Jay Wilson's Reddit Response to DifficultyPt2

  • Extension of my highly-rated post-limited thread here: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5590646969?page=1

    The Question:

    2) Have any of the lead devs played Dark Souls? Do you guys understand the difference in "fair" and "cheap" difficulties? Diablo 3 is obviously about items first and foremost, so stats/spreadsheets often take the placeholder. Would you agree that balancing inferno around random, excessive stats was probably not the best idea for end-game balance? In Diablo 2, you never really had to grind for gear to actually beat something.

    Jay's Response:

    2) Again, really loaded way to frame this question. Diablo 2 was pretty easy, yes. We got 'overwhelming' feedback that D3 should be 'really really' hard. Obviously we think we went too far because we're reducing Inferno damage.

    Not sure exactly what you're leading at with Dark Souls, unless you're trying to imply that D3 should be using mechanics from a third person methodically paced game with a completely different combat model that can't be grafted one for one.

    In an isometric RPG as fast-paced as D3 you have specific mechanics you can use for difficulty beyond itemization. We used these, but overall it is a game about damage dealing and mitigation due to pace alone.

    I'm going to pick apart this response.. because quite frankly, it's just stupid disrespectful to the community. The D3 community has brought up the same and similar analysis of D3's difficulty time and time again - and you, Blizzard, and especially you, Jay Wilson, have decided that glossing over, ignoring, and outright lying are good for the bottom line. Or maybe you're trying to save your own derriere.

    I've a more lengthy post addressing what I feel is wrong with Inferno here: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5575475968?page=1, but I'll try and keep this one relatively short.

    This wasn't a loaded question. It's actually a relatively simple one. You either think the difficulty is fair, or it isn't. If you think that "fair" means throwing a bunch of unavoidable mechanics at the player that result in their death (Jailer, Vortex, Teleport, etc, and a combination of several other normally avoidable affixes that become unavoidable due to these problem affixes), then you're insane. Because that's what D3's difficulty boils down to. That's 90%+ of my deaths. To unavoidable crap. And no amount of defensive skills will ever completely stop those random, unavoidable deaths.

    We play games to have fun, right? In what realm, in what universe, in what reality, in what psychological state does random, unavoidable death equate to a game being fun? This is Diablo 3, not Suicide Central 3. Not Random Death Generator 3. Not IWantToPunchMonitorFromFrustration 3. Perhaps this is no longer about fun for Blizzard's design team anymore? Maybe the design really is just a cruel experiment in attempting to generate ever greater profits for shareholders.

    You go on to suggest/say outright that adopting mechanics that Dark Souls uses is impossible, that it can't be done. Really? Even though your game engine shows that such things are actually already happening? We can dodge/avoid certain melee attacks from certain creatures. We can avoid missiles. The only ones we can't dodge are the ones that you hard-coded purposefully to act in a manner that is inherently unavoidable (which is most of them). In other words, you flat out lied. The fact is, you CAN make the game's difficulty more akin to Dark Souls if you wanted to. You don't want to (as was stated in beta), and you'd rather gloss over and ignore the very implication that such a change could be made.

    Dark Souls doesn't feel cheap because pretty much everything is avoidable, and everything is beatable. You don't need amazing gear to do that, either. Yet it's a very difficult game - as was Demon's Souls. It's FAIR difficulty, because you aren't being screwed by random crap every 2 minutes. You make a mistake, you pay for it. You learn from that mistake, and you are thus rewarded. That sort of learning and adapting pretty much doesn't exist for a great many affix combinations in Diablo 3 (because the intentional design, YOUR DESIGN, forces cheap, unavoidable deaths), and short of completely ruining the game by outright nerfing everything (the easy path - the path you seem to all be on with 1.03), the only other option is to address and fix the design problems. Unfortunately, you seem unable to admit that your design is flawed.

    So here's a new question: Why don't you grow a pair and stop skirting the real issues being identified with the game's "difficulty"?

    Edit: Just FYI - My Monk has gear worth about 30-35 million gold, can 5x Neph Clear Act 3 Inferno Solo (and probably Act 4 if I cared to bash my face into a bunch of retarded crap like Morlu Incinerators, but so far I have no desire to do so). Some people want to avoid the argument and claim I'm just some scrub without good gear that's whining to get Inferno nerfed - but this couldn't be farther from the truth.

    Edit 2:

    Just to be clear - I'm not suggesting turning the entire game into a Dark Soul's-esque clone where every single mob and every single spell is avoidable (in fact, my other post makes absolutely zero mention of games like Dark Souls - I only hijacked this one so I could rip Jay Wilson's comment). I do think, however, that the most dangerous abilities and the highest damage attacks should be avoidable. I feel a good point in the game would be where roughly 75% of possible damage intake was avoidable, while about 25% is unavoidable represented through a steady stream of largely non-spike damage that was only life-threatening if you completely ignored self-sustaining abilities. However, what we have now is about 75%+ unavoidable spike damage (at least for melee) with 25% avoidable on a good day. In other words, the complete opposite of what would foster a more skilled environment.

    I am not advocating that the entire game can be beaten wearing no gear. There should be some soft gear checks every once in a while - but I also think that an exceptionally skilled player should be able to get away with some sub-par gear for where he's at, and what's intended for the average player to progress. Yes, Diablo is about gearing up - but it's a matter of degrees here. Do we really want the game to be 90% gear and 5% luck with relatively no room for actual skill? I'd prefer the game to be about 60% skill and 40% gear, and very little or no luck involved (disregarding item drops here). In other words, skill should matter more than gear and luck in Inferno.

    Edit 3 (On Affixes):

    This isn't about removing a bunch of affixes. It's about making affixes (and other cheap deadly things) avoidable. That fixes a huge number of issues with Ranged and Melee. It's not the only thing that has to be done, but it's one of the easiest to conceptually fix.

    An example I gave before was to make Vortex work like this:

    Champ begins to cast Vortex. Black Hole/Stargate-Like effect appears under the targeted character. After 3 seconds or so (which can be tweaked per difficulty), the effect erupts, dealing damage and transporting whatever units that were standing in the area to the Champion that casted it. Ideally, the player has just enough time to notice and move out of the area the Vortex is being cast on. If you don't, you take high damage and risk being transported to a vulnerable spot.

    Additional idea - a player should also be able to use some of these affixes AGAINST the champions/elites. For instance, Vortex could also put a debuff on the player that makes them temporarily ethereal. This reduces the damage they take from melee attacks, but increases the damage they take from elemental attacks. So, if you were fighting a group that was only melee damage without elemental affixes, you could actually use Vortex offensively to decrease the melee damage you take. There's risk, and reward, all in the same effect. Players can learn when and where to use the additional effects against champs/elites.

    The same could be done with Molten and many other affixes - players intentionally go into Molten to gain a temporary weapon buff that adds fire damage.

    That kind of fix (adding depth, interesting effects, and things that can be avoided through skilled play) can be done for literally every problem affix except Invulnerable Minions, which I feel should just be removed completely.

    Note: So this thread got deleted, again (2nd time), for no reason. Is it now a crime to wish to extend the conversation of a HIGHLY-RATED THREAD in a new thread because you haven't allowed the extension of posting in the old thread? Attempting to silence vocal critics is a bad business decision. Just saying.
  • The post count of the original thread has been extended.