Maloney's Nightfall - RIP

Hi all,

This is some background about the thinking and process that went into designing Maloney’s Nightfall. I will try to be as brief as possible, and leave this post to focus on the design journey, whilst posting separate “design advice” and “GGG feedback” posts.

First, am I a “rich kid”?
No. I’m a 40yo, middle class, long time gamer who had to present a “cost v benefits” demonstration to another financial stakeholder (my Wife) before I could buy the Diamond Supporter package. FTR, I justify my gaming/entertainment spending based on a $ per hour value. Movie/cinema tickets cost around $20 for 2 hours ($10 ph), so that is pretty high… but games like Mass Effect or Skyrim etc is cost around $70 for over 140 hours gameplay ($0.50 ph), so that is a bargain. WoW was $15 per month for > 100 hours gameplay (~$0.20 ph). POE is of course free, but a Diamond Supporter was $1,000 and I have had over 3,000 hours of gameplay (~$0.33ph)… so it was easily justified in terms of $ph for entertainment.

Maloney’s background
Around the time I first began playing POE (August 2012) my Grandfather Maloney (a primary role model through my childhood) passed away. I thought if I were to ever to buy a Diamond Supporter pack it would have to honour him. As soon as GGG announced the Closed Beta packs were concluding, and more importantly that payment plans could be used, I just had to grab hold of that opportunity.

An exiled designer
Once I finalised my payments (~ June 2013) I started the design process and just like our in-game characters, it felt a little like being thrown in to the designing waters with few resources. A brief introductory email, a few paragraphs of suggestions, a link to the existing list of uniques and away you go. As a designer I had no idea what the game could support, what mechanics/tech were under development, what other items/skills were in development and where the power boundaries were.

My 1st brief/theme
This seemed rather easy and straight forward enough. I wanted to honour my Grandfather by name. The item was to be a quiver: I enjoyed archer play styles, not many unique quivers existed then and it suited the crest (bow and quiver) of the Maloney name.

Ideas for a theme were mostly based around Damage Over Time (DOT), degeneration and/or trying to manipulate Chaos Damage. I was a fan of Poison Arrow (and Puncture), but it performed SOOOO poorly in maps. The item was to be a mid to late game item, map viable without having to be BiS. I sent a bunch of mod suggestions to GGG (Rory was my main point of contact) to see what could work. I didn’t get a reply for over 1 month <sadface>... it seemed one of my ideas needed programmer input and got lost… no worries (I’ve worked as a programmer before, so I can relate).

Over the coming months Rory and I would exchange emails about mod ideas, as I tried to not only find out what the game can support, but also find out what is acceptable in regards to power. By this stage some pretty cool uniques were being released and they would provide fresh insights as to what can be done within POE. My ideas started becoming more and more contrived towards trying to be “clever”. I tried to focus on tricky tri-play between different DOT effects: Bleeding, Poison and Burning… all the while I was probably creating all sorts of grief for Rory and the GGG team. Around this time GGG released a few item design announcements from Rory, Carl and the newly appointed Nick. These outlined some suggestions, examples of creating a unique item and were immensely helpful.

A revised plan
Realising the poor direction I was on earlier, I semi-rebooted my item. I scaled it right back to basics. It must honour my Grandfather, it must be a quiver, it must enhance DOT builds… that was it… how can we support this? I’m sure Rory was relieved and we started settling on some really nice strong mods although there were very few options for DOT. By this stage we were heading into 2014 (of course 1.0.0 release required priority) and we came to an agreement with the mods on paper. That item looked like the following:

Maloney Legacy
Penetrating Quiver (ivl ~50... or you can offer guidance here)
30 - 40 to Dexterity

  • 15% increased Attack Speed
  • 30-40% increased Damage over Time
  • 22-30% increased Physical Damage to Poisoned Enemies
  • Bleeding enemies have 15-20% reduced movement speed
  • 40% increased Light Radius
  • 12% Chaos Resist

But something I did comment on though was that DOT was exploitable via Traps/Mines (via the strong multipliers and extra trap/mine damage from the passive tree). I wanted to quiver to used as a true ranger/archer “pew pew” item not a trap thrower, so it was a concern that did soon become an issue.

Unstoppable force vs immovable object… shouldn’t a unique be unique?
Thanks RaizQT! So half way through “Ambush and Invasion” GGG publish a Build of the Week video featuring Raiz’s DOT build ( and this is quickly referenced in our design discussions. The item will have to be nerfed (substantially). OK, I sorted of saw this coming, not only does the above build utilise the powerful Trap support, but it also uses ~100% increased trap damage from the tree. I suggested that the item maintains the powerful degeneration mods, but adds a downside to prevent traps/mines from doing damage or to severely limit traps/mines in some manner. This doesn’t go down well at GGG… their reasoning is that they want uniques to be open to as many builds as possible. That they don’t want uniques to limit the number of builds that can use the item. Now my thinking is, shouldn’t rare items do this? Isn’t the idea of a unique to make someone/some build actually unique? So I argued to remove “trap/mine damage completely” and that way players then choices for DOT damage: via traps or via my quiver. GGG = no. I argued to apply a “less trap/mine damage” modifier given the Trap support “more” modifier plus the 100% increased trap damage that can be obtained from the tree. GGG = no… then we can do “10% reduced trap/mine damage”. I replied that is “1 normal node on the passive tree, hardly a deterrent, why bother”?

This was undoubtedly the most frustrating part of the design process. GGG were steadfast in their “uniques can’t restrict builds” philosophy and I was emotionally attached without wanting the item to be used by trappers (BIS slot quiver for trappers). Around this stage I started branching out to a few other item designers: a) to vent and b) to gather their feedback. The end result was that realistically POE supported very few modifiers to apply to DOTs, GGG weren’t budging on their philosphies and I couldn’t accept the item. I know GGG have limited resources and I didn’t wish to waste time debating the same topics over and over… so I canned the DOT concept and moved on to a backup idea.

Henri Ducard: Theatricality and deception are powerful agents.
Some of my favourite fictional characters are ones who use the shadows and dark to strike fear into their enemies. Batman, Riddick, The Crow, Solomon Kane (ok not really an operator of darkness, but I wanted to throw him in just because) and so on. So this formed the new theme for the quiver. It was to somehow make use of stealth and I proposed a few suggestions to Rory to see what was possible:

  • Permanent smoke cloud around the player.
  • Smoke cloud when the player is hit or evades.
  • Smoke cloud when the player hits a mob.
  • A "MicroTransaction" type smoke cloud effect on the item.
  • apply a "camouflaged" effect to the player
  • a "Phase Run" type visual effect... making you harder to see and with "Increased Monster Response Time".
  • a "Quartz Flask" type visual effect... could have the "movement is not blocked by enemies" modifier.

That was it. Simply checking what theme based mods the item could utilise and then flesh it out with other juicy mods later. Rory was great in his responses: hits that are evaded aren’t tracked, permanent smoke cloud is too OP, smoke cloud when hitting mob would be a very low chance due to player attack speed capacity etc. We settled on the “50% chance to create a smoke cloud when hit”. Of course I tried to get in a number of other powerful modifiers on the item, including the “movement is not blocked by enemies” mod too, but all a no-go. :(

However, Rory replied with a very insightful comment that I hadn’t previously considered throughout the design process. I will post the comment in full:

You've got a few uniques worth of special modifiers on this design, which I understand why you'd want that on the item, but we try to keep special mechanics like these separated, both to allow others design space in future and to keep items balance-able.

As designers we need to leave scope for future designs (GGG or player created). We don’t need to take all the food from the buffet… leave something for others… so I was totally on board with that. We quickly agreed on the new modifiers and sent those off to the programmers and balance testers:

Maloney’s <dark reference>
Blunt Arrow Quiver (ivl ~50... or you can offer guidance here)
25%-35% increased stun duration on enemies

  • 50% chance to drop a Smoke Cloud when hit
  • 20-40% increased damage to Blinded enemies
  • 30-40% Chaos Resistance
  • <xx-yy> added Physical Damage
  • 60-80 to maximum Life
  • 8-10% increased Attack Speed

Hail Erik Hail
FTR Erik deserves wider community love, attention and limelight (yes, perhaps he is a little shy). The work Erik (and his team) does on the art direction, story and lore is amazing.
The name for the item was easily sorted, obviously named after Maloney, but also something relating to darkness: Shadow, Mist and Umbra were a few of the contenders before “Nightfall” won out.

The look took a little more work. For my initial DOT quiver them I had intended to keep the art in line with that represented on the Maloney Crest (see above), however for the new Dark theme the blue and yellow didn’t really suit. Instead I thought what would look cool and different. For some reason a twin quiver in the shape of an X strapped to an archer’s back was stuck in my mind. Maybe the wearer is so skilled that they’re ambidextrous. Of course it would have to be naturally dark/black and why not cap off the bottoms with some skulls to add menace. Thematically the skull nostrils would be where the smoke clouds pour out from when hit. I wasn’t too fussed about the type of skulls used, but I was extremely happy with the ones chosen by the artist. An early draft incorporated some metal working/trimming/embossing, but I favoured the more natural look of dark and leathery tones. Again the artist added the fur edging around the outlets, but I just love the arrow design too. Little jagged bits of tooth/bone creating the arrow heads. Wonderful work!!!

Initial draft

Final version

The last piece to fall in place was the Flavour Text. I simply wanted to represent something to do with darkness or shadows etc. GGG’s first suggestion missed the mark, so I sent through a few examples of some poorly written rhymes (LOL), but then they returned with the current text which suits it perfectly IMO.

It’s Happening
Rory mentioned it might be included in the 1.3.0 release or shortly after, but my first confirmation was seeing it listed in the Torment/Bloodlines challenge listings. OMG. I confirmed with Rory and checked how balance testing went. A few original mods had to be scaled back due to them being too strong, but whilst I would love it to be as strong as possible I trust GGG’s testers to get most things right (a Frozen Sky glitch/oversight every now and then is perfectly acceptable for the amount they have to test).

Final item

Overall I am extremely happy with the item we have created. Sure it won’t be everyone’s favourite, and to some it might be vendor trash, but to me it is treasure. I like the fact that it isn’t standout OP or BIS, but rather a viable option for rangers to use for offence and defence. I like that the primary theme and mods have potential to work with future sources of the blind mechanic. Plus I love the way it looks (hopefully we’ll see a 3D or alternate art version at some point in the future). Most of all I love the fact that it reminds me of my “Pa” every time I see it mentioned.

Happy hunting all.

RIP Maloney.


Rory - for your insights, perseverance, time and effort. Through major and minor releases, through holidays, weddings and honeymoons.

GGG Design Team - for your involvement, your eagerness to assist and support your colleagues.

GGG Staff - you might have simply provided shoulders to lean on, ears to listen to developer “vents”, feedback ideas on mechanics or art, or involved in wider round table discussions. You might not get the exposure or credit you fully deserve, and you might even underplay your contributions as part of “business as usual”, but I thank you greatly. You are more than just the oil in the machine. You’re the nutrients that help the tree grow and bear fruit.

ACE Officers/Designers - thanks for your feedback, contributions and ears to listen to my vents and excitement throughout the journey.

Other Unique Designers - for you contributions that help inspire, for any direct feedback you have provided and for your support of this great game.

All POE players - for your continued support of this wonderful game and source of entertainment. It is only a game, so keep having fun… it beats sitting around watching the next iteration of CSI:<insert city> on TV like a zombie. Stay safe and happy hunting.

PORT ADELAIDE FOOTBALL CLUB - for being awesome:

The WIFE - Kaykaysee - for being everything she is and my everything.
Chris Wilson: "Today was the proudest day of my life."
Last edited by Kaysee on Dec 21, 2014, 5:04:11 AM
Last bumped on Jun 5, 2018, 2:39:35 PM
great job
my english sux.
At first I didn't understand the "RIP" in the title but then I read the part about your grandfather.

Cool family crest and very emotional meaning attached to the item for you. In this case, I'd say money well spent.
when I see a tag probation I wonder, what did this man to deserve this?
Then i feel envy, perhaps he has the balls to write the things that many of us can't.
I like the extra damage against blinded targets. I tend to throw it into a split arrow build to make sure I am getting as much damage reduction as possible.

Im not sure I will use it over a Rearguard personally as I find the block chance too nice to avoid whilst playing hardcore. However in standard league when I was playing risky and wanted to push dps, this would be a great tradeoff.

[edit: Just a thought but the min-max phys damage doesnt make sense to me. What if you rolled min 8 and max 7? ]
Last edited by MissDerry on Dec 19, 2014, 6:42:51 PM
Another south aussie player. Good on ya mate. I like the idea of your quiver and also your standing true to your grandfather and your heratige. Only one thing i'm not sure about.. Is your questionable taste in the port adelaide fc... just joking. nice job.
Only after Midnite do the Pagans Play
Thank you for the story, I really enjoyed it. Thank you for the fun looking unique also. :-)
Have an opinion on labyrinth but never voiced it? Make a post in Feedback and Suggestions. I'll keep track. Over 410 threads discussing labyrinth problems with over 1020 posters in support (thread # 1702621)
Nice story. About the quiver in my opinion, it's nice piece of item. I only don't like it's base, stunning is not what bow users like. Adding physical damage type quiver would be much better imo. It could have higher chance to drop smoke (10% kinda low), especially because we have smoke mine.

However I see some nice synergies with Iron Reflex builds, especially makareth close range build would nicely fit to this quiver. It might also be used as smoke bomb (mirrored arrow).

Last edited by CookieVortex on Dec 19, 2014, 7:25:16 PM
The end result is quickly becoming one of my favorite uniques.
Thematic and strong with an actual, honest-to-god unique effect on it.
"Blind" is great design space and it fits the quiver well.

Awesome job. :)
Now I kinda feel bad for considering this for my quill rain freeze pulser.
Thanks for sharing the story
Really like the unique blind mods it has.
Now I'll wait for a unique that can give chance to flee some love as well.
I love POE thiiiiiiiiss much (see avatar picture)
Last edited by Disrupted on Dec 19, 2014, 7:45:58 PM
MissDerry wrote:
I like the extra damage against blinded targets. I tend to throw it into a split arrow build to make sure I am getting as much damage reduction as possible.

Im not sure I will use it over a Rearguard personally as I find the block chance too nice to avoid whilst playing hardcore. However in standard league when I was playing risky and wanted to push dps, this would be a great tradeoff.

[edit: Just a thought but the min-max phys damage doesnt make sense to me. What if you rolled min 8 and max 7? ]

Well remember that a lot of ranged will take acro and spell acro so Rearguard isnt BIS defense quiver anymore.

Also on the edit: if I understand correctly, max base damage tends to be at least one point bigger, if we have say 1-2 as base damage and get min 8 and max 7 then the damage will be 9 always.
I think there was an item in D2 that could create this as well.
I love POE thiiiiiiiiss much (see avatar picture)
Last edited by Disrupted on Dec 19, 2014, 7:49:53 PM

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