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Wyatt Cheng on Life and Healing Issues

Posted 18 July 2013by Flux

Not a developer interview, but DiabloWikiWyatt Cheng popped up on Reddit yesterday to answer some fan questions and drop some dev theory about healing, damage, EHP, monster attacks, and other related issues. As you guys heard on our podcast interview, Wyatt likes to get into the nitty gritty details of skills and stats; that can’t really be done in verbal communication, but it’s well-suited to text, and that’s what he gave us:

Wyatt: I agree that if we cut incoming damage and healing rates in half, players would run with half as much EHP, like you predict. So we can’t just go in there, make that change, and expect everything to be okay. I like the way you broke things into EHP and Sustain, it’s a good way to look at the problem.

I think that framework also hints at a potential solution too. We need to look at ways to test both your character’s Sustainability as well as your EHP. Melee classes already experience a good deal of this, which is why they were the first to adopt Life On Hit when the game first came out. As a melee class you are constantly taking melee damage from enemies, so your sustain is tested every second.

Right now we don’t have many ways to stress the EHP of the ranged classes without it feeling bursty. I think this is because the game has an plethora of “Do the right thing and take 0 damage, do the wrong thing and take 100K damage”. Since the outcomes are so binary, the correct way to build a ranged class is to try to do the right thing as often as you can, and maybe build enough survivability so you can make a mistake once in a while.

What I think we need more of is “Do the right thing and take 20K damage, do the wrong thing and take 80K damage”. You’re still trying to do the right thing, but you’re still taking damage either way. Besides, Sanctuary is a dangerous, violent and hazardous place – some amount of damage comes with the territory. When I play, I want to feel stress on my EHP and my Sustainability while still feeling satisfied for making smart plays. I also want to value incremental survivability choices I make on my gear and my skill build.

P.S. LpSS scales with attack speed too since you get more attacks per second which translates into more spirit generation.

If you’re lost on the acronym, DiabloWikiLpSS = Life per Spirit Spent, which is found on only a few items, is not much valued compared to DiabloWikiLife Steal or DiabloWikiLife on Hit. It only benefits, Monks obviously.

There were some more replies with good info, so click through to read the rest.

Good question regarding the 100K vs. 20K/80K scenario. I think I skipped a step in my answer which was assuming the player had about 100K EHP.

Let’s take it into some more concrete numbers. Let’s say a Demon Hunter has 30K health and regenerates 20K health per second via Gloom or what have you. In that world, a 30K hit kills you instantly.

Let’s take a mechanic like Mortar. Suppose at the MP level you’re playing at, Mortars hit for 30K. As a Demon Hunter you have 2 choices, you can either plan on avoiding all Mortars perfectly, and then you don’t die. Or you can gear for either 35K basically you’re allowing yourself some “slush”. How you gear depends on your confidence in your ability to avoid those Mortars, and how sensitive you are to death.

If you gear for 30K or less, then you are going to feel like the game is really cheap and unfair when you do die, because when those mortars hit you that you had planned on avoiding, you go from full to dead instantly. (Side note, this contributes to Vortex feeling cheap. It’s not that Vortex kills you directly, but Vortex causes you to take damage from something you had previously planned on avoiding completely, because you know it kills you)

On the other hand, if you gear for 35K health, then the game went from threatening to super-easy-mode, because the mortars are flying at you once every 2 seconds, and you heal to full in 1.5 seconds, now the mortars never actually kill you. In fact, you might not even bother dodging them anymore.

Now enter the “half-damage and half-healing”. Instead of healing for 20K health per second, I heal for 10K health per second. But instead of taking 30K damage, I take 15K damage. In the absence of any other changes, I think we’d see exactly what you predict. The game didn’t become interesting, instead, I’m just going to gear with 15K health.

However, what if the way in which we cut Mortar damage wasn’t just a strict 50% cut. What if we took the 30K damage and made it “0 damage if you avoid the Mortar by 20 yards, 5K damage if there is a Nearby Hit of about 8 yards, and 25K damage if you are hit directly”.

Now as a player I can’t reliably plan on avoiding all the Mortar hits. If I want to play super-duper safe I can avoid all the mortars, but I’m probably running a ton and doing almost no damage. Realistically I’m probably going to take 5K “incidental damage” constantly. This is going to eat into my 10K healing per second. If I take a 25K hit that leaves me at 5K health, I’m scared but not dead. Over the next 5 seconds I can’t afford to take another direct hit, and can either play super conservatively to avoid even 5K hits, or I can play more aggressively and accept that my 10K regen per second is being partially counteracted by the 5K near-hits and just make a concerted effort to avoid any more direct hits until my health is back up to a comfortable range.

You’re right this would be a significant shift in the environment, which is why you haven’t seen such a change.

Note: I’m not actually saying we’re going to change anything with Mortar. I’m just using it for illustrative purposes because I think it’s a good example for people to wrap their minds around right now.

I think buffing the numbers on things like LpSS and Life Regen is reasonable. I lean more towards LpSS.

Passive Life regen is good for allowing you to withstand some amount of damage over time, but when things go wrong and I’m close to death then my response is to back off and run in circles or run away until my regen has time to kick in. If I become overly reliant on this, then I may find myself running away a lot. This is not universally a bad thing, but it’s bad if it happens too much or it becomes the dominant way in which I play my Monk or Barbarian. (Ranged classes don’t suffer from this as much because they have tools to continue doing damage while minimizing how much damage they take)

If we were to buff LpSS instead, then when I’m low on life I still want to play carefully and conservatively but I still want to engage monsters, generate spirit, and then spend it to heal myself. I think LpSS has the potential to be a great stat, but the current tuning numbers are too low to be competitive in today’s environment. I think Life for Fury Spent could be tuned to be attractive as well. If I were low on Life (and healing were harder to come by then it is now), it would encourage me to do things that generated Fury and then spend that fury to heal myself.

One of the cases I think health globes break down the most right now is when I am fighting a large monster. Let’s say I’m normally killing a monster every second, and getting a health globe every 5 seconds (every 5 monsters). The health globes are very comfortably healing me so I’m fine.

Then I come up to a boss, champion, rare, etc. and suddenly I’m health globe starved for 30 seconds. This is enough to kill me. Now I need other sources of healing from my gear or skills.

I don’t think this is necessarily a problem, but it happens to a more extreme state right now then I think it needs to. Monsters currently have the ability to drop health globes incrementally as they take damage (ie. drop a globe at 50% health), but we could probably use that more, to try and remove those long periods against very high health targets where you are health globe starved.

Well if you can’t depend on health globes for healing when you need them most, wouldn’t it make sense, as a player, to instead build around one of the life regen affixes like LS or LoH instead? If LoH or lifesteal are strong enough to cover a 30-second gap in health globes, they’ll be way more than enough to sustain yourself through the trash.

It just seems that the inevitable outcome is that health globes become the secondary source of healing instead of the primary source.
Wyatt: Yes. I think your analysis is correct. I think your assessment is why healing from health globes feel marginalized in the current live game at high levels of play.

One possible solution would be if you weren’t starved for 30 seconds on the elite. Like if the elite dropped a health globe every 20% health, then you’d get a health globe every 6 seconds while fighting this high health elite.

The devs have spoken a lot lately about healing issues and the way the health globe system breaks down at the high end. The exact same thing happened in Diablo 2 of course, where the “potion spam” the D3 devs always speak of was a non-issue at the high end, where regen and life/mana leech was all-important, so at least D3′s LoH and LS issue is following the proper tradition of health systems in Diablo games.

My complaints about the health system are focused more on the imbalances. For instance, Barbs can get up to 6% more life leech than any other class, thanks to 3% from Mighty Belts and another 3% from the Bloodthirst passive. In D3′s design, high DPS cures all ills, the Barb can get the most DPS the most easily, and when you combine that with easy access to double or triple the life leech of other characters, the OP results are predictable.

The hidden imbalances of LS vs. LoH are also vexing. My dead HC Monk used Life on Hit, since it’s cheaper and LS is really hard to get (for non-Barbs). I’m sacrificing a LOT of DPS to keep a life leech weapon on my Monk. Why is that so much better than LoH? Because LS procs with Sweeping Wind while LoH does not, which makes a huge difference in survivability for Hardcore Monks. There are several other skills with LS vs. LoH incompatibilities, none of which are documented in-game.

That said… how do you guys feel about the overall health system? I’m not unhappy with it personally, probably since I always assumed health globes would become largely irrelevant in the end game, just as potions were in D2. (Where Life/Mana Leech was all-important.) From all their recent comments it’s pretty clear that’s contrary to what the D3 Devs wanted though, which is why they’re trying to tinker with it to reduce the impact of LS/LoH, to boost other healing options, and to make health globes more important. Do you like those ideas, and what do you think of Wyatt’s other comments here?


Tagged As: | Categories: Blue Posts, Items, Resources, Wyatt Cheng

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