When Paragon levels announcement came, I've publicly declared my doubts about them, and regarded them as a band-aid
When MPx came out, I expressed same reserve, and started to doubt heavily in game future - not long after, I quit the game
Ok, after a short intro, a small remembrance to a game many of us love, and all the devs hate - D2:Lod:
1) Normal/Nightmare/Hell - they HAD the purpose, since usually player got to Nightmare with less than lvl30 (where last tier of skill was unlocked). Most people now critique that system, since "development was finished at lvl30" - nothing being further from the truth, since leveling skill and synergies could lasted to lvl99, and still not being over
2) Now, imagine you want to make a character who wants to rely heavily on two lvl30 skills - and you DON'T have a respec, which is the way it should remained:
- you should sacrifice (save) say 15 skill points, which would allow character to level both lvl30 skills simultaneously
- sacrifice was, of course, playing till lvl30 with just ~19 skill point invested (out of 34), and furthermore those CAREFULLY invested, since there was no respec and we wanted STRONG endgame character
- note that this include some trade-off (not choosing most efficient early game skills) and some skill (playing without half a skill points invested)
- it actually made DIFFERENCE between GOOD AND EXPERIENCED player, and novice
- when novice become good, he used to realize his initial mistakes and decide to make new, better character, with better build
3) What we have in D3:
- no punishment for bad planning whatsoever - all are EQUAL
- no strategy in leveling process at all
4) Basically, few good things were removed and, two bad introduced - making people rightfully ask for removal of normal/nightmare/hell entirely, something which I'd rather see FIXED, instead removed, but currently - demand is kinda reasonable, since we could have INFERNO-ONLY BALANCED skills, instead LEVELING BALANCED ones
How to fix Paragon - or "it's YOUR mess, but I'll advice anyway
1) Paragons serve exactly nothing - all 100 of them give 300+200+100+100 stats (which could be found by just upgrading gear), +mf/gf% (which should never been hard capped in the first place - something else I publicly talked about - maybe on another forum, can't remember really and it doesn't matter)
This is basically artificial increase of mf%/gf% cap which was wrong thing, and a pitiful reward not worthy spending time on - a flipping would make the "benefits" come much faster.
So, mf%/gf% cap MUST go out of the game, since it lost purpose, and Paragons must have a REAL reward (read below). Same goes to MPx mf%/gf%/exp%, which basically does nothing but rewards more people with best gear, regardless of skill, planning and other features, all more worthy than bought gear.
2) We're all the same - pick a class, level with "necessary level of grinding" - I DO agree grinding always is a part of ARPG - but it usually gives something less pathetic (or even hurting the game). What happens at p100? Oh, goodie, a +3mf/gf%! YESSSSS! Slightly better than p99. Somewhat better than p90. Better than p49, but not greatly. And probably MUCH worse than something gained by upgrading a gear. An this is true for all classes, all builds, all players, regardless of how they played, what choices they made. Does it feel rewarding? For some people, probably, for majority - not so much
- Paragons give a choice of perk at each x level, for example you can have X, or Y (can respec, since people are in love with this bad feature, though I'd like it out, or punishing in some way). But, player CANNOT have BOTH. Example: increase damage of skill A or B, add +x mf% OR +x attribute, etc. This happen several times during the leveling, so character could become pretty different, especially if both choices are good and equally tempting
[this is about as far as I'm going, since developers will never listen to forum advice, no matter how good it is]
- Paragons give a different type of rewards, for example ADDITIONAL PASSIVE (either in a form of 4th slot, or Paragon-specific one which is chosen among few (perhaps tiered, so different passives are chosen at different Paragons, or at least enabled, if player wants two tier1 passives). Existing passives could also be increased in power. This should happen, say twice, perhaps three times in leveling process
This is resulting in p100 character with 5 passives far SUPERIOR to p99 or p90, and even more than p49 one. Paragons become highly sought, instead "oh, well, better picture" attitude.
Speaking of pictures, hated-over-current-blizzard D2:LoD had a cool feature - TITLES! Players defeating a difficulty were called Lord XXX, or Slayer XXX etc. Even this alone would improve Paragon desirability.
[please DON'T put anything trifecta-base as optional choice, it would just make hole deeper - character should differ by FEATS, not pure dps or hp]
3) Shared Paragons - in a word: WHY? Yes, I'm often bitter when speaking about devs (being an experienced modder/dev myself) and consider them making a lot of foreseeable bad choices without giving them enough thought or testing, but I DO listen to their podcasts, read interviews etc... Practically everything said. Which made me question lots of thing. But encouraging thing I've heard was that new Game Director asks them WHY? WHAT WILL THAT ACHIEVE?
So, "Why shared Paragons in first place, and what will they achieve?"
In current form, almost nothing - same old, boring, useless stats (explained above), just shared. Will that shorten playing span even more? Or what is exact purpose - making players play more with alt-characters is a hardly Paragon-based, rather gear-based. So starting with inferno with p40 alt-character will have little additional appeal
[basically, I'm against this feature - endgame should be fun and rewarding, enjoyable even when grinding, instead boring task which is shortened by up to SIX TIMES by gear-based MPx mechanism, and even MORE, if Paragons are to be shared.]
4) Diversity through items - Loot 2.0, as I understand, have also goal to fix initial skill flaws, lets say famous "Two Hydras" affix - btw, proposed in time of 1.03 or so, as a passive skill for Wizard by Clavdivs, The God - "Hydramancer - can create two hydras at the same time, each Hydra damage is reduced to 80%" (the reducement is probably not necessary now, but back then hydra damage fluctuated wildly between Poison and others)
- So, instead through AH sellable goods, why not (also) implementing fixing/balancing/improving through perks given on each 10 p-levels? The ones that CANNOT be bought (BoA, if you will)? Wouldn't it make paragons more desirable?
I don't see any value in shared paragons, and once again advise against this. Numerous other improvements could be made which would have Paragons useful, desirable and fun, and increase fun player is experiencing though necessary grinding. And though system of potential useful rewards, make character more diverse - PLEASE avoid anything trifecta-primary-stat-vitality based - and make people feel proud of their paragons, instead being... no matter