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If I’m Honest With Myself

April 26, 2023 by Tim

I love a system like Diablo 4’s Paragon Boards. I love the idea of lots of power to work towards, lots of ways to see numbers go up, lots of choice. I love imagining the myriad ways I could build my class.

But if I’m being brutally honest with myself… I don’t have the time for the theorycrafting side of it that some people do. I play a lot of games, I have a lot of irons in different fires, and I have to admit that I’m never going to be able to sit down and really map out/compare/calculate my best paths through these boards. That’s a whole game unto itself.

If they’re designed well, I can meander a path I find interesting through the Paragon boards and still hold my own in the endgame. Perhaps someone will tell me I could be “4.678% more optimized if did this other path instead,” but whatever. It will be so minor as to not matter.

If they’re not designed well, then someone out there is going to math out the “correct” build, and it will be night and day so far ahead of others that you get the meta, and the feeling like if you do anything else, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. A million different options no longer matter if 999,999 of them suck.


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RblDiver
RblDiver
9 months ago

My problem is information paralysis, too many options make me stop caring and just pick something randomly.

Varkhan
Varkhan
9 months ago
Reply to  RblDiver

same for me, that’s probably also why as a tabletop RGP GM & player I care absolutely not for the rules but for the story/fun of playing. It does reflect a lot in video games as well, I mean, at some point, if you have too many complicated technical/mathematical choices… where is the fun? At some point, it becomes a work-like thing, like doing accounting stuff… not playing.

The usual stupid marketing argument “millions of combinations” just mean that like IRL, only a very minor subset is actually viable anyway ^^

Jack0r
Jack0r
9 months ago
Reply to  Varkhan

That’s why for my last P&P campaign I chose the Mini6 system. It’s super simple. If you don’t include scenarios/mobs/spells, the complete set of rules fit onto (IIRC) two pages. It’s super simple to learn, ruleslawering is inexistant, and it’s all just about the story/fun of playing.

The progression kinda suffers on long campaigns, since it doesn’t have hundreds of pages of items/mobs/spells, but for short and fun campaigns, it’s perfect.

Dom
Dom
9 months ago
Reply to  Jack0r

P&P, it’s dynamite?
What is that game?

Atros
Atros
9 months ago
Reply to  Dom

P&P means Pen and Paper. Mini6 is a rule system for pen and paper/tabletop rpg’s.

Urazz
Urazz
9 months ago
Reply to  RblDiver

That and most of the choices aren’t that good anyways. I rather have only a few choices that are fairly balanced and close to each other in power than having dozens of choices where only a few of them really matter.

Prime_pm
Prime_pm
9 months ago
Reply to  RblDiver

Information paralysis. I like the sound of that. Need to remember to use it next time.

Chris
Chris
9 months ago
Reply to  Prime_pm

I think the other term for it is “analysis paralysis”

jasmine
jasmine
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris

That’s pretty much how I move through daily life, let alone the video games i play! =P

Eric the White
Eric the White
9 months ago
Reply to  RblDiver

This is why I bounced off of Total Warhammer 3. Even with the starter dragon there’s so much crap going on it felt like something I should get paid for.

Derptastic
Derptastic
9 months ago

So they finally figured out what Path of Exile was doing right?

Vampyrr
Vampyrr
9 months ago
Reply to  Derptastic

Not really a good thing imo. Overly complex is bad for a game catering to a larger and more casual audience. If we wanted PoE style wed play PoE

leduk
leduk
9 months ago
Reply to  Tim

even non casuals can be bored with that complexity tbh. Being a gamer doesnt mean being made of time and maths.

Dom
Dom
9 months ago
Reply to  Tim

I’d argue it’s high time we stop using labels and just agree that with everyone likes what they like? 🙂

Whack
Whack
9 months ago
Reply to  Tim

I really doubt it’ll be anywhere near as complex as PoE though, just looking at the boards shows that they’re all basic archetype boards, so you pick a few that suit your build and that’s it – your pathing inside of them isn’t going to differ much.

MarthKoopa
MarthKoopa
9 months ago
Reply to  Derptastic

Path of Exile does its skill system in the worst possible way. Nobody wants to do math homework before playing a game just to not mess their character up.

Grim Dawn is superior here.

But it is
But it is
9 months ago
Reply to  MarthKoopa

Grim Dawn kinda felt like homework math to me.
I have 2 different weapon, now I want to compare the real damage.
I wanted to do a comedic summary of how the damage works, but the more I read the guide, the less I understand how to summarize.

My bro and I used to say : “So… which is better?” “I dunno.. Both do -numbers-” “fair enough”

And then there are the constelations.

Kaogen
Kaogen
9 months ago
Reply to  But it is

Yeah, for all i enjoy about Grim Dawn, I kinda just found one ability early on I liked and stacked into that one as much as possible.I think the build that got me to the end of the game was literally just spamming shots from pistols that had a chance to proc one of like 5 other effects that a couple of could also proc other effects.
I didn’t plan out anything, and I couldn’t imagine trying to.

Techbender
Techbender
9 months ago
Reply to  Derptastic

Still sane exile? I’m reading a lot of comments from people that seem to not understand how the tree in path of exile works. The main purpose of the tree IS TO GET LIFE, everything else is secondary. You can find creative builds on your way to getting more life to suit various play styles. The only way to make any build suck is to neglect this concept, but that’s what regret orbs are for. Gear crafting however is far more complex and more important IMO.

leduk
leduk
9 months ago
Reply to  Techbender

yeah… no. Some skills and masteries are very important.

Whack
Whack
9 months ago
Reply to  Derptastic

Yep, and they made it way simpler, Blizzard style. It’s good stuff.

Neon
Neon
9 months ago

So same way I have been playing Path of Exile for ages. Ain’t nobody got time to do all the theory crafting, even with Path of Building

Gnarph
Gnarph
9 months ago

I looked at that board and thought to myself ‘Cool. Minesweeper minigame in the middle of a Diablo game. Wierd but OK…’

Dom
Dom
9 months ago
Reply to  Gnarph

“Swipe right to loot”
“Swipe left to heal”, anyone?

Last edited 9 months ago by Dom
Mirra
Mirra
9 months ago

Large skill/talent trees usually mean that there’s a lot of filler and boring nodes. This is what drove me away from Path of Exile. At first I was excited about the massive skill tree… only to later discover that 80% of time I was investing into boring +stamina (or some base stat like that) nodes. Most of the time it basically took away all the excitement from gaining a skill point.

I don’t even care if I make a correct build or not, I just want to make meaningful choices.

WereCatf
WereCatf
9 months ago
Reply to  Mirra

I’ve never played this Path of Exile – game, but I echo the sentiment: large, sprawling trees absolutely necessitate tons of fillers and that’s just plain boring. I, for one, would be fine with just 10 talents, if all 10 were actually meaningful and provided something really tangible that I can immediately appreciate in the game. Oh well, I can understand them going for such a sprawling tree, though: it appeals to those players who love min/maxing and it’ll definitely drive quite a bit of “player engagement” with the aforementioned crowd. A straightforward tree in the style that’d appeal to… Read more »

Kaogen
Kaogen
9 months ago
Reply to  Mirra

That was a big turn off for me with the PoE tree as well. You could see cool nodes all over the thing, but you’d measure it out and go “Oh boy, that could be fun 20 levels from now!” only in that time to realise your skills weren’t actually that good and changed direction, and now that node isn’t even one you’d use anyway. These sort of huge skill trees are great once you already have access to everything (which is why D4’s might be okay) but god awful if you have to plan ahead while still progressing the… Read more »

Zack
Zack
9 months ago

(laughs in Path of Exile)

Dom
Dom
9 months ago
Reply to  Zack

(enjoys in every game we like/love playing)

Paul
Paul
9 months ago

“Meta” is what drives me away from the majority of multiplayer games, sadly. Call of Duty is a big offender, but a lot of MMOs do it too. I just want to be able to find a play style that’s fun and not drastically hampering my ability to succeed, without having to look at spreadsheets for the extra 0.05%

leduk
leduk
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

0.05% , you can do this with absolutely any game unless you want to be in the top world. The problem is when it comes to 5/10% and hl content, but this is the same in every multiplayer game since forever

Dom
Dom
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Which meta you looking for? “Most Effective Tactic Available” or what the current “trend”/”meta” is?

Kaogen
Kaogen
9 months ago
Reply to  Dom

Given that “most effective tactic available” was made up way after the term was used widely, I’m gonna assume they mean the second.

Gonfrask
Gonfrask
9 months ago

Chose the skill you think sound cooler, st least is how I choose mine…and always my characters suck ?

Scortch
Scortch
9 months ago

Just from playing the beta, with itemization in play as well, I don’t know if there is going to be an “optimal” way to build. Like you said, I’m sure someone could math out the best skills to take based on my gear. I don’t have time for that. My sorceress dropped hydra items, cool ill take fire and hydra skills. Good enough for me.

Kaogen
Kaogen
9 months ago
Reply to  Tim

This was my main gripe with Diablo 3 (though the set that helps when you have no other sets was nice to alleviate this) was that the sets were so damn powerful you had very little choice in builds if you actually planned to do anything higher than like GR80/100.

Vedrit
Vedrit
9 months ago

“Given the opportunity, gamers will optimize the fun out of the game.”

Timmeh
Timmeh
9 months ago
Reply to  Vedrit

Any multiplayer game, like WoW, LoL… ect. too tired but yeah. It happens all the time.

Sanquin
Sanquin
9 months ago

If they design a bad talent system they might as well just have gone with a single unlock tree. No talent points, just unlock X at level Y. Because yea, when there’s one clear “correct” path all the other ones become useless.

Though I’m hoping they’ll go for a system where what talent path is the “correct” one depends on your gear. Like, on legendary set might work better with one path, but another set better with another path. That way, at least several different paths will be viable depending on gear.

Rokva
Rokva
9 months ago

See, I don’t mind some small theory crafting in my ARPGs, I did it a lot while playing Grim Dawn, but this Path of Exile kind of stuff looks absolutely tedious.

Avion
Avion
9 months ago

That’s my exact approach to WoW specs. Heck, _everyone’s_ approach to WoW specs. Except the honorable nerds who put time and effort in finding the best ones.

Dagroth
Dagroth
9 months ago
Reply to  Avion

I have quit WoW during Warlords of Draenor, but as far as I recall, before they simplified the talents, and we were only picking between a bunch of extra skills in every spec’s tree, everyone and their mother’s hamster were just using the same correct/optimal build, too. (in PvE at least, I didn’t really do PvP, so cannot talk about that)

Pulse
Pulse
9 months ago
Reply to  Dagroth

its back to the original style of tree now for the most part. you get a class tree and spec tree, even levels give points to class and odd to spec. the choices can be pretty much game changers and you can set presets of talents for quick swapping.

Avion
Avion
9 months ago
Reply to  Dagroth

That applied also after simplifying the tree to “choose one of three skills every n levels”, but there was one tier of utilities that didn’t impact your performance, so you were basically free to choose what you considered to fit better your playstyle, plus one or two tiers that could need a skill switch (free when in rest areas or using a tome made by runographers) depending on what you were going to do. Now, as Pulse explained, we’re back at talent trees but you can make as many sets as you like for each spec and you’re free to… Read more »

MarthKoopa
MarthKoopa
9 months ago

Skill systems that require math homework to figure out their optimal setups before even beginning to play are bad design (like POE) A well designed system would allow a player to just put points whevever they like and freely adjust it as they play the game. Like if you want to build a character that attacks fast, put all your points into attack speed nodes and don’t worry about it until you run into problems, then simply readjust to adapt. It shouldn’t be time consuming, and it shouldn’t require a lot of thinking while just staring at the board, which… Read more »

Pulse
Pulse
9 months ago

reminds me of FF12’s upgrade system. that was an odd one

BioYuGi
BioYuGi
9 months ago

My favorite is always when the player can choose skills, and one of the earliest ones is something such as “Earn 15% more exp from execution kills” or “Gain 10% more gold from battles”. Choices where it feels required to take those immediately because the earlier you take them the more net benefit you gain.

Ben
Ben
9 months ago

I’m not *against* the potentially fun logic puzzle that is power-building an RPG character, but I want more games where there IS no optimal build. Where there can be at least several dozen ways to build out any class that all reasonably compete with each other, rather than 5,000 “wrong” ways to do it and like 2-3 “optimal” builds that are objectively better than the rest.

Might be one of the reasons I enjoy Pathfinder 2 so much; here’s hoping we see that in video game format soon!

Gerry
Gerry
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Where the difficulty scales basically infinitely there will always be a “correct” build. There always comes a time where you either use the mathematically superior build or accept you cant progress further.

leduk
leduk
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben

this cant happen, it is impossible. Would be fucking boring to be only able to chose between those kind of options. Where is the progress?

Arvandor
Arvandor
9 months ago

Not only that, but if it’s obnoxious or painful or whatever to respec and experiment, then no one is going to want to, and will just wait for the math nerds to tell us what to do.

Dicehiggins
Dicehiggins
9 months ago

From playing the beta, I decided that I am just going for whatever looks fun or fits my ‘character’ Like do a wolf druid or two handed sword fighter and not stray much from my choice. Not sure how long or how well that will work down the skill tree line but with so much choice, I prefer just playing what sounds fun and if I’m not end game powerful so what, I enjoyed it.

Bernie Margolis
Bernie Margolis
9 months ago

This problem has been prevalent since the dawn of gaming. There are two design choices they can make here:

  1. Make the game easy enough that even the “wrong builds” are viable
  2. Do away with the non-optimal choices and simplify the trees so that every build is viable.

It’s a no-win situation. If developers go the first route, the theorycrafters complain that the game is too easy because their broken build is demolishing the content in no time. If they go the second route, theorycrafters complain that the game has been dumbed down to the point where their theorycrafting is useless.

Eric the White
Eric the White
9 months ago

For me, just don’t play MP Diablo. Its never been a multiplayer game for me, and it never will.

leduk
leduk
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric the White

missing a lot, playing with friends is pretty fun

leduk
leduk
9 months ago

me on poe everytime

Rolando
Rolando
9 months ago

SOME min-maxing is fun, but I avoid extremes. I just feel those abandon the spirit of gaming, by focusing too much on efficiency (snore). I will build some general strategy myself, and perhaps enhance it with just a few pointers from the more complex work some people generously share online. Or ask around for advice on very specific ways to do things I’ve already set my mind to. I’ll seek the efficiency I find necessary and interesting, to get through the game. But that’s my limit. Turning my character into the highest DPS/most potent possible, specially by following guidelines and… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Rolando
Phantom
Phantom
9 months ago

I feel seen.

James
James
9 months ago

Also known as the Path of Exile problem. The skill forest is great! But really the game is about getting the 40-50 skill points you need for your build then dropping the other 70-80 into defences.

Anthony
Anthony
9 months ago

This is my strategy in Path of Exile. I find a meta build that looks fun to play and follow it step by step. I hate theory crafting, I think its dumb, but goddamn do I appreciate the people better than me that do it.

jack
jack
9 months ago

more importantly, since blizzard has shat on anyone stupid enough to give them money at every opportunity for the last several years, why in the name of arcadia do people give them yet another chance? do people not understand blizzard at some point becvame the new LJN? As well as being just horrible people to work for, apparently?

Dom
Dom
9 months ago

I did the same thing with Brigade of Feet builds and Path of Exile. I don’t regret not getting into the games I didn’t really want to play other than socially.

Simpler games on the other hand…

Kaitensatsuma
Kaitensatsuma
9 months ago

It’s my understanding that so far, shortly before the go-live of this game, a lot of the nodes are pathetic increases to main stats.

Saixak
Member
Saixak
9 months ago

Facts. I look up builds and replicate what smarter people have created so I can beat games.

Crestlinger
Crestlinger
9 months ago

*Grins. For those who like this and dungeons and dragons look up D4: deep dive and welcome home.

Timmeh
Timmeh
9 months ago
Reply to  Crestlinger

“if you like D&D and Spreadsheets, this is the channel for you” -Liam

Yue
Yue
9 months ago

It’s basically Path of Exile at that point.

Nyzer
Nyzer
9 months ago

I know a lot of people lamented the loss of proper talent trees when they were reduced into smaller versions in World of Warcraft, but a large part of the reason they were cut down is because there were a lot of setups that were either blatantly suboptimal, or a lot of skills that barely mattered. Even the revamped talent system had a lot of frankly suboptimal stuff going on in it. I know all too well the joy of finding a niche unusual build that works perfectly for you and the way you play, and that’s where the tons… Read more »

Scarsdale
Scarsdale
9 months ago
Reply to  Nyzer

I ran a server for WoW and I can tell you honestly, each update added to the skills and the coding to support it. with the number of new additions they added over the years they had to simplfy it or the loading time would of been waaaay longer than it was. I had to debug tens of thousands lines of code every time they added a new pak so yeah, I was done. Debug, test, debug, test, “Hunny, time for supper” and “It’s late, you coming to bed?” so I gave up and shut it down. Not a job… Read more »

Scarsdale
Scarsdale
9 months ago

First game I played that shocked me with the skill tree was Final Fantasy 8, first time I opened it I was like WTH?!? Hours later I figured it out and set the characters up but jeesh! I have played Path of Exile, it made FF8 look like a walk in the park in comparison.
I’m too old and cranky to deal with that level of frustration lol.

Kaogen
Kaogen
9 months ago

Depending on how stupid the numbers get, you might not even need crazy metas to do the endgame content unless you care about leaderboards. One of the main issues D3 had was that the numbers got so ridiculous you kinda had to gravitate towards one of like three viable endgame builds for each class or you literally could not get very high in the Grifts. If they keep the numbers in check a little better, meta builds might become more about optimisation than ‘Use this or don’t bother playing at all’

Pyre
Pyre
9 months ago

If SWTOR has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t actually care about the optimized Endgame build. My builds are strong enough that I can take the story and any other optional activities that I choose to do.

Everything else….Sure, maybe it’d be cute to run a 16-man operation by myself but it isn’t interesting enough to actually do.

Foxhood
Foxhood
9 months ago

These kind of systems can be fun if the choices are indeed balanced, with in the end marginal differences that only a try hard may care about.
but yeah, vast majority of the time these systems have just a couple of “Meta” builds that you are expected to run by others on which i too just go and check a online build.

Vandril
Vandril
9 months ago

I’m on a different boat. A lot of times, skill trees where there’s an ideal build are talked about as having “the illusion of choice”. And that’s certainly true if your goal is to optimize efficiency. But what most people ignore is that everything about a video game is an illusion. All we’re really doing is pressing buttons on a device, to prompt certain pixels to light up on a screen and certain vibrations to come out of our speakers. Yet we still care about the games we play, despite it all being illusory by nature. Just being an illusion… Read more »

Creepyunicorn
Creepyunicorn
9 months ago

I used to love theorycrafting, it was something I always looked forward to when new games arrived.

Then I had to become a grownup. I feel a bit sad not being able to take the time to really get in to the nitty gritty of a gamesystem. But hey, kids, wife, dogs, house, it’s worth having to look up the optimal builds online 🙂