Travis Day on “Build-Changing” Items

Travis Day continued his forum visit day with a post about “build-changing” legendary items. This is a core issue we’ve had a lot of debate about — check out Azzure’s critical post on “build changing” items from Gamescom for a refresher — and Travis seizes the proverbial bull by the horns in this long forum post.

Serpent Sparker from Gamescom.
Serpent Sparker from Gamescom.

So first I want to touch on the Serpent’s Sparker really quick. The item that people saw screen shots of at Gamescon was not a final version of the item, that item was changed to be “Allows you to have 1 additional Hydra active”.

One of the most important things about expansion legendary effects is that, as much as possible, they are designed to change how players interact with the game. That could mean they make a skill you don’t currently use something you want to use, you interact with the environment in a different way, you interact with monsters in a different way etc. An example of this is one of the legendaries we added recently gives players a speed boost every time they destroy something (barrels, barriers, etc) suddenly you find yourself wanting to break random crates you may have ignored previously.

Click through for the rest of his lengthy post, and commentary on the larger issue.

Jawbreaker was another example people saw at Gamescon, it makes your Dashing Strike free when you hit a target more than 25 yards away. When people get their hands on the new and improved version of Dashing Strike I suspect they will appreciate how awesome that effect is 😉

There will also be some items that exist just because they are cool. For example The Cow King’s Halberd is one that I made just because I wanted to make something that captured a really cool element from D2. It deal’s lightning damage (and yes elemental damage types have effects associated with them now) because it’s a nod to the Cow King himself and also has a chance to summon a herd of murderous cows to fight with you. That effect isn’t really changing any gameplay… but cmon it’s just awesome!

There is still a tremendous amount of work from now til the expansion releases and we are still coming up with and implementing awesome ideas on a daily basis. Given the philosophy point I listed above I would love to hear what kind of cool things you guys would like to see. Things that change your gameplay, big or small, and class agnostic things are the best. For example “Knockback skills now deal more damage and knock targets back further”. That is an effect that opens up build possibilities for more than one class and gets people thinking about how a single item can change the way you interact with the game or what skills you want to use.

You see the picture of Serpent Sparker from the Gamescom presentation above, and the line Travis refers to reads, “Chance to summon a hydra at the enemy’s feet.” So they changed that to “Allows you to have 1 additional Hydra active”. To be honest, I don’t see how that makes it any more build-changing.

Okay, it (at best) doubles your damage from Hydra, and I guess it’s more controllable, but I actually liked the idea of Hydras springing up from corpses more than this. For one thing, you could have used the old version without having Hydra on your toolbar, and made it function a lot like the Barb’s whirlwinds; kill enemies with whatever you like and count on a few Hydras popping up at the end to clean up the trash mobs as your Wizard dashes off to the next pack.

We debated single-skill items on the last podcast, and this one seems a good example of the pros and cons of the feature. So this wand is now mandatory if you want to use Hydras with your Wizard, and useless otherwise. What if instead of just double Hydra, this wand doubled the frequency of all Wizard spells? So you could cast double Meteors as well as Hydras, for instance. That would seem like a more viable and useful item to me.

What say you?

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42 thoughts on “Travis Day on “Build-Changing” Items

  1. yes, the old proc seemed good to me, it opens builds around singletarget spells, where you can kill a lower amount of enemies and the hydras do the rest, some sort of exponential killing, first slow than fast, but hey, people are not that smart anymore, looking at d2 items, i find the system in d3 much better (just remembering how stupid it was that my wiz could have anything equiped and was a killing machine, as long there was no immunity to a specific element. much more broken than dps inflation if you ask me)

  2. —and yes elemental damage types have effects associated with them now—

    Cold slows, poison dots, electrical chance to hit multiple targets, etc?!?

    If true and well developed, 1st thing to make me want to buy expansion.

    • I would assume that this change will be one of those that are going to be available for everyone. Even those who won’t buy RoS.

  3. They’re asking for legendary item affixes from the community that change the way you interact with the environment/monsters and are class agnostic as well? It sounds as if Azzure might get his wish after all.

    The thing that really caught my attention though was that elemental damage types now have effects! That will be sweet. Now if they brought back monster resistances (but not immunities) that would really spice things up.

    I was not overly impressed with the info from gamescom, but between this news and some of the possibilities shown in the datamined stuff it is starting to look as if D3X might be just as game changing as LOD was.

  4. –What if instead of just double Hydra, this wand doubled the frequency of all Wizard spells?–

    Better restrain it to just the FORCE skills: Wave of Force, Twister, Hydra, Meteor, Blizzard.
    Double wave of force, double damage, double knockback?

    Have similar items for other classes that affect Monk TECHNIQUES, Barb MIGHT, etc.

    Or just keep it on a per skill basis, and have some items be muatually exclusive, like:
    Hydra build changer item comes from wand.
    Blizzard build changer item comes from two hand staff.

  5. The definition of “build changing” appears to be “makes a terrible skill suck less.” While I agree that an item that takes a worthless skill and makes it decent might prod me into using that skill, wouldn’t it make more sense to actually fix the skill?

    • Not exactly. The argument here is that you need the item to make the build work.

      If you just fix the skill you add more build diversity but people still complain that the items don’t factor into the build diversity.

      • then fix the skill and change the item into something else that doesnt jst buff one single skill but still promotes unique builds/build diversity

        • I think they should improve the skill (but not like blizzard vs meteor style) if it’s not in use or change its functionality before adding build or gameplay items.

          The ‘build’ mechanics should be from tbe games core features like runes etc and not so much focus on unique utems because of their limits in level and damage. You don’t want to use a level 40 unique in a level 70 inferno game do you?

  6. The God reminds that he, in his (published) work more than a year old, suggested a “Hydramancer” passive, which would allow (at least) one additional hydra to be cast. The God doesn’t repeat this because he desires fame (The God is beyond fame) or to show wisdom (all the wisdom comes from The God anyhow), BUT to underline that Loot2.0 strives to replace Skills2.0, a thing which is currently not being touched.
    It is natural that build-changes come from SKILLS firstly, and items SECONDLY. With what should be a PASSIVE put on item-only (The God would like to see it both ways), a build is moved to item-owner (who buys it in the store, or with small chances finds it himself)
    The God declares that item will return a part of glory to Hydra skill, but it should be a skill change.

    The God states that elemental effects are useless without elemental resistances on monster and players alike, and that combat mechanic should be changed to include these as well. If it does, than it is a good thing – if not, it’s just a band-aid.

  7. I was ok with Serpent’s Sparker [Legacy] too, but most of the community was not. It’s not bad now, it’s not making Hydra yours no.1 option for build but has a chance that more people will be running with Hydra skill.

  8. I dont think any of the items or effects listed so far are going to be build changing (although I hope to be proven wrong) as they are.

    I do however, hope that the legendary items will be mutable slightly using the mystic. For instance, by plowing enough time, gold and materials into an item you could increase “chance of hydra” from 20% to 50%. This would increase your investment in items rather than just trawling the auction house for a minuscule update.

    Even better, would be to allow the mystic to take legendary effects from one legendary item to replace a stat on another item. This would destroy the source item in the process to remove them from the economy as well as finding a use for legendary items with useless stats. (perhaps, make the chance of success proportional to the ilvl to help remove legendarys of all levels from the economy as well as increasing their worth to the AH). That way, with enough patience, you could configure your character to exactly what you want as well as generating actual build changing densitys of effects. For instance, add “10% chance to spawn hydras” onto all of your items and suddenly you have near 100% chance and you have a full blown hydramancer.

    That item that spawns skeletons? Well with enough time and effort, you could constantly surround yourself with a little skeleton army. It would cost you a good chunk of your other propertys so it would be a compromise. That weapon that spawns a demon attached to you by firechains? Imagine you could have 5 of them. The damage individually isnt much, but would soon built up to a respectable total. Want pants that draw in and stun enemys? Well, you’d be a bit wierd but it could be done!

    • I dont think I have ever posted here but BigFish that is a brilliant idea. That would almost make up for no stat allocation and give players some seriously unique options for their builds. Fantastic.

  9. I’m still waiting to see something like Wolfhowl or the “Chaos” runeword that enables characters to do completly off the rails stuff like a Whirlwind Assassin or Werewolf Barbarian. Also you have runewords like “Dream” that powers up unique builds like melee Sorceresses and similar things.

    Nothing of this really fixes the problems with Diablo 3 items, this is fluff. Which is good, but it isn’t worth nearly as much attention as it is given.

  10. QUOTE

    The definition of "build changing"  appears to be "makes a terrible skill suck less." While I agree that an  item that takes a worthless skill and makes it decent might prod me into  using that skill, wouldn't it make more sense to actually fix the  skill?

    It is going a bit far to call hydra a terrible skill. It has been used in quite some builds during Diablo 3s lifetime.
    Sure, it’s not CM or archon, but hopefully those will be changed anyway.
    Hydra deserves changes on its own, if nothing else, at least so the different runes are more varied. But terrible? no.

    Hell, they could make the old legendary effect of mass-spawning hydras, into one of the rune effects.

  11. I’d look to see a Monk only item (daibo or those tiny helms) that adds a short dash to all our spirit generators regardless which rune we use :).

  12. Thanks SOOOO much, Azzure. Thanks to you and smimilar simpletons, we’ve lost an actually good item. That legendary was actually build changing, what the heck were you expecting, legendary that gives you six more skills?

    > this wand doubled the frequency of all Wizard spells? So you could cast double Meteors as well as Hydras, for instance.

    No Flux that is a terrible idea. That can only end in one of two ways, either the wand is so OP is it broken or they will try to balance it and then we end up with two or three good wands with everything else being shit (doubles the frequence, doubles the damage, halves the cooldown).

    • How was it build changing in any way? It’s just the new BiS weapon for a wizard. Any of the few popular wizard builds benefit from it. Nothing about the old item requires any current wizard build to change. How about you state your case for why it is build changing rather than whine or just go back to the blizzard forums if you don’t have any substance to add.

      • It was build changing because you would have to base your build around it while it would simultaniously open the way for new builds.

        By leaving hydra behind, it could either allow you to focus on high multi-target damage or it could even benefit a strong single target build. It has a chance to leave a Hydra EVERY time you kill an enemy FOR EVERY enemy killed, you could have D2C Sorc Hydra build. I agree that it would need tweaking (it would have to have either very high chance or to just guarantee Hydra per kill). You could have a massive number of Hydras. Furthemore, the number of Hydras would depend on number of monsters you are facing. So, facing a massive horde of monsters would mean metric fuckton of Hyrdras while facing few of them would not, which would force you to adapt your strategy.

        How is that not build changing?

  13. Shameless self advertising alert! So I had suggestion a while ago on the forums about combining legendaries to form account bound sets with random bonuses. I suggested a few affixes to use as example and looks like they liked some of them or may be they didn’t even see them and they came up with something similar. (I like to pretend it came from me =D)

    Possible Legendary Affix Spoiler Alert———-

    Some of the affixes I used for example, grants an extra zombie dog and I also suggested another where you gain one of the elites affixes for certain amount of time:

  14. QUOTE

    It is going a bit far to call hydra a terrible skill. It has been used in quite some builds during Diablo 3s lifetime.
    Sure, it's not CM or archon, but hopefully those will be changed anyway. 
    Hydra deserves changes on its own, if nothing else, at least so the different runes are more varied. But terrible? no.
    Hell, they could make the old legendary effect of mass-spawning hydras, into one of the rune effects.

    Venom Hydra only, which has been used on one build, that people stopped playing the instant they learned better.

    I know, I went and used it again for the lulz. 200k dps, can’t touch MP 5, because its damage multiplier is like 0.5 (most builds are 10-30 times higher).

    • It’s support DPS basically, it’s super cheap to cast, and the Hydra’s do sustained damage for quite a bit of time, plus it’s tactically useful allowing you to do damage while easily avoiding it.

  15. For the record, I am against affixes/legendary item stats that DIRECTLY buff a single skill, period. The new hydra affix fits in this category.

    The stat I would choose for this item if I was a designer that is build changing is “every time your summoned creatures strike a target, you gain xxxx life back.”

    That stat would indirectly make it synergistic with Hydra/familiar builds.

    If it wasn’t on a wand (which I would change it to not be on a wand), it would also make it workable for several other classes builds also, such as a WD summoner build, Demon Hunter rain of vengeance build, and even other Legendary items that summon pets. The idea would be that you would want as many fast-hitting summonables as possible to capitalize on this stat. And that, my friends, is the birth of a unique and creative build, and not simply making stats that say “Increases damage by your X stat by X%.”

    • That stat wouldn’t really matter for a DH, WD or anything else if it existed on the wand. Josh did mention they are doing class agnostic stats like that double knockback thing so they are planning stuff like you say but they will be on items all classes use. If Something like pets life leech was on a class specific item then all other classes will never benefit from that stat, unless more than one item has the stat but then they aren’t unique.

  16. ^ That is a good stat idea because not only is it improve summoning spells, it’s good for all classes. Even for a barb if it get the item “call of ancients stays up permanently” it could work off of the item with that.

    I had an idea to encourage shield base play and that is, a proc effect where say for example you have a 40% chance to cast meteor on block so the higher your block is the higher the chances you have of triggering the proc which is pretty good if you have several monsters hitting you at once. So if you have 55% chance to block, every other hit you have a 40% chance to trigger the proc effect. Effects could be Meteor, Nova, Blizzard, Reflect damage, Heals for 5% life, increases armor, attack speed, crit etc. It has a ton of potential for making shield based play very intriguing.

  17. I think that Blizzard should be improving skills/runes that aren’t used (not like Blizzard and Meteor style) but more in terms of functionality, the runes were meant to add build diversity, if they’re focusing on items for build rather than random unique uses, then they’re focus is slightly off or their priorities aren’t quite right.

    Also, because these items/item level are level bound to most property ranges, would you be using a level 30 legendary item when level 60/70 inferno game? I doubt you will.

  18. “Forced movement inflicts damage based on distance traveled.”

    At first it just seems like more dps. But consider, forced move skills are rarely used for their movement, or if they are it’s just so enemies land in a damage zone and die. There’s PLENTY of forced move skills. Cyclone Strike, Ground Stomp, Wave of Light, anything with Knockback, Ancient Spear…

    Just throwing a random idea out there that’s more creative than most of what I’ve seen so far.

  19. Also elemental damage types raises yet another question, will the be monster resistances to specific damage type, at least partial resist?

    So that it encourages:
    A- you to group with other people with other damage types
    B- you to have an at least 2 damage type build to be efficient at MP10

  20. Steve, reading all your recent posts makes me think that you’re part of the reason why we can’t have nice things.

  21. QUOTE

    Steve, reading all your recent posts makes me think that you're part of the reason why we can't have nice things.

    I could say the same about certain other people’s posts, attempting to drag everyone down to Demon Huntee levels and try and say people wanna play slow and like complete noobs, etc.

    I find it amusing that you would pick that response to that post though, and not even one of the ones where I’m just mocking Blizzard flat out rather than offering some ideas myself.

  22. Like many I’m a bit jaded about whether I feel blizzard will actually deliver on the loot 2.0 promises. The two big things for me being making legendaries interesting for specific builds and also to decrease the importance of the AH. Is it possible that the mod ” allows you to have 1 additional hydra active” means that one could have two types of hydra active at a time (I.e. venom and arcane etc.)? That would seem to open up another build though I’m not sure its an exciting one. I’m not personally interesting in seeing many competing legendaries that are strictly focused on being BIS weapons (i.e differentiated solely by the dps value). Inevitably once the expansion comes out the most efficient build for every class with the BIS items will be discovered. If these BIS items weren’t available in the AH to buy that would go a long way to improve the longterm enjoyment of the game. In fact ideally the BIS item that makes this build viable should be extremely difficult to acquire. Also is it fair to expect 10 more builds per class that are able to compete with the most efficient build (i.e. as efficient in certain locations/areas or within 10% of their efficiency). Ultimately our own desperation for elitism (after all isn’t that what drives us to play/build a character in an rpg) is at odds with us by diversifying our experience and exploring other gaming builds/styles.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Sent from my iPad

  23. “Is it possible that the mod ” allows you to have 1 additional hydra active” means that one could have two types of hydra active at a time”

    Akin to a truly elective mode, allowing you to fill your action bar with whatever skills you want, as long as you dont use the same rune.

  24. First of all, chance to spawn hydras is not build changing, it’s just a nice bonus to tack onto any weapon for any build. Allowing the user to cast a second hydra on the other hand is something that does require a hydra build and so it does push build diversity.

    The thing about D3 is that build synergy is far more important than individual skill choices. Therefore any skill that doesn’t feature in the top builds is going to appear to suck. However, despite some of the comments, Hydra is not a bad skill and if anyone out there wants to use it, then the existence of this legendary will be something to seek out and then use as a core component of that build.

    Sure, the skills and the items could do with a lot more polish, but I think they’re going in the right direction.

  25. Casting 1 additional hydra is not that ‘Build Changing’ as some people may think. I would love to see something like:

    ” when your storm armor is active, hydra have 50% chance to ‘stun/do additional dmg/or do some debuff’ ”

    Then you can combine this with:
    ” when your enemies are stunned, your meteor can instantly kill (e.g. 33% chance) an enemy with less than 33% life’ (or can do a 3x more damage to bosses and elites) ”

    So, both affixes are changing the way you play and as a bonus you can combine them both with even more effect. And the possibilities of similar affixes are endless.

    • Another affix:
      ” summoning your pet (or some other pet) will create a (fire,lightning,cold – according to used rune or elemental dmg on weapon) chain between you and your pet with 50% dmg (or more)”

      So when you combine it with ‘1 addit hydra’ (or witchdoctor zombie dogs) you can became an elite monster 🙂

    • I also agree that not all affixes must be ‘build changing’ and their purpose is just pure fun. Or something useful only on certain situations, like:
      ” when fighting (only on triggered encounter) a goblin, your character will cast an electrical chain that will constantly damage the goblin for 50-100% weap. dmg and slows him by 60% “

  26. I think synergy between these “build changing” stats is something that could be important that people aren’t really taking into account.

    Something like an extra hydra on its own isn’t anything amazing but if you get some other item that augments some other skill or skills that synergies with Hydra very well then an extra Hydra is a lot stronger. Once you start having stuff like that then you start having item builds and not just singular powerful items

  27. Ugh, why are they creating so much more work for themselves than is necessary?

    I’m not in the “just make D2 in 3D!” boat, but seriously, +skill, end of story. That will make me use a skill I haven’t used before or not currently using. It will break the linearity of item progression, because now you will be seeking items that compliment your build, not just 3-4 affixes with increasing numbers.

  28. +skill is a fairly difficult stat to get right imo.

    +all skill is in the running for worst stat ever, in a way that the trifecta stats can never hope to beat.

    +single skills are too specific, and only helps to make item drops useless to 99,9% of people all the time. An issue which doesn’t exactly have to be made worse than it already is in D3. In general, class specific stats suck (which means +all class skills sucks too of course)

    Tbh I can only see one way to make good +skill stats in general, and that is by splitting all skills, and runes, up in categories which are shared between all classes. It is very debatable what those categories should be exactly, but stuff like ‘Single target’, ‘AoE’ (probably not AoE given the games current AoE preference), Fire dmg, Melee, Ranged, Resource spender, Resource generator, Active defensive, Buff, CC, anti-CC, Movement, etc. Preferably all skills should belong to multiple categories to greatly increase the “puzzle” on how to combine the skills and stats for your prefered build

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