Another page from the Diabloii.net archives. This one talks about the party system, as it was understood and developed before the game was released.
- See the Diablo II Multiplayer page for current information about this issue.
The Party System
Player Killing was an unsatisfactory aspect of Diablo to most players. The game was not really designed for PvP combat, and was not well-balanced for it, unlike the PvM play, which was very well-balanced, at least at lower character levels. Problems with PvP combat in Diablo included: the damage from Fireball was far too easy to raise to absurd levels, Archers and Mages could kill accidentally or intentionally just as easily in "peace" as in "war" mode, and lag often had you dead before you knew you were being attacked. That's without even mentioning the issue of cheats and hacks, which eventually grew to become the single largest Diablo issue on Battle.net.
This will all be much better in Diablo II. Cheats and hacks will be controlled, PvP combat will be better balanced, the client-server model will help with latency, and there is a whole new system that governs all player interaction. "The Party System."
The Party System is a new feature of Diablo II that will greatly effect every aspect of multi-player Diablo II. At the most basic level, the Party System requires that each player in a game have every other player set to "friend", "neutral", or "hostile" (aka "enemy") status. These settings must be selected when entering the game, (neutral is the default) and they have far greater importance than the War/Peace switch did in Diablo. These settings effect everything; shrapnel damage, ability to target another player, sharing experience, mercenary and golem behaviour, and more.
Latest Official Info
The most recent "official" information we have on this is taken from a quote by Bill Roper in the June 1999 Fansite Interview that was conducted by DiabloII.net.
- Diabloii.net: The newly-announced party system is a largely-unexplained feature that will control nearly all player interaction within a game. As we understand it, the basic framework requires each player to be either friend, neutral, or enemy towards each other character, with varying effects. Could you elaborate on this a bit?"
- Bill Roper: Players have three possible Relationship Settings with all other players in the game -- Neutral (the default for all when starting a game), Friendly, and Hostile. The settings are made in the Player's Overlay screen. This system accomplishes two things; (1) it makes it easier to work with others in a party, and (2) it requires Hostile players to declare their intent to harm other characters. Here is how the settings work:
- Neutral: Most attacks won't target the players with this setting. If one tries to target a particular Neutral player, the target will be a nearby monster instead. Area effect and indirect spells (like Firewall or Weaken) will effect all players in range of the effect.
- Friendly: When players are Friendly towards each other, they are considered a "party" and will split experience points and be able to loot the dead bodies of other party members. An icon of each party member is displayed on the top left of the screen with a HP bar. They also show up on each other's automap.
- Hostile: All attacks will target players with this setting. If one player chooses to be Hostile towards another player, the second player is automatically set to be Hostile to the first. Hostile is always a mutual setting so that players can immediately respond to attacks from other characters. The names of Hostile players will probably appear in red text when the character is highlighted to denote them as Hostile.
- We are currently debating what will happen when players kill each other. Our train of thought now has characters NOT dropping anything of value when they are killed, regardless of the relationship setting. Characters that have been PK'ed with the Hostile setting will probably drop a token of some kind (much like the ear in Diablo).
While this quote from Bill explains a lot, there are still a number of issues to be resolved and further explained.
Assigning a Status to Others
How you set your "F-N-E" status towards the others has been pretty well tested by now. When you join a game you are in neutral mode. To make any changes to that, you need to access the Party System menu by hitting the "P" key, or the party system icon on the mini-panel. In the Party System menu, you will see a list of all the other characters in the game, their Clvls, and their status to you. You need to "Invite" them to join your party, and if anyone in the party does so they are in, with the others in the party automatically accepting them as well. So everyone doesn't need to click "Yes" or "Invite" when someone new wants to join the party.
On the player interface screen you have a few other options, including "mute from" "mute to" and the important "loot/no loot" switch. Given how much space all of a character's equipment takes up when placed into inventory, you would need to have virtually nothing in your own inventory to pick up everything from another character's corpse, even if they did have you set to "loot," and we never saw anyone set that option anyway. You need to be in a friendly party to set "loot," it's not an option to set it if you are neutral or hostile.
The different modes are distinct:
- Friendly: In this mode you share experience and gold, and there is no Friendly Fire at all.
- Neutral:' The default when joining a new game, no Friendly Fire, but you don't share experience or gold.
- Hostile: You can only set other players to "hostile" while you are in town, and they and all of their friends receive a warning message when this happens. Everything will hit and deal damage to other players in this mode. Swings, shots, spells, minions or hired NPC's, etc. There is of course no sharing of gold or experience in hostile.
Gold sharing is quite simple. In a party, the gold every character picks up is automatically divvied up. No muss, no fuss.
Experience sharing is a bit more complicated. You have to be in a friendly party, all near the same Clvl, fighting monsters that are appropriate for your level, and in reasonably close proximity to the character who gets the monster kill. But of course it's more complicated than that, and there is even a really cool formula that governs this whole interaction, in a very ingenuous and non-exploitable fashion.
The formula for sharing experience in a friendly party is complicated, but also very ingenious. The actual quote Matt Householder, Diablo II Producer, gave to us reads as follows:
- "The total Experience for killing a monster is divided among the members of a party. Each member's share of the total is an amount proportional to the member's character level divided by the sum of all the character levels in the party. The member delivering the killing blow also gets a small percentage of additional Experience as a bonus to his/her share.
- For each party member the Experience earned (added to stats) for killing a monster is computed based on the difference between your character's level and the monster's level. If the level difference is small (the defn of "small" is adjustable), the full Experience share is added to stats. If the difference is large (again adjustable), a minimum amount of Experience is added to stats. In between these two extremes a proportional amount is added."
Simple, eh? ;)
What this means is that in a party, the experience for killing a monster is divided up so that the higher Clvl characters get more, based on how high their character level is, and also whoever deals the killing strike gets a small bonus. And this is all dependant upon the monster being in your range to get experience from in the first place, but that comes into play if you are playing solo or in a group. So basically you should try and group up with characters at about your own level, and you should all get together and play areas that are appropriate for your level, if you wish to gain the maximum experience from your playing.
As was said before, there is no max character level hard cap in Diablo II. It was capped at Clvl 50 in Diablo; this is not the case in the sequel. However, Blizzard North has told us that it will be extremely difficult to get a character to Clvl 50. This likely means that you will need tremendous amounts of experience to advance in levels at that point, and that the only monsters that will still be awarding you experience are the most powerful and deadly in the game, no doubt deep in Act Four on the highest difficulty level. So players will eventually get characters to Clvl 51 and beyond, but it will be a very long climb to those levels.
There are a lot of other aspects to the Party System, most of them only applicable to friendly parties.
Map: You see friendly players on your overlay map, and also the small belt map, as green + signs. Enemy characters show up red, NPCs are white, you are blue, your own hirelings or minions or those of a friendly player are teal, and if you die your corpse is hot pink. You can see friendly players a great distance away, while NPCs are not visible on the map more than about two screens away, and enemy players need to be nearly on the screen to appear.
Auras and Curses: Auras are shared from the Paladin to his friends, and they benefit them just as they would the Paladin. Friendly players must be in close proximity to the Paladin to share an aura, and the shared aura only lasts five or ten seconds if they separate. Curses only effect hostile characters, or monsters, and it is not yet known if all curses can be cast on other players or their minions, or if there are some that will only work on monsters.
Friendly Fire: As mentioned earlier, Friendly Fire does not exist in Diablo II. If you are friendly or neutral, you can not hurt another player with anything. Spell, Arrow, Sword, etc. They are intangible to your attacks, and your minions will not target them. This changes with hostile mode, of course, where everything hits them, minions attack them, etc. How FF works has changed numerous times during the development cycle of Diablo II, and just because this is correct as of early January, 2000, doesn't mean it will be forever. (But that is true of nearly everything in the game.)