How often do you require players to update their gear?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by fallenlorelei, Nov 11, 2015.

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  1. fallenlorelei

    fallenlorelei Veteran Veteran

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    This might be a "mechanics" question but I figured it was a little more general than that...

    Anyway, I mean in regard to how many levels a character gains, or even every arc. Do you offer an upgrade every 5 levels? 10? Do you give a new piece of gear only when they reach a new location (and only 1 "set" per location)? Do you make your characters wear the same gear from the beginning all the way to the 1st boss, or is there some need to "upgrade" beforehand? Maybe you have all of your gear available at stores but have a "money barrier" - you need to grind enough $$ to buy it.

    In my first game, my gear progression went in an alternating pattern of buying gear, finding dropped gear (or from chests), and enchanting gear. Players were updating their gear every 3 levels or so. This game never really got released up to level 10 (the demo is up to 4 or 5ish), so I never really got feedback on whether this was good or bad. Now I'm making a new game - much shorter than the other, so I can actually finish it ;) - and am trying to figure out how I want to distribute the gear this time. I could go with my previous method, or I can try something new.

    What is your "go to" rule for providing access to gear? I'd be interested in hearing other ideas!
     
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  2. Ms Littlefish

    Ms Littlefish Dangerously Caffeinated Global Mod

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    I tend to do it per major area of the game. At least for specing up basic gear types. Usually there is a cycle of hitting a new city after a significant chunk of story arc, dungeon/exploration time, and a boss. When you get to a new town you usually spend some time hitting up all the shops and doing any crafting/synthesis you can complete. However, in dungeons I also tend to place some gear that may help with the enemies in that area (and even later of course) as well as plan for some special or alternative gear options to be found. I tend to also place some "store gear" in dungeons so if the player finds it earlier on, they won't have to spend on it later. I try to strike a balance between providing options without the player feeling like everything they've found, made, and bought will be quickly be turned into junk.
     
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  3. StarkinGyra

    StarkinGyra Adventurer Member

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    I haven't tackled this yet. It has been something in my mind but not sure how I want to do it. 

    I almost don't want the player to worry about equipment but then that is sometimes the best part of new areas.

    I will have to work it out sooner rather than later.
     
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  4. fallenlorelei

    fallenlorelei Veteran Veteran

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    That's true!! I forget how excited I am to go to new shops once I enter a new zone. And maybe if there aren't too many zones (I'm thinking of my new game which is set in only one place), there could be a "traveling merchant" stationed somewhere within important areas.

    I like the idea of providing shop gear in dungeons so players aren't forced to "buy" gear if they don't want to. But, it should be gear from a shop the player hasn't had access to yet. It annoys me when I find a piece of gear that I already spent gold on haha
     
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  5. Rule665

    Rule665 Villager Member

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    I hate being barraged with useless or outdated gear.  It's especially annoying when low level gear is put in high level dungeons.

    In the game I am currently making, I have several ways of obtaining gear piecemeal (one or two pieces at a time).  There is baseline gear through normal progression, supplemental gear through side quests, and advanced gear from rare hidden monsters.  

    It is in my personal opinion that selling whole armor sets in shops is not rewarding.  I would rather have meaningful slot upgrades that give the player the confidence to return to a previously explored area or charge ahead.  I also believe that it is important to give meaningful choices on who deserves rare armor and weapons.  Do I want to make my strong person stronger? Or do i want to make my weak person more useful?

    I like your original method.  Money barriers seem stale unless it ties into the story or personality of the shop-keep (stingy old blacksmith).   
     
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  6. fallenlorelei

    fallenlorelei Veteran Veteran

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    Yea~ I wrote down the names for all of my equipment and added them to the database, but I'm still working on figuring out when to give them out. I think I have a few ideas now though.

    Your first point really stuck with me - having to replace gear so often, getting the gear itself just seems useless. And yeah, we have the same ideals. I try to avoid putting all of the gear in shops. In my first game, you find a drop at level 5, then at level 7 you can "enchant" it with the crafting system. The shop offers another of the same type of armor at level 10, but your level 7 piece is slightly stronger. The player is rewarded for crafting but if they didn't feel like grinding for the ingredients, then there is the level 10 version. Then at 13, there's another drop - an enchant at 15 - a storebought piece at 17, etc. etc. I think the levels are too close together but the idea was to keep it interesting =D
     
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  7. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I admit that my approach is not mainstream, but it seems to work - at least for those who buy my games.

    I dislike the whole "buy your way to excellence" approach to gear.  I also find it too incredible that what are often small, rural towns, have fabulous gear for sale.  I mean, who buys it when our heroes aren't around?  How does the economy support such a specialisation?  So in both of my last 2 games there was no armour or weapon shop until late game.  Gear can be found, be received as rewards for side quests, and as drops from some bosses.  Enough gear to get through the game (with some difficulty) can be found on what you could call the main route.  Better gear is found with exploration of side paths/side maps/secret areas.
     
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  8. fallenlorelei

    fallenlorelei Veteran Veteran

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    That's kinda how I've planned my game this time around =] Its setting is a run-down slums so there aren't any stores. Instead you find your armor only through chests in the wilderness while playing through the story and the sidequests, and then weapons through sidequest bosses.
     
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  9. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    For my game, the party can, on average, upgrade their gear once a chapter. Though in later chapters they will have to find the equipment for upgrades.
     
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  10. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I've found that I actually dislike buying new equipment (especially armor) in each new town in most RPGs.  It feels more like a chore than interesting gameplay.  So if it's just a question of "how often", my answer would be 3-4 times during the game for games under 20 hours; otherwise once every 6 hours or so.

    However, I think we can do better than that.  How about letting the player buy new equipment at their own pace?  Like your "money barrier" solution - offer both weak and very powerful equipment even in the early towns (the selection could be different in each town if you want - maybe the early forest outpost and the midgame desert city offer similarly-powered weapons with different types of abilities), but make each piece of equipment appropriately expensive so that the player won't be able to buy endgame weapons after the second dungeon.  This offers several advantages - it lets the player bother with the equipment treadmill whenever they feel the desire to rather than needing to do it at each new town, it allows players who enjoy powergrinding to get stronger weapons earlier, it feels much more realistic than "stores offer quality based on their distance from the final dungeon", and it makes it a little easier, as the designer, to offer a variety of interesting equipment instead of separating them into bland "tiers".  The main disadvantage is that it requires you, as the designer, to balance your economy more carefully.

    I've gone down an entirely different route for equipment in my last two games, and while these systems are tailored to play with my other game mechanics and probably wouldn't work in an average JRPG, I still feel they're worth mentioning as a possible creative spark:

    • In How Badly Do You Want It? the only way to get a Game Over is to fail to accumulate enough Gold at one of the deadlines (similar to Recettear), so the money you spend is coming right out of the account you need to build up to win the game.  Therefore, I felt it was fine to have every equip in the game available from day one - you could spend all your money for an overpowered late-game weapon or accessory if you really want to, but unless it's going to help you earn a lot more gold, it becomes a dicey investment.
    • In timeblazer there is no concept of Gold (due to the game's emphasis on action and speed) so instead you earn a Gear Credit for each character after you defeat a boss.  You redeem the gear credits at the shop to receive two random pieces of gear in the category of your choice - weapons, headgear, shields, etc.  Within each category, each piece of gear is "balanced" in power but often has wildly different effects.  I think there's a lot of strategic value inherent here, because the activity at each shop is no longer "climb the gear treadmill" - it's now "choose which dimension of the character you want to build up and form your battle strategy around it".
     
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  11. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    Most of it can be bought in shops, but some of it is obtained through story events or found in (usually hidden/side-path/optional boss-guarded) chests. Sometimes I'll have equipment found earlier in the game in hidden chests, but can later be bought in shops in case the player didn't find it. Especially useful if the equipment has unique effects on it.

    There's not really a system to where I think out how many levels are needed between changing equipment, but if I had to make a rough estimate, I'd say every 5 levels or so.
     
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  12. Amy Pond

    Amy Pond Veteran Veteran

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    I generally take the Guild Wars approach: basic gear is available as and when you need it, at a cost you would reasonably expect to have at that point.

    Ornate, nice-looking gear however, that has the same stats but just looks damned pretty, is expensive and difficult to obtain. But it doesn't provide any benefit whatsoever. You just look nice.
     
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  13. Alexander Amnell

    Alexander Amnell Jaded Optimist Veteran

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       I don't make them upgrade it for the most part. In my main game everyone keeps the same weapon and armor (at least from a gameplay/stats perspective) throughout the game, only having to take them to blacksmiths for reforging if allowed to break or using a blacksmith/whetstone to improve the stats of a damaged weapon. Players can also add up to two traits to each character's weapon and one for armor ranging from adding/resisting elemental damage, inflicting/resisting status effects on strike/damage or adding subtle buffs to the player, so that customization still exists through the form of gathering materials from foes to use to buff armor/weapons but the character's dps and physical resistances are more or less consistent throughout the game where equipment is concerned. 

       In my side project the playable characters are all children aged from 12-16, so while blacksmiths, fletchers and the like do exist in towns for aesthetic purposes, all save one particular fletcher refuse to do business with them outright when asked(about weapons and the like at least). 

       personally I've never liked relying on new and improved weapons and armor as a means of progression. It's mostly unrealistic, feels more like a chore than a gameplay incentive and oftentimes does nothing for you other than raising dps/resistances arbitrarily based on whatever tier of weapons and armor the characters currently have equipped, making it nothing more than a second experience gauge that's measured in gold. 
     
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