Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scaling And Novel Loot

Like many players, I have been quick to complain about the gear treadmill - how MMOs focus on the acquisition of gear that increases arbitrary stats by arbitrary amounts, only to have the increases canceled out by corresponding improvements in the stats of the enemy.  The story of class foci in EQ2 goes to show that the alternatives aren't that much easier.

Last year, I picked up two major upgrades that go beyond mere numbers - the bonus from my epic class weapon and a pair of boots that removed the cost from a key buff, allowing my buff-based class to cast 20% more buffs.  This week I logged in to find the same pair of boots missing the focus effect.

The boots when I got them
The problem, as I noted at the time, was that this bonus was so large that it became mandatory on future gear upgrades.  When April's patch increased the level cap, along with a full gear reset, SOE went in and added a generic class focus stat that effectively says "your class buff here" on every piece of gear you loot.  This was pretty much pointless, so the system got another overhaul in this month's patch.  Now the foci are an inherent part of your character, earned as you level, and there's correspondingly one fewer line of text on every piece of gear in the game.
The boots today, with the key effect moved to my class focus tab (the random stat buffs are doled out to replace a separate portion of the focus system, which was tossed because there was generally only one sensible choice)
In some ways, this is a win for players.  A key mechanic is available earlier in the level progression, and we have neither the irritating scenario of having to find groups for old content (still required for the epic weapon bonus, at least for now) nor the absurdity of having the same stat assumed to be on every piece of gear in the game.  That said, the major thing that made certain pieces of gear somewhat unique and desirable is gone, leaving only arbitrary quantities of arbitrary stats.

1 comment:

Coreus said...

As much as I love theorycrafting in MMOs, I get very depressed any time I reach the logical conclusion that the only possible outcomes are rigid conformity or failure to optimise, and the game as a play thing disappears because you've already solved it.