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.

Battle.net compromised - Security update

Posted by DHAdmin on August 9th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

UPDATE #1 - Blizzard has posted a faq on their official website for more information, read more about it here.

This does not look to be good, I will keep you guys updated as more information is available.

Blizzard Quote [source]

Players and Friends,

Even when you are in the business of fun, not every week ends up being fun. This week, our security team found an unauthorized and illegal access into our internal network here at Blizzard. We quickly took steps to close off this access and began working with law enforcement and security experts to investigate what happened.

At this time, we’ve found no evidence that financial information such as credit cards, billing addresses, or real names were compromised. Our investigation is ongoing, but so far nothing suggests that these pieces of information have been accessed.

Some data was illegally accessed, including a list of email addresses for global Battle.net users, outside of China. For players on North American servers (which generally includes players from North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia) the answer to the personal security question, and information relating to Mobile and Dial-In Authenticators were also accessed. Based on what we currently know, this information alone is NOT enough for anyone to gain access to Battle.net accounts.

We also know that cryptographically scrambled versions of Battle.net passwords (not actual passwords) for players on North American servers were taken. We use Secure Remote Password protocol (SRP) to protect these passwords, which is designed to make it extremely difficult to extract the actual password, and also means that each password would have to be deciphered individually. As a precaution, however, we recommend that players on North American servers change their password. Please click this link to change your password. Moreover, if you have used the same or similar passwords for other purposes, you may want to consider changing those passwords as well.

In the coming days, we'll be prompting players on North American servers to change their secret questions and answers through an automated process. Additionally, we'll prompt mobile authenticator users to update their authenticator software. As a reminder, phishing emails will ask you for password or login information. Blizzard Entertainment emails will never ask for your password. We deeply regret the inconvenience to all of you and understand you may have questions. Please find additional information here.

We take the security of your personal information very seriously, and we are truly sorry that this has happened.

Sincerely, Mike Morhaime

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