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The State of the Monk: Additional follower or future OP class?

state of the monk in diablo 3It’s no surprise that the Monk class has been in need of some love pre 2.1. However with the second iteration of the patch on the PTR that need has not yet been abided. People are still clamoring for more sweeping changes(pun intended).

I was a heavy Monk user pre ROS and took a break with the xpac to delve into my first love(WD) and my new fling(crusader). I returned to the Monk only a few weeks ago and what I found was a shell of what I had left. After suffering for a long time as a WD it was nice when they finally rose to prominence. After a while on the top I wanted a new challenge and set my sights back on my monk, however even this challenge seems to daunting then all that time as a struggling WD. Diablo Forum MVP Druin put together an eloquent look at the myriad issues facing the class:


Hello everyone!

I am back from vacation and I am looking to write up a concise review of where we stand in 2.1.

My plan is to give a quick overview of our major issues then discuss the 2.1 changes and how they affect the various facets of our class.

I will be using this thread to fine-tune what we want to communicate to the devs and then I will make a major “state of monks in 2.1″ thread on the PTR forums to attempt to get some help for our lovely class! :D

1. Current Monk Issues

Damage

This is really at the forefront of the monk issues.

Since the release of RoS, monks have been having a tough time with DPS. We have a very limited range of options mostly centering around the skill Exploding Palm. (Un)fortunately EP is being changed as it breaks greater rifts (along with Rimeheart and Furnace) so our only source of widely competitive damage is going away. This leaves monks in a pretty bad spot.

Our spenders do very little damage (I mean VERY little) relative to their cost and our generators are used more as proc-vehicles for Odyn Son, Thunderfury, Shard of Hate and Rime/Furnace more than as sources of damage themselves. This leaves us with our 6pc Raiment of 1000 Storms which makes DS proc a 3000% weapon damage attack on cast. 3000% damage is a lot and it scales with lightning damage gear but DS has a flat-immutable 6 second cooldown. This can be mitigated to some extent by using Jawbreaker to give “free” dashing strike charges but that interaction is quite clunky.

Basically, monks will be forced into a clunky, hard-to-use situationally terrible Storm-breaker set in order to compete with other classes in damage. If they don’t want to use this mechanic, they will do very poor damage.

Durability

Next on the list is our ability to survive. This is a more controversial topic with some finding survival to be quite easy and many others finding it to be quite hard. In 2.1 with the change from dex giving dodge to dex giving armor and the change from OWE to Harmony, many monks who had minor synergy with OWE will see a minor tankiness boost. (my Raiment set for example)
On the other hand, monk who are deeply invested into OWE will see a major tankiness loss. (my Shatter-palm set). In either case, both types of monks probably have a lot of trouble living in T6 without 2x Unity or the constant dashing from Storm-breaker. Why is this? Because monks have to face-tank so much stuff.

Our primary source of resource generation comes from skills that require you to be up-close and personal with mobs which means a lot of damage can’t be avoided. To compensate for this, end-game monks are forced to take defensive passives (Harmony) defensive skills (Epiphany-shroud / Serenity / Inner Sanc / Blinding Flash) and CDR in basically every single spec. This is extremely limiting to the monk playstyle though arguably less of a problem than the DPS as the defensive skill/CDR solution does exist.

Additionally, sustain is nearly non-existent. LoH requires primary affixes which takes away from our already terrible DPS, LPS is the same, LPSS both takes primary affixes AND is extremely poor and Globes took a pretty big hit in 2.1. Monks actually have access to healing skills but, for some reason, they are tuned to be SO weak that they are essentially non-existent.

Resource Management

This is a more fundamental problem than the other two issues. Mere number tweaks would likely not result in this issue being resolved.

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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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Diablo 3′s Seven Design Pillars

Posted 29 Jan 2013 by

When DiabloWikiJay Wilson announced his departure from Diablo 3 I read over a bunch of old interviews with him, both to update the wiki article and to refresh my memory on Diablo 3′s development. This interview with GamaSutra from right around the time of the game’s launch last year, had some good stuff, but I especially wanted to highlight the Seven Design Pillars and reflect on how they were incorporated and executed in the game.

Here’s the quote from the interview:

Did Diablo III have an official design document?
Jay Wilson: No, not really. I certainly had a PowerPoint that I put together, which described high-level pillars of the project, and was seven things that we considered to be the core of the game.

Do you remember what those were?
Jay Wilson: Those seven things were: approachable, powerful heroes, highly customizable, great item game, endlessly replayable, strong setting, and cooperative multiplayer.

We basically said these are the pillars we have to live by. Each one has a description of what they mean. And any time that we have a question about what the game should be, we just look back at those pillars. And that was our goal. That was how we set the project up.

We had some others, too, that were more [about] what we’re adding to the project. And they were more feature-based, so for example, the PvP mode was one. The bigger focus on RPG elements was one, because we wanted it to be a more story-based game, without getting in the way of the action. So there were a few more like that.

Let’s take those one by one, shall we? But first a vote. You can pick as many options as you like, so click all of the Design Pillars you think D3 did a good job living up to.

D3's Design Pillars. Vote for as many as you think were done well.

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1) Approachable

They certainly succeeded with this one, though many of our most heated pre-game arguments were about “dumbed down” vs. “accessible.” (For instance, decisions they made regarding skill points, manual stat points, freespecs, skill runes, simplified item modifiers, and more.) I often felt (and argued) that the devs were overly simplifying the game and risking a loss of depth and complexity, and as best I recall comments were often largely in disagreement with me and in support of JW and crew.

It’s a debatable issue; I think the game was very well done on approachability in say, Normal difficulty, but that it didn’t ramp up enough on complexity (retaining very basic itemization, lacking of meaningful monster changes to resistances/immunities, etc) in higher difficulties.


2) Powerful Heroes

I think they did well on this. The custom resources and skills designed to always work, removing D2′s “you’re out of mana so now you’re helpless” issue (which went away with good gear in the late game, but made the early going quite a chore for the untwinked). If there’s a complaint here it’s a lack of balance and equivalence… perhaps now that JW, Barb fan #1, has moved on, we can see some long overdue nerfs to the one far and away most OP build in the game, while other chars get some buffs to match?

I don’t see why anyone would argue this; all you Barb players have already spun2wun your Paragon 100s and grown bored with the silly double tornado build. You’re probably hoping for a big nerf that would give you an excuse to play a “real” class, huh? *ducks*


Click through for points 3-7, and hit the comments to offer your own opinions.

3) Highly Customizable

This one can also be argued both ways. The Freespecs skill system allows for huge variety, as any build can change completely in a blink. On the other hand, most players feel there aren’t enough viable different builds, and there’s plenty of argument that freespecs actually reduce diversity and customization, since everyone just ends up changing to do more of less the same thing, rather than working to find ways to make different builds viable, as you did in old fashioned games like D2 where you couldn’t just change all your skills around.

You could also point to the very generic item system as creating a lack of customization, since there aren’t any items that really have unique properties and open up whole new builds or styles for any characters. Likely we’ll see much more variety in those areas in D3X, but we can only review the game we have at this point, and in Diablo 3 there’s a terrible lack of item diversity, with virtually every character and all five classes seeking the same few mods on all of their gear. During development we saw mods such as +%spell damage, faster cast rate, elemental damage types that did more than change color, attributes that were useful to all classes, and much more that was simplified away before release.


4) Great Item Game

On this one I think there’s fairly general agreement that the initial product fell very far short. Even aside from the pathetic state of Legendary and Set Items at release (still fairly lacking with a handful of legendaries sought by every class and 90% of no use at all), all five classes use the same few offensive mods, leech and LoH work on everything (ranged, spells, etc), more complicated D2 mods like DiabloWikiCrushing Blow and DiabloWikiOpen Wounds (which stopped monster life regen) are nowhere to be seen, cold damage and stun and other CC (from weapons) is irrelevant, the elemental types are identical in function (but not color), the same offensive mods work on every type of item, etc.

The devs did a nice job creating and modeling so many different item types, but they fell way short on making them actually work in different ways.


5) Endlessly Replayable

Everyone’s got a different opinion on this, but I’m still enjoying the game. Plus I let enough natural light past my rose-tinted D1 and D2 glasses to remember that those games were FAR more repetitious than anything in D3.

The lack of diversity in items and builds cuts into this one a bit; I sometimes wish I were playing HC (as Xanth keeps urging me) just so I’d have a reason to reroll a character one day. On the other hand, it’s nice to be able to change around my character’s skills and gear to set them up for fast farming MP0, or more sturdy hunting on MP2, or key farming on MP5+.

This question seems to revolve more around the game world though, and that’s open to argument. D3 obviously gets quite repetitive, especially once you’re farming and feeling like 5 or 6 levels in Act 3 is the only place worth doing it, but that’s still 4 or 5 more levels than were worth farming in D2. My opinion is that D3 didn’t do a great job on making the areas feel different and new endlessly, though it’s a big step up from the old, more-static system of D2.


6) Strong Setting

This was hard to miss on, as Diablo and Diablo 2 had created such an archetypal world in Sanctuary, with a grim, dark, gothic feeling (even when expressed in very bright deserts and neon-colored monsters). I think D3 did a pretty good job of this, though I’ve never felt the level of immersion and creepiness that I did in most of D1 and much of D2.

I think a lot of that is due to D3′s very subtle music, compared to the much louder and more present and immersive tracks Matt Uelmen created for the previous games. It’s hard to say, though. D3′s got some great level art and visuals; I clearly remember leaning in really close to the monitor to try to get a better look at all those chained skinned titan things when I first worked my way down the tower levels in Act 3.


7) Cooperative Multiplayer

And we end on a low point, since this is one area where they failed quite noticeably. Yes, you *can* play D3 with other players, and the auto-party options with friends are nice, and them (finally) enabling Monster Power in public games in v1.07 should help as well.

That said… I’ve never felt the sort of online community on Battle.net or in games that I did with previous Diablo titles. The initial chat channel implementation was terrible, in-game chat has always been bad, the Auction House’s efficiency turns trading into a soulless automated activity, the four player limit keeps games small and quick, the lack of proper experience or item rewards scaling in parties discourages co-op, the lack of game names or a proper game creation system is lame, the matchmaking quest system doesn’t work well everyone endlessly creating “Kill Azmodan” games and then doing everything but, and the problems go on and on.

All of those features/changes probably seemed like good ideas on the drawing board, and most of them are clearly technological improvements, but they conspired to create the same Battle.net ghost town effect that Starcraft 2 has suffered. I don’t know if more or less tech is the answer — the simple IRC-style chat rooms we had in Diablo I in 1996 gave vastly more social value than every B.net 2.0 feature combined — but on this design pillar at least I think the devs came up very short.