Designing engaging items.

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Lady Isabelle
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Designing engaging items.

Post by Lady Isabelle » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:04 pm

So for my upcoming mod that I'm working on, I've been working hard on redesigning all items across the board. Specifically rarities of items, and what they can hold. I wanted to share my goals and ideas with all of you, and perhaps give you ideas as well.

Random loot has been an engaging form of exciting the player, as long as it's done right. Even more so, when it makes the player stop and think for a moment. When you get a High rune, do you make a runeword or keep it and cube it up? Do you go out of your way to finding that perfect base? Maybe you keep it for trading instead. You see a Monarch drop on the ground, is it white or blue? If it's white, especially on early days of ladder reset, you'll want to socket quest it or amn + ral + pamy in the cube to try and make a spirit base. Magic? Well maybe it's your lucky day and you get a jmod. If not, maybe you keep it for stubborn re-rolling. Same thing with high ilvl charms too. I could go on and on but my point is when you find an item, the player gets more engaged and interested when you turn the player's gears in their brain as they have to think what they want to do with the item, and whether or not it befits them.

One thing Diablo 2 really did well over Diablo 3, in addition to what I mentioned before, is having most item types have something special about them that you'll want to use one or the other in specific cases. D3's system of making Uniques and Sets objectively better is incredibly boring. The rest is just crafting materials that even after awhile you'll ignore those too. Yawn. Diablo 2, and many mods have:

Crafting for niche and desired stats
Tempering for focusing purely on one or two stats in large quantities
Rares with enough variety to either give you a good amount of life and resists, or raw damage
Uniques & Sets with exclusive stats that aren't typically acquired anywhere else(!)
Magic items, while much more niche that I would personally like, can have the best of a single stat.

The important thing to emphasize (!) about this item design is that each of these rarities are distinctly different. Why? Because many of them have exclusive stats that can be only found on those rarities. Be stubborn with exceptions. Objective upgrades based purely on rng & time consumption makes a game incredibly boring.

Here are my designs:

Socketed Items

For the most part, apart from changing the flat attack rating bonus to %, they are kept the same. However, I am going to be working on making Alternate Rune Variants (that can't be made with runewords), and even better and new gems (ranking of Diablo 3), as well as redesigned jewels. Sockets will now be limited to 1 on magic items and above as a result. Socketed items of course can have, depending on the base, up to 6 sockets. As a result with the significantly better socketable items, you can now have a socketed item purely filled with gems, runes, and jewels that can compete with other items. If it wasn't for Lazruk, I would completely remove sockets all together.

Runewords for the most part I'm keeping the same, besides a couple tweaks and nerfs. But for the most part, I'm actually okay with their rarity to power ratio. They can have unique auras and oskills that the player typically wants or even needs in some case, making them incredibly desired.

Magic Items

Make use of the rare column in Magic Prefix/Suffix! Besides having 1-2 powerful stats, in addition high level items have a rare chance to spawn an uber affix that has 3 stats on it. If you're lucky, you can get this on a prefix and suffix for 6 affixes on a single magic item!

Rare Items

Due to how modding magic affixes works in Diablo 2, you directly effects what both magic and rare items can spawn with. For rares, it comes down to instead deciding what exactly you can get on these items and their bases, and what they do or don't have in comparison to everything else. This rarity acts as the midpoint across your entire item design. Whatever you do or don't have in item types, you keep that in mind for rares as well. In the case for my mod, I have actually removed and added quite a bit from vanilla, while also cutting off a lot of the fat from items so that less garbage stats roll on magic and rare items. For example, I removed 'Based on Character Level' affixes, but added Damage Reduction% on torsos and shields.

Tempered items

If you haven't tried for yourself yet, tempered items are an unused rarity that blizzard never implemented. You can see what they were going for in cubemain.txt. They spawn their name from Rare Prefixes and Suffixes.txt, but don't actually come with any stats. It's perfect for making custom items, as long as you enforce a limit. In my mod, they will specifically break the rules of affixes, allowing stuff such as belts having + skills, but making exactly what you want is incredibly difficult. In order to do this, you will have to repeatedly find the 'Perfect Fossil' item, and a catalyst type item, the equivalent of 2 high runes for each time you do this. You can apply your desired stat 6 times and thats it. Now why did I keep this in? Well besides the rarity, making it time consuming to make a stupid strong belt, you may not want to keep doing it for more item bases because you will have significantly less life, mana, resists, etc. Sure you can have +50 to class skills would be awesome, but now you die as quickly as you kill, assuming you didn't reach the damage cap.

Set Items

When Diablo 2's expansion came out, the designers realized not only did they make many of the base game sets really pathetic, they were obnoxious to aquire. Look at Arctic's set for example. They reliably drop from specific acts, and by the time you finish the set it turns out to be terrible. However, players do use some specific set pieces because they have nice stats by themselves, such as Laying of Hands, or partially completed set pieces to gain set bonuses, such as 2x Angelic Ring + Amulet. When Lord of Destruction came out, they added class sets. Some of these were a success, some were a flop. But for the most part their parts stayed consistent with each other, where as before they were too segregated from one another to be worth using. Having rare set parts is fine, just don't make the Death set again. Please.

What I plan to do is convert all set pieces to exceptional / elite items, and give each one a class only item as a part of the set. In addition, each set will behave similarly to Trang Oul's, where it provides oskills and buffs that provide a new and alternate way to play. Oh and yes, Trang Oul's is getting that vampire form removed, and increased spell damage.

Unique Items

Uniques past 1.10 have fallen out in favor of Runewords due to power creep (and bots). Instead of gimping all runewords, I'm buffing everything else. What I'm doing is having unique have specific interactions with other item types or cube recipes. This lays into the "ooo I'm gonna try and do this now with my new item" or "ooh this would be cool on x build". For example, I'm making a unique ring that you can customize by inserting perfect gems into, up to 8. As well as making an item that gives you so much damage you can no longer use abilities.

You may also want to create some "rulebreaker" items. Such as Twitchthroe, or Andariel's visage. In regards to adding negatives to uniques, be very mindful of how strong your uniques actually are in comparison to other item types. Just slapping on a negative for the sake of it isn't necessarily fun unless it's warranted in your design.

Crafted Items

For these items it's quite simple, I'm keeping a similar design in vanilla where it's a rare with new stats. However I will be adding a blocking stat, preventing it from gaining additional upgrades from cube reagents that are similar to Mystic Orbs in Median. This is because crafted items can be, if you're lucky, objectively better than rares. The blocking stat prevents this.

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Re: Designing engaging items.

Post by Desocupado » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:27 pm

Actually I find D3 design to be better - less wasted time on inventory management.

By tweaking item drops you can remove irrelevant stuff. D2 interesting item features, as you point out, make sense in the context of the ladder.

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