Wyatt Cheng on Set Dungeons

Wyatt Cheng on Set Dungeons

Behind the green portal...
Behind the green portal…
Several interesting posts by Wyatt Cheng on Set Dungeons, debating with fans about how the new pre-designed challenge levels work and how they should work during the ongoing PTR testing.

I really do not think set dungeons should punish you for having too much damage or survivability.

I’m working on the firebirds one right now. Too much damage to get 45 enemies burning at once and too much survivability to die and proc meteor. Both of these are quests in the dungeon. It feels more like I’m fighting the game than fighting the monsters or trying to play well.
Wyatt Cheng: We totally agree but we don’t have a lot of awesome solutions at this time.

I know that’s not a very satisfying answer, but it’s the truth. We have had the same feedback come up internally. We looked at scaling the dungeon based on gear but that ran into other problems too (such as min/maxing the types of gear that you wore to “fool” the autoscaler, which given the variety of legendary items in the game, the auto-scaler was very, very easy to fool).

During development we were juggling lots of conflicting design challenges and we found that in order to make Set Dungeons work as a feature at all we had to pick one of the following:

  1. not making the dungeons require much execution on the part of the player
  2. making the set dungeons more gear dependent to succeed
  3. implement auto-scaling and accept that there will be some weird gearing strategies that you could use to overcome the logic of the auto-scaler because auto-scaling 24 dungeons given the depth of our legendary pool and the rate at which power scales is pretty much impossible.
  4. Only design dungeon objectives that would never degrade when you overgeared them.
  5. Have some dungeons that were actually harder with good gear that you’d have to deliberate gear down for.

We opted for a mix of all, but mostly #4 and #5. We want the Set Dungeons to be accessible to a wide audience, but we don’t want them to be trivialized by gear. We do #4 quite often, but every so often we had a quest objective that was particularly flavorful for the set and we opted to accept #5 as a consequence. The Firebirds dungeon is an example of this.

This was the main point of debate about Set Dungeons on our recent podcasts. How do the devs balance pre-made dungeon encounters without endless scaling, given how much characters vary in gear and power levels? It’s made more complicated by sets + legs that require a lot of wind up or that boost power depending on how many monsters are in the area, or under some proc effect, etc. As Wyatt says, in some testing they found that the highest quality equipment didn’t work well with the dungeon (e.g. killing enemies too quickly to get proper proc effects built up) and testers would actually do better with less power.

Obviously the Set Dungeons are getting a lot of tweaking on the PTR, and player feedback is essential to the process.

Click through for several more Wyatt replies/explanations about Set Dungeon design and implementation.

Wyatt Cheng on Set Dungeons:

Why not make set dungeons be like separate instances? You meet the requirement for the set dungeon, and youre like sent in some kind of ancient flashback where youre playing a prebuilt character that is the same for everyone for a given set? But have the cube legs still be useable for some customizability.
Wyatt Cheng: Yes, this would have been a valid way to go as well and was actually prototyped in this exact way for a long time. There were multiple problems.

One was the character not feeling like your character felt weird. A second was that there are some sets with multiple different ways for it to be configured and you might be quite successful with a set but not be familiar with the loadout the game picked for you. A third reason is that many of the sets don’t feel like “the set” to people without specific other legendaries. Like Lut Socks with the Might of the Earth set. But we don’t want to include these supporting legendaries in the pre-made set in case somebody hasn’t acquired them yet for real, or they’ve just never heard of the combo. Believe it or not, lots of people play without looking at guides on the internet and we try to avoid spoiling potential item combos so that people can experience the excitement of discovering those combos themselves – it’s a great feeling as a player to figure out a combo without having read about it on the Internet first (it’s one of the reasons I suspect many people like figuring stuff out on PTR).

Again I want to reiterate I think your proposed solution is a good one, it has pros, and it has cons. If we had gone that way it would have allowed us to make the set objectives more interesting and tuned to the razors edge. It was a tough decision.

No I can understand that it’s difficult. I was thinking about it myself and all my solutions ended up just being really boring. Things like “hit/kill X units with X ability”.

Maybe it would be good to keep the gear-down type objectives to one per dungeon, or at least either survivability or damage related rather than both. It’s just kind of a pain to deliberately tone down damage and survivability at the same time. If it were one or the other I could maybe switch from an offensive gear setup (ex. focus/restraint) to defensive (ex. unity). Same with passives and some skills.

For example in the firebirds dungeon you could keep the kill units with death-meteor, which would incentivize players to go more glass cannon because they need to have enough damage to get kills with the ability and little enough toughness for it to proc.

Thanks for the reply!
Wyatt Cheng: Firebirds requiring you to gear down in 2 different ways is a good point. We’ll have to revisit the objectives we had explored. It’s just tough when the set is about Burning Things and using the resurrection meteor as a slightly-gimmicky mechanic seemed too cool to pass up given you don’t really get to use the meteor that way anywhere else in the game – so no promises. 🙁

How about rather than scaling the dungeon, scale the gear, would that be possible?

Temporarily adjust the values of the characters gear and from there you could possibly tune the dungeons easier and make them more accessible because no matter how good geared you are, you will still have the same baseline gear as others doing the dungeon.
Wyatt Cheng: Scaling the gear is pretty much similar issues to scaling the dungeon – unless we also disable all the legendary effects on all of you gear – which we considered. I should have listed that as Option #6: Turn off all legendary properties on all gear you’re wearing. But we tossed that one out – deciding that it was important that you were able to use the supporting legendary items you had chosen for yourself.

Did you guys get some testing time (perhaps over the US holiday weekend) to try out some of the Set Dungeons on the PTR? Any thoughts on the process?

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13 thoughts on “Wyatt Cheng on Set Dungeons

  1. The more I play the PTR, the more I find that just choosing the legendary powers is fun. The rest is just min/max the numbers with the not fun way it currently is (and again more if you try to max out thorns). To have to gear specially for a set dungeon would not be an issue if, with the stash always full, changing of build would not be so painful. I liked when I tried my ungeared characters because a build was simply Kanai+Skills+Paragon. I know this is a too big dumbing down but add gear progression (for instance leveling gears slots the way you level gems, granting you paragon points for each slots)…

  2. Great moment to say – "stop whining, think!". For the first time best gear is not the solution, that's just awesome! Breathe of fresh air. I hope they won't break it under the pressure.

    • I agree, I think it's great that you can't just walk in with your uber gear and completely trivialize the dungeons.  It's fun trying to figure out how to beat them, what legendary support you will need, what legendary support to avoid, etc.

  3. Yea, not a fan of the amount of rifts they throwing at us. I find them boring. Grifts, Neph rifts, all of it. I’m having more fun on Grim Dawn without any of those than I have been having on Diablo 3.

  4. Some are really easy at almost any gear level, some need some decent gear, others are impossible at high levels. But all of them are beyond gimmicky and just not very fun. It's a good thing the new season portraits are so hideous, I won't care that I have to slog through dumb set dungeons to try and get the gold portrait. I'll keep my old one, which looks way, way better. But on topic, set dungeons, from the stupid piece of paper you have to pick up, to the gimmicky hoop jumping, are just awful. They need to come up w/ something better.

  5. I don’t understand at all why they are even considering adding this to the game as a feature. It adds pretty much nothing, I mean some arbitrary challenges in a small private arena with little to no rewards, nothing cool happening anywhere…
    This game needs more cool things to do, not more mediocre boring crap.
    Add more bosses, add more monster/elite abilities, make them interact more, MAKE CRAZY SHIT HAPPEN!! Damnit I hate that this game is online only, the community at least could have modded it to make it so much better.

    I mean don’t get me wrong, I really love playing d3 from time to time, the combat is great, its a lot of fun messing with different builds etc, but I do get a little bit sad thinking about how much better everything could be…

    • It’s actually fairly obvious as to why they’re implementing this. Primarily to provide players a reason to farm something outside of their optimal gear pieces. With this players will be driven to obtain as many items as possible to try out all the different sets with variable weapons/rings to achieve the best outcome.

      What you suggest is far inferior in my opinion, because of the limitations of the additions you suggest. Adding a boss or a new zone or a couple new enemies is not only a lot more work due to the type of content being created (i.e. having to design new 3d models and implement them into the game), but a lot less actual content for players. And while it would be appreciated, it’s hardly as beneficial to players as something that’s actual content.

      I mean it’s ironic that you suggest what they’re adding is mediocre boring crap, but adding a few bosses or zones is exactly that compared to the actual content they’re providing here.

    • I agree. I don't see the appeal of this feature at all. Designing dungeons for specific sets allowing little variety in how you complete it. Why would this be fun? And is it worth the balancing and testing necessary. People will do it, complete it and never touch it again…Seems crazy to me.

  6. ya its a billion times more fun to make your own build with the nightmare rings. Fuck a set, fuck a set dungeon, i’ll probably never touch these. I’ll be to busy looking for ancient gear with procing affixes and combining leg gems that do so so damage to now do, good damage with the no set-set rings 😉

  7. I find it baffling that Blizzard would introduce a game mode they already knew was broken, without any clear idea how to fix it themselves.. *rolls eyes*

  8. Try as they might they just don’t get it! This is not a feature that will bring back the player base the way Mr. M would want.
    Seems so wasted of money and resources. Not for me either.

  9. I'm more with Mortalo and Rabidshrew. I love the idea of Set Dungeons and that they give me a very specific challenge I can think about and try to overcome it/gear for it, without the need that I must do this now or I will not progress (which Greater Rift progression feels more like, to me at least).Sure, some will be easy/boring, some will be frustrating, but its 24 of them, so I don't complain. The only annoying thing about them is that they would require me to play all classes, with all sets for each … which is quite the gigantic amount of playtime needed, given that I normally play one class per Season. ^^

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