Sources of equipment
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject: Sources of equipment Reply with quote

As I see it, there are three primary sources of equipment in many muds:

1. Loot: Kill a monster and it drops some gear. This provides a great incentive for players to explore new areas and lay waste to their occupants, and also ensures that earning good items comes with a correspondingly high risk of death.

2. Crafts: Use crafting skills to make equipment. This provides a whole new element to the game, particularly for players who aren't interested in killing things all day, and can also give rise to a wide range of new skills and specialties.

3. Shops: Spend your gold to buy equipment at a shop. This provides a great sink for gold, and can also provide the basis for an economy system.

The problem is that they all achieve the same end result - the player gets equipment. How, then, do you design your game to make looted items decent without rendering crafting or shops obsolete? How do you make crafting a worthwhile activity without removing the incentive to explore or trade? How do you make shops useful without encouraging people to farm the same areas over and over for gold instead of fighting mobs or crafting products?

The simple answer would be something like "Ensure that loot, crafts and shops each cater to different types of item". But how do you actually do that, without making each type narrowly defined (eg you probably don't want shops to only sell food, loot to only be weapons, and crafts to only be armour)?

Anyone have any thoughts?
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Lazarus



Joined: 03 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have devised a system where crafting is where a majority of the wearable items come from. However, to be able to craft items you have to get the loot from mobs and certain items from stores. Mobs load bars of metal and gems. I have a special store which has the required items to be able to forge items, that you have to pay to use. The cool bit is clans can purchase these items to have for themselves and use whenever, but they are expensive.

So eesentially, all the top end items come from crafting while stuff that you can wear when you die loads on mobs and is fairly easy to get. However, to be able to craft you have to get out in the world.
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rather than segregating by type, you could segregate by magical effect. As an arbitrary example, maybe items that grant fire resistance must be crafted, while cold resistance can items only be looted. (Presumably you would come up with some more sensible division than that).

You could use perishability to justify why some items have to be crafted, like potions: maybe potions just don't last long enough to sit on a shelf in a shop, or be carried around by a monster until someone kills it.

I occasionally run into a related problem: I want to make a new item as a quest reward, and the quest is quite hard so I want the item to be desirable, but I don't want it to obsolete any existing items (and I don't want inflation), so it can't just be "a sword like the Sword of Balgor but +17 instead of +16". So, I try to come up with something new for it to do. For example, I made a charm that once every 60 seconds could dispel any strength drain effects on the owner. This approach is probably not as good for populating a world's worth of items as it is for coming up with the odd quest reward, though - otherwise you end up with the Forgotten Realms.
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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you're trying to make a soccer mom's SUV win the Indy 500.

Hey, chess is a great game, poker's a great game, let's combine them!

When someone tells me they want to play my game, but they don't want to have to kill monsters to gain experience, I politely point out they don't really want to play my game. Cool


That's what I think.
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Molly O'Hara



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I go for a combination myself.

My MUD is Quest intensive, so most of the best items come from the hardest Quests, but since many players don't succeed in solving those, they have to settle for second best, which they usually get from killing Mobs.

Our crafting system is still under development, but the general idea is that crafted items have to be fairly good, or the players just won't bother with it. Without incentives they turn to the easiest way, which usually is killing mobs. So the crafts are set to mostly create the same type of second-best items that you can find on mobs, but every now and then you'll get lucky and manage to create a 'perfect' item, which will have much better stats.

Crafting in our system also requires that you collect the raw materials for it, (or buy those from other players) and also it is done in several steps, where every step enhances the item a bit, but also sometimes has a small chance of failure.

We've also made a few extra wear_locs, (like shoulders, knees etc.) to use only for crafted items. You cannot get equipment from those wear_locs anywhere else in the game, so on their own they make crafting worth the time.

(One thing that you could also do is of course to make the crafted items superior, but at the same time put a timer on them, so that they will wear down in time and have to get replaced or repaired. Our players don't care much for timered items however, and that probably is general among players. In the choice between a timered artifact and a slightly less powerful but infinite item, they usually choose the consistent one. So I don't think we'll go for this option in our MUD).

Shops generally don't sell any top equipment in 4D, but can still be helpful for a Newbie or someone who lost their equipment, to get a quick start, until they can collect a better set. Mainly our shops are for things like food, potions, lights and containers however, in particular potions.

We also have a Trading system, where you collect Tradepoints to use for various features that are unobtainable in other ways. (I guess this is our equivalent to the 'pay-for-perks' system that commercial muds have. You can buy some game advantages, but not for real money).

But we have a twist with the potions too. You can find better potions than the one you buy in shops here and there in the game, mostly concealed in some way. You can also collect ingredients for some 'super' potions and 'special food', and turn those in to various mobs, who will then brew the potions or cook the food for you. Other mobs will pay you in tradepoints for the finished products. The craft system will also include the skills Cooking and Brewing, which will enable you to make the potions and the food yourself without the aid of the mobs.

Generally I think that having several different options works best, since it caters for different types of players. It doesn't really matter if the standard of the equipment that you get from crafting or killing is basically equal. Some players will always go for the hack'n'slash, others thrive on the idea of a peaceful occupation.
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Aioros



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
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Location: Lisboa, Portugal

PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have many locations for the equipment, make loot drops better for some wear locations while crafted items better for the others. You can also have crafters create consumables to enhance items, like give items a magical affect or better stats when the consumable is applied (like in warcraft).

You can also have sets of equipment, ganing bonuses for having a certain number of pieces of the set (like in warcraft, yet again Razz). You can make part of the set craftable and the other lootable. That way, if you want to just loot or just craft, you get ok equipment, but if you do both you gain the set bonuses.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sandi wrote:
I think you're trying to make a soccer mom's SUV win the Indy 500.

Hey, chess is a great game, poker's a great game, let's combine them!


Hrm, so you're saying equipment should either come from looting monsters, or from a crafting system, or from shops? So that if you want mobs to drop decent magic items, for example, you shouldn't have a crafting system or shopkeepers?
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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose I'm really responding to the OP on TMC:
Cruithear wrote:
I am looking for a mud with a good crafting system that is actually of some importance in the game. I grow weary of finding muds with crafting systems only to discover that most of the random items in the game are better than those that can be crafted. That completely undermines the system, and takes away any enjoyment that could be had.

I have little sympathy for his weariness, or his desire to find a crafting system that undermines what a Dikurivative is about. I think he should go play a MOO.

I don't see a problem with designing a game from scratch to include both crafting and exploring, it would then be just one more balance issue. But I don't think a developer who has set out to do one thing well should accept the double-bind dilemma of a griefer, no matter how cleverly worded and reasonable the request may seem...

Which, I realise, is a meta comment and not an answer to your question, but you did ask if we had "any thoughts". Wink
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sandi wrote:
Which, I realise, is a meta comment and not an answer to your question, but you did ask if we had "any thoughts". Wink


Well fair enough, I was just confused by the context Wink

On a related note (in response to something one of my players mentioned after reading this thread): What about situations where you want to support certain builds that don't use any equipment? How would you go about balancing that against characters that do use equipment, so that both choices are equally viable - but at the same time, the equipment-less build takes comparable effort to customise and play, to avoid everyone taking the easiest route?

Perhaps the equipment-less build could have other ways of gathering power from a mixture of loot, crafts and/or shops? For example, perhaps one such build might be able to drain and store bonuses directly from opponents (non-eq loot), design tattoos or other personal markings (non-eq crafts) and pay for specialised training at the appropriate locations (non-eq shops).
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Aioros



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't know about Godwars 2, but i've seen games where tatoos were nothing less than a different piece of equipment for the body part.

Anyway, i don't get it. Equipmentless builds? You mean it would be possible, for instance, to soak damage without equipment the same way you would with plate armor?!?
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aioros wrote:
Don't know about Godwars 2, but i've seen games where tatoos were nothing less than a different piece of equipment for the body part.


I prefer to handle tattoos as flags that can be set - no reason why they should be stored as an entire object IMO.

Aioros wrote:
Anyway, i don't get it. Equipmentless builds? You mean it would be possible, for instance, to soak damage without equipment the same way you would with plate armor?!?


Not necessarily soak the same way, but I mean you'd be able to create a character without equipment who was just as viable to play as one with equipment.

To give a very simple example: If heavy armour reduces the damage you take by half, but its weight causes you to get hit twice as often, then the two approaches are balanced. Applying that basic premise to a much more complex system can result in equipment-less forms that are on-par with equipment-using forms.
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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a while I had Wraithes as a race. As immaterial beings, they couldn't wear EQ. I posited that they could hold one item through telekinesis (usually a weapon). Their AC was handled by level-based calculations, with the idea being that since they were immaterial, swords and such did little damage, but such weapons did disturb the forces that gave them presence. They were immune to bashing, and resistant to most magics such as heat and cold. Of course they had flying and pass-door as perm affects. What they lost out on, naturally, was the magical affects of enhanced armor and the accompanying stat bonuses.

They were an advanced, 'difficult' race, so I can't say they were equally balanced with the others, but at least they were playable.
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Sources of equipment Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
The problem is that they all achieve the same end result - the player gets equipment. How, then, do you design your game to make looted items decent without rendering crafting or shops obsolete?

Allow crafting to create items that are highly customisable but that achieve the same overall balance, while looted items are more generic.

For example, suppose there is a lootable item called a "Wand of Rather Limited Destruction" which produces fireballs. Each each fireball does 1-20 points of damage to the target, and the wand has a total of ten charges in it.

If a monster is going to drop loot of this sort it should drop the same standardised wand each time.

But a crafted version would allow a certain amount of tweaking to the parameters. So a crafted equivalent might produce fireballs that do only 1-10 damage, but have 20 charges in the wand; or 1-40 damage, but with only 5 charges, and so on. Which variation would be up to the crafter.

The variations don't necessarily have to be that simple, either. You could have a quite large range of bonuses and penalties associated with an item that can be mixed and matched at will. Maybe a crafted weapon causes one hit point of damage per round to the wielder but this allows an extra +2 damage per hit. Maybe a "fire shield" increases the subject's resistance to fire while increasing vulnerability to frost - and, again, the balance is up to the crafter.

People therefore get a wide variety of useful items from looting, and many adventurers would never need a crafted item, but specialists and people who have rather more idiosyncratic playing styles could use crafting to fine-tune their equipment in a way that suits the way they play.

You could also allow people to make personalised items; only allow an item to feature (say) both pearls and opals if it is crafted. Functionally it would be identical to a looted item, but people could have fun making distinctive, personalised versions of common objects and feel like they were shaping the game world themselves.

KaVir wrote:
How do you make crafting a worthwhile activity without removing the incentive to explore or trade?

By making the raw materials necessary for crafting as difficult to get hold of as looted items. You could also introduce other factors like insisting that a particular item can only be forged in the shadow of a volcano, or within a mile of the ocean, or at the time of a specific astrological conjunction.

KaVir wrote:
How do you make shops useful without encouraging people to farm the same areas over and over for gold instead of fighting mobs or crafting products?

How about a realistic economy where items very rapidly lose their value as more of them are harvested, eventually reaching the point where the shops refuse to buy any more of them?

Code:
> sell emerald brooch

The shopkeeper shakes his head.
The shopkeeper says "Sorry, mate, the market's flooded. I can't shift the ones I've already got."
The shopkeeper says "Of course, if you had in ruby instead of emerald, that'd be different."
The shopkeeper says "I hear they have ruby ones up in the hills north of here."
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jmurph



Joined: 19 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems like a question of balance. For example, if the game employs a zero sum balance, then it doesn't really matter if you craft or loot your items- they balance the same.

I do like the idea that looted/shop stuff is more random whereas crafted stuff can be customized. Looted gear should probably also generally be in pretty poor condition, given that most monsters don't take great care of stuff and the items have probably just been through a rather destructive combat.
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Kjartan



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the example described above, the crafted wand isn't just more specialized, it's better. I think you will find this is generally true if you try to numerically balance the crafted and looted items but give people finer control over the crafted one: to make the best stuff you will have to craft it, because it will be like every looted item I find is what I want except that it's randomly slightly screwed up (because it's not customized in the optimal manner).

I like the idea of allowing cosmetic improvements to crafted items, like better messages. Then the people who want to craft will potentially be happy with what they've got and the people who want to loot will potentially be happy as well, because their eq is just as good, just not as stylish.

But, I think your original suggestion that looting and crafting feed different slots is good if you want everybody to have to both loot and craft to have the best stuff.

You could have the shops be stocked exclusively by items sold by players, so they don't really make a third source of equipment so much as put a barter system on top of the other two sources. Then if some player wanted to just craft, this would give him a way to trade some of his crafted stuff for looted stuff. It would be helpful if you made players need to consume money so they have a further motivation to sell stuff to the shops.
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