[caption id="attachment_385714" align="alignright" width="293"] Brings NBA and Paragon titles?[/caption]Continuing our series of posts (yesterday was UI buff display) focused on the most important topics from this week's Reaper of Souls developer chat, let's talk about solo vs. multiplayer experience. It's well known that playing in MP parties is a certain route to much more exp than is possible in solo play, and we've been debating it all year. Some players who enjoy partying up like the current system, but many players who feel that solo play is more skill-based, or a purer form of gaming, have long complained about how heavily D3 and RoS incentivize multiplayer. The whole issue was really spelled out a couple of months ago in comments by the first player to achieve Paragon 2000, where he talked about what a waste of time it was to play solo. It's not just about high Paragon e-peen, it's the fact that very high paragon levels are *required* to achieve the top spots on the Grift leaderboards, which means anyone who wants to compete for top Grift times, even in single player, needs to spend most of their time grinding in party games to achieve those Paragon levels. So what does Blizzard think of this state of affairs? They're pretty much okay with it, at least judging from Wyatt's comments in the chat this week. Here's an excerpt: Let’s talk philosophy. We want people to play together. I think everybody understands that groups should be better than solo, but there’s debate about how much that difference should be. If I’m playing by myself and then a friend joins me, I should be a little bit better off, right? The issue is that this is only true when you and your friend are exactly the same power level. Realistically, in Diablo III, the power level of players varies widely. You may be in full Ancient gear with your 6-piece set bonuses and all the appropriate complementary legendaries while your friend only has their 4-piece bonus and a non-ancient weapon. Is it okay for your friend to join your game and your experience to be worse? We took a long look at the way the game has evolved over the last three years and made a judgment call: as much as possible, we want a friend joining your game to make your experience better, not worse. People shouldn’t feel they need to inspect you when you join a public game and your friend that stopped playing for two months shouldn’t feel like a burden for wanting to play with you. Generally, you should prefer to have company in your game than not. Actually, I object starting at the first sentence. Why should party always be better? Why should someone in crappy gear get more exp leeching off their friend than I do working harder to succeed solo? Why should someone else in good gear get more exp for carrying their friend than I do kicking ass in solo? Why should any four players fooling around in a PuG earn far more exp than one or even two expert players do? Obviously Bliz has simply decreed that playing in a party *should* be more rewarding, but it's not like there's some objective proof of that. It's just an opinion, and they could as easily say, "Solo should be more rewarded since it's all about your individual skill, and not something you can achieve by using other players as crutches." In MP player get the advantage of much faster bounties via split-farming, plus more pets for tanking, plus shared party buffs, plus the monsters actually decrease in HPs (divided per player), plus you can take turns tanking, plus monster AI is terrible allowing for easy survival for glass cannon ranged chars... and parties *STILL* get huge EXP buffs on top of all that? What do you guys think? Click through for the full Wyatt Cheng quote from the chat, where he talks about the different types of party exp buffs and (sort of) admits that at least one of them is probably OP. Blizzard on Solo vs. Multiplayer EXP Bonuses Right now the gap in efficiency between solo play and group play is quite large, does your team have any plans to not necessary completely close the gap but at least narrow it somewhat? WyattCheng: I realize this is a hot topic right now in the community and I know a lot of people are eager to understand how we determine the right rewards for single player versus multiplayer game modes. I’d like to go in depth on this question especially. [caption id="attachment_384075" align="alignright" width="239"] Not everyone likes to party.[/caption] For us it is an issue than the efficiency of groups who are stacking XP% don’t get to wear their awesome, face-melting gear. The game should be about slaughtering monsters to get rewarded with epic loot. It’s a lot less fun when you don’t get to do the slaughtering. Exacerbating the situation isn’t experience farming itself, it’s how different the activity is from other activities in the game. I was listening to State of Sanctuary and one of the hosts actually mentioned this – in 2.1 XP farming wasn’t considered as big a deal, not only because the rate of XP gain wasn’t as large, but more importantly, XP was a natural by-product of trying to get legendary items, blood shards, or generally melting faces. Today, the activity that maximizes your experience per hour is no longer the same as the one that maximizes blood shards and legendaries with a powerful build. Because the activities aren’t the same, it forces players to choose between playing the core game as it was designed and wearing XP% gear in a specifically calibrated environment. We agree that these activities need to be re-aligned again, and that’s what we’re re-examining. Some people have asked if our intent in changing experience sharing in Patch 2.3.0 was to better balance multiplayer rewards. Functionally speaking though, there isn’t a difference before and after the patch. Players can still wear the exact same amount of bonus XP gear and perform about as well in Greater Rifts. The difference is that before only 2 people would be getting all the benefit. How the rewards are split is a separate topic from whether XP gear provides too much benefit. Let’s talk philosophy. We want people to play together. I think everybody understands that groups should be better than solo, but there’s debate about how much that difference should be. If I’m playing by myself and then a friend joins me, I should be a little bit better off, right? The issue is that this is only true when you and your friend are exactly the same power level. Realistically, in Diablo III, the power level of players varies widely. You may be in full Ancient gear with your 6-piece set bonuses and all the appropriate complementary legendaries while your friend only has their 4-piece bonus and a non-ancient weapon. Is it okay for your friend to join your game and your experience to be worse? We took a long look at the way the game has evolved over the last three years and made a judgment call: as much as possible, we want a friend joining your game to make your experience better, not worse. People shouldn’t feel they need to inspect you when you join a public game and your friend that stopped playing for two months shouldn’t feel like a burden for wanting to play with you. Generally, you should prefer to have company in your game than not. Then there’s the suggestion that we should remove the 30% bonus to experience gain in multiplayer. It comes from a well-intentioned place. However, once you examine all the sources of advantages in multiplayer groups, that 30% experience bonus is the least significant. It’s easy to pay attention to because it’s the most visible of the multiplayer bonuses, so it’s also perceived as the most advantageous. Here are the main advantages to playing multiplayer and farming experience: Adding an extra person increases potential damage up to 100% or more, but monster health only increases by 50%. Similarly, in a 4-player game, monster health doesn’t scale to four times the amount in solo; it only goes up 2.5 times the amount. This is clearly a greater benefit than 30% experience. Another source of advantage for groups is skill synergy. When groups are synergizing their group buffs and enemy debuffs to their maximum, the advantage provided blows the 30% experience bonus out of the water. Finally, another source of advantage for farming XP is being able to have some people in XP% gear. As noted previously, the problem here isn’t that the XP% is averaged, it’s that the XP% gear has such a positive effect at all. The fact that it’s averaged now just means everybody benefits, which is better than only the people wearing the gear benefitting (despite everybody contributing). It also removes the social awkwardness of arguing over who gets to wear the XP gear. If you feel that XP% gear shouldn’t be this good in the first place (regardless of whether you’re in a group), then that’s fair. My long explanation is to explain why we are happy with the 30% bonus in groups, but we are examining the other 3 major contributors to see what we can do there to shrink the gap between solo and group play while still keeping group play better – even when your undergeared friend joins. Why did you make solo play so unattractive? Sure, playing in a group should give some advantages but atm it’s just absurd… Mobs don’t scale linearly(I think only to 2.5 times their solo hp when with 4 people?) and with the recent changes to xp you can take one or two people wearing xp gear and you will still kill as fast or faster than a soloplayer while everyone gets way more xp… I really feel punished for liking to play D3 solo instead of in groups if I see others gaining paragon lvls three or more times faster than I do with the same effort Nevalistis: Wyatt has a much more in depth answer here, but I’ll try to trim it down to a TLDR: We’re less concerned with the efficiency of this activity and more concerned that people don’t get to wear their cool gear Experience farming doesn’t align with other activities you want to do (blood shard farming, finding legendaries), and we want to realign those experiences You should never feel punished for playing with a friend who has worse gear than you That said, group play should always be a little bit better, but it’s definitely still a question of how much better This is definitely a super generalized version of what Wyatt said, so I recommend you read his full reply for the details![source]http://www.diabloii.net/blog/comments/diablo-3-developer-qa-this-afternoon[/source] I think multiplayer should be more rewarding, if it's done well. We've all seen those 3p and 4p Grift videos with the perfect teamwork and cooperation, and I have zero problem with that sort of play yielding the biggest exp and item rewards. But I think it's a stupid philosophy to just decree that any half-assed 4p PuG should be hugely rewarded for bumbling through a Rift like clumsy children in a sack race. Bliz devs seem to feel there's some huge risk of not providing the biggest rewards to any party, and presumably they've got server stats to back it up. Maybe players really do play more if they get huge rewards in party games, and quit if they're forced to know what they're doing to progress. But so what? Why should poor play in a group be more rewarded than expert play solo? I don't agree with that basic philosophy, and neither do a lot of other players, judging by how often we see complaints from people who feel "forced" to party up for the exp grind. Continue reading the Original Blog Post.