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Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

Discussion in 'Diablo 3 General Discussion' started by Flux, May 4, 2012. | Replies: 89 | Views: 16143

  1. Flux

    Flux Administrator

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    Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    The Torchlight 2 beta started yesterday, and thus far I've had time to play one Embermage through the full content. It took me about 5 hours of play time, spread over 2 play sessions, on normal (the 2nd of 4) difficulty, and I was not screwing around or doing a full clears. There's a HUGE amount more content in it than in the D3 beta. (I think D3 has more total content though, as it should costing 3x as much with like 50x the dev hours.)

    Quick observations:
    • Very fun and much faster and more intense play than anything in the D3 beta.
    • I love the huge, complicated maps and all the use of elevation and switchback paths. You're constantly encountering high hills with monsters up on them, shooting down or leaping down to fight you, but you can always wind around and eventually reach that height yourself. And other areas you go down long twisting paths and get to wreck enemies from above with ranged attacks.
    • The item soup of TL1 is much improved, though gear lacks the clear, continual improvement you get in D2 or D3. I found various rares and sets at level 6 or 8 that were still my best items 3 hours later at lvl 21.
    • The lack of any kind of item crafting feels like a void. I like storing up materials or gems or other such things to craft and improve upon.
    • The merchants sell a nice mix of gear, but they desperately need to sort it by type. 5x10 block of completely jumbled weapon tooltip hover shopping sucks.
    • Great scenery and level design. The outdoor areas feel huge and expansive, with all the views from up high. Kind of like the Arreat Summit in D2, except you actually proceed down paths and gradually explore the areas you first see from the summit. D3 feels very flat and played on a pool table, in contrast.
    • Nice monster design and I like the huge bosses, but they need more varied AI. Some properties like waller, vortex, teleporting, etc, to use D3 examples. My mage was almost always able to just retreat or run in circles, D2 style, to avoid getting into melee trouble.

    It's too early in my play to make any sweeping conclusions, so I'll just focus on a couple of points here.

    As has been noted before, including by me after I played it at Runic's offices last year, TL2 is much more like D2 than D3 is like D2. I'm talking about play mechanics, and there's really no arguing this point: TL 2's got custom attribute points, skill points, skill trees, very limited respecs, a much faster pace and character movement, health/mana potions, etc. (For better or worse.)

    I felt more attachment to my one TL2 char than I ever did to any D3 beta char, since the choices I made actually mattered. I was very aware that I could screw up the char or make her stronger, and that my skill and attribute choices made a big difference. Leveling up was very noticed and important, and not just for the, "new rune effect!" way they are in D3. I'm stuck (mostly) with the skills I pick, and the much greater potential danger/difficulty of the game makes equipment choices feel much more important.

    On the other hand, all those permanent choices feel like pressure. I've been corrupted by D3's freespecs and malleable char formation, and it's hard to go back to the D2 style of permanent skill choices, character-defining bricks that are mortared into place by the application of skill points. The D3 system of instant hot swapping and zero character permanence is enjoyable, especially in a beta, since it allows you to try out every type of class build with a single char. If I had 8 hours a day to play TL2, I'd have no trouble filling that time by repeatedly rerolling and playing different skill choices. I don't have that time, so while I enjoyed building one specific char, I was felt a constant sort of nagging curiosity about what other options I was missing out on by making the choices I did. I never felt that anything like that with D3, and again, this is a "for better or worse" thing. YMMV, etc.

    I'm far from an expert at this point, but the TL2 skill system seems to be a combo of D3 and D2 style. Your skills are scaled to your Clvl and gear, including weapon damage to spells with the mage, but you also have a skill point every level to invest as you wish. I don't know how it's meant to be balanced long term, but at level 21 my mage had 7 or 8 points in her main skill, which had become available at lvl 3. The skill was set to max out at 15 points, but the frequency at which you can place points decreases as you level up. So I was able to add a point to it at something like 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 19, 24, etc. Not at all the D2 system of a point a level. Thus you can't max out a low level skill and make it overpowered (as in D2) and this also allows them to scale up the skills with clvl to keep them useful late game, or at least mid game.)

    Was that skill as powerful with 8 points at level 21 as a higher level skill would have been with 5 points at level 21? I have no idea, and lacking freespecs it would take me about 4 hours to find out.


    Over the recent weeks, I've been on and off debating the skill system of D3 with Azzure. He's a huge fan of the freespecs, clvl scaling up, and removal of skill points in D3, and seems to think it's nearly an ideal system. I'm less sold on it, and I think the D3 system could be improved by some kind of skill permanence and by some kind of skill points. Not the original D2 system certainly, where virtually every skill is either maxed out or a one point wonder, nor do I approve of the current D2X synergy-tastic straightjacket... but I think D3 could be improved with some mechanism that allowed players to specialize or improve some (but not all) of their skills, with trade offs and different weightings. So every single char with the same skill/rune/clvl wasn't exactly identical, as is now the case.

    We'll have +skill equipment of some type in the late game, and perhaps that will provide all the benefits of skill points with none of the drawbacks, but we can only speculate on that at this point. I can say (from admittedly limited experimentation) that the TL2 hybrid skill point/scaling system seems a big improvement over how skills are handled in D2, and that further research is needed.
     
  2. RazeBarb

    RazeBarb IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    I've watched a TL2 stream last night. I'm sure it's a good game, but I just don't have any interest in other games than D3 right now.
    What I didn't like was the inventory, merchant window, character windows....pretty much every menu he opened looked kinda bad in terms of readability. The tooltips, menus, icons and such look too bloated.

    Combat did indeed look faster paced than D3, but also a bit boring and less explosive.
     
  3. Greystone

    Greystone IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Interesting post. I myself feel after playing the D3 beta that the skill rune system is THE way to go. You shouldn't be penalized for playing the game. I don't agree with every single character being the same with skills and runes+passives+choice of gear. I can make 2 characters with the exact same skills, and all the same runes, but 1, 2 of the same passives but 1, and entirely different gear affix choices and have 2 characters that are quite abit different. Right now I feel Blizzard has accomplished a VERY impressive customization system for D3 and that's just off experiencing the first 13 levels on noob mode.I miss all 5 of the characters I made from D3, but cannot wait to level them up when the game goes live. I don't doubt Torchlight 2 will be a good game and well worth playing. I just don't think it'll hold a candle to D3 nor have the lasting appeal of it that I see happening.
     
  4. raveharu

    raveharu IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    I'm just not into the cartoon like graphics, it completely turns me off.

    D3 has a rich, dark gothic art style that simply is mind blowing and draws me into it.

    Also the rich lore and vibrant environment in D3 is what makes the essence of the perfect Diablo 1 successor.

    Like poe, TL2 can never ever reach the complexity and huge community that is D3.
     
  5. ShadoutMapes

    ShadoutMapes IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Nice post.

    TL2 skills scaling with weapon damage drastically raised my interest for the game. Especially since the TL1 skill system was quite terrible in my opinion.

    Comes as no surprise that I prefer some permanency for the skill choices. And more ways to fine-tune your build/skills. Both of which are lacking in D3.

    On the other hand itemization and enemies were really bad in TL1 imo, I would hope that gets better later on, as you make it sound like there are only small improvements to be found.
     
  6. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    I was never a fan of the original TL, to be honest.

    I felt that it got repetitive really fast since a lot of the skills you put points in aren't necessarily active skills, so combat ends up being very repetitive, using only a couple of skills.

    Monster design in the original TL was also a big letdown for me. I didn't feel much change from level to level - it was almost like I was fighting re-modeled versions of the same monsters from earlier levels. Everything kinda just came at you. Sure there were the few more interesting monsters here and there, but by far I didn't find monster behaviour as interesting as even D2.

    But D3's monsters are so fun even in the beta, I think. Stuff like Grotesques go a long way to showing you how Blizzard wants to make monster encounters a much more tactical experience.

    You mentioned monster affixes - do TL2 monsters actually do stuff like Waller, Vortex and Teleporter? I'd love to see mechanics like that in TL2.

    I have to say though, I definitely like freespecs. I was surprised at how attached I was to my beta characters even with freespecs, as I was very 'for' the idea of some degree of build permanence. But yeah, since I still felt quite attached to my particular characters, I concluded that Bashiok was right and that build-permanence always equating to character attachment isn't necessarily true. I think it may be the case for some games, but I didn't feel that way for D3.
     
  7. Muggs

    Muggs Clan Officer - US West Hardcore

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Good read flux and I have actually been on the runic forums today reading many of the beta testers feedback. The key thing everyone keeps saying is the game is a lot of fun to play and in the end that is all that matters. Also I expect the modding community to change every aspect of TL2 and then some so in the end you can always make it the exact game you want it to be.

    I really hope they fixed loot in TL2 since that was the worst thing about TL especially when you got past max level and had to use mods to even be competitive.

    I preordered TL2 and I will play it but not entirely sure when that will happen.
     
  8. Lord_Vega

    Lord_Vega IncGamers Site Pal

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Thanks for the quick preview,Fluxster! :)

    I have to admit that even if yours and every other game site's critique of the game was mind blowingly positive, declaring the game the next great thing, I wouldn't really be any more enticed to check out the game than I am now. I truly do believe that despite what the guys at Runic are saying, their choice for release-timeframe is absolutely disastrous, and it's really hard to believe the game with gather any sort of heavy-following. Had this been May 2011, I would be dying to try it out, but only as temporary placeholder until "the real deal" is here.

    With that said, I do start agreeing more and more with z00t's point about the fun in freespecing. I have always complained that freespecs are the devil's work and are going to remove any sort of attachment to your char (which is now 90% nameless in D3). What do you know, with my demanding family life, I absolutely LOVE freespecs, and would have a tough time trying out enough skills and builds any other way. Funny how things work, eh?
     
  9. Gurby

    Gurby IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Watched the stream for 2 full hours. Not bad. Only reason it felt faster paced, is because there is more content. And D3 beta is just a tutorial section. Also I didnt like the art style at all. Which is ofcourse personal. But its a great alternative for offline and mod reasons. Something I'll play when the D3 servers are down for whatever reason. You cant really compare them because of the budget difference. D3 just oozes quality all over. But some people will judge games based on betas/demos. So that might work in T2's favor.
     
  10. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    I think that the appeal of freespecs is, ultimately, that they don't remove skill on your part. You still need to plan your builds - just because there are trillions of rune/skill combinations doesn't mean that most combinations will be effective.

    Also, as you go later into the game, you will start to consider your skill/rune build in relation to stats from armour/weapons. That requires a degree of the 'planning' you had to do with a D2 char. For instance, you may make a mana-intensive WD build, without any mana-saving runes/passives, relying instead on items to plug that gap. But even when gearing up with the appropriate mana-regen + max mana gear you must consider - do you have enough intelligence? What about stun-reduction? Elemental resistances? +minimum weapon damage? Vitality? Magic Find? As Diablonut's hero planner shows, there is still SO MUCH choice involved in terms of tradeoff between damage/survivability/utility.

    It really looks as though a lot of the planning you get in D2 is still in D3, just shifted to being later in the game. You don't need to do your planning BEFORE you make your character because its only really relevant at later difficulties (just like D2), except that unlike D2, your planning can come when it needs to. Or you can do it as early as you'd like.
     
  11. djxput

    djxput IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    oh didnt even know the TL2 beta had started ... and didnt even hear about others getting into - was told once that devs would be the only ones in it.

    As far as the skills - ya Ive been saying that All along about how we need to value our choices then having free respecs but then you got peeps that say no and blizz does what most peeps want - not what will make people play their game longer ... remember re rolling a toon in d2 because you were stuck? (no respecs) ya thats what I mean ... ok maybe that was a bit harsh but something that gives permancy like 1,000,000 gold cost to respec.
     
  12. galzohar

    galzohar IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Flux, I think your post explains pretty well why while skill points, attribute points and build permanence seem cool, D3's system is just flat out better.

    In the end, a system like D2 or what you are describing for Torchlight 2 requires you to make intelligent decisions that can and will determine the success or failure of your character at the higher levels/difficulties, but you must already start making such decisions at low levels where you have none of the information you need to actually make them intelligently. In D3 the whole philosophy is that "if players need to make intelligent decisions, they must be given the information needed to make intelligent decisions". Mostly, that information is given by just letting you try the different options and undo whenever you like. Another part of the philosophy is that you never should have to start over through the "introductory" part of the game just to change any detail (big or small) about your character, similar to WoW where it works very well. When there is meaningful end-game (like there is in WoW and should be in D3), you don't need to force people to start over to extend the game's life - You can just let them play the end-game and try to improve at it.

    The only way you can mess up your character is by buying overpriced items that aren't good for you. But even that is easier to fix by just farming more gold, rather than by starting over, and by the time you really need to buy expensive items you should already know what you actually need, so the goal is (more or less) achieved.

    Bottom line is that there is a very good reason they did away with build permanence, and you've seen it yourself.
     
  13. Apocalypse

    Apocalypse IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    this does not mean they cannot be good games. i was not very fond of TL1 but TL2 does look to be pretty fun. i do not think it will be as fun as D3 for me but there is no way i will let myself miss out on a potentially good game just cause its not diablo


     
  14. Doppel

    Doppel Banned

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Azzure is a bit of a naive idiot to be honest.
    The biggest problem i had with TL1 is that i didn't feel any attachment to my character. It's ironic but my character started out with an identity due to having a very limited amount of skillpoints versus a large amount of skill choices, but by the end of it it was the opposite, having way too many skillpoints in relation to too few skill choices. So my character just felt like a jack of all trades, with the exception that this jack of all trades was specialised in virtually all important skills. After realising this i immidiatly lost interest.
    This cacaphony was also evident in the rest of the game, for example items.
    In the beginning of the game i was still comparing items and trying to make tough choices, at the end of it i just piled on items with a kazillion stats. When i play a (action) roleplaying game i want to build towards a unique character, not start with one and then water it down with each new level.
    Anyways, i've heard people say that TL2 will do well despite D3, but i fear a little bit of it to be honest. I just don't see many more casual people buy two hack & slash games within such a short period of time. At this moment i think Runic should wait two or more months after D3 to release.
     
  15. xploziv

    xploziv IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    I always felt that TL1 never got me "in the game" as much as any Diablo. One thing i always felt was missing in TL was the Ambient (cartoon style) and Story (Not even talking about lore). It always felt like the kind of game i get into play awhile and quit. I come back to it later when i'm not playing anything but that's it... No "i gotta hurry everything up to go play it" like Diablo... It's been like this in every ARPG i've played (and i tried lots of them). You can see tha flaws of diablo (even the beta) and say that other games have a better skill systme, or a better iventory, etc... but when you put all together Diablo games are not the sum of all it's parts... It's just so much more thatn that... And that's the feeling i got from the D3 Beta... It felt Diablo becaus of that...
     
  16. FaultyYogurt

    FaultyYogurt IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Glad that they gave Flux access to the game. It looks awesome but honestly, it's a bit tough to find accurate appraisals of the game since a lot of the torchlight forums is a bit too "pro-torchlight", so I'm glad to hear some of the unbiased information here.

    For everyone who wants to be able to play around with the skills, respecs will be possible (in fact, easy) through mods. There was an official mod, made by the developers themselves, to allow respecs in Torchlight and I think we can safely assume the same will be there for Torchlight 2. This is the way the torchlight devs will satisfy both those who want permanent choices and those who don't want to have to re-level characters to try a different build out.
     
  17. Flux

    Flux Administrator

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    There's an NPC in town that lets you respec, but only up to level 10. (As far as I noticed.) No idea if that's the final game system or if there will be other NPCs that do more of that in the act 2 and act 3 towns. You can respec stat points a bit; seemingly only right when you first add them, but again, I have only played one quick run and didn't experiment with it much.

    As others say, the game will be fully modable and I'm sure respec and restat will be easily available from that method.

    I didn't mention, but I wasn't a big fan of TL1 either. I liked the idea of it, but the balance wasn't there, the item soup spam dropping was annoying, etc. Same complaints as most people; good start, lacked polish. TL2 is much better in those ways, and looks much better also; It's not exactly gothic, but I never felt it was overly cartoonish, and a lot of the later monsters look really cool., There's a pirate skeleton ghost type level that's fun, and some squid/cthulhu type demons later on that are pretty awesome.

    Bosses don't seem to have random mods; just lots of different types of spells and attacks, quite a few of which are very nasty. Several types of frost meteor type thing, where you see a huge rune circle appear on the ground around your char and need to move quickly. There are lots of powerful mage monsters that aren't even bosses.

    Also bear in mind that the beta is just act one; I'm sure things get much more dangerous in acts 2 and 3, and then more boss mods on higher diff levels, as D2/D3 do.
     
  18. ABarbarian

    ABarbarian Banned

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    The Diablo 3 skill system is the ugly child of Blizzard's lazy QA department.

    The effect it has on the game will be largely negative, scaling with time. People with no foresight won't realize this yet.
     
  19. Darkmere

    Darkmere IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    Powerful non-boss caster mobs and fire circles on the ground? So... WoW anyone?

    It is good to hear others weren't thrilled by TL1, I was afraid most of the internet had gone a bit soft in the head. I do have a couple questions though, if anyone from the beta thought to check these out:

    1) Are the skill trees less Copy N Paste? Having all the "adventurin' skills" placed in every tree in every class felt dishonest to me; I'd rather have seen them as a separate system akin to D3's passive skills.

    2) Has fishing died a horrible, burning death? Coz it should.

    And as far as skill trees, I haven't seen anyone do it better than Titan Quest (and possibly Grim Dawn by the same folks). There were some 1-pointers and some pre-reqs, but no synergies. Also, being able to pick any combo of 2 out of the 7(?) skill trees and go melee/caster with most of them... That was skill trees and stat points done right.


     
  20. Varquynne

    Varquynne IncGamers Member

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    Re: Torchlight 2 insights into D3 skill system

    This brings to mind a system Everquest (EQ) used called alternate advancement.

    In EQ, the skill/spell system for characters was tied to level, similar to Diablo 3. Thus, at max level, every warrior/cleric/mage had the same skills/spells (there were some spells that were dropped as loot, but eventually you could buy/find them all). The distinguishing characteristic between players was the gear they wore and their skill at playing their character.

    The alternate advancement (AA) system was added that allowed characters who were at max level to divert the experience they gained (that would essentially be wasted) to gain AA points. You could then spend those AA points to specialize in different stats/areas (+% armor, +hp, +resist, +run speed, decrease cooldown for a particular skill, increase damage for a particular skill, etc). The problem was that there was no cap on the number of AA points you could earn, so there were people with thousands of these points and it would devolve into essentially the same situation as before.

    For Diablo 3, I could imagine a system like this in place but with a cap on the number of "AA points" you could earn. That way, gaining experience past 60 would be feel productive in terms of character advancement and would allow you to specialize your character in some aspects. And, like you said Flux, you could design these points to have different trade offs and such.

    I doubt such a system would be implemented in Diablo 3 in an expansion, but I think it would work towards developing a feeling a character permanence and attachment without compromising the ability to explore different skill/rune builds.


     

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