Arcen Games

General Category => A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 => AVWW Brainstorming => : zebramatt February 28, 2012, 08:28:59 AM

: Enchants generation general discussion
: zebramatt February 28, 2012, 08:28:59 AM
I posted the following on Mantis but I'm aware it's very much a nascent idea which is better off being discussed on the forum (assuming there's any interest at all!).

0006209: Enchants - implement player options (http://"http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view.php?id=6209")
The following strikes me as non-trivial to get polished and working right so it may be a post-v1.0 feature. Or, if there's enough interest, maybe not. Here we go!

Presently whenever you pick up an enchant container (of a certain sort) you get points towards an enchant. Once a certain set of rules are met, you are given something shiny to equip somewhere on your character.

This idea is that once a (probably slightly modified) set of rules are met, the game pops up a window and present you with two (maybe more?) enchants, of which you may choose one.

The main guts of the suggestion, however, is the way enchants are generated and suggested to the player. The idea would be that any time the player is offered a choice between enchants, each of the suggestions is varied from and weighted against the other(s) - presenting the player with a very real choice every time.

In addition, I'm of a mind that stashes should no longer contain enchants - and there's just one way to get new ones, by collecting enchant containers and making choices in the direction of the stash enchants, if those are what you want. There could be some logic in the enchant generator to ensure you had more propensity for stash enchants of sorts you didn't currently possess, or something.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: x4000 February 28, 2012, 08:37:22 AM
The stash enchants are not going away -- those are the "supplies" kind of enchants, and there are precious few of them as it is. For the rest... Player choice can be a good thing, so this could be a very interesting idea.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: zebramatt February 28, 2012, 08:39:53 AM
The stash enchants are not going away -- those are the "supplies" kind of enchants, and there are precious few of them as it is. For the rest... Player choice can be a good thing, so this could be a very interesting idea.

I assumed that's what you'd say, which is why I didn't include it in the mantis suggestion in fact!  ;)
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: Terraziel February 28, 2012, 09:01:36 AM
I'm behind this, it sort of makes enchants feel like a part of character development, and will cut down on the number of useless enchants a player acquires.....

Maybe add a button to not take an enchant this time, and let X% of the points carry over, I'm thinking of the situations where none of the enchants shown are of value to you, say because they boost elements you don't use.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: x4000 February 28, 2012, 09:07:47 AM
Keith and I have also been talking about this internally -- we know we need to make some changes to the enchant containers -- but have not come to a resolution yet.  And in general have been too busy with other stuff to get to it in the past week, but it's one of a handful of mechanics things that we want to really get to ASAP in beta phase 3 (that, the mysteries, the more unique external generation, and monsters not walking off certain cliffs are the main ones that come to mind).

Some of my thoughts:

: me
I want it to feel somewhere more Diablo-ish than I think it does now, but I don't know how to go about that.  With borderlands it was nice because I was constantly finding new stuff, to the point that I was comparing a couple of guns and then dropping the ones that I liked less.  That sort of experience would be nice to have here, versus so much being out of reach.

To that end, having way more modifiers possible on each particular enchant would be great.  Different gradations of power bonuses, etc.  I'd love it if we could have thousands or hundreds of thousands of possible combinations of enchants by the time we hit 1.0, and I don't think that's that hard.  If you have a lot more subtle variants of power boosts, for instance (1% gain all the way up to 100% gain), then that's 100 extra possible modifiers right there.  If you apply that to 20 different base enchants alone, that's 2000 unique enchants there.  If you're having more powerful (tier 2) enchants that combine two effects rather than one, but never overlapping effects, then you're getting to having 200k unique enchants right there.

I'm not saying I definitely want a gradation of 1% for each type of power boost, but that sort of general idea where there is truly unique-feeling loot (and where players could NEVER collect every variation of everything, no matter how long they play) is my general goal.  That's how Borderlands felt to me, and when it comes to a procedural loot system that's how I think of it.  And I think your system is already almost there, aside from two problems:

1. Not enough possible combinations yet.
2. After a certain point it gets extra stingy.  I know I asked for this, but I think that was a bad idea.  We need the early game players to get a bonus to how fast they get enchants (so that they have a certain baseline pretty soon in -- so maybe an enchant every 15 minutes or so when that player has earned fewer than 20 enchants?  Literally adjusting the costs on a per-player basis?), but then just sticking with the 30 minutes target baseline from there on out afterward.


That's more or less the experience I'm looking for: hook them with lots of rewards at the start, then give them a steady flow of rewards after that honeymoon period, and never diminish below that second amount.  Make it so that they're filling up their enchants inventory and tossing crap out because they have so much of it.  And make it so that by the time they hit tier 3 enchants or whatever (with three optional modifiers, perhaps), we're getting into the millions or billions of potential unique enchants territory.

And of course the idea is to take a few basic modifiers and then just combine the heck out of them, naturally -- so these things are getting so incredibly combinatorial in their nature simply because of the fact that they are getting multiple boosts per enchant.  If you did power increases in increments of 5% instead of 1%, that's only 20 different enchants, and we still hit the hundreds of thousands mark on tier 3 enchants just from that alone (20x20x20x20 = 160k).

Further thoughts:

: me
However, in testing the current system with getting my double and triple jump enchant-items, I was struck by something: they were filled up with all sorts of extra conditions by the time I unlocked them.

These seems really undesirable in terms of flow to me.  The whole idea of this "spending budget" seems a bit incomplete.  Parts of it make perfect sense, but at the same time, you wind up with situations where you get lame enchant-items of one kind, and then awesome enchant-items of another kind.   Sometimes I just want a plain double-jump without a bunch of added baggage.  And then the added baggage is interesting to find once I've found the plan double-jump.

So what I'm trying to say is, whatever my first encounter is as a player with a new-to-me kind of enchant-item, I should be getting the most basic version of it.  Regardless of whatever is going on with the rest of the game.  If I'm on continent 11 and I've got mega-awesome enchant-items of other types, and then the game gets a new triple jump enchant-item coded into it, I should be getting the basic triple jump only.  And then next time it decides to give me a triple jump enchant-item, it should come with a larger budget and more enchant-effects.  And so on.

So in other words, while I like your idea of the budgets in a lot of respects -- and that seems to be a great way to ensure that power of specific enchant-items grows in a satsifying way -- that doesn't work across enchant-items in a way that strikes me as pleasing.  It jumps too many steps, and also has a tendency to make it so that the lower steps of many of them are never seen at all.

Even more to the point, I'd like to have the game have a prejudice toward giving me lower-budget enchant-items prior to giving me higher-budget enchant-items.  All of this argues for potentially a more complex system of remembering enchant budgets.

So here's what I'm thinking, based on the above:

1. For each enchant-item, we need to know on a per-player basis how many of that enchant-item they have collected at each enchant-item mark.  So if mark I enchant items have fewer effects and so on, then great.  The system you proposed for this would still work just fine in my model.

2. Once you have collected some number of enchant-items at the current mark for that enchant item, it would move you to the next mark.  So once I've had 5 different mark 1 double-jump enchant items out of enchant containers, then it starts giving me mark 2 double-jump enchant items.  Once I've had 10 of those (or whatever), it moves to giving me mark 3 double-jump enchant items.  And so on.  Individually for each kind of enchant item.

3. When the game is deciding what kind of enchant-item to roll for me, it just picks randomly from all the kind of enchant items (of course, honoring any rules caused by things like Fire Seeker or whatever).  There is no concept of budgets here, or overall.

4. Now the game looks at this enchant-item that it has randomly selected for me.  This enchant item would have a budget associated with it based on its mark level, I presume; or however you want that to work.  But at any rate, now it does it's per-this-specific-enchant-item logic and sees if it can come up with an enchant-item to work toward that isn't a duplicate of what is in my inventory at the time, and which meets the rest of your criteria based on budgets and current mark level for that enchant item, etc.

5. If #4 successfully found an enchant item design to use, great -- continue on as you had planned.  If it failed, then remove that kind of enchant-item from your working pool of potential enchant items (for purposes of #3 above), and then go back to step #3.  Keep repeating steps 3-5 until the working pool of potential enchant items is exhausted (incredibly unlikely), or until a viable enchant is found.

Thoughts?  I'm looking for a gradual improvement in enchant-item quality per enchant-item, is the bottom line, rather than it being something that is global for my character.  If I've been fire-seeking for a long time, and switch to Earth-seeking, I should have to start at the bottom.  And every time a new enchant-item type is added, all players should have to start at the bottom.


In general, all of the above is still valid (or not) regardless of whatever we do with presenting specific options to the players at the time they receive. An enchant.  Further thoughts in a second.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: x4000 February 28, 2012, 09:12:05 AM
Having two, possibly three options when you receive enough enchant points is an interesting idea.  What happens, then, though?

1. Does the player have to pick one of those options?

2. Does the player get to say "pick one of these options or keep my points and defer until next round" like in Zelda II's upgrade system?

The first option is interesting in that it gives a modicum of choice, but it's still a very limited amount of choice.

The second option is a lot more complex, because we don't want players to be able to just defer 5 times and suddenly have some incredi-awesome enchant from the start of the game that gives them a very distinct advantage.  That was a cool thing about the Zelda II system, in that I think it didn't let you get more than one tier ahead in a given category before you had to upgrade the other categories.  IIRC.  But with the whole concept of enchant value, it's not fitting into neat tiers, and instead is a much looser mathematical concept.

And I'm not yet sure quite what to do about that, nor do I have time today or tomorrow to really discuss it or think about it any more than I just did, but it's an interesting concept and something I'd like to see working in a really compelling way.  So those are my notes for the moment. ;)
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: Terraziel February 28, 2012, 09:35:24 AM
If we take Diablo 2 as a model, then each act essentially restarted the loot quality, at the start of act 1 you get white leather armour and you move up through the colours to rare and unique leather at the end of the act, then at the start of act 2 it restarts with the new item types, so i am getting white chainmail and then up through the colours again.

Now obviously thats a pretty simplified interpretation of the loot in diablo 2, but it mostly holds.

What you would need to do is define the "acts", so maybe double and triple jump don't even start spawning till continents 2 and 3, but on a more basic level, maybe you can only get 1% - 15% upgrades on the first continent, with it switching to 10% - 20% on the second and so on.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: zebramatt February 28, 2012, 09:39:54 AM
It sounds like there's an argument for gating enchant types, I agree.

: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: tigersfan February 28, 2012, 10:35:16 AM
While I like the idea of gating enchants, IMO, there aren't enough enchants in the game to do that with... yet.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: x4000 February 28, 2012, 10:39:53 AM
Also true.

By the by, "tiers" of enchants will be gated.  In other words, you have enchant-items and enchant-effects.  One enchant-item can have 1-n enchant-effects applied to it.  Higher-tier enchant-items will have more effects, making them more valuable.  That's how we planned to do a progression with the second and third continents and so on.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: Terraziel February 28, 2012, 01:11:15 PM
How many enchants do we actually have at the moment?

for comparison D2 has 100+ prefixes (That's essentially all of them bar +Skill ones), and about 100 suffixes (though those are a bit hit and miss) with close enough correlations to AVWW mechanics to just be lifted wholesale, most of them are quality changes but there are still 30+ distinct types.

In fact, as I investigated them It's quite interesting to see how they have done all their variations, essentially various calculations (based on a veritable slew of variables) limit the affixes and the affixes limit the range, but don't actually assign a distinct amount, meaning two identically named items can be different still.

Given quite how much D2 I have played over the years it's the sort of thing i should probably already know or at least be more cognizant of ....
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: x4000 February 28, 2012, 01:13:32 PM
We have something like 12ish base types of enchants, and something like 15...ish modifiers at the moment.  But both will grow substantially in the coming weeks.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: Martyn van Buren February 28, 2012, 01:17:50 PM
In terms of player choice, how about limiting enchant inventories?  I know we talked about this and ultimately rejected it for spells, but enchants could be a good place for it --- I imagine you'd have enough inventory slots to carry two enchants for each use-slot and a few special inventory slots for the vital utility enchants.  This would create a simple but difficult player choice --- do I take this or keep what I have.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: x4000 February 28, 2012, 01:25:45 PM
In terms of player choice, how about limiting enchant inventories?  I know we talked about this and ultimately rejected it for spells, but enchants could be a good place for it --- I imagine you'd have enough inventory slots to carry two enchants for each use-slot and a few special inventory slots for the vital utility enchants.  This would create a simple but difficult player choice --- do I take this or keep what I have.

Definitely no, and I'm not going to touch that with a ten foot pole.  ;) What we have are limited enchant slots, so you have to choose between what you can use at any given time.  But limiting the inventory itself just creates backtracking and lots of pointless frustration.  It's punitive to the player for no particular good reason, whereas the enchant slots cause the same sort of choice you're looking for but without making players keep a stash of enchants they might want later in some far off place.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: Terraziel February 28, 2012, 01:30:36 PM
I think the further point would be that if you are doing your item generation right then players won't want to keep stuff hanging around anyway.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: x4000 February 28, 2012, 01:31:46 PM
Sure, hopefully they will chuck most things that are completely irrelevant, but they'll still want to keep some extras around in other colors or whatever for specific situations.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: BobTheJanitor February 28, 2012, 01:53:36 PM
Potentially possible to burn old enchants to get a few enchant points back in return? Might be a way to encourage less hoarding and you don't end up with your inventory or your settlement ground full of icons that way.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: Oralordos February 28, 2012, 02:01:48 PM
Wouldn't getting rid of your enchants make it so that you can find that enchant again? I think I would mostly just orginize my enchant menu to keep the ones I would want to keep near the bottom. The rest I can ignore, they're just there to keep me from finding one of them again.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: BobTheJanitor February 28, 2012, 04:01:34 PM
If the enchants generate based on your Civ level then you won't have to worry about re-getting old enchants that you've thrown out because you've outleveled them. And with random generation the chances of getting exactly some old enchant you already have had are pretty limited anyway. I think it would be neat if you have a 5% jump/speed enchant and find a 10% version and can then take the old one and put it in a blender and get X% of the enchant points that went into it back to build towards your next enchant (probably a small amount, this is more a token thing for fun than a system where you burn up one and get another one immediately). If that makes it too easy to get new enchants just balance on the back end and make higher levels get more expensive so you're still unlocking at the same rate overall but with occasional chances to rush towards something new if you burn a lot of old enchants. That way the player can feel more involved in the process without really changing up the speed of acquisition too much.

What this sort of sounds like anyway is a purchase system. I mean one could argue that's what it already is. You collect 20 enchant MacGuffin pots and trade them in for one randomly generated enchant. Sure, you're not going to the vendor and trading them off, but from a mechanics perspective that's still pretty much what is happening. All that the ability to melt down enchants will do is give you a way to 'sell old gear back to the vendor' so to speak. And adding in the potential to select between a few different enchants when you reach an unlock plateau is just giving the 'vendor' more store inventory.

Other potential ideas would be to make players actually go back to the crafting bench or Ilari stone or whatever to actually initiate the exchange of enchant points for new enchants. Gives a bit more reason to go back to town, if such a thing is desirable. You could also give the option of swapping to a new set of choices if none of those generated initially catch your fancy. This would probably allow only a single, or a limited number of swaps, and not let you reverse the decision to swap, to keep the choices interesting. You could also have a (low) random chance of generating an enchant a tier or two above what should be available at the level you're currently at, the equivalent of a rare lucky drop. Bonus standard RPG trope points for making increasing rarity colors for these enchants. (in green, blue, purple, orange...)

And this may be unrelated, but was it the enchant system that was going to add cosmetic options to spells? I may be conflating some different concepts here, but I seem to recall talk a while back about being able to change the color of spells, or something like that. Or was that crests? (Or what in the world were crests? Did that idea get dropped? Was that even a thing or am I making stuff up?) Anyway, cosmetic changes as random additions would be fun. They probably wouldn't take any points out of the enchant's overall 'budget' but just appear as random freebies from time to time.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: x4000 February 28, 2012, 04:05:16 PM
Crests were basically like enchants that you could slot a single spell into.  I don't think they'll be coming back, enchants do basically all they did.  In terms of cosmetic options I hadn't planned much on that, but it's a general possibility.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: BobJustBob February 29, 2012, 11:47:10 AM
On the enchant tier stuff, I don't like the idea of having hard limits on what enchants you are allowed to find. Knowing that you're always going to find tier 1 enchants until you reach a new continent or find X number of enchants takes some of the fun out of it. To me, the appeal of random loot generation is the possibility of winning the lottery and coming up with a great item. Even if it's extremely unlikely, the possibility keeps you going. And along those same lines, you need a dud every once in a while too, to make you appreciate the good-not-great items you usually pick up.

Maybe you could have a "current tier" which is determined however, and that's the tier you expect to find. But there's a small chance of finding an item of another tier, maybe 10% for one tier higher, 1% for two tiers higher, etc. You could tweak the numbers so that the intended progression holds in the majority of cases while still allowing the occasional lucky drop.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: zebramatt February 29, 2012, 12:37:01 PM
I actually think that's an argument for gating, not against it, Bob.

Consider: you're getting enchants all of a certain level and suddenly you stumble over one that's great by comparison. You're elated and it makes it into your stable for the rest of that gate level. Then you get to the next one and it's still pretty good but you're seeing more stuff on a par. Soon enough it's been relegated out of your main kit in favour of fancier, shinier things. And then bam, another awesome-for-that-gate level one comes along and the cycle repeats itself.

So yeah, it'd be nice to have a chance to get cool stuff earlier - but only slightly earlier. There's nothing like the feeling when you realise your once-awesome stuff wasn't actually so awesome after all. 
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: BobTheJanitor February 29, 2012, 12:41:32 PM
So yeah, it'd be nice to have a chance to get cool stuff earlier - but only slightly earlier. There's nothing like the feeling when you realise your once-awesome stuff wasn't actually so awesome after all.

That's progression in a nutshell. If it's a little better, great! If it's a lot better, it's great for now, but it's boring for the next 10 hours when you never find an upgrade to it.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: Terraziel February 29, 2012, 01:06:53 PM
This is where laying out loot systems get complicated, rather conversely, I have spent ages using otherwise inferior equipment because it has a specific ability on it that I want (as far as D2 is concerned usually high resistances), the basic point being that what the game thinks is a good enchant and what you think one is can differ quite a bit, so whilst from the games point of view tiers are very distinct things, from a player perspective they are almost certainly very vague.
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: BobTheJanitor February 29, 2012, 01:22:10 PM
That's an item budgeting issue though. If enchants have an internal budget of X points to 'buy' their abilities at random off a chart, and tier 2 enchants get 2X points and so on, you usually guarantee a good progression. It's when you get those special one off abilities that things get confusing. Instead of linear increase of numbers, how do you value a random chance to shoot rainbows out of your ears? Is that worth a lot or nothing?
: Re: Enchants generation general discussion
: Eagleheart April 24, 2012, 01:47:27 AM
I don't like the whole save up for a better enchant later idea. That just seems to make it unnecessarily complicated and hard to balance.

I am really for the choosing one from two or three randomly generated selections each time you get a new one though. It would make it feel more like you're building your character and get you more interested in them.

I would also prefer enchants resetting on character death too. I don't feel like you're punished enough for dying at the moment. Then again, I haven't really invested a thousand upgrade stones into a character yet...