WOO II An Exploration in Design - July 2012 - By Stoneghost: Dalaran

 

Woo II - rewards

Rewards are an important part of the game, and for some players THE most important part. WOO II wants to offer interesting and useful rewards, but it also wants to keep rewards from interfering with basic game play.

"Interference" is a fairly broad term. In general the pursuit of rewards by some players should not inhibit the game play of their teammates who lack interest in those rewards. For example:

These situations are sometimes handled by changing the the values of rewards and sometime by changing the way that they are distributed. In general WOO II uses the following approach:

Value

In a game, where players are all doing more or less the same thing, and where all players have access to the same rewards, value is established by scarcity, and scarcity is enforced via difficulty. For example:

Nonetheless, with enough players playing for a long enough period of time, even rare items become commonplace ... and their value goes down. In hopes of improving this situation, WOO II approaches value from a number of different perspectives.

  1. Items of gear level as the player levels. Because of this, a single item can stick with a character continuously, adding enhancements as the character levels up. This relieves the game of the need to maintain a huge inventory of gear items, and this means that the focus can shift to providing a wide assortment of enhancements. Because most players seek to present their characters as individuals, these kinds of enhancements have significant value.
  2. Because attributes such as damage, mitigation, healing ability and so on are associated with characters and not with gear, any item or service that adjusts the character's basic attribute base will be especially valuable. In fact, enhancements that actively alter a character's gameplay ability are so highly desirable that if one person has them, others are compelled to seek them out.
  3. A wide variety of enhancement categories gives players more opportunities to acquire value.
  4. Battleground rank is an account level attribute.
  5. Currency is widely used as a reward. The Crafter lifestyle depends on players having cash that they can use to by goods and services. To this end, "junk" loot is replaced by currency, various (non-Crafter) achievements include cash awards, and any other possibility of injecting cash into the game should be considered. Additionally, the game needs to monitor the flow of cash and adjust reward values as needed.
  1. When Crafters reach their highest level, the gain the ability to create new recipes. These recipe include a random element that makes each template unique. This means that over time, different Crafters will be able to offer specialized goods and services, presumably at a high price, and this will add value to the market.

In general ... the goal is to minimize the impact of rewards on PvP and PvE game play, to maximize the number of cosmetic rewards that let players individualize their characters, and, as much as possible, to let the Crafting Life Path handle the supply/demand situation. Instead of a small number of items that are extremely valuable to game play, WOO II aims to provide a very large number of enhancements that are mildly valuable individually, but highly desireable in general ... that is, any particular enhancement may not be desired, but everyone will want enhancements of one kind or another.

VALUE AND RELEVELING

In the current game, the value of many objects is tied to the level at which they were acquired. An item of gear that drops from a level 20 boss, for example, loses value when the same boss can be soloed by a level 80 character. One side effect of releveling is that lower level dungeons will no longer be open to higher level characters. This will then greatly increase the value of items that can only be acquired by actions performed in those dungeons, and it is important that those items be configured so as to be valuable at any level.

LootING

In purely solo adventure games looting is entertaining ... it provides useful items and it gives a break from stalking and killing. But in multi-player games looting quickly becomes annoying. It's mechanics are repetitive, it only occasionally provides any useful items, and in groups it requires a break in play to discus who gets which items.

Consequently, drops are largely removed in this design. Occasionally, NPCs may possess special items needed for a quest or such, in which case the goods will be transferred to the character's knapsack at the appropriate moment ... but generally, dead NPCs just lie there. Items are still available as rewards for various activities, but the mechanics are changed to avoid the need to "roll for loot."

In questing and general play, if a dead monster does have a reward to give, that reward is transported to the pack of the character to which it belongs at the time the monster dies. "Grey" or useless items are eliminate and replaced by small amounts of currency. Exceptions to this approach occur when the reward is an obvious "treasure" ... a chest in a room, for example, or an item lying by the side of the road. The twin goals are to remove the need to click on every monster killed, and to keep the character's pack from filling up with useless items that have no purpose other than to be sold for cash.

In dungeons, the character who is established as leader of the group will be given a "treasure sack." All rewards above a particular level, set by the leader, will be transported into the sack to be distributed at the conclusion of the event. Items below the determined level will be transported to the packs of individual group members. Each raid will develop its own provisions for players who leave before the event finishes.

The amount of currency paid for achievements and daily activities is adjusted to make up for the loss of income from drops.

enhancement Rewards that affect Damage and mitigation

First, to summarize the WOO II design.

Damage and mitigation are attributes of the character. Basic damage and mitigation talents are available to all characters. Specialized damage and mitigation skills are gained from within a Life Path. Weapons, gear and other enhancements magnify a character's basic damage and mitigation attributes.

There are three generic PvP venues: Theme Parks, Arenas and Battlegrounds. When characters enter a Battleground, their gear is normalized to put all players on an even footing. Characters in Arenas and Theme Parks fight with their regular gear.

Raider damage and mitigation is magnified by skills within the Life Path and by enhancements that only apply in dungeon raids. Because of this, enhancements gained through Raiding will not have an effect on combat outside of the dungeon instances.

Secondly, the general rules for active enhancement rewards:

This is a major change from the current game, but one that is well justified. Over time, the active reward system should produce a pattern that goes something like this:

This means that, with players of the same level, any PvP combat outside of an arena will take place on an equal footing with regard to enhancements. While it is true that this eliminates the "gear chase", which some players find extremely satisfying, it also guarantees that PvP encounters will be based primarily on skill, with gear playing a minor role.

The "gear chase" is replaced with the chase for cool mounts, skins and other effects. And the odds are that this will satisfy the "chasers", perhaps even more than the chase for "good" gear.

Nor is gear completely deprecated as a reward. The basic gear items contain slots and general enhancements: e.g., +1% all damage, 3 slots. Gear with better enhancements and more slots could easily be the reward for reaching the highest ranks in one's Life Path. Even here, though, care should be taken that active enhancements do not unhinge the PvP balance.

"Farming"

Traditional materials "farming" is replaced by the personal Crafter instance, or "Holding". Each Holding contains a farm in which various materials can be generated. Materials can also be purchased from NPCs and other players.

Since any player can generate materials by creating one or more Crafter characters, and since this is the only way of creating most materials in bulk, and since some Crafters will measure their success in the game by the amount of materials that they generate and sell ... traditional zonal "farming" should be eliminated or greatly reduced.

In addition, the NPC vendors can be used as a control mechanism to keep materials supplies, and prices, stable. It should work out that if players are not producing enough of a material, its price will rise, and more Crafters will look to create more supplies. However, if that breaks down, the NPCs can offer the material at a price designed to stabilize the market.

ITEMS

Because of the way gear affects abilities, and because of releveling, players will own much less gear than they do in the current game. This means that items offered as rewards will need special properties that make them desirable. Some reward gear items may offer more than the normal number of enhancement slots, but likely most reward items will sport interesting and unique cosmetic effects.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Life Path achievements are the primary mechanism for leveling. These will need to be carefully designed to control the leveling process. In other words, an "achievement" is an accomplishment, and no a reward.

It would make sense to include a small reward with every achievement. Currency would likely be best, as some achievements will need to be repeatable to support leveling.

LEVELING POINTS

There are no "leveling points", per se. But this term is sometimes used to mean "achievements", which are the way that leveling is delivered.

VALUE POINTs

Questing, Raiding, Fighting and Crafting all provide reward points for certain activities or achievements. These points may be exchanged for various items, enhancements, currency, titles and the like at conveniently located redemption centers.

TITLES

These are cosmetic and a good way to reward players who have completed a particular line of play.

Currency

Money is always welcome.