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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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On the Drawing Board #17: Religion and Morality in Gaming

Posted 2 Dec 2009 by

Religion and morality are huge topics, and possibly even off topics, for an installment of On The Drawing Board. But I think they are issues we can discuss in game terms, without straying too far afield.

By “religion” I don’t (necessarily) mean an earthly religion, but a religion in a game. Many games with a story have some mentions of religion, but these hardly ever affect the gameplay. They certainly don’t in the Diablo games, as I will discuss later. Likewise, a gameworld can be steeped in religious concepts, or concepts borrowed from known religions. Diablo; with its DiabloWikiangels from the DiabloWikiHigh Heavens and DiabloWikidemons from the DiabloWikiBurning Hells is an easy example, though nothing in the gameplay or world fiction are taken directly from elements of Christian literature. It’s not like Jesus, or Satan, are act bosses.

Which isn’t to say that games don’t go there; though developers seldom risk the heresy of involving religions anyone still believes in. God of War is an easy example. The game is set in ancient Greece and draws its plot from Greek religion mythology, with the hero battling for and against the Greek gods, ultimately triumphing over and usurping Ares, God of War.

The issue of morality in games is a different one, and is included in the play mechanics or many RPGs, generally with a “reputation” stat that rises and falls with your character’s actions and determines how NPCs will treat your character. Most versions of Dungeons and Dragons, whether played with dice or a computer, have something like reputation, as well as fixing character “alignments” that shaped your character’s actions. The Ultima series of games took this to a further level with the system of eight Virtues, Richard Garriot’s effort to impart moral considerations into the gameplay.

Nothing like this is found in the action-intensive Diablo games, where all characters are basically “good” in that they constantly kill evil men and monsters, rather than working with the demons against humanity. (Leaving aside the mythical concept of a role-playing PK.)

But why not include some morality? Why not require players to think about something other than maximizing their magic find while they decide whether to spend the next hour running Pindleskin or Meph? Plenty of games allow players to think and deal with moral issues, and not just RPGs. Check out Scott Jennings’ account of the instantly infamous “No Russian” mission in the brand new mega-seller Modern Warfare 2.

Morality in Diablo 3?

Would adding some sort of morality to the mechanics of Diablo III improve the game, or just complicate things? Off the top of my head it seems like an unnecessary complication. Moral issues or reputation or alignment or other such features sound nice in theory, but in practice they just become another stat to tweak. It usually has players doing this sort of math in their heads: “I need to kill 50 more monsters to raise my rep to “lawful,” which will let me buy a new weapon, with which I can gank another noob, which will force me to kill another 50 monsters to get back to lawful.”

Of course there’s no way to tack that sort of a system on to Diablo 2 at this point. A game needs to plan for morality from the beginning, include punishments and rewards, provide quests that differ depending on a character’s reputation, and so forth. And it’s possible that that sort of considered gameplay would never fit into a fast-paced, action-RPG like Diablo anyway.

How about some quests that at least provide food for thought?  None to be found in the series. Every quest involves killing bad people or monsters, returning items to selflessly help out NPCs, saving lost kittens and puppies, etc. In the Diablo world you can’t be bad even if you want to. (Leaving aside the issue of PKs, which isn’t addressed in any way in the game lore or story.)

Everything you can attack in the Diablo games is a monster that needs to be destroyed. You can’t attack the NPCs in town, there aren’t any missions where you can accidentally kill friends, etc. About the only moral issues to be found in Diablo 2 are underfoot; ambient life. Do you go out of your way to step on, or avoid, the bunnies? (Incidentally, the D3 team is clearly pro-stomping. Snakes in the D3 desert try to flee when you come near, but they wriggle directly away from you, which makes it very easy to step on them if you just keep running straight ahead. And they splat very messily, providing additional “stomp them for fun” feedback.)

There is one sort of moment of moral decision in Diablo 2. In Act 3, once you destroy the Compelling Orb in Travincal, the remaining Zakarum warriors will run away from you, instead of fighting. The Zakarum mages still attack, as do the Vampires who spawn there, but the foot soldiers become non-violent. They were “compelled” to fight, you see, and with the Orb broken, they return to normal. They don’t talk or beg for their lives, but they do run away. They’re still worth experience though, and they still drop items, so in terms of moral dilemmas, this one isn’t exactly The Fat Man and the Train. And they get caught in corners, so can be easily herded along the stone walkway around the perimeter of Travincal. Not that I?m recommending that, or anything. *cough*

Religion in Diablo 3?

We don’t yet know quite how this issue will be handled, but if the new developers follow the lead of the guys who made D1 and D2, religion will exist, but be irrelevant. There will be religions; the DiabloWikiMonk class is said to worship 1001 Gods, which must make for a lot of holidays. The other cultures have their own gods as well. But it seems unlikely that any of this will actually matter, in terms of gameplay. The various religions will flesh out the story and provide the motivation for some quests, but I’ll be shocked if what the characters are said to believe actually affects the gameplay.

Why? Look at Diablo 2. In the aforementioned Act 3 storyline, the player’s mission was to wipe out the corrupt High Council. Who were, incidentally, the heads of the Zakarum church. Of which the Paladins were members and protectors. So if you were playing a Paladin in Act 3, you were basically killing your commanding officers and religious superiors, who had betrayed all you had pledged belief in, and who had destroyed the spiritual foundation of your life. Yet the Paladin did so with no more inner turmoil or need for reflection than if he were wiping out another bunch of giant mosquitoes.

So yes, there will be religions in Diablo 3, but will they matter, in terms of game play? I’m guessing no. It never has in the past, since the developers haven’t given that aspect of the game much thought.

Over the past decade I’ve had several chances to speak with Erich Schaefer, Max Schaefer, and Dave Brevik about their original collaborative creation of the game that grew into Diablo, and I can honestly say that never once did any of them mention religion or the game’s cosmology. In the early days they were focused entirely on making a fun game, and only added in the plot and story and world setting as they went, and needed a skeleton from which to hang the meat of the gameplay. (Since I’m partially cut out of that photo with Dave, I uploaded two others from different interviews in that same room, just to prove it was me talking to him.)

Here’s a quote from an (unpublished) interview I conducted with David Brevik in 2007.

Flux: The D1 manual was really nice. It had stories and legends and monster info and more story than the game.

Dave Brevik: Oh absolutely. (laughs) Because we came up with the story after we came up with the game! (laughs heartily) The game was halfway over and we were like, “Well, we should probably put a story in here!” That was really more the reason than anything.

I’m sure DiabloWikiChris Metzen at Blizzard Irvine contributed a lot of those story ideas as well, but I’m fairly certain that the designers had created all sorts of demons to populate the game, and they knew the main bad guy was going to be called Diablo, and since they’d grown up in an American culture permeated with Christianity, they naturally gravitated towards a version of Hell for that. With a hell in the game it was only natural to have a sort of heaven, with warrior angels to counter the demons, and so on. Though the basic concepts of the Diablo cosmology are similar to those in Christianity, there are no “gods” in the Diablo mythology. Neither in Heaven or Hell.

Diablo’s Mythology

The overall cosmology of the game will likely be further explored as well, (it’s been largely developed in the Diablo novels) with what appear to be planned cinematic scenes from the High Heavens. We also expect more interactions with Tyrael and perhaps some other Archangels, and it seems likely we’ll get more info about events in the Burning Hells; the plot info the developers have teased thus far tells us that everyone expected a demonic invasion twenty years ago, after the Worldstone was destroyed, but that it didn’t happen. And no one knows why.  I’m betting we’ll find out, though.

Interestingly, I got the idea for this column over the weekend, while resurrecting the last eleven columns of Salem’s Fire. It wasn’t one of the last 11, but Salem’s Fire #32 was entitled, Monk, I need a monk!  I was, of course, curious about that one, written in 2004. No, it’s not a psychic discussion of a Diablo 3 character to be announced 5 years hence. It’s actually about how games usually duck the subject of religion, and how Monk characters have some religion, but it’s never anything that’s important in the gameplay.

Okay, so maybe it was slightly psychic…

Power Corrupts

Interestingly, the principle bad guys in Diablo 1 are figures of authority; King Leoric and Archbishop Lazarus. Both are controlled by or in service to Diablo, but as the game’s plot unfolds the king and the leading religious figure of the land are the enemies most often referred to by in-game sources.  (I bet their reputation scores really took a dive!)

The theme of fighting corrupted figures of authority continues in Diablo 2, most notably in Act Three, where the player’s mission is essentially to kill the entire ruling authority of the Holy Zakarum religion. To throw in a real life analogy, imagine God of War 3: Massacre in the Vatican, or Splinter Cell 6: Target Dali Lama? We don’t know much about the plot of Diablo 3 yet, but I wouldn’t rule out more of the same, at some point in the game.

I don’t think there’s some unified theme here; it’s just a useful plot device to have rulers in a medieval setting be evil, since they have all the power and are dangerous enemies. Look at the rest of Diablo 2; the Rogue leaders and Jerhyn in Act 2 are friendly, as are the leading Barbarians in Act 5, with the traitor Nihlathak a treacherous exception. More functionally, evil humans are fun enemies, just since they provide a break from the slaughter of scaly monstrosities that makes up the bulk of the game(s).

Morality and Religion?

This installment of On the Drawing Board is a bit of a scattershot take on the issue, but what do you guys think? Would you like to see more morality in the game? Do you want to be rewarded for being good, or have the option to be bad? Would you like some quests that required you to kill the innocent, or forced you to be careful to avoid doing so? What if the Barbarians you had to rescue in Act Five of D2X could die, if you were careless, and you didn’t get the reward, or as good a reward, if not all 15 of them made it back to town?

And would you like the religions seen in the Diablo games to matter more? Perhaps your character will refuse to complete some quests, since they offend his/her faith? Perhaps there are special quests you get only because of what your character believes in? Perhaps you have to accomplish some quests with alternate methods than the rest of the players?


On the Drawing Board is written by Flux. These articles examine crucial game design issues and decisions in Diablo 3 by explaining the issue and presenting arguments for and against. On the Drawing Board aims to spur debate and further the conversation, rather than converting readers to one side or the other. Conversation and disagreement is encouraged. Have your say in the comments, or contact the author directly. Suggestions for future column topics are welcomed.


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