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A Guide to Diablo: IncGamers site changes – Here’s what we’ve done

Regular readers will have noticed quite a few changes on Diablo: IncGamers since the launch of Reaper of Souls which was the motivation for us to make some of the changes we had been thinking about for a while.

When RoS launched we pushed the first stage of front page layout changes live. We know everyone likes to read their content in different ways so the site was changed to a similar layout to the main IncGamers site. Of course not every one will love that format so in the past week we set to work on the second phase which was giving you the option to read the content in the old format if you so desired.

In case you hadn’t spotted it, there are a couple of buttons above the news that allow you to switch to your preferred format.

change view

Probably the toughest job we had to undertake was the forums. We have used the same forum system for around a decade and there were millions of posts to port over. It was important to us to make sure that threads from the old forum were not lost, we’d have hell to pay from you guys if they went missing :) Remember the great forum crash of 2003? That was not pretty.

So why the change? There were numerous reasons, the next version of the same forum was bloated with features that were useless to the community here. Spammers were also a consideration and the previous software was starting to struggle with the rise in spammers over the last couple of years. We needed a system that could pro- actively catch them and then make life easier for IncGamers moderators to deal with anything that managed to slip through.

The end results once we switched were good. The forums are now easier to use, faster and more robust. It’s taken some time to iron out issues with posts moved over from the old system but I would say we are 95% there with most things now. The forum is now easier to use and has more features to track new content additions.

One of the main issues we had during the change was with your logins. We have a custom login system that ties your forum account to the main site. When we moved forums that obviously broke down and had to be recreated. One of the issues we came up against was the inability for guests to post in the news and members who were logged in seeing a captcha. This was not acceptable so it took a few days for me to sort out but thankfully it now all works.

Regarding commenting on news, originally we had the news post into the community forum but as things move quite quickly here as far as content is concerned, we thought it best to create a separate forum for the news discussions. This reorganisation prevents any community forum discussion being lost in a pile of news. Your discussions are important after all.

hardrock

Trophies

Regarding accounts. Some of you have been registered here for over a decade and we have been helping members who have had login issues since the switch because they no longer have access to the email they originally registered with. If there are any of you still caught in that trap then we can sort it for you. Send an email here and we will deal with it.

With the new forums came new features, and something we’ve wanted to do for some time is highlight pro-active members and also award trophies for actions by the community. Elly sat down over a few days to come up with the points and reward system. You may have spotted the icons on threads but so you know how it works I have posted all of the trophies below for reference.

There are still a few things to do but the core updates are now in place. Your feedback on anything we do is much appreciated and a special thanks to the PALS who have helped make all the changes possible with their contributions.

Threads

Thread StarterThread Starter -Points: 15 -You have started 5 Threads
Topic RaiserTopic Raiser – Points: 45 -You have started 20 Threads
Town CryerTown Cryer – Points: 90 -You have started 50 Threads
ConfabulatorConfabulator – Points: 91 -You have started 80 Threads

Setting the Agenda Setting the Agenda – Points: 120 -You have started 120 Threads

Likes

Primary Source Primary Source – Points: 1 – Somebody out there liked one of your posts.

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A Total Guide to Greater Rifts

Greater Rifts (GRs, initially known as Tiered Rifts) are a higher level of Nephalem Rift, meant to provide a greater challenge and greater rewards for players geared well enough to take them on. Greater Rifts are timed, and *must* be completed within 15 minutes to earn rewards. All treasure in Greater Rifts, with usually a legendary item or two, comes from the DiabloWikiGreater Rift Guardian (GRG) which is an upgraded version of the regular DiabloWikiRift Guardians.

Greater Rift CompletionDifficulty: Greater Rifts are numbered as a measure of their difficulty. A level 1 Greater Rift is very easy, equivalent to Normal difficulty (or less.) Greater Rifts scale up quickly though, and will become challenging for any player ability. Level 8 is equivalent to about Torment 1, Level 15 is equivalent to about [Torment 3, and Level 25 is approximately the same as Torment 6. There should be an infinite number or Greater Rift levels since each one merely increases the hit points and damage of the monsters by some percentage.

Shrines: There are virtually no DiabloWikishrines or DiabloWikipylons in Greater Rifts. Pylons are seen occasionally, but their bonuses last only 15 seconds (instead of the usual 30) and Blizzard specifically said that DiabloWikiConduit Pylons would not be found in Greater Rifts since they are so powerful they would skew the entire rift DiabloWikiLeaderboard system.

Dying in Greater Rifts

Revive at Corpse. No.

No Respecs: Characters can reallocate their Paragon Points while in a Rift, but can not access their inventory or skill menus (DiabloWikirespec) while in a Greater Rift. It is possible to return to town mid-GR, and players can respec and make repairs then, though it’s not recommended since the GR is a timed race. This is a feature designed to limit exploits via equipment or skill changes, so players can’t change gear or skills to be more effective against a single target before they reach the Greater Rift Guardian for instance.

Rewards: Items and gold do not drop in Greater Rifts, and there are no chests or other clickables. All treasure comes from defeating the Greater Rift Guardian, who drops a huge amount of stuff, about double that of a normal Rift Guardian, and has a very high probability of dropping at least one legendary item. (Note that the lack of gold and chests hurts the effectiveness of legendary items such as DiabloWikiGoldwrap and DiabloWikiHarrington Waistguard that proc up in effectiveness via gold pickups or chest/clickables opening.)

Progress Bar: The progress bar in a Greater Rift increases gradually from killing trash mobs, but jumps up by larger amounts for Elite kills. (Elites drop objects that look a bit like gooey health orbs, which count for big boosts in the progress bar when collected.) This is a feature designed to keep players from simply rushing past Elites to more quickly finish the rift by killing trash mobs, as can be done in normal Nephalem Rifts, and players will fill their progress bar more quickly by killing Elites than by skipping them, except in very rare long Elite battles.

Accessing and Process

  1. # Get a Greater Rift Keystone level 1 from completing a Nephalem Rift. – Drop rate still being determined.
  2. Use the GR Keystone to open a portal to a Greater Rift at the regular Nephalem Obelisk next to DiabloWikiOrek.
  3. Kill all the mobs in the Greater Rift before the timer runs out.
  4. No regular or champion mobs drop loot in Greater Rifts.
  5. The Rift Guardian will drop loot regardless if the timer has run out or not.
  6. If the Rift Guardian is killed before the timer runs out he will drop a Greater Rift Keystone.
  7. The Keystone’s level is determined by how quickly the Greater Rift was cleared. The quicker, the higher the GR key fragment.

Progress Bar and Rift Speed

The progress bar in a Greater Rift looks the same as the bar in a normal Nephalem Rift, with two added slider needles, displayed above and below the bar. The total bar coloured in orange, and the icon above it show your current progress towards completing the rift. The icon below it and any colour in blue shows how fast you need to progress to complete the rift in time.

greater rift progress bar

Ahead of the progress time

When players are battling through a Rift that’s just at the limit of their killing power, they will often see their progress dropping behind and the bar showing blue, before they kill a couple of Elites in a row and see the bonus from Elites shoot them back up ahead of schedule.

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Why Diablo 3′s Auction House Went Straight to Hell

Posted 24 Sep 2013 by

Wired has posted an article/editorial about the end of the Diablo 3 DiabloWikiAuction House. They tried harder than most gaming/media outlets and didn’t just blurb Blizzard’s official announcement, but I think their explanation is incorrect and misses the larger issues. Quote:

But Diablo III’s main problem was not exclusive to the real-money sector of the market. Rather, most of the game’s woes center on the existence of the auction house in the first place, whether for real cash or fake gold.

MMOs like World of Warcraft have auction houses that don’t upset the gameplay balance. But there are key differences that set Diablo III’ and World of Warcraft’s markets apart.

As a player nears the end of Warcraft, their goal is to continue to complete dungeons and raids and kill higher-level bosses, with the goal of obtaining better equipment that will allow them to kill even harder bosses. The majority of this epic loot is classified as “Bind on Pickup,” meaning that once it enters a player’s inventory it cannot be traded or sold.

In the Warcraft auction house, the most popular, most-traded items aren’t weapons and armor — they’re crafting materials, used to create consumable items (such as potions that grant temporary stat bonuses) used by serious dungeon raiders.

But Diablo doesn’t have more dungeons, more bosses, etc. Players just play the same procession of levels on harder and harder difficulty levels, picking up better and better loot. In other words, the loot isn’t just a helping hand towards their ultimate goal — better loot is the ultimate goal. And with the auction house, players found that the best way to obtain it was to just buy it.

And the next thing you know, they’re not playing the game anymore. Why would they, when the reward structure that would otherwise motivate them to play was no longer there? Without the promise of better stuff, Diablo was all stick and no carrot.

It’s true that Diablo 3 offers a sort of double-edged sword of a feedback loop: you need better loot to do higher level content and you do higher level content to get better loot. Except that many players use super quality loot to do easy content (MP1 farming) at very high speed, and the randomization of the loot drops means that higher level content will not necessarily pay off in better loot. But those features were nearly identical in Diablo 2 and no one was really complaining then.

So what was the real failing of the Diablo 3 auction house? Read on…

First of all, was the AH a failing? I guess we have to bow to majority opinion and say that it was, given the 74% approval for the end of the AH. That was not always the opinion, though. Most players used the AH at some point, and it was very popular (though something of a guilty pleasure for many) shortly after release. I remember clearly how people thought I was weird and crazy for not using it then, to the point that it was fairly controversial when I wrote an article about my first AH use in August 2012. Skim the article or don’t (and gasp at the thought of 18k DPS in Inferno qualifying as “well-geared”) but I strongly recommend viewing the comments since it’s fascinating the see the attitudes players held for the AH back then, 3 months after release.

Flashbacks aside, the main problem with the Diablo 3 Auction House was the Diablo 3 item system.

Some players loved it the AH and some players hated it, but everyone hated the Diablo 3 item system and economy upon release. After all, if you ignore the RMAH as many players did, the D3 AH was just trading made much easier.

There were (are) a lot of issues with itemization in D3, but probably the most complained about is the fact that (especially early on) not enough good items dropped. This was a design choice made at least partially since the devs knew the good items would flood the AH. So D3 had to drop only a few top quality items or else the easy-trading tool that was the AH would cause them to flood the economy and lead to instant gear inflation. That was logical, but had exactly the wrong result since the extreme scarcity of good gear forced everyone to use the AH to gear up for Inferno.

Thus an economy designed to limit gear to thus limit AH use had a doubly-bad result. Players hated not finding any good gear and hated having to use the AH to survive. Mission unaccomplished!

The Future: Different Loot System, Same Result?

Jumping to the future, the benefit (to players) of shutting down the AH isn’t so much that with trading made much more inconvenient we’ll find it harder to instantly obtain great gear… it’s that without an AH the devs don’t need to put such a harsh limit on the quality/quantity of gear that drops. (Item binding on top gear will help as well, of course.)

I think it would be unwise to expect DiabloWikiLoot 2.0 to be quite the orgy of uber gear that the console players keep describing, but from everything the devs have said we should find it much easier to obtain gear upgrades.

Will that change things long term, though?

I think it’ll be great fun early on, along the lines of what the Console players describe with their current “upgrades every run” play experience. Perhaps that won’t literally be the case in D3C’s Loot 2.0, since most players have top gear already… but come RoS the first first weeks/months will be amazing. Much better gear drop rates, tons of new legendaries, and almost everything an upgrade since all the base items will be 64-70 in the expansion content. WANT!

The hardest decision in those early RoS days will be to build up a new Crusader or to play your current mains so they can play with Paragon 2.0 and work through Act Five while finding amazing gear upgrades from the higher level items.

How long will that last, though? The console players have Loot 1.5 with its console-speed of “instant gratification” loot upgrades, but many console players were already worrying about long term viability after just the first week. After all, finding a ton of great gear very quickly is awesome in the short term, but unless there is a steady influx of higher level content/gear, (and there’s not in D3) players are pretty quickly going to move to the top level(s) of the item quality pyramid. And then it’s fun since you have awesome gear on, but it’s no fun since you’ll very seldom find any upgrades. And without an AH you’ve really got no other way to get them but to find them.

In a way, the D3 end game loot is better. Sure, the odds of finding an upgrade are astronomical, but 1) you know exactly where to get upgrades and how much they cost, and 2) all those medium-quality items you find can be sold in the AH. Thus the progress for most high level players in the current D3C is largely to their bank balance. Which isn’t as much fun as finding upgrades (At least I assume so. it’s not like I’ve ever actually found one in D3C.) but at least it’s steady progress towards a clearly-identified goal.

What will we progress towards at the high end in D3X? There’s that one in a million chance of finding an uber item upgrade, but you’ve got that now in D3C (though it’s more like one in ten million). What we (probably) won’t have in D3X is the steady gold-building progress you can get now in D3C. If the economy becomes item-for-item barter that’s hell; it’s hard to fix item value and almost impossible to find someone who has your dream item and who wants what you’ve got to trade for it. Even if gold retains trading value (or some other item or commodity becomes currency, like SoJs and then Runes in D2) it’ll be much more difficult to gain wealth via low and mid-range item trades, since we won’t have an AH to automate that process.

Conclusion

Beware of unintended consequences. We don’t know all the details of the RoS economy yet, so we can only conjecture at this point. I think it’s pretty likely they’ve got some new trading system in the works, and who knows what other changes we’ll see to the economy.

But look back at our expectations pre-D3. Most players and the devs thought the AH would be a nice tool, a way to automate trading, and a way to circumvent black market item sales and the rip offs that came with it. And then the game started and the AH worked well… too well, and a whole raft of (mostly) unforseen complications came floating into existence.

Frankly, I’m surprised they’re dumping the AH entirely. I don’t think the current economy is ideal, but I thought their plans for RoS and Loot 2.0 were going to shake things up nicely. Better drop rates plus a lot of binding on top gear would have made self finding much more viable, and they could have left the AH active to provide convenient exchange of commodities and low/mid level item sales/trading.

it+s+not+about+the+money+_c12e45b923dede0603587df8dea12ca0It seems to me that dumping it entirely was perhaps an overreaction, at least partially (and wisely) meant as a PR move. Blizzard knew that many players blamed the AH for D3′s problems, so while limiting or modifying it might have been more viable for the long term Loot 2.0 economy, the devs went for a more dramatic and headline-grabbing move.

So, anyone agree that we’ll probably miss the AH once it’s gone? That it’s being unfairly blamed for larger issues with the item system and drop rates? That without the AH trading will go from an effortless convenience to an annoying WUGgy time sink? That working your way to upgrades with lots of mid-level item finds will become nearly impossible?

Or do you reject all of those theories since 1) you hated the AH, and/or 2) all you care about is a big boost to the item drop quality?