Path of Exile Developer Diary, Screenshots, and Music Samples

Grinding Gear Games is going to be patching quite a bit of new content (including the entirety of Act Three) into Path of Exile as the game approaches open beta, and they've been giving us a sneak peek of what's to come through a handful of new screenshots, samples of Act Three's town music and voice acting, and a developer diary video on the end-game map system that's accompanied by a spotlight video. First, let's check it out firsthand:

And then we'll dive into the diary:
Maps will not always yield another Map to play. On average, players will not have a constant supply of Maps unless they trade for more or do end-game boss runs to try to find another when they run out. This is the same philosophy as any other end-game item (players are always pretty low on 200% damage weapons), and is necessary to help keep Maps rewarding and valuable.

We want it to be difficult to obtain the higher tiers of Maps. If players complete several Maps successfully and are lucky with Map drops, they can obtain Maps that are potentially too high level for them to complete. It's reasonable for them to chose to trade these Maps to more advanced players who are able to handle that content.

Like the rest of the game, having multiple players in an area increases the drop rate of items and the experience that monsters yield (while making them more challenging). Under the new system, there is an exception: the drop rate of the Map items themselves is not increased by the additional players (all other items drops in the area are still increased, of course). A Map has the same chance of yielding other Maps regardless of how many players are in it. This is because a single Map item can be used by a whole party, unlike other items that can only be used by one player. The item quantity bonus that a Map has (due to its Mods) will affect the drop rate of Map items within that Map.