Games change in development. A lot. They change even more once they’re in actual release. So how much does a game change in 10 years, roughly half of that split between development and live service?
Grinding Gear Games has given an idea of the scope of that change in a forum post that revisits a Path of Exile design document from 2008. It lists 50 elements that are in the game now, some of which were part of the game’s original vision and others that were added later — much later, in some cases.
The most basic parts of the game, like attributes, level cap, item rarities, ladders, and leagues, were there from the start. So were microtransactions, though the exact nature of them and “the current wide selection” came later. Other additions to the game seem to mostly be major components that were added in expansions, like the map system and the pantheon.
Meanwhile, some items were there from the start but changed during development, including some of the most fundamental aspects of the game. You used to be able to support a skill with different support gems in multiple items, leading to skills with eight or more supports attached and encouraging one-skill builds. Also, flasks used to be refilled at fountains, rather than from monster kills, leading to undesirable “Fountain-camping.”
Give the whole breakdown a read on the Path of Exile site.