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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Are Epic Items Still Epic?

Posted by MikeB Wednesday November 24 2010 at 10:40PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “Epic Items…..that everyone else has??” by Emergence, who is no stranger to the spotlight! Emergence is disappointed with the state of epic items in MMOs, asserting that they no longer truly feel epic. If everyone has ‘em, how are they epic?

 Read below for more of Emergence’s thoughts on the subject, and we’ll also take a look at what the rest of the community is saying on the topic!

“In every game there are Epic or Legendary Items.

In WoW, every lvl 80 newb has one...or four...or twenty four. WoW suffers from what I call "Dragon Ball...Z...GT... Syndrome" in that the characters never die (or come back to life) and eventually the story becomes ridiculous in how powerful the characters become. At first they were drained from any form of energy attack. In the end, they apparently fight multiple gods, and then level up 100,000,000,000,000x past that. It's what is inevitable when a series refuses to end or change characters.

In Ultima Online, things were different. Items were looted or broke. I remember trying to find Silver Weapons. These did double damage to Undead. WOW! That was awesome! Orc-Bane items. Sweet! Elemental Killers! Pain Katanas.

What do you guys think about Epic Items? Should only a few players have them? Should they be rare, or just breakable? Should every player be allowed several, so that everyone gets to feel awesome- or is that childish and should be reserved for Toon Disney 3: Ariel's Slumber?

Okay... wait a minute! What makes an item Epic? Isn't there a big difference between double damage bane items and the Sword of 10,000 Souls?

Should weapons raise stats? Should weapons increase Skill or Level? What do you think of DPS? Speed? Enchantments? Charges?”

Ubervon feels pretty strongly about the disappointing state of epic items as well:

“lol @ the idea of 'EPIC'  items.  at least when it comes to the now easy-mode-here's-your-purple-gear-Warcraft MMO.   it's rather dumb to say "hey these here items are epic"  when every other tom, bob, and joey have the SAME stuff.   instead of actually hunting down and getting some random awesome drop, total newbs can just hit a crappy dungeon a couple times, and then go hand in some tokens for gear at an NPC. 

wow, that was awesome--now you look like everyone else.  what's so fantastic and special about looking like, and sharing the same stats--as everybody else?  you don't stand out, you don't have any advantage over anyone.  but hey! all your gear is 'epic.'

Epic/legendary  should mean those bits and parts are rare.  Hard to find.  Special.   Not so common that any newb can wander off to an NPC and BUY the dumb things.   And when you do find one, it should not look like everything else in the game.   What would be the point in that?   "oh hey my hat is legendary and orange!"   ya, and it looks like rest of the "epics" everyone else has that they got off the NPC.  Lucky you!”

Krelian understands and appreciates Emergence’s complaints, but ultimately prefers the “WoW system”:

“@ OP:

I respect your opinion as you got some good points,

But in an mmo, if only a few players can have epic items, than ULTIMATELY (/eventually) those players will be thehardcore ones, whereascasual players will be forced to walk the eternity in ''grey or white quality items''....

So it would be great for epic players, they would have epic armor

But for the rest of us it wouldnt be so extremly great,.

I beleive thats why games like world of warcraft and etc ''play out'' the way they do...

Its like INSTANT GRATIFICATION TO ANYBODY, so no matter how much you play a day, no matter who or where you are, ur always in the end guaranteed to find some ''uber items'' that can satisfy your needs.

BUT THE DOWNSIDE OF IT ALL (just kinda the way OP explained i guess)if everybody and their mother has access to those epics, than they are epics no more. (and they serve no special purpose, either)

But personally, in the end; I still prefer the WOW system, as I am only a casual player (working&studying+social life= VERY LITTLE TIME FOR GAMING) and if it wasn't for wow, I prolly would never have seen or possessed a rare or epic item in any game in my life :D”

Ramonski7 takes issue with the assertion that games like World of Warcraft dilute the value of “epic” items:

“In WoW Legendary items seperate the wannabes from the real achievers and Artifacts are even a step futher by being unique per server. Epics are measured against the common folk in these games a.k.a. npcs. You know, the real populance. DAoC had relics, UO had silver katanas, LoTRO has legendary and I'm sure other mmos have a step above what WoW call epics. WoW has 3 levels of gear that really matter to it;s players: uncommon, rare and epic. That's not a very wide spectrum of gear quality to get bent over seeing how most bosses wield legendary and artifact items.”

So, here’s my take: I agree with Emergence that epic items have definitely lost their sheen in the current crop of MMOs, but I am honestly conflicted on whether or not that is a bad thing. For example, while I never got into World of Warcraft, I’m aware that the game has become more and more accessible with time, so much so that it’s obviously become much easier to acquire “epic items” (such as Tier sets) than in years past, to the point where it seems like the people I know who do play the game quite a bit are simply going through the motions to acquire these items. On the one hand, it’s nice seeing friends I know who have never been into the raiding scene actually put in the time and effort (as reduced as it may be) into acquiring that gear, because it’s now actually an attainable goal without requiring giving up one’s entire life.

At the same time, I’m not sure I’d want things to go back entirely in the other direction. To provide one recent example, I played Warhammer Online at launch and found a lot of the armor progression to be pretty bland, but I’d also seen the art for the Sovereign gear for my favorite classes and thought it looked lightyears better and wanted it badly. If you saw anyone wearing that stuff (you didn’t, but if you did!), it would definitely stand out as being epic. However, it was so epic it was nigh impossible to get, nevermind the Renown Rank requirements that would be needed just to wear it.

Ultimately, I think that breaking item progression down into a trio of goals in a game’s design is probably an ideal solution. Short term goals, items that look cool, are powerful, but don’t require players to give up their lives, would fit well with casual gamers. Medium-length goals, items or item sets intended for players to acquire over a few months of consistent game time would be great for everyone else and also serve as longer term goals for casual gamers. And finally, long-term goals, items that require immense effort and dedication, are powerful and awesome looking, but are not required to tackle content, for the hardcore types. The key difference is that there should always be a path to these things, even if they are intended to be epic. Just having things be so rare there are only ever 2-4 people on an entire server that have them doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

There’s also the whole justification of cost. If you have to develop equally epic content for these items, it’s hard for developers to justify creating things that only a tiny percentage of the playerbase will ever experience or attain.

Finally, it’s important not to invalidate these accomplishments. One of the reasons I could never be bothered to play World of Warcraft whether it was in vanilla when things were still hard to get or now, is the rate at which player accomplishment is invalidated. If I put in all that effort, I’d like to be able to enjoy it somehow. Getting the best stuff in the game only to have greens a level or two above the old level cap be better is a real downer. Players who put in all that effort should have an advantage over the new content, they earned it!

Shinami writes:

Ok, here is my post ^_^

 

I am coming from the fact that I have done game programming and game mapping. Part of game programming is game balance. I spend anywhere from a good 10 - 100 hours depending on the size of a map in a shooter game with a small test group.

 

This test group is made of elite players, each of us has had Champion Standing and have retained the title for over three months. Each of us also agree on balancing things out.

 

The reason games are so cool is because of a balance that exists or a restriction. I started balancing things in gaming as a GameMaster/DungeonMaster leading a roleplaying group years ago. Each one of us had restrictions in our characters.

 

If you had been a dungeons and dragons player, you would remember that the spell "Wish" needed very hard items to find and it also caused the caster of the spell to age five years and to also forget the spell (He or she would have to relearn the spell)

 

The reason Epic Items exists are to fight against Epic enemies and specific threats. Game Balance is broken in these MMORPGs and yes, I have reached the top in some of them and I have been the one who has killed many players and the one who also had been victimized as well.

 

What I've noticed is that shooters have become the competitive genre. Players have control over their characters, fight directly and everyone has the same health, weapons and accessibilities. In short the game is actually about skill, depending on the shooter...as there are exception.

 

There is no skill if I have maximum equipment. Please Let me explain myself...

 

There is no honor, or any integrity whatsoever if in a sanctioned PvP Arena, a warrior is unbeatable due to equipment only. Stats in RPGs make and destroy the game.

 

Sure, I can earn all my equipment and do all possible, but PvP is another game within the game itself. The idea of PvP is not supposed to determine the winner based on PvE accomplishements. This is exactly what the companies who make these games want to do....

 

Exploit and destroy the balance of games by claiming few can become like gods and force EVERYONE out of greed to do the same thing. Then when the game reaches a certain point, to release new God Items, unbalance the game further and give a penalty so now your Old Items hurt enemies a lot less and in order to have your former attack potential, to force you to spend 100s of hours more going after such items.

 

I can invalidate accomplishments. Here is how I do it reasonably:

 

WoW is just one MMORPG and if the accomplishment amounts to reaching a point where two players fight. Then its not really a fight, but a place where two players simply stand next to each other and press keys in a certain order and have auto-tracking and auto-locking skills hit each other. Even if skills are not auto-locking, a difference in character stats affects combat, specially when the Epic Items in-games actually make a character class function like another character class altogether.....One a character-class package is brokenm, a game is officially unbalanced as identity is lost.

 

In my division, before I lost....I held the Champion title in Deathmatch for 13 months. In that time, I defended the title through the league I am part of. At times I could have lost it in 5 vs 1....along with many other situations. I defended the title for a very long time, going to Korean Servers where I pinged 2 - 3x as much as Koreans there and managed to pull out wins. Getting near-eliminated in a series-tournament, I managed to come back in 30 seconds remaining,

 

I remember when I did lose the title. I said "Its not about winning the title, but all about what you do to defend the title that counts. Thats what everyone cares about when all eyes are on you and that is what is respected...that is what a champion is.....Not the winner of the title, but the one who defends the title the best"

 

We all had the same health, We all knew the maps, and we knew skill, strategy and enjoyed playing in different games and areas...even modded deathmatch and european + korean servers, where they had amazing players.

 

No MMORPG in the world can even genuinely securely give the player that kind of experience because the stats speaks for themselves. A character gets all EPIC ITEMS and soon, a player is near invincible, it can be months before he loses the title in a real match where everything is balanced and even...

 

Sure, I lost my title, but the one who took it from me only held on to it for 5 weeks. After recapturing it, I held it for another eight months.

 

As long as companies ruin their games by unbalancing, breaking classes and capitalizing of players greed, all that combat, experience and PvP is just time burned.

 

And it will be proven when 90% of the stories are "I beat a player with my God Weapon" or "my clan beat a bunch of newbs with our uber equip."

 

So yes, I can invalidate PvP accomplishments in MMORPGs, just like any referee on the face of the planet would also invalidate and disqualify at least half the players in a game in a PvP contest due to such a difference in power..

 

MMORPGs, the only Genre of games in the world where how far you make it in PvP is determined by the weapons and equipment you possess at max level rather than any real skill or abilities. The only Genre on the face of the planet where players get away at destroying the weak and becoming bullies themselves and calling that "power" and "greatness"

 

In a shooter, you can kill newbs....but in most stats your ranking won't advance and while you are busy killing newbs, elite players are busy fighting elite players, who train to have a chance at taking the title from you. So they know their place.

 

Of course public ladders in shooters are another thing, where 75% of players are really newbs to intermediate players. :) In an MMORPG you don't get the skill...

 

You see...there are players who in the same map, both of you pinging 20 - 40, You may win 20 - 5...and feel ok, but there are also players who without cheating, with the same conditions (20 - 40 ping) will wipe you out 2 - 20.

 

This natural skill of getting better at a map, learning weapons and items and seeing what to do, studying opponents and taking a chance and reacting fast...Does not exist in MMORPGs. As long as Mortality Diminishes in MMORPGs, its no longer roleplaying and it becomes a fool's game.

 

Before you flame me, I've been at the top in some MMORPGs and some shooters. I can compare them both, Ive been at the top of the barrel and even the bottom. I once was a super newb too you know.

 

I don't blame you guys for trying so hard, but when you try so hard that the game breaks...and the majority say "so what? I got the item fair and square" while the game classes become more unbalanced and break even further....then gamers have to take the blame as well for allowing it to continue.

 

Unless we are engaged in a full blown war, I refuse to fight against players extremely weaker than me unless they want to try their luck or train in a shooter.

 

If you want a solution? Make the game a realtime game where its not so stat and counter-based. Give a max equipment setup without breaking classes, Use titles to gain advantages or disadvantages that are temporary and make a LIMIT and keep that limit. :) It will go so much farther.

Sat Nov 27 2010 4:20AM Report
Bulhaa writes:

I totally agree with you Shinami. But I don't think most MMORPGs are gonna be anything like that because most people just love killing newbies. I can say so because I know people who even make characters exclusively to go to newbie only regions to kill them. People need to grow up and learn to have fun in an equal environment. I personally don't like killing newbies because I love team battles and if the newbies advance we can have huge battles. It also would counter clique-monopolies.

Sun Nov 28 2010 9:58AM Report
wahala99 writes:

To The ultra Epic Player. .... You have your gear right?   How did you get it ... fist fight i the alley or perhaps collecting a bazillion of those little tokens and buying better gear, then maybe doing some of the harder content and getting some even better gear ... well there is more content on the way .. so be first to be "Epic"  

I read that blizz looked at the stats of how many players were going through the high level content.  It was a very small percentage/ Why?  Crappy gamers yes, gamers who dont want to spend their life plaing a game ... yes.  Fear of failure if they had to go on  a pug .... yes .... etc etc etc.  People are people.  we are not all the same ..  Game company A ,,, (call em bliz for now) wants to build a game that many many people want to play.  That I  want to play and you.  So we all gotta have fun ... if I play anI make NO progress ... (ie better gear .. harder content) . there is no fun factor.  So they make progress a little easier for us normal players

 

If I make progress slower than you because you are much better at the game, I can still have a fun factor, still make progress on my gear and content I can run.  Maybe even have a dream to someday be as good as you and get to the top of the Epic hill in one of the first waves.    Epic is just a word.  The Game goes on. There is no end (till they go out of buisness) they must put the chance for progress in the game so we will play.

 

Dont look at me like I can easily get Epic gear (though I do have a DK with all purples) like yours.  I am no where near the player you are. It took me a lot of work and quite a few wipes and a lot of learning just to get to the lowly level I am at. 

 

Isn't it  satisfaction enough to BE the elite (Epic) instead of wear it?

Sun Nov 28 2010 8:57PM Report
akheva writes:

I could sit here and read through all the endless gribble posted, but I rather not. Simply put epics are no longer epic.. unless you mean they are more epic then the piece of trash that you had before.

There was a time in WoW's history when getting a purple item ment something. When in order to get your Headmasters Charge you had to run Scholomance at least 100+ times.  As you said., people get epics just for stepping into a place. 

I understand the whole idea of getting people gear so they don't feel as if they are missing out on things, but if I decide to dedicate tons of my time in a game and play the "hardcore" player role then I want to be rewarded. I don't want to get the same thing the guy that spent 2 minutes in the game everyday gets, I want my hardcore raiding / pvp gear, I want my hardcore questing / grinding gear, I want my EPICS. 

I remember back in EQ1 days getting my epic weapon, now those were epic quests with epic rewards. It took my monk 4 months of some serious camping and raids to get my epic weapon and trust me when I say, that was extremely fast for the monk epic, it took some people over a year.

So screw satisfying people, giving away gear they truly didn't earn. Thats why developers made different levels of gear. Greys, whites, greens, blues, purples, oranges, etc. Give the hardcore casuals..., what ever that means some purples if they want it, let the hardcore pvps / raiders get their OJs or bloody reds.

Mon Nov 29 2010 7:53PM Report
trembulant writes:

epic items should be rare random drops, not "if i kll this boss 10 times i'll probably get this drop". Just random world drops that no one, not even developers can predict, and unbindable.

possibly droppable in pvp situations even tho no one likes it, even me but make there be a price for owning it, it's more realistic)

hey if you gt a sword that's 10 times better than anyone elses, they should get a shot at taking it from you. If you can't defend yourslef with it, you don't deserve it.

Epic items are basically the new greens, greens and whites are just trash to be sold to the vendor.

epic is not epic anymore.

 

Tue Nov 30 2010 2:07AM Report

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