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Player Looting - The Good and Bad

Posted by vajuras Friday February 15 2008 at 12:34AM
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I'm no expert on player looting. Let's be frank if we can, my player looting experience comes from games in the vein of UO- like Starport, EVE Online, etc. Sure I played Classic UO but I have no awesome stories to regale you guys with

Let's cover the bad things first because these points are the show-stoppers:

1) It impacts the players avatar. You know what this is simply #1. I ran a poll here for "How important is Character  Custimization to YOU?". You guys probably thought I went soft but see I had a plan. I want to see what the votes were from a fairly reliable sample. OVer 90% voted "YES!!!!". OVer 90% guys.

This is #1. Players do not like seeing their avatar get impacted visually. Achiever types love prancing around in their rare loot to show it off. Socializers love the attention, gives them something to talk about. Hell, even PKers enjoy loot many of us are bigtime achievers. Explorers love the loot too, allows them to perhaps explore mroe game mechanics

We all love loot! Of course, many of us would rather see items go back to Classic UO format but that's another topic

2) Epic Items. I'm not going to bother covering this one we know this to be a big problem. Epic items will need 'blessings' to make them persistent. Now I think in such games players will just chase persistant items

3) Developers have no idea how much hell it took you to acquire your loot. This is a huge one. A guy can be plain unlucky or casual. One day he sees a brand new item drop. EVE Online and Starport use Insurance systems. Asheron's Call 1 I read employed "death items" on darktide

 4) Distrust. Players are much more warry of pirates and distrustful of others swindling them for their items. This is why geographical PVP zones has merits, justice systems, and so forth. In UO, evil players turned "Red". Then you just saw these guys group up and takedown the good guys. No, what I mean by justice systems is firm punishments for wronging your fellow man that you are teamed with or just simply disallow looting of teammates.

 

The GOOD

1) Economy. Due to high turnover of items almost every item now has value! I kid you not in eVE Online you see vets fly cheap ships all the time. Wasn't cheap T2 frigates the norm? Dont they use T1 frigates for tournaments? I'm no economics expert so unfortunately I wont bother elaborating a lot more. But its plan common sense though- the most marketable items are of course the consumables. In WoW- I was an engineer and I specialized in producing only consumable items. This way my customers must come back. Most looting systems include item decay. Its a big pain if some item just falls off the player. Its a short term BAD but long term GOOD for a game. However, its the short term BAD that developers dont want to risk. I dont blame them, I blame newbies. I blame myself too, because when I was new to MMORPGs I didnt want any penalty. I still hate XP loss (go figure). Then again my first coop RPG was Diablo which had full looting and item decay. I thought every rpg was going to be like that boy was I wrong!!!

2) Risk versus Reward. Assume we have geographical pvp zones (like EVE Online) in which allows players to make 'calculated risks' we can arrive at very nice risk vs reward. Now I'm not talking about full, 100% open pvp.

3) Victory Conditions. FPS, RTS, and any other genre has Victory Conditions. MMORPGs is the only genre that lacks this. Death penalty can get us there and the sting of losing resources can help get us there

4) Surprise. There is just something awesome about clicking on a corpse and seeing what they got on them. It's like christmas for PKers. You never know what they are carrying. But you wont know what this feels like unless it happens for you.

5) PVE and PVP smoothly blends together. Examine World of Warcraft what we see is a clear division between PVE/PVP. I'm not biased mind you- I see much good in this. However, in presence of player looting we see more of a blend and dependency relationship. Players feed on NPCs and PVE to obtain resources. PVPers depend on this relationship to acquire loot. This is much more natural then going with a "point" system. Now we have to worry about players cheating the system. Much less of a worry if player looting is in play. How will you cheat? Get a friend to kill you- um yeah he just took your loot.

 

Solutions:

Not going to offer any if you're a designer its your job to think up some. Solve #1 is your best bet. EVE Online players fly ships. Problem solved lol. Seriously, that's a big one. In Classic UO, items was fairly easy to come by. I think my lowbie had pretty good gear really fast in UO (pre-AoS)

Think about geographical pvp zones #2. Safe zones, urgh. They usually mess up things but it might be possible to employ many fun uses of safe zones for everyone. After all, in the end, it might help PVP a bit. Allow players to grind up to cap until they feel confident they can fight. This is what we do in FPS all the time- use offline modes for practice then hop online to play

Do I think we will see Player Looting become mainstream? I hope to see more hardcore sandbox games like Second Life. I want to see that model get advanced more- whereas players can create worlds for each other and enforce their own rule sets. That's what I look forward to. Then ANYTHING is possible and it wont matter what 'mainstream' wants.

 

Amblin writes:

I'm all for this and ffa pvp, well controlled ffa pvp.

As for a solution, use what we know. Laws. NPC or player created, all communites have rules to live by, even criminals. Break them and be ready to pay the price.

If you kill in a city, expect to be hunted by the NPC law and PC law officers/bounty hunters etc. Expect to be forced to run and hide, and become an outlaw, or be caught and pay for your crime, either a bribe, compensation or jail time. No more running away until the mob stops following.

In terms of looting items looted from a player such as everday items should just be loot. Weapons and armour of value (magical, epic, crafted etc. Should be 'tagged' such like the new owner can be traced and the items reclaimed via bounty missions or the victim hunting down the offender themselves. tracking could be accomplished via magical means or simple word of mouth via npc's (makes them useful for a change) as the offender has passed through town or been in a shop, traded with a merchant etc.

Viva la PVP and player looting, it makes for a better experience all round.

Fri Feb 15 2008 7:02AM Report
orodeon writes:

i completly agree with you amblin    the only kind of penalites i dont wanna see is stat loss.. . exp loss.. and other stuff like that..  i mean make it so other plyers can hunt me without getting a bountyo nthem im fine with that make it so i cant fight as well just becuase i kill somone tho... and thats a game i wont play..

Tue Feb 19 2008 3:49PM Report

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