Item Development - Threshold Jewels

Threshold Jewels are something we knew we wanted from very early in the design of the Jewel system. We even had an early version on the promotion page for The Awakening, showing a pre-beta version of a Jewel that granted +1 to the maximum number of curses you could apply to enemies.
But finding a good space for Threshold Jewels took a lot longer than we expected, as we slowly discovered what we did and didn't like about each version we tried.
The problem with the earliest versions was finding a benefit that we would be willing to allow players to stack in niche situations, but were good enough in the case of a single Jewel. An extra curse was strong -- three extra curses was broken.

Jewels as Skill Modifiers

It wasn't until Rory suggested the potential for these Jewels to affect specific skills in unique ways that we started to head along the right path.
The earliest skill-specific Jewel added an extra stage to Glacial Cascade, increasing the overall range quite a lot. But this had the opposite issue of the +1 curse Threshold Jewel -- the more you used, the more it seemed to cost, and the less powerful it felt.
We also experimented with some skill-specific Jewels that couldn't be stacked. Once they were enabled, having extra Jewels didn't grant any real benefit. That felt wrong too. We liked the idea of players having the opportunity to dig very deep into a single skill if they wanted, especially since it came at the cost of both multiple Jewel slots and passives to switch them on.
At this stage we knew:

  • They need to be stackable.

  • They need to affect a specific skill.

  • They need to be worthwhile to at least some specific builds, even if they're niche.

Which Skills to Target

Meanwhile, I'd been looking at our starting skills and wondering if there was some way we could make them more interesting or appealing for high-level characters. Each of our starting skills are mechanically simplistic, intended to serve as familiar tools for new players who might recognise some of the tropes from other fantasy media. Spectral Throw is the exception here, as it is slightly more complex than the others, but you usually don't have access to Spectral Throw until you have a fairly good understanding of the basics anyway.
The problem with simple skills like Fireball and Heavy Strike is, at some point, you hit a limit with what you can do to keep them competitive with skills that provide a larger damage area or more versatile or supportable mechanics. These became a prime target for our first wave of Threshold Jewels, with the goal to either expand their mechanical scope for more advanced players, or provide an interesting or specialised bonus that utilises their unique mechanics.
There's going to be a Threshold Jewel for each of the starting skills, with the exception of Double Strike (we have a great idea planned for Double Strike, but it requires some technical wizardry). In addition, we looked at some other skills we felt had narrower applications or were usurped by other skills later in the game as targets for this first wave of Threshold Jewels. You may have already seen the Spectral Throw Jewel, so today we're also showing off the Jewels for Heavy Strike, Fireball and Burning Arrow.
We've seen some queries about just how this works. Simply put, each specific thrown weapon (even when you throw lots!) gets a 4% increase in damage each time it hits any enemy. If it passes through one enemy and hits twice, it will have 8% increased damage. If it passes through six enemies and hits ten times, it will have 40% increased damage. This makes the returning pass for Spectral Throw (and thus your position relative to your enemies) very important for squeezing out every last bit of damage. And the more enemies there are, the stronger each throw is.
This does exactly what it says. If the threshold is met, 10% of the time, you will double the damage of your heavy strike. That, by the way, works with critical strikes. Building a critical heavy-striker? Be prepared for massive spikes in damage! Two of these doubles the chance (as opposed to doubling the double-damage. Sorry guys!)
Fireball's ability to clear areas drops off pretty significantly as other skills with wider areas of effect or higher single-target damage are found, but with one or two of these, the ability to overlap explosions from a safe distance makes Fireball a much more interesting choice.
Possibly my favourite of these, since it opens up quite a few options for a skill whose late-game utility was limited at best. An ignite-focused build can now quickly coat an area in burning ground (whose damage is based on the initial ignite) for fast clearing. But Tar has a powerful slowing effect, which can be taken advantage of for PvP or party play by minimising (or even removing through Three Dragons) your ignite chance. Multiples of this Jewel increase the chance to create the two ground types.
One important thing to note is that any Jewel which affects a skill that has a Vaal version will also affect the Vaal version of that skill. So Steel Spirit will work for both Spectral Throw and Vaal Spectral Throw.
Let us know what you think!
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Grinding Gear Games
Looks interesting. New league certainly seems captivating.
Last edited by slowhanded on Nov 17, 2015, 8:56:22 PM
Very exciting!
Light as a neutral force.

The new flesh emerges.
Very interesting potential for these jewels. I'm a little worried about the power level compared to rares -- while they may change a skill in interesting ways, sacrificing multiple jewel slots to get a beneficial effect for a lesser-used skill can leave you giving up a lot versus using a more 'meta' skill and filling those jewel slots with life and damage. If multiple copies of these don't have enough power to compete with at least multiple copies of 3-stat rare jewels, I think they'll just end up in the growing junk-pile of almost-good uniques.

I think Fireball also needs a slight base radius increase -- at least enough put it on the level of Arctic Breath -- before scaling the radius is going to feel satisfying. Beyond what you'd get from 2 jewels you're going to see harsh diminishing returns getting more AoE from passives and gear, so having a better base to scale seems like it would be important.

Looking forward to seeing what you do with double strike. Even though it does nothing mechanically interesting, I've always found it fun to hack away at things at super speed.
Last edited by Imprecision on Nov 17, 2015, 9:08:53 PM
DaTz_ wrote:

We'll show off the Summon Skeleton one later!

Will Fireball + MP "shotgun" with that Jewel?
ign - Clex

Waiting for GGG to add DARKSHRINES and patch 1.2 for custom leagues.
much hype, jewel hypeeedddd

moar 1st pajuuu
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Last edited by 174nana on Nov 17, 2015, 9:00:56 PM

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