Diablo 3 game design blunders

This isn’t going to be a rant – that would be too easy. The point is that there’s plenty to learn from game designer mistakes… that are persistent in the sense that they exacerbate the situation with every patch. You know, the famous: “this isn’t how it is supposed to be played” line.

Exhibit A – Attack speed nerf

The new patch promises to nerf attack speed as it led to “not supposed to be played”. That could be the case (I play as a Demon hunter and have stacked as much IAS as possible). However, two minutes spent on closer examining the issue will reveal that this is a direct consequence of INFERNO difficulty design decision to make every mob one shot you, regardless of equipment.

Prior to inferno, I always bought/kept items with dexterity and vitality and I had a health pool of about 35,000 HP. Come INFERNO, it doesn’t matter if I have 35K or 70K, I simply cannot get hit and survive. So I ditched all my vitality and protection gear and bought the only alternative – attack speed. I’d be extremely happy to go around with no attack speed but being able to withstand a hit. Dying from something offscreen is extremely frustrating and game designers should address this and not the fact we stack attack speed.

Exhibit B – Repair costs 5x increase

This is a different exhibit but with the same cause – INFERNO difficulty one-shots you. Of course, people will chain rez, it is the only way to defeat a boss when everything that touches you, kills you. Blizzard’s solution? Increase repair costs five times (!), so that people will care about dying. We care, trust me. Now make it possible for us to gear so that we can survive a hit.

Exhibit C – Game creation limit

Blizzard have just announced they’ve introduced a limit to the amount of games you can create in a certain time interval. No worry, it shouldn’t affect anyone but the botters, right? Wrong! After getting this insightful error message: “Input limit reached. Please wait to perform more actions”, many players found it unable to play. So Blizzard reverted the measure temporarily until the technical issue is solved.

However, the implication here is that a big PART of the excessive game creation is game designer’s fault. For example, constructing the Staff of Hoarding that gives you access to the Pony level (a.k.a. cow level), requires ingridients that are extremely easy to collect but spawn in 10% of games or less. At level 60, I had to create no less than 30 games in Normal difficulty just to get the merchant in the oasis to spawn. Is this the challenge now? Beating the random number generator?

People who are just starting to build their staffs will find it very difficult to find that merchant. In an extreme case, it could take a day or a week (assuming you also want to play).

Instead of putting a frustrating limit, simply increase the spawn rate to 50%. It is how it is supposed to be played, if any of Blizzard’s game designers actually played the game, instead of filling in Excel spreadsheets with spawn rates.

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