Jay and Wyatt are on the interview rounds again and this time they talk to PCGamer about the DiabloWikipatch v1.0.5. It’s a nice interview; much more informative than the few short teases we got earlier this week, with new details on DiabloWikiMonster Power and the DiabloWikiInfernal Machine, as well as quite a bit about their philosophy on skill changes and overall difficulty issues.

    Here’s a quote of the longest reply in the piece, and thanks to konfeta for the tip:

    You guys have also been talking a lot about damage mitigation tuning lately. Kind of a theme we’ve seen in every Diablo III patch so far is these huge numbers on any change you make, in terms of percentage. I like to say, whereas other games might tune things by cutting off fingers, you guys seem like you’d rather cut off an arm. Or add extra arms, as the case has more often been. What’s the reasoning behind that approach?
    Wyatt Cheng: I would say that, from the community perception, I absolutely understand that, often, whenever we make a change, it ends up being a huge change. The truth is that, for every change we make, there are like nine or ten more changes that we thought about making. But if something’s only 10 percent off, we have to ask ourselves, given that it’s a live game and people are playing, do we really need to make this change at all?

    So if it’s such a small change, and I’ll use Frenzy as an example – this is a really small example, but it illustrates the point well. I personally think that Frenzy generates a little bit more life on hit than it should. Whatever, you know? (Laughs) If players are getting 10 percent, 15 percent more life on hit, I don’t think it’s really worth- every time you make a change, there’s an implicit cost of having made the change at all.

    People have to be familiar. People that aren’t reading Internet posts and patch notes won’t know that their character changed. There’s the cost of having left the game for three months or four months and coming back. Because Diablo is very much the kind of game that you will, you know- for example, Borderlands 2 is coming out, right? So a lot of people will go off, they’ll play Borderlands 2. And in two months, maybe they’ll say, “Hey, Borderlands 2 is fun, but I’m gonna go back and play some more Diablo.”

    We want to make sure the game isn’t changing on you when you do come back, a lot. So there’s always a cost associated with making any change at all. So, as a general rule, if a change that we feel- the number change is not at least 15 to 25 percent, we don’t even bother making it. And that’s the 90 percent of changes that don’t even see the light of day.

    Jay Wilson: I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I’d also throw out that I think, with all Blizzard games, you tend to see more radical changes closer to ship. ‘Cause we ship the game, and then we get it into the hands of a whole bunch of players, and they teach us things.

    And because we’re not going anywhere, because we support our games so much, we kinda feel okay that, if something’s really wrong, we’ll change it pretty radically. You know? With Diablo 3, one of our big goals was to provide a lot of build diversity. That was very important to us.

    So a lot of times we would look at, say, skills that were being under-utilized. We felt like, you can’t do a five percent or a 10 percent change and suddenly turn people turn people around on a skill that they don’t like. Sometimes, you’ve gotta make a bigger change to make it more impactful. So, you know, as we’ve learned more about the game, we try not to be afraid to make big changes when we feel that they’re necessary.

    That being said, I’d like us to reach a place where our changes are more incremental. But I do think, as Wyatt mentioned, we don’t want the game to change too much. So you want to make sure that when you do make a change, they’re profound enough that people can notice. The flip-side of that is, you don’t want to make too many of those, because then exactly that problem happens.

    Wyatt Cheng: And I could probably refine my previous statement in that, Jay is totally right. The early parts are sometimes tougher, because you’re learning a lot more about your game. I said that a 15 percent change, you don’t always make. But in retrospect, there are quite a few changes that are in the five to 15 percent region.

    A lot of times, there’s also [the issue of] a buff vs. a nerf. So if we decide to do a five percent buff, yeah, the game changed, but no one minds. And if we think something’s off by only five percent, maybe we can make that change safely. There are no hard and fast rules, obviously. It’s half art and half science, but that’s definitely a factor. The psychology of it.

    In other replies, Jay and Wyatt stress that they want the DiabloWikiMonster Power system to be entirely optional. You can play without even knowing it’s in the game and your loot will not be penalized or reduced from the current system. (In fact you’ll do a lot better since in v1.0.5 the difficulty will be reduced and the drop quality increased on Inferno.) But, if you want to turn up the MP, you’ll get monsters with a lot more hit points and that drop more gear.

    The devs are still vague on just how that’ll work, but you will be able to pull up higher MF/GF than the usual cap, and Jay talks about increasing your chances for a second item to drop from normal monsters.

    Finally, this last quote… anyone want to hazard a guess what it means?

    Does Infernal Machine unlock totally new bosses, or is it just harder versions of existing ones?
    Jay Wilson: They’re not completely new bosses. They’re not exactly harder versions of existing ones. We didn’t go in and say, “Let’s add all new bosses!” But we also didn’t just go in and crank up an existing boss. We tried to come up with unique ways to make some new versions of existing bosses.

    I assumed the Infernal Machine bosses would be like, (hypothetically speaking) a bright red Skeleton King who shoots fireballs and summons Phase Beasts. Apparently not.

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