Diablo III Developer "AMAA" Transcript

Diablo III Developer "AMAA" Transcript

If you missed out on last week's "Ask Me Almost Anything" discussion on Reddit with Diablo III game designers Jay Wilson, Wyatt Cheng, and Andrew Chambers, look no further! We've compiled the questions and answers for you below, so sit back, relax . . . and prepare to get your read on.

General Gameplay









General Gameplay

Repair Costs

Diablownaway: Why did you feel that increasing repair costs was preferable to any other options?
In WoW, the solution for stopping in combat rezzing from getting out of hand wasn't to increase repairs dramatically. It was to make everyone in combat if in the zone, to limit the number of rezzes possible, and to have bosses/mobs heal to full after a wipe. Don't mess up the solution to a problem you've already dealt with before.

Massive increased repairs hurts players who seek challenges, who don't give up, and who want to clear through content instead of skipping it. It penalizes tanks, fresh 60s, and a playstyle you should be encouraging. This type of change pushes people to farm urns for 12 hours a day instead of playing the game.
Please reconsider. Thanks.

Wyatt Cheng: It's something we're still choosing a value on, we haven't settled on anything, but it's mostly a matter of degree. Let's say my repair cost after the change is 40K. How long does it take to get 40K? Current estimates are that if you are playing in Act 1 Inferno (to use as an example), vendoring the blues that you pick up, and running solely with the 75% gold find from the Nephalem Valor buff you'll make anywhere from 120K-150K an hour, easily. Since it takes 10 deaths to fully break your gear, you're basically looking at 30-40 deaths per hour. I don't know - that seems like a lot.

But like I said, it's mostly a matter of degree. Would a 50K repair feel that much worse? How about 30K? 20K? One thing I can tell you is that the current 6-10K repair cost is a little silly in that context. I would totally accept if you think 50K is too high, but surely there's a correct answer somewhere in between. We're testing to figure out what feels right and that's the number that will go live.


Elemental Damage

KaydenFox: Why was elemental damage cut? Burning fire, heal stopping poison, stunning lightning, healing holy… they all would have been great additions to game play.

Jay Wilson: Primarily due players preference of DPS over everything. As we played the game we found everyone just moved to the damage type that did the most damage. If we equalized damage they ignored ones that didn't have CC options. Case in point, we kept the slow on cold and gave it a lower damage budget and its the least used damage type now.


Random Events

Grug16: I played the Act 2 demo at Blizzcon 2009. There were far more events and side areas, such as cultists in a ritual, or a bunch of merchants tied up by Fallen. In fact, there were more people around in general, and it made the zone feel rich and alive. Now Act 2 is, well, deserted, and all zones have far fewer events on each playthrough. Why and when did you decide to cut back on the number of events?

Jay Wilson: The randomization of events in the Blizzcon demos did not have events sometimes 'not' roll, because it was a demo. We didn't cut events, we just allow them not to roll so you can encounter things you've never seen before.


"Free Play" Mode

KaydenFox: Is there any plan to add a "free play" mode after clearing an act/difficulty where all bosses are alive, all way points are up, and no quests are required? I find the forced repeat of the story adds a great deal of tedium and diminishes replay value.

Jay Wilson: No plans for this currently. We wanted the game to have a greater focus on story, and so decided to have a linear quest flow so we could advance plot and world changes. Creating a free play mode would be a major reworking of all our content. I'm not opposed to us adding a 'auto-skip' cut scenes option at some point.


Cybannus: I really hope that future content is designed with our wish for free-roam in mind.

Jay Wilson: I promise we'll keep this in mind. I don't think the complaint is invalid, just not easy for us to do given current game structure.


Most Successful/Least Successful Gameplay Decisions

obelisk: What Game Mechanics/Design Decisions do you think have been the most successful and the least successful now that we are three weeks past release?

Wyatt Cheng: Most Successful: Nephalem Valor. Skill System with runes and rune unlocking as you level up. Being limited to 6 skills and making tough choices. Jeweler and gem combining

Things that didn't work out as well as I had hoped: Dragging a skill by accident off your hotbar and losing your NV stack (grrr.... has happened to me twice so far). Blacksmith being tuned for a person who never uses the AH (even though everybody uses the AH). Skill diversity could be much better that it is now.

Most interesting Zone: The Rampart. Just sayin'

(PS - there's a lock action bar option coming in the future.)



Don'tRelyOnNooneElse: Have you seen this article? If so, what do you think of it?

Wyatt Cheng: Alright so I'm going to take a stab at this question. As mentioned in a different thread, the drop rates were carefully tuned for a single player playing through from 1 to 60 without ever using the AH.

All of our items are randomly generated, and so follow a distribution curve in power. Let's say for the sake of argument that you were to somehow distill an item down to it's "power level" and created a distribution graph of drop rate vs. power level. This graph would probably be normally distributed with outliers at high power levels dropping at a lower rate.

Looking at this graph, an average item drops every 5 minutes, a higher power item drops every 15 minutes, even higher power drops every hour. etc. As you move up the curve to ever more powerful items, the amount of time it takes to find such an item increases. This is what makes certain items more desirable, this is how things worked in D2.

What happens for a standard player who is playing solo when they first hit level 60 is they see an item upgrade every 30 minutes or so. Pretty quickly it becomes every hour, then every 2 hours. The higher the power level of your gear, the longer it takes to find your next upgrade, that's just the underlying math of this distribution. It's not really anything we set either. If we magically made all drops rates 10x higher, all it would do is shift the power curve left or right, it would not change the fundamental property that the higher up in power you go, the longer (statistically) it is going to take until you find your next drop.

So then let's say you visit the Auction House and get infusion of power that hurls you forward on that power curve. So whereas at one point your gear may be at a point that you are statistically speaking probably going to get an upgrade every 2 hours. After visiting the Auction House you hurl yourself forward on the power curve so far that now you are statistically going to get a drop every 8 hours.

To further illustrate the point, let's talk about the coming changes in 1.0.3. In 1.0.3 we're going to start dropping level 63 items in Act I of Inferno. We're also reducing incoming damage. What do I expect to happen? I expect that there will be a rapid increase in power across the entire community as all of these items become more widely accessible. It's like we took the distribution curve of items and made everything drop more. That item that used to take 10 hours to find is now a 2 hour item. An item that used to be a 2 day item is now an 8 hour item. After the initial frenzy of power increase, things are just going to settle again. People who think drop rates are too low now will probably still think drop rates are too low a week later when they move to the new point on the curve. I've spent a long time on this question so I'm going to move on but hopefully somebody who gets what I'm saying will be able to expand on it more, maybe draw some graphs to better illustrate the point.

tl;dr we could make drops 100x what they are now and it would just cause everybody to settle at a new equilibrium point. Anything you can farm in a few hours you'll already have, anything that takes longer you'll wish you could get faster.


canillas: I would just like to know what you think about this idea: Add a new gold sink, similar to WoW's reforging, where you pay gold to have a reroll on a chosen stat to a new random stat and random value. Thank you for all your hard work!

Jay Wilson: It's a cool idea. Saying that in no way confirms that we will or won't add such a feature in the future.


fiction8: After the bonus damage is removed from co-op play, are you going to nerf the defensive "group buffs" that some classes have that currently all stack? (Damage reduction, bonus armor and resists to your party, etc.)

Jay Wilson: No, not as a result of this change. We reserve the right to make changes in the future if we think they will make the game better.


d3db: With the drop rates released in the 1.0.3 preview, is Whimsyshire considered part of Act I or Act III/IV?

Andrew Chambers: We dont really consider the Whimsy-ical Shire to be part of the story proper, but the new drop rates will affect it. Specifically, the monsters in hell are considered act IV hell monsters, and the monsters in Inferno are Act III/IV Inferno monsters.


frogandbanjo: Lack of transparency about how combat math works: Reports are coming in that many game mechanics do not work as they're reported to the players, if they're reported at all. Life Leech is nerfed in Inferno with no report to players; Life on Hit is modified on an ability-by-ability basis with no report to players; "chance on crit" runes don't provide any info on proc chance, or ICD's if any exist; certain monsters are immune to certain cc's (stuns, knockbacks, etc.) based either on type, champ/elite status, or based on which ability is used (runed Seismic versus Ground Stomp stun, for example;) no info was ever given on how bleed DoTs work (stacking, rolling, resetting.)

The list goes on, culminating in the fact that since Inferno mobs are of a higher level than the character, many of the character details about defense are useless even if technically correct.
Where is this information? Why don't players have access to it? If you want players to make smart choices about gearing and speccing, shouldn't this information be transparent and readily-available? A loot system that hides things isn't more complicated, just more frustrating - especially for novices; it's like trying to make 2+2=4 harder by hiding the plus sign under the sofa cushions.

Jay Wilson: Arreat Summit is pretty awesome, right? Well, it wasn't there day one. We're three weeks in and playing the game with the audience, fixing exploits, addressing other game concerns currently is higher priority for us than providing tools for those who want to theorycraft. Not saying this is not valuable, or that we don't want to do it, but some things take time.


Dmitri_Markov: I don't even think it's about "theorycrafting". Having that information available is definitely helpful, even to beginners. It is always better to have more information. How am I supposed to know that Life Steal is nerfed in Inferno? It doesn't make any sense at all to withhold this information from us.
PS. Loving the game! Great job.
Edit: Changed LPH to Life Steal. The argument still stands though.

Jay Wilson: Maybe theorycrafting is the wrong reason, but the reason is still the same. It just takes time. :)


Skills and Skill Runes

chicagorocks3: Are you going to change/buff certain skills/runes that are never used?

Wyatt Cheng: YES!!! Trivia: The least used skills at level 60 are Energy Twister, Exploding Palm, Sacrifice, Ancient Spear and Strafe.


Melee vs. Ranged

kuromahou: Can you please explain/reconcile the disparity between melee and ranged in this game?

Wyatt Cheng: I'll state up front that I do think there's a disparity between melee and ranged, and I would like to see that closed. I feel like if I talk a lot about thought processes and design philosophy and don't state this up front people will lose the forest for the trees and conclude we think everything is fine. So I'll say it again: melee vs. ranged disparity is not fine, changes are being made, and even if you disagree with the approach outlined below we can hopefully have the common ground that the current situation needs improvement.

It may not look like it on the surface, but a large number of the changes in 1.0.3 are actually targeted at closing the melee/ranged gap. Let me go through some of them.

  • Hardcore: I'm going to use Hardcore as a starting point. In Hardcore, there's actually a reasonable distribution of classes, and I don't think the melee vs. ranged disparity is as large. There are a lot of Hardcore players of every class in Inferno without a huge disparity. Why is this important? It's because a significant portion of the melee/ranged disparity is related to a ranged character's ability to progress even while dying. A melee player can throw themselves at a monster and die, doing almost no damage to an elite enemy. A ranged player can do a huge amount of damage to an elite enemy, die, respawn, and basically attrition the enemy down with repeated deaths. In the Hardcore environment where a single bad Mortar, Vortex, Jailer, or Reflects Damage will kill a glass cannon-ranged character, the disparity between ranged and melee is an order of magnitude less.
  • Repair Costs: One of the more controversial changes in 1.0.3 is the increased repair costs. The design intent of these increased repair costs is to make death more meaningful. One of the top arguments we see against the increased repair costs is "I'm already dying dozens of times to make any progress in Inferno. Don't you see this is going to make this impossible?" This concern is most often brought up by ranged glass cannons. Many melee players respond "increased repair costs seem fine" because they haven't been using death-zerging as a tactic. Melee can't easily death-zerg an enemy down, but ranged can. I don't think the answer is to make death-zerging more attractive for melee; I'd rather make death-zerging a less profitable strategy for ranged.
  • Enemy Health and Damage: We're also looking to adjust the damage and health of enemies in Inferno Acts II, III, and IV. This is another change that is primarily for melee with secondary benefits for ranged. A lot of ranged are building glass cannon with the mentality "well, I'll just try not to get hit at all." So, reducing incoming damage when they weren't taking any before isn't significant for them, whereas reducing incoming damage for the melee is a big deal. For the ranged classes, I'm hoping that the incoming damage reduction will make some survival stats more appealing to ranged classes. While before the damage was so large it just felt pointless to try and mitigate any of it at all, after the change hopefully ranged classes will think "well, if I just put on a modest amount of survivability, I don't get 1-shot, so that's worth it." There are some ranged players who are already doing this -- stacking survivability so they don’t have to endlessly kite -- and it just feels like the minimum amount of survivability to avoid the 1-shot is so large it's unattainable. That's one of the things 1.0.3 seeks to address.
  • Damage Reduction in Co-op: Another change which is targeted at improving life for melee is the reduction in co-op damage. Again, since many ranged players just build glass cannon and avoid damage completely, they didn't really care if incoming damage went up as other players entered the game, but the melee characters really noticed. It was very easy for your life-on-hit to have you at a steady equilibrium, but as soon as another player entered the game your life-on-hit was no longer covering the incoming damage and death became imminent.
  • Additional Changes: And finally, there are always minor polish adjustments designed to help melee -- such as the AI on some monsters (BEES!!!) being tweaked to run away less often, which again helps melee more than ranged. I actually spent some extra time the other day to make sure if a Sand Wasp runs away from you, and you start chasing the wasp, it doesn't turn and shoot 4 bees in your face (hopefully that makes 1.0.3). I'm also working with one of our gameplay engineers to make it so if you sidestep the Dark Berserker’s power hit (where he brings his giant mace down), he doesn’t turn to track you as he swings (though that change probably won't make 1.0.3). These kind of AI adjustments are things ranged players don’t even notice, but are huge for melee.
  • Another adjustment being made is increasing both the maximum range and the dead zone of Mortar. Mortar was specifically designed to be an anti-range affix, but many ranged players would just stand even farther away, whereas melee would sometimes get caught in the cross-fire of two Mortars. Increasing the maximum range and the dead zone helps with both of these.


Promoting Build Diversity

merc1024: I'm currently playing a Demon Hunter in inferno. Basically any demon hunter right now going through inferno is going to bring 3 abilities no matter what; Smoke Screen, Preparation, and Sharpshooter. More of than not, these abilities are usually accompanied by Steady Aim, Archery, and Elemental Arrow (Nether Tentacles rune). Do you have any plans regarding the demon hunter to promote build diversity? I mean right now I’d love to create a build revolving around the passive Ballistics (increases rocket damage) which you unlock at level 60, but as of now as far as I can tell right now it’s complete trash.

Jay Wilson: Yes, we're keeping a close eye on build diversity for all the classes, looking at abilities that are over, and more importantly under-utilized. We'd like to take the approach, when we can, to buff under-utilized abilities over nerfing. Yes, that hasn't been the case so far, but we haven't done a 'true' class balance patch, just hot-fixes on things we considered grossly overpowered. Class changes focused on improving diversity will be in an upcoming patch (not 1.0.3).


Life Steal and Life on Hit

KaydenFox: As it is, life steal is useless. I can hit for 20k and only steal tens of damage while my lifepool is 40k+. Life steal is obviously limited in quantity to keep it from being over used, but with the 80% reduction, it's a wasted mod. Is there any plan to make life steal remotely useful compared to life on hit? Please don't take that as nerf life on hit.

Wyatt Cheng: I'm happy with where Life on Hit is and keeping an eye on Life Steal.

Life Steal was far and away the best stat internally, which is why we put in modifiers to reduce the effectiveness at higher difficulty levels.A lot of theorycrafters have (correctly) ball-parked the effectiveness of Life on Hit as being roughly 3x as strong as Life Steal. So it's probably pretty easy to see that before we put in the 80%, Life Steal was 2x as good as Life On Hit. We knew we had to do something.

We played with numbers as low as 10%, and as high as 50% penalty. The reason Life Steal settled at 20% is because over the next few months, the relative value of Life Steal will probably go up, whereas Life on Hit will not. Both of the stats scale with mitigation, and both of them scale with Attack Speed at the same rate, but Life Steal scales with your weapon damage and damage output. Life Steal also scales better in AOE situations.

To make a long story short, Life Steal is tuned around where we expect DPS output to be months from now. As people do more damage, get more survivability, and generally find they can AOE things more than they used to, I expect the value of Life Steal to go up.


other_kind_of_mermai: Isn't there a way to make the stat more interesting then needing 120k DPS to start using? Like putting a per-hit cap on life steal that scaled with vitality?

One of the things that feels bad about the reduction is that it drastically drops the effects of certain abilities (shadow power, ignore pain's lifesteal rune) when moving up in difficulty.

Wyatt Cheng: Yeah, it's definitely something to keep an eye on.

We discussed putting caps on. At the end of the day, we decided that Life Steal is a stat that can, someday, let you feel like you break the game, and putting a cap on things would just be keeping you from attaining that feeling.

There are lots of "breakpoints" (as I like to call them) in the game. I love games that exhibit breakpoints. Points where you're following one strategy, but as soon as you hit some magic breakpoint you can suddenly do something you couldn't do before. That point where your archon goes from 25 seconds to INFINITE. Yay! That point where your life per hit is completely mitigating all incoming damage. That point where you have enough crit to perma-CC all non-elite monsters with certain builds.

One of the things that absorbs a lot of mental energy is trying to create that feeling that you "broke the game." No level requirements on gems and reduced level requirements going as high as 18 are two examples of this. I love things that make the player feel like they broke the game (as long as it is, in the grand scheme of things, not going to ruin it).

Anyways, to bring it all back around, I think Life Steal will come into its own in the future, as it scales exceptionally well with gear. If a few months from now if people still aren't using Life Steal, we'll probably make changes.


nyyron: The math you are using is not accurate. You can get 1500 life on hit with one weapon. Assuming you are getting the max 3% from a comparable weapon, that is only .6% in inferno. That means you would need 250,000 DPS to match the life on hit just from one weapon. You can get 1000 more from rings and amulets bringing it up to 2500 life on hit

Wyatt Cheng: I should add that life steal was tuned with multiple targets taken into account.

You can also co-ordinate the popping of cooldowns to coincide with Life Steal, which is not something you can do with Life on Hit. For example, I like to pop shadow power before I use rain of vengeance.


strom69: I'm curious what dps is expected as the game progresses when you need to do something like a 100k hit to get comparable health with a max (3%) life steal weapon, to a decent 600 Life on Hit weapon.

Wyatt Cheng: It depends on what skill you're using and how many targets you're hitting. Life On Hit uses our proc coefficients, and I've seen people measure out all the proc coefficients (nice work btw!).

Proc coefficients, btw, are used for a lot of the "On Hit" effects. If you ever see "X has a chance to Y on critical hit," it's using the exact same proc coefficients as Life on Hit. The Wizard skill Critical Mass that reduces cooldowns by 1 second is a good example. People test this and say "Oh wait, it only works with single target skills." That's not actually true. Single targets kills generally have a proc scalar of 1. Skills that hit 6x as fast (like rapid fire) have a reduced proc scalar to normalize out the proc effects. Frenzy has a 0.75 proc scalar, which affects the Life on Hit, but if it were a Wizard skill would also have a 75% chance to trigger Critical Mass on crits.

But, back to your question. Life on Hit is proc scalared down for certain skills, whereas Life Steal is not affected by the proc scalar at all. So, if you Seismic Slam or Whirlwind a large number of targets, it will surpass Life On Hit faster than for Frenzy. Of course, on single targets, Life on Hit will generally always be better. In terms of where the breakpoint is, I think what you'd want to look at is breakpoints for various DPS levels for different skills for different numbers of expected targets.


mkautzm: This is fine and all but this line: "I think Life Steal will come into it's own in the future, as it scales exceptionally well with gear - if a few months from now people still aren't using Life Steal, we'll probably make changes." This makes me very nervous.

How difficult is it to put these numbers on paper and simply figure out with math when a stat will be 'worth it', when it will be 'good' and when it will be 'broken'. The answer is that it's not hard. How can you design the system for a game like D3 and not at least have a target in mind. something like "At this difficulty with this expected gear, we want players to steal up to X%/Y HP as a function of DPS Health/Z Health per second/shot/spell." I understand that picking such a number can be pretty difficult but even that can be derived based on what you want the function of life steal to be.

See, it's things like this that make me incredibly nervous. If your approach to balance and system design is, "Well, lets see if the stat is attractive to players and then nerf/buff based on that", something is seriously broken in the decision-making phase of 'making the numbers work'.

It's phenomenally frustrating to see the developers in charge of the systems of game like this literally say, "If it's not attractive, we'll buff it". No! That's not how balance works. You should be able to tell me the value of life steal at 30k, at 60k at 120k DPS. You should be able to tell me what exactly those breakpoints you mentioned are and Youshould have already planned their existence, and their means. You should be able to look at Lifesteal and point to a number and say, "Here! This is when Lifesteal becomes attractive". You should be able to take it a step further and say, "If you have this much health, this much damage and this much lifesteal, More DPS actually becomes more attractive than Effective HP as a survivability stat under these conditions."

This isn't what's happening and it makes me both frustrated and nervous to play a game that's built under that design philosophy.

Wyatt Cheng:  Let me clarify. When I say "if a few months from now people still aren't using Life Steal" what I mean is that I think people will be using it. But I could be wrong. Humans being fallible and all that.

I believe people will be using Life Steal months from now without us having to make any changes. I've done the math, I've got some spreadsheets, I've tested with chars. At the same time I'm not so arrogant as to say "You will ALL be using it 'cause I mathed it out!". I've been wrong many times before, I could be wrong on Life Steal too.


"On Hit" Procs

KaydenFox: Why are there no on hit procs besides bleed? The unique tulwar that cast chainlighting and charged bolt was one of my favorite items in the game. Will skills on hit make a comeback?

Andrew Chambers: We actually do have some, like stun on hit, fear on hit etc, and we definitely wanted to do more! As it came down to the wire, though,  we had to put them on hold.
That said, we are working on updating the legendaries in an upcoming patch, and a big push for us is to try and get these proc powers in the game and working to make our legendaries way more awesome (that will be measurable in "legendariness meters").


superdupergc: By the way, a proc chance of 2% doesn't feel legendary. It needs to happen more reliably for it to be worth anything.

Andrew Chambers: I ran 2% by the legendariness meter and it proc'd pretty low, so we want it to be higher, and more legendary!


Drop Rates and the Auction House

purrp: There seem to be a lot of misunderstandings and conspiracy theories from people who believe drop rates are directly influenced by the AH (if an item is common on the AH its drop rates will be lowered in-game). That doesn't really make any sense, but maybe can you lay this notion to rest?

It IS, however, reasonable that drop rates would be designed with the AH in mind, to avoid flooding the economy with powerful items. How did you approach this as a design challenge during development, especially without a working economy to test on? 3 weeks after launch, are the economy and player's gear roughly where you were expecting?

Wyatt Cheng: The auction house has absolutely no effect on drop rates. There are conspiracy theories and misunderstandings, but I do want to re-iterate: there is NO interaction whatsoever. Bashiok mentioned earlier that we took the AH into account, so let me expand a little bit on that.

The drop rates were tuned for a player who would never use the Auction House. For the majority of internal development, we didn't have an Auction House, and we all played using our own drops only. I've personally leveled multiple characters from 1 to 60 internally before the game came out using only drops that I found -- we all did.

When we say we "took the AH into account," that means it's one of many factors -- i.e. some players will choose to play without trading, some players would play in a group of 4 where they share drops among each other, and some (as it turns out, many) players would use the AH.

Three weeks after launch, players' gear is much higher than what we were expecting. When I killed the Butcher on Inferno for the first time, I was using a weapon with 492 DPS. There are also certain passives which are much more powerful than they were during internal development. One With Everything, for example, was basically never used internally because we didn't have an auction House. With the auction house, it feels like a mandatory passive. In retrospect we should have seen it coming. In the game's current state, though, it's a powerful Monk ability that gives Monks a big survivability boost and has some interesting (some would argue fun, others would argue negative) effects on gearing.

I consider playing without the Auction House to be a very fun way to play the game. I'm personally planning on rolling some new characters that I'll set aside to be "no-AH/no-twink" characters. Much like in D2 when I would make a new character with a friend and we'd agree with each other not to twink our characters out.


Boss Drops

KaydenFox: Why don't bosses guarantee decent drops on your first kill in Nightmare or Hell? This leaves 30-60 feeing VERY dull and boring because you're not getting your loot fix. It's not a question of how do I gear up, but a statement in that beating a boss that drops two bad blues is very disheartening and is a very NEGATIVE reinforcement for continued play

Jay Wilson: This was my decision, and I'll start by saying that Wyatt and Andrew have talked me out of it. In a future patch (not 1.0.3) we'll add this.

But so you know my reasoning I think this just moves the problem. Design intent is that at end-game we want you to stack Nephalem Valor (NV) and "then" kill bosses to make farming loot more interesting. To facilitate this bosses have to stop dropping tons of rares "at some point."

My worry was that if it was at Inferno everyone would be like "WTF why Inferno hardest difficulty with worst loot!?!??!" instead of the current complaint. The reason I've decided my decision was wrong is the gap that exists between Normal first time drops and the NV farming of Inferno.


Ruvelia: Do you have any intention on having Hell or Inferno bosses to drop lower level gear in addition to higher level gear? Sometimes it's nice to find a low unique or set item to have a reason to roll an alternate character. I don't want to have to god-mode my way through Normal bosses in hopes to find only low level gear. Nice changes for Act 3-4 Hell and Inferno bosses, by the way.

Jay Wilson: They do drop lower, just not anywhere near all the way to level 1. We used to have this, and we got overwhelmingly bad feedback internally on it, even when we turned the drop rate on low levels "way" down.

Magic Find and Loot Tables

EricGORe: In Diablo 2, from my understanding, magic find took the base item of a predetermined loot table, and gave you a higher chance of rolling a higher quality version of that item. In Diablo 3, this no longer seems to be the case and with loot tables being so vast now, magic find seems almost too arbitrary, it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth it. Could you explain exactly how magic find affects item drops in Diablo 3, as a lot of people seem to be unsure how the mechanic has changed from Diablo 2?

Jay Wilson: The mechanic is exactly the same as Diablo 2, and as you describe it hear.
And the loot tables are not more vast than D2 because we don't allow items to drop below level 50 in Inferno.


Dying Legendary Items

fiction8: Why can't I dye legendary items?

Andrew Chambers: I just chatted with our awesome artists about this the other day! We currently have some tech restrictions that make it unfeasible for us to do this. We definitely want to allow this though, and we are looking at solving the tech issues related to it.



KaydenFox: What do you think of addings gems to the Blacksmithing process to ensure a stat? Put a slot for a gem into the UI. If you add a chipped ruby, you're guaranteed a small strength bonus (5-10). If you put in a flawless square, you're guaranteed a large strength bonus (~100). A perfect star ruby would result in a MASSIVE strength bonus. You could also diversify by having weapons get the weapon bonus, helms get the helm bonus, and other getting the other bonus. New reagents could be added for IAS, XP, Gold, MF… This, actually, sounds like what you should have done with the Mystic. Crumbled Treasure Maps drop and give small MF bonuses. The Mystic can combine 3 into a Faded Treasure Map that provides a little better MF bonus. Et Cetera… The Mystic could combine reagents to grant guaranteed stats from items made by the blacksmith.

Andrew Chambers: I think its an interesting idea and something we would certainly consider adding in the future.

Philosophically, the blacksmithing is intended to serve as an outlet for all those items that you picked up when doing butcher runs, but found them to be not worth putting on the AH, equipping them, or storing in your stash for your alt. You can salvage those items, and give yourself a chance to roll a really good one, turning your evening of farming into something of potential value.

The randomness thats inherent in this system means that you may not get anything good, which we totally understand can feel pretty frustrating.

To mitigate this in the short term, 103 will see a reduction in costs for crafting items from the blacksmith. Im hoping this makes pressing that button a little less intimidating, and that Haedrig sees more business! He has some orphaned kids now to feed you know!!!


ricktencity: The thing is why would i salvage all that stuff for a small chance at getting a good item from the blacksmith when I could sell it and get more gold to spend on items that have the stats I want on the auction house?

Andrew Chambers: The intent is, why not? If youre currently just leaving all of those blue items on the ground and collecting a bunch of gold, why wouldnt you want to turn them into something of potential value rather than let the Treasure Goblins come and pick them up after youve run away?

Crafting isnt intended to be better than the drops you can get from killing monsters, or maybe even the items you can find on the AH. It is intended to provide you with another outlet for the gold youre collecting.


Liquid5n0w: He meant that you sell the blues to the vendor, because the gold from that is more valuable then the mats you get

Andrew Chambers: Our hope is that by lowering the cost of crafting items (mentioned in the 1.0.3 preview), the choice between "should i sell or salvage this" becomes a little more interesting.


Drop Rates for Jewelcrafting and Blacksmithing Plans

Mitosis: Drop rates on Jewelcrafting and Blacksmith patterns seem very, very low. In about 150 hours on my main I've gotten a grand total of one of each -- fewer than the number of legendaries I've gotten. Any plans to increase drop rates a bit?

Andrew Chambers: Something to keep in mind about the smithing and jewelcrafting plans is that they only show up in Inferno, so that can impact how often you will see them. We deliberately set them low as it felt really bad to fill in your blacksmith and jeweler so fast. We may have erred on the side of too low however and I'm not against increasing the drop rates.

As more and more people get into Inferno we will keep an eye on it and increase it in a future patch if we need to.



Monster Affixes

seventhtrumpet: What do you guys think about the current monster affixes and are you going to add more interesting powers or nerf the ones that are plain boring to fight against (Ex. Shielded minions)?

  Andrew Chambers: We think there are some very complicated and challenging affix combinations in there. In some ways this can be a good thing as you can get a feel for how youre progressing as a player, and with your items. Suddenly that insane affix that you had trouble with awhile go is melting like butter in your dpsy hands!!! Thats a good thing, but sometimes they can just be WAY too challenging. Shielding and Invul minions are two of these.

We are making some changes to these in 1.0.3. The shielding will cast less often to start with, and for the invul minions, the health of the monster you can actually damage is being lowered. Hopefully that helps get them to the tasty melty stage sooner!

Some of the challenge presented by the monster affixes are meant to be "holy koala how do i mitigate this damage!!!!" rather than "cant catch me mister jailer man."
I think that the variety of the monster affixes makes each encounter interesting in its own way. Forecasting some of those affix abilities more is something we would definitely consider


Librarian Kay: While that sounds like a good idea, some classes are having an especially hard time with Invulnerable in ways that simply lowering the health will not solve. As examples, invulnerable minions + horde + fast amounts to a free root ability that can't be broken without a teleporting ability, and some builds find the Invulns using their bodies to block shots from the lead creature while the player is kiting. Do you have any plans to address these?

Andrew Chambers: Not sure if you all saw, but Wyatt actually posted about a bunch of changes that we are introducing with 103 earlier today. Part of the motivation behind these changes was to make the game a little less progression oriented challenging, and more about finding interesting and efficient ways to farm for item upgrades. We made some things easier, and we made powerful items more readily available for you. We think this makes the game a lot more fun.
With less damage incoming, and generally better items to equip, you should find it easier to solve the challenge involved in some of these crazier monster affixes.
All thats pretty high level though, and doesnt really help with the minute to minute situation of seeing "mother of pearl he has jailer desecrator molten extra health minion invlunerable eat all my cheetos drink my beer!!!". We all know that feeling when we go up against some of these crazier affix combos.
We are keeping an eye on them, and we definitely arent against tuning the monster affixes or even making some of the class skills more readily able to handle those evil beer drinking zombies.


sequenze123: It's not challenging. It's a gearcheck. There is very little depth to the combat as it is, because we are simply not allowed to outsmart the AI. You take away the control of our character and we can't do anything about it.
On the Barbarian the skill Wrath of the Beserker is a MUST HAVE because it gives 15 secs immunity ( which the toolip does not say btw).
But im pretty much screwed if i haven't killed the monsters within those 15 seconds.
It doesn't require skill to use WotB, so even IF i killed the monster within those 15 seconds it wasn't because i was "clever" - but because i had good enough gear to take them down.

Andrew Chambers: Its a fine line to walk, because we really dont want the combat to be boring. Some of those "holy koala!" moments come from not having the skill on cooldown, but having it close, and for you to get this tense feeling in the back of your neck when you see your screen growing red.
Right now I think that tense feeling can either show up too often, or can turn into a full red screen of death too often. I certainly have bad mouthed the tree hugging eucalyptus mammals quite a bit. We hope that reducing incoming damage helps with this. We also want to continue iterating on the class skills in future patches, spreading out some of this utility across some of the lesser utilized or interesting rune variants.


Champion Packs

ziggurat_: Champion packs that run away (fallen shaman, bees in act2, flayers act3, etc cause problems with the inferno enrage timers. Any plans to tone down this annoying interaction?

Andrew Chambers: We have reduced how often some of these monsters run away, it will be going into 1.0.3.

User Interface

Elective Mode and Advanced Tooltips

ryanthewizard1: Why was the decision made to turn off elective mode and advanced tooltips by default? It seems the reaction most people have when they discover these options varies from rage to simply asking “why didn’t I know about this?”. The default tooltips don’t allow users to make informed decisions, and when you read the comments for YouTube videos you still see people asking how guys are using builds with 2 skills from the same category.

  Jay Wilson: You guys are savvy and awesome, but you aren't most players. We had 'overwhelming' feedback from internal testing of a variety of skill levels, including internal devs, usability testing, etc. The testing we did showed that the skill system and pure math in the skills was creating a lot of confusion for many players, and turning them off from the game. For this reason we won't surface these options more than they currently are, we simply don't see a good enough reason to risk push this up and risk hurting the experience for one of these players.

I know this isn't what you wanted to hear. I know the fact that some people might be overwhelmed by or flat out prefer to not use elective mode and advanced tooltips seems incredulous, but there it is. We get tons of comments from players who are playing the game with their non-gamer friends and family, thanking us for making a game that appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike.
Doing things like this equals more people in the Diablo community, which is good for the game as a whole and the community.

Everyone who wants to play with elective mode finds it eventually, we're adding more in-game hints to point to it once you get past normal difficulty. But ultimately we don't think it's a horrible loss to play without these things while you're learning the game, even if you are an advanced player.


Text Color for Gems, Crafting Pages, and Other Common Items

KaydenFox: Is there any plan to change the text color of gems and pages/tomes? I think it'd be nice if they stood out from normal whites. Maybe even potions could be red.

Andrew Chambers: We are addressing that in a future patch. We are looking at changing the text color for pages and tomes, health potions and gems in all difficulty levels.


MeesterComputer: Also account-bound items, like the Staff of Herding.

Andrew Chambers: The Cow King got a little miffed when he saw that his staff was a white item. He said to me "Thats udderly unnacceptable!"

We've changed the Staff of Herding and the items required to make it to stand out WAY more in your inventory in 1.0.3.


rqzerp: Would it also be possible to add an option to completely filter out whites? I've heard arguments that it would diminish the "whoa moment" when a lot of items drop, but simpler gameplay should take priority, imo.

Andrew Chambers: Yea, we agree. We are looking at adding a way to enable players to turn on an option like this in the future.


Chat System

Measure76: Awesome lobby system for D2. Why no lobby system for D3?

Jay Wilson: Primarily because every player who plays the game was going to be in Battle.net, and we didn't want the main menu screen to be covered in avatars for everyone.

We recognize that players want to be able to encounter other players in common areas to check out gear and socialize, and we're considering how we might add that functionality to the game at some point.


backtochest: Well forcing us to start up in /general is not the way ;)

Jay Wilson: Fair enough, but this should have gone live at the same time we saved your chat settings from session to session, so if you leave a channel you stay left. :) (Which is coming.)


Friends List

Earl_D3: Why isn't there an invisible mode for the friends list? This feature has been requested several times on the forums but there never has been an official response. If you don't want to add it could you at least give us a reason?

Jay Wilson: I don't think we're hardcore against this. I do think there is a danger that people just instinctively turn this on and then complain that their friend's list is empty. However, we will consider it.



merc1024: About the dialogue and story. You brought in some nice talent to do the voices for the game (some examples being Jennifer Hale as Leah, Steve Blum as Zoltun Kulle, and my favorite, Claudia Black as Cydaea). However some of the lines of dialogue in the game just made me cringe. I mean Belial isn’t a great liar, Azmodan is constantly telling me what he’s doing, and "I AM THE PRIME EVILLLLL!" I know at Blizzard, gameplay always comes first which is great and I think you did a fantastic job, but that doesn’t mean story isn’t important; So uhh… no offense intended, but really, what happened? Did your QA team not say anything or what

Jay Wilson: Agree to disagree? We get lots of compliments on the story and dialogue. It's a hard area to make everyone happy, and a lot of things we do to make goals obvious for some players make them feel over-stated to others. We never tried to make War and Peace, just a decent pulpy story about heroes fighting demons.


WhoaFoogles: The story of Diablo 3 has received a lot of criticism for both its actual content and writing and for its presentation (e.g. intrusive cutscenes and linear "on rails" progression). I love the game, but must admit some heavy disappointment when it came to furthering and enriching the lore of the Diablo universe.
What lessons have you learned from the backlash that you plan to apply to D3's expansions or further games in the franchise (or even other Blizzard titles)?

Jay Wilson: We answered this question in other threads, but the recap is: we disagree and have gotten mostly great feedback on the story.


Hardcore Character Stats

Ninwa: What percentage of players play on Hardcore, and how important is that game mode to the development team when considering changes to the game?

Wyatt Cheng: The data I have on hand is from yesterday, at which time 4.1% of the characters are made in Hardcore. Hardcore is a super exciting way to play so it's very important to us.
We take into account Hardcore for every design decision. I'll take this opportunity to mention I feel particularly bad about a few hotfixes that went in shortly after release that put the lives of some Hardcore characters at risk. You'll have noticed that after the initial handful of hotfix changes to skills in the first week there were many less skill changes - hardcore was part of the reason for the general stop/slow on skill changes. In hindsight, changes such as the Wizard Armor Force Armor hotfix should have been communicated in advance, and philosophically I absolutely want to see future changes that could put a Hardcore character at risk communicated well in advance through patch notes, patch previews, or the hotfix blog that has since been put in place.


MajorMajor: Could you post a breakdown of what classes are being used by HC players? Is it roughly 20% each or is it more unbalanced?

Wyatt Cheng: Sure why not. I'll just pick 2 data points arbitrarily. Levels 46-50 -- where I think the game starts to get hard enough to risk death against serious players, and level 60.

Level 46-50:

  • Barbarian: 25.86%
  • Monk: 23.90%
  • Demon Hunter: 18.47%
  • Wizard: 16.96%
  • Witch Doctor: 14.81%

Level 60:

  • Barbarian: 22.67%
  • Monk: 21.83%
  • Demon Hunter: 21.04%
  • Wizard: 19.23%
  • Witch Doctor: 15.23%

If you are pulling out a calculator to add all of these up to make sure it totals 100% with an intention to call me out of it doesn't, I <3 you.


Hedegaard: Do you have any numbers on casualties from your ninja patch in HC?

Wyatt Cheng: I don't -- but I wish I did so I could put it over my bathroom mirror as a daily reminder to never do it again.


Auction House

Obssoyo: Could you please add custom auction timers? say I only want a 2 hour auction? or you could allow us to cancel our auctions at any point but make them in an hour from that point so long as there are no bids? I think this would help alleive alot of auction frustration.

Jay Wilson: Allowing the cancelling of auctions is in patch 1.0.3 (OK, I'm 99% sure of that). We don't currently have plans to let you change times [UPDATE: This change has been pushed to a later patch, and will not go live with 1.0.3]


jurble: Ever plan on adding any way to tell DPS increase/decrease from the AH interface? I've made some bad buys... alt-tabbing to use spreadsheets takes too long - the good stuff sells so quick

Jay Wilson: Yes, we'd like to add this. I can't say when as of this point.



lax4life607: Are you guys planning on open-world PvP, such as dueling? Or are you guys limiting the PvP element to just arena PvP? Thanks.

Jay Wilson: No, not currently. We're only supporting arena with the PVP patch. We may support dueling at some point. One thing at a time. :)


Liquid5n0w: How happy are you with the progress on the PvP 1.1 patch? Are things looking good?

Jay Wilson: PVP is pretty fun, so very happy.



KaydenFox: Bots are already out. Is there any plan to deal with the bots making over 400,000 gold/hour?

Jay Wilson: Caveat: My full time job is dealing with quality of game and gameplay. We have a group dedicated to security and they hate bots like the Hulk hates anger management. They are watching the game and working to thwart any major security threats, hacks, and bots that hurt the game experience.


ragamuffin: The same bot has been spamming the general chat everyday with gold selling and nothing has been done. Is there at least going to be an ignore option so we don't have to witness it?

Jay Wilson: There is a bug currently that if you report someone for spam it is supposed to automatically block them. It isn't, and we are looking into that. Please do report bots for spamming, though!
There are other issues that contribute to this issue, most of which I'm not as knowledgable on, but we are working on them.


Multi-Part Questions

wpScraps: 1) Would you consider a Hardcore RMAH if it were for gold only? Won't third-party sites prosper if you don't address this?
2) Any plans for custom channels with passwords or guildchat?
3) Any plans for ingame mail system?
4) Any plans for a permanent setting that automatically skips all storylines to reduce having to use the skip sequence keystroke constantly?
5) Are you considering any additional endgame character customizations?
6) Any thoughts on the gold price that top items are listing and selling for on the AH?

Jay Wilson: 1. Once the RMAH has gone live and we can monitor it for a bit we'll consider whether we want to add it to Hardcore.
2. Yes on custom channels, not sure when. Guild chat would require guilds.
3. Not currently.
4. Already answered.
5. That's a pretty broad question that could be interpreted in a lot of ways. Any way I would answer it would make me sound like a corporate douchebag, so I'll refrain.
6. In Texas they have a saying: If you don't like the weather, stick around, it will change. :)


akpak: 1. Why has the commodity auction house been down for over two weeks? I think an explanation of some kind is in order at this point.
2. Why are farming spots being "nerfed," in a game that encourages (requires) farming? There are threads around talking about good places to farm, that don't require gameplay exploits, that quickly get reported as now being nerfed. Of course this could be anecdotal, but I'm curious how the devs feel about "good" places to farm.
3. How soon will the class banner sigils earned during the launch event be enabled?
4. You've been quoted as saying that Diablo III loot is balanced around the existence of the Auction House. Could you clarify what you mean by that? Many people seem to assume that means there is "less" or "poorer" loot being dropped on an individual basis because we're expected to get our actual upgrades from the Auction House. I read it more as the existence of the Auction House allows a much wider variety of loot affixes. If a person had to rely on only their own drops or ad hoc trading, the game would have to roll most items with +Primary Stat and +Vitality/Resist. With the Auction House in play, the game can roll literally millions of crazy stat combinations, because even if you only get "crazy" drops, you can still use the Auction House for the hard-to-upgrade slots. Thoughts?
5. Is there any official source detailing what the various weapon damage type (Holy, Fire, Cold, etc) effects are in combat? There is third party theory-crafting out there regarding this, but I can't find any in-game or official source that imparts this information. Along with this, what is the rationale for keeping information like this hidden within the game? There are accusations that Diablo III has been "dumbed down" in this way, (see: widespread ignorance about Elective Mode), could you elaborate on what drove design and UI decisions like this?
7. Do you have any plans to create an "open world" mode where all the waypoints are active and without the seemingly artificial act barriers?

Jay Wilson: 1.  The design of the system encouraged people to spam search and buy on commodities to get the lowest price. It was a bad design, and spawned behavior that was melting our servers. We've been working on the underlying system to alleviate server load.
2. We've always stated that we don't want people farming single locations repeatedly, and especially locations where they don't fight monsters. We've mainly focused on nerfing things that fall into the latter camp.
3. We had some problems pulling the account names. Hopefully they shuld get flagged in the next couple weeks.
4. I'm sorry, I don't remember saying that and if I did then I was drunk and/or wrong. We tuned and balanced the game without the auction house, as there weren't enough people internally using it to test it against gameplay, so we didn't design anything for it.
5. They are all aesthetic, except cold damage, which chills targets and conversely gets a damage reduction to account for the extra utility.
6. Because we love you.
7. Answered already.


vtaas: 1. The Diablo series, for most players, is about items. Itemization in D3 is clearly lacking compared to D2: You've partially addressed this by allowing higher item level items to drop in earlier inferno acts. Are there plans to add affixes that make items feel far more unique and less random than they are now?
2. Have any of the lead devs played Dark Souls? Do you guys understand the difference in "fair" and "cheap" difficulties? Diablo 3 is obviously about items first and foremost, so stats/spreadsheets often take the placeholder. Would you agree that balancing inferno around random, excessive stats was probably not the best idea for end-game balance? In Diablo 2, you never really had to grind for gear to actually beat something.
3.The antagonists in Diablo 3 were essentially caricatures of generic bad guys. Often times they monologue completely unrealistically. Looking back, are you disappointed with how some characters (Maghda, Azmodan) turned out? How do you plan to improve on the storytelling in the next expansion?

Jay Wilson: 1. While I think the blanket statement that items are lacking compared to D2 is loaded we are planning on reviewing legendaries and improving them. We comment on this in the upcoming changes blog.
2.Again, really loaded way to frame this question. Diablo 2 was pretty easy, yes. We got 'overwhelming' feedback that D3 should be 'really really' hard. Obviously we think we went too far because we're reducing Inferno damage.
Not sure exactly what you're leading at with Dark Souls, unless you're trying to imply that D3 should be using mechanics from a third person methodically paced game with a completely different combat model that can't be grafted one for one.
In an isometric RPG as fast-paced as D3 you have specific mechanics you can use for difficulty beyond itemization. We used these, but overall it is a game about damage dealing and mitigation due to pace alone.
1.We've commented on story several times now. The majority of feedback we've gotten on story has been positive. I'm sorry your experience varied.


Marine436: 1. Have players discovered every zone in the game yet?
2. There is a portal event in Act 1, in the zone "Leorics Hunting Grounds" The goat-men summon other goat-men, however if you killed all the goat-men and then kill the totems, a sound is played (different for each totem) Some think its goat sounds, others Cow sounds, now the Drums in the same area play the same Sounds Are either of these bugs? is One a bug? Are neither Bugs?
3. Jay Wilson, your playing hardcore with the public correct? what class and level? and close call story's? or heroic Deaths?

Jay Wilson1. Yes.
2. No bugs here. Likely just audio guys having fun. :)
3. I'm not playing hardcore yet. It's more important for me to be playing a multitude of classes and playing end-game rather than re-rolling HC characters (because I will die, I'm too aggressive :) )


Everything Else!

GoldenMold: Do you read /r/Diablo often? It seems like a lot of the changes planned for 1.0.3 came almost directly from here

Wyatt Cheng: Yes, I read /r/Diablo every day. We get feedback from multiple sources. The official forums, community sites, internal feedback, internal data. If a /r/Diablo link was in the top 10 anytime in the last 3 months, I probably read it.

The subreddits are pretty illuminating too. I'm a min-max'ing theorycrafter at heart (I have personal spreadsheets for other games), and I love seeing what a great job people do with Diablo 3.


youremyjuliet: Why stop it at two hours? You say you read /r/diablo every day. We'd love it if you could revisit this thread with another wave of answers.

Bashiok: The designers are busy working on the game! Two hours felt like quite a lot to us. :) We'll have future chats, for sure.


Bashiok: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Jay Wilson: Fruit and vegetable smoothie. Vegetables bad. Meat good.

A big shout-out to all of the /r/Diablo moderators for helping make this AMAA possible! Thanks for reading!