Preaching to the Unconverted

Bashiok answered an assortment of queries today, the longest reply was to a now familiar gripe.   The other short bites are after that.

As release moves ever closer more gamers are paying Diablo 3 closer attention and the inevitable side-effect with that is their surprise at the significant differences between it and its predecessor. RebeL is one such person whose biggest concerns are that there are no stats (applying points to DiabloWikiattributes on levelling up) and the level cap being 60 (as opposed to 99 as it is in Lord of Destruction). He feels simplifying or removing some of the game mechanics enjoyed in Diablo 2 will lessen rather than improve the players’ enjoyment.

D2 is/was a great game due to its mechanics, it had high level of complexity and allowed so much for variation and diversification, we were always learning, planning, min/maxing, calculating, (re)building, improving, tweaking, experimenting, coming about with mixed approaches and strategies…..Diablo 3 should have improved even more upon these (and such would provide a far, far better/richer diversification, forming a game we could marvel at), instead it appears D3 was rounded to item hunting and players being a clone of each other, same as any other game these days.

Bashiok, as we know, sees it entirely differently.  On the level cap being reduced from 99 to 60 he had this to say.

Concentrated Coolness – This is a Blizzard design mantra and is sought with a lower level cap. By having fewer levels we can ensure each one feels more significant. In Diablo II you had 99 levels. Each one was a small step in player power, and when it came down to it, once you hit 80 or so you had already out leveled the content enough to make it easily farmable.
DiabloWikiAchievements – Whether you choose to recognize them or not, achievements provide a far better, visible, and even tangible reward to time invested than inconsequential gains on a road to 99. Diablo II had an achievement, and it was level 99. It was an achievement because it offered no real power benefit but was reached to show off time investment. In Diablo III we have hundreds of achievements
Content – Leveling to 60 should take you to the end of Hell difficulty. This is a nice progression as when you finish ‘progressing’ and move into the ‘farming’ phase, you’re at level cap. We don’t feel there’s any benefit to allowing players to out level the content, and in fact directly goes against the intent of Inferno always being difficult.
DiabloWikiDifficulty – With fewer levels and a finite cap we’re assured players will reach if they finish Hell, we can actually tune the game to be difficult at all times (important for Inferno) since we don’t allow you to out level the most difficult content.

On a different topic he was asked by Raygar

Can you explain “Tangible Reward” when it comes to an achievement? That goes against the idea of the achievement system. It isn’t supposed to give you anything other than bragging rights.

We don’t have plans to ever attach the DiabloWikiachievement systems in our games to player power or progression. We absolutely have tangible rewards though, like titles, mounts and pets in World of Warcraft, portraits in StarCraft II, and at least banner customization options in Diablo III, if not more.

The tangible rewards there being the mount and pets, neither of which will appear in Diablo III (yet) as achievement rewards so Raygar can rest assured it’s pretty much restricted to bragging rights just now but there may be some posing opportunities at some point……

Would a feature like those ‘angel wings’ (DiabloWikiDiablo III Collector’s Edition) be considered one of those? For example, an achievement might get you devil wings or hooves (burning footprints).

We’re not going to give the CE wings out through other means, but sure we very well may attach different cosmetic rewards to achievements.


Was the D3 team ever tempted to get rid of levels (DiabloWikiCharacter Level) entirely? Go back to the Mega Man style of getting skills (beating bosses)? You can’t wear X gear or use Y rune until you have Z achievement (beating act bosses)?

That is what I would classify as a straw capable of breaking a camel’s back.  No, no. I most definitely need my dings!  Thankfully…..

I’ve never been aware of a design or proposal to remove levels. They’re fairly meaningful, recognizable, powerful to a feeling of progression, and I would personally argue a bullet point on the definition of the RPG genre.

Phew!  Diablo 3 without level ups! /shudder

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22 thoughts on “Preaching to the Unconverted

  1. 60 cap is old news and old discussion, always the same. But when he said that we will maybe have cosmetic-only things from achievements i got kind of sad. The high-lvl armors are already all about shiny bling bling stuff, and this could dig the old art controversy from the grave.

  2. Sometimes I wonder if he has even played Diablo II… The difference between level 80 and level 99 may not be as beneficial as the difference between 60 and 79 but the fact remains that there still IS a significant gain in power. The whole idea of reaching the end and still having levels to gain is what drove me to keep playing the game, the fact I was still finding better equipment was just a bonus. Reaching level 60 by the end of Hell in D3 then going through Inferno without ever seeing my experience bar move will just be sad. Even if they don’t mean as much I would still like to have the ability to keep leveling past 60 after I finish Hell.

    • Maybe they will make it compensate making the Inferno-only equipment be far superior.

      I think the only reason to reach 99 is to go bragging or pvp.

    • I hear you for the most part, but where I get lost is “without ever seeing my experience bar move will just be sad.”

      Because really, in D2 after the mid 80’s you never really “saw” the experience bar move, it just so happened to move a centimeter after every 72+ hrs spent grinding. It took so ridiculously long to get to 99, that almost all 99’s that I saw were bots. And for me at least, that’s not fun. dumping a ton of time in to the game to barely see your experience bar budge.

      Different strokes for different folks…

    • @Celestial
      You must have missed the part where he said after lvl 80 you out-level the content… aka you get too powerful.

    • They’re basically emulating WoWs power curve. You get max level pretty easily in WoW, but your char is no where near powerful at that point. Inferno in D3 is equivalent to raiding epic dungeons in WoW. You’ve got to do that to get the equipment you need, and that’s your motivation and gain, all done after you’ve maxed out your level.

      I don’t entirely like this plan, but it was obviously successful in WoW.

    • I don’t know. I leveled a character to 99 in D2 once, before they nerfed cows, and it wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t feel like a major achievement since everyone had 99’s back then anyway. After the cows nerf I usually stopped caring about leveling after about lvl 92 or so and just focused on farming keys so I could get torches. That was the ‘end game’ in D2 for me.

      To me it seemed like most of the hard leveling done by doing endless Baal runs were just ‘junk levels’ anyway – get to the end of Normal, grind Baal runs to level 50 or so, rinse and repeat at the end of Nightmare to 70+, get into Hell and level till about 90+ doing still more Baal runs so we could obliterate Hell and make it the joke that it was.

      Na, I think Blizzard is on the track here. We can’t out-level Inferno with the cap at 60, but we should, with enough time and effort, be able to make up for that with the gear we’ll get just from farming in Hell and completing Inferno. It sounds about right to me.

    • @celestial Really? You kept playing just because you love the feeling of leveling up?

      I kept playing because i wanted to obtain the best gears possible!
      At lvl 83, i stopped leveling and went into farming mode. I find farming more thrilling than leveling. I only level up so i can wear my gear. I would keep leveling only because the cap is 99 and to keep up with others.

  3. I’ve thought about why they didn’t just ditch levels altogether. I’m sure I’ll get slammed for this but there’s no real purpose for them outside of a shiny light that smashes your character, and some inconsequential stat bonus that you can’t even choose.

    Bashiok is pretty damn ignorant about RPGs if he thinks that it’s “necessary” as a criteria to have level ups in order to be defined as an RPG. There’s plenty out there that don’t depend on archaic mechanics.

    I’m open to new things as long as it makes sense and improves the game.

    • That’s why I asked the question. There are a lot of “big picture” kind of people on the development team. I’m sure a couple of them thought about ditching levels, especially when they were settling on the 60 cap. Probably didn’t go very far, though. Probably b/c some of the Defense/armor/resistance calculations require levels, both character and monster.

    • Totally agree with you, its like they have a logic opinion on everything.
      Skillpoints had no purpose and were complicated? What about char lvl? They are purely cosmetic. If they would take the character lvl out we wouldn’t be crying about the lvl cap. The new character lvl would be automatically the characters banner showing off the achievements that tell their stories…

    • I think levels are an archaic and unnecessary mechanic. The Guild Wars 2 team was almost brave enough to remove them, but caved in at the last moment. Progress can easily be represented by more immersive and tangible means (resources, gear, reputation, skills, access to content).

    • I agree, it would have been fun to see them try some other way of character progression than levels. I would prefer some way of progression where you have to make tough choices that have a permanent impact on your character.

      • The kick in the butt is that they were almost there with the removal of skill points, the freespec system, skill slots, runes, etc.
        If they had the balls, they could have tried something new and different, but then it wouldn’t be a blizzard game.

  4. I really don’t like the idea of seeing a million people prancing around D3 wearing those CE angel wings. And if they intend to add even more out-of-worldly cosmetic shiny things, I think it’s really going to wreck the atmosphere that they’ve worked so hard to create.

    • It would be so nice to see bloody armors, skull helmets and things like this for the “cosmetic rewards” instead of shiny stuff. Cooler and better fit into the atmosphere.

    • Yeah i feel the same! Never liked the idea of thous wings because they don’t have a real porpuse! They dont even make sense, angels are supposed to have wings, or demons… but im not bringing this discussion back!

      But its sad, nowerdays we talk about “cosmetics” in diablo 3! Where did the goth “uncosmetic” style go?

      Wasn’t diablo all about powerfull “humans” agains the forces of hell, that made us feel uber powerfull because of the epicness?

      • That’s one of the reasons I don’t like the wings. The Angel’s human looking “bodies” are supposed to be just for the visual sense of the humans on Sanctuary, where the wings are actually THEM. For a human to walk around with angel wings it ruins that lore, it’s like your character is a centaur or something. Two completely different races. Dumb.

        Also, it’s shiny and WoWy, ick.

        • They are cosmetic rewards, they don’t have to fit the lore in Blizzard’s eyes… see 85% of the vanity items in WoW as an example…

  5. i like any cosmetic goodies they offer. I would prefer a ton more. If there wasn’t any cosmetic in-game then I there wouldn’t be much of uniqueness.

  6. Also noticed the lack of a response to the removal of skill points even though the rest was all touched upon.

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