I think both opinions are valid here ("yes, support self-found mode" and "no, don't support self-found mode"), so I encourage you to keep the debate active. It's a good one, and I love getting to hear from each side of the fence -- specifically on why you feel the way you do.
Before this discussion gets too far, though, I did want to bring your attention to the following discussions that Wyatt and Travis had with Archon earlier on this very topic. You can find the full chat here: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/9773964/developer-live-stream-interview-w-archon-the-wizard-5-23-2013
What are the chances of us seeing a self-found mode sometime in the future?
Wyatt: That's a good question. I am playing self-found hardcore myself right now; I may take a short break from it to level Paragon this week. We think that it's a fun way to play for some people, but not everyone likes playing that way.
So I think, obviously people can play self-found kind of right now. I think the main challenge is that it would be nice to have a little bit of recognition for it, some sort of indication and validation from the server that your character is self-found. But we also don't want to do it in a way that complicates the UI. I know that our solution to this in the past has always been a little bit inelegant when we introduce things with checkbox options. People complain a lot about Elective Mode, that's a big one, or Advanced Tool Tips, or most recently Monster Power. We've sort of used options as a little bit of a crutch, to hide things from beginners, while still allowing expert players access to these things that we really want. On the character creation screen, do we really want to put another self-found checkbox on the front? I guess, maybe. To make a long story short: I think self-found is pretty cool, but we don't want it to get in the way of people who aren't interested in it. I know we use non-committal language a lot; because design is super-iterative. So it is a matter of trying some stuff out, and we like some stuff, and we don't like others, and we hate promising things only to try it internally and realize we're not happy with it. So, again, lots of non-committal disclaimers.
We've talked about maybe marking your character automatically as having been self-found until you trade. So the moment you equip something that you didn't find yourself -- maybe if I just pull up your battle.net page, then on the web page it says this character has used the Auction House, or hasn't used the Auction House. So that's definitely a soft way to maybe do something like that. The other challenge for me when I play self-found is my gold. I hate having to remember how much gold I had, to not go below the amount I started at. That's kind of annoying, it would be nice if the game just said, "This is how much gold this character has". Then if I wanted, I could opt in to having shared gold with the rest of my account. I consider it great that my gold is shared across my account, most of the time. It saves me from having to transfer gold between all my characters, which is why we did it. But it definitely does make self-found a little bit of a pain. So maybe a little option, or something. Like I said, I'm not a big fan of options, I think it complicates the UI. But I like self-found, so if we can do something to help support and promote it, that would be great.
Any thoughts on self-found mode?
Travis: Wyatt's a big fan of self-found mode, we debate that internally. Not the validity of self-found style, but whether or not we try to support that as a gameplay style. Because at some point, yeah it's cool, but at the same time we don't need to support every style of behavior that emerges in the game, as a full playstyle within the game. We don't need hardcore, softcore, self-found, XYZ because someone liked them. I will say, I think people find self-found to be so enjoyable because honestly, the game is more fun when you pull the Auction House out of the equation. When you feel like the things that you have on your character are something you can be proud of, and not just something everyone assumes you purchased, I think you have a better sense of accomplishment. So I think there is a really strong psychological draw to self-found. I've thought about doing it before, because yeah, I can buy anything I want, my characters are Paragon 60, 70-something, I forget. But there is something really compelling about the idea of just finding things on my own. Especially because it just gets back to the heart of what made D2 items fun. You got excited when you found things on the ground, and that doesn't really happen anymore.
Generally the Auction House, or the items your friends give you, whatever the case: whatever the items you're getting, usually they're coming from somewhere else, and they're usually so powerful that you know everything you ever find is going to be bad by comparison. That really does take away a lot from the gameplay experience, instead it puts the focus on the xp bar moving up which is great, but that's a very rhythmic sort of thing. It's not like sometimes your xp bar decides it's going to give you three levels, for no reason, and you get really excited! Your xp bar just sort of slowly moves along, and you make progress. But finding the cool item or the good legendary is what really mixes up your gameplay experience. I think that's really important, and I think for a lot of players that's lost. I won't say all because a lot of players don't use the Auction House, a lot of players play the game through story mode and then they're done, they play it like any console game. That's fine, too. But what's important to us is that you have fun. That's something that players want something from our game that we're not currently delivering, for some of them. And they try to find their own fun. So I think there's something there that we've talked about and it comes up a lot, and we may pursue something like that one day, it's hard to say. But it's totally a legitimate play style, and it's cool, and I think anyone who hasn't tried it should give it a whirl and make a guy and commit to: I'm only going to wear things I find on my own, and see how they feel.
I think you should try it.
Travis: I've considered it as well.
Since I've tried it, it's pretty much the only way I play right now. For right now I think the game works better in self-found, but it sounds maybe like your theory is, we can address those issues and maybe not have the need for so many players to play self-found?
Travis: I guess what I'm getting at is, I think self-found is very cool. I personally feel like the game does feel better when... TLDR: the heart of the issue is that people who play self-found, what they're really doing is saying to themselves, "I want the reward game to matter, I want to get excited about things I find on the ground." We would say yes - we want the game to always to feel like that for everybody, right now it doesn't and it needs work. What that ends up meaning I can't say, I don't know, we're still working it all out. But what players are doing when they opt into self-found, is basically they're playing the game the way they want the game to be played. They want that to be the right way to play, you want to get excited about finding items, and we want you to. But right now the Auction House sort of sets the bar for what a good item is so high, that 99% of players will never find something better than what they bought for 100,000 gold on the Auction House. That becomes a crappy feeling, so I'm saying I want to get the self-found feeling for everyone, ultimately. And I don't know what that means, I don't know how we do that, necessarily. We want items to feel exciting, we want you to get excited about loot on the ground. That's why I'm putting a lot of my time, trying to think of legendary things that are mind-blowingly awesome, because we want you to have those things in the game. It's just gonna take time.
I agree with you, that it would be better if everyone got the reward that you get from playing self-found without having to add a new sector of the game so to speak. I would probably switch back to playing regularly if I did feel like I was earning most of my gear, and to improve most I would have to find it myself.
Transcript courtesy of Diablo Somepage: http://diablo.somepage.com/news/1555-candid-chats-with-wyatt-cheng-and-travis-day
Edited by Lylirra on 6/14/2013 3:51 PM PDT