Skill Points Removal Fuels Game Controversy

  • #1
    (Source) After the announcement of the removal of yet another point-mashing feature (seen in our coverage of the press event), many are wondering how the Diablo III team rationalizes not having skill points while preaching customization to the masses. A user on the official Battle.net forum board brought the question to Bashiok's table, who responded with the sentiments of the team.

    Their explanation leans back on the "it's not Diablo II" argument which has been touted since the game's announcement back in 2008:


    Official Blizzard Quote:



    We've been playing the game, we know what skill points were causing, and it was not interesting and unique builds. It was not meaningful customization. It was maxing out a couple skills, and that's it. It was Diablo II. What we have now actually forces people to make interesting choices, to craft interesting builds based on very strict limitations.

    But the Diablo III team wants the latest game in the series to go beyond, as they see it, another shortcoming they saw in Diablo II's skill system. Bashiok says that "one common mistake people are making is thinking all the class skills are straight damaging attack skills... There's no variety because you just pick the most powerful six, and you're done."

    Their latest iteration of the skill system essentially splits what would have been called passive and active skills in Diablo II into two exactly that: passive and active skills. Where passive skills are invested in separately and contribute to your character's brawn in secret, regular skills are the ones you will use to blast your enemies into gooey bits, as well as zip around the screen at lightning speeds and issue combo attacks. Not all of these skills are straight damage dealers. Some of them allow resource regeneration or life steal, which adds another level of tactical flare to your combat experience.

    Whereas in the past you would have used skill points (awarded at each level-up) to augment the power of your favorite skills (or the potency of DiabloWiki.com - synergies synergies), the new skill system in Diablo III scales your skills based on your level. In addition, DiabloWiki.com - runestones runestones, including their numerous tiers, affect the look, feel, and effects of your skills. Beyond them, gear directly affects your battle potency. Bashiok laid out a Diablo II scenario for demonstration:


    Official Blizzard Quote:



    The base problem with skill points is that we found they simply put too much incentive toward pumping up one or two skills. If we wanted to balance the game it means we'd have to let someone be able to essentially beat the game with that build since it's the most obvious. You're not going to put a few points here, a few there, you're going to go the D2 route, horde points, and dump them all into a core skill or two. It really limited builds since points always went toward specific types of attacks that scaled well with additional points, and we're not going to keep systems that are stifling (viable) build potential and (meaningful) character customization.

    So, removing functionality encourages customization? While many would argue the case of stat point removal for Diablo III, this might not be exactly the same thing. Regardless, this solution does directly address the "one or two skills" scenario (Diablo II cookie-cutter builds, anyone?), so maybe it is a big step in the right direction.

    Interestingly enough, the removal of skill point allotment indirectly addresses yet another controversial topic: respeccing. Many have argued that allowing for respeccing caters to a "softer" gaming audience and drains the game of an element of challenge (just take a look through a 2008 article's responses). Without skill points, there's no longer any need for respeccing. Whether or not this appeases more hardcore players is another question entirely.

    Force had some excellent one-on-one time with Jay Wilson to get the full story straight from the Diablo man, himself. Wilson talked about everything leading up to the latest decision, including observations from alpha testing and conclusions drawn from prior strategy scenarios in the older games.


    But does all this wishy-washy skill softness mean something more than encouraging more diverse builds? As a user on the Battle.net board asked, "Do you come upon a particularly nasty group that this other skill would just be perfect for, so you hang back, grab that skill, then destroy the group?"

    Bashiok did not shoot the idea down entirely:


    Official Blizzard Quote:



    You're far more likely to see a player sticking with a build and working to become better at it than constantly swapping around. That's not a rule, it's player psychology so there's going to be a wide range of variables, but it's what we have found to be true not only for Diablo III, but a lot of the games out there with similar free-swapping of builds.

    The removal of skill points seems like a step away from the spirit of the franchise, instilled in us with Diablo II. It will restrict cookie-cutter and low-skill-count builds to an extent, and it indirectly removes the need for a controversial respeccing system. But it is a far cry different from the original games and many "Diablo clones," possibly alienating parts of an otherwise eager audience.
  • #2
    Once again, great read.. Thanks for shedding light!
  • #3
    Good works! Thank you!
  • #4
    i like the idea of removing the "oh i got this new skill, re-specc all point dump it there now"

    this would be terrible! either let it be like d2 without resetting , or the way you are now thinking it...or something else

    resetting and selecting only one skill is WRONG and only 1 of the entire skill list the developers created would be used!

    also lets stop this "cries" of its Diablo tradition and crap like that.
    because something was Wrong in the past doesnt mean that for traditional reasons we have to keep it in the future!

    d2 skill system in d3 would lead players and critics in the following comments
    "its exactly like d2 with new graphic and effect skill system"

    and a d3 skill system the way it was so far will lead to comments like:
    "this skill system actually its rarely used as it should be and only 2-3 skill are primary used wasting the entire developing time...aka nothing radical new in d3 again!"

    so the current decision is for the BEST!
    Blizzard i see your point and every logical non old fashion user will see the light eventually!
    after all they are not making d3 an RTS or D3 will not loose anything of the core ellements because THE WRONG skill system will not work that way you used too!


    what i dont support is the stupid single player online only mode! :P
    No More Auction House!
    My faith is restored to them :Thumbs Up:
    Now just give us and a offline mode like sc2 B)
  • #5
    The skill point system now reminds me a lot of Guild Wars. This is amusing because Guild Wars was made by a lot of the developers from Blizzard North.

    If there is a lot of interaction between skills this system is great.
  • #6
    Quote from Stanium7007

    The skill point system now reminds me a lot of Guild Wars. This is amusing because Guild Wars was made by a lot of the developers from Blizzard North.

    If there is a lot of interaction between skills this system is great.


    QFT...

    Also with the eventual expansion we will be seeing a huge variety of skills to choose from for those 6 slots. And then add runes into the mix and you still have a lot of customization.

    You just lost

    THE GAME!!!
  • #7
    Levelling up is going to be pretty boring now all of our choices are made for us, and I think I'll grow sick of swapping skills around all the time for different areas. I liked it back when our actions had consequences.
  • #8
    Once again Im just going to have to ride this out and see how it all pans out in game. Maybe what we all remember and love about D2 isn't required to have a great time in D3. We shall see....
  • #9
    I have absolutely no problem with the skill points removal, I am all for this and to me it seems like a nice idea, but, please, Blizzard, please increase the player limit to 20-30, please... That's all I'm asking...
  • #10
    Quote from Akuma_Gin

    I have absolutely no problem with the skill points removal, I am all for this and to me it seems like a nice idea, but, please, Blizzard, please increase the player limit to 20-30, please... That's all I'm asking...

    Do you mean the number of players partying together in a game? A 500% difference is a pretty huge change and they said it would make combat very chaotic.
  • #11
    Quote from Stanium7007
    If there is a lot of interaction between skills this system is great.

    I think this is a really difficult point.

    Think about the following: Skill synergies in Diablo 2 sounded awesome at first. But if you think about it, when you wanted to use Frozen Orb for example, you HAD TO put 40 to 60 points in 2 or 3 synergy skills, otherwise the build/skill was not useable in endgame.

    If you now have interaction between specific skills in Diablo 3, you kind of enforce the same mindset. If you for example have a skill that freezes the enemy and another skill that exploits this, then you basically say the player "If you take the freezing skill, take THIS skill as well" (or vice versa)
    I dont think this will be good for diversity.
    On the other hand, if there is no interaction between skills, we have to see if there is then a need for "builds" in the traditional sense anyway.

    I think this is something which needs iteration by the testers at blizzard...a lot of it
  • #12
    This doesn't solve any of their problems they are stating it does.
    How does this remove the 1-2 skill scenario? He says you cannot go around just WW everything and win, really? Only way to stop me from doing that is to make immune to physical monsters or make a big ass cool-down or drain on resource for it, which in turn means I would get another skill to accommodate that hinder.

    Doesn't want cookie cutter builds or to go online to figure out best builds. Ok, so now that we own every skill Jay, you are trying to tell me that noone in the world will figure out a top tier build for PvP or for MF and post it online and it won't be followed? Did this guy even play Diablo 2? They obviously could not make lower skills enticing like they claimed they were so they went with this system where it's free so why not use it.

    Why not keep respec, allow us to add skill points maybe only 1-5 per skill, that way we can still build the characters we want without everyone being the same damn character. You might make your barbarian all damage, I might make mine have more defense tho, that is customization. You can keep the scaling of skills but at least let us have some choice beside grabbing up 6 free skills which honestly is not that hard to do like he makes it out to be. 1 Buffer, 1 debuffer, 2 power skills with good resource or cool down management and D3 is a wrap, and how could it not be your character is essentially a god.
    TT
  • #13
    No, no, I didn't mean the numbers of players in co-op. I meant how many characters we are allowed to make. Only 10 :( Im absolutely okay with everything else, even the whole you have to be online to play single player, even though it doesn't make much sense. So please Blizzard please increase the number of chars to 25-30 :(
  • #14
    Yea, I'm not buying any of this. They are just being lazy. Instead of balancing skills so people actually have more than a couple of viable builds they are just throwing the entire concept out of the window.
  • #15
    I am SO looking forward to craft an item and they missed the part where an affix will be +1 to all skills... :lol:
  • #16
    Quote from ComMcNeil

    Quote from Stanium7007
    If there is a lot of interaction between skills this system is great.

    I think this is a really difficult point.

    Think about the following: Skill synergies in Diablo 2 sounded awesome at first. But if you think about it, when you wanted to use Frozen Orb for example, you HAD TO put 40 to 60 points in 2 or 3 synergy skills, otherwise the build/skill was not useable in endgame.

    If you now have interaction between specific skills in Diablo 3, you kind of enforce the same mindset. If you for example have a skill that freezes the enemy and another skill that exploits this, then you basically say the player "If you take the freezing skill, take THIS skill as well" (or vice versa)
    I dont think this will be good for diversity.
    On the other hand, if there is no interaction between skills, we have to see if there is then a need for "builds" in the traditional sense anyway.

    I think this is something which needs iteration by the testers at blizzard...a lot of it

    I don't necessarily mean skills that are designed to be used together and only that way, I mean skills that just happen to compliment each other. If they want to use the term "Build" at all there needs to be complimentary skills (I'm forced to not use the term synergy) otherwise they might as well call it "set of skills I happen to find interesting at the time"
  • #17
    Quote Jay Wilson:

    "If you are trying to make an optimal character, a battlemage is not optimal. But they are incredible popular. They are not optimal, but they are VIABLE. They can sustain themselves throughout the game

    Diablo is all about VIABLE builds, NOT optimal builds. "


    VIABLE builds. The skillsystem makes many many many viable builds, not optimal ones. That's why skill points and attribute points are removed.

    With the new system, you can potentially do ANY build, and it will be pretty good, it will be viable.

    This is the best system. It's fun, and it has alot of costumization
  • #18
    Quote from MasterFischer

    Quote Jay Wilson:

    "If you are trying to make an optimal character, a battlemage is not optimal. But they are incredible popular. They are not optimal, but they are VIABLE. They can sustain themselves throughout the game

    Diablo is all about VIABLE builds, NOT optimal builds. "


    VIABLE builds. The skillsystem makes many many many viable builds, not optimal ones. That's why skill points and attribute points are removed.

    With the new system, you can potentially do ANY build, and it will be pretty good, it will be viable.

    This is the best system. It's fun, and it has alot of costumization


    QFT... You win the internetz

    You just lost

    THE GAME!!!
  • #19
    Quote from Infiltrator

    Yea, I'm not buying any of this. They are just being lazy. Instead of balancing skills so people actually have more than a couple of viable builds they are just throwing the entire concept out of the window.


    I second this.
    Instead of making a balanced working system, with, I dont know, a skill point cap limit per level or something like that, they're just dumping the whole point system.
    People is still going to take the same super damage skills, and the super deadly skill+gear killer combo. It's gonna happen, with or without points.

    Come on! There's a lot of people designing this damn thing, couldn't they come up with something better than that?
    We've had enough of this, It's just not fair!
    We deserve better from them.
  • #20
    I have actually 2 doubts about this system.

    1) OK, I understand the no necessity of maxing skills. But what about the replayability of the same classes? One thing that I loved about D2 was that after making a bow amazon I could start over with a javelin amazon, and it would feel like the whole new game again. Now there is no need at all to make a new character of the same class? This does reduce replayability, doesn't it?

    2) Some time ago Bashiok said that with the automatic attributes level-up would still feel like a "level-up". But now without skill points, what is keeping the level-up from "Great, I'm a little stronger in everything I always used and can use better gear"? Does this seem like a "level-up"? Or am I missing something?
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