The Design And Development Process For Path Of Exile Gems

  • There are 9 new gems in War for the Atlas, which includes four skill gems and five support gems. However, do you want to know the design and development process for some of these gems? Let's dive into this explanation from the Senior Game Designer, Rory.


    Path of Exile


    Firstly, let's take a look at The Corpse Skillsthe, the step of skill development was to decide what our intent should be when adding the new skills. Sometimes the goal of a new skill is to fill out a small gap in a build's progression, sometimes the purpose of a new skill is to introduce an entirely unique playstyle to the game, like the addition of Ancestor Totems to give melee characters a different way to play. Sometimes the purpose is to expand a single skill out into a full playstyle. This was the direction for this set of skills.


    The designer looked at the possibility of both expanding on the core style of Detonate Dead and improving the Detonate Dead skill. They designed a selection of skills that deal pure offensive damage by using corpses as a resource.


    Second, Fire: the designer have a few skill sets that have a diverse set of elements, like traps and elemental attacks. These do have the advantage of naturally creating a more diverse variety of builds within the skill set but often restrict players and their choices when the passive tree or item choices they take end up restricting their benefits to only one of the skills in the skill set.


    Though they did change Unearth to a Physical Damage skill for thematic reasons, they elected to build the new corpse skills as fire skills in the style of Detonate Dead to let players mix and match the skills during the leveling process.


    Third, The Support Gems: early in the development of the skills, around the time when they were first starting to get skill effects, it was decided that we would add a series of new mechanic-altering support gems. This list started large and was trimmed down as the programmers investigated the planned support gems, however Spell Cascade was clearly one that was going to influence the balance of the new corpse skills.


    Finally, Iteration: volatile Dead had improvements to its AI system to make the orbs act more intelligently, focussing on unique and rare monsters while spreading out to take out weaker individual monsters. The speed the orbs detonated was greatly increased, so monsters didn't have a chance to flee before the orbs detonated.


    Bodyswap had a new effects technology added so they could have blood drip off the character after bodyswapping. Very important. They also made improvements to how the skill worked with totems to enable the cool-looking build, though it became clear that further totem AI improvements would have to be made to let the skill work as well as it should.


    A lot of effort went into reducing the framerate drop of Cremation without compromising the epic visuals. On the very last last day before release they solved an issue that meant mines could result in hundreds of cremation geysers active at once, which was also rather bad for framerate.


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