While we enjoyed allocating stats and having intricate skill trees in Diablo II (as well as the benefits they provided), we ultimately feel the current stat and skill system is better for Diablo III. We heavily iterated on the skill trees and stat points in Diablo III for quite some time, but we felt that they simply didn’t fit the direction we wanted to go with the game. They added artificial complexity to the game, but didn’t actually add much in the way of customization. They also often rendered a remarkable penalty, in that if you mis-allocated a stat point or skill the wrong way, or simply wanted to change it at a later point in time, you were out of luck, as you were locked to your original choice.
We strongly feel that in general, players will know whether or not they like a particular skill or play style only after they’ve had a chance to try it out for themselves. And while there definitely is some intrigue and fun to permanently committing yourself to a particular character design, it’s not what we envision for Diablo III. We want players to be able to experiment and find a combination of skills and runes that they enjoy and that fit them the best. We also don’t believe that the current skill system would really benefit from a free allocation of stats, either. We think that players can achieve a sizable level of customization through runes, and that this system fits in much better with the overall design of the game.
What's she's really saying is "Be glad we did anything for you. Regardless of what you may think, the changes were great and the game is big fun. Item choices are interesting, stat allocation is spot on, and if you can't see that then.. well, you're just not doing it right."
Yeah it’s… not really cool to try and paraphrase my words in order to twist the sentiment of my post. :-/
Design decisions are made with a lot in mind, and it’s an ongoing development process that often involves a lot of people. While I can try to offer insight into why we’ve made or are considering certain design decisions, at the end of the day, people’s opinions on it will undoubtedly vary from person-to-person, and since the folks here at Blizzard are gamers just like you, you can bet this passionate bunch has some varied opinions about all sorts of things relating to Diablo III.
While there are aspects of the game you’re bound to jive with, there are undoubtedly others that simply might not be your cup of tea (or blood, since we’re talking about slaying demons here). If you’ve noticed something that you think could be improved, we truly do want to hear about it, but bear in mind that while a lot of feedback we receive sounds really neat (and believe me, I’ve seen some incredibly awesome ideas floating around here), that doesn’t mean we have the bandwidth to do it all, nor that we necessarily believe that certain ideas are best for Diablo III. But as I’ve said before, we’re down to continue to improve it and make it the best game we possibly can.
You don't feel that permanent choices was the way to go with Diablo III, but can you at least admit that complete and total freedom in skill choices and the abolishment of player allocated stats was the wrong way to go or at least too far to go in the opposite direction?
There are so many ways you can have improved on the runeskill system, and on the Paragon system, particularly in regards to customization and choices.
You can claim all you want that the free and infinite respec, totally open skill system offers limitless customization, but on the other hand we can argue in response that without any permanent choices or even meaningful choices, either in skills or in stats, that there is actually no customization whatsoever. It is an illusion, because any decisions you make on how your character plays or feels is completely transitory, and can be wiped clean in an instant at no cost.
What bugs me the most is that there seems to be no concept by anyone at Blizzard that there is so much middle ground to be had between the complete permanence of skills and stats in Diablo II and the complete lack of stats and total impermanence of skills in Diablo III.
For example, there was so much that could have been done with the Paragon system. For starters, it could have been expanded to be more robust and meaningful in that players could assign their own stats for each Paragon level (and obviously, the stats need to be more attractive than just class primary stat + vit, either in what Paragon offers or in a remodel of the primary stats and their primary and secondary effects to each class). To go further, stats could have been trees that they go down with each level, for example after after gaining four Paragon Levels and spending points in four nodes of +Vit, a bigger fifth node opens up that you can spend your fifth Paragon Level point in for +1% Life. And to cap it off, you can introduce meaningful decision making in this regard by making those choices semi-permanent: able to be respecced but at a cost, such as de-leveling one paragon level for every point you wish to 'unspend' and having to re-level and re-earn the points you erase, perhaps even at a faster XP gain for levels you've previously earned.
And just because your skill system no longer is a tree model doesn't mean it can't be just as meaningful for customization. Nephalem Valor was a good start, but I'm sad that you guys didn't keep the ball rolling and come up with newer and better ways to expand on the idea that you wanted to encourage build permanence beyond a single game session.