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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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Diablo III: The First Year in Review, Part I

Posted 29 Jun 2009 by

Diablo III was announced last year on June 28, 2008, at Blizzard’s World Wide Invitational in Paris, France. What’s happened since? More than you remember. Far too much to re-live it all, but I thought it would be fun to do some research and type up a month by month highlight reel, with links and references and such. Even just hitting the highlights, there’s an amazing amount of stuff to cover. So much that I had to break it up into four, three-month sections.

A few of the key events that transpired during just June, July, and August 2008: the splash screen countdown drove the community insane with anticipation and annoyed us with that purple penguin, D3 was announced at the Paris WWI event, the “too colorful” controversy began (and never ended), a few of the D2 team dared to comment on D3, Bashiok made his debut, the Activision/Blizzard merger took place, “Caption This” came to D3, Diablo 2 returned to the best selling lists, and Jay Wilson did more than a dozen interviews from GDC. All that, and I’ll venture to throw in a proverbial “there’s much, much more!”

Seriously, click through. I didn’t break these up into 3 month chunks just to get 4 articles out of it. The plan was to put the whole year into one post, but there was so much content there was no way to do the review justice with fewer words. Even these first three months took upwards of 2000 words to summarize.

June 2008

June’s interviews and major media. All of July’s headlines.

Diablo 3’s Secret History
Long before this fated month began, the members of the Unofficial Site Staff had known that Diablo 3 was under development for years, with various stops and starts. We had no idea when the game would be far enough into development that Blizzard felt comfortable announcing it, but when we got word of the Paris WWI in June 2008, we hoped this might be it.  The months leading up to June were full of much behind the scenes toil, as we got ready to revamp the site into a more Diablo 3-themed presentation, while also improving the D2 coverage you guys have come to expect.  As part of our efforts, we put together a fairly massive, deeply-researched article on the history of Diablo III. When all of the various leaks, rumors, Blizzard job openings, and other information was viewed in one place, it made a compelling argument that D3 was well into the development cycle. That didn’t mean it would be announced at the WWI, though.

The Splash Screen Mystery
Shortly before the WWI, Blizzard began uploading a daily splash screen at Blizzard.com. (As they had done before past game announcements.) These huge wallpaper-style jpgs appeared before their main site loaded, one new one each day, the images sequentially depicting a plane of ice breaking open to reveal a mysterious face. There were runes hidden in the ice that referenced other Blizzard titles, and even secret .jpgs with codes in their names that eventually combined to take the form of… a giant, ugly purple penguin? See an article we put together shortly afterwards for a proper retrospective; it features all the splash images, runs down the furious rumor-mongering that went on at the time of each image, and even shows the stupid purple penguin.

Our Bold Prediction
While the splash images were unfolding during the week before the WWI, every sort of rumor was flying. We, being Diablo fans, were of course partial to the rumors that said Diablo 3 would be announced at the WWI. Unlike most of the rumor mongers, we actually had some inside sources, and on the 25th, 3 days before the show, we confidently predicted announced that Diablo 3 would be revealed at the WWI in 3 days. Needless to say, this bold prediction instantly grew an eight-page comment thread which was evenly divided between “Finally!” and “You better be right about this!” We were, and it wasn’t a guess.  We couldn’t jerk you guys around, much less ruin our credibility, by guessing about something that important.

Paris WWI Announcement
At last, after a week that felt like a year, Blizzard sliced through the thick-enough-to-eat anticipation with the big announcement at the opening of the WWI event. The show opening, and all of the other WWI conferences, were streamed live. At least that was the theory. In reality about half the computers on earth were trying to load the videocast, so most fans got, at best, choppy images and no sound. Happily, most of the IncGamers crew were at the WWI, so immediately after the announcement Elly was in our jam-packed IRC chat, answering questions as quickly as she could type. We had to put the channel into moderated mode each night, and then especially during the WWI events, since with literally hundreds of people all exulting at once, it was literally impossible to read the comments.

Fantastic Anticipation
That sort of thing formed my fondest memories of the WWI announcement and the days leading up to it was the buzz of excitement from the fans. Each night as the midnight (California time) splash screen upload time approached, the number of people in our IRC chat room and D3 forum (yes, we made a D3 forum some time before the WWI) would swell amazingly. Each night there was a mad rush to be the first to post a link to the new splash screen image, and each time it happened the thread would immediately be deluged by happy commenters, most of whom had their own theories about what the image and the glowing runes represented.  The IRC during the WWI announcement was incredible, as it was all day during late June and early July.

Full WWI Coverage
There were dozens of articles, previews, and interviews about Diablo III from WWI, in addition to the developer panels, screenshots, artwork, gameplay movie, cinematic trailer, and much more. Check our WWI coverage for convenient links to everything, and see even more comprehensive coverage of every piece of D3 media from that time on the Media Coverage page.

July 2008

July’s interviews and major media. All July’s headlines.

After the fevered anticipation pre-WWI, and then the orgy of goodness when the game was actually announced, the next month was inevitably a slower one in terms of game information. While lots of WWI coverage continued to trickle forth from the various gaming (and mainstream) media who were in attendance, the D3 Team got back to work, giving just a few interviews and making fewer public appearances than Puxatawny Phil. At least that was their plan, until unforeseen circumstances dragged them forth to defend their masterpiece in the making.

The “Too-Colorful” Controversy
For most fans, their main activity in July wasn’t analyzing new content… it was arguing about what they’d seen thus far. The infamous, contentious, and apparently never-ending Art Controversy got started in July, just days (hours?) after D3’s announcement. Our first post on it was July 2nd, just 3 days after the WWI event, and even at that early stage there were dozens of forum threads debating the issue, and numerous fan-altered screenshots showing how they thought D3 *should* look.  We snapped up these images as quickly as they appeared and gathered them in the new D3 controversy gallery, which was soon running tens of thousands of views a day as every fan took a look and formed an opinion.

The Art Controversy took off like it had Tyrael’s wings, and in the days that followed there were numerous articles about it in the gaming media, interviews with defensive D3 team members, interviews about D3’s art design philosophy, comments on the “too colorful” player petition, and WoW design influences. And no, July 2008 wasn’t the last we saw of this issue.

Bashiok, When He Was New and Shiny
In happier news, DiabloWikiBashiok madehis first post as D3 community manager on July 7th. (He’d previously announced himself on the WoW forums during WWI, before there existed a Battle.net D3 forum.) He’s since made hundreds more posts, and we’ll see more D3 CMs added as the game nears release, but there had to be a first, and it’s sort of appropriate that Bashiok used it to talk about how griefing and Pking wouldn’t be supported features (or bugs) in Diablo 3.

Welcome to Activision/Blizzard Inc
The biggest news of the mid-month was the financially-massive merger of Activision and Blizzard into one huge new gaming company. All the quotes from Blizzard peeps were to the effect of, “It won’t change anything/we still have full creative control/it’s a great partnership/etc.” But what else were they going to say, if they didn’t want to end up toiling in Activision’s underground sugar caves?

The D2 Team on D3
One of the things I found most interesting in the early days of D3 was hearing what the D2 designers thought about it. Though most of them are no longer with Blizzard, they’re still working in the industry and could not be induced to say anything about D3. There was some lingering bitterness about the way Blizzard North crashed and their early work on D3 was discarded, and furthermore, most of them are still in the industry and no one wants to risk burning any bridges. Fortunately, we tracked down a few guys on the D2 Team who weren’t afraid to speak up, and while Max Schaefer (who must have been quite distracted by the ongoing collapse of Flagship Studios) had nothing but PR puffery to add, the comments by Mike Huang and Ben Boos provided some great inside info on the issue.

Flagship Studios Closes
One sad development during July was the announcement that Flagship Studios was done for. Flagship was founded almost entirely by Blizzard North employees, among them all of the original creators of Diablo and Diablo II, and there were high hopes for their new RPGs. Unfortunately, Hellgate:London’s development dragged on, a financial crisis forced them to launch the game prematurely, there were bugs and a lack of content and polish, and with the company hemorrhaging money, everything came crashing down. Though some fans were bitter about the poor quality of HGL, most wished the ex-Flagship employees well, out of gratitude for their great work on Diablo II.

 

August 2008

August’s interviews and major media, including the big info releases from the GDC show in Leipzig.  All August’s headlines.

August featured a great deal more info than July, thanks to the Games Convention in Leipzig. Even before Leipzig, interviews and D3 features popped up with much greater frequency than they had during the previous month.

Jay Wilson Speaks
D3 lead designer Jay Wilson submitted himself to numerous interviews during this month, even aside from his press conferences at Leipzig. On August 1st he talked to Mtv and Kotaku about D3’s art direction. On August 4th Jay spoke at greater length about the art controversy, offering a sort of director’s commentary on some of the most-seen fan-modified shots and why they wouldn’t work, or weren’t practical to create with an actual game engine, rather than one at a time via Photoshop retouching. The next day Jay talked about why the Necromancer wasn’t going to return in D3. Plus there were more Jay interviews on the 8th, 10th, 11th, and 12th! He even talked about the drawbacks of the D2 Secret Cow Level. (See the media coverage page for all the links.)

While Jay was dominating the internet, Bashiok was making nearly-daily posts on the D3 forums, and we even got a batch of a half dozen new screenshots on the 14th, leading up to the GDC info deluge.

Diablo II’s Resurgence
One amusing by-product of the announcement of D3 was the surge in popularity of D2. We don’t know if these are new fans being drawn in, or if a lot of you guys had just lost/broken/given away your D2 disks over the long years since that game was released, but since it first returned in August 2008, the Diablo 2 Battlechest has been consistently amongst the top ten best selling PC titles every month. An achievement not a lot of 8 year old games can manage.

Too Colorful Demographics?
As elsewhere noted, the color controversy raged on during August. All of the links can be seen in the archives, but thanks to Penny Arcade there was some levity injected into things. Witness the rage of the Necromartyr!

Runic Games
On August 11th Runic Games debuted. This gaming company is essentially Flagship Studios North reborn, with the entire (small) team who had been creating Mythos still together and back to work on a new MMORPG. (Since revealed to be Torchlight.) Headed up by Max Schaefer and Travis Baldree, Runic Games was small but feisty, and quite talkative and forthcoming, as a smaller gaming company has to be. In retrospect I felt that some of the D3 and Flagship-related questions I submitted in this interview were a little harsh, but Travis answered them all unflinchingly, so I suppose it’s all good? Another meaty interview with the heads of the new studio was posted a few days later.

Caption This
Adapting the familiar blog game to Diablo III, we posted our first series of “Caption This” screenshots in mid-August. There were one, two, three, four images to choose from, with prizes for the best caption on each. Well over 100 of you guys commented on each, and while we’ve only found the time to run one more “Caption This” post since, there will be many more in the future.

GDC Leipzig
The Leipzig GDC ran from August 20-22, and while Blizzard didn’t make any big new D3 announcements at the show, there were more than a dozen new screenshots, lots of new artwork, and Jay Wilson did more than a dozen interviews. Links to all of them can be seen on the media coverage page.

Blizzcast #5
Much to our surprise after all the GDC coverage, Blizzcast #5 was released on the 28th, and it was focused entirely on D3. In the podcast Jay Wilson joined several of the community managers in sharing their WWI memories, before segueing into good info about D3’s skill system, trading plans, making the classes unique, inventory system, the color controversy/art design evolution, and more.

Diablo III: The First Year in Review

  • Part II: Demo, Wizards, Monsters & Skills
  • Part I: Secrets, Announcements & Colours