Friday, 7 August 2015

Totally Useless Items (Staff Version) in HOTL3

For any gaming developer, it is a constant battle to balance between fun and challenge. Like any games, items or equipment makes or breaks the game. Players will not be attracted to a game if equipment are useless like props. In a game where good item designs are widely available, the items soon lose their significance. If coveted legendary items takes far too much resources to attain, players eventually lose their motivations to play. A pay-for-benefits model used to work until developers realise such a model may not be as sustainable as it was initially perceived, as their core non-playing players eventually leave the game due to the vast differences between paying players and non-paying characters.

In Guildwars 2, they tried something different. Players are encouraged to pay for "extras" but these are often nothing but aesthetically pleasing effects. For example, a paying player will be able to buy a staff of the same stats of one where non paying players will be able to obtain with their own effort in the game but it will look way better and invoke awesome effects when activated in battle. Other examples include items designed for fun or spoofs during festive or story events in the game. The game managed to hold their audience for years while obtaining adequate profits by the creative selling of a constant spectrum of items. Population has only dwindled recently due to other reasons, irrelevant of this topic. Overall, GW2 has done well with item management.

In HOTL3, the challenges that game masters face is far more challenging, due to the fact that a MUD is after all, a text-based game. The best thing that can be done to a newly introduced item is making it look better than ordinary items by the creative use of ascii codes, without putting the game out of balance. The real challenge though, is to decide how powerful an item it shall be. If it is useless, it will automatically be binned to the depths of oblivion like thousands of items in HOTL3. In my opinion, the game have way too many of such items. To be fair, I know little of the game's history. Thus some of these items may be designed many years ago as a joke and players of the past may have enjoyed their fair bouts of amusements. Fast forward to today, game items are introduced in mythic form, at a very modest rate due to the the lack of manpower in the developing team. I will have to say that most mythic items in the game at the moment are not bad. It has a good share of bad ones (maybe intended) that players head to the shops for immediate extraction. I know that because my clannies share the legendary drops moments with whoever online and I counted the number of howls and moans as compared to tears of joy. You should have been there when someone gets a Hateful Shard. The comments were hilarious. In my opinion the mythic items are still a the conservative side, hardly tugging the imaginative feelers of players yet. There are positive signs that may change for the better in future. For example the newly introduced Transcendence Rings will no doubt have a place for any player's bank slots.

What we really do not want though, is an introduction of totally useless items that players will never, ever use. With the limited resources at the moment, it will be a total waste of time to commit into such designs. Such as the following examples: (please take it in a light hearted manner) 

Name: a teapot
Level: 31
Area: Wonderland
Type: staff
Mat: ceramic
Stats: 1403/1403 charges of level 35 create spring
Attrib: mana 25 int 3 glow

That's some hardcore water producing mage there.

Name: an [Evil]->Gem
Level: 35
Area: Ultima
Type: staff
Mat: crystal
Stats: 1035/1035 charges of level 60 fire breath
Attrib: dark anti good anti neutral int 6 mana 50

How the fuck are we supposed to use this?!

Name: box of matches
Level: 44
Area: Descent to Hell
Type: staff
Mat: wood
Stats: 1704/1704 charges of level 48 prot fire
Attrib: glow

Would you expect a Fire Mage to fight all the way to hell to have a mob beating the daylights out of him in order to obtain a staff - as heavy as it can get in the inventory - that grants him a slight bonus to cast .... protection from fire?

Name: a green serpentine staff
Level: 17
Area: Old Thalos
Type: staff
Mat: poison
Stats: 1068/1068 charges of level 20 plague
Attrib: glow

Just 1 question. Since no player can possibly cast plague at level 17, why will any item designer expect any players to be interested in casting a level 20 version of their level 32 core attacking spell?

Name: a golden flute
Level: 22
Area: High Tower of Sorcery
Type: staff
Mat: gold
Stats: 1352/1352 charges of level 22 iceball
Attrib: int -6 invis

Same as the above. They purposely made this invis and deduct 6 from your intellect to show how stupid you are to use it.

Name: a wyvern mount
Level: 17
Area: Castle Reinhold
Type: staff
Mat: wood
Stats: 1272/1272 charges of level 15 fly
Attrib: move 30

That's a lot of flying to do, considering some newbie's E0 fly do nothing more than my E12 fly, do we need an item to "make a difference?"

Name: magic Carpet
Level: 26
Area: Playpen
Type: staff
Mat: wool
Stats: 1598/1598 charges of level 20 fly
Attrib: hitroll 2 damroll 1 glow

If it isn't enough, here is another design to assist the aerodynamically handicapped.

Name: the Ancient Vessel of Aquarius
Level: 21
Area: Galaxy
Type: staff
Mat: wood
Stats: 1357/1357 charges of level 10 create spring
Attrib: glow anti evil

An awful drought might have occurred in ancient days.

Name: the Red DragonOrb
Level: 33
Area: Sewer
Type: staff
Mat: bone
Stats: 1528/1528 charges of level 20 sanctuary
Attrib: anti good wis 2 int 2 mana 15

I am a level 33 Holy Cleric with the ability to cast Sanctuary of the same level but I am going to wear my staff and cast a level 20 Sanctuary on you! #becauseihatemyclannies

Name: the staff of the dragon
Level: 41
Area: Dragon Tower
Type: staff
Mat: wood
Stats: 1164/1164 charges of level 25 lightning bolt
Attrib: damroll 5 glow

And my powerful level 41 party member sanctified with my level 20 Sanctuary is going to cast his level 25 lightning bolt on that hydra over there!

Name: the lamp
Level: 27
Area: The Great Pyramid
Type: staff
Mat: brass
Stats: 1243/1243 charges of level 25 fly
Attrib: ac -10 hitroll 1 damroll 2 wis 2 anti evil hum glow

What's up with all these flying fetish, can anyone enlighten me?