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How about items that grow?

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I did a little seaching, but I didn't see any posts that refer to this, so if there have been already... This is purely theoretical, no goal yet on implementing this idea or anything like that. I was thinking how a lot of RPG games are all about character growth. The goal of the game is to get from Level 1 to Level X and as you go along you learn new skills and spells to aid you. As you begin to level, all that matters is the gear you have, the more godly gear you have, the easier the game is. In MMORPGs, gear is what makes or breaks your gaming expereince. As you level the game quickly turns into a "gotta find the next level gear for my character" searching fest. The thing that makes me feel "cheated" is that you can spend a lot of in game money to get an awesome weapon, for example, but that weapon will quickly become outdated as you quickly grow to the next level. Now, what if game mechanics were changed to reward players for keeping their gear, because it "grows" as they do. As it gets more exp when the player kills, it will start to improve, it'd do more dmg, block more, take more magic damage, etc... Of course there would be limits to how the item can grow, since low level gear should not be able to grow to something as strong as the next degree of equipment. The general idea is that equipment is now similar to characters, and in certain cases, it too can learn "skills". The whole interaction of item trading/buying will remain the same. I could go on a bit more, but I think that's it for now. Comments?

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Secret of Mana does something like this, although the weapons themselves don't actually "grow" since you upgrade them with orbs, and you still have to buy armor.

I know some games do "auto-upgrades." For example, Sudeki (if any of you have played it) makes only one weapon per character available through shops. All the rest (seven or eight per character) are acquired through either quests or chests that are kind of hard to miss and not too hard to acquire. Armor upgrades automatically as you progress. Enhancements to your equipment happen through socketed runes, and the runes give pretty reasonable upgrades that supplement your combat.

I'm definitely for making equipment an unobtrusive part of gameplay

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Quote:
Original post by Drew_Benton
I did a little seaching, but I didn't see any posts that refer to this, so if there have been already...


Sounds a lot like those "weapon familiarity" ideas, where you get better with using this particular weapon due to familiarity with it over time. Think Willie Nelson and his guitar. [smile]

It's also been done. I loved Secret of Evermore and, quite often, I would find myself using the last gen weapon or alchemy because I'd raised it a couple levels and was therefore more effective with it than the latest and greatest.

And you could always think of money as "equipment xp". [wink]

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I don't know how that suggestion would be in terms of game balancing and such, but I have an elaboration of your idea.

Here's my take on the idea of item growth. Instead of just having weapons and items that increase in stats as you use them, which doesn't really make too much sense to me, have living creatures instead of items. Something like Pokemon, but going even further with the idea of growth and evolution.

Why not have actual growth from a genetic code like real organisms do? (for possible methods look up "l-systems" or "cellular automata") And not only that, but real learning like the creature in Black & White? So when you get a baby creature, it is pretty weak and can't do much, but it will grow over time, and you can train it do things, from attacking enemies to helping you cast spells or run the shop while you're away. Trading and buying would also be interesting. You could make a living in the MMO world by training and selling creatures as mounts or pets. You could even do creature-breeding and genetic engineering as well. Now that would be interesting.

I think the best part about this is the potential for allowing player creativity. You are not just buying and selling identical items, you are putting your own mark on the growing creature's mind, or even inventing new breeds through genetic tinkering. It could also allow for more nuanced emotional interaction, if creatures were used as avatars (imagine a game where you are a dragon-rider like in the Pern series and you have one mount at time who is basically a part of you). Your creature could act as your face in the game, displaying subtle emotional cues that are hard to convey normally. Since you train your creature to have a similar personality to you, hopefully there would be enough similarity that its emotional reactions would be close to your own.

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The problem I see with this not working in MMORPG's is the nature of them. MMORPGs are about timesinks.

Grinding = one type of timesink, but no one wants to grind forever. They want a reward out of their grind. Fine you say, they are grinding to level up their eqpuipment. But can any monster give the items experience, or only certain raid enemies?

Now, I realize you stated there should be limits, such as different levels of gear, but what defines those levels? And if it is dungeons, doesn't that just lead back to the case of awesome items becoming extinct after a few levels?

Maybe comprimise and do something similar to Final Fantasy 10, where the weapons themselves don't really have properties outside of artistic, rather you upgrade them via orbs? (The higher level items have more free spaces you can add upgrades).

Personally, I've always hated the leveling method, although I can sort of understand it in terms of items, but not players. You can sharpen a sword, and it becomes a much better sword. But when lifting weights, it's not like, I can bench 180, wow, just gained a level, and I can now bench 220.

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Oblivion has it's own variation on this as well. As you level up your character, your weapons level up with you. Infact, the entire world levels up with you (NPCs, enemies, items).

- Andrew

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Another variant on this is Disgaea (a tactical RPG for the PS2). In that game, each item has its base stats, a level, and room for "specialists", which are spirits that augment certain of the base stats. For example, a Physician specialist increases the boost to Max HP that the item gives, and an Armsmaster specialist improves your ability to master weapons. You can level up items by trekking through an optional dungeon; leveled up items give higher boosts to their base stats and have more room for specialists. Additionally, specialists may be encountered as monsters in the dungeon; defeating them allows you to move them about your equipment (thereby allowing you to concentrate tons of a particular specialist onto one item to give it a massive boost to attack, for example). Ultimately, however, you were generally best off starting with a high-grade item (e.g. Excalibur instead of a Shortsword) before you start leveling it up, because the base stats have a huge impact on the item's growth rate. And of course, repeatedly running through the optional dungeon to level up your gear was just another form of grinding, that you had to do in addition to the normal level grinding and grinding for magic spell/special attack levels and so on if you really wanted that über party.

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I think this might have been discussed briefly about a year ago. One of the things we considered was having the weapon develop abilities according to how it was used; for instance, a sword which is used to kill goblins a lot gradually "learns" how to more efectively kill goblins, effectively becoming a "goblinbane" weapon. This provedes the opportunity to "train up" weapons and turn around and sell them. This would make the creation of legendary weapons possible. After you are high enough level that your GiantBane club is of no use to you, turn around and sell it for a LOT of money, because everyone has heard of it.

By the same token, a sword which is used when the player loses a lot of fights might eventually become "cursed", and be ineffective against the particular race which beat up on the swords' owner.

Well, you get the idea: Kind of a Lamarckian evolution system.

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As arudson said, this is used in TES Oblivion too, although I believe arudson said it wrong. You're sword doesn't level at all. The attack level of a sword is just a calculation of it's own strength, your general level and your sword-ability level. So, if one should level up, you're sword would get more attack. On the other hand, that would mean you would only need one sword throughout the whole game.

That's where the balance peeks in. Each sword also has it's own attack rate. If you would have a sword with e.g. an AR of 4, and you would sum up your own abilities with it, the outcome of whole the formulas would be...let's say...8.
Now, would we then equip a sword of 5, you're AR changes from 8 to 9!
Now, would we then level up, you're attack changes from 8 to 10!

Another thing added in TES Oblivion is the poisoning or magicking (forgot the real term) of a weapon. You can easily add abilities to it, in the form of:

Damage health 40 points on strike
Corose armour 20 points in 20 feet (traveling magic, like with a staff).

This doesn't actually differ that much from Tesseracts idea.

Just my 2 cents

~ Stenny

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I posted something along these lines a while back.

http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=219973

Quote:

Item Souls

Lastly is item souls, these apply only to a select few kinds of items primarily weapons, and other equipment. What happens is that an item is used by an owner its soul increases. If the item is used enough it will gain a soul level and gain additional properties that can only be obtained in this manner. The first level is always named, which allows the items owner to give their item a name, thus making it a unique item with the game world. If it is lost or stolen it will now be possible to recover the item. Continued use will eventually apply additional abilities to the item. These abilities are determined by the actions of the owner once they meet specific requirements they will obtain one of a set of benefits related to the action. An example of a requirement is to kill 1000 people, so if the owner managed to kill a 1000 people with this weapon the weapon would gain a rather potent ability. I should note that that is one of the harder requirements to complete and the others ability requirements are a lot more reasonable.

Also an items soul is hidden from the user so they will never know the actual values.


I still think it is a good idea. Evolving items give the player a trade off to choose from. Do you take a new item that has better stats or stick with your current item and let it continue to improve? If the weakest weapon in the game has the potential to become more powerful then a none evolved form of the strongest one then it lets the player choose how they want to play.

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Two things popped into my mind when I read this. One was a game that PC Gamer reviewed 3-4 years ago in which your sword leveled up with you. Unfortunately, that was the only good part of the game, according to PC Gamer. It got a score of about a 50%.

The next is the fantastic Geneforge series. If you are one of the many people unlucky enough to have never played one of these games, then you should know that in this game you play as a Shaper. A Shaper uses magic to create new life forms that can fight for them. You can get up to 7 creatures at one time. All of these can level up. As you progress into the game, you learn new creatures to make. However, I found myself often using my trusty Fyora (I misspelled that) from level one, simply becuase it was high level. While not exactly a weapon, for some players, it is their sole attack method.

But, I like this idea. I'm one of those people who horde gold and rarely like to buy new items. I always think, "Oh, I could buy something better next level." Having items that get better with experience would be nice to those like me.

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There are a couple of things to think about before you decide on this. 1.)Do real knights / samurai / whoever keep a particular weapon for a long time, or are they viewed more disposably? 2.)Is there a good explanation for the item getting more powerful?

As for 1.), I'd say that it would be much more interesting to keep a trusty battle axe than to buy a new one in every town (I'm looking at you, SquEnix). I don't know what is more realistic historically, but I'd say it depends on the purpose of a weapon and its quality. A kodachi is sometimes used for surprise attacks, because it's small enough that it's easy to hide and easy to draw. These might not be made with permanence in mind, unlike the daisho (katana and wakizashi). Then again, Musashi himself said that being too familiar with one weapon was just as bad as not knowing how to use it.

To explain how it gets more powerful (2.), you could use the traditional model of having a skill in a certain class of weapons (club, staff, long sword). If you want a more intimate connection with a particular weapon, you could add an affinity counter that essentially just adds to your long sword skill with that particular weapon. In this way, nobody could steal it from you and expect to use it as well as you do.

Alternatively, you could use the idea of soul gems from Elder Scrolls, but instead of just inserting magic into it, you could tame the soul in the gem and have that trapped soul be the one leveling up. Sentient weapons like Kring from Discworld or Stormbringer from the Elric books could add a nice dynamic to the lone adventurer cliche.

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Quote:
Original post by Ezbez
The next is the fantastic Geneforge series. If you are one of the many people unlucky enough to have never played one of these games, then you should know that in this game you play as a Shaper. A Shaper uses magic to create new life forms that can fight for them. You can get up to 7 creatures at one time. All of these can level up. As you progress into the game, you learn new creatures to make. However, I found myself often using my trusty Fyora (I misspelled that) from level one, simply becuase it was high level. While not exactly a weapon, for some players, it is their sole attack method.
That sounds a lot like what I suggested, though it probably doesn't use an actual genetic system. Would Pokemon be a good example of a game where your "weapons" level up with you? I imagine that some similar game choices would come up, like whether to stick with your old high-level Pokemon, or work on your new ones.

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Speaking of TES:Oblivion -- was anyone else not such a big fan of the world-levelling system?

Obviously, the further you progress in a game, the more challenges you expect to face -- but I don't really like levelled enemies if only because of this kind of situation:

"PC is wandering along a road between cities. A dodgy looking fellow jumps out and demands money. PC gets to hand over their monies and avoid combat...or fight. PC defeats the bandit and loots his body. Turns out the bandit was carrying weapons and/or armor worth $$$."

Can anyone see the problem here? Why the hell would someone waylay you if they could sell a gauntlet and be living the high life? In TES: Morrowind -- if you knew where to look, or were powerful enough -- you could get high level armor and weapons. This equipment was less useful the lower your level, but it was always where it was -supposed- to be.
In Oblivion, if you grind low level dungeons, you know (unless you are on a quest specifically looking for something) that any loot you find will be levelled for your level. Hence, it defeats the purpose of even looking! If I know I can't find any 'phat lewt' by grinding...I won't! I find the whole idea repugnant that no matter what travails you go through, you'll still only get 'a little bit better' weapons and armor unless you're level XX super.

This translates the original problem to something even more ridiculous -- while Oblivion has unique items that are better than standard fare...people like our bandit generally speaking are carrying around some pretty damn good stuff once you reach a decent level (we're talking lvl 18 and up here). So much so that if you get waylaid it's a -good- thing, because chances are you can avoid having to pay out the rear-end for expensive loot :P

Thoughts? I really -really- don't like the oblivion system, and personally -- I like the idea that you find a better weapon instead of upgrading your old one. If you have a sword made out of bronze, even if you cast lvl 8. chicken of the Infinite (kudos to Bash.org) on it, your sword is still bronze and essentially...crud.


~Shiny.

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how about having item life cycles? items start weak, grow stronger over time, peaks at a certain level then wanes slowly. At the end of its life you could add
a function like the item/weapon can be resurrected to create a new weapon which might be stronger. Perhaps breeding/recycling weapons. for example "Damocles" + "Azoth" creates "Excalibur" which might be stronger than either of the two when they started with the added advantage of being young and not peaked yet. It gives an incentive to keep older weapons even though they degrade over time because they might be combined at the end of their lifespan.

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There is the materia from Final Fantasy 7-

They start out with just basic spells and then as you collect Ap they grow and get better spells. You could probably build a system where you grow "materia" and then permanently set them into items like weapons or something. Then as the materia grows it adds stats to the item. there might be some crystals that seem totally useles unless certain requirments are met, or have multiple level-up schemes.

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In the Kingmaker expansion to Nevewinter nights they have a weapon that grows. At certain points in the game you have the ability to upgrade your wepaon by giving it new abilities and powers. As the game progresses yuo keep the weapon and it's abilities grwo with you.

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I dislike reading lengthy posts but here goes one haha. (Edit: Not as bad as I thought it was going to be haha)


I like this idea of having gear that can advance with you. Here is a system that I would forsee as being interesting and still more on the balanced side.

Items would be upgradeable based on an XP of sorts that I will call 'character'. Basically what character is when an item such as weapon, shield, armor are worn/used in combat the players traits or strength is somewhat rubbed into the item. The player would then be able to access a menu somehow in the game, possibly crafter/enchater or whatever.

They would then spend this 'character xp' on the upgrades. The upgrades would cost different amounts based on the type of upgrade and the intensity of it. Example, a +1 damage to orcs might cost 500xp, where as a general +1 to damage may be 2,500xp, and then +5 damage to orcs could be 2,500xp. Then maybe something like 5% lifesteal can be 100,000xp etc...

If you are worried about players hording up points on an item for more power faster, have a max limit of points the item could ever acquire. You would basically need 3 variables; Gained, Max Gain, and Spendable. Whenever you gain XP with the item it adds to both Gained and Spendable, unless Gained would exceed Max then in that case the item can't level anymore. Spendable is the one where you do deductions when choosing enhancements to add, not to go below 0. Also if you wanted for an element of coolness, when the item has been fully leveled up you can finally name it, woot woot!

Anyways, with the system described above you could limit lowered leveled items to lower max experience to enforce less powerful effects and limits. The player would eventually would want to choose to acquire a stronger base item to level up with a stronger potential.

If you're like me and don't want to level up everything in a players inventory just from questing because it's too powerful, then perhaps a 'favor system' as I'm going to call it would be nice. So basically the player chooses from a menu which item is in 'favor', meaning when they kill things and gain item experience that is the only item that gains experience. A player would be forced to choose between favoring his boots over his weapon at a cost of killing power to eventually get his boots of speed, etc...

Also another twist to the favor system is have multiple favored items with different priority. For example a system with three favored items. Top priority would get 60% of gained item experience, the second could get 30% and last would get 10%.

Well there's the concepts I had on leveling items up, hope you enjoyed them :)

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This is a great idea which has been tackled in different forms and manners. I think the first things that need to be considered are the fallowing.

Is this a MMO game or a single player game?

How does this effect the world and what validates its exsistance?

How will this change how the player interacts with the world and the systems
you are goin to build within it?


To have a single weapon that increases as you use it over time is a great idea in theory. But in a MMO type setting economy is a big issues. If a player feels promoted not to change weapons or has no need to buy things ((acceptable money sinks)) than this is goin to hurt the game more than anything.

A possible way to get the best of both words if you were dealing with a MMO setting could be a "profecancy" per say. Meaning, lets say there are types of swords. Ex: Long sword, short sword, and my personal favorate a Duchang((duel ended sword)). Now When you use a type of weapon you start at a 50% profecancy of that type. So you do not use the weapon at its full potential. By staying with this "type" of weapon over time, your profecancy will increase eventully to 100%. Which would mean you are using this type of weapon for its full value.

This would give the designer a way to allow the player to still desire to buy better versions of that type of sword. Also giving more economic mechanical freedom.

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Quote:
Original post by FadedPhoenix
A possible way to get the best of both words if you were dealing with a MMO setting could be a "profecancy" per say. Meaning, lets say there are types of swords. Ex: Long sword, short sword, and my personal favorate a Duchang((duel ended sword)). Now When you use a type of weapon you start at a 50% profecancy of that type. So you do not use the weapon at its full potential. By staying with this "type" of weapon over time, your profecancy will increase eventully to 100%. Which would mean you are using this type of weapon for its full value.


Several games implement weapon and skill proficiencies, most notably the excellent Discworld MUD. Commercial MMOs are literally about 10 years behind some of the forerunning MUDs.

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Well I am not stating that its a my own new revolution of character development. Ive not played MUDs in forever so I have never seen a system like what I described. But it does not surprise me that someone has thought of something similar to it.

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Quote:
Original post by FadedPhoenix
Is this a MMO game or a single player game?


It could work in either setting depending on how you worked it all out. Though I think single player would be the easiest to implement.

Quote:
Original post by FadedPhoenix
How does this effect the world and what validates its exsistance?


This will give the player something else exciting to focus on, another aspect of gameplay. It effects the world with some custom gear, balance the system and it shouldn't be too much of an issue. The fact that it's a game, and a fictional world lets you validate its exsistance with whatever reason you so choose.

Quote:
Original post by FadedPhoenix
To have a single weapon that increases as you use it over time is a great idea in theory. But in a MMO type setting economy is a big issues. If a player feels promoted not to change weapons or has no need to buy things ((acceptable money sinks)) than this is goin to hurt the game more than anything.


A few of us have suggested that items can only grow to certain limits before the player feels the need to find the next best item up that would allow for even more growth. More growth equals more power potential. This would give people an excuse to find better items to work on and enhance those as well. Not saying this doesn't need some work for balance on how often a player needs to upgrade, but it is a solution to limit how much an item can grow.

People would also be inclined to sell their weapons, and a lower level would be tempted to blow some cash on a weapon they don't have to level up every now and then. You could always do the ugly WoW way and make it so that a player has to spend lots of gold or have a high faction with someone before they can get to the 'better' enhancements. Again not saying it doesn't need balance work, but it can be balanced...

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Some things that came to mind when reading all this (nice ideas btw):

Gorasul - iirc Gorasul had a talking, intelligent, growing weapon that had an experience counter and abilities (str, dex, int). At the beginning you picked a weapon name and type (longsword, dagger, axe, etc). Each had different abilities and iirc some extra gameplay effects. It was all very tightly integrated into the campaign (in the beginning your weapon was the tutorial voice, I think) and worked nicely imho. A talking weapon may not be much of an option for multiplayer though, beyound the "tutorial" function maybe.

NWN - HotU - Enserric had some options that could be unlocked through dialogue, iirc. Not much there but the additional functionality offered to scripters, coupled with the dynamic item properties, meant that an evolving weapon of the variety discussed in the beginning here would be trivial to implement in NWN. Incidentally, there was also a magic forge that could upgrade your weapons and armor, and similar functionality did later surface in some community modules.

Dynasty Warriors 4 Hyper - each character has a weapon assigned to them that gains experience and levels up (and consequently upgrades to a better weapon every bunch of levels). I think it suited the gameplay nicely - apart from the "see all endings" and "unlock all levels" and "collect all items" there's also the "upgrade all weapons" aspect. It may seem trivial but it greatly adds to replay value. Incidentally I think similar strategies are often employed on console games, but I wouldn't know as I don't own any console - is this the case?

KOTOR/KOTOR2 - constructing your lightsaber. I always wanted this, and they actually made it possible [grin]. The player crystal in KOTOR2 gained powers, and there were some high-level crystals in KOTOR. Though I guess this is similar to the orb idea, upgrading the weapon components instead of the weapon itself.

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