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Is Diablo's team just full of too many opinions?

Discussion in 'Diablo 3 Community Forum' started by Kaeros, Mar 21, 2013. | Replies: 22 | Views: 3280

  1. Kaeros

    Kaeros IncGamers Member

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    I originally wrote this topic's title as "Is Blizzard growing too large to function?", but I think that's a poor way to phrase the discussion. It certainly isn't valid for at least 2 of their 3 franchises, since MoP was one of Wow's best received expansions ever and HotS has been absolutely drowning in hard-earned fan good will.

    So.. what's so different with Diablo? Why are SC and WoW thriving under Big Blizzard, while Diablo is rotting? 2/3's success rate means that it probably has little to do with Bobby Kotick, sooo... is it incompetency on behalf of Diablo's developers? Even though that's what most of the posters on Diablo forums would suggest, I strongly doubt it. These people were hired by Blizzard, meaning that they are some of the best brains and talents out there. That's a payroll reserved for very, very extraordinary people held to very high standards.

    I don't think the problem with Diablo is a bloated corporation or incapable game directors. I think the problem, actually, is much more more 'human'. Take a look at these excerpts from the latest 1-page Q&A (x-posted from the front page comments section, sorry about that):


    This is it. This is why the team can't produce content, can't move forward, and can't make a solid game. They CAN'T make decisions! Even "adding a socket" seems to require board meetings and office discussions ad naseum, with little to show for it. If they're having issues with small things like this, imagine the nightmare it must be deciding on more over-arching game design and direction.

    So.. why? Why do the Starcraft and WoW teams have such solid visions and consistent progress, while the Diablo team is still paralyzed a year into it?

    I think the answer is that the team -- like the community -- is currently full of too many conflicting opinions on what makes a good ARPG. I'm willing to bet some serious bucks that the in-house headbutting between "old school" and "new school" is absolutely hamstringing Diablo's ability to move forward. Free specs vs. commitment, deep itemization vs. easy access, casual vs. hardcore, story vs. no story, "badass from level 1" vs. progression, gothic vs. painterly ... There are really two schools of thought at the base of all this, and if the last few years have been any indication, they mix like oil and water.

    I think the team -- for the future health of the game -- really needs to pick either the oil or water and make the difficult decision to dump the rest. Even in a room full of the smartest people in the world, you're not going to make progress toward a singular goal when you can't even agree on what that goal needs to be.
  2. Ivan E

    Ivan E IncGamers Member

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    I think, to add to your point, there's a lack of any kind of driving vision. I'm sure their PR would disagree, and say something like, "We think Diablo is a really cool monster-killing loot-finding game, and we hope you do too!" But, nonetheless, it really does feel like a "game-by-committee" where things are iterated and polished over until everyone can agree on some aspect of them. Which, in line with your thinking, explains a lot about how they phrase responses and why development takes a long time.

    In any case, it would be interesting to see what a Diablo game oriented from someone's singular, powerful, driving vision looks like. Right now, there's no unifying vision, but a lot of disparate elements that still come together to form a cohesive whole, but not one that's really more than the sum of its parts.
  3. InteNuIgen

    InteNuIgen IncGamers Site Pal

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    Good post OP, you described what has been my feeling all the time
  4. Kiroptus

    Kiroptus IncGamers Member

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    Great post OP.

    To me, I think that everything that could have gone wrong in D3, did go wrong. Both in terms of development and corporate meddling. I think the team had a direction for D3 to follow and suddenly that was lost, the initial direction was the 2008 game, we have skill trees, choices, more items (there was a throwing knife in one shot I believe), skill runes as items that could enhance the skills like Hydra and Alabaster (sp?) runes.

    At that point, D3 seemed like a very solid game and its no wonder that it got everyone so pumped up. So what happened in those 4 years? I would speculate that the problem is that D3 had more roles fill rather than just being a good ARPG, it was bound to go to consoles so the game suffered alterations because of that, it was an RMAH experiment, it needed to catter to everyone, including the casual grandmothers and WoW-players. Rob Pardo's "Wow-strike teams" interfered in the development, it was even state that those strike teams didnt even want elective mode to be in the game, and were the reasons why advanced tooltips were off by default.

    There was just no way to combine that form of meddling with a proper and healthy game design direction, with that game was doomed, and through these 4 years it was hacked up to pieces and there is nothing left now, I mean.. hell even that 2011 september delay, that event was what made itemzation based around main-stat, such an important design decision was rushed in the last hour and no wonder, it turned out to be a disaster.

    Now, its not that I think that this team has suffered a big injustice, I think that coupled with the meddling also came with the team's innexperience on the ARPG field, many of the design flaws in D2 were things that accidently worked towards the game's longevity, but the D3 team analyzed those flaws in a burocratic manner and doing that they "fixed" many of those "flaws" but didnt make anything to make up for something that has been lost. Take character customization for example, there is NONE in D3, its just scary that games like Farcry 3 and Tombraider actually have choices for you to spend skill points on but D3 has NONE, we see catch phrases being tossed like "Illusion of choice" yada yada, probably from a senior game design perspective, D3's skill system is flawless but from a gamer and Diablo fan, its a disaster. Everything was done in a methodical manner, the "big picture" was never taken into consideration, "Illusion" is what games are, if we have a "Illusion of Choice" it means we at least have one, its better than no choice at all and thus making our journey meaningless when all characters are the same and because of that, I have no attachment to my characters, my WD isnt my WD, it is just a lv 60 WD with all skills unlocked for him.

    Its also hard to know if those things that JW and the other developers were spewing out are actually what they truly believe, some WoW-Strike Team member must have commanded them into changing the skill system in a way that no casual gamer had a chance to screw up their character or waste time doing hard choices and the "Illusion of choice" meme is what they had to come up to defend it since they cant say that their bosses made them do it.

    I am sure that the work enviroment in the D3 team was just unbearable, I do believe that every single one of the developers, programers and artists hated working in the D3 team, with that enviroment it was just impossible to have a vision if not one that the corporate suit's agenda had for D3, the result is this messy disgrace that D3 turned out to be.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  5. Merith

    Merith IncGamers Member

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    Zero conflict is bad, but too much conflict can also be bad. Makes me wonder how many on that team begrudgingly did what they were told and were all the while thinking "This is not going to end well" but hesitated to speak up about their misgivings. Now I wonder how many of these people would love to shout at a meeting "HEY!!! I told you so!!!!"
    I'm actually glad that there is conflict, because they know how fickle the player base can be at times. You want a socket quest? Ok they implement it, and then some players will whine about how its excruciating to re-do the quest when they acquire a new upgrade. It was semi-annoying in D2, unless you had a friend who was willing to rush you so you could get all 3 socket quests. Keep in mind that they would have to make it so the quest is a one time thing, or make the cost for it fairly high, it could work but they have to make an idea fit, and I think they are trying to be very very cautious based upon the negative response this game has gotten so far.

    Someone above mentioned how they fixed some things in D2 and did not replace the fixes with anything meaningful. That made me think of the Cow Level, god that was a fun run to do. They nerfed it and then there wasn't much left except endless Baal runs, or maybe trying to sneak into a dueling game and run the pit level 1 and 2 just to get 8 players. I'm still waiting to hear about any other ideas about other end game content, the monster density will help a lot because I love act 1, and I am getting sick of act 3!! I still would like to see a couple other options, places to go, the pony level was a good idea, but then they nerfed that. Maybe this will be addressed in the expansion (god the game hasn't been out a year and we all want an expansion already!)
  6. ShadowMatrix

    ShadowMatrix IncGamers Member

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    This is a big part of the lack of insight on their part which shows their lack of experience in the RPG department because as we all know when Blizzard North left, all of that RPG experience left as well. With that said, they have to ask the question based on, what makes the player feel attached to their character and its the reasons you gave. Even in WoW you had more of an attachment to your character than Diablo 3.
    It comes down to the question like I said what makes a person feel attached to their character and your quote iterates the counter idea that makes a character not feel like its yours; its just another WD with all the skills unlocked. Permanence, choices, hard choices etc.

    Anyways to stay on point with the OP, I think is very accurate. There is certainly this cross roads of casual vs hardcore gamer that has been coming in to play in the last 5 years and Blizzard tries to blend the two as much as possible.

    Really though at this point, little changes aren't going to bring me or anyone else that sees the flaws in this game. It's not even worth the time. They know the issues are core design philosophy issues so they need to fix them or gtfo.
  7. Soval

    Soval IncGamers Member

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    It's amazing how you can read their minds like that!

    And what even more amazing is how the thoughts you read match up perfectly with the opinions you already had!

    Funny how that works.
  8. Silverfang

    Silverfang IncGamers Member

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    You know what stringing together little bits of information to a personal view is called? Speculation! I don't think that anyone in this thread doesn't know what he's doing here. Ok, well, there's obviously you...
  9. Darkmere

    Darkmere IncGamers Member

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    SC2 and WoW are inherently different setups from D3. HOTS is, long-term, a $40 multiplayer expansion pack with 7 (I think) new units for multiplayer battles. The campaign will be played by everyone at most 2 or 3 times and forgotten. WoW is based on continuous content additions in between expansions that are funded with the subscription fees. D3 won't have that, regardless of how much the RMAH brings in. It was established before release that this wouldn't be the case. Their stories are also about as poor as D3's, but few people over there really care about them as far as I can tell. Though, they have yet to kill off a signature character in those... So there is that.

    It's not even so much that they fixed D2's flaws, as recreated them in different form. Str for gear + dex for block (or not) + vit is the same problem that mainstat + allres + crit + vit on gear is, just in a different form. Build pigeonholing with synergies is the same as build pigonholing with 6 slots and a handful of must-have skills per class, as both limit the effectiveness of off-peak setups. Best-in-slot legendaries (SKORN! MANTICORE!) are best-in-slot runewords redone. They did make the whole thing worse by chucking out parts of the old system like socketing and ID all for no apparent logical reason.

    All that said, I think the biggest problem is D3's failure to realize the vision of the game itself. It's a failure to implement what we were originally promised, and I honestly don't know where things started to break down. Passives were supposed to be big, impressive changes of the way a character functions, but some (most?) of their benefits are miniscule or obviously outclassed by the must-haves. Skills were supposed to be viable in large combinations, but most combinations are sub-par. Gear was supposed to be varied an interesting, but... trifectas and all that. Legendaries failed to be legendary. So, let's play armchair developers and fix all those, given what we know of D2 and what should be changed in D3 to get closer to that.

    A) Gear overhaul. Not just what stats spawn in what numbers... quinfectas are the core of the problem. Make useless stats (thorns, dominate, minion summoning, elemental damage types) comparable to main-stats in some ways, for some builds. This leads to
    B) A full skill overhaul for every class. All of them. Make the boring crap useful. Make the over-powered stuff more tame (but NOT useless). Make some skills scale well with off-stats for some characters, so builds can actually have variety in play AND gear needs. And then
    C) Put a sanity check on stat-scaling per class. Buff gains for off-stats so they aren't useless. Give barbs a chance to counterattack on dodge with a passive, that scales with dex or something. You know, interesting variety.
    D) Re-balance inferno to work with the above.
    E) Add variety in inferno areas, as currently promised, that makes wider farming variety possible.

    That would about put the game where we were told it would be. And yet, they're deciding if adding a socket might be a good change. Maybe there is something to the over-use of committees at work here, after all.
  10. Kaeros

    Kaeros IncGamers Member

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    You know, considering this forum gets about 10 new posts a day, you might want to try to encourage discussion instead of trying to shut down what little there is with snark.
  11. Kiroptus

    Kiroptus IncGamers Member

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    QFT. Its sad to see this place like this, I know this wasnt the most popular forum ever but there was a very active community here, in the days of Diablo 2 when the Strategy Compedium was up, there was so many posts and discussions and theorycrafting about builds and items, it was great.

    Now its as you said, like 8-10 posts per day, sometimes even less, but this isnt the only place, almost all D3 fansites are dead, there isnt anything worthy to discuss about D3. The most popular topic is always about what is wrong with the game and solutions about it, it just tells you something about the state of the game...
  12. Vooodu

    Vooodu Banned

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    Wow... You hit in on the head with that post.


    Ever since Path of Exile came to open beta i've been hooked on it. And if you take a few minutes to glance over the POE forums you will see what you describe in the above quote taking place. Constantly.

    The new skool vs old skool. Its all over the place.


    Players crying about Free For All Loot. Players crying about lack of full respects. Players crying about how hard it is to trade and wanting an auction house. And when you tell them to shut up and go back to D3 they get angry about it. As if this' new skool' of gamers need to have it their way all the time. As if game devs owe them everything. Even if the game is free.


    I honestly HATE D3 on PC. But, for some reason im looking forward to playing it on console. Simply put, it just seems like a the better version. How can this even make sense?
  13. Darkmere

    Darkmere IncGamers Member

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    So, telling people who want convenience features to shut up, makes them mad? What a bunch of babies! They should learn to accept that things are just better the way I prefer, instead.
  14. Vooodu

    Vooodu Banned

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    And thank you for pointing out exactly what i pointed out...:thumbup:
  15. Darkmere

    Darkmere IncGamers Member

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    I... honestly can't tell if you're being ironic or serious.
  16. stillman

    stillman IncGamers Member

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    I strongly disagree with this premise. If they are some of the best talent, it certainly isn't being shown. They are more like marketing experts. All I see in Blizzard's art lately is complete reliance on successful and very banal formulas (i.e. cheese)--old, popular ideas made extremely flashy and superfluous to pretend it's something new.

    Take the latest Starcraft ad; it has that low horn sound that is all the rage in recent movie previews, hot chicks, and glowing eyes--gosh, haven't seen that before. True talent is original thought, not copy and paste. They are simply looking at what's popular and plugging it in. Anyone can do this. Anyone can recognize that Star Wars is popular, so we should/must put the emperor in d3. Sure, they've got explosions and neon lights down to perfection, but there are no (peskily risky) new ideas behind their glam cannon.

    While some customers eventually stop rewarding such bad behavior with money, new people keep getting born who don't know any better. We're also seeing a bizarre arms race to gobble up the teens and adults growing suspicious of the constant regurgitation of cheese. They'll keep blowing through millions to enhance the presentation, leading to an overblown grotesqueness. D3 is the breaking point of that arms race where it all becomes too obvious. Higher quality flashes of colored lights and crisper, overproduced sounds--that's pretty much all they worked on for those years. The expansion will be an even better fog machine with lasers.

    I'm sure in enough years, we'll finally hear from those artists-turned-brainwashing-technicians. They probably looked on in horror, realizing that the neon green and pink goop swirling down the toilet created a .00001% increase in eye saccades which can be exploited for profit.

    Anyway, I disagree with the OP in that the opinions weren't about concern over the game mechanics, but rather what must be done to make the game more attention-seeking in the ever desperate world of marketing.
  17. Kiroptus

    Kiroptus IncGamers Member

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    I agree but I think that Diablo 3 was so glaring on its intention that it could be the reason why the game now feels like a momumental failure.

    And yes, I would argue that Diablo 3 is a huge failure, for the 12 million copies sold, which were all granted because of the franchise's name, Diablo 3 is now a wasteland, for all those copies sold and the type of game that Diablo proposes to be, having 400 public games on, even after enabling MP on Public, is just pathetic. I really wanted to see the population display but blizzard thought the numbers were too glaring to be shown to the public, at least this way there are people who believe the game is being played by millions on solo games, but seriously... it certainly isnt. It also destroyed the community, look at this site or any other fansite, never in D1-D2 or even on the Hiatus of D2 to D3 the community was so dead.

    We bought the hype, the franchise name and dragged our friends with it, the fault is on our side, Blizzard did make all the bells and wristles to make D3 the most Michael Bay-ish experience of cheesy dialogue, neon lights and explosions but they shouldnt even bother with that, the franchise name would do all the trick. But the reception wasnt good despite what any white knight wants to say about it.

    Now for me, the big question is: What was Blizzard trying to accomplish with Diablo 3? Its hard to me to think that Blizzard didnt see all of this comming, that it was indeed lack of talent, bad design choices and all that. A company of Blizzard's power cant commit such a thing, I just cant accept it, not because I think Blizzard is great but because on D3's case the faults are so glaring, any amateur could see the game and point out that this thing wont even last a year and thats a failure for a franchise focused on replayability. Did they want to sacrifice the Diablo franchise and just milk whatever was left of it? Those old theories that Blizzard doesnt need the Diablo franchise anymore now that they have WoW and a new MMO on the way, those theories that everyone like to point as tinfoil material dont seem to farfetched anymore. The way things turned out, Its just difficult to see what was their intent with D3, it certainly wasnt to create a worthy and longlasting sequel to D2, they purposedly gutted the game on months before the release.
  18. Vooodu

    Vooodu Banned

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    I think the biggest problem with MP is there is just to much. Why are 10 lvls of difficulty needed?


    They should have kept the original difficulty from when the game was released..


    I think D3 had a huge goal of sucking in as MUCH players as possible. They made inferno next to impossible, made drops 99% useless which in turn made the AH the main goal of the game. And the more AH was used the more money they make.

    I also think thats why skill trees where removed. Because they didn't want players constantly re- rolling. They wanted ITEMS to be the main focus So, in turn the AH would become the main focus.


    I can't help but think that was their main goal.


    Its funny that the PS3 version will have Offline mode, NO auction house and less CRAP items dropping.. Really?


    That just pretty much proves my above point.





    Like i said im looking forward to playing this on console with friends. I can't help but think this game makes a great console style arcade game. Its not really an ARPG at all. Hell, its not even a true sequel to D2..
  19. sneakytails

    sneakytails IncGamers Member

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    I cant help but think that right now there is a tension between the development team and the upper level executives within the company. There must of been some fallout from the Jay Wilson twitter bomb, the open letter to the community by the blizzard CEO and other such things. For a CEO to have to write a letter like that in the first place must be very embarrassing for a company like Blizzard, a juggernaut in the gaming world. There just had to be some anger there because of this. I am certain it affected the team if there was.

    Thats why when i read what the devs are saying is just sounds like they are looking over their shoulder and really really being careful in what they say. Every decision is problably being gone over by the higher ups and only goes into effect if cleared. Perhaps freedom was curtailed as a result.
  20. Kiroptus

    Kiroptus IncGamers Member

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    I think JW is extremely pissed off at them, yeah he received his paycheck but it came with the price of having his reputation run to the ground when there is a good chance that it wasnt even his fault but rather Rob Pardo's WoW Strike teams who did a good job on disrupting the game development.

    JW doesnt seem like a very good guy, he seems arrogant and is just terrible to communicate with the public, but I think he is a good designer, the way how D3 was gutted seemed to me that there was a driving force within the execs doing that, and it was out of his reach to make anything against it, he just had to go with the flow and defend the design choices of Pardo's team with his own words, no wonder his words were so out of place. At least that my theory on the matter...

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