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[Column] General: The Impact of Loot

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,658MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Loot is probably one of the biggest driving forces for player involvement in any MMO. In today's Social Hub, we take a look at the impact that loot has on a game and on its community. Read on before leaving us your thoughts in the comments.

Hearing people discuss MMO economies, and with many sandbox fans calling for more player-driven systems, I kept thinking about the subject of loot recently. Loot is obviously not just developers throwing players some crap as a prize for slaying some wolves, but part of the greater economy that impacts the community too, from behavior to how much people even interact with one another. Now that several games with subscriptions make a return (including the just out of the gate Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online),  will that affect loot systems as opposed to the loot in free to play games? What considerations should developers listen to when deciding what sorts of loot systems to implement?

Read more of Christina Gonzalez's The Social Hub: Examining the Impact of Loot.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,727Member Uncommon

    Interesting read for an outsider like me, since I'm more into exploration and story, and usually don't give a [mod edit :) ] about loot.

    Then in the middle part ("One of the first things I did in Lord of the Rings Online was buy my Hobbit a nicer dress than the patchwork one she wore in early levels. It was white. I dyed it purple.") I realised that actually I do give it - for the cosmetic ones. Though I'd never purchase them in the Store, I like to get them in game - either earning them, or crafting them, or buy them from other players. Sometimes I'm mocked for it by buddies, for example in LotRO I have one character in every crafting guild, but all I craft is cosmetic stuff and housing items... but ofc I craft them stuff if they ask.

    Gear is pointless loot, that's what quest reward is for. Crafting mats are pointless loot as well, that's what the AH for, let others do the work :)

    "if you've ever been inspected and kicked from a team just because you weren't wearing the absolute best gear" yep, numerous times, and that's exactly what Ignore list is for :)

    (just noting, at lvl16 you can have your own cozy hobbit-hole, the house of the cat lady is... well, a bit creepy)

  • jmcdermottukjmcdermottuk LiverpoolPosts: 976Member Uncommon

    I'm not a big fan of the kit chase and a big supporter of crafted items being the best available, otherwise why bother to include crafting at all?

    Because of that I favour mats/resources as drops, allowing crafters to make good gear which allows an economy to develop along a supply and demand model.

     

    I'd rather see that than the endless kit chase and inflated prices for gear on the game's marketplace. Too many people play these markets, buying low to sell high and drive prices up to rediculous levels.

     

    Some examples of this working very well would be Pre-ToA DAoC and Pre-NGE SWG. Both had great crafting systems and stable economies until their respective developers decided to change them. With fairly predictable results.

  • BoneserinoBoneserino London, ONPosts: 1,630Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jmcdermottuk

    I'm not a big fan of the kit chase and a big supporter of crafted items being the best available, otherwise why bother to include crafting at all?

    Because of that I favour mats/resources as drops, allowing crafters to make good gear which allows an economy to develop along a supply and demand model.

     

    I'd rather see that than the endless kit chase and inflated prices for gear on the game's marketplace. Too many people play these markets, buying low to sell high and drive prices up to rediculous levels.

     

    Some examples of this working very well would be Pre-ToA DAoC and Pre-NGE SWG. Both had great crafting systems and stable economies until their respective developers decided to change them. With fairly predictable results.

    And I will second this as well!   FE is another game with great crafting IMO.  Its really what makes a game good for me.   Otherwise it is just kill kill kill zzzzzzzzzzz image

    FFA Nonconsentual Full Loot PvP ...You know you want it!!

  • KonfessKonfess Dallas, TXPosts: 956Member Uncommon

    /TL;dr : Combat players hate being dependent on crafters.  Combat players and auction house speculators inflate the economy.  Multiple characters per account negates the need for Interdependencies.  A lack of crafters makes Interdependencies difficult.  Guild back crafters do better than solo crafters.

     

    I have addressed this point before, regarding interdependencies & player driven economies.  It boils down to a players Bartle Quotient.  Killers are soloist, they want to be self sufficient and not dependent upon other players especially crafters.  It is the foundation of the P2W uproar, you are not a true killer if you must pay to win.

     

    Interdependencies were tried by Star Wars Galaxies (SWG), and EverQuest II.  Both games dropped the system when focus groups told devs that it couldn't work.  If crafters needed a combat supplied loot item as an ingredient, then combat players would match the price of the loot drop with the price of the crafted item.  If Dragon scale armour sells for $100,000 credits and needs 6 dragon scales to make it then the price of a stack of 6 scales could be $100,000 - $600,000.  Even if a few killer players were sensible and sold their scales for $20 - $100.  An Auction House speculator would just buy them low and sell them high again.  The same speculation would happen for the crafted items as well.

     

    The result combat/killer players resent the over inflated economy.  Holding the crafter/social gamers responsible for the inflation.

     

    Another draw back of Interdependencies is the lack of crafter suppliers.  Say you are playing a game where a solo crafter could make gray, white, and green items but blue, purple, or gold required resources from other crafters or combat loot drops.  If the game allowed multiple characters per server like is the norm today, then the crafter would roll a crafter for what ever crafting professions they needed.  If you are allowed only one character per server, then you are stuck.  If those supplying professions are not present you can't make the higher class items.  You could always pay additional sub.  That's why of my 11 SWG characters 8 were crafters.

    Pardon any spelling errors
    Konfess your cyns and some maybe forgiven
    Boy: Why can't I talk to Him?
    Mom: We don't talk to Priests.
    As if it could exist, without being payed for.
    F2P means you get what you paid for. Pay nothing, get nothing.

  • ZerdZerd Flagstaff, AZPosts: 25Member
    Say what you will but I always loved the crafting in UO. It was simple, the items were useful and there was a consistent need. There was no auction house, instead you had your certain vendor mall that you went to. There's nothing else like it.
  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 531Member Uncommon

    Very few MMOs I have played have had truly interesting loot systems.  Most of the time getting loot just feels like another step on the treadmill.  Games like Path of Exile do loot fairly well(even though I wish the drop rate was better) in that you never know what you are going to get and everything you get has value in their "crafting" system.  

     

    I don't think crafting should be the go to for gear.  Either it should be completely random, and thus a time consuming expensive proposition to craft optimal gear or it should only be good for catch up gear.  Combat and the rewards for it have to be interesting enough to keep people doing it.

     

    There are other areas where crafting can play a part in the world.  Crafting is pretty much a social activity and thus it should affect the social areas of the game.  Social clothing, building spaces in common areas for living, crafting stations, defensive structures for world pvp etc...  I also wouldn't be against crafting being the go to for mounts and pets.  I think there are lots of areas where crafting can be applied in the world, outside of combat, that still can be explored and might actually add more to the world.

  • SabbathSMCSabbathSMC Katy, TXPosts: 226Member

    Im a big fan of crafted items are better than drops. It promotes community. While i do realize your going to have guilds that support thier crafters and they will excel you still have a lot of solo players that depend on crafters. UO was great in that you had your  vendor and if you had good prices or the latest item people came and your vendor needed restocked 2-3 times a day.

    Everything needs to degrade with use and eventually go poof.

    I was also a big fan of how SWG handled crafting and loot.

    played M59,UO,lineage,EQ,Daoc,Entropia,SWG,Horizons,Lineage2.EQ2,Vangaurd,Irth online, DarkFall,Star Trek
    and many others that did not make the cut or i just plain forgetting about.

  • blbetablbeta elkhart, INPosts: 79Member Uncommon
    Asheron's Call has best loot system that I have played. Half of it is because there are multiple damage types and armor had individual protects to those types on each piece of armor. What makes it great is that you can be hit in the hand and only your gloves matter.

    Now knowing that and loot is randomized. All stats on loot is random, other than quest rewards.

    Almost all loot is useful because of tinkering (crafting). Loot made from different materials. You could have 5 staffs but all are different materials. If they are useless to you can sell, trade or break them down into crafting materials.

    In the end the randomized loot in general is great. Similar to Diablo style loot on the random side.
  • HrimnirHrimnir Qeynos, COPosts: 1,597Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Konfess

    /TL;dr : Combat players hate being dependent on crafters.  Combat players and auction house speculators inflate the economy.  Multiple characters per account negates the need for Interdependencies.  A lack of crafters makes Interdependencies difficult.  Guild back crafters do better than solo crafters.

     

    I have addressed this point before, regarding interdependencies & player driven economies.  It boils down to a players Bartle Quotient.  Killers are soloist, they want to be self sufficient and not dependent upon other players especially crafters.  It is the foundation of the P2W uproar, you are not a true killer if you must pay to win.

     

    Interdependencies were tried by Star Wars Galaxies (SWG), and EverQuest II.  Both games dropped the system when focus groups told devs that it couldn't work.  If crafters needed a combat supplied loot item as an ingredient, then combat players would match the price of the loot drop with the price of the crafted item.  If Dragon scale armour sells for $100,000 credits and needs 6 dragon scales to make it then the price of a stack of 6 scales could be $100,000 - $600,000.  Even if a few killer players were sensible and sold their scales for $20 - $100.  An Auction House speculator would just buy them low and sell them high again.  The same speculation would happen for the crafted items as well.

     

    The result combat/killer players resent the over inflated economy.  Holding the crafter/social gamers responsible for the inflation.

     

    Another draw back of Interdependencies is the lack of crafter suppliers.  Say you are playing a game where a solo crafter could make gray, white, and green items but blue, purple, or gold required resources from other crafters or combat loot drops.  If the game allowed multiple characters per server like is the norm today, then the crafter would roll a crafter for what ever crafting professions they needed.  If you are allowed only one character per server, then you are stuck.  If those supplying professions are not present you can't make the higher class items.  You could always pay additional sub.  That's why of my 11 SWG characters 8 were crafters.

    The reason those systems failed was because in both games, becoming a high level crafter was far too easy.

    Those type of loot systems work just fine if someone has to dedicate the same or more hours to maxing out a crafting class as they do an adventurer class.

    People in WOW for example basically just worked for tips because it was just like you said, if the dragon armor took 6 scales, then the 6 scales sold for 95-100% of the cost of the crafted item.  SO nobody posted the crafted item on the market and just stood around saying "Crafting blah blah, 10g tip, send me your mats, etc".

    "The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

    - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    One of the things that really creates alot of uneccesary complications in MMO design is the decision to make the vast majority of loot permanent and impervious to damage, requiring no upkeep. From a standpoint of psychology, I kinda understand why so many Developers are tempted to follow that route but in alot of regards it's pretty short-sighted and vastly complicates alot of design issues.

    It's not how things work in a real economy where even durable goods break over time and generaly require maintenance and materials to keep in working order. Real economies actualy depend upon that dynamic, without it...they too would run into huge problems.

    One of the big problems is that it magnifies the impact of any item introduced into the game because it's impact becomes permanent. It's also a large part of what helps create the "gear treadmill" we so commonly see in MMO's. The Developers have to constantly "one up" the gear they have in a game in terms of power and desirability since they need to have something to spur players to strive for as a material reward....and something to be in demand for crafters to produce.... and of course as a byproduct it creates the scenerario of "vendor trash" where so many items are no longer usefull/desirable for the majority of the (veteran) player population that almost no one seeks to aquire and produce them..... yet are still important for new, lower level players on thier journey to advance to veteran status, which creates it's own set of problems.

    Conversely, in a more "realistic" model of loot. The fact that things break, are lost and require constant maitenance to keep functional means there's always a demand for the production of those items......you don't need to have the same sort of "gear treadmill" and one upmanship nor the same speed of obsolence of designs. You can also introduce powerfull objects with less fear about thier impact on the game as a whole, since thier impact can be transient. A large part of the gameplay then does become "resource management". Players have to actualy start paying attention to how many resources they are expending to maintain running at an effective level and how much resources they are able to take in when doing so. It adds a new gameplay/strategy element.....rather then simply quest after the next shiny.

     

  • FlyinDutchman87FlyinDutchman87 London MIlls, ILPosts: 247Member Uncommon

    The issue with most more complex "interdependent" economic systems is lack of suitable risk/reward.

     

    Take EVE which(IMO) has done player economy the best of any game. It's formula is rather complex but has a few basic 

    components.

     

    1. Every thing Breaks. Every ship can be destroyed, ever bullet is finite and EVERYTHING you do will cost you money.

     

    2. Every item in the game is made by people for people.

     

    3. Being a top tier crafter takes years of RL time. Which makes them rare.

     

    The issue with EVE however is the Risk Vs Reward system. It's a very good idea and and CCP does a great job but they missed the boat in a few important places.

     

    The idea of players capturing part of the game world to farm it for it's valuable resources is a great one. It's an awesome engine to spur PvP and adds actual benefit for attacking your opposing faction other than just because they are alliance and you are horde. It's made for some of the best Player to player interaction in any game ever made.

     

    What a game really needs is to expand that system so that the game rewards players for protecting their miners and crafters so they can make the warriors rich and fat. In eve a decent combat pilot can make WAY more isk than a miner could ever dream of. Therefor there is no reason to defend miners because they don't make enough money for it to be effecent. Developers need to make defending an area more lucrative and give warriors a solid reason to defend crafters, gatherers and resource nodes.  This will stop all the crazy zerging RvR usually decends into and will spread out the population more. 

    I'm hoping Camelot unchained will do something like this, because no one else ever has, but I'm not holding my breath.

    I'd love nothing more than to play a massive RvR game and be mining mithril in some dank mine hoping no one finds and kills me until i can get enough to make a new reinforced door for a nearby keep.

     

     

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