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Limitations and Set Design: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Discussion in 'Diablo 3 General Discussion' started by LukDeRiff, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. LukDeRiff

    LukDeRiff IncGamers Member

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    During the last Tavern Talk the Developers got asked the following question: "Will we see a legit IK 6 piece bonus beyond the +100% damage increase?". They left the question unanswered and instead talked about the design philosophy behind sets. I am not going sum up the lengthy answer but much rather talk about one specific remark Travis Day made:

    "I chuckle since we often talk about set bonuses and something that just adds 100% damage is one of the least interesting way to do it. That’s a pretty good set bonus, but it’s not at all sexy. I’d like to double damage in a cool way."


    When I heard this my head perked up because the Immortal Kings 6 piece set bonus is not just "You deal 100% increased damage" it is "While both Call of the Ancients and Wrath of the Berserker are active, yous deal 100% increased damage."

    Both the question and the part of the answer mentioned above focused on the power that you acquire by using the set. This is something that is very common when players talk about Items and Skills in Diablo. Item X does this and Skill Y gives you this bonus. Something that people talk much less about but is just as, if not more, important are the limitations of Items and Skills. What a Skill can not do is just as important as what the Skill can do.
    I came across this idea a while back when I was reading a series of essays written by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson is an author that writes fantasy novels and is well known for his cool and innovative magic systems. The essay series is about a set of rules he uses to help him design good magic systems. He humbly called them "Sanderson's Laws" and the one that stood out to me the most was his second law.

    Sanderson's Second Law: "Limitations>Powers"

    The example he uses is Superman. The magic system in Superman stories are his powers but they are not what makes the story interesting. In the beginning they might bring a sense of wonder and they certainly have an impact on the storyx but what engages the reader are the limitations of his powers. Namely Kryptonite and his ethical code. They gives him the ability to struggle which ordinarily would not be able to since his powers are so overwhelming. As a result the story can actually be tense, the possibilty of failure is very important if you want to creat tension. The limitations help giving Superman some depth as a charakter by revealing details about his personnality and background.

    What has this all to do with Diablo 3 ? If you take a closer look at Diablo then the Skills and Items in Diablo are functionally the Magic System of Diablo. With a little work we can adpapt Sanderson's Second Law to Diabo 3 which will help us understand what makes Items and Skill cool and of course what makes then bad. I think with Patch 2.2 in the near future and all the new and redesigned sets that come with it, set design is going to be a good example.

    In his essay Sanderson mentions struggle, tension and depth as some of the major benefits of having good limitations. How can we apply these to Diablo ?

    Before we can do this first we have to understand that, at this point, Items and Skills are closely interconnected and it is for the most part better to treat them as unit than as two different systems. This fact alone really shows how far the game has come since the release of RoS.
    There are two basic areas that are affected by item design and thus by using good limitations. These two are:

    1. Selection of Items/Skills
    2. Core Gameplay (slaying monsters)

    Out of time for now. Will continue writing later, Feeback is welcome as per usual
     

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