Our intention with this document is to describe the current state of Path of Exile’s beta version (as of version 0.9.1 in August 2011) and describe how we plan to improve it in the future. You can treat it as documentation of the reasoning behind certain features, and our current thoughts on what we feel is wrong with them or what intended changes we have in the pipeline during beta.
We’ve decided to make this public so that we can get feedback from the greater community. Please understand that Path of Exile is an unfinished Closed Beta and that we’re planning to revamp or change most of the game over the next few months. We’re actively seeking feedback, and are keen to experiment to find the right solutions to many issues.
The topics are presented in no particular order. For the purpose of scheduling, features are short term (a few weeks, high priority), medium term (a few months, definitely before Open Beta), or long term (perhaps modified late in Closed Beta, or early in Open Beta). Please note that the “short term” does not mean next patch!
We will add more information to this document over time. There are plenty of things planned that are not yet represented here, but we’ll try to keep it as up to date and complete as possible.
If you have any feedback on the below suggestions, please post in the appropriate forums. We welcome feedback from non-beta-testers also.
Current Patch Schedule
0.9.1 addressed a number of early balance/stability issues, as well as introducing some new content and the first version of the new user interface (which will change as we improve it!)
The second patch, 0.9.2, is delayed until early September because Chris, Jonathan, Erik and Brian will be away at PAX in Seattle. The rest of the team will continue to work on this version, but it won’t be deployable until the leads are back.
Acts one and two are currently enabled in the Beta. Development of Act Three is in progress and will be completed by Open Beta. Act Two is missing most of its quests, and they will be enabled gradually in upcoming patches. We expect to have them all done in the medium term.
The quest rewards will be redone. Currently they’re all temporary and relatively simple. We’re going to give away more interesting permanent improvements to characters as well as the obligatory skill gems.
A new user interface was deployed in 0.9.1. Although much nicer than the last, there are plenty of urgent things we are going to fix in the coming weeks. Due to the pressure to get the new UI in for 0.9.1, there are some rough edges that we are improving and will hopefully update soon.
At this stage there are no firm plans to support extensive customisation of the user interface. We will add a zoom feature to the passive skill screen in the short-medium term.
Passive Skill Respecs
Currently there is no way to respec passive skill points on demand. We are periodically resetting them if major balance changes occur, but intend to add actual functionality for this. The current intended plan is that the users accumulate “passive skill refund points” that can be used to refund passive skill points that are not required by other points (i.e. you can’t create unconnected parts of the passive skill tree).
These points will be granted from certain quests in each difficulty level (so that the user can easily accumulate a total of 4-6 or so throughout the lifetime of their character), and from a relatively rare currency item that can drop. (Note that “currency item” does not mean it is purchased with real currency. These are a type of tradeable item used as currency in game).
The purpose of this system is to allow players to fix mistakes in their build, or to do small-scale respecs. We do not want players to be able to completely respec their entire character easily. The game is designed to be fun to play, so if you want to play a Bow character rather than an Axe character, you’re meant to start a new one. Note that if you are extremely high level and very wealthy in game, it’s possibly worth trading for enough respec currency items to perform the changes rather than play to such a high level with that character again. This is a choice we want the player to have to make.
The character screen currently misrepresents some information and will be fixed in the short term. When we’re done, we want our character screen to be the best character screen in any action RPG in terms of accuracy and accessibility of information. This is going to take a lot of iteration, but we feel this is a crucial area of the game to get right. This is an area we’re particularly looking for feedback on.
The damage estimation fields will estimate damage appropriate for the last monster you fought (currently it’s just for an average monster of your level).
It’s worth noting that the layout of the 0.9.1 character screen is temporary and will be changed!
Little of the eventual dialogue is in-game yet, and none of it is voice acted yet. In the short term we plan to make the start of the game more engaging, so that the player has more direction and understanding of what’s going on.
We have 30 or so active skills in so far, and have posted a list of them on the Skills section of the site. Our goal is to get this to over 100 by Open Beta, so expect many of them in subsequent patches. Expect more minion skills, curses, buffs, totems, traps, and heaps of projectile/AoE/melee skills to augment the current selection.
We’ll be adding a lot more support gems, including ones that change the behavior of skills in more substantial ways than the current relatively simple ones.
The beta has pretty much no tutorial (we just drop players in an area full of monsters and let them work out how to play), but that seems to be quite successful so far. It helps that there are plenty of other players for them to talk to in the global chat channel. Having said that, many systems such as the skill gems are extremely complicated and we will need to make substantial improvements to how these are communicated to players.
We plan to support proper chat channels in the long term. Currently a chat channel for each league (which can be hidden). This clearly will not scale well as the beta ramps in size, so we’re probably going to segregate it based on some combination of Difficulty/Act in the short term.
Currently looting is FFA. We will enable the short-timer-allocation system described in the infamous developer discussion thread when we get time (probably in the short term) to see how people feel about that type of allocation. We are very serious about sticking to systems close to FFA.
We’re experimenting with temporary leagues (there’s one on the weekend of the 19th, and will be more in the future). Other league rulesets like Attrition and Cutthroat will also be tested in the short term (probably when we get back from PAX).
PvP is currently not enabled. Many of our PvP plans have been detailed in a recent development diary entry. The first mode that will be enabled (in the short term) is a team based arena mode. Other modes will be added in the medium term. We expect PvP to be quite unbalanced at first, as it has not been extensively tested yet. Our long term goal is to have a very competitive and fair playing field for PvP. We’ll need your feedback to achieve that.
There are several steps to getting our planned trading systems in place. The first one (a trade screen, for safety) should be added in the short term. We’re actually not quite ready to talk about the other trading features yet, but they’ll be discussed in good time. It’s pretty obvious they’ll involve the item linking on the website, of course.
We plan to enable selling items to vendors in the short term.
Our current plan is to have it work as follows: Vendors have a set of recipes of currency items that they offer for given combinations of items you put in your side of the trade. Players can try out different combinations of items to see what the vendor offers. If they find an interesting recipe, they can keep it to themselves or share it with other players. Each vendor can have different recipes based on what they specialise in.
Some example recipes (these are just made up on the spot, and are not actual ones from the testing copy):
hand in two magic (blue) items for an identification scroll
hand in a quality=20 weapon for a whetstone
hand in six rare items for a chaos sphere
bring a specific NPC a magic version of each dagger base type in return for a high-ish level currency item
These recipes allow people to offload their junk, upgrade some certain types of existing currency items, and collect sets of arbitrary items to get rewards. It’ll encourage trading (for the missing pieces of sets), and the information disparity will reward players who discover new recipes. We intend to change the recipes available at each NPC over time.
Once this is in, we’ll rebalance the currency system to take it into account.
We have substantial plans for the minimap, so it offers more contrast against all the different environments we support. We’re going to offer some options to change its size/position also, so that players who don’t want to see through it have some relief. Many people have asked for a mode where it’s in the corner of the screen.
Party members (and minions) will be shown in the HUD with their health values. We will add this in the short term.
Purchasable microtransactions will be added in the long term – we have to finish the core game first!
There is one remaining hybrid character class that has not been announced (Dexterity/Intelligence). It is mostly complete, pending some additional animations and several skills. It will be enabled in the short-medium term.
Passive Skill Tree
Although the current passive skill tree layout is a big improvement on the previous ones we had on the Alpha realm, we’re feel we can improve it substantially and want to iterate further. There will be updates to the tree throughout Beta, including at least one complete revision.
We intend to experiment with having each character class start at their own position in the tree (with a complete redesign so that these starting areas are appropriate, of course). This will further reinforce character identity while still allowing players to “splash” off-attribute skills by exploring the tree in that direction. More information on these changes will be made available as make progress on this. This update should be available in the medium term.
Being able to zoom in and out a bit is frequently requested. It’s easy to enable zoom-in (though of course it gets you closer to art that we have designed to look great at the default distance). Zooming out is more technically challenging because there are performance, art and gameplay consequences. These are being investigated.
Class Identity, Attributes and Requirements
Class identity is an area of the game that is of great importance to us currently. We are going to devote serious resources towards making the classes feel more distinct while still encouraging people to experiment with cross-class builds and versatile skill/item choices. The aforementioned change to the passive skill tree (each class starting at a distinct location) will help create a different early-game for each class.
We’re probably going to further differentiate the classes with specific base stats that affect their starting abilities in certain areas. For example, Witches will cast faster than other classes by default.
We will probably add properties to attributes (for example, having points in strength directly translate into Life) to reward people for specialising in their character’s core abilities (after all of the changes made to tempt people into building diverse characters).
There will be substantial changes to the formula behind the requirements of items. We changed this as recently as a week before Beta, and do intend to fix it up some more. There are currently some bad consequences of the way we calculate it (a Marauder finds it easy to specialise in Dex/Int items but hard to specialise in pure Dex items, for example). We want to encourage a situation where players can build diverse characters if they’re willing to splash in other attributes, but they’d better have a good reason for doing so.
We intend to allow players to make their party public so that others can join. Players will be able to search for parties that are appropriate for their level or the boss/quest they’d like to do. This will be added in the medium term.
The number of flask slots you have will become dependant on what type of belt you’re wearing. Higher belts will offer more slots. Some belt mods will globally affect your interaction with flasks (for example, faster healing, more healing, etc). This is planned for the short-medium term.
Support Gem Balance
Our intention is to rebalance support gems to increase their effect on skills, but also to increase their mana consumption. This means that a similar level of damage output can be obtained using fewer support gems, but players who want to make expensive uberskills (and have a character build with a heap of mana to go with it) can do so. Currently, people just pile on every single support gem at the same time, which we’re not happy with. We want to encourage character build diversity.
There are more fixes planned to improve synchronisation and to detect/recover from out-of-sync situations. It will only improve.
We’re not happy with the state of the active/support skill gem descriptions or skill hover descriptions. They’re confusing and could represent the information in a much clearer way. This is something we’re looking to solving in the short term.
More social UI features will be enabled in the short-medium term. These include ignore lists, friends lists, player profiles/pvp records, etc.
Damage Mitigation (especially Evasion)
Having dexterity completely aligned with evasion isn’t working well at higher levels because players can be instantly killed. We’re going to change how the classes mitigate damage in order to make it fairer. There will still be damage reduction, evasion and energy shield, but we will probably move away from Rangers being 100% evasion, for example. This is a major change, and we’ll try to get it in in the short term.
All item icons/names in the game are currently temporary. Correct sequences for these with better art progression will be added in the medium term.
Frost Wall will be changed to have life so that monsters can attack it and so that it isn’t so unfair in PvP.
NPC Chat UI
The chat options when talking to NPCs are currently pretty simple and will be updated. There will be voice acting. Shop options will be separated from the chat options. Chat topics will have “new” next to them if you haven’t heard them before.
People have requested the ability to compare the hovered item with items in the same slots that you have equipped. We will add this functionality in the short-medium term, so that it compares items if you hold down a certain key. That way it’s available on demand and doesn’t cause UI clutter.
Spell Critical Strike Rating
Spell critical strike rating is not as balanced as well as we want and it will get some attention in the short term.
Weapon Properties/Implicit Mods
We’re going to make sure that all weapon types feel different in terms of their properties. For example, maces might stun easier. Currently the two handed weapons feel pretty homogeneous. This will change!
Weapon switch functionality is intended and will be added in the medium term.
Currently, bosses don’t drop particularly well because it’s too easy to farm them. Once we get something in to make farming a little harder, we can give them really decent drops.
We have plans to improve the variety of monsters in Act One and especially Act Two. Many of them will be given new interesting skills to promote tactical play. In addition, most of the game's boss fights will be made substantially more interesting. These changes should occur in the medium term.
The unique items currently in the Beta are very temporary and will be removed when we replace them with the correct items in the medium term. Our unique item philosophy is to create useful but not overpowered items that have niche uses that make them appropriate for a specific build. It might be reasonable to expect that a competitive character has a couple of unique items at most (providing essential uncommon mods in the right places), with the rest of their items rare or magic.
Quest rewards are currently set to just skill gems. We have a pile of interesting quest rewards planned (skill points, partial respec points, permanent stat gain, etc) and will enable these in the short-medium term. When we do, previous quest reward gems will be kept but you will be able to claim the reward of each quest (to get the new reward) again.
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