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What are Gems for?

Discussion in 'Diablo 3 General Discussion' started by ElementEight, Jun 1, 2012. | Replies: 21 | Views: 2056

  1. ElementEight

    ElementEight IncGamers Member

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    Here are some of the identifiable goals of gems - in other words, here's why Blizzard likes and wants them:

    1 - They create a long-term goal for the player. A perfect gear set will include socketed gems of the highest level. Gems take a very long time to acquire, and will therefore keep a player playing. This creates retention. Player retention is important due to the fact that Blizzard makes money from the use of the RMAH. Having a player come back increases the chances that this player may make use of the RMAH.

    2 - They create a gold sink. Gold sinks exist to combat inflation. Too much inflation is as dangerous to a game's economy as it is to a real economy. If gold becomes too abundant, the overall price of items will increase. The rich get richer - this would prevent new players from taking part to the game's economy, potentially turning them away from the game, a detriment to the factor of player rentention noted above. Another result of an overflowed economy would be the trivialization of other gold-reliant game mechanics. If repairing no longer feels like a burden, dying will lose its impact. Potions will be purchased without limits, potentially trivializing some content, or creating a dependence, impactful for balance and flow, as players would likely sit around waiting for cooldowns. Artisans would also become proportionately quick to level, with much gold to dump on them, but little materials to actually craft, making the system appear flawed (it is, but we'll be back to that...).

    3 - They create additionnal items to feed RMAH. High level gems will be a rare commodity, and should be able to fetch very reasonable prices on the RMAH. This is obviously advantageous to Blizzard, as they profit from a large % from such sales.

    [...]

    For these effects to take place, players must obviously have a desire to use gems. This desire has multiple facets, and skipping on one or many of the following points has very high chances of compromising the success of such a gem system.

    I - The gems must exist. Obviously. No gems, no system, no results.

    II - The gems must be rare enough so that players are willing to purchase them through either AH, yet they must be common enough to provide an actual supply. With too much supply, the price of gems dwindles, and money may not be generated through the RMAH. With too little supply, sales will be too rare to be impactful. Finding the right balance is extremely difficult; establishing drop rates is one of the few design ideas I have never explored, so my insights in regards to such a subject are limited at best.

    III - The gems must be desirable. If players feel like socketing gems has too limited impact on their power, they won't go through the trouble of picking them up, upgrading them or selling them. This point is key.

    IV - Upgrading gems must be rightly priced. The irony of a gold sink is that it will not be effective if it is too little, and neither will it be if it is to elevated - the right price must be tagged.

    [...]

    Now, to the meat: What are some of the issues with D3's current gem system?

    A - Insane costs and time investments. Currently, the highest gem level to drop is the 8th - the flawless square. There is a total of 14 levels. To jump from one level to the other, you need 3 gems of the inferior quality (3:1 ratio), as well as a certain amount of gold, and of tomes of secrets world drops.

    Therefore, in order to craft one level 14 gems, you need to find 729 level 8 gems. Which turn into 243 (9); which then turn into 81 (10); 27 (11); 9 (12); 3 (13); 1 (14). And, whenever you turn 3 gems into one, you must pay a certain fee.

    Turning 3 level 8 gems into 1 level 9 gem costs 30,000g and 3 tomes of secrets. So, to merely turn your 729 gems into the next rank, you find yourself paying a whooping and 7,290,000g and 729 tomes of secrets.

    Shall we calculate the total cost of merely upgrading to one perfect star gem, just for kicks?


    8 => 9: 7,290,000g + 729 tomes
    9 => 10: 4,050,000g + 486 tomes
    10 => 11: 2,160,000g + 243 tomes
    11 => 12: 900,000g + 108 tomes
    12 => 13: 600,000g + 48 tomes
    13 => 14: 400,000g + 20 tomes

    So, for a grand total of 15,400,000g, 1634 tomes and 729 flawless square gems, you can own your very own perfect star gem!

    Given that you can have up to 12 sockets in your gear, we're talking about 184,800,000g, 19608 tomes and 8748 flawless square gems to perfectly deck out one of your characters.

    And this is without considering the costs of upgrading your jewelcrafter, let alone that of purchasing the top end recipes.

    Sure, that sounds like a lot, so far anyway. Things always have to be put into perspective; who knows how much gold we'll have in a year or two? I cannot accurately comment on whether or not such costs are going to scare away players, so we'll just assume they won't - for now.

    Even if they did, though, the following point, I feel, is a much bigger factor in terms of raising questions in regards to gem viability.

    B - Sockets take up an affix space. What does this mean? Assuming perfect conditions, you'll get to choose between an affix and gem(s) socket(s). In the case of single-socket-possible slots, such as rings, amulet and offhand, the choice isn't very difficult - you probably don't want a socket there, as the bonuses are... say, sadly quite bad, and do not remotely make up for losing on an entire different affix unless you're really looking into specializing. As for pants and chest armor, well... again, the vitality affix can go up to 200 on its own, while a level 14 gem grants a measly 58. So, again, unless you already have the stats, and you're really looking to specialize... probably not worth the 30-45 mil.

    The helm and weapon slots are different; the bonuses they provide are considerably better, to the point where you would actually want to replace an entire affix with the bonus provided by a gem. Which *gasp* actually makes sense for such a monetary and time investment.

    Why is this ordeal problematic, though? Well, think about it - If a regular affix is better than a socket, who the heck is going to invest 15 mil, let alone 30 or 45 filling just to make an affix almost good? No one, let me tell you! And as explained above (1, 2 and 3), the benefits of having players hunt gems are voided if, well, they don't feel like they should hunt them.

    In short, for 10 out of 12 possible sockets, gems don't feel like a bonus at all - in fact, they're a 15-45 mil malus if you get a great item roll with sockets taking the space of another affix.

    [...]

    How can this be solved, so that the benefits of having gems, illustrated at point 1, 2 and 3, can be reaped?

    X - Quite obviously, sockets need not take an affix space. As it stands, gems do not feel like a bonus.

    Y - Alternatively, the power of gems could be improved so that sockets are not only on par with power but over with regular (good; not improved pick up range) affixes. Why over? Because you need to pay and invest time for them. That simple. As of right now, there's no reason to stress over gems as they are expensive and weaker than other affixes.

    Z - Alternatively again, allow gems to bring unique affixes (which may not spawn on items) to the table. This alone could not only bring interest to gems, but also, dictate new interesting builds.

    Edit #2:
    By chatting with other players, I came to remember that the Blacksmith artisan was initially planned to be able to add sockets, as opposed to having them randomly appear as an item affix.

    It would appear that in the rush to release the game, they might not have had time to add and / or balance, such a functionallity, opting rather to have sockets as an affix, perhaps foreseeing an uproar at the suggestion of entirely removing gems... so they went ahead with it anyway, without buffing gems to affix levels, without exactly thinking of the consequences of omitting to do so.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012
  2. Dacar92

    Dacar92 Community, Amazon, DH Moderator; Clan Officer West

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    This thread was deleted for a while. I have now reinstated it for discussion.
  3. Pariah Caste

    Pariah Caste IncGamers Member

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    I am really hoping that gems will be useful later as the game continues. It's hard to know for sure if this will be the case or not but it could be a great gold sink however if that gold sink isn't useful then it won't do it's job very well.
  4. Polkiousness

    Polkiousness IncGamers Member

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    Agreed 100%.

    It seems like such a basic oversight on Blizzard's part. Aren't they supposed to be the finest game designers in the world?
  5. Chaosmage

    Chaosmage IncGamers Member

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    If only the wouldn't have purposefully disabled auctioning them to force us to upgrade lesser gems we find or throw them away/sell them to vendors.

    /tinfoilhat mode off
  6. Greizer

    Greizer IncGamers Member

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    If sockets wouldn't take up an affix space, every item would have to have them as a no-brainer choice. This is why they were made an affix only - people were running to socket items all the time and it just became an uninteresting chore. Ofc you could simply have every item drop with max sockets - it is that way in PoE (or so it appears from the videos). I think a better solution would be to add power to gems or make them do unique things - how about that Radiant Star Topaz making you have doubled Nephalem stack (still need to kill 10 mobs for it)?
  7. ElementEight

    ElementEight IncGamers Member

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    That's pretty much my point, indeed. They need to be usable.

    The idea is that gems become bonuses as opposed to liabilities, which they are right now, by far - 15 million gold for subpar stats. If sockets were independent, you'd create even more retention because the perfect item would also need to roll sockets independently of good affixes. That could take a very, very long time, which is good for retention and RMAH purposes.

    PoE isn't really like that, the socketing is very random. You have ways to control it, though. I did indeed suggest unique power, and what you suggest certainly could be something, though, how would you implement that from level 1 through 14? That's just one design question out of many more.


  8. Greizer

    Greizer IncGamers Member

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    You mean sockets would still have to roll but they wouldn't take up affix space? Then gems would have to give moderate effects at best, since otherwise all gear without sockets loses its value (or it is reduced drastically for end-game items). It would be tricky to balance I think but it could work, certainly.

    About my example, it was simply that, something off the top of my head. There's a million things one could think of for gem effects. Progression is one thing to consider, but the main thing is balance with regards to other options. It seems Blizz was so afraid of making items overpowered that they nerfed every interesting affix to (virtual or literal) oblivion.
  9. konfeta

    konfeta IncGamers Member

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    Which is why I love Emeralds. Max emerald = max crit damage affix. Getting both is just pure win. Getting one is definitely on my long term to do list. Wish other gems were more like it.
  10. ElementEight

    ElementEight IncGamers Member

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    Emerald is in fact the only gem that you'd really want to have a "double roll" with for some ridiculous crit damage. Imagine Impale hits. I also believe that 100% is as high as an affix will get, making it even, unlike other gems aside from a handful of exceptions, notably amethyst + helm.

    As for Greizer's post, I'd balance the game around 6 affixes as opposed to 6 affixes + socket. Why? If sockets are what make you stand out and finally overpower content, people will want them - what an amazing incentive, and what an amazing occasion for RMAH $ for Blizzard...!


  11. Valeli

    Valeli IncGamers Member

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    Do we know what the best items will be yet (I'm not sure if it's already been figured out or not... even if it has though, it seems certain to change between the coming reworking of items and legendaries as well as future expansions that are bound to come).

    If they simply reworked the best items in the game as having a gem slot as a bonus to the regular amount of affixes for an equivalent rare, it seems that would go a long way towards fixing this. Having the slot take up an affix in medicore items doesn't really trouble me, as the flexibility / low level twinking ability provided by those gems is still fantastic. You can socket that top tier gem into a new level one character, and will instantly have a weapon better than any perfect affix he or she could get for the next many, many levels.

    In general though, I see your point and it makes good sense.
  12. Sokar Rostau

    Sokar Rostau IncGamers Member

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    I won't wear a helm without a socket, and a weapon has to be exceptional for me to go without.

    I really don't see why they don't remove Sockets as an Affix altogether and allow the Blacksmith to add them to items above a given level. It could even be an extra gold sink - 25k for one socket, 75k for the second socket and 225k for the third.

    No sockets <10.
    One socket 11-25.
    Two sockets 26-45.
    Three sockets >46.

    Given the power of Inferno mobs I really don't think the possibility of adding 174 of a single stat is going to ruin the balance of things.

    Shen is a jeweller, right? He isn't a gemstone trader. It would be great if he could combine gems to create jewels.

    As it is, there are already two kinds of stat affixes available - one that is for a single stat and gets very high, and another that is a combination of two stat's. You could roll the single affix and get 150 Vit or you could roll the double affix and get 75 Vit and 75 Dex. Combine a Perfect Square Amethyst with a Perfect Square Emerald and you get a new jewel that gives +25 Vit and +25 Dex.

    The more gems that go into a jewel, and the higher level those gems are, the more interesting the effects become. Combine a Perfect Star Emerald with a Flawless Square Amethyst and a Chipped Topaz for a jewel that provides 5% Blind On Hit when socketed in a weapon, -3% Crowd Control when used in a Helm or +5% Physical Resist anywhere else.

    For extra mayhem, the combining of three Radiant Stars of different types will always produce a random, but guaranteed decent, effect.

    The possibilities really are endless... but so long as sockets remain an affix I think it is pointless.
  13. xManiaCCCx

    xManiaCCCx IncGamers Member

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    removing sockets from affix list and make it independent would cause nerf of gems or items without socket would be just weak and thrown away.

    But I would like to see some crating options for gems...like making rings and amulets...or something like that. But we will see if they will come with something :)
  14. ElementEight

    ElementEight IncGamers Member

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    That's not the conclusion from my analysis; I'm stating that since gems are very weak as of right now (54 to a single stat for 15 mil gold), you need a good incentive to use them. Having sockets as an affix does the opposite; on a perfect piece of gear that isn't a helm or a weapon, you probably want to avoid the affix altogether.

    By having it as a non affix, and balancing the game around -not- having gems, they would become key to overpowering game content and having an item-based edge in PvP, making them feel more like bonuses than mandatory. This creates long-term retention, and it fulfils the gold sink role perfectly. Which right now, it does not.


  15. BryanM

    BryanM IncGamers Member

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    Or, and I know this is radical thinking, but they could have gone the Diablo 2 route and made the ability to socket items a resource.

    "Scrolls of Socketing" or some such. Items are more awesome with more mods.


  16. starrise

    starrise IncGamers Member

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    I must disagree with your weapon and helm slot assessment. The way I see it helms have three excellent choices that beat out some of the best affix rolls for SOME classes. For example: barbarians should want the amethyst +% life as that translates directly into +% healing for their revenge skill. Once things are balanced, other classes may want to simply stack +% gold or magic find (though it may take a LONG time to offset the cost of making perfect star gems by farming). One interesting idea might be a +radius build for Witch Doctors (not viable now, but give the devs a month and we'll see if they aren't efficient gold farmers).

    As for weapons, amethysts again are pretty solid with their +500 life on hit. No affix roll comes close to this, and +life on hit is quite useful for every class. I will agree the others are mostly garbage, though its possible for a pure DPS build the +100% crit damage might start adding up for crit builds. If your crit is 30% (definitely possible) then +100% crit damage is +30% dps (barring overkill), which, again, beats just about any mod except more elemental/physical/+% damage/%attack speed. But since you can have a weapon socket with +phys +elemental +%dmg +attack speed (haha good luck finding that weapon), it doesn't necessarily limit weapons from having the absolute highest dps. Unless there are hidden problems and this can't actually roll up (that would be nice to know though).

    Definitely a very nice post, thank you!
  17. ElementEight

    ElementEight IncGamers Member

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    Initially, they had the Blacksmith provide your gear with sockets. Would it be too much asked to have the option come back, for a certain cost + tomes of the appropriate item level? I know I'm coming back to this a lot, but gems aren't going to offer the long term retention they're looking for if, err, they take the space of another affix up while providing less stats and cost over 15 million gold to craft. How could they let such a flawed system ship in?


  18. ElementEight

    ElementEight IncGamers Member

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    Yes, I agree with this, and I believe I did underline some viability for some slots in futher posts I've made. I'll probably correct the OP. My point, though, was that the VAST majority of slots (10 out of 12 possible slots) were underpowered when compared to other possible affixes. Helmet and weapon are the exceptions. Regardless of this, if sockets were available on demand for players, as they initially were planned to, gems would feel like a bonus no matter what their stats are, so I feel that this is a larger issue than the stats themselves.

    edit: By chatting with other players, I came to remember that the Blacksmith artisan was initially planned to be able to add sockets, as opposed to having them randomly appear as an item affix.
    It would appear that in the rush to release the game, they might not have had time to add and / or balance, such a functionallity, opting rather to have sockets as an affix, perhaps foreseeing an uproar at the suggestion of entirely removing gems... so they went ahead with it anyway, without buffing gems to affix levels, without exactly thinking of the consequences of omitting to do so.


    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012
  19. konfeta

    konfeta IncGamers Member

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  20. ElementEight

    ElementEight IncGamers Member

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    So, they claim the following: When adding sockets to items was inserted into that equation, it made it feel mandatory to return to town every time an upgrade dropped to pull the gem from your current item, add a socket to the new one, and carry your gem forward

    The easy solution: Add a hefty cost to socketing.

    This has two implications:

    1) Twinks never feel like they "have" to do it whenever they recieve an upgrade, because twinks tend to upgrade weapons much less than regular characters.

    2) Gems become, side' from twinks, an actual end-game element, where upgrading is much less common, and therefore, feels less burdensome.

    Though I must say, if you feel like going to town to improve your gear is a chore, you probably shouldn't play the game in the first place, given that its ultimate goal is to kill and click for more gear. How could one spit on such an easy upgrade? Pah.


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