A couple of days back, in What Are They Thinking?, I wrote about, among other things, the lack of attribute points in Diablo 3.

So why was that feature removed? According to a quote from Jay Wilson on the battlenet forums, this is why:

“For the most part attribute spending in Diablo II was a great way – when you didn’t know how to play the game – to break your character. Most people didn’t know where to put them and when they found out the answer was always kind of weird like “Put 5 points in Energy and then all the rest of the points in Vitality.”

Really? Was that a dig at the old Bizzard North team? You know, the more these guys open their mouths, the more I wonder if they know how people play games.

Of course we’re going to make mistakes the first time. This happens in just about every RPG that features stats and skills. So what? Is it the end of the world? Does he think gamers are stupid and can’t learn from their mistakes?

My first Amazon wasn’t built properly, and I had a hard time getting through. No surprise, because the first time is always the learning experience. What did I know about the opposition? What did I know about how well or poorly some skills might perform? What did I know about incrementing stats?

Nothing, naturally. But by the time the game was over, I knew a lot more. And I played a second game with a much better character. And I enjoyed the game much more, too. There is a certain satisfaction in learning, in getting a handle on a game, in feeling you’ve achieved something.

There is also satisfaction in building a powerful character. One that is strong intrinsically. Sure, we want goodies. As I pointed out in Loving Loot, we all want to find those Neat Items. It’s one of the things that keeps us playing. But Neat Items should be an adjunct, not the goal, when building a character.

Now Blizzard wants to take this away. They want to control the stats. Then they want us to depend on items, like the new runes they’re adding in. Get your power and stat increases from items.

In other words, they want us to build our characters with crutches. How ridiculous is that? Looking for drops so we can be better. I can get through Diablo 2 in Normal mode without a lot of high-powered stuff. Besides, you don’t get much of that in Normal, anyway.

It seems to me that Blizzard is designing this for the obsessives who play on Hell difficulty and farm selected locations for drops. They only play through to qualify for Hell, then they go after gear. In Hell mode, you do need gear. I’ve done it once, and I know.

So yeah, for these players, after a certain point, stats don’t mean a great deal. But should the whole game be designed around that? For those of us who don’t play obsessively, why take away the satisfaction of building an entire character?

Saying that first-time players make errors is not a reason. It’s only a slap in the face. Because when a game is good, we go back to it again, with better understanding and better characters that we design, irrespective of any items. We’re not morons, Jay. Give us back our attribute points.

Jay Wilson quote on battlenet