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Design Notes I Like to See

From the latest Dev Blog:

That said, we also wanted to let you know we’re keeping a close eye on Inferno. The intent of incoming damage is that it should be a very consistent drain on your health, and mitigating that drain is a major part of what makes Inferno mode difficult. Right now, there’s a lot more damage “spikiness” occurring than feels right, and that’s one major area we’re looking to adjust in patch 1.0.3. While we don’t have any specifics yet, our design goals are to support and promote build diversity; continue to ensure that a mix of champion packs, rare packs, and boss fights are the most efficient way to acquire the best items in the game; and ensure that all classes are viable in Inferno.

[…]

We’ve also seen some people saying our intention with Inferno is just one-shot you to make it difficult. While damage is a bit spikier than we’d like, we’re actually seeing a pretty significant number of people attempting Inferno without sufficient gear. There’s a good chance that returning to the previous Act to farm upgrades will do the most to help you survive. That said, we’d like to shift some of the focus away from survival and more toward using a variety of offensive tactics to succeed. Survival will still be important, but finding ways to maximize your damage while staying alive is more exciting. We’re not particularly concerned with whether or not a boss is “beatable,” though it should feel epic and challenging to defeat it. We’re more concerned with ensuring that acquiring 5 stacks of Nephalem Valor and taking on as many Champions and Rares as you can remains the most challenging and rewarding way to play.

And then there is this bit about the crafting:

Other areas of concern have been both the gem combination system and Blacksmith leveling and crafting costs. The intent, especially with the Blacksmith, is that he’s leveling with you, you’re able to use him as an alternate source for upgrades. Our design goal is that once you get to level 60, his recipes are actually good enough to help fill a character’s potential itemization gaps. To correct these issues, we’re looking to adjust the Blacksmith costs for training (gold and pages) and crafting from levels 1-59, and reduce the cost of combining gems so that it only requires two gems instead of three (up to Flawless Square). Both of these changes are scheduled for patch 1.0.3.

I had been avoiding crafting altogether because A) what’s the point when you have access to the AH, and B) what’s the point when vendoring magic items is more profitable than Salvaging them? Then again, the Commodities portion of the AH has been down since launch (I believe) and I am somewhat convinced it was precisely to get people to do their own crafting/salvaging.

In any case, after hearing the news that maybe the endgame isn’t supposed to be about endlessly kiting mobs around, I leveled up the Monk up to 17 to get Seven-Sided Strike. Decently fun ability. While I was moving talents around, I decided to give Crippling Wave another try as my left-click ability now that I unlocked a Rune for it. As soon as I did this, I ran into a pack of the flying wasp creatures and proceeded to get kited the fuck around. I cannot imagine a worse feeling than getting kited around by a mob in a hack-n-slash game.

So I logged back onto the Witch Doctor, looking for that cave with the first piece of the sword. As I was walking around, I encountered one of those bull-like creatures with the charge attack. That one move by an otherwise unremarkable mob one-shot my Zombie Dogs.

All of them.

Translation: Fuck this game.

While on the level 6 Wizard, it occurred to me that I have no particular desire to kite things. If a bunch of zombie torsos leap (!) out of the bushes, I do not want my first instinct to be to Frost Nova and left-click myself away. Nor do I want to wait for however many levels it takes to get the spells necessary to actually deal what feels like some legitimate damage.

So I did the only thing left of me. I uninstalled rolled Barbarian.

Two Lords A-Leaping~

Now, this? This feels good.

P.S. And this doesn’t look bad either.

Baby WoW

I am about five hours into Diablo 3, and I think I am done with the game.

What’s wrong? Two words: “baby WoW.”

Issue 3: “Baby WoW”

As I was playing co-op with an ex-WoW friend, he uttered “baby WoW” as the description of what these sort of games made him feel like he was playing. And you know what? I’m starting to feel the same. That is kind of the whole schtick of hack-n-slash, of course, the mowing down of corridors of mobs while you mop up the loot debris field in the wake of your passing. It is also tough to criticize spam-clicking in a world of rote ability rotations and the common “strategy” you develop for the execution of the average MMO mob.

At the same time, while I was going through Diablo 3 I could not help but feel somewhat patronized. This Skinner Box lever is completely unadorned. Of course, if you prefer yours fast and loose, then get ready to go to town; I may just turn in for the night instead, if its all the same to you.

That was written about a month ago in my Diablo 3 Beta preview. I am not sure what exactly I was expecting to be different between then and now… perhaps that my perspective would change? As I mentioned in that article, I am a storied veteran of the hack-n-slash genre, so my present disposition towards the gameplay is somewhat surprising. Or maybe it shouldn’t be surprising, given that the bulk of my H&S resume was pre-MMO.

What really drove the point home though, was when I decided to look into the crystal ball and see what my level 16 monk had to look forward to in Inferno difficulty. First, came the forum posts which lamented a blunt non-viability. Then came the Youtube videos.

Compare:

Part 2 (of 4) Monk killing one elite pack in Act 4. It takes him over 10 minutes of kiting.


Witch Doctor in Act 2. Sure looks fun.


Wizard in Act 2.

The reoccurring theme here is kiting. Lots and lots of kiting. Now, I am not here to denigrate the skill it takes to kite properly. I am simply saying: kiting is not my idea of compelling gameplay. Kiting to allow your abilities to come off cooldown is worse. Kiting in a game where by default left-clicking an area could root you in place and attack the very mob you are trying to get away from is worse still. Diablo 3 is not a movement game. This is not an MMO like Guild Wars 2 or (presumably) TERA wherein you have Dodge buttons and position is important.

There appears to be only two distances in Diablo 3: Immune in Melee or Running Away.

You may rightly ask “Why let this bother you?” After all, I just zoned into Act II and am only level 16. It could very well be that I beat Normal mode once and then uninstall. And the answer I would give would be “I’m not having fun right now.” The abilities so far on the Monk are boring to me. Fists of Thunder + Thunderclap Rune was great when I got it… at level 6. Since that time, I am still waiting for something new to “change” my gameplay in a comparable way. And it is looking as though if such a skill exists, I won’t be getting it until well past the end of the game.

So… yeah.

For now, I started a Witch Doctor in the hopes I will have enough fun summoning zombie dogs and spiders and such to last me until the end of the game. I would have started out with the Witch Doctor originally, but when the Skeleton King one-shot my 60 second cooldown in the Beta, I sort of figured that that play-style would not be viable later on. If that is still the case, well, I will be jumping off that bridge when I get to it.