How Much Equipment is Too Much Equipment?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Tehprince, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. Tehprince

    Tehprince Someone Veteran

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    As the title says, what is your preference regarding how much stuff the game expects you to carry around? How should equipment be scaled throughout the game, and should the amount of equipment tiers reflect that? Is it better to have new equipment available every ten seconds, but only providing minor bonuses, or should the player have to wait a long time to get equipment, but have the stat difference between the tiers be noticeably different?

    Side note: How many equipment slots is too many? Should one character have to equip a hat, body armor, gloves, greaves, full leg armor, boots, socks, and five accessories? Or should it be the standard head, body, and maybe two accessories?
     
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  2. elpeleq42

    elpeleq42 Veteran Veteran

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    It depends, wich kind of game is it?
    Fantasy RPG? As many as the strength allow
    "Realistic" RPG? As many as the backpack equiped allow
    Horror? Depends if the character is using or not a backpack(if not, maybe 5, if yes, around 20)
    Some kind of game where it doesn't matter? Infinite.
     
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  3. Tehprince

    Tehprince Someone Veteran

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    I'm going with the classic, "You can hold as much crap as you can put in your inventory" used in some of the older JRPGs. Also it is a medieval/fantasy setting.
     
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  4. Llareian

    Llareian Jack of All Trades, Master of None Veteran

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    Personally I like games with more equipment slots, and that generally means that the equipment tier lasts a little longer as you assemble it piece-by-piece. (The Elder Scrolls, especially older games in the series, springs to mind.) I like to feel like I've achieved something by collecting the whole set. This seems common especially in games where shop encounters are less frequent and/or there is a steep gold ramp to overcome.

    If the game is designed so that I'll just buy the whole tier at the next shop (common when the shops are fairly frequent compared to exploration/dungeon-crawling and when gold gain is high), then I'd prefer fewer slots because there's no feeling of achievement by getting all the pieces, and at that point it just all feels like empty filler.
     
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  5. Failivrin

    Failivrin Final Frontiersman Veteran

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    Almost anything goes as long as the player is customizing equipment--not simply upgrading. The player should be presented balanced, creative options which they can browse and manipulate easily. If filling ten equipment slots enables new strategies, that's good. If filling ten equipment slots simply upgrades your stats, or if there is only one reasonable configuration of equipment at any given time, that's an unnecessary chore.
     
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  6. Applesaws

    Applesaws Apple Veteran

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    I, personally, don't see the point in having so many equipment slots (ie helmet, right arm, left arm, torso, left leg, right leg, accessories 1-5). I don't like having to deal with equipment too much and usually just go with whatever is best for the character without a lot of thought.
     
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  7. sura_tc

    sura_tc Veteran Veteran

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    More equipment slot means, in general, more headache in balancing things. Something to keep in mind.
     
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  8. shockra

    shockra Slightly Crazy Programmer Veteran

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    Equipment slots should vary depending on the game. You look at most JRPGs, and there's typically weapon, shield or off-hand, body, head, and accessory. Look at an MMORPG, on the other hand, and you'll see a lot more slots.

    Personally, I think a good way to scale equipment is to create some form of customization in the game. Have a way to enchant the weapon to alter it. Accessories also allow this, since they typically don't affect stats directly, but change things like state resistance or counter rate. In the game I'm planning, for instance, the weapon, armor, etc. don't have much of an impact on stats. Instead, I'm using augments to alter the stats, while the equipment simply decides which slots are available. That way, the player doesn't need to carry around a fire weapon, an ice weapon, a weapon with poison, and so on; they just need one weapon and to change the augments to whatever they want. This significantly reduces the amount of equipment each character needs to carry around.
     
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  9. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I don't really much care about both equipment and equip slot honestly. But it's too much when you created equipment just to clutter up your inventory, like when you need to swap equipment too much to make battle more effective (e.g, poison blade, ice blade, fire blade, shock blade, another-special blade). Tier equipment is also ok, given that you gonna use those equipment for quite long time. Not just you buy a sword in a certain stage, then u have to change to better weapon next stage. Let me enjoy my new equip for a while. If you're going to tier equip system, I'd prefer that each tier has significantly difference between each other, not marginal increase. So I would feel like I'm getting stronger
     
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  10. Wavelength

    Wavelength The Indictables Veteran

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    It's a good question, but it's also something that deeply depends on the experience you're trying to give your player. When you have so much equipment that the difference between two given equips is too small to provide meaningful expression, choice, or power, that's when you've gone too far. When your player is just buying (or finding) and equipping the next "tier" of equipment because they feel like that's what they're supposed to do, rather than feeling like they're doing something meaningful in the process, that's when you've gone too far.

    If you think hard about what you want your equipment to do for your game, instead of thinking "most RPGs have equipment so I should too", you can make equipment engaging enough that it's (almost) never too much. If the player comes upon four different armors of approximately the same strength - but one reflects half of spells flung at them, another increases their critical hit rate by 20%, another heals the player a bit every turn, and a fourth grants access to a cool extra skill that can be cast once per battle - they are faced with an engaging decision about how they want to build their character. There is no wrong answer here - just a question of how the player wants to express himself in combat. This is a lot more interesting than a 12 DEF armor, a 14 DEF armor, a 15 DEF armor, and a 17 DEF armor.

    Even simple jumps in power can be engaging if you think hard about equipment's role in your game! If your player's headgear currently provides 30 DEF, and they see a mission that is clearly marked as optional but offers a big jump to a 45 DEF helmet as a reward (assume that the "next town's headgear" will only provide 33 DEF, so the 45-DEF helmet will be useful for a long time), that at least serves as a great motivation to do a mission that might be fun to experience anyhow. The equipment in itself isn't that engaging, but you've used it to line up the player's priorities with doing fun things in your game, and they can feel good that they "earned" this big jump in power. Meanwhile, players who are doing really well at combat already and want to charge forward in the narrative can skip your side-mission because they feel they're okay with the 30-DEF headgear. Note that this is a lot different from offering slightly better equipment at each town, which is something players will buy largely because they feel it's optimal to do so, not because they enjoy doing it.

    In my current project timeblazer, I have four dynamics that I want to offer above all else: Improvisation, Skill Expression, Meaningful Choice, and Feedback/Reward Loops. The original equipment system was considerably different, but as I thought about how I wanted it to offer these dynamics to the player, it evolved into the current system, where the player receives Credits for beating boss enemies (the quality of the Credit is based on whether the player completed bonus objectives during the boss fight), and trades those Credits for their choice of one category of equipment (Swords, Body Armor, Accessories, etc.) at the Equip Shop. They'll receive two random equips of similar power levels from the Equip Category they chose.

    I ended up creating 100 pieces of equipment for just 2 characters in a 3 hour game! This sounds like a really big number for a short game, but no one has ever said it feels like there's too much, and I think that's because the equipment offers engaging decisions and appreciable leaps in power, and feels rewarding to earn more of. This system hits three of the four dynamics I want to offer in timeblazer, so it really feels like it's part and parcel of the experience rather than something that's there for the sake of being there:
    • Improvisation: The actual pieces of equipment you get are chosen randomly, so the decision you make (between the two) and how it affects your battle strategy is going to be different each time.
    • Meaningful Choice: Each category of equipment tends to specialize in different stats (Weapons -> Power, Armor -> Defense, Headgear -> Agility, etc.); additionally, within each category, most equipment offers different special effects. Do you want to equip a Shield that boosts your Guard action to negate 90% of damage, or one that reduces your character's cooldowns by a turn when you Guard? Do you want a Staff that shoots electricity at the enemy troop once you've spent 100 MP, or a Staff that slows the target with gravity when you use a basic attack?
    • Reward Loops: The quality (overall "power") of the equips you get is based on whether you go above and beyond in boss battles to complete bonus objectives; in turn, the better equips you earn for your effort will help make future battles easier on you.
    The dynamics you want to offer your player are probably completely different, and therefore your ideal equipment system (and set of equipment content) will probably be very different as well. But the important thing is to think about how it will affect your game and how it will contribute to your player's experience playing it.
     
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  11. mauvebutterfly

    mauvebutterfly Veteran Veteran

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    I think the party size is important here. Lots of equipment slots are good on a single character, but managing 12 slots per character on a party of 4 becomes a chore.

    I think that the weapon, armour, accessory combo is great for games with a large cast or where characters are constantly swapping in and out of the party.
     
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  12. Titanhex

    Titanhex Do-It-All Veteran

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    Absolutely nothing matters as much as the gameplay.

    Is your game a Power-Fantasy? (Most RPGs are)
    Make sure your gear progression clearly marks an increase in strength of your character / party. Distribute equipment pieces as a means to measure growth or reward players.
    Make sure that the gear is given in such a way that it highlights a difference in having the gear and not having the gear. For example, acquiring the gear a quarter to three quarters of the way through a challenge.
    This will help the player understand the difference that this gear makes, and allow them to appreciate it.
    Gear is primarily a means to progress a character, and is not much different from leveling up.

    Does your game use Puzzler Elements?
    Then the gear should make a task either accessible or easier.
    This usually puts the gear into the category of a tool.
    Hybrids of gear and tool do exist, but require sturdier balancing.

    Is your game Strategic?
    Then gear choices should highlight a fundamental difference in comparison to one another
    Gear should expand beyond numerical differences
    Gear options should present multiple viable solutions to solving a problem

    There are no "tiers," there is only the gear in the context you find it.
    That is, the when and where and why, which ultimately puts the gears usefulness into perspective.

    I always suggest avoiding minute upgrades, because they dwarf any sense of progression.
    In terms of gear, it's even worse, because it just gives the player arbitrary decisions constantly, which will lead to the very real and very unpalatable decision fatigue.

    As for gear slotting, I suggest keeping it low. Again, avoid decision fatigue.
    Is there really a point in having a hat, shoe and armor slot if they all only increase the same 4 stats?
    You could easily get away with only an armor and a weapon slot.
    Sometimes simpler is better.
     
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  13. steelabjur

    steelabjur Warper Member

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    For the second question, I like to use the D&D item slots (albeit with only one ring) and use the seal item slot feature (I.E. if it's a closed helmet being worn on the Head Slot, no items can be worn in the Face Slot, or if an armor covered in blades is worn in the Body Slot, you can't wear a cloak in the Back Slot), that way, with balancing and special effects, equipment becomes more than simply wearing the best DEF item and instead becomes a trade-off, "do I have this character wear the higher DEF Helmet, or the weaker Helmet along with the mask that makes him immune to Sleep?"
     
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  14. Kuro DCupu

    Kuro DCupu Responsible for Kitten Mita development Veteran

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    Here's what I think about equipment.
    For weapon, it will be the standard R and L hand for the use of shield, dual wield, or two handed.
    For armor, it will be a set and extra. By set, I mean one slot for a complete set of armor. By extra I mean not just accessory, it can be anything that's special. I'm saying it's 1 slot for armor and 1 slot for artifact.

    In most RPG, I think shopkeeper has lose their purpose other than selling junk. I'm saying this because in most game I never bother to bought anything from them. Yea, I'm fully depending on drops / treasure. That's why I like the idea for an equipment to be able to break and become unusable junk. This will give more purpose to the shopkeeper.
     
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  15. alberthk

    alberthk EM[P] Veteran

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    once i planned to make 50 equips for each type, then graphics are rare and recoloring is boring. so i cut it down to 10 each.

    graphics are important!

    but gameplay wise, having many equips mean you have a long game.

    you dont want your player to change equipment every level, it has to be fed to players on the correct time.

    sometimes, players have to sacrifice for better equipments (less speed over atk for swords)

    or players that missed an equipment will lose their chance on getting an easier battle.

    etc. many scenarios have to be planned.

    but to make things simple, decide how long the game would be, when will the enemy be 'upgraded', give new equipments then. now you know how many equipment is enough, more than that is too much.
     
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  16. Requiem

    Requiem Veteran Veteran

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    Depends.

    I liked Morrowind had a gazillion different equips and so could create truly atrocious looking outfits.

    but in general for JRPGs simpler is better. For us indies espescially since for example a left pauldron could just be merged with body armor without any important gameplay tradeoffs.

    For each feature,I ask myself this question:
    Will said feature bring a SIGNIFICANT change to player experience
    or is it incremental...?

    If the latter, I cut it.
     
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  17. Countyoungblood

    Countyoungblood Sleeping Dragon Veteran

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    Gear can be an excellent way of letting the player customize the character. It would make sense to have lots of different slots if there are several different combinations of possible enhancements that the player could choose from to reach their chosen goals
    For example i might want to reach a certain power level in magic but still have x% dodge rate so i might swap my plate gauntlets for magic gloves and my boots for ninja shoes all the while wearing plate armor.

    But 10 slots of exclusively def+ gear as the only option isnt really an option at all.
     
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  18. velan235

    velan235 Veteran Veteran

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    I hate MMO style equipment where you have these 5 parts of armor that literally has defense and minor option in the equip (+atk in glove , +agi in boots etc. etc.) , why not coupled it in 1 item instead? in the end you will upgrade all of them right? (some though could use parts equipment so player did some grind / choice with their limited in-game gold but I think it doesn't worth the hassle)

    I prefer 2 or 3 equipment slot , like weapon slot that define element / ailment bonus , armor that define element for the character and accesory for special traits (like double gold on battle , MP regen , survive with 1HP after lethal)

    it gives true option rather than some vertical bonus that in the end you will purchase anyway because you can't finish next dungeon without it
     
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