Diablo 3 game design myopia

This isn’t going to be a rant – that would be too easy. The point is to highlight how game designer mistakes snowball when designers don’t play their own game (i.e. are informed about the game from data mining, not understanding).

Exhibit A – Attack speed nerf

The new patch promises to nerf attack speed as it led to “not supposed to be played”. That could be the case (I play as a Demon hunter and have stacked as much IAS as possible). However, two minutes spent on closer examining the issue will reveal that this is a direct consequence of INFERNO difficulty design decision to make every mob one shot you, regardless of equipment.

Prior to inferno, I always bought/kept items with dexterity and vitality and I had a health pool of about 35,000 HP. Come INFERNO, it doesn’t matter if I have 35K or 70K, I simply cannot get hit and survive. So I ditched all my vitality and protection gear and stacked the only alternative – attack speed. I’d be extremely happy to go around with no attack speed but being able to withstand a hit. Dying from something offscreen is extremely frustrating and game designers should address this and not the fact we stack attack speed.

Exhibit B – Repair costs 5x increase

This is a different exhibit but with the same cause – INFERNO difficulty one-shots you. Of course, people will chain rez, it is the only way to defeat a boss when everything that touches you, kills you. Blizzard’s solution? Increase repair costs five times (!), so that people will care about dying. We care, trust me. Now make it possible for us to gear so that we can survive a hit.

Exhibit C – Game creation limit

Blizzard have just announced they’ve introduced a limit to the amount of games you can create in a certain time interval. No worry, it shouldn’t affect anyone but the botters, right? Wrong! After getting this insightful error message: “Input limit reached. Please wait to perform more actions”, many players found it unable to play. So Blizzard reverted the measure temporarily until the technical issue is solved.

However, the implication here is that a big PART of the excessive game creation is game designer’s fault. For example, constructing the Staff of Hoarding that gives you access to the Pony level (a.k.a. cow level), requires ingridients that are extremely easy to collect but spawn in 10% of games or less. At level 60, I had to create no less than 30 games in Normal difficulty just to get the merchant in the oasis to spawn. Is this the challenge now? Beating the random number generator?

People who are just starting to build their staffs will find it very difficult to find that merchant. In an extreme case, it could take a day or a week (assuming you also want to play).

Instead of putting a frustrating limit, simply increase the spawn rate to 50%. It is how it is supposed to be played, if any of Blizzard’s game designers actually played the game, instead of filling in Excel spreadsheets with spawn rates.


5 Responses to “Diablo 3 game design myopia”


  1. 1 Slimsurfer Jun 13th, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Get a life mate

  2. 2 Thecurt Jun 13th, 2012 at 8:59 am

    @Slimsurfer: Mother of God I think we have an originality alert here. Also you should maybe throw in a comma so that people will know what you’re trying to say. From what I gather you want this person to get a life mate, and that is not an insult. That is telling someone you want them to find someone they can share their life with and that is a beautiful thing, MATE.

    @OP: I agree with you about everything except the 50% spawn rate of the staff of herding mobs. These updates from Blizzard are quite frankly as surprising as they are seemingly moronic. I have tried my hardest to support Blizzard and stick with them through these tough times, though, I must unfortunately admit that I am no longer playing nor do I have any desire to play Diablo 3 at this moment.
    With World of Warcraft on the decline and the downward spiral Diablo 3 is taking I seriously don’t know how long Blizzard is going to stay comfortably in the market. I couldn’t imagine very long if things keep going as they are. There’s some things that hotfixes just can’t fix.

  3. 3 whisperpro Jun 14th, 2012 at 11:59 am

    @slimsurfer, I don’t even know how to begin to describe to you how much I hate you for making that comment.

  4. 4 Jimphat Jun 15th, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I can appreciate what you’re sayin.. A couple gripes I have are: A)After you die..Why do still have to wait for cool down of both skills AND potions from the previous life?? A new life is just that.. A new life. A clean slate.
    B)Nightmare is harder than normal..in a proportional way that makes sense. It naturally takes more knowledge and skill, and to me, is the perfect greater challenge The transition to inferno however is … well.. crazystupidhard. It’s not even fun to play.. Its an excercise in futility and anger management!! You can’t even run away sometimes!! I haven’t been to the auction yet. Do they sell bolt cutters for fire chains? Rings of infinite resistance? If thats what I gotta do to survive, I guess I’ll check it out.. This is a super-awesome game that I have been waiting years for..Good Job Blizzard!! I just don’t want the fun to end when I find Diablo and put boot to ass on only the 2nd hardest difficulty level. I’d like to think that its POSSIBLE to get to the hardest level that’s all..

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