• published the article Magic Find and Skill Tiers
    Earlier this week Bashiok made some appearances on the Diablo III forum. Before announcing the new Blizzard CM and fan art he dropped by with two rather lengthy replies touching on http://diablowiki.com/magic find (MF)" class="wiki-link">http://media-diablofans.cursecdn.com/attachments/16/736/wiki2.gif" alt="DiabloWiki.com - magic find (MF)"/> magic find (MF) in co-op and skill tiers.

    We have yet to get any solid information about exactly how magic find will work in Diablo III, but the loot system in co-op where each player only sees their own drops have raised some concerns in regards to MF. The original poster painted a scenario where a powerful character would do all the work and kill all the monsters while the other party members stack MF to increase their drop chances and sit back to collect the loot.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    It's very likely that magic find (MF) will be restricted to very specific uses. It would work on a per player basis, so if I have some MF it would affect what drops I see and not yours. For the sake of co-op we don't ask that you damage an enemy to receive experience or drops, only that you're within a close proximity. Asking every player to damage an enemy in order to receive experience or loot encourages really disruptive behavior that undermines the intent of co-op. So the situation being described could be a problem, but...

    As I said it's probably going to be fairly heavily restricted to specific sources and amounts. As an example, completely hypothetical, let's say that the only magic find available is from placing a diamond gem in a head slot. It's useful because of the amount it provides, but maybe other gems in a head slot provide things like bonus XP, bonus gold, etc. Then it's not a choice of power vs. MF and building characters around the system, but a choice between interesting bonuses that will probably change through the career of a character. Anyway, that's just a thought on how it could work. It's still under consideration. We like the idea of having some way to improve your chances to find magic items, but not as a driving statistic for characters.

    It's also worth pointing out in this case that enemies in Diablo III are more sophisticated. You'll find them targeting characters in your group they perceive as weaker, keeping distance, and cooperating to try to kill you and your group. So having one person run ahead to face pull everything, let alone be able to solo everything in a multiplayer game, probably isn't going to work out too well.

    While this tells us little about how MF will work and does not completely counter the potential for co-op MF abuse we do get some insight in the thoughts of the developers. They don't want the trade-off when picking up MF to be reduced battle power. Instead they want you to weigh MF against other similar type stats such as bonus XP, bonus gold or similar. Following this philosophy would mean that there should be almost no incentive to abuse the mechanics in the way described since stacking MF would not gimp your character in battle. If you can fight as well with MF as without then why would you want to stay out of combat?

    Bashiok gave us some more interesting replies reinforcing what he stated in his first post:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Cacophony97: So there may or may not be a slot/gem combo that only does weird non-power related bonuses? Like, it can never have attack, precision, defense, etc, only MF, gold find, XP bonus?

    Bashiok: We could potentially break gems out to more than just armor/weapon/shield, yeah.

    Cacophony97: What about gem finding or rune finding?

    Bashiok: It's been talked about (internally) a fair amount. We'll see.
    The famous DiabloWiki.com - Ist Ist rune from Diablo II.
    Will we see something similar in Diablo III?
    Gem find/rune find would probably fit in the category "interesting bonuses" that Bashiok talked about so if they get implemented you will likely come to a point where you have to choose between finding more gems, magic items, runes or gold when killing monsters. Something that gives your loot runs a bit of a customizable feel. You can increase your chances to get something based on your personal needs at the time.

    With DiabloWiki.com - magic find magic find and "MF-runs" being such a huge part of Diablo II players are curious about how it will be implemented in the third game. Read what the forum users have to say and join in on the discussion.

    The second post was a clarification on how the skill tier system is designed. Bashiok explained why there's level restrictions put up if you can just respec later and pick only the higher tier skills:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Nice discussion. So yeah, skills are tiered out for progression. Not only as a reward as you level up, but also to ensure we're not dumping the entire game on a new player. Early tier skills tend to be cheap or free to cast, and have fairly straight forward mechanics and uses (do damage to enemies). As the tiers progress we introduce more complex systems, avoidance, mobility, maybe skills that cost a little more, or require a bit more finesse to pull off well. Then we get to the end of the tiers and these are usually the biggest, most expensive, and visually impressive. The tiers do start out simply and progress toward the bigger and 'cooler' spells. As they should. We can also design and tune the beginning of the game with the skills available in mind, which really helps to ensure those first few hours aren't frustrating.

    Anyway, as I said, the end tier skills also tend to be the most expensive. While I'm sure there will be builds that take all the end tier skills, people will still need to pick skills throughout the tree to create a solid character, and we're designing the skills to ensure they can continue to be as viable as possible regardless of character level. Some first and second tier skills will scale really well and I don't doubt will be bread and butter for a number of builds.
    So, much like Diablo II, only going for the skills of the highest tiers may not always be the best choice. Apart from skills scaling differently you will also probably want to pick up skills that synergies with each other. I.e. if you want to land a perfect DiabloWiki.com - Disintegrate Disintegrate on a pack of mobs having some kind of slow effect spell will definitely help you avoid being hacked to bits while channelling the spell.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    And just an FYI repeat of info - The leveling progression is designed that you'd have all your skill tiers unlocked before you finish Normal.
    Which, if the max level of 60 is still sticking around, would mean that around the time you hit level 30 you will have all your spells available to choose from.
    Posted in: Magic Find and Skill Tiers
  • published the article Bashiok on NDA, Zombies, Pets and Disintegrate
    Today Bashiok once again gave us a much needed dose of Diablo III news.

    The first one was in a thread about DiabloWiki.com - Zombies Zombies where Bashiok didn't answer the thread directly, but cut out a quote and made a comment:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    20 years later in sanctuary and hell still commands zombies to rise?

    The dead are not rising in Tristram because Hell commands them.
    The question is, what then is commanding them? Bashiok really leaves us no hint except the fact that Zombies do not seem to be in the control of anyone in Hell anymore.

    Another user asked about if the Diablo III beta would follow the trend of SC2 and not have an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement), thus making it open for anyone to discuss it, to which Bashiok replied:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    I don't believe we're planning to impose NDA's on future beta tests for any of our franchises. That's of course subject to change.
    It seems that Blizzard is stepping away from NDA in their beta tests. There are of course both pros and cons with having an open beta with the most major benefit being that once the beta launches we will be swimming in Diablo III information, regardless of whether you got your beta key or not. On the other side of the coin the fact that the beta is open from the start probably gives Blizzard more incline to polish the game more. Which of course is a good thing, but could have effects on the release date of the beta. Even though it's just a beta Blizzard is putting their product in the hands of their customers and will want it to be as good as possible. So in Blizzard fashion the release date of the beta can be confirmed as: "When it's ready".

    We also got a small reply regarding pet control.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Does diablo 3 allow player to micro pets like in titan's quest?

    Sort of. Direct control of their actions, no, but there's a lot of thought and strategy that can go in to pet control far beyond just summoning new ones when the old ones die.
    It seems that the pet control will be more centered around planning before the fight rather than actually micromanaging in fight. This could include things such as deciding what abilities your pets will use, how aggressive they will be towards enemies and much more.

    The last and longest post was concerning the Wizard skill DiabloWiki.com - Disintegrate Disintegrate. A rather lively discussion was brought up about how the skill worked, both on the official forum and here on DiabloFans. Some users feared that the skill with it's high responsiveness would be too easy to use in PvP which caught Bashiok's attention:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    I haven't had any problems countering it. The arena maps have a bit of LoS just for that reason. Also, if you don't have some kind of mobility skill you're probably doing it wrong. Lastly it requires constant use of Disintegrate to build up to full power (damage) and a wizard sitting still for that long is just asking for it.

    It's a great skill, and can definitely be used to great effect, but the instant-on and instant rotation, in my experience, don't make it so amazing that it feels cheesy when I get killed by it. It's usually because I got outplayed. Disintegrate is usually an annoying chip away at health from range, or an awesome finish if you can combo a stun and the opponent can't break out of it. There's not usually a middle ground to use it. Having to stop for that long is just a bad idea.

    Anyway, sort of tough to discuss when build potential is still such an unknown and likely will be for a while after release. Like Disintegrate with obsidian makes it a short range cone attack that it super strong, so maybe a melee wizard would love it that way. It's a good skill at its base mechanic, useful, but I don't feel it's OP.
    As Bashiok explains the use of Disintegrate needs some thought, if you go straight up and start beaming you become a sitting duck to any enemies. It will probably be a skill which, if executed right, can do devastating damage but with poor control results in death. This seems to be exactly what Blizzard is aiming for. He also wisely points out that build and skill potential is something that will take some time to really understand. It's easy to watch a PvP clip and seeing the destructive power that a skill could potentially have and call it OP, but there is just a lot more to it than that.
    Posted in: Bashiok on NDA, Zombies, Pets and Disintegrate
  • published the article Post-Blizzcon Blue Roundup
    As we let the Blizzcon information sink in Blizzard is not resting. There have been some interesting blue posts recently and this is a roundup of the most notable ones.

    Item linking:
    Bashiok very clearly stated (even including emoticon representation) that he would be surprised to not see item linking in Diablo III. It was not in Diablo II, but is now considered standard in any online game where loot plays a big part. (hint: Diablo)

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    We really want item linking through chat, I think it's one of those things that is universally agreed upon. I'd be shocked if it wasn't in for ship. And I'd make a face like :o

    There needs to be a way to show people in the game an item you just got without opening trade or dropping it.

    Quest items:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Quest items are now stored directly within the quest itself. They don't take up any space at all.
    So instead of digging through your bags and all your items to check if you really got that last demon skull you can just open up the quest log and check.

    Skill point-hoarding:
    Perhaps the most interesting post was made in a thread where a user expressed some concern that removing skill requisites to move up in tiers would encourage point hoarding, something that Blizzard wants to avoid in Diablo III. Bashiok replied that respeccing is what will counter that issue.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    Respecs aren't nailed down, but it's very likely they'll be introduced through questing and one awarded to you. So that's one for each difficulty (probably).

    I think it's awesome people are trying to plan out builds already. I think it's crazy to think about going through half of the game without taking a single skill. I'll admit I haven't tried it, but I can't ... I don't know, it just doesn't really seem doable. This isn't Diablo II. I remember going 20+ levels before spending anything.

    If your goal is to level as fast as possible, I don't see how point hoarding until level14 would actually grant you any benefit with the ability to respec. Even if it's not until later. Having spectral blade until you can respec into teleport isn't going to kill it for you. Not having a skill for the first 14 levels, I think, might.

    When I have some free time (haha) I'll try to test it and see how well I do with no skills and no traits. Ugh. Sounds painful.

    Bashiok actually decided to give the test a shot and shared his gameplay experience with us. He created and played a Barbarian and Wizard through level 1-6 without picking up any skills or traits. Although the tests were rather limited he found himself in some trouble, especially with the wizard. The conclusion he came to was that the experience didn't feel very good. For the Barbarian the first levels were no real trouble since it is a class designed around using his weapons. But even then, approaching level five it got tougher. With the heavy spell-using Wizard it was a lot worse. Dying because you could only use your weapon swing was not fun and slowed down the leveling pace.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    I talked to Jay briefly about point hoarding yesterday and he brought up a couple good points. First of all is that the balance of availability of respecs should be that there is no incentive to hoard points. Hoarding points isn't fun, and if that means having respecs be more common, so be it. I think the better point he made though was that runes have a dramatic effect on skills, and one that likely can't be fully realized by theoretical builds. An example he gave was Magic Missile is a tier 1 skill, but fully runed will rapid fire projectiles easily make it end game viable, and cheaper to cast than other higher tier skills. With skill points alone very few early skills can boast late game efficiency, but high level runes can sometimes (not always) change the rules.

    Along with the gameplay log Bashiok also gives us some interesting pieces of information. He cleared up that there will always be a rune for each skill that does nothing but improve the damage or efficiency of the base skill. There have been some questions about that runes changes skills quite dramatically and sometimes you might just want to keep the original effect. Would you have to keep that skill unruned? With a flat "power-up" rune for all skills that cause no problem.

    Something that also seems to be making its return thanks to the skill rune system are builds focused on low level skills. It is something we often saw (and see) in Diablo II, especially after synergies was introduced and people will probably enjoy the customization opportunities that comes with it.

    He also mentions that the designers have plans for some kind of tangible rewards for people who like to reroll characters, but no real info is given about what kind of reward we can expect. This would serve to give people a reason to actually reroll a character of the same class even though we have respeccing. For example Bashiok mentions giving +1 trait point for each Witch doctor you create after your first one turned 60 (a made-up example, not taken from the game). Source

    A minor details to note is that Bashiok estimated the test to have taken about 45 minutes each, giving us a hint of gameplay length in the very early levels. Although that would probably have been much shorter given he was actually allowed to use skills.

    If you wish to read the full post in its entirety click below:

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    I gave this a shot today. First I picked a barbarian, it's my go-to character, which in hindsight was probably dumb because being melee it's likely going to get along much better with no skills, but also the build in question (why I was testing this) was a wizard.

    Keep in mind this play experience is based on ignoring skills and traits, and simply equipping items found or purchased. This is something that I argue is non-optimal, and so I'm testing it to prove a point, but hopefully in an objective way.

    Ok, so with the barbarian. Start the game with sword and board, and this takes 1-2 hits (usually 1) for the softer zombies and 4-6 for the tougher ones. At level 2 I found another one hander (basic low dps club) and started dual wielding. This helped a bit. Finally found my first piece of armor halway through level 3. Pants! At some point I was back in town and was able to (barely) afford a new broad axe to replace the mediocre club I had picked up. And then I realized I could have bought a better weapon, but now had almost no gold. Dual wielding with some style now anyway, and hitting quite a bit faster as the APS of the club it replaced was pretty low. Venturing out I ran into my first champion (one strong guy with a couple affixes, and a pack of his friends that take on the same affixes), this time it was a Molten Teleporter. Grotesques. Tough because melee'ing molten means I'm standing in the fire trail and taking damage regardless of his actual attacks. I managed to take out two of the smaller guys, then died. First death at level 3. Almost died again trying to take out the remaining two (one of which was the actual champion), but prevailed. Plodded along until level 5 where I died participating in a random quest event. Managed to use a potion, but it wasn't enough. Died. Ran into another champion group, Carrion Bats, molten teleporter again!? No matter, they were fairly easy. Then I ran into a miniboss (?) and survived with only a few health. It was a close fight. Plodding along, then I ran into another champion pack which were clearly bugged as they one shot me every time. After throwing my corpse against their attacks five more times I decided to stop.

    So, I wouldn't say that it was a tough experience, the melee nature of the barbarian and built-in toughness made it not too terrible. But keep in mind that was only until level 6. I'm sure going to 14 would have been increasingly painful. Using skills I'm positive I could have avoided all of those deaths (barring the bugged champions at the end).

    Ok, so I swapped to a wizard. So again, playing, just wanding everything to death (weee), until I found a sword. Started slicing things in the face, not much difference attacks-per-monster wise, I just prefer it to wands. I ran into a medium sized pack of zombies aaaaand, dead. Level 2, first death. After finally clearing that pack out I was lucky enough to have a rare spawn, an easy rare, and lo and behold he dropped a very nice wand for me. I'm one-shotting everything at this point and I'm going along fairly quickly. No real trouble until I hit level 5 and start running into more champion packs, and a few more random quest events. All of which either kill me at least once or take me within an inch of my life. Definitely not too fun and a real slowing effect in my attempts to rush levels.

    So I think the takeaways here are sort of muddled due to a very limited (and potentially flawed) test. I talked to Jay briefly about point hoarding yesterday and he brought up a couple good points. First of all is that the balance of availability of respecs should be that there is no incentive to hoard points. Hoarding points isn't fun, and if that means having respecs be more common, so be it. I think the better point he made though was that runes have a dramatic effect on skills, and one that likely can't be fully realized by theoretical builds. An example he gave was Magic Missile is a tier 1 skill, but fully runed will rapid fire projectiles easily make it end game viable, and cheaper to cast than other higher tier skills. With skill points alone very few early skills can boast late game efficiency, but high level runes can sometimes (not always) change the rules.

    -ed Also sort of on that point, there is always one rune for every skill that boosts flat damage or efficiency of the base skill. You're never forced to keep the rune slot unused because you don't want to change the base skill into something else. I had seen some confusion on that.

    Of course the availability of respecs always brings up the question of rerolls and necessity of multiple characters. Personally I think you're going to want to have a PvE and PvP character of each class anyway, but beyond that we have plans for players that like and want to re-roll, and to reward that in a tangible way.

    Anyway, hope this was enlightening to some degree. The game is still a lot of fun to play, even in such sub-optimal circumstances. It's been a while since I've just played from the start of the game and there's some really awesome stuff going in.

    We also got some small pieces of info from the Diablo twitter. One was about the number of character slots per account and the answer was: "More than 10, probably less than 50".

    About numbers of skill points received: it is not nailed down yet, but you will get at least 59 as you level to 60, with a possibility of more being added as quest rewards.
    Posted in: Post-Blizzcon Blue Roundup
  • published the article Diablo III PvP - Battle Arenas

    It is time to get in the pit! Blizzard has finally given us a glimpse of how PvP will work in Diablo III. With this PvP system the development team bring something new to the Diablo series - Battle Arenas.

    Arenas are small areas separated from the rest of the world. There will be various arenas spread out in Sanctuary. Each of them will have a unique design with different scenery, features and terrain. You dive into the arena with your multiplayer character and battle out using all of the skills and gear you have accumulated.

    Matchmaking and ranks
    Ranked arena matches will feature team-based combat where several players in each team fight in 'best-of' matches. Jay Wilson said the development team is still looking for the "magic number" of matches. They know they want more than 1 match so players will be able to react to the other team after encountering it once, but they do not want to draw out the matches with too many games. It appears that teams will be limited to four players in each, making the biggest match-up 4v4, but no official word on that has yet been made.

    To participate in a ranked arena match you will use the Battle.net matchmaking system so that you get faced against opponents with similar rank. When you complete a match in the arena you will be awarded points based on your performance in regards to kills, accomplished objectives, wins, and other factors yet to be revealed. Those points will be used to advance within the ranking system and also brings us to the next subject: rewards.

    PvP rewards
    The battle arena will not be a place to collect armor and weapons. The PvP reward system will be focused on achievements, ranks and titles for your character. Blizzard also hinted that ears will be returning in some sort as a proof of your victories. As of today those are the only rewards (along with the bragging rights of beating down other people online) we know of, but more are to be revealed.

    Balance in the arena

    Balance in the arena will be focused around the 3v3 bracket, but ultimately the Battle Arenas are not made to fill a super competitive niche in Diablo, but rather a place where you have fun fighting other players. Blizzard has stated that the matches won't focus so much on individual builds, but your teams build as a whole. They have also stated that there are certain skills being added that will be much more useful in PvP than PvE. This will let more dedicated PvP players build their characters to focus solely on PvP.

    Official Blizzard Quote:

    With almost 97 billion potential skill and rune builds, and then factoring in items, the talisman system, and traits, character balance isn't likely to lend itself to an eSport, and in fact the PvP for Diablo III has always been designed a side game intended purely for fun. We know you like killing each other, so that's what it's there to provide.

    PvP in Diablo III is a lot about controlling your opponent. Stuns and slows are obviously very strong since they prevent or reduce the enemy's ability to do damage. In a quick-paced game like Diablo III this can become a problem. You don't want to sit around and wait for your character to be able to move while the enemy pounds on you, so to prevent PvP being all about crowd control Blizzard came up with the concept of 'counters'. Counters are abilities designed to break crowd control and they will play a big part in speeding up the PvP action.

    In addition to the ranking system with team-based combat there will also be other type of PvP in the arena, such as 1-on-1 duels and unranked team battles where you can choose to fight your friends to determine who really is the best demon killing machine. More information on these game types will be available in the future.

    With this system Diablo III PvP is taking a step in a new direction from the previous games. Jay Wilson also said that the battle arenas are just the first approach to PvP in Diablo III, and hopefully not their last, so we should be expecting more info on PvP in the future. Maybe they are thinking of some kind of world PvP, or maybe arenas similar to the WoW battlegrounds where killing the other player is not the only objective. Hopefully the Q&A panel will shed more light on it and answer all our questions regarding PvP.

    Make sure to check out Blizzard's official page for PvP.

    I myself can't wait to get my hands dirty in the arena!

    Update: In the open Q&A we got some answers and clarifications regarding PvP versus PvE balance. The final answer is that PvE balance is never and in no way going to be affected by the PvP. The main focus of Diablo III is PvE and they intend to keep it that way.
    It was also said that if you enter the arena with your hardcore character: be prepared for permanent death.
    Posted in: Diablo III PvP - Battle Arenas