What is the design process at Path

As with all league releases, we introduced a number of unique items with Path of Exile: Delirium. For this news post, we asked our design team to share their thoughts and the process behind creating these unique items with us.

Our main goal in designing contemporary unique items is to create an object that one would want to pick up and use, either by opening up the possibility of a new way of playing or by enhancing a particular style of play. For league-specific unique items, many of them are made to be versatile at low levels, but also to be attractive to very specific builds in later stages of development. However, there are of course always exceptions to this rule!

Key Skill Jewels



The Key Skill Jewels were selected from a long list of over 30 suggestions from our designers, many of which were unfeasible. Even more build-specific than normal key skills, they are designed to create or support niche interactions and thereby potentially help new builds gain popularity.

‘Empty hands’ and its key skill Empty hand technique ’was a special case. Originally proposed for effects by an artist, it went through a number of different drafts. We had to make sure we could coexist with sb Face Breaker ’, so the original design disabled item slots and had specific restrictions on each of its stats. However, because that meant far too much text and in order to avoid possible problems caused by restricting the subject space, the "free hand" status was created. "Free hand" means that you are not equipped with a weapon, gloves, quiver or shield at this point in time, a condition that we may be able to use again in the future.

The goal was to create the motif of a monk or frenzied hand-to-hand combat, and the 'free hand' state enabled us to do that in a way by imposing an interesting constraint that allowed us to be the key to give great strength. Our tests showed that it was very powerful at character boosting and we worked on reducing that a bit during development by lowering the attack speed multiplier and increasing the additional damage to compensate. But we couldn't narrow it down any further without distorting the idea.

voices



Voices was one of the first Cluster Jewels we designed before a single major skill was even created.

It was first introduced with an empty passive skill and three jewel sockets. During the gradual refinement of the cluster gems, it became clear that it was a very powerful unique item, especially with only a small passive. So we created several editions that had multiple empty passives so that some versions required a higher investment than others.

We avoid trying to balance rarity alone, but the quality of this gem was so interesting that we didn't want to minimize its possibilities. It therefore became the rarest unique item obtainable through the simulacrum - instead of us changing its power. This special case for a unique item was only acceptable because it could only achieve its true strength through the use of many other Cluster Gems.

Split personality



'Split Personality' was initially conceived as a Small Cluster Gem, but we quickly decided that the gem would be much more interesting if it could be used anywhere in the tree and not be constrained to only be socketed in the outermost area like Cluster Jewels to be able to. We started by adding all of the general perks (attributes, defense, health, mana, and accuracy) to the jewels to see if that would add enough variety and produce a number of interesting items for builds that focus on piling up those bonuses and whether there would also be room for creating similar unique items in the future.

Megalomaniac



For a long time, this Medium Cluster Jewel was designed in such a way that it did not grant any direct bonuses itself, but instead increased the strength of the Small and Large Cluster Jewels associated with it. This became a nightmare in terms of description and the effort to make the jewel work. So we sat down and immediately came up with the current design with three random major skills. At first it had four of them, but that was far too powerful for the points invested.

Algor Mortis



These gloves were designed with the aim of enabling a new style of play in which a cold-based area skill is woven between your lightning damage skills, with a powerful increase in damage as a reward. They're also special because they're the first item that allows the zufügen Leach ’debuff to be inflicted without preventing Shock’ (a lightning-based weakening that reduces enemy damage). The alternating debuffs are a special mechanic that we normally only grant at the expense of the underlying element-based debuff, but the unique style of play that Algor Mortis enables makes it a great opportunity to 'leach out' as a special reward for the To grant use of this item.

Assailum



The Sharp Shot skill on this unique item was designed so that it could potentially become a stand-alone support gem if it was popular enough. It was originally designed as a support to turn any bowing skill into a channeled skill. This has been changed to work as a channeled skill that triggers assisted archery skills to prevent many archery skills from having to be fundamentally altered in order to be channeled directly.

During development, the helmet had a damage multiplier for skills triggered by ‘Sharp Shot’, in addition to granting ös Malicious Projectiles ’support. But since the multiplier of the skill would never be directly visible through ‘Sharp Shot’ (since there was no gem!) We combined the two multipliers into one and thereby gave the helmet the damage of an object with six connections with a more precise representation.

Wickedness



This item was created to play the role of a melee focused object as it was modeled after Algor Mortis (designed for cast based builds) and Assailum (for ranged combatants). "Infamy" was developed with the thought of fighters, their affinity for banners and the passive skill that removes their reservation costs. The major Cluster Gem Commander skill was designed to reduce the cost of using two banners for other Ascendancy classes, thereby allowing it to be used by additional builds.

Beacon of madness



This item was designed early on in Delirium's development, but it used a mechanic that was later removed from the League due to unnecessary complexity. It was then later redesigned to be three unique items, based on the debuffs from Delirium monsters and with powerful bonuses that we would not normally grant from a single item. However, these bonuses had the price that the duration of the weakening had to be managed skillfully.

The three versions of Beacon of Madness ’received a supportive effect after we presented them, after further discussions had made it clear that the item could be a little more versatile. We added an additional stat to each variant that worked when ‘Magnificent madness’ was not active.

Unique items will always be one of the fundamental elements that make Path of Exile so interesting. They are a goal for you to achieve, they inspire new builds and add a bit of flair and spice to the game. As the game grows, new designs become possible and new ideas emerge. We hope you enjoyed this little insight into our development process and maybe it gave you a brilliant idea for your next build.