Rock, Paper, Shotgun went in depth with the developers of Path of Exile‘s newest content drop, Delve, and in doing so, hit upon one of the basic tenets of game design.

As you probably know by now, Delve is the latest content update/league for PoE. If you’ve played it extensively, you’ve probably noticed some … changes over the past few weeks. As Technical Director Jonathan Rogers explains, those changes were needed to balance the rate at which players explored the infinite mine and required tweaks in a few different directions — some of which “led to players being really unhappy.”

Grinding Gear Games thinks it’s got it all sorted out now, though the need to make changes while the Delve mode was live was fraught with peril. As Rogers put it:

“This seat-of-the-pants balancing was really frustrating. If you change stuff like that it loses the trust of the community and you have to build it back up again. Yeah, it was quite painful, but thankfully we’re OK now.”

Fortunately, PoE has nearly six years of goodwill built up with its community that it can afford to make adjustments like this without too much trouble. It also helps that Delve is meant to stand apart from the main game, so even if it does have issues, it’s temporary content that will be removed soon.

That said, games that make radical changes to core mechanics — even if they seem like the right ideas from a design perspective — can still anger fans to the point of causing a mass exodus. And if your game is new, even if it’s not officially released, it can really sink it, despite your good intentions.

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.


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