The psychology of frustration ...aka D3

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I am an old man, been around the traps a bit and have witnessed the use of flawed and “unmeasured” psychology in many arenas of life. However, looking at D3, I have yet to find another example of how the deliberate frustration of a player/user/client base can be marketed as FUN.

Just let me note here that it seems as though these frustrations are INTENDED and that is the underlying issue....how can constant, deliberate frustration of a player base be successful in the longer term, and retain players?

And there does not seem to be any form of measured evaluation of this psychology other than the plethora of whining posts (dismissed as such) on these forums. Whomever their psychological advisers are, they have left a huge feedback loop out of their considerations and any remediation always seems to be a huge problem for them (can't admit mistakes).

Let me count the ways I feel this manifests in D3....feel free to add some more and feel free to flame...your views are just as important as mine..

1. Games should be “beatable” (however you want to define that) with the application of fair and reasonable skills against the player. In D3 we have mobs with unavoidable one shots, mobs spamming affixes like no player can, CC applying unreasonable damage, damage being applied from mobs off-screen etc. NOT FUN.

2. Game should NOT frustrate players achieving “victory” through the use of deliberately unfair or unreasonable tactics. In D3 we have rift density issues causing failures purely through lack of “reasonable” population of grifts with mobs etc. NOT FUN.

3. What is wrong with players winning? Is it some form of weird subconscious fear that players can actually WIN? At the moment it seems to be a form of animalistic rutting prowess....game (devs) vs players. (up to you whether this is fun...I grew up past this many years ago).

4. We have RNG on top of RNG on top of RNG (and it goes on) leaving players frustrated that effort is NOT rewarded and NOT FUN. Players need rewards for effort, not chances at a chance of possibly getting the chance of a higher reward. Then having to chance the upgrade of an upgrade to get a chance to upgrade and item or a stat. NOT FUN.

5. Loot drops are 99.99% rubbish and offer the player nothing but materials for player to have to go through the loops at 4. above. And why the anal micromanagement of loot drops...this is NOT WoW, there is no PvP so OP players are NOT the issue (comes back to 3. above). Rewards in D3 are NOT FUN.

6. We have a deliberate ignoring of player concerns even though, long before implementation, issues were identified. It almost seems like the is some form of deliberate trolling of the player base on sensitive issues. FUTILITY.

I have little doubt this will be removed but I honestly hope the designers take a look at their basic game psychology. Games are supposed to be fun through achievement not exercises in how long you can withstand frustration purely for random chances to succeed just so you can got through it all again for the very same "non-rewards".
This is a pretty good post, sums up a lot of D3s problems. D2 was not nearly as frustrating as D3. I don't think that blizzard understands how truly frustrating they've made their game.
The chance that a forum post will proc a Blizz change is very low. Just saying :P

They "find your death amusing"--pretty much summarizes what the devs think.

I'm with you, OP. Player experience always trumps the intended ways a game is played. Problem is, the dev team really has a huge ego. I still remember a blue post saying that there's a players' way and there's the devs' way, which was really an eye-opener for me. They removed synergy such as perma wrath barb and perman freeze wiz not because they're not fun, not because they're not viable, but because they're not working as "intended." Oh, and the zero-dog wd as well. For the record, I don't object to any particular addition or removal, if they are justified. The only valid reason to remove a synergy is technical issues (e.g. zero-dog causing too much lag), in which case the devs should say so and say SORRY.

I love the graphics of D3. Apart from that, this is a disappointing game on many levels. Some people will defend Blizz no matter what. Can't really blame them. Some people grow up doing everything by the rule. They have their own value system. What I'm really interested in are the D3 devs. There are a lot of business lessons to be learned whether they are right or wrong.
Blizzard Devs have stated that they purposely include mechanics like unavoidable damage as a form of "gear checking" that prevents players from progressing through Diablo 3 faster then they deem appropriate.

They don't want to release content and have players immediately conquer it. They're using these "frustrating" mechanics as an easy way to limit the speed of average players progressing through their content.

It's very very intentional.

The Devs that have influence within the D3 team feel that it is more important to limit how fast players can progress through content then it is to make sure players have fun.

The only other possibility is that the Devs that have influence within the D3 Team actually think it is fun/reasonable to "grind your face off" for hours and hours each day.
09/19/2014 02:47 PMPosted by allbluedream
They removed synergy such as perma wrath barb and perman freeze wiz not because they're not fun, not because they're not viable, but because they're not working as "intended."


By "not working as intended" they meant they were saving 'perma Avatar mode' for Crusaders ;P
Loot is from Kadala only via Blood shards.

Piles of Forgotten souls obtained by killing monsters, opening chests, wrecking objects.

The best thing you have option to play Torchlight, Van Helsing , Path of Exile etc. Diablo is not the only hack and slash even if it looks prettiest.

If you care just about the looks and not inner content, then you will be always disappointed.
09/19/2014 03:00 PMPosted by Nith47


They don't want to release content and have players immediately conquer it.


but that's pretty much what does happen every time lol
I would just like more of a way to control the pace of some of the upgrades, even if it takes extensive grinding to do so.

Especially with more sets and items being added each patch, which are necessary to add more build diversity where there currently may as well not be, it inflates loot tables a bit. The extra RNG of stat rolls and rerolls make it even worse.

I would love to see a way to dump tons of blood shards, forgotten souls, etc for a specific item. Even if it were something stupid like 100 Forgotten Souls for a select piece. You have a reason to play without getting totally burntout due to RNG and know you'll eventually get that piece that your build needs to work.
09/19/2014 02:15 PMPosted by Oldbugga
What is wrong with players winning?

*sigh*

I assume you are referring to greater rifts? What's wrong with players "winning" is that greater rifts are a TEST and if someone can beat a test then the test sucks.
09/19/2014 03:34 PMPosted by Snapshot
09/19/2014 02:15 PMPosted by Oldbugga
What is wrong with players winning?

*sigh*

I assume you are referring to greater rifts? What's wrong with players "winning" is that greater rifts are a TEST and if someone can beat a test then the test sucks.


I think he means more of a general, "Hey, I've gotten all the cool items i wanted for my build!" or, "I sat down and played this game for 4 hours straight and actually got an upgrade!".

At this point, the bar for "winning" is so low that I'd consider being able to enter into melee combat as a Barbarian a "win".
This is a money grab just like most other games out there. The huge corporations decide what they really want to put out on the market and dangle that carrot just out of reach so you keep chasing it. The days of real passion and creativity are long gone. Maybe see them from an indie game.
Diablo started from a small group of people and a low budget game studio (Condor) but now it has outgrown the passion that it used to have and goes for the wallet everytime. I guess you can't just blame Blizzard because all the high end studios do this today.
I do agree Oldbugga.

I do also have a cool sentence which describes the LIFE and i do not mean just the gamers life..
And here it is the bloody truth about OUR world we live in right now and all who lived before us:
Species 8472 said when they entered our universe:
The weak will be destroyed. (something like that.. i was too lazy to search the exact quote)

U can see the Species 8472 like our leaders. The leaders of this world. Of this planted calles EARTH.

They have to manage us..
We do not know exactly why.
Our leaders do.

Pain, frustration is the only thing which keeps this world together. Without pain u do not have anything.

Love, fun, every other good thing make you lazy. U NEED TO FIGHT. To survive. Hell u need to fight not to STARVE!!!! Otherwise u have no purpose in this world.

In case of Diablo3 Reaper of Souls
Just play the game even if u hate it. U need to keep playing. If u stop BLizzard wins.
(i do understnad that many of u will now say or see it like "not logic" but IT IS AND U WILL IT UNDERSTNAD some day)

The world we are living is... is full of crap. THere are forces we do not understand. Those forces can not be human. Probably... we live in a simple simulation. Everything is possible... I am sure of it!
RNG will always mean a certain portion of the playerbase will have a terrible time, which is why it can be so frustrating. I've just spent the last week grinding 200+ paragon levels to try and get my last set piece, and it still hasn't dropped...NOT FUN. By the time I finally get my set piece I'll be completely burnt out.
I completely agree with everything the OP said. Sadly, his post is diametrically opposed to the mentality of the current D3 dev management team and will probably be ignored.

Points 4 and 5 of the OP are very significant when applied against the current "end game" of D3, Greater Rifts, with their steeply ascending difficulty curve. The current, excessively parsimonious drop rate of quality items makes it next to impossible for many D3 players to advance in the end game. The low drop rate is justified for "the longevity of the game," but in reality, will eventually turn more and more players off due to a lack of progression.

Why can't the direction of development be less about hindering player advancement and enforcing an endless grind, and more about creating new fun and powerful items to help players move forward? The endless grind =/= fun.

Unless something changes, the incredibly condescending "daddy knows best" attitudes of the current management team doesn't bode well for the "longevity" of the game.
09/19/2014 04:23 PMPosted by Wurger
I completely agree with everything the OP said. Sadly, his post is diametrically opposed to the mentality of the current D3 dev management team and will probably be ignored.

Points 4 and 5 of the OP are very significant when applied against the current "end game" of D3, Greater Rifts, with their steeply ascending difficulty curve. The current, excessively parsimonious drop rate of quality items makes it next to impossible for many D3 players to advance in the end game. The low drop rate is justified for "the longevity of the game," but in reality, will eventually turn more and more players off due to a lack of progression.

Why can't the direction of development be less about hindering player advancement and enforcing an endless grind, and more about creating new fun and powerful items to help players move forward? The endless grind =/= fun.

Unless something changes, the incredibly condescending "daddy knows best" attitudes of the current management team doesn't bode well for the "longevity" of the game.


There's enough energy from people who are invested in the game (either for the art, the brand, or just the amount of time they've already sunk into D3 already) that I think it's hard for the Devs to accurately gauge how detrimental some of their design choices are.

Might take a few years, but eventually they'll come around or the driving voices behind their design choices will move on to other projects and we'll hopefully see more catering to the player's enjoyment that doesn't come hand-in-hand with artificially created frustrations.
If you could sit down and "win" by getting an upgrade almost every time you played, the game would be a snooze-fest within weeks.

I get that RNG can be EXTREMELY frustrating at times, but it can also be very rewarding other times.

D3 is 99% trying to find the next end game piece of equipment.. If they made finding that piece easier, all they are really doing is knocking off hours of overall playtime on their game.

I'm not saying D3 is perfect, nor am I saying the Devs havent made mistakes. I am simply saying that when you choose to play a serious "grind your face off game", expect to grind your face off before ever really achieving something.
One point I've not seen brought up as a possible reason why they seem to want to frustrate the player base with RNG on top of RNG on top of RNG is because they fail in actually releasing content in a timely fashion.

How long was it between 2.0 and 2.1? 6 months? It hasn't even been a month and there is almost nothing to do already besides make another class, for those of us that haven't, and begin the grind all over again..

Leg gems? Those don't take but 2 hours to get to lvl 25, even 3 hours for 30.. 5 hours to 35 and 8 hours to 40? Which you could do in a day if you wanted.. Now you've got NO reason to do Grifts at all unless you do them in a group so you can gain another 3% up to rank 50..

Hell in 6 months they couldnt even give us new code for the Grifts.. it is EXACTLY the same rift code we had before but with a timer that couldnt have taken more than a day to put in.. maybe 2?

09/19/2014 05:04 PMPosted by YHCAEL
If you could sit down and "win" by getting an upgrade almost every time you played, the game would be a snooze-fest within weeks.


The game is already a snooze-fest though.. and its only been a few weeks since 2.1.. within days, even hours in season, you're already just looking for TnT, SMK, WH, FotF or whatever item you need for your class..
09/19/2014 03:53 PMPosted by Neo
I do agree Oldbugga.

I do also have a cool sentence which describes the LIFE and i do not mean just the gamers life..
And here it is the bloody truth about OUR world we live in right now and all who lived before us:
Species 8472 said when they entered our universe:
The weak will be destroyed. (something like that.. i was too lazy to search the exact quote)

U can see the Species 8472 like our leaders. The leaders of this world. Of this planted calles EARTH.

They have to manage us..
We do not know exactly why.
Our leaders do.

Pain, frustration is the only thing which keeps this world together. Without pain u do not have anything.

Love, fun, every other good thing make you lazy. U NEED TO FIGHT. To survive. Hell u need to fight not to STARVE!!!! Otherwise u have no purpose in this world.

In case of Diablo3 Reaper of Souls
Just play the game even if u hate it. U need to keep playing. If u stop BLizzard wins.
(i do understnad that many of u will now say or see it like "not logic" but IT IS AND U WILL IT UNDERSTNAD some day)

The world we are living is... is full of crap. THere are forces we do not understand. Those forces can not be human. Probably... we live in a simple simulation. Everything is possible... I am sure of it!


I too....will keep....playing....

Together we can save the planted.
Blizzard devs are obsessed with forcing people to chase infinity. Rather than creating a fun game that people keep playing for fun, they focus on creating addictive elements. It's like a casino that abuses gambling addicts.

If I keep playing... I will eventually get that drop/that drop with a decent roll! I see other people doing it, it will happen to me eventually! Also, if you've played dozens of hours you feel like you can't give up now on getting whatever it is you were after, that would invalidate all the effort you already put in.

This game would be 1000x better if acquiring the specific gear you need for specific builds was just the beginning. I would much rather be able to acquire the specific gear I want fairly easily (or at least in a more direct less rngtastic way) and then have something to do with it + ways of upgrading it and my character.
It also might help if the devs actually played the game.. and the few that do.. well it would help if they tried a GR 40, or even 35 maybe...

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