Garrett is an engineer by day, gamedev by night.
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A few months ago, I was discussing with a friend why I was unsatisfied with Diablo 3, as compared to Diablo 2, and the topic of skills came up. I argued that permanent skill choices encouraged a feeling of user agency and character ownership.
Tangent: My friend disagreed, saying he'd rather have the ability to experiment with new characters without having to make a new character. Making a new character should be a joy. Playing through the game again should be fun, and should not feel like a chore. In most RPGs, players level up the fastest at the start of the game, which feels great. In Diablo 3, the game forces you to play through every single quest, often making you wait to even start talking to a character (Act 2's Karyna in particular comes to mind). This decreases replayability because the game gets less fun, not more, when you play it again.
A week or so later, when I was starting development on Black Ice, I watched the following TED talk on why people are happy.
There's a better version of that video on the TED website, but for some reason I can't embed it.
For those of you who may not be able to watch the video, the TL;DR (TL;DW?) of it is that the human mind creates happiness for itself by justifying its past actions. They ran a fascinating series of studies asking people to keep one of two paintings which they had little feeling on. When the choice was permanent, a week later, they were certain that the painting they chose was the better of the two, but when they were allowed to change their choice, they worried that they had made the wrong choice and would often change their choice.
Tangent: Have you noticed how people tend to have few regrets about their life, even when they've made obviously bad choices? That's the mind justifying and creating happiness.
This immediately made me think of Diablo. In Diablo 2, the player had to make permanent skill choices, and this must have been a huge contributor to the longevity of the game. Anecdotally, I still look back fondly on my first terribly built Thorns/Zeal/Charge Paladin, even though I made several characters later which were exponentially more effective. My Diablo 3 characters are basically the same as all other Diablo 3 characters of the same class.
I've come to think of character malleability as a trap. The player might ask for it - in fact, Skill Respecialization was probably one of the highest requested features for Diablo 2 - but it's your job as a developer to determine whether that would actually make them happier.
Latest tweets from @blackicethegame
@p_ashlynn haha, you're doing fine! Make sure to check a server's difficulty before starting the hack!
2hours 30mins ago
@joe_willmon Hahah, no! Sometimes I really need to take breaks, so the Shower Principle can work.
6hours 15mins ago
@joe_willmon I will say, most days if I'm not coding, I'm playing Blizzard games :)
6hours 19mins ago
@LordNed right but now that you've written them down, you can say "I'll do that later" and focus on the important stuff.
6hours 24mins ago
@TRSCP not tonight, my friend. Will be traveling.
7hours 53mins ago
@BurningHeavy lol. unfortunately I doubt that would hold up in court
7hours 54mins ago
@TRSCP Because you can't tell particles to just follow a path, like you can tell them to explode. You have to move each one of them yourself
8hours 51mins ago
@KempPlays Definitely! Thanks for the explanation :)
8hours 52mins ago
@LordNed It's just some guy posting on his website. it's fine, i'll find another way. Looks like all particle systems on paths just set velo
9hours 5mins ago