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  3. Developer Q&A - Part I

User Info: Ryyaann_Is_Band

1 month ago#1

Last week we asked the community for questions for our developers to answer. We have answered many of the large questions in this post, and will follow up next week with another set of answers. If your question wasn't answered in this post, it may be in the following one. Many questions have been rewritten for reasons that are apparent if you see the original ones.


As the game becomes bigger and more people with varying views on the game join us, how do you cluster feedback and do you still have a primary target audience?

When we look at feedback, we make sure to take into account the experience of the user and the nature of their core problem (rather than just the proposed solution). Despite its growth, we want Path of Exile to remain true to its core values. We feel that compromising its depth would do more long-term damage than any short-term benefit we might get in terms of being more approachable to new users.

Having said that, Path of Exile can remain a very hardcore game and still have its accessibility improved. We understand we can do a better job at making new features more understandable to both new and existing players, and are working hard to improve at this.


What was the team's takeaway from the community feedback on Synthesis?

At a low level, there were a lot of individual problems with Synthesis which we read the feedback on, made changes to address, and deployed patches for.

We already understand exactly what we did wrong during the league's production. It was incorrectly scoped during a busy period. We thought we had enough time to make something of great quality, but were wrong.


Why didn't you delay the release of Synthesis?

We actually did delay it a week internally, before we announced the date. When we announced the date, we were pretty sure we'd be able to finish the league in time.

Why didn't we delay it further? Once we put a countdown timer up and announce a release date, we really want to hit that date. People take time off work and plan around these release. Delaying a release not only upsets a few million people, but throws our entire schedule out for the year.

We did release a playable league. It just wasn't good enough.


Will you ever return to making more simple leagues like Breach, Abyss, Domination, Bloodlines and Rampage? If not, why?

I like the idea of easy-to-understand, mechanically clean leagues with a lot of meta depth. We have been experimenting with various prototypes and are quite excited about the one we picked for 3.7.0. While our current production infrastructure lets us put a lot of content in it, it'll probably be reminiscent of the era of Breach/Essence/Abyss leagues.


Do you think the current big, complex leagues are sustainable?

Yes, if we don't have other priorities consuming our time (see this post). So we'll try to scope our leagues carefully to not run into problems with this.


Does the team feel required to 1-up in both scope and scale the league before?

Even if we specifically decide not to do this, it often happens organically as the team think of more and cooler things to add to the league. This can create a cycle that is difficult to maintain (both in terms of our own development expectations and the expectations of the players).

For 3.7.0 we are trying to downscope some aspects. It has turned out quite well. We're excited to see what you think.

User Info: Ryyaann_Is_Band

1 month ago#2
What are your thoughts about the current state of dropped rare items, particularly normal ones (i.e. not Shaped/Elder/Fractured/etc)?

So many rare items drop. There are so many different item classes and each item class has so many different base types available, only a few of which are useful for your character. This results in a situation where many rare items are just left on the ground, because it's very unlikely they'll be an upgrade for an item you currently have equipped. In addition, the presence of Shaped/Elder/Fractured rares means that regular rares are even less likely to be game-breaking. New crafting systems such as Fossils also reduce the chance that a given rare drop will be an upgrade.

The above situation isn't good, and we want to fix it. It's going to be a very slow process, across many, many expansions (probably with 4.0.0 doing some of the heavy lifting), but we'll get there.


Do you feel that the master revamp, fossil crafting and Synthesis crafting introduced more power creep? If so, what are your thoughts on this?

Yes, every new crafting system introduces a little bit of power creep to the best items that are possible. This is intentional and desirable. If a new crafting system didn't let you make new best items then it wouldn't be very interesting to people.

We're trying hard to control the level of power creep over time so that people's previous-best items are not made irrelevant
. It's quite difficult and expensive to use these crafting systems to make something incredibly good, so the relative power level of previous mirror-worthy items in Standard is still quite high.


Do you have any plans to help separate league mechanics from the crafting systems introduced with leagues as they transition to standard?

We aren't announcing any specific plans for this but it's certainly on the table. If the right way to merge a league with the core game involves breaking apart the league mechanic from the crafting system then that's what we'll do. For some complex crafting systems, we're happy for them to only be available sparingly from interaction with an old league when it's accessible.


Do you think there is room to make higher end crafting more accessible to the average player?

We certainly want more players to experience the fun of crafting and make some cool stuff, but we have to be very careful to not damage the economy in the process.

High-end crafting is expensive for a reason - because it can make really expensive items.
To make it more accessible, that means reducing the costs associated with it which reduces the value and exclusiveness of the best items in the game. We feel it is critically important that in an Action RPG, the absolute best items are exclusive and very valuable.


Do you have any plans to change how Syndicate crafting is unlocked?

The veiled item system has received quite a bit of feedback that we are processing. We're considering some options like normalising the frequency of mods appearing, because the more valuable ones already take more experience to level up anyway. We may also have to make master-specific ones easier to level because they're rarer to acquire. Don't take this speculation as a guaranteed plan though, it's just what we're considering currently.


Why do we have to unlock master crafting recipes every league? Can they be account-wide unlocks?

In the Betrayal expansion, we changed how master crafting works so that you unlock it by performing various tasks within the league. These have to be unlocked again from scratch in each new league.

User Info: Ryyaann_Is_Band

1 month ago#3
One of our core design philosophies is that players shouldn't be able to get an advantage in a new league based on their actions in a past league. This gives a level playing field and makes it clear that you can return to Path of Exile at a new league and be on equal footing with other players. Because of this, it will never be possible for crafting recipes to be unlocked on a per-account basis.

The intention of the master crafting recipe system is that you can ideally look up a recipe that you want to use and find out exactly where to go and unlock it. The recipes that are locked behind the Level 3 Incursion rooms are too difficult to unlock because of the RNG required to get that room to spawn. We will move these recipes elsewhere. If we find other ones that require too much RNG to get, we'll consider that for them too.


Have you considered adding a safer way to purchase Betrayal crafts from other players?

This is an interesting topic of discussion that extends far beyond just Betrayal Crafting, as there are many game systems that players attempt to trade the rewards of in a trust-based manner. But for Betrayal Crafting, it is potentially possible for us to build it into the trade screen with a decent-sized revamp. We'll keep discussing.


Is there any plan to allow players to opt out of certain past league content?

If a player doesn't want to interact with specific past league content, then it's usually possible to just avoid starting the event.
For example in the case of Abyss or Breach, you can just walk around the object that triggers it. However, this typically feels pretty bad for players, because the content usually comes with generous rewards, so players are missing out if they choose not to play it.

We see the current set of past league content enabled in Path of Exile as a thing that we curate and modify over time. As we get more and more, various leagues will cycle in and out. Please let us know feedback about which ones you enjoy and which you avoid, so that we can bear this in mind.

We have heard the feedback about Intervention encounters in Betrayal and are discussing it.


Clear speed seems to becoming more and more of a necessity with each league mechanic you add. Are you happy with this trend and do you feel like this is affecting build diversity?

People certainly aren't playing Path of Exile at the speed that I initially imagined when we started development back in 2006, but I know that if we made a big effort to slow down top-end play, it'd probably ruin the enjoyment that many of our most-engaged users have. We have seen other games make that mistake and don't want to repeat it.

We are fully aware of clear-speed concerns when designing new league content. We generally try to create content that doesn't require insane clear-speed. Of course, it is true that the faster you can complete an area and get its rewards, the faster you will progress, so there's an implicit incentive to making good (i.e. fast) characters.


As a player who wants to delve and only Delve, is there any way to reduce the reliance on mapping to access Delve content?

The honest answer here is that we believe that game systems like Delve will become boring if you have unlimited access to them
, and so it's important to limit their access by requiring regular Path of Exile play between sessions of special content.

The other factor that is Delve-specific is that rewards from Delve are strong, so it'd be an economic problem if people had more access.

Having said that, Scarabs and other game mechanics can help you trade for more Delve time.

User Info: Ryyaann_Is_Band

1 month ago#4
It has been 18 months since you posted the Trade Manifesto. Do you still stand by it?

This question prompted a long discussion. Many hours of senior developers talking about trade. Our conclusion was: Yes, we do stand by everything we wrote in the manifesto. We are not adding a Trade Market to the PC version of Path of Exile.


Trying to trade in bulk maps, currency, and fragments is incredibly inconvenient and time consuming leading to more time spent attempting to acquire items to play the game rather than actually playing the game. Could improvements to the trade system for these types of items be made to help better facilitate bulk trading?

This question also prompted a long discussion, which turned into a conversation about how people acquire specific maps for Atlas completion. Our current thoughts are that we could make this easier, and so we are considering adding an occasional chance for map bosses to drop a map from an adjacent location. If we go ahead with this in 3.7.0, you'll see it in the Patch Notes.

For now there will be no changes to trade itself related to this.


Have you considered creating an in-game version of the Path of Exile wiki for convenience?

We're probably going to embed a web browser in the client that will be able to load the wiki, trade sites and other community web resources.


Do you think that the last few leagues' mechanics (namely Incursion, Delve, Betrayal, Synthesis) discourage the creation of new characters due to progress (mostly) being character-bound, and if so do you have any plans to address this?

Incursion was per-character but had a low cycle time (11 areas), so you were only losing a small amount of progress if you made a new character.

Delve was initially per-character but we changed this to per-account when this problem became apparent.

Betrayal was per-character and had a longer cycle time than Incursion, but it was not really possible to make this per-account. We don't see a big problem here (you can still come back and finish that particular Mastermind cycle if you want to).

Synthesis was per-character and spawned boss and reward memories rather rapidly, so that you weren't losing a lot of reward state if you started a new character. It would have been hard to make this one per-account because the various memories had specific levels associated with them.

We do consider this when making leagues, and will try to make the right decision. We don't want people to have anything that would discourage them from trying out new characters.


Do you plan on improving the drops from map bosses so they feel as rewarding as the rest of the map, or are you happy with them as they are?

Map bosses generally don't drop a lot of items relative to the rest of the map, but they also usually don't take a lot of time to fight. Some bosses die quickly, and others are more substantial fights. We are going to add extra monsters (that yield item and experience) to the substantial boss fights (during their mitigation phases) to make them worth the time of fighting them more. Examples of maps that have been modified in this way in 3.7.0 are Belfry, Lava Lake, Sunken City and Gardens. We'll keep propagating this to more maps over time.


Is there a reason there are a limited number of balance changes to skills in every expansion?

Each expansion is planned, developed, tested and released within 13 weeks. This limits the number of specific skills that we can change and fully test within that cycle. The testing of these skills has to occur within the context of other changes in that expansion (like if we're hypothetically changing how say Accuracy or Leech work, then a skill that cares about these needs to be tested under the new systems).

With 3.6.0 and 3.7.0, we are quite pleased with the number of existing skills we have been able to improve.

User Info: Ryyaann_Is_Band

1 month ago#5
How do you handle QA and development processes? Do you work with different teams on different parts of the game or do you work feature by feature with everyone involved? Do you use Agile methods?

Everyone generally works on everything that fits within their specialisation. Sometimes we assign a specific person to work on some long-term project, but most of the time the developers are working on a combination of features for the next expansion, fixes to the last one and longer-term changes. It helps keep enough variety in the work, and lets people work on things they are good at and feel ownership of particular systems in the game.

Path of Exile development doesn't use Agile methodology, but because we have a rapid release cycle we do get many of its advantages.


Does GGG split bugs/patching into its own team, or are the same people responsible for making the new content?

The same people work on making content and fixing that content if it's broken
. Having someone fix it who didn't work on it would introduce even more problems.


At what point during a development cycle do QA get to properly test a new league's content?

They test it throughout its development, but only get to do serious testing in the last few weeks once all the parts of it are in.
For some leagues that came in too late, this period has indeed been too short. This is something we are working on improving.


Are there any plans to update the game engine?

We update it constantly with each new league and have released dozens of major improvements over the last few years. Our engine team grows by the year, and there's plenty more to come.


Do you plan to release Path of Exile in the PlayStation store in Japan?

Ideally, but this involves getting a Japanese translation which will take some time and resources.


Are there any plans to change the six second disconnect timer duration?

Yes, but we haven't prioritised them.


Do you have any plans to make sustaining maps less tied-up with past league content like Betrayal, Delve and Incursion?

We have two options. We can either make it so that you don't get maps during past league content (and buff the non-map rewards), or have some reliance on those systems for providing map drops.

Because people tend not to play content that doesn't have map drops, we picked the option where league content drops maps.


Can you comment on the state of spam bots in chat?

We are putting resources into this and while it appears from the outside that this is having no effect because there's still spam, we're stopping almost all of it and hope to improve it over time.


You must have some vague plans on what development will look like after 4.0.0. Are we going to see any major changes to how things are running?

All our efforts are focused on 3.7.0, 3.8.0, 3.9.0, 3.10.0 and any other expansions leading up to and including 4.0.0.
We plan to tackle what the post-4.0.0 world looks like when we get to it.


When a new league is in development, is it designed for it to be implemented into the core game?

Not always. For Bestiary, Incursion, Delve and Betrayal, we had a specific plan to put them in the game together with the 3.5.0 release. Most leagues are assessed after we've had a chance to see how the community feels about them.


Will we see any improvements to guilds?

Yes, but it's not a high priority.
We have to get ahead on core development before we can focus on complex QoL features. Having said that, we are always keen to hear about how the guild functionality can be improved in case some of those improvements can come earlier than the hard ones.

User Info: Ryyaann_Is_Band

1 month ago#6
Will there ever be South African servers?

We can add servers to a new region once we know we have access to a reliable server host at cost-effective pricing, enough local players to justify the region, and tests of the servers meet our reliability standards
. I don't know which of these issues has prevented South Africa in particular, but will bring it up with the server team to make sure it's considered.


Hypothetically speaking, if every single developer on the Path of Exile team gets horribly sick for three months and you have no time to develop any content for a new league - your only option is to re-run one of the past leagues. Which one do you pick and why?

This is a tricky one. Until recently, our answer would have been Legacy, but we've gradually added those old league mechanics in so many places that Legacy wouldn't be quite as impactful as it was the first time we ran it. Most of the recent leagues have been added to the core game, so re-running something like Delve isn't that much of a big difference from the core game.

Having said that, we're constantly looking for smart league designs that don't require insane amounts of content and are fun to play. Hopefully we can stockpile a few of these for the future, in case that hypothetical plague hits.


Are you going to continue the unique item balance changes that you began in Betrayal?

I expect the scope and nature of unique balance changes is going to vary from expansion to expansion. In 3.7.0, let's just say there are certainly some uniques being rebalanced, as you'll find out soon.


Do you have a stash tab planned for fossils and resonators?

We plan to make fossils stack game-wide and then evaluate whether a tab is still needed
. There are some small technical hurdles we need to first overcome before this stacking is possible.


Are the office hours fixed time or are most people working with flextime? Or are most of the teams shift-based, at least for the support and technical teams (e.g. network / server infrastructure)?

The development team can work whenever they want, though most people are typically in the office during the middle of the day regardless of whether they work early or late. Our customer support team are shift-based and and our server team have an on-call roster.


Has the port of Path of Exile to PlayStation made any advancements towards controller support for PC?

We're interested in doing this but there's no timeline for it yet.
It's tricky because we'd have to swap out the game's entire user interface at runtime.


[Console questions]


In 3.6.0 you stopped supporting DirectX 9. Will you stop supporting 32-bit clients as well?

Eventually, yes.
The 64-bit client is significantly better from a memory point of view and once the rate of people using 32-bit versions of Windows drops low enough, we'll be able to eventually stop supporting it. This won't be in the near future.


Are there any plans to rework what race seasons were and bring them back in the foreseeable future? Or, in other words, any short event series that lasts longer than a weekend and is available for everyone, not only streamers or players who signed up for certain private leagues?

Races are awesome, but the big race seasons we used to run weren't the best way to approach it. Interest dropped off pretty fast during a season and a lot of development time was spent on their rewards. The seasons also caused players to feel they had to wake up at all hours to participate in as many races as possible.

We have plans to extend our Private League system into a Custom Race system. We'll post more details about this when it's getting closer to release.

This doesn't mean we won't be running races in the meantime, just that they probably won't be structured as formal seasons.

User Info: Ryyaann_Is_Band

1 month ago#7
Now that Method has a Path of Exile team are you going to support/sponsor more community race events?

We are providing prizes for four events which will see the winner of each event flown to New Zealand to compete in the racing finals at ExileCon in November. Two of the races are run by community members, one by an esports company, and one by us. We hope to increase this support in the future.


Why is the BEAT race an invitational with only top streamers invited?

That's the format of the race they wanted to run, and we trust their decision
. They consulted with community members and racers about how they wanted it run, and checked it with us.

We understand that there has been a lot of community concern about the fairness of this race's ExileCon prize package not being available for general entry. The other three races which yield ExileCon prize packages are public entry. We should have clarified this in the initial post, and explained the structure in advance. I am very sorry for the poor communication on this. We'll have more information about the other races in the news as soon as we have dates locked in.


What should we expect from the race finale at ExileCon?

We're flying over the four people who win the ExileCon prize packages throughout the year, to compete on the ExileCon stage in the grand racing finals. This will be streamed live and casted so you can watch from home if you're not attending in person. The exact details of the race structure and its prizing have not been announced yet. We're expecting it to be a very interesting competition!

This year's experiment of having four races feed into a finals is also a small-scale test to see how it goes. We're hoping to ramp support for this up in the future.


Would you consider creating more alternative game modes besides private leagues such as the previous April's fool game mode, Battle Royale?

We really enjoy making things like Royale, and would love to create more when we find time. Realistically, our schedule leading up to 4.0.0 is packed enough that I don't expect us to release any new alternate game modes like Royale before then, unless we think of a brilliant idea that is so awesome that we can't help but distract ourselves with it.


Why did you choose Flashback over Mayhem and Turmoil for the end-of-league Synthesis event?

Feedback and data shows us that players prefer to play in unvoided leagues so that they can keep the items. We also wanted to provide an opportunity for players to complete their Synthesis challenges, which wouldn't have been possible from Mayhem or Turmoil

From a design philosophy point of view, our team feels that a slow burn event is better than the quick rush of adrenaline that Mayhem gives you. You get a variety of different mods per area, rather than a giant number of one specific thing. It's something we enjoy more and we felt that players would as well. Historically, there was much higher engagement with Flashback than with the other event types.

Having said that, we have definitely heard your feedback and will bear it in mind for future events.


What about another Legacy League as an end-of-league event?

It's a popular request, but Legacy actually has a number of problems.
For a start, it was designed around difficulty levels which were removed in 3.0.0, so work would be required to unlock leaguestones in a different way. Secondly, most of the Legacy league content has gradually made its way into the game in different forms, so would feel less exclusive. The amount of work required to fix up this league to work as an event would be significantly more than we could put in at the moment. Possible for the future though!

User Info: Ryyaann_Is_Band

1 month ago#8
Have you considered doing a small event around a single mechanic or aspect of the game? Like all items dropping white and increased currency drops?

that'd be a lot of fun. Though we have to be careful when announcing events to make sure there's something for everyone. Maybe if we bring back some type of groups of events like race seasons, we can run some like this with more of an emphasis on the economy for players who are driven by that.

As a side note, there's no need to increase currency drops when all items drop as normal (white) items. It's quite a lot of fun to actually have a use for the current currency that does drop. Try it out in a private league!


Keep an eye on the news next week for the second set of answers!

- Good stuff regarding maintaining the game to be pretty hardcore with a ton of depth, but making it more accessible over time. Where dumbing-down-the-game would be akin to lowering the ceiling in an analogy, they haven't been doing that. They've been lowering the floor. while still having a very high ceiling.

- Hit the mark with the comment about crafting / powercreep too. It's more-so possibility/theoretical powercreep to those that spend the copious amounts of time/currency to get it, rather than just being a generic boost to every player. Even in Synthesis, it's not like everyone's rolling around in Onslaught Boots and whatnot

- I'm surprised players might find it boring being the answer to Infinite Free Delve tbh. I would've figured the oppurtunity cost being Sulphite associated with Delve being the key factor. There's a reason why every time you Delve, you get insane rewards/expensive Fossils. If they were to make Delve completely free, then they'd have to nerf the crap out of the rewards + everyone and their grandmother farming Delve, so Fossils become 1 Alt each

- It'll forever be a controversial topic, but I'm glad they're sticking to their guns about no Auction House, as an AH is essentially what killed Diablo 3, both in the short-term (AH problems itself) and long-term (did so much damage to the game that Blizzard had to remove Trading altogether) aspects. I don't reckon most people want PoE to end up being perma-SSF lol. There is of course, the reply of "But it's just one sole example of it being bad"... but considering even a triple A titan like Blizzard couldn't stop the damage with all of their resources on a Diablo title, one example is all you need to know not to entertain the idea or mess around with an AH. With that being said, I'd love for them to test a Currency-only or Stackable-only AH just for one League, and then if it proves it, just scrap it entirely for the next.

- As for Map bosses, I just think they need to be able to drop +2 level again (or was it +3?) and it'll be fine

- Really good buff for HC players being able to alter the 6s d/c timer. Though I'm calling it now that the first few weeks will be people complaining that they set their own threshold too low (so they d/c themselves when someone so much a sneezes in the same room as the modem/router lol)

- Hmmm, if their schedule looks like this, then maybe we'll see 4.0.0 in June 2020?
----- 3.7.0 = June to September
----- 3.8.0 = September to December
----- 3.9.0 = December to March 2020
----- 3.10.0 = March 2019 to June 2020
----- 4.0.0 = Possibly June 2020?

- f*** yes! Being able to stack Fossils and Resonators = GG
(edited 1 month ago)
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