Developer Q&A Answers Part 2

For those of us that don't enjoy starting over with every new league, and instead prefer to constantly refine and revise and upgrade a smaller number of characters, do you keep in mind the time investment of players, particularly on Standard and Hardcore, when you make larger changes for balance or future content?

Yes. This is the reason why we're careful with large-scale balance changes, especially ones that affect items. When planning future content, we also try to make sure that there is enough content that affects Standard/Hardcore players periodically. Generally, expansions add content to Standard/Hardcore (whether it's act content, the Labyrinth, or a revamped endgame) whereas challenge league releases only add mechanics to the challenge leagues.

Have you guys and gals considered forcing logout of AFK players after 45mins of inactivity? I love the improvements to trading so far, they have helped improve the issue of contacting a player and having the issue of them not being logged in, however I still have this issue at times, it's a little less often, now... A new issue is that (and I know people that do this a lot who are friends too) people will stay AFK in the game almost the entire day so that they can reply to whispers when they come back to the game, sometimes they are afk 6-8hrs or more, I sometimes get responses 4hrs later and sometimes even the next day after I have gone to bed and logged in on the weekend, from something I tried to buy the previous night, this whole going AFK but leaving the game running all the time is hurting trading if you ask me.

This is a very interesting idea. While we don't plan to actually log people out for inactivity, the idea of considering them offline for trade visibility purposes (if they're actually away from their computer and not around to answer messages) is very possible. I'll talk to the team about this further.

Chris, Jonathan, Erik and any others on the office, how is the feel to have accomplished so much about developing Path of Exile? Ten years ago PoE was only a vague idea for you guys I assume, so in this decade, how much proud you guys feel? And could you cite a moment (after seen a build, a video or whatever) where you had the thought "That's why I made Path of Exile!"?

This is a tough question to answer! On one hand, we feel great pride when thinking about Path of Exile and how it has entertained millions of people. On the other hand, this game has been part of our lives for almost ten years now. We were very confident that the world needed another great Action RPG with a deep item system, and so we've worked for basically our entire working lives to create that. This is all worthwhile every time we see someone come up with a cool build idea or post an item that they are really proud of. That feeling that the player feels is why we made Path of Exile.

Any plans to hire US-based Customer Support folks?

Nope, sorry. Our customer support team are based in our office in Auckland, New Zealand.

Are there any plans to torture that p... I mean... bring back that magnificent bastard Fairgraves again in later acts?

The team love Fairgraves and seeing him crop up again in early drafts of future content always makes me smile. Having said that, I know of no current plans to bring him back in the future.

Is the game still limited to 32 sounds? Is there already an improvement for the game to output more sounds simultaneously?

There are three settings in the sound options right now. Low is 32 channels, medium (the default) is 64 and high is 128.

Are we going to expect new legacy items in the future?

Inevitably, yes. While we don't specifically set out to create them, changes to unique items happen and these generally create legacy items. We view this as a positive thing for the game, because it rewards people for playing now rather than later.

What time does GGG office close? And what time do you guys come in for work?

People arrive between around 7:30am and 11:30am, and leave from around 4:30 to 11pm, depending on how long they've been in and what's going on. We're pretty flexible with work times, so as long as developers are here during the core part of the day, there's no problem.

Our customer support team are rostered so that the department is open 24 hours, so the office itself never really closes.

Currently, if players were to die in hardcore temporary/challenge league, they would be sent to regular standard league. It's kinda unfair that the standard players will have early access to new items that are specifically exclusive to the challenge leagues only, while players in regular default hardcore league have to wait 3-4 months for those exclusive items to come to them.

There is definitely asymmetry here, but it's a designed-in consequence of the way the leagues work. Think of it more as a bonus for playing in the hardcore challenge league: items that you die with (or find and put on a low level character that you kill on purpose) are worth extra in Standard if they're available early.

Is it possible for people to go from hardcore challenge league to standard challenge league instead of regular standard league?

We considered this, but we felt that it would feel bad for the players in the standard challenge league. If people appear (potentially above them on the ladder), complaining about how their character is worthless now, then it's not going to make those standard challenge league players feel very good about their progress. It would also dramatically disrupt the economy of that league, with all of the items from the hardcore players being rapidly sold off for currency in a fire sale. Finally, we feel that having the characters move back to actual permanent Standard creates slightly more of a feeling of permadeath for the hardcore mode. The character is no longer useable for finishing the current challenges.

What would you say the shavronne's wrappings of your development team is? I.E Who was the hardest or rarest type of developer you had to find or needed as poe went from infancy to production? Was it more on the team management side? PR side? Programming or Art & Graphics? Basically what would you say is lacking the the game development industry? What's hard to find?

Producers who understand Path of Exile and our development philosophy. We generally train senior designers with good project management skills for this role instead of hiring dedicated producers.

Out of curiosity how many player created uniques are still pending?

We have completed and released 163 player-created uniques. We are currently working on 37 in collaboration with supporters. The queue of uniques that haven't been started is currently at 299. While this sounds like a huge number, most of those are players who have told us they'd like to wait for later when they have ideas of what to make. The process of creating them has become faster over time, as we have dedicated staff working on them.

When can we expect to see more Vaal skills? They're a really cool idea that hasn't really been touched much since they were introduced in 1.1

The team have some cool ones in mind, and will probably release them in a batch together in the future. We don't intend for every single skill in the game to have a Vaal version.

What do you guys enjoy about the Free to Play model? What has it allowed you to do that you couldn't do with a flat cost game?

The immediate characteristic of Free to Play games is that your players don't have to make an up-front purchase before they're able to play. This means that your incentives are completely aligned with providing a fun and compelling experience for players, rather than a fancy store page and set of trailers to compel a purchase before they have played the game.

This has allowed us to focus on creating the game that we want to, while trusting that our community will support it if they want to see more.

Where do you think other developers get it wrong when trying to monetize a free game?

Rather than going with the obvious answer of how they often offer pay-to-win functionality and how that's bad for competitive games, I'd rather talk about maximum purchase size. Many games cap out at around the $120-150 mark for the most you can purchase in one transaction. We have had a lot of success selling supporter packs at higher values, especially ones that contain real life merchandise and signed stuff. While it may seem like a hassle to have to sign thousands of things, it's totally worthwhile because the community loves it and people who support the game receive something special. My advice to people monetising free games is to better consider the super-fan and their desires.

Are there any plans to add more functionality to loot filters?

In an upcoming patch there's support for differentiating between Identified and Unidentified items (which is useful with a certain unique cloak). We do plan to add functionality over time, but haven't got any firm plans currently for what features and when. It's a great area to improve.

Will master hideout layouts ever change, swap around between masters, or become attainable in any additional ways? I really want to get Leo's amazing hideout in the next temp league, but it's just not feasible with how little PVP gets played.

I'd like to revamp this system a little bit to provide more options for players. We actually have some other experimental hideout layouts mostly finished, so there is definitely stuff coming in the future in this space!

How do you guys GGG feel about your future design space? With so many things creeping universally into every build: curses, auras, golems, mobility, triggers, totems, orbs, warcries - there are many things to consider when making a build. The choice limit makes excellent variety, but I must admit it is starting to feel pretty cramped socket wise. Personally I have been more and more into 2h and Bow due to being able to have those new skill types in the chest and utilize the power/variety of 3x 6L. How does that sit balance wise?

You're definitely right that there are many different things to consider when making a build. Socket space is certainly cramped. However, this does present its own benefits! We've found that the secondary skills that players love the most are the ones that have low up-front costs. There's little drawback to having a Golem, for example. The main cost that some of these skills have is their opportunity cost, and for that to matter, socket space has to be cramped. We're keeping a close eye on this as we add more content.

What are your goals in going to the GDC every year?

Not everyone from our team goes to GDC - just people who choose to. Flying to and staying in San Francisco isn't cheap, especially when measured in New Zealand dollars. People attend the conference for different reasons:
  • The conference talks are excellent and keep our team members at the forefront of what's going on in the industry. I greatly enjoy production talks given by other online game teams.
  • The ability to meet other developers, from teams working on similar games to famous developers that you randomly run into and fanboy all over.
  • The show floor is often hit-or-miss, but can contain awesome technology to look at. It is turning into a pile of VR stuff these days though.
  • The parties are also great for socialising.

Was the newly released hideout decorations back at the start of prophecy league intentional Easter Egg or was it just an accident? Regardless of which, when can we expect to see them implemented BACK into the game?

This was an accident. We were preparing them for future use and they were accidentally enabled during this process. Our current plan is to finish off these decorations and release them with future hideout-related content or changes.

Is it possible to become a game moderator but not a game developer? And if yes then how does one do so?

We have an internal customer support team who work from the same place as our development team. We don't have stand-alone game moderators. It's possible to apply to the customer support team, but you need to already live in Auckland, New Zealand!

How often does GGG staff participate in temp leagues? Either just for fun or for the reward MTX or does the staff automatically get the MTX stuff?

Our team frequently play in the current leagues. There are some big Action RPG fans on our team, so they'd probably be playing Path of Exile regardless! It's very important to play the game in a real environment so that we can see how things work in practise, especially with regards to emergent player behaviour. The staff don't automatically get MTX rewards from leagues, so if they want them, then they have to earn them.

Have any of the original D1 or D2 developers reached out to you or anyone else on the team to show appreciation for the game you have created and it's impact on their legacy? If so can you share the story?

Yes. We are good friends with David Brevik and both Max and Erich Schaefer, who we visit whenever we're over in San Francisco. They're great guys and while they have far more experience in the games industry than we do, there's enough common ground to be able to have some really interesting discussions. I have to admit, I am a huge fan of theirs so getting to meet my heroes was one of the highlights of my career.

What non-ARPG games would you say have been the biggest influences on PoE? Whether it's mechanical or thematic, I'm very interested in any insight into what contributed to the creation of PoE outside of the most obvious.

Final Fantasy VII and Magic: the Gathering are two that immediately come to mind for me. The team probably have other games that they have been inspired by while creating the mechanics and world of Path of Exile.

Is there ever going to be rewards for lifetime race points as mentioned in the past, or has that idea been dropped?

We've dropped this idea, sorry.

What is the deal with the Jet Ring base that appears on the website? It was added there months ago but no sign of that base exists in-game as far as anyone knows.

This base type was added for the "Band of the Victor" unique item, which was the trophy item that was going to be given out for an additional PvP season that we never ran. We will eventually re-purpose it for some other use, or maybe throw together a PvP season with it once we have the resources.

The recent manifesto post about experience gain brought up a question I found difficult to answer. I was hoping you could address the question: How fast should a player be able to reach level 100? What is GGG's position on such a question?

The internal answer varies from person to person, but my feeling is that if someone pushes themselves very hard within a three-month challenge league, it should be possible to get to 100. Adjusting towards this goal is something that we're doing carefully and alongside the parallel introduction of higher level content.

There have been rumors that a new currency type is in the works. Confirm/deny.

I haven't seen any of these rumours, but let's make this interesting by confirming it.

Why is burning ground map mod still in the game? It doesn't make the game any more difficult. It just lowers frame rates and makes the game much less enjoyable.

This is the type of question where people are going to be angry about the answer regardless of what I say, but the truth is that we don't want to remove content for performance reasons until we're sure that we can't fix it. We can improve the performance of ground fire and have been working on this for a long time. Fixes will be deployed as soon as they are working. In the meantime, we don't want to compromise the mechanical aspects of the game.

Will there ever be another cut-throat league? It's the only achievement I have left.

Yes, there definitely will be. There are some in the Medallion Race Season for example.

Currently most high level players skip over 95% of the rares that drop even in the highest map tiers. Additionally items like the new Reach of the Counsel makes id rares of the same type seem far less rewarding than in previous iterations of the game. Is this seen as a problem internally? Are there any steps taken to ensure unique items don't cannibalize competing rares.

I definitely agree this is a problem. While it's cool to have powerful uniques available, there are issues if they cause players to stop looking at rares. We have plans, though. The introduction of new base types over time and some experimental league mechanics coming up in future leagues may spur a resurgence of awesome rare crafting :-)

Are supporter designed uniques still something that is available for high tier supporters? If not, will it be returning at some point in the future?

You can write to to arrange to participate in the unique design process (for $1000), but be aware that you go to the back of the queue behind a lot of people. If your unique design is very straightforward and doesn't require much work from our team then it can slip through the process more quickly, depending on what other people's ones are waiting on.

How did ZiggyD's (Or any others I didn't hear about) community designed unique event come about? Is this something GGG is interested in doing more of?

ZiggyD was gifted the unique and asked for permission to turn to the community for help designing it. This is a process that we were interested in trying, but had to think hard about the best way to approach. The end result was a series of polls. This is a somewhat similar process to the community card designs that Wizards of the Coast ran for Magic: the Gathering in the past. We'd consider doing more in the future, though let's finish this one first.

Is there any development been done to improve Predictive Mode, since Lockstep has been such a great success? As desync is still an big issue for those that can't use Lockstep "Third World countries".

Yes. While we did massively improve Predictive Mode last year with all the work leading up to getting Lockstep in sync, there's always more to do and we have intend to continue to find and fix synchronisation bugs. The core mode itself will continue to work how it does (predicting combat, which can occasionally get out of sync).

Is it possible to chance lab specific uniques in the end game lab?

Last time I tried to answer a question like this I was totally wrong. No, it's not possible. Being in the Labyrinth doesn't affect your ability to chance items.

More of a design philosophy question but: Why is crit capped at 95% in the first place?

In many classic game systems, there's often a 1 in 20 chance of hard failing at something.

What does 'hearing a sound in the distance' do?

It indicates that there is a sound that occurred at a distant location, in case that's relevant to future decisions you might make.
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Last bumped on Jul 17, 2016, 3:55:40 AM
Yes even more Q&As! Thank you, GGG.
Sometimes you can take the game out of the garage but you can't take the garage out of the game.
- raics, 06.08.2016

Nice read :)
"Action RPG with a deep item system, and so we've worked for basically our entire working lives to create that. This is all worthwhile every time we see someone come up with a cool build idea or post an item that they are really proud of. That feeling that the player feels is why we made Path of Exile."

How about the feeling when you are searching for an item and finally found one that would be an upgrade to your build? Then you message them and they are afk, blocked you, or are logged off? Our feelings don't count though, right?
Last edited by MakeWebSocketsGreatAgain on Jul 12, 2016, 6:01:31 PM
Thank you so much for answering all my questions! <3
Permanent Hardcore only.
Haha great Q&A GGG!

That bit about a new currency is interesting...
Last edited by Azraphael on Jul 12, 2016, 6:03:42 PM
Nice read, some teases but mostly answers which paints the picture further. I can for sure see the points you bring up with where Path of Exile got some of it's inspiration from.
Masters 8/uber atziri/uber lab service thread -
Vaal Support skills please! Grant no bonus at first but scales up to twice normal as souls are collected.

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