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Crafter's Roundtable (Snow Day Edition): Insuring Item Rarity

    • 1164 posts
    February 8, 2019 10:23 AM PST

    Hi everyone, and welcome to another Crafter's Roundtable discussion, where we ask all of you for your thoughts on something that will be important for Pantheon! Usually, we try to round up opinions from the Pantheon Crafters staff to help get the discussion started... but this time, well, several of them had mysteriously gone missing! We sent Cromulent out to investigate, and here is what he found:

    (Note:  Head over to the thread on Pantheon Crafters to see the picture and get the joke.  It's worth it (and don't worry, it's safe).  The post editor here just isn't able to handle it without really screwing up the rest of the thread formatting.)


    Fortunately, Khaleesi and Trasak were available to help us get this started. Also, ignore the picture on the right. That's not real. You weren't supposed to see that.

    … anyway, Today's Question!

    It's a fact that anything in an MMO that can be farmed by players, will be. Statistically, something might show up on a loot table only 5% of the time - but if you hit that loot table enough times, eventually you'll have a hundred of those items. This is true whether we're talking about drops from monsters or resources from gathering. So with that in mind, Is there a better method than a drop percentage that Pantheon can leverage to help keep rare things rare, over time?


    Here's what we had to say. Take a look, and then reply and give us your thoughts!

    Trasak said:

    Simple answer: Give up on the concept of Rare/Named items all together instead have rare combinations of stats (slightly different then randomly generated loot).


    I am still a huge advocate that all items dropped in the game should be possible to duplicate with the right ingredients. Rare items will just be items that were effectively made with rare ingredients. Conversely a crafter of an appropriately high crafting skill can salvage the rare ingredient out of the rare drop item as one of the sources for said ingredient. That rare ingredient can then be recombined with higher quality base materials and higher skill level to make an item that is even better but retains the rare effect on the original rare drop.

    I would restrict unreplicatable items to epic quest rewards and specific lore artifacts from a raid zones final boss at low drop rates. The intent being that there is virtually no way to guaranty a drop on the raid boss such that only one is dropped per server per month or that one must complete a very long and difficult quest requiring both complex team work and personal player skill at said class.

    All that being said finding a tier 5 shadow damage weapon ingredient will be very rare. You could kill 1000 named mobs in the highest level shadow element content to get one weapon with the effect. Then you would need to fined a tier 5 or better weapon smith to deconstruct the item for a chance to get the ingredient. You could also kill a small group raid boss shadow demon for a chance at the raw ingredient for a tier 5 alchemist to manufacture the shadow ingredient. Or lastly you could take 100 tier 4 ingredients to the mages guild to have it condensed into tier 4 for a fee $$$$$$.

    Now that you have the tier 5 shadow core you still need to make the weapon which requires skilled craftsmen combining ingredients. Those ingredients will increase or decrease the power of the item and will also increase or decrease the chance of success. Combining the shadow core with an obsidian based will have a much higher chance of success vs combining the shadow core with a mithral based item, and a light damage effect would have the opposite chance.

    Combining very hard to come by ingredients, with non complementary materials at the highest power levels will be how you end up with the truly rare items and that cannot be effected by a random number generator landing on the same paladin sword 12 raid weeks in a row.


    Khaleesi said:

    It's important for rare things to be rare - I would re-conceptualize that those things should be marks of true accomplishment, not the simple result of grinding.

    This should take ingenuity, craftiness (and crafting ;) ), skill at your class, and teamwork.

    I would suggest that it be something of great value but is not trade-able such that it has to be earned. It may be a quest line within an instance that has to be unlocked by the player who will obtain the item. In order to unlock this instance, the payer has to meet several proofs of skill. The player would also need to create items using very skilled craftsmanship. The player will bring a small group of friends and overcome this instanced test of skill and creativity.

    I would love to see the instance be so variable that it is not able to be repeated in the same way again. Together, the group would overcome the challenge. Once the instance is finished, it would not be able to be repeated by the same player.

    Maybe, making it the result of a quest takes away from the rarity of the item, but I don't think so.


    Nephele said:

    Just for the record, no one can prove that's my yard. Or my cat.

    Anyway, on the topic of item rarity, I think the way to handle this and insure that things stay rare over time is actually NOT to rely on drop percentages - at least, not to only rely on drop percentages. There's a balance that needs to be struck between making loot (or harvests) predictable and still keeping them valuable. So, if it were up to me, I'd try for a three-pronged approach.

    1) There absolutely should be multiple tiers of rarity that correspond roughly with power or value. Some things should be simply uncommon, for example they drop 10% of the time. And some things should be rare, dropping maybe 2-3% of the time. Some things should be extremely rare, dropping only say 0.5% of the time. I also think that those percentages need to be lower than what anyone would feel is reasonable - because when any of us personally tries to figure out how rare something should be, none of us really factors in the idea of players killing that mob or hitting that harvesting node every single time it respawns - which is what really happens. We tend to only think about our own personal experience.

    2) The rarer something is supposed to be, the less predictable getting it should be. I'm not talking about drop percentage here, necessarily, but more about what you have to do to get the item in the first place. For example, if you need an ultra-rare Skyshard jewel to craft a weapon with the super-powerful Heaven's Tears proc, then finding the Skyshard jewel shouldn't just be a matter of going to a single zone and hanging around the place where those things are known to appear before you get one. No, you shouldn't actually be able to predict when or where a Skyshard jewel is going to show up - it should have the potential to appear in any of four or five different zones, but only one spawn potentially per game day. Do this right, and you can't really go farm Skyshard jewels anymore. They're just sort of happy accidents.

    3) For very rare/powerful items, I actually would want to see a limit on how many could be active in the game at once on an individual server. Once five people acquire the Ring of Wishes, that's it. No more Rings of Wishes will drop unless one of the five is destroyed somehow. To make this really work, something else would need to drop in its place, but I think that having a wide variety of very rare things is better in the long run than having dozens or hundreds of the same "rare" things floating around the server.

    These are just the lame things I came up with to preserve the concept of rarity while I was totally not building a cat-shaped snow fort, so I'm sure with time and thought people could come up with even more clever ideas that are far better than mine.


    Anyway, that is enough from us. What do you think about item rarity and how best to keep things rare over time? Reply and let us know!


    This post was edited by Nephele at February 8, 2019 10:23 AM PST
    • 1332 posts
    February 8, 2019 11:17 AM PST

    Nephele said:

    It's a fact that anything in an MMO that can be farmed by players, will be. Statistically, something might show up on a loot table only 5% of the time - but if you hit that loot table enough times, eventually you'll have a hundred of those items. This is true whether we're talking about drops from monsters or resources from gathering. So with that in mind, Is there a better method than a drop percentage that Pantheon can leverage to help keep rare things rare, over time?

    As you've shown, even with low chances for an item to drop, given enough time the number of items that will eventually exist will be quite high.  Each spawn chance has no effect upon the next spawn chance.  You could have 1000 people all lined up to kill a mob that has a 1% chance to drop an item and statistics allow for all 1000 of them to get the item in a row.  Rarity over enough time does not exist.

    There could be some ways to slow down, but never completely avoid saturation, but these would be very difficult to implement:

    1.  If you have a mob that drops Item A 1% of the time, have the server pre-determine where in the next 100 kills that item will drop.  This effectively locks the rate of introduction at exactly 1%.  It doesn't completely avoid the eventual accumulation of the item into the world over enough time but it does slow it down significantly.  If the item was scheduled to drop on the 37th spawn, you would still have to kill the mob 63 more times before the server would then determine the drop for the next 100 spawns where it could drop on spawn 1..making you kill it 99 more times..rinse/repeat.

    2.  Greater use of the Lore and NoDrop locked together.  What increases the rate at which items enter the world is by letting people obtain simultaneous multiple copies.  Again, doesn't completely avoid the situation but does slow down the rate of introduction as NoDrop still allows everyone to obtain one copy.

    3.  Permanent Lore tied to the character.  Basically the item is flagged such that once your character has earned it once, it can never earn it again even if you sell/trade/destroy it. This would cap the number of possible copies of the item in the world to the number of unique characters.  Each one could only ever have one.  But yet again it doesn't completely avoid the saturation in that everyone can still, eventually, get 1 of the item.

    4.  Unique.  If you truly want something to be rare, there can be only one of them.  Any other method still gives everyone at least some chance to obtain the item.  This approach would piss off a lot of potential players as, for not fault of their own, they have no hope of ever obtaining that item once it has appeared.

    In the end, a big draw in games like these is the possibility that if you put in enough time and effort, you can earn everything.  And why shouldn't people who put in the effort be rewarded?  Define rarity to the individual, not the whole server.  A rare drop is just that to the individual..something that takes time to earn but eventually will be earned.

    • 240 posts
    February 8, 2019 10:10 PM PST

    I'll agree with Vandraad here and add;

    Rares, must have a Confirmation to loot message pop up.

    An item could have a low droprate, even extreme low droprate. But it should be within reach of the player that can use it. If you can't use it, due to outleveling or too low level yet. It should be out of reach completely!
    Why? To prevent farmers clearing lower content or from newby classes going out of wack with the overpowered item equipped.
    Here's a more detailed example: A level 20 group or single player, in a level 20-25 encounter, has 90% chance of finding trash items, 70% to find a treasured item, 30% chance to find a legendary item, 1% chance to find a RARE item. (epics not included or classspecifics, I'ld tie those into lore and quests, and no-trade) 
    That same group or player, in a level 10-15 encounter, has the same chances on finding trash and treasured. But starting from legendary up to rare, their chances of finding such item is drastically Decreased. Why? Because they no longer have an actual need for it. Leave the level 10 group/players to find those upgrades. Each their own. Also I find it less of an achievement when I loot something, that is rare but where I no have a direct benefit for my class/ability or skill, other then cash or storage for the guild.

    Another way to look at it is that a rare droprate is only unlocked when X amount of the same mobs or situations have played out for that character. Before that point, there would just be no chance to get that Rare item. Only when that character has unlocked the X amount of trials...the droprate is in effect. And from that point on, that player has a chance to get a Rare item coming from this mob or this situation. If this treshold should be known, is up to discussion. But if you don't know about it, it could work very well and only those true die hards will get it. (and deserve it?)

    OR

    Let's say it works like a magnet. So even though the droprate was extremely low, you were lucky enough to loot that Rare epic weapon.
    Now you farm it again and again, it drops and you loot it. It could automatically MERGE with your first weapon. But instead of increasing the stats, it decreases. And each time you loot that epic weapon, it merges into each other and your stats of that weapon are getting lower and lower. Leaving you with a nearly useless weapon, (other then coin).
    Eq2 has a mechanic where an adornment you've placed on an equipped item, increases each time you kill a mob with certain requirements (level of the mob or origine). Here the adorn levels up, without the player actually making that decision. It's a automatic mechanism. My suggested mechanic works similarly but in the opposite direction. You'ld not benefit from looting the same item, but the degeneration will happen automatically.

    This sounds harsh, but it could prevent players from looting the same rare item and putting it on the market. In a group, it's still possible that one of the groupmembers can use it. If an entire group is farming to sell epics, then the mechanic will prevent that from occuring. Again as long as the timer to loot is short enough, to prevent auctioning drops. Or if the loot is linked to the players that did the kill. (no one outside that group could loot it, since it wasn't they who killed it)


    This post was edited by Barin999 at February 8, 2019 10:11 PM PST
    • 125 posts
    February 10, 2019 7:20 AM PST

    A while back I proposed an idea in a different thread to use the perception system to unlock 'hidden potential' within crafted (masterwork) items.

    Without going into too much detail, the way it worked was as follows:

    - You get a regular item with a rare drop chance with some small stat bonuses, nothing unusual

    - Said item has a hidden 'flag' for a certain perception check where you have to take a specific action in a specific place with aforementioned item equipped to unlock its potential, thereby transforming it into a new item with added bonuses

    - The regular item can have one of many different perception 'mystery quests' tied to it, so players can't easily unlock an item's potential based on community knowledge

    In short, rarity of random rewards can be further amplified by adding upgrade conditions that are unknown to the player. And an element of discovery that could be fun.

    The perception system could be applied like this not only to rare crafted items, but also for anything with a drop chance (you roll for an item on the loot table, then you roll a second time for the item's hidden unlock quest). It'd be slightly more work for the developers to add a lot of these hidden potential quests for items to the game, but if they have a standardized script in place it would only really be a matter of filling in some parameters for the item generation and the perception triggers.


    This post was edited by Kaeldorn at February 10, 2019 7:22 AM PST
    • 108 posts
    February 12, 2019 4:09 AM PST

    Good questions, and interesting feedback.

    First of all, i think farming and selling items is actually part of the immersion. Some people will prefer to buy their way up and others will prefer to get the item themselves. In the end you either lose time getting money (solo / small content / crafting immersion) or time obtaining the item yourself (group immersion).

    In terms of rarity, there is no perfect solution. But i do love the idea suggested by Trasak. When grouping you can get an item that is powerfull, but by having the help of a crafter you can get something even more powerful. This will keep a crafter skill indefinitely usefull it will however also promote camping / farming. This isn't a bad thing if you limit that camping based on the usage as suggested by Vandraad. If an encounter is grey / trivial it will have no legendary or higher loot and only common / cash drops. Or you can turn it around, have the 'base' gear be crafter made and having to find and loot unique items (like the adornments mentioned) to increase its strength. It will however mean that some 'alpha' guilds will end up permanently camping certain camps to get said item for them and their guildmates to be upgraded by their guild crafter. 

    To mitigate this again, one could invent a mechanic similar to Vandraad's that either it is a 1 in 100 drop and in that 100 it will select a spawn number fixing the rate or making sure said item only drops once every day across the server and is completely random (i.e. across all loottables of said level range) as Nephele suggested.

    So to conclude, i think it should be a combination of them all. Make a crafter be able to use resources of the same item to increase its strength up to x amount of times and limit drops server wide and / or level specific to prevent farming.

    I do not think making items unique (only x on server) is a good thing. Some items or gimmicks sure (casks that summons unlimited ale). It prevents certain progression path's and might / will limit players in their projected goals.

    • 1332 posts
    February 12, 2019 8:15 AM PST

    Even if you went with a 'Once per game day' drop rate, the numbers after a real year are staggering.  Assuming that a full day cycle takes 40 minutes (20 mins day, 20 mins night) you will get a maximum of 36 drops in 1 real day ((24hrs*60mins)/40) which gives you 13,140 of those items entering the world each real year.  If you instead had it drop 1 time out of 100 kills as I suggested, and the NPC spawned every 20 minutes you would see 1 drop every 2000 real minutes (0.72 drops per real day) giving you just 262 items entering the world each real year.

    I'm a fan of trivial loot code for certain items but not for quest related items.  There might be times where you want to complete a quest later on in the game as you might have missed it and it is a prerequisite for another quest later on that is not trivial.  Being excluded from completing that quest through no fault of your own isn't acceptable.  This is far different than going back to a level 20 zone when you're level 50 to farm drops just to sell on the market.

    As with all things, combinations and options are a much better solution than using a single method applied globally.

    • 688 posts
    February 12, 2019 8:41 AM PST

    @Vandraad

    If the mentor system is robust and properly represents a character at the level you suppress to I could see the mentor system as a viable way to lock item drops and quests.

    Simply if anyone on the threat table is above x level or sudo x level then the item will not drop.  If anyone in the party is above x level or sudo x level then no one can receive or advance a quest with a level limit.  This way a player that missed certain content while leveling could still go back and do it but at the challenge level it was designed for not the simplified level that it would be at with a max level character.

     

    • 11 posts
    February 14, 2019 5:44 PM PST

    I have a few thoughs on this and I think it best to break it in to seperat catagories.
    Harvesting - In this case I think it really is prudent to just make it a drop rate so you could graph it over time.  This assumes the premise that you don't know the quality of the item untill you have started or already harvested.  As in, you find a tier 3 rock node.  You don't know if its common, uncommon, rare, or ultra rare untill you start harvesting it.   Alternatively, it could quite literally be a % of each hit (you get a number of "shards" that combine to full ore.  That makes it way less random and much more predictable so you can plot the yeild based on the amount of time spent.

    The more I think about it, the more I wonder what the real end result your looking for is?   I mean, unless you do like some have said and make it a "one and done" can't get again on the same toon, or whatever.... How rare are you trying to make  a thing?  I am of the oppnion that harvest and crafting SHOULD be predictable and reliable, whatever the mechanics behind it.   If you want to keep a specific item (as oppose to a specific component or material) then you can tie it to a quest to craft it, which is just back to the one and done idea.

    Maybe what we should really be thinking about is kepping the level up range somewhat even and predictable.  Uncommon 30%, Rare 5%, Ultra Rare 1%.   Depending on how many hours it takes to level threw a tier will really have an impact on how much people are willing to sink into the harvesting and crafting for that tier.  I assume like most games the levels will slow down the higher you go, so there would be more demand for and need fore a wider spread of gear quality.  If its going to take me 10 hours to blow threw tier 2, its not worth the time, effort, and money to seak out ultra rare gear and materials.  There will be some, but the demand won't be huge.  Get to tier 4/5/6 where your talking hundreds of hours.... its worth the time to find all the rare components or put the money up.  

    Bah.   I hope I'm not rambling to much.  I think my take away is that if you want to keep a specific peice of gear super rare, require multiple super rare components, or make the recipe to do it one that has to be aquired, or tie it to a quest and possibley make it soulbound so you can't trade or sell it.   As a crafter I would hope there would be something comparabe that I could craft.... its never good for the market when quested gear is better than crafted.


    This post was edited by Thothmose at February 14, 2019 5:45 PM PST
    • 240 posts
    February 17, 2019 9:18 PM PST

    Thothmose said:

    Bah.   I hope I'm not rambling to much.  I think my take away is that if you want to keep a specific peice of gear super rare, require multiple super rare components, or make the recipe to do it one that has to be aquired.

    The suggestion to have rarity within the crafting-/harvesting content is to give it some sense of value and try to maintain that value as time goes on. 

    I understand what you're saying about the hours/tier.

    It would be somewhat of a shame to not have rares in the first few tiers, mainly because one would spend more gamehours into the advanced tiers. Even for a starting player, it's a nice experience to find a rare resource at their current low level. How long a tier should take a player is another debate ofc. Are you saying that the rares at low tiers should be more frequent then higher tiers, based on amount of time spent within that tier? As for each player that might differ. And is the focus leaning more towards, providing those players the opportunity to encounter rares, or to design a system that safeguards rarity within the economy, no matter what level?

    Your suggestion about combining multiple rares from different tiers is an interesting one. Would you also suggest that the rare from the low tier, would have a descriptive hint that makes the player safe up on the item for later use? Or would the combining design only be discovered/reveiled in later tiers and one needs to go back to earlier tiers to try and find those rares they missed? Would you still hold on to those %'s chances to find a rare to all tiers then, or try something else?

    • 36 posts
    February 17, 2019 9:40 PM PST

    In addition to the drop percentage, rare items could despawn from the mob's loot if it hasn't been killed in a set period of time.  This would effectively lower the drop rate which varies based on player interaction but not to exceed the drop rate programmed into the loot table.

    • 173 posts
    February 19, 2019 10:25 AM PST

    we can also use a system that remove surplus of certain magical items.

    such system is used in lots of 'eastern' mmos, and sometimes ( ehm ehm always) abused by the devs for microtransactions, but it also could be done with no p2w component.

    so how it works: lets say i got the 'epic sword of awesome lightning' to drop for me twice, 

    instead of flooding the market with these swords, I am using my swordsmith focus to forge both swords to  'epic sword of awesome lightning +1' wich have minor bonus to stats or damage but major bonus to its glow.

    this forging process have a chance to fail, destroying one of the swords or even both swords. which means nomatter what the outcome, after the process there are less of such swords in the world.

     

    now, i am a peristant lad, so i farm the dungeon day and night and i manage to get two more of these swords, so i forge the two new swords and get another 'epic sword of awesome lightning +1', now i have two 'epic sword of awesome lightning +1', so i forge them together to get 'epic sword of awesome lightning +2' which have a miniscule stat boost but a very major glow and lightning boost!

    this process is even riskier with higher chance to destroy the original swords, the farther i am in the process the hiher the rist to fail.

    just for example: combining two vanilla swords will have 70% success, 20% failure with one sword destroyed and 10% with both of the swords destroyed. (requires two original swords, lucky people might get it)

    combining two +1 swords will have 50% success, 30% failure with one sword destroyed and 20% with both of the swords destroyed. (requires four original swords, rich people can probably make thouse)

    combining two +2 swords will have 30% success, 40% failure with one sword destroyed and 30% with both of the swords destroyed. (requires eight original swords, your whole guild will farm these swords for you)

    combining two +3 swords will have 10% success, 50% failure with one sword destroyed and 40% with both of the swords destroyed. (requires sixteen original swords, which is very very hard to obtain...)

    now, in p2w games you can buy a booster that increase the chancess of success for cash, but in Pantheon you will not have such item to buy.

     

    this system can remove items from the market, insuring original items rarity, and introducing another tier of rarity which is created and managed buy the playerbase.

     

    • 240 posts
    February 19, 2019 9:28 PM PST

    MyNegation said:

    just for example: combining two vanilla swords will have 70% success, 20% failure with one sword destroyed and 10% with both of the swords destroyed. (requires two original swords, lucky people might get it)

    this system can remove items from the market, insuring original items rarity, and introducing another tier of rarity which is created and managed buy the playerbase.

    How would you in this scenario ensure that the resource remains rare? (the vanilla swords can be combined).

    What's the mechanic to prevent farmers selling those vanilla swords instead of combining them? Or doing one 70% succes combine and then selling the swords? 

    Would the swords maintain their value or uniqueness in the game over time?