have other variants as well.
      10 coins: Nephalem Potion X potion: Adds 25% xp bonus for 30 minutes
      10 coins: Nephalem Cache (containing crafting mats, chances for items etc)
      40 coins: 5 Nephalem caches
      100 coins: Nephalem Nephalem Cache(even better stuff in it)
      500 coins: Nephalem Nephalem Nephalem Cache (even better stuff in it)
    9. I think Torchlight 2 did a good job with the map system, where maps had random bonuses and penalties. I think I would prefer that to this system.

    10. I’d take the idea of MF bonus over time and reverse it. Every time a player dies he gets MF hit for an hour OR until next elite/boss/mini boos kill. The MF penalty will stack the timer won’t. Killing a boss will remove all stacks, elite groups and mini bosses one stack.
      This will not halt progression for players who want a tough challenge, they’ll still get the guaranteed legendary from first boss kill. It’s not as punitive as temp stats decrease or xp loss, though i’m for xp loss but you know kids these days.

    11. I think D2’s death penalty could work with some changes. If you die you lose Paragon XP (possibly even level), but not normal XP. Alternatively we could get a stacking XP bonus for every X minutes we spend in combat and don’t die. It should persist between game sessions and stack really high. This way we would be able to gain Paragon levels much faster if we play well, so we would have an incentive to prevent death.

      The problem with any survival bonus is that it would be a straight up buff for any Hardcore characters, which is why I would prefer a penalty in this case.

    12. The problem with boni on life is that it easily becomes a snowball effect: because you die you lose X strength which means you die more often, losing more etc etc etc.

    13. I can’t see any possibility of this beeing both non-mandatory and meaningful other then making it a pure MF bonus. In any case, if people want death to be meaningful they should play Hardcore.

      • Everyone who says that people wanting death to be meaningful should just play Hardcore is blatantly ignoring the issue here. The Hardcore death penalty is understandably too much for many people. The problem is that many SC people still want death to be meaningful. Whenever they complain about the all encompassing pervasiveness of DPS they think they’re voicing their opinion against the skill system or itemization. What they don’t seem to realize is that defense won’t ever be as valuable as offense until you have a good reason to prevent death.

    14. QUOTE

      Everyone who says that people wanting death to be meaningful should just play Hardcore is blatantly ignoring the issue here. The Hardcore death penalty is understandably too much for many people. The problem is that many SC people still want death to be meaningful. Whenever they complain about the all encompassing pervasiveness of DPS they think they're voicing their opinion against the skill system or itemization. What they don't seem to realize is that defense won't ever be as valuable as offense until you have a good reason to prevent death.

      That’s odd because for my Diablo 2 Sorceress defense was my main priority in gearing even in softcore, and the death penalty in softcore Diablo 2 was meaningless for me since I didn’t ever try for level 99. The difference in Diablo 3 is that gear is your only offense, so when you gear a character you have to focus on offense because no amount of surviving is useful if you can never kill anything in a reasonable time. In Diablo 2 my Sorceress had decent kill speed naked, and what I needed most was defense so that I wouldn’t get killed before I delievered my damage. If they want defense to be meaningful they need to give us the possibility of gearing for it, and right now there isn’t one unless taking several minutes to kill anything is fun for you.

      • You’re saying the death penalty was meaningless and yet you tried really hard not to die? One of these statements must be false……

    15. Survival bonuses will once again force us to use more defensive builds. I don’t like when the game forces you to play one way more than the other. It would be similar as it is right now with NV, you just have to have 5 stacks in order to begin farming the content. And I feel forced to do so, because that’s the only way to be efficient. I think survival bonus shouldn’t improve damage, mf or armor, it should only increase the movement speed (over the cap), gf, hp regen, life on kill…

    16. QUOTE

      Almost true, but not quite. People chose to die from spike damage, because death is meaningless.
      
      Every class has ways to prevent death even against the most obscene Elite mod combinations, but why should you waste your precious skill slots on these, when you can just respawn and continue where you left off? SC is laughable even in classic and it will get worse in the expansion because of the new 5 seconds respawn-in-place system.

      Every class has an invincibility skill? Last I checked WDs, DHs, and Monks do, and Wizards and Barbs do not (though the latter tends to be immune to whatever BS chain cc is causing it anyways, at least until the xpac comes out). 4/5 is nice, but not everyone. More to the point it means you can be totally fine against most stuff then randomly explode. And the xpac was supposed to make the difficulty more consistent, but all you have to do is watch the life of someone playing to know all that really changed is that when your life goes down like a bad sex joke it doesn’t bounce back up.

    17. While invincibility is certainly nice, you don’t actually need it to survive spike damage. Both the Barb and the Wizard has skills that when timed well can negate spike damage very effectively. In my opinion if you still explode afterwards you either mistimed or misjudged the need for your defensive skills or don’t have good enough gear for the difficulty you’re playing at. If you did all those well, then the game is indeed the problem.

      As for consistent difficulty, I don’t think that means that there won’t be damage spikes, only that you should be able to know if you can survive them before experiencing one. Right now the problem is that one moment you’re happily farming normal and Elite monsters without a care in the world and you get a particularly vicious combo like Vortex + Arcane Enchanted. Hopefully the expansion will be designed in a way, that these extremes will be closer to each other, therefore you’ll have a better idea what you can expect from dangerous Elites just from farming a difficulty.

    18. QUOTE

      While invincibility is certainly nice, you don't actually need it to survive spike damage. Both the Barb and the Wizard has skills that when timed well can negate spike damage very effectively. In my opinion if you still explode afterwards you either mistimed or misjudged the need for your defensive skills or don't have good enough gear for the difficulty you're playing at. If you did all those well, then the game is indeed the problem.
      
      As for consistent difficulty, I don't think that means that there won't be damage spikes, only that you should be able to know if you can survive them before experiencing one. Right now the problem is that one moment you're happily farming normal and Elite monsters without a care in the world and you get a particularly vicious combo like Vortex + Arcane Enchanted. Hopefully the expansion will be designed in a way, that these extremes will be closer to each other, therefore you'll have a better idea what you can expect from dangerous Elites just from farming a difficulty.

      You really don’t. The unavoidable damage thing is a lot worse, and who feels it the most? Wizards. For example, Vortex is still as bad as ever, except now it damages you, and then there’s 1 or 2 other properties with the same or a similar effect.

      • I kinda like the idea about unavoidable dmg, since it makes people in SC think twice before only focusing on dps. Now that life steal is gone, they´ll definitely need to increase their effective health a lot more, than they would have.

    19. Right, there is unavoidable dmg in the game, but unavoidable deaths are much more rare. Unavoidable dmg does not lead to unavoidable deaths.

      Dosnt really feels like an argument against death penalties in ant case.
      Clearly the issue isn’t death penalties, it is unavoidable deaths.

    20. QUOTE

      Right, there is unavoidable dmg in the game, but unavoidable deaths are much more rare. Unavoidable dmg does not lead to unavoidable deaths.
      
      Dosnt really feels like an argument against death penalties in any case.
      Clearly the issue isn't death penalties, it is unavoidable deaths.

      Spoken like someone unfamiliar with the xpac. The people playing it? They’re saying what I’m saying. Thunderstorm, buffed Vortex, Wormhole, Jailer buffed….

      They have their MVPs saying the game is a damn >sleep aid<. I am not even joking.

      • While you know I hate (HATE!!!!) the unavoidable dmg more than just about anything, if avoiding death was truly meaningless, clearly nobody would be able to successfully to HC in Inferno/Torment. Since people *are* successful in HC, then it must mean death *is* avoidable, even if dmg is not.

        • You can´t say, that since people are successful in HC, then death must be avoidable, because that would only be true, if all the classes were at an equal level at avoiding it.

          They are however not equal, because the barb and DH(imo the real HC classes, because they require the most skill) have no passives that make you avoid death like the other classes have, so when your character dies, he dies.

          • I don’t think “Cheat death” passives are all what people make them out to be. Basically they are periodical EHP boosts, nothing more. The reason people take them is because they make it very obvious when they save you, so people can say “Wow, this skill just saved my life!” The problem is that always-on EHP boosts do that as well all the time, but it’s never that obvious. In my opinion “cheat death” passives can actually result in more deaths than if you would take only always-on defensive passives combined with one damage prevention active skill like Ignore Pain or Smoke Screen to use against damage spikes.

            The WD’s Spirit Vessel is one notable exception, because it has a very useful always-on component as well, which makes it the best “cheat death” passive. Unlike about 90% of HC WDs I still don’t use it however. 🙂

    21. If it’s implemented, hope it wont reset until you die. Incentive for hardcore!

    22. Barb requires more skill than other classes in HC? :O

      Anyway, death in Diablo 3 surely doesn’t just happen randomly all the time. By far the most deaths (ignoring disconnects here) are avoidable.
      That doesnt mean the game couldnt improve more in this area.

      Cheat death should probably go away in its current form though, its a bit weird to have a skill that automatically prevents something like death.

      • Yeah, barbs actually require a lot of skill in HC, mainly because if you wanna reach lvl 100, then a typical softcore ww build isn´t going to cut it, at least it´s extremely risky with rubberbanding ect. So you wanna focus on either HOTA or rend or even weapon throw combined with rend also having no passive to avoid death makes it that much harder.

        However, among the legendaries in ROS, I did see some shoulders I think, that gave you the avoid death effect, so now barbs and Dhs can also get it. I Personally don´t like the avoid death ability, because imo it kinda redifines what HC should really be about.

        • I’m sure everyone requires a lot of skill in HC but according to http://www.diabloprogress.com, only the WD has more P100 HC chars than the Barb.

          • The Barb has the most effective offense and the WD has the most effective defense in the game, thanks to pets. It makes sense that these two are the most popular for HC. The Barb can level faster, but is more risky, while the WD is quite a safe choice, kinda like the Fishymancer was in D2.

    23. QUOTE

      While you know I hate (HATE!!!!) the unavoidable dmg more than just about anything, if avoiding death was truly meaningless, clearly nobody would be able to play HC successfully in Inferno/Torment. Since people *are* successful in HC, then it must mean death *is* avoidable, even if dmg is not.

      I don’t think anyone is doing Torment in HC, and it also isn’t actually HC since even if you did die you recopy your character on PTR after 72 hours.

      • I’ll take your word on that since I haven’t been bothering with streams or whatever. Nonetheless – if there are people doing higher MPs of Inferno in HC then death is avoidable.

    24. QUOTE

      I'm sure everyone requires a lot of skill in HC but according to 
      http://www.diabloprogress.com
      , only the WD has more P100 HC chars than the Barb.
      Lots of Barbs = lots of level 100 barbs. Perma wrath excluded, barbs are actually really vulnerable. If say a wall gets dropped on you you're basically screwed, other classes have a way out. Perma wrath is limited to ww, so he's right, non ww barbs could die fairly easily.
    25. Couldnt you just jump out of walls as barb.
      As for RoS, werent there some potion that makes you able to walk through walls.

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