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 TimeThis 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.
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?