Video Journal #3 – New Skill Interface & Rune System

I’ve put together a short video explaining the new skill interface and how it handles the new rune system introduced in DiabloWikiBeta Patch 13.  I use my Witch Doctor to demo it but it’s identical for all classes.

This video has been archived in Diablo3.TV for your future reference. Keep an eye on that section as people have been adding their new gameplay videos over the past couple of days and there’s a new podcast by MakTen.

Related to this article
  • Monk, Witch Doctor and Wizard Rune Videos
  • Demon Hunter Gameplay Video, Patch 13 – Runes & Strafe
  • Beta Patch 13 Known Issues

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    61 thoughts on “Video Journal #3 – New Skill Interface & Rune System

      • I think its terrible how you can no longer see all skills at once when picking a skill for a slot, now you have to click around cycling around the pages… such ineffective design. Also why can’t we change the hotkeys for the mouse buttons? No wonder the game is taking so long when their designers brains are so slow to figure things out.

      • Thanks for this material, You showed very clearly changes in the skil&rune system + UI. it is important especially for people without the beta.

      • Agree with FacelessOne, this really helped with understanding how the system works.

        Despite all the gripes from the peanut gallery, I don’t see the big problem with the system. I got right away that in the default setting each MB/numkey is assigned a “category” and as things get unlocked you can pick which skill goes to that button/key. Then with Elective Mode you can assign things willy-nilly, like it used to be. I do agree that assigning a skill in a non-default slot should rename the slot to what category that skill belongs to. Other than that, though, I don’t see what the big deal is.

        Of course, I guess the big deal has less to do with the interface and more to do with people expecting runes to be loot items instead of interface options. I have no problem with this, however, since I always felt that with the highest level runes there was always the chance that you could possibly NEVER find that one you really wanted, a la runes from DII. Selling and trading are fine but, just like my experience with WoW, you’re never guaranteed to find or get any particular world drop even if you try to buy/trade for it (I’m looking at you, WoW inscription book recipes).

        • Jay addressed the situation of never finding the runestone you wanted ages ago. He used the phrase “drop like candy” in regards to finding lower rank runestones on a normal playthrough. You would have found all types easily partway through normal difficulty.

          As it now stands, you won’t have access to some skill variants until well into hell difficulty. No more ranks either, so I’m not sure how the skill variants improve visually anymore either unless they have a crazy robust skill mod affix system in the works.

          I also feel for the hardcore players who will have to slog through the same linear unlocks each time they start over, rather than being able to choose which skill they want in normal. 

      • Even with Elly’s accent it makes me sad =( poor system, no rune hunting, Huh noobs gonna lvl up and they are.. as same as you! 30clvl=most of skill runes instead of high end game. Inferno(clvl60) was the only one place with last grade runes. Was

    1. Wow, this really illustrates how last-minute, slapped-together this new system is. Why can’t they just go back to runes as items, removing the attuning, and remove ranks 1-6. Atleast then, someone might TRADE a few of the damn things so they can make a bit more MONEY rather than dumbing the whole progression down and at the same time, screwing up the interface into a big cloisterfukken.
      Either we’re gonna get crap product (insofar as lackluster skill progression and UI) or we’ll get it polished in January 2013.

      • Having played patch 13 I don’t think it’s slapped together. It actually feels really nice in non-Elective mode and the rune system feels like a perfect marriage of elegance and high-level customization. It’s really only in Elective mode that the skill assignment gets wonky. I’m sure they’ll be able to easily fix that. Seems like a simple fix would be to keep the current basic UI but change the categories to the physical location (Left-Click, Right-Click, Assigned keys), then when you choose the slot it pulls up all the skills in order of level required the same way the Passives choice just shows you them in rows. I think it has the potential to far out-beat previous iterations.

    2. good video.  This menu is straight out of console design 101.  Just freaking terrible.  I don’t understand why console designers feel its necessary to go with so many screens of stuff.  That new game Kingdom of Amular confounds me too.  (didn’t buy).  And Skyrim as well.  Their menus are so limiting due to designing for consoles.  Too many screens.  Too many button clicks required to do something as simple as equipping a new item or setting a new skill.  

      They really need to go back to the old menu gui.  It was just sooooo much better.    And having to turn on elective mode is a huge failure.  What they’ve done now is hamstrung the casual gamer.   Without turning on elective mode, you can’t use more than 1 primary skill.  That is just a huge failure. 
      I’ve been pretty positive to this point. But I just can’t believe what they’ve done.   The idea of the new rune system is fine.  But the

      • Skyrim had a pretty fail UI as far as the PC version went but it also had something that D3 (unfortunately) does not: MODS.
        With the Sky UI mod its actually not a chore to navigate menus. Everything is organized and easier to navigate and they even give sorting options. You should check it out on the Skyrim nexus if you have it on PC.
        It’s a shame that Blizzard is so against mods on pretty much all their games except WoW.

      • Yeah the menu’s in Kingdom of amalur are terrible and slow to do anything. Rest of the game is awesome though.
        Skyrim was similar

    3. I wanted to see the new runes in action. 🙁

      Also – Elective Mode should just return us to the previous interface.

    4. There are a couple things I don’t like about the UI:
      1) It’s clear the hot-keys are now directly linked to the number of open skill slots.  Personally, I think these should be decoupled.  Suppose I want to run Elective Mode and multiple defensive/misc skills?  I don’t want those on my mouse keys.
      2) While screen space appears to be limited in the UI, I don’t understand why they can’t emulated the Passive skill select in Elective Mode and put all 20-ish skills on one page.  Some slight adjustments to the layout and it would be more than possible.

    5. The UI issue can be fixed in a patch and elective mode allows free-mapping, so lets stop whining about those things. There are deeper issues.

      You are all missing the major problem under the deluge of shiny (runes to play around with in beta). The problem now is that skills dont scale up in looks, and that sucks more than you might guess. While each rune brings a visual change to the skill, there is no way that the runed skill itself “scales up” visually over time. 

      In D2 it was fun to actually see your firetraps spread out over a larger area, or your novas get stronger in look and feel, or your earthquakes tear up more of the ground. This is true for me, I guess it is true for many others too. Now, in D3, skills scale up by weapon damage so the stats increase…which is fine…but what about the skill actually looking/feeling more and more awesome with time?

      In D3, I had thought that this effect would be achieved with runestone ranks. Now that they are gone, I think old skills are going to feel incredibly stale after awhile. We are crediting the animation team for a lot of extra work on runes…but the D2 devs also worked hard on making each skill point matter not only  statistically but also visually.

      Does this bug anyone else out here?


    6. My only question is how you select normal attack to a skill slot?

      Looks like its impossible. Does this mean that the passives that increase normal attack for DH and Wizard are out? If so, Im i bit dissapointed. I had already planned out a melee DH using normal attack and fundamentals as passive. 🙁

      Maybe they will make it possible to assign normal attack once you have selected those passives. Most probably out though. 🙁

      • Yeah this is a problem too. Again, an example of forcing the choice onto the player in the name of “concentrated coolness”.

      • You don’t set regular attack to anything. Bliz has determined that you don’t need it, and that you’d only screw up your build if you had it.

        The new skills UI is stupid, but it’s got some good ideas and could so easily be fixed. They just need the free select mode to go back to the sort of interface the last patch had, and to increase the number of hotkeys. there should be 6 hotkeys and the 2 mouse buttons. I’m fine with just 6 skills to choose from, but I should be able to set them to whatever keys I want, use basic attack if I want, not  use the left click for anything but movement, etc  Limiting the player controls, while also banning mods, is just annoying.

        It’s enough to give weight to those conspiracy theories about this overhaul being all about seamless transition to the console version’s controls.

    7. Thanks for the vid.  My God, that looks restrictive.  I felt like (mouse aside) I was watching someone play Daggerdale on a console, or some such.  What.  The.  Hell?

      “I think at this stage in development, the community is going to have to accept it as it is, and learn to live with it.”

      I dare you, Jay- just one more poor decision, and watch me live without it. The only friend that I like to play Diablo with has already told me flat out “no”, because of this ham-fisted attempt at console-friendly mainstreaming; so my interest is already waning. So go ahead, disappoint me one more time, and save me some money.

    8. My guess is they will change elective mode to be more friendly, the way it’s setup now is just bullocks. I don’t see any problems with the set-up of the non-elective mode one, even though I won’t use it anyways. Other than that, i like the variety of graphics for the runes and have mixed feelings about the non-itemization. Sure, finding runes is cool, but in the end everyone will have the level 7s anyways. Still hoping to get that key from that promised Europe invites “soon”.

    9. Well done Video. But I am puzzled. Why is it so much more pleasant when Elly tells me to wait a while longer than if this Bridge Troll Bashiok does it ?  :mrgreen:

    10. Hey Elly, very nice video. The non intuitive part is clear, I still didn’t quite get how you got that bomb on key 2, but that is by no means your explanation 🙂

    11. Elly this was beautiful! Good pacing, clear narration and the Tristram background made it beautiful x)

      You should keep doing these types of news. That’s actually how I wanted someone to present the patch 13 changes in the first place. Most videos just rush through the UI or don’t explain at all and we can’t get a clear idea of things. Even though I understood everything that was changing from screenshots and posts, it’s nice to see it in action with pauses, explanation and different usages of it. Great job!

    12. Thanks Elly, gave me a really good look at the new changes. Unfortunately no beta access, keep the videos coming 🙂

    13. I really really really hate how they  have the runes…. Not so much the system as the ranking….. Before a rank 6 indigo and a rank 6 alabaster would be rare and equal (very different themselves but equal in there own respects) in power. Now it just feels like oh once I lvl up, I should use the next lvl rune and I’ll be stronger. It’s really going to depend on how well the runes scale /lvl , If at all.

      • Just because they choose for you which ones unlock at which times, there will be builds that use the first rune rather than the fifth unlocked rune for a particular skill. It’s probably difficult to believe because we’re all still playing with lvl 13 and below characters.

    14. Something else frustrating that was kind of touched on in the video, but not really spelled out is that it’s difficult to determine what runes you have for what skills.  When you level up you can receive several messages (skills available, skill slots available, passive skills available, achievement earned, etc) and so unlocking runes can get lost in that shuffle, especially when you are fighting and leveling at the same time.  I played a DH last night and hadn’t realized I had unlocked a rune for a skill until a couple levels later.  
      More than any other beta patch I find myself stopping the action and fighting the UI to determine what skill and rune combos I want to use.  For example, if you want to find out what runes you have unlocked for the 4 skills you have, you have to scroll through their menu and find the skill, then click on it to see the rune options.  If that skill has already been assigned to a mouse button or keyboard key, then you have to close that out and select the skill from the initial window.  It’s hard to explain, but I find myself fighting it every time.  As Elly says, we’ll just have to get used to it, but it’s a lot clunkier than anything I’ve seen in the beta so far.  

      Edit: I should mention for those who aren’t in the beta that the game is a lot more fun to play than in the previous patch. My complaints are limited to specific areas, but I think the game is fun to play overall. The sound and detail of the spells and surroundings (and destruction of your surroundings) is awesome!

      • Good comment – you have described my thoughts on this patch precisely – finding what runes are available is a right pain.

        But this is also definitely the best experience I have had playing the game so far, despite my concerns that this is just one more aspect of the game that will be on rails.

    15. Console UI fail, same with AH UI. Clicking through pages when you can see everything in a glance instead. This whole console themed UI is very clunky and not elegant.
      Blizzard, please stop tailoring the UI for console. No seriously, stop it.

    16. It’s obvious that they are taking alot of ideas from consoles with the UI, trying to appeal to a larger audience I guess. I don’t like the looks of it, having to click through several pages of skills, keep all skills on one page.

    17. At this point I just wish they’d release a version of the game for grandmothers and console derps, and a version for everyone else….
      How many more toggles does it take to make it idiot-proof?

      While I’ll admit the beta is more fun now than previously (which is probably the case because of the skill/rune changes) a lot of the UI could still use work. One can see the hilarity in them *still* not knowing wtf to do with the UI and other core parts of the game. I’ll defend Blizzard just as much as the next guy, but people are seemingly getting really apprehensive at this point..

      If D3 fell flat on its face and did horribly — while improbable — I think a *lot* of people wouldn’t be surprised.

        • No one ever said it would… at this point no one knows how “great” the gameplay is actually going to be, beyond what we’ve seen in beta. And by “great” I mean if it has lasting appeal, in Inferno, etc.
          I enjoyed Skyrim, the UI is godawful.  I’ll be perfectly fine if the D3 ui blows and the gameplay is great.  I’m betting I’ll enjoy the game, as I enjoy beta.

          People seem frustrated in general with the apparent lack of character customization beyond gear, which I guess would be more of an issue than the UI. A clunky UI is something people gripe about and then (usually) forget about because the game itself is great.

          • Personally if they cant get it right, this will be the last blizzard game i buy. Next thing they will add something like steam / Origin

            • I thought that’s effectively what the modified account and enforced always-online system was?

        • I agree with you, even with that “weird” (for lack of a better word) UI the game seems fun.  My guess (and as I can see many others’ too) is to make D3 console-friendly.
          I don’t really like this but I’m pretty sure I’ll get used to it quickly.  Wonderful video Elly!!

    18. What were they thinking? Despite patronizing assurances from Jay Wilson and Bashiok, every change to the core mechanics we’ve seen (with the exception of potions) has been a a step down from Diablo 2.
      I know what you’re thinking – it’s a different game! Don’t compare it! Why not? Yes it’s a different game, but why does that mean it has to take so many steps backwards? Each iteration of the skill system, the rune system, the leveling and stats system, the function changes, etc. have all been focused on taking away freedom from the gamer.
      It seems like almost everybody will be playing the exact same way with very little replay value. There is no room for personality. Idiosyncrasy has been replaced with a 1-size-fits-all approach.
      I really, really hate to make the comparison, but this is exactly what happened to Call of Duty. If you look at dev videos for CoD4, they’re all about giving the gamer options. Mod support was built in. Dedicated servers were fully supported. People could customize game types and servers to play the way they wanted to. Then look at MW3.
      Now look back at D2 – sure, mods weren’t available on, but that was understandable. But we had LAN, and Open, and single player to screw around with. We had a multiplicity of chat channels. We had options. If we wanted to play dueling hide and go seek across the 5 acts, we could do that. If we wanted to play mods on open, we could do that. If we wanted to make a novelty Holy Bolt class or Teeth class, we could do that. We could LAN with friends or at tournaments. And it was still playing Diablo 2.
      Now look at Diablo 3. No stat building, no skill building, no mods, no single player, no LAN, no Open, no diversity of builds, itemization is toned down, weak chat channels . . . why? All I can ask is why. It would be so easy to say activision is extending their casual brand across Blizzard, but there can be casual opportunities without removing the soul of the game – the customization, the diversity, the options to play how we wanted. The ability to either take it deadly serious or goof around with friends.
      And no, I didn’t buy SC2, and probably won’t buy D3 if it keeps going with way.

    19. Not caring for the way we get runes. I would rather spend my time hunting for them instead of being assigned runes by skill level. Also the new interface for the skills looks horrible. The old one was better.

    20. It astounds me that they felt the need to name the secondary skills anyways.  Who cares about categories like Terror?  If Blizz built in customization to the game (to an extent), then why would they have boiler plate categories for skills that they knew wouldn’t apply if someone decided to customize.  It just seems like a really lazy way to build the system.  I’m hopeful this will get fixed and was just an intermediate step in the process.  But come on, this is like proof-reading an English paper for high school. 

    21. This is about one of the worst interfaces D3 has gone through.
      The last one made sense mechanical wise. A Fury generator generated Fury, a Discipline skill used Discipline. Sure, they could spice the technical names a bit up.
      This new itteration however is a mess even hardcore gamers get confused about. So, Firebomb is a Primary skill and Corpse Spiders a Secondary skill. Why? Soul Harvest is a Defensive skill but Sacrifice is a Terror skill. Sure man, makes perfect sense, especially to a grandmother for some reason or another. I’ve seen this vid now 3 times in a row (because i like Elly’s sexy voice), you think i still remember or care about what skills went under which categories? Nope, and no, there’s nothing wrong with my memory. I’m sure it’s going to be fun memorizing what skills unlock when and where and what “runes” unlock new skill versions. Yeah, flashing “new!” besides the unlocked skill you had to first go search for will surely make it a lot less agrivating.  It’s the same as asking something completely non-sensical and illogical, and then patronizing someone with “yes, the answer is 23 lolcats, good boy”. What a fantastic way to make people feel good about this shit game that clearly never had any solid design development. And what person will instinctively and intuitively know to go to the options menu, gameplay section, and enable “elective mode” without ever having read about it. WTF does “elective mode” even mean? I’ve never even…
      I wonder who play tests this shit over at Blizzard? They surely must be clueless retards and Blizzard surely must be listening to their “complains” (it must be a bit like seeing C-3PO tangled up in wires yelling “Help! I’m melting!) without thinking about the longterm or how anything effects people that are actually going to buy this shit game.
      Whatever, this game is failing so hard. Before i was going to buy it to atleast give my honest opinion about it if (when) it turned out not to be all that, now i don’t think i’ll even bother with this shit anymore.

    22. Im sorry, but its as if someone ate too much spicy Mexican food and poo’d it in close proximity to a fan.

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