Bashiok on Build DiversityPosted 3 May 2012 by Flux
The most popular topic of late came up again today, with a fan detailing why the WoW-style of character design was inappropriate for Diablo III, where every build doesn’t have to be equivalent in value/power/ability to fit into the required roles in a raid. It’s the sort of thing we’ve heard before, but for once a complaining fan made some good points, as did Bashy in his reply.
The thread got off to a funny start when the fan made a short and sort of taunting complaint post, and Bashiok no doubt thought he’d shut him down with a quick “____ or GTFO!” response. To everyone’s surprise, he stood and delivered.
Your developers are very skilled and have learned a lot from WoW. All abilities are tuned based on level. All abilities are tuned against each other. Assuming a consistent skill level, there is no difference in DPS output as long as you pick generators and spenders. Obviously there are a billion bad builds consisting of all spenders and all generators. I think it’s fair to say we can dismiss those, but there is no possibility to create higher powered characters just by rearranging the generators and spenders. All abilities and runes are functionally equivalent from a purely mathematical standpoint.
On the off-chance there is even a hint of someone doing higher DPS or taking less damage than Blizzard would like, it will get nerfed back into the baseline expectation. The goal is for everyone to be the same. This is why everything potentially random is controlled to the maximum degree. Skills and given out on a schedule, points are assigned in a specific manner. Loot is given out tuned for your current level. This is so you could automate test Diablo in a way to ensure that there are almost no possibilities for statistical outliers. You have very smart people on your staff with statistics degrees who’s job is to ensure this.
This was not as big of a concern back when Diablo 2 was made, and there was no financial motivation to keep players from feeling bad about making a mistake and potentially losing out on RMAH customers.
Thank you for listening to your fans.
Wow I didn’t actually expect you to reply with anything of substance, so plus one for you! Of course you kind of 180′d on your original comment, but that’s ok I actually believe you were intentionally only commenting on the ‘obvious non-optimal builds’ in your critique.
So, a couple things, Diablo for a lot of people is about non-optimal builds. It’s about finding some crazy-!@# build that no one thinks should logically work, and using your knowledge and skill of the game to defy logic and make it successful. So just switching skills between direct parities is probably not going to be a monumental discovery that will win you an award in character building. But, that’s not where the real fun and challenge of character builds generally come in. It might be fun for you though because one skill is purple and one is yellow and you really love purple, and if that makes the game awesome, awesome. As you said there are plenty of bad choices to make, which means there are plenty of non-optimal – but still potentially viable – builds to attempt.
The issue that you’re taking though is actually one of customization. What you’re saying is that by having these close parities between skills there’s less choice, and in fact the exact opposite is true. If there are sharp distinctions (as you argue is superior) then there are sharp separations, and sharp separations means that very clear correct choices emerge. By having more parity it allows for more customization as it allows players greater freedom in choosing the skills they want to use, and not the skills they have to use because the math makes it so. Again though I’d argue that there’s plenty of gray area in character builds, and that’s where the true excitement and discovery comes from.
Does that make sense?