Author Topic: Let's Make A List: The Desired End Result Of Tiers, Gems, Crafting, Etc.  (Read 1235 times)

Offline x4000

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At the moment we have two threads about two broad models for making the "treadmill" aspect of crafting spellgems and exploring to get resources to craft more spellgems more fun and less like a treadmill.

The Existing Propositions At This Time
This one is a model that gets rid of tiers and which favors per-continent unique "hands" of spellgems that are available to you.  It's sort of like bonus ship types and ARSes in AI War.  Then there are a lot of variants that are possible off that general model idea, including limiting inventory really severely, having "free" crafting of spellgems, or having really expensive crafting of spellgems.  The general idea of this thread, at any rate, is opportunity cost and making it so that either your choices at a given time are limited (making it so that you have to play outside your comfort zone sometimes, and discover new things), or so that you have to choose a subset of the total spells to use at any given time, and make do with your choice for a while (for a mission, for a continent, until you come back to town... the ideas vary).

This one is a model that also gets rid of tiers, but it's focused on various forms of attrition for the spellgems.  The more you use it, the more the spellgem breaks down, and valuable stuff breaks down faster.  Thus encouraging you to use a wider variety of spellgems in some respects, and encouraging you to not overuse your best stuff since that will cause it to break down more.  There are a ton of variations in here as well, but they all stick fairly close to the idea that spellgems will break down and get less effective or just disappear with time.

The current model that is implemented in the game, of course, is based on the tiers and everything of a tier gets useless all at the same time.  That's bad for a lot of reasons, and I think that either of the two models above could be superior to what we have implemented now.  But at the same time, something is really missing from both models at the moment.  I'm not sure if we need a third new model, or some combination of the two, or some key extra ingredient to one of them.

Update: Here's a third model.  This one focuses on redefining crafting in order to eliminate the tiers, and then introduces per-ability-class capacities.  This also introduces the concept of player/character classes in a lot of respects, making some new and interesting avenues for customization.  This model leaves some cruft behind in terms of how it would fit in the main game design, but overall at the time of this writing I'm really feeling positive about it.

What Are We Actually Looking For?
To really define what is missing from all three models, we need to define what we want the end effect to be.  So let's make a list of design goals for this mechanic, as an aid to help us think of some mechanics that will conform better to what we all want at core.  I'm going to start out the list, and then update it as people write in with other things that I'm overlooking that really should be on the list.  It's possible that the solution we wind up selecting won't conform to the entire list, because it's possible the list will represent an impossible collection of goals when all taken together.  But the ideal solution would come as close as possible to hitting everything on this list in some fashion.

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1. The model should be reasonably simple.  Not having lots of interface screens and complexity with multiple dimensions of data (tiers and materials and so on) is better than something that requires the player to learn (and the developers to code) a bunch of detailed menus.

2. In multiplayer, if I want to play on your server just once a week while you play every day, I should be able to keep up.  If all my gear is completely worthless every time I come back, it's not going to be long before I stop coming back!

3. The model should feel as little like a treadmill as possible.  Right now, like clockwork, every 10-20 levels you need to be crafting new replacements for everything you own.  This is obviously bad for many various reasons, although it's not horrible.

4.a. The model perhaps should require that you craft new spellgems every so often, because this is an infinite game.  If I craft fireball once and only one right at the start of the game, and never have any need to craft it again... then that's not really working.  Probably.

4.b. Alternatively, the model might not care too much about what you craft, but instead might emphasize what you bring along with you at any given time on a specific mission.  In other words, rather than being like spells in FF6 that you acquire once and have forever, it's instead like your round loadout in Counterstrike or Rainbow Six where you choose the tools you think you'll need to complete a specific job.

5. At no point should the player wind up being accidentally completely helpless because of all their stuff degrading and breaking or whatever.

6. Crafting should remain satisfying if possible, or else it should be simplified to the basic essence (essentially the "Choose your loadout" model), one or the other.  But seriously, if we keep taking away all the stuff to go explore for, there's not going to be anything to explore for.   It's just going to be missions all the way down.  Which wouldn't be horrible, but it's a big jump.

7. The model should have some degree of inherent "anti-hoarding." You shouldn't be able to spend the first few hours spelunking and then be set for a very long time (this was what the old tiers system prevented). Of course, you shouldn't be forced to constantly enter new caves, either.

What else am I missing from this list of end results that we want?
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 08:09:35 PM by x4000 »
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Offline Toll

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Re: Let's Make A List: The Desired End Result Of Tiers, Gems, Crafting, Etc.
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 07:25:44 PM »
Something that I'd personally like to see is "anti-hoarding". You shouldn't be able to spend the first few hours spelunking and then be set for a very long time. Of course, you shouldn't be forced to constantly enter new caves either though, but something that limits you would probably be beneficial in the long run.

Offline x4000

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Re: Let's Make A List: The Desired End Result Of Tiers, Gems, Crafting, Etc.
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 07:27:36 PM »
Good one!  Added it as #7 to the list, I definitely agree.
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Offline Martyn van Buren

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Re: Let's Make A List: The Desired End Result Of Tiers, Gems, Crafting, Etc.
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2011, 03:23:15 AM »
I think we should add that the new system should force the player to make some kind of strategic choices, but make them easy enough to unwind that it doesn't feel dangerous to experiment.

In practice (I want to distinguish this part, which is a mechanics suggestion, from the goal I proposed above) I think that means having the option to largely redo your loadout at least once per mission (as in picking spells as you go in), based on some information about what the mission will be like.  If you're stuck with a choice for the rest of a continent --- as much as 10-15 hours, if I understand the plans right --- it'll be a big decision to give up a safe and familiar spell for another one that sounds interesting.  And one of the big pleasures of AVWW so far is getting ahold of a new spell and going to try it out.

Something else that worries me about limited inventory, is that it seems like it may make it impractical to get minor-but-useful spells, which would be an unfortunate limitation on the possible range of spells -- I can't imagine anyone ever taking light snake, for instance, if they have to give up something more meat-and-potatoes for it.  I think it's nice to be able to craft a few almost trivial items that you can occasionally find a very satisfying use for --- so perhaps we should add permitting "minor utility" spell as a goal?

Offline Ixiohm

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Re: Let's Make A List: The Desired End Result Of Tiers, Gems, Crafting, Etc.
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2011, 07:53:16 AM »
Have at least skimmed the three threads and I have to say there are a lot of really interesting ideas. If there were a pool now among these three models I would probably go with model 2. But it’s not, so I will present my own model that is mostly a alteration of model 2 :)

Firstly what I see as the weakness of model 2 that makes me want to propose a forth model:
I think the main problem with model 2 is that it severally restricts what spells can be used on an continent. Certainly, having spells being locked depending on which continent you are on would make the continents feel different. However, I’m unsure about how fun it would be.

DIFFERENCES FROM CURRENT MODEL
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1. When you create a new world you get a "core set" of spells gem recipes, one of the core ways of progressing would be to unlocking new spell gems to craft. You can't see or craft anything that isn't unlocked, but otherwise crafting works as it does now.

2. Rather than having the spell gem crafting workbench organized by raw gem and then by commodity, it would be organized by usage category. This isn't needed, but I think it was one of the better parts of modell 3.

3. One of the "bonuses" that completing a mission can grant is "unlocking" a new spell gem recipe,  after unlocking the new recipe the gem can be crafted on any spell gem crafting workbench on any continent. 

4. The primary gating mechanic would be commodities, as now. Also, the distribution of commodities should significantly wary between continents (one continent may have a abundance of cherry trees but on another continent a cherry may only be found in one in a hundred stashes). That should create much the same effect as disable spells by continent but not quite as severe, a certain kind of spell would be significantly harder to craft on one continent compared to another but not impossible. If you really miss a spell you crafted on a previous continent you could always travel back and equip that spell.

5. When you switch continents, you leave all commodities you have collected behind on the previous continent.

6. All spell gems act as if the "current" tier does now, and tiers would no longer exist.  There would be no degradation or other penalties.

7. When you craft a new spell gem it goes in to the settlement vault for that continent. I really think that something like this vault is needed to keep spells that the player isn’t currently using organized, instead of having them lying around as proposed in model 3.

8. When creating a load out you drag the spell gem from the vault onto your ability bar. However, the gem does not leave the vault; rather your glyph takes on the aspect of that gem. Note: you should only be able to do this in settlements. When dropping a spell gem it just disappears from your inventory, as it is just a ‘reflection’ of the spell gem stored in your continents vault. You can at any time go back to your vault and re-equip it.

9. Your usable items inventory would be capped to four or five rows instead of the current larger number, so that you can't just carry the world around in your pocket. I think this would do for now, the improved load out options that have been discussed are interesting, but I don’t think they are needed now and they could possibly be implemented post 1.0.

So how does this model measure up to what’s looked for?
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Quote from: x4000
1. The model should be reasonably simple.  Not having lots of interface screens and complexity with multiple dimensions of data (tiers and materials and so on) is better than something that requires the player to learn (and the developers to code) a bunch of detailed menus.
I think this model would not be much more complex than what is there now; with the possible exception of the vault UI. I think something along the line of the spell book in heroes of might and magic / kings bounty would be suitable as a template for the design of the vault: http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/kings-bounty-crossworlds/screenshots/gameShotId,497256/. Also some kind of vault structure will be needed in the settlements, maybe reuse the outfitter workbench?


Quote from: x4000
2. In multiplayer, if I want to play on your server just once a week while you play every day, I should be able to keep up.  If all my gear is completely worthless every time I come back, it's not going to be long before I stop coming back!
To make this multiplayer safe all the spell gems in the vault of a continent should be shared by the players. Also all discovered crafting recipes should be accessible by all players on the server.

Quote from: x4000
3. The model should feel as little like a treadmill as possible.  Right now, like clockwork, every 10-20 levels you need to be crafting new replacements for everything you own.  This is obviously bad for many various reasons, although it's not horrible.
While on the same continent you would never have to craft replacement spells.

Quote from: x4000
4.a. The model perhaps should require that you craft new spellgems every so often, because this is an infinite game.  If I craft fireball once and only one right at the start of the game, and never have any need to craft it again... then that's not really working.  Probably.
You will still need to craft new spell gems when you get to a new continent. You would also have the option to travel back to previous continents to equip spells you crafted there.

Quote from: x4000
5. At no point should the player wind up being accidentally completely helpless because of all their stuff degrading and breaking or whatever.
You would probably feel quite vulnerable when you first arrive at a new continent. But, you would still have the load out that you have taken with you from the previous continent. 

Quote from: x4000
6. Crafting should remain satisfying if possible, or else it should be simplified to the basic essence (essentially the "Choose your loadout" model), one or the other.  But seriously, if we keep taking away all the stuff to go explore for, there's not going to be anything to explore for.   It's just going to be missions all the way down.  Which wouldn't be horrible, but it's a big jump.
This model would keep both gems and commodities as well as ‘recipes’ that you would pick up at the end of missions you choose to undertake.

Quote from: x4000
7. The model should have some degree of inherent "anti-hoarding." You shouldn't be able to spend the first few hours spelunking and then be set for a very long time (this was what the old tiers system prevented). Of course, you shouldn't be forced to constantly enter new caves, either.
Primarily the availability of commodities / rare commodities will prevent hoarding. Losing all gathers resources and not having any crafted gems when arriving at a new continent will also help prevent hoarding.