New Loot System
Rhialto's notes on the New Loot System (NLS), slated for 2018.
The NLS is a proposed change to Wyvern's randomized loot, including weapons, armor, and certain magic items such as wands, rods and scrolls. It is loosely inspired by loot systems in game franchises such as Diablo, World of Warcraft, Borderlands, Dead Island, Dying Light, and Destiny. These games use a now-standardized color-coding system for loot rarity: white (common), green (uncommon), blue (rare), purple (very rare), and orange (legendary/named). Each rarity class is typically at least an order of magnitude rarer than the previous class, so you can think of 9/10 items being white, 1/10 being green, 1/100 being blue, 1/1000 being purple and 1 in 10,000 being orange. These numbers are approximate, but should give you the feel. You are likely to find an orange item only once in a rare while, and perhaps never, unless you play the game a lot.
By going with what's becoming a standard color coding, I'm actually making the game more accessible for players. Witcher 3, for instance, had its own entirely unique system for differentiating rare and non-rare items, and I still found it somewhat baffling even after playing the game for months. Color-coded rarities using white/green/blue/purple/orange makes everything easier for everyone.
The goal of the NLS is not to provide "better" items that obsolete today's items and make everyone more powerful -- although the net effect is likely to be that there are better items available for level 30-50 players than you can find today, primarily because today's items were balanced for a max level of 30, where the NLS loot will be spread out smoothly over 50 levels (or more).
You can think of NLS as a smooth progression from today's low-end items (e.g., a plain shortsword) up through today's artifacts, where the wield levels are set so that you will want to discard your current weapon almost every time you level up, or at least every few levels. The drop rates will also be based on your level or your group's average level, so you'll generally find loot that's approximately correct for your level -- naturally, only if you're in an area that's also approximately correct for your level. You won't find level 50 loot in the newbie house, even if you're level 50. If you're in a level that's too dangerous for your character, you might find loot drops that are higher level than you - but you won't be able to wield/wear/use them. You can of course always save them for later or sell them off.
If you find a legendary (orange) item that's around level 45-50, it should be roughly as good as the artifacts today (anywhere from the worst artifacts to the best ones), but it will be a permanent item. If you find a level 20 legendary weapon, it might not be as good as one of today's vendor artifacts, but it will definitely be one of the best permanent items you will be able to use as a level 20-25 character.
So the difference in NLS loot vs. today's loot comes down to the difference in power between the top-end 10/10 loot items today, and the artifacts today. I haven't worked through the math yet, but I would guess that a high-end 10/10 item, such as a 10/10 heavy club or a 10/10 red dragon mail, might be roughly the same power as level 25-30 purple-rarity item. Let's say it's level 30. That means that you can expect that between levels 31 and 50, you will be able to find loot that smoothly increases in power until you get what the current top artifacts are today.
The top artifacts today (e.g. crimson sorrow, wicked saber, hofud, shrike, bonecrusher) would correspond roughly to level 45 to 50 legendary items in NLS. An NLS purple will be rustproof and an orange will be no-damage, automatically, without needing the mod machine. So oranges, in particular, will be highly sought after, because they are basically artifacts but they're permanent.
However, they will be extremely rare. More rare than 10/10 cloth items today. You will probably not be able to find them yourself very often -- more likely you will wind up buying them from other players via the eBay-style in-game auction system I'll be launching next year. They will be expensive. Moreover, there will be substantial RNG variability in items at a particular level. If you've played Borderlands a lot, you'll know that just because you find a Pestilent Defiler doesn't mean it's the best one that can be generated. They're all fantastic weapons, but each defiler has its own stats generated by its barrel, clip, etc. You can spend quite some time just trying to find a teeny upgrade for a weapon in the top of its class.
In practice, the stats for a given legendary weapon won't make much difference, unless you're a collector. A big driver for the NLS is collectible loot. You may only need one or two weapons for grinding, but many players will want to collect entire sets of named orange legendaries or ultra-legendaries (cyan) for display in their homes. It may not matter to you, but to some players, that's the endgame. Collecting legendaries.
If you think the current artifacts are crap, then you're in for bitter disappointment. I'm not trying to speed the game up. I may make tougher monsters that award more XP -- particularly raid bosses. But NLS is not going to unlock your inner OP.
NLS will have manufacturers, like in Borderlands. It's more or less an extension of what we already have inherited from games like Nethack -- you have elvish armor and weapons, orcish armor and weapons, "regular" (presumably human-made) armor and weapons, dwarvish, and so on. So humans, elves, dwarves and orcs will be 4 out of the 8 or so manufacturers in Wyvern, and all NLS items will be from exactly one manufacturer. Each manufacturer will be highly specialized, whether it's in elemental damage (or protection), or melee damage, or weapon speed or whatever. They will be balanced, so the manufacturer you choose for your build will be based on your preferred playstyle.
Changes to the core game mechanics
The NLS will necessitate some changes to game mechanics.
For one thing, I am very likely to make accuracy start to matter again. It's basically only an issue for level 1-5 players today; before very long your accuracy goes to 100% and you never worry about it again. Weapons of +10 accuracy are useless. I'll be changing everyone's base accuracy (for a given weapon skill level) to be lower, so that you all actually start caring about accuracy bonuses on weapons. In Borderlands, Hyperion was the manufacturer that produced the most accurate weapons. You had to decide whether you wanted damage or accuracy. For range weapons this is particularly important -- if you have a higher-damage, less accurate weapon, then you may need to get closer to the monster in order to hit it as often.
I am very likely to revisit resistances, and how they work. Today they are cumulative/additive, but are capped at 90% unless you happen to achieve true immunity somehow. I would like to be able to provide ways to get your resistances higher than 90%, but simple addition is not a good way to achieve that. I want a system where if you have two 90% resistance items, your net resistance might be 91.5%, and you can keep piling them on to get up to, say, 97%, but it gets harder and harder, and you have to sacrifice other resistances in order to get there. I do not know yet how I will accomplish this. One option is to make it so that for each damage type, the game only uses your highest-resistance item. So if you have a ring of 93.2% fire resistance and other items that give lower fire resistance, the others are ignored. Another option is to use fancy compounding calculations so that each successive boost has a smaller overall effect, and reaching 100% becomes asymptotic. This option works better with upgrade slots (see below). I do not know how it will work yet -- but I do know that when the NLS lands, the way resistances (and probably acs) work is going to have to change.
One major problem with today's numbers (mostly inherited from Dungeons and Dragons and Roguelike games) is that they are not fine-grained enough. The highest WC and AC are around 100, which doesn't allow for much variability in the progression curve. I will probably change the game to use decimal numbers to provide very fine-grained RNG numbers for things like damage, accuracy and protection. So you could find, say, an elven broadsword whose damage is 37.5, and another one whose damage is 37.1. If every weapon or piece of armor has, say, 5 to 7 different stats, then you can imagine it would become quite rare to find one that is at the top of its range for every single stat. This scarcity will drive a marketplace and a way for everyone to make money on the side by selling items.
Some players don't like the perpetual-upgrade grind. They want a good weapon and don't want to worry about finding another good one each time they level up. For those players there is a solution: Candy Crush. This is an RPG, and RPGs are all about getting better numbers. However, I would expect that if Wyvern has a lot of players in 2018, then finding an ideal weapon should be as simple as purchasing one in the auction screen. (Auction houses are likely to go away in favor of persistent auctions that can be transacted even when you're offline. We will find other ways to create social/hangout spots in the game.)
What about Artifacts?
Crown-bought artifacts will always remain an option for people who want a temporary DPS/tank boost without needing to go off on a long search for collectible legendaries. It is likely that with Crowns you will also be able to purchase temporary or even permanent power-ups for your weapons and armor. Not everyone has the time or patience to go off chasing rare NLS items, and some people would prefer to use the time = money formula and spend some money to save some time.
Will you increase loot drops in RDs?
Nope. As a general rule of thumb, I want every hunting area in the game to be good for one of three things:
* Making XP * Making gold / finding loot * Completing missions/quests
No area should be super good for more than one of those goals. (Samhoc is unfortunately an exception to this rule, and there may be others, but over time I will clean them up.)
Random Dungeons (RDs) are extremely good for making XP, since they provide you with a more or less continuous stream of monsters. So RDs should be bad for finding loot or making money, and if anything, I will _reduce_ loot drops in RDs when NLS launches.
My goal is for the best place to get loot to be raid bosses, whether it's bosses in specific locations (or random in RDs), or auto-LQ bosses. When you defeat them, they should explode high-quality loot everywhere, with higher RNG numbers for increasing your odds of finding something really good.
Second best kind of place for finding loot will be areas like Tehur where most people don't go too often. Ideally I will have the game figure out automatically what areas are unpopular, and raise the drop rates in those areas, so that the whole system becomes self-balancing. But initially I may just hardwire better drop rates everywhere except RDs. (I think this is actually already the case, to some extent.)
What about my old gear? Will it be obsolete?
I haven't really decided what to do here. A 10/10 gold dragon mail is going to be an amazing piece of equipment no matter who you are. I might have to tweak the minimum wear/wield levels for some of the existing equipment, if it's too powerful compared to the comparable items generated by the NLS.
Alternately, I might simply offer a way to trade up -- the game shows you a selection of items that you could trade for one of your current items, and it's up to you whether to do it or not.
Another option would be to convert all old gear into NLS gear of approximately equal rarity/power/value.
What about Enchanting and Smithing?
It remains to be seen. Borderlands 2 made a lot of noise about adding crafting, but in the end they triaged the feature -- not sure if it was because it was hard to balance, or hard to implement (hurt the schedule), or a little of both.
Witcher 3 had a slots system, where the rarer items were generated with 1 to 3 upgrade slots. You could craft various kinds of upgrades and have them placed in the slots for you by a competent blacksmith. It was a very complicated system, perhaps more complicated than Wyvern needs. But I could envision a system where green items have 1 slot, blue have 2, and purple have 3, allowing you to tailor the power of your item with elemental damage, special resists or protections, or other abilities.
Using upgrade slots could potentially enable creating an ecosystem of enchanters and blacksmiths who can create specialized upgrades that you can purchase for your weapons and armor. Some of them could be quite rare and expensive, requiring your (or the crafter) to procure exotic and hard-to-find ingredients in order to complete the creation of the upgrade.
However, none of this is decided yet, and it could well be that the first version of NLS offers absolutely no enchanting or crafting of any kind, because even without those it will be a ton of work.