The “Easy” vs “Accessible” Debate Rides Again

One of the bigger announcements about the upcoming WoW Panda-pack was a total overhaul to the Talents system. These worked a lot like skills do in Diablo III, and they used to be very important, character-defining decisions that were essential not to screw up (lest people refuse to raid with you). The number of talents increased from the original game in each expansion (51 to 61 to 71) until Cataclysm scaled them back to 41. Now? There are 6. And you can change them around any time you like, ala D3’s original freespec skill system.

The post announcing this feature change on Blizzard’s WoW site has well over 11,000 replies, with reactions like this fairly common:

The new talent system is retarded. Less talents and less points means less customization and less analysis… The game was best when it first came out and The Burning Crusade continued the tradition. WoW has steadily became more and more simplistic and less effort to play. I’m old school. I don’t like to be pigeon holed with how i spend my talent points and i play without add ons.

Doesn’t that comment sound like any one of the hundreds of angry forum posts/comments we saw on this site, when the original D3 system changes (almost all of them simplifications) were revealed? Better yet, lots of the WoW commenters are blaming D3’s freespecs for watering down the strategy requirement and character build permanence they used to enjoy in WoW.

This sort of “let the player do whatever they want, whenever they want, so long as they win” is apparently the wave of the future, with a similar ethos animating the character building in the just-released Skyrim and in upcoming RPGs as well.

This time around, the design philosophy for Bethesda has been to wave goodbye to the pre-sets it gave you at the beginning of Oblivion, and hello to the possibility of playing any class types, simultaneously, with both hands. One hand can be used for melee weapons, one hand can spellcast. The result is a system that lets players decide how they want to play at any point in time.

You’ll see shadows of this kind of thinking elsewhere in games due next year. The upcoming Kingdoms of Amalur, which shares the same genetic inheritance as The Elder Scrolls series thanks to a having a lead designer in common, has taken up a similar design stance. Instead of requiring the player to select a playing style they’ll be stuck with before the game even begins, Amalur gives you three talent trees, with over twenty abilities in each, to fiddle between and combine. You can also hop between Mage, Rogue, Warrior, and Ranged archer stances at any point, allowing you to mold your character even when you’re mid-way through the game.

As we know, Diablo III initially had unlimited respecs as well, until the recent patch added the DiabloWikiNephalem Altar. The game still allows unlimited respecs; they just make you go to town first so you can’t actually hot patch mid-battle. I couldn’t help but think of these features, all of which seem designed to be very casual-friendly, while I was testing Torchlight 2 this week. I’ll go into more details on Friday when the NDA lifts, but rest assured; you won’t see TL2 fans complaining that Runic has ruined the game so that any Facebook gamer can just hop on and kick ass without so much as assigning their attribute points.

We’ve been debating this all through D3’s development as well, though there are (at least) two definitions of “easy.” 1) Easy in terms of “no skill required to win” and 2) easy in terms of “no consequences to your actions.”

The #2 type of easy has been a big talking point all during Diablo 3’s development. Just to list a few conveniences of that nature: manual attributes have been removed, skill points were removed, passive skills were scaled way back, freespecs were introduced, etc… Then the beta started and easy #1 blew up. Blizzard hasn’t denied it, and they’ve said that, “you will not die unless you are very careless” is a feature in Normal difficulty, and especially in Act One.

On a past DiabloWikiDiablo Podcast, Elly said she’d like to start Diablo 3 on Nightmare difficulty. Maybe that wouldn’t literally work, her point was one that many of you guys share. A lot of Diablo 3 fans want a challenge, right from the start. They (we) do not want all of Normal (and maybe Nightmare too) to function as a dress rehearsal for the real game. Many players have argued for Hardcore right from the start, but what about the Torchlight style Easy/Normal/Hard/Very Hard difficulty selection, right from the start of the game? I can’t imagine Blizzard would incorporate something like that at this point in the development process, but for at least some small % of the player base, it would be a very welcome feature.

You can comment on that, or on the general (perceived) casual-friendly nature of game development these days. Is easier gaming better? Will Blizzard pull casual players into D3 with the training wheels approach, and then turn them into hardcore gamers as they move up the difficulty progression? Or are they just watering down the product to the point that those of us who want a challenge aren’t going to find it?

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81 thoughts on “The “Easy” vs “Accessible” Debate Rides Again

  1. In terms of making a game’s user interface easy to use and understand, easier is better.  A good UI is fairly obvious, does not require reading a manual, does not require many sub-menus and extra mouse clicks, and has advanced features in options for those that want them (such as key-bindings).  D2 was OK at this, but could have used some improvement.  There were many useful stats not shown on the character screen, and some shown were incorrect.  It was idiotic and RSI-inducing to have to click on each pile of gold to pick it up – especially near the Countess.  It was idiotic that to gamble you had to repeatedly leave and re-enter town to reset the items inventory until the one you want to gamble for was shown on the screen.
    In terms of making a game easy to win, I think easy in the first hour or two is good.  Draw people in and give them some confidence.  Beyond that, ramp it up so we are challenged.  There have been a few games I’ve quit because they were too hard, but there are more that I quit because they were too easy & boring.
    I think part of the issue is some people treat video games like movies.  You rent them for a while or buy them cheaply, plow through to the end, then move on to the next one.  There are tons and tons of great games on consoles, so people don’t tend to stay with one for years and years.  Game developers also feed into this in several ways.  One example is games based on movies, which IMO are often easy & boring and never intended for long-lasting play.  They just let a fan of the movie walk through the game in a few days with cut scenes from the movie every 15 minutes.  They are strictly a cash grab.
    In terms of system simplicity, I agree that the removal of attribute points and skill points is a major step back to me.  I’ve played several ARPGs that removed or watered these down, and it watered down the game.  A lot of the fun is in committing to a build, making it work, and if it fails making a better one.  There is a major replayability in that.  When you can continually switch your character around, they are just generic blobs identical to everyone else’s generic blob – e.g. they can switch to your build in minimal time if desired.  There is a lack of desire to play through the game again with a different character, since you can switch builds with the current one and already have the money/resources necessary to do so.

    • Also, the flip side is that not all ‘hard’ is good either.  Making most battles a ‘do it perfectly with lightning reflexes or you have to start over’ is not generally fun.  Having to memorize long, boring things is not fun.  Having to fight through endless mazes is not fun.  Having save points every 2 hours is not fun.  Having barely enough ammunition and/or health to survive, such that you have to play perfectly to survive is not fun.
      Thus, making a game hard can be done in many ways – but most of them are not fun.  For me at least, the fun is when it is hard because you are not properly prepared due to your skills, equipment, or knowledge of your opponent, and the game gives you ways to remedy this.  e.g. fight lower level foes a bit longer for levels, find supplies/money for better items, or learn how to play better strategically so that you can win.  You are building towards it, such that victory is a result of some time spent and planning.

      • “Having barely enough ammunition and/or health to survive, such that you have to play perfectly to survive is not fun.”
        I agree with the others, but not this one… that works great in survival horror if done right (and obviously doing it perfectly is for the hardest setting)… without it we just get action games with zombies in them.
        What i think is the problem with difficulty is that most of the time the next difficulty is just asking you to do the same thing more times (more health = shoot him 7 times instead of 3, get better gear so you can do more dmg/take less, be higher level etc) instead of requiring you to put more thought into your actions…

  2. There is definitely a trend happening with games where it is getting “easier” but I think they just want people to enjoy the game for a longer time without having to become a hardcore player. Such as Oblivion, I have found myself playing as a typical warrior then thinking to myself how cool would it be if I could be an assassin but then realizing I’d have to restart from the very beginning and go through a somewhat boring tutorial. I truly believe D3 will become much harder closer to the end game and the experience we gain from playing normal will keep us from rage facing when hordes of enemies attack us while we try to find a specific temple or what have you.

    • If you played as a warrior, leveled up as a warrior, did all your questing and interactions with NPCs as a warrior, joined a guild for warriors …  In a game ENTIRELY based on roleplaying and immersing yourself in the story … why should it be possible to just change to a thief? You’re building a character up from the ground, and that’s part of the fun.  If I played a Thief for 200 hours, why should your Warrior be able to turn into a Thief that is every bit as capable as mine?  Clicking a “Become Thief” button de-legitimizes the entire leveling process.

      Diablo 3 isn’t as immersive or roleplay-driven as Elderscrolls, but that last point still holds true.  If I decide to push through the game as a pure Battle Mage, overcoming all the unique challenges that leveling as a Battle Mage would have …  why should you be able to magically become what I actually worked hard to build up from the ground?  “Let people play how they want because it doesn’t effect you” is the response to that, but I don’t buy it.  It changes the rules of the game, which effects everyone — psychologically and literally.

      On Easy #2:  I’ll be disappointed if Normal is a cake-walk, since that is the first time I will be seeing the story.  If the bosses are a pushover and I have no fear of dying, then I won’t be as invested in what happens.  By the time Hell and Inferno rolls along, I won’t be giving a damn about the story any longer.  A waste, IMO, to not make Normal challenging.

      • I’m pretty sure there’s no button to change your class in Diablo 3…
        Also, IRL i can learn to wield a sword and steal from people, there’s nothing stopping me from doing both… the only thing is that someone only focusing on 1 can learn it faster… a good roleplaying game would actually simulate that…

    • Umm you can make a warrior assassin in Oblivion, as you can max out every skill in game if you wish.

  3. I see D3 as more of a shift from pre-game planning difficulty (spreadsheets, build guides, etc) to a more twitch focused difficulty (timing, positioning, reactions, etc). Players who are good at fighting games are going to be better at D3 than players who are better at 4X/Civilization games. That’s fine. A real time action game SHOULD put more focus on real time skill rather than pure number crunching. Leave that stuff for slower, deeper games (of course, they need to start putting out more and better 4X games. I miss Master of Orion 2).

    • It is more fun to me when it is a combo.  I like the action and some reflex, timing, positioning to give battles excitement.  But it is very fun and rewarding to determine what skills & equipment are needed in addition to reflexes in order to beat tough opponents.  So deciding which skills to use (and not being able to use others), which weapon to specialize in, tradeoffs of +skills vs. healing vs. pure damage vs. speed, make the game deeper and better without having to be a Sim-Diablo.

      • Unless they’re immune you can use any skill and equipment to defeat any monster in Diablo… it’s just harder.

  4. Quite frankly, if I want to play a ‘casual’ game, I’ll go buy myself an Iphone or Ipad.
    -Love the little cartoon about watered down difficulty.
    ‘Normal’ (easy) may be fine for folks unfamiliar with Diablo, but for the rest of us, maybe the option to choose a harder setting wouldn’t be too bad of an idea.

    • “-Love the little cartoon about watered down difficulty.”
      Even back then they where called cheap you know…
        And no, i didn’t get that face after defeating them, it was more of a effing finally, stupid cheap boss battle, now on to fights i can actually use all my moves on instead of spamming the few needed to win…

  5. Another meaning of easy, that most people seem to overlook is: intuitive, streamlined and clear.

    It can mean removing frustrations, things that make no sense or that are needlessly complicated. It means removing a skill point system which involves a lot of choices and thoughts only to lead to one optimal setup in 90% of cases (STR: for gear, DEX: max. block with a shield, otherwise for gear, VIT: rest)

    Too often, when people talk about games being ‘dumbed down’ or ‘so easy even a 12-year-old can play’, they’re actually talking about removing the frustrating elements of the game and putting the challenges in actually playing it.

    Of course the question then becomes how hard playing it still is when the interface is intuitive, a single miss-click can’t instantly ruin your character and you actually have a clue how things work. And although I can understand worries on that front (though I doubt they’ll be a problem come release), they are very different from making the basic playing of the game obvious and user-friendly.

    • Fully agreed, I love it when people complain that WoW is to easy but heroic raids don’t count.  I’m looking forward to MoP for the fact that they are adding in more challenges for people beyond just heroic raids.

    • I don’t understand how WoW heroic encounters are harder? Its pretty much just memorization of what attacks do what, where to stand, when to burst/heal etc. The only difficult part is trying to get 5/10/20 etc amount of people to do it correctly. That is why it is hard. Diablo you can solo so therefore it should be much more difficult than WoW imo.

  6. An isometric ARPG is already a dumbed down RPG and action game. None of the Diablo games have particularly high skill ceilings, which is one reason they’re so popular I imagine.

  7. People agreeing with this tend to associate tedious with difficult.

    Alas, not all of us have the ammount of required no-life to deal with the results of permanence (my first character beating hell took just over a year and a half! single player) and would of course like to try stuff.

    Nor do all of us like to roam elitistjerks and associates for hours trying to figure out if point A is better than B, when, frankly, you might as well just be allowed to try it out for free. Or more simply, when they could be removed, because in the end, the choice between .152% more damage and .522% more critical damage is meaningless anyway – at the risk of being hardly judged by over the top guilds where the choice of a gem makes or breaks your applications.

    No, really, the games aren’t becoming easier. Or anything different, really, but less tedious. You were pigeon holed into builds most if not all of the times. Only sociopaths who care a little too much about others truly loathe a system that seems more “noob friendly” – hey, how about you just go clear inferno and leave the rest alone?

  8. At the very least, they could allow you to start new characters at level X and in Nightmare mode, with decent (soulbound) gear, once you’ve beaten the game once with a normal mode character.

  9. The “decide what character you want to play at any time” assertion regarding Skyrim is not accurate.  A better way of saying it is that Skyrim allows for more hybrid builds and has a TON of different character build options.  To say that you can change your mind at any time isn’t really accurate.  The Skyrim character is built on 3 basic stats:  Magika, Health and Stamina, skills and valuable perk points you put into trees for those skills.  As your character levels (you level as your skills increase not by killing/earning xp), you choose where to put a 10 point stat increase into one of the three stats and get a perk point to put into one of the skill trees.  All characters have access to all the basic skills, but that doesn’t mean that all characters can do everything or do it well.  For example, if I build a melee fighter and spend all my stat points in health and stamina, I won’t have the minimum magika required to cast advanced spells I have learned.  So I can’t just pivot from melee fighter to caster whenever I want.  I can however pick locks and pick pockets as a melee fighter because that’s a skill that everyone gets and I have the option to put perk points in those trees, but I will more likely choose to use those points to improve my melee fighting skills. 

    Bottom line, sure characters can do a little of everything and there are many, many hybrid builds available, but Skyrim still forces you to make stat point and perk point choices that will decide what your character is really built for.  D3 and WoW does not.  WoW and D3 are all about the gear (where all your stats come from) making a build viable and not skill choices.

    • That sounds pretty great… makes different characters be different, but you can choose how you want to play while playing, not just at the start when you pick a class…

      • I’m having tons of fun with the game… the amount and depth of content and replayability is insane.

  10. Easy vs Accessible is the reason I quit WoW.

    The more we hear about Diablo 3 and Blizzards method of creating games in general, the more I become worried.  During the several years I played WoW, I enjoyed running Dungeons, Raids, PvP, basically everything the game had to offer.   I would schedule several hours out of my day several times a week to gather and complete said activities.

    Then something happened, WoW changed.  WoW stopped needing any sort of skill to play.  This became unbearable for me when WotLK was released, and I quit mid expansion.  Anyone willing to show up any play could now win at the highest level.  Keep in mind I have no problem withing people completing content and getting epic gear and what not, I just want there to be a bar I can  strive to attain.  When a game is balanced so that a 10 year old can win at the highest level the bar drops quickly, and the game becomes more about the time you put into the game, rather than about any sort of challenge presented by the game.  This is where WoW lost me.

    I would mention that Blizzard has never released a game that I have not liked.  

    Enter the forthcoming Diablo 3, and all of the changes to make the game more appealing to the masses.  I used to spend hours trying to improve my character/dps/look  all of the many customization options available to my character.  Each new feature announced by Blizzard seems to eliminate more of these options.  Blizzard indicates their reasoning is to make the game more fun.

    Blizzard have stated several times that they wish to eliminate cookie cutter builds.  Their solution seems to be to make all skills available at all times(nearly all the time anyway).  This eliminates the ability to optimize builds.  I can now pop into town switch up skills to best fit situation and pop right back into battle.  There is no need to optimize a build that fits how I play, I can just pick the skills that win on the fly.

    Blizzard has eliminated the ability to build my character as I level, I can’t add skill points, and I can’t choose which skills I get as they arrive sequentially and as mention above I can win on the fly.  Gear becomes my only option for customization.  Enter the next new feature introduced by Blizzard  the RMAH.

    I have noticed a trend as video games become less skill based and more time spent based.  I have noticed a number of people saying lines such as ‘LFG HEROIC  BE EPIC’ or some such.  This sends a message that if you don’t have the best gear, you will not be excepted…regardless of skill level.  I remember the days when not only could you do heroics in less than epic gear, you had too as not everyone even had epic gear yet.  You ran the instance using skill and teamwork.  It is my opinion that most of the people that saying these lines are younger people, and also less skilled at the game in general.
    As we all know the RMAH allows players to use real money to by items off the auction house.  I can literally enter the game, level to 60 and buy all of the best gear.  I have a problem with this.  I foresee many people doing exactly this.  The trend toward super accessibility in the fashion promotes elitism and I think it generally discourages teamwork/skill and striving for excellence.  If you don’t have the best gear, you don’t deserve a chance, even if you can out dps the 10 year old with daddys credit card. I realize I sound bitter,  this is something I have only had to deal with once or twice, but its the elitist attitude in general I have a problem with. (I will be a hardcore player FYI)

    I have an additional issue with the RMAH.  Blizzard have made two main arguments in regards to the RMAH.  The first is basically Everyone does it, or believes its OK, so why not put it in the game.  That’s actually a logical fallacy and generally hypocritical in nature.  Way to stick to your guns Blizzard.  The second is that its not actually pay to win.  Since the original Diablo came out, the primary goal of the game has been YOINKING phat lootz.  If you can use a credit card to buy everything from the RMAH, how is that not pay to win?  You can still run inferno and acquire more loots so you didn’t actually pay to win.  The end game of the Diablo series has always been acquiring the best items.  Diablo 3’s stated end game is the same, running inferno for items.  Blizzard implemented a feature that allows you to circumvent this.

    Wrapping this rant up, this has all been in the name of fun.  Blizzard has spent the last several years telling me what is fun.  I have actually been irritated by this,  all of the features that have been announced seem to take away from what I find the most fun about these games.  Then Blizzard tells me I’m wrong and that fun is actually something else.  I think that takes a lot of nerve on Blizzards part.

    Again, I have faith that I will love Diablo 3, Blizzard hasn’t failed yet.  But everything I read tells me that I will buy the game, play it for a short while, master it, be bored and quit. That makes it very hard to keep that faith however,I really hope this will be another game I play for years to come.

    • I raided in Vanilla WoW and a tiny bit in Wrath.  I don’t get this argument that they made it too easy.  My guild had some pretty good gamers in it, and we wiped plenty of times raiding.
      When I was 10 years old, I was pretty freaking good at video games.  This would have been right around the Nintendo to Super Nintendo change over.  (tho we went with Genesis)  Today’s kids are much better than I ever was when I was 10-16.   My younger brother who is 10 years younger than I am, was playing Wolfenstien and Doom when he was somewhere between 3-5.  I could never have done that when I was 3-5.  Games were still simply too new as a form of regularly available entertainment.  (and for me, expensive…we got maybe 1 or 2 games for Christmas when I was little.  My brother on the other hand would get tons by the time he reached similar age ranges)  And if it wasn’t a birthday or Christmas, then forget about it.  Now kids get new games no matter when they come out.  It is no longer seen as a novelty or luxury item.   This whole notion of “so easy that a 10 year old could do it” mystifies me.  10 year olds can be pretty good gamers.  Not to mention, kids have a LOT more time to play games.   Ya, there are some games that 10 year olds won’t be the best at. (starcraft) But most games can be beaten by just about any kid that puts in the effort.
      One question that I know has been posed before, are games getting too easy or are gamers just getting much better?
      RMAH: man alive I wish people would stop moaning about this.  This is Diablo 3.  It isn’t an MMO.  Who gives a rat’s ass if some jerk off goes and buy’s gear?  They did it with Diablo 2 and I personally couldn’t fathom why on earth they do it.  People buy gear/characters in WoW too.  For what purpose?   Could I complain that its not fair?  I guess I could.  But funny thing is, it doesn’t effect me whatsoever.  I will play the game the way I like to play it.   Blizzard isn’t forcing my hand to buy items or not beat Inferno.   The only thing that RMAH could effect is PVP.  But if they have a proper match making service, then odds are I wouldn’t get paired with people who just bought better gear than me.  (not sure exactly how the matchmaking service works)  But so what?  That person “could” have spent hours getting said gear and they’d get those items anyway.  Purchasing gets it only a little bit sooner.  And given enough time, I can farm my way to the same level of gear anyway.  Then it becomes about skill.  And so what then if they kick my ass.  Then obviously they are actually better than me.  All Blizzard is doing here with the RMAH is two things.  Providing a means to an end for those that are going to do it anyway…And trying a new business model that just might allow them and encourage them to publish content patches and/or expansions.    This is a GOOD thing!
      Back to WoW for a second.  I would argue more against the people can just show up and win.  Did you ever try a pick up raid of Naxx?  It was horrible.  It was still plenty hard enough that it still required lots of coordination and team work.  Maybe you were part of a guild that was simply way ahead of the curb?  Or perhaps you joined a guild that was ahead of where you were at gear wise.  When I first started raiding in Vanilla, I was vastly out geared by my guild members.  I caught up pretty quickly, and ya at first things seamed kinda easy.  I listened to instructions on how to do certain things and voila…loot.  That is until I reached the same level and we as a guild reached challenges we couldn’t easily crush.  There was TONS of challenges and still are.  It just depends on perspective.
      Finally, skill points and stat points.  Man I freaking hated those.   Oddly, I enjoyed them at first.  It wasn’t until I found myself trying to beat hell and realizing that I completely fubarred my character.  Ya, what a tremendously fun experience that was.  Having to go online to research a game to find out where I went wrong.   This is not good game design.  Yes I know, some of you freaking loved that.  You loved experimenting.  My hats off to you.  The guides these talented players made were invaluable to me for gaining a better grasp on the game and finally beating hell.   That said, I hope I don’t have to ever research Diablo 3.   As for freespec, I’m still optimistic that once you have collected gear and runes that compliment a certain skill set, changing skills on the fly will not be super appealing.    Maybe I’m wrong there and they have made some bad design decisions.  We’ll find out post release.   I’m optimistic though because the lets play videos so far look very fun and the lack of stat and skill points don’t seem to be hindering the game.

      • “I raided in Vanilla WoW and a tiny bit in Wrath.  I don’t get this argument that they made it too easy.  My guild had some pretty good gamers in it, and we wiped plenty of times raiding.”
        I’m guessing he just got too good at it and when they took out some of the pointless hoops to jump through he realised just how formulaic the whole thing was…
        I for one never got how some people can just play MMO combat day after day and not get bored after a month…

  11. I suppose you could start at Nightmare difficulty, just spend a few bucks to buy a character that has completed the previous difficulties…

    • I probably wouldn’t go that far.  My point on the podcast was that I wanted it to be more difficult AND new rather than… oh here’s this bit AGAIN but now it’s harder. But as my mum often said to me as a kid “I want, doesn’t always get”

  12. The comparison between D3 skill tree and WoW’s upcoming Talent trees is not a valid comparison.  They operate on a fundamentally different level.  D3 skill tree gives Players their core spells to use.  These spells define how you and I play the game.  That’s why it is a good decision for D3. It allows for great customization.  

    However, WoW’s talent system is different, because every class gets most of the abilities, regardless of their talents.  The talents are meant to augment the class, not define it.  I am skeptical of MoP’s talent system for this reason, because it essentially removes customization of the different classes.  Every class, regardless of their talent build, will be pretty much the same cookie-cutter build.  They need to scrap Cata’s talent system, forget about MoP talent system, and get back to the way it was and should be.  Was it perfect?  No, but with some modification, it could be so much better than what Blizzard plans for the next expansion.

  13. I’m not as against the ease of playing Diablo 3 in Normal difficulty as some others, but I do want a challenge right from the start. In fact, my girlfriend and I just started replaying Diablo 2 approximately a month ago, and we decided to go untwinked – that is, with no help from other people or items received from our other characters. Almost surprisingly, even with crappy items like Skystrike Edge Bow in Hell difficulty, we’re doing really well. The new Blizzard team designing Diablo 3 will probably think that bow is way too weak in Hell difficulty, as it makes it hard for players to survive.

  14. I agree with the notion of starting the game in Nightmare…  Maybe require a start in Normal for the first play of your first character (if they feel that we have to be held by the hand our first run-through), but after that have the ability to start in Nightmare. 

  15. “The new talent system is retarded. Less talents and less points means less customization and less analysis…”
    Rotfl… Current talent system is retarted and has almost no customization. As Hunter in WoW with current talents there is only one good build for each spec (talking about PvE) plus 3-4 (out of 41) points which I can spend whenever I want (and sometimes even less for some encounters).
    With MoP talents I might have actually more choices with 6 talents out of 18.

  16. wow is doomed because of greed driven development. in their heads, they think acessibility is easy of play, and that brings more people to the game, alas more money. they are wrong and they will soon see this. they should develop with gamers mind, not with investors mind.

    sadly d3 will face the same destiny. interested gamers will be bored of the simplistic system and will go back to d2 or other games like lineage eternal

  17. Discussing the D3 changes, WoW changes, changes from old to new games and easy vs accessible all in one post is kind of over the top. They do relate to each other in some respects, but should still be kept separate enough to actually be able to make coherent arguments (evidence would be the monster posts in the comment section).
    Anyway, a full response would take pages, I’d just like to point out that I have a much much harder time settling for a build in D3 than I ever had in D2, so I don’t really buy the whole simplification argument. If you plan to make a game that lasts a decade, you can’t make one that only seems to give you choice yet pigeon holes you into specific builds once you have made a choice from a very very limited amount of options. WoW in it’s initial state was a prime example of that, while you did have lots of freedom for the talent trees, it didn’t take long for people to figure out what was the best for a given task and everyone went along with it. The last point is the important point, it wasn’t just a few players at the top, everyone did it because everyone wanted to get the best out of their character.
    We have been trained by generations of RPGs to be careful of our choices or we screw up our character, so we check guides both online and offline to find out what we need to do. Blizzard wants to move away from that for obvious reasons, they don’t want people to feel like they need to search google for what they need to do, they want people to feel good about making choices and making them based on what they like.
    Surprisingly, that is what many people take issue with, they don’t want their game to be easy to understand, they want new players to be lost and bad at the game and really, that is just being an asshole, don’t hide behind sentimental statements. Old movies suck and old games suck, I call it progress. Good riddance to those who cling to the past, I’m sure you will be able to entertain the guys at the bar with your heroic stories of the good ol’ days.

    • “Old movies suck and old games suck, I call it progress”

      you could put that in the first sentence of your post, at least people would not lose time reading it to know that youre just full of yourself and have no valid arguments 🙄

      • What, my arguments are invalid because you disagree with me? That’s a new one.
        Seriously though, of course there’s some old classics that are beyond criticism, but not because they are the best ever made, it’s because of the sheer number of people associating positive memories with it. I’m old enough to have fond memories of earlier games/movies, so I know what it feels like, but I can see the difference between them actually being the best and me just remembering them that way.
        If they really were the best games/movies ever made, they would still be played/watched today by people who haven’t played/watched them before. Obviously that’s not the case, and replying to that with statements like “people today only pay attention to graphics” or “hitchcock is just too complicated for america’s dumb youth” is just a step away from “get off my lawn”. Nobody likes change just for the sake of it, so there’s usually a good reason for change and new things. Or in other words:

        • “”If they really were the best games/movies ever made, they would still be played/watched today by people who haven’t played/watched them before. Obviously that’s not the case,”
          You not playing/watching old movies/games =/= no one watching/playing old games/movies…

    • “we check guides both online and offline to find out what we need to do.”  That’s part of the whole problem.  Part of the fun of a game used to be playing and figuring out what worked and what didn’t (read challenge/replayability).  Now people buy the game and the guidebook, go online, let someone else tell them how to play the game and wonder why their gaming experience is lacking.

  18. I think it’s important there’s discussion, even deep discussion about games and how they are developed, now and in the future. The discussion surrounding the game? Yeah, even that’s good too.
    However, I also feel that all the things surrounding any given game (and not the game itself) get in the way of allowing people to simply enjoy said game.  They become so wrapped up in Bobby, what blue posters “might have meant”, what people on forums say, etc. that they become jaded about the game before it’s even released.
    Okay, that’s nothing new, it’s been going on for centuries with other media, however I still feel people forget games are about having fun.  Somehow that notion slips away…

    To use WoW as an example, I’d bet tons of the people bashing it without knowing much about it would actually enjoy it, despite them thinking it’s “just a carebear game.” It’s too bad (I guess?) because their preconceived notion about the game has already made that decision for them. Even if they *did* pick up the game, and even *if* they were having fun, they wouldn’t realize it.

    • Very good point on the psychology, if you think about it the only people who can make a qualified review of a game are those who approach it with a completely empty mindset. Never heard anything about the game, no expectations, no knowledge.
      I guess companies will invest more and more trying to find out how to influence that mindset in a positive direction. I don’t think it’s as simple as good trailers or good shows like Blizzcon, it’s probably high level psychology and actually rather difficult. When do you announce your game, what do you show, how do you communicate things like system mechanics or in short, how do you manage expectations? It seems to me Blizzard just tries to stomp all of that out by creating the best game humanly possible, but it’s not the best if it’s not perceived as the best.

  19. I’m fine with the early part of games being accessible to new players, that’s a good trend imo, being able to choose starting difficulty would be appreciated though. When the whole game lacks challenge and all features that require some preparation or thought put into them get removed in order to appeal to new players, my enjoyment of the game takes a big hit.

    To me the D3 development is showing (worrying) signs of removing all features which require a player to make tough decisions that matter long-term in the game, I’m not happy about that.

    They keep telling us inferno is going to be challenging, well I’m not believing it until I see some extensive gameplay footage or get to try it myself. Can’t they just show the inferno version of the content that’s in beta? If they really don’t want to spoil other areas before release.

  20. People that support Blizzard in these decisions are absolute retards. Blizzard will just be another company in 5 years. Mark my words.

    • I kind of agree with your second point, but not the first.
      I’d wager the “people that support Blizzard” are the users, the buyers — us. OK, we’re not retards, usually, haha. If you feel there are some retards out there causing Blizzard’s potential downward spiral toward putting out easy, shallow games like the rest of the guys, then you may be on to something there. Blizzard may have hired the retards, or have been bought by retards. Needless to say, Blizzard shaping themselves into the mold would be retarded.
      We’ll only know how many chromosomes they have come release day.

  21. Games these days simply do not want to be as replayable as D2 (10+ years). Why make a game like this when people will pay $60 for a game that lasts a year or two?

    • Yes, a game can’t last 10 years unless “you made your sorc use Frozen Orb and not Blizzard, hahahaha, your dmg sucks now” isn’t part of the experience…

  22. Messing up your build in D2 requiring a restart didn’t add any challenge.  All it added was a long boring annoying trip through normal difficulty again.   Given how boringly easy normal appears to be in D3 do you all really want to be forced to play through it again instead of just swapping skills around on your current character?
    Blizzard isn’t taking out the challenge they are taking out the annoyance.

  23. I just installed Torchlight again.  As a “experienced” ARPG player I can’t get myself to pick the easy difficulty setting. 
    I really think the Diablo fans should be catered for one way or another, either make easy-difficulty a little harder after the “trial monsters” of the first 5min or give us the difficulty level as a choice right off the bat.
    Its just not fair that we have to spoil the game for ourselves by cruising through it the first time without breaking a sweat.  I want to feel like I EARNED those awesome cinematic between acts.

    • Lvl 1 toon on NM…. you’d be stuck doing the first zone for xp forever…
      Just use the worst skills for normal and don’t upgrade your equipment… there, now it’s harder.

      • Lv 1 toon on Very Hard in Torchlight…  Takes longer to get xp, but definitely not forever and makes the game feel like a game instead of a interactive movie.

        • But we’re talking about Diablo here, where the difficulty levels assume you leveled up through the one before them… pretty sure way more people will get pissed if they change that then people who don’t like playing through normal…

          • I agree that its Diablo tradition to not be able to choose the difficulty level right from the start.  But giving people choice instead of forcing them into a certain direction won’t anger people, in fact I reckon it will do the opposite. 
            They’ve practically changed EVERYTHING else about this game without worrying about pissing people off.  The problem I have is that I’m not new to the franchise so I want to be challenged right from the start, the way I was challenged in the previous Diablo games.

        • I cant reply to your last post it seems…
          But i want to make clear that i wasn’t talking about tradition, but about the fact that the game assumes you start NM at lvl 30… which was a significant level even back when there where 99 of them… not that 30 is half the available levels it’s gonna be way harder to make it work for a lvl 1 character… it would take forever to kill just one monster…

  24. First, I gotta throw this out there: Skyrim’s classless gameplay is brilliant in the sense that what you do makes your class, its your character, your world, and dropping classes is nothing more than a past-due formal nod to the entire Elder Scrolls series. That makes the game “Accessible”. As for the “Easy” part, well… Elder Scrolls games have always required a LOT of saving and loading, so they’re as easy as you make them.
    Diablo 3 goes along the same lines, somewhat, but the “Easy” part is taken out. It seems they begin to remove the “Easy” and “Accessible” components the higher level you get. Rune Attunement, Nephalem Altar, Hardcore mode, Inferno (!!!)… this game will be tough if you actually PLAY IT IN HARD MODE (Hardcore, Inferno) — end of debate.
    However, I must say that balancing any RPG is damn near impossible without compromising the whole point of RPGs: character customization. The game can never be the same difficulty for every class and every build, or its not an RPG, its a straight action game like Battletoads where the difficulty is predetermined: hard as hell.
    Anyway, I welcome this new accessible approach since it will allow me to play the way I want as long as it offers challenges.

  25. I don’t mind blowing through easy and possibly nightmare. That’s fine. It can start off easy and I’m sure it will be a very challenging game in the end. I don’t like unlimited respecs *at all*, because I believe that hurts replayability. I want to have to make permanent decisions with my character. The Titan Quest method was probably the best option, in my opinion: pay to remove skill points, and that charge goes up for every skill point removal. Cheap at first, impractically expensive after a while. It gives wiggle room while not allowing a free for all.

    But really I just would like to see a HC option from the start. I don’t want to set foot into SC, period. The first play through would be so much more fun if it had the chance for death around every bend – and you have no idea at all what’s coming. Man that’d be fun.

    • ” I don’t like unlimited respecs *at all*, because I believe that hurts replayability.”
      Tehre’s nothing about respecing that stops you from making a new toon of the same class you know… but i guess you have to be forced to replay the game, and that’s totally what replayability is, not playing because you want to…

      • Would you like all the items in the game handed to you on a silver plate aswell? That way you can kill mobs because you “want to” and not because you’re “being forced to” in order to get better gear. The line has to be drawn somewhere and not everyone will be happy with where that is.

        You wanting freespeccs is fine with me, eventhough I don’t want freespecs, your reasoning is really selfish however.

        • “Would you like all the items in the game handed to you on a silver plate aswell? That way you can kill mobs because you “want to” and not because you’re “being forced to” in order to get better gear.”
          The whole idea behind Inferno is to allow people to kill the mobs they want to instead of just doing Baal runs ad nauseam…
          See, the thing is, the kind of replayability you’re talking about isn’t one people actually enjoy, which is why everyone rushes through normal, and even NM, and just does the stuff that’s mandatory to advance…
          Which is why i find your argument about replayability wrong… i mean they could also have characters expire after 60 days so you’d have to make a new one, and that would add to forced replayability, but i don’t think that’s a good way to do it… which is why ladder is about who can get to 99 first and exclusive items and Baal runs and not just playing through the entire game on the difficulty you want…
          And while we’re on items, they’re a pretty good example of you not having to make a new character to get a new item…
          Now if you want the freespecs to require some in-game effort to obtain, like items do, more power to you and i hope Blizz is listening, but if you just want it to be forced to start a new toon because you can’t bring yourself to just make a new one because you enjoy playing from the start again then i have no sympathy for you…


      • Using that argument, you could argue in favor of removing HC mode. People can simply play SC and start over once they die, no?
        I think you will agree that it wouldn’t be the same as real HC.

        • Having a living HC char is a status symbol, replaying the game again  so you can try another skill not so much… plus, it’s a different play  mode and doesn’t affect everyone’s game experience…

        • Also, my point was more about how if he really liked making a new char there’s nothing stopping him, just like there’s nothing stopping people from running the same boss or unique over and over if they want, the fact that it’s no longer mandatory does nothing to prevent that, it just means they have to do it because they LIKE it…

  26. TL:DR  Go watch blizzcon’s testimonial to Nightmare/Inferno
    To those who don’t feel they should need to wait to finish the game on normal first, stop trying to appear to be some hardcore awesome gamer, it was the same with Diablo 2, first run through won’t be extremely difficult, althought your still just guessing at difficulty in Act 2 and beyond, so I don’t see how you can sit there on your pedestal and determine how hard this game is with such ‘validity’
    To the people who are stilllllllllll bringing up the talent system, and saying it’s less customizable and you’re being pidgeonholed, I believe from how blizzard have implemented it, and explained it, its obviously more meaningful customization and you’re just being blind
    But it is going to be funny, seeing these idiotic full of themselves ely’s get to Nightmare-Hell and just not be able to get past the first rare pack, not long till your back crying for nerfs..

    • You know, i wonder, how many of those complaining about no choice actually played a underpowered character after they realized it’s underpowered…

    • I don’t feel I shouldn’t wait. I made a suggestion, suggestions are permitted here.  I would prefer to have the game hard AND brand new.  Simple suggestion, no need to get your jaw out of joint over it.

      You’ve just popped up here 3 days ago with a stinking attitude from the get go with a pre(and ill)-conceived idea of what this site is about and that’s why you’re flailing your axe about blindly trying to grind it on someone’s shins.  Don’t, there’s no need for it.

      And lastly “idiotic full of themselves elly’s”.  Really?  I suggest you brush up on your social skills if you want to use this platform to voice your opinions poppet.

  27. Wow,we still beating this dead horse? What the heck.. I’ll join in. Skill commitment and attribute pt distribution is so old school. Look at guild wars, change skills and pts in town on the fly. Guild Wars has it’s problems but even after so many years, there are still people playing it and eagerly waiting for the 2nd one.
    What to try something new? Start over! I say wtf to that.
    As for as game difficulty? We haven’t even tried inferno yet, how can we even assume this game is easy if we progress toward the higher difficulty levels?

  28. RE: WoW MoP Talent Changes

    I’ve noticed that some people (including Blizzard in their annoucement RE: WoW Talent Changes) have been saying that one of the reasons these proposed talent changes would be good is because they dont want people to feel “locked” in or regret the choices they make with their talents.  They dont want people having to research good builds etc.  Everyone seems to be forgetting that you are NOT locked into those talent changes.  You can always respec for a trivial fee.  You do NOT have to start a whole new toon if you dont like your build, you just respec.  Simple.  What the hell is wrong with that?  At least it makes you think about where you put your points, rather than just change them willy nilly.

    I agree that the Cata talent builds are a joke, but pre-Cata was great.  Theres always room for improvement, and they can keep working on the system, but the proposed changes are a joke.  Its just too radical a change, and truly does limit our ability to customize. 

    • Pretty sure that “being locked in” isn’t about respecs, but about people needing to use one build that’s best for their class, or maybe 2-3 max depending on what you want the class to do, and that’s only for the classes that can be tank, healer or dps instead of just one of those…
      And the regretting the choices they made was about why respecs are needed… if they’re still using it for the MoP talent changes then someone has their talking points notes screwed up…

  29. This is simply a reflection of a societal shift in general.
    The baby-boomers have now grown up and are in charge of developing these games. This is a generation that has been coddled and told that no one is a failure and everyone can succeed. Thus, they project that philosophy into their games.
    Back in the early/mid 80’s I played Intellivision Pitfall. You had 1 life. If you died you started from the beginning. I never beat the game … and I was fine with that.
    I think video games started to shift toward pussification around the time of the Konami code in Contra.

    • Or you know, it’s because back then getting killed meant you had to put another coin in the arcade, so making the game kill you over and over = more money for them…

  30. I think its ok as it is.
    Veterans can go play Hardcore, and normal is just like a tutorial for each class u play.

  31. 2 Sir_Matas (your first comment): Yeah, right except you forgot to mention that putting either rune inside your skill is actually commiting you to certain choice because to change it back you will have to find another rune and this will, i assume, not be too easy to do. And making your build only to misclick wrong skill once at, let`s say, level 57 and then ragedelete your ruined character sounds like great stupidity. You are not getting skill tree. It`s like making a car without wheels. How we suppose to drive it? And developer says \Well, we use anti-gravity tech, so you don`t need any wheels anymore. This is also a cheaper and your vehicle also now can fly\. Than you rage and buy something old that you are familiar with. D3 offers so much to analyse and choose so it is really strange to see some1 complains about skills. Or stats. Remember d2 stats? Who ever bothered with them (put in strength what u need to wear your gear, everything else -> vitality   – that is so awsome, right? this is what you want now?). Stats in d3 are only there to reflect and estimate changes that will certain gear make to your character. They are scaling with your level – so whats wrong with that? Remember wow? There were no custom stats, those were affected only by level and gear. No oldschool, no newschool wow player ever complained. I don`t see how d3 stats any different, except it will allow you way to failure if u will be able to change it at will.

  32. If they ever find a way to make the more “hardcore” players stop being A-holes I’d consider playing again, paying to have people bitch at you is pretty dumb.

  33. People seem to forget how easy Nightmare was in D2. Playing untwinked, normal was far more difficult because of the character progression curve. To me the hardest parts of the game were Normal Diablo and Hell Ancients.

  34. “If the game don’t offer enough of a challenge, create it with your own hands”.

    If it truly is not hard enough, try to resolve that issue by yourself like : naked barbarian, wizard and witch doctor without some spells, melee demon hunter or monk fighting with only a legendary spatula (2dps) !
    There is countless ways to make a trip hard like hell and without complicated mecanics. But that’s my opinion, my way of play, that’s not available for everyone since there’ll be always people to whine, cry, beg and troll about others (and for others ?).

    Clodololo, the Noob King.

  35. Easy to learn hard to master has always been Blizzard’s designe in all of their games.  D2 normal was ridiculuosly easy too so I don’t know why people complain that D3 normal will be easy. 

    WoW is easy to learn but its end game is insanely hard.  I am sure almost 100% of people who say WoW is easy can’t kill H rag before Blizz nerfed him not even close.  I like what Jay said in last Blizzcon that Blizzard makes “hardcore game for everyone”.

    I am sure Diablo 3 will be much harder than D2 because despite being a great game but Diablo2 at high level of play was quite easy.

  36. I agree with the angry posts.
    I like games that challenge me, The 2 major reasons why Diablo 2 exp works for me is randomization and the notion that you can build your character any way you like. I liked that aspect of Wow, it kept me going for years trying out new builds. I had 10 lvl60 characters pretty quickly before the first expansion and then I made new guys on other servers just because it was fun to make new builds. Always hated the respec option.
    But I guess Blizzard has figure out that their main target group is infact 10 year olds and needs to make the game simple enough for them to play. So that will most definitely push away anyone with a mind of their own who doesn’t like hand holding while playing.
    I was excited for ages about a Diablo 3 before it was finally announced. After that I visit this site and many others several times aday to read about updates. But lately with this and some other news I’ve become very bored and I’m not so excited anymore. I’m gonna buy it for sure, but I don’t think this game can keep me interested for very long being this completely dumbed down. I’m freakin 35, I need something to strive for.

  37. I want challenging games too.  I got Mario 3D Land last weekend and I’m getting pretty fed up with it.  The difficulty is super low for the “normal” game.  I haven’t beaten it yet, but I’m maybe 20 minutes away at this point.  That’s pathetic.  I don’t have much time to game these days, but when I buy a game I expect a challenge and I expect it to last a while.  From what I hear there are challenging levels after the main game.  Then why am I wasting time on easy mode?  Let me skip this junk!
    In the same vein I don’t want to waste my precious gaming time on normal and nightmare mode if they’re going to be easy street.  I’m not gaming to kill time.  I’m gaming to have fun.  If I wanted to kill time I’d play WoW and go kill X number of Y for hours on end.

  38. Very good article.

    It’s all as simple as this, games are now made for the tweenaged rage-prone gamer.  If they can’t beat something in 1 to 2 tries the game is automatically branded as junk as they whirl into a tantrum of frustration and never play again.  Here is a perfect example I let one of my teenaged employees play Paperboy 2 on my phone (emulation), after leaving him to play for a few minutes, I come back to find a flustered & angry kid holding a now broken phone.  Yes, in the span of 5 minutes he failed a few times, raged and mashed my screen until it cracked.  The first thing he said to me was “Old games are stupid”, not I’m sorry I broke your phone.  Either way he raged even harder when I made him aware he now owed me $500 for the tantrum that resulted in breaking my phone.

    Parents don’t want to parent, so an easy ‘babysitting game’ means less rage sessions they have to hear/ignor (since no one disciplines their kids anymore).

  39. Whether Diablo III will be easy or not in whatever difficulty is debatable and we don’t know except for Normal.
    Aside that, should it turn out that the whole of Diablo III will be a walk in the park, they can have it back.

    I am pretty sick of toned down easy games to reach a a larger audience. This is just the money in the head talking. In life we need to challenges to progress. So do we in games 🙂

  40. Skill points, stat points etc were a [b]noob trap[/b] instead of a genuine choice. The same goes for WoW masteries, LoL masteries and rune pages, etc.

    If you give people a choice between multiple statistical options, someone will find the best one and that’s all anyone will build, while the non-best options are only to waste the time of people who don’t know better. 

    A game should be played in 3D: you against the computer (or other players). The 2D elements (= stats screens) should offer a support role, giving you the tools you need to succeed as opposed to being the main challenge.

    Example: a shooter with a skill tree that enables you to choose between a sniper zoom and a melee dash with a shotgun. You still have to be good at shooting enemies. The skill tree only lets you indicate whether you’re better at sniping or at close range circle strafing, but if you suck at both you will fail anyway. Compare to D2 where if you spend your points correctly and use the correct items you pretty much cannot lose.

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