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Using TYPE or MATERIAL of equipment as the defining characteristic?

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I recently decided to start developing a text-based RPG/Rogue-like thing in my spare time. I don't really have any long-term plans for it but it passes the time and I've never done a text-based game before, and I'm trying to get better at how I organize my code/objects. It's just a standard RPG medieval setting with magic and stuff, like D&D, and I just sort of throw features in when I think something'd be cool.

 

ANYWAYS, there's a lot of writing to do, which seems obvious in a text-based thing, but it caught me off guard somehow. One thing is that every item, be it equipment or a consumable or a quest item, has a description. I've started with basic gear with placeholder descriptions, and right now everything is modeled after the way that Skyrim (pretty much the whole Elder Scrolls series, actually) handles gear: the same piece of equipment is denoted as better by the material it's made of, ie Iron Dagger -> Steel Dagger -> Ebony Dagger. 

 

I'm concerned that because I can only differentiate pieces of gear mainly by the description/name, just changing the material of stuff won't be as interesting for the Player, and will be harder to write (it's a dagger... made of steel this time"). Do you guys think that taking a page out of something like Demon's Souls book, where weapon trees are comprised of unique weapons, is a better idea? Something like Butcher Knife -> Hunter's Dagger -> Assassin's Blade? And, in general, do you prefer one method over the other? Why?

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I'm inclined to suggest giving them descriptions in accordance with their importance and rarity. For one thing, I imagine that players are more likely to take the time to read the descriptions given to unique items than those for vendor trash.

 

So, are your weapons unique objects, found rarely and perhaps even used in puzzle-solving, or are they vendor trash, found in piles and sold with barely a memory remaining (or something in-between)? If you're dealing with vendor-trash then you may not require a description much beyond: "A dagger made of tempered steel. Tougher than its iron kin, but nothing special". Conversely, if the weapons are important and rare then individual descriptions might work better--and perhaps even provide a means of building up your setting's lore (as appropriate).

 

Note that you don't have to give the same level of description to all items, I believe: if some items are important and some are vendor trash, then I see no problem with giving the former more depth of description than the latter.

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I'm inclined to suggest giving them descriptions in accordance with their importance and rarity. For one thing, I imagine that players are more likely to take the time to read the descriptions given to unique items than those for vendor trash.

 

Hm, you bring up some good points. I hadn't even considered that some items need not have as elegant descriptions as others. I guess I should do a bit more planning and figure out which items will appear more than others, and give better (more complete) descriptions to the rarer ones.

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Are you just making 'Steel Dagger' the same as 'Iron Dagger' but slightly more damage? You might as well call it 'Generic Stabbing Thing +5' and it'd actually give more information to the user to make informed decisions.

 

However, I think using materials would be really interesting if every dagger was equally useful, but had different effects.

 

Frozen Blade and Ebony Dirk and Rusted Shiv and Twisted-Iron Dagger and Blackened Steel Stiletto, and Damascus Knife, and Hardened Steel Tanto all have different effects on the enemy, unrelated to their damage amount.

 

Previous weapons wouldn't get obsolete, and gathering more weapons would increase your tactical options. "A game is a series of interesting choices". Finding a Dagger +2 to replace your Dagger +1 isn't a very interesting choice.

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Finding a Dagger +2 to replace your Dagger +1 isn't a very interesting choice.

 

Another good point... I'm beginning to wonder if I need different levels of gear at all. As it is right now, gear only slightly modify stats. The actual relevant thing is the attributes the gear has, like weapon/armour type, is it heavy or light, enchanted/mundane, etc. The options the Player has to deal with scenarios change depending on the gear they have equipped, ie a fight against Goblins can be avoided if you scare them off with something that has Fire/Flames, or you might have more trouble escaping from quicksand if your armour is Heavy, etc.

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If the gear isn't craftable (it's usually not in a roguelike, right?) then I think making the weapons unique is a better choice then defining them by what they are made out of.  If the player isn't making them, it doesn't matter what they are made out of.

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Download source codes of Angband and Nethack. Take a look at the prefix-suffix system. You will learn from it A LOT. At least I had smile.png

Edited by Acharis

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Since we're talking rougelikes, another option is to procedurally generate the descriptions.

 

Dagger (Quality 2): A [short] [copper] blade with a [blunted] edge, [pockmarked] and [slightly bent]. The dagger [lacks any hilt], instead the blade is [crudely] wrapped in [linen].

 

Dagger (Quality 2): A [long] [wooden] blade with a [splintery edge], [stained] and [cracking]. The dagger [has a broad, heavy hilt] that looks [roughly hewn].

 

Dagger (Quality 150): This [dwarven steel] dagger glints [red] and rests [heavy] in your hand. The blade [is serrated] and [covered in dwarven runes, although you cannot recognize the orthography]. [On close inspection there's a minor seam at the base of the blade, suggesting it was once repaired.] [You recognize the style of the blade as similar to those worn by the elite dwarven king's guard.]

 

You can describe the item mechanically succinctly so the player can make informed decisions (quality 2, or 2d4+1, attack speed 7) and then generate a random description of appropriate quality, where material is just one aspect.

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