The Diablo 3 Podcast #88: Itemization, Better Co-Op, and Monster Density


Flux, Azzure, and Wolfpaq discuss the upcoming Diablo 3 v1.08 patch, with heavy coverage of itemization issues, plus ideas about co-op improvements and fixes to monster density problems.

Show content with approximate subject starting times:

  • 0:50 — SimCity’s terrible launch and online-only DRM provokes Diablo 3 launch flashbacks.
  • 5:50 — Itemization changes coming to Diablo III. Fewer Rares of higher quality. Improvement?
  • 9:20 — Will improved quality Rare items make things more fun or just create inflation? Is Diablo III is more of a gear check than Diablo 2 was, or not?
  • 18:40 — Improved legendaries. More specialized legendary items that fit perfectly with or enable new/different certain builds would be awesome.
  • 27:20 — Does the Auction House exacerbate all item issues by putting such ease of distribution and accessibility into the economy? Opinions differ.
  • 37:50 — Legendary improvement suggestions and theorycrafting.
  • 48:25 — Improving the co-op experience. Adding more bonuses, or improving social tools?
  • 55:25 — Monster density issues and improvements. Flux pitches his idea for bonus dungeons again, and why simply sticking more monsters into the existing levels is a suboptimal adjustment.
  • 1:06:15 — Blizzard’s recently improved community communication. Direct posts from devs, more activity from CMs. What’s fueling this and should we expect more?
  • The Diablo 3 Podcast Episode Guide in the DiabloWiki.net provides links to every show, plus quick summaries.

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    1. I agree with Flux that the lack of “build around me” items in D3 is a huge problem. To be fair, there aren’t “0” items that don’t make you want to create a specific build. Thing of the Deep and Homunculus are both items that immediately inspire you to build a specific build. But if there are any others, I can’t think of them off the top of my head, and that sorta proves the point.

    2. Also, Azzure is right about AH and Woflpaq is wrong. If All Echoing Fury below 1100 DPS didn’t drop anymore, in a trivial amount of time NO ONE would want an 1100 DPS EF, they would be littering the AH, and only the very VERY top end DPS EF would be valuable.

      We have an actual item that proves this point too, with the Manticore. Once the patch came out that introduced 2 socket Manticore, at first they were crazy expensive, but before long it’s pretty much reaching the point where 2 socket Manticore is the only weapon any DH will touch. Everything that existed before the 2socket Manticore was introduced is worthless now, no one would even touch them these days. If tomorrow they introduced 3 socket manticores, in 6 months they would be the only ones anyone used.

    3. Thanks for the podcast. Really nice idea to not just increase monster density in A4, but instead elite density. That would indeed be a well-suited flavor change, so thumbs up for that. Just not sure if it would go well with free traveling between the acts, because it would probably make building up NV in A4 mandatory.

    4. I like the idea of legendary’s with charges.. Flux you mentioned the idea for a second.. “Blah blah sword of vault” has 15 charges of vault.. This might require and additional skill slot for charged weapons only… Meh idk…but the idea of having a skill from another character (teleport,leap) is sweet!

    5. No Elly, this sucks.

    6. I still think they need ways of slowly upgrading your stuff that involved farming. Like lots of different type of demonic essences drop and each one will have a chance to give a certain stat. Like you find demonic essence(2) x 50, they can randomly upgrade a stat of gear that they have already. Or another would be demonic essence of (die stat) and it gets rid of a random stat, but you can like cancel it after it was done if it killed your crit hit of 10% on gloves or something. You could slowly craft a super sweet item after some time and luck. Oh yea all these items and essence would be BoA. Done rambling.

    7. Azzure is 100% correct in everything he says. To solve the problem around AH and itemization I think they need to put in massive restrictions to AH. Things like this:
      – Certain items can not be sold on AH and need to be hunted for. Not necessary BOA items. Imaging if the only way to get Echo or Manticore was to hunt for them or trade ingame.
      – Reduced the number of items you can sell.
      – Set limitations to purchases. You can only buy one item every week for instance.
      – Set limitations to how many purchased items the characters can wear.
      – Implement changes to the currency system to move away from gold-only.
      – etc..

      There are solutions that can be implemented to keep AH in the game and at the same time reward players to be more powerful via item hunting.
      Lets hope Blizz will nail it!

      • Just wanted to second your post, Migens.

        I think that presents a clear solution to not wanting to completely throw at the AH due to its convenience, but also not have it break the game. The question still remains though that hunting for your own items is fun, but will the drop rates enable us to have that fun if we’re hunting but not catching anything? I think there would have to be parallel tweaks there as well.

      • I disagree; access to better barter and trade of items is not a problem, it is an improvement. What it does do is reveal underlying problems with the loot mechanics.

        The problem with the loot mechanics is the process of recycling value. Items are harvested from the world by players, but not returned to the world.

        If you find a perfect item, you will keep it. And it will never go away. You might sell or trade or gift it to a friend, but no one will ever vendor it out of existence. It won’t get used up.

        Removing the auction house is an attempt to cure a symptom.

    8. When they implemented both auction houses that just killed all of what Diablo stood for. The thrill of the hunt is gone. All you have to do is go buy gold, buy the best gear and there you go. There is no sense of accomplishment or excitement when finding items anymore. Just go the AH and buy what you like. Pretty boring.

      • I don’t understand this complaint. You know people did the same thing in D2, right? Did you think every hammerdin you ran into actually farmed those runes?

        I agree the AH has flaws, but I disagree that it has “ruined” diablo. I agree that the game now appears to assume a use of AH, while D2 was fully playable without ever going outside of self-found and probably assumed a mostly self-found some trading level of gear for the players.

        I agree with some of the commentary in the podcast that pointed out that while the AH has a lot of problems/baggage, I wouldn’t want to go back to the days of spamming trade channels and forums with my items that I want to trade, and then bartering/haggling over their values. The AH has made things MUCH more efficient.

        • Yes, but a game about the item hunt shouldn’t have integrated the auction house so much that it felt necessary to use it. The huge range of rolls on items was and is a real problem for self found players. I’d argue there’s too much variation and far few upgrades for characters. I have a personal story to tell you. I used the RMAH just a few days ago, bought 20 dollars worth of gold and bought a fairly good cookie cutter demon hunter set. The massive increase in power and the efficiency of making my own money to buy items has put a sour taste in my mouth. It’s far far better for me to flip burgers and buy the best gear as opposed to beating my head against a wall trying to find items on my own.As a result, I do not have fun finding items and do not play as much as I would really like to. My time is very valuable to me and Diablo 3 requires me to put TOO much effort for very little reward. That is the essence of the problem with the auction house.

          Blizzard really should have put restrictions on the auction house so it wasn’t such a necessary part of the game.

          This is why I think the Archon crafting plans were in the right direction. Players get BOA items that were quite good and weren’t obtainable on the auction house.

          To sum it up, the auction house changed the game the moment it launched, for better or for worse. I hope Blizzard realizes many of their mistakes and fixes them in an expansion. However, I do not have my hopes up. Just as Chris Metzen’s terrible storytelling hasn’t changed, Diablo 3 will forever be tainted by what it COULD have been.

          • “Yes, but a game about the item hunt shouldn’t have integrated the auction house so much that it felt necessary to use it.”

            I agree 100%.

    9. Thank you flux for your podcast, really nice ideas, i enjoyed it.
      I posted this on official forum as well. I think the best solution to encourage people to item hunt (to play the game) is to create new category of legendaries. Account bound legendaries. All this cool ideas about legendaries like the item that make your ethereal, permanent call of the ancients, two hydras or mystic ally or companions at the same time. What if the only way to get this is from the monster drop and how excited you will be when these items will actually drop? I will be willing to put hours of play to find the legendary if it’s cool and game changing. This goes along with the philosophy of developers “farm monsters, not the auction house”. There can be guaranteed account bound legendary drop when u kill Diablo the first time in hell/inferno. Account bound legendaries will be a hit as the account bound crafting items.

    10. I love the ah for the convenience it provides. It gives gold value as the currency. I think the biggest issue with the ah is the ease of flipping gear. Flipping stuff in the real world is a problem as well, but it is somewhat mitigated by the factor of time.

      The d3 ah is simply too fast. You can buy up stuff and immediately relist. I think any item bought on the ah should have a 1 week timer before it can be relisted. This will not prevent all flips, but it will slow it down. Will that item still be underpriced 1 week from now??

      I need to listen to the podcast before making more mments!! This is one of the more interesting topics that has been discussed on these casts.

    11. I liked when legendaries 2x as hard to find. The cheapest lacunis were ~30 million for the absolute worst ones. When they doubled the drop rate they dropped like crazy to 20k atm LOL. They are basically worthless now even though I feel they have good unique stats even against the new archon razorbacks. They dropped like crazy during 1.0.6 and the new archon razorbacks really weren’t the reason for the crazy drop in price (although they devalued them even more). The same can be said for every legendary piece. IK chest armor started at 40 mil, witching hours 50 mil, etc. In those days, seeing a legendary drop actually got you SUPER excited.

      Now legendaries are trash UNLESS they roll something specific. For lacunis it would be crit chance + main stat to be worth anything at all. Mempos need crit chance. EF needs socket, CD, good dmg etc.

      The solution for Blizzard is to make it so legendaries are actually rare again but when they drop they are much more epic/useful/allow for specific builds. It won’t be perfect but I loved it so much more when getting a lacuni drop was a guaranteed 30 million if nothing else. Now 99% legendaries are just garbage you barely get a brimstone for. Not a good situation.

      tldr: legendaries should drop much less frequently but should also much better.

      • The flipside of that is those “worthless” non-perfect items are now cheap enough for people who can’t afford perfect gear to still be able to build a viable character.

        • That goes back to the D2 legendary system, kinda. The highest level uniques in D2, TC90 and 87, were very hard to find. Almost unfindable, other than intensive Pindle running (or Baal farming later, when his top end drop rates were improved). But most uniques weren’t nearly that hard to find, and they had much less variance, so if you found one you knew it was going to be pretty good. We talked about the Shako (Harlequin Crest) on the podcast as an example of that.

          Thus the D2 system was uniques that were (mostly) easier to find than legs are in D3, but that were generally much more useful. Thus most players could gear out a successful character on self finding, while you only really *needed* to trade to get really elite gear.

          The other side of that issue is how much easier Hell D2 was than Inferno D3 was, thus much lower quality gear, relatively speaking, could succeed in D2’s end game, while D3’s was a huge gear check for the first months after release.

    12. Azzure is absolutely correct about how you can’t fix the item situation by raising the floor.

      I’ve played online games with economies since 1991. I used to be big into MUDs back then, and had to deal with MUDflation and other issues with a MUD economy. A lot of problems D3 is experiencing with items were issues we dealt with over 20 years ago.

      First, when I heard the auction house was going in, I knew it would be a disaster. The proper way D3 should evolve the series is to make everything either soulbound or accountbound, and just forget having an economy. Otherwise, you just deal with the game revolving around the AH.

      If you absolutely MUST have an auction house and items not soulbound, you must accept it will be an auction house game. Back 20 years ago, they dealt with that exact issue in many creative ways. Basically, when you streamline the process of acquiring gear too much, the item hunt loses most of its value and fun. The only way to inject that fun back into the game is to create mechanisms that remove items from the economy.

      The ONLY solution for D3 with an auction house is going to be “item sinks”. People are going to have to lose their gear on a regular basis, forcing them to regear ad preventing the economy from being flooded.

      MUDs had several interesting methods of creating item sinks.

      1. Death Traps – known as DTs. You enter the room, you are dead and you lose all your gear. The gear is gone for good. Period. This probably doesn’t translate well into D3.

      2. Durability – In some MUDs, durability REALLY mattered. Like once it hit zero, the item was broken. That’s it. Find another one.

      3. Epic questlines – This one was by FAR my favorite. Some MUDs would set up these extremely difficult optional quests. The prizes were incredible skills and spells and items that could not be gained in any other way. The catch was that once you started the quest, you were doomed to lose all your gear that you brought with you on the quest. So you had tough decisions to make. You had to gear up to become powerful enough to complete the quest, but at the same time you would lose all that gear to try to win your prize. It was a mix of skill, planning, and gambling, for incredible rewards. My favorite item sink.

    13. I almost forgot about another method I saw used in a MUD to prevent this auction house problem.

      They actually limited the number of copies of certain uniques that could be in existence at the same time. So like if the game was programmed to allow no more than 5 copies of the Harlequin’s Crest across the realms, then once someone had the 5th shako drop, that’s it, it cannot drop again until someone loses a shako. Some sort of hard cap would fix the issue of 10,000 Skorns on the AH.

      I saw this solution used in tandem with durability. So you’d get one of the 5 possible shakos. You’d use it, and once its durability hit zero, it would poof and a shako could drop again for someone.

      There obviously are issues with people hoarding them and preventing them from dropping, but that can be solved too by doing things like giving the item duration of 60 days and setting the max number to something decent like 1000.

    14. My favorite reward from the MUD epic questline was this incredible spell called “conjure”. Basically, you could conjure up an entire set of equipment. The equipment was extremely top end, like basically best in slot.

      The catch was, you could only conjure one piece per hour. And they lasted only 24 hours before poofing. So it was unrealistic to actually conjure a full set of gear. But if you had a pretty big hole or two in what you currently wore, you could fix it by conjuring an item for that one slot. or even 2-3 if you played for a couple hours.

    15. OK, finally listened to this cast. It’s a good one. This wasn’t mentioned in the cast, so I will comment here.

      The primary issue with the itemization is there is nothing to remove items from the game. Hardcore accomplishes this through player deaths. D3 and D2 have good hardcore economies where pricing makes sense, and when you find a decent item, odds are it can be used by someone. I love hardcore for the economy, but hate how it changes flexibility in builds and ability to experiment. Plus the lag issues.

      Softcore — you are fighting against millions of hours of farming at this point. They have to keep improving the drop rates over time, as your odds of finding something better than what is in circulation dwindle to near zero.

      There needs to be an item sink for great gear. I don’t know how to fix this. I think the fix will be a bitter pill to swallow for Diablo franchise, as it has never had item binding mechanics before. The crafting is a start, but, it’s not really you finding anything. It’s just gambling and sinking gold (which is good).

      Some brainstorm type ideas to fix (none are perfect):
      1) Mystic/Jeweler/Smith adds a boost to items, but it makes the item BOA. The enchant can be removed, but it’s a high price. Marquise gems do this now, to a small extent.
      2) Durability. Make items really expensive to repair, but repairs are much less often in general. At some point, you discard the item. Maybe make a quest to repair gear… dunno. Or have items only lose durability on death?
      3) Self found gear has a flag associated with it. If you use gear you find, you can get perks, like the item never loses durability (like above), or you get stat boosts for each self found item you purchase. For every self found item you are using, adds x% to damage or protection.
      4) AH — every time you sell an item, the stats degrade. Or say it doesn’t sell — that means the stats go down. So once an item floats around the AH enough, it becomes crap. This may give rise to third party sites for trades again, so unsure this is a good fix either.

    16. I agree that there needs to be a sink for great loot, but I have to disagree with the idea that it’s ok to keep items for yourself, but not ok to give items to others in trade.

      The process of random loot drops is a matter of time. If an item drops 1/500 times, it will take about log(1/20)/log(499/500) =~ 1496 tries to get that item drop, with a certainty of being wrong one time out of twenty. So almost everyone has one after 1496 tries.

      Everyone has one after 1496 tries. No amount of attempting to cripple trading things is going to change that. Doesn’t matter if you can/cannot trade it to your friends — he’s already got one.

      And since everyone already has one, guess what? Yep, the item is worthless in the eyes of the player. Like a guaranteed boss drop, all it does is move the floor up.

      Torchlight and Perfect World both have a gambling system that tempts players to sacrifice their best loot.

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