Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 24, 2012
 
Where does the game end?

Imagine you have a character in a MMORPG who just hit the level cap. You enter a dungeon with a group, somebody in the group inspects you, and he points out to you that the gear you are wearing is bad. He says you could have bought better gear for very little gold in the auction house, as well as enchantments / gems to improve that gear further. How would you feel? Pretty stupid and a bit ashamed probably. Years of games like WoW has "taught" us that it is our duty to get the best gear possible by means like crafting or the auction house *before* trying to get better gear through loot. The auction house is part of the game, and not using it is like deliberately playing badly, like not using one of your best spells.

That attitude works for World of Warcraft, because in the WoW AH you can only get "okay" gear for reasonable prices. Diablo 3 is very different. My monk is level 24 and has 30k gold, and he just bought a legendary orange weapon on the auction house for 10k gold which is basically a best-in-slot item. By playing the auction house as part of the game, it turns out that the auction house is the optimal way to equip your character. Found loot is worse, and crafted loot is ridiculously bad for its cost. The most intelligent strategy in Diablo 3 is to stay the hell away from crafting, vendor your blue items, sell your yellow items on the AH cheaply, and use your money to completely equip yourself in yellow and orange gear from the auction house. And that is before the real money AH goes live.

The difference between World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 regarding the AH is that in WoW all the good gear is bind on equip or bind on pickup. You can't sell the WoW purples nobody in your raid needed, or the gear you don't need any more because you found an upgrade. In Diablo 3 you can. When my monk doesn't need that legendary weapon any more, I'll sell it on the AH again. Probably for less than I bought it for, because deflation is rampant. Unlike CCP, Blizzard obviously didn't hire an economist to make sure their in-game economy made any sense.

Now I could arbitrarily decide that the auction house is not part of the game of Diablo 3 and not use it. But then like Rohan I will be left wondering "Will later difficulty modes be balanced around people purchasing AH gear?". I mean, I could probably play the game perfectly well without using my healing spell, or without using potions, or without using the right mouse button. But there is something inherently stupid about having to make up your own rules for handicapping yourself so as to balance the game.

If the auction house is part of the game of Diablo 3, and that part of the game unbalances the rest, I would say that Diablo 3 overall is a badly balanced game. If I were an achiever, which I am not very much, I would feel at the same time compelled to maximize my character's power through the use of the auction house, and feel that this optimization by AH diminishes my achievement of beating the game at this or that difficulty level. Regardless of whether I used farmed gold or real money to buy my optimum gear.

Comments:
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Tobold,

I'm playing DIII with my wife. We run together, killing stuff and teleporting back every five to ten minutes to sell all the trash we pick up. If one of us gets a shiny that looks suitable for the other then we ask and share. Our gear is distinctly unimpressive, and the little toons do die on occasion.

Put simply, we're having fun. The game feels perfectly balanced for us.

Now, if we logged out to scour the AH for epic legendaries, our fun would be decreased. This is both because scouring the AH is an activity that involves infinitely less demon-killing than, well, demon-killing but also because the killing part would become less fun afterwards.

I don't feel that there is anything stupid about playing the game this way. Also, I don't feel that it is in any way analogous to skipping the right mouse button. The latter feels strangely artificial and the former not so much. That's just how I feel, of course.

Note, I have no qualms with you choosing to buy gear on the AH or with your feelings that this unbalances the game for you. It seems a bit of a pity though, because you may be missing some quality game time!
 
Tobold,

i have expierience the same at this level stage. But i am not sure how the same will be true on level 60.

Currently items with good stats are not available below 30.000€ First item usually starts at 60.000€ and it is by far not best in slot.

Currently best in slot wappon sells for 20.000.000.

Already very good at 600.000.

One play sesssion of 4 hours in inferno, first act, granted me ~100.000.

So at least it is a lot of time. And no way to earn money fast.
 
I'm not handicapping myself to make the game more challenging. I am making a choice between optimal progression Vs optimal entertainment.

My Diablo III playing isn't competing with other Diablo players. It is competing with a night in front of the tele or a heroic dungeon I've completed umpteen times already.
 
@Melanthor - the problem of hand me downs solves itself at the level cap because people won't outgrow level 60 best in slot weapons and will hang on to them.

Some things Blizzard could do to balance AH better:

-Bind on Equip,
-Item Loss or Decay,
-Item Sink: Have some way of removing items from the game. For example: Transmutation, You can combine ten +1 swords to make a +2 sword.
-Some magic formula which adjusts drop rate based on the amount of an item already in circulation.


My favourite solution is item decay because it allows you to have a thriving game economy. A lot of folk hate it though so I doubt it will ever be implemented.
 
@Oscar You will feel the need to use the auction house if you get past nightmare mode, and probably by level 50.

@Melanthor If you're talking about level 60 BIS gear, yeah it should be that expensive. Leveling though you can get great weapons below 200,000 and you can EASILY make 600,000 to 1,000,000 playing the auction house with the items you get from leveling. That's 5 nice weapon upgrades for when you get towards the end of nightmare and want to tackle hell.

@Tobold The auction house looks great and allows you to get gear in some other manner than "gambling" like in Diablo 2 or with your artisans.

@mbp Bind on account is not needed because of the salvage button. Blizzard will introduce new tiers of gear anytime the market becomes saturated with BIS items. Then players will salvage their old BIS gear for the materials to create new ones. That's blizzard's solution anyway.

Here's a very simple method for getting upgrades on the auction house that you could probably use:

http://www.diablo3goldguide.net/2012/05/where-is-auction-house-and-how-do-i-use.html
 
@Marcko

I didn't know about the salvage system ..duhh

That is bacially what I was talking abuot when I suggested transmutation. I note that slavaging even has the 10:1 ratio which should ensure a lot of items get used up.

Why is this not working at low levels? Is it because the stuff you can craft with salvage is not as good as dropped items? Or is it because many low level players haven't figured out the salvage system yet?
 
"But there is something inherently stupid about having to make up your own rules for handicapping yourself so as to balance the game."

erm... didn't you suggested exactly this to all the evilstupidbadmen hardcore raiders some time ago?
 
The Salvage system is well balanced compared to drops and it acts as a gold sink.

However, you can get gear that is several times as good for the same or less gold on the AH. It's completely unbalancing and in the context of a game where the primary goal is to get random drops, it saps a lot of the fun out of it.
 
didn't you suggested exactly this

Interesting grammar there. And you seem to be confusing me discussing a subject with me "suggesting" things.

Furthermore I would say that if a game explicitly OFFERS different ways to play, that is still somewhat different than you having to make up your own rules. It would be interesting to have Diablo 3 offer you to create characters with no access to the AH, or common stash.
 
Imagine you have a character in a MMORPG who just hit the level cap. You enter a dungeon with a group, somebody in the group inspects you, and he points out to you that the gear you are wearing is bad. He says you could have bought better gear for very little gold in the auction house, as well as enchantments / gems to improve that gear further. How would you feel? Pretty stupid and a bit ashamed probably.

Nope. Not for a single instant. The reason is simple: you only feel stupid when you discover that you're not good while thinking that you are good. In a game where I know nothing at all, I KNOW that I suck and I'm not ashamed to suck. And, BTW, I would not hesitate to pump as much information from the guy as I can get. Of course if he behaves like an asshole I'll just BL him and ignore whatever he says (how can I trust the quality of the information from an asshole?), but if he's civilized, chances are that he's a good player, and there's really no reason not to listen to him.
Just because WoW (just like the other MMO) contains elitist assholes it does not mean that all players are elitist assholes, something which you seem to assume in your message. This is why people often DON'T offer advice: they don't want to be considered the elitist asshole next door, even if all they want to do is help. Next time someone mentions your gear/stuff in a civilized way, you should really try to listen to them.... you may discover that there's people who are just willing to help.
 
Its clear now that the supply curve in D3 grows but has no mechanism to shrink, whereas in WOW it grew slowly but also shrunk, possibly faster than its growth rate with a possible minor increase in demand. IMO, they should keep it somewhat balanced so that the prices are somewhat stable but that's just me.
 
Should you scour the AH for legendaries constantly? Probably not.

However, taking a few minutes, putting in the three stats you want and finding at-level blues and yellows? Makes a mountain of difference. And it's about 5 minutes total to check. Probably will end up costing you about 500-1000 per your level.

Also, the crafting system works fine, unless you can't stand wearing blues. I'm about 2/3 through nightmare in blues with 0 issues as a barbarian, while my other barbarian friend clings to his yellows and has issues.

Learn to start looking at stats, not shiny colors. The game is entirely based on stats, not colors. You CAN level and play perfectly fine with crafted or bought gear, you just have to choose one or the other really. Because if you level crafting, you won't have the gold for the AH, and vice versa.
 
Crafting becomes very important at inferno difficulty. Top tier quality items needed to progress through infernk are very expensive in the Ah. Usually many more times expensive then the cost of multiple tries to craft level 10 blacksmith gear or rare drop patterns.
 
Sorry for the double post. Buying from the AH can carry you easily through normal to hell mode but unless you are willing to grind out gold it quickly becomes ineffecient on inferno.
 
Top tier quality items needed to progress through infernk are very expensive in the Ah. Usually many more times expensive then the cost of multiple tries to craft level 10 blacksmith gear or rare drop patterns.

I would say that this is just a short-term effect of some players being "ahead of the curve". But the crafting costs are fixed, and the AH prices are dropping further, so at some point the AH will be the cheapest source of items at any difficulty level.
 
Sorry don't make the wow reference connection. I thought you meant gems.

Yeah it's a combination of ignorance and poor design.
 
Only partly fixed, the other part is materials.
 
@Johnny

Prices will stabilize if you look at the fundamentals.

The supply curve does have a mechanism to shrink, it is called salvaging. Right now there are items on the AH that are considered good for many folk, but in a month from now they will be considered garbage and will be worth more as salvaged mats than they will be sitting on the AH taking up someone's auction slot.
 
"I would say that this is just a short-term effect of some players being "ahead of the curve". But the crafting costs are fixed, and the AH prices are dropping further"

There IS a price floor for inferno gear. The mats that gear can be salvaged into will be worth something (inferno mats will be worth a lot). No one is going to flood the AH with gear that is worth more salvaged than whole. This will keep AH prices higher than you actually expect.

"so at some point the AH will be the cheapest source of items at any difficulty level."

This should be a no-brainer...it will not only be the cheapest, but the best source. You will be able to get the items with the mods that you want instead of doing 5000 crafts of the same item.

Trying to craft your own gear in this game would be insane, not to mention expensive. This phenomenon is caused by the random nature of gear affixes, which pushes players to use the market. If you could craft your own gear and always get the mods you wanted, then you wouldn't need an AH.
 
Any non-pointless feature changes the game; the difference between "good design" and "unbalanced" is whether I like it. To use your analogy, right-mouse-button seems unbalanced to people who do not want to use it.

To venture into the usually inapplicable WoW analogy, there isn't a lot of value/profit in pre-max-level crafting prior to transmog.

Not having played D1/2, I did not get the "you don't craft one item, you make dozens and see if you win the lottery"

Meh, I enjoy leveling in SWTOR; I enjoy D3 since I haven't played a dungeon crawler since the text-character (not pixel) ancestors in the 80s. YMMV I'm resisting letting the internet change that for me.
 
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In order for it to work the top, top items should be very, very rare.

And we still have to see about that.

Me, I'm just planning to play through it once as one class and maybe another time with a second class.
 
If absolutely no one crafts then where will certain levels of gear appear on the ah from? I seriously doubt drops alone are supplying these top tier ah items. Especially since many rare smith patterns are better then any drops from hell or lower. Even legendaries vary heavily based on what difficulty they are dropped in. And i doubt many players will ever seriously play or progress in inferno so I dont think crafting will ever be trivialized in that difficulty like it has been in the lower levels.
 
My general point is that i just dont believe crafting is as useless as so many people are complaining it is. I certainly wouldnt be able to progress through inferno at this point without the system. and in the future i doubt it will change that much.
 
The auction house in Hardcore is a lot more sane. Is actually a market for blues with good stats instead of being yellow or orange only. Many things actually sell for a price similar to the in game NPC prices instead of a tenth.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
As I have said before, I really wish they prevented the AH from being used until your first character has passed nightmare.

Generally speaking, the AH takes away fun before hell and the AH adds fun after nightmare. This is all due to the difficulty: You don't need it in normal the tiniest bit, nightmare is good enough without it, but not completely trivial with it, hell starts to get legitimately difficult and you have to be really good AND really careful if you aren't going to use the AH. Inferno is essentially impossible without using the AH extensively.
 
@Markco: Then players will salvage their old BIS gear for the materials to create new ones. That's blizzard's solution anyway.

That's rather silly. It assumes that people would rather salvage their old BiS to make new gear than resell it on the AH for more gold. If old gear was BiS before and is good enough to use to farm the next tier gear, then it most definitely has a ton of resell value leftover.

I find it mindboggling that someone as gold focused as you would think to salvage old BiS gear.
 
Anyone that has played this game should realize that it is entirely based around the RMAH and making money. Blizzard is going to make a killing with the RMAH. What's to stop them from accessing the database and installing items with the sole intent of making them money. Nothing but there word. haha right.
 
Anyone that has played this game should realize that it is entirely based around the RMAH and making money. Blizzard is going to make a killing with the RMAH. What's to stop them from accessing the database and installing items with the sole intent of making them money. Nothing but there word. haha right.
 
I saw one interesting suggestion on the forums: Provide an account option that would prohibit your use of AH & RMAH permanently in return for higher drop rates.

Of course, your items would be tagged so that they were bound to account.

Not sure Blizzard would like this but it would be a somewhat return to D2 item days.
 
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