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The Free Fall

Random thoughts on MMORPG's and gaming in general from a long time player, fan, and hater. I've spent my time tasting porridge, and have yet to find the one that is 'just right.'

Author: Sovereign797

Why does gear define the character, and yet it's all the same?

Posted by Sovereign797 Saturday March 21 2009 at 10:02PM
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At the risk of burning myself out on writing, I wanted to make another post today since I had a lot of time to develop some thoughts at work.

Someone made a comment in my first post about the hypothetical dragon dropping the good loot and therefore getting farmed so the hypothetical guild could get all of its members geared out.  I've already mentioned that I think once a creature dies it should be dead and stay dead, so that leaves out farming anything but I didn't really address how I feel about aforementioned 'good loot.' 

To be perfectly honest I hate the way loot is handled in MMO's.  You'll find I hate a lot of very specific things in MMO's today even if I don't necessarily hate all the games.  Typically, you can math out the perfect gear for your chosen class and then its just a matter of grinding the right raid dungeons to get it.  You could also just get your set pieces and then of course, everyone has the same gear and everyone has the same stats'ish.  Sure, some people invest more time and end up having the better gear first, and for a little longer than everyone else.. but we're all working for the same thing.  I think that is one of the strengths of the diablo series and games like it, dungeon siege, hellgate, etc.  They have randomized loot which is a good start and excellent for that kind of game. 

I ask why a lot, and there's no difference here.  Why does it have to be that way?  Why does gear have to play such a role that a green'd out level 80 fighting a purple'd out level 80 will get stomped every time.  Well, skill does play a role in games like WoW but I'm going to go ahead and say that gear plays a bigger one.  I think that some of the fantasy games could learn a thing or two from a game like EVE Online, where the modules you put on your ship do not play as big a role as other factors.  Sure, you can get officer mods in EVE, and spend billions on your ship's gear, but if you don't know what you're doing, your ship is still going to get blown up, and probably by someone with named and tech 2 gear.  Why? Because they live and breathe combat, overloaded their mods, kept you at range and kept their transversal velocity up so you had a hard time hitting them.  Because they knew how to fight you, not necessarily how to get the best gear to fight you, and now you're in your pod and they have roughly half of your expensive stuff.

EVE gets away with this because all modules will eventually explode.  Oh sure, leave them in your hangar or never take your ship into space and they'll be fine.. but take it out and get involved in the universe, and your ship is going to become space junk, give it time.  Because stuff blows up, and crafters can craft good items, there is always a market for them.  Because you can lose your officer mods, your epics, it's not everyone's goal in life to get the next one, it's their goal to get better at what they like to do.

So we've got destructible gear and minimal enhancement from good gear to great gear.  Garbage gear should be passable as well and available cheaply in large quantities.  It is my opinion that every single usable item in the game should be craftable by players, however, I believe that there can be room for some select unique pieces with lore surrounding them.  These pieces would be very difficult to destroy, but nothing is permanent, even the one ring was finally melted. 

What is this damn dragon going to drop then, why would anyone bother killing him?  For one thing, this dragon has a story of his own, and killing him would be important to the game world.  That's usually not enough though, so dragons always have treasure.  Why shouldn't he be sitting on a collection of loot that he's gathered.  Everyone who ever fought and died to the dragon would leave behind a portion of loot.  When someone finally kills it, there may be crafted armor left behind that Joe Armorsmith made for Jon Dragonslayer 3 months ago before Jon was turned into ashes.  So yeah, you should get loot, and if you're lucky, that dragon also had one of those unique pieces we were talking about.

Craftable everything I say, and people will pay top dollar for a well made sword, they always have.  Some of what SWG did originally with its crafting system was really great.  The varied stats on gear was great, getting that absolute perfect piece was very hard or very expensive.

And crafting it should be different too.. just wait till I write something about how I'd like to see crafting done. 

Velexia writes:

Very good stuff here.  It always makes me smile when I see that my plans for Project Vex are seconded in the community.

One slight difference, is that in Project Vex, it could very well be a veteran player playing that Dragon, collecting that loot (with a game mechanic that encourages the hoarding of loot).

And I wouldn't worry too much about the balancing issues that fly through peoples minds when I mention a Dragon as a PC.  It's all been worked through and taken into consideration (I just can't reveal the biggest and best part of Project Vex, or it would ruin the surprise).

Sun Mar 22 2009 2:23AM Report
rounner writes:

The argument of importance of items and getting variety has been argued quite a bit before. The key points are:

- What is the point of playing without a carrot?

- What motivates crafters and drives the economy?

- How do you encourage players to use different items when one item is min maxed to be the best choice for a situation?

- What stops people from playing naked so they don't lose loot?

If you 'solved' some of those issues, you may help the genera move forward (I agree in principle with what you said).

Sun Mar 22 2009 3:07AM Report
arjun1991 writes:

"Even the one ring was finally melted" . That's exactly what I'd want in my kinda MMO... and that's what I love about EVE.

Sun Mar 22 2009 4:43AM Report
Sovereign797 writes:

What is the point of playing without a carrot?

There's a carrot, it just doesn't have to be items.  I don't believe in developing every MMO for the WoW player.  So in a different sub-genre of MMO, items don't have to be the focus, instead, making something of your character is your carrot, whether that is being a successful crafter, a great warrior, a wealthy land owner, a noble, a king, a leader of armies, etc.

- What motivates crafters and drives the economy?

Items should be destructible, keeping the market fluid.  When your master crafted dagger bites it, you need another one.  Crafters will work in larger quantities to become rich and sell many different types of items in a variety of places in the world (no single world auction house... trade routes are better)

- How do you encourage players to use different items when one item is min maxed to be the best choice for a situation?

Again we're talking about a different design philosophy here.  This is something that I will end up talking about in a future post on this blog so I'll let it go for now.

- What stops people from playing naked so they don't lose loot?  Nothing.  Why shouldn't you be able to play naked?  The celts did it. Of course the question then is, if someone can be just as successful playing naked, why would anyone buy armor? It would come down to aesthetic choice.  You want to be a cool barbarian with no armor, sure, skill into unarmored.  Ok, you don't have to buy any plate, so your costs are lower than someone who has to keep buying new plate every time theirs gets damaged beyond repair.  But instead, you need to buy stoneskin potions to get the same kind of defense.  Something along those lines.

I agree with you, rounner, it's been talked about before, and that your questions are some of the stumbling blocks for every developer that tries to break out of the mold.  However, I think that designing with a different set of players in mind is what makes or breaks this kind of game.  If I were to make an MMO, I would not expect or want the 11.5 million WoW players, I would be quite happy with 100-500k players looking for something different.

Sun Mar 22 2009 5:22AM Report
BlackCarrion writes:

How would such a game be crafted? If 'ye epic lore item' happen to be destroyed forever then only one person would have good use for it and for a limited time. If it did not get destroyed, but merely moved, it may work better. I believe that is what Blizzard is heading for with Frostmourne. Whole guilds attack, leader gets it. Soon enough, one guild of gods will be born.

Anyway... beside the point. If 'ye epic lore item' is destroyed, then what happens to the value of killing that awesome god-dragon-thing-a-ma-jig? You'll just end up with a piece of crap armor from Joe armorsmith that you paid a measly 30g for yesterday to aid in slaying this beast in the first place.

Ah, I'm not sure if I am showing what I'm talking about sufficently, oh well. Point: Lore item destroyed = value of monster gone = what's the point of paying for armor to aid in destroying = no cash to armorsmith = armorsmith gone = no one plays.

Sun Mar 22 2009 5:34AM Report
Sovereign797 writes:

Gear should not define the character, and that is the whole point.  Gear is a means to an end, and a way to stay modest.  The end is what you make it.  If I want to be a well known warrior I will probably invest in master crafted armor from Tim the Mastersmith so that I look the part and have a tiny edge.  I'll then fight npc's or pc's as I see fit and win or lose.  Over time my armor will degrade and I'll repair it, and eventually I'll need to replace it.  I'll go right back to Tim and get a new piece, shinier this time, and with spikes, dammit. 

I'll go face the dragon, it will kill me, and my shiny spiky armor will be part of his horde.   Maybe the dragon also has one of these epic lore items as well, and when someone comes and kills him and takes it, they may or may not wear it.  If they do, it will be better than that shiny, spiky armor laying next to it, and it will take a lot more punishment, be repaired, and eventually, it will be nearing its last legs.  That person may choose to save it, display it in his guild's hall.  They may choose to keep wearing it until it is destroyed.  They may come across the wrong guy and be killed, or get beaten in a major battle against players or an npc.  Now they're in trouble, it's usually beneficial to let someone live, but this guy has the epic chestplate of pwn, they're going to ransom it from him or kill him and take it.  If it is another giant dragon, he's going to die anyway and the chest piece will sit waiting for a new champion.

The point of it all is this:  The value of slaying a great NPC monster is not in the loot, it is in the deed, of actually affecting the gameworld by destroying a historic creature and changing that entire area.  Loot is not what you have to play for in every game.  This is the kind of thinking I wish I could change, but I will be happy enough that there are others out there who think as I do.

Thanks for the comment BC, I do see what you are saying, and in a typical MMO it would never fly, but it's that line of thinking that I would like to see changed in the right MMO for me.

Sun Mar 22 2009 5:51AM Report
dcostello writes:

    I totally agree with your philosophy about MMO gear.  It shouldn't be the focus of combat and/or balance, it is simply another factor within the larger spectrum.  The real focus should be the individual player's skill.  You mentioned how the Celts went into battle naked, well for one it was for intimidation, and I believe that should be a viable strategy (given that the player(s) actually knows how to play that way).  I believe strongly in balance, so every type of weapon, armor, fighting style, you name it should be balanced.  However, the balance or advantage/disadvantage only comes out when the player's skill is calculated in.  So, fighting without armor is only a viable strategy if the player is swift, evasive, and can destroy his/her opponent quickly.  If the player is foolish enough to get hit numerous times, then the player should rethink using that strategy (because the player didn't use it correctly).

         @ Velexia

        PLEASE STOP MENTIONING YOUR GAME!  If you want to actually post how it is going to work and why it is so god damn awesome, then post it.  If not, stop writing these little praises for it.  I have no problem with that fact that you have a game idea, that's great.  I have an idea for a game as well, but I don't spam the forums and blogs with really vague comments on how cool and godly my game is going to be.  This is because I do not wish to share it yet, and since I do not wish to share it yet (which is also your situation) I do not bother people about it.  This behavior is that same thing an elementary kid does when he has a secret.  He runs around telling everyone how he has the greatest secret, but he refuses to tell anyone.  To put it bluntly, it's annoying.  Either post a section on the details of your game, or stop mentioning it.

Sun Mar 22 2009 8:04AM Report
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Tue Jan 05 2010 4:46AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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