Diablo 3: Spreadsheet Simulator, No Gameplay

General Discussion
Since the launch of Diablo 3, there has been a lot of rabble rabble going around. Certainly, the game has many issues that need to be addressed. For me, however, there is a flaw in the core gameplay that I believe leads to more frustration and anti-fun than anything else in the game.

First, let's identify what 'core gameplay' means. Diablo is a game that is meant to go on forever, once you've capped out a character, you can continue to farm the game's creatures for upgrades, theorhetically never reaching an 'end' point. Farming the game's end game creatures for upgrades, for most people, is the core gameplay.

So, how do we do this in Diablo 3? The game has been designed, and continues to be tweaked by Blizzard, to encourage players to explore the world rather than repeatedly farming end bosses. You are rewarded with a stacking magic find buff for killing unique and magical creature packs. We can say then that farming these groups of mobs makes up the core of the end game content.

So, finally, we come to the point of the thread: Is farming these monster packs fun? For me, the answer is a resounding no, for one simple reason: There is no gameplay involved. These encounters come down to a gear check, plain and simple. There is zero (as in, ZERO, none) counterplay or strategy involved in solving the mechanics at hand. Don't believe me? Let's take a look. I'll analyze these from the perspective of a melee character, as that is what I am playing in inferno.

Fire Chains: Due to the speed of monsters, as well as their immunity to most CC effects and ability to bypass or escape any attempts at 'herding' or 'cornering', this is simply added damage with no possible way to escape or counter it. Due to the effects of lag present in every game, small positional adjustments to avoid the damage are more likely to get you killed by halting your life steal than save you. There is no gameplay solution here.

Frozen: This should be one of the affixes with obvious counter play: avoid the exploding ice balls. Unfortunately, there's a few problems. First, since there is no limit to how many of the pack can use the same ability at once, nor any real pattern or idication as to when they will use it, you will often find yourself suddenly surrounded by an innescapable field of ice balls. If there is a safe zone close enough to get to, and let's assume the mobs aren't vortex jailer waller etc (fat chance), lag will probably prevent you from actually positioning yourself properly anyways. This is actually one of the better affixes for counterplay, as much of the time you can avoid these by moving the fight, however this is ONLY true if you get very lucky with their other affixes, and is often simply impossible to avoid depending on how many of the pack cast at once, and how much space you have to work with. Not much counterplay here either.

Molten : A fairly simple affix, these mobs leave trails of damaging fire behind them. One would think that as long as you don't chase behind them or stand in trails they'd left behind, you could counter this affix easily. You'd be wrong. Whether due to lag or simply poor design, if you stand in melee with a mob with this affix, you're almost guaranteed to take damage from it. This is simply added damage with zero counterplay.

Arcane Enchanted: The explanation for Frozen can pretty much be repeated here. Though the damage is theorhetically avoidable, due to other gameplay mechanics, lag, and the fact that packs have the potential to simple drop 5 or 6 of these simultaneously in a completely unavoidable pattern, in practice there is very little actual gameplay one can use to overcome these.

Desecrator/Plagued: These both suffer from the same core problem: They take effect instantly. As a melee, this means that at any time if the entire pack (again, because for some reason this is not limited) decides to cast desecration underneath you at the same time, you just fall over dead. Between lag and reaction time, there is no way to avoid this damage quickly enough. If you do move, it means the mobs now get free hits on you while you do so, and don't worry, the cooldown time is low enough that if you do manage to reposition and get your resource aquisition going again, it will only be a second or two before they cast it again. Plagued has the same issues, but don't worry about the cast time, it's just constant, covers the entire area where you are fighting after just a few moments, and does more damage than Azmodan's boss fight ability. There is no counter play here, either you can mitigate the damage or you can't.

Electrified Unavoidable extra damage for melee, plain and simple, zero counterplay.

Knockback Unavoidable CC, compounds the already unavoidable damage from other abilities. Zero counterplay.

Mortar HOLY MOLY it's one that almost works. With the changes to the dead zone, this is one affix that you, theorhetically when not combined with other affixes or monster types, you can actually attempt to avoid by staying close.

Nightmarish Unavoidable CC, zero counterplay.

Vampiric Does anything really need to be said? There aren't even any (many?) abilities in the game that decrese healing and regen. The fact that it works against summons and followers who are quintessentially braindead? No counterplay here.

Fast Since the CC abilities in the game are insanely overpowered, most of them don't work against champ packs since it would make them too easy, so no counterplay here.

Missile Dampening Doesn't really effect melee, but it's not like the ranged classes have viable alternatives, just another unavoidable, uncounterable mechanic.

Jailer Unavoidable CC, no counterplay and compounds the problems with the damaging mechanics.

Reflect Damage Unavoidable additional damage. Zero counterplay.

Teleporter Unavoidable CC (of a sort). Zero counterplay.

Vortex Unavoidable CC, compounds issues with damaging affixes. Zero counterplay.

Waller Unavoidable CC, compounds issues with damaging affixes. Zero counterplay.

Health Link Simple stat boost, zero counterplay.

Horde Hooray! More enemies! Unlike in Diablo2, not many abilities benefit from having more enemies present. Zero counterplay.

Illusionist Wow, is this ever a dumb affix on inferno. Obviously, no counterplay here.

Extra Health Simple stat boost, zero counterplay.

AvengerSimple stat boost, zero counterplay.

Shielding Take whoever thought this was a good idea off of game design, and give everyone a punch in the nuts for going along with it. This ability not only has no counterplay, but completely disables most characters from building resource (in other words, they prevent you from playing the game).

So there you have it. Without even getting into the absurdity that having these affixes on certain monster types creates, we can see that one thing is clear about the core gameplay of diablo 3: There is no gameplay. Your build does not matter, and neither do your actions. Either your character is able to mitigate and heal enough damage to stay alive, or they aren't. Every single encounter is a pure gear check, and while some less annoying packs might be dealth with by kiting or using a choke point, most affix combinations work specifically against the players inputs having any real meaning. Most of them nearly, or entirely remove the players ability to move (not move freely, just like.. move.. at all..), making the damage portions entirely unavoidable.

So what's the solution? First, Jay Wilson needs to stop believing that Diablo gameplay is at it's core about mitigating and dealing damage. It is not. It is about using fun mechanics in interesting and creative ways to kill bad guys. We should be allowed to outsmart and outplay the AI in creative, unabusive ways. Gameplay should be about punishing the player for mistakes, not taking away their ability to make a mistake by locking their character down and essentially turning the game in to, as per the title of the thread, a spreadsheet simulator.

This can be done an in innumerable number of ways. One BIG start would be to make the way monsters use abilities more predictable, and more obvious. Mechanics should be designed to make things difficult for the player, not to instagib them. I should be able to predict when, and how my enemies will use their abilities (once I've seen them a few dozen times), and if I am planning ahead and thinking about it, I should be able to avoid most of this damage if I am playing well.

Now one big question some might ask is 'But that will make the game too easy!'. No, it won't. The thing is, if abilities are balanced such that you can actually deal with them with good gameplay, then a couple things happen. One, you can actually set the damage on them in a way that feels punishing, but fair to the player, since taking that damage was a mistake on their part. Second, you can actually have situations where encountering multiple champ packs, or champ packs surrounded by tons of enemies, become fun and interesting and produce those 'oh sh*t' moments that Mr. Wilson loves so much, instead of simply being completely impossible due to bad game mechanics.

TL;DR: If you don't want to read... Don't read it.
The TL;DR should be: I have no idea how to play this game and should feel bad for making this post.

I mean, FFS, you say teleport is a CC.
I'd sooner read a 100 000 line MATLAB code and output than this !@#$.

EDIT: The MATLAB code would simulate the gameplay and be more interesting that your post.
remember the stone skin, teleport, lightning enhanced bosses in d2?
Whilst I enjoyed your rather complete list of affixes, I can't entirely agree with the sentiment.

The thrust of your argument, as a whole, is that the affixes are so overpowering that we simply cannot fight packs who possess one or more of them and that therefore the game is a fail.

I disagree.

It is a question of gear and the skill to use an appropriate group of your hero's skills.

If your gear is really bad then you will struggle with Champion and Elite packs with these affixes on Nightmare, let alone Inferno.

I know this from experience. When I finally get some lucky gear drops and my gear improves, I find the packs, at that level, a pushover. I am not yet in Inferno however I have watched geared players just walk all over packs with four of these affixes.

If you are really geared it is simply a matter of gear.

While gearing up, you need skill together with some okay bits of gear.

That is how the Diablo series work.

By the way. In Nightmare, from personal experience, my badly geared Barbarian (I hadn't resorted to the AH for even a weapon at that stage) encountered a Champion pack together with an Elite Vampiric Molten Shielded when he was looking for one of the pieces of Kulle's weapon. I had nowhere to run as they were camping the entrance to the ruins.

I died over and over again. My gear was just that bad. It was an awful experience.

Flash forward to the teddy bears and unicorns on Nightmare. The same kind of pack only this time they were purple Unicorns. I got through okay. Yeah I potted and the fight went forever and I used the trick of exiting through the entrance so I could wait out my CDs etc but there was one big difference.

It wasn't my skill. It was my gear by that stage. I was now wielding a 290 dps 2H Axe I bought in the AH as opposed to my old 109 dps 2H axe. I had also improved a few other pieces a bit too.

There is a lesson there.
I needed to take a bathroom break about halfway through and had one before i started. :p

06/13/2012 05:52 AMPosted by Demosthenes
So, finally, we come to the point of the thread: Is farming these monster packs fun? For me, the answer is a resounding no, for one simple reason: There is no gameplay involved. These encounters come down to a gear check, plain and simple. There is zero (as in, ZERO, none) counterplay or strategy involved in solving the mechanics at hand. Don't believe me? Let's take a look. I'll analyze these from the perspective of a melee character, as that is what I am playing in inferno.

This is the crux of your epic post, I believe.

I agree. I like to just faceroll through a huge number of mobs and like when different types of mobs give me different challenges. There is no real strategy involved other than for melee to survive the crap dished out to you or for ranged to run like a girl screaming. There is actually no real though involved in playing other than to dodge !@#$ and you have to have this precise movement with mouse based movement with hit boxes in your way.

It is not well designed at all and they seem to be the pinnacle of inferno. I'd rather reasonably challenging elite packs and really, really tough boss fights.
Forgot the posts above, reading more than 3 words at a time must give them head aches.

Great post, and pretty much completely true.
You forgot the most annoying one of all. Invulnerable minions.

I will have to say some evil person designed molten because they seem to do a circle around you before attacking. Molten + fast makes this completely evil.
Ignore* those above me , you hold valid points.

I have felt there is no actual rewarding gameplay. You aren't trying to level to 99 like in diablo 2, you aren't building a decent gearset, you aren't farming towards anything. You're farming towards farming more. It doesn't make any sense that they designed the game this way, there is literally nothing to do - except level a monk, wizard, dh, barb and witch doctor to level 60 and max out the gear.

I feel that they did a cheap one on making the game endless, however, think about it. How can you design a game to have infinite gameplay? You have to make randomly generated rewards that can only get better after repetition. All MMOs take this, minus purely competitive games. The error they made, I feel, is designing the entire game around items. Literally, the entire game, is based on items. Player input is very little - infact, player input is nothing of importance to the game. Blizzard has designed a game which does nothing but generate them money. That's what they do, they're a gaming company and they wanted to make some money by making a game. They also did it very smart, in fact, if we were to look back on this game in the future we would admire them for maximizing profit.

Blizzard isn't an independent company looking to actually make the best games ever and making all the fans happy, they're the complete opposite, they exist to make games that make money. It's unfortunate, however true.

The other sad things about Diablo III is that there is little to no community - what is the point of killing these mobs and getting gear to get more gear to get gear? Who cares?

You can just sell that item to someone who wants to get to the point where you are, farming gear to get more gear. PVP will not be revolutionary, or make the game any better, but it was delayed so Blizzard could get another spike of income after people start building gear sets to kill other players.

If anyone ever played Neopets when they were younger, you might understand. The game is more or less a mini-game, whilst the auction house is what everyone is focusing on.
yes you cannot avoid damage from molten desecrate or plagued

or arcane enchant for that matter lol
You forgot the most annoying one of all. Invulnerable minions.

I will have to say some evil person designed molten because they seem to do a circle around you before attacking. Molten + fast makes this completely evil.

Combinations of invulnerable, desecrater, plagued, arcane, fire chains, illusionist are awesome fun as a melee.

When you have a better light show than 80s disco then it is bad barbarian karma.
The TL;DR should be: I have no idea how to play this game and should feel bad for making this post.

I mean, FFS, you say teleport is a CC.

He writes an entire page of well thought out and pretty much strait up facts and you feel the need to insult what isn't even an error. He says it is CC "(of a sort)" because effectively it achieves a very similar goal, putting you in the desired location in relation to the creature.

So stop being a pedantic insecure little smartass, you arent smart you are just an !@#
The TL;DR should be: I have no idea how to play this game and should feel bad for making this post.

I mean, FFS, you say teleport is a CC.

Wow, you're not very smart are you. He said teleport is FUNCTIONALLY a CC. Think about it this way, Jailer and Teleport end up being similar IN FUNCTION as both allow the packs to close on you and limit kiting (Jailer obviously being more painful because it locks you down and makes certain other abilities unavoidable).

I agree with you 100% TC, champ/rare affixes need a complete redo at this point. As it stands, certain pack in Inferno are LITERALLY a game reset, no point in even trying to clear them (extra health invulnerable minions jailer mortar). That's just bad game design.
The saddest thing at all is the 15 year olds that browse these forums exist only to troll :(
I appreciate the responses, but I will say right now that I disagree with anyone saying Blizzards gameplay decisions were motivated by profit. If you've ever met the people who make these games you'd know that's simply not true. They are passionate, and they love games just like you. That doesn't mean they can't make mistakes. I believe the RMAH was implemented primarily as a solution to 3rd party item selling, and it makes complete sense. There is no reason Blizzard should allow a 3rd party to profit from their game. If the player base is guranteed to do something, it's entirely valid for Blizzard to implement their own solution.

I think Diablo 3 has some serious gameplay flaws, and I believe they are present because the game was rushed out the door (This, to my knowledge, is a first for Blizzard and a serious dissapointment. What happened to 'When it's done.'?). I also think this is the reason that acts 3 and 4 feel so short, and completely unepic, and that the story feels abridged and cheesey.

But I don't believe that gameplay decisions are driven by profit. I believe they are driven by a team of designers trying to make a great game. I just don't think they got it right on the first pass.
I think the randomness is the problem, the mobs can really appear anywhere so scripted abilities just don't work.

I would have preferred to see random mini bosses spawning in the various maps, say each Act had 20 scripted mini boss encounters and the various level types had a chance of spawning one of the mini bosses or it could spawn a room trap or an event room or random npc and there were a few locations they could appear and you had a proper mini boss scripted fight which was challenging.

I just feel there was so much scope to make a really ground breaking game with the technological advancement over the last dozen years and D3 was a fairly simplistic sequel with the best feature probably being the interactive landscape.

So few play styles are viable until you are ridiculously over-geared. It is just a really bad design, it doesn't inspire me to raise a billion gold worth of gear to find out if an alternative playstyle is viable, it makes me not want to play because I dislike the cookie cutter playstyle.
+1 to the OP... totally agreed.... and oh, found this good post on the forum, gonna quote here too :

"Hey guys, Diablo is all about farming gear.

Except if you use skills that we think are too good. Then we'll nerf them.

Except if you farm areas that are too productive. Then we'll nerf them.

Except if you stack stats that we think are too good. Then we'll nerf them.

Except if you want to farm bosses. We'll nerf them too.

Oh, and except if you make too many games in a short amount of time. We'll take care of that too.

But have fun with the RMA-- I mean, have fun farming gear."

Actually, I think the intentions here are pure: They nerf those areas to push you towards exploring for champ packs, and chests (which generally pushes you to the dungeons, which is good because it's supposed to be... a dungeon crawler). The problem right now is that those encounters they are pushing us towards aren't fun!

I didn't read your thread.
I will address Molten only here. The OP said they were impossible as melee.


You can stand *near* them and not in the fire and still hit them.

To avoid accidentally moving into the fire be ready to hold down your shift key with your non mousing hand.

If things are totally frantic then you can only really move in as close as you dare and then have one or two hits and then out again.

If you are taking massive damage then your gear just isn't cutting it.

So...go back a few quests and try something easier until you are at your comfort zone.

Or resort to the AH and fix your gear. With the exception of Act 2 and beyond in Inferno, the game is not supposed to be impossible. Very well geared heroes can even face roll later parts of Inferno.


Observation #2

Diablo III requires a lot more mobility than Diablo II. This might be making the fights seem impossible for the OP as he is out of his comfort zone.

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