Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Gear Grind

About two weeks ago Age of Conan introduced a new "token" system for high level gear. Similar in feature to the token systems of most MMO's, Funcom basically took the easy way out. By doing this they also introduced a newer gear grind mechanic that most people are having issues with.

The problem lies in the fact that for a level 80 to matter in PvP or PvE, they must grind raids to get the tokens needed to gear up (or hope they finally get a rare drop). In so many words, if you do not raid, the game ends as there really is not much else to play for. You cannot earn gear in any other manner (supposedly some 6 man dungeons have a rare drop for these "tokens" as well...but imagine a 3-5% drop rate chance per group and for one player to gain the token...after running a near impossible dungeon in elite mode...and you get the idea.)
High level crafting offers no gear that is as satisfying as the raid gear, and thus a part of the game is locked off for those who would like alternate ways to "gear up".

Don't raid? Start anew or quit.

This got me thinking about gear in other styles of game.

Say the single player odysseys. You are guaranteed to find the pieces you need.
Titan Quest, Diablo 2, Sacred, etc...all have that action RPG gear drop random system. Talk about fun trying to find what you need. You are also getting so much of it, that you DO have a choice in what to wear or use.
Dragon Age also had an excellent drop rate on items. But, you could also "purchase" awesome items if you wished...just gather some cash.

Then look at Guild Wars. Thanks to the system being a skill based game, all gear hits a point where it is THE max (attributes have limits on the items and armor), and you only grind for "looks" and not the "stats". Their random system on drops is quite nice also.
Basically, just get out there, play, and you would eventually find some cool piece or weapon. And for armor, you needed to just make it to the next zone. Save up your cash, continue breaking down items for the rare resources, and make the armor you wanted when you finally got to the more difficult areas.


Why can't MMO's go to a random drop system? I have never quite understood this. I know some exist, but not like in single player games...or GW. I sure would love the capability to just craft the piece I wanted and not have to depend on a rare occurrence to happen.

This is why I miss the old system Age of Conan had in place. Why could they not just upgrade the visuals and have kept the "skill" based armor and weapon system? And as for their crafting...why can't they make the items worthwhile?

What is your preference? Do you like the fact you must raid daily or weekly to get the specific piece you want? Or would you rather have a randomizer in there with set attributes for the gear or have the ability to craft what you want?



Latro said...

I can't see why there could not be a number of different ways to get top-level gear in AoC or any game for that matter. Perhaps developers fear that random drops and crafting high-level items would entice farming to the detriment of other activities, but some folks like to farm as a break from those other activities.

Longasc said...

Daily/Weekly Raiding was hyped to be greatest thing since sliced bread. Nowadays it is the endgame of most MMOs, and because every players is supposed to do it vy now, they make it a bit more accessible for the masses.

Token systems are the usual step. So that people get at least something for their weekly attendance.

I still claim raiding is a dead end of game design. There will always be raiders, but nobody can tell me that more than 20% of the population are raiders. Maybe a huge percentage of the active max level players, but what about the others?

They need something meaningful to do, as not everyone will get the idea that 10-40 man grouping up for a 3-4+ hours megadungeon run is really the most satisfying thing ever. In fact I loathe raiding by now, or better the periods where people take their 15-30 minute bio breaks or don't show up and everyone is waiting for them.

Guild Wars has a few lengthy dungeons - one of the reasons why the otherwise really nice areas Fissure of Woe and Underworld are rarely played except in farm mode - but the shorter but tricky raid-style encounters like the Deep or Urgoz' Warren became highly popular. The Domain of Anguish is still very demanding and not for everyone, but for Slaver's Exile they copied one of the smarter ideas of the DoA: To unlock the final wing, at least one of the group members must have completed the 4 previous wings. There is no time based raid lock for the elite area, but one must complete the 4 previous wings again to enter the final one. All these wings can be done in one hour sessions or even less.

The loot distribution is random but there will be a chance for everyone. The "Boss Chest" is my favorite loot system ever: Everyone who participated has a chance to get the very rare item he desires. Everyone can open the chest once. There is no need for external DKP/SK/whatever systems and you do not participate knowing that you do not have the DKP to get anything.

Daily Quests/Dungeons/Raids/X are the easiest way for devs to make people do something. But it is also the most primitive and it sucks the soul out of the game in the long run. Hello, WoWcraft. This is no new content, this is just recycling and dangling carrots for players.

I think the "WORLD EVENT" system of the upcoming Guild Wars 2 might be the answer for compelling content where everyone can participate, regardless if he wants to stay for half an hour or a whole evening.

For now, I would be content if they just scratch their token systems and go back to the random drop. But let every player have his random drop, use the "boss chest" system.

I think it just creates drama and discontent if the master looter has to assign loot to those with the most DKP. I know people who switched to another guild because in their current guild they could estimate not to get any proper loot within the next 2-3 months.

The next thing is harder to manage; If a company wants their MMO to be successful they need to offer compelling content, not just time-delayed gratification and grind in ever new disguises for little gain.

My take on crafting is: Either make it a viable way to acquire gear and other things, or simply do not bother to include it at all. I am perfectly fine with the way the GW crafters work, collecting materials and then going to the crafte is in fact not so much different like asking your guild crafter for something.

But this guy is either not on, has forgotten he has some parts on cooldown, does not have the materials and you somehow feel you just asked a pizza baker for a pizza and he told you to come back with a long list of ingredients you have never heard about.

Scott said...

Heh I was just going to ask what you thought of the new patch; I heard it has a new dungeon?

I didn't read the actual notes but is the token system in any way similar to LOTRO's? I don't mind theirs since it takes (at least it did, I haven't played since the SoM mini-expansion) fewer repetitions for each person to get their gear since it's via tokens rather than old school raiding where an actual piece of gear dropped completely randomly, whether anyone in the raid needed or could use it or not.

Assuming I decide to get back into MMO's, I've been planning on LOTRO still being my main and AoC being the secondary.

I never got to know the old gear system, I just remember everyone said it was confusing. I guess having a defined gear progression system in place now at least gives something to shoot for, and it sounds like they're leaving it more "hardcore?" than say, WoW, so that only those top-tiered players will get those sets? Or is it simply anyone who raids? I'd love to see an AoC raid; the couple of world PvE groups I was in last summer was a blast. Really looking forward to eventually seeing some dungeon content. Just hope my bear shaman is a viable class for groups, though I think it's in the low- to mid-20's so starting over with an in-demand class isn't out of the question.

Matthew said...

With the latest patch AOC they added T3 raids. I forget how many bosses are in there; I haven't been on any T3 raids yet and none of my toons are keyed for it yet.

I basically agree with everything in the post. Raiding is just the end game gear grind for all of the hardcore players who want to keep playing and try to get a full set of the best gear in the game. It is definitely not for everyone.

I would like to see a random drop method become the standard for gear in the MMORPG genre for the non epic gear. It would be nice to have more variety for the green and blue gear so they do not all have the exact same stats.

I have done all of the T1 & T2 raids in AOC and they are fun for the first couple of times through, but after that it gets just boring and time consuming. I do like the token system they have implement and the guild renown stuff. I think they are both improvements.

I also noticed you didn't mention the PvP gear in AOC. Currently a full set is probably equivalent to Tier 1.5. So, better than T1, but not as good as T2. It does take forever to get though. AOC really needs some more PvP options; they have some promising stuff on the test server so will have to wait and see how it all plays out.

Verrence said...

The most interesting gearing system I have found has been in Ryzom - basically you can "harvest" almost everything in game to acquire resources, including bones from animals and humanoids, shells from crabs/turtles etc, wood from different trees, various dyes from plants and so on...

With these items, you can then craft a piece of gear with whatever stats suit your play mode - if you are a tank, make gear with mats which provide armour and health - if you are a healer, make the same item, but with healing stats.

They also allow you to "craft" your own spells by "breaking down" spells you already know into their relative components - want a quickfire fireball, craft a new spell using the basic fireball and haste effects - more damage, craft a new spell with basic fireball and damage increasing effects.

The only issue with Ryzom is the small population as, unlike WoW or AoC (to a lesser extent), I can usually only play for a short period due to the minimal social interaction.