Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bosses, Tokens, Recipes, Crafting

There are many people who feel that the current model of loot distribution (primarily random drops) in raiding is flawed. They feel that players are at the mercy of random numbers, and that it is very easy to be unlucky and miss out on a specific piece of loot (Dragonspine Trophy, for example). The proposed solution is that we should move to a more tokenized model of loot, like how Tier gear is distributed.

There are also other people who feel that crafting is not utilized enough in the endgame. They feel that crafting is pointless, as you inevitably replace crafted gear with raid loot.

This raises an interesting idea (which to be honest, has probably been proposed before): What if all endgame loot was crafted?

The way I envision it working is that each tier would have 5 or so epic materials. Bosses would drop a couple recipes and about 3 different bind-on-pickup mats. Every player that killed the boss would get these materials. The recipes in each tier would only use the tier materials to create items. The last boss in each instance might drop a special material that was only used in a few really good recipes. Essentially, crafting materials become the tokens/Badges, and player crafters become the gear vendors.

This solves a few problems. It gets crafters more involved in the endgame. All your gear will get that <Made By X> tag, which I find neat. Crafters get to forge every piece of loot. It makes getting gear more fluid, as different bosses could drop the same components. You still need to progress, as certain materials might only be available on certain bosses. There's still an element of randomness in the recipe drops, but because you only need the first drop, the effect of that randomness is muted. Worst comes to worst, you can go outside the guild to find a crafter.

You'd have to play with the numbers necessary for each recipe to get a good rate at which people could gear up, but I'm sure it could be done.

Now there are some problems with this model. Immediate gratification is not present. You kill a boss, and you don't get loot immediately. You do get some new recipes, which might serve the immediate "oooh, that's neat" aspect of loot. Players would need to do a little more research into what's available when gearing up. You can't equip new gear right away, you have to obtain it out of raid. Though with gemming and enchanting requirements, this is pretty much standard unless it is a massive upgrade.

The bigger problem is that if the materials or the crafted gear is Bind-on-Equip, then that will drag raid drops into the economy. One of the big things about WoW is that the top end stuff is not buyable (most of the time), and generally has to be earned by the player participating in activities. If it was all Bind-on-Equip, then that might have negative effects on the game, with increased gold farming, buying, and selling. It would make your farming prowess a very large factor in how well you are geared. I don't think that is a good idea, and I'm pretty sure all the tanks and healers will concur.

In reality, item crafting in WoW is missing an action. Currently, you can:

1. Make a Bind-on-Pickup item for yourself.
2. Make a Bind-on-Equip item for anyone.

It would be really useful if there was a third option:

3. Make a Bind-on-Pickup item for someone else.

If you think about it, this is essentially what a NPC token vendor does. You give them a Bind-on-Pickup material component, and they give you a Bind-on-Pickup item. For this idea to work well, you really need to be able to replicate that same transaction with a player crafter.

Perhaps the solution is a crafting window, like the trade window. The buyer puts her materials (and fee/tip!) on her side, the crafter chooses the recipe on his side, hits the craft button, and the item is deposited in the buyer's inventory.

I think craftable raid gear is an interesting solution to the problem of unlucky raid drop distribution. We get the excitement of random drops in the recipes, while mitigating randomness because only the first recipe drop is important. We get the consistency of badges and tokens in the material drops. We get the variety of loot in that certain recipes or materials only drop from certain bosses. We make crafting an integral part of endgame without overpowering it. Pretty much get to kill two birds with one stone, as I see it.

5 comments:

jord said...

nice idea, but that last idea of creating bop items for other would have to be implemented if you want raiders to not need to max their profs or to not have to take a crafting profession.

you'd still need to have some straight drops though for things like certain trinkits and other items like the eye of gruul and the warglaives of azzinoth, to name two examples. you cant craft the eye of gruul... lol

i'd also like this idea implimented for pvp. you can already loot corpses in battlegrounds, if they added items to those corpses that were required for recipes you'd almost be there. add in recipes for honor/arena points. trade-ins of marks of honor for certain mats. basically, make most, if not all, the materials required for the recipe acquired through pvp, and only pvp. of course they'd all be bop mats and recipes. throw in some primals/cloth/leather/metal to finish up the recipe and you're done.

Chris said...

Yes and no, I think crafters should be supported, but I think it should be a different way, random loot is exactly that, its stuff the boss has / has collected, Tier Tokens are some element of prestige (call it Magtheridon's head but less specific, Left and Right hand of Leotheras) you hand in for access to higher level gear.

What I would like to see is high end gear from crafting, but it has to be restricted, if its not you get the same situation you get now, ding 70, purchase X high level epics, go raiding / instancing to fill slots. You can get good crafted gear, but it should not replace dungeon and tier gear (if thats through the use of set bonuses to make it superior so be it).

What I would like to see also is a 3rd profession for gear, currently gear has:

--- Blizzard Allocated ---
Ability Slots
Equip Slots
Use Slots

--- Jewelcrafter Allocated ---
Gem Slots

--- Enchanter / Tailor / LW ---
Permenant enchant slot.

What would be nice is a third type of user slot: Configurable.

So you get an item like:
"Holy armour of Zul'jin"
Plate 25,000 armour
o Blue
o Blue
O Enchantment Slot
Q Holy Slot
Q Holy Slot

Let the user decide what they want, those Holy slots can be made by say an enchanter, an inscriber and a blacksmith using Holy dust, Inscription tools and some boe/bop components (so multiple professions get to contribute). So a boss can drop a piece of damaged loot, and you get to set it up as you want.

Ideally also offer blacksmiths / tailors / lw (for the relevant type of armour) to change the colour of a gem slot using some kind of rare mat

"Realign Plate Red" - 2 Nether Vortex, 2 Primal Nether 10 primal fire, changes a gem slot on the armour to a red slot.

Again, crafters get involved, could even make muilticoloured gem slots (purple, orange, green), and suchlike. So boss drops are no longer as targeted, its now "Damaged Demon Armour", "Tattered blue robe", "Ruined Leather Cuirass", your crafters get involved, Blizzard get the option to balance gear abstractly, ie: a holy slot is worth x, and users get to change it, ignore bonuses etc if they want to. Badge loot and that can remain, and indeed be nearly as powerful (make it initially token based in addition to the badges so only your raiders get it - yes I am suggesting welfare epix for raiders same as pvp, your raid gets geared relatively quickly to the correct level if you CAN down the bosses).

Over time, as with the gates for Sunwell gear opens up, your first server kill of Illidan for example would have opened up the 2.3 badge loot or n months after release (so as with the sunwell it will happen and you do drive progress), the gear vendors start saying "with the Betrayer now in our sights we feel we must be more generous with our allies, we are all involved in this push to end his reign". Basically the tier token requirement gets dropped (or signal that you were killing these bosses).

So crafters involved and rare / expensive mats, new profession to alleviate badly optimised gear, loot is more generic (by armour class), RNG loot is still good, badge loot can be integrated (can't use the new profession, or if it can has fewer slots). Seems like a good basis for a system

Anonymous said...

This is similar to the way that DAoC once worked, before all the expansions (especially Trial of Atlantis). It works well, too.

Most high quality items should be available from crafters. The very highest quality items should be raid drops, but crafted ones should be sufficient to get you into the high-end raids. Having to gind for weeks in order to get basic equipment to go on raids with the general goal of upgrading that equipment is irritating and demoralizing.

Raid items should be prestige items - they get a slightly higher bonus, they should get nicer looking graphic effects, etc. Something to set them apart. Believe me, people will still raid - everyone wants the pretty shiny objects rather than the bland yet still functional ones.

Kaliope said...

While I applaud your desire to brainstorm improvements to the raid loot system, I don't see this sort of thing happening. From what I can tell, Blizzard wants to keep the best loot as raid drops, this keeps players going back to the dungeons. The more accessible they make non-drop gear, the less time players will spend raiding (ie: playing the game). They've appeased us with tokens so we can select the item stats we want with our loot instead of taking whichever configuration decides to drop. They've appeased us with Badges of Justice, which allow us to slowly accrue the currency to purchase a few nice items to fill in the gaps. And they've worked crafting into the mix with a few nice BoP items we can make, which require raid-drop ingredients. But they will never make all armor crafted because they've designed the pinnacle of the game to be raiding - that's where the bulk of their efforts go and that's where they want the players' focus to be.

Plus, crafting is meant to be optional. As much as some of us love it, no one is forced to do it, just as we are not forced to participate in PVP. If they made all raid gear crafted, it would force some players to become crafters even if they didn't want to be. Just as some guilds force raid specs, they would start requiring members to have a profession or even switch professions to fill in gaps. I could potentially even see crafters becoming a bottleneck in this scenario where only a small number of people know a particular recipe and are unable to help all the people who need something crafted. As hard as it can be to find someone to make certain epic Smithing pieces right now, imagine having to camp the trade channel for every single item you wear. Some people would find that just as intolerable as not getting the raid drop week after week.

While I would love to see crafter's BoP gearsets be improved so that they are viable through the end game, Blizzard is unlikely to give us a full set of armor through crafting. And in a way, I agree with them as far as their intended purpose. They want to make sure that only the best of the best players have the best of the best gear, that's what motivates those hard core players to do what they do. They have bragging rights and the shinies to prove it. The rest of us look up to that goal and hope someday to reach it, but mostly we don't want to invest the time and the price we pay is lesser gear. But they need that interplay to keep the main playerbase motivated (and playing) and easing the gear path would be counterproductive to their goal.

At it's heart, I see your suggestions as a way to ease the gear path and I'm guessing that Blizzard doesn't feel it's broken at this point. I say this as a person who has at least 1 sorely-needed item that still hasn't dropped for 2 of my raid toons. But considering how much whining we've heard over the last 6+ months about "welfare epics", I think Blizz probably feels they've provided enough options to cover just about every playstyle, except for possibly the people who never reach 70.

Anise said...

Could pick something in the middle, using the current tier paradigm. Head, chest, shoulders, pants, gloves are tokens. Bracers, boots, belts, necklaces, rings, and weapons are the suggested crafted items. Shields, off-hand items, trinkets, etc could all be the mob-specific drops. Badges could fill in gaps or provide some alternate pieces to swap around.

I also think healing gear should cost about half the price of DPS gear, but they may be adjusting that from a mechanics standpoint, rather than an ease of accumulation standpoint.

In short, multiple gear accumulation methods are a good thing.