Warning: This is a very long post requiring more than an hour to read. Below are stated the contents of the post, so you can go to the part you are most interested in if you don't have much time. There is no TLDR.
First, I want to say a big "Thank you!" to the whole Diablo 4 team for developing and creating such an epic game! This is the best aRPG ever by far, light-years ahead from everything else until now ever produced in this genre. Bravo D4 team! You've got my approval. And when you've got the approval of someone so critical about that stuff like myself, you are surely on the right track with your game.
From what I saw and read in the last 3 days about Diablo 4 I can say with 100% certainty that this time the development team of Diablo 4 is designing the game with a plan in their heads. The random stream of (un)conscious thoughts that brought us RMAH, trials, endless paragon with an absurd curve, bounties, sets as top tier, set dungeons, challenge rifts with no tier progression snapshotting low-skilled builds, are replaced with a very deep understanding of what is being built this time.
Second, I want to say to the whole Diablo community that now is the time to support the Diablo 4 team with constructive opinions. Whether or not you like something about the game, put your arguments in a way that will deliver productive discussions. I would love to see such discussions organized by streamers who love and care for Diablo. There is no better time to improve Diablo 4 with our feedback as of now. The forges are burning hot and this time is for real.
Last, I am very happy that the Diablo 4 developers will be listening to the community through their quarterly discussions on crucial topics. There is nothing better than building a game together with your player base! I wish you all the best Diablo 4 team. Keep up the good work in the years to come!
1. Console feel
2. Seasonal experience
5. Trading & competition
I am going to go in-depth with these topics below and explain the problems I see there, but also defend the current iteration of some of the systems that are creating much tension in the Diablo community. Many posters want something exactly the way it was in previous Diablo games without realizing that the current version of it in Diablo 4 is better. I hope my post will change the vision of at least a tiny percent of these people.
So, here we go...
1. Console feel
I am a PC gamer. I communicate with the machine through keyboard and mouse. And if a key is not working properly or my mouse has dust beneath it, it is of utmost importance for me to fix these, because besides being a PC gamer, I am also a competitive gamer.
The most competitive games online have a top-down view and I am extremely happy this is the case in Diablo 4, just as it was in previous games from the series.
An isometric top-down view compared to other types of views allows the player to have a full awareness of what is going on around him. Such kind of view is great for games with complex and diverse paths. But do we have such in Diablo 4?
From what I saw of the gameplay shown at the panels, the dungeon corridors and paths are linear and narrow. Just as in console games. It creates the feeling that you are going through a tunnel made by some evil trapper, not randomly spawned by nature. This tunnel is the same no matter if you go left or right - its size, width and appearance are not that random as these would be in nature.
Maybe this kind of stuff is not that common to witness, but my fear is that the random procedural map/tiles generator is not on the level I want it to be. Or it is, but it is creating console-like environments, because consoles have more priority than PC profits wise.
Diablo 4 needs superb randomization of map areas, zones and dungeons. This should be always a top priority for an aRPG game, especially one of the caliber of Diablo 4. I wrote many times the random generation of maps in D3 lacks quality. I don't want to witness the same in Diablo 4.
Another console-like feature in Diablo 4 is the UI. One of the most hated D3 features from all the community was its UI. Why not simply give us the freedom to move the UI in Diablo 4 as we want it to be?
I for example want my skill bar in center bottom. Other person would want it in different position. Some would prefer life/mana orbs in top left, while the map in bottom left. Why lock everyone in a console-like UI? If your concern is competition related, then simply give us 5-6 options for UI we can switch between. The majority of PC players will surely prefer a different one than console players. And your game will look great on Twitch no matter the UI positions. Don't lock everyone within the same UI!
Last in this section are the flashing effects when hitting enemies. If I want flashing effects every second I'd go to a trance party, the music there is better kappa. Again, as many of us mentioned thousands times in the D3 topics - the solution is pretty simple - give us an option to turn off the flashing effects. Allow us to experience the Diablo 4 world without constant flashes when fighting. It may look cool on Twitch and promote your game, but think about those people like me who find this annoying.
2. Seasonal experience
The Seasonal experience in Diablo 4 will be the game's main focus. The itemization, which I am discussing in next chapter, and other systems in the game speak for this pretty well. The Diablo 4 team wants the players to have different gameplay experience with each new Season by creating unique Seasonal mechanics serving for meta game shifts. Finally! Seasons will feel different than Non-Season and the item farming and build priorities will switch not due to power creep rather due to new interesting mechanics introduced with each new Season! Very, very cool!
This however means the dedicated NS players will be somewhat left behind compared to D3, but is this really a problem if everyone is having much more fun due to completely fresh Seasonal experience changing on regular basis?
What that regular basis would be, namely would Seasons refresh each month, or each two or three months is still unknown and will largely depend on how popular the game would be. The more popular and played Diablo 4 becomes, the more shorter Seasons we might enjoy since the Diablo 4 team would become larger and capable of delivering us more content per year.
Personally I would enjoy a flat one month Seasons as in Hearthstone. Here is what I would like to see from such monthly Seasonal experience:
- During first week the player is making the step to legendary items
- During second week the player is creating his endgame build with legendary items
- During third week the competitive player is ranking at the LB, while other players continue to improve their characters
- During last week a major world event with multiple world Bosses happens in-game and all players aim to finish that event together as a team fighting separately through the world, which is now cursed and each player receives unpredictable unique changes to his own skills, which will be there until all world Bosses are alive aka Season's end
Such world event at the end of the Season would serve for new gameplay experience for all groups of players accessible only during that time of the Season. In-game AI could properly "evolve" each character's skill bar into new one depending on how the player interacted with the game environment until now.
The majority of posts in the last days regarding the Diablo 4 itemization are mainly negative. Every player has the full right to be concerned whether we are getting a good itemization or not, simply because the itemization is the core of the aRPG game. You can have the perfect aRPG game in all other aspects, but if its itemization is not good, well, it is going to be a bad game.
But is this the case with the Diablo 4's itemization or are the majority of posters simply not looking deep enough?
Contrary to what you expected to see in this chapter aka me hating the Diablo 4 itemization, I would try to explain why the current itemization in Diablo 4 lays the foundation for the perfect Seasonal experience everybody would enjoy.
In the previous chapter I wrote that the philosophy of the Diablo 4 developers is to create meta game shifts with each new Season. This would be done optimally if the legendary items are the highest tier of items in the game.
The current item tier structure in Diablo 4 is this:
Normal (white) -> Magic (blue) -> Rare (yellow) -> Set (green) -> Legendary (orange) and Mythic (red)
The concern of many players is that such item tier structure makes rare items redundant for the end-game. If Diablo 4 adopts the D2 itemization the item tiers would allow magic and rare items for end-game builds. But is this really needed?
What makes interesting the legendary items are their special properties modifying our skills and gameplay in unique ways. If we remove completely the legendary items from the game encouraging the players to min/max only magic and rare gear, what would happen with the idea of a meta game shift when a new Season starts?
Think about this... Take a break and think about this... Then take a longer break and think about this some more...
That is right - the meta game shift won't be that impactful, because the special properties of the legendary items are missing.
A min/maxing done entirely with legendary items would receive the biggest impact from a meta game shift serving for highest possible skill cap.
The more we rely on legendary affixes the bigger the meta game shift with each new Season:
Magic & Rare only -> Magic, Rare, Legendary on the same item tier -> Legendary only
Why we need a meta game shift and what is this exactly?
Simply said, if using A, B and C skills with A', B' and C' items is optimal during Season S, it won't be optimal when next Season SS occurs.
An impactful meta game shift would guarantee the ABC combo is not optimal during Season SS meaning that the player would need to solve the itemization again. And again in SSS. And again... A fresh theorycrafting and itemization game with each new Season.
That sounds like a skilled aRPG game and would be best achieved with the current tiered itemization the developers have decided to use.
But what about the simplified Math?
Simplified Math doesn't take the min/maxing away. It has no relation to it. Item stats serving for complex Math calculations only force the players to use online tools to "solve" the game. Complex min/maxing could be done entirely with a simple Math. And the more simple is the Math, the more newcomer friendlier is the itemization. Instead of having hundreds of "damage" stats on the items requiring a PhD in Math to properly solve, we have "Attack".
And having one stat for damage doesn't mean we won't be able to min/max. The legendary item special properties serving for unique gameplays guarantee we would experience a complex min/maxing game in Diablo 4. It just won't depend on complex Math. And there is no need to. Diablo 4 is an action-RPG, not a math-RPG.
So, we have the perfect itemization in Diablo 4?
Not quite. I am seeing potential pitfalls with the mythic items, which may turn to what sets are in D3 if not properly designed.
We would be able to wear only 1 mythic item in Diablo 4. That means the developers understand the great power behind mythics.
If mythic items are designed to force us equip specific combos of legendaries after we find them then this would be the D3 sets case. If mythic items are just legendaries with 4 special properties instead of 1 then everything would be okay as long as these 4 properties roll randomly and are not designed to force us into specific gear. I have no idea what their current design philosophy with mythic items is, but I hope they are aware of the situation where they might turn these into D3 sets.
Last, I am against ancient versions of sets, legendaries or whatever other items. I am against tiered versions of items in general since these are simply more raw stats. And this type of game should be left to those who grind paragon in D3 - just remove them the 20k paragon cap and let them grind stats for life in D3. But please, don't do it in D4 masked behind tiers of items.
Don't require from your players to grind simple stats when you have such an amazing possibilities for creating end-games for all groups of players.
I like the addition of cause-effect runewords in Diablo 4. I mean who doesn't? It's a very nice implementation and I would love to remain as it is now - simple - 1 cause and 1 effect. This would force us to choose more instead of binding dozens of effects mindlessly to a single cause.
But what about those D2 type of runewords? Some community members want the strongest items in Diablo 4 to be again the runewords from D2... Let's grind for runes and combine them into powerful items... Sounds good on paper, but is it actually?
What the D2 runewords effectively do is lower the drop rates variance. Let's say player A grinds 10 hours in a D2-like game with runewords and finds runes A, B, C, D, E, F, while player B grinds 10 hours in same D2-like game without runewords seeking item X, but doesn't finding it. Now, player B goes to sleep waiting tomorrow to grind again for X, while player A who's after the same item X (which is buildable with runes in his game) puts runes D, E, F in the cube creating G, and after that uses A, B and G to make the runeword "GAB" aka the item X.
Reducing the variance is fun, but this could be done with crafting too. There is no need to implement D2 runewords just for the sake of reducing the variance.
One of the reason for this is because the runewords themselves create unnecessary complications. If we have 1k legendary items and replace them with 1k runewords, every time a player wants to create a specific item has to open a spreadsheet and look at exact runeword for this item. And when the meta game changes, the player has to look again at other rune combinations.
The runeword mechanic was good in D2, because there wasn't a crafting system for reducing the item variance and there weren't any meta game shifts, so everyone's cat knew JAH-ITH-BER is a powerful combo each Season.
So, no D2 runewords in Diablo 4 then?
Well, not quite. You forgot the most unique quality of the D2 runewords - they become known when you successfully assemble one. It happens so that because of the Internet guides everyone knew JAH-ITH-BER was powerful, but if you don't have access to Internet and you play D2 alone offline? How would you know this?
The only way is through a trial and error - and what better game for the dedicated players than this one?
Here comes my suggestion about how to implement D2 runewords in Diablo 4:
Make specific runes (blank ones) drop only in Seasonal mode. Let's say we would have 6 such runes for 4320 permutations of 3 letter runewords. Players would be able to insert these in 3-socketed items to "guess" a runeword. And if there are 78 runewords not bound to item type or class, the player would complete one runeword on 55 attempts at average. In order not to have larger communities artificially grouping to reduce the waste of potential runes, each runeword needs to be unique per account and per Season.
This would mean same item X would be runeword "GAB" for player A and runeword "ALK" for player B in Season S. In Season SS item X would not be "GAB" for A nor "ALK" for B, rather something else that each player has to find out for himself.
Now you have an interesting game for the players accumulating more wealth than the others during the Season. And it doesn't involve grinding for stats.
The items created with such type of runewords would be the most powerful items in the game (2-3 more powerful than mythic), but only usable for the world event at the end of the Season, not for something else. Once the world event and Season ends, those items would become dust since in the new Season these runewords won't mean anything.
The most dedicated players during the Season will naturally have the highest chance to properly guess a runeword thus wearing the most exceptional items during the world event and being recognized by everyone, because of this.
5. Trading & competition
The current trading format and its interference with the competition is the biggest problem in Diablo 4 currently. It seems to me the Diablo 4 developers have forgotten the D3 RMAH days, because they are not only allowing trading between the players, but implementing shared stashes for clans, which are going to amplify the bad effects from trading tremendously. I will go into more details below, but first I want to make clear which groups of players lose and which benefit from trading in an aRPG game in general.
Casual and new players benefit since trading for them is usually a social activity during which they receive less for what they offer from the pro traders, but they don't notice this since they don't know the actual value of the items traded.
The pro traders are those playing the trading game within the aRPG game caring mostly to make profitable deals and later receive real money from these.
The regular players are separated in their preference for trading. Some like it, others don't.
The dedicated players are usually skilled as traders since they play much and know the value of items, and it may seem to some of them that trading is a good tool for them to acquire more wealth, but in reality trading absolutely destroys the meaning to be a dedicated player since all the time you put into the game makes no difference when the whale can buy everything you have with real money.
The whales are the players that don't have time to grind the game and prefer to spend real money to acquire the items from the pro traders. Trading is obviously of utmost importance to them.
The competitive players dislike trading since it effectively changes the drop rates and a game can not be competitive if it has both drop rates and trading.
The above is the general case. We can draw important conclusions from it, namely that:
- Trading is good for new/casual players, pro traders and whales
- Trading is always bad for dedicated players although many of these don't realize it
- Trading is bad for competitive players when it interferes with the competition
How is the trading currently structured in Diablo 4?
- Always tradeable (gold, runes, gems, crafting mats, consumables)
- Tradeable once (magic and rare items)
- Not tradeable (legendary and mythic items)
- Shared stash/bank in clans
In every online game making a clan popular and famous is the top priority of the clan leader and the clan members. How this is going to work in Diablo 4 with such type of trading system:
1. A clan leader will choose the majority of members based on their skill level
2. Higher skilled members mean more popular clan
3. After assembling a team of highly skilled members, support clan members will be chosen
4. Support member is one that funnels the shared clan stash with all possible items with taking only the absolute necessary things for himself in order to farm
5. Being a clan support member won't be much fun, but we already know that when no fun activities are introduced in aRPG games players refer to botting
6. The clan leader together with some other members will manage those brotherhood type of support members guaranteeing constant flow of needed items in the clan
7. The fourth clan category of members is those of the whales aka the gold mines of the clans that will be there for personal fame as being part of a top clan without having the needed skills, but having the money
8. The clan leader will choose the whales based on their RL money they are willing to donate to the clan
9. The whales will buy needed stuff from other third parties when there is urgent need to do this aka when the support members all go offline at the same time suddenly (when banned) and supply the clan stash with gold that the skilled members could use for gambling
The expected proportional share of clan members:
- 1% is clan leader
- 75% are skilled members
- 20% are support members
- 4% are whales
Clans will be a real powerhouse in Diablo 4 with this type of trading system, especially if one can get legendary items from gambling. Botting and third party trading will flourish and competition will be crippled, because there is no SSF mode.
But the whales will be happy. And the whales are those spending most on MTX, right?
So, the current Diablo 4 developers philosophy in a nutshell about the groups of players is this: Glorify the whales and the casuals, disregard the dedicated players and cripple the competition, so that the truly competitive players go back to other games. We can always do this obviously, but I'd prefer to compete fairly in Diablo 4 too.
Such trading system however won't allow for a fair competition as long as:
- Trading is enabled from the start of the Season so conquest competition is crippled
- There are no stat caps for PvE, PvP and PvPvE competitions ensuring that the whales and the botters have stat advantage
And if you want more people to follow Diablo 4 the competition has to be fair (no stat advantages from trading/botting/account sharing), engaging (high skill cap) and accessible (not requiring huge time investment), not spoiled by those investing RL money to buy stuff from third parties or run bots.
I largly agree with or have no opinion on your suggestions but have a few things to add.
1) seasonal expierience
i feel like one month is a bit short. in diablo 3 i need one week to finish a season.
it just feels way to easy and thus unachieving. in diablo 4 i would prefer a longer strength curve.
if you are able to put an end build together within lets say 100h of playing i think its to easy.
one can define the seasonal goals so that an end build is not required. but in diablo 3 what really demotivated me
was beeing able to reskill all the time so there was no need to ever restart with a character except changing the name
and having all the items that i want within 20-40h playtime. farming for better versions of an item is unrewarding.
so i would vote for a season period of 2-4month and a longer progression within it.
i really disliked the multiplication effects of item. this destroyed all choices for how to put a build together. if there are items that double the skill damage the player is forced to use the item if he wants to use that skill. i liked the gameplay changing effects of golden items like "no cooldown" or "triggers ..." or "adds freeze" .. but the damage huge multiplication destroyed every bit of choice.
in my opinion the tier of an item should not be a game changing factor. this will lead to a boring farming for the same item.
since the team wants to make crafting more important why not drop "golden parts" that add traids when crafted into golden items.
if the player can combine them freely and also can find/buy different item bases like sword shaft/blade materials, it opens a
huge choice for custom unique items that can be customized to ones build. espeacially if one adds runewords to it.
i would like to see as much realism as possible. i really liked the lighting, but the character wasnt much effected by it. the area around the player is always lid up, this takes away from the dark athmosphere. there should not be an omni present lightsource walking with the player. if its to dark you can add torches to carry or light spell scrolls. when you stand next to a fire in the village every npc has a strong shadow on his back. but the player is lid as fuck. this takes away the feeling of beeing part of the world. it was in diablo 1 and 2 that the 2D player graphic fitted perfectly into the world. to achiev this in 3D graphic you need handle the player like everything else in the game.
also the player idle could change depending on the environment and status. having the player idle holding the club heavily breathing for minutes after the fight feels unrealtic. have the player graphic relax when not in a fight, or sit down. let them become a part of the world to make the player feel like he is.
i wish corpses wouldnt immediatly vanish. at least have them lying for some time. they can even have an effect on the gameplay. slowed when walking over corpses or less effective dash. wheather and environment effects should also impact attack animations and gameplay whenever it is realistic.
give projectiles a realistic speed. it will be hard to avoid arrows than, but it will force us to fight more strategic and ultimatly creating a more complex gameplay.
make the death individual to the death cause, dynamic mutilation woud really add to the game. especially for player deaths and pvp. execution animations spice up pvp and makes the player feel more human in the game. getting once head choped of by another player or a skelleton makes the world much more horror. gory like in "for honor" but based on the attack type and much less flashy.
get rid of it. its an abomination. lvl 100, make it unreachable.
a game with so much love from its community needs to get a lot of love from the developers. dont write of an idea because its to time costly, put every bit of detail into the game.
environment effects should also impact attack animations and gameplay whenever it is realistic
Yes, I 100% agree on this. Status effects from environment would be very cool.
About the corpses playing a role:
- Those from regular kills might create too much stress on the servers, but what they can do is add some world event where a world Boss appears after 100k corpses are purified for example. So, the players stack Holy Water or something that auto-purifies the corpses on kill and this helps to trigger the world Boss.
- Turning players to undeads or other servants of Evil might be doable if they design a special mode/event for this. There was a WC3 custom map called PARASITE where 1 player is the parasite, 9 are humans, and when the parasite kills a human he turns into a parasite himself and continues playing by being able to convert other players.
This post is a direct feedback to "System Design in Diablo IV (Part I) - Endgame Progression System". For TLDR read the last two sentences.
I want to point out that the term "endgame progression system" has twofold meaning. It could mean a few things:
1) Endgame-progression system: In-game system that has the goal to aid the character in his progression through the endgame.
2) Endgame progression-system: In-game system that is unlocked once the actual endgame is reached by the player.
3) Endgame-progression-system: In-game system that has the goal to aid the character in his progression through the endgame and is unlocked once the actual endgame is reached by the player.
If we take D3's paragon system as an example and relate it to the above we can see that it complies only with the first definition. Paragon is simply a character progression system that occurs right after you hit level 70, but its design with the possibility of gaining unlimited power makes it very useful for the endgame. And when you hit level 70 in D3 you are far away from what is considered the actual endgame - pushing GRs with optimal gear for top LB positions.
Here comes the need to define the term "endgame" since a casual D3 player could say that it takes him weeks to reach level 70 and the paragon farming after that is endgame for him. Would this casual player be correct then?
The answer is - "No". He won't be right since the term "endgame" has an objective meaning depending on the game's structure. A casual player could attribute the term "endgame" to whatever other activity he considers an endgame for himself, but this would be taken in a vacuum and won't be objectively correct.
1. What is endgame then?
A proper endgame in an aRPG should constitute a player's abilities test a few have mastered. This test can be in the form of PvE, PvP or PvPvE, but the following two principles should always apply:
- It should be very hard to master
- The reward should be unique and not accessible in other areas throughout the game
The above related to D2 for example would render the Ubers and the PvP an endgame. Grinding Baal runs in D2 by the above definition is not an endgame, but it would be if Ubers and PvP hadn't existed simply because there wouldn't be any other meaningful activity besides this (reaching level 99) and the magic find runs for acquiring gear. In that case (no Ubers/PvP) a casual player would be correct by saying "Endgame baby!" and alt-tabing while the unknown hammer-brother kills the Baal adds on Hell, but this wouldn't be a properly designed endgame since it doesn't comply with the above two principles.
2. Do we need any character progression system at all?
One could very well imagine an aRPG game without any levels, attributes and skill points, and it would be a valid design as long as the itemization in the game is complex enough to serve for enough character identity. This simply means that the character progression system main goal should be strengthening the character identity.
Related to D3 this shows the most major flaw in the paragon system - there is too much of that "mainstat" stat, and basically nothing else besides it and vitality post P800. One could say the paragon system in D3 is an epitome for a bad character progression system.
The more we want to strengthen the character identity the more complex character progression systems are needed.
3. Why we need strong character identity?
Simply because this is an aRPG game. The role-playing aspect is stronger when there are more options to build your character in a unique way. This is part of what everyone considers fun in these type of games - going through the world and being recognized for what you do and what you've done in the past - all of this contributes to one's character identity.
If I have to give an example of perfectly designed RPG regarding character identity that would be Fallout 2 with its SPECIAL system (attributes), Karma system (good/bad deeds), Reputation (acceptance of town folks), skill progression, itemization and companions. All of these systems are interlinked to a degree and each multiplies the number of possible character identities with each of the others - for example highly intelligent, bad, Vault city destroyer, specialized in melee weapons, using knifes and taking only dogs as companions - this is a single combination of these systems constituting one character.
Fallout 2 is a single-player tactical RPG however and that much character identity in a multiplayer action RPG wouldn't be something usual, because these are less story driven than the classic RPGs with the prime goal to deliver interesting gameplay and engaging real-time combat. That is why too many systems strengthening the character identity in aRPGs could take away from the "action" part if not properly implemented.
4. Do we need multiple character progression systems?
This depends on what type of player base we are targeting.
In Diablo there are usually the following groups of players:
1) New/inexperienced - newcomers to the game that have no idea what an aRPG is
2) Casual - not very adept with the game and playing rarely
3) Regular - playing most of the days during the week
4) Competitive - enjoy comparing their skill to others
5) Dedicated - playing non-stop and aiming to collect everything
The current leveling system to 40 is very good for the first two groups of players. The Talent system is good for all groups, but the dedicated players would surely want something more besides these two systems in order their characters to feel more special and be easily recognized by the other players, because of their time investment in the game. Related to D3 - when witnessing a 10k paragon player in-game everyone immediately knows he is not a single child in the family kappa.
Joke aside, dedicated players need an adequate character progression system - something besides the item hunt to motivate them play the game non-stop. And because these type of players are usually not competitive (in that case they would just compete and forget about the character progression), once they acquire every possible item there is nothing left for them to do in the game.
So, the logical conclusion is that an infinite character progression system is needed, but does this have to be an endgame-progression system?
5. Progression systems: character vs endgame
Some of you reading this may already suspect where I am going with my vision of this topic - character power should not be infinite, character identity should.
The reason for the above statement is pretty simple - if you have infinite power in any game available through time investment the players lose the ability to properly measure their skill to others aka all game-related skill goes into a vacuum. D3's paragon system and its interference with LBs is the perfect example of this - one wouldn't be able to objectively measure the skill of the players even if all other conditions besides the paragon are the same. And when you take the proper measurement of skill (the meaningful competition itself) away from the game by isolating the skill in a vacuum, you create a game for kids, not for grown people.
Is Diablo 4 a game for kids? I leave to you the answer to this question.
An endgame-progression system in a non-kids game would be valid only when the received character power from it is finite. If some players then aren't happy that they can not progress through the endgame successfully as other, I'd point them to some game for kids in which they can succeed in everything if they invest enough time or have enough brothers. But I really hope Diablo 4 is not that type of a game.
To sum-up my point: I am for finite account-wide endgame-progression system and infinite character progression system.
6. Infinite character progression systems
These should not be account wide obviously. The deeds and doings of a single character in one's squad should have nothing to do with other characters in a role-playing game besides the shared stash (in a multiplayer aRPG I would make an exception for an account-wide endgame progression system, because account-wide is more useful for the grouping). The journey each character goes through in the world should strictly reflect only in his identity - story choices, specific monsters killed, skills used, number of deaths etc...
A good infinite character progression system for the dedicated players would be such that allows them to look in a unique way. For example you farmed a specific dragon 1k times and used all of these 1k scales to craft a spectacular armor transmog - now everyone that sees the transmog in the open world stops you and asks you where you get it from and after you explain them they accept you as a dedicated player. Even the whales can not buy the transmog from the MTX shop and are jealous, because they won't be able to invest so much time to get it.
Another aspect of such system could be special titles acquired from very rare to achieve deeds or chain of deeds related to in-game events for which a superb dedication is required.
The skill progression system could also reflect in the character identity - don't cap the rank on the skills, but only stop the power from them at certain rank. This way the dedicated players would have a lot more ranks on the skills they regularly use and this could be reflected visually.
With such infinite character progression systems it would be extremely easy to spot a dedicated player in the world - he would look and fight in ways one haven't seen before. One could say he is a character that went through everything in the game.
Another type of character progression that could be added is character aging - just as a cosmetic tuning - the more one plays with his character, the more aged he would be able to make him look.
Making dedicated players acquire special stuff for their hideouts would also contribute to their identity in the world.
There are surely many more ways that could serve for interesting infinite character progression systems for the dedicated players. And not only for them of course. A lot of regular players would do the above stuff when they find it cool.
7. Finite endgame progression system
As I wrote, making it account-wide makes more sense for the grouping when power is involved. I would love to see such system not directly focused on power gain, but on additional min/maxing of our currently possessed powers.
What I mean by the above is that while pure power gain from such system might be useful to a little degree - until we can freely switch between all builds, after that it becomes useless. And that is the point where the system has to transform into a min/maxing one.
Related to D3 that would mean paragon up to P800 is okay, but after that it should be something like an advanced PoE's Pantheon system, which forces us to sacrifice something in order to receive something else. An example related to Diablo 4 would be an option to sacrifice 10000 points of defense for 5000 points of attack or vice versa. The player then could switch between these options in order to tune his build even more for the specific Key dungeons he is targeting.
Such potential finite endgame progression system could consist of 20 min/max options the player has to first unlock and select after that for each character if he wishes.
The leveling to 40, skill and talent system, paragon-like pre-P800 system and a min/max finite endgame progression system would be more than enough to aid the player in the endgame and allow him to progress deeper.
Beyond that, an infinite way of progression should be designed only for one's character identity in the world (without any power gain) as discussed in the previous chapter.
At this point Diablo is really easy, you can get everything alone. Yes it can take time but it is possible. If D4, at high levels, was harder,that you would need to find a team or play with somebody else, that would be perfect, it would add a little bit of challenge to the game.
I just hope they change the fact that you can’t respec skills, only talents. It would be dumb to make it like D2 in the beginning. Even d2 added respec ability through quests. I agree that D3 made it too easy, and that being able to switch to any skill at anytime made it way more boring and like choices didn’t matter. But They should make it so you can respec at least a couple times, or maybe make it so it costs exponentially more gold/mats to respec your character. But having your choices be permanent is just dumb, what if you accidentally click a skill you didn’t want? Or discover the skill you’ve dedicated your class to is actually really weak and worthless?
This post is a direct feedback to "System Design in Diablo IV (Part II)".
The addition of Angelic, Demonic and Ancestral (I suggest renaming this to Nephalem to avoid the A-A letter duplication with Angelic) power is a concept strengthening the min/maxing in the itemization and I personally like it, but nevertheless I would suggest an improvement to it.
The current association of these three powers with buffs, debuffs and procs should be done in a more elegant way.
It would be optimal to stack only one of these three powers on an item if the power requirements are not bound to specific properties. What I mean is that items having more than one power stat and/or requirement on them would be less valuable from a min/maxing perspective since these would “lock” extra item properties for no expected benefit since experienced players would go heavily in only one direction for a single build.
You could solve this problem by locking particular item stats to particular power requirement, but this would lower the min/maxing effect (I now read this is the case indeed and I personally don’t like this).
What I propose is separating the direct association of the powers with the buffs, debuffs and procs, and introducing a system (like the Talents) that would allow players who sacrificed an item property for one of the three powers to choose how to distribute the buff-debuff-proc weight themselves. Such system could also be extended with more stats.
Removing the affixes-power attunement is also needed so that build diversity is not artificially constraint. I illustrate below why the current way of working is wrong with a simple MMA analogy.
If we look from a broader perspective we have X stats as item properties. Some of these stats have power requirements. Each of these X stats has its range of how it could roll - for example a resistance stat might roll from 10% to 40%. When they force the brackets on us due to the fixed power requirements you would be able to go from 10% on a particular resistance to say 20% for a specific character path you choose. This simply means shorter stat range.
So what we have is this:
2) 1 + power requirement
3) 2 + roll range
4) 3 + sub-range
You see, we can push this more to 5), 6) etc with more sub-ranges if we want, but this achieves nothing by itself.
The whole current system is like telling an MMA-fighter to use a martial art from a PARTICULAR pool that is already selected for the fight instead of giving him the possibility to CHOOSE the optimal martial arts himself for each fight.
Related to the above this is:
2) 1 + weight categories
3) 2 + martial arts choice
4) 2 + fixed martial art
So, in case 1) it would be wild - we would have 100kg fighters crushing 60kg fighters for seconds, which is not a good entertainment. In 2) we have the current MMA structure where fighters from specific weight categories are matched to fight with each other. In 3) we would allow the fighters themselves to choose particular martial arts depending on their opponents. In 4) we would choose the martial arts pool that could be used during the combat instead of the fighters.
There is no need we go to step 4). It doesn't deliver anything meaningful.
These suggestions would achieve two major things compared to the current way of working:
- Items will roll with random requirements not attuned to specific affixes, which serves for more variety
- Players will be free to choose in which direction - buffs, debuffs, procs - to specialize without this being forced due to the power-effect association
Last, having a general proc chance increase mechanic combined with cooldown reduction may potentially create balance problems in the future, so beware about this.
The blog post doesn't specify whether rares have the same number of properties as legendary items now (or would have such with future crafting) aka whether they would be top tier when upgraded, so I would discuss both options.
2.1. Upgraded rares with less properties than legendary items
In that case I'd suggest making the consumable more common and received by salvaging legendary items too. This way players would wear upgraded rares until a very good rolled legendary is found.
2.2. Upgraded rares with equal properties as legendary items
In this case the consumable should have a very low chance to drop and only in the very late endgame.
In both cases the consumable should not be tradable and traded rare items should be rendered non-upgradable in order 3rd party sellers to not spoil the game.
Overall I like this crafting opportunity since it lowers the variance and makes rares more useful than before. This would surely make the inclusion of in-game item filters necessary so that players could easily filter precious rares without inspecting each of these separately.