How to make looting fun?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Milennin, Nov 12, 2016.

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  1. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    We've all seen and played RPGs that reward players with these basic set of items and properties:


    -Potion: Restore HP/MP


    -Skill Scroll: Learn Skill


    -Weapon: Boost Attack


    -Armour: Boost Defence


    In a traditional RPG, is it possible to go beyond these standards and spice things up a bit more, and if so, how? What are some of the most interesting item types, properties or interactions you've seen in RPGs? Bonus question: what is your favourite type of loot to find when playing an RPG? EXTRA bonus question: In your own RPG, what do/would you do to make your item system stand out from the rest?
     
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  2. KrimsonKatt

    KrimsonKatt Pyromancer Veteran

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    How about a special orb or something that can be equiped to weapons and armors that give special abilities like giving your equipment extra stats, adding attack elements, adding attack states, or adding special abilities like double gold or XP. Sometimes it can help you learn a super powerful attack but that makes you use up a lot of equipment slots if you want to use the ultimate attacks. Kind of like the metieria system in FFVII. (I never played FFVII, so tell me if I'm wrong. :)
     
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  3. Super121830

    Super121830 Play-fighter Veteran

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    You can add things like consumable skills/weapons/throwing items, make them OP if they are rare, or weak and with unique effects if they are common.
    For example, a Time slowing device that makes the user act twice, a Bomb, throw it for massive damage, an Emblem or Badge thingy that makes the next skill have an additional effect, and so on.
     
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  4. Lantiz

    Lantiz Biterkid Veteran

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    I like random sufix/prefix on items, you never know what you'll get hahahaha


    Adding some comic ones is also nice
     
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  5. Astfgl66

    Astfgl66 Veteran Veteran

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    Well, the loot system of your game must be closely related to the item system of your game.


    Wall of text spoiler'd:

    If your game is heavily crafting based, most of the loot should be crafting related.


    If your item system is just about buying the next tier of equipment at the next town (it's not very imaginative you could probably do better) the most important thing would be gold probably. Loot itself would be for bosses or treasure chests. In that kind of game it's extra important to make sure that random drops or boss equipment stands out from the rest, via unique properties, modifying skills,...


    I like Diablo III's loot system myself, with magic/rare loot that hase randomly determined attributes and unique items with set properties (that usually enhance your spells).


    What really makes that system shine is that each unique item has the power to modify the way your charachter will play, via skill modifications.


    Obviously since this is a grinding game, the whole game revolves around random loot. Even if you get your unique item, you'll probably want to drop a few more just to roll better stats. This is difficult to directly translate into an RPGMaker game, but if you go for a grinding game, consider it.


    Once you tailor the drops themselves, then you have to consider looting on a per area basis.


    It should make sense from a design point, why a certain enemy drops something. For bosses and their equipment it's straightforward, you want the player to feel the accomplishment of defeating that boss with a few goodies and something unique.


    For items themselves and random encounters, it's harder. Why should a slime on the word map drop potions? It serves no purpose, the player can just use the nearest inn for that. Now, the same slime dropping potions near the end of the slime dungeon ? That makes more sense.


    In some area of a particularily long dungeon you could make rare enemies that drop mp restoring items for example.


    One thing you shouldn't do (from personal opinion) is make random loot on bosses if they are non repeatable. If I have 1% chance to drop the uber sword of that particular boss and it doesn't drop? I should'nt have to reload and retry to get it. Now if the boss is farmable, that's another story.


    One loot system I find great is Etrian Odyssey's. EO is a dungeon RPG where almost every item is crafted from materials randomly aquired.


    First everything is repeatable, so you'll never get robbed of the possibility of getting your item.


    Second there is loot that is tied to some actions you do in battle, kill a minotaur with a slashing attack? You drop a severed horn. There is the same for status effects, kill a dragon while having incapacitated it's wings? Get them at the end of the battle. If you fulfill the condition you get the item 100%


    Third there is an item you can use, that guarantees you get every possible drop from a monster if you kill  the enemy in the turn you use it. For particularly difficult conditions it's a godsend (it's also incredibly hard to find).


    Dropping a better stat stick isn't very fun, you should probably avoid this and make stat increase more based on crafting and upgrading.



    Bullet points to recap:

    • Tailor your loot to your item system. Crafting -> Lots of crafting material, Grinding game -> Lots of random equipment with random properties.
    • Specific drops or rare finds must feel unique, by giving bonuses that cannot be aquired anywhere else (modifying skills for example) ex: Diablo III
    • Tailor the drop to the area. At the end of a long dungeon make enemies drop restoratives, on the world map basic crafting material is fine.
    • No missable unique equipment please. I mean via random drops. If your player doesn't go looking for hidden treasures chest you obviously don't want to give him the rewards anyway.
    • Drops aquired by specific conditions met in battle. Defeat an enemy a certain way means you get a certain item, this adds interactivity. ex: Etrian Odyssey

    My favourite type of loot?


    Depends on the game, for example in diablo III it's unique items because they can really modify the way you play.


    What would I make?


    Context: A thourough crafting and upgrading system.


    I'd try to make basic items available in towns, template let's call them, with each of them a unique property. (Lances ignore a % of armor, axes miss more often but deal 1.25 dmg,...). You can upgrade their stats and also confer them unique properties via bosses drop. Kill that alpha wolf and imbue your spear with its soul? You gain the skill Howl that increases the team attack!


    Unique items as a reward for exploration or defeating tough enemies. You can upgrade their stats but cannot confer them another unique property. (A flying hammer, that's equippable by melee classes but grants access to range attacks for example).
     
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  6. Lord Semaj

    Lord Semaj Veteran Veteran

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    My favorite loot is from Dungeons and Dragons.  I highly recommend checking out the Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO because high level players still use mid tier loot purely because it has the effects they want.


    One of the best items when I played was Tharne's Goggles:


    [​IMG]


    It was an almost perfect item for the slot because it offered several things every class wants.  For starters, it granted the Sneak Attack bonus of a high level Rogue to classes that are not Rogue.  It also provides True Seeing passively which allows you to ignore blurred or displaced or invisible enemies when it comes to chance to hit modifiers and concealment as well as negating the value of Mirror Images.  The bonuses to your spot and search skills are high and make it so you don't need another item with those skills while the set bonus allows you two things: Ghost Touch, so you don't miss half the time against phased enemies, and Featherfall, which every players wants but is normally occupying their boots slot (this item allows you pick better boots).


    By allowing players access to items like this that radically change up their gameplay with various counters, benefits, immunities, etc and having a deep enough combat system that these advantages come into play often enough, players are rewarded heavily for exploring and finding better forms of loot that they will not trash to the vendor as soon as they get an upgrade but rather KEEP for potential fights later in the game where those advantages would help.


    Just as an example, I didn't have one greatsword that I ran around with on my Paladin.  I had five each tailored to a specific purpose.  My general use greatsword was a flaming divine blade with anti-evil powers and maximized DPS.  My ice sword was for enemies that were immune or resistant to fire, of which there are countless in D&D, and it also had the anti-dragon modifier so it was ideal for killing fire dragons.  My vorpal blade was for high health enemies since it had a 5% chance to instantly kill.  My leech blade was for heavy dmg boss fights that the healer couldn't manage, letting me restore my own health in exchange for dps.  My final blade was brilliant anti-construct adamantine weapon meant specifically for killing golems and other things resistant to slashing damage.  Switching midcombat was a frequent occurrence and each weapon was constructed of different materials like adamantine or silver or cold iron, each of which bypasses a different type of damage reduction.  So I'd use an adamantine weapon on golems to do full damage to them or a silver weapon on vampires.


    There's a ton of potential to create unique bits of loot, each with their own lore, history, and abilities that will leave the player wondering just what they'll find next!
     
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  7. Astfgl66

    Astfgl66 Veteran Veteran

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    Oh I forgot to add, another looting system I really like is Dark Souls, each weapon you equip actually changes your moveset so it's a chance to explore. Furthermore via crafting you can make each weapon do what you want, holy damage, magical damage, change the stat the damage is based on...


    However the most awesome part of Dark souls' loot system for me is actually the lore tidbits you can find on each piece. Close to nothing is explained in that game, except if you look at the item descriptions, then you can piece the story together at your own pace.


    So, another bullet point for you:

    • Lore tidbits on item descriptions are, imho, awesome. It lets the player decide if they want to read them or just get on with the game if they aren't really interested in lore, so it's a very nice way non intrusive way of conveying it.

    Anyway, just my opinion.


    @Lord Semaj I actually think that's kind of a bad thing to do in your loot system. If you have an item that absolutely everyone wants to use because it provides too much utility,then you've effectively destroyed that item slot. If you don't have that item, your character will always be sub par/non functioning.


    Now if that's a one off item for a particularly hard subquest that comes at end game, why not. But don't put too many of those.


    You should aim to make unique items desirable, but not mandatory.
     
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  8. Lord Semaj

    Lord Semaj Veteran Veteran

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    Oh that's the beauty of the system though.  That item is just one of many.  There are countless goggles in the games with various combinations of effects on them.  Whether that particular goggle suits your build or not depends on what other items you are using.  You also have to sacrifice the goggles slot to get sneak attack, which is already on most gloves, instead of getting goggles that enhance things like Intelligence or chance to hit.


    Think of it this way... imagine a game where every item was overpowered.  Which item would use?  How would you piece together what was more valuable?  What sacrifices would you make?  The player has total freedom here to come up with all kinds of item builds because every piece of loot he picks up is solid gold.  It's really no different from choosing in an RPG between a high attack sword that sacrifices your defense or hit chance and a low attack sword that boosts your skill damage.  They offer different variants on the same gameplay that chance how your character functions in battle.


    To take the boots example... do you want Boots of Haste that speed up your character and give you extra attacks, Boots of Spiderkind that make you immune to debuffs like slow or web, Halcyon Boots that buff your Dex and spellpower, Dustless Boots that make you better at sneaking, Boots of Travel that boost your agility and dodge chance, etc.  Options galore!
     
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  9. M.I.A.

    M.I.A. Goofball Extraordinaire Veteran

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    I find loot drops mostly useless items that are so commonplace.. or they are useful items, but you've already stocked up in the last time before embarking on the journey to the next area (because you are a smart player! :) ).. so I see loot as mostly obsolete on the regular. Loot drops should have impact. Something that makes the player say "Yay!" or "Ooh" or "What the?.."


    Since my current project has a few Job Classes, each with unique features and requirements.. I like for Loot drops to be beneficial for all, but especially beneficial for a few.


    For example, all Monster/Beast/Animal foes have a very high % to drop a body part, IE: Horn, Tooth, Scale, etc.. While on the whole, this isn't entirely helpful. But since Gold is hard to come by, you can sell these poached items in town for Gold. In addition, the Hunter class learns new skills after obtaining/beating a certain number of similar baddies. Collect enough Stingers from Hornets? Learn Rapid Shot. Defeat enough Snakes? Learn Poison Arrow.


    Also, I like for harder/rarer/unique foes to have a high % to drop loot that is considerably better than anything you can purchase or craft. I want the player to be stoked to go out hunting for that Ninja who typically flees from battle.. because she holds the Dragon Dagger, the 3rd best Knife in the game!! Upon entering battle, any foe carrying a rare loot will flash and a slight jingle will play in the background to indicate that there is something special here.


    Lastly, I like minion foes that are encountered frequently to have a low % to drop a very rare Key Item that can trigger the beginning of an optional side-quest, or a chain of side quests that lead to an optional, challenging boss (who gives seriously good drops, etc.). This can encourage a player not to skip or escape encounters with lower tiered foes. :)


    Hope you find this helpful!


    -Mia
     
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  10. Basileus

    Basileus Veteran Veteran

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    I think that a loot system ultimately comes down to 2 things: What kind of loot you plan to have in the game, and what options the player has to acquire it.


    Loot must be interesting and worth the effort to get.


    There's a ton of items in most RPGs, but I find that devs generally don't think "Why would my player actually want this?" so a lot of items feel pointless. You find lots of health potions, but you don't lose much health per fight and can easily heal with magic so they are useless - maybe you can spam them in a boss fight just to use them up. You find lots of mana potions but skills and spells don't cost that much per use and you can just get a full restore before any boss fight anyway so they are useless. You get to a new town and there are new weapons and armor, but the stats are only a little better than what you have and you know you'll find the same equipment or better in the next dungeon anyway so you don't bother spending your money. Scrolls, staves, orbs, thrown items, etc are all useless since you could be using that turn doing something actually useful instead. Now you have tons of money with nothing to buy and you keep finding more and more junk items you'll never use.


    As a dev, you need to decide how many weapon and armor upgrades you want. Do you want each upgrade to have a small stat increase so you don't feel bad picking a weapon for its special abilities? Do you want only a few weapons so each new one feels like a massive upgrade? Are you going to have the player constantly swapping out pieces of armor for slightly stronger pieces of armor? Or have fewer armor sets that give big increases to defense with each upgrade? Do you want lots of equipment with the same stats so they player can mix and match for elemental/damage types?


    Consumables compete with skills and spells, so if you plan to use them there needs to be a trade-off. Make early consumables stronger than early spells or something. Make magic have big costs so the player feels good conserving mana for other spells. Make super powerful single use items that are rare but very satisfying to use, possibly with unique effects that they player can't replicate with party member skills or spells.


    Loot must be acquired through interesting gameplay.


    It's very easy to just give the player items. But it's much better to get the player to seek out your items themselves. Once you've made items that feel good to get and use, you need to figure out how to make items satisfying to find.


    As a dev, you need to plan for how you want to distribute weapon and armor upgrades as well as how common/rare consumables are. Do you have a lot of equipment? Then you may want a drop system to tie item acquisition to doing well in combat*. Do you have only a few upgrades? Then you may want to have equipment in hard to reach chests* or given to the player for completing quests. If items are rare and powerful, then you need to make them take effort to find - either tough optional puzzle or drops from tough monsters. If items and weaker and common, then don't make the player go through too much effort to acquire them - but watch out for overloading them with too many at once.


    * NOTE: If you use a Drop System, then you better have a really good and engaging Combat System since you are asking the player to spend so much time in it.


    ** NOTE: If you want to place equipment upgrades in chests, then you better have good maps that are fun and interesting to explore - think traps and puzzles, not empty corridors with a secret door.


    The Final Fantasy Approach: Weapons and Armor and found everywhere and you'll swap them out constantly for one that have slightly better stats. You may choose to hang onto a couple for elemental affinity, but this largely doesn't matter too much since you'll have a Mage to blast enemies with elemental weaknesses anyway. Healing items are somewhat useless since you have save circles before boss fights and you can use items like tents at save points to heal to full. You can expect to have dozens upon dozens of potions, elixirs, etc. by the final boss that you will never use. Phoenix Downs to revive fallen party members and Megalixirs to bring the party back to full in an emergency are all you will ever really need.


    The Dragon Quest Approach: Weapons and Armor are relatively uncommon; there are not that many upgrades so each one has noticeably better stats and is quite a bit more expensive than the previous set if you choose to buy it. You can often find weapons and armor in dungeons, but you will generally only get 1 or 2 of anything good for free so you will have to save up and buy more if you want copies for the rest of your party. Herbs to restore health and items to cure status effects are relatively common but not that powerful - this is because mana is very limited for much of the game so having Herbs to conserve mana is very useful. Items to restore mana are very rare and highly valuable. Items to revive fallen party members are extremely rare - there are exactly 0 in the first half of a game, and in the second half you may get 1 or 2 by the time you reach the final boss. Since you cannot save outside of towns, consumables are the only way to go into a boss fight with full HP and MP unless the boss is not in a dungeon (this happens a surprising amount). However, since death does not mean game over, the player can traverse deep into a dungeon and fight a boss for rare weapons and armor and they will keep the items (and any levels they gain) when they revive at the church back in town - this promotes dangerous adventures to find powerful items. There are also items called Tiny Medals that can be found all over the world and traded to an insane person that collects them for powerful (and often unique) items, so finding a Medal always feels good because it means a guaranteed reward in the future even if it's useless when you get it.


    The Dark Souls Approach: Weapons and Armor are relatively rare; you will mostly find different weapon types rather than progressively more powerful weapons of the same type. Armor is valued mostly based on weight and the amount of poise it gives, which determines how "fast" you can dodge roll and how easy it is to stagger you. In this way, weapons and armor actually change the player's animations - each weapon has specific attack animations which can make them more or less useful in a given situation or environment (thrust and overhand attacks are much better in tight corridors than sweeping horizontal attacks, which will just hit a wall, but sweeping attacks are much better when surrounded in open spaces), while the player's total carry weight determines if they use the "fast", "medium", or "fat" roll when dodging. The player can collect and use heavy armor to be hard to knock down but have a belly flop of a dodge roll, or light armor that makes then take hits harder but lets them ninja flip away from damage. Healing and spells are all gated by a number of uses that can only be recharge by resting at a bonfire, which also respawns all enemies. While you lose Souls - money used to buy items and level ups - when you die, you get to keep any items you acquired, so the player can make reckless "treasure runs" into high levels areas in an attempt to grab good loot before dying. Most items in the game feel very useful, and traversing dangerous areas full of hazards and monsters that can easily kill you makes them feel worth getting.
     
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  11. Oddball

    Oddball Veteran Veteran

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    in my rpg, i have different variants of weapons/items and they have different effects/builds you can do


    a healing potion heals a little hp and causes hp regeneration. a shield potion restores hp and halves damage for a turn. a strength potion restores a minisul amount of hp and boosts attack


    similarly, equipment is done in such a way were all pieces are usfull at any point in the game and are part of different builds
     
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  12. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    My quote is, once again, broken.  I got to enjoy a few months of having it, and it's broken yet again.  I assume it's a Windows problem this time...  Unless the forums are being buggy again.  That's a little off topic, I know, but it's the brief explanation you're going to get for the format of my reply.  Namely, bolding your questions and then typing my reply under them.  Basically, it'll help me remember what you're asking without having to scroll up again and again.


    In a traditional RPG, is it possible to go beyond these standards and spice things up a bit more, and if so, how?


    Well, by definition, a "traditional" RPG keeps everything more or less the way RPGs have always been with very little (if any) innovation on any of the existing systems.  Once you go beyond the basic standards of "traditional RPG", it is no longer Traditional.  Though, admittedly, if some new format sticks around long enough, it, instead, becomes "traditional" while the previous version of "traditional" then becomes "old school".  Why?  I don't know.  Humans are fickle creatures with weird habits.  Heck, a "traditional" FPS game used to have health kits strewn about the game world so that health was a resource you had to manage (incentive to not get shot and to play strategically).  Now, the "traditional" games are "regenerating health" (which turns combat time into a resource to be managed instead of a dwindling health supply, meaning you're rationing seconds of combat now instead of points of health).  But, to answer the meat of your question anyway... Yes, it's definitely possible to improve upon any existing formula of game.  RPG included.  Usually, all that's required is for a game dev to say, "I want to do something nobody else has done, because I want to elicit this kind of gameplay or thought processes in players" and then the game changes.  Sometimes the genre even changes if it's interesting enough.  Imagine, if you will, the people who first married FPS and RPG together.  At the time it was first done, nobody had ever seen it before.  What about the people who introduced Stealth into RPGs?  Or an Open World?  Or making it Massively Multiplayer?  Giving dialogue options?  Giving voices to your characters so they could tell their own stories?  Branching story?  Morality system?  Day and night cycle?  Crafting?  The list goes on and on for ways that standard RPGs have been improved or revolutionized over the years.  All someone really has to do is say, "I want to make an RPG like nobody has ever seen or experienced before" and then put the effort in to make it a reality.  I'd plug my own game here (as I am very fond of doing), but I can do that later on, in the last question, for those interested.


    What are some of the most interesting item types, properties or interactions you've seen in RPGs?


    Honestly, I haven't seen a whole lot of "interesting" in terms of item types, properties, or interactions in RPGs.  Most everything is "standard fare" and that's kind of the point.  These things serve very basic functions and haven't changed much because there's no reason to change them.  I guess Borderlands 1 and 2 has some "interesting" things that their equipment can do... but so much of it is absolutely substandard and worthless that you really can't do anything interesting with it.  Honestly, some of the most unique and cool things that can be done with RPG equipment and consumables is typically done in tabletops.  Why?  Because video games can't emulate actual people roleplaying yet.  You pick up a broad sword that makes a guitar strum sound when it hits an enemy in a video game RPG and players will go, "ha ha, that's funny that it does that" and sell it off the moment they find something better.  But, if you're playing a Bard in D&D and your Longsword makes the strumming sound of a Lute when it hits things that aren't flesh...  Now that is INTERESTING.  It's worth KEEPING, because it's potentially useful in all kinds of crazy ways.  Plus, who the heck would enchant a sword to do that?!  And why???  It is no more better or worse in combat than any other sword, but it's unique in that it makes a musical instrument noise.  In one RPG, completely sellable and worthless.  In another, worth holding onto and using, long after you've gotten something stronger to use.  I mean, I liked "TK's Wave" in Borderlands, 'cause of how it made bullets move... but it was so useless in combat that even I sold it the moment I got back to town since even my pistol was better than the shotgun with a unique firing pattern. 


    In a video game RPG, optimization is basically the name of the game.  If you pick up something that doesn't help you optimize your characters in some way... it's vendor trash.  The Home Run Bat in Earthbound?  Oh, it hits for INSANE amounts of damage, and nearly ALWAYS hits a critical.  The downside?  Nearly 95% miss rate.  Not even any way to really improve those odds to make that weapon worth it.  It's unique and interesting, yeah.  But... not optimized.  You do more DPS with the second strongest bat in the game, especially since it hits nearly every time its swung, compared to the one that hits almost never.


    Bonus question: what is your favourite type of loot to find when playing an RPG?


    Fairly easy question here.  Upgrades.  My equipment has slots?  I want to see things I can toss into those slots on a fairly regular basis.  I can swap out a section of my armor with another section that's better or increases a stat I care about?  I want to see more of those.  In most RPGs, I'll be swapping out equipment every 10 or 15 minutes at maximum.  There's always new stuff to be had, better stuff, cooler looking stuff.  But, you give me some things that are permanent... and that I can CHOOSE what to do with...  Now you're talking.  Maybe I want my warrior to have a +15% speed buff and I don't care that it will cost me 10% of my attack power to get it.  It's a decision I like having to make.  Maybe I want my shiny new Amethyst Sword with 4 slots to have an elemental enchantment of each kind (Fire, Water, Earth, Air).  Maybe I like rolling that way.  I like having enough of these upgrades to make decisions interesting and to make me frequently consider swapping out these upgrades for different situations or even different weapons/characters.  Or, maybe, I just like an extra 5 points of strength by holding my shield.  I care more about customizing and personalizing my character and experience than I do about equipping bigger sticks and bulkier armor.  Anyone can get the Infinity +1 sword.  But, what if I want my Infinity +1 Sword to give me a +25% chance to steal an item from an enemy when I use Steal?  I get to make that decision because the upgrade exists in the game and there are slots for it.  My Infinity +1 Sword will be different.  And, it will be optimized for how I want to play, instead of what the game demands I need.


    EXTRA bonus question: In your own RPG, what do/would you do to make your item system stand out from the rest?


    What I personally do to make my own item system stand out is two things.  The first of which is to rarely, if ever, give out consumables.  You get one to drop, you should be ecstatic.  Find a few in a chest, it should be an actual treasure.  I want my players spending their hard-earned cash, so they're going to buy EVERYTHING they need.  No freebies.  You aren't getting to my end boss with 99 Elixirs.  Not unless you bought each and every single one of them.  That means, your right to spam them came with the Gold you dropped to get them.  I also assign an archetype to each armor and weapon type.  Each type is good at something and not so good at other things.  What you use is the playstyle you want to go with for that character.  Not everyone can equip everything, obviously, but there's typically enough variety to at least give the player some things to think about.  There is no, "I am just going to use whatever does the most attack" and it's the only way to win.  You either specialize or you turn into a jack of all trades.  Either way, there's no way to be good at everything, and you're going to have to settle on SOME way of playing.  Or, maybe swapping things out as you need them.  Chainmail is good against piercing weapons, but sucks against magic and blunt weapons.  Lots of things like that come into play in my own game.  Furthermore, I have things like "artifacts" that offer you an incredibly good boon... at a serious cost.  The earliest that can be obtained is "Fear Relic".  At the cost of 50% of all your stats (flavor text explains that it saps your strength in order to provide its effect), you will never have another Random Encounter again.  Quite worth it, yes?  Unless you run into a scripted encounter.  Then, it's suddenly a very bad thing to have equipped.  That's the kind of things I'm doing with my equipment to try to make it "more interesting".
     
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