"Ask the Devs" Round 2: Itemization - Answers (Part 2)

General Discussion
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The developers participating in this Q&A round include:

  • Wyatt Cheng, Senior Technical Game Designer
  • Travis Day, Game Designer

We're doing things a little differently this time around and will be providing developer answers in several parts spread over multiple weeks. Below are the answers for part 2.

To review the answers for part 1, click here.
Q. Can class-specific items please have guaranteed class-specific stats?
- Dispirit#1859 (Americas [English]), Kloze#2812 (Europe [Russian]), Macleod #2118 (Europe [Spanish])

Travis: Class specific items can sometimes fall into a weird place. For example, you're playing your Demon Hunter, you see a Rare quiver on the ground, you identify it, and BAM! +300 Strength. At this point, you're probably thinking (or even saying aloud) "Why is that even possible?!"

While we feel that randomness is an incredibly important aspect of Diablo games, we also agree that players need to feel like their next great item is just around the corner. Items can roll many stats that may not be valuable to the player who finds them, and that's fine—but most items should feel like they could be good for someone.

Quivers rolling their primary stat as Strength doesn't really play any role here; however, we don’t want to remove randomness completely and have it be a forgone conclusion that every quiver you pick up will roll with the exact stats you want. While we are changing it so that class specific items can't roll the primary value of a different class's stat, that doesn't mean you will never see +Strength on a quiver. What it does mean is you will only see +Strength on a quiver if it came as part of a Dex/Str affix or a Str/Vit affix, which is providing some benefit (even if not ideal) to the class the item is intended for.

Q. You talk about "game changing" items but mention only gimmicks that affect certain skills or builds. There is a reason people choose best in slot items. These items allow for the greatest damage and survivability possible so that the player can efficiently farm as high of a monster power as they can. Since damage affects any build out there to (usually) the greatest extent, would there be any reason to choose anything besides best in slot items?

So how will your itemization update approach literally "Best-in-slot" items? Will you make items to compete with the current heavy weights such as mempo, echoing fury, skorn, manticore, witching hour?


- RTBear (Americas [English]), Headache #2655 (Europe [Polish])

Travis: Best-in-slot is a subjective term. What is the best for one class or play style isn't necessarily the best for everyone.

Currently, itemization has the problem that it is largely supported by a handful of affixes that increase your damage in varying degrees. Because almost all items can very easily be distilled down to their DPS value, it quickly turns into a numbers game. This is a side effect of the fact that there really aren't any items that provide intangible benefits beyond raw damage. It is also an issue because there are no items that can improve your play experience or efficiency other than those that simply increase your character sheet DPS.

We have plans to try to create more interesting item choices, and I've talked a bit about what those plans are in my previous blog, if you want to take a look. Will there still be a "best-in-slot" item for a particular build of a particular class? Probably, but that's never really been the problem. There will always be best-in-slot items for specific builds and setups. The problem today is that we have items that are universally best-in-slot, regardless of your class or build. Right now, items that are best-in-slot for a Demon Hunter are probably also best-in-slot for a Monk, and that's one of the big things we're looking to address.

Q. The game is filled with white and grey item drops. In practice white and grey items are pretty much ignored as equipable items after level 5 due to Blue and better items becoming available. White and grey items only real purpose currently seems to be to fill out the loot fountain effect, as they are neither cost-effective to vendor nor are they sellable on the Auction Houses.

Do you have plans for making such items useful? All previous uses for white and grey items did not make it to production D3 - salvaging white and grey items, socketing, enchanting, etc.

If you have no plans to improve them can you just remove them from the game above level 10? Or at least allow them to be filtered out of view via a setting in Options?


- Zuzax#1341 (Americas [English]), WuKong#2469 (Europe [Russian])

Wyatt: We aim to provide players with some sort of global context for the full spectrum of item rarity and power. In a sea of items, we want to emphasize that, at least in this universe, white items, blue items, yellow items, and legendary/set items are increasingly rare relative to one another. White items are currently the baseline, and all other items become rarer and more powerful beyond that.

If we removed white items completely, there might be a tendency to feel like blues are the new baseline. Some of you might think, "Well, that'd be really cool! I want blue items to be the baseline." As developers, we want items to feel increasingly special, so that means some will always be more useful than others. If we just kept removing whatever tier of items is "worse" from the game and moving up the baseline, then there's the risk that all items will become equally valuable, and that kind of homogenization (while totally appropriate for other games) doesn't really fit with what Diablo is all about. That said, it definitely feels like too many white items drop right now and we are already looking at some significant changes to these ratios in the future. We'd rather drop less white items rather than removing them or adding an option to hide them completely, however.

We've also talked about allowing white items to have alternate uses—for crafting, for example, like you noted. It's interesting, though, that some people are excited at the prospect of having white items with purpose, while other folks are almost offended that their end-game characters would want white items. If we were to introduce a system that made white items appealing to pick up, it would need to be something that has wide appeal since it affects everybody (and since different players have different opinions towards white items).

Q. do you still planning to exclude mf and gf affix from gear?

- Ubivash#2149 (Americas [English]), Ratty #2375 (Europe [Italian])

Travis: We're still trying to find a better solution for Magic Find and Gold Find. In the past, we've talked about removing it from gear, reducing the effectiveness of it, lowering the cap, or even implementing diminishing returns.

The problem with MF, specifically, is that it makes it really difficult to design a game that feels rewarding to all of our players instead of just some of them. When players first started getting to max level and farming Inferno, we used to get a lot of feedback saying "I haven’t found a single Legendary item yet" and other people who would say "I find about one Legendary an hour," and the difference was really how much MF they were stacking. While we like the idea MF, because of how it allows players the option to customize their character for item finding, we don't like that, in many situations, it feels mandatory. We also want players to feel like their time playing Diablo III is always rewarding, and having an MF discrepancy of up to 300%+ between players makes that incredibly hard from the design perspective.

So, while we haven't finalized what we want to do just yet with MF, we know we want to do something, and we want that change to be meaningful. We'll be sure to let you know about any changes to MF or GF that might be coming your way, and of course we'd love to hear your feedback in the meantime.
Q. Question about Weapon Type: Are you going to change on how weapon type works in future patch? Except the minor IAS speed different from each weapons, current weapons type are boring. Because each weapon doesn't have specific bonus or ability, players tend to seeks weapon with higher dps number and desirable stats, even if it is a dagger.

At least in D2, blunt weapon does additional damage to undead class. I am expecting some different for each weapon. For example, a spear weapon will increases the range of the character's skill or mace does additional damage against undead and etc in the future patch.

Also, will elemental weapon going to be useful too in the future? Except cold weapon, other elemental weapons are simply useless except looking pretty.


Kilometer (Americas [English]), blimblim#2642 (Europe [German]), Mash#2904 (Europe [Russian]), MetalToad #2259 (Europe [Italian])

Travis: Applying innate benefits to each weapon type gets brought up a lot. While we don't currently have plans to make each weapon do something different, it isn't off the table. At the heart of that question, though, is the desire for weapons to be more than just a DPS number and that is something we would like to add, but that will most likely come in the form of elemental damage.

Elemental damage is something we are actively trying to find a good solution for. The stat already exists in the game, but currently it's just six different flavors of the same affix—Cold is the only exception in that it snares targets. One thing we are actively discussing is what kind of effects we could associate with each element and then add it not only to weapons but all damage sources of that type. We haven't finalized anything just yet, but we really want to make this happen.

Q. Issue: Damage disproportion between physical and elemental type weapons.

Question: Why did you design physical (black) damage weapons to be superior damage-wise to elemental damage weapons?

Reasoning:
I´m asking about your thought process behind the fact that black damage on weapons:
1. gets the bonus from the "+x% damage" affix and elemental damage does not;
2. is used to calculate the "adds x% to elemental damage" affix while elemental damage on the weapon is not taken into account;
3. is bugged - the MinMaxDamage affix adds min damage first and then checks if the new minimum weapon damage is higher than base maximum damage; if it is higher, the game uses the new minimum +1 as the new base maximum and adds max damage to this value, resulting in higher overall black weapon damage compared to elemental weapons.

It makes no sense that there´s damage differences when there´s no additional elemental damage effects (beside cold snare) in the game and monsters have no resists. This damage difference limits our gearing options as comparably rolled physical weapons will always outperform elemental ones.

Here's two suggestions on how to fix this issue http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/7810050948?page=11#201


- Nubtro#2147 (Americas [English])

Wyatt: We did not intentionally design physical (black) damage weapons to be superior (damage-wise) to elemental damage weapons. The reason that they are superior is actually due to two bugs.

The first bug is that "+x% damage" was supposed to work for elemental damage only. So, for example, "+5% Fire damage" was supposed to take any fire damage that you did and add 5% more. If you dealt 100 Fire damage, you would get 5% more Fire damage and deal 105 Fire damage in total.

However (and this is where the bug comes in), instead of looking at your elemental damage, the game would always look at your physical damage, and add a percentage of that as elemental damage. So, to continue with my example, "+5% Fire damage" would take 100 physical damage and then produce 100 physical damage, plus 5 fire damage on top of that. As a result, rather than making you want items that matched the elemental damage types you had bonuses for, the bug simply made black weapons the best.

The other bug is the way the MinMaxDamage affix works. As you mention, minimum damage is applied first and increases the maximum damage to be 1 more than the minimum value. This is correct behavior, since we don't want maximums that are less than the minimum. The bug here is that the game always attempts to ensure that the maximum damage on a weapon is higher before maximum damage values are even applied, which results in inflated damage amounts. (We actually fixed this bug in the new version of the Ruby in 1.0.7.)

So, hopefully it's clear that the current situation was not the intended one—it's the result of two bugs that had some very radical and significant effects.

Now, this obviously raises the question, if this situation is due to two bugs, why weren't the bugs found before release and now that they're found, why don't we just fix them?

One of the realities of developing software is that a) you’re not going to find every bug before you ship a product and b) when you do find a bug, there are multiple approaches to addressing it. Some bugs are very difficult to resolve, both in terms of time and resources as well as complexity.

In this specific case, we don’t want to change how existing items work, and fixing these bugs would absolutely do that. We know that acquiring and valuing items is an important part of the Diablo experience and do not want to change the mechanics of how an item property works when people have already invested in it.

We're also looking to revamp itemization, and part of the revamp will include moving to fixed versions of the elemental damage increasing attribute, as well as the MinMaxDamage affix—put simply, we'd fix the bugs for new items. "Legacy" items will continue to use the current (bugged) version. The new versions will likely bear different language such as "Fire damage you deal is increased by 5%" to differentiate from the old mechanics. (That wording isn't final, it’s just an example.)

Q. Simple but important question: Are you going to at least try to devaluate the Critical Damage to be less affecting overall player damage?

Right now it's just absurdly high compared to normal "white" damage. Every build is centered around these two stats really (IAS is just addiction to make the bigger yellow numbers come more often). This means there is no really build diversity when 95% of players want the same gear, while other "could be interesting" affixes are omitted. Sorry for bad English :<


- Tanvage#1797 [Europe [English])

Travis: There are no current plans to devalue Critical Damage. Yes, it is one of the single largest DPS increasing stats in the game across all classes, but that's not necessarily a problem. The real problem is that Critical Damage is the only thing that all players want and we need to try to address that. It’s OK to say "Crit Damage is awesome, give me more!" but we would prefer it if some classes or builds wanted to prioritize something else over Crit Damage.

So, no we have no plans to nerf player items at any point. We do want to encourage diversity, but we want to do it right by providing more choice, and that is a much more difficult problem to solve.

Q. Diablo 2 had one time quest rewards (based on difficulty). Most of these were minor but you had the option to craft a random rare, socket an item, personalize and item, as well as destroy a soul stone for gems/runes.

Is there discussion on adding similar features to Diablo 3 to could personalize gear? Ideas like make the item bound to account but allow you to put your toon's name on it and maybe give some advantage of + damage or armor, give a random white/grey weapon and have it converted to a random rare, etc


- Valindria#1184 (Americas [English])

Travis: These were pretty cool, but there haven't been any discussions about adding these effects to the game. On the surface they were great, but they did have their own set of issues.
For example, adding a socket to an item as the result of a one-time quest reward feels really awesome, but over time it starts to become more of a burden instead of a benefit. When you have to level a new character through the entire game just so you can socket the new cool weapon you want to use, the shine starts to wear off really fast.

The ones that I thought were "cool" but not really burdensome were the ones that gave you permanent resists, but really those were artificial gameplay—your resists were permanently reduced and then you were given a potion to offset that a little bit.

We do like the idea of customizing your items, though, and giving players more opportunities to really feel invested in what they’re equipping. As Don pointed out in the last round of developer answers, we're considering a few options, including:
  • The ability to change a portion of a particular stat on an item to another stat of your choice
  • The ability to augment an existing item with a stat bonus of your choice
  • The ability to create an item with one or several fixed affixes—similar to the Rare recipes introduced in 1.0.7
  • We've also discussed adding other types of "socketables" with a wide variety of possible affixes that you can put in your socketed items instead of gems

Adding a socket isn't off the table, either. We just want to make sure that whatever we add makes sense for Diablo III, and aren't just fluffy mechanics that only make it seem like you have more customization and control (but actually provide little overall value).
Please don't forget Mara's Kaleidoscope and Skull Grasp.
No more Strength main stat Skull Grasps with Electrocute as the class bonus, please.

Consider making 'Luxury Stats' baseline and excluded from the main stat rolls:

Diablo II had base items roll various affixes - "Indestructible" and "Ethereal" in addition to the varying armor bonus, number of sockets, durability range, etc.

Nowadays with D3 we have a few affixes considered 'Luxury Stats":

Obvious candidates:

Health Globes and Potions Grant +XYZX Life.
Increases Gold and Health Pickup by X Yards.
Reduces duration of control impairing effects by X%.

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/8569107439
Just great... I've just read 8 pagedowns of _nothing_
"We're unsure at this time.."
"There are no current plans..."
"While we haven't finalized what we want to do just yet..."
and the list goes on and on.....

Yeah I get.......

What do you guys know?
its not fun to here what a person dont know, its great to hear what he knows
Do you have a plan at all?
08/04/2013 18:00Posted by Ulvareth
For example, adding a socket to an item as the result of a one-time quest reward feels really awesome, but over time it starts to become more of a burden instead of a benefit. When you have to level a new character through the entire game just so you can socket the new cool weapon you want to use, the shine starts to wear off really fast.


What on earth is this nonsense? I just simply can't follow the logic behind this at all. Giving us the possibility to add a socket would be one of the best things you could to do to improve the game. We've been grinding act 3 for 8 months and you haven't had any issues with that.. and now you're saying we would get bored if we actually could do something about the ocean of useless items just because we could actually make them useful by adding a socket for instance. Go figure.
Blizz pick the month ask questions, and they pick stuff they cant answer in a propper way..... way to go.

You might as well skip these Q&A insted of making your self look ........

Do you have a plan at all?

I'm not sure if you've been around for a long time, but whenever the blues say something, players tend to hold them to it for years. They're just being careful about how they're saying things in case they change their minds.
This round of "answers" essentially killed all hope I had for 1.0.8 If devs still don't knwo what to do with itemization after a year of patches and countless forum discussions I can only think that this will _never_ be properly addressed
08/04/2013 19:04Posted by Whopper78
For example, adding a socket to an item as the result of a one-time quest reward feels really awesome, but over time it starts to become more of a burden instead of a benefit. When you have to level a new character through the entire game just so you can socket the new cool weapon you want to use, the shine starts to wear off really fast.


What on earth is this nonsense? I just simply can't follow the logic behind this at all. Giving us the possibility to add a socket would be one of the best things you could to do to improve the game. We've been grinding act 3 for 8 months and you haven't had any issues with that.. and now you're saying we would get bored if we actually could do something about the ocean of useless items just because we could actually make them useful by adding a socket for instance. Go figure.


^^ This
08/04/2013 19:04Posted by Whopper78
What on earth is this nonsense? I just simply can't follow the logic behind this at all. Giving us the possibility to add a socket would be one of the best things you could to do to improve the game.

You're not reading it right I think. They did say this:
08/04/2013 18:00Posted by Ulvareth
Adding a socket isn't off the table, either.


The concern is probably more how to add it.
For example, going back to Diablo II, it could hardly be called exciting to level up yet another character for the sake of getting to socket your new weapon. It was cool that you could add a socket to your weapon, but the method of doing it was a bit annoying in the long run.

I think that's what they're thinking about for Diablo III. If it becomes possible to add a socket to an item, then we can safely say that players will probably want to make use of that all the time – for as long as they intend to play Diablo III. So it's rather imperative that it's implemented properly.
What on earth is this nonsense? I just simply can't follow the logic behind this at all. Giving us the possibility to add a socket would be one of the best things you could to do to improve the game. We've been grinding act 3 for 8 months and you haven't had any issues with that.. and now you're saying we would get bored if we actually could do something about the ocean of useless items just because we could actually make them useful by adding a socket for instance. Go figure.


Actually, this(the thing you responded to) is probably one of the few statements I agree with. Making us level up characters from normal upwards just to add a socket will be a truly retarded decision. Game is boring anyway, but diffiulties up to inferno are just mind dumbing
Most important bit yet ignored once again. When will this all be implemented, summer 2015 or patch 1.08 or .09 or whatever.
or is this also still on the table ...
This was the most uninformative Ask the Devs part so far... I cannot believe that, soon it will be a year after the release of Diablo 3 and still we do not have a complete game. I don't even want to bring the team deatchmach part which was promised from the start
SOCKETS... why does a manticore with 1300dps can have 2 sockets and a crystal fist with 900 dps can't have 2? that's just absurd, without logic and just plain dumb. work not finished...
I don't normally get annoyed but I actually feel insulted by this thread, You basically posted 8 paragraphs saying all be have decided on is there will be a create all button. This is good but its not awesome..come on its not.. is it??

Rather than asking stupid questions and giving a dumb answers! Do some work develope the game to what it should of been a year ago please!

What i don't get is that you are changing the whole concept and your changing it so dramtically from the game you spent years on and released to the public. I would get fired if i didn't deliver, its disgraceful....

Patches are supposed to fix bugs in software, not fix developers idealogical mistakes. It feels like a different game to what I bought everytime it updates.

Thank you rant over:)
I don't even know if I should be posting anything constructive here. This is the european forum after all, and we are being neglected as f*ck.

Anyhow, I just came back after a 5 month break, and look at what we have here. A bunch of people hired at Blizzard, who are supposed to sustain and improve a game, yet the only thing they've managed to do is fap. For five freaking months.

What has happened since I last quit? Infernal Machine is one change, but jesus christ it's such a boring feature. They speak about adding quests that reward you with sockets and resistance are too boring, yet the Infernal Machine event isn't?

How simpleminded are we supposed to be to play the game? How stupid do you want us to become Blizzard?

Diablo II became a HUGE success back in the days, and most of us still speak of it as THE game. But according to those idiotic devs, it's a !@#$ty game, and Diablo III is way better.

I say pull your heads out of each others asses, because you're doing it wrong.
Kind of sad that most of the questions are asking for more diversity, build quality and D2 features and most of the answers even at this point into the game are still 'no, we're nowhere near at the level of matching or trying to restore D2 features but we'll try and finally make items not absolute trash'.

Seriously, D3 could be a fine game if they'd sort out the items but it's not just that they suck (too few good ones, everyone wants the same ones, never find good ones, mostly badly designed gear that doesn't compare to the top pieces) but that they are worse than D2. It's hard to believe that the sequel to such a good game basically came back and figured losing unique effects (like damage against skeletons on maces), losing elemental effects and losing diversity (all items basically the same, can only have one socket per weapon for example and losing rune words for potential build paths) was somehow a good idea. All they did was take D2, strip it down to it's bare essentials in almost every regard and then throw out D3 and even months on with examples like this of the weapons being way simplified compared to D2 we're still looking at only having one of the 3 issues be resolved 'soon'.

The D3 update team must be running with a skeleton team while they put the rest to work on an expansion pack and porting the game to consoles (that wouldn't be bad normally but it seems like we have a lack of people on hand to fix the problems yet we have ample time to get more sales) because clearly acti-blizz isn't prepared to fix the game (like square enix did with FF14) unless we slap down more cash. If there's still an RMAH in D3 expansion though then screw that. I'm not going through botting / duping / economy hell / years of hoping they can match D2 / AH simulator all over again. They can dupe and bot all they want in D2, doesn't bother me but in D3 it's just the way the game is designed, you always feel like you are racing against time and competing with others because with the AH your progress is in direct competition with others progress. If you don't farm gold you won't get good items because drop rates suck and others who play AH simulator more than you (or buy gold), will get the items you want because they can bid more. I'm not going through that crap again, in D2 you could play at your own place on single player and say screw you to the online if you wanted. On D3 it's all a big joke, you play AH or you waste your years grinding a system they obviously wanted to be against you.
"We're unsure at this time.."
"There are no current plans..."
"While we haven't finalized what we want to do just yet..."
and the list goes on and on.....

Yeah I get.......

What do you guys know?
its not fun to here what a person dont know, its great to hear what he knows
Do you have a plan at all?


+1

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