Cythera

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Wait, wait! Please kindly set your pitchforks down for just a minute, okay?
I KNOW we've all been hurt by the gacha loot boxes before. The games that demand endless hours to farm that loot box, only to give you absolute junk. The mobile micro-transaction games that spit out highly unbalanced gameplay that almost requires you to spend money to get that new 5* weapon/armour/monster/item/maguffin in order to have a slight chance of progression.
But can we have a civil discussion about loot boxes, pros and cons, and where they might succeed in an RPG?
To me, the pros are...
  • Ooh, surprising! Suspenseful! I love that brief moment where I'm opening the box, infinite possibilities inside...
  • As a dev, they're convenient. I can create one common event, and bam. Can easily award randomized items/gear for quests, or in treasure chests, or even as loot from battles!
  • There's a lot more options for loot boxes than I think people give credit to. I can create a totally random weapon box, I can create a low-tier, a high-tier, a legendary weapon box! A fire element, an ice element weapon box. What about a weapon box that gives a weapon with a good advantage to a certain enemy type, like the Anti-Flyers weapon box? Or a weapon box that gives a weapon guaranteed to have certain traits? My weapon loot box doesn't have to just give you a random weapon from your starting weapon to your legendary weapon - and obviously it would be weighted towards giving a lower tier weapon in that case. Finished a side quest in a volcano? Here, have a Fire Weapon Box! Going into the Dark Cave? Take this Light Weapon Box! What about even a reverse-weight weapon box, with it being weighted towards high tier weapons and weighted against low tier weapons? Super boss drop/steal here we come!
There are cons though, like everything...
  • Some players may not find loot boxes satisfying - 'just give me a weapon; why do I have to open a loot box to get my quest reward?!' Or they may have been so horribly scarred by gacha loot boxes, the player cannot dare interact with loot boxes
  • Devs can use this as an easy out. Every quest reward can be loot boxes. This can cause lots of issues: player is tired of the same reward, player may never get a good weapon from the loot box, player may get completely overpowered weapon from the loot box for their stage in the game which creates balancing problems!

I think the mechanic of loot boxes have been limited into just 'random weapon from the WHOLE weapon pool' which then requires weighting against high/legend tier weapons to keep balancing. You can't have your level 1 freelancer equipping the Sword of Immortal Souls before even leaving the first town without some balancing chaos going on. You could impose a level restriction, but then what's the point of the loot box? It was a waste when I really needed a weapon - now I have NO weapon!
This, I believe, is where so much hate for loot boxes arises. The 'control' or the weighting system implemented to stop balancing problems, actually causes balancing problems in other aspects of the game, and can even sacrifice player enjoyment.

To me, loot boxes could find a good place in a game where they're either more customized (see the last 'pros' point), limited to later game content where the weighting system can be more generous and still not cause combat balance issues, and the biggest point...loot boxes are not a substitute for actual gameplay and progression where the player can earn/farm/craft/otherwise obtain their items/gears.

That's my stance on loot boxes; what do you think?
 

Celestrium

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My personal concern with loot boxes is that it causes an addictive reaction to some people, it's gambling. I have someone close to me that is challenged by this. I think for cosmetic items or items that can be acquired by other means.... It just needs to be done right.
 

Sirius270

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Hello! I like this discussion and the points you have presented. I have thought about this, and have assigned these Loot Boxes to specific monsters throughout the game. These include: certain bosses (might do ALL bosses + flat/static reward, not sure), and mimics. Mimics are the "gacha" monster in my game. Also, all contents of the Loot Boxes are produce-able or collectable throughout somewhere else in my game. So, I included all random drops from other monsters, as well as all produce-able everything. I left out the strongest items/weapons/armours because getting that in a random loot doesn't give the same feelings of accomplishment, in my opinion. I also did not include quest-specific rewards.
My personal concern with loot boxes is that it causes an addictive reaction to some people, it's gambling. I have someone close to me that is challenged by this. I think for cosmetic items or items that can be acquired by other means.... It just needs to be done right.
Oh! I never thought about that! Thank you for the perspective.
 

Cythera

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@Celestrium Absolutely it can be a gambling issue. I want clarify I'm not talking about implementing microtransactions or anything of the sort in RPG's; I only mentioned that in the main post as an example of more-commonly seen loot boxes. That system of paying for pathetic odds in games is horrible and should certainly be considered gambling - I believe it is already in several countries :)

@Sirius270 Yup, that sounds like a good way of doing it! Everything you can get in loot boxes, you should be able to earn another way, so you're not relying on weighted RNG. Loot boxes should never be a substitute for actual game progression.
 

Celestrium

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As I said, there was a personal connection to my response, so my response is biased. So, thank you for understanding my position. The biggest issue is with loot boxes is the inclusion of the money component, the actual loot boxes themselves if acquired in a different manner would be a better experience if earned by game play.
 
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The way I see it, lootboxes in games have a "right" and a "very very wrong" way to be implemented.
The "very very wrong" way:
- Microtransactions (Pay for every lootbox! You didn't get what you want? Buy another one!)
- The chance to get literal worthless garbage (Either repeats of items you already have and don't need more of, or items that are quite literally intentional garbage to clutter up your inventory. Especially annoying if there's no way to sell/trash the items you don't need. Anyone want this rotten potato?)
- Extremely low chances to get anything of actual value (You have a 0.000000001% chance of getting this super cool item everyone wants that we totally could have just made you buy outright! And you have a 95.9% chance of getting this skin for a character you don't even play as or don't even have. Start rolling those dice now!)
- Making the "opening the box" way too similar to the way actual gambling/casinos have their games set up
- Locking game progression or crucial mechanics/features behind lootboxes (You want that mechanic that's a beloved part of the series? Lootbox! You want to get further in the game because we made the algorithm stop giving you any experience after a certain point? Lootbox!)
The right way:
- No microtransactions for the lootbox. Period. If the game already costs money, don't nickle-and-dime us just to get some half-decent items.
- All items you could get have some value, and if you get a repeat you can still get some use out of it or you can sell it, or at worst trash it.
- Make the chances of getting the valuable things higher. They don't need to be guaranteed, just make it so the person doesn't have to roll 1,000 boxes before they get the one thing they wanted.
- Don't make opening the lootbox so similar to the way casinos make their games. It's well-documented that that kinda stuff makes the casino games super addictive, especially for those already with a gambling addiction.
- (And this is the big one) Don't lock game progression/crucial features behind a lootbox. Just don't.
Not related to lootboxes, but I feel it deserves a mention: Also don't lock the story/ending of the game behind DLC. That's just gross.
 

Jrrkein

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The idea behind lootbox are big questionable and lootboxes been known for notorious purpose.
  • Lootboxes should not be for progressing the game or head in the game and always be more comsetic
  • Locking story/plot over a gamble boxes (lootboxes) should not be use as it paywalling until you get part
  • Problem with Lootboxes are always ended up lower-tier items or duplicates, this becomes a problem if lootboxes are locked behind a premium currency or real money.
  • In order to counter this problem, Lootboxes should not be locked behind money or premium currency (This case, that lootboxes still lock on a premium currency of the game)
  • Again getting superior items from lootboxes can be a problem because they have very low chance of getting epic or legendary items if lootboxes were pay using premium or real money
  • Lootboxes should be to unlock post-game, again first mention using lootboxes to lock story/plot is just wrong.
 

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