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Path of Exile: Erneutes Q&A mit den Entwicklern

Erneut haben die Entwickler von Path of Exile ein umfangreiches Q&A veröffentlicht, in dem sie sich den Fragen der Community stellten.

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Q&A der Entwickler

Nachdem vergangene Woche erst eine umfangreiche Sammlung von Fragen und Antworten zu den Spielmechaniken von Path of Exile veröffentlicht wurde, legten die Entwickler heute noch einmal nach und antworteten auf verschiedene Fragen rund um die Entwicklung des Action-RPGs. Dabei ging es unter Anderem darum, wie viele Entwickler allgemein an Path of Exile arbeiten, welche Herausforderungen man dabei zu meistern hat und welche Verbesserungen für die Zukunft geplant sind. Das komplette Q&A könnt ihr euch im Anschluss ansehen.

PoE MitarbeiterGGG zu Q&A Entwickler (Quelle)

Originally, the intent of „Unique“ tier items was to have… well, „Unique“ items, that weren’t going to be better than well-crafted Rares, but in some cases would enable different playstyles… Is this still the overall intent of Uniques? There’s a few Uniques that are overwhelmingly Best-in-Slot for a lot of builds, and I was wondering if these were exceptions, or perhaps Uniques that worked out better than intended, or if you’ve relaxed the original design choice for Uniques?

Our preference is that most characters use rare items with just a few unique items. This will vary by build, with the most combo-ish ones requiring many unique items, and mundane damage dealers (like my favourite type of hardcore Marauder build) using almost entirely rare items.

It’s very hard to hit exactly the right power level when designing a unique item. Some of them underachieve because the community doesn’t work out their full potential, and some of them become far more powerful than you planned due to the community coming up with crazy combos that the developers didn’t think of. That concept is the core beauty of Path of Exile’s character customisation.

In addition, many of the most powerful uniques involve design-a-unique supporters who have very valid reasons for their unique being powerful. They want something people will care about, to leave a true mark on the game. It’s very hard to hit the right power level here, especially as the metagame changes over time. To use a specific example, we nerfed Soul Taker many times internally before releasing it. It was a shadow of its former power. However, the vocal part of the community were outraged that we released such a powerful item, completely invalidating the process of crafting a rare one-handed axe. I kind of agreed with them, and wished we had pushed the nerfs harder. A few years later, I receive mail asking when we’re going to buff Soul Taker to get it up to an appropriate power level.

What are the pros and cons of having high player power vs the environment?

Players like to feel powerful. Philosophically, we want people to look forward to coming home from work so that they can load up Path of Exile, smash some monsters and get better items for their characters. The power creep towards fast clear speed has definitely helped this feeling.

On the other hand, there are several negative issues we’re dealing with. Higher clear speed means more combat going on per second. This affects both the server performance (costing us more money) and the client performance (in some cases, making it hard for people with lower machines to play in parties). These are areas that we’re tackling at the moment with technology changes.

While some players and developers are concerned about the clear speeds, there’s the subtle issue that now players are used to the rate of item acquisition from that speed. If we substantially rebalanced things so that it’s a little slower, then this would affect the rate at which players accumulate wealth. It’s very hard to say whether the prolonged playtime would offset the frustration of progressing more slowly.

Have you seen improvements in player retention with the subsequent improvements to content clear times?

Player retention is marginally better and players play for around 25% longer each day compared to the time period when gameplay was slower. We can debate all day about whether it’s due to the clear times or not. I suspect it’s that people want to feel powerful, rather than finish the maps quickly.

Is the discrepancy between the stronger skills and weaker ones within each category (melee, ranged, spell) a high priority, or do you guys think that there are more important things to be working on? Similarly, what about the balance between melee, ranged, and spells as a whole?

The balance team are working towards less discrepancy, but are doing it in a careful way. For example, if Earthquake is far better than the other melee skills but is only on-par with average spells, then adjusting Earthquake can only occur if there are other significant improvements to how melee works at the same time.

We’ve heard here and there that you guys are worried about changing or revamping older skills, could we as a community get a bit more insight into that? I know that Shield Charge was changed, but my assumption is that it wasn’t a big risk because it was probably barely used at all. Something like Ground Slam likely has more risks.

Certainly – we’d love to improve older skills but have to be careful about the players who are currently using the skill in a specific way for some esoteric combo or playstyle. While improving the game is always good, if we break too many people’s characters while doing it, then it can have a net negative effect. Care must be taken.

There has been some discussion on the subreddit recently about the range of effects support gems have, and the limitation of choice when it comes to them. Some argue that in its current state, choosing support gems is primarily a min-maxing of damage multipliers to eke out the most dps. They would prefer little or no damage multipliers on support gems, in favor of only unique effects one had to choose between. what are your thoughts on this, and are you against this large of an overhaul to a core game mechanic?

While this is a noble goal, it would only work if there were enough support gems that affected the skills in interesting, non-damage ways. We have a lot already for some skill types, but less so for others. In addition, a popular way of designing support gems is to penalise the skill in some way but provide a damage boost. Then character who can ignore that penalty can use the support gem as a free damage boost.

The issue you raise about such a large overhaul is a big issue. While we’re not scared of changing major systems, every single character in the game would be affected by something as large as this, so we’d absolutely have to know that it’s more fun.

What’s your stance on all the exploiters and peoples abusing various bugs and unwanted mechanics during the first days or weeks of a league, either breaking the economy or gaining unfair advantage? Is there anything done to act against those and protect the whole playerbase?

There are several factors in play here. The first is that Path of Exile is designed for players to try to take advantage of knowledge and gain economic advantage over other players. If you work out a smart way to craft, or you find a build that lets you get to Uber Atziri first and offer her uniques up for sale at top prices, then you are winning at Path of Exile. This is a game that rewards you for being smart.

As for people crossing the line and exploiting the game by abusing bugs, this is something that both happens far less than you think, and often is actually attributed to non-abusive behaviour coupled with tall stories. We often see people claiming exploits to explain how they got rich, but then when we investigate the accounts we find more mundane behaviour like faked screenshots, wealth pooling, RMT or just lucky drops.

Having said that, people who actually exploit the game are generally mercilessly banned along with their co-conspirators. It’s usually pretty clear where the line is here.

Why haven’t all basic skill gems been made available to all classes from vendors? Everyone hates making mule characters to get gems, and trading for them over and over again is annoying at best.

Surprisingly, not everyone hates characters having identity. There’s a bit of a slippery slope when trying to optimise for the type of player that wants to instantly gain access to gems from all character classes. For them it’s a harmless change, but for most of the playerbase it’d be hugely overwhelming and would break the immersion of you being offered appropriate choices for your character. I’m not saying we won’t do this, but we’d need to find the right way to do it.

Is there a plan to remove Cruel and/or refactor leveling (similar to the shifts made with 2.0) when Act V releases?

Whenever we add significant content to the game, we review the levels of other areas and adjust as necessary. It’s still likely that Cruel and Merciless may be removed in the future, but that’ll be when the time is right. There’s a substantial impact in terms of where you’d get quest rewards, bandit rewards, Ascendancy points, etc.

Will there be a raise of the level cap eventually?

As we continue to add new content, we need to creep the highest level of that content upwards so that it provides more challenge and reward. Currently the highest level of monsters/items that you naturally encounter are level 84. This will be a few levels higher in the 2.4.0 expansion in a few months, and probably higher still in next year’s 3.0.0 expansion. While there’s certainly a lot of room left before we start getting to level 90+ content, all of this makes it exponentially easier to reach the maximum level. We’d then be left with a choice of purposefully slowing it down more, or raising the level cap. Such a choice would not be taken lightly.

What purpose do you envision red maps to serve? It appears that they are neither good at producing wealth (because sustaining them is so expensive), nor are they good in terms of XP per hour (or per currency investment) compared to, say, gorge rotations, so what else do you expect players want to achieve in them?

Currently, they are the best place to find items and gain experience if you have the currency to support it. Many players are doing this, especially in Standard leagues where there’s less risk of character loss. They also represent a difficult challenge, and we’re totally fine with the average player deciding not to play the most challenging content. It’s better that it’s available as harder content for them if they do want to push themselves.

Having said all of that, the 2.4.0 release will drastically change everything you know about the end-game. It contains the upcoming system that has me the most excited.

MMORPGs are an economist’s dream because they are living, breathing economy simulators. Have real-world researchers contacted you with regards to your constructed economy? Has GGG published anything related to game economics (perhaps a GameDev presentation)?

We haven’t published anything ourselves, but some university researchers have talk to us about our data. As far as I know, there’s nothing for the public to see yet based on that research though.

What’s your process for setting the rarity tier of a new unique? It must be hard to make the call between letting an item be powerful but uncommon, versus making it weaker but more common.

We change rarity tiers of uniques as we need to. A best guess is made, and then if the item feels like it’s in the wrong place, we just fix it. That’s one of the reasons why players aren’t told what items are in what tier.

Does the team ever worry that some of its design decisions are moving in an unhealthy direction?

Absolutely. And then we fix them with balance adjustments. These are sometimes quite large changes that feel like an abrupt change of direction. There’s certainly a lot more that we would change if we weren’t so worried about alienating players. At the end of the day, though, we understand that a lot of people enjoy playing Path of Exile in whatever its current form is, so we have to be very careful before changing how their existing characters work.

Are you happy with the current state of movement skills? Is there any plan to make them more viable against each others, and if so, which ones do you feel are currently too slow or fast?

The team aren’t happy with movement skills currently. They’re not meant to be used continually like Whirling Blades is at the moment. It certainly contributes massively to the clear speed meta. There’s a lot of discussion about how this can be addressed without ruining the experience for players who enjoy this.

What do you think about official modding support? Item filters have been a great enrichment, and following that, there could be some room for potential UI modding/scripting (such as allowing white lists/custom loading for UI files like the globe girls or further down the line scripting to adjust the layout of the UI or add elements that are normally not in the game) or in game custom content creation.

Your question touches on lots of separate topics here. Item filters are great and we plan to continue to improve them in the future.

Custom UI skins are potentially a problem because they make it harder for us to make UI modifications ourself (as it’d invalidate people’s skins). Also, it’d dilute the brand identity of Path of Exile (in terms of recognisability when people see it being played).

Changing the layout of UI would require masses of changes on our end

There was a hint in the new belt announcement about „many new base types“, can we get some more hints about that?

You’re probably going to need to wait a month or so before you find out too much more about that 🙂

Will there be a major revisit of existing mechanics? For example, adding a number of new nemesis modifiers, new shrines, new strongboxes, changing or adding forsaken masters etc.

When we decide to add new content to the game, our first attempt is to add it to existing systems. For example, there’s a new Strongbox base type coming in the future.

We also evaluate whether certain standalone mechanics would be better off if rolled into other core game systems. For example, there’s internal discussion about making damage reflection a Nemesis mod. Many developers agree that certain Forsaken Masters could do with an update. That was almost the theme of our next expansion, until we found a much better one.

Unarmed fighters are in an awkward spot for movement skills. There is no way for them to get over walls/gaps without casting a spell, which doesn’t feel right. Can we just use leap slam already?

We’re internally discussing this, but there are issues to resolve. If Leap Slam works with unarmed, then it’d have to work with all other weapon types too. That’d involve a lot of animations being made for all character classes and would have some significant balance consequences. It also moves in the direction of the clear speed metagame that some players are worried about.

Why was Dominating blow the target of so many Skill killing nerfs? i mean, 2.0.0 was a hard hit to the skill but gave logic to leveling it but 2.1 completely killed the skill with a 55% less damage nerf.

I asked the design team about this and the explanation was complex and involved the phrase „noob trap“. Either way, I hear this skill is slated for a buff in 2.4.0.

Any spoilers/further hints about the CoC change Chris hinted at? 🙂

The primary motivation of changing how Cast on Crit works is performance. As you know, it causes vast quantities of spells to trigger, and can bring graphics cards to their knees. While we’re working on improving performance in many ways, we’re never going to be able to make Cast on Crit run at full speed as long as it works like this. There are also balance concerns with the gem in its current form, so we’re probably going to make some big changes to how it functions. Our goal is for it to still be a powerful option, though.

I’m a soon-to-be student graduate, of digital arts, specializing in Sound. Are there any open opportunity at GGG’s office? Also, What traits do gaming companies values, and look for in future employees?

Right now, we have our sound needs covered, but it doesn’t hurt to apply. If the application is really good we may still hire someone anyway. The best thing you can do to appeal to any game company is work on your portfolio. Make it really awesome and your work will speak for itself. It’s even better if your portfolio can demonstrate some work in the style of the game studio you are applying to.

How did you get to the point in your life to where you wanted to develop a game and how did the idea for Path of Exile come to existence?

Jonathan, Erik and I had some savings in the bank and a big plan in our heads. We had a very strong mutual agreement on exactly what we wanted to make (inspired by decades of combined play of Action RPGs). We were convinced that if we somehow made the big plan happen, we’d be able to develop and release Path of Exile. Despite our lack of game development experience, everything went according to plan. Don’t try this at home!

How is lore done for the game: do you have organized documents for it? Who at GGG can contribute to it? Do specific people give final approval? Are there written guidelines for do/don’t? In what circumstances do you consider performing retcons or changing unreleased lore?

Anyone can contribute to the lore, though several people well-versed in the lore will discuss it to ensure it all remains internally consistent. Erik always has the final say. We try to avoid high-fantasy tropes, and instead look at Lovecraft, Poe and Robert E Howard for inspiration.

We try to avoid retcons, but in a living game there are times where story has to change to better fit future content, whether that be for gameplay or other story reasons.

Did you guys build your own proprietary engine or is it built upon something like unity/UE4?

We use our own engine. Most off-the-shelf game engines don’t have very good support for procedural level generation the way that we do it. In addition, in 2006 when the project started there weren’t really the great options available like there are today.

How complicated is it for you to hire a foreigner and relocate them to NZ? Have you done it/would you consider it?

We have hired quite a few people from overseas, but it’s not an easy process. In order for our company to sponsor a work visa we have to prove that we tried to hire New Zealanders first, or that the skills we require simply are not available in New Zealand.

You take a lot of creature designs from existing flora and fauna in NZ, such as the rhoa and weta pets, where does the Rakango originate? Would there be any plans to bring in creatures based on some NZ/Aus indigenous mythology in the future? Or will the only new monsters exist in the next act?

The Rakango was originally inspired by the Maori mythological concept of the Taniwha (pronounced Taa-nee-far). They are very widely known in New Zealand as they come up in Maori stories often taught in school. We can’t reveal what creatures we have planned for the future, sorry!

A buddy and I have a running joke that mirrors only drop when Chris Wilson presses a button. Is this true? How often do you really dust that thing off and can we see a picture of it?

This isn’t true, unfortunately. They drop randomly and very rarely.

Do you guys have like a Casual Friday thing?

Every day is casual in the GGG offices. We don’t have any kind of dress code. Some of the staff actually used to have a thing called Formal Friday instead.

Do you randomly mess with each other just for the fun of it? For example, change computer settings, hide gear, steal pens…

No, that kind of stuff just hurts productivity and verges on bullying.

Do you have pets in the office? (translated from Brazilian Portuguese)

No, but at the last office we had a peacock and about a thousand ducks. Don’t get ducks. They’re not good pets.

Could you share some photos of the daily life in the office? It’s really cool when you post pictures. (translated from Brazilian Portuguese)

This is a great idea. I’ll make sure the community team put some together!

In general, what do you guys at GGG do to have fun at the office? Aside from POE, obviously.

A lot of developers play Magic: the Gathering and various board games (they recently finished a campaign of Pandemic: Legacy). After hours on Fridays, many devs play couch co-op games in the rec room. I hear rumours of a D&D campaign being played also. Recently, Overwatch has been popular at the office after hours.

Is there a rule limiting how much POE you can play while on the clock? Non-debugging POE play, of course.

Our developers don’t charge us to play Path of Exile for fun. They do that in their own time.

Do you devs still find the game fun after having access to the god-mode debugging tools?

Absolutely. It’s an entirely different experience. The game is about collecting items and accumulating power, which is completely hollow on the internal cheating servers. A lot of our developers put some serious hours into playing PoE on the live server outside of work time!

What trading QoL improvements are underway at the moment?

I condensed several trading questions down to this one.

There are some good ideas that have been suggested recently (such as exposing which users are AFK) that will make the trading process easier and less frustrating.

Our intention is to release cross-instance trade in the future. I don’t have a timeline for this currently, as game performance is a top priority and uses the same developers.

Thoughts on an official linux port? (perhaps with vulkan?)

I would like to have an official linux port, but quite frankly our engine programmers have more important performance work to do right now! Once Path of Exile supports more than one graphics API it will be easier to add support for more. Right now we are working on having the engine support both DX9 and DX11.

How many programmers do you have working on the game? What areas do they work on?

We have 14 programmers at the moment. One on Backend, One on World/Quests, Four Gameplay programmers, One UI programmer, Two website programmers and we recently hired Four Engine programmers. There is also Jonathan who is the Lead Programmer and works on whatever area needs attention.

What is the point of background loading if the client can’t run (freezes) while assets aren’t loaded? Shouldn’t they be replaced by placeholder graphics or just be invisible before being loaded, instead of freezing the game/creating stuttery gameplay?

There are two reasons. The first is to use multiple threads to improve load times, which were getting out of control and were only getting worse with each expansion. That problem needed addressing quickly. The second is that we can now start loading things before we need them, and hopefully they will be loaded by the time they are actually used. For example, when you equip a skill gem, or a player enters your game with some skills equipped, the game now loads the graphics for those skills in the background. Usually those skills will be loaded before the first time the skill is actually used. In the past, the only thing we could do was load the graphics for every skill during the initial load of the game since we can’t know when a player will enter the game with a given skill equipped.

While I agree it would be great if we could have things be invisible before they are loaded, this is quite a lot more work than you might expect, especially retrofitting this functionality into an existing engine. We will see more improvements to this system over time. I hope you would agree that the current situation is a vast improvement over what we had before, even if there are more improvements still to make.

The last system released was the „pre-loading“ to try to improve the game’s performance. Was it considered a success by GGG? And are there any other plans for future performance improvements? (translated from Brazilian Portuguese)

While it was a success in terms of improving performance for most of our users, some users had problems with the system that we have only ironed out in the last week. We do have more performance work underway, and you’ll hopefully see it soon. Jonathan now has a team of four engine programmers that we didn’t have at the start of the year.

Is it true that path of exile just uses 1 core of cpu? If yes, is there a way we could modify it to use multiple cores for better performance?

Path of Exile does use more than one core, but we are working on increasing the ability for the engine to use more CPU cores over time. We have always had a background thread used for sound, but as of 2.3.0 the game has background threads that are used for loading assets to speed up load times. We are currently working on using threads for things that will improve frame rate by moving things like animation and particle effects out into threads. We should start to see the results of this work in 2.4.0.

Are there any plans to improve upon AI pathing (or is it being done currently)? the most obvious example of its current limitations now are probably strongboxes. they’re intended to literally be an ambush of a group of monsters, but more often than not (especially in enclosed maps like catacombs) there are stragglers in adjacent rooms who forgot about the whole ambush thing. conversely, sometimes a monster will notice me from several screens away. as i understand it, these issues can occur with minions as well, though not as frequently.

The strongbox case you are talking about isn’t really a problem with pathfinding as such. It’s more to do with monster placement by the strongbox. The monster probably would successfully find a path to the player, but the monster can’t see the player because there is a wall in the way so it never targets it. We could potentially add code so that monsters spawned by strongboxes start by issuing a pathfind to the location of the strongbox that spawned them, but I doubt it was ever really seen as a problem by the gameplay programmers who created that feature. As for monsters from far away noticing you, monsters will usually only target you if you are less than roughly the edge of the screen away, however, monsters move about randomly when they are idle. This means that their random movement will take them into attacking range occasionally even when you are standing still.

With the recent popularity of the Warcraft movie, if GGG was ever approached to make a PoE movie, long run or short run TV series, would you accept?

Only if it was a serious offer from a company that could do the franchise justice. We’ve talked with people who wanted to make low-budget spin-offs, but if those turned out badly, they’d hurt our image more than help it.

Are you still accepting large donations (in the thousands of $$) with „negotiable rewards“.

We still sell the design-a-unique package ($1000) and Divination Cards ($660, if you’re a Highgate or Ascendant supporter). These are arranged by contacting support@grindinggear.com. We do occasionally improve parts of the game (often adding 3d art to specific items ahead of their schedule) if supporters sponsor it, but our general policy is that those improvements should come as part of our routine development. Players really enjoy the feeling of having influenced the game, and we can put the funds towards good use, so we’re happy to try to work something out like that.

What are your guys‘ thoughts on the mainstream gaming industry when it comes to stuff like DRM software, Pay2Win micro-transactions, and overpriced DLC content? Does PoE’s stringent Free-2-Play model stem from your own experiences as gamers? And what effect have other games had on your philosophies as developers? You all over at GGG are basically my heroes for simply running a good, honest game. I’ve never seen a game as popular as PoE where players willingly donate their hard-earned money to see the game that they love continue to grow. Thank you!

I feel that developers should do what they feel best for their game. If they do something else because it’s a flavour-of-the-month monetisation strategy or because a publisher coerces them into it, then that’s not great for their players. I think there’s a time and a place for DRM (if you’re releasing a single player game for example and want to prevent drive-by piracy), Pay2Win microtransactions (an app store game that isn’t at all competitive) and overpriced DLC (if it’s a luxury purchase and you’ve weighed the pros and cons of its release).

Having said that, we don’t do the above things because we don’t feel they’re right for Path of Exile. We don’t hate the fact that other games do them, we just see and learn from what happens when they do. Sometimes it works out well for those studios, other times badly.

Will there be more big secrets in PoE like goddess unbound, the star of wraeclast and fishing? Secrets that the community can work together to work out are always loads of fun in MMO. Maybe even harder ones?

Absolutely. We always try to embed some secret content in our releases for people to discover. Sometimes it’s apparent like the recipes you mentioned, and other times it’s more subtle.

Is there a legal reason for the strict no name & shame policy?

No, but it’s the only way that we can practically operate. The trade screen is designed to protect people against most scam attempts – it forces you to check items before you can accept them. In terms of bad behaviour, accusing someone of being a scammer is even easier than actually pulling off a scam. We cannot investigate each reported case in detail to see if accusations are accurate. Initially, this wasn’t our policy. We allowed naming and shaming, but the overwhelming feedback was that the false defamation was far worse.

Why is GGG one of the few (gaming) companies that actually has good support?

Our support team is rostered so that there are people available 24/7. Because of timezones, the night shift is the busiest one! The support team represents a considerable portion of our expenditure, but it’s critical for people to feel like they’re in good hands when making purchases.

I was recently told Albino Rhoas were added in the game since closed beta, is this true? Additionally, did the feathers carry over from closed beta the same way Demigod’s did?

Yes, the Albino Rhoa was added to the game very early on. The feathers silently persisted into the Open Beta in the same way Demigod’s Triumphs did. Very astute of you to notice 🙂

What are some things that you find in other games you play that you find interesting and want to see if they’re possible to implement in PoE?


What are some of the things you’ve tried to implement in the game after beta during your internal testing that you decided wasn’t a good fit, was way too over/under powered, or wasn’t as cool as you hoped it would be?

Here are some skill prototypes that we canceled because of some problems they had:

Blade Trap threw spectral copies of your melee weapon in a spiral, causing bleeding. We couldn’t get it looking good and it didn’t have a good place in the game without doing a fraction of the bleed damage of Puncture, which felt underwhelming. Melee weapon traps are still a possibility for in future!

Static Tether was a skill prototype that fired a small lightning projectile that attached to an enemy if it hit them. If they moved far enough, it would detonate. It was great against fast enemies, but against others (like totems and zombies) it hardly functioned at all, which made it too situational to fill the role it was intended for.

Lightning Tendrils went through a large number of prototypes to find the right fit for a low level lightning skill. One of these created a damaging circle attached to the caster, and another was an arc-like zap that couldn’t chain but damaged everything in a nova around the monster it hit. Lightning Tendrils was the prototype that was the most fun and best looking of the versions we created.

Name one thing you really love to add to the game, but can’t add (yet) because it would take too much time/resources to do.

This one is really difficult to answer because it’d be either spoiling future content or hyping up something we legitimately can’t do.

Is there ever a chance that PvP will receive damage reductions on skills and Ascendancy-related balances at any point in the future, maybe during the downtime between leagues?

The balance team have a desire to perform a pass of PvP skill balance. To do this properly is a large task and they’re currently very busy on balancing the upcoming expansion and challenge league. I can’t promise that there will be PvP changes in 2.4.0 at this stage, sorry!

Is it possible to get league-specific unique items through divination cards, that grant a generic type of items (e.g. Unique Ring)? Are there some kind of restrictions

Edit: My initial reply here was incorrect. You can receive uniques from previous leagues.

Are you able to share an update on the timeline for the MTX tab redesign?

This is a system that we desperately want to finish and deploy, but is taking a back seat to performance improvements and other critical changes currently. I understand that the current microtransaction tab is very frustrating.

Is there any news on a „permanent skin transfer“ option, so I can use some of my standard skins in temporary leagues?

This is part of the race system improvements. It hasn’t been prioritised because racing is a small part of the community and the resources we could spare were put towards creating the upcoming race season. I would very much like to sort out the whole permanent skin stuff, but that will probably take place after other systems improvements like performance.

What are your thoughts on bringing set items to the game? Path seems to be one of the few big ARPGs that doesn’t have these types of items.

The problem with set items is that they encourage you not to swap out your gear. If we created a specific set then the whole set would either be good (in which case every build with it is identical) or bad (in which case it’s simply not used). We don’t think that sets promote the type of gameplay that we want.

Have you considered running weekend events, or something similar, with the parent leagues? What are GGG’s collective thoughts on such an idea? I personally believe it would bring some added purpose and excitement to Hardcore and Standard.

We have problems with the concept of „weekend“ events because we don’t want to teach people that any one time is better to play than another time. The goal should be that all times are good to play, so you should play all the time 🙂

With regards to Standard events in general, we are internally discussing the concept of having week-long rotations of various league mods on Standard and Hardcore as an experiment. For example, this week is Talisman week and next week is Perandus week.

Do you plan in a near future to add a bug tracking tool directly ingame?

We have our internal bug tracking tools that we can’t share with the community because they’re full of bugs related to unannounced future content or bugs that may represent potential exploits in the game. We are pretty happy with our current process for bug reporting, but we understand the community would like greater visibility into what bugs we are working on fixing. This is partly what Q&As like this are for, but we’ll see if there’s a way of exposing that information more clearly.

When will you guys add Shape Shifting to the game?

How would this work? We get this request a lot but whenever we discuss it, we can’t really work out a good system. What happens to the player when they’re shape-shifted? Can they use their regular skills? Would we need to animate the shape-shifted figure to have all the regular animations of the player classes? What if we just sold it as a microtransaction skin to cover these costs?

Has there been any progress with implementing ctrl+clicking for the guild stash?

There hasn’t been any progress on it yet, but it’s currently listed in our bug tracker under version 2.4.0.

Would GGG ever dwell into the depths of cinematics?

I think the money would be better spent on improving the game itself and adding more content.

There are some weapon MTXs that don’t „fit“ well on certain weapon types. For example, Runic Blade on an axe makes the player hold the blade with his hand. Same thing with the new Dragon Spear on staves. It’s been this way for a long time, so I wasn’t sure if there are plans to fix these?

This is unfortunately quite difficult to fix. It would require making skill animations for each character class for weapon types that normally don’t work for that skill. Then once that’s done, we would switch the „stance“ that these weapon skins infer.

The team are currently looking into a better solution.

Will mercenaries be added at some point? Could they be customisable like most everything else in POE? Could you select their skills; where their points go in their passive skill tree; select their equipment (armor, weapons, links and sockets), etc.?

This is an idea that is discussed occasionally for future expansions, but two problems come up:

a) The developers aren’t really excited by it. This may be due to mercenaries being somewhat boring in other Action RPGs. If we do do this in the future, we’d need some systems work to go with it to make it exciting.

b) Back before Forsaken Masters was announced, some of the master names were datamined and posted on the forum. Many people initially assumed that it was a mercenary system, and they expressed disappointment. We were surprised by this (and thankful that it was actually a Master system, which they liked a whole lot more due to its crafting potential). It did give an interesting insight into the fact that mercenaries start off with negative points and need a lot of work to make into a system worth releasing.

Would it be possible to get an extra „Skill Bar“ for Aura skills? It doesn’t have to have hotkeys, as you could toggle them on/off via clicking, but it would free up space/time on the main Skill Bar for those of us with a lot of auras that don’t really enjoy spending a couple minutes cycling through aura’s to turn them on every time they play.

There’s ongoing discussion in our office about having alternate skill buttons that you can press a key to make available. You’d be able to put skills like auras and other rarely-toggled skills on these buttons. I don’t have an implementation timeline for this as it requires expertise that is currently busy on other really important areas.

Will you guys ever add gender options to character classes?

No, the character classes are designed to be specific sexes. Plus, it’s very hard to see visual changes like that anyway underneath all that armour!

What happened to the French/German localizations?

We are still planning to release these, once we have all the problems resolved. Sorry for the delay.

Any chance of having some kind of information about „log in status“ of friends (friends list) or guild members – something like last active day, etc.? (translated from Brazilian Portuguese)

This is a Quality of Life feature that we really want to implement as well. It’d be new data to store, so requires more work than you’d expect. I’m optimistic we’ll be able to do this at some stage though.

Are there any plans to have the ‚fated‘ versions of a unique item have a special glow or distinct look, compared to the base unique item?

Unfortunately this isn’t currently viewed as the best way for us to spend our resources. It was discussed, but eventually decided against.

Can we expect some more dragon weapon skins to go with dragon armor? Maybe some dragon wings too?

We like to flesh out these various microtransaction sets to have more stuff over time. I haven’t spoken to the art team about this, but I suspect the Dragon set will see more pieces in the future.

Is Shavronne’s Mutant Fish from the Vaal Temple supposed to six link any item in your inventory? That seems a little too powerful. I don’t want to tell you guys how to balance, but that seems pretty broken.

For any system in the game, we like to have some very rare outcomes that are really powerful. It keeps people hunting for those elusive ones even when they’ve seen most of the other content we’ve created.

Is there any new content in mind for the endgame? Like new bosses, new maps or a new system that isn’t just maps? (translated from Brazilian Portuguese)

Yes. We’re working hard on the endgame right now.

Would you consider having maps display as Ruthless difficulty in the tab menu? It just feels like they’re a different section of the game, with scaling far removed from Merciless, plus it would be cool to bring it back in some form.

Technically, they are part of Merciless currently for things like resistance penalties. I worry that changing this to some other phrasing would only confuse people.

I was curious if GGG had any plans to improve the in-game map? Possibly similar to how Diablo 3’s uncovers the map as you walk through, I feel like it would help people clear „bad“ map layouts if they could see where they had and hadn’t been.

When you explore the map in Path of Exile, it does uncover as you go. The block sizes are relatively large, but you’ll be able to observe it in game! The explored/unexplored areas could certainly be made a lot clearer as we continue to improve the in-game map overlay.

Why was the decision made to have some prophecies trigger randomly on entering a zone instead of having them always trigger at the next available time when you had one.

There are two types of Prophecies – ones that trigger when an event occurs, and ones that affect an area that you zone into.

The ones that trigger when an event occurs always happen when the event happens, so there’s no complexity or confusion there. The small exception to this is that a few of these trigger on killing a lot of enemies (something like a 1 in 500 chance of happening, for example). These are clearly marked and also aren’t confusing people.

The confusion is related to the ones that affect specific world areas. We didn’t want them to trigger on the very next area that you enter, because that’s not very prophetic. The design of Prophecy is that Navali tells you that something is going to happen, and then it does sooner or later (rather than immediately). So given that we need a conditional chance for it to happen when you enter an area, we first tried rolling that on area entry. The problem here is that then you can just force-spawn the area several times to force the Prophecy to happen. This takes away any exploration and also allows you to force specific Prophecies to happen in the best possible area for them. Both of these were large issues for us.

The system we settled on causes the Prophecy to randomly pick a set of areas that it does trigger on (from the available pool of areas that it can affect). It then triggers reliably when you enter one of those areas.

I really enjoy the prophecy item upgrades, as it brings life to some otherwise useless items. Can we keep this upgrade feature (possibly even expand on it)?

We like the feature too. It’s a strong point in favour of keeping Prophecy and Navali around in the future. We haven’t made a firm decision on that yet though.

3) Do you plan future leagues with the idea they will make it to standard game some day, or do you just go on with leagues and think about keeping them to standard only when you see how the playerbase reacts to them?

We try to make each league as good as we can as a standalone league. The decision of which to bring to Standard and when is very complex, because we’re conscious that some leagues require a minimum presence to work properly. Also, the complexity of having so many league mechanics on at the same time can be very overwhelming for new players.

Our intention is to turn on and off content in the future to vary the experience. It also lets us fix aspects of the leagues that players didn’t enjoy.

I and others feel as though Talisman mechanics were entirely reasonable for the live game in a less pronounced manner. Why has it come about that the Grinding Gear Games team has decided otherwise?

We definitely plan on bringing Talisman back, but we want to find the right time for it. The game is already crammed with occasional side content that you encounter, so there’s no pressing need for it in the core game yet. Having entire systems that can be turned on and off (especially those with exclusive items) is very useful for running events or spicing up Standard for a while, for example.

Do you think the last two challenge leagues have been successful from a mechanical point of view? There’s no doubt they had great production value, but most people I play with agree that the mechanics turned out rather shallow and easy to ignore. Low risk/reward improvement, low interaction with player economy (that is, they only deflate prices, without draining currency from the economy), etc.

Yes, I believe they were mostly successful from a mechanical point of view. Let’s look at the five topics you mentioned:

Depth: Simplicity at face value is important so that leagues are easy to understand. However, it’s really important to hide enough depth there so that advanced players have interesting things to discover. Talisman had tough choices of which Talismans to keep and which to sacrifice to the Rigwald grind. Prophecy has a lot of complex mastery behaviour with cycling Prophecies that players are only just beginning to work out. Perandus was intentionally a relatively straightforward league because it was released alongside an expansion. During development of our next league, we’ve had to put a lot of work into getting it simple enough to explain clearly, as there’s a crazy amount of depth that kept surfacing and confusing the explanation of the league.

Easy to Ignore: This is intentional. Feedback from previous leagues (like Invasion, Beyond and Tempest) was that there was no way to turn them off or ignore them if you weren’t particularly interested in that mechanic. People cited Ambush as an example of a league that offered great gameplay if you chose to engage with the mechanic by opening Strongboxes. We wanted to make sure that these players who chose to play in challenge leagues mostly for the fresh economy were not entirely put off by the league mechanic being fatiguing. In Talisman, you didn’t have to put Talismans in the Stone Circles for the hard fights if you didn’t want to. In Perandus, you could mostly ignore the Perandus chests because the monsters stayed so close to them. In Prophecy, you can just trade the Silver Coins to other people. Because 80% of our players play in challenge leagues, it’s important to have a way to engage less fully with new league content.

Risk/Reward: The tradeoff of players engaging in harder content in order to receive better rewards is a very important one in league design. Talisman escalating Talisman power for harder and harder fights, as well as a handful of different power levels of Rigwald with rarer and rarer unique drops. The Perandus chests provided a tough fight in higher difficulties (prompting players to successfully petition us to nerf them), in exchange for the precious coins. Almost all Prophecies are about engaging in additional content in an attempt to cycle to the ones with high payoff. Our next league takes risk/reward even further, in a way that is reminiscent of Ambush.

Economic Interaction: Talismans were highly tradeable. Perandus and Prophecy both had tradeable coins as well as yielding items that were tradeable. Even the Prophecies themselves can be traded. In all cases, recent leagues have enabled players to engage economically in order to accelerate their progress.

Currency Sink: The league acting as a sink for currency was on your list of desired attributes but wasn’t on ours. I believe that only Ambush has acted like this in the past? It’s certainly something for us to consider in the future, though players have shown to like leagues that give them new items to play with rather than applying pressure to their existing ones.

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