play-your-way-march6aThe special Friday edition of Play Your Way Thursday is now underway and streaming live with four Wizards banging through T6 Rifts. The show began at 4pm Pacific time, and features four players: Prfly is the build of the month, showing off his mixed element Wizard build. He’s joined by Blizzard software engineer Roger Hughston, Bnet Wizard forum MVP Jaetch, and Nevalistis.

    These Play Your Way livestreams vary greatly in game info; sometimes the dev is chatty and goes into new game info and future changes, and other times they just talk about the game as they’re playing in “streamer of consciousness” style. This one turned out pretty well with a lot of details about design and function shared by Roger. Unfortunately a lot of the bigger theme type questions he and Nevalistis couldn’t answer since it wasn’t their area of expertise. But Roger shared good info about how they make skills, how proc coefficients are tweaked, and other technical matters.

    Here are the highlights, summarized quickly while watching the stream.

    3:00 — Blizzard has recently set up streaming accounts so Roger is using that and suffering with the not such good equipment.

    5:00 — Roger is a Software Engineer, first time one in his position has been on the Play Your Way stream. What does a Software Engineer do? Roger says he worked on a lot of the skills, making them functional and visible. His team is fairly small so they all work on a variety of skills.

    His first work was mostly with Don Vu working on skill powers. The Wizard’s Arcane Torrent is one skill he did a lot on, and it almost didn’t make it into the game. The skill functions on similar code to streaming damage skills like Disintegrate and Ray of Frost. The idea of Arcane Torrent was tons of missiles coming out and converging on the same target, but they have to do it more as a stream than as thousands of individual projectiles since that’s much too “expensive” in terms of computer load. When that skill was new they had just gotten their beam-tech working, and they were able to modify that to make the arcing stream of Arcane Torrent. Which they’d like to specialize to look like countless tiny particles all bending and changing aim, but it would take a supercomputer to display it.

    Click through for notes on the info shared throughout the rest of the hour-long show, plus the video embedded to watch it yourself. Play Your Way Friday: Live Stream Recap:

    8:00 — Most of the systems in the game now are developed well enough that the devs can enable new items and legendary powers without requiring assistance from the programmers, which Roger is happy about as it lets them work faster and in more autonomous fashion.

    Since Greater Rifts came in, there are always many builds that don’t quite work. The higher difficulty makes clear any tiny difference or variation, and there are always some builds or techniques that are enough better to show up in higher GRs. Even while lots of less powerful builds might be fun and viable, just not at the highest difficulty level.

    Delay on the Arcane Mines was meant to be a more tactical gameplay element, but it doesn’t work with the current skills that do damage faster. Without delay. Jaetch suggests they make Arcane Mines do cold damage, which seems viable.

    Roger talks about how they’ve had meetings about changing more elemental powers, giving more variety in rune effects on every skill, and a lot of it goes around what they can change without totally redoing the artwork. They liked Cindercoat’s function, so they had to find a Fire ability for the Witch Doctor that would work well with it.

    PRFly asks what was the logic behind removing Critical Mass as a skill. Jaetch recalls talking about it with Wyatt at Blizzcon, and they sat there for an hour trying to figure it out at Storytime with Wyatt. Neva says that neither she or Roger are the people to answer that question accurately. PRFly points out that people should deal and that crying won’t change nothin’. (Words of truth that have never yet been heeded on the Internet.)

    Changes coming to the Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac in the next PTR patch, and Neva says it should be impressive to players.

    Roger: We’re serious when we ask people to hop on the PTR and give us feedback, since we really need the testing.

    PRFly suggests added PTR incentive. Similar to pre-order Angel Wings visual treats.

    Roger shares stories about the devs trolling each other when testing and shouting through the office at each other. Once they dragged a huge train of monsters over and got Don Vu’s hardcore character killed.

    Debate during play about what to do with any great items that Roger or Nevalistis find. Since they’re just on the accounts they use to stream with, while PRFly and Jaetch are using their normal accounts, and thus would keep the items and use them forever.

    Neva and Roger say they’d be happy to give them away, but that’s easy to say before you actually find one.

    Conversation about Wizard’s being underpowered, and how much buffed the class is via Tal Rasha’s on the PTR. They’re also addressing complaints about the usability of the sort found in our recent article by Timesink, and they say that Tal’s will soon become much less clunky to use. Less button-mashing to trigger the multiple types of damage, and the big buff should last a bit longer once it’s activated.

    Progress Globes in regular Rifts on the PTR were a bug, and they’ve been taken out. (I liked them. Sadness.) They were actually adding extra progress too, since the bonus progress from the Elite was adding on top of the extra from the purple orbs.

    34:00 — Conversation about proc scaling and proc scalers. {Those are the numbers that determine how often various procs trigger, and they need to be set lower on AoE type skills since there are so many opportunities for them to activate.) Roger pleads innocent from fan complaints about any specific skill not working as people think it should, since he doesn’t do the balancing; he just makes the tools.

    He does wish they had more than one proc scaler for things, so it could be adjusted more specifically to different rune effects on a given skill, and just generally made more fine-tuned.

    The set rings Focus and Restraint are way buffed now on the PTR, adding huge damage to any skills used with full Resource. That’s being tweaked in the next patch, as Neva says they are incentivizing behavior that wasn’t really intended. How the ring bonus will be changed was not hinted at.

    New Treasure Goblins are not spawning yet on the PTR. It’s a bug they think; they are functional in internal builds and should be seen soon.

    One year anniversary for Reaper of Soul coming up in March. PRFly suggests a buff to Ancient drop rate, to laughter. Neva says they might do something, but she has nothing to share on their plans right now.

    Roger shares stories about trying to avoid PKs in public Hardcore games. A past bug (that he fixed) allowed players to re-enter a GR just as it was ending, and they could then train all the monsters right to the start, so that other players in the game would think they were entering a new Rift and find instant death.

    Question about a bug with fire through grates burning too long and killing people instantly. Sometimes all of the grates just keep burning and they’ll cook the monsters who pass by. Roger thinks it’s a bug with the particle system, but he says he’ll have to look through it.

    End and thanks for joining and everyone says they wished it went longer than an hour. Roger had more “under the hood” info to share. Maybe next time…

    The full stream can be viewed below.

    Watch live video from Diablo on Twitch

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