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Synergies decrease build diversity.
If you make a lightning sorc, your viability is largely restricted to the exact skills that provide synergy bonuses. To put them elsewhere leaves you with weaker main skills, and provides you with very weak alternative skills, since those skills would need synergy points to be relatively effective.
Synergies increase build identity.
Since synergies confine your skill point distribution relative to efficiency, each build becomes more defined. Bone Necromancers and Summoners usually only have some supplementary skills in common, and even those differ in usage between the two builds. Each build has a lot of definitive character.
Synergies are not an ideal system.
Since skill points are typically distributed as synergies dictate in order to maintain viability, there is little room for cross-build customization. It's (almost) always most efficient to max out a main attack skill, even pre-synergy system. And still, it's most efficient to simply max out all the synergy skills.
The fact that we are even talking about skill points is because the synergy system is actually a covering fix for the D2 skill system, albeit a flimsy one. Synergies only helped address people not spending points on weaker skills - and it only did this by tacking them onto other main skills that people typically used.
Diablo 3's skill system attempted to remedy both weak-skill syndrome and skill-point impunity. Funnily enough, while these are no longer major issues, it falls short on every other mark.
What does a good skill system look like?
The "Diablo way" has typically been, at its most efficient, to spam one all-powerful skill the majority of the time. The most powerful builds typically involve pumping up one skill to the max and using it to destroy 95% of what you encounter.
This must change.
There must be a distinction between Primary and Supplementary skills. The Diablo 3 system fails catastrophically here. Every single skill is lumped together in one giant pool, and then each fills one of six skill slots. The natural thing to do is to pick one (sometimes two) main attacks, and pair it with supplementary skills to boost efficiency in one way or another. The Passive system has been reduced to providing mere efficiency boosts or breaking systems.
Thing is, there's no reason to pack more main attacks. D3 provides few in-game incentives that would render different skills for different situations necessary. You're fine with just one or two, and from there it's a power game.
And in D2, there's more diversity (resists/immunities, monster diversity) that provides incentive to pack different attack types, yet the skill-point-derived strength of skills punishes investment in multiple skills.
Each is at odds with one another.
What we need is a game environment that provides incentive to possess and use a variety of attacks depending on the situation, and a skill system that does not punish the player in carrying multiple types of attacks.
This would allow for gameplay depth - providing multiple tools with which to overcome a particular, and different, situations. Furthermore, with appropriate limitations on such a system, and appropriate content diversity, you can maintain healthy build diversity and customization options. Good implementation will see each character able to reach a good balance between jack-of-all-trades and all-in-gambits, where each character still has strengths and weaknesses, but has diversity within each of those.
Begin with a distinction between main 'attacks' and other supplementary skills and effects. We should be able to choose about 4 of these main attacks, which can be made to differ in many ways such as damage type/cost/mechanics. This part is similar to the D3 system, except that there's no supplementary skills out-competing main attacks for these slots. The focus is purely on the attack skills themselves.
Also similar to D3, skill strength isn't dependent on skill investment, only on choosing to use the skill. This alleviates the skill-point-derived-damage issue. %Weapon damage is a good system, but falters in putting too much focus on only items - to alleviate this, keep %Weapon damage, but also assign each skill with a base damage number that increases with level. This is actually similar to D2, because if you were spending your skill points in the attacks that you used and synergized, your damage would most often go up with each skill point (and therefore, each level). The difference is that the damage is not dependent on skill points.
In the second part of the skill system are supplementary skills and effects. Instead of slots, here we use skill points. Since damage isn't dependent on our skill points, damage obligations are alleviated, and skill points can be used for customization. Spend your skill points among this pool of skills (which includes passive effects and some active skills (e.g. teleport), but not those that would be considered attacks) to give access to, and to improve the effects of, those skills and passives. This is the realm of incomparibles and class-specific effects. (Don't ruin this section with generic DPS/Survivability boosts like Archery or Jungle Fortitude. The goal is to avoid efficiency and customization being at odds with eachother.)
With damage freed from skill points, we have open customization.
With primary attacks separated from secondary skills, we facilitate unpenalized gameplay depth via possessing a variety of offensive skills.
With this achieved, all we'd need is diversity among the game's enemies and environments to really allow skill-combat depth to come to the forefront. Yes, this is the place where customization and efficiency must work alongside oneanother - different game situations.
Good read thank you.
But having to choose which attack for which situation can be a tad frustrating and breaking the pace OR simply not feeling like you "made a character". I do cling a bit to the concept of "i made a build and im running it". Lemme explain.
Like in world of warcraft for exemple with a rogue, i often switch in and out talent depending on what im gonna do. Put in shuriken toss when there is an air phase, put in anticipation for long fight, putting marked for death for ... You get it.
I like diablo 3 system so far because its flexible just enough that i want to run certain abilities when i find them useful but not punishing to the point of "having to make a character because i misplaced a point".
Im not sure i would like to lets say, run zombie bears most of the time on my WD and then when come the time to face this particular boss, having to change for it. Then when im done, putting new skills in for the new act. Then encountering a boss and change up to something different... like these abilities to kill this and those abilities to kill that.
I dont want to have to change often because i associate with what i pick like skills. Like in old D2, i was playing a frost sorceress or a bonemancer etc. I far from saying D2 did it right, in my eyes D3 is way more right. But i just say that sometime i like a theme or some particular set of abilities and i would just love them to do just as right as other spells.
I dont want to take Hydra because "it is better then others for this particular fight" i want myself to choose what should be good or bad, not having a define choice.
Judging by the post, there seems to have been a misunderstanding. Being able to possess four attack skills simultaneously reduces the need to continually respec (I would prefer to see much more permanency, too), and also facilitate the use of a variety of tools amid different situations for more engaging and varied combat.
There will still eventually reach a point where a certain set of attacks will still be more ideal than another given set. And then people will figure out which order of attacks you make is ideal (i.e. a rotation). Whether you want this kind of depth in a hack and slash game is up to you. Personally I'm fine with having 1-2 skills be the majority of your attacks.
For a given situation, yes.
For every situation? No.
And that's really the point. Our options are only interesting if there's actually a reason to use each skill, for some purpose. If certain skills trump everything else, almost always, then that is a problem.
Even like this, yes, eventually there will be slightly better builds. But like Jay Wilson said (I know, right?) if the gap in effectiveness between builds is small enough, that's fine, because it's about viability.
To allow for good customization you need to achieve that close balance, cross-situation. It's tricky, sure. But you can't just give up because 'there will always more powerful builds'. The question is by how much are they more powerful.
So are you fine with 1-2 skills being 95% of your output, as long as those 1-2 you choose at random perform close to any other random 1-2 you would select?
No, which is why I said:
The most powerful builds typically involve pumping up one skill to the max and using it to destroy 95% of what you encounter.
Of course things have to be reasonably balanced for your options to be based less on efficiency and more on style. We'd ideally see situational variance in effectiveness, too, with the overall viability of each being similar, but best in different situations. Many things create this. Damage type and resists, mechanics of skills versus the way enemies behave and fight, and the number of enemies... it's depth that is hardly present in D3, and whatever little there is gets simply overridden over by other problems.
A really great read and I wish Blizzard would hire somebody with brains like yourself. Your post really highlights the fact that the devs had NO IDEA what they were doing when they made this game.
Like you said, things like damage type, resists, enemy AI all add to depth in a game like this. Diablo 3 lacks in all of these except possibly for enemy AI. In D2, combat depth was added through elemental resists. In D3, the only depth is choosing whether to focus on AoE or a single hard hitting skill. After that, it is simply damage that matters. It is a very boring system.
That said, I agree that Synergies were not ideal because they forced you down one track. Noticing that this was something that could be worked on was great! However, deciding that trying to make a more in-depth system was too complicated and instead dumbing down mechanics to the point that dps is basically the only important stat, was quite simply, horrible.
I just want to mention a few ways in which other games (or one really) has tried to overcome the synergies problem and kept a feeling of building a character still.
Skill Break Points:
Skills have 3 tiers and unlocking these tiers adds noticeable effects to the skill that are not simply related to damage. For example the AoE or duration of a skill might increase. This means that you notice the change that your leveling is doing, making you feel stronger. Also, some skills only have minor beneficial changes so it only makes sense to level this to the top tier sometimes if you are basing a build around this skill.
Weapon Scaling Plus Skill Offset:
Skills have a weapon scaling but this scaling also increases with level. For example a skill might do 20% of weapon damage as fire and this might increase by 5% with each level. This means that I am leveling my character and feeling like I am getting stronger even if I am not finding new weapons!! This is important because it gives a sense of progression to the character.
As more points are put into skills, their cost tends to increase quite significantly. This is excellent because it means that increasing your mana pool is necessary in order to keep the effectiveness of a skill. Suddenly stat point allocation is not completely trivial. Do I keep this skill at a low level so that I can use it and work on increasing it's damage, or do I increase the skill level and put some energy into increasing my mana. This creates plenty of room for build diversity.
Anyway, keep up the good work!
There needs to be more tactical choices between different gear and different skills to equip instead of more "twitch" added to the existing skills.
D3 right now is high on twitch (moving around and dodging enemy CC) and low on tactical choices for your character. Most characters are equipping the same gear, minus a choice in 2h or 1h variety. Tactical choices desperately need to be added to more gear for example:
+5% poison is boring
+5% cold is better because of the snare
+50% aoe radius would be great
-reduction in delayed skills would be great
+penetration gear for single target skills would be great
+aggro field, + hp, or + maximum number for pet gear would be great
-make shields useful
-more variety between weapon types, swords are too much like axes which are too much like maces, how about a base chance to stun, bleed, cripple, anything.
Game changing things like mobile sentries, richochet effect, vortex effect, pretty much the sky is the limit here.
If more variety can be created in the actual playstyles of characters through gear it would be very helpful for the game.
It's very helpful to create more skill choices and balance through gear because it has the built in balance element that if you're equipping X skill in a slot, then it precludes you from equipping any other skill Z in that slot. Whereas if you just buff, say Rapid Fire, you end up will all the DH using Rapid Fire over every other skill. A set of pieces of gear buffing rapid fire might be sacrificed for a piece of gear buffing some other combination of skills the player got more use out of like (speaking very generically here) 20% sentry, 20% strafe, 20% hail of knives buffs for instance.
What we need is a game environment that provides incentive to possess and use a variety of attacks depending on the situation, and a skill system that does not punish the player in carrying multiple types of attacks.
thats why I always said we need more skill slots.
I disagree with this because I felt by adding the synergies it prevented players from being too much of a hybrid.
Light Sorc needed to max lightning(main skill) Nova,Chain lightning, lightning mastery,charged bolt
So that ppl wouldnt just max 2 or 3 different skils from different skill tree's like lets say: Lightning, Frozen Orb, and Fireball. The 3 best element moves which in my opinion isnt very fun. This is kind of what D3 did in a way by being able to switch whatever skill at any point which makes it so you never have to make any character more than once.
Example: In D2 I had 2 or 3 different sorceress's, At least 2 different palidins, 3 different barbarians, 2 different druids,2 assasins, 2 amazons,2 or 3 necros. And each character demanded different style of play and upbringing to get through the game which made it (in my opinion more fun)And you also had the option of making strictly pk players(a spec that D3 just failed at)
D2 also gave birth to the wacky creation of characters that D3 didnt. Example: Warcry Barb, Rabies Druid(by using a necro wand)(usually pker), Speed fire Claw bear, Wolf Barb, Auradin, Foh Din, Whirlwind sin, and many others. Which all required different gear and different skill choices from the norm.
In D3 I have once of each and basically thats all i'll ever need. Especially when every build requires 2 main attributes to be effective. CRIT DAMAGE AND CRIT CHANCE. Basically every build you make is the exact same thing. I often switch my demonhunters gear with my monks because it doesnt even matter because there basically almost identical characters. Same with Wich Doctor and my Wizard.
This just isn't very realistic. Probably the best you are going to get is use ability A for single mob and ability B for groups. Most classes have at least one buff, they have at least one defensive skill, they have at least one sort of always on skill. That only leaves at best 3 slots anyway.
This is a hack and slash.
The combat in a hack and slash is supposed to feel like you're destroying everything in your path. There's no need to have to choose between 5 different abilities depending on the layout of the map, the type of monsters you're facing, and the abilities that those monsters poses.
If I want to play my Demon Hunter and destroy wave after wave of Hellspawn with multishot, then I should be able to. I don't want to have to pick between multishot for x mob, then rapid fire for y boss, then chackcram for z mob.
EDIT: The reason why syngergies worked in D2 was because of 2 main factors
1. The loot in the game had special attributes that allowed you to synergies your abilities even further.
-A good example is Cleglaw's Pincers had the Knockback attribute. You could use that on your Bowazon and use multishot with pierce to keep things at a distance, or use guided arrow to effectively stunlock a single target.
-Another example would be the Engma Runeword and Elemental Druids. You could use Hurricane to teleport on top of pack of mobs and use tornadoes to as your main damage. There was a fire variant of thise that worked well, too.
2. The synergies buffed your main utility attack, and then your main damage attack.
-An example would be Frozen Orb sorcs. Glacial spikes were used to freeze your targets in place, and it synergized with Frozen Orb for your main damage ability.
-Another example is for Meteor sorcs. Meteor as your main damage ability, and fireballs while it was on cooldown.
Edited by Popinski#1208 on 7/3/2013 5:36 AM PDT
I will stick to my guns on synergies. :D
Imo it all depends on the players view of what a character should be.
Either you are
A: A person who wants your character to be able to handle every obstacle in the best possible way by having many many tools to choose from, letting you pick which type of Barbarian or Wizard you NEED to be with alot of active skills, thus options.
B: braindamaged by Diablo 2, hence you put your soul into one specific type of hero (Poison Necro, no summonings involved, Fireball Sorc, no blizzards allowed, Smite Paladin, stick to smiting etc etc) And try to tackle the same obstacles knowing you will be good in some areas and worse in others but you accept that because you chose your identity and you play your class in a way which is fun for you, eventhough you might bump into problems with immunes etc or being simply weak vs waller affix, or whatever.
I fully agree that synergies add identity most of all but some of us had full accounts of characters in D2 being multiple chars of the same class just for build variation, oooor we respec'd when we wanted to play it differently (when this became an option). Nobody can deny that it did create more variety with greater effect once the system was introduced though.
Most specs that had 1, 2 at most, viable endgame skills suddenly found entry skills to be sufficient and could pick these abilities because they were more fun. It simply opened up a few doors, as well as straight up boosting the power of your previously used high end skill (frozen orb only got stronger, nobody complains about that..) :D
easiest example: Every fire sorc in D2 was either meteor or firewall before various nerfs and changes, then came synergies. Now people started running meteor with a higher damage output, or fireball builds because it suddenly became an option. Synergies made fireball possible. Being a "Fire sorc" didn't by default mean you were a meteor or firewall sorc anymore, now you were a specific Fire Sorc. Same applies to every tree for every class. It won't in any way save the current skill system or change things drastically but % based buffs to "similar" skills does allow for more choices, not having to use the most recently earned skill because it is the most powerful. Also, Enchant became glooorious for your merc. :D
A level 1 skill should be as viable as a lvl 59 skill as long as both are straight up damage without any other effects tied to them! Range, AoE or single target, elemental school, secondary effects etc etc can all differ but if it's a simple "fires ___ for X % weapon damage" then I see no difference why they should differ. Unless one slows and the other doesen't.
Edited by Axeroid#2681 on 7/3/2013 5:33 AM PDT
Synergies were needed in D2 because of the failure of the skill point system. The only way to maximize your damage output required you to put skill points in the same skill.
They added synergies so that you were able to spend points in more than one skill without losing much power.
D3 averts this issue by making all skills go up in level with gear.
gear has no bearing on skill values except damage skills.
it's more like. all skills are dependant on gear, not the other way around.
OP should try guild wars(the first one not the second one) if you want more "build-oriented" games where you're stuck with a build in the field but can respec in town. and not one build beats all, and you have 8 to set up not just your 1 char.
Edited by KradisZ#1651 on 7/3/2013 5:52 AM PDT
I was trying to make a somewhat long winded post here, but for some reason it didn't stick. So i'm going to abbreviate it and say that the problem with Diablo 3 is that Blizzard is trying too hard to make a perfectly balanced game. Perfect balance is great (almost essential) for MMO's like WoW. It is a deathknell for games like Diablo.
Here's a video link (these guys are awesome, btw) that illustrates what i'm getting at very well.
Synergies could work if blizzard allowed players to choose how they work.
For instance Demon hunters.
Lets say a demon hunter wants to focus on Impale as their main damage dealing resourcing using skill.
Let demon hunters choose which skills build into that, so lets say i choose impale(over pentration), entangling shot(chaingang) and grenades(gas grenades) for synergies.
once its fully set every time i throw a knife, it chains all the monsters together, and after the initial damage does X posion damage over time.
I kinda forgot what the OP was talking about, but character builds did seem to add a lot of replay-ability to D2. That's not really going to work anymore because you have 100 paragon levels and there's no way you're ever going to reroll that. The characters are now more like MMO mains that you grind on forever rather than small projects you grow to fruition and then set free.
I don't know what's so desirable about diversity. If the game were a sandbox people actually wanted to play in, you wouldn't need any such notion. If you want to go on the internet and look up a cookie cutter build so you can farm up some stuff for other characters to try and overcome to many unique obstacles (lol) the game throws at you, that is your choice.
Yeah, I feel like it all comes down to the lack of obstacles in this game in general. It seems like problem solving isn't something one does in D3. The game is so friendly and forgiving, there is no way to make any kind of mistake.
-70 resists on hell are a problem. You know there's a lightning boss coming up in two zones and she will one-shot you from offscreen with your resists. There's another infamous zone where you take poison damage overtime, in the center of which there is a very dark cave full of spiders. How do you solve all these problems? I dunno, use the interesting systems the game gave you. Look for some gear. Use your build and your character's skill. If all else fails, be very very cautious.
The OP touched on the environment in which the game is played. That is one thing which really should have been considered. Right now, there is one obstacle in this envinronment - weak monsters with 500 trillion health each. Without something more than that, there really is no point to builds or diversity of any kind.
Edited by Kil#1483 on 7/3/2013 9:24 AM PDT
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