Ironborn #6: On Guilds, Loot 2.0 and Long-Term Rewards

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.

Tagged As: | Categories: Diabloii.Net Columns


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  1. I know its hard for people to accept, but Diablo was never a SUCCESSFUL trading game. It just never worked.

    Even in D2, trading actually didn’t work. What happened in D2 was that trading allowed people to gear up way to easily. So they maxed out their gear in a few weeks or maybe 2 months, and then immediately got bored because there wasn’t actually anything else once that was done, so they’d quit.

    The solution Blizzard came up with in D2 was to have ladders, and ladder seasons. This effectively was a periodic playerfile wipe, forcing everyone to trade from scratch all over again. But that just meant they needed a few weeks to maybe 2 months to rebuild everything….and then they got bored and quit again.

    In D3, it just got vastly worse, and the AH was even more efficient and there were no ladder seasons.

    But let’s be clear: trading NEVER worked in Diablo. It was always broken. It always broke the game. Its just not how this game is designed.

    Hopefully, they can come to terms with the fact that this ARPG should be about killing monsters, not playing an economy and getting gear.

    • This wasn’t my experience in D2 at all. Yes, I started a character and leveled up and traded my way to a good or even great set of gear after 2 months but the game didn’t end there. I didn’t get bored. I started a new class/build and leveled up again chasing a new and different set of gear.

      This process repeated ad infinitum over the course of several years and dozens of characters. The majority of which came before the addition of ladders. This worked because D2 didn’t have the terrible homogeneity that plagues D3 which absolutely kills replayability. The differences between even a caster and a melee fighter are minimal compared to D2 that it can’t sustain itself the way that D2 could.

      I’d say trading worked quite well in D2. It wasn’t the easiest thing to get into but considering how little gear really mattered for game progression it wasn’t bad the way it was. The difficulty of obtaining items through trading was fairly balanced against how difficult it was to find them on your own by playing the game so there never really was that prodding feeling that you either had to grind Meph/Diablo/Baal for items or spam trade to find items you were looking for. Either way was pretty comparable so it all came down to choice which is exactly what the system needs to be a positive addition to the game rather than a detraction or worthless feature. D3 lacks this currently.

      • Interesting thoughts.

        Since trading accelerates the process of hitting the gear wall (potentially quite rapidly), they’ll have to gate the process somehow, no? Even if loot improves, the temptation to trade your way to the top will still be there…

        Speaking as someone who loved D2 and played it SF, the idea of having to give up on a build because you’ve traded so much that you hit the gear wall “after 2 months,” as you put it, boggles the mind.

        • You speak as though two months is such a short time. Diablo is not an MMO, it was never meant to be played in a way that has you continue the character forever. Each character should keep you entertained for a while but every one will reach a pinnacle at some point. There is little reason to draw that out longer than required and plenty of reasons to keep the length of time reasonable.

          The strength of Diablo 2 was that there were many playstyles even within one character class which gave you a reason to play again. Diablo 2 lasted not because the game was structured to gate gear progression by doling out rewards one crumb at a time but by giving players many options in play. In fact the game extensively rewarded the player with powerful unique and set items. Only the very highest tiers were remotely rare.

          • I guess “reasonable” is a subjective term, huh? I played D2 for 3 years solid (almost every morning for about an hour). I probably spent… …maybe a good year and a half on my Necromancer alone. And another year on my Hammerdin. I think I overlapped Meteorb sorc somewhere in there.

            Anyway, I think there could be an argument for both cases. Trading lets you sample many builds quickly (in both D2 and D3), while going SF let’s you stretch out your playtime.

            Maybe the hope on Blizzard’s part is to accomodate both ways of playing? *fingers crossed for good luck*

  2. The reason players want trading is because players always want god mode. They will always lobby for god mode, for MOAR. And they should NOT be allowed to have god mode because as soon as they get everything, they quit.

  3. Oh and one more thing I left out. The only way trading doesn’t break the game is if Blizzard has a dedicated team working extremely hard to constantly add lots of new content, monsters, and gear to D3 every 1-2 months on average. THAT is the only way trading would work. But that would require turning D3 into a wow sub based game to pay that dev team.

    • PoE has intentions of releasing new content every 2 weeks based on a micro-transaction economy. (and the micro-transactions are silly things like character dancing) If those guys can pull it off, surely Blizzard can. Besides, many of us would gladly pay for it. Either via a DLC system or monthly sub. I personally think Blizzard needs to get it through their heads that for true longevity, they will HAVE to do frequent content updates. One reason I think this is that while it worked for D2 at the time, I think even D2 would have major issues in today’s industry. Players expect to either beat your game and move on or they expect DLC. (free or not) I also think that a loot game just isn’t every one’s cup of tea. The idea of “there is better loot to find” isn’t enough to drive a lot of gamers.

      Another tidbit from PoE that I found quite interesting. Their trade system is pretty basic. It’s just a trade chat. One of the founders wrote an article about it basically stating you have to make trading really difficult or you make it too easy for players to bypass the core gameplay of loot finding. Kinda a revelation to our D3 AH economy.

      Disclaimer: I’m not a big PoE fan. I didn’t like it one bit pre 1.0 release. I still find the combat lacking but I’ve been enjoying playing. (especially when I remind myself it was free)

      • >”The idea of “there is better loot to find” isn’t enough to drive a lot of gamers.””

        Well it’s presumably because there are countless F2P MMORPGs out there that really detract from the relatively simplistic and linear experience of playing a game like D2 or D3 just to get better loot to keep doing the same things again. Back in the D2 days, the idea seemed really novel. That sort of gameplay wasn’t in every single MMORPG then, because it took Blizzard to make WoW, based on D2 in many ways, to create the template for just about every consequent MMORPG. Then almost every one of them went F2P because they couldn’t beat WoW, so now we have ten million games where you run around hitting monsters to get more loot, but they all tend to have content added over time and far more social features and lots of other things that D3 (and D2) don’t.

        And on that note, in in relation to the article above, I think guilds and better social features are things of huge importance for Diablo 3. I say that as someone who generally couldn’t care less about those features in most games, and just generally isn’t much of a “social gamer” or even a multiplayer gamer at all. One reason is, as the article says, as a way to make trading work well post-AH, but in general they need to make this always-online game feel like you’re actually connected to thousands of other people.

  4. Trading in these types of games is a nightmare… Seriously, boot up Path of Exile and just try to keep up with the trade channel, as people are spamming their trades over and over and over. It doesn’t seem so bad in Diablo 3 at the moment because most people just use the AH.

    I really hope they don’t go back to the old trade system like they did in Diablo 2. Talk about two steps backwards!

    • but POE offers ways or trading other than chat

      they publish an API that allows people to grab realtime info off the POE trading website forum

      so people post on the POE trade forum things they want to sell, and then 3rd party sites use the API to scan the forums and make easily searchable trading sites

      these 3rd party sites are not Real Money sites, but list items for in-game currency
      POE bans people for RMT, but they encourage these in-game currency sites

      Blizzard does the same thing with D3’s characters, and and they could extend it to items, but they won’t
      D3’s market is just too big, there’s a lot more demand for D3 real money items than for POE real money items

  5. If only there was a place to trade that had members you could actually see and talk too,moderators, trade ratings and actual rules that get enforced…..

    I plan on using this site for trading, it should be safe and secure with actual repercussions for cheats if I run across any. (Don’t think I will though

    Not sure why an organized trade forum is not good enough….If you can keep posting here you should be able to trade here…

    • That’s true, and there’ll always be a place for trading forums. It’s just that it seems odd to not having it as part of the game, and to have to leave the game to perform a pretty common in-game function. It’d be like if Amazon let you browse items, but you then had to go to a high street Amazon store to actually buy the item; you’d think “Surely there’s a better way, and surely there’s a rather obvious missed opportunity here?”

  6. The problem w/ trade forums or chat channels is that you can’t sell stuff while you’re out killing monsters, or sleeping, eating, working, or any number of things. I guess that makes me a monster. In regards to any type of trading, nothing will work w/o hard item sinks, which means binding. Straight up. Blizzard can’t police who your “friends” are, or your clan members are. One of the most popular clans is going to be d2jsp if they don’t lock down the items better. Transmorg and enchanting/rerolling isn’t enough. They’re going to have to go harder. Gem, dye, equip, and in extreme cases, drop binding are coming. The fact that these idiots who have been working w/ WoW all these years didn’t realize this is deplorable.

    • Trocadero, do you think the idea of trading posts, mentioned in the article, might work? Even though they may not be as useful for trading as a large-scale economy, would you join a guild if you had friends who were looking out for certain items for you?

      • Or I can just search through everything at once, which is quicker, easier, doesn’t require trading friend tags, doesn’t require a legion of friends to not-play the game, etc. If I wanted to deal w/ clan loot drama, I’d still play WoW.

  7. For me it really comes down to this: I don’t want to play an MMO. I’m one of those anti-social weirdos for whom a forced social aspect of gaming means less than nothing — it’s actually a disincentive to play. I don’t want to make new virtual friends; I want to come home from work, punch monsters in the face (instead of, say, my boss, or the customers)* and maybe get something new and shiny for one of my characters. Needless to say, my Diablo career has been mostly single player (self found), with some local co-op play with friends/family.

    That being said, I won’t complain if better features are added to support the players (the majority of players? I don’t know) who do prefer to trade and otherwise interact with each other. I would just prefer that those changes don’t impact my enjoyment of the game by making top of the line gear unavailable UNLESS I get all friendly-like. Or at least less anti-social.

    * note for the IT monitors: No, I don’t really want to punch anybody. Often. It’d make my RSI flare up and cut into my gaming time.

    • Just wanted to say that this pretty much mirrors my own thoughts on this. After the WoW forced grouping for content debacle, I’m basically done with any dev that pushes multiplayer content AT THE EXPENSE of solo enjoyment.

      At least Blizzard seem to realize (or maybe they just don’t care) that Diablo lends itself particularly well to no forced grouping, so I’ll be happy as a clam if they leave it that way.

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