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Developer Chronicles: Eras

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Wyatt Cheng talks about Eras and future changes to them.

We haven't had any major Diablo III news for a while now, so don't get too excited - this is not an expansion announcement or anything like that! Still, it is quite an interesting topic: Eras. An Era is the equivalent of a Season for non-seasonal players.

There was often a problem with a patch going live right before the end of an Era, making it possible for non-seasonal players to achieve very high rankings by playing during the last days of an Era, but with the advantages of the new patch. Senior Game Designer Wyatt Cheng talked about making Eras last longer, from 6 to 12 months. Moreover, Eras will change after a patch goes live and they may even change without a patch going live (this last point may also apply to Seasons).

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment

Hi, everybody. Wyatt Cheng here again with a second installment of Developer Chronicles. Today, let’s discuss Eras.

When we introduced Seasons to Diablo III, we also debuted "Eras." The thinking was that while the seasonal leaderboard would naturally reset every season, there would be some players who would want the non-seasonal leaderboard to reset periodically as well. There is a certain excitement associated with a fresh leaderboard—a sense that you could maybe see your own name up there at the beginning of an Era. It can also be disheartening to see somebody who is not currently playing the game hold a top position on a leaderboard long after the record was set.

As Diablo III has evolved, it has become clear in hindsight that while the fresh excitement is there, it doesn’t last very long. First, the Era leaderboard is not something you "climb." If you are capable of achieving a particular Greater Rift tier, you're likely able to replicate that performance, or very close to it, at the very start of a new Era. Second, between patch changes, item buffs, and Paragon levels, there is built-in power growth over time—the concern of somebody holding a high Era ranking long after they've quit hasn’t really materialized.

Eras Going Forward

It has been our plan for some time to stop advancing the Era count every time a new season occurs. Expect that to be the norm moving forward. We are looking to move Eras to be 6–12 months in length.

Besides simply allowing Eras to be 6–12 months long, there is an additional circumstance in which we feel an Era reset will still be warranted: when we expect that the highest attainable Greater Rift is going to go down. As an example, in patch 2.4.2, we made changes to the Twisted Sword, Energy Twister, and crowd control mechanics that caused the highest cleared Greater Rift to go down. When we have strong reason to believe the highest cleared Greater Rift will significantly drop, we do need to advance the Era to keep the non-seasonal leaderboard from going stale. Though this was the case in 2.4.2, expect Eras to advance less frequently moving forward.

This brings us to a related question. When an Era advances, is it done before a patch goes live or after? The answer to this depends on the intent of Eras. Previously we advanced an Era as soon as a Season ended. This was back when there were season-specific items. The Era would advance in order to record the state of the non-seasonal leaderboards before all the season-specific items were transitioned to non-seasonal. We no longer have season-specific items and there is greatly reduced value in trying to memorialize the leaderboards at that particular moment in time. However, when we expect patch changes to cause the previous top ranks to be difficult or impossible to beat, it makes more sense to advance the Era AFTER the patch has gone live. Advancing the Era before the patch goes live would cause some players to lock in high ranks that become unbeatable once the patch hits. Advancing after the patch goes live allows players in the new Era to compete in a fresh environment based on the balance of the current live patch.

To summarize, seasons are for those who want a recurring fresh experience; Eras should represent periods of time closer to a year.

(source)

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