Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I spend a lot of time talking on this blog about getting numbers right.  When I build game systems the first thing I focus on is making everything balanced and grinding the numbers off to perfection.  Unfortunately I don't think an expertly smoothed matrix of values is actually the thing that gets people really excited about a game.  Diablo3 at launch was a game of raw numbers, of slowly building up higher Critical, Critical Damage, Prime Stat, and Attack Speed numbers.  Each piece of gear slowly pushed those values higher but the game just wasn't that compelling because the drops were never all that interesting and never provoked a complete rewrite of a character.

D3 right now is just so much more fun than it was.  The big thing that is really getting me is how incredibly powerful and random the legendary equipment is.  I got a belt that was just straight up better than my old belt in terms of raw damage and health but it also had a random ability tacked on - Insect Swarm reduces enemy speed by 80%.  Insect Swarm is a debuff that rapidly spreads from the first target to everything on the screen and does lots of damage.  I was already using it as my primary damage source anyway so this new belt completely changed the way my character played because every monster was laughably slow and kiting became trivial.

Then I found pants that give me a 30% damage boost while moving and a 20% damage penalty while standing still.  Suddenly it seemed completely viable to build a crazy dot build that relied entirely on pets and debuffs while my character ran around like a maniac to keep that 30% damage boost rocking.  Of course when I level up some more I will find new and different gear and have to rethink everything... and that is *amazing*.  I love this new game where everything I find on the ground has a chance to cause me to completely rebuild my character and have to learn all new strategies.

Rather than a slow grind upward it is rather more like exploring.  There is a colossally large space to explore in terms of character builds and optimization and I am veering around throughout that space knowing that there are a huge variety of places I could go based on what happens.  Instead of figuring out that Zombie Bears is absurd and then spamming those for hundreds of hours I look forward to doing all kinds of new things.  I can be a nuker, a dotter, a summoner, or just base my build around fire, poison, or physical damage depending on what I find.

I am super excited to see what I find on the ground and what it does.  I will just turn off cinematics, turn off the sound, pretend that the horrific plot doesn't exist, and spend my time happily mashing monsters.


  1. I'm intrigued that you acknowledge that you design games that are grindy and balanced, and then gush about how excited you are about a game that isn't like that.

    I think you've nailed what has been troubling me about HbT so far - there's no excitement about going up a level because not enough changes. I want randomness and crazy! :-)

  2. You get to explore questions like, "Does this level 24 neck make me do nearly double the damage I would with a level 60 neck?" and "Will Blizzard notice that before the expansion is released?" So far dialling it up to Torment III and crossing my fingers on "no" to the second.