coucassi

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How do you decide how many weapons & armors to include in your game?

I’m not talking about weapon types but about the amount of say different swords the player can find throughout the game.

I’m really struggling with this lately. Since I decided to complete the database as much as possible before starting to event, I was putting some thought into this stuff and recognized that I played a lot of games which handled this kinda badly.

Let’s take the Witcher series as an example:

In the first part of the series, you will get your hands on three different armors. They are increasing in strength and don’t differ in any other way, so you won’t ever have to think about which one is the best to use. The first of them is given to you right at the start.

This very small amount ‘ruined’ the mechanic for me. Why making this piece even equipable, if the player will do so just two times, throughout several dozens of hours of playtime? Why even include them? The protagonist could also just use the same armor all along, since you just get the other armor at some kind and equip them without a second thought.




The third part of the series takes this to another extreme, but with the swords: Every bandit you kill drops a sword, there are hundreds of smuggler’s hideouts & hidden treasures and every one of them offers at least one sword and they are all different.

The sheer amount of sword available ruined every excitement about finding a new one, since I knew I would use this for like ten minutes, before finding the next. Also, since there are so many, the differences in power became incredibly small. It just doesn’t feel much like an achievement if you switch your 300 damage weapon for a 302 damage weapon.



(Don’t get me wrong by the way, I love these games)



So those are the extremes. How do I find the sweet spot in the middle?



Of course, this depends heavily on the kind of game you are making, but even if your games are totally different from mine, I still would like to hear about your experiences as a player and a developer.



To tell you something about the game I am asking this question for, it’s not revolutionary if it comes to equipment: The actors will level up and get higher stats, so will the enemies. Weapons are there to increase some of these stats and take advantage of other: A sword will raise your ability to attack, to parry & to counter, while the damage is calculated through attack & strength. A pistol needs time to reload and is not that useful for parrying, but it will give you a very high attack bonus and won’t need strength to calculate damage.

Most actors will be able to choose between 2 to 4 different kinds of weapons. Different kinds of weapons deal different kinds of damage that’s effective against different types of armor.

Right now it takes 15 to 20 hours to level up to level 20 (I try not to include grinding in my game, all this happens throughout the story).

So, after all this talk (sorry for that) how frequently would you let your protagonist find a new weapon during this time?

Since there are different ways to acquire a weapon in my game that I wanted to be represented I just counted them at first:

  • The story gives them two you
  • You find them
  • You buy them
  • You craft them
  • An enemy drops them
Since it’s lame if there are no choices, I thought there should at least two weapons be available to craft, or to buy in a shop, so I thought about 7 to 8 swords, if the player really discovers everything possible, half of them increasing in power, the other half offering choices depending on the playstyle.

However, this is the first of five arcs, which would let us to 40 different swords in the whole game. Multiplied with the amount of different weapon types there might be half a thousand in the end.

Is this to much? Is it not much at all, for a game of this length? I have no idea x.x

Do you know of any better way to calculate stuff like this?
 

Trihan

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You've hit one very big nail on the head already: players rarely want to go into the equipment menu and swap over to something that isn't going to be vastly different from what they're using already, and just having equipment that's nothing more than a progressive stat escalator offers no meaningful choice to the player.

In terms of how many pieces of equipment to have? Depends on the kind of game and the length of it. In a game where equipment has durability and can be broken, you want to be finding a lot of stuff; the last thing you want is to end up completely without a weapon at a critical part of the game. At the same time, if weapons and armour *don't* degrade, every second enemy dropping a sword is going to clutter up your inventory and cause choice paralysis.

So I can't give you a specific number, but the sweet spot to me lies at the crossroads of "enough variety that the player sometimes has to think about which equipment to take into battle" and "not so much equipment that finding the thing you want is a scrollfest and the player is legitimately confused about what they should have equipped when."

One thing I really like, and I don't think I've ever actually seen in a traditional RPG, is a system where redundant or lower-level equipment can be recycled in more meaningful ways than just selling it to a vendor. Like say you have a weapon tier system; you currently have a tier 3 weapon equipped, so enemies dropping a tier 1 sword isn't normally exciting. But what if you have the facility to fuse lower level equipment of lower tiers to power up your current one? So you could fuse your tier 1 to the tier 3 to progress it towards a tier 4.
 

Jragyn

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In my opinion, there is no formula for how many items you want the player to find. It just boils down to "how important do you want each newly acquired weapon to be?", because if your game is a 20 hour adventure and you have 100 swords to find (nevermind other weapon types), maybe the player won't try as hard to find them when they know they are certain to find one later or get an upgrade from the story as-needed. On the flipside, if there are only 4-6 swords in the game (maybe something more like fire emblem?) then suddenly getting a new weapon is a impactful experience for the player, and they might try a bit harder to dig around, look for secrets, complete side quests, etc.

As a gamer for as long as I can remember, I find games that have more than maybe 20 weapons of a single type for a character to be a bit overwhelming in the sense that I care less about them for reasons I've described above.

Obviously, there are pros and cons for all options, and other things to factor in (as described above about durability, or cross-weapon-type availability), but at the end of the day as long as you make the weapons fulfill their goal that you decide, whether it be a means of just scaling the character or serving story purposes, then I think you accomplished your goal.
 

duty

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I think amount of equipment should be tied to your game's intended length and scope. Most traditional RPGs introduce a new set of gear for the party at each major town/dungeon.

In my opinion, less is more, and equipment is more meaningful when it's discovered or won. Maybe plan to have most of your gear obtained by taking the roundabout way in a dungeon and as rewards from boss and mini-boss fights.
 

ATT_Turan

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As you say, it depends on your style of game. If your game has only 20 levels, upgrading your equipment is likely to be very significant (take a look at Dungeons & Dragons which uses the same number of levels and has at least 7 tiers of weapon, not counting the special magical effects you can get).

An important point that @Trihan brings up is the need for them to be substantively different. For me, one of the major flaws of the randomized item drop system à la Diablo, Borderlands, etc., is that typically items at a given level are going to be very similar to each other, so unless you just happen to get the one magic modifier that's objectively better or perfectly fits your build, it doesn't matter what you're using so long as it's not significantly lower than your level.
 

coucassi

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Thanks for your replies so far.

So it is armour not armors? xD MS Word fooled me again ...

From what you all that, it seems to be safer to have a to few weapons than to much, while aiming for the sweet spot, so I probably will start to experiment with lower numbers. It's also easier to make them more different from each other then, like you all recommended.

you could fuse your tier 1 to the tier 3 to progress it towards a tier 4.
That's quite a cool idea, maybe i will make something out of it. I thought of getting materials like iron and stuff from weapons you don't need anymore, so you can use it craft new ones.
 

Trihan

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Thanks for your replies so far.

So it is armour not armors? xD MS Word fooled me again ...

From what you all that, it seems to be safer to have a to few weapons than to much, while aiming for the sweet spot, so I probably will start to experiment with lower numbers. It's also easier to make them more different from each other then, like you all recommended.


That's quite a cool idea, maybe i will make something out of it. I thought of getting materials like iron and stuff from weapons you don't need anymore, so you can use it craft new ones.
That's a locational difference. Armor is the US English spelling, armour is the UK English spelling.
 

Nenen

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I've played, and conceptualized on paper, a few games where the equipment --weapons and armor-- is the primary way to improve and change the player's stats. (as opposed to the standard leveling system.) Boosting stats through equipment there can be essential.

Note: If I'm changing most of my weapons every other battle, I'm going to get tired of it. (Just like if I’m leveling up and need to choose my stats constantly... I’ll start dreading it most likely)
Though, an exception would be if the reason I'm changing them is in preparation, or mid-combat, due to varying abilities of said weapons. (the UI should be quick to work with though)

Generally, You want new equipment to feel rewarding to players when they receive it.

So, since the main advantage of an equipable weapon & armor system is that you're giving the player control over what they can equip, it would be ideal to give them a reason to choose between various options (not just ‘choose the best one’)
Though even when it's only getting better, when infrequent, still gives the players soemthing to do... It's just not best.


I really like both thoughts and suggestions that @Trihan gave, especially giving more meaningful uses for obsolete equipment (go beyond the default ‘sell them as soon as you’re in town’)

Also @Jragyn has a good point: As long as the equipment fulfill the roles you’ve decided for them as the designer of the gameplay system, then the goal is accomplished.
(i.e. if every weapon is to be Unique and Useful, you want less for sure; both from developer and player standpoints.)

Finally, I echo @duty in saying 'less is more'. While a game claiming to have millions of different weapons may sound cool, in practice that just means a lot of sameness.

(Wrote this all offline)
 

lianderson

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Equipment that differs vastly from one another both laterally and progressively helps immensely! Why am I yelling?!
 

coucassi

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I am glad you all seem to agree in your main points : D

So to sum it up:
- Getting equpiment should feel rewarding
- Equipment should offer choices
- Choice paralysis is to avoid
- So is the need to change the equipment to often
- Weaker equipment should stay meaningful
(I am aware that those are not given rules and everything is under the condition that it fits the game)

All this in mind, less equipment with more differences seems the way to go.

Another point that cam to mind to me, is that I'd like the player to grow attached to certain pieces of equipment. In other RPGs this happened to me, when the equipment had a cool look, an interesting name/description/story behind it, or a unique effect. I always felt sad, when those pieces could'nt keep up anymore. That's why I think about implementing an upgrade system.

Do you feel like this would influence the other points in some ways, so something else comes up, that one need to consider, when trying to implement them?

And then, to come back to my initial question - I am still unsure what less equipment means. I understand that there are no definite numbers and most certainly I just have to test it, but I still want to ask:
In your experience is there a time, when you grow 'bored' of your equipment and wish there would be something new?
And, do you always use the 'best' piece of equipment or are there other things you take in consideration too? Like if there is somehing that fits your build very good, but you have another weapon that has an interesting effect or is given to you by your favorite npc, would these things influence your choice even if the weopon is obviously weaker?

I apologize if this is too far from the initial topic. Maybe I should rather make a poll or something for it.
I just feel it is something I would need your opinion about, before deciding on how many pieces I want to include.
 

Milennin

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I stay away from equipment upgrades, for reasons (and to avoid a rant about new RPG Maker lacking eventing options that were in older versions). Also because equipment, in normal RPG's provides just a stat boost, which isn't very interesting. And if I want effects on player gear, I'd rather just make equippable passive skills (which I do).
I do think it's fine to go the traditional route for gear that just gives better stats the further you progress. Put a new set in each new town, and one to find in each new dungeon/area, and you should be fine.
 

LightBorneX

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I plan to have basic weaker weapons in my main towns that will allow people to still level, but it will be more painful. If people want weapons that are average or better, they will have to find, craft, or quest for them. This allows players who want to focus on story to focus on story but go slowly, while players who want more variety or power get to have fun working for it. So if you imagine you have 10 level brackets in a game, where players can reasonably fight and gain exp without too much headache, you end up with 10-12 weapons of each type for the game to start, where the rest of the weapons add power and variety.

On top of this, you could add time to the game with crafting, having players hunting down loot from very different monsters in order to craft new weapons. Suddenly that ink ball from the squid that was only worth 50 gold becomes a lot more valuable. I figure it would be easy for a game of any significant size to have at least 20 craftable weapons of each type, especially given the many mechanics that combat games often have- one weapon with super high accuracy, one that allows you to attack twice, one that casts a spell by chance, etc. As long as the differences stay significant, the weapons have value.

Also, some games allow you to have costume equipment- where it will change your weapon's appearance but use the power and stats of your normally equipped weapon. It helps to solve the problem of players getting attached to certain looks but wanting more power or other effects.

I'd say overall, look at how many level brackets you have, how many unique game mechanics you have, and not let how many weapons you have of each type exceed that.
 
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