I decided to check out Path of Exile, and found it pretty interesting. In a similar vein to my Diablo 3 thread, I thought it would be fun to discuss some of the concepts they utilise - I already mentioned their end-game maps in another thread, but I think some of their other ideas could make interesting additions to muds as well.
Some of the things I particularly liked:
* Very interesting take on skills. Stats and skills have been combined into a huge skill tree, the smaller skill nodes give a stat bonus while the larger ones give passive bonuses. Activate skills come from gems, which can be used (and level up) while slotted into your gear. So to give an example, "raise zombies" would come from a gem, while a passive skill might increase the number of minions you can raise, or make them tougher. You can freely move gems between items, but there are three colours of gem and slot, so for example if you focus on red (warrior) skills, you'll typically want warrior-style gear, because it'll have more red slots.
* No gold. Trading is done through a barter system, and NPC shopkeepers will make you offers specific to what you're offering them (or offer items for trade in exchange for something specific). In practice, most transactions are done for fragments of specialised consumables that serve a utility function, such as making a normal item magical, or changing the colours of slots on an item, etc. So in a way they are a sort of currency, but one with an innate value and direct application.
* Health/mana potions. Torchlight II uses the stack-and-spam approach, while Diablo 3 went with cooldown between drinks, neither of which I'm particularly fond of. But in PoE, you can equip up to 5 empty potion bottles, and they gradually fill up over time. Each potion requires multiple sips to empty, they gradually refill, and you can upgrade to bigger and better potions later on. I wasn't sure about the concept initially, but after trying it out I've decided that I very much like it.
* Dark and atmospheric. It has the same sort of dark feel as the earlier Diablo games, which I very much like. It also has little touches which are nice, such as your arrows sticking into opponents.
* Payment model: It uses the standard pay-for-perks system that muds have been using since the early to mid 90s, or "free to play" as most graphical muds call it, but where many of these systems are rather obnoxious in the advantages they give, PoE only offers utility - extra character slots, larger stash, etc. I've discussed different payment models in the past, and this is definitely within my comfort zone.
Some of the things I didn't like:
* Inventory tetris. Like Torchlight and the earlier Diablo games, different objects have different sizes, and this can make it a pain to organise your inventory. It's one of the few changes Diablo 3 made that I think was a definite improvement. Torchlight II also has the same problem, but it's much less noticable, probably due to the ease with which you can transfer gear to your pet and then send it off to sell everything, without needing to make a run back to town.
* The map. I don't much like the way the map looks, I find it harder to see what's going on. You can adjust the transparency and even the position (I use a corner map without transparency) but it still looks quite ugly and it's not easy to use.
* Interface. It's not as smooth or as easy to see what's going on as Torchlight II, and even Diablo 3 is better in this regard. In particular, the targeting controls don't feel very accurate - I created a melee character, but I find it very difficult to click on the opponent I want to hit, I usually end up running around them more than hitting them. I tried ranged combat to see if that was better, and it was more accurate, but after killing an opponent I wouldn't switch to a new one - I kept firing arrows at the same spot, and had to release the mouse and wait a short period before I could target someone else.
The game is still in closed beta (although you can gain early access by purchasing $10 worth of game-perk credits), however it's apparently moving into open beta on 23rd January. I think it's well worth looking at to see some of their design ideas, because while Diablo 3 tried to simplify and streamline, and Torchlight II took the tried-and-true concepts and polished them until they shined, Path of Exile is actively trying to be different. That's not necessarily a winning combination for a successful game, but it makes it very interesting to look at from the perspective of a game designer.
If anyone else has tried it, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I've not really got into it heavily (I'm only level 11) so I don't know what it's like at the later stages.
Here's my thoughts on their concepts. After paying to test the beta, I didn't download the game because I realized that I'm tired of paying to beta test every freaking game that comes out(Especially AAA titles). When did it become the standard to charge full price for unfinished shit.
I should open a burger stand and sell buns with mustard and tell them they can get the rest when I get out of beta.
You paid for beta and then didn't even bother to download the client? What a wasted opportunity.
Not completely, it's not like I lost my beta access. Besides that, it was with a gift card. I've just reached my point where I'm done paying to beta test every new thing that comes out. It's so bad that almost every AAA title is a piece of crap and requires months of patching before it's "ready".
I played a great deal of this game before Diablo came out. It's surprising to me to hear that it's still in beta. I would assume they are having some serious issues getting funding to fully bring the game to market, which is a shame because I thought the game was pretty good for a indy studio making a Diablo-clone slash online multiplayer-style game. I really enjoyed my time playing PoE and even sunk some cash into the project. But, I don't think it has the retention that games like this one would need. It's just too similar to everything else out there and it does get boring pretty fast. It's just a light substitute for the real thing and I can't foresee it doing well in the long-term when I played it. I can only hope it does though, the developers sure seem dedicated to what they are doing over there in NZ.
Minor thread necro, but one more "me too" for PoE. I've found it to be a refreshing change from Diablo 3 and it has a sharper difficulty curve with enough fluidity in your talent selection to truly let you hang yourself. Choices matter as respecs are done one point at a time. Usually beyond level 20 it's just faster to start a new character instead.
I've been playing off/on every other week or so and just cleared normal difficulty today. There are three acts with three difficulties in total. Slowly grinding my way to end-game so I can try out the maps feature.