Bashiok made an interesting post on the B.net forums, explaining D3’s whole “not just endless boss runs” end game play style.
The purpose is devaluing boss runs, not making them pointless. I guess you could make the argument that anything beyond what is most efficient is pointless, which isn’t totally wrong, but there’s still plenty of grey area.
Bosses have fixed locations, and fixed mechanics, these two basic truths mean for very formulaic gameplay. Formulaic gameplay leads to formulaic builds to best take advantage of them, and as much as some individuals might like the repetition, we don’t believe they’re healthy for what we intend to be a diverse character landscape.
Character and build diversity is not only built by the mechanics and systems that create a build, but also what challenges those builds face that make them viable or not viable. You can have an awesome character customization system with tons of complex systems that feed into infinite character customization, but it doesn’t mean anything if the content that the character is facing doesn’t challenge it and validate the choices that were made.
Rares and champions tend to have either partially or completely randomized locations and affixes. We believe that making it less of a formula, and using the Diablo-centric randomness to drive the end-game gameplay as well as item drops, it will mean for a more compelling and diverse experience, which is simply going to be more interesting for more players. We expect that a huge chunk of people that buy Diablo III will never make it to Inferno, but that doesn’t mean we should punish the people who do with boring and repetitive avenues for acquiring drops. The formulaic nature of bosses will ensure that they are the goal for item runs unless we devalue them, and so that’s what we’re going to try out.
I will also say that we don’t think Inferno is the end-all solution to creating an exciting end-game. We’re pretty sure it will be a great improvement, and excellent first step, but it’s still quite a ways away from a true end-game content solution. We hope to be able to share some of the other thoughts we have post-release.
I agree with the D3 devs on this issue, since I like playing a variety of areas and crafting a build that can deal with all sorts of scenarios, rather than just specializing in doing the same one or two things, over and over again. Like Bashiok says, Meph/Baal/Cows/Pindle/etc runs promote narrow builds and exploitative play. Plus those pattern-following boss runs enable bot use, and they’re just plain boring.
The problem, as the D3 team has acknowledged in the past, is that players will do whatever it’s most profitable for them to do, even if that’s boring. Thus the mission of the game’s developers is to make fun and varied play the most rewarding type of play. They can do this by increasing rewards from random bosses, by decreasing rewards for boss running, or both.
You are, of course, free to disagree. Perhaps we should run a vote on this issue someday, just to see where people are on this, philosophically.