Back to the Drawing Board

Yesterday Mr. Angry Robotics, Jay Wilson, himself dropped a bombshell on the Diablo 3 community: Team Deathmatch wasn’t where they wanted it so until they figure out something up to their standards they’re going to give us dueling in patch 1.0.7 … and that’s it.

Now before I jump off into my rant, let me state that I was not surprised at all by the revelation that PVP arenas are still a long ways off. I knew prior to Jay Wilson’s blog post that the dev team had an insurmountable problem to figure out with itemization as it exists today. There’s zero chance that PVP as it would exist today could be remotely close to being balanced without MASSIVE changes to itemization.

No, I wasn’t blown away by the blog post for that revelation; I was blown away by the lack of anything substantial or useful about the development of PVP arenas.

Instead what we got was a shallow wordy excuse as to where the development of the PVP arenas is. Mr. Wilson even insisted that he was giving us some insight on what’s going on but failed to deliver on that promise leaving us with insightful comments of “it’s not where we want it” and “it falls short of our expectations for a high-quality Blizzard experience.”

Okay. Right. The a-typical Blizzard cop-out when it comes to delivering, the insistence that if it isn’t up to the high-quality Blizzard experience standards, it isn’t ready to go. While I do agree that Blizzard has a proven track-record when it comes to delivering polished experiences, but that’s not always the case as Diablo 3’s rocky development would attest to. Error 37 anyone? Legendaries being worthless prior to 1.0.4?

Alright, I am being somewhat snarky, but needless to say that despite my love of Diablo 3, the game in a few aspects didn’t live up to those high-quality Blizzard experience standards when it launched. Where Diablo 3 is today feels a lot closer to those standards and should have been when it launched, but would I have rather waited until October 16th to be able to play?


That’s kind of my point with this rant. While Diablo 3 shipped with numerous issues, it was still an exceptionally fun product — except for Inferno prior to the introduction of Monster Power — when it launched back on May 15th. I would argue that the real reason for PVP arenas going back to the drawing board has everything to do with itemization of the game. They haven’t figured out to fix the problem so that PVP isn’t a completely BROKEN disaster when it launches.

Which then brings up the question as to why they’re including dueling at all. Dueling brings no depth or reward to the game other than for epeen bragging rights. So why include it if team deathmatch didn’t live up to their standards for depth and time-investment rewards?

It just doesn’t make sense, or does it?

By including the ability for us to duel, the devs can get a small glimpse into the results and problems with how itemization is today. How could they possibly balance those with massive damage outputs or effective health and damage reduction (or avoidance) against those that don’t? They can’t. They won’t. Or at least not with sweeping changes to itemization itself and that’s a huge undertaking that will be difficult for the community to swallow … unless … those massive itemization changes come packaged with an expansion.

Yes folks, I’m calling it here. PVP arenas will be delayed until the expansion.

By rolling it into an expansion it will be a lot more palatable to spend a huge amount of development time to fix the problem. We saw it in World of Warcraft with old world flying coming with the Cataclysm. On the books it looks a whole hell of a lot better to investors when large amounts of development time directly yield additional revenue.

So does that mean we will absolutely not see PVP arenas before an expansion? Not necessarily. Back in episode 30 of the Shattered Soulstone Breja and I got into a pretty lengthy discussion about PVP and potential ideas on how it could be implemented. Out of this discussion I brain-stormed an idea where PVP could exist without being broken and offer enticing rewards: make PVP a completely separate mode and take gear out of the equation.

By taking gear out of the equation you eliminate the extreme imbalances in the community and put everyone on an even playing-field. This also has the added benefit of PVP not affecting the PVE content of the game. But how do you reward players for the time they invest in PVP content if not through better gear? Well, that’s easy … with gear!

Wait, hold on, I’m not talking about gear that increases player power, I’m talking about better more bad-ass looking gear. Make PVP rewards completely cosmetic and I think you have a system that is rewarding and fun. It works in games like Halo, why not Diablo 3?

Okay, but what about carrying those rewards over to the PVE aspect of the game? A long time ago there were screenshots from the alpha version of Diablo 3 where as you progressed through the game your banner would become more decorated and not just through sigils and accents. What if that were brought back with PVP? (Or heck, even through PVE progression too)

It’d be pretty cool right?

Why stop there though? Let’s bring WoW’s transmogrification system into Diablo 3. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to tire of seeing just about everyone I know running around with Vile Ward shoulders — but that’s a problem that can be addressed by other means. It would be pretty amazing to run around showing off your PVP prowess while slaying demons with friends, right?

Sadly I have a feeling that these suggestions won’t become reality. Instead the dev team will insist on tying PVE and PVP together to allow for singular character progression through either system making itemization a crucial problem to fix. At the very least some itemization changes could be for the better, or at least we can hope.

Where’s the PVP?

Let me start this massively procrastinated blog post with a really quick rant: patch 1.0.6 only contained two bug fixes and some background “road work” for improved chat features? REALLY? And then to top that off we’re teased with 1.0.7 news will be forthcoming … soon’sh? Boy does the Diablo 3 development team sure know how to keep us all on pins and needles with anticipation.

Okay, I’m being a little harsh. Patch 1.0.5 was a massive improvement to the game in just about every single possible way and 1.0.6 hopefully fixed the bug that allowed duping to happen. BUT WHERE’S THE PVP JAY WILSON? Prior to release Mr. Angry Robotics stated that PVP should come well before the end of the year and if it didn’t that it would be considered a disaster.

Well, by looks of the calendar on the wall there’s only just over a month to avoid a disaster.

So it’s pretty obvious that with all of the clamoring for a better end-game focus on PVP took a back seat and I agree completely with that decision. At this point PVP is going to be almost impossible to attain any shred of balance with the massive gear gap present in the game. If you’re a have-not you’re going to be instantly decimated by the haves.

Critical strike chance and critical strike damage are so incredibly broken that even if they were to cut those stats by 75+% that those without good gear still won’t be able to compete. And there will be a LOT of have-nots returning to Diablo 3 and jumping into PVP once it finally comes out.

So what’s the solution? Sadly I don’t think there’s a good one.

Awhile back there a PVP vendor was data-mined which would definitely lead us to believe that the D3 team will be taking a page from the WoW team by creating PVP gear for PVP. This gear will likely mirror what is currently in WoW today with two new stats on gear: PVP Power and PVP Defense. These two stats will presumably put everyone on an even playing field since no one will have PVP gear initially, but again those that have will easily decimate those that have-not and will be able to attain all the PVP gear they need to widen the gap.

Perhaps balance will be thrown out the window since it clearly won’t be easily attained and I’m sure we’ll hear things like “PVP is something to do on the side — for fun — and is in no way to be intended as an end-game progression system.” It’ll be a cop-out but we all know what the forums will look like after PVP is introduced.

If you thought the QQ present on the forums today is bad, just wait until PVP is launched.

So what’s the solution? You can’t back down from bringing PVP to the game, but there’s little chance for it to NOT be broken when introduced. Is PVP destined to be a massive failure and disappointment? Will it take months of tweaks to get right?

I’m sure these questions are the reason that we haven’t seen PVP yet. If they rushed PVP out without addressing these potential problems it could do far more harm than good. A broken PVP system would permanently drive everyone that has been waiting for it.

So while I am disappointed that we still don’t have PVP and haven’t heard much about the progress being made to get the system in game, I’d rather the dev team took their time to get it as right as they can before unleashing it to us. I want smashing puke doctor faces in to be fun, not frustrating ^^;