Monday, June 18, 2007

The Negative Effects of Durability

In most games, durability is an advantage. Items with a high durability last longer than items with lower durability, and thus are more valuable. This makes intuitive sense.

In WoW, however, high durability is actually a disadvantage. It seems counter-intuitive, but looking at game mechanics quickly shows why. The most common form of item damage is the 10% durability loss from death. However, the cost to repair an item is based on per point of durability lost. An item with higher durability loses more points for each death, and thus costs more to repair for each death.

For example, take two items: blue boots with 50 durability, and epic boots with 100 durability. Let's say it costs 10 silver to repair one point of durability. After one death, the blue boots lose 5 points of durability, and the epic boots lose 10. It costs 50 silver to repair the blue boots, and 1 gold to repair the epic boots. Having lower durability was actually an advantage for the blue boots, which just does not seem right.

And this has a startling amount of ramifications, especially in the endgame.

First, gear with higher item levels tends to have higher durability. That means that as your gear gets better and better, your repair costs increase. Because the raid dungeons do not drop increased amounts of cash, it means that the amount of gold needed to support raiding increases as gear gets better.

This is a big problem for healers and tanks. As a character levels, the rate of gold farmed continues to increase, allowing them to keep pace with their increased costs. At 70, though, this changes.

For DPS, the rate of gold farmed continues to increase as new gear is gained, allowing the DPS to match the increase in repair costs. However, for healers and tanks, the new gear does not help increase the rate of gold farmed, meaning that they have to farm for longer periods of time to keep up with the increasing durability on their gear.

Secondly, the increasing repair costs leads to higher cost of death, which leads to more risk-averse behaviour. When a single wipe costs 5g or more, a healer or tank is less likely to engage in risky actions like joining pick-up groups. This is bad for the game as a whole, as it works best when people are actually willing to do things, to take the risk of dying.

The solution is to change the repair mechanic. Rather than repairing on a per-durability-point basis, repair costs should be done on a fixed percentage base (by level). It should always cost the same for a level 70 to repair from 0% to 100%.

To return to the above example, if costs 5 gold to repair from 0% to 100%, both the blue boots and the epic boots cost 50 silver. So for a healer or tank, it takes them the same amount of time to farm for gold to support their new gear.

(The DPS ends up with more free time, and possibly more money as a result, but I don't really see that as game-breaking. At least not as game-breaking as forcing the healers/tanks to farm for continously longer periods of time. Besides, the rogues and hunters already avoid half the wipes anyways.)

This way there is symmetry between the percentage loss when dying, and the percentage gain when repairing. Costs are now fixed, and no longer require increased farming time. Durability is once again an advantage as--not counting deaths--an item with high durability will last longer and not cost as much to repair.


  1. /Cast Vanish FTW!!!

  2. Though I agree with you, I also disagree with you. I agree that they need to change deaths to take off a certain amount of durability instead of percentage I do not think they should change how much gear costs to repair.

    See, as you get better gear, the raids give you more money. You should almost always come out of a raid with more money than you started with. Kara has mobs that give 10 people more than a gold each when you kill them. Bosses also give more gold as you get further. In 5 mans, as your gear gets better you should be dying a lot less and running a lot faster to make money faster.

    The amount of durability an item has is most important to a tank because when they are hit they lose durability so their gear takes the largest toll and if they have more durability they will need to repair a lot less often though it will cost more money.

  3. The other thing, is the guild bank should be supporting at the very least tanks and giving them a little money for repairs. As a paladin you shouldn't really care a whole lot about durability. Pre BC I would have 80% durability in naxx while the rest of the raid needed to repair just because paladins have DI, bubble->runout, and stuff like that.

  4. With the new dailies, raiding costs are more than covered regardless of class - you don't need to grind mobs for gold. Assuming you can do six dailies, that's 72g per day. Depending on your consumables, you should be able to cover a week's raiding costs in 3-4 days, with the remainder going toward your (eventual) epic flyer.

    "The solution is to change the repair mechanic. Rather than repairing on a per-durability-point basis, repair costs should be done on a fixed percentage base (by level). It should always cost the same for a level 70 to repair from 0% to 100%." - Coriel

    This would be interesting, but I think there is more to gear repair costs than simply durability differences between blues and epics. Why should it cost the same to repair a L1 pair of boots as it does a L70 pair of boots at L70? The way it works now, assuming durability scales roughly with the level of the item, you are simply paying repairs based on the gear's level rather than your level - this seems right to me. If you have a pair of L125 boots, why should you be able to repair them at a L70 cost?

    Epic gear goes above and beyond L70 and, as you know from leveling, you get more gold from mobs as you level up. We can't go grinding L100+ mobs though, so you feel the pinch in repairing high-level gear. Closest you can get is matching high-level gear to the instance it was meant for and getting an appropriate return.

    High repair costs don't necessarily keep people out of a PuG so much as it keeps excessive gear out of a lesser instance. I assume Blizz has tuned the instances both to number of toons and expected gear for the instance's level. Downgrade your gear to something more appropriate to the instance you're running and repairs should be consistent to what you get out of the instance. You don't need Kara gear or better to clear Ramparts.. ;)

    (That said, I typically just absorb the repair cost and run lesser instances in my Kara gear. Kinda amusing seeing the other top DPS classes at 55-60% of my damage with a spec that's not supposed to work. :) )

  5. I try to limit my wipes to once per hour... y'know, divine intervention and all...

    Random Rogue: "Hey guys, I can't move I think my keyboard locked up."
    Me In-Game: "No dude, I put Divine Intervention you."
    Rogue: "What's that do? Wait, you mean I have to sit here and wait a bunch of minutes?!"
    Me IRL: "LOL"
    Me In-Game: "Yes."
    -1 Minute Passes-
    Me In-Game: "No, I'm just screwing with you, you can cancel it."

    Sometimes in a raid when the MT goes down, I like to wuss out and DI, so I call some other known wuss who hates repair bills away from the boss so I can DI them, regardless of class (in most raids it's better to corpse run anyways). My favorite DI was when I blind DIed someone and they happened to be sitting right under Gruul when I did it. :O

  6. While I would appreciate a lessened cost in repair bills, you have to understand that the money would just have to come from some other source. Blizzard desperately needs some method to remove money from circulation, otherwise inflation would be completely out of control. I know, I know, this isn't high finance or the economy of a developing country, but without some way to take back the gold coins that you get from looting - things would get very ugly, very fast.

    So blizzard *could* take away or lessen repair costs, but then where would the money sink come from? Taxi costs? AH fees? Reagent costs? We'd still feel the pinch, it would just come from some other direction.

  7. an even simpler method would be to base repair costs of ilvl with a rarity modifier/multiplyer and base all items off of a 100/100 durability, unless of course they make some instance sword that had like five durability and is rediculous dps/agro or with an ability for casters that bases charges off of durability.

    That way... you know exactly what to expect and some random person would probablly have a ui mod calculator doing the math for you 72 hours after it was implemented.

    Keeping items based off ilvl increases cost in an acceptable manner, because after all. If your t6'd out and essentially god in comparrison to the general populace, dying should hurt. And it keeps people from doing stupid things and forces them to do their jobs or quite litterally, pay the consequences. If they arent, and its causing you to pay as well... it makes booting the mental midge that much easier because nobody likes their money f'd with... even if it is virtual.

    -the formdoggie