Patch 1.0.4 Preview: Barbarian

Posted by DHAdmin on August 15th, 2012 at 10:30 am

Wyatt Cheng posted the first class change preview starting off with the Barbarian.

Blizzard Quote [source]

One of our primary goals with class changes in patch 1.0.4 is to help improve build diversity. Of course, this has been a goal for the Diablo III development team since launch, but our approach this patch has been a little different. For 1.0.4, we're taking a good look at some of the most unpopular skills for each class, figuring out why they aren't being used in your builds, and then seeing how we can make them better -- either by redesigning how they work or just buffing the hell out of them.

For barbarians, we focused on improving the following areas:

  • Bash and Cleave are not very attractive compared to Frenzy
  • Many of the damage-oriented Fury Spenders don't do enough damage to justify the spot on your bar

Fury Generators

Frenzy:
It’s easy to see why Frenzy is the most popular Fury Generator right now.  It generates a solid amount of Fury, it has the highest single-target damage of any Fury generator, and it has the highest single-target healing using Life on Hit.  The bonus attack speed also provides good combat mobility as well as the option to focus all your damage on a single target or distribute it between multiple targets as needed.  We're going to buff Bash and Cleave to be viable alternatives to Frenzy for people who would like to try a different play style.

Bash:
From a design perspective, Bash should be the definitive choice when it comes to maximizing your Fury generation. That’s not currently the case, and given the current state of the game, this means attacking the problem from two sides. First, we need to make Fury a more attractive resource to build up (which also means making Fury Spenders more attractive, which I talk about below). Second, we’re going to increase the amount of Fury generated by Bash from 6 to 8, as well as the amount of weapon damage done by Bash from 150% to 165%.  The goal is to make Bash not only a very compelling option if you decide you want to focus on Fury generation, but also an appealing single-target alternative to Frenzy if you don’t enjoy its mechanics (like having to manage Frenzy stacks).  Currently, Frenzy surpasses Bash in single-target damage as soon as you have your third stack of Frenzy, and it feels like the breakpoint should be around the fourth stack instead. These changes should help better balance the appeal of the two skills.  

Cleave:
Looking at the three basic Fury Generators (Frenzy, Bash and Cleave), the role of Cleave is fairly straight-forward: it should be the clear winner when there is more than one target to hit. In a single-target situation, however, Cleave will always perform worse than Bash and Frenzy. While this is intended to a degree, the amount of single-target damage you currently have to give up feels too great to make the trade-off worthwhile. At an extreme, if Cleave did almost exactly the same damage as Bash or Frenzy, but had the ability to hit a second target when one was around, Cleave would definitely become that “clear winner.” So, to make it more appealing to some players, our goal is then to find that sweet spot between where Cleave is now and doing the same single-target as Frenzy and Bash.  We’re going to increase both the damage and proc coefficient on Cleave to close the gap when fighting a single target.

Fury Spenders

For many players, using Hammer of the Ancients, Seismic Slam, or Rend just doesn’t seem worth it.  To make these skills more attractive, we're going to straight up buff their damage across the board.  How much?  Well,  we noticed that more players use Battle Rage than any of these other Fury Spenders, but Battle Rage is less exciting to use and doesn’t quite evoke the same visceral joy.  So, we used Battle Rage and Frenzy as our starting point.  We basically asked ourselves the question "How much damage would Hammer of the Ancients have to do in order to make Frenzy + Hammer [of the Ancients] as appealing as Frenzy + Battle Rage?"  Players who really want to go the extra mile for the most damage could go so far as to combine all three skills together, so we kept that in mind as well.  

Hammer of the Ancients vs. Battle Rage was a simple starting point, but we used similar approaches with Seismic Slam, and Rend.  The basic idea was: Fury generation isn’t attractive to players because Fury spending isn’t attractive to players, so what do the numbers need to be to fix that? To continue using Hammer of the Ancients as an example:

  • We're increasing its base damage from 200% to 325%
  • We're increasing the damage for Rolling Thunder from 155% to 275%
  • We’re increasing the damage for Smash from 270% to 406%

And to provide another example, here’s what we’re doing with Rend:

  • Weapon damage increased from 210% over 3 seconds to 700% over 5 seconds
  • Lacerate weapon damage increased from 271% over 3 seconds to 903% over 5 seconds
  • Bloodbath weapon damage increased from 60% over 3 seconds to 100% over 5 second

With these improvements (Whirlwind and Seismic Slam will be receiving similar tweaks to improve their viability), we hope to see Fury Spenders become more appealing for all levels of play.

But What About…

I'll close by adding that there are no changes planned for either Sprint or Battle Rage, so all you crazy double tornado barbarians will still be able to log in after 1.0.4 goes live and continue with your current build. Or, you can try out some of the new toys we’re adding. Either way, we hope you have fun and are looking forward to 1.0.4!

Be sure to check out our other class previews for patch 1.0.4:

  • Wizard
  • Monk (Coming Soon) 
  • Demon Hunter (Coming Soon)
  • Witch Doctor (Coming Soon)

 

Wyatt Cheng is a Senior Technical Game Designer for Diablo III. He is currently trying to convince a friend to make him a baneling plushie doll. (Any takers?)

1.0.4 Legendary Item Improvements

Posted by DHAdmin on August 14th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

As expected, the Legendary Item Improvements blog has been posted today. Take a look below for all the details.

Blizzard Quote [source]

Soon after we released Diablo III, many of you commented on Legendary items. Most of those comments were fairly harsh, but they were also dead-on accurate. In many ways the Legendary items that we released with the game were just Rares with flavor text. You called us on it, and we’ve listened.

Since then I've been working hard with the team to give Legendary items some of the flavor and feeling that they deserve. With patch 1.0.4 just around the corner, and the new Legendary items coming in that patch, I wanted to share some of the changes with you here today.

Let's talk about the biggest complaints we heard from you all, along with some we had from our team, and look at what we've managed to do to address them.

They Should Feel Unique

Many of you commented, rightly, that the Legendary items in the game didn’t feel unique enough. Something that Diablo II did really well was to create some very memorable items, and they were called “Uniques.” While we call them Legendaries now, the word “unique” was something we tried to keep in mind when making these changes. The rarity of Legendary items combined with their color means that when they drop you should feel like you’re getting something special, something that isn’t just another sword. A truly legendary item should have history behind it, something that you can imagine a powerful wizard imbuing with special magics from within the depths of his musty library.

Part of that feeling comes when you equip the item, and you see that it has special, custom artwork that sets it apart from every other item in the game. The artists already nailed this part of it, but with 1.0.4 they’ve gone the extra mile to ensure these items show off, visually, how truly epic they are. But we’ll cover that in a bit.

On my end, the design end, to get the uniqueness into Legendary items, we've added custom effects to over 50 of them. Here are just a few.


We're letting players exact some revenge on rare and Champion and Rare packs by giving players monster affixes through Legendary items. This is just one example.


Reminiscent of the Enchantress ability, this lets you turn enemies against each other.


Aside from looking really cool as it leaves a trail of fire behind you, this lets you create some interesting traps.


There's some just-for-fun stuff too. Everyone wants to be just like Ghom! These pants make you “stinky”, complete with debuff and gas cloud effect -- you can even spread this effect to friendly players.

Old New 
 

A giant column of light shoots down, summoning an Angel to fight by your side. 'Nuff said.

Old  New

This sword has a chance to summon a demon to fight with you -- with a twist. This demon has the Fire Chains affix, and the other end is attached to your character. Mwahaha!

Promote Build Diversity

Because Legendary items are unique, we can do some fun stuff with them that we can't really do with other types of items. One of the main goals of Diablo III and the skill/rune system is providing a huge amount of character customization. With Legendary items we can help support those goals.

In 1.0.4 we've added a number of items that really fit into a niche skill kit. This can help people to branch out into less common builds by seeing this item and thinking, heck, why not give it a try? They may not have the highest DPS stats in the game, but they can help you play your class in new and interesting ways.


Some people want to try out a ranged barb. We think that's awesome. Here you go.


The melee wizard concept is pretty popular, and we think this wand will be too.


Certainly not an uncommon build, but this is a great item for any pet-focused witch doctors, and with the pet buffs also coming in 1.0.4 we think it’s going to be very desirable.
 

Provide Interesting Choices

With great power comes great responsibility. Some affixes in the game seem like they'd be too unbalanced if we let them stack too high. So how do we make sure we can go higher?

Goldskin is a good example. 100% gold find on it, plus monsters have a chance to drop gold when you hit them. Not too bad, right? But the tradeoff is it can’t roll core stats. We instead follow the flavor of the item, and being a skin of gold (!), provide you with some additional resistances and mitigation. It’s going to create some interesting choices on how you can make this item work for you. You have to find other ways to get the stats that you really need if you really want all that sweet, sweet gold. Balancing your items out like this can provide some fun and interesting challenges.


Honoring Our Ancestors

We brought a lot of items back from the Diablo franchise for Diablo III, but in many cases all we really did was bring back their name. I don't think we did a great job initially of bringing back the way that they helped you play the game. We've done a pass on all the "ancestor" Legendaries to make sure they remain as true to their name as we could make them, and in some cases we've made them even better.


New Frosties feel a lot more like old Frosties, with big bonuses to Cold Damage and Cold skills.


Honoring the original by giving all projectile attacks a chance to pierce through the target's defenses.


They Feel Powerful

We used to reduce the value of certain affixes on Legendary items because we were concerned that having fixed affixes would make them unbalanced. What it actually did was make those items kind of crappy. For example, if the item's level (ilvl) was 50, the first affix would always roll at 50, then the next would roll at 47, and the next would roll at 43. This was done to offset the power of fixed affixes in a random world, but we've learned it's not necessary, and Legendary items being powerful is OK. So lesson learned, we no longer reduce the value of any of the fixed affixes on Legendary items.  For example, if an ilvl 50 Legendary item had Strength as one of its fixed affixes, previously it may have rolled a range that you would have seen on a level 45 item, making it seem really underpowered, but now it will always roll within the range of a level 50 affix.

In addition, Legendary items used to cap out at ilvl 62, making it near impossible to find a weapon that had strong DPS. No more. We’ve promoted a LOT of the new Legendaries so that they will roll at ilvl 63, giving them access to the highest possible affix rolls that are in the game.

We're also working on some changes for 1.0.4 to make two-handers better in general, and this will affect two-handed Legendary items as well.

Here’s a good example of all-of-the-above.

Old New

BOOM.

Everything Else

That probably about covers it for the major points we're hitting with Legendary items in 1.0.4, but there's a few extra details on how they’re going to work once the patch hits we want to make sure everyone is prepared for.

Going Forward - As a reminder, these changes will only affect Legendary items that drop after the release of patch 1.0.4. This includes items that haven’t been identified yet (as items are rolled when they drop). With the extensive changes being made we can’t exactly translate old Legendary items to new. What might have been a decent item could become worse if we re-roll it, and vice-versa.

Not Everything is Changing! - Sometimes a Legendary just being really powerful is enough, and some Legendary items are already really good. Helm of Command, for example, won’t be changing in 1.0.4.

What About Sets? - It’s worth clarifying that green Set items are Legendary items (just with a set bonus) and so the above philosophy applies to them as well. Some set bonuses are changing, they’re becoming more powerful, and a lot of them are having their base ilvl increased to 63.

New Set Names - As set bonuses won’t interact between pre-1.0.4 and post-1.0.4 sets, the new Sets will have new names, as well as new individual pieces, to prevent confusion.

Crafted Legendaries - If you currently have a crafting plan for a Legendary item, and if we change the item that you’re able to craft in any way, you will NOT have to get a new crafting plan for that item. If you craft something right after 1.0.4 comes out you’ll get the new item.


We thank you for your continued feedback, and look forward to seeing how the new Legendaries treat you in 1.0.4 and beyond. Look out for additional 1.0.4 info blogs as we near the patch release.

One More Thing…

I’m really proud of how the entire team came together to make these changes -- and it truly was a team-wide effort. When we were first discussing buffing Legendaries and making them cooler, a bunch of the artists got really excited and went out of their way to make them a whole lot sexier. Here's a sneak peek at just a few of the changes they're making to the items, as well as some of their proc powers.

Please enjoy!


Andrew Chambers is Senior Game Designer on Diablo III, and spent six months running a live action Vampire the Masquerade game for over 100 people, and it mostly wasn’t to meet girls… mostly.

Video Showing Some of the Contest Items and a Quick Update

Posted by DHAdmin on August 14th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I have received a few questions along the lines of "Where the hell did you put all those items?" well this video is designed to answer that question while also showing just how many items that really is.

There is a little over 24 hours to enter this contest as it ends at August 15th, 11:59 PM (PST) 2012. I was doing some number crunching and at a estimated 3 seconds to ID each item it would take about an hour and half to ID all the items.

Now just how much is all this worth? Well crafting all the items alone will cost me about 200 million gold and the total value of the 1710 rare items is quite a bit higher as the market value of those unidentified level 62 & 63 items is about 300 million gold. That's not even counting for the chance of items worth over 50 million alone, meaning it could be worth a lot lot more. Who knows maybe someone will get a single item worth 300 million in their prize?

Diablo III Starter Edition, Legendary Item Improvements, 1.0.4 Information

Posted by DHAdmin on August 14th, 2012 at 11:43 am

Quick Update on 1.0.4 Information

Earlier today, Lylirra posted on the official forums that we should expect some more 1.0.4 information this week.

Blizzard Quote [source]

We've still got a lot more information to share. You can check out what's coming here: (click me)

Just to recap:

  • Preview of Legendary Item improvements (complete w/pictures!)
  • 1.0.4 class changes, one blog for each class
  • Magic Find update
  • And of course the full patch notes, which I'll be posting before the patch goes live

Basically, prepare to get your read on this week and next week. Keep an eye on the front page, or just check back with the forum sticky I linked. We'll be keeping that post updated with links to all the latest 1.0.4 coverage.

Legendary Item Improvements

Bashiok created a post on Twitter suggesting the Legendary Item Improvements blog by Andrew Chambers might be posted today.

Blizzard Quote [source]
It's a bit less hot today at least! Only 93°. Seems like it could be a Legendary night.

Diablo III Starter Edition

Blizzard has released a Starter Edition for Diablo III which lets players advance up to the Skeleton King and level 13. All progress made in the Starter Edition will carry over upon upgrading to the full version of Diablo III.

Blizzard Quote [source]

The demonically-besieged world of Sanctuary needs heroes. Now you can join in the apocalyptic battle for FREE via the all-new Diablo®  III Starter Edition.  Available exclusively via Battle.net®, the Starter Edition allows you to fight your way up to the Skeleton King boss in Act I, and advance all the way to level 13, without having to purchase a copy of Diablo III.

You can get the FREE Starter Edition in any of the following ways:

  • Log in to your existing Battle.net account at http://www.battle.net, and sign up for the Diablo III Starter Edition through the "Your Game Accounts" section.
     
  • Create a new Battle.net account here, and the Diablo III Starter Edition license will be added to your account automatically.
     
  • Grab the Diablo III game disc from a friend, install the game, and then log in with your Battle.net account. The Diablo III Starter Edition will be added to your account automatically.

Note that certain game features are restricted on Starter Edition accounts. Any progress and achievements you earn while playing the Starter Edition will automatically carry over if you decide to upgrade to the full version of Diablo III, and the Starter Edition restrictions will be removed.

For more information and a full list of restrictions, check out the Diablo III Starter Edition FAQ.

1.0.4 Systems Preview

Posted by DHAdmin on August 10th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Patch 1.0.4 is currently slated to release on the fourth week of August. This is the first of the many blog updates Blizzard will be doing, so stay tuned for more information!

Blizzard Quote [source]

Well, we're getting closer to 1.0.4, and while it's still a few weeks away we're going to start hitting you fast and furious with blogs aimed at explaining the upcoming changes. To kick things off, I wanted to provide an overview of some of the larger systems changes and game improvements.

Let's get started!

So Happy Together

While many people are playing co-op, it’s still a minority of games. Ideally we would like players who want to play solo to be able to solo, and players who want to play co-op to play co-op. At the moment though playing solo is the clear choice, even for those who would prefer co-op with some of their friends.

The change we made back in 1.0.3 to remove the bonus monster damage per additional player was a great start, but we can clearly go a bit further. The first change we’re making in 1.0.4 for co-op is to remove averaging in multiplayer games of Magic Find and Gold Find. You’ll benefit from your full Magic Find stat, independent of other players in the game. We originally added Magic Find averaging so optimal play did not involve people stacking what we call “adventure stats” to the detriment of their party. While this may re-emerge as a problem, we think the current solution feels like too much of a penalty, and is doing more harm than good.

Along the same lines as the change in 1.0.3, we’re going to be lowering the health multiplier for monsters per additional player in co-op games. It’s going to be a flat 75% in 1.0.4 for all difficulty levels, as opposed to the scaling 75/85/95/110% it is now. This makes enemies far more manageable in co-op games, and rewards a co-ordinated group with a higher farming efficiency than playing alone.

Shrinking the Gap

We know there are a lot of you out there that are really frustrated by the difficulty of some of the champion and rare packs, so in 1.0.4 we’re going to shrink the gap between normal monsters and Elite packs (Champions and Rares). The design intent of Champion and Rare packs is to provide a spike of challenge, but in general we feel like the gap is too big. Normal monsters die quickly and are usually just fodder, and Champions and Rares can feel like a brick wall.  In general we’re looking to bring normal enemies up a smidge, and Champions and Rares down.

So, in 1.0.4 we’re increasing the health of normal monsters by approximately 5%-10% in Inferno, but also increasing the likelihood they drop magic or rare items by a factor of four. We’re correspondingly lowering the health of Champions and Rares by 10-25% and editing specific affixes to shrink the difficulty gap. We’re still working on those numbers, but that’s approximately what we’re shooting for.

To further reduce the gap between normal and Elite monsters, we’re adjusting some of the more frustrating monster affixes, such as Fire Chains and Shielding.* Of course there are some normal monsters that are massive spikes in difficulty too, and we’ll be making polish adjustments to a few of those as well, like reducing the damage of two-handed skeletons like Skull Cleavers.

Weapons Master

One of the general improvements we’d like to make to our item game addresses the difference between an item having a chance of being good vs. knowing the item isn’t going to be good before you even identify it. In other words, there’s a world of difference between an item having no chance of being good, and some chance of being good. It’s not something we’re going to be able to fully address in 1.0.4, but giving every dropped item a chance to be good is a long-term goal. One area we felt we could make immediate improvements for 1.0.4 was with weapons.

Weapon damage is the most important stat on a weapon. It can be disheartening to get a lot of weapon drops and you know before even looking at them that they have no chance of being good. To help give weapons a fighting chance, the raw damage value on all level 61 and 62 weapons will be able to roll damage that extends all the way to the top end of level 63.

We also want to close the gap between dual-wielding and two-handers, and so we’re improving two-handed melee weapons by creating a new set of stronger affixes to compensate for the loss of stats that can come from your offhand.

On the topic of two-handers, we’re also changing how damage is calculated on a few damage-over-time skills.  Many skills have text like “Deals 75% weapon damage for 5 seconds”, which isn’t exactly clear as it can be interpreted a few different ways.  It also made skill evaluation difficult, particularly for skills with long durations or cooldowns.  We’re switching a lot of these skills to read “X% weapon damage over 5 seconds”.  Many skills already follow this format, and understanding what the skill does is very clear.  As the skills are converted there is an additional opportunity: when converting to this format, choosing a value for X depends on your weapon speed.  So what we’ve done in most cases is assumed a high attack speed (at least 2.0 attacks per second), chosen a value of X, and then in many cases bumped the value even higher.  A skill that currently does 75% weapon damage for 5 seconds, with a 2.0 speed weapon, will convert to at least 750% weapon damage over 5 seconds.  The skill becomes easier to understand, is a small buff for most one-hand builds, and a big buff for two-hand builds.
 

Efficiency vs. Challenge

Rather than focus on whether or not you can beat an enemy, many players would rather figure out how fast they can beat them. We’re removing Enrage Timers and the “heal back to full” behavior from Champion and Rare monster packs. We don’t think they fit well into the general philosophy of the game, which is more about trying to farm as efficiently as possible. You’re already incentivized to kill things quickly, if a pack happens to take you a long time it can just feel unfair to have the pack enrage, kill you, and then heal back to full. The original intent behind Enrage Timers was to have a few encounters that served as a “DPS check” that also add tension and excitement.  Due to the randomness of Champion and Rare monsters, combined with a general philosophy of efficient farming, this was simply the wrong approach for us to take. The Enrage Timers feel more appropriate on bosses, where the setup, predictability and mechanics of the fight add the required context for the time limit.

We can’t get away from the Efficiency vs Challenge discussion without talking about death penalties. When we increased repair costs in 1.0.3 it was to make death meaningful. Efficiency is not only about how fast you kill things, but what efforts you’re putting into doing so. Dying should cut into efficiency, and that creates a meaningful challenge to stay alive in not only how you play, but the importance of how you’re designing your character. That said, we think repair costs are just a bit too high, so in 1.0.4 we’re going to be reducing repair costs of high-end items by 25%.

Legendarier

We have improvements coming to Legendary items, and it seems like an important enough subject to give them their own blog. Stay tuned as Senior Game Designer Andrew Chambers gives the rundown in the next week or two. As a general reminder though, existing items are not changing.  The Legendary improvements are going to be for Legendaries dropped or crafted after the 1.0.4 patch goes live.

Stay Classy

We're making a metric-ton of changes to classes, so we’re going to have separate blog posts for each. But in general we’re looking at unpopular skills and asking ourselves a few questions:

  • Does the skill have any control or readability issues that would make the skill less satisfying to use? If so – polish the skill more. A good example here is the Barbarian Rend ability – many people don’t use it because you can’t always tell which enemies are affected by the bleed and which aren’t.
  • Does the skill fill a similar role as an extremely popular skill? If so, buff the skill to be competitive with the popular skill. For example, Bola Shot could be a solid skill, but simply doesn’t have the raw damage when compared to Hungering Arrow, so we’re buffing Bola Shot to be competitive.
  • Does a skill have a dominant rune? If so, can we buff the underused runes to be more competitive? A good example here is the Wizard Hydra skill. The Venom Hydra is by far the most popular rune, and for good reason, so we are buffing the other runes to make them more competitive with Venom Hydra.
  • Is the skill a resource spender? In general we have found that many resource spenders just don’t do enough for their resource cost. Here I would use the example of Wave of Light, which is a fairly significant expenditure of Spirit that doesn’t always seem worthwhile. Many damage-oriented resource spenders are receiving buffs in 1.0.4
  • Would buffing the skill increase or decrease build diversity? Some skills when buffed cause other skills to become obsolete, so there’s a net decrease in build diversity - we’re more careful with those. Other skills, when buffed, add to the total pool of appealing skills, which increases build diversity. The most obvious example here is the Witch Doctor Zombie Dogs and Gargantuan, which are both receiving significant improvements in 1.0.4.
     

We hope you have fun, and stay tuned for each of the specific class articles in the next couple weeks.

The Outro

These are really just a few of the topline systems changes we’ll be making in 1.0.4, and we hope you’re looking forward to them as much as we are. We’ll of course have a lot more info coming at you in the weeks ahead on Legendary items, classes and more, as well as some interviews we’ll be holding shortly before the patch goes live – which, by the way, is currently targeted for the fourth week of August.

See you in-game!

*P.S. We’re getting rid of the Invulnerable Minions monster affix.

Wyatt Cheng is Senior Technical Game Designer on Diablo III, and as a member of Blizzard’s Beef Jerky Club is ordering jalapeno, habenero & ghost chili jerky this month.

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