"Ask the Devs" Round 2: Itemization - Answers (Part 2)

  • The developers participating in this Q&A round include:

    • Wyatt Cheng, Senior Technical Game Designer
    • Travis Day, Game Designer

    We're doing things a little differently this time around and will be providing developer answers in several parts spread over multiple weeks. Below are the answers for part 2.

    To review the answers for part 1, click here.
  • Q. Can class-specific items please have guaranteed class-specific stats?
    - Dispirit#1859 (Americas [English]), Kloze#2812 (Europe [Russian]), Macleod #2118 (Europe [Spanish])

    Travis: Class specific items can sometimes fall into a weird place. For example, you're playing your Demon Hunter, you see a Rare quiver on the ground, you identify it, and BAM! +300 Strength. At this point, you're probably thinking (or even saying aloud) "Why is that even possible?!"

    While we feel that randomness is an incredibly important aspect of Diablo games, we also agree that players need to feel like their next great item is just around the corner. Items can roll many stats that may not be valuable to the player who finds them, and that's fine—but most items should feel like they could be good for someone.

    Quivers rolling their primary stat as Strength doesn't really play any role here; however, we don’t want to remove randomness completely and have it be a forgone conclusion that every quiver you pick up will roll with the exact stats you want. While we are changing it so that class specific items can't roll the primary value of a different class's stat, that doesn't mean you will never see +Strength on a quiver. What it does mean is you will only see +Strength on a quiver if it came as part of a Dex/Str affix or a Str/Vit affix, which is providing some benefit (even if not ideal) to the class the item is intended for.

    Q. You talk about "game changing" items but mention only gimmicks that affect certain skills or builds. There is a reason people choose best in slot items. These items allow for the greatest damage and survivability possible so that the player can efficiently farm as high of a monster power as they can. Since damage affects any build out there to (usually) the greatest extent, would there be any reason to choose anything besides best in slot items?

    So how will your itemization update approach literally "Best-in-slot" items? Will you make items to compete with the current heavy weights such as mempo, echoing fury, skorn, manticore, witching hour?


    - RTBear (Americas [English]), Headache #2655 (Europe [Polish])

    Travis: Best-in-slot is a subjective term. What is the best for one class or play style isn't necessarily the best for everyone.

    Currently, itemization has the problem that it is largely supported by a handful of affixes that increase your damage in varying degrees. Because almost all items can very easily be distilled down to their DPS value, it quickly turns into a numbers game. This is a side effect of the fact that there really aren't any items that provide intangible benefits beyond raw damage. It is also an issue because there are no items that can improve your play experience or efficiency other than those that simply increase your character sheet DPS.

    We have plans to try to create more interesting item choices, and I've talked a bit about what those plans are in my previous blog, if you want to take a look. Will there still be a "best-in-slot" item for a particular build of a particular class? Probably, but that's never really been the problem. There will always be best-in-slot items for specific builds and setups. The problem today is that we have items that are universally best-in-slot, regardless of your class or build. Right now, items that are best-in-slot for a Demon Hunter are probably also best-in-slot for a Monk, and that's one of the big things we're looking to address.

    Q. The game is filled with white and grey item drops. In practice white and grey items are pretty much ignored as equipable items after level 5 due to Blue and better items becoming available. White and grey items only real purpose currently seems to be to fill out the loot fountain effect, as they are neither cost-effective to vendor nor are they sellable on the Auction Houses.

    Do you have plans for making such items useful? All previous uses for white and grey items did not make it to production D3 - salvaging white and grey items, socketing, enchanting, etc.

    If you have no plans to improve them can you just remove them from the game above level 10? Or at least allow them to be filtered out of view via a setting in Options?


    - Zuzax#1341 (Americas [English]), WuKong#2469 (Europe [Russian])

    Wyatt: We aim to provide players with some sort of global context for the full spectrum of item rarity and power. In a sea of items, we want to emphasize that, at least in this universe, white items, blue items, yellow items, and legendary/set items are increasingly rare relative to one another. White items are currently the baseline, and all other items become rarer and more powerful beyond that.

    If we removed white items completely, there might be a tendency to feel like blues are the new baseline. Some of you might think, "Well, that'd be really cool! I want blue items to be the baseline." As developers, we want items to feel increasingly special, so that means some will always be more useful than others. If we just kept removing whatever tier of items is "worse" from the game and moving up the baseline, then there's the risk that all items will become equally valuable, and that kind of homogenization (while totally appropriate for other games) doesn't really fit with what Diablo is all about. That said, it definitely feels like too many white items drop right now and we are already looking at some significant changes to these ratios in the future. We'd rather drop less white items rather than removing them or adding an option to hide them completely, however.

    We've also talked about allowing white items to have alternate uses—for crafting, for example, like you noted. It's interesting, though, that some people are excited at the prospect of having white items with purpose, while other folks are almost offended that their end-game characters would want white items. If we were to introduce a system that made white items appealing to pick up, it would need to be something that has wide appeal since it affects everybody (and since different players have different opinions towards white items).

    Q. do you still planning to exclude mf and gf affix from gear?

    - Ubivash#2149 (Americas [English]), Ratty #2375 (Europe [Italian])

    Travis: We're still trying to find a better solution for Magic Find and Gold Find. In the past, we've talked about removing it from gear, reducing the effectiveness of it, lowering the cap, or even implementing diminishing returns.

    The problem with MF, specifically, is that it makes it really difficult to design a game that feels rewarding to all of our players instead of just some of them. When players first started getting to max level and farming Inferno, we used to get a lot of feedback saying "I haven’t found a single Legendary item yet" and other people who would say "I find about one Legendary an hour," and the difference was really how much MF they were stacking. While we like the idea MF, because of how it allows players the option to customize their character for item finding, we don't like that, in many situations, it feels mandatory. We also want players to feel like their time playing Diablo III is always rewarding, and having an MF discrepancy of up to 300%+ between players makes that incredibly hard from the design perspective.

    So, while we haven't finalized what we want to do just yet with MF, we know we want to do something, and we want that change to be meaningful. We'll be sure to let you know about any changes to MF or GF that might be coming your way, and of course we'd love to hear your feedback in the meantime.
  • Q. Question about Weapon Type: Are you going to change on how weapon type works in future patch? Except the minor IAS speed different from each weapons, current weapons type are boring. Because each weapon doesn't have specific bonus or ability, players tend to seeks weapon with higher dps number and desirable stats, even if it is a dagger.

    At least in D2, blunt weapon does additional damage to undead class. I am expecting some different for each weapon. For example, a spear weapon will increases the range of the character's skill or mace does additional damage against undead and etc in the future patch.

    Also, will elemental weapon going to be useful too in the future? Except cold weapon, other elemental weapons are simply useless except looking pretty.


    Kilometer (Americas [English]), blimblim#2642 (Europe [German]), Mash#2904 (Europe [Russian]), MetalToad #2259 (Europe [Italian])

    Travis: Applying innate benefits to each weapon type gets brought up a lot. While we don't currently have plans to make each weapon do something different, it isn't off the table. At the heart of that question, though, is the desire for weapons to be more than just a DPS number and that is something we would like to add, but that will most likely come in the form of elemental damage.

    Elemental damage is something we are actively trying to find a good solution for. The stat already exists in the game, but currently it's just six different flavors of the same affix—Cold is the only exception in that it snares targets. One thing we are actively discussing is what kind of effects we could associate with each element and then add it not only to weapons but all damage sources of that type. We haven't finalized anything just yet, but we really want to make this happen.

    Q. Issue: Damage disproportion between physical and elemental type weapons.

    Question: Why did you design physical (black) damage weapons to be superior damage-wise to elemental damage weapons?

    Reasoning:
    I´m asking about your thought process behind the fact that black damage on weapons:
    1. gets the bonus from the "+x% damage" affix and elemental damage does not;
    2. is used to calculate the "adds x% to elemental damage" affix while elemental damage on the weapon is not taken into account;
    3. is bugged - the MinMaxDamage affix adds min damage first and then checks if the new minimum weapon damage is higher than base maximum damage; if it is higher, the game uses the new minimum +1 as the new base maximum and adds max damage to this value, resulting in higher overall black weapon damage compared to elemental weapons.

    It makes no sense that there´s damage differences when there´s no additional elemental damage effects (beside cold snare) in the game and monsters have no resists. This damage difference limits our gearing options as comparably rolled physical weapons will always outperform elemental ones.

    Here's two suggestions on how to fix this issue http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/7810050948?page=11#201


    - Nubtro#2147 (Americas [English])

    Wyatt: We did not intentionally design physical (black) damage weapons to be superior (damage-wise) to elemental damage weapons. The reason that they are superior is actually due to two bugs.

    The first bug is that "+x% damage" was supposed to work for elemental damage only. So, for example, "+5% Fire damage" was supposed to take any fire damage that you did and add 5% more. If you dealt 100 Fire damage, you would get 5% more Fire damage and deal 105 Fire damage in total.

    However (and this is where the bug comes in), instead of looking at your elemental damage, the game would always look at your physical damage, and add a percentage of that as elemental damage. So, to continue with my example, "+5% Fire damage" would take 100 physical damage and then produce 100 physical damage, plus 5 fire damage on top of that. As a result, rather than making you want items that matched the elemental damage types you had bonuses for, the bug simply made black weapons the best.

    The other bug is the way the MinMaxDamage affix works. As you mention, minimum damage is applied first and increases the maximum damage to be 1 more than the minimum value. This is correct behavior, since we don't want maximums that are less than the minimum. The bug here is that the game always attempts to ensure that the maximum damage on a weapon is higher before maximum damage values are even applied, which results in inflated damage amounts. (We actually fixed this bug in the new version of the Ruby in 1.0.7.)

    So, hopefully it's clear that the current situation was not the intended one—it's the result of two bugs that had some very radical and significant effects.

    Now, this obviously raises the question, if this situation is due to two bugs, why weren't the bugs found before release and now that they're found, why don't we just fix them?

    One of the realities of developing software is that a) you’re not going to find every bug before you ship a product and b) when you do find a bug, there are multiple approaches to addressing it. Some bugs are very difficult to resolve, both in terms of time and resources as well as complexity.

    In this specific case, we don’t want to change how existing items work, and fixing these bugs would absolutely do that. We know that acquiring and valuing items is an important part of the Diablo experience and do not want to change the mechanics of how an item property works when people have already invested in it.

    We're also looking to revamp itemization, and part of the revamp will include moving to fixed versions of the elemental damage increasing attribute, as well as the MinMaxDamage affix—put simply, we'd fix the bugs for new items. "Legacy" items will continue to use the current (bugged) version. The new versions will likely bear different language such as "Fire damage you deal is increased by 5%" to differentiate from the old mechanics. (That wording isn't final, it’s just an example.)

    Q. Simple but important question: Are you going to at least try to devaluate the Critical Damage to be less affecting overall player damage?

    Right now it's just absurdly high compared to normal "white" damage. Every build is centered around these two stats really (IAS is just addiction to make the bigger yellow numbers come more often). This means there is no really build diversity when 95% of players want the same gear, while other "could be interesting" affixes are omitted. Sorry for bad English :<


    - Tanvage#1797 [Europe [English])

    Travis: There are no current plans to devalue Critical Damage. Yes, it is one of the single largest DPS increasing stats in the game across all classes, but that's not necessarily a problem. The real problem is that Critical Damage is the only thing that all players want and we need to try to address that. It’s OK to say "Crit Damage is awesome, give me more!" but we would prefer it if some classes or builds wanted to prioritize something else over Crit Damage.

    So, no we have no plans to nerf player items at any point. We do want to encourage diversity, but we want to do it right by providing more choice, and that is a much more difficult problem to solve.

    Q. Diablo 2 had one time quest rewards (based on difficulty). Most of these were minor but you had the option to craft a random rare, socket an item, personalize and item, as well as destroy a soul stone for gems/runes.

    Is there discussion on adding similar features to Diablo 3 to could personalize gear? Ideas like make the item bound to account but allow you to put your toon's name on it and maybe give some advantage of + damage or armor, give a random white/grey weapon and have it converted to a random rare, etc


    - Valindria#1184 (Americas [English])

    Travis: These were pretty cool, but there haven't been any discussions about adding these effects to the game. On the surface they were great, but they did have their own set of issues.
    For example, adding a socket to an item as the result of a one-time quest reward feels really awesome, but over time it starts to become more of a burden instead of a benefit. When you have to level a new character through the entire game just so you can socket the new cool weapon you want to use, the shine starts to wear off really fast.

    The ones that I thought were "cool" but not really burdensome were the ones that gave you permanent resists, but really those were artificial gameplay—your resists were permanently reduced and then you were given a potion to offset that a little bit.

    We do like the idea of customizing your items, though, and giving players more opportunities to really feel invested in what they’re equipping. As Don pointed out in the last round of developer answers, we're considering a few options, including:
    • The ability to change a portion of a particular stat on an item to another stat of your choice
    • The ability to augment an existing item with a stat bonus of your choice
    • The ability to create an item with one or several fixed affixes—similar to the Rare recipes introduced in 1.0.7
    • We've also discussed adding other types of "socketables" with a wide variety of possible affixes that you can put in your socketed items instead of gems

    Adding a socket isn't off the table, either. We just want to make sure that whatever we add makes sense for Diablo III, and aren't just fluffy mechanics that only make it seem like you have more customization and control (but actually provide little overall value).