Diablo® III

Long-Form Diablo 3 Beta Feedback

With the impending deluge of new beta testers, I thought I would post my impressions of the beta from what I have seen from streams and screenshots, before the gates of the European forum are flooded with posts.

I originally penned down some bullet points with suggestions, but I thought they would make a lot more sense in the context of some longer, (somewhat) thought-out paragraphs. On one hand, it would be easier to include the different suggestions and fix the criticisms, but without the elaborated thought behind them, they stand a chance of being disregarded completely. There are a few short-form points, however.

I don’t find that this forum is very good for reading (and posting!) longer posts, so I also posted this to a place that supports Markdown and headers: http://notepag.es/VRUZBW. It looks much better and is print- and mobile-friendly.

I originally penned down some bullet points with suggestions, but I thought they would make a lot more sense in the context of some longer, (somewhat) thought-out paragraphs. On one hand, it would be easier to include the different suggestions and fix the criticisms, but without the elaborated thought behind them, they stand a chance of being disregarded completely. There are a few short-form points, however.

Pour a jug of coffee, and let’s get to it. Stay awhile and listen ...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
## Table of Contents ##

### The Short-Form Feedback ###
• Praise & Nice Touches
• Small Suggestions & Grievances

### The Long-Form Feedback ###
• Aspect Ratios and FOV
• Design Issues

* * * * *

• Inventory & Stash Partitioning
• Equip Comparison
• Automatic Pick-Ups

* * * * *

• Voice Acting
• The Log and Information Feedback
• Portraits and Party Interaction?
• Shortcut Keys
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

## The Short-Form Feedback ##

### PRAISE & NICE TOUCHES ###
• Barbs getting Fury for destroying crates.
• Monster name and aspect font is perfect.
• The new monster entrances are an enjoyable addition, e.g. monsters crawling out of the hole in the moor and over the railing inside the dungeon. More of that rather than the usual “they are just there already” as seen in the previous games.
• Followers feel like actual relatable characters as opposed to the nondescript Hirelings in Diablo 2. Not entirely sold on the Templar’s voice acting, though.
• Buff timer display. Particularly nice for buffs whose duration increase for every level.
• Custom hotkeys support CTRL and ALT.
• Being able to show items by linking to them in the chat/log.
• No more “Chance to hit” annoyance.
• No inconvenience of getting back to your party after dying.
• All your characters can have the same name. No more strains on my limited creativity.
• Salvaging Legendary items prompts you to make sure you want to do it.
• Boss marker on the map.

Continued ...
Edited by Cygnatus on 15/09/2011 15:16 BST
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### SMALL SUGGESTIONS & GRIEVANCES ###
1. Health orbs can be taken and healing wells used when the HP of all party members is full. I would rather that this weren’t the case so people could save it for later, and won’t get crap from their party for taken them when not needed.

2. The Time Spent display! I definitely don’t want to be reminded of how much time I’ve wast—, er, played the game. :)

3. Make the speech bubbles over the characters’ head a lot bigger (and give them a better contrast to the dark background?)

4. If Stone of Recall is used to escape, adding a crescendo sound effect as it nears completion might add to the tension of getting there for the player. Think about it.

5. Let people change character without dumping their party.

6. Some item attributes are a little ambiguous:
• • “Attacker takes damage” — The player who wears it or the person who attacks him?
• • “Damage to Witch Doctors” — Is this for PvP?

7. Griswold’s Edge is fine in the beta for showing how Legendary items look, but if it makes it into the final game, people are going to abuse it by creating new characters to salvage it over and over again for the Petrified Bark, which completely ruins the economy.

8. When I choose to have a Follower with me, how, if at all, is XP, monster strength, and loot affected?

9. More information about how the skills improve from level to level might be necessary in order to get an idea about how to choose and plan a build rather than looking through all your skills at every level up? Knowing whether the parameters change linearly, exponentially or logarithmically is also useful to the player—less so when they don’t have to sink skill points into them, though. A little box beneath the selected skill to show the data from the next level might help with this.

I get the impression that it doesn’t work as well as Diablo 2 because of the automated skill acquisitions. I don’t know if this affects “casual” players the most, but it will probably end up taking up a lot of people’s time needlessly.

10. For Barbarians, clarify and explain whether which of these weapon set-ups have more DPS and how:
• • 2H weapon
• • 2 1H weapons
• • 1 1H weapon

Do 2 similar wielded 1H weapons deal more DPS than one of those weapons wielded in just one hand?

A 2H weapon requres less energy to use, so if it dealt the same amount of damage as 2 1H, it would be preferable, right?

Overall, it might be relevant to help elucidate the effectiveness of one-handing a weapon versus wielded another weapon in the off-hand for purposes of damage.

(Or maybe I’m just thick.) :)

Continued ...
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## The Long-Form Feedback ##

### ASPECT RATIOS AND FOV ###
Diablo 3 stands out well from much of the competition by supporting widescreens. Specifically, Diablo 3 is Hor+ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HOR%2B), which Diablo 2 was not (fairly understandable since most screens were 4:3 back then). What does this mean? It means that people with widescreens will—understandably—have a wider (horizontal) view than people with monitors that are semi-quadratic. See this link: http://widescreengamingforum.com/forum/forums/gaming/detailed-widescreen-reports/16090/detailed-report-diablo-iii.

And look at what people tried to do with Diablo 2 to make it “support” widescreen: http://widescreengamingforum.com/forum/forums/gaming/detailed-widescreen-reports/12927/diablo-ii-detailed-report.

First of all, I want to commend Blizzard for continuing to support widescreens in an age where most people own a computer that has a widescreen monitor. You would think that everyone did this, but you would sadly be sorely mistaken.

Now, this is the way it should be in Diablo 3. However, the additional vision becomes a significant difference in a game with a locked camera (that follows the movement of the character) compared to a game like StarCraft 2 whose free camera movement renders that point moot.

This difference between players’s aspect ratios and the added view makes no difference in PvE. But (you can see where this is going), it is a problem in PvP; some people can see longer than others, pretty straightforward, right? Now, I am not saying that Blizzard aren’t aware of this and dealing with it, but it is very likely that they haven’t, so I will point it out to make sure it is addressed.

The solution is actually pretty simple. Take the most basic aspect ratio and instead of increasing the view to accommodate other aspect ratio resolutions, you place some bars around—with some fancy Blizzard-esque decoration:

This is normal 4:3 view:


And this is the widescreen view with the bars to the sides. The exact same image is shown, albeit with the added decoration:
[◻]

To summarize: Good job on getting Hor+ in the game, but be aware that it will make PvP imbalanced for people with different resolutions (dependent on the monitor aspect ratio). 16:9 > 16:10 > 4:3. See the Diablo 3 link above for reference.

Continued ...
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### DESIGN ISSUES ###
#### Short ####
1. Illegible text:
• • Purple chat colour on a black background.
• • THE FORUMS. I mean c’mon, brown text on a dark background?
2. Quest update glow overlaps the quest text, which is pretty sloppy. The glow of NEW and COMPLETE should probably align, too, if it has to stretch that far? http://imgur.com/vld2i.png
3. Health potion icon looks bad, which I take is because it is a placeholder, considering how great all other icons look: http://i.imgur.com/0wCwr.png
4. More visible X/Y quest status. Animate each time X increases? http://i.imgur.com/63s5z.png
5. When checkpoints are reached, the checkpoint message draws all the attention away from the name of the new location: http://i.imgur.com/g7vdJ.png. I think knowing the area you in will be important to know—as it has always been—and the checkpoint message might detract from the location name so much that people don’t register the name, before it’s gone.
6. There is a “gap” in the list of portraits of party members, when you don’t have a pet, Follower nor quest-related NPC: http://i.imgur.com/BFeql.png

I think the gap looks stupid and feels grating, so when none of these special characters aren’t in the PCs game, I think the party member potraits should occupy the top-most spot, until a pet is summoned, or a quest NPC joins the fray. I don’t know if the gap is a deliberate choice or just a result of hardcoded portrait positions. Either way, it’s silly to have.

#### Long ####
Blizzard is great at many things, but typography is not one of them. I don’t get the impression that there is a typographer working at Blizzard, because, for one, Blizzard never use curly quotes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curly_quotes) nor anything of the sort. Instead of an apostrophe (’), we get a prime ('), which looks particularly awful when featured so visibly as this: http://i.imgur.com/GXqm1.png. Also see this: http://i.imgur.com/O5A50.png.

Another (common) typographical problem is what is called a “font party”: a congregation of a cornucopia of typefaces, which only serves to lower the overall impression and readability for the user. Blizzard is really bad at this; I am pretty sure that I have seen both sans-serifs, serifs, and slab-serifs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serif.

Now, I can’t undertake the task of jotting down every typeface used, and in which case they are used. (I am nowhere close to being a professional typographer.) My general point will be to streamline and consolidate the fonts and to do away with the uglier ones.

Take this: http://i.imgur.com/aGoAM.jpg.

Some of these fonts are the same, but it shows that there are a lot of different kinds of them on the screen. I am not saying that there cannot be more than one font on the screen, but there has to be a purpose and method to the madness.

What’s worse is that a lot of the fonts are really, really ugly and look like standard sans-serif fonts like Arial which not should be a part of a game with the kind of budget of Diablo 3.

http://i.imgur.com/2imxj.png.

Here, you use the same ugly font for the quantity numbers in the inventory, but at least you disguise it by adding a right-ward font shadow:

http://imgur.com/MBiDO

One of the worst transgressions is the font used for loot and objects mouse over: http://i.imgur.com/s5Fw4.png. It’s not like you will spend the majority of the game looking at items on the ground nor objects that can be clicked on, right? C’mon, Blizzard!

These are the kind of fonts I expect to see in lame Diablo clones, not a Blizzard game. I mean, just look at the previous image of the potion display in the hotkey tab: http://i.imgur.com/0wCwr.png.

On the more positive side, Blizzard has some rocking awesome fonts, one of which is the one used frequently to display titles and monster names. The Stats screen also seems to have a lot of interesting fonts for displaying numbers (although I don’t know how well they fare at small, aliased sizes). At the very least, use Georgia for the numbers, if you don’t care about them, not what looks like some atrocious sans-serif font like Arial or Verdana. There are some great fonts being used and a lot of beautiful interfaces in Diablo 3, but there are also some very weirdly-designed ones in the games, which makes it all the more confounding. Hire a typographer to get it in order. :P

Continued ...
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### INVENTORY & STASH PARTITIONING ###
http://i.imgur.com/ZjibQ.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/y1i2H.png

There are two time sinks to managing your inventory: the so-called “Inventory Tetris” and the organization of items into groups and categories. We know this from most RPGs with an inventory system.

I don’t think Inventory Tetris will be a problem in Diablo 3, but we will still feel the need and compulsion to separate these groups of items from each other:

• Crafting ingredients
• Crafting plans
• New loot. (Add a border to uninspected items?)
• Loot queued for stash
• Consumables (potions, scrolls)
• “W” alternate weapons. (E.g. Ranged vs. Melee or 2H vs. 1H w/ shield.)

We all know that we tend to manage our inventory somewhat similarly. I am wondering if this process can not be streamlined automatically or manually by means of inventory categories (preferably without panes) or by creating your own partitions for each category.

I have already seen a couple of people in the beta streams who salvaged or sold their items by accident, when they had to clear out their inventory in a dungeon to make room for more loot. This means that it may not just be a matter of convenience and laziness, but also a way to avoid very frustrating experiences in the final version of Diablo 3.

The same—basically—applies the the stash as well. There are some things you will want to carry around with you in the inventory at all times, and there are items you won’t, and the same goes for the stash. The stash does not need to be (re)organized nearly as often as the inventory, so in that case, the need for efficient sorting is not a pressing matter.

As for Identify scrolls, I am leaning towards creating a dedicated inventory slot for them or something similar to what has been done to Town Portal scrolls that were turned into the Stone of Recall—say, a “Tome of Lore”. (Maybe the same could and should be done for potions?). The thrill of seeing an unidentified item drop and identifying it should still be there, so Identify scrolls are an immanent part of the entertainment value of Diablo 3. I don’t know about implementing Identify scrolls in the exact same way (Tomes of Identify absent or not), though. I don’t mean to suggest a specific solution, but it is something that should be given some thought and not just taken for granted. I wonder if something could be learnt from the Bard in Diablo 1: Hellfire who had a dedicated Identify spell. Did it work well? Did it diminish the Diablo-ness of the game?

Continued ...
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### EQUIP COMPARISON ###
The item comparison feature which compares your equipped gear to items in inventory—and in shops?—is a great, but obvious and needed addition to the game. It has some shortcomings, though.

It needs no mention that people will compare their gear to a lot of items very often. This means that people will use the item comparison frequently, and that it will need to be streamlined as much as is possible.

First of all, some small omissions in the beta:

* Mousing over a list of craftable items at the Blacksmith’s does not produce a comparison as it should.
* It is currently not possible to compare an item to that of the equipped gear on your Follower, which makes it tedious and a rare activity to improve his or her gear: http://i.imgur.com/joZ7g.jpg.

More generally, I don’t find it that easy to “scan” two items and compare the stats (especially if you assess them based on more than DPS). It is great that I don’t have to go back and forth between the two anymore, but there has to be a way to optimize the juxtaposition, so people will be able to compare a whole inventory of loot to their equipped items in no time.

I tried some different approaches to this:

* First, there is the usual horizontal comparison: http://i.imgur.com/xh6Ai.jpg.
* Then I tried vertical positioning: http://i.imgur.com/HkRmF.png.
* At last I tried to flip the alignment in one of the two to bring the numbers and parameters closer to each other: http://i.imgur.com/xWQpw.png.

None of my alternatives worked very well. The side-by-side comparison looks like the best way to go about it.

But what do people actually use comparisons for? They certainly don’t decide on an item based on which has the coolest picture nor description. It is important to know whether you can wield the item or not, and it is important to know whether it is a one-handed or two-handed weapon (or both). The latter piece of information is not displayed very prominently, which will probably lead to someone mistakenly assuming the wrong property for them, but that is a separate design issue.

We need to be able to tell the two apart, but do we need both a portrait and title when comparing? If you have equipped the item, you already know (and see!) what it looks like.

This is what it looks like if remove the item description, the name, and the portrait: http://i.imgur.com/EApn2.png.

Look how much space that frees up! Also notice how this suddenly makes it much easier for your eyes to scan back and forth to compare, because the amount of content to distract you and hog your brain’s attention has been trimmed.

Now, I am not saying that it has to look like this; my point is that there is some redundant information in the comparison screen that does not need to be there and which actually makes it take longer and become more strenuous to scan every single time. My second point is that there is no reason we should take for granted (a priori) that the comparison screen needs to be two normal item screens next to each other. After all, the comparison is for comparing, and while seeing the full detail of the other item makes perfect sense, there is no need to inundate the player with information about the equipped item that is irrelevant to the comparison; s/he can always hover over the equipped item in question to see that information.

### AUTOMATIC PICK-UPS ###
While not directly tedious, people don’t take a particular pleasure in picking up every single piece of gold on the ground nor run around after health orbs after a battle. Therefore, I suggest that Blizzard take this into account and facilitate this process even further by letting Followers and minions automatically pick up these when idle (i.e. outside of battle):

• Gold
• Orbs (when HP is not maxed on everyone)

Furthermore, it would be great if the player automatically picked up:

• Identify scrolls
• Potions
• Runes
• Gems
• Crafting
• • scrolls
• • ingredients
• • plans

It might not work for people who visit lower difficulties and get low-tier potions, runes, gems, etc., so (some of) these should not necessarily be picked up by default; a settings option should still exist to allow this, however, just like automatic equip is there. Automatic equip could also be an inconvenience later, but I don’t think that people do not think that it’s good to have the option there, as long as it’s off by default. Just some food for thought.

Continued ...
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### VOICE ACTING ###
I am not a big fan of some of the voices I have heard in the beta. One is Aria who sounds nothing like the original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7Zm8f2j3dk. Back then, she was voiced by Lani Minella: http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0057521/.

I also heard that Ed Trotta will not reprise his role as Tyrael(!): http://diablo.incgamers.com/blog/comments/ed-trotta-the-original-voice-of-tyrael-speaks.

A Diablo 3 without Ed Trotta would be like a StarCraft 2 without Glynnis Tal—

Seriously, in the interest of the fans and a great voice work, please do everything you can to bring him back. One of the worst parts of StarCraft 2’s campaign was that, aside from Jim Raynor, there weren’t a lot of character anchoring points to familiarize yourself with the new universe. Tyrael is probably the most important/interesting character in Diablo 3, so here’s a chance to make it up for shafting Glynnis Talken.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXkrdtL4RV4.

I also hope Paul Eiding will be used in the game, as he has been before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvVYiSMO0CI. Paul Eiding on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0251646/.

With King Leoric’s resurgence, I am not going to complain that the original voice actor is not reprising his or her role, seeing that Chris Metzen voiced Leoric in Diablo 1. Regardless of whether he does reprise his role, the new voice is not nearly as impressive as the former voice. He has a very weird-sounding growl, too. :P

I don’t know what tone Blizzard are going for with Diablo 3: the dark horror of Diablo 1, the dramatic Diablo 2 or the slightly “cartoony” WarCraft universe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzGTGwwUM8w.

I prefer the scariness of The Butcher, Skeleton King, Andariel, Diablo 1+2 in terms of tone, and I think it would most likely just take some more/better voice modification for the voice work of King Leoric to work. Normally, the modification feels more prevalent than the original voice with the monstrous characters? Maybe it’s just me. Regardless, The Skeleton King needs more pants-peeing oomph. And I hope that the bosses and characters are rendered as aforementioned.

Continued ...
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We all know that there is a certain archetype of Blizzard game voices. In a universe like Diablo/Sanctuary, however, I don’t want it to get too “out there”; games like StarCraft 2 and the WarCraft has self-irony and goofiness, which is something I do not associate with Diablo/Sanctuary (cow levels aside). Because of this, the usual Jamaican voice (Witch Doctor) and Irish voice (Haedrig) are there, but they seem slightly exaggerated.

The PCs and (most of) the NPCs in Diablo 2 were great because their voices were fairly normal; it was as if Blizzard expected to infuse the characters with soul from the writing and not with overwrought accents, as is often the failed attempt to mitigate a lack of character depth in most videogames. (Why do NPCs in videogames always have this faux English accent?!)

I am not saying that this is the case in Diablo 3, but I detect the chance that it might head in that direction, so I want to do my best to veer it in the direction I think serves the universe of Diablo 3 the best. That Ed Trotta has not been brought on (scheduling conflicts or not) does not bode well for a game whose popularity and allure is based on the voices and cinematics.

It cannot be underestimated how important the voice work is to the atmosphere and success of Blizzard’s games, as I am sure that everyone will agree. That Diablo 3 seems to feature a lot more of voice work makes this all the more important. I see a declining interest from Blizzard in writing good dialogue (as seen in StarCraft 2: WoL) and bringing on the original characters (Glynnis Talken, who got completely shafted, and Robert Clotworthy who was only hired after the replacement voice actor turned out to be horrible, and after the fans gathered their pitchforks and made the voices heard).

What I have currenly seen of Diablo 3 is not enough to make me say that the voice work is outright bad (nor bland and corny as WoL felt most of the time), but I have seen enough stunts by Blizzard in former games and the current one with Ed Trotta to make me worry—not that I won’t enjoy the game, like I am able to enjoy StarCraft 2’s multiplayer where I won’t have to endure the writing and voice work, but that the atmosphere and single-player experience will feel like a disappointment for a guy who loved the predecessor and the predecessor before that. It would elate me beyond words to know that the StarCraft 2 campaign was an exception to the rule and not the game after the inflection point of Blizzard’s prime as the (videogame) company with the best voice work, the most thrilling cinematics and the most compelling and memorable characters. And to all the Diablo fans out there, please make it clear to Blizzard how important Ed Trotta is to Diablo 3.

#### Voice Nit Picks ####
1. In the death flashback, Leoric speaks pretty normally for a guy whose internal organs were just impaled by a sword.

2. When the Templar is freed, he immediately exclaims “I AM FREE!” Who the hell does that? :P

Continued ...
Edited by Cygnatus on 14/09/2011 15:02 BST
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### THE LOG & INFORMATION FEEDBACK ###
There is a lot of crucial information that Diablo 3 does not successfully manage to present the player when playing the game. This part addresses that problem and my confusion about whether Blizzard understand the importance of conveying that information.

I get the impression that Blizzard haven’t figured out the purpose and content of the log yet; I call it a “log,” because it feels like something that is always read after the fact, not during battle nor any real-time endeavour. On one hand, I can hide it, if I don’t want it, but on the other hand, Blizzard are placing the lion’s share of (critical) information in there, which defeats the convenience of hiding a seemingly useless log.

When I say it is useless, it is not because it lacks information; it’s because it inundates me with it! I feel like I am watching the compiler and unit testing log of the game, the lines of text roll down the screen. A log doesn’t filter information; it records it all. The information log is an information clog.

While a lot of us are used to this from Bioware RPGs, it doesn’t mean they ever worked well—they are, after all, turn-based and focus on randomized dice rolls and saves. One of the reasons Diablo is great is that it has managed to do away with these visible behind-the-scenes numbers—one reason of which is that they are completely nonviable in a real-time game where people do not have the time nor overview to peruse dozens of lines that may or may not contain useful information to save the lives of them and their party members. The log hampers the flow of the game.

Here is a selection of some of the information the log shows:

• Party member near death (“I am badly hurt”)
• Party member dead
• ALL PARTY CHAT(!)
• Player level up
• Attribute bonuses from level up
• Gold received from bartering
• Ingredients obtained by salvaging
• An shown by a player to his or her party
• NPC dialogue transcriptions (take up the vast majority of the log)
• Some of the player’s characters’s “banter” phrases (“Vengeance!”)
• “[NPC] is now following you”
• “X found a waypoint”
• “Checkpoint reached”
• A player enters
• A player leaves
• RealID messages: X is now online/offline

Some other niggles

• The font is awful, and the typography as well (poor tracking?).
• The types of information are rarely distinguished by font or colour.
• ... this is particularly bad in the case where players aren’t told apart by colour as seen in StarCraft 2.

With this in mind, let us divine why the log is such a big problem:

• The log doesn’t separate global messages visible to everyone (“ALL”) from those available only to the particular player
• Player chat is treated on par with system messages
• In other words, there is no taxonomy of message importance; the transcription of filler NPC dialogue is as important as a member being near death. As said before, a log records everything—it doesn’t filter, and it does not prioritize nor taxonomize.
• NPC chit-chat—think of the banter with Followers—is treated the same way as plot-centric dialogue. The latter is important to the player to follow the plot; the former isn’t. If people are hard of hearing, let them enable subtitles for the banter dialogue. (Subtitles that are displayed prominently in the centre, mind you!)
• Information redundancy: Look at this screenshot http://i.imgur.com/m5R3m.png. An on-screen dialogue with voice work that is also shown in the log means that the same information is conveyed in three ways!

It makes sense that you see the text of the spoken dialogue (directly relevant to the plot) in the centre of the screen, but it doesn’t make sense to display the text a second place to make the player go !@#$-eyed and clog their log further.

I understand the desire to have a log of everything for people to peruse, in case they need to at a later point in time. This is what the message log in Diablo 2 was basically for. But a log like that should not displayed by default on the player’s screen estate. Doing so also makes for poor information architecture, because it does not communicate that the log works as an archive of information—think Civilopedia in Civilization or the StarCraft 2 guide; it signifies that it is something to be read here and now (although its importance is not conveyed very well).

Continued ...
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It generally feels like a (temporary) deferral of relevant information that should be integrated organically into the UI.

I suggest you phase out the log entirely by implementing something like this:

• Keep a separate archive reachable like the message log in Diablo 2 of the transcribed plot-centric dialogue (and NPC banter, if need be), “Checkpoint reached”, “x has gained a level” and barter/crafting/salvage data—and keep it only there.
• Display party chat and joins/leaves prominently in the centre as seen in StarCraft 2. (And keep the chat log somewhere separate.)
• If need be, you can also place the banter/talk text over the heads of the NPCs talking
• Show the attributes gained on level up more prominently, as you do the level reached and skill(s) gained; do not just hide them in the log where people will miss them!
• If you think someone finding a waypoint is important, then make sure the player knows! Show the placement of the waypoint on the map with an icon or arrow, if the person is far away.

Use the portraits to the left for visual feedback. I like that you want to avoid the usual RPG party situation of an entire cockpit of status effects and energy per cent for every party member, but in its current state, the information about your team members is at a dismal minimum. Hence:

• A party being member near death or past that point is one of the most important pieces of feedback to receive in all Diablo! Give the other members a jolt of visual and perhaps auditory feedback that will grab their attention and make them act accordingly; animate or modify their portraits and health bars, just to give an example. People don’t have the attention to keep tabs on whether the HP of a follower or party member is at 50%, 20%, 5%, nor 0%—just as in Diablo 2. It’s not like you let it go unnoticed when the player himself or herself is near death, what with 70% of the screen getting covered in a red haze and basically screaming the player in the face to watch their !@#.
• Do the same when they gain a level (mainly because it means that they will stand still for a while to inspect their new skill and ground the party to a temporary halt)
• Speaking of which, if a party member is not close the the player, display their location above or below their portraits, or next to it, as long as it is clearly visible. In general, think of minimizing the necessity to communicate crucial information to each other, especially since some of us are left with playing on servers where people don’t speak English very well nor want to talk with you at all. Maybe the numpad emotes can be expanded to help with this, too, such as by displaying “Help!” etc. in the chat like a normal message. I find that they can help a lot, when you can’t communicate with other players otherwise (the emotes get translated to their game language, too, right?) Communicating with people in-game without voice chat during a hectic battle is also fairly difficult, if you need to type elaborate messages. Just remember to give the emotes a cooldown of a few seconds so people don’t spam them.

If you like the log and wish to keep it, allow players to choose what types of information they see in it and to hide it entirely. At the very least, decide what you want the log to do and show, and what the taxonomy of information is. It might work as “aside” information that people might want to know of but don’t need to see. In this case, you can also use colours, different fonts, and icons to tell them apart or make them easier to scan. It shouldn’t work as a log, and it definitely shouldn’t contain ALL information—because inundating people with information is the perfect way to ensure that people will read none of it; just think of today’s age of information overflow.

Continued ...
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### PORTRAITS AND PARTY INTERACTION ###
All this talk of informing the player of the dire status of the party members also highlights the as-of-now unclear teamwork dynamic in Diablo 3 to forge the bond between players and force them to work together to overcome adversity.

In Diablo 2, healing your friends and Hirelings was a real pain in the !@#; you had to drag. The. Potion. All. The way. To. Their. Portrait. And. Click. Obviously that didn’t fly, even if it turned out that there was a shortcut or not. At first, it looked like health potions wouldn’t make a come-back, but now it appears that they will—at least for the time being. This means that healing your party members might be integral to surviving in some instances—just think of the Hardcore players. But I don’t really see how healing and health potions fit into this. It feels like you were never really meant to heal party members in Diablo, because of how wonky performing the task felt. At the moment, you can’t heal other people with potions (not that you can tell them apart by portrait, if they play the same class, either, since they’re all the same). The potions also increase the risk of the usual restocking before going to the bosses that Diablo 3 meant to get rid of, and while we no longer have thawing, antidote, and other potions, we now have elixirs. These potions increase the likelihood of the restocking situation—or at best, they are going to end up as useless, annoying drops like, say, the poison throwables and arrows/bolts in Diablo 2. I would like to know the reason for including the elixirs in the first place—health potions, too, now that we’re at it—because the elixirs only seem to serve to make the dungeon-crawling process less smooth.

On the other hand, it feels like Blizzard is trying to go all-in in the attempt to create the immaculate party experience, replete with Inferno difficulties to test the mettle of the best players. I assume being able to heal allies (with a minimum of effort) will be semi-mandatory in these cases.

But then again, the feedback from party members approaching or reaching death is non-existent, so maybe party members aren’t supposed to do something about it other than hammering away at the bosses until they drop and stay alive until then? This just feels a lot like Diablo 2, which, for all its accomplishments, didn’t really bring people together to act as one cohesive group who dungeon-crawled successfully; it was every man for himself, especially considering the aspect of ninja-looting and first come, first serve.

Raising the difficulty and bringing down the number of party members is going to do great in bringing together people, but it won’t let them work together alone—especially seeing how the chat has been relegated to the log to the left, meaning that people will have a hard time communicating during battle along with healing each other. This enforces the Diablo 2 feeling of everyone just soloing together in the interest of themselves rather than a common goal. And as aforementioned, without the communication on behalf of the game, people who don’t (n)or can’t speak to other players will not be able to forge that tenuous teamwork with allies. Worst-case scenario, this will preclude some people from completing Inferno, lest they play on a server where most people speak their language or know a lot of people personally who also play the game on that server. In turn, these people might take out their frustrations on the players who aren’t able to communicate for whichever purposes, which creates a terrible atmosphere that will deter people from playing or ruin the majority of their experience, as people playing DotA (or sometimes StarCraft 2 multiplayer) games will know.

In other words, people basically need to be forced to work together by means of optimized controls for healing and helping each other, and the game will need to alert and communicate to the players on behalf of each other at the most basic level to avoid frustration and failure. Otherwise, we don’t have any way of knowing that Diablo 3 will be much more of a party-based multiplayer experience than Diablo 2 in anything else than name.

Speaking of optimizing the controls for the dangerous instances ...

Continued ...
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### SHORTCUT KEYS ###
Playing StarCraft 2 has made me dependent on hotkeys and shortcut keys. This will be particularly useful for clearing out the loot expediently every now and then, when the inventory is filled to the brim. I would love for you to include these or allow them in options:

• “New Lore”
• Item thingies:
• • Cauldron of Jordan
• • Stone of Recall
• • Nephalem Cube
• Identify
• Right-click equip on Follower (maybe only when Follower tab is open). Alt + right-click?
• Heal Follower/party member (if Blizzard ends up allowing people to heal each other)

Again, as mentioned before, expanding the emotes and showing them as in-game chat messages might improve the multiplayer and dungeon-crawling experience significantly.

Some of these might not be for everyone, but I would like to at least have the option of assigning a shortcut to these.

Looking forward to playing some awesome multiplayer games. :)

Remember that all these observations are based on the beta. I am sure a lot of what has been mentioned is subejct to change—some of it dramatic.

(If you think this post make any good points and should be brought to the attention to the users and Blizzard, please use the Like feature—most important of all on the first post in the thread—so Blizzard will take it into consideration. Link to it everywhere you can as well to make sure those Blizzard yanks don’t miss this European thread.)
Edited by Cygnatus on 14/09/2011 12:27 BST
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its hack and slash thus would like it to be simple as possible. Altho there was a lot of nice upgrade suggestions +1

good work
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90 Night Elf Druid
8465
I will read this tomorrow, when it's NOT 2Am.
Good night.
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Good work, didn't read it all but from what I did read - very well done and look forward to seein more feedback!
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Feedback on auto-pickup:

I feel this could be improved to prevent people the urge to resort to hacks etc, I know they would get caught with battle.net but that is not the point.

Perhaps some sort of alert system, when a certain item drops such as a 'legendary' it would just pop up some text on the screen saying 'XX dropped from XX 15ft away'

Also, perhaps add some config to the auto-pickup so we can config it to auto-pickup certain things 'if we wish' I know it would get annoying picking up low level rune stones automatically if you are in Inferno or something, but maybe a config window of things that can be added to auto-pickup?
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Feedback on auto-pickup:

I feel this could be improved to prevent people the urge to resort to hacks etc, I know they would get caught with battle.net but that is not the point.

Perhaps some sort of alert system, when a certain item drops such as a 'legendary' it would just pop up some text on the screen saying 'XX dropped from XX 15ft away'

I like this idea a lot. When people are right next to the Legendary loot, there is no need for the alert, but if the player happens to miss it, there will be another dopamine-inducing notification that will also include a map marker to the item in question. (The same for quest items, perhaps?)
Edited by Cygnatus on 14/09/2011 13:17 BST
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Hey Cygnatus, can you tell us a little about how armor, defense, block, dodge and elemental resistances will work?

Does armor reduce chance to be hit or does it reduce damage of each hit?

Do block and dodge chance have diminishing returns? Example: do 10% + 10%
block from two items actually give you less than 20% block in the character panel?

Does elemental resistance work as it did in D2 or differently? It could for example work similarly to the block example above.

Does defense have diminishing returns or not?

Thanks for any answers.
Edited by Traeon on 14/09/2011 14:15 BST
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I agree with most parts, exept the healing part, player interaction should be made in another way.
Also, hotkey, hotkey all the things!
Edited by Nathias on 14/09/2011 15:21 BST
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Very nice posts, Cygnatus! I mostly agree with all of these things, and with a long beta period we might see several improvements on all these things.

However, you failed to mention that when you compare items of the same type, but you have two of them equipped (for example rings or weapons that are dual wielded), you only see one tooltip for the equipped items, thus needing to manually check what the stats of the second item is.
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