Thursday 18 July 2013

I feel that blizzard is wrong; an endless dungeon actually makes for great endgame.

First, to quote Wyatt Cheng:
What happens is players start… like it drives you into starting gameplay styles. We saw this some at release, where maybe you make a super tanky defensive build, which is effective, but not very fun to play. Yeah, I can beat something, but it took sixty minutes of kiting. Which is really fun and exciting the first time you do it, but isn’t something we really want to encourage people to do en masse.
But I think that the idea that there is greater challenge out there is cool. I think the idea of I want to test my character is cool. I think the idea of this game is too easy and I would like a great challenge is cool. So the desire behind those is cool, but the design of a dungeon, where every level is progressively more difficult, we found didn’t work.
Well, I take great issue with the details of this quote, in part because it starts off by first making a claim about what is or isn't fun, namely that tanky builds are boring and people have to faceroll to enjoy themselves. Personally, I enjoy both styles, and would like both to be viable and rewarding within D3 (and I think it bears pointing out that the game had way more players when everyone was fighting for their life trying to beat inferno diablo). Beyond this however, I feel like the scope of their prototype does not give the concept of an endless dungeon a fair chance to succeed, and so rather than just sit here and whine about it let me give you a version of an endless dungeon that I came up with over the last 30 minutes, and let's see where we can go from there. This is not the first post on the topic, probably not the last, but it really bothers me how easily they wrote this off based on the contents of the interview.

Idea #1: Different boss fights every 10th (Xth) level. Each level has a starting safe area where mobs cannot enter and you can theory craft the content ahead, swap out gear and skills etc, basically town.

Idea #2: Different combinations of preset (either hard set or easily determined before you get deep into the level) elite packs and mobs and/or specific affixes on various levels. If you severely outgear the content/level, faceroll it with your build of choice, but if not, be ready to adapt your build and/or gear (grab a shield, throw in vit gems, change your skills, whatever) to clear the content. Examples include:

  • Levels where vast majority of incoming damage is fire based, or arcane based, etc...
  • Levels where vast majority of enemies are hordelike, small and squishy but lots of small hits. Maybe you'll want life on kill here, archon, melee reduction, exploding palm, whirlwind, etc..
  • Levels laid with traps. The game already has the ability for triggerable traps, how about ones that actually matter? What about traps that can hurt enemies that we can trigger also, maybe this is the time for teleport or vault, etc... to really shine?
  • Levels with elites / bosses that have quick enrage timers, and you really need dps because you're working against a clock.
  • Levels where elites / mobs do insane burst damage, and you can't afford to not have strong ehp.

Idea #3: The endless dungeon scales with MP level, and MP level gets reworked a bit to scale damage more and hp less. If you just really enjoy your faceroll build like the one you have now, you can take it to the endless dungeon and run it the whole way, just on an MP level that's a bit below your gear level.

Idea #4: Certain new legendaries only drop on certain dungeon level ranges or from certain bosses, and MP levels dictate their availability and/or odds of dropping and/or quality of rolls. The goal should be to make the new content accessible, but also reward players for pushing the curve.

Idea #5: Parties or individuals are given a certain number of "wipes" at the start of an endless dungeon, you can pause and rejoin your progress up to that point so long as you still have "wipes" left in your run. A wipe in this case would be your entire party dying in combat, and the only way to respawn is to get picked up by a fellow player. The big issue here would be that this rewards group play over individual, maybe there's a better solution I don't know.

I think the point here is we need content that is challenging, and everyone has a different idea of what that is based on skill, time invested, gear level etc... We need a mechanism that adapts to this reality better than Monster Power currently does. Also, there are a lot of elements already built into the game that have been whitewashed by power creep. I frankly don't even look at the monster affixes anymore, and I certainly don't care about static environment traps. Maybe we can add a lot of variety to the game simply by finding a way to reintroduce these concepts through level design and/or de-randomizing the mobs and elites? Either way, please god blizzard find a way to make this game interesting other than just new tilesets, random spawns, and itemization...give us a challenge, not more time trials!

P.S. Bots would have a hell of a time clearing content like this.