Here is the result of some discussions I have had with friends on a way forward for Diablo 3. This is obviously a wish list, but I also wanted to spawn design and gameplay discussion. Also there is a lot of text to follow as is the norm with these kinds of posts.
Throughout the thoughts below I am trying to take build on what already exists and not requesting major redesign. I will probably fail in a few places but mostly because I am excited about an idea.
Rewarding Exploration - While Diablo 3 has random dungeons and they are mildly rewarding(more so with the density improvements) they are not particularly exciting to find, are often fairly common, and you already know what you are going to get when you enter them. My largest issue with Diablo 3 from the beginning has been that for a game hinging on RNG, that design space was not explored nearly enough. I propose 3 things when it comes to exploration and dungeons:
Rarity of dungeons. Meaning some are more common than others, with greater or lesser rewards. My thoughts are dungeons ranging from 2-50% of games. The 2% dungeons tending towards more unique design or something out of place for the act. These rarer dungeons will have unique challenge bosses with higher than average difficulty (not necessarily soul crushing though). Gear and XP rewards would be significant.
All random spawn dungeons have a varying number of floors with difficulty increasing moderately passed floor. Also smaller unique challenges can spawn throughout these as well. For example while exploring the barracks, you find on the fourth of a currently unknown number of floors an unknown doorway. Upon entering you find the demons have setup a “demon fighting” arena. You are the latest challenger. Rewards can vary depending on number of successful rounds or other factors. This encourages players to want to explore more, and discourages just reloading constantly looking for rare dungeons only, because even the common dungeons can be very rewarding.
Add rare dungeon spawns to story internal areas. Cathedral depths would be fun to see the occasional spawn (left over hell portals?). Act 2 has a lot of outdoor areas and has a lot of random dungeons for it, but most are small and not worth your time. Needs more surprises. Found a crack in the wall in the sewers? Oops found a serpent temple (like the one in d2).
A lot of RNG was left by the wayside for the sake of a story driven game. I am ok with that, until you get to the end game. All of that needs to vanish after normal mode. The game should be able to surprise you far more than it does.
As a last note on exploration: Rare spawns need to be more rewarding and challenging. The challenge should not just be finding them, and the reward should not just be a check mark. Maybe rare spawns have higher legendary drop rates; maybe they have a higher drop rate for SPECIFIC legendary items. Regardless, they should be exciting to find and exciting to kill, not disappointing because you don’t even get a stack of NV.
We made this bed now let’s use it - Yep the game requires an internet connection. This allows for a few things that the game does take advantage of to justify it, and a lot of things that the game does not. More things need to be added to take advantage of having all players log in. For example:
Daily and Weekly challenges - Dungeons that you can only run periodically. They are challenging and rewarding. For the daily challenges maybe there are 20 to pick to from of varying difficulty and rewards. A trap filled Leoric’s treasure room. With a very angry set of Leoric’s guards (functional versions of Leoric himself). Dungeon itself is designed to take 15 minutes if you are “evenly” geared for it, and reward 5 stacks of NV upon completion along with other rewards.
In addition there could extremely rewarding and only mildly challenging weekly dungeons. Why only mildly? One it keeps people logging in, and two it provides people a way forward if they are otherwise stuck. At least they know once a week they can get a much higher chance of something good.
Calendar events - Doesn’t matter if it is our calendar. Not looking for holidays. Looking for special reasons to log in. Maybe Sanctuary has a day of the month where darkness is particularly bad. For reference think about world tendency in Demon Souls. On the other side maybe there are times when the light is of particular strength. What if only one day a month a certain dungeon spawns?
Resetting/Controlled Economy – I am not positive a ladder is the answer. Unless there are a variety of ladders or ladders could be designed more ad hoc like by the players. This would require a lot of new design. However the most basic is encouraging / enforcing some sort of self-found game mode. Likely with some itemization rebalance. There are lots of ideas around on how self-found would or could work and most have a lot of merit. The only key piece is that the game needs to be able to verify and prove you are self-found. Both for the sake of personal self-control and proving yourself. Pixels it all may be, but we are all proud of our pixels.
Community events - Remember the mass SoJ turn in mechanic in D2? Ok so that was to fight the games on dupe problem, but the community worked towards a goal. What if there were periodic events: Mass legendary turn in. After 250,000 are turned in everyone in the game gets a significant XP and MF boost for 2 weeks. A massive number of hell portals are opening up and need Nephalem to close them. 1 million portals need to be closed to complete. Rewards delivered based on participation and game wide.
There is much more that can and should be done. The short of it is though the game should create more situations that having a server that can verify and prove the authenticity of an action or item enhances the game. We have the server so let’s use it.
Have it your way – The below discussion probably breaks my rule about operating within the confines of the game the most. Monster Power allowed for a level of customization to play. However it is only a small step. It also has its own flaws. One of the biggest problems is that eHP and eDPS requirement scale at the same time. While there are good reasons for this, improving gear to go up a level can be extremely expensive and time consuming. This is particularly frustrated by the fact that gear continues to get devalued by those farming at the hardest difficulties already. I propose game difficulty and rewards is scaled by multiple player controlled levers. At the most basic(warning all numbers are un tuned and made up) you would have Monster Damage, Monster Health levers.
At Monster Damage 1, all monsters do 25% more damage. You gain 4% more XP.
At Monster Health 1, all monster have 25% more hp. You gain 4% more XP.
If you have both set to at least one, you get 10% more XP.
This allows for an upping of difficulty as your gearing has allowed so far, but giving higher rewards for increasing difficulty in multiple areas at once. There can more levers than just that though. You can have settings for new mechanics. Turn on Nephalem Hunter mode, and boss quality creatures will spawn, usually at bad times to attack, this gives huge rewards and tremendous risk. Turn on scared monsters, and many monsters are likely to run away when seeing a death (like Fallen). You can have some options that can only be set when others are. If monster health is set to max and monster damage set to at least 5, you can turn on Vampiric mode, where all enemies have the Vampiric mod.
All options provide greater rewards in a variety of fashions. I mentioned community created ladders previously. These modes could be tied to them.
How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the RNG – Most rares are bad. Like the only time you might equip them is if you are playing self-found and it is the best of the worst but really it is a stop gap until just about anything appears. To a certain level of thinking this is good. The problem is that the amount that are “bad” is ever increasing, and even in the good ones there is nothing interesting to find. Most legendaries are bad as well. Some of this is already in queue to be fixed but I think we can go further.
More affixes: Wait more? I already only want 6 of the 30, more just makes it worse! Well I will get to that, but for now let’s just say we need more unique and interesting affixes that do more to gameplay. D2 because it had a skill tree allowed for +skill items, but not only that, allowed cross class skills. I am fairly certain due to animation and other concerns this is probably difficult without significant redesign however there is still probably design space to explore. Chance on hit to cast Lotus Swarm. Chance on being hit to proc storm armor. Chance on gaining health to duplicate that health to party members in xp range. Chance of clear casting (free ability / spell). Many more class specific ones could be designed.
Two Affix pools: Primary and Secondary affixes. So all of these new creative affixes? They are secondary. They don’t compete with Crit chance or vitality. A top rolled rare would now have 5 Primary and 2 Secondary affixes. Haggling can be done one where each affix falls, and maybe there is some overlap. The idea though is to have primary have a much smaller pool to better guarantee generally useful items, and secondary to provide excitement to item search as you try to gather items that enhance a creative build not just make numbers go up. There will still be a large gap between lowend and higher primary stats on items, and that is good, it creates character progress. However along the way also building your passive aggressive barb build that relies on being hit to gain a variety of armors is interesting.
Purity Value – Item has a displayed purity value showing its strength vs. its theoretical maximum for the affixes it has. This can be used for more than just epeen. Though it will help new players judge an item a bit better without massive need for theory crafting and spreadsheets.
A separate thought I toyed with but I am not positive it can be done in a fun way is negative affixes. The idea is things that make items worse by causing counterproductive action. However the challenge is to make them interesting and something people will want to explore. At the very least make them interesting to remove through some action.
It’s a fixer upper – Wow this item is everything I ever dreamed of.. except…. Said every D3 player ever. It’s hard enough to find an item that has some of the key things you are looking for sometimes, let alone a good item with the things you want. With heavy cost of either time or resources or both lets occasionally make those dreams reality.
Add recipes or mechanics to allow the rerolling or replacing of affixes. This should not be a magic bullet. If you are rerolling you can for significant cost of time or money (50 Demonic Essences, and/or scaling gold value based on Purity value of item). It will reroll that affix with a minimum value of what it currently has. Only one affix per item can ever be rerolled but it can be rerolled multiple times (for increasing cost as purity increases).
If you are replacing an affix you have a mild but increasing base cost to do it. 2 Affix slots per item can be rerolled. Cost goes up every time you reroll a slot. Cost is different between primary and secondary affixes(secondary is dramatically cheaper but still increasing price).
There should be more expensive recipes or mechanics to allow for more control over reroll. Possibly involving finding multiple blue items with the affix you want(and possibly only that affix or odd things can happen).
Sockets should be removed from the Affix Pool. Return to Sockets being an item property. Sockets can be added to an item by Blacksmith for costs depending on item purity.
Crafting recipes should start looking for white items. White items should have more base quality factors. Finding a 3 socket, superior archon armor should be fun. It isn’t good on its own but you can plug it into a crafting recipe for a higher base item. Multiple of the same type of item can be used to craft a higher quality of the same item. Allows players to focus on creating a perfect item, but still requiring heavy world exploration.
Legendary Pea Shooter! - It was suggested that design is already aiming for this, but legendary items should scale upwards in level and be a huge pool to drop from. Finding a legendary item under level 60 is horribly disappointing usually. Some are neat, but mostly unnecessary and out leveled in an hour. That same item may be really neat to have at level 60 if it had level 60 stats. Doing this at high levels does 2 things; it creates a larger pool of legendary items. Making it harder to find any specific one, which allows the inherent quality of any given legendary, be able to be increased. It also allows for more emergent play especially with self-found if these items also gain more unique effects as suggested.
These are just a few thoughts of mine. I may have more, and may update more later. The key I find is to build on what exists. Embrace the RNG, and encourage players to want to explore and discover what the game will throw at the every time they boot up. Allow for numerous incremental goals for the player. Farming without goals is boring. Farming with multiple goals can be a lot of fun.
I hope you enjoyed the read at least a little bit.
I love the idea of having weekly or daily event dungeons. I agree Blizz could really improve their use of forced online play.
I haven't actually logged on for a while now, and something like a weekly challenge would really help players be interested in playing. And it provides something out of the normal farming runs to do.
I made a thread on rewarding exploration via buffs that could go hand in hand with your exploration suggestion. http://www.diablofans.com/topic/92424-getting-players-into-the-d3-worldsystem-suggestions/
Some of the ideas you had there would definitely be a huge overhaul of what they currently have. While I like the idea of adding more levels to dungeons, the reality is more complicated than just turning a few knobs to add levels.
I probably should have been clearer. This is not a 1.09 wishlist. This is just a set of things that could be added building on current design and mechanics. Not necessarily easy to do things but also nothing that inherently requires scrapping entire design. Or at least that was the intent.
The link you provided was interesting. You touched on something else the game is sorely lacking for. We have quests which are essentially of no value to do in Inferno and yet the game is still structured around them. I had originally thought that maybe some other reward should happen for completing quests(XP boost?) but I have started thinking the more interesting way forward is to have more optional objectives for quests which have varying difficulty so that they are not just a foregone conclusion. However they can provide interesting rewards(like access to a dungeon otherwise closed).
A few more thoughts occured to me. I apologize for the double post. Playing up the idea of "World Tendency" I mentioned briefly and working with the game transforming a bit as Monster Power(or equivalent) increases. There should be new bosses that only appears on higher difficulties and higher MP. This could be piggy backed onto making rare spawns more interesting. A massively powerful Ent spawns in Act 1, but only on MP5 and higher. Not only does he provide great rewards and a huge challenge, but is assaulting you in various ways your entire time in the zone he spawns in. Poison bulbs spawning under you periodically, or entangling roots slowing you periodically.
As MP equivalent goes up, further challenges are thrown at you, beyond just increased hp and damage. The Act Bosses start dogging you and assaulting you in various ways, like Baal used to if you stood still too long. Leoric may summon Leoric Guard's who do his Massive Swing attack periodically on your journey to him. Diablo will occassionally cause bone prison's to spawn in groups on your way to him. Izual drops periodic frozen effects when you are engaged with enemies that you need to dodge. Magdha shows up periodically to throw wasp swarms at you and shield herself after 20% of her life and summon some adds and leave.
The intention of this is to engage the player more. Not necessarily to totally sky rocket difficulty(though it will do that, but can be balanced in other ways). The game never feels to be fighting back against the player. In fact most of the time it never feels like it is actively trying to fight the player. These changes on higher difficulties adds more of that in, without having to create more complex AI. These sort of additions can start contributing towards a player choice of safe and steady farming vs focused and more rewarding farming.