Diablo 3: Odd Gear Mixtures

If you check out the top DPS people (or even the top EHP) on diabloprogress.com, you’ll often encounter odd combinations of gear these people. I find it interesting how people determined what the best in slot items would be to achieve these means. For instance, seeing monk gear on a demon hunter, or monk pants being used by wizards and witch doctors. It gets weirder when you start seeing barbarians using witch doctor gear. Of course, to achieve their end of being the top, they’ll have to find certain combinations to push those numbers higher.

That said, it got me thinking what the point of having set gear was when most people end up ignoring the entire set? Some people might just go for a few bonuses, like a demon hunter’s critical hit chance set bonus or the dexterity bonus from a monk’s set. This may work out depending on the elements in a given set. But overall, the way gear has been designed in the game thus far, it feels poorly thought out considering that people end up having bizarre piece meal style combinations.

Part of the current issue is the game play styles. At the moment, PVE dictates either top DPS or EHP. I think a lot of people tend to favor DPS overall so that they can cut through higher monster powers. As a result, you see this odd combinations of gear. However, the end problem becomes the near cookie cutter play style that people seem to complain about both in appearance/gear and potentially talents.

Now, this may alter when PVP comes out. Also, this can be altered for those who seek to paragon level or farm lower monster powers. But it feels as though the game needs even more variety in terms of gear. A lot of the variable gear comes from rares since they can roll better stats at times. However, rares still shouldn’t beat out legendaries and set items if such an item can exist.

I think Diablo 3 needs to put in more set items and legendaries. Make it so that the bonuses are a little more varied or that there can be more combinations that help optimize high end DPS rather than a few random rolls. For instance, what about having weapons beyond manticores, for instance, that can do competitive DPS but with some interesting abilities like life on hit (yes, I realize you can get life on hit with a manticore, but you’ll also sacrifice some stat like a socket). Or perhaps something besides Echoing Fury for the main hand. Or maybe more class set items like gloves, shoulders, bracers and pants for a demon hunter.

Either way, I think the high end DPS at the moment is quite good. It’s more of a matter of adding more variety to that existing chart so there’s more choices for gearing.

The Best Code Written and Myth of Academia

Yesterday, I had lunch with some friends and two people mentioned that they lacked a proper college degree. Somehow they felt that having a proper college degree has hurt them in some way. While that part might have some truth, it’s not the whole story. The conversation led me to de-construct the notion of academics and practicality with what you learn in school. Ultimately, I went down the path of my chosen profession (technology) and asked this one question: what is the best code written?

Some answers given were “the most efficient” or the “fastest.”

In my estimation, the best code written is that which makes the most money.

What!?!?!?!?!?!

I’m certain many people in the industry and in universities alike will have extremely conflicting opinions on the subject. There was a similar discussion on WWE Legends where someone asked who was the best wrestler ever? While there will always be great technical wrestlers, people often times will go back to guys like Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin because of their box offices and/or what they accomplished for the wrestling industry.

In that vein, the best written code is that which gets all the cash. Why is that? Why isn’t it the most efficient, or the algorithmically precise or things which solve the most complex things in life? Simple: no one cares. People who care would pay the money and use that code. If code is really great, people would have no problem forking over money (or other forms of compensation) in order to use it. Hence, why companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Blizzard, etc. in this vein write the “best code.”

The “best code” can be efficient, solve complex problems and be aesthetically pleasing, but these are not necessary requirements. They usually are a part of the reason why a product can sell. For instance, Google’s view on making everything speedy and responsive is one of the reasons why they are so popular. For a long time, Blizzard was held in high esteem for having relatively bug free games. Facebook has solved the issue of helping you finding your friends in the world. So these cases show why the type of software works.

However, some people might think just because code does similar things it can be the “best code” written. This to me is a huge myth. At the end of the day, computers just will end up processing code all the same. End users won’t give a shit what the code looks like nor how it was written as long as it solves their problems. But more importantly, even if code is well written, when no one uses it, code essentially has zero value. It’s that simple.

I wanted to relate this to some personal experiences I’ve had with regards to various work environments I’ve been in and my own projects. For many years, I had made attempts to create my own projects for the web, but none of them succeeded (obviously). However, I also worked at some high profile companies. In only one case, did I see anything close to both the near ideal engineering environment and code base. However, it was for a well established company. In another case, I worked for a social media content company. The site I worked on had mediocre code that we were slowly improving over time. But the more striking part was two other sites that I discovered were purchased for $5 million a piece. In those situations, the two sites had some of the most god awful code. However, they generated revenue, had high traffic and a good community.

Then I worked at a domain name company where my coworkers were from excellent schooling (Caltech, Stanford, UCLA, USC, etc.). We attempted to put process in place, holding numerous meetings to gather requirements, think through all the little issues and then come up with an architecture that would be able to scale and handle all types of use cases. At the end of the day, big fights broke out, people got laid off (me) or quit. However, all those meetings, which lasted around 6 of the 7 months I was there, went nowhere and the code ended up being a hacked up version.

I might be biased in getting laid off but I think if we managed to write “crap” code that made money and managed to penetrate the market at the right time with the fever against ICANN, we probably would have had a chance to do well (even if the business model sucked at the time; that said, more domains were released over time so the idea wasn’t bad, just the management and implementation).

Going back to the lunch, my new friend did ask me whether the projects gave me any enjoyment or betterment. While I did learn some things such as my limits, weaknesses and a few techniques that I could use later on, I do feel that my time would have been better spent overall chasing women (since quite a few projects I was doing was in Japan at the time).

But let’s put it another way. When you’re employed, you’re not going to be building what you want. You’ll never write the best code because most of the time you’ll have little insight into what you really need to build. The requirements gathering phase will always be extremely vague because product people, project managers and software managers alike (as well as higher levels of management) will do the bare minimum to define every aspect. Most likely, they too will never have a full view of what they want to accomplish. But then again this is software and if we wrote everything perfectly on the first try, why would it ever evolve?

So why this rant? Part of this rant has come from an article I read recently about the problems of academic computing vs business computing. The article goes to discuss how universities tend to oversimplify the problems students need to solve by providing only the easiest examples.  Also, the theories of software engineering and coding, while having their place, would tend to not be used at all in practice once you get into the industry.

What academia does provide is a foundation for problem solving and recognizing certain patterns with a few solutions for those patterns. But it does not attempt to provide you with all solutions just enough tools to get to the next step.

Is this a necessary thing for creating the “best code?” Not really. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. can all tell you differently. If you’re motivated, energetic, full of ideas and willing to improve/learn, you can write the “best code.” But just having a degree does not equate the “best code” nor being the best programmer.

On a side note, in my career, I haven’t encountered many computer science degree wielding engineers. The ones that had a legitimate computer science degree tended to be on the managerial side whereas the better coders were mostly self taught and/or college drop outs (some didn’t even bother attending college). I think since they didn’t have the indoctrination of academia, they’ve felt compelled to be better than their compatriots. Also, the people in school who did the best in terms of grades were not necessarily great programmers. They simply could take test better, or worse they cheated on test and homework assignments.

I think this is why guys like Peter Thiel and Larry Ellison feel that academia is a waste of time. In many ways, they are right. It isn’t uncommon to find people with degrees doing something completely unrelated. Also, you’ll frequently meet people who complain that after receiving their degree that “they learned nothing at a university.” For me, it’s all about satisfying expectations. I think that people feel entitled to some job after college that relates directly to what they’ve done. But if you choose something like liberal arts, what opportunities can you get easily outside of teaching?

From a numbers game point of view, school (definitely in America) can be a waste of time and money. Take masters degrees for instance like an MBA. A friend of mine once said that anything less than a top 10/25 school is worthless. Why? Because no top business will ever recruit from there. Another friend who works as an architect has an MBA from UC Davis. When I told him that I considered getting an MBA, he dissuaded me from it. He pointed to himself as an example. I can cite numerous other people who all felt the same way.

The time and money it’ll take you to obtain a masters degree (say 2 years on average) implies roughly $100k debt and potentially $200k (or more) of lost income (where I assume that in a programmer’s case, that a decent programmer can earn $100k/year these days). Also, there’s no guarantee that after getting a masters degree (or anything for that matter) that you get the job you want or any job that matters.

But raw skills, experience and a proven track record will always outweigh a straight out degree. If your code increases revenue, traffic, usage, etc. those aspects will qualify you as one of the “best programmers.” As an English major and as someone who has worked for great companies and has made it to the level of CTO, I can attest to this.

Lastly, don’t forget that academic institutions have their own agendas. School != some godly entity that will look for your best interest. Schools are run by people all the same. Not by some benevolent deity who will serve your needs. Schools serve their own needs, which is to sell more books, pay for professors, get more research grants, more prestige, more rewards and so on. Professors themselves want you to buy into their philosophies, their schools of thought, so they can continue their research and have more publications sold and be given more research grants for what they want to do. When professors ardently defend themselves against people like Peter Thiel, they simply are rationalizing their own personal experiences, but not the workforce at large.

At any rate, I hope this article will help convince you that at the very least you should stop beating yourself over the head for not writing academic code. Academic code is useless and belongs in textbooks. In fact, I think they shouldn’t even attempt to use that as examples since it only gives people bad ideas of how things ought to be. Having a sense of balance and understanding how to get things done is more important. Also, being confident in oneself in their own abilities while striving to better themselves at all times. But most of all, just get things done so you can collect a nice paycheck for all that hard work you’ve done.

How I Should Have Never Left Japan in the First Place

Only in retrospect can we clearly see. And at this point, I finally see the whole picture. My whole picture. What I should have done in the first place. And that thing is not leaving the first time.

Back when my dad had his stroke, I panicked. I feared for him. But honestly, the damage was already done. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I made things worse by coming back and taking him to a (poor) doctor.

At that point in my life, things started to look better just before I had called. I had a girlfriend (some problems), a decent job, friends and a place I liked living at. My life started to feel not so chaotic.

Stress from the job and my dad’s situation hindered my ability to rationalize properly. I thought I could save my dad at that time. I thought that it was my duty to go back to America and help him.

Someone at work did say that I had my own life to live. I thought it was really selfish of her to state something so boldly. But was she necessarily wrong?

Of course, everything in this world boils down to perspective. There isn’t a right nor wrong answer. It’s what you choose to accept. At the end of the day, you can only be responsible for yourself. Not the actions of others no matter how twisted they want to skew your situation. That’s the real truth.

The thing is that after all these years I realize that I’m more miserable in my life than ever. The problems never end and there isn’t a day where I’m not stressed out. I don’t know how much more I can take. I feel ulcers in my stomach and I know my blood pressure is really high. I don’t eat well and just gave up more or less and live day-by-day.

I think if I just ignored everything in America and stayed in Japan, my conscious wouldn’t have been great but I think psychologically I would’ve done better. I had a better support system out there and more confidence in myself overall. Sure, I would’ve missed out on some great work opportunities in America but I think my life would have been better.

I let too many things go by returning to America. At this point in my life, I don’t think it was worth it. All my personal ambitions now make me realize that I had these silly dreams that probably weren’t meant to be. Either that or I simply blew my chances by going back and forth and not really committing to something.

No doubt part of us just wants to be able to go back to the way things were. In the case of my family, I always had that vision of my parents being around and me being able to take them to a nice Vegas trip where I could buy them the best food and give them back everything that they had given to me. Or maybe it’s just this illusion in my head and that my efforts would never have been appreciated no matter what.

Maybe part of the problem is that I try to push these visions of what I think reality ought to be onto other people. But in truth like my mom and dad, they already had chosen their destiny. There wasn’t anything that I could do to alter it. Not some silly Mark Zuckerberg wannabe American Dream thing that comes out of nowhere.

Still I miss so much out there. The food, the people, the sights, the sounds, my old apartment in Uchida, the little convenient store across the street, Kitasenju and the gym I’d go to every night when I could. There was so much richness in that life. I felt alive at that point and my situation was, indeed, special. Unfortunately, I never really appreciated it and looking back is all I can do now.

 

 

12-21-2012: The Great Disappointment

It’s a week now with 12-21-2012 having come and gone. Apparently, we all physically survived the imminent end of the Mayan Calendar, what people for the last few years had been predicting as the apocalypse. Once again, prophecies were not fulfilled. Despite all of this hoopla, many people were lured into the belief that the physical end of days were actually upon us.

Why is that?

I believe that the truth lies in that our world sucks. Plain and simple. Just like people wanted “change” when Obama first got elected president, people wanted something to happen. Anything. People will always believe what they want to hear or see. But they still want this utopian/dystopian fantasy to manifest because our world sucks.

All the interpretations of what apocalypse meant had varied so drastically. For instance, the classic interpretation was that some mysterious planet X (also called Nebiru) would show up out of nowhere and wipe us out. Some say that Nebiru also caused the dinosaurs’ extinction. People conjectured that our lack of funds in having more eyes in the sky would prevent us from seeing Nebiru showing up.

Other interpretations were that some alien race would appear on our doorstep and annihilate us or take control. Something like Stargate the movie. Maybe they would conjure a black hole or wormhole that would guide a meteor or earth-like planet to show up.

Of course, we also saw the movie 2012’s vision where catastrophe would strike as a result of the earth going through tsunamis, earthquakes, etc. While there have been catastrophes in recent years, it seems more like the norm but not as a result of a particular date.

At any rate, there were many who used the event to celebrate. Of course, once the smoke cleared the other interpretations of that date began propagating. Now, it was more just simple mathematical error or the arrival of a new calendar. Either way, it’s all hokey pokey nonsense, business as usual.

When I talked briefly with my friend about the situation, he then brought up another event for 2013 that’s now predicted via a computer. So here we go again. Placing our bets on a particular day. What happens when once again that day comes and goes? What does this all prove?

For me, it proves that humans just rationalize what they want to because we’re all miserable. We put all our faith in ideologies and irrational constructs by taking coincidences and putting them together as opposed just recognizing/admitting that things suck and we just have to accept the cards dealt in front of us.

Personally, I wanted to look at the event differently. Everyone has some sort of doubts, myself included. You want to take certain mental precautions in case something does happen. In my case, I felt that in knowing the actual day when the world was supposed to end, I decided to treat myself a little better. Maybe enjoy a few things I normally wouldn’t because I tend to worry too much about the future. In short, I decided to live for the present.

Is just living for the present the only way to live? Of course not. You do want to plan for some things like having children, a family, buying a home, your retirement, etc. At the same time, you can’t predict the future. You never know when some great piece of fortune can strike you one day or misfortune hits you the next. My life is a perfect example of this constant battle.

Yet this whole experience just reinforced what I’ve had a hard time learning over the past few years. You can’t dream the future up and feel entitled that it should happen for you. You have to look what’s right in front of you and deal with that. It’s a hard pill to swallow especially if you’re like me (someone who is a hopeless romantic).

So from now on, I’m just going to do what I’ve been doing with most of the Big Media: ignore it. It’s just noise that makes for speculation and entertainment. Unfortunately, it’s negative entertainment or what I call anxiety entertainment.

Diablo 3: The Controversy of Magic Find

There was an argument going on over at the Blizzard Diablo 3 forums where Athene called out Blizzard on false advertisement with regards to Magic Find. His complaint was that there was no empirical evidence that clearly demonstrates what Magic Find does. He compared the experience of playing his Wizard vs his Demon Hunter. His Demon Hunter is around Paragon level 90 while his Wizard is more or less brand new. Quite quickly, his Wizard found good legendaries whereas his Demon Hunter would take numerous runs before finding even something remotely worthwhile (if at all any).

So the question at the heart of this controversy is really all about the definition of Magic Find. There was an excellent post on a website where players took surveys using gear, etc. and large samples of monsters to demonstrate the probability and workings of Magic Find. The post is quite in depth, using graphs, etc. to expatiate on the premise of how Magic Find works.

However, Athene’s issue is that Magic Find is more or less useless as a statistic and misleading. For myself, I think Magic Find by definition is quite straight forward: it simply is how much magical items that you can find on kills. That’s all it really is. There is some correlation to the quality of gear in the way items are rolled. The post explaining how Magic Find works discusses the basic workings of how items are rolled. In that sense, the gear that you get can get better with higher Magic Find values.

Now, here’s where the real controversy lies. The problem is that while the gear in general can improve in quality, the exact stats you want on an item more than likely will not show up as you’d like. Magic Find’s only guarantees are that the higher the value, the great the chance of rolling on the highest items until you get a base item. Magic Find does not guarantee the item you desperately need.

Magic Find (and Diablo for the most part) is essentially a slot machine. There are two pulls in this; one when you kill a mob and one when you identify the item. The only way to get the items you truly want is just plain numbers and statistics; in other words, you must use numbers and statistics to your advantage, meaning maximizing your Magic Find and continuing to grind away. When you see top items on the Auction House, that’s merely the result of the collective players in Diablo killing tons of creatures and demonstrating their efforts (of course, my paranoia tells me that Blizzard occasionally themselves seed the Auction House to make a percentage, but that’s just my theory).

From personal experience, I feel that Magic Find is working as intended. As I progress in improving my Paragon levels I can see a clear difference in the quality of loot. Most items on average are junk, but before the stats were even worse. I rarely could find anything of note. At the moment, I have been finding better rares and almost one legend per run. The thing I’ve come to accept is that it simply takes time and effort to obtain these items. But they’ll eventually come down the pike.

On a slightly unrelated note, I think if you expect to get legendaries all the time with the best stats, you’re out of luck. You simply cannot play a game like this and get everything that you feel you deserve. That’s why I feel that the only way to really obtain items is to combine your effort with different goals like obtaining Paragon levels or getting keys. Otherwise, you may feel disappointed more often than not.

 

Diablo 3: Balancing Paragon Levels, Making Gold, Gearing and Keys

It’s well documented that the most efficient route for doing Paragon levels is the Alkaizer method. Essentially, you’re running Act 3 Inferno on low monster powers (or none at all) over and over. To make it efficient as possible, you’re not supposed to pick up any loot. Of course, this tactic is primarily for whirlwind barbarians but any class can utilize it.

Some players, like Moldran above, have tweaked the run to their own preference. For myself, I change the run entirely but use the premise that Act 3 is by far the best place to farm in general. My method is to start with Siegebreaker and go until Azmodan. First, I go for full 5 stacks of Nephlam Valor by starting with the Fields of Slaughter. That way, when I get to Siegebreaker, I can maximize things like Magic Find. I feel that the fight with him and the two other bosses are worth doing because they’re fairly simple and have the potential to drop some decent loot.

After slaying Azmodan, I go back to the Keeps Depths Level 1 and kill off a single elite (or pack) that usually hovers in a nearing room. Then I go to up until the room that contains Ghom. Lastly, I may exit the hold and go all the way up until the Key Warden, killing all elite packs along the way. In addition, I pick up all blues, tomes, rares and potions while playing on Monster Power 2.

So why use this route when it’s clearly published what the most efficient route is? First, my goals in playing Diablo 3 are drastically different than those attempting to hit world first Paragon levels. My aim in this route is to get experience along side making gold, possible gear and hopefully a key along the way (it can happen as I found one key on Monster Power 2 the other night). I believe I make around 300-500k gold per run. My intention is not speed at all, but focus by giving myself clear, simple goals and working towards the last one (which is the Key Warden).

I use Monster Power 2 at the moment because I felt zero through one was too easy and the loot dropped was garbage. The loot dropping for me at the moment is mostly garbage but I’m slowly seeing better loot drop more often. At Paragon Level 24, I’m seeing at least one legendary drop per run now, some of which have been quite useful. Not to mention that there is a gold and experience boost outside of the magic find boost. Just for comparison, my in game DPS is marked at 155k while my unbuffed EHP hovers at 480k. My resistances are over 500 and armor is near 5k. Usually, I only die out of stupidity or if I get surrounded. My build is a standard high level demon hunter build except that I use Perfectionist in place of Steady Shot. You can see my current gear here.

At any rate, I feel quite comfortable at Monster Power 2. I’ve considered boosting it up by one just to check out any improvements. But I feel that where I am currently is good considering my gear and speed. I believe that for me to use a higher Monster Power consistently, I would need to push my DPS another 20-50k. However, the biggest issue at the moment is that the gear I need to push those numbers either are too expensive or marginal by themselves. Instead, my current plan is to continue doing Monster Power 2 Act 3 Inferno and aim for higher Paragon levels, while seeing if I can gain any drops along the way for my alts. I figure the gold I can make through these runs will later be reinvested into my alts

That isn’t to say that I’m not inclined to do higher Monster Powers. Quite often, I’ll pair up with friends and do between 3-5. However, I think for someone soloing, Monster Power 2 is the sweet spot (at least for me). You really need top gear to push that envelope.

One thing that has interested me in all of this is that Blizzard has announced that they will nerf reflect damage in an upcoming patch. Although I’ve managed to deal with reflect damage, anyone who ever encounters a mob with reflect damage should well know what a pain it is. For someone like myself, we’re forced to compensate by utilizing life on hit gear all the time. In turn, I’ve had issues where my DPS or gear might suffer since I’ll be forced to keep it on a few pieces. From there, I won’t be as inclined to do harder Monster Powers simply because I find myself forced to use certain types of gear.

Regardless, I think this method is quite good. It’s allowed me to stay focused and do full runs per night and essentially get a level a night (or two during the weekends). Obviously, as I gain more Paragon levels, I’ll have to adjust this even more but it might mean just repeating it even more to hit my goals.

 

 

 

 

Diablo 3: Fine Tuning Gear and Monster Power

Recently, I managed to hit Paragon Level 20 on my demon hunter. Before that point I had been running Inferno with no Monster Power enabled. However, I decided within the past few days to start upgrading my demon hunter’s gear again after becoming frustrated with his lack of true high end DPS and survivability. I started looking at other top demon hunters in the world and came to the conclusion that while my gear was reasonable, it’s still far from excellent. As a result, I decided to make some more “investments.”

Before going into the main topics of this article, I want to first talk about how I arrived at this point. The main thing about Diablo 3 is that it’s a completely gear driven game. To progress in the game smoothly, you need to acquire the best gear that you can, whether it’s farming, spending gold on the Auction House or real money. One of my friends mentioned that he was getting back into the game once the nerfs came into play. At the same time, I was close to the high 50’s and wanted to really finish off the game. But prior to that point, my gear was quite horrid and what I thought was decent DPS turned out to be really crappy.

However, I wasn’t really aware of things such as DPS, all resist gear, survivability, etc. Even with the nerfs, a fresh 60 coming into to Inferno might very well be in for a shock as their gear might not be as good as they’d like. And finding good gear is tough without serious time and/or money investment.

For myself, once I hit 60, I did a few purchases after doing preliminary research. Most of the gear I ended up getting (some set gear) was okay for starting out. It allowed me enough DPS and survivability to plow smoothly through Inferno without any monster power enabled. However, when I tried to play with my friend, I found myself still struggling a bit at higher monster power levels. As a result, I ended up focusing on Inferno without any monster power for a while.

Although I performed reasonably, I started finding the game play to be slow and a bit boring. I wanted to check out more difficult monster powers, but that might imply joining with a group. After watching several youtube videos and doing more reading, I ended up starting to figure out how to fine tune my demon hunter. Most of what I’ve come to recognize is that you really need to know how the stats in the game operate.

Up until now, I had been focused on relying on gear that was cheap but reasonable for my demon hunter. I found out that the Sharpshooter skill was not displaying my demon hunter’s true DPS so that bothered me quite a bit. I tried checking out what better stats for certain items were such as my ring, gloves, amulet, etc. to better match what other demon hunters were using.

After doing another round of investments, I found myself struggling even more in Inferno on something as easy as no monster power. How could this be? I increased my DPS? Why am I having such a tough time?

Well, the first real wake up call hit me once I died a few times to Siegebreaker. Previously, I had absolutely no issue with Siegebreaker. I thought it could’ve been some odd bug. But then again there were other mobs that I had issues with too. Then my friend mentioned that Siegebreaker has a natural reflect damage aura, which ended up slaying me. In examining my old gear with my new one, I finally understood the issue: my overall life and resistances went down!

But that wasn’t the real issue. I still had some resistance and my life wasn’t that much lower than before. So what happened? Why did I die so easily? The answer is that my old gear had a lot of life on hit. I believe at least three items had life on hit, thus allowing me to withstand my own blows. Videos from Kripparrian (Krippie) indicated that a lot of gear has a ton of useless stats. Even if you have a legendary, this idea of poor stats makes legendaries unique to a player and possibly can throw them off. And that’s where my real issue lies.

The thing I didn’t realize when I first started getting geared was that the gear I purchased was cheap for a reason. It simply was not the best in the game and the stats occasionally would have some useless thing for my demon hunter like strength or intelligence. When you start out in Inferno, a lot of that won’t matter at all, no matter what class you use. It’s easy to ignore a stat or two on each piece of gear as long as your DPS and survivability are there.

However, when you want to progress to more challenging monster power levels, this strategy won’t work anymore. You will be forced to start scrutinizing each piece of gear and the stats and look at the overall picture.

The first thing you have to understand is that the most important overarching stats are not actually apparent in the game. Those two stats are unbuffed DPS and EHP. What these mean are your true raw stats that will matter when getting hit or hitting monsters. For instance, Sharpshooter is a horribly deceptive ability that you can use as a demon hunter because if you stand still in town, for instance, your DPS grows to a ridiculous number. However, there is fine print to this ability in that this number only is meaning when you critically hit the first time. Then it resets until you hit 100% again, etc. To a neophyte, the large DPS can appear ego inflating. However, you have to remove that passive (and others possibly) to truly gauge what your real DPS is.

With EHP, this statistic will not show up anywhere. But it’s a critical statistic because it’s your “real” HP. What happens is that you have several key stats that contribute to this number. Those stats are vitality, armor, all resist, etc. When someone tries to hit you, things like armor, all resist, etc. discount a percentage of damage. As a result, you in effect have more health than you may realize.

Now that we have defined what these two statistics do, we need to examine what matters as statistics on items. Like Krippie had mentioned, there are a ton of useless statistics, some of which are deceptive. However, there are some really important stats like all resist or your class’ key statistic which can boost your EHP and DPS. Becoming aware of them is the first step in getting to the next level.

For my demon hunter, I started examining which items were useless and whether nor not I could make significant upgrades. Of course, I used the Real Money Auction House for this as I simply do not have the gold as of yet to make the necessary purchases for better gear. That said, there is a huge potential risk of buying an item, whether it’s from gold or dollar value in that you may not be receiving what you may perceive to be a great deal. Let me provide an example.
In my case, a few items I had bought ended up having terrible statistics despite having some core statistics. I ended up going up a few notches in DPS, but I sacrificed survivability, which would cause me to get 1-shotted again in Inferno without monster power. But I thought that just having some all resist, etc. would save me. Nope.
So how do you prevent yourself from inadvertently buying a crappy item that gives you no real benefit in the end? The auction house does not allow you to preview your change in statistics (at least that I know). So you’re really working blind if you use that interface. But if you want to do a risk free comparison, you will need to use a tool like d3up.com.
d3up.com is a great tool that I came across where you import your character profile then tweak stats on gear. In this manner, you can simulate the effects as if you were to purchase the gear from the Auction House. The main benefit is that you can see the net EHP and unbuffed DPS you can gain by tweaking the stats on a piece of gear. That way you can tell if you’re getting a true upgrade.
This site helped me tremendously. For instance, I had Natalya’s Reflection and it had strength previously. I found several other rings and wanted to see if I could increase my critical hit chance, as rings are the best way to do this. Of course, other rings on the auction house did not have the same statistics, so I needed to adjust those values to make sure I was coming out ahead. I found several rings, some which were insanely expensive. However, I found one that had reasonable stats and ended up purchasing it because I determined the positive stats would go a long way. Compare having this knowledge with when I originally bought the ring. At the surface, I only care about it being part of the set, not the other critical stats associated with such a ring.
Another great thing I learned was figuring out how to deal with things like damage reflection. While your cooldowns can help, your real savior is again your gear. In the case of damage reflection, you take life on hit to mitigate the incoming damage. Similarly, there are other aspects to gear which help you survive those situations.

The other thing I learned was understanding the limitations of statistics on gear. The first thing you need to do is become familiar with the search capabilities for the auction house. Now, you can set up to six different item attributes. While you don’t need to put any numeric value for the amount for a given statistic, just putting an attribute will force the search function to filter the list. As you add more filters, you’ll see the number of items dropping rapidly. But overall, what you’re going to be looking for are the right dollar amounts for the right combination of stats.

When I geared, I used the Diablo Progress site as a way to check out what the top DPS people for a given class is and seeing how they’re able to become the top DPS. By doing this, you’ll understand the limits of what you can search for on your gear. Also, it provides an aim for you down road.

In reality, the top DPS people in the world probably got there through the auction house, farming MP10 (once it was released) and spending enough time to really procure the items they have now. The truth is that their items are pretty close to being perfect. You’ll be hard pressed to find items that are remotely close in numbers without spending real money. And even then you won’t be able to find those statistics.

However, you can attempt to find reasonable items that have good stats. For instance, my Natalya’s Sight helmet originally had more dexterity. But the new one has resist all, better armor and critical hit chance. Not to mention a perfect ruby gem that provides a 31% bonus to experience. There were other helmets as well, but this clearly would give me better statistics compared to what I was using.

You’ll have to iterate through each of your equipment slots and figure out for your spec, which items you can upgrade or maximize given your resources (i.e. gold or dollars) But once you start to aim at higher challenges, you’ll definitely be required to put forth that effort in really researching your class.

Despite all this gear, we still, of course, want to see it in action. Part of all this is to figure out where you belong. Should you stay in Inferno with no monster power? Or can you progress into a higher monster power?

Ultimately, the answer is going to be determined by you. You will need to figure out what works best. You need to define what your goals are. Will you be farming keys? Or perhaps progressing with Paragon Levels. At any rate, you need to answer this.

For myself, I’m working on Act 3 with Monster Power 2. Last I checked my unbuffed DPS and EHP, I was around 110-140k DPS and almost 300k EHP. Act 3 with Monseter Power 1 was a breeze; it felt as though it was about as hard as Hell mode towards the end. Monster Power 2 at the moment feels like Inferno when I first started. I kinda want to check out Monster Power 3 just to see how much more difficult it can be. Tonight in clearing Monster Power 2, I only died once so it might be a good spot to farm for a bit.

Another important aspect to take into consideration is your spec that you end up choosing. I think glass cannon type of builds can be difficult to pull off early on, unless you have good gear. But generally high DPS weapons are quite expensive, so a survival spec might be better initially. So DPS alone might not necessarily be the way to judge which monster power you set. Take a Critical Mass Wizard build for instance. If you manage to gear one up to the point where you’re able to stun lock reasonably well, you might be able to do a reasonable monster power without depending too much on DPS (and other stats like intelligence)

I think a few important things that will reveal the correct monster power to choose are determining your survivability and the time it takes to kill mobs. If you find yourself dying often and/or taking a ridiculous amount of time to kill elite packs, etc., you’re probably on the wrong monster power. In that situation, you should only attempt that level if you’re doing something like farming for keys.

Some people say that setting Monster Power to zero is the most efficient for leveling. That might be true because of the ease in clearing areas. However, I think it can get a bit boring, not so much in lacking a challenge but knowing that you probably won’t be maxing out what kind of items you can get. So I think that combining Monster Power with leveling and farming items might be a way to help keep you motivated overall.

In the future, once I level up more of my guys and procure better gear, I hope to create a baseline for what I feel are good numbers for estimating monster power. I’m sure there’s sites out there that can provide precise numbers. But I would like to get a general, high level feeling for what those numbers can be.

 

 

Diablo 3: Current Progress

At the moment, I’ve been focused on my demon hunter, who is now Paragon level 18. I’m mostly using a glass cannon type of gearing and build. I’ve managed to balance my play style with the gear and talents so that I can do okay both solo and when I group up with my friend. The idea is that I can take a few shots but take down mobs quickly. At the same time, when I play with my friend the only abilities I change out are Shadow Power: Gloom with Vault: Cinder Trails (meaning, I use Vault to keep up since my friend plays a whirlwind  barbarian).

Usually, the way it goes is he can deal with enough damage to maintain aggro, but I’ll nuke the hell out of mobs along the way. The only times I really have problems at the moment are with reflect damage mobs. I think because my gear is heavy on the damage side, I sacrifice preventative measures like gaining life on hit. Not to mention my dps is extremely high so I end up punishing myself. Right now, I’m keeping a pants and amulet in my bags and switch between the two depending on whether I’m soloing or if I’m playing with a tank. My two items afford me more health and give me life on hit, thus allowing me to survive reflect damage mobs.

However, I think that at higher monster powers, things will get more interesting since I can belt out enough damage to help prevent enrage timers. It’s hard to say at this stage since I only play higher monster powers with others. Mostly, I’m concentrating on gaining Paragon levels, for which I don’t use monster power at all.

One thing that I am seeing as I slowly climb up the Paragon level ladder is that the quality of rares is slowly increasing along with the quantity of rares. With a full five stacks of Nephlam Valor, I can easily obtain 3-4 rares per encounter. In fact, I often see normal mobs drop rares. But before most of the rares were absolute garbage. Now, I’m seeing one out of say 30 actually be worth something on the auction house.

I feel that the best thing to do is just keep pushing on the Paragon levels by doing monster power zero until I start to a wall. I’m looking forward to see how the upper 20’s play out in terms of rares. I occasionally find a legendary every 2-3 runs now. Most are garbage but they should improve as I gain more Paragon levels.

Some people might say that it might be better just to keep a spare set of Magic Find gear in my bags and swap them once I’m ready to kill a boss. The biggest issue I’ve found is that this technique can be problematic and tedious. There’s no easy way to swap out on the spot your gear. I prefer to depend on things like Nephlam Valor stacks and my natural Magic Find through Paragon levels instead. The biggest issue to me is simply underestimating how much life a mob can have. Since things tend to get chaotic in fights, swapping gear at the last minute can cost your life. So for me, it just isn’t worth it.

Something I do that isn’t as efficient as other people pushing for their Paragon levels is that I pick up as many blue and yellow items along the way. My idea is that I’m focused on not just leveling but making good money. It might take longer but I’ve been able to make decent gold all the time. Gradually, I’ve been building up a war chest of gold that I can disperse among my other guys as they level up.

Still, my primary focus is on my demon hunter. The idea is to get one really solid character that can act as the primary farmer, rather than split my attention between too many other guys. If I manage to push him high enough, then gold and gear for everyone else will never really be an issue.

Diablo 3: Experimentation with Gear as a Demon Hunter

I decided to try another little investment in my demon hunter by grabbing more DPS gear. Mostly, I focused on critical hit chance, critical hit damage and attack speed. The net result was a significant reduction in effective hit points vs massive gain in damage. Just to see how I would fare, I decided to start on Act 3 with Siegebreaker.

The upgrade in DPS was quite noticeable as I was able to 1-2 shot enemies in Inferno. However, I was getting 1 shot myself quite often. In essence, I became a glass cannon. In watching LastHopeForRaoha’s videos, I noticed that he has a different spec than mine. Mine is centered around defense but more on the active mitigation end. His is more passive mitigation. However, the chief thing to note about what he mentions in his video is that he focuses on survival.

Part of the problem with the switch up in gear for me as a massive loss in EHP. My health went down almost 10k and I lost a lot of things such as physical damage reduction or life gain. While I could kill enemies quickly, large packs would just destroy me.

Of course, this was all solo. I’m wondering what the difference would be with a group where I would have a tank taking more aggro away from me. I might have to adjust the spec as well but I feel that the spec works far better with defensive gear.

One thing I did when upgrading was checking out top demon hunters to see how they geared. Of course, they might have far more gold than me so every little point would help overall. Also, they might have more stats on their gear than the ones I sought. As a result, I’m probably missing out on a lot. The top DPS demon hunter on softcore is a guy in Korea who has over 500k unbuffed DPS and still reasonable EHP. In examining his gear though, I realized that everything he has is top notch. So that probably contributes a huge amount to his overall effectiveness. One has to wonder if he plays in a group too to be effective with those stats and on what monster power.

At any rate, I’m going to continue playing around with my gear and spec to see what combination is effective for me.

Diablo 3: Group Play is the Way

My ex-coworker got back from his trip and we were able to help him finish up Inferno on his barbarian. At the moment, I’ve lent him my barbarian’s gear and he’s able to progress quite easily. We gave Monster Power 3 a try just to do Siegebreaker and look for a key. No such luck but we did fairly well.

All in all, it was a fun night that motivated me to play Diablo 3. I really think playing with others is the way to go with these games. I think I would have more fun in World of Warcraft if my guild wasn’t lame and more active. Certainly though, when you’re with a group, games can be a lot more entertaining. I feel more confident in handling higher Monster Power levels as a result too.

Down the road as we gear up and conquer more as a group, I hope that we can do higher Monster Powers and eventually the Inferno Machine. Also, I’d like others to join us who don’t have the gear but need help passing through Inferno and just require a little boost.