For weeks now, people have been speculating about what Diablo 3 will be like once DiabloWikiLoot 2.0 and DiabloWikiReaper of Souls hit. With DiabloWikiBlizzCon just around the corner now is as good a time as any to explore a few ideas about what guilds might achieve, possible solutions to the loot and the trade systems, and some ideas about long-term game rewards.

    Guilds As a Possible Alternative to Self-Found Mode

    One of the more intriguing ideas that’s surfaced from recent D3 datamining efforts is that of guilds. Some players have speculated that each guild will have a trading post, where players can trade items they find with others in the same group. This would allow people to get some of their items through trading and encourage cooperative play.

    Most of the self-found players I’ve talked to still prefer a separate SF mode. Even so, if the guild feature allows people to set and (more importantly) enforce rules – like BoA items for everyone in the group – it might be a good alternative to a completely separate mode. In essence, it would help people form their own mini-communities around different playstyles.

    It might also solve another problem, which Katniss mentioned in his e-mail exchange with Flux.

    What I would ask you is whether you believe that there is a replacement system that can balance both maintaining the integrity of a loot system that is supposed to provide the enjoyment of slaying monsters for upgrades and power increases, while still enabling robust social features and the possibility of lucrative trading, albeit in a limited fashion.

    In other words, how do you strike a balance between A) giving players the freedom to trade, and B) allowing them to trade so quickly and easily that it destroys the game’s challenge?

    Let’s take the above idea about guilds a step further: what if the only way to use a trading post was to join and play with a guild for a certain amount of time? After so many hours of playing with other guild members, a slot opens for you in the group’s trading post. You can add an item to the post or remove one. Assuming they get the drop rates and legendaries-per-hour ratios correct, this might be an effective gating method and encourage people to play – not just trade – with their guild.

    Further Reinforcing Guild Benefits

    In addition, what if there were other benefits that guild members get after joining and playing with a guild for a certain amount of time? Perhaps a group MF bonus? As you add more members, the bonus gets lower to balance a higher number of people contributing items to the trading pool.

    Also, since leaving a guild would negate your bonus and force you to start over from scratch with the next guild you join, it would discourage hopping between groups or games to find items. In public games, items found could be traded with those in the same session, but become BoA when you leave the game. (If players opt to create a guild where all items are BoA, each player – regardless of guild size – could retain the high end of group MF benefits.)

    It’s not perfect – and I’m not sure it would completely satisfy power AH users on one end or SF purists on the other. But to me it seems like a compromise that most players could live with. Trading doesn’t go away, but it doesn’t become the addictive yet game challenge-destroying monster the AH is (and that third-party sites were for many D2 players).

    What do you all think about guilds? Should they work like this? Be completely different? I’m curious to hear your thoughts and ideas.

    Why Loot 2.0 Needs To Be Better Than Loot 1.5

    Many of those who have played the console version of D3 argue it’s superior to the PC version for SF players. Drop rates are flat-out better for rare and legendary items, as is gear progrssion. But in the span of only a month or so, many console players are already complaining that they’ve hit a gear wall – and that includes those who have played entirely SF. (Even if you believe gear progression should be rapid for console players, too much of a good thing can still ruin a game.)

    So, what does the ideal loot balance for a Diablo game look like? From a SF perspective, I’d like to point back to an idea expressed by Katniss (thanks Katniss!):

    “I don’t believe that the “economy” of the console is one of thinking of, “What can I get or trade for this item?” but more, “Can any of my characters use this as an upgrade?”

    This is exactly how many self-found players played D2 and play D3: we see characters on our account as a team that helps to gear the whole group. Almost all of the SF players I’ve spoken to are hoping the D3 community’s thinking will be more along these lines after Loot 2.0 and RoS arrive.

    While better loot may make trading unnecessary, it’s important to recognize something: even in D2, where drop rates for many items was low (but not soul-crushingly so as in D3’s PC version), the “buy it now” mentality was prevalent. It didn’t help either that third party bots were always spamming trade channels with their wares.

    Still, it’s an uncomfortable truth that when people buy (or power trade) their way to victory, they only find out after the fact that they’ve cheated themselves of the feeling of finding many rare items for the first time. And, self-found or not, Diablo fans deserve a world where they can feel the joy of finding their own rare items.

    That’s why getting the loot balance right in version 2.0 is so important. If items are too copious (as seems to be the case in D3 console), even SF players will hit a wall and get bored. If they’re too rare, people will feel pushed to use the AH or third-party trade sites (as they do now with D3 PC and its horrid drop rates). If the devs can find a way to balance the game’s various loot systems so that none is superior, it would create greatly-needed longevity for the game.

    Still MIA: Better Item Recycling and Long-Term, Hard-To-Achieve Loot Rewards

    Flux mentioned (again in his e-mail exchange with Katniss) that the downside of having amazing gear in D3 is that most of what you find is junk. While crafting is great and all (and transmog looks pretty cool), there will come a time when we’ll need something to do with all that trash gear lying around. In short, we need a better sink for item components when we’ve hit a gear wall and are hoping for something better.

    Here’s an idea: allow players to gamble for legendary or high-end items using actual gear (not crafting components). If you don’t want to salvage or sell it, you could run it through some sort of device (Gheed’s Machine, anyone?) for a small chance to win something far better, like legendaries, set items or other rare items. For those who are tired of garden variety crafting recipes and transmog options, it would be fun and fast way to unload items – and maybe acquire something amazing.

    And what about long-term, hard to achieve loot rewards? While legendary crafting recipes have similar drop rates to (or worse than) the uber-rare runes from D2, the items they produce don’t seem to be worth getting very excited over. As a “gift that keeps on giving,” legendary crafting plans could work – with several tweaks. But as something you can invest a lot of time into collecting in order to create something truly amazing, there’s no real analogue to D2’s rune system.

    Right now, D3 doesn’t really have a similar system of taking many smaller items over time, and allowing them to build up to something amazing and game-changing. True, runes were an inventory nightmare – yet they were also the perfect carrot-on-a-stick for the Diablo loot treadmill. In many ways, achieving a powerful runeword was like building a pyramid – you started from a humble foundation and built until you had created something you were truly proud of achieving.

    Maybe Blizzard will forego the rune system for cooler set items (long-term investment). Or maybe they’ll stick with the one-hit wonder effects of legendaries. But D3 fans need better long-term rewards – and a reinvented rune system (with better inventory management) might just fit the bill.

    BlizzCon May Hold The Answers

    Speculation is so much fun – but it’s also a shot in the dark. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait too long for Blizzard to pull back the curtain on some of their new game systems – and to find out how well our predictions match up with reality. Even then, it’s highly improbable that the devs will have nailed down every detail of Loot 2.0 as it will appear in the final version.

    While we wait for BlizzCon, here’s a few questions for all of you:

    If finding items were as emotionally rewarding a process in D3 as it was in D2, would you play self-found? Are you waiting for Loot 2.0 improvements before giving self-found a shot? Or are you eager to learn the mechanics behind guilds/clans so you can start building a group to trade with?

    Waterfiend is a writer and avid gamer who follows Diablo 3 news religiously. Say hello at his forum profile.

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