No More Rune Ranks = Skill Balance Issues?

We recorded The Diablo Podcast #60 over the weekend with a revolving cast of guests, and there was a lot of interesting conversation about the state of all five classes in the DiabloWikiDiablo 3 Beta Test. We also debated general issues related to the big skills / runes system remodel, and the issue of things being under or overpowered due to the removal of skill ranks came up several times.

In the previous system, runestones were found ranging from rank 1 to 7. Each rank was more powerful, dealing more damage, increasing the duration, adding more projectiles, etc… whatever was appropriate to that particular skill and rune effect. This is no longer the case, as all skill rune effects now work like base skills, with a base function that scales up with your Clvl and attributes, but does not get directly boosted by any sort of skill rune item. Here’s what Jay Wilson said about it in his explanatory article:

The new skill rune system does not have ranks, and we’ve instead made each around the equivalent to what the rank 4 or 5 rune was previously. One click, you make your rune choice, and you get an explosive benefit to that skill.

So what’s the potential problem with that? Click through to find out.

Jay’s explanation sounded iffy to many of us right from the start. Wouldn’t every rune effect be grossly overpowered if the game had been built for them to be level 1 or 2 in Normal, and now they were all instantly equivalent to level 4 or 5?

Furthermore, the removal of skill levels had been explained and justified largely by reference to skill rune ranks. No levels to skills was a big loss in customization, and an even bigger problem for balancing. Compare the power of level 1 vs. lvl 20 (or 30, or 40) skills in a game like Diablo II to get a sense of the massive changes RPG fans are used to enjoying as we improve a skill over the course of the game. No skill ranks makes sense for skills like teleport or other one-point wonders, but it seems unworkable for damage output attacks that generally start at say +50% dmg, and rise to +300%.

The D3 devs insisted they had that under control, and that skills were balanced in D3 since their damage scaled up or down depending on a character’s attributes, equipment, Clvl, etc. Most fans accepted this, since after all, we had rank 1-7 in the skill runes, which largely stood in for the removed skill levels.

Except that now we don’t have skill ranks, and skill rune effects are all one size fits all.

Ironically, there’s a very easy solution to the removal of skill runes. Since their drop rate/quality/frequency was largely determined by the difficulty level, why not just bake that property into the game itself? Rather than players scrambling to find rank 1-3 runes on Normal, 4 on Nightmare, 5 on Hell, and 6-7 on Inferno… just give the runes roughly that level in the new rankless system. Thus something like the Fork effect in Magic Missile would yield 3 projectiles on Normal, then, 4, 5, and 7 on the higher difficulty levels.

Problem solved! And yet that’s nowhere near what Jay said in the official explanation, so apparently the devs think the “one size fits all” style is a better approach, as they argued previously when they removed skill levels.

Removed Rune Rank Regrets

This issue came up several times on the podcast (as each new guest stated his worries about the system), but Wolfpaq summed it up nicely in his opening comments, from about 36:00 in the show.

I’m a little bit concerned about how they’re going to replace skill ranks. The new skill calculator just came out yesterday, and a lot of the skill runes are drastically nerfed from what their rank 7 counterparts would have been.

The DiabloWikiSplit rune effect to DiabloWikiMagic Missile is something I’ve been looking forward to since we saw a video of it from BlizzCon, with 7 or 8 missiles per cast. Now the rune is hard stuck at just 3 missiles, and we’ll never see more than that. That’s a little disappointing to me and that’s just an example; there are dozens of skills like that where they said we were getting rank 4 or 5, but really we got rank 1 or 2.

As Wolfpaq pointed out, the change is most obvious with rune effects from what used to be the DiabloWikiIndigo Rune (which was the Multishot rune earlier in development).

Check out the video for more visuals; it’s from Blizzcon 2010 and shows off a wide variety of runestone effects that used to be possible with rank 7 runestones. Note the Wizard’s multishot Magic Missile, as well as the huge boosts the Indigo rune granted to the Witch Doctor’s DiabloWikiPoison Dart (a true machine gun, very unlike the 3-shots we’re stuck with now) and also his DiabloWikiZombie Charger skill, where it summons literally a dozen charging zombies in feverish succession.

So, is this a real problem? It’s certainly a loss in fun; anyone who wanted to use Magic Missile with multishot wanted as many projectiles as possible, for more damage as well as more fun. The developers can obviously tweak the damage so that 3 shots deal roughly the same as 7 or 8 would have, but it’s going to be radically different in usage, with no chance to be the DiabloWikicrowd control Arcane shotgun we’d been anticipating.

The Insufficient Customization Situation

Rune under/overpowered issues aside, how about the larger issue? Are you guys worried about the structural integrity of the camel’s spinal cord as straw after straw of removed character customization is stacked upon the poor beast? Since the early design theories of Diablo III, the developers have removed skill ranks, runestone ranks, customizable attributes, charms via the talisman, two of the six gem types, the Mystic and her item enchants, and no doubt several other things I’ve forgotten or that we never knew about in the first place.

Is there a point where “just equipment” becomes insufficient to differentiate your character from every other character of the same class on Especially since the game is designed to so that every character will max out at Clvl 60, and the DiabloWikifreespecs system will encourage everyone to duplicate each new DiabloWikicookie cutter build the second it grows popular.

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202 thoughts on “No More Rune Ranks = Skill Balance Issues?

  1. It’s not a balance problem, but it’s certainly a flavor loss problem. My big hope is that, should the +% skill affixes still be in game, they would counter-act this by effectively ranking up the runes in their primary effect.
    For example, get an extra magic missile for every +5% to magic missile on the Indigo rune.

    P.S. Really wish Blizzard would bring back the colored runes/names. It’s so much easier to refer to them that way instead of memorizing the farking 500+ skill names.

    • this.
      since patch 13 ; a lot of the skills got more and more ho-mogenized the effects are now super flat in comparison to the time they first revealed the talent calculator on their homepage. eg the Zombie dog damage absorbtion went from 50% something to 10%, wohoo now that is an exciting skill …

      well other stuff aswell , the increase in power is just way closer to the base skill than ever, eg poison dart 100% + 80% over 2 sec —> multishot rune 3×70% wow thats a whooping 16% damage increase ! get your party heads on we can go crazy now….

      or chakram 150% weapon dmg by default , twin chakram is 2x 101% and unless i hit the enemy directly where chakrams meet i deal even less damage per cast than without the rune. i didnt upgrade that skill with this rune , i merely traded area effect for damage.

      all % for passives , Debuffs and buffs got extremely reduced most buffs and selfbuffs are only a 1/3 of what they used to be ; which largely diminishes anything like synergies. there are still themes like singletarget dps /ae dps / buff / slow / movement / heal. but they have all become so mundane and interchangeable that building a character is not really interresting anymore … i think a lot of runes have become redundant with the latest streamlining / ho-mogenization.

      all the changes Blizzard has made since they started removing skill ranks / talisman / complex traits / rune ranks;
      hints to the situation that Blizzard Bit off more than they can chew. all those removals are testament to the fact that they FORCED the runesystem to work.  maybe it works now in Blizzards Spreadsheets ; but is it still the feature they advertised so proudly when they first presented it ?

    • I’m guessing the +skill/effect suffixes are what we’re going to be seeing here myeself. We hadn’t seen anything of the higher difficulty suffixes and prefixes yet so I think a lot of the concern is pretty premature. Again, Jay Wilson has told us that normal will only have about 30% of the items available.

      I think the idea is to get us to 60, and then we’ll be customizing and making builds as we grind up gear with stats to make our ideal builds and make perfect gems to compliment them in Hell and Inferno. Which I’m more or less OK with. It sounds like it’ll be more or less like Vanilla D2 but better tuned in a lot of ways.

  2. Lack of time and difficulty of development and balancing of several rune ranks is imo real reason. Like said, nothing would stop them to add skill levels for each difficulty.

  3. Lots of speculation on aspects we never even got to test? Lauding the old system which was probably awful in practice? No levels to skills was a big loss in customization? No, it wasn’t, stop using buzz words. No “customization” was lost, as you were always going to use the highest rank available. Any removed aspect of the game does not equate to a loss in customization necessarily, so quit with the false causality.

    The new system has its problems, but don’t hold up the ridiculous old one like it was forged by Neil Patrick Harris using the hammer of Thor and the tongs of….Tongman. 

    I love this site, and the work that you guys do (Flux too) but this just seems like a blatant attempt to troll based on hypotheticals.  

    • There will always be remorse over what could have been, regardless of knowing the outcome. Kind of human nature.

      Didn’t Jay mention the possibility of runes imparting random properties to skills beyond the base rune effect?

      It was always possible to introduce more choices in the system, a simple one would have been something like allowing the player to choose any two skills that can attain the highest rank leaving the other four at base. Still has it’s downfalls, but there are obviously numerous possibilities for differentiation. 

      It definitely could have been a better system. I think Blizzard will find that players will not be “attached” to their characters with the current system. If you don’t feel like there is any weight to your choices, that you didn’t “build” that special something for yourself, you won’t care about it (no personal investment). I currently feel that way now, just playing a little portion of the beta, but maybe the story will pull me in (the same story over four replays with the same character)? I’m already a little put off by the looks of my character… I like the witch doctor’s play style, but… please let the necromancer return in an expansion.

      I think the debate would be better focused on whether or not they are diminishing the connection between the player and their character. If that turns out to be the case it could lead to poor player retention (not as much of a social aspect to tie people in) and a little problem for the RMAH… if I’m not attached to my character I’m probably not going to buy items for it. I think we’ll probably see some changes eventually. 

    • ….so you say we didnt lose customizacion with the new runes sistem?
      every F****** rune had 1-7 levels of more awsomnes, we believe that afixes will come on items but something tells me they r gona cut even that for an expansion later on….
      so that means that for now the max of missiles that the wizard can fire is 3 with a rune insted of 10…
      look…i grow tired of people defending blizz but i kinda understand your point (YOUR opinion)
      ….to me we yust lost 1 of the best features that D3 had and it choped 1 more piece of my heart 🙁

      • I hate how they took out the talismans, mystic, the original passives system..

        That is a big loss in customization.

        I was one of the ones that agreed with auto stats BECAUSE of the talismans, and other systems that are now gone.


        • I suppose it was inevitable that the issues I brought up in the last paragraph would be what most people started commenting on, but it’s funny, since the steady loss of character customization options in D3 wasn’t at all the point of this article. That bit just occurred to me at the end, and as I didn’t really have a conclusion to the article, I tacked it on as something to stir debate. It’s kind of silly to argue (as the CMs have repeatedly) that D3’s skill system allows more customization now that they’ve removed so many pieces of it, but hey, that’s their job. 

          A strong argument can be made that it’s better now with fewer choices, or that it’s awesome even without skill ranks, skill levels, with freespecs, etc. I’d actually make that 2nd argument, as I think the skill/runes system in D3 is very cool, and VASTLY better than what we had in D2. (Here’s where cognitive dissonance comes in, and goes right over the head of most fanboys) The D3 skill/rune system can be great, even though it’s much less good than it could have been. 

          This is where Bashiok and the other PR voices fail, since they are not allowed to be honest and say something like, “This change kind of sucks and it’s a shame we had to simplify things and cut features due to time constraints, but we think the product will still be quite compelling, and we hope to add some features back and improve things in an expansion.”

          I thought the issue of how they’ll balance skill rune effects, now that skill ranks have been removed, was a much more interesting topic for discussion, and that’s what I wrote this article to explore. Pity I hijacked my own thread with the unpremeditated conclusion.

      • As long as everyone aims for the max there isn’t that much loss in customization. Only if, for example, it forces you to choose different levels because you can only equip one of each level would it really help customization.

    • Your posts comes off as having missed the point.  Leaving aside considerations whether one system is better than the other, we can at least see and KNOW that the new one is much more watered down in the expansiveness of what your abilities could do.  You can’t argue against that nor can you call that trolling.  It’s fucking plain to see.
      Really you can’t see how removing ranks will include re balancing?  I skill which was optimized for a rank 7 inferno before now has to fulfil the same role in the new system while also retouching items to make sure they can boost skill ranks to what was previously there.  That or completely nerf the difficulty.
      Yes some people will bitch about customization and a lot of other irrelevant things but you can’t sweep under the rug the obvious.

    • This post is upvoted by the sheep that are the soul reason for the new and streamlined generation of game development. It really is a shame that some people can reason their way to logical conclusions and form pretty sentences while at the same time fail to grasp any form of bigger picture. Tis’ a peculiar thing, the brain.

      There is a 15 second cooldown on skill switching. No more than what it takes you to pick your nose and think a happy thought. Lots of skills have a similar or longer cooldown. Completely take away the power of choice and you will take away what drove a lot of players to the genre in the first place. Yea, all of the changes that were made can be explained in a manner that makes some form of sense. That’s how streamlining works. That’s how you can water down a game for the sake of evolution and money while keeping a straight face.

      The problem is not that the game lacks a bit of customization. The problem is that people were expecting an Action Role Playing Game, but have come to realise that’s not what’s being delivered.

      That’s not to say the game wont be a blast, for a while. As a matter of fact I’m still pumped, and yet I recognize the screaming truth in this article.

    • The most tremendous fallacy surrounding this whole skill system debacle is the confusion of “loss of customization” with “linearity”. We are NOT losing customization, but WE ARE BEING FORCED INTO A LINEAR SYSTEM. The overrall progression has changed from an item finding (luck-based) progression to a simple unlock (time played) basis.

      • Just because you have to wait till level X to unlock a skill, doesn’t means we’re being forced into a linear system. D2 had level requirements on skill unlocks. The choice comes from only one out of 5 runes being available. 

        • Right. However, in D2, even if you met the level requirement for a particular skill, you wouldn’t necessarily use it. You wouldn’t necessarily level up that skill either; thus, characters in D2 would follow a less linear path. For instance, you may have max level Blizzard, whereas another sorceress may have max level Frozen Orb. By level 80, you may BOTH have max level Blizzard AND Frozen Orb.
          In Diablo 3’s new rune system, there is no difference. All skill unlocks and “skill points” (to equate D3 to D2) are predetermined. So, if you want a stronger Blizzard before your buddy in D3 while he specialize in Arcane Torrent, tough luck. You gotta go find an item that adds to the skill while potentially sacrificing the quality of your current items, whereas in Diablo 2, you’d simply allocate another point to the skill you want.

          The point is you don’t lose customization you lose customization of your progression which, in a word, sucks.

    • Hi Robotgravy,

      I have no issue with the new rune system – other than liking the idea of working for them (in the previous version).

      But I am interested to hear your idea of where you see the customisation in D3 being now, if it’s not within any of the removed system.  You didn’t go on to elaborate, just  that nothing removed so far means less customisation.

  4. Well duh!  You should be even more concerned if the equipment list stays static.  We were all pretty underwhelmed with the “place-holder” (did anyone buy that crap?) items list.  They need to drastically improve the attributes on those and I’m thinking they need to double the list.  Think about it.  It’s seeming like TL1 more and more but without the skill tree and I don’t know how I feel about it.  The game looks and seems cool, but replayability is concerning to me.  At this point, the player-gets-everything design could be an achilles heel.  We’ll see.  Either way, launch will be exciting.  5-6 months out will be the true test.  

    • Kind of odd, but I was hoping for item modifiers boosting rune effects or individual skills (my desire to simulate point based skill system with itemization I guess). I agree that there could be more options as far as item modifiers go if that’s what you mean. A lot of things that feel lacking or were cut may popup in an expansion.

  5. It angers me. Every revision is basically a simplification. The worst part is, it is made in the name of innovation and iteration. Retards.

    What might likely happen is that, as you unlock the skill rune at higher levels, you might get (what were previously) higher-ranked effects. Which would not be too bad…

    • I dont know what mods you’re talking about. I am just disappointed at the lost promises, thats all. Not that I think the present system is bad. It’s the very best they could do at this point. But given all the promises, it still feels like a letdown. Worst part is, those who aren’t fans won’t even know about what they’re not getting.
      Maybe we are wrong in our never-ending thirst for information. Who knows, had we seen this as the final implementation without knowing about all that came before, we might have whooped with joy. Now that we know what we’ve lost, it becomes a letdown…

      • Ok, I wholeheartedly agree with you here. People who haven’t been following progress will be in blissful ignorance. But in a way we are too – we’ve heard about loads of systems that sounded fantastic. For one reason or another Blizzard reckon they don’t work – they’re not fun (I could see why people might argue that) or people don’t ‘get’ them (unlikely). We’ll never know the truth of that. I would have liked to play with some of the systems that have been iterated out, but I’m happy trusting that the one I end up will, in the long term, be better :s

  6. I’ve been playing a little bit of the Path of Exile beta, and in that game you sort of level up your skills just by having them and using them…

    I think that would be a neat way to RANK UP your Diablo skills and the rune effects.  For instance, every single skill and rune effect can be ranked 1 to 7 (as it was).  The Skills (or Rune) you ACTIVELY USE gain experience for each kill or use and quickly build in RANK.  And to not let all your unused skills/runes lag behind, perhaps they would also gain small amounts of experience and rank up more slowly (but cap at say rank 4 or 5, so they need to be USED in order to rank up). 

    Thusly this encourages you pick a skill or rune and stick with it, but you also have the option to quickly switch to something else and you have to level that up to max.  Eventually some people would have all there skills top ranked being like a “Master Barbarian”, but it would take time.

    • Alternatively, you continually earn a “skill experience pool” and each time you RANK UP a skill or it’s run effect, you draw from this pool.  Let’s say you have 150 pts in your “pool”, you could choose to rank up SKILL A from 4 to 5 and it would cost all 150 pts, or you could choose to rank up SKILL B from 1 to 2 for 10pts, then 2 to 3 for 30pts and so on.  Ultimately you will eventually have all the HIGH ranked skills you want, but the game will at least MORE RPG elements to it.  And give reason for people to play for MUCH longer trying to master all skills.

      Also it would “FEEL COOL” each time you leveled up a skill and made it more powerful, as we all know this is Blizzards main driving force to dumb-everything down.

      • Sorry man but I don’t think Blizzard’s main point in dumbing down has anything to with coolness. The system you talk about seems cool, but it would confuse a one eyed midget with an IQ of a wheelchair and thus is not in the design philosophy of Blizzard. 

  7. Agree with Robotgravy. This isn’t a loss in customisation at all. And from the sounds of it, rather than skills getting better with skill rank they’re getting better as the character does. Now, I’ve been purposefully avoiding all the info taken from the game files etc but that seems to me that nothing’s actually changed in the integral aspects of the system. I don’t know whether that means with every so-many clvls a Wiz will get an extra Magic Missile with Indigo or not, or whether it’s simply capped out at 3. But it does mean that there is skill growth throughout the game equivalent to the obtaining of rune stones.

  8. Customization:
    Skill ‘levels’ and Rune ‘levels’ never benefit customization. The only thing they do is boost your damage, not the ‘customization’ per se.They argue that customization is being able to pick a set of skills and for each skill apply a different rune on it. 
    freespec and cookie cutters:
    I’d change my skills to the new cookie cutter every second rather than creating and lvling the same class character all over again just to test that build. There will be a lot of testing by players and eventually you’ll see everyone building a ‘Crit Barb’ or ‘HP Pool Barb’ because it seems to be the most viable without items. Later on you’ll see ‘AOE Barb’ because the new set of items that we get from inferno will boost up damage in order to be viable for AOE but never forget you’ll need the right gear for the right build.          

  9. There is still time for changes…
    There is still few (not much but few) things that can still be cut out before release…
    Just give them some more time…

    • I for one am over the stage of “ooh they’re blizzards, let them do it how they know, we have all the time in the world, I really trust them and hope the game will be purrrfect”.

      No, that ship has sailed. Right now I am checking the news and when I see shit like this I just go: meh, only one more week till mass effect 3. 

  10. I think de-itemizing the runes was an idea that works good enough, but they should still allow us to customize them.

    Maybe just make them sockable with gems? You could add a Topaz to increase the number of projectiles, a Ruby to increase damage etc….. 

  11. Can’t blizzard make the rune effect’s power based on the character’s level?

    let say Magic missile’s first rune unlocks at level 6, that effect’s power would equate to a level 1 rune from the previous system. and once the wizard reaches level 10 that same rune effect would now equate to a level 2 rune. So my suggestion is to make the skill grow more powerful every 10 levels, by 60 we should have a rune effect equal to a level 7 rune from the previous system.

    • I agree.
      That would solve the “customization” problem for those who miss the optical aspects of runerank 7,
      (since nobody would use a lower rune if they have rank 7)
      also the balacing problem with additional damage or higher durations.
      It also sounds like not so hard to implement, since they already had all 7 ranks in animation and values.
      This should be a suggest straight in the d3 feedback forums.

    • This was my immediate thought when I startet reading Jay’s post as well (until he stated otherwise), but I won’t be surprised if I see this solution in the next patch/retail version.

    • “Can’t blizzard make the rune effect’s power based on the character’s level?”
      I am expecting them to do just that.  Unless they have just not cleaned up the variables in the skill description text yet.  Also, saw a variable of 1%, hopefully indicating they are planning to go up from there.  To be sure, a sinking part of me really does suspect that they may just half-ass it and remove the variables all together.

    • They could do that, and it would solve the problem of the underwhelming rune effects, but considering what was said in Jay’s post and how some of the runes start off at the rank 4 or 5 equivalent, I doubt that that is what they’re going to do. I find it more likely that they will nerf Inferno to compensate.

      • Don’t you get some skills later on?  So if you get a skill at lvl 30 and need rank 7 by 60 the rank would need to start off at 4.

  12. The individual skill having to level up from Level 1 to 7 is a great idea.

    This will give us some customization chances; as players have to choose to stick to skills for higher level = more builts!

    • I think I’d prefer the ‘leveling with use’ idea someone suggested earlier. They would have to make it like Skyrim (skills only level in combat) to avoid potential exploitation. This way, the level of each character’s rune skills would address the whole ‘no differentiation between characters’ complaint.
      Another possible system would be to incorporate something like ‘scroll of rune empowerment’ as a drop. There would be 6 different scrolls, one for the leveling up of each rune level (eg. 1->2, 2->3…). A level requirement for each level of scroll would have to be implemented of course, to prevent underleveled characters from having access to a lvl 7 rune skill. Alternatively, class-specific or skill-specific scrolls could be used instead (although this would probably be far too much work).

  13. Yeah, that Magic Missile split is definitely very boring when there are only 3 missiles. Blizzard still manages to do bad decisions after those years…

  14. yea…i am sad about how simple this system is, and how that they say things are balanced but when i look at this skill tree? and its runes some are still god awful and some are just way to op that it makes the others god awful. 
    multi-split is so cool looking but dmg wise its just useless compared to the others. i think they need to put in something that makes these runes customizable, ranks, or maybe make items effect them or stats. i was just played the Tera beta over the weekend and i thought…what if d3 did something like this where you buy a glyph for gold or find it, whatever and each rune has its own little glyph that enhance that rune spot. 

    For example, Multi-split for wiz could have 4 glyphs: 1)Increase number of shots from 3 to 5 2) Increase dmg of each bolt by 10% 3)increase number from 5 to 6 4)increase dmg of each bolt by 5%.
    Now 1 and 2 would be the 1st two you would have to buy and 3 and 4 would be like the next lvl of it pretty much so you buy/find 1 then later you upgrade 1 into 3. and to make it so you cant just make out every glyph would be like glyph points, every lvl you get 2 points starting at lvl 30 or something, once you’re 60 you could have 60 points and not every glyph would be worth the same amount of points. better ones should be worth more and not as good ones should be worth less.

  15. Lack of ranks is a character development issue, not a Customability issue, now everything else…talsimans..and on yea I’m slightly annoyed.

  16. Here is how to fix the current lack of customization debacle:
    Reintroduce skill levels, but not in the traditional way. Each time the player advances to a new skill tier make the already chosen skills more powerful. Let the player choose one skill at level one, with a popup after creating the character, so after the player reaches level 3 (or whatever) that skill advances to level 2 in addition to the possibility of choosing a new skill. 
    Of course this doesn’t go together as well with free respecs which were a stupid idea in the first place but they could enable player to respec by buying ‘rollbacks’, which would also provide an additional goldsink.

  17. didn’t they say they added tons of affixes for +skills? Maybe that’s where we’ll get our “ranks” back.

    an item with “+magic missiles” might boost whatever rune is in there to the next level, less likely would be for “+magic missiles rune X” affixes but still possible.

    • That would be… something at least – but I doubt that attribute will make it due late changes on the runesystem.

    • That depends on the kind of items this will appear on. I recall  the ormus robes in LOD provided a boost for a random sorc skill, if it is that rare that wouldn’t be an option but it cold also be an auto mod for any class specific items which would make it more valueable.
      The problem though is still every customization would be item dependent and could be as such be acquired on the RMAH. Not exactly encouraging for regular players. 😐  

    • A lot of people keep bringing this up as if it’s confirmed, but I’ve never seen a blue post to that effect.

  18. Well, but will a spell without a rune be effective in late game? Or we are going to be forced to use them to increase dps?

  19. pretty much forced, i mean you DON’T have to use them but your always going to do less dmg with out, most skills have a + dmg rune which just makes it do more dmg also.

  20. Runes drop and socket in weapons is still the best way to customize your character and skills in my mind. I hate the new system.

  21. OK I am confused, I thought we had data mined item affixes that manipulated skills in a similar way to how the rune system used to do it?

    • Those are newly-added to the game code, but they may or may not be implemented in D3v, or later. There’s a ton of stuff in the game code that’s just test version features.

  22. Playing the beta i found that I did not really pay special attention to my character (wizard) when i gained a new level. I just kept blasting through with Arcane orb and I did not really have to make a decision about what I was going to use. I think it’s a pity, because personally I do miss the feeling of progression as I level up. Playing the beta i really got the idea that i could have carried on with arcane orb and magic missle until the end of normal.

    • you should try a 4 man (completely) naked run, you’ll pay attention to your level ups and enjoy them even more. I’ll give you that arcane orb is pretty much essential for what we see so far in the beta.

      • Agreed, I wasn’t paying attention towards my 5th character runthrough and decided to start afresh without using gold or items from stash/crafting and it was fun and different for sure

    • And that’s your choice. I tried out every new skill and rune I got with each level up and I personally enjoy Arcane Torrent more (even without a rune) than the blandness of arcane orb. There’s other skills that don’t really compete without a rune though (e.g. ray of frost and shock pulse).

  23. Maybe items will alter skills in higher levels, i.e, a wand with \+1 magic missile projectile\ etc. Combined with the skill runes that would tasty :mrgreen:  

  24. Everything is just too simplified. Diablo is all about customization! It feels very static, like my barb will be the exact same as every other barb, everyone will use the same skills because there aren’t many to actually choose from anymore. It seems like they are taking the easy routes and making foolish excuses for the decisions over and over. I just can’t get over the extreme simplicity. In the beta it feels like I’m playing a guided character with which the outcome of my skills/stats isn’t really useful. We need to be able to see the changes per level etc. It’s just soooooo dumbed down.

    I dunno.   😕

    • “It feels very static, like my barb will be the exact same as every other barb, everyone will use the same skills because there aren’t many to actually choose from anymore.”

      Can’t tell if trolling, insane, or just plain stupid. Please look at this and say that again:

  25. So, didn’t that reddit leak post that came out a few days prior to the Rune reveal turn out to be 100% correct? If I’m not mistaken, that post contained a bit that said: \Runes will no longer rank up but instead that will be built into the itemization system for items\ (Not exact quote, can’t find the post) So, this post that came out 2-3 days before Jay’s announcement, that was right about everything, also says that modifying rune effects will be built into itemization.   I for one think there is a high chance that this is correct.  Making this whole post pretty pointless.

    • I think a lot of people are hoping that +skill affixes will exist on items.  This blue quote from a few days ago seems to suggest otherwise, although I’m hoping it’s just a case of bash being out of the loop or not understanding the question.

      Hi, did you think about adding affixes improving specific skills? It will help a lot to character customization. –Vozi33
      That was in the rune system at one point. But it only works with runes as items, and that has too many issues. –Bashiok

    • No, the reddit post was not 100% correct. They said that we would be forced to use the restrictive categories by slot through all of normal and we aren’t

  26. Good points all, Im guessing all the nerds are pissed that meganoobs will be able to respec any time they like once they google some viable builds online.

  27. Actually, that the rune power ranks up with character level my first thought how the system works. Has there been any official statement about this? Reading Jay’s post, it is not stated whether runes ramp up with character level or whether they are, indeed, capped at their effect. It just says you cannot put points / ranks into them. Look at skills: there are no skill points, yet skills improve as you level (or is this information hopelessly outdated?).
    Increasing e.g. the number of missiles with your level would be an obvious thing to do, imo. Otherwise it is pretty lame to use early runes late-game.

    • Skills do not improve as you level, if you mean graphically.  That was a concept with skill ranks that didn’t last.

      Skills do improve in function of course, as they scale up based on your attributes, clvl, and other factors. Which is apparently how runestone effects on skills will work as well, now that ranks are removed.

  28. I think what he meant to say was, “There are no more rune ranks, we got lazy and just said fuck it”

  29. Im sorry but I do feel there has been a loss of \fun\ to the game since the beginning.  I too have watched in anticipation for this game to hopefully get better and better and so far… i really dont see it.  I have struggled like many others to get over the loss of skill points but I eventually got over it.  Now that we have these set characters which we are told are the \best\ we have lost the rune leveling sys too?  Idk about you guys but I love Diablo for its insane amount of character alteration ie gems, enchantments, skills, items(affixes).  Now, it seems as though Blizzard may have sold out to a different genre of player, one that may or may not know the game but certainly is not an avid gamer.  I feel like this game is based solely around items and affixes due too… and it hurts me to say this.. the auction house.  We all know Blizzard is going to make money on the AH.

    • Well, the game has been in development for a ridiculously long amount of time. That is costly. It is a business so it intends to make a profit and it has a lot of investment to make a return on. 

      I question, under the new system and broad “casual gamer” target audience, if those factors will hinder the RMAH. I’ve been playing and I personally feel zero connection to my character, I have no personal investment in it, so I have no intention of purchasing items for it. That’s just me. I also think that casual gamers have a lot of options as far as their entertainment choices. Are the casual gamers going to choose this game and also be obsessive enough over the game to buy items? Because in my mind, I’d have to be hard-core about something to care enough about it to sink in more money beyond the $60 I’ve already put in. My thought is that casual gamers will more likely pick something like Guild Wars 2, especially if advertising ramps up for that game. If a casual gamer compared the visuals of GW2 to D3, my thoughts are that the later may come off as “dated”, at least that’s the first thing someone said to me when I showed them an isometric view. GW2 is just one example… 

      • I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that the Beta caps at lvl13, and all gear is pointless because all chars will be cleared anyways. Not to mention we only get half(?) of act 1 and after the first play through your character out levels the content.

  30. 1. Overpowered in the beginning? When everything is based on weapon dmg, this is not really an issue. If I have 9 dmg on my sword, what difference does it make if a rune increase that dmg from 100% dmg to 120% instead of 100% to 105% in the beginning. Runes mostly add flovor, not so much power. A little bit yes, but, marginal.

    Some runes might have a bigger impact early on. Now if that happens they could always just move the level req for that rune to a higher level.

    2. I thought it was clear that items now can provide higher effects for certain skills and rune effects. If you want a higher version of Split for Magic Missile, just pick up an item with that property on and get happy. Not any different from before. Only difference is that ranks now increases on armor and not runes.

      • If “concentrated cool” only means high numbers, than I don’t think that runes was ever dsigned to be of “concentrated cool” nature.

        However, if “concentrated cool” means the ability to change the nature of a skill, then it’s pretty much what we have, and also what I think Blizzard’s idea was with runes in the first place.


        • On the subject of skill modifiers on items: Just because it was datamined and a lot of people were talking about it doesn’t make it clear. I highly doubt it will make it in. Besides, Flux confirmed in these comments that the skill modifiers were added in recently, and may be one of many test features that were added in but not implemented. This clashes with Bashiok’s quote about how they “used to be in”, but it’s not like you can trust Bashiok posts any more than datamined info.

          On the rune ranks/levels: no evidence that they’ll be in D3v but I hope Blizzard makes the right decision and scales them up with respect to clvl and/or difficulty. Maybe they already have but are saving that juicy info for release?

        • According to the skill and rune changes blog post:

          “Another thing we strive for in our games is “concentrated coolness,” and while rune quality levels made sense when we were attempting to itemize them throughout the game, they make far less sense as runes are unlocked through the UI. We didn’t want to get back into a situation where you’re clicking a button to pump points into skills. It’s far more concentrated (and cool) when your rune choices have a single and powerful benefit to your skill choice. The new skill rune system does not have ranks, and we’ve instead made each around the equivalent to what the rank 4 or 5 rune was previously. One click, you make your rune choice, and you get an explosive benefit to that skill. That feels a lot cooler.”

          “A single and powerful benefit”… “explosive benefit”… Clearly he is referring to high numbers in regards to “concentrated coolness.” Sadly, a lot of the actual numbers are not that “cool” at all.

  31. ahhh man.. when i read this im soo sad… how is it so hard to add lvl to skill rune just like poe or ff7… this could be so awesome and we would have some skill rune customization 🙂

  32. We will have more competences personnalisation coming in futures addons. Also, in order to enjoy that new rune system, we just have to make as if the former system has never existed

  33. Blizz will give us rune-ranks back, in the first expension. Im certain of that. Now they just dont have the time to implement all 7 ranks I guess.

    • Read the part I quoted above. This system will probably never have ranks like the old system had… Instead they may just rebalance individual rune effects if people think they are too weak.

  34. I think you guys are completely off-base and looking for something to criticize. This will do the OPPOSITE. By having so many runes and levels, not all of those skill runes can possibly scale well as you level up. Therefore by limiting it in this way you can pick the best rune level that balances with the rest. I’m sure that’s what they are doing.

  35. Hey Flux,
    I totally agree with your concerns in the last part. I have thought about this before but you were able to put it in clear words. Thanks. These concerns should be posted in the official forums.

  36. I really hope that higher level runes do not have higher-ranked effects.  If that were the case the highest level rune would always be used…the best thing about the runes is that palyers can differentiate their skills even when using the same skill.  This is what bothers me the most with the new system…at lower levels people will tend to use the same skills and runes because they unlock at the same time for every character.  It seems to me a lot of players will mostly be using skills with the latest runes.  Not such a problem for higher level players but even then they will tend to use runes that become available at higher levels.

    I am not opposed to the new system, I just wish there was some randomness to it, where runes don’t unlock at the same time for every player. It would also be nice if you could increase the power of your runes somehow…maybe an item property that is like +power to <some rune> – then all the skills using that rune  would get higher effects.  I assume they (bliz) have already done the work for progressively higher runes…seems like it wouldn’t be that hard to have it work with the new system.

  37. Just put a rank on each rune, and if you use that rune/competence often, you’ll rank up. that’s a good way to specialize our characters

  38. ..the only way to stand out/customize now is item based…meaning items will get a much higher value…meaning blizzard will earn a lot more from the auktion house…

    • No, the way to stand out/customize is based on which particular combination of skills, runes, and passives you choose to play with. You seem to overestimate how much people will want to change around their skills and runes once they’ve found a viable build they enjoy playing with.

  39. “Is there a point where “just equipment” becomes insufficient to differentiate your character from every other character of the same class on”

    Yes, and it’s probably the issue that will have the largest impact on the game’s longetivity. 

  40. Simple. Blizzard is making Diablo into another WoW, where all characters are basically the same at the top level. No customization, no gear difference. You shall not customize, you shall buy top tier items in RMAH market or be doomed. More we are closer to release, more I think the game will blow.

    • And when you finally have found the last piece of your uber gear, BAM expansion and you need to level 10 levels and get new gear.

    • So making D3 like WoW will make it unsuccessful? The 10 million subscribers still playing it after 7 years disagree…

  41. I agree the worst aspect is the loss of effects on higher rank runes. It directly contradicts the “concentrated coolness” mantra Blizz have been pushing in our face for the last few years. At this point, theres so many features that make little sense or come across as very confused (the whole tooltip debacle, skill UI and so on) that are way below Blizzards usual quality of product.  I get the impression that they are scrambling just to get the game released at any means, even if that means scrapping the more ambitious systems and streamlining the game. The constant backtracking on previous iterations or decisions makes it seem like they don’t genuinely know what direction or what they want to achieve from certain parts of the game. 
    I don’t care if runes drop as items, or we train them. Ultimately firing only 3 magic missiles instead of 6-7 takes the shine off my anticipation for the game right now.

  42. AHAHA, Wolfpaq is so shortsighted.
    The only thing he has issue with with the loss of granularity is his skills not being potentially as strong anymore. Just upgrade all the runes to rank 5-6 again and he’ll be a happy baby.

  43. Reading those last two paragraphs made me a little sick to the stomach… we’ve lost so much of character development that there’s hardly anything left.  3/4 of the original systems have been thrown out.  I sure hope that they make up for it in patches.  I’d hate to have to wait for the expansion for real tuning of my character.

    • Oh, you know they will wait for the expansions to bring back old systems. Do not expect the Talisman and Mystic back until at least the first expansion. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mystic’s function changes to complement the Talisman.

      • Yes, I have hopes that they’ll return but I was hoping to have further progression to build on top of a good game rather than have a mediocre game that requires an expansion to fully flesh out.

  44. If they re-implement the skill points system like in diablo II I would be greatly offended. For me this is one enormous point that differentiates the new diablo from the old one. And I see many errors in diablo II (refer to the test on ign, though I do not agree with all of his arguments). Is it so important to be distinctive with your character? I think the fun you have, the way you play, the way you (as a human being) interact with the game and other players, that should be and is distinctive!
    Kind regards.

  45. The game had assets for level 7 rune effects years ago – to avoid being cart-before-horse (which is boilerplate for the comments on this site) I reserve judgement for the box copy attribute system.
    If we can affix +2% damage to Blood Lust via a some plate mail then this is much ado about nothing.  This still augments runes and makes crafting and item find even more valuable.  Que up what used to be the lvl 7 assets and we are good to go. Wouldn’t be surprised if that is the solution.  If not, I’ll be joining in the QQ party.

    Edit – just realized that my explanation was cart-before-horse. See, I told you it was commonplace around here.

  46. The game is getting carved and shaped to maximize RMAH profits for Activision/Blizzard.  There is a word to describe an “artist” who caters their “art” to maximize profit, it’s called sellout.

    Activision/Blizzard deserve to get paid for their creation, but not like this.

      • Balls deep in sheer gullibility, or is it stupidity?  Whether D3 is a fun, immersive experience remains to be seen.  Activision/Blizzard’s intentions behind its development are a totally separate matter.

        Activision/Blizzard is a public company, meaning they have shareholders. What do shares of a public company need to do?  They need to increase in value.  A public company’s NUMBER ONE PRIORITY will ALWAYS be their shareholders, not the hardcore fans.  What chance does a game like Diablo 3, a game that will sell a few million copies, A LOT for a PC game, have to compare against WoW as far as revenue goes?  None.  WoW pulls in nearly 150 million a month just in subscription fees.  Diablo 3 would need to sell 2.5 million copies just to reach WoW’s revenue for a single month.
        Enter Diablo 3 revenue stream: the RMAH!  They are practically spelling it out in front of us and most “supporters” are turning a blind eye to what’s really going on.  It’s the elephant in the room.  There WILL be cookie cutter builds, it’s the nature of the beast, people WILL want differentiation from their fellow adventurers and a lot of people WILL turn to the RMAH for their only means of real character differentiation.  Now I’m seeing data mined stuff suggesting that items will have skill modifiers/buffs.  How much evidence do you need?
        I was fine with the RMAH when I thought its inclusion was to give gamers a safe, secure place to buy/sell in game items.  Now, as Blizzard slowly strips away all means of character differentiation, a franchise defining feature, I can see what’s really going on.  We are a hop, skip and jump away from Blizzard themselves selling epic, in game items.

        Denial?  Gullibility?  Stupidity?  Which is it?  I used to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume it was the former, because, hey, it’s Blizzard.  Now, I’m definitely leaning towards the latter.

    • No it’s true. We lost the ability to choose the order in which runes can be unlocked. More accurately, we lost runes as items, so we lost the ability to potentially use any rune at any level (assuming they became available as drops in the game at said level).

      Upgrading rune levels was something everybody would do, so losing that doesn’t really take away customization, but it does take away variety. As you progress through the game, your skills’ effects and graphics won’t ever change. It’s kind of disappointing.

      • uhm… Diablo 2…you unlocked skills at different levels.  You couldn’t really control at which point you did unlock them except to level up.  (not to mention put necessary points in prereqs)  How is this any different???
        You guys are seriously reaching. 
        Question #1:  at level 60.  can you or can you not select 6 different skills and 1 rune out of 5 available per skill?   (oh and passives)
        Question #2: can you or can you not find different pieces of gear that alter the effectiveness of your skills/char?  
        Yes=customization  No= no customization

        • nobody’s talking about skills ! 
          they’re talking about RUNES ! 
          pay attention
          are you SERIOUSLY asking how this is any different ? !

          RUNES dropped as items in D2 
          they do NOT drop in D3 

          • whoa dude.  WTF are you talking about? 
            runes from D2 have NEVER equaled the idea of Diablo 3 runes.   Runes in D3 are applied to skills.  Where have you been?  

  47. First mistake equals destroying Blizz North and the already progressed D3. Second mistake was hiring Jay Wilson. Last mistake is releasing this pos D3.

    • Revisionist history.  You are referring to the stillborn version of Diablo III of which the screenshots are probably the only thing brighter than those featured in the rainbow controversy.  Your beloved then went on to make that gem that I will refer to as Flagship Studios (though I usually use four-letter words instead of Flagship).  Eventually Schaefer got it right with Torchlight, but did you really want a Diablo like Torchlight?  Nope.

    • The Blizz North D3 was an MMO not an ARPG. So you really want World of Diablo with D2’s level of graphics?

    • You obviously know nothing of Blizz North history.  They sucked.  Simple as that.  They could have hired some else other than Jay but I think he’s fine for now.  Was in charge of some of the better single player RTS’ back in the day.

  48. “will encourage everyone to duplicate each new cookie cutter build the second it grows popular.”

    But thats completely retarded and pointless in the new system. Its one of the dumbest things Ive read in a long time. 

    • With a 15s cooldown still in, it makes it quite annoying for players to respec constantly, and if the game is balanced correctly, I believe they won’t do so. Hence players will pick the build that best suits them. Naturally, the social effect and game imbalance will cause certain builds to rise and fall in popularity depending on the latest patches. Without respecs, there would be a bigger lag time before this could happen, by which time a new patch might be released which nerfs the popular build. With freespecs, the lag time is mostly removed, potentially increasing the proliferance of cookie cutter builds.

      In the end though, grinding to get to that cookie cutter build wasn’t that fun anyway, so this particular issue with freespecs doesn’t bother me that much. With enough options, people should be able to vary their builds to make them different and more enjoyable than say, running with a cold wizard in a party of 3 other cold wizards.

    • Most players copied cookie cutter builds in D2, even though that required a lot of play time to level up a new char with the new build. Now in D3 you can do it in 90 seconds, including skill cooldown times.

      Obviously it’ll take a bit longer to assemble the proper equipment, but with crafting and a shared stash for instant twinking, the D3 system is obviously built to support very easy character changing, which means easy to copy cookie cutter-ism. How is that not utterly obvious to anyone?

  49. They’re probably shifting the power from rune ranks to gear affixes. Don’t know why we couldn’t have both, but this wasn’t nearly as bad a change as removing the Mystic. That was a huge blow to customizing our character, b/c she was less hindered by the RNG than finding the right gear affixes. Why they kept s–t gems over her, I really don’t know about that one.

  50. Why not have them rank up same as before based on Clvl?

    For example; Magic Missle!

    [[ Depending on when the rune originally unlocks this can be EASILY changed 😉 ]]

    Clvl 1-10 – 2 missles
    Clvl 11-20 – 3 missles
    Clvl 21-30 – 4 missles
    Clvl 31-40 – 5 missles
    Clvl 41-50 – 6 missles

    You get the point… And it can be done, because they already had rune ranks before this new system of ‘flat ranks’! Just make the little number be green and change with Clvl 😀

      • Keep dreaming.  They haven’t announced it as official and they’ve been cutting things left and right as it is to release so don’t expect them to add anything we don’t already know about.

  51. What Blizzard isn’t understanding is that, people are missing the sense of exclusivity that comes from things like skill runes as item drops, assignment of skill/stat points, uber-rare runes from D2, etc.  It’s not a matter of a lack of customization options, it’s a matter of a lack of EXCLUSIVE customization options.  Most people want to feel unique, at least to an extent, within Sanctuary.
    I’m not worried, I think Blizzard will get it right with the itemization of +skills and so on.

    • With the high amount of customization available in Diablo 3 it’s likely people will find something to feel different.

    • Blizzard has made several lengthy posts recently about why they don’t get why people care about that exclusivity (i.e. essentially making people that want it and/or choice permanence out to be devoid of logical reasoning).

      • And this bothers me. Their new mindset is “We dont get why on earth you would want something like that(admitting in that statement that they realize we do indeed want it), so we are just going to assume out of ignorance that we are correct and not care about what you want.”

        • I see, you both want to be locked to some build whether or not it was actually effective for the end game.

          Wow, sounds like a ton of fun. 

  52. Starting to get tired of the constant bitching, moaning and crying on this site. Most of the posts here doesn’t add anything constuctive, its just, me me me, I want I want I want, I know whats best for every one, blizzard is WRONG … well because I say so.

    I really hope all the negativeness on this site will blow over once the game is released and people are busy playing it, because if this constant BS is what this site is about I’m out. And I really dont want to do that, this have been my favorite diablo site since the old days.

    Do ANYONE actually have anything positive to say about diablo3 here ???

    • You must suffer from “selective reading” or something, there’s plenty of positivity on this site.  It does seem to get swallowed up in the whirl of negativity though.

      • Maybe your right, but I have been thinking this for a long time. Guess now was the time to let out the steam. I can understand people are very pasionate about this game, so am I. But it doesnt change that lately I have been leaving this site after reading comments thinking, holy shit, or something like that 🙂

        And I do think theres some really good posts on the forum, maybe its more the comments on topics that tend to be very negative.

        But still its the feeling I get when I spend to much time reading here … meh

    • Well, then don’t read the articles. Simple as that. I for my part am glad that there is this site as a counterpart to myriads of fanboy sites which simply praise every change (“Yay! They introduced skill rune ranks!” … “Yay! They removed skill rune ranks!”). I mean, come on – this site clearly was pro rune ranks before, why shouldn’t they view the removal of them critically now??
      Personally, I don’t like that you can change your character build in a few heartbeats every few seconds, but I can see that some people like to simply level up one character and then respec them constantly to try out new builds. And yes, I think that’s a loss of customization, because you can copy any build in almost no time.
      I only play SP in D2, the last few years mostly untwinked single pass, and I like the way you have to think ahead for one build and think about how to overcome certain areas/boss packs etc. Now it’s simply “oh, my current skill setup isn’t good for that boss, let’s go back to town and respec completely”. It’s just not to my liking. But i guess I’m one of few…

      • Customization: To make or alter to individual or personal specifications.
        So where in that definition does it say that permanent choices are the pinnacle of customization?
        Oh wait, you mean the definition in your head… ahh that makes sense.    

      • I dont think it would add to customization if rune ranks was still in the game, in the beginning one char might have 3 magic missiles, where another would have 4 or 5, but sooner or later everyone would have the highest rank anyway. I agree the “rune upgrade” feature have been removed and I though that was a nice feature really. But if this new system works better for the overall game, I think its ok for blizzard to change it.

        Once I try the full game, I might think it was a stupid change, maybe I wont even notice, only time will tell.

    • grow up 
      Flux and this site say positive stuff all the time   
      but they also call a spade a spade  
      Blizzard kept saying how great skill runes were going to be: a different animation for each, more power, more missiles, more variety 

      now they’ve taken that away, and so late into development 

      I’m glad this site doesn’t kiss ass and points out the nonsense of D3’s development as well as the good things 

      • Yes this site doesn’t “kiss ass” on blizzard, I agree on that (and think thats good). But now that I dont “kiss ass” on this sites “crew” and tell how I’m feeling about the current state of things here, I need to grow up, because I dont agree with you?. Ironic…

        And to quote myself “this have been my favorite diablo site since the old days.”

        Talking openly about things goes both ways.

        Would like to add that this site is still my favorite diablo site.

    • Hehe, way to cry over the fact that people cry. Makes you a lot better.

      Well, guess what; don’t like it, don’t visit the site. It’s time to grow up, and fast!
      It might be that you’re just a fanboy that swallows everything Blizzards PR machine pulls out, but that usually goes hand in hand with maturity.

        • Hey DrGriner – I see how it can sometimes seem that way as the most contentious subjects get the most comments – they’re usually in the feature box too so they can easily overshadow all the other posts. But do me a favour, have a scoot down the page and read the other items. You’ll find negative and positive and some fence sitting/arse covering too no doubt.

          Glad we’re still your fav Diablo site 🙂

          • Ofc. you are. Sometimes I just need to chillax and embrace my inner hippie … so /hug ‘s for everyone or something 🙂

    • I thought this was a pretty neutral article. I didn’t write it intending to convince people of X or Y, at least, and there’s nothing ranting or even much opinion-based in it. It doesn’t even troll.  You’ll hunt in vain for any “this change sucks and it’s ruining D3” remarks in this article. I didn’t even cite anything from D2 as superior, as I think the D3 skill system is much better than D2’s, on balance. (Though I think D3’s could have been and hopefully in the future will be much better than it is in the current simplified form.)

      The last two paragraphs seem to be emotionally-impactful to some people, but if so that’s about how you feel about D3’s development, not about this article, which takes a neutral tone. I just listed a few changes, all of them documented factual events, and wondered if they were a problem. Many people clearly feel it is a problem. Others do not.

      This is in direct opposition to the principle behind Jay’s letter and every Bashiok forum post, all of which are wholly devoted to convincing you that whatever is in D3 now is awesome. I find it interesting that a basically neutral article here is held up as some kind of counterweight to the constant rah-rah coming from Blizzard’s PR.

      • It wasn’t really this article, or any specific article, but more overall. Also I may have raged a bit in my OP, plus focusing on mostly the negative reply’s, tbh. right now I dont know what to think, I just want to move past speculation and play the game.

        I have worked for a corporation much larger than blizzard for alot of years and I know exeactly how big corporations dont give a shit about anything but money. I’m not sure where I stand on blizzard. Granted they are good at making profit (wow pet store, hehe). But I still think they deliver by far the best games and does the most for their community, than any other game company. So far they havent dissapointed me with any of their games and I have been playing blizzard games since warcraft 1. So I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I absolutely think diablo3 will be awesome, with 1 rune system or the other. But who knows. Also when I’m comparing D3 to D2, I say D3 for me is D3 Classic and should be compared to D2 Classic, even though its not the same era for games now as then, so ofc. I expect more now since game technology evolved quite abit since D2.

        That being said, I really hate the comments personally lashing out at Bashiok, Jay wilson and the game devs, because I dont think they have much saying in blizzard/activisions desicions.
        Agree their PR strategy is not the best atm.

        And hope my english is ok, not my native language.

      • This is why I’m mostly lurking on forums, once I start posting, the avalanche is rolling, hehe 🙂

  53. Has anyone run the numbers on character builds possible without the ranks of runes?  It’s gone down…. *trollface.jpg*

    But seriously, is it orders of magnitude less now?   

  54. I have a good idea for Blizzard. Lets eliminate leveling all together. Every character can start at level 60 with all skills and runes unlocked so items are the only thing differentiating characters. 

    • So if I use different skills than you and we happen to be playing characters of the same class I’m not different, huh?

      • Well chances are you’re not going to be using different skills. People are going to use whatever cookie-cutter builds are best for each area of the game. With the new system it will take less than a minute to change your skills and then we can both be using optimal builds. I don’t think players are going to use crappy builds that don’t work well just to be different. Also, at least before if people were using the same skills and even the same runes there would have been variation because of rune skill level, but that’s not the case anymore. 

  55. until now i didnt notice that with skill runes gone the only thing that makes you commit to a build is gear. and i think the most build orders will work great with exactly the same gear: damage oriented gear. for some you will need crit and for very special ones you will need other mods.
    i DONT see how the new non-item runes are imba, but
    its OMFG shocking how this kills all need for commitment.
    and how much fun is it playing spirit-only-WD if you know 1. that you could just swap every skill and be army-mancer-WD in 10 sec and 2. you are not special because every noob kid can copy it if he sees  you in action

    • Will every newbie also have the necessary gear to make that build work? Let alone the skills to use the build probably?
      I guess so since in your world everyone has the same skills and knowledge.

      • Newbs will use the power of the auction house, I could, economy providing,  just hunt for your equips on the RMAH. Next day, I got your full set on, via gold or real money. With simplified/advanced tool-tips and experimentation, I’ll soon learn what you’re doing or just ask on the friendly forums for advice. Superaffe and Ken are right. I can definitely see people cookie-cutter using a certain style for a particular area of the game. I’m going to go more traditional D2 style however, not respecing every new mob/area I come across. I’m hoping that D3 will have more viable non-cookie-cutter builds, than what 1.10 patch had in D2.

      • @ “necessary gear”: every build order that needs +dmg also works with a bit less +dmg. kind of obvious, isnt it? so noobs will have less kill speed but they will use the same skills that i will use.
        @ “noobs dont have the skill to use my build”: i dont care about how good or bad they PLAY “my” build; i only care about the fact that they can steal my cool idea in 10 sec. instead of thinking “wow! that guy is cool. maybe ill try to get the runes for this build too”

        now i realised one more thing about this: it will be benificial to swap out skills from area to area (1-target-spells; huge-AoE; …).
        i mean it: if it really is meaningless in the way i wrote to go for a special character build and if everyone will swap around skills if they want to copy a build or when they come into a boss fight.. i really have to think about buying this game. ofc i would buy it if there werent other games, but atm i think if GW2 and D3 are released the same day i will get GW2 first and only buy D3 if GW2 doesnt entertain me…
        really sad -.-     

      • i think they cant be dumb enough to ignore that the game will be dead soon if they take out the “create your own unique character build” aspect. and if noones plays the game noone will buy items for it.
        elly, i heard somewhere that there are mods on gear for certain skills? is that ture? that would bring “commitment” back into the game. ty 

  56. He said the game will blow, not that it won’t be successful. A lot of people play farmville, too, you dolt.

  57. Hi All,

    I just wanted drop my two cents, so here goes..

    I dont think that respecs are evil, I mean so what if everyone will just go with the same cookie cutter build? If they would, they could without respecs, too. They would just have to reroll.

    Also, I don’t think that the attributes were very important either. In D2 all we did was dump all stats into vitality.

    But I am not so sure about the new level cap and the lack of skill ranks and by extension rune ranks. I never had any chars with extremely high levels in D2. All I could manage was maybe 70ish, can’t really remember. I don’t know whether most hardcore players were spending most of their time already maxed out at 99, but every time I played, I liked the idea that I was inching towards a new level and a new skill rank and a little bit more power. I am not exactly sure if the item hunt alone is enough to drive an RPG. But then again, considering Blizzard’s approach to these things (and taking some examples from WoW), they will probably say that leaving everything to luck is unfair and they will implement some kind of token system that you will accumulate every time you play and those tokens will grant some rewards… meh..

    • That is exactly what Blizzard is missing, this game was not only about items, it is about character develelopment. I would argue that improving character by able to level, get better rune rank or what was included in d2, better charms are more important than getting the best item in every slot. Typically it is enoiugh to have somewhat good item in each slot.
      It seems that when people play all chars to max level it won’t take much time them to start complain or wait expansion. Even I hate it, it seems to be Blizzard $$ plan that expansion is needed.

  58. I think meaningful customization is somewhat lost, not because we lose skill ranks, but because we lose the extreme high-end variants. More clearly, when you have things that have a modifier of “50% chance of X” versus “50% chance of Y” or “+50% Z”, you are making game-changing decisions. And making those serious trade-offs allows us to really orient ourselves in one or two directions (for example, all crit or all AoE) or to decide if we just want a mixed bag. But, when you take away the extremes, the only option is a mixed bag, and worse yet, that mixed bag is rather mellow because “3% chance to X” just isn’t that game changing in many cases. It’s often times more like, “Meh, that’s nice I guess.”

    That is my problem with the current system: they should have chosen the significant “rank-7-ish” rune effects because these effects made for game-changing decisions. We can only say that now for very few of the runes.

    However, I do have to disagree with Flux on his point about rune ranks and skill levels themselves offering customization. In many (most?) cases, skill levels just meant having 2-3 powerful skills and a couple 1-point wonders. It don’t see being cornered into 3 viable skills out of the 90 skills effects available (18 skills*5 runes) as offering as much “fun” and “meaningful” customization as choosing 6 viable skills. And I imagine low ranks of runes would pose the same dilemma, albeit in an itemized format. I much prefer to have 6 fully viable skills and having a game that makes me think strategically about having to use all six. (I hope D3 will do that.) 

    To sum up, I think the current system offers a lot more customization than the ranked runes and skills since we would simply favour or strongest runes and skills and ignore our weaker ones. We will have 90 skill effects^6 skill slots=531+ billion build options. (Of course, that’s an exaggeration because not all combinations will be viable.) However, I also think that the weaker rune effects leave our customization feeling a bit meaningless since 10% just isn’t game changing. 

  59. It seems like Blizzard is on a quest for reining in too much variation to cause imbalances. The only problem is that this hand holding method lacks any significance in customization. If they wanted to make customization matter they could have skill points and rune points. You sink the points into skills or runes you want to focus on. Then you go out and find the items that compliment the build.

    It looks like all skills are viable in early and late stages of the game. This makes the skills “equal” so that there are a ton of different skills people can mix and match to create a unique experience when they play. The problem is that there is no thought involved. Once you hit level 60 for a character, there is no “respec” of skills. You simply change your left and right mouse buttons and hotbar keys to what will make you the most efficient killing machine. The only choice you have is what gear you use. I understand that some people have different play styles, but currently, you cannot tweak the build you are trying for based on skill points. It’s based solely on items. I could be cynical and say that that’s great for the auction house and Blizzard’s profits, but this makes people less satisfied when they cannot control how their character grows.

    There weren’t many “successful” builds in Diablo 2 but there was the possibility to at least try something new. My throw barb could not kill as fast as a frenzy barb but I like the possibility that with the right allocation of points into skills and attributes, I can perhaps solo hell.

    If the only lever of control is what based on what items you get, then it seems as though only grinders and lucky people win.

  60. My only concern is what will drive me onwards and upwards, besides the level cap.

    I don’t mind the new rune system – although all runes can’t be level 4 or 5 in the old system – that’s a silly suggestion, because the highest rank was 7 in the old system.

    From a selfish pov view I like the act of collecting, upgrading and was looking forward to doing so and maybe playing on the AH to profit from my persistance.  So to have that avenue completely removed is disappointing.  As far as how it affects skills I don’t see that it does.  The runes do the same thing as the other 5 runes (crimson, obsidian etc) did, you just don’t have to do anything to get them now.

    I would like to see the skill icon change when you’ve have essentially changed the skill by applying a rune.

    For example I don’t know if I have Piercing, Hungering or Cinder as the icons are all the same now.

  61. So, ideally, what do we want from the character choices in the game system? Personally, I want a system where each and every effect I have to choose from entices me equally, and for unique reasons. I think the core idea of the system we have here is good, if well implemented.

    Balance the runes against each other, and leave them in the hands of the players at all times (once you’ve maxed). If you get the balance right, then you can let people decide what looks or feels \cool,\ and what is considered more niche/subtle/thematic. I’m sure there will be plenty of nerd space to play in where nobody else is. I know I’ll be there. I like figuring out what isn’t being played, and then seeing what I can do with it, even if (or especially if) it’s not flashy.

    Crunch the numbers. If the balance is even vaguely right, and why wouldn’t/couldn’t it be (considering the more unified, less spiky damage-scaling system), then the sheer volume of choice is pretty high. More than 100 rune effects and 16 passives. The passives layer on each other and the active skills to seemingly provide lots of iterations to try. I think it seems like a lot. The passives are rather pronounced bonuses, so they should noticeably alter play. I’m glad I won’t have to hunt for quality skill runes before attempting a new build. There may very well be thousands of enticing combinations scattered among the classes, and this way the team can balance them more actively and effectively. Worrying about ranks throws a wrench in the works.

    They might be able to make the rune effects jump to more powerful effects on each difficulty level or on a character level scale, as mentioned, but that does complicate the balance somewhat. I’m not sure if it’s worth it. Some skill runes will work fine with no noticeable scaling effect beyond what you get for level and item. Others might work better if they changed as they went. But the point is they would need to stay balanced against each other.

    Jedouard seems to think the differentiation should be stronger, but I’m not so sure. I think it’s hard to say at this point if they struck the right balance of differentiation. Actually, your post brings up something to me, perhaps there shouldn’t be unruned skills at all. Just start all the skills with one of the runes, or make the unruned version different in a useful way, or tie in some of the passives skills or item affixes to the unruned versions. Why waste a potential slot for a customizable effect? Consider that unruned Magic Missile (or most any other skill) effectively gets a few (likely very quick) levels of play before a rune effect completely outclasses it. This is a n00b trap that’s easily eliminated.

    People are craving power, but I just want access to different effects. My pattern of use will be my own, and so will my items. That’s enough, potentially, for me. It all depends on execution, but I don’t see a problem with the system.

    Edit: I think people are suffering from a crisis of imagination, or perhaps a crisis of worthiness. Just because something is available to you doesn’t make it worthless. I think it’s the Diablo item gambling reward system that makes people feel like that.

    And finally, consider this: You don’t want more choices. You don’t! You REALLY don’t! You want more MEANINGFUL choices. What’s meaningful to you? Is a choice meaningful if it would never be viable? How do you design a system with the most number of active meaningful choices?

    Or perhaps you find meaning by earning success? If so, then you would want more randomness, bigger highs and lows, and a chance to prove that YOU have mastered the system.

  62. Yes to all of this. The problem isn’t that the rune ranks are gone, the problem is that in the new single tier rune system many of the runes have the rank 1 or rank 2 effects which are insignificant. I think the single tier rune system is actually better for balancing and variety because you don’t have to suffer through 5 ranks of inferior runes before getting a significant boost for your customization choice.

    I think these tuning passes are killing skill variety because there are *so many* skills that you get some redundancy – for instance damage reduction and minions for the witch doctor – and stacking them seems too powerful, so all the skills have been nerfed. But the cumulative effect of picking every minion skill or every damage reduction skill still adds up to a pretty big number.
    For example you get 50% damage reduction with Jungle Fortitude, Bad Medicine, and Zombie Dogs/Life Link.
    Or adding up all the summonable minions for the witch doctor, Gargantuan/Humongoid (32%), Zombie Dogs/Burning Dogs (4x 11%), Corpse Spiders/Mother Spider (was 39%, not showing now), Spirit Barrage/Manitou (46%), you’ve got ~161% weapon damage per second that’s just there. You wouldn’t even need a primary attack skill. (well maybe after normal difficulty)
    One fix for this might be some kind of upkeep (resource cost or maybe defense/offense/move speed penalties) for any passive abilities.
    Fortunately, Blizzard tunes skills even after release, so if they keep any kind of usage statistics the lame runes will be de-nerfed after release. (before would be better, though)

  63. Personally I don’t mind the change to the runesystem, skillrunes as items never interested me much but that would have been fine too. What worries me is that Blizz are putting all their eggs in one basket, making the early game experience good for new players.
    The game will definitely be fun to play awhile after launch when everything is new and shiny. It won’t take long until you’ve tried and played around with all the skills/runes that are interesting though, not all combinations but who cares about that really. The only long-term fun I see in this game is itemfinding, if they manage to get it right, and there’s an easy shortcut for instant gratification there, atleast if you play softcore, RMAH.
    I was hoping this would be a game to play for years to come but in it’s current state there’s not much that promotes long-term fun for me atleast, unless there’s some interesting announcements before launch I won’t play it.

    • What game conforms to your high standard? How did D2 conform to it, while D3 doesn’t? Or did it? Did the D2 skill system really offer years of entertainment? Did its item system? It depends on who you are, but I don’t see what separates the editions, elementally. What’s the core difference that takes it from deep to flat? Is there another game’s replayability that I can compare with?

      Are you saying that they give too much, that the random element should be played up more and that you should have to and be able to work for big bonuses for anything and everything, thus increasing the benefits of dedication? I’m sick of that game, personally. I want to play through the storyline, try everything out, and then PvP in the arena and bounce around in Inferno with “crazy” builds. This system provides that. 

      • Diablo 2 had many aspects that were fun for me to play around with besides MFing. I’m primarily a min-maxer so basically anything that’s complex and requires alot of thought, planning, effort and experimenting is what I enjoy long-term in games and what I feel D3 is lacking. Building new characters and theorycrafting about gear, breakpoints for cast rate, hit recovery etc and experimenting with different skills and/or stat point allocations and then seeing how it plays out once you reach high level is fun for me. Permanent choices add long-term fun and meaningful customization imo, that defferentiates characters from eachother, more isn’t necessarily better but I definitely want more than D3 offers.
        Basically D3 lacks complexity, important choices and things that require effort to achieve imo, everything except itemfinding is designed towards instant gratification with little effort. I don’t want Diablo 2.5, I really want something new and different but with more complexity than D3 has currently.
        Recently I’ve been following the Guildwars 2 development closely, an MMO with influence from many different types of games, I feel some ARPG in it aswell watching footage. That game is mainstream like D3 and it doesn’t have the complexity D2 has but more than D3 and it does get me excited with all the cool stuff they’ve borrowed from other games and some innovation. There’s alot in GW2 I’m excited to try out and experiment with, and I see long-term fun in that game, something I can’t say for Diablo 3 in it’s current state.

        Right now I’m happy playing good old games like Quakeworld(Quake 1), Unreal Tournament 2004, Quake Live, EvE online, Diablo 2, DotA, Planescape Torment, Transport Tycoon, Football Manager etc.

        • Most of that stuff you like is still in (breakpoints/sweet spots are inevitable, and skill experimentation is more alive and well than ever), and skill runes have nothing to map to from the old system. Passives are much better than attribute allocations ever were. I’ll look into GW2, though.

          It doesn’t have the complexity of D2, but more than D3? I think you might be mistaken, but you’re welcome to your impressions. I can certainly appreciate the idea of enjoying the benefits of long term planning, but I don’t enjoy it in this context nearly as much as you seem to.

          You think D2 was complex? I’m not so sure. There was high-level theory-crafting to be done, but there will be now, as well. It’s just that you won’t need to commit your stat/skill points to a specialization first. What’s so fun about modeling something in a spreadsheet, then committing countless hours to proving your concept, anyway? It’s there in the spreadsheet.

          That’s why I’ve always been more interested in trying out “weird” stuff, I guess. 

  64. I have to be on the side that says less customization from the changes in the last several months. While there are many things that make me happy about the direction of the game, such as respec abillity and shared stash, there are several that just cut out additional options for adding damage or effects. I dont care about trying to be unique. If I made the same build as a million other people, I would still feel good about it because it was ultimately what I wanted and would let me play my character in the way that feels good to me. I really hated to see charms removed though. That was a game within the game for me playing D2. I enjoy trying to get skillers and 7%MF charms, and being able to use them to make up for low resistances. Any part of your character that was lacking could be made up by getting the right charms. I dont consider customization a way for me to have a unique character, but more a way to make up for areas that are lacking. If you are getting mauled by a certain area or level, there should be enough customization to help you overcome that. I am not saying you should be able to wear white items and be able to beat the game, but there should be enough variables to allow somebody to change things up to help them go on.
    I really hope we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg with how much of the game mechanics we have seen. I know alot can come from an expansion, as D2 was made much better with LOD, in my opinion of course. But, I dont want the game to come out suffering and need an expansion to make it good. I am sure the D3 team is getting a little pressure to either shit or get off the pot.  With everything being so expensive these days, I am sure there are a few people that want a return on the money they have put out. There has not been anything so far that would keep me from buying the game. But, that damn online-only thing still has me aggravated. Still, I see the benefits of it far outweigh the negatives, and if it keeps the dipshit hackers from duping, than its deffinitely worth it.   

    • A thought: you may not care about being unique, but you are none-the-less, so more choices mean more options for you to find something you like more than everything else. In other words, if a choice wasn’t there for you to choose, you wouldn’t be able to choose, and thus, enjoy it. And if the choice, not you, isn’t unique, then it isn’t really a choice at all. Who cares about choosing between two things that are basically the same?

      Edit: I should note, however, that people also like their choices to be effective as well as different, and that uniqueness thing is so unique with people. So how to balance?

  65. There still might be a way to get 5 missiles from magic missle. when you have the wizard selected as a character to be made it shows a little video on the right side of the screen showing some of the skills and it shows magic missle shoot out 5 and not 3. There is still hope that these runes can change a bit.

  66. Rune ranks should be kept in game. It does not increase customization but it gives a lot of variety to skill. As an example if you unlock Poison Dart on level 6, it should shoot 2 missiles, and on level 60 it should shoot 7 or 8 missiles. Now everything is flat and it’s boring.

    Not only that, can you imagine how much development time were wasted on rune rank making? Every single skill had 7 ranks and now everything is pointless.. No wonder they take 7 years to make a game when 50% of stuff they make and then throw away. 

    • Have you ever heard of Peter Molyneux?
      You should read up on all of his plans for the original Fable and see what actually came out at release lol

  67. maybe…but still…the build are replicable by other players and if something works really well…its going to get copied- thats a fact. so the items will rule the land

  68. It does seem Blizzard want customization to solely focus on equipment. While the previous poster is probably joking, they should seriously consider just giving us max level character and let us pick our equipment and get it over with. Some people think it’s fake customization just because eventually people will want the highest level of rune anyways, but it’s the sense of progression that’s the key here. Progressing through the ranks, instead of just ‘glyphing’ your skill at certain level feels more fun to me. 
    Now that I think about it, a lot of feature they put in or cut out make me feel extremely detached from my character. Remeber in previous beta patches you can sell/salvage from your inventory via stone/cauldron? If they put in a cube for item crafting coupled with recent change to rune system you can play this game from your UI. You don’t even need Tristram anymore, I mean Cain doesn’t even identify stuff these days. Why even bother letting us name our character? Everyone is so homogenized, we should just log in and pick our class/equipment and start farming.

  69. Claiming that the removal of rune ranks causes balance issues is making too many unfounded assumptions about how the game is already balanced, just like Flux’s comment about skills being balanced at a static percentage vs an increasing percentage. His claim that it’s somehow inherently problematic that skills won’t always get exponentially more powerful as you level up – and are instead based on the same percentage of your overall weapon damage (which does go up each level along with your primary attribute) – assumes that monster difficulty will be balanced in the same way as previous titles, which we have zero reason to believe. 

  70. Diablo 3, the ultimate racing action role-playing-ish-sorta-not-really-never-mind game. But! Its got itemization xD!!!

    • Well we assume that D3 has itemization or preferably a good itemization. Actually it has to be great, match D2 itemization that seems now to be more complex, but even so only few items where really useful. At this point we dont really know what itemization will be. In the end D3 succes or failure will come to how well Blizzard makes items.

  71. Flux, I completely second what your comments on the elimination of customization in D3 development. I was really disappointed that Blizzard is running to meet projected game due dates through the process of elimination. I only hope that these customization gets added in later expansions, but I don’t think major customization systems like skills or runes would get changed. They probably would add in new ones such as the Talisman or the Mystic. Oh well, it’s their game. We do hope to play the full version after 10 plus years. But it’s makes me wonder, what have they been doing in such a long time?! These major issues seems like should be settled in the beginning stage of game development. So that leaves me with the impression of “oh we promised that it would be out by…, so don’t you guys want the game? then we need to simplify it!” Sad…  

    • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with experimenting with systems and then removing them if they become unworkable. Games go through many iterations because they are such complex things being worked on by so many people. Other game companies that don’t know what they are doing will simply leave in systems that, if you really think them through, are completely unworkable. They could never truly be balanced. They favor some tactics so much that they render whole sections of code and potential gameplay options meaningless. They overcomplicate secondary systems (UI, random item generation, etc.). They misdirect player resources. They become necessary tools that everyone hates. And so on. Often these problems are subtle.

      You have to go beyond brainstorming and into modelling (and coding) before you can know whether you’ve hit on a system that actually adds fun, instead of merely adding complexity.

  72. Runes were the lynchpin for the Blizzard sympathizers’ arguments regarding character customization.  With their depth severely reduced, I wonder how many are second guessing the dev teams competence.  On one hand, it’s not like runes are gone.  On the other, there isn’t a whole lot of depth in the game since they removed skill and attribute points.  Removing even more game depth is just laziness at this point.

  73. This seems like a sensational piece of journalism that lacks objectivity.  You’ve basically copied and pasted all the anti-new rune system posts and reworded them in such a way that the article is readable. There’s no critical thinking process involved, no counter arguments, or a hint of possible solution. The \customization\ that you mention is an illusion.  D2 / D2X was different in a way that ALL that really mattered was getting the right build in order to even get through to Hell difficulty.  The new emphasis is now placed on player skill, coordination, and situational awareness to understand which build should be used for specific encounter. If I wanted to read an article on someone beating a dead horse, I would’ve gone to Blizz’s general forum.  For a site that’s supposedly the central figure of D3 fan community, this article is downright shameful.

  74. “We want the skills to be even more different than in Diablo 2. Even If I’m using for example the Magic Missile, my Magic Missile doesn’t look like someone else’s Magic Missile.” – Jay Wilson, BlizzCon 2009 –

    Well Jay, you have failed.

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