As you saw in yesterday’s news, Blizzard updated their official site with a ton of items pages. There are legendaries, sets, runes, potions, gems, and much more. As soon as those pages went online, fans started delving through them, and as the initial excitement of NEW faded, questions, observations, and objections kicked into gear.
Probably the most common complaint was how lame the unique items were. This seems to be intentional on the part of the D3 devs, who have said they do not want Legendaries to be the best types of items in the game. They will be good, but a really good rare or crafted can be as good or better. This seems to be most true of the weapons, where the damage is especially lacking.
Other fans are not huge admirers of the numerous jokes, easter eggs, and pop culture references in the item names, and the top ten worst legendary names thread is in high gear. You’ll also note that numerous classic D1 and D2 unique items have returned, but even that’s drawn some dislike, since the stats of those items seems to have virtually nothing to do with the mods of the original items
A more general complaint was the lack of variety in item stats, and the apparent paucity of affixes. Bashiok responded to some of these issues in the D3 B.net forum today, with soothing words. He explains that the items section is just a big automated database, with everything pulled directly from a recent version of the game client. It’s far from final; lots of the images are placeholders, stats aren’t balanced yet, affixes and prefixes still need work, etc. Here’s an excerpt from his post:
…the vast majority of affixes are simply not implemented in-game, and as the website directly queries game data, it can’t pull something that isn’t implemented. I’d say affixes are though one area where we want to do as much as possible by game release, but they are directly limited by when we want to finally get the game out the door. At some point feature creep has to stop, and we have to begin testing what should be (game mechanic-wise) a final product.
A bigger issue, which he doesn’t quite make explicit, is that this is just vanilla D3. They need to save room to add more cool stuff in patches and expansions, so they’re keeping the items fairly plain to start with, so they’ll have room to grow. Click through for Bashiok’s full quote.
To comment on your specific points though, the vast majority of affixes are simply not implemented in-game, and as the website directly queries game data, it can’t pull something that isn’t implemented. I’d say affixes are though one area where we want to do as much as possible by game release, but they are directly limited by when we want to finally get the game out the door. At some point feature creep has to stop, and we have to begin testing what should be (game mechanic-wise) a final product.
As you stated though a lot of the crazier affixes did not ship with Diablo II, but were added later. I don’t believe that’s because the designers didn’t have those ideas, but they simply make more sense to expand and broaden the game featureset post-ship. You could argue that it’s something that should be baked into the core experience, that Diablo III should be mechanically more complex than Diablo II at release, and the fact of that matter is that it is substantially more complex than Diablo II was at launch.
Bottom line we want as many affixes as we can get for launch, but with runestones, passives, and the itemization we’re shooting for, we’re already launching a game with far more diverse build potential than Diablo II.
…I don’t expect to change your mind. You’ve been playing Diablo II for 10 years, and so it seems like a step backward because the direct comparisons of a 10 year old game with an expansion don’t match up with one currently in beta. I can yell runestones! until I’m hoarse and that doesn’t change the fact that it’s difficult to convince anyone that design complexity isn’t being removed, just shifted.
Another thing to keep in mind (runestoooooones!) is that a lot of the proactive affix effects are now runestone effects for various skills, and so we do have to be careful how affixes interact with them. It’s just going to be smarter on our part to be more cautious to start when we can’t know how those kinds of overlaps could play out pre-release.
In some cases though we are purposefully avoiding affixes we just don’t think promote good gameplay, like +damage to X. We want people to play the game and have fun, not feel crappy because they’re in an area full of ‘beasts’ and are stacking +damage to demons. It also encourages a whole host of other divergent gameplay like holding sets for specific types of enemies, or building sets to run specific areas at end-game. Lastly it’s just not that compelling. Either it’s powerful enough where people do all those crazy things to use specific items in specific areas, or the affix is just de-emphasized to the point of meaninglessness.