Patch 1.0.4 Preview: Wizard

Posted by DHAdmin on August 15th, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Wyatt Cheng posted the second class change this time about the Wizard.

Blizzard Quote [source]

Like the other classes, the wizard is also seeing a lot of tuning improvements to help promote build diversity. Rather than focus on those minor adjustments, though (which you'll be able to learn more about in the 1.0.4 patch notes), I'm going focus the majority of this preview on Hydra.

Here are the major points I'll cover:

  • Skill design philosophy for Diablo as a whole
  • What makes Venom Hydra as strong as it is
  • Why, rather than nerfing Venom Hydra, we're simply going to buff all the other Hydra variants

Nature of the Beast

From a development standpoint, we love Hydra and put a lot of effort into its design. In fact, Hydra took many times more development time to create than an average skill. There are more art variants, more spell effects, and more lines of code associated with Hydra than almost any other wizard skill in the game (except potentially Archon). We did this because Hydra is an iconic skill in the wizard's arsenal and we wanted it to stand out. When you're in a multiplayer game and you see that Hydra spawn, it's instantly recognizable. And for those who are familiar with the class, you can also immediately tell which rune variant a wizard is running with.

Our goal for Hydra is to not just have each rune variant be visually distinct, but also for it to be better at something than the others. Specifically:

  • Arcane Hydra: Best at AoE
  • Lightning Hydra: Good against targets that move a lot
  • Venom Hydra: Good against targets that stand still
  • Frost Hydra: Good for snaring
  • Mammoth Hydra: Best in hallways

New Tristram, We Have a Problem

Despite these goals, it doesn’t take long to figure out that Venom Hydra is simply the best Hydra to use, regardless of the situation. This is mostly to do with its very high damage output. Although (technically) against fast-moving targets the Lightning Hydra does slightly more damage, Venom Hydra does three times more damage if you get the target to stand still, and that difference is simply too big to pass up. 

The other rune variants have similar issues. The range on the Frost Hydra is too short to be useful. The DPS loss Arcane Hydra takes for being good at AoE makes it too weak versus single targets (especially when you consider that most of the hard fights are against high health Elites). The niche for Mammoth Hydra is very narrow and, if you can get a target to stand still, Venom Hydra does more damage in hallways than Mammoth Hydra anyways.

Five Heads Are Better Than One

To address these issues, we've decided to boost the damage of Lightning, Frost, Arcane, and Mammoth Hydra. Venom Hydra will remain the best against stationary targets, but if the targets are moving in any way, Lightning should be a clear winner. The range of Frost Hydra has been more than doubled as well, which should allow it to fill the intended role of snaring. Arcane Hydra will do less damage than Venom Hydra versus a single target, but rather than doing approximately 60% less damage, choosing it should only cause about a 15-20% DPS hit against single targets -- and you should be much better against groups.  Mammoth Hydra will be getting a modest bump, but ultimately "good in hallways" just doesn't seem like a very good specialty. We're going to keep an eye on this one for now, but down the road we'd like to find something much cooler for the Mammoth Hydra -- like giving it the ability to move around the battlefield without needing to be recast (just as an example).

Here are some raw numbers:

  • Arcane Hydra: Weapon damage increased from 28% to 60% per Arcane Orb
  • Lightning Hydra: Weapon damage increased from 34% to 64%
  • Frost Hydra: Weapon damage increased from 31% to 36%
  • Mammoth Hydra: Weapon damage increased from 22% to 67%

Frost Hydra's cone width has also been changed from 15 yards with a 60 degree spread to 35 yards with a 30 degree spread.

Skill Diversity

One concern is how this change will affect skill diversity.  If our goal is to promote a large variety of builds, why are we taking one of the most powerful wizard runes and then bumping all of the variants to match it rather than simply nerfing Venom Hydra? 

From our point of view, it's okay for Venom Hydra to be extremely powerful.  One of the trickiest things throughout our design process has been creating lots of appealing skills.  You only have six skill slots, so the more appealing skills we can make, the more significant your choice becomes of which skills earn a spot on your bar.  If a Signature skill is on the strong side, it starts to trump the other Signature skills.  If a Signature skill is way too strong then it starts to trump your Arcane Power spenders as well.  This hurts build diversity.  Similar situations exist for Arcane Power spenders, many defensive skills, and the trio of Armor skills (Ice Armor, Storm Armor, and Energy Armor). 

However, in the case of Hydra, the risk of trumping other skills is much lower.  It’s totally okay for Hydra to be one of the most used skills because there’s still a lot of flexibility beyond making it your only source of DPS.  If you can spare the skill slot, you’ll almost certainly want to combine it with a Signature skill to cast while the Hydra is out.  If you can spare two skill slots, you can do even more damage by adding a secondary Arcane Power spender. 

Trigger-Happy

While patch 1.0.4 has very few nerfs, one of them does affect the wizard. Rather than waiting for players to discover this change in the patch notes or while playing, I wanted to call it out here because it affects a build that I find to be quite cool and enjoy a lot. 

Energy Twister is having its proc coefficient reduced from 0.25 to 0.125.  For players who may not know what proc coefficients are: they affect how effectively a skill triggers procs (or effects that have a small chance to activate).  Many skills (like Magic Missile) have a proc coefficient of 1. Skills that hit multiple targets or pulse multiple times have lower proc coefficients. 

In the case of Energy Twister, specifically Wicked Wind, the 0.25 proc coefficient causes the skill to generate more procs in a given time period than any other skill.  Currently, this is used in combination with Critical Mass to lower the cooldown on skills like Frost Nova and Diamond Skin.  By reducing the proc coefficient from 0.25 to 0.125, the build still works and remains fairly strong, but it won’t be quite as good as it is now.  (For those with extremely high Crit rates, you may not even notice much difference, but I wanted to call it out anyway. )

Originally, we weren’t going to make this change, but 1.0.4 also brings with it a number of new Legendary items, and many of them have phenomenal new proc effects.  If we left high proc coefficients as they were, then a handful of skills with higher coefficients would become the de facto choice to use with these sexy new items.  We were faced with a choice: we could either reduce the proc coefficient, or we could make it so these skills could not trigger the procs on Legendary items at all.  We opted for the former because it seemed like getting a Legendary with a proc effect but never seeing it trigger would be very disappointing.  Regardless, having well-balanced proc coefficients on all skills is not only better for Legendaries, but also for the game in the long term.

Buffs, Buffs, and More Buffs

The reduced proc coefficient is just a drop in the bucket, and overall wizards are seeing their fair share of buffing.

In addition to the Hydra buffs, we're also increasing the damage of some lesser used Signature skill runes.  A few skills are very popular right now such as Seeker (Magic Missile) and Piercing Orb (Shock Pulse), so we’ll be buffing the other runes to match.  We'll be revisiting all of the other Signature skill runes with much the same philosophy as Hydra.

Meteor and Arcane Torrent are both going to get buffs, as well, since neither of those feel strong enough to justify the Arcane Power expenditure. 

Meteor:

  • Base damage increased from 200% + 60% over 3 seconds to 260% + 60% over 3 seconds
  • Molten Impact damage increased from 260% +78% over 3 seconds to 390% + 90% over 3 seconds
  • Meteor Shower damage increased from 80% to 104%  for each smaller Meteor
  • Comet damage (of initial hit) increased from 240% to 312%

Arcane Torrent:

  • Arcane Power cost reduced from 20 to 16
  • Base damage increased from 175% to 210%
  • Arcane Mines damage increased from 150% to 180%
  • Cascade damage increased from 175% to 210%
  • Death Blossom projectiles are now less random


Meteor requires the player to correctly predict enemy movement in order to deal maximum damage, and Arcane Torrent requires you to stand still for extended periods of time to do damage.  Since a player is putting in some extra effort to use these skills, some extra damage seems justified.

Be sure to check out our other class previews for patch1.0.4:

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

 

Wyatt Cheng is a Senior Technical Game Designer for Diablo III. He loves all of you. Especially you.

North American Battle.net Account Update

Posted by DHAdmin on August 15th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

North American players should log in to their Battle.net account to update their security information.

Blizzard Quote [source]

As a precaution following our recent security update, players on North American servers please take a moment to visit Battle.net account management, where you will be prompted to change your security question as well as update your Mobile Authenticator. There you'll also find helpful tips and an FAQ, as well as instructions on how to add additional layers of security to your account, including the Battle.net Authenticator or the Mobile Authenticator for those that aren't already using one.

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?

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