Thursday, June 19, 2014

Paring back those choices

Recently Blizzard announced some changes for Diablo 3.  There are a bunch of things in there, but the key thing that jumped out at me was that they are removing the necessity for unique crafting reagents to create crafted set pieces.  It used to be that in order to make the crafted sets you needed to hunt very particular monsters to get their drops and now you will just be able to make them without any farming.  Their reasons for this change were twofold:  First, finding the materials for crafted gear encouraged rapid game flipping which was not fun and also hard on server resources.  Second it took too long and people ended up not being able to use crafting because in the time it took to farm up the unique materials they could have just found better gear otherwise.

I find this response baffling.  It seems to me that the fundamental issue with farming up these materials is that they only drop from a few particular mobs.  This encourages rapidly opening and closing games in order to hunt for that single monster and also means that the time required to complete the sets is high.  To fix this why not just make the materials drop from many mobs instead?  Rather than the Aughild's reagents only dropping from four particular ghosts why not have every ghost have a chance to drop them?  The unique ghosts could have a larger chance but if we all had an incentive to find areas with a high concentration of ghosts and then clean those areas out the game flipping issue would vanish instantly and people would have more fun to boot!

The other thing that Blizzard seems to be concerned about is the amount of time and effort involved in crafting gear versus the likely reward.  They have continually increased the availability of the endgame class sets and this has meant that the usefulness of the stepping stones towards that goal have continued to decrease.  The cost of crafted sets no longer makes sense given the limited amount of time they will be used.  The solution to this is not to eliminate unique material drops but rather to increase their drop rate and to lower the other costs for crafting gear.  If crafted gear isn't going to be used for long then simply make it cheaper to build.

The thing is that the endgame of D3 has become a very repetitive running of rifts over and over.  Rifts aren't that interesting in and of themselves and thus having an alternate path to gearing is very useful.  Different people like doing different things and nearly everyone finds it fun to figure out how to get a particular thing they want and then go and chase it down.  This is especially true when Blizzard did a pretty nice job on the unique crafting materials using lore to give us clues as to where to find the things we want.  Nearly everyone just Googles it of course but you don't *need* to!  The stories of where the materials come from and how they exist is a nice touch and just blowing that out of the game unnecessarily seems like a real waste.

Sometimes lore must be sacrificed for gameplay or the other way around.  It seems like in this case Blizzard has decided to toss both lore and gameplay out the window together and for no good reason.  Neither server usage nor progression justify removing an entire chunk of the game when simple solutions that require trivial resources to implement are available.

Sidenote:  The damage of Monkey King's Garb was increased from 100% to 1600% and people still seem to think it isn't very good.  Seriously 16x damage isn't enough?  Come on Blizzard, you gotta test this stuff better than that!

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