Is *Anyone* Happy About Runes on Rails?

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03/30/2012 12:16 PMPosted by D3BETA
Bad idea. You would have everything you need at maximum level 30. Considering you know your build beforehand, leveling past 30 would mean nothing to you. Blizzard's solution ensures that your build (and gameplay) is constantly changing (evolving) until around level 60.

I think you are wrong on this point. I for one have generally avoided too much information about specific skills, and really have no idea what my first build will be. I'd wager that around 90% of the people who play DIII will be in a similar situation. Therefore, on their first playthrough of each class, they will want to try out every skill and rune, regardless of when they get them. And on their second playthrough (if anyone does that) why should they be forced to try out each skill and rune again, when they already did that?

I don't mind the "runes on rails" system for a first playthrough, because it wouldn't really affect how I would play. I'm still going to test everything out either way. However, after the first time with a class, I find that Blizzard's explanations don't hold any water.
-- deleted by GOTOS --

The new system addresses one problem in the game that was never a product of the runestone system in the first place - the leveling deadzone from 30 to 60. That's it. A leveling reward. The Diablo franchise is based around loot and loot progression. Blizzard invented an absolutely INGENIOUS way to tie skill development and progression to the loot system, then they abandoned due to what can only be described as superficial issues with simple solutions in order to address the leveling gaps and nerf the rune effects to a single click on a UI.

The new implementation is not what disappoints me - it has it's issues but rune effects are still a really cool system and no matter what they're going to be fun to play around with. What disappoints me is how much potential was ripped from the system in the latest stages of development in order to address an issue that had nothing to do with the rune system in the first place.

This needs to be reposted...
This whole deal about having to go through "sub-optimal" skills and runes is ridiculous.

Think back to games like Pokemon. Did you start out with a Charizard? No, you had to go through the lesser Pokemon like Charmander and Charmeleon.

You WORK your way to what you want. You don't just start off with it.

At the same time, if you do start with Charmander, you're going to have a hard time fighting Misty, so naturally you grab a Pikachu along the way. Is Pikachu/Raichu the best electric Pokemon in the game? No, but at that point in the game it's really all you've got. So you deal with it.

All this talk about not getting choices is absurd. We have lots of choices. The easy ability to go from skill to skill doesn't diminish anything at all.

It's like in Starcraft. The metagame evolves. One player changes some timings and creates a really powerful build order - fantastic! Then people mess around and realize that there is a way to make the build stronger; cut SCVs, scout earlier/later, build an add-on earlier/later, get gas earlier/later.

Does THIS ability to experiment make the initial player's choices obsolete? No. He started something and people worked with it.

That's essentially what will happen in D3. Someone will have a good build, and people will play around with different runes or passives and see if they can make it better.

At the same time, builds will probably differ depending on who your teammates are.

There is a lot of customization...
Bash is such a troll, sometimes. He conveniently sidestepped some of the OP's most poignant points. All this talk of 'experimentation' and 'trying out things you normally wouldn't' only applies if you plan to only have 1 char of each class. Seriously, by the time you level your 3rd or 4th Wizard, how much experimentation do you really need to do? You've levelled 3 of them, I think it's safe to assume that you already know how that skill works and how this rune works. Experimentation can be done on the first playthrough with each class; all this system does is to make subsequent playthroughs boring as hell (until you reach Inferno).

Rune ranks were never customization, it was a gradual power increase dictated by drop chance.

And this is just great. This sentence is the most accurate description of the item-hunt game: a gradual power increase dictated by drop chance. Yet when it is applied to rune ranks, it somehow doesn't count as 'customization'. I guess gear doesn't count as customization as well, since it's just "a gradual power increase dictated by drop chance".

One last quote:
(...)it's actually fun to be forced to try other effects(...)

Yes, in the first couple of playthroughs, maybe. But after a year of two, I don't want to be forced to use things I already know; I just want to play as the character I want.

And a final word: this isn't WoW; it's not a "the fun only starts at max level" type of game. Or at least it shouldn't be. The levelling process was rendered utterly boring by this rune system.
And don't even get me started on what it does to HC.


The new rune system limits incentive to replay characters. Regardless of whether we had a choice with the old item runes or if the rune effect was randomly generated, it made replays of characters interesting and different but the rail system eliminates that. Now a new character is stuck with the same runes every time even though the OP presented a great solution to that problem, Bashiok completely ignored it.

The thing is that it doesn't really promote experimentation in the long run. Once you found a skill you liked that works well, even if it isn't one that you originally planned on using, there isn't really any incentive to try other skills. I've found myself using the same rune in my spiders because there really is no need to try out the runes in the frogs or poison dart. In fact, the randomized rune atunement did a better job of encouraging experimentation since you could end up with rune effects that you wouldn't specifically try yourself.

I'm most upset at the loss of skill progression. That was one of the defining features of the rune system and it integrated into the Diablo itemization approach to character progression so nicely. Now skill selection is bland.

The lack of a varied leveling experience is one of my major concerns with D3. The varied experience of D2 was one of the primary motivations for playing as many years as I did. Now 5 max level characters is all you need. Playing new characters in the old rune system could have been new and different every time since you would have access to runes that the current system does not allow until much later in the game. It would enable an entirely different leveling experience that simply isn't possible in the railed path.

Even in the beta I find playing my WD the second time dull since I know just what runes I am getting and I have to trudge my through with them even though I used them before because that is my only choice. Perhaps that will open up a bit later in the game, but why is this barrier to the fun in place at all? Why can't it open up the rune system on the second playthrough? Bashiok, why don't you address that issue?
Diablo is a TREASURE hunting game, we want to freaking LOOT the runes, can you not understand this we don't want stuff given to us for free.

You took the single coolest feature in D3 the runes, and made them bland and arbirtrary.

The old way, you play with a witch doctor and his frogs are red and explode, you are LIKE MAN I WANT TO FIND THAT RUNE.

The new way what level did you get the exploding frogs, oh ok thanks.

That part of your argument has some merit. But given the game seemingly will be harder than D2, it takes a lot of balance to make it so that each class feels equal, much less designing the skills/skill runes choices so that they matter and are interesting within a class at Inferno level. So if your skills are developed with runes being part of the balance equation you have to assume players have access to those runes that isn't determined by RNG.

I'm sure whatever expansion will have additional ways to customize your character that aren't as impactful as skill runes and can be found via loot. Some things probably just have to be saved for an expansion so they can at least get this one out of the door.
I rather enjoy this system, I am very picky about the play style i use. Maybe i feel like using a different style one day to the next for my wizard, I'd rather not have to restart my guy just to use a close quarters style.

Also i am one of those people who after unlocking everything i tire quickly if nothing new looms on the horizon. I need something to push for and having something new damn near every level is a great incentive for me to play on, replay, and up the difficulty to push for greater strength. I may not get the build i want right out but i think it will force me to improve how I approach many combat situations. I mean i wont be using the same skill over and over if every level i am getting a lil something something to change it up...

Only me though...
Dont call them runes just call them new skills and people wont complain anymore.

Totally! Reward for more invested players, and very likely a way to entice players not to just stop at Normal.

To be honest the repetitive difficulty levels in Diablo games is not a very straightforward mechanic. Plenty of games have difficulty levels, but there are only a handful that use them as progression. If we can communicate the intent of the game to people by showing unlocks in future difficulty levels, maybe we can get more people to play beyond Normal.

[quote]6) Leveling is a huge focus of D3. This isn't WoW. Inferno will be nice, but getting there is going to take a long time and for most characters will be the majority of their lifespan. Not being able to do this as the build I want is rather lame.

However, there are two simple solutions.

1)Allow players, every 10 levels, to unlock a single runeskill of their choice, in addition to the existing system. This means that there is still something to look forward too, those of us with very specific builds in mind can enjoy them pre-Inferno and the newer players/Zarhym's Grandmother won't be affected at all.

2) Like Crafting, once a runeskill has been unlocked it is available at level 6, or when the base skill unlocks on any new characters of that class.

A third really good suggestion, made by InfernoBound is giving some free rune choices as quest rewards. I am a big fan of this idea too.

Ok, so here it is, we do not have any problem with some kind of 'rune point' system where you could maybe earn points and then spend them wherever you want. But, and everyone loves this answer I know, it's not going to make or break an already well-functional system and thus is not worth delaying the game to design and build out one where this is possible. Contrary to popular belief "when it's done" is not the same as "let's work on it for 7 more years until we've accomplished absolutely everything we can dream of". Our commitment to quality and polish very much is the intent of our design mantras, though.

I realize some people are going to really want to be able to get that rune and MAN! it doesn't unlock until level 58! And honestly that's something we sympathize with to a degree, but the current system works very well, the current limitations absolutely have their benefits, it's actually fun to be forced to try other effects, and immediately giving you what you want is usually not a fun game mechanic in the long term.

In my own personal opinion, it's Diablo. If you can't find a workable build without having your own perfect choices being handed to you on a silver platter at the start of the game, good luck in Inferno. Actually, good luck in Nightmare. This game is hard.

First off I want to point out that once again, D3 is created around the fact that there is no expectation for the average player to make it past 30. That is fine, if it weren't for the second part, that runes on rails is still being stuck to. I also find it extremely insulting that it is stated that if they were to change it now, it'd delay launch several weeks. This is insulting because MANY of us were suggesting a rune point system MONTHS ago. Any comp sci undergrad worth their weight could build the core of the system in a few hours, and then the art/ui team could spend a handful of days pretty'ing it up. I honestly am sick of Blizzard making really bad excuses as to why they can't do things. Excuses of lack of human resources can only hold so long when it becomes blatantly apparent that you don't lack the manpower to get the job done, you lack the obvious management to get projects done and on time. I strongly suggest that some better management gets put in charge of the various dev teams, because it is becoming blatantly apparent that the current management is failing miserably.
Also who knows what an expansion might bring? maybe each rune might have two varied permanent choices? This could just be the ground work for a larger more robust system.
This is may be a good a time as any to REVEAL TEH SEKRITS! that Inferno monster levels aren't linear any longer. They get progressively more difficult. This was really a reaction to Inferno playtesting. Our original intent was to have a flat difficulty level where you could go wherever you want, farm for items, and it'd be no more or less difficult than any other area in Inferno. This caused a few inherent issues for us, though:

  • It just felt wrong. It didn't feel right to be progressing through the game and have it stay pretty much the same difficulty the whole time. It felt like a letdown to get to the final boss of the game and it be no more difficult than the first.
  • There’s a wide variety of players out there and we wanted to make sure everybody had something to sink their teeth into. We expect that anybody with enough time and dedication will reach level 60. But the jump in difficulty to Inferno needed to be different amounts for different people. For the crazy people they need a HUGE ramp in difficulty, for a more “casual but still hardcore” audience you want an obvious but milder increase in difficulty. So for the crazy people who play non-stop they’ll hit Act I and get a challenge, but 1 month later they’ll still have something to work on (Acts II, III and IV). For the “hardcore-casual” they will reach level 60 later and not get brick walled when they reach Inferno. They can experience some “small victories” working on Act I with the dream of maybe someday reaching the later acts.
  • Longevity. We know people really want goals to work towards and challenges to overcome. We made Act III and Act IV really, really brutally hard, for the most elite players only. It felt wrong to make ALL of Inferno that brutally hard.

Now, you may be saying “I thought you wanted us to be able to farm anywhere we wanted. Now we only have half as much area in the game to farm in? What gives?” Our goal is to make the loot mathematically better in the later acts without making the earlier gear completely obsolete. We feel Diablo II actually did a very good job with this and we expect Diablo III to perform similarly.

Specifically, people in D2 did Diablo runs, Mephisto runs, Pindleskin runs, Pit runs, Baal runs, etc. because the loot in Diablo is extremely random. Even though the theoretical best items might come from the later Acts, well-rolled items from earlier acts will still be better. Internally we find sometimes after an intense session of brutally hard Inferno it can be really fun to cruise through Hell Act III or IV and it’s not too uncommon surprise when an upgrade drops. We expect this to carry through to Inferno difficulty where somebody who can theoretically farm Act IV will likely still enjoy romping through Act I simply because the drop potential is still there. It’s all because of the highly random items having lots of overlap in their power distribution curves.
03/30/2012 10:34 AMPosted by Marffeus
[quote]Didn't the D2 HC players have to experience the same skill progression every time they replayed? it wasn't like they could try out a level 30 skill a few levels in.

Not really, with each subsequent reroll, there would always be some different path to choose, different than the first time. With runes on rails, your experience is the same. Every. Single. Time.

That is only because picking one path blocks you from picking any other path. I guess there is a difference between picking a different path every time versus picking every path every time.

Edit. Pretty excited about the post above.
03/30/2012 01:46 PMPosted by Bashiok
Act III and Act IV really, really brutally hard

Okay then, We will just grind those Acts. I hope the final boss has just as scary of a laugh as Baal. :D

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