The original topic I wrote this for:
First off: Attributes
This is the first major issue. Rather than fixing attributes so that manual stat placement was a meaningful investment in your character and build they stripped it entirely. I'd restore manual placement with leveling (and quest rewards!!!) and redo attributes so that it would actually work:
The damage significance of the primary stats for classes would drop significantly. The damage bonus is completely overwhelming compared to the defensive bonus and since most players favor offense to defense the off stats are not desired. Reducing the weight of the damage bonus would make it less desirable to stack pure damage and instead balance the other stats.
Strength: increased melee weapon damage, increased armor, increased attack speed (this adds an offensive incentive for non-melee characters and yet still makes it the stat that melee characters would want to lean towards even though the melee weapon damage bonus is significantly reduced)
Dex: increased ranged (physical) weapon damage, increased dodge, increased crit (again both and offensive and defensive bonus for non-ranged characters while still making ranged characters tend towards it)
Vit: Increased HP. Honestly, I don't think anything else is needed here. Even in D2 vitality was highly valued and that's all it really did (lol stamina recovery :P)
Int: increased elemental damage (weapon/spells), increased all resist, increased crit damage (naturally makes caster/elemental focused characters have larger crits and better resistance to the elements while, again, giving an offensive and defensive bonus to other characters)
Additional note: remove "physical resistance" and replace with physical damage reduction (not included in "all resist" - only available on items (rarely)). This change is needed to balance all resist so that it doesn't have the odd stacking issue with armor. The two should be distinct each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Currently there is little choice involved because of how they stack for physical damage.
I'll repeat, the damage bonuses would be reduced so that they are not the primary reason for choosing stats as characters tend to overemphasize raw damage. The inclusion of the damage will still tend to make players lean towards one stat type when trying to optimize a particular build but there will still be incentive to balance against other stats.
Finally, the most important change to make the stat system balanced: diminishing returns. Single stat stacking should not be desirable. There should be trade-offs in stat choice (and by extension gear choice) and adding diminishing returns will aid in this effort. Diminishing returns naturally make it so that all stats are desirable because an individual stat will inevitably face a turning point where others will be more desirable. The diminishing effect doesn't even need to be very strong to have an impact. (This also has the desirable effect of preventing stat stacking by gear from overwhelming the decision to balance against other affixes as turned out to be a problem in TL2).
Now, to really make things work another problem has to be solved. That would be the one of the insane stat ramp built into the game. Without this change some crazy tree would need to be built to distribute stats as you'd need about 5 per level at low levels and hundreds per level near level 60 and it completely breaks the game balance. I've detailed the problem in a past post if you'd like more detail:
Changing this would essentially just increase the relative significance of each individual stat point but smooth out the distribution of the points. You could get 5-10 stat points per level and that would still be meaningful at the end game. All gear attribute affixes would merely require an appropriate scaling reduction to bring it in line with the new system. For example 200 of an attribute now could just be retuned as 10 after my changes. This seems like a lot but all of the numbers (player/monster stats, the values of the individual attributes, etc.) would be scaled accordingly so the current gear would still be useful after the changes.
It would bring the system more in line with the way it was in D2. This is for a good reason: the value of attributes does not diminish significantly over the life of the game. Why do this? This way an item found at level 40 isn't just a pile of scrap when you hit level 45. Items will retain their value for a longer period of time so that players aren't forced to the AH every few levels to replace their gear.
(I know: gasp! Blizzard would never ruin their RMAH profits! The fact of the matter is that the D2 itemization supported insane amounts of outside RM trading so there is no reason why D3 had to move towards this stupid stat ramp to try to force people into it. The reality is that if items are fun/powerful and people want to find them because they are cool there will always be a subset of people who are willing to buy them instead. If you make an entertaining item system that people want to explore then RMAH profits will follow regardless.)
I'd also reduce the probability of new gear rolling with attributes as I feel that attributes are simply a boring focus of itemization. Attributes should be more an element of your character than an element of the items you wear. Finding an item with +strength just isn't as fun as finding one with more fun affixes like damage reduction, resistances, %chance to cast X, etc.
In addition to the change to change to all resist I mentioned before, I would also reduce the probability of finding all resist on gear as it completely diminishes the value of the individual resists. By reducing its emphasis (in part by cutting the value of all resist that can roll) the individual resists become more valuable and will take up a more prominent role to fill in for the reduced prominence of attributes. Much like in D2, a great set of gear will balance individual resists across the pieces to maintain a balance across each type.
I'd consider modifying the numbers behind resists to implement a soft-cap mechanism. Balancing resists around the hard cap in D2 was a fascinating challenge in optimization. I'd like to bring that back but eliminate the disappointment when going over the cap. A soft cap would entail a point to aim for but still offer some return if you happen to go past it because of the particulars of your gear at that moment in time.
Accomplishing this would essentially involve increasing the value of the initial X amount of resist and then diminishing it to the current returns beyond that point. This means that players wouldn't need nearly as much resist as they do now to reach the cap. This is partly to offset the reduced significance of all resist and partly to open up more affix slots for other options. I want to get away from players stacking only the same few affixes per slot. The cap will make it undesirable to have resist everywhere you can get it. Instead you can get increased pickup radius or other auxiliary affixes without feeling sub-optimal. (Ok, there will still be other affixes you'd prefer but it won't feel as bad getting a piece without a resist if you are already at the cap).
I think I talked about that enough.
Next up: Skills
The first and most important change in making this work is the removal of weapon DPS as being directly linked with skill damage. This is just a plague upon the game through both how it affects skill balance and how it limits skill choices. However, the link between weapon damage and skills won't be completely removed. Many melee and ranged skills would still be dependent on weapon damage but many nonsensical ones would be disconnected.
Why do this? I would think the answer should be obvious but for one it will allow the reitemization of class specific items for casters to be more unique and meaningful so that we don't have Wizards and WDs running around with immersion-breaking, massive two-handed swords. Most importantly, it will enable weapons with sub-par DPS to hold some sort of value as not all builds will be as dependent on it as others. For example, Earthquake wouldn't be dependent on weapon damage so an Earthquake barb wouldn't care how strong the weapon itself is because the other affixes would be more important. And with that massive hint my next change:
The complete removal of skill cooldowns. These simply don't belong in a fast-paced ARPG. In a game about quickly cutting through hordes of demons I can't afford to wait around for my cooldown to be up. It only serves to reduce the fun of the game. There is no need to balance around cooldowns. Skills have resource costs for a reason. I would make them meaningful. If you want to build a barb that generates insane amounts of fury so that you can spam Earthquake... DO IT!
Some powerful skills might require retuning how they work or cutting their damage to balance the loss of the cooldown but there's no reason why there needed to be massively OP skills that you simply couldn't use very often. It's an arbitrary restriction which might have worked if we had enough spamable skills to make up for it but the reality is that the number of build-centric skills is limited so it really limits the number of unique playable options. Nearly every player of a particular class is forced into using a skill form a small selection because of these limits and that really cuts down on diversity.
In part, the removal of weapon DPS from directly impacting skills will help with this balance because although Earthquake will be spam-able powering it up will require alternate means than simply equipping a massive 1k DPS weapon. And that brings me to my next point:
Yes that's right, I want them back. See the thing is skill trees aren't actually required for this to be a meaningful system. In fact, skill points don't even need to be awarded with character levels. It would be entirely possible to implement skill points only through items or as special quest rewards or as a part of the paragon system. But I wouldn't go that far. I think it would still be nice to have as a part of leveling up. My point is that the system doesn't need be complex or difficult to balance to be meaningful. Even something as simple as 5% damage increase per point would still provide players with a way to invest in a certain play style or make a build work that wouldn't otherwise be possible.
More importantly, skill points bring back incredible depth to itemization. Class specific gear rolling with plus skill points to particular skills adds a lot of variety to items and diversifies the pool from items can be fun even if they aren't an upgrade to you in particular. The AH enables such diversity in items without feeling like a lottery. The problem is that characters are all funneled down the same path. Who cares if items can roll with every different affix when you can go to the AH, sell the items with the particular skill boost items you have so that you can buy an item with the skill boost you want. That's the whole goal of trading, to move good items from the hands of those who can't make use of them to the hands that will make use of them. Currently the market is built on moving items below a players gear level to the hands of a player where it is above their current gear level. There needs to be variety not a quality magnitude.
So a basic system for skill points might work out like this:
- 1 skill point awarded every 4 levels
- Skills can have a maximum of 5 skill points as designated from level ups
- This enables a player to invest in maximizing 3 skills or more evenly distributing across all six skills.
- Skill points award by quests/paragon would be bonus points and could be placed anywhere without restriction
- Every 10 Paragon levels awards a skill point
- Every 5 skill points in a skill provides an auxiliary bonus (extra projectile, longer range, reduced resource cost, etc.)
This last point is what enables really unique builds. The Earthquake barb for example might be dependent on getting 5/10 skill points for a resource cost reduction so that the skill is more spamable.
Oh and before anyone asks, yes skill points from level-ups could be respeced but at a gold fee that increases with level/number of points. This serves as an added gold sink and encourages investment in your build. The cost doesn't need to be too high because investment in gear for your build will also serve to limit the FOTM mentality of some cookie-cutters. And it will still allow players to make small tweaks to their build without a hefty price.
I'd like to reiterate that skill points appearing as affixes on gear would be a major itemization benefit of the system. It enables further depth in character development through gear and ties your build to your gear than is currently possible. Gear you find might not be good for you but it may fetch a nice price on the AH from someone looking for a particular skill point bonus.
This is getting quite long so I'll finish with:
Miscellaneous item changes
This is probably more of a summary than additional details. Itemization changes include the removal of physical resistance from the all resistance attribute, the reduced significance of all resist, the increased significance of individual resists in comparison, the soft capping of resistances, the reduced probability of rolling attributes, and the addition of skill points to affix rolls.
The sum total of these effects is to add a lot of variety to gear choices. Less significant is stacking attributes and all resist and increased thought will go into choosing gear with appropriate resists and skill points that accommodate your desired build. The greater variety of affixes and removal of the overpowered affixes like attributes and all resist will drive a more balanced economy that is no longer focused on a narrow set of affixes that every character of every class chases.
Other additions not mentioned previously include %elemental damage affixes that are currently limited to a few legendary items. These could provide the primary damage boosts for casters or elemental focused non-caster classes. An Earthquake barb might strive for a good deal of %fire damage and would have little need for a high damage weapon. A %fire damage boosting ax would be really nice for him even with low damage. Items like this don't exist currently and even if they did high weapon DPS would still be a requirement for it to hold any value.
I'll add more when I find the desire to write up the additional points. I had been thinking of doing a complete write up to address my disappointments with the core systems for a while so this thread is likely to see more changes.
Things I haven't addressed that I may get around to (I'll add/subtract from this list as needed): passive skills, skill balance/rune effects, elite/boss farming, NV, paragon, waypoints, PvP and crafting (see post #42 for relevant reference)