Realm of Trials: The Nightmare Continues

news-realm-of-trials-hates2The issue of Realm of Trails came up in the D3 dev chat this week, and fans dissatisfied with the Dev reply have been ranting. What did the devs actually say? I’ve got the transcript below, but first, here’s the Blue forum version of the issue. Realm of Trials: The Nightmare Continues:

The Devs’ Thoughts on Realm of Trials

“The Realm of Trials was designed to be a convenience to the players.”
-D3 Tavern Talk

It was designed to be a convenience, because before Trials you started at Greater Rift level 1 and advanced from there every time. Trials were designed as a way to skip this process.
Tyvalir: That’s exactly right. When Greater Rifts were first added to the game, players were able to start at Greater Rift 1 and jump up in difficulty quickly. However, this often led to them overshooting their mark and biting off more than they could chew difficulty-wise.

Although Rifts of Trials were intended to solve this problem (by helping players gauge the best Greater Rift level for them more quickly), they ended up becoming tedious for many players. As Travis mentioned during yesterday’s Tavern Talk, we agree with players that it’s silly to have to go through the Realm of Trials each time you want to do a Greater Rift. After all, that’s like having to “measure up” each time you go on the same ride at a theme park (versus only the first time), right?

At any rate, we agree the Realm of Trials is flawed, which is why the development team is looking at other options for how to structure Rifts and Greater Rifts.

I don’t actually mind Trials myself, but we posted a vote about this some weeks ago and the community consensus was clear, with a strong majority hating or disliking Realm of Trials. As with everything on the Internet, the “I hate X” voices are the loudest, but in this case they’re actually the majority, not just the noisy fringe. So what do the devs say in reply to the fans? Click through for the transcript from this weeks’ chat, and our Wave of Trials vote:

Here’s the transcript I typed out from the Tavern Talk. The Realm of Trials conversation runs from 53:15 – 56:30 if you want to hear it yourself.

Question: When are greater Rift Trials getting removed? It’s the most annoying thing in the game. (The next most annoying is having to fish for Stonesinger.)
tavern-talk-feb2015-trialsWyatt Cheng: Definitely something that… Funny story we were talking about this yesterday. The trials were actually supposed to be a convenience, to replace something even more um… arduous. Which was players used to start Greater Rifts at level 1 every time. And that was the beginning of the beta testing for the Greater Rifts. You’d start at 1 and then you’d skip ahead to like 6, and then 12, and then 18… And by Greater Rift 35 people would hate going through all the Rifts. So we were like, “Hey, here’s the idea, we’ll take the whole rift and shrink it down to 15 seconds an you can skip ahead very fast.”

But it’s still something that’s not pleasant to do. I think Travis uses the “you’re this tall” analogy a lot…

Travis Day: I’m with you… We talk about Trials a lot. We’ve talked about ways to improve it or remove it or modify it in some way. The analogy I always use is, “It’s like when I’m going to Disney World and I get in line for a ride, and they pull out the measuring stick. ‘You must be this tall to ride this ride.’ I’m like, ‘Oh man I’m not quite this tall…’ and then next year I go back and I’m that tall, and if I get off the ride and get back in line, and the guy is measuring me again. But I’m still this tall, I didn’t shrink. Why do I have to prove I can do GR35or 40… I just did it. Let me go right back in.”

Wyatt: In regards to why the Trials still exists, there are a couple of reasons. These aren’t reasons we can never get rid of Trials, they’re just questions we ask and explore. One is that we feel there’s a lot of value in not always pushing yourself to the hardest difficulty all the time. So for example, if we just got rid of the Trial and you could go right into your hardest Tier every single time… That could get wearing.

The other concern I have is multiplayer. Particularly public games. IF you go to do a public game, I might be GR25, let’s say. And someone else is 20 and someone else is 30. We all get matched in a game together and we don’t know which Greater Rift to start at. We have to talk and negotiate and the Trial is sort of this organic way to place this public group in a correct Rift together.

That’s sort of the other problem we’re looking to solve. But we recognize the problem, so we’re just trying… trying to figure out the bst solution.

Nevalistis: It’s definitely a conversation that’s been had. Many, many times.
Devs: *rueful laughter*

Talking to one of the CMs who was surprised at the angry fan reaction and wondered if I’d seen similar in our wing of the Diablo community, I opined that for people who really hate Trials, anything from the devs other than “removing them immediately and paying reparations for their earlier existence” was going to stir complaints. And it did!

My impression is that there are a lot of specific game design reasons that Trials are needed, but they don’t want to get into that detailed of a conversation during the live stream, so we get more philosophical replies.

The multiplayer issue is obviously a real thing, but the bigger issue is DiabloWikiLegendary Gems. Since higher level GRifts allow you to upgrade LGems, there needs to be some mechanism to keep players from accessing much higher GRs than they “deserve” to enter, since at least in softcore, people could just Zerg their way to completing the GRs (eventually) and since you can upgrade LGems even if you don’t beat the 15m timer, that’s an exploit.

If it’s really that big a deal if players cheese their LGems at rank 52 instead of rank 44… is another question. (And it’s much less of an issue in Hardcore, since doing a GR way over your char’s ability carries its own punishment.)

That’s why it wouldn’t be ideal if, for instance, the game just let you forever create GR50 keys, since you once did one in a party, when your character could only “earn” GR37, and actually complete GR43ish, within 15m.

The best and simplest Realm of Trials fix I’ve heard is to simply let players cash in more than 1 Key each time. If you could convert 1 or 3 or 5 or 10 keys at once, that would seemingly fix the problem. Just convert 1 key if you crashed out on a lower Wave, and convert 10 when you got exactly the Wave you wanted. The only latent exploit I see there is players cashing in 10 keys when they got party carried to a much higher GR than they could do solo. To prevent that the devs would have to limit how many keys you could turn in during MP games, or implement something so the game tracked if GRKs were earned in solo or party games, and that would be cumbersome and annoying.

Players who really hate Realm of Trials would still complain even if the “ten at once” feature went in, but of the solutions I’ve heard, it’s the simplest and least intrusive. Which probably means we’ll never see it and if/when there’s some new GRK system it’ll be complicated and create a whole new series of issues. Because designing video games is hard!

Here’s the vote we posted in our original Realm of Trials article a couple of weeks ago, with a snapshot of community sentiment. Anyone changed their opinion since then?

How do you feel about the Realm of Trials?

View Results

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  1. The biggest problem with the ROT isn’t that it tedious. The problem is that it’s bad at doing what it’s supposed to do. Too many characters get a stone for a rift higher than they can handle, and too many characters get a stone for a rift much lower than they can handle. It’s just a bad tool for measuring what it’s supposed to measure.

    And I don’t see why we need a tool anyway. The game already know, for leaderboard purposes, the highest rift a player has successfully handled. Why not give out a stone 0-2 levels less than that stone? Then have an NPC who is a reverse Ursi, letting players reduce the level of their stones if they want to.

    I don’t think the problem is that fixing the ROT will make LGems advance too fast, because the ROT already makes LGems advance too fast for those characters who consistently get LGems higher than their natural GRift level. If fixing the ROT will make LGems advance too fast, tweak the percentage chance to upgrade an LGem to avoid making the game too easy. Or have Ursi go away if you die too many times in the GRift.

    I’m not an irrational hater, but I’ve just seen too many times when the ROT reaches a grossly wrong estimate of what GRift level a player can handle.

  2. I think that there are a few good ways to solve the issue. The first, and probably easiest, is simply to let the Trial monsters drop items. The problem with trials is that they're worthless, since they grant crap xp (if they grant xp at all) and they don't drop items. Having them drop items would be a good fix, especially if the devs assigned a higher item rarity modifier to the higher levels, so that legendary items would drop more frequently after level 35 or 40.

    Another way to fix the problem would simply be to give you a list of stone levels to start at, with the highest level starting level being the highest level you've completed. If the devs could make this work on a character-based level, this would also solve the problem of public games, since the entire party would be limited to the lowest level of rift that its players had completed, ensuring that those who are underpowered are not forced into a rift where they will be destroyed. In addition, the popup box for players accepting or declining the rift should happen after the rift level is chosen, so that players who are unsatisfied with the level of rift can decline and get it changed.

    Beyond that, even just optimizing the ROT itself would make things a lot better. Removing the 10 second start-up time would do a lot of good, since most of the time it's a waste of time, and tier-1 monsters are weak enough to not interfere with setup anyways. Also, being able to jump more than 7 levels at a time would make things a lot better. If you finish the wave in like a second or two, which many classes can do when well-geared, jumping to level 20-ish rather than level 8 or 9 would be a great change. Finally, since the ROT as is doesn't drop items, having the rift simply start as soon as the last wave completes would be nice, since the return trip to town is more wasted time. So, even if the ROT isn't removed, it could still be optimized to be not nearly as annoying. Getting a lvl ~40 stone from 4 waves would be a lot less annoying than getting it after like 10 or 11.

  3. I'm going to modify Scion's good idea a bit. You begin with a ROT to get a starting level. If you complete that level, you get a permanent rift key that grants that character access to that level, any lower level, and a ROT beginning at the corresponding level. You can then run a ROT to get a higher level, and if you complete on time, your permanent key is upgraded to that level. If you don't complete on time, nothing changes. Once you've earned a level, it's yours to keep.

    For public games, I would grant a rift key at the average level of all characters. If players had permanent keys of 35, 33, 30, and 31 the public level would be 33 (32.25 rounded up) with an option for any lower level if agreed to by all players. If the players completed the rift on time, they receive a special one-time party rift key one level higher (34 in the above case). That key would only be valid for the exact party who earned it. Party rift levels would not affect individual permanent rift keys. To permanently advance, you have to fight alone.

  4. Way better idea would be if you reached say, Grift level 35, game subsracted 5-7, so you start at level 28 and voila. No need for stupid Realms of Trials.

  5. I think Trials as a concept are fine. If I can't handle a difficulty level I'd like to know before I get into the actual Rift. Personally I'd prefer however if we wouldn't have to do them all the time. I'd like to have three options when opening a Trial:

    1) Start at the beginning, like we can do now. This option would be used when we switched up our build too much and potentially became weaker as a result.

    2) Start where we stopped in the last Trial. Ideal when you've found an upgrade and want to push further.

    3) No Trial, simply open a Rift at the same level we started off the last time. This is for when we already found our limit or desired level to farm for gem levels and haven't found an upgrade. No reason to do another Trial in this case.

  6. difficulty slider bar for greater rifts. max difficulty unlocked by the max difficulty you completed.

    this is the only way to trash the trials.

  7. Three point plan for getting rid of Trials completely:

    1) You have to run the Trials once to get started on a character. It’s just a random elite pack with a few normal mobs and a chest at the end (to take the edge of having to do it). You don’t get keystones.
    2) You get to choose from a slider over the difficulty of the rift you can do. When you complete a rift you can jump up one level for success, the option to jump up additional levels is unlocked for each minute (or 30 seconds) left on the clock.
    3) Each rift progression is tied to each character – that gets round people leveling a DH to blast through to GR35 and then swapping to a different class. (and when the devs say this isn’t feasible they’re not being entirely honest – there’s obviously a way of tracking individual character progression already in the game, it’s called the leaderboard).

    To stop the \overlevelling\ of legendary gems in Softcore you need to just reduce the success rate for upgrades. There’s two choices there: either you take a -10% modifier per death or a -10% monifer per minute over the rift time. You’d always have a chance at an upgrade but then you would if you kept running GR10 so the extra difficulty won’t be an issue because people will take the most time efficient method.

    For group play it’s the same sort of deal – as has been said you take the lowest level everyone has completed and the group works up from there.
    All that said it’s not going to change – I’m reading that as \we know you don’t like it but we’re not putting anything into fixing it resource wise\. GRs are only a minority past time and the volume of complaints as a part of the player base is going to be very small.

    If they won’t change it I agree with Brett – they don’t work. It’d be as simple as making each wave match up to the equivalent GR. I’m sick of wanting GR 20, stopping at around wave 20 and being handed a GR12 keystone. For most hardcore players (especially when you’ve got new 70’s) the main worry is you’re going to get in way over your head with either the waves in the Trial or by skipping forwards too many GR levels.

  8. How about you can either choose to do a trial, or choose a grift 3 levels below the highest one you've completed SOLO.

    For multiplayer games, you can either choose to do a trial or start at a grift which is 3 levels below the average of the highest grift completed for each player SOLO. (simple voting interface with a tie means you do a trial)

  9. Honestly I’m more annoyed at their whole attitude on auto pickup crafting materials and gems than their keeping trials.

  10. An easy fix, at least from a design standpoint (I don't know what their code looks like so implementation could be easy or really hard):

    1) Remove trials as a gate for Greater Rifts (there is enough gating already)
    2) Allow a player to choose the rift they'd like (up to their highest completed), but the cost is dependent on the start. A single starter key (currently the trials key), can get you into a rift up to some level, and then after that, it takes 2 starter keys to start at a higher level, and this increases.
    3) When a player chooses rift key at the end of a rift, it refunds the number of starter keys it would take to go up to the next level.

    This discourages abuse from zerging a level you can't handle, since it costs more, but would allow someone who wants to try it out just to see the opportunity to do so.

    Track highest rift for multiplayer seperate from single player, and let the timer and the lack of efficiency guide players to which level is sufficient for the group. Alternatively, use some function to calculate the current groups "Highest allowed" starting point.

  11. "people could just Zerg their way to completing the GRs (eventually) and since you can upgrade LGems even if you don’t beat the 15m timer, that’s an exploit."

    Like so many things in this game, the 'problems' that exist are often simply the outcome of other poorly designed features. And then we get stuck with bandaids on top of bandaids on top of…

  12. Solo : Complete luck for DH … its just about getting not one-shot.

    Group Play : Do 40-55 _one by one_ because the system is fucking terrible. .. Like holy fucking shit is so tedious.

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