Where to Get the Best Loot

Where should the best loot come from? Really think about that question for a moment because it defines the entire game.  Whatever opinions I might have fighting big bosses because it’s cool, this generation only goes where they can get the best loot — the bragging rights prevail.  It don’t know why I find this so insightful or enlightening all of a sudden, but it just dawned on me that if you stop having the best loot come from raids… people won’t raid anymore.

We keep trying to think of ways to wean people off raiding, but the solution really is to give them an alternative way to get better gear.  If a game had raid content, but the same gear could be obtained in a group of six then people would go in groups of six.  If I could farm items on my own and craft better gear, then farming would be the prevailing activity.  It’s not hard to herd the cattle if you know exactly how to motivate them.

Getting back to the question at hand, where should the best loot come from then?  Should it be raiding?  If so, why?  I see absolutely no reason why raiding should give better gear than groups.  I see people who feel entitled.  I get the logic behind putting the carrot just out of reach so people will constantly push towards something and keep playing, but that can easily be something other than raids.  Why can’t the best gear be crafted or found in groups?  Players should have options, and there should not be one place or playstyle given priority.

I’m interested in what you think.  I lean towards crafting as the primary source for the best loot with every type of activity providing ways for you to earn some type of resource that you can give to a crafter (or use yourself) to improve your items.  I’m also a believer that items shouldn’t be replaced so often, and that our dependence on gear should be minimized in favor of character progression, but those are topics for another time.  Realistically, in today’s themepark content driven generation, I’d prefer group content giving the same loot as raid content.

  • I’d prefer some form of crafting to provide the best loot. I really dislike that in most MMORPGs you seem to eventually hit a wall where the only way to continue progressing your character is to raid.

  • I suggest that the question is backwards. The goal should be for the game to be fun and for the incentives not to be so horribly broken that they leave the portion of the game that they find fun because they think they’ll get better loot elsewhere. Games today spend so much effort trying to recreate the level of daily engagement that we had in the MMO’s of yore by using incentives to pay people to do content they don’t want to do until they burn out and quit.

  • How about the GW2 approach where creating a Legendary weapon – which I guess you’d have to call the best loot in the game – requires you to do basically everything. 100% world completion, stacks of WvW badges, dungeon tokens, maxed out in multiple crafting disciplines, mountains of karma, mountains of crafting mats gathered, mountains of gold..

    I like that idea. Maybe the quantities are excessive but it sure sidesteps any question of which ONE area of the game provides the best loot!

  • @Green Armadillo: That’s what I was getting at in my last paragraph, but no matter what the incentive: Players will always go for the best reward. Spread out those rewards, minimize them, it won’t matter.

    @Carson: GW2 has the right idea, but the problem is that the Legendary isn’t better it just looks better.

  • Keen, this is exactly the question i think NEEDS to be asked, by the MMO community and MMO developers as well. What Ifind so ironic, and you’ve mentioned this in passing, is all these games, in particular themepark MMO’s, try to cater to casuals, yet they virtually all have the same endgame, one that alienates all of them because of the schedule it requires, this endgame is raiding. What I think needs to be done, and I’ve been saying it for a long time now. Is 5 or 6 man groups (whatever is standard in the said game, I personally prefer 6) need to have raid type difficulty encounters. I’ve mentioned this even on this very Blog, referring to RIFT’s “Mastermodes” the 3rd level of difficulty for standard 5 mans, right above the stereotypical heroic difficulty or in RIFT’s case expert.

    Recently going back to AION, for the first time since my initial run through, which lasted approximately 6 months from launch, i started to remember that AION essentially tried this. Sure there was a 12 man raid, but the majority of the instances were 6 mans (which was the standard group size) only problem, and I’m sorry for generalizing here but, is that it’s an eastern MMO so of course despite the great environments and look to their instances, the boss fights generally lack substance, picking style of substance is very prevalent in eastern MMO’s. NCsoft has definitely made strives to change a lot of aspects in the game along with making the bosses more difficult to make it more appealing to the western audience, but it still isn’t quire there. I think what I’m getting at is simply, a raid like scenario that is simply smaller, more intimate, and more improvisational, which essentially removes the 2 barriers that keep casuals, and everyone from raiding as a whole. Time restrictions, in particular the set times to raid, each and every week, not so much the length. The second barrier the amount of people required. RIFT proved with it’s mastermodes that raid level of difficulty can be achieved, it’s also why i rather the 6 man standard groups, i think adding that 1 extra person helps add more of a raid feel because the extra person, along with making raid strategies having more potential depth.

    The only thing I think that needs to be deemed once a system like this would be implemented is the lockout timer. Trion Opted to make their mastermodes in RIFT reset twice a week, as opposed to the once a week standard raids do. Aion at least at launch had 24 hr reset times, though I’ve seen with the patches since then, and the instances along with them have definitely increased the timers exponentially. I think the TRION approach would work (resetting twice a week), and if you launch with enough mastermodes, (which is another plus of this system, you could literally have a mastermode of each of your standard dungeons, which is generally around 10 or so, but could be higher) you could have some pretty lengthy content.

    I should mention that RIFT didn’t simply bolster the difficulty for Mastermodes, they also unlocked entirely new wings of the instances, making it feel far more epic in scope (which of course helps with the raid feeling) and also made it feel fresh and exciting. I’m not saying this should be a staple of MMO’s, i just think it makes FAR too much sense to not even consider, cause as i mentioned earlier, it would be comparable content to raiding, that virtually all players could partake in, without sacrificing (if done right) any integrity of the encounters.

  • I have always favored DAoC’s approach to gear. But the reason it worked was because of hard stat caps. For the love of all that is holy, if only an MMO from this decade would bring those back!

    Because of the caps on any particular stat in DAoC, it was only possible to get so high on one stat, and because of the limits on the amount of stats a piece of gear could have, making a suit became a game of give and take. Want the full 250 strength? You are going to have to skimp on Dex or Int or w/e. With this as a foundation, the methods for acquiring gear in DAoC were great. Some items that came from dungeons had a particularly nice bonus that you could not get from crafting. Artifacts from ToA did this to an even greater extent, with most having a usable ability that could not be on a crafted item.

    So a person would build a suit around a few core items, the ones they had to get from a dungeon/raid/encounter that would give them those few special bonuses they wanted, and then the REST of the suit would be crafted gear designed to shore up the weaknesses in stats that came inherently from that special loot item. Because while it had a nifty unique bonus or ability, that meant it was lacking in other areas. Mainly the value of the stats on it were below the norm for a piece of gear.

    So while a person could theoretically just deck themselves out in all these drops from raids and dungeons and whatnot, they would have a ton of unique bonuses, but their stats would be horribly deficient in some areas and even overbonused in others (it was possible to waste space in your suit by putting too much of a stat in). So the best bet was to again, form a core from a few dropped items, and then flesh the gear out with crafted armor to make yourself the best you can be. Oh yea, and the crafted stuff breaks eventually.

    Best way to do it imo. In this way you get the best of both worlds. People can have fun trying to get that certain drop from a certain boss or whatever, and people can be known for making great gear. It is about working in harmony, not picking one or the other.

  • I agree with crafting being the primary source. I am alright with the best drops coming from difficult raids only if we get rid of the soulbound system. If the dragon drops dragonscales which you can either sell or give to your top crafter to make armor for then that’s a cool way to firmly plant raiders in the economy but still allow everyone else to have access to that gear.

    A good themepark/sandbox in my mind would have the PvE people bringing items into the economy through harvesting/raiding/killing monsters for materials. Crafters creating the items through an involved process. And PvPers (along with PvE monster hunters) consuming those items.

    The only thing I disagree with you about is that I’m all for items being replaced often. Either through durability or a EvE full-loot/destruction system. Permanent items only cause inflation in an economy. Keep a good sink and those crafters will stay in high demand.

  • If there’s a durability system then I think items should definitely be ‘temporary’. If it’s not a durability system then I think items should be like they are in EQ and last for a very, very, veeeery long time. A sword should be your friend, your companion, and be something you sing songs about and name.

  • The most fun I have had in an online game the only currency for getting loot was gold. Everything in the game from soloable areas to group dungeons would yeild gold on each kill (often the creatures had items you had to sell and divide up). I felt more in control of my adventure each night. We’d log in, look at our numbers, and decide on an area to do. I never felt unfairly prejudiced against because an item wouldn’t drop. I could earn more money by upping the difficulty and doing an area with less people. I felt rewarded at every turn. Fast forward to curren MMO’s and loot tables, drops, unique currencies… I often feel pressured to only do a small part of the game each night. The very thing that is supposed to offer diversity often limits the playing experience. I’d like to have that freedom again. As to crafting… well I have played a variation where people could craft and set up their own stores and the best items came through those stores. Crafters were often insanely rich and rewarded for what they were doing. So I can see this one currency model working much better than what we have going on atm in most MMO’s.

  • I definitely would prefer crafting but only if some rare reagents for quality items come from time-intensive grinding/farming and/or from difficult raid/group encounters.

  • I find the focus on, I could say the obsession with, crafting quite bizarre. To me, MMORPGs (as opposed to Virtual Worlds) are primarily a way to have 24/7 access to an experience analogous to tabletop RPGs. A permanent floating D&D game where you never have to take a turn as DM.

    I don’t know about you but in the five years I played tabletop RPGs we never, ever crafted anything. The nearest we would ever have done would be give something to an NPC and have him make something for us and that would have been very unusual. Certainly no-one ever turned up to a session and said “Y’know what? I think my warrior would like to settle down and open a smithy”.

    Over the years I’ve come to tolerate and eventually even enjoy crafting but for the first few years I played MMOs I actively loathed it and used to post often on forums arguing that it shouldn’t exist at all. For me the game part of the MMO, if game we must have, needs to focus on exploration and adventure. There’s very definitely a place, a good, solid place, for more contemplative, stay-at-home craft-based gameplay and I absolutely endorse every MMO having a solid housing offer because an adventure needs to come home now and again, kick off his boots and relax. Crafted gear as “best in game”, though, brings more problems than it could ever solve.

  • Gonna have to agree with the folks that say crafting, with rare and valuable components coming from group/raid type content.

  • I agree with Aramon here.. and a few of the others that top tier items should be crafted rather than won but that dungeons, raids and world bosses should drop the necessary components needed. I also think that depending on the difficulty of the event then it scales up the amount of materials rewarded.

    One thing that would be nice though is if each dungeon or boss might drop their own particular type wherein they can be mixed together or saved up for a unique looking skin styled like that monster.. kind of like monster hunter in a way.

    With crafted gear being more of a focus then people would be more free to enjoy the activities they like.. open world pvp may be a bit better this way as the elitists can’t rule the roost as easily

    I’m actually really enjoying the implementation of crafting in Firefall.. rather old school but it works well. It has durability and even full loss of an item but with the way resource gathering, crafting and the market is they are easy enough to replace. There definitely needs to be some form of item loss otherwise you will always come back to the same defined end point that plagues mmo’s.

  • If you want a good economy, crafting needs to be the source of the best equipment of the game. That doesn’t mean an eternal grind for new crafted gear tiers though. But gear needs to decay over time, swords and armor must not be eternal and indestructible. Gear must not be “soulbound” either. Gear could eventually be repaired to some extent by skilled crafters, but never completely.
    A 100% crafting character should be viable too. Like in UO, one should be able to setup shop, go mine his ore, and sell his weapons and armor, without having to also be some kind of hardcore raider.

  • I’m amazed that you loved original EQ and think crafting should provide the best loot. If I could have just had a crafter make me a Yak and a FBSS, and everybody else had them too, it would have ruined the game for me.

  • @Sanz: I’m not talking about the WoW style of crafting here. I’m talking about a crafting so in depth that it takes the same effort as any activity in EQ ever did. I’m talking about radically altering the way crafting is even thought of by 99% of the people.

    Clearly crafting doesn’t make sense for every game. EQ was built around the concept of camping items. I realize, and I hope you do too, that it doesn’t make sense to say an old game should have been this way. I’m thinking forward.

  • The best loot should come from the hardest content.

    P.S. The best gear is not the same as the best loot. I don’t think mobs or bosses would naturally drop gear that happens to fit me. But they could drop loot that makes the crafting of the best gear possible: a particular ink from their gall-bladder; a hide that makes great leather; a horn that can be crafted into an excellent shield; and so on.

  • Why does there have to be a ‘best’ loot, I’d prefer if all endgame gear was equivalent stat wise just having different cosmetic looks like GW2’s exotic gear, run dungeons for tokens, farm world bosses and events for karma, play WvW for tokens, level crafting and make it yourself or just amass enough gold to buy it off the trading post. In this case what is ‘best’ comes down to what cosmetic appearance is preferred, Players aren’t pigeonholed into one style of content in order to increase their stats by a few points.

  • @Imem I guess I’m completely clueless why most of you play MMORPGs then. If everybody has the same stats and basically the same power, I’m not sure what the point even is. Am I the only “achiever” on this blog? Clearly there were more like me at one point in the past, or EQ would have died fast.

  • @Sanz

    I think people have generally gotten tired of the endless loot treadmill. I’ve yet to see a developer replace it with anything worthwhile.

  • My ideal system for best loot would work thusly:

    Best gear comes from high level crafters.
    Items needed for best gear comes from high level group content.
    High level crafters cannot be high level adventurers (skill cap) and vice versa.
    All gear, even the best -will- break over time – even if you are not using it.
    Using gear makes it break faster. A super sword should last a week tops.
    As gear degrades in durability, its performance drops.
    Gear can be repaired to increase performance, but max durability drops by 50% each time.
    Food and potions (esp. craftable ones) should spoil after 3 days of un use.
    All gear, even the best has drawbacks.
    Super armor? You cannot run/evade.
    Super size compensating sword? Eats your stamina fast or increases cooldown timers on skills.
    Fantastic bow? Takes awhile to aim/pull back the super string.
    Awesome cannon of destruction? Chance that is explodes in your face with a huge blast radius that can insta kill you and your party. (monsters/non party unharmed)
    Uber magic spell? Takes time to cast – can’t move while doing so.
    Swift evil dagger? Drains your own life and mana as long as you hold it.
    Boots of super speed? You cannot STOP running.
    Also, everytime you want to equip/unequip gear there should be a timer (like 5 seconds to swap) in which your character can do nothing else.

    That’s my ideal setup anyway.

  • Wherever the best loot may come from, I believe that there should always be a tiny chance to have regular mobs drop the best loot in the game. The chance can be extremely small but it makes the game so much more fun if you know that the next dumb mob I am going to kill could drop something awesome…each time we loot there may be a split second where we think…this could be it. generally, in PvE we kill so many things that it just makes sense to include this dumb luck factor as it keeps us somewhat excited and entertained over and over.

  • @sanz I play them to have fun, kill digital dragons, hang out with a guild, explore, etc. I’ll admit I don’t fall into the ‘achiever’ playstyle, never really been concerned with my power in relation to other people that play. And equalizing gear doesn’t mean that you can’t still have rare items that are difficult to get, they are just cosmetic in nature, like legendaries in GW2. GW2 has its faults but how they handled exotic gear and legendaries was one of the best facets of the game. Not too crazy about the ascended gear they added but its not a huge increase in power so it’s not needed to do any of the content in the game. I have issue when you get into situations that you either have to have certain gear in order to even attempt the content, or you get to a place where you thanks to your gear you grossly overpower content and trivialize it (see WoW). I personally have more fun when things are equal in pvp and pve, where player ability is more important than who has the better gear.

    But the main point I was making is, multiple avenues to get the top tier of gear in the game, there is always going to be a top tier, just make it so you can get it doing any element of the game, not just raiding, not just pvp, not just crafting.

    @solarbear Agree, give me more engaging endgame rather than running the same content over and over for a few stat point increases.

  • @Bhagpuss: See, here is what I don’t get. I’ve played pen and paper RPGs for a long time as well, and many of them do have systems for crafting, and I have had and my friends have had characters that preferred to craft their own items. I use to have a group were someone played an engineer, and basically would make nifty traps and gadgets and things. He made things like grenade launching crossbows, holy water armor, etc. I’ve had my own character in D&D that literally would not use an item magical or otherwise that he did not craft, that was played as a mage knight (multi class fighter/sorcerer) who took a lot of crafting feats and skills from his normal feats and used the fighter bonus feats for fighting feats.

    Just wanted to point out that crafting is not a foreign concept in pen and paper RPGs like you seem to suggest (and I apologize if I am misreading it) but more seems to be a foreign concept to the groups you have ran with.

  • Just a few thoughts:
    1) The “best” gear being purely cosmetic? Lame. I don’t spend my time ogling gear; I want it to be functional. In other words, it needs to actually be better: sharper, lighter, faster, thicker, harder, etc.

    2) That said, I think the focus should be on character ability, not gear. I.e. the character becomes more powerful by gaining skill, not by acquiring new gear all the time (a la WoW). A master swordsman should be able to kick someone’s ass with a rusty sword, even if that someone has the bestest sword ever, but lacks the skill to handle it. Also, better gear should be rare and valuable; you shouldn’t be throwing gear away all the time.

    3) THAT said, it should be possible for current gear to be enhanced. For example, enchantments (temporary or permanent) could be cast on items to imbue them with new/better properties. Or items could be reforged with new/better properties. Or a part of an item could be upgraded, e.g. a bowstring. (This is where crafters would come in; whether PC or NPC.)

  • @Drathmar: I think Bhagpuss is pretty much right and you’re the exception here. I’ve played many tabletop RPG campaigns in multiple systems (AD&D, D&D, MERP, Cyberpunk, Fuzion, Gammaworld, to name a few) with several different groups. There was never any desire by anyone to sit around and craft; it was all about exploration, finding better gear, and advancing though a campaign story arc.

    Now if you’re talking from a D&D 4th ed. point of view; I suppose there might be more incentive to craft in that system, since it tries so hard to play like a MMO. . . (Dunno really, I quickly gave up on D&D 4th ed. after seeing how much it tries to clone from MMOs.)

  • @Xenovore: I was trying to make the point that it is group specific, not pen and paper specific. I wasn’t trying to say either one was the exception or norm just pointing out that crafting did in fact exist in pen and paper rpgs.

    Also, we also did all of that, in no way was the campaigns those characters in based around crafting. In fact the crafting took maybe 5-10 minutes to do. It also was used in most cases to make characters more interesting and characters whose stories are more interesting that your typical hero fighter, or villian rogue, etc.

  • @Drathmar: Ok, fair enough. Although. . . about it being primarily “group specific”: in my experience very few tabletop systems have any mechanism for player crafting. The only system(s) that I’ve played that had anything related to crafting is MERP/Rolemaster, but the crafting rules were specified in the context of having an NPC doing the crafting, e.g. how much would the item cost to purchase based on the quality/quantity of materials and enchantments.

    What system were you using? Does it have intrinsic crafting rules, or did you have your own house rules for it?

  • Rawblin described why stat caps are so important. That way it doesn’t matter if your gear is from random drop or dungeon drop or crafted. Ultimately crafted is just slightly less better then raid gear, but there needs to be no set bonus – just stat caps so that mixing and matching is not an issue.