'Ask the Devs' Answers for Patch 1.0.7

The developers give info about many different topics for patch 1.0.7

Ask the Devs
As promised, the first Ask the Devs Q&A answers are now available. These all deal with patch 1.0.7, which is scheduled to be released tomorrow. The topics include the Brawling PVP system, the new crafted Rare Account-Bound items, changes to the ruby gems and the new Marquise high end gem, and changes to the classes.

Read on for all the answers from the developers!

The developers participating in this Q&A round include:

  • Kevin Martens, Lead Designer
  • Wyatt Cheng, Senior Technical Game Designer
  • Andrew Chambers, Senior Game Designer
  • Travis Day, Game Designer
  • Don Vu, Associate Game Designer

To make things a little easier to read as well as help players find the answers they're the most interested in, we've broken down the developer responses into categories:

To be taken directly to a category's answers, click on the hyperlinks above. You can also use the "Next Blizzard Post" function to jump to the next category.

Q. Has it been considered the addition of a point tracker mechanic for PvP, as well as perhaps the ability to wager or offer any kind of unique rewards to make PvP more interesting in 1.0.7?

-- DarkAlucoc (Americas [Spanish]), Gorchitza#2915 (Europe [Russian]), Berninio#2682 (Europe [Polish]), wccjitou (Asia [Taiwanese]), Oray#2440 (Americas [English])

Kevin: Considered? Yeah, definitely. Not only did we debate the idea of having point systems and other forms of tracking for brawling during the initial development stage, but we also carefully revisited those points as we saw incoming feedback from the PTR. We know that, for many players, having some way of "showing off" your skills in battle either through a point tracker or reward system is very desirable, and we debated various different ways of doing that within the current design of brawling. We even discussed adding ears for players to collect after they'd slaughtered their opponents, and whether that type of "reward" could exist as items or as an ever-growing counter in the UI.

After all those discussions, though, we always came back to the same principle: brawling is a simple, straightforward way to knock your friends and/or enemies into next week. That's it. No rewards, no objectives, no scores. The goal of the feature is to give players a way to fight each other in a no-holds-barred kind of environment, and we want to keep that environment as simple, straightforward, and "no-holds-barred" as possible. While we will remain open to player feedback on the idea of point trackers and rewards and may consider making adjustments based on that feedback in the future, we really feel that brawling will be at its best when it is just simply a free-for-all fight. We like that this allows players to sort of define what brawling means to them, as well as build their own "mini-games" around the feature (for example, there's this thread over on Reddit that's pretty cool, same for the rules streamer Inigo Montoya developed).

I also want to point out that brawling is not a replacement for Team Deathmatch or any other types of more complex PvP modes, and that a lot of the design choices we made with brawling were done to navigate around the issues we experienced with Team Deathmatch. Some players may not have seen this, but Jay wrote a major update of PvP in December and he explained why Team Deathmatch was not coming soon (the bad news), and that mode actually had rewards and points. You can read the blog here. But let me try to summarize the primary points:

  • We are a PVE-focused game. Killing more demons more efficiently is what the skills are and should be balanced against. As such, we have so many skills and rune combos, coupled with an enormous amount of items and affixes, and then major power variance based on those items that the formal and organized direct team competition of the scored Team Deathmatch mode really drew that into stark contrast.
  • In addition, while Team Deathmatch was fun for a while, the lasting depth wasn't there. So, and I realize I’m getting a little long-winded here (how does one apply that metaphor to typing, exactly?), rather than potentially repeating those issues with another system that had rewards, and objectives, and scoring, just getting a solid way to bash people was our primary goal and to get it out as fast as possible. Brawling is the result of that.

Q. Did you think about introducing an optional betting system for player duels? Let’s say two players are duelling and bet some gold. One player bets 5 million and another bets 5 million. The winner takes 10m*(1 – 0,15). The 15% would be a 'tax' for Blizzard, the master of the duelling grounds ;)

-- Czero#2520 (Europe [Polish])

Kevin: So you thought you could convince me to add betting by offering me a 15% cut, eh? While I like your style, I'm afraid I don’t think the concept will work. I do think it’s cool! But I also think it suffers from two issues -- one solvable and one not so much.

So first, see my notes above about class balance. Betting on a mode that is not balanced has some inherent perils and fairness issues in it. We can always say "buyer beware" or let you do what you want with your own money, but we've found that the variance is so enormous that we’re rather hesitant to offer a formal way to wager on something we well know is not balanced. This can easily be seen as a seal of approval. Now, if none of that applies to you, you can always make a gentleperson’'s agreement with your opponents to trade a prize (be it items or gold) in chat before you enter the Scorched Chapel.

Second, the solvable problem is the UI issue. Creating a betting UI would add additional time and complexity to get into a very simple mode that’s primary goal is to be straightforward. Our UI is rather crowded, too, so any additions to it are tricky to add for any purposes, not just betting. Again, the interface issue could be worked on but the balance issue trumps it.

Q. Can you explain with more detail on the restrictions that make it not viable to have a 2x2 duel system? Why it is not a feasible to add this to the game at the moment?

-- Slayer (Americas [Portuguese]), Rowan#2506 (Europe [English]), Crypto137#1400 (Europe [Russian])

Kevin: 2v2 brawling is another form of team-based Deathmatch. The problems we had with depth and balance with 4v4 aren’t better at all with 2 people per side. It's not like we don’t like this idea, to be clear. Here's where we are right now: we want to get the basic player-vs-player combat to you all as quickly and as simply as we can. Brawling in the Scorched Chapel is that. As Jay said back in December, we will continue to ponder (picture Rodin's Thinker only with more foam axes, nerf guns, and beer) a way to add lasting depth to a team-based mode but, in the meantime, please enjoy beating the living daylights out of each other in free-for all combat.

Q. So…no plans to add any form of rewards for Dueling?

-- 힉스입자 (Asia [Korean])

Kevin: The rewards are the satisfaction of seeing your enemies (and…well… friends, I guess) driven before you and hearing the lamentations of their followers. What more does one need?

The serious answer is honestly only a little different. Like the answer I provided to DarkAlucoc, brawling is just a fun way to bash each other around and if you like testing your skills and powers against other players, then that will be fun on its own.  If not, there are so, so many demons to slay and, really, they have totally been asking for it. Especially Heralds of Pestilence—those guys are jerks.

Q. I am not a fan of the "lobby" in Diablo 3 which makes my dueling experience socially limited, currently the system makes finding players to duel a bit difficult and dull. Do you Developers have plans to improve the dueling system to be more sociable and add it in 1.0.7. PTR? Thanks. -

- ELPRESADOR#1983 (Americas [English])

Kevin: We feel that the social features in Diablo III could be more robust, absolutely. Along with that, we understand that finding other players to brawl with could probably be easier. On a very high level, we've been discussing ways to help players find groups more easily according to their specific play style, be that for questing, Paragon leveling, item farming, key runs, or brawling, etc. One of the ideas we've explored—and this is by no means set in stone, but I did want to bring it up since it is something we’re actively considering it—is the possibility of allowing players to identify what kind of experience they’re looking for when entering Public Games by using "tags." So, in addition to selecting your MP and Quest, you could also hypothetically select your "Game Type," and "Brawling" could certainly be one of the types we make available. It's a pretty big change from both a UI and mechanical standpoint, so we don't have an ETA for when social improvements of that level might be added.

So, to answer your question: while we don’t have any additions planned for 1.0.7 (we were paying pretty close attention to how people were finding one another on the PTR and think players were doing just fine), we do want to make it easier for players to find another and will continue monitoring your feedback in the meantime.

Q. I want field PvP, not a specific zone. If it is indiscriminate slaughtering that Blizzard is concerned of, why not provide an opt in/out for dueling? Why would anyone stand around doing nothing in the arena while others are out in the field grinding? Most of all, a dumbed-down zone fails to utilize all the possibilities of open-world combat.

-- FatalPower (Asia [Korean])

Kevin: I worked with Lylirra closely on a post that covers this question pretty much in its entirety. Rather than make you go look for it, I can quote the relevant points for you here.

Regarding why we don’t allow brawling in the open world:

The world that you play through normally wasn't designed for player vs. player combat, so it doesn’t translate well to dueling. There are just too many variables that could wreak havoc during a duel: non-PvP friendly geometry, events, scripted sequences, monsters, level-up effects, portals, etc.

For example: What if someone duels a player while they have Leah (or another hireling) as a follower? What if someone accidentally clicks on an NPC and opens up a dialogue window or a vendor screen? What happens when someone transitions through a portal or to a new zone? Sure, we could try to make accommodations for dueling to assist with each and every of these situations, but not only would those changes require a significant time and resource investment, they'd also have to be flawlessly integrated into the main game world. It's a lot of work for a feature that not a lot of players will see or really take advantage of.

Thematically, we agree – it’d would be cool if players could fight wherever they wanted. But having an environment that actually supports PvP combat, was specifically designed for that purpose, and doesn’t interfere with the rest of the world is much more important when it comes to how the actual gameplay feels. This is one of the main reasons why we created a separate zone for dueling.

If anything, the list of complicating issues above was rather short. There are so many more factors that could negatively impact a player’s experience if we were to allow open-world PvP in the existing PvE environment.

Regarding why we don’t offer a right-click > duel option:

One of the big goals with the current design for dueling (in terms of where it exists and how you get there) is to limit opportunities for griefing. By having a separate map that can only be accessed by speaking with an NPC, we're able to give players a means to beat each other up, but without a way to really harass anyone.

We definitely considered the right-click > duel option, but there's a downside to it. If we allowed players to just initiate duels by right-clicking on a player's portrait or in the Friends List, that feature could and probably would be used to grief people by pulling them into duels at arbitrary moments. Heck, even if this system required that the invited player interact with some sort of confirmation dialogue before a duel could be begin, someone still could theoretically spam the bejeebus out of the invite system and use the dialogue feature to interrupt other players’ demon slaying fun time. =/

We've heavily talked about adding NPCs in each Act hub, rather than just having the one in New Tristram to give players more flexibility, and there is/will be a dedicated PvP channel to help would-be duelers find other willing participants. Even so, we'll be paying close attention to your feedback from the PTR, so please let us know about your experiences and what you feel could be improved.

We've already added the PvP channel, and Nek the Brawler is now available in all Act hubs. As noted in one of my earlier responses, we're also discussing ways for like-minded players (including brawlers) to find one another more easily through the game's social features.

Additionally—and I think this is important to specify—one of the big reasons that we changed the name from "dueling" to "brawling" is that we understood the word "dueling" comes with certain connotations. It makes you think of 1v1 combat that’s initiated within the existing world, something that feels similar to the battle between the Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. There’s spontaneity to it, as well as more formality. Also, it only refers to a fight between two people.

That's really not what dueling was (or is) in Diablo III, so we changed its name to something more fitting: brawling. Brawls are more about getting people together to fight each other in a blur of fists and ferocity where the winner takes all. That’s exactly what our form of brawling offers, as opposed to something more formal and balanced (and only between 2 people). In that context, a right-click > duel option doesn't make a lot of sense.

Q. Most of the duels are concluded after a one-hit kill and most players feel that players with more purchasing power in AH/RMAH will end up being the ones who will always win during engagement with other players. Are you guys considering some kind of resilience system (or account bound equipment), that allow players to reduce damage taken on duels?

-- Slayer (Americas [Portuguese])

Wyatt: There are essentially two different questions being asked. Question one: "The current environment seems very one-hit kill, are there any plans to address this?" The second question is "What effect does the AH/RMAH have on brawling?"

Players have a great deal of control over the gear that you wear. Many players in the current live environment choose to build their characters to be extremely offensive, forgoing defense almost completely. Other players choose to build their character extremely defensively, so they can take a few hits and keep on ticking. Most players fall somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes, though there is a tendency in PvE to lean more on the offensive side as it results in faster clears of PvE content. 

When the 1.0.7 PTR went live, you saw a lot of one-hit kills because players are stepping into the Scorched Chapel with their offensively-oriented PvE gear and sometimes even their PvE skill builds. You are certainly going to see a lot of one-hit kills in an environment like this. Sometimes you see one-hit kills simply because you’re vastly out-geared by your opponent. However, if players re-gear for some survivability in their item and skill choices, things have the potential to shift.  Indeed, if two players are both extremely defensively-minded you quickly get into stalemates in which neither player is able to ever kill the other. Ensuring that it is at least somewhat worthwhile to build defensively is part of the reason for the 30% damage reduction for all classes (35% for Monks and Barbarians) seen in the latest PTR patch. If a person who makes a balanced build between offense and defense is still getting 1-shot by somebody who is completely offensively-minded, then it doesn’t feel worthwhile to have built defensively at all, so the 30%/35% damage reduction is intended to close the gap to help people survive the 1-shot scenario. 

With regards to the AH/RMAH question, brawling is really no-holds-barred. Players entering a brawl are going to have different gear levels and that gear is going to come from multiple sources.  Some gear might be acquired through drops, some might be found on the AH, and some might be crafted -- particularly with the introduction of the new crafting recipes in 1.0.7 to accompany the account-bound Hellfire Rings. When two people enter the Scorched Chapel, one player may vastly out-gear the other.  That’s to be expected. We like that brawling is more open-ended in terms of your gearing choices, and we've no plans to limit that by introducing a separate item system.

Asking about the AH/RMAH with regards to brawling, though, is really just a variant of the larger question of what role the AH/RMAH should play in Diablo III. We think the fact that most players get their gear from the AH is an issue, but it’s not one that’s specific to brawling. And we’d rather fix the larger issue (which is in turn will benefit brawling), rather than come up with some new gear system that will only address the problem for PvP. That said, no matter what we do, some players are going to have vastly better gear than others, and that’s probably always going to be the case depending on your level of investment.

Overall please remember that brawling with your friends may not be fair fight. So, if you’re looking for a perfectly balanced, pure skill-based, highly structured PvP mode where everybody has identical gear, then brawling may not be the feature for you. Even so, we still think (for a lot of players) it’s going to be a lot of fun to jump into a game and just beat each other up.

Q. Many people have been speculating about whether or not it will be worth it to craft the new armor in 1.0.7, with the more sophisticated analyses relying on comparisons between current AH pricing and the probability that similar items can be created via crafting. Can you help clear up the debate and add insight into crafting by giving us a more detailed rundown of how affix production works for crafted items (e.g. the probability of one affix being rolled versus another, the probability of an affix rolling in a particular range, the list of possible combo affixes, etc.)?

-- Mandlebarb#1598 (Americas [English])

Wyatt: The most important thing to keep in mind about the new crafting recipes is that they are not for everybody. They are designed primarily for two groups:

  • High-end players who already have extremely good gear, but are having difficulty finding new upgrades (either through drops or the Auction House).
  • Self-found" players who don't use the Auction House and, as such, are happy for any opportunity to upgrade their gear through available means.

Certainly players can (and should) compare the new crafted gear to current AH pricing. If you are still finding the occasional upgrade on the AH, then you may not want to make the investment in the new crafting recipes – and that's okay.

Any analysis being done on the tradeoff between AH pricing and the crafting recipes’ probabilities assume a current gear level. If the AH has upgrades for you at the 10,000 gold price point, then you probably don't want to craft the new items. If your next upgrade on the AH tends to cost around 500,000, then the new crafting recipes may start to look more appealing. Similarly, if reasonable upgrades to your current gear cost around a billion gold or more, then the new crafting recipes should be worth making.

Also, keep in mind that the new items have a chance to roll higher-than-ever values of Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Vitality. Anybody who has spent time looking at high-end items knows that the value of items at the best items increases at an incredible rate. The difference between a 98th percentile and 99th percentile item can increase the value by tenfold or more. We expect that the new crafted recipes will appeal to those who are operating at this elite end of the market.

For those who fit into neither audience category, you may want to try your luck on some of the new crafted recipes, or you may just want to wait. Maybe you'll find yourself at the high end of the market in the future, and those recipes will start to seem more appealing. Maybe you'll decide to make a self-found character and you'll find the new crafting recipes to be a huge boon. If you never find yourself in either of those groups and the crafting recipes just never appeal to you, that's okay too -- not every feature in the game will appeal to every player.

This really begs the question: why not also add recipes for the other 99%? Part of this is caused by the restriction imposed by the way that crafting works currently, with its built-in randomness. This actually makes it very challenging to provide a solution for players who would like to make something for themselves, but don’t have the gold in the bank to press the button enough times to benefit. We actually feel there are better solutions for crafting out there, and we are working on some of them, but it’s no small issue to solve, which is why you haven’t seen much progress on it in patches.

Q. Could you please explain your reasoning behind making the new crafted rares account bound?  

-- Dubey#1721 (Americas [English])

Travis: Making the new crafted items account bound was done for one very distinct reason: to give players more incentives to play the game rather than the Auction House. Something we discuss frequently is how the Auction House has impacted the game and how we can refocus players away from farming the Auction House and onto farming monsters.

Demonic Essence was made account bound to encourage players who wish to create the new items to play the game instead of simply going to the Auction House and buying all the mats necessary to mass produce the items. For that same reason we wanted the product of the recipes to be account bound as well. We want players to not only find or produce their own items more often but also diminish the impact the Auction House has on the game, and we felt like this was a good opportunity to take our first steps in that direction. (Okay, well our second steps since the Hellfire Ring was designed with the same goal in mind.)

Q. You're writing that the droprate of crafting recipes will be increased by 400%. Does this also apply to the droprate of legendary crafting recipies?

-- Ysuran#2740 (Europe [German])

Andrew: This change only affects the Rare crafting plans and jeweler designs. The Legendary crafting plans remain very challenging to find.

Q. As there are going to be so many new crafting plans and items dropping in 1.0.7, are you considering making them auto pick up like gold or health globes?

-- Rocka #1172 (Europe [English])

Andrew: Auto-pickup of gold and health globes is a clear choice for all players for a few reasons that don’t really translate well to other kinds of items. To begin with, I can’t think of a situation where you don’t want to pick up gold! Health Globes are a little different, though, in that there can be a strategic choice during combat when to pick them up, but generally collecting them doesn’t do you any harm.

Both of these items also have their own dedicated storage slot that isn’t restricted in any way (you can pick up as much gold or as many health globes as you want). If we were to expand that auto-pickup to items that consume slots in your inventory, the question of whether you should pick it up or not becomes muddy, and we’d prefer not to overcomplicate that. Some players may not be farming for Demonic Essence and ignore it, so they wouldn’t want to pick it up, but some others may want to hoover everything.

It’s also important for gameplay reasons for players to be making active choices about their decisions on a regular basis. If everything was auto-pick up and you never had to make choices, there wouldn’t be an ebb and flow to the gameplay experience. These pauses to make a decision inspire your brain to a different form of activity as opposed to killing monsters, which can actually feel good and we’d like to encourage that.

So, to answer your question: we’ve definitely considered it, but we’ve decided not to have the new crafting plans and items qualify for auto-pick up.

Q. Do you really think that Marquise Topaz (and Amethyst) in weapons are competitive in comparison to other gems?

-- Shadow#21740 (Europe [Russian])

Q. What is the point of adding a Marquise Topaz to a weapon (Melee attackers take 2500 per hit)? What happened to the proposed buff to Thorns?

-- Wachati (Americas [English])

Wyatt: Let's see if I can address both of these questions with one answer.

The Amethyst serves a different role than the other gems in providing defense rather than offense. For players who are looking to increase their Life On Hit or survivability in general, the Amethyst fills that role. We're not looking to see some minimum percentage of the audience using Amethysts; it's okay if less than 25% of players use an Amethyst. It's even okay if less than 5% of players use the Amethyst. What's important is that if you want to increase your survivability, you can look at the Amethyst and say it's providing a worthwhile boost.

With the lowering of damage at Inferno since the game's release, and the introduction of Monster Power, we've seen a natural shift towards offensive builds and maximizing damage in general. This is totally expected. As a result, there has also been a corresponding decline in the use of the Amethyst in weapons, which is also expected and normal. Those who have been playing since release will recall that the Amethyst was an extremely popular gem choice, particularly for Barbarians and Monks. In situations where Life on Hit or survivability is desired -- such as new characters, Hardcore characters, or people who really want to build super tanky -- then the Amethyst is still a solid choice.

The Topaz, on the other hand, is a different story. No -- the damage from the Topaz is not competitive in comparison to other gems. Thorns damage in general is underpowered in the game and we're looking to correct that n the future. While we're discussing a number of ways to do this, the favored idea internally is to allow Thorns to benefit from your primary stat (Strength, Dexterity, or Intelligence). So if you have, say, 2000 Intelligence as a Wizard or Witch Doctor, then your Thorns items will do +2000% damage, much like your weapon damage. This is, of course, a huge buff to the Thorns property and there is no specific timeline on when we're going to make such a change.

What we don't want to do, however, is buff the Topaz considerably today only to have it be grossly overpowered in the future. This would then put us in the situation where we'd either have to go back and nerf the Topaz, or not move forward with allowing it to buff your primary stat.

Now, some of you may be thinking "Buff it now so we can use it and nerf it later! We don't mind!" but it's not that easy. Buffing it now would lead to one set of builds and gearing options, which would be adversely affected if it got nerfed later. What if (hypothetically) a Topaz weapon buff lead to a class of builds that skipped any stacking of your primary stat? If we later made Thorns benefit from your primary stat and nerfed the Topaz accordingly, this entire class of builds would become invalidated.

So, while we do want improve Topaz gems and with it the Thorns affix, we don’t have any immediate plans to do so. This kind of change is likely something we’d incorporate into Diablo III alongside similar improvements.

Q. Looking at the new gems, will it ever be possible to craft a high-level gem quickly without tediously clicking through all the steps in between (to save time)?

-- DocMorbid#2850 (Europe [German]), bebelab#2935 (Europe [French])

Andrew: We agree that crafting gems can be slow and tedious, and we've seen a number of great suggestions from the community on how to address this issue. We are definitely looking into allowing you to perform a "craft all gems of this type" style action. Worth noting: we will only allow this for gems, as the crafted outcome is a very known quantity with fixed affixes. We still believe the process of crafting one random item at a time has value.

Q. What's the reasoning behind account-bound items in a game based on trading? And why will the new gems be account bound?

-- adkiekdi#2456 (Europe [German]), wccjitou (Asia [Taiwanese]), whoopadeedoo#1209 (Americas [English]), Dubey#1721 (Americas [English])

Andrew: Trading is certainly super important, but I wouldn’t say the game is based on trading. Diablo III is about killing monsters and finding evermore powerful enemies and items to kill them with. Trading is just one method by which players can obtain items, and the Auction House is currently the most popular way to do that. We feel that gearing up is perhaps too skewed towards trading right now, and account-bound items are a way of balancing that out with farming.

We don’t really like that, for most players, all of your current gear is very likely to be something you’ve found on the Auction House.  This can create a situation where it doesn’t feel like you "own" the gear you’ve obtained; instead, it feels like you are renting it. This is one of the big draws of making items account-bound. We also need more end game item and gold sinks, and making something account bound permanently "removes" those items from the game.  Having gear (or gems) that feels like you own it forever is good for you, and removing a lot of things from the economy is good for the game.

Q. Why did you guys decide to modify the attributes of the ruby gems instead of adding new gems to the game, such as diamond or sapphire (Diablo II)?

-- Rictad (Americas [Brazilian Portuguese]), Jarhead#1138 (Americas [English]) 

Andrew: We wanted to add a new tier for a few reasons:

  • We wanted to make them attractive, and an increase in power is very attractive.
  • We wanted a way to remove some of the current top tier gems from circulation.

We don’t feel that adding a whole new type of gem to the game was the right answer at the moment. We do have ideas for what we would want from new gems, but now isn’t the time to add that to the game. The Marquise gems are gold and item sinks (which is something we feel the economy can really benefit from right now), and very attractive ones at that.

(As for "why didn’t we fix Topax in weapons", I believe Wyatt provided a pretty comprehensive answer to that question already.)

Q. Why did you make the cost to unsocket marquise gems cost 5 million? Many players want a flexible system where they can change gems frequently and this is just forcing players into sticking with a single gem due to high re-socketing costs.

-- DBraveZ#1254 (Europe [English]), Claw8ds#1130 (Americas [English])

Andrew: We love that players are able to remove gems from sockets in Diablo III, as it helps provide more flexibility as you gear up rather than locking you to single choice. However, since un-socketing is so painless and costs so little, what we’ve found is that players will simply recycle the same gem across all their characters rather than creating new ones. An important goal with the new Marquise gems is to act as a gold and Radiant Star gem sink.  Currently, there’s nothing in the game that actually pulls those gems out of the economy, but to keep their value up, that’s important.
In all honesty, I wish the cost to remove the lower tier gems was much higher, more in line with the cost of the Marquise gem.  We would prefer players to be crafting new gems of all types rather than just shuffling them around as that makes the gem economy more dynamic (more things coming in, lots of things coming out).  Right now it’s almost entirely stagnant, with demand going down every day.  If you only had to craft one Marquise Ruby for all 10 characters, that would remove some Radiant Stars from the economy, but realistically it won’t remove much.  With the unsocket cost set to 5 million, you now have a clear choice: "should I move my gem 4 times or just craft a new one?"  For the sake of the economy, we actually hope you’d prefer to craft a new one.

Q. While a lot of emphasis went into balancing the Wizard this patch, it seems like it wasn't enough. In particular, the Wizard seems to suffer from a lot of problems the Monk suffered from - resource spending abilities (particularly Secondaries) are very weak compared to free signature spells or utility/force abilities. Any hopes to buff those abilities to be worth the resource cost?

-- Sair#1816 (Americas [English])

Don: Since launch, we’ve been increasing the damage on the Wizard’s Secondary abilities to try and make them useful tools in specific builds and for specific play styles. While we believe we’ve made them viable for specific builds and specific gear setups, these builds are being overshadowed by the ease and effectiveness of CM and Archon. We don’t want to just keep on increasing numbers, as that would make that class spiral out of control balance-wise.

That being said, we are aware that Arcane Orb and every channeled ability not named Archon Disintegrate are not very popular. We have plans to reevaluate the Arcane Orb skill as a whole and are working toward solutions to the innate problem of the Wizard’s channeled abilities: e.g. Wizards are vulnerable when they’re standing still to channel.
One of the problems with the unattractive Arcane Power spenders is that the only way to sustain casting these abilities is with APoC. Since this relies on procs, Arcane Power spenders with high proc scalars outshine the ones with low ones. We are looking at ways other than APoC for those Wizards with high attack speed to be able to sustain casting Arcane Power spenders for an extended period of time.

Q. In patch 1.0.7 you will buff Monk spirit spender skills. Why didn't you make any change to the Monk passive skills?

-- Alucardi#2692 (Europe [Italian]), CountFury#1192 (Americas [English])

Wyatt: Overall we're okay with the current state of Monk passives. That's not to say they're perfect (we'll definitely be working on them more), but we did not feel the current issues were severe enough to warrant changes at this time. The Monk got some changes to passives in previous patches, so keep that in mind as well.

There's a lot of moving parts on any class—interdependencies in which changes to one part of the class can have many downstream effects. In the case of the Monk, there are two big outstanding issues to address before further changes to passives happen: the inequity between the 4 spirit generators and their rune variants, and One with Everything.

Speaking of One with Everything, we've mentioned many times in the past that we're looking to make this passive feel less mandatory and a number of options have been discussed. This seems like a good opportunity to discuss some of the solutions that have come up internally. Please keep in mind that this topic is still very much in the air.

  • The most commonly proposed solution is to simply bake One With Everything directly into the Monk's class. In essence, give the passive away for free. This has a few issues. We don't currently bake a mechanic like this into other classes, so it would be something that’d need to be explained to new players or otherwise exist as a hidden bonus. It also represents a big boost to one class that's inequitable with the other classes. In addition, some Monks don't really like the mechanic, and have built their character around not taking One with Everything. Baking this into the class would make it so all Monks would be foolish not to take advantage of it. On the upside, it certainly frees up Monks to choose new passives without invalidating the current gear choices. Besides, who doesn't like getting something for nothing?

  • Another option is to alter gear in the future to not drop both an elemental resistance and resist all. Many people already comment that if you have an item with resistance to only one particular school, it's counter-intuitive that the values are lower than a similar-tier affix for resist all. One thing we have talked about doing is increasing the element-specific values so they are higher than the resist all values by a comfortable margin, while simultaneously disallowing both affixes from rolling on the same item. This would allow Monks who want to specialize in a single school of resistance to do so, and pick up One With Everything, without making the benefit of double-stacking resistances so hard to ignore.

  • A third option that has been discussed is breaking up the effect across all the existing passives. For example, Resolve might become "Damage you deal reduces enemy damage by 20% for 2.5 seconds. In addition any resistance lower than your Cold Resistance is increased to the level of your Cold Resistance." The advantage of such an approach is letting people continue to gain the effect, as well as creating a lot of diversity across different Monks. The disadvantage is your gear choices will lock you even more into particular passive choices, not to mention the cumbersome tooltips.

There are other solutions that have been discussed, but my intent in sharing these is to not only spark discussion and grant insight into our thought process, but also to demonstrate that when we say "we don't want to invalidate the gear Monks are currently wearing" we mean it.

Q. Everyone was expecting changes in Monk in 1.0.7, however the only skills that were buffed are those not used by anyone, which means that 1.0.7 changes won’t probably influence the builds used by players. Players were expecting improvements to passive skills, buff to spirit generation and improvements to skills that are useless on higher MPs – e.g. 95% of mantras. Is Blizzard finally going to give some attention to this class and can we expect some thorough changes or should we just reroll? I’m not even talking about  lack of animation for 2-hand weapons or set items that look very   poorly designed compared to those of other classes but this just adds to our impression that this class was given a rushed design.

-- Dahri@Magtheridon (Europe [Polish])

Travis: One of our goals with the Monk changes of 1.0.7 was to try to encourage build diversity and open up more options to people who enjoy more active gameplay. To actually provide players with more build diversity, the first thing we have to do is make more skills desirable. So you are correct in your statement that we buffed skills people don’t use -- that’s kind of the point. :) Prior to patch 1.0.7, monks suffered from an underlying problem that caused many of their skills to simply not be worth a slot on their bar. In many cases, a player would gain a larger DPS increase by simply spending Spirit on Conviction Aura than they would spending a similar amount of Spirit on Wave of Light or Lashing Tail Kick. Our intent with these changes was to try to bring the skills that have more interesting gameplay associated with them up to a similar level as those that have little to no gameplay associated with them (i.e. the more passive abilities like Mantras).

We have plans on the table for how we want to change the existing Mantras, but none of them are final yet. In the case of Retribution for example, we think the mechanic is flawed at its core and touches on the same things that make Thorns an unappealing stat on items. However, one potential solution we are looking into is to make Retribution the same as Thorns and reflect a flat amount of damage instead of a percentage of incoming damage, and at the same time change all Thorns mechanics to be effected by your primary attribute. We think this approach will help give Retribution a place in certain character builds, though we also suspect that simply making all Thorns mechanics deal 2500% more damage than they currently do may be a bit too extreme. So, when we transition to this new mechanic we will have to do more tuning.
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