Hey guys! I chatted with Wyatt about this topic on your behalf and, while he's currently at GDC giving a sweet talk about refining game systems in Diablo III (including health recovery, combat controls, and character skills), he shared some information with me that I wanted to pass on.
we should be able to at least have parties of 5 instead of 4
that would at least be a good thing....
We know some players will always prefer to have more than four people in a group, and we respect that completely. Even so, while a larger party size may seem appealing in concept (and even in practice for other games), there are a number of factors which contributed to us deciding on four players for co-op in Diablo III.
First off, the four-player limit isn't in any way related to the number of classes you can play. One reason we actually preferred the idea of four-player co-op as opposed to five was that we felt if the number was five, then players might feel as if it was mandatory to have one of each class in their party. This couldn't be further from the truth. We want players to feel like they can charge through Sanctuary with their friends regardless of whether they have four different classes represented or (for example) a group with two Barbarians and two Witch Doctors.
We also wanted group buffs (like auras and shouts) to feel meaningful in both solo and group play. Right now, you buff yourself and others by the same amount. We like that shouts are good and auras are strong, and that my contribution to the group via my buffs feels significant. But as group sizes get larger, the best player buffs would potentially need to be nerfed either by:
- Making them to be weaker, and subsequently tuned around multiplayer (which is a similar approach to what World of Warcraft uses)
- Or reducing the effect buffs have on other players (which is what Diablo II wound up having to do later)
We don't like the idea of these sorts of nerfs and want to avoid them as much as possible, which is part of the combined reason why we aren't eager to increase the maximum size of groups.
Another factor we considered is that of player contributions. We like that you can really notice the contribution of each person at four players. No matter what size group you have, whenever you add another person to a group, each player’s personal contribution is diminished. This has some bad side effects. For example, if you swing at a monster, it feels good when you're doing enough damage to see its health bar move. At four players, it’s already possible to be punching a monster and not feel like you're doing any damage because the bar is moving slowly. This stigma would get worse as you add more people to a group.
Other factors we considered were that of screen noise and the number of players you can follow. At four players, we felt that you were still able to easily keep track of your party-members, but that beyond this size it became more and more difficult to monitor everything on screen. Additionally, the screen noise and spell effects generated by five players simply felt too overwhelming (this is something we tested quite extensively).
In summation, we’re pretty happy about the size of four-player groups. HOWEVER, we know that the multiplayer aspect of Diablo III needs improvement and are already looking into ways that we can further incentivize co-op farming and efficiency in patch 1.0.8
. Wyatt is currently working on a developer journal about this very topic, so we hope to share even more information soon. :)