Why not just add that extra feature to the skill itself when you level up? There is no need to even have skill runes in the game tbh, total waste of time.
The rune options are added as you level up. I'm not sure what you mean. You don't want skill customization? Their intent has always been skill customization, and that's still very much their function.
Nobody has said the mistakes have to be permanent. Just that you should have to make an investment of some kind to alter your character. Just that you SHOULD be making some kind of investment in the skills you like as you level up (skill points is the obvious answer). Just that this game, as it stands, asks NOTHING of the player. It is one step away from just playing itself while we watch.
Well, I hope no one could actually believe that last part is true. I mean, in Diablo II you were locked, you had no option to change your attributes or skills, and all you did then was go on an item hunt to perfect that build by getting the most perfect items. How is having no choice at all, save leveling a new character, more compelling of a game than one where you can use your knowledge, and experience, and change and adapt and min-max as you go? It has a definite psychological premise. I made these choices and for better or worse, they're mine. But our argument is that it's not actually a better or more enjoyable game, and the psychology of that customization process isn't actually based on any real needs for the game to be fun or enjoyable. For some games it absolutely might be, because they have a game style, pacing, or other mechanics that work really well with that kind of system. It is not true for Diablo, and it is not true for World of Warcraft, which is going to a hot swappable format in Mists. We all subscribed to the idea that in an RPG you build a character, there's an investment in those choices, and that makes the game fun. We do not believe that to be true for these two games any longer, it may make total sense for another game, but for ours it does not. (It is worth noting that in World of Warcraft you don't pick and choose all of your abilities based on talents, which I would argue makes the Diablo III customization that much more compelling.)
Also, as a fun tidbit, respec costs in WoW stuck around for so long because they were one of the few and consistent gold sinks the game had. Not because it encouraged some idea of permanent player choices.
Diablo games have always been about re-playability. Afterall, that is the whole point of the randomized dungeons, loot, monsters, etc.. This game has none and sticks another stake in it with the 10 character limit.
Replayability is not the same as a mandate to re-level characters to try something else out. Replayability is the enjoyment of the experience of playing the game even after you've completed the main story, which by the way is completely what playing through the subsequent difficulties is. Most games have replayability because their game is finite, you hit a Game Over screen. Diablo doesn't really have replayability, what it has is near-infinite content due to the randomized elements.
I personally love leveling characters because the levels and the new stuff you get feels super rewarding. It's great fun to get new toys and things as you get stronger. I think it's great if you also enjoy that. That is still totally possible in the game. You can make additional characters in other regions by just jumping over to that server, since you have 10 slots on each, or you can (and I know this may sound shocking) offload everything to your shared stash, delete the character, and enjoy leveling a new one. That process of leveling, if you enjoy purely that process, is still completely possible. I don't level multiple characters in WoW of the same class because I don't want to spend some gold to respec, I level new characters because I enjoy leveling new characters. Now, if I was forced to level a new character because I want to try out a new build, that has absolutely nothing to do with the enjoyment of leveling a character. That is a means to an end. They may overlap, you may enjoy leveling a character even though you're being forced to do so, but they are not the same thing.
And this sums up the debate in a nut-shell. What you just said here is that Blizzard's preference is not RPG elements where players have control over building and investing in your choices. I read this as saying that Blizzard wants to create a different gaming experience that focuses on the game-play, not the character creation.
This may be an acceptable approach, but it certainly alienates those players who enjoy the RPG elements.
But the RPG elements are still there. You're still making builds and attempting to find the right mix of options, and more importantly trying to find the items that can make it successful. That is the same exact thing as Diablo II. How is being locked in to any one of those systems more of a customization system? Because its the way other games have been made? Because you need a math degree and schematic to make sure you dont screw up? That's great, but it's not a reason to argue less customization. Is it a reason that you can spend less time on websites and spread sheets theorizing and more time actually experimenting and playing an awesome game? Absolutely.
First, let me respond to your statements regarding WoW's new approach: WoW is a game entirely about the end game. You get your max level character and then you are constantly chasing the next end game content/gear from the latest patch/exp. So, leveling in that game is actually a means to an end. To that extent, the experience of leveling/grinding is somewhat of a chore at times. Originally, the system of talents was prohibitive for support classes (as I previously mentioned). So it makes sense for WoW to trend more to a hotswappable system where you can find what works best for you with little inhibitions. Further, WoW is not a game you get to really choose who you play with. If you want to experience the end game, you need a guild and you need to fit into that guild in a way that's useful. So your end game character becomes your primary focus.
That is an entirely accurate assessment and... thank you for making it. I feel smarter having read it.
On that topic, holy crap guys. There are a couple people trying to ruin it, but I think this is one of the most amazing and enlightening threads I've read in a long time. The amount of constructive and intelligent discourse by a lot of different people is blowing me away.
However, Diablo, in my mind, has been a game about the journey. Once your character has beaten Hell difficulty in Diablo 2 there isn't much for him/her to do except farm for certain drops but to what end would those be used?
I think many here would argue that is when the game begins in Diablo. The item hunt and perfecting your character is the point of the game, hell, I'd say we argue it. We're pouring a ton of time into making sure that the end game is super amazing.
Not to discount your specific enjoyment. I think it's important to enjoy whatever you want for the reasons you want to enjoy them.
Diablo 2's many problems aside, you can make two Amazons and make completely different choices about her each time including stats and skills. This is because there are skill points. It's not necessary that some choices be BAD, as some in this thread have suggested. It's just necessary that I made a choice and in order to undo it I have to make some effort if I don't like it. I worry that in Diablo 3 there are only a few choices to make and you can easily switch if you want to. In that way your character sort of lacks a real flavor. But again, having not tried it I could be wrong.
I do think Diablo 3's skills look more balanced and exciting (i.e. there aren't skills which STRICTLY replace another skill in the vein of Firebolt->Fireball) which means the basic game is looking REALLY good. But my concern, and maybe you have a response for this Bashiok, is that there isn't an investment in the my character that makes him/her different than my other one of the same class.
You'll be different in the choices you make. I think there's some perception that out of the 300 or whatever rune variants (of which you can choose 6) and the 16 different passives (of which you can choose 3) everyone is going to A. realize what the most efficient and best build is and use it, and B. they're going to enjoy playing that build. If someone tells me "you need to use these skills with these passives or you're wrong" I tell them to shove off because I don't like those skills, I like these skills, and I will find a way to make them work. Or! Through experimentation I'll find something even better that I enjoy even more. If someone finds THE best wizard build and everyone agrees and everyone playing then switches to that build even if they don't like it, we've failed. The skills are broken and we need to go in and balance.
The fact that you can find an awesome build and other people can emulate it is not a new problem. It's not even a problem in our opinion. People will discover awesome builds and people will emulate them. The time it takes for them to emulate them, 2 minutes or 2 weeks does not change the fact that an open, fun, and engaging form of character customization that not only supports but encourages experimentation by playing the game, is a complete win.
This is completely avoiding the enormous topic, again, of itemization which not only customizes your character stats and build potential, but actually changes the visual look of your character, which I would argue is a far more powerful way to show off how unique and awesome your character is.
In addition, although not your personal reason for playing, if you want to attain great things and show off how much time you've invested in the game, compromising the ability to have that fun and engaging customization system has to be thrown out the window. We'd be rewarding players for time investment at the expense of others. We want to reward time investment, and do, but tying that to something as core as character customization just doesn't make good sense. We're trying to ensure that a wide range of players can play and enjoy the game, that means having deep customization systems for hardcore players, but also ensuring they're easy to understand and supportive of very casual play styles. This is a good thing for hardcore gamers. If its just you and a bunch of other hardcore gamers playing, do you think they'll ooh and ahh over your sweet gear and killing speed? Do you think there will ever be a situation when someone undervalues their items on the AH where you, the more well informed player make off with an amazing deal?
I'm sorry to post and run but it's late here in France and I have some early meetings. There are some great points being made, and again, some truly excellent and well reasoned arguments for and against. Thank you again for keeping it constructive. I hope to find time to jump back in tomorrow, but ... I'm not sure if I even need to.
I agree. I don't care that anyone else can emulate me. But what of replayability? What of the value of being able to reroll another character of the same class and make different choices that result in a functionally different and identifiably unique character from the other characters I already have? For one, the ten character limit severely restricts this endeavor, and for another the free and infinite respec system makes having more than one character of the same class (on the same game mode.. softcore/hardcore) functionally redundant.
I need to go to sleep! But you're right, I totally forgot to hit that point and meant to.
I guess I'd ask why you're leveling a new character. If its because you love leveling and the reward of the unlocks and level up graphic, etc. then that's still there. Don't pick the same skills with the next character. In fact I would consider it pretty crazy to decide to level a new character and not want to try new things. Other than that... why are you leveling a new character? It can't be because you want to try a new build, because you try that new build with your existing character. You want to level a character to place a time investment restriction on trying out a new skill or so someone else can't easily copy your build? Hopefully those are notions that have been addressed fully. If not I'm willing to continue discussing them.
There is of course the roleplayer. There is a mythology of a character, that you go to barbarian school, and as you learn things you A ha! discover how to swing your sword in a new way. That's cool. You may imagine the mythology of your character and the events that lead to him being able to swing his sword in a new way. That is absolutely a great thing to have to give you an attachment to your character. This is SnuSnu, she fought a bear, and learned how to Whirlwind. Personally, I love that stuff, and it's totally valid in many games that embrace that as a primary objective. For Diablo III we do not think that mythology, which is also really only something a small portion of the people that buy the game will give any thought, over providing an open, creativite and experimentation driven customization system. In practice we also don't find that the character mythology is lost, you still have skills you prefer, you still will be making personal customization choices, not because you have to, but because you want to. There's no chance everyone is going to want to do the same thing. No chance. There are way too many possibilities. (Unless something is broken and it's the only way you can play the game, which is again a balance/design problem and would have to be fixed.)
Well... I hope that explains ... something(?). I am off to bed now. I hope to pick up from here tomorrow. It's going to be tough to fall asleep, too much good discussion...