Posted by takua108 (1478 posts) -

So I'm designing a game that's centered around a Diabloesque loot system and having a ton of fun with it:

EDIT: Here's some more from the "actual game:"

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can try downloading it here (Windows only), but it might not work right because of various reasons, most of which are my own fault. Try extracting it and running LootSystem.exe.

(Note that all of the stats and stuff aren't balanced or even really tied to anything at all. They scale by item level, and rarer-colored items get more random attributes, but that's about it for now.)

So yeah, I was wondering what y'all's thoughts were on loot systems, and what you want to see out of them. Many people see Diablo III's loot system as being kind of shitty and unrewarding (unless you use the Auction Houses), but people seem to like Borderlands and Dead Island and Diablo II, right? What would you like to see out of a game that was basically focused on the loot entirely?

I say this because I picked up Diablo III with my friend and wanted to have a great time with it, and did, for like 60 hours, but man, I expected the loot system of a Third Diablo Game to be way more satisfying than it was. So I set out to make the greatest loot system of all time, starting with color-coding, random stats, and funny names. Where do you go from here?

#1 Edited by takua108 (1478 posts) -

So I'm designing a game that's centered around a Diabloesque loot system and having a ton of fun with it:

EDIT: Here's some more from the "actual game:"

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can try downloading it here (Windows only), but it might not work right because of various reasons, most of which are my own fault. Try extracting it and running LootSystem.exe.

(Note that all of the stats and stuff aren't balanced or even really tied to anything at all. They scale by item level, and rarer-colored items get more random attributes, but that's about it for now.)

So yeah, I was wondering what y'all's thoughts were on loot systems, and what you want to see out of them. Many people see Diablo III's loot system as being kind of shitty and unrewarding (unless you use the Auction Houses), but people seem to like Borderlands and Dead Island and Diablo II, right? What would you like to see out of a game that was basically focused on the loot entirely?

I say this because I picked up Diablo III with my friend and wanted to have a great time with it, and did, for like 60 hours, but man, I expected the loot system of a Third Diablo Game to be way more satisfying than it was. So I set out to make the greatest loot system of all time, starting with color-coding, random stats, and funny names. Where do you go from here?

#2 Posted by dudeglove (7684 posts) -

@takua108 said:

Where do you go from here?

Actually making the drops matter. Borderland's loot system was sort of flawed in the sense that as soon as you had a loadout of three specific uniques (that were easy to get a hold of approx level 20), the game was officially over, and - despite the novelty - no amount shotguns that shot rockets would help. Loot systems are an odd beast. You get into this weird zone in, like, D2, where you're just glazing over blues and yellows in the hunt for sets or uniques.

But yes, there's always been an inherent appeal to the silly names.

#3 Posted by garbagewrappedinskin (32 posts) -

I have not been able to get your program working but i am willing to give some unsolicited advice on building a loot system bred from observation and experience.

Designing a successful loot system is complex problem. For games with enemies that scale with the user's character it generally boils down to a number of tracking systems geared to maximizing enjoyment based on player psychology. Loot systems operate on similar fundamentals to slot machines (and the addictive qualities therein). Here are the main goals of a loot system:

1) Entice the user to explore the game systems more

2) Entice the user to continue investing in the core systems

3) Make the user feel like they have a variety of choices in how they tackle the core systems

The entirety of the game's systems must be balanced to achieve these goals. Many of the choices you make in designing how the game works will either positively or negatively affect how successful you are.

The barest minimum 'hook' is a visual change on the user's avatar with new loot. This provides a baseline for goal #2 and is often all that is needed for most non-hardcore users. But even the visual change has to follow a 'addictive drop time scale' to achieve this purpose (which i'll get to later).

The core to any loot system, however, is the scaling of the 'power' of the drops. For the remainder of this, i'll be referring to the drops in terms of weapons, but the principles apply to pretty much anything. To maximize user enjoyment you can not use truly random drops. There are multiple reasons for this, but the main one is that the majority of humans do not actually understand true randomness. Soren Johnson, the lead designer on Civilization 4 explains it best here:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/118450/Analysis_Soren_Johnson_On_Playing_The_Odds.php

Like a slot machine, you are trying to entice the user to continue to invest, and as such, you should be tracking what they are doing/getting and orchestrating the drops to get them to keep playing. For instance, if you are randomizing the stats on weapons, with rare weapons getting a possibility of +/-10 on a base stat, you should track to see how many sub-par or over-par drops their last few have been, and adjust the next one properly. But that's not the only thing you should be tracking; track the way the user plays...what skills they use most frequently, how long they keep playing after getting a rare item, whether they hoard mid-level items or sell them immediately. All of these stats should play into your drop algorithm. Of course, a lot of this is influenced by your game design (party based or single avatar, class based or free form, switchable classes or locked upon choice, enemy scaling or set-by-area, etc.).

A core tenement to loot enjoyment is making the user feel like the newest thing they received is 'awesome'. This is usually tied to the item's aesthetics (including name, color, visual representation, any possible lore behind it, as well as visual/auditory representation it has on enemies) to an extent, but it has more to do with its perceived power. The key is: First impression is everything. If the weapon you are using at present does 10 damage and your newly picked up weapon does 13 damage, it doesn't really seem 'awesome'. Now, if the new weapon does 22 damage, it seems awesome. Of course, looking at it in a vacuum is useless, so lets use a more complex (though still greatly simplified) example:

Let's say your game has 10 dungeons, with enemies in each dungeon having HP of 10x the number of the dungeon (10@ dungeon 1, 20@ dungeon 2, etc.). If the user starts with a weapon that does 5 damage and halfway through dungeon 1, you give them a drop that does 7 damage, it seems mostly irrelevant to the user (enemies still take two hits to kill). If you give them a weapon that does 11 damage, the enemies take only one hit now and the new weapon seems effective. Once they get to dungeon 2, enemies are back to taking 2 hits, so a level of challenge is recovered. If you gave them a piece of loot that did 50 damage, dungeons 2 through 5 become trivial and the loot system is busted.

Of course, with the above example, after a couple of dungeons of that pattern, the use will suss out how the drop system goes and it won't be that satisfying either. Everything will seem very rote. A big key to alleviating this is: To make the user feel powerful, first you must make them feel weak. You don't do this right in the beginning, but you do it fairly early and repeat it at proper intervals. For instance, extending the above example:

Let's say that the user is now on dungeon 2 and they have that weapon that does 11 damage. In dungeon two, you make the enemies have 40HP. Make them struggle for a bit. Track their progress...see how low their health gets, whether/how many times they die and reward them relatively soon with a weapon that does 45 damage. At that point, they feel elated; they're carving through enemies left and right, having a great time. Slowly, you ramp up the enemy HP again, while at the same time, giving them other drops to bring everything else up to match the weapon. Then you start the cycle again.

This would probably be a good time to recommend that you don't do the slow bump too often...this is, again, a psychology thing, but it improves user satisfaction. The slow bump is giving weapons that are +1 or +3 to what the user already has right after they get something big. A lot of users get attached to certain weapons (almost an emotional reaction), and eroding the mind share of that weapon's status hurts overall satisfaction. For instance...let's say you just got that 45 damage weapon...5 minutes later, you get a 47 damage weapon. Then 13 minutes later, you get a 48 damage weapon....at that point, that huge jump that you saw from 11 to 45 seems meaningless. Like, if you didn't get that SUPER RARE DROP, you would have gotten one of these others anyway. Actually, it's even worse when you get a bunch of gear that's slightly below what you just got. The user feels cheated out of what they think would be the good feeling of getting a 38, then 39, then 45. You are better off dropping damage 22, 19, 27...it demonstrates to the user that they got something awesome.

So when do you use the slow bump? At the tail end of of the drop curve, right before the big spike. They are the "hope givers". When the user is struggling through 40HP enemies with an 11 damage weapon, offer them an olive branch of 14, 12, 17, 16, 12, 18 weapons to keep them going (especially if they are just struggling through the enemies but not dying a lot. Again: TRACKING. Give them a sense of accomplishment, but do not overly frustrate them). Think of these drops like slot machine payouts of $5 and $25 to keep the user plugging in quarters before that $1000 jackpot.

There are a couple of other fun tricks to keep the user invested (namely, by keeping things surprising)...additional purely random drops and random power enemies. The purely random drops are just that...incredibly powerful weapons that drop on a purely random basis, outside of your drop algorithms. Basically, it's good to let the user break your game a little bit (just a little) every once in a while. It helps in making them feel less like they're being jerked around by the designer. If you can put some sort of limitations on these pure random drops (since you don't know when they are going to come). You can use limitations like: make the weapon break after a certain number of uses; make it so the weapon can't be equipped until a certain level (though this opens up a whole other can of worms); make it so it's only super powerful against ELEMENT X type enemies; and so on.

Random power enemies are just special, super hard enemies with adequate rewards attached to defeating them. In a well designed system, they offer proper exit strategies (the ability to run away) or ample warnings before attacking. No one likes getting slaughtered out of nowhere for no apparent reason. But they are good for keeping users on their toes and giving an optional challenge to a user soon after they hit the new-loot spike in confidence.

Damn, this has gone on so long and there is still so much more to talk about: creating variance in play style by loot drop types; the problems with monster level scaling; the problems with overly scripted drop algorithms; maximizing enjoyment through additional weapon attributes; properly linking visual representation to power level; what to track, when to track it, and when to ignore it; open world vs. linear levels and how it affects loot drops; the problems with gear prerequisites; dealing with multiple players; locked in classes vs. switchable classes vs. class-by-gear; and more.

Anyway, this is likely way more than you wanted to read, but hey, if you want more, i'd be willing to share. Hell, if you've made it this far maybe you do. If not, just tell me to get the hell off your blog.

#4 Edited by D_W (1111 posts) -

Honestly, I think loot is one of the worst designs plaguing video games right now. Tiered equipment in general rarely creates an interesting game mechanic unless there are useful and interesting sidegrades and/or branching upgrades (ie like Dark Cloud or Dark Souls).  Loot based games seem to very easily fall into the terrible loop of "Gotta get better loot so I can fight stronger stuff, so I can get better loot..." and that's just not good game design. Loot systems can very easily become a dreaded Skinner Box, which if you have any sort of ethic you will want to avoid doing. Then like dudeglove mentioned, players will eventually get into a pattern where they're just passing up drops because their not rare enough and don't sell for enough.  
Out of all the modern loot based games that I've played (which aren't many) I think Dungeon Defenders seems to do it the best. Though their system is far from prefect. In their system finding equipment with stats you like then upgrading those stats is how it goes. Unfortunately upgrading is really expensive, selling even fully upgraded items is no where near how much you'll put into them, and there is no way to transfer stats from one item to another (unless they've changed that). The major issue is that once you reach the level cap, the game becomes just a grind to get more money to upgrade your equipment so you can get money quicker to upgrade your... and well you see where I'm going with this.
 
I think to design a good loot system you have first know what the role of equipment will be in the game. Will equipment be the main source of stat boosts for the character (ie the most common practice) or will they be more temporary? How will you entice players to pick up loot? Will there be any sort of upgrading or crafting involved? What role does item rarity really play? Will the equipment have durability thereby requiring players to frequently change out gear? How will the computer decide what drops? How will it determine what will be useful for a player and what won't?  And most importantly. How will the loot system enforce the narrative? As in, how does loot make sense in the world the game's story exists in? Does that even matter at all for what you're trying to do? (spoilers, Unless it's purely competitive, then yes it does.)
These are quest you have to ask yourself while designing. 
 
Personally I think loot systems aren't done well at all in games. Like most RPG system, loot evolved out of table top rpgs where they work because there is that human DM that can dole out equipment with some sense. You don't really get that with video game loot systems so much. Often times a player is getting tons of loot (most of it useless) and then the player has to sit there deciding what will and won't be helpful. Even with quick compares, quick sells, and such it doesn't really fix the problem with loot systems. I think a good loot system would have a low or no drop rate (aka it would have to found in chests or given to the player by an event or npc), randomized stats and effects that favors a character's build,  and makes sense in fiction.
 
All of that said, I approve of your silly names.

#5 Edited by takua108 (1478 posts) -

Holy walls of text, Batman, this is way more in-depth discussion than I expected, but in a good way! And here I was concerned that this post would get buried.

Let me start off by pitching my game idea to you, just so you know exactly where I'm coming from with my particular game:

Overview
Loot Shop is a video game. It has elements of a dungeon-crawling hack-and-slasher (think Diablo), an item shop simulator (Recettear), and a management sim. Those last two may sound boring, but: COLORED LOOT!

Story

Everything was good in the world of Acquesitia. Adventurers' endless appetites for acquiring newer and better loot from killing evil creatures ensured that the forces of evil would always be kept at bay.

Then, one day, the Real Money Auction House was established, and everything went to hell. Adventurers could now buy and sell items with their endless supplies of mythical Real Currency, causing the established gold standard to bottom out. After awhile, adventurers stopped using gold to trade items altogether, preferring to deal solely with Real Currency.

While the adventurers of the world traded items and Real Currency back and forth, the forces of evil, no longer being farmed for their loot, rose to power for the first time in milennia. They began to terrorize the civilizations of Acquesitia, and the adventurers, no longer equipped to fight, found themselves unable to fight back.

You are Stebbins, a grizzled old adventurer who was all set to have an easy retirement as an item vendor (as is often the case for aged heroes), but then all this happened. First, vendors were rendered obsolete because of Real Currency, and then the forces of evil rose to power and started terrorizing everyone.

Despite being Too Old For This Shit, Stebbins sets out to right the wrongs of the world, the only way he knows: capitalism.

Basically, it's going to be Recettear but with Diablo-style loot and with added and expanded mechanics for managing multiple heroes and their gear and stuff. (For example, once you get heroes up to a certain level, you can send them off to fetch loot on their own [but it's less effective than if you were to "go along with them"].) There's more to it than that, but that's the basic idea. You can read some of our incredibly rough ideas on our github page if you're interested. (I'm just starting to get into the actual game part of it; I've had too much fun making a loot generator [mostly because of the silly names].)

Because the game is at some level just an elaborate way for my friends and I to poke fun at Diablo III for being less awesome than we'd hoped, the loot will be Diabloeque in nature, although I agree with you,

was talking about not being possible. I think it's possible, but extremely difficult to get right (and, of course, nothing beats a knowledgeable human DM). Unfortunately I don't think I'm anywhere near good enough or have near enough time to create a deep system like that, but man... it gets you thinking about how awesome/evil games could be, doesn't it?

One more idea I've been kicking around and I'm getting close to being able to actually implement is the idea of making those silly prefixes and postfixes actually affect the weapons. Like how in the Diablo games, an "x of the Boar" would have y properties, etc. I had to learn how to make straight-up Windows programs last night, something I've never done before, just to make an editor so I can have a sort of database of "Modifiers" that I can easily edit at will. Right now, Modifiers are only "good" or "bad" (the former for better-colored loot and the latter purely for garbage grays), but soon I'll be making the system work in a way that, for example, lets me make an "x of Cannibalism" have life-stealing, etc.

You have no idea how long it took to make this work

But yeah, keep the discussion coming, I love reading and thinking about stuff like this, even if it doesn't apply to my game ideas directly. I don't know about anyone else, but at least for me, Diablo III shined a bright light on loot systems and how they don't always work as awesomely as they should, and any talk that generates ideas as to how to improve them is awesome.

(Also, I tried uploading a hopefully-better-working version of my console loot tester thing. Hopefully it works!)

#6 Posted by garbagewrappedinskin (32 posts) -

Actually, most loot system games actually follow the guidelines i listed, to some extent. Diablo does, it's just that they have so many more variables to take into account: mainly competitive multiplayer and the auction house. Those two factors alone force a flatter drop rate graph to maintain a time investment == success formula.

You may not even realize it but almost all games track user actions and adjust to them. Half Life 2's ammo/crate drops are generated at player exposure based on what is coming up, present ammo, and user fail rate. One of the best 'loot' drop systems i've encountered was actually Dead Space's item drop system. It flows on an algorithm based on your most used weapon, carried ammo counts, weapons carried, weapons available, player play style, and fail rate. It cleverly drops one or two ammo drops for weapons you have but are not carrying to entice you to try them out. It also gives you a single ammo package for a weapon you are about to get the schematic of to signal the user to realize something is worth searching for. All of this is juggled with a scarcity algorithm to maintain a level of intensity necessary for that game's thematic elements. It can be broken by storing ammo in the shop at appropriate intervals (and i don't think they tuned the Ripper weapon properly for ammo drops), but it's skillfully done nonetheless.

As for your particular loot system, due to the nature of your game, the loot is closer to a currency system than a traditional loot system. You're going to run into some pretty massive scope-creep if you want to actually implement a proper loot system, as it encompasses proper dungeon, enemy and enemy encounter design.

Good luck though.

#7 Posted by D_W (1111 posts) -

heh. I never said it was impossible. It's just uncommon. @garbagewrappedinskin gave some great examples of how developers have tracked players "builds" (as it were). 
 
Anyway I love the idea of making a Recetear like game with a Diablo styled loot mechanic. 

With the way your game is going to be structured having some sort of crafting system would make sense. As for suggestions. You may want to nick the crafting system from Parasite Eve. In it, your equipment has 3 stats (Damage, Range, and Bullets for a gun) and then some passive attributes (things like rate of fire, crit chance up, etc). Each piece of equipment has base stats, but also sometimes has "plus" stats. This plus stats (ranging from 0 to 3) and attributes can be transferred over to other equipment using an item called a tool or a super tool. What's interesting is that when using a tool, the original item is destroyed. Meaning that a player must choose to transfer the plus stats (all of them) or a single attribute. What this system does is make any type of equipment a player find useful eventually if not immediately. Now it does get a bit more complex than that (with limited inventory and limited slots for attributes, etc), but that's the basic idea. 
 
A system like that could be adapted to a game like the one you're making fairly easily. In fact it could make it incredibly interesting with the addition of stat penalties and negative attributes (something that Parasite Eve didn't do much of). You could do things like have Mid tier or even High Tier loot have some negative attributes that can be neutralized with positive ones found in Low Tier or even junk loot. You could have things like a yellow that has -2 to strength but have a couple of gray loot that has +1 to strength. The main thing of any game is to reward skill, and skill in most rpgs is understanding how to use the systems to your advantage. I think a system like this would make a Recetear-like game a lot of fun. 
 
You'd need a way to manage the amount of times a player could craft to prevent them from to easily abusing the system. This is where tier loot could actually be a benefit. Say crafting a gray costs 1 MP, whites cost 2, etc, and the players have a set amount of daily MP that increases with level or by size of shop. With something like this you could see players crafting away any truly useful loot until out of MP, then selling the rest. OR selling the good loot to bring in more adventures,  crafting the low loot into the great loot to make it even better, then giving that to their main adventure. 
 
 Also, this would allow you to add some more neutral prefixes and suffixes to items. Here's some examples:
"Wonky" - some small benefits and small negatives. 
"Unbalanced" - large positive but many negatives. 
"Stubborn" - maybe decent defensive bonus but negatives to offense. 

#8 Posted by garbagewrappedinskin (32 posts) -

The more i think about it, the more i'm coming to the realization that Diablo 3 is already your Recettear+Diablo game, only exclusively multiplayer.

Think about it: at high levels, the majority of the gear that drops is meaningless garbage, suitable only for selling off to get more money to buy better gear in the auction house. Users have been complaining that the drop rates for useful gear are so low, that it just becomes farming for gold by grinding through dungeons. The common phrasing is that they are "playing auction house rather than playing Diablo". Every once in a while, a great legendary drop occurs, and the user must weigh the consequence of either keeping it and using it or selling it in the auction house for a high price in the possibility of finding someone at a later date selling a piece of gear for less than its proper value. The thrill of capitalism.

That is your game.

Diablo 3 is your game, only instead of trying to suss out the algorithms in the townspeople coming to buy your wares, in Diablo 3 the user must actually outsmart/barter/capitalize actual living, thinking people. Basically, your game is the like the single player version of Battlefield to Diablo 3's multiplayer version of Battlefield. Not that that's a bad thing.

As for crafting systems, I personally think the majority of them are bad game design. They tend to devolve into forcing the player to pick up three or four randomized drops (that are useless on their own) in order to build something they actually want. It's mostly used to artificially lengthen a game. @D_W 's suggestion of Parasite Eve's crafting system is a good example of solid game design. But even it has issues. I know accessibility is a bad word, but wildly complex systems are the easiest to break and the first ones that get users running for a FAQ. In the end, someone will spreadsheet your game and at that point, almost everyone will ignore the variance and viability you tried to build into your crafting system. I guess what i'm saying is: if you're going to do a crafting system, you have to go all the way with testing, balancing, restricting, more testing and more balancing. It's an awful lot of work for very little (in my opinion) reward. Work better put elsewhere.

#9 Posted by Murdouken (709 posts) -

This is probably not what you are looking for, but honestly, loot that just affects stats is not fun loot. The way loot in these types of games needs to move is in the direction of Binding of Isaac/Spelunky/Brogue where an item will directly affect the mechanics of the game rather than just making your numbers go higher.

#10 Posted by takua108 (1478 posts) -

@garbagewrappedinskin: Mind = blown

#11 Posted by Veektarius (4541 posts) -

Here's my beef with most loot-driven games - the stats that are being affected are all part of calculations that are occurring behind the curtain. This diminishes the fun in any sort of experimentation, as you are talking about altering outcomes by a few percentage points - margins that generally would not create observable change in a small number of trials. Agility, Strength, Intelligence, I'm looking at you.

A better model is the one in Borderlands, where the guns differ in things like clip size, type of scope, firing rate, things where at the end of the day, there isn't a right answer, there's just a right answer for you. There's no armor equipping in Borderlands, and the reason probably has less to do with the setting and more to do with the fact that armor stats are boring. The shield device has several interesting variants that operate in easily observable ways. Switching from one type to another can alter gameplay style dramatically.

But then, I would also take Mass Effect 3 over Borderlands, where there is *no* randomized loot but rather a set of very diverse guns that are each actually tuned to be useful to a particular playstyle. Loot can still serve as an incentive without being randomized, if it is distributed regularly enough for players to expect it.

#12 Posted by tourgen (4427 posts) -

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but are you familiar with ProgressQuest? The source code (Delphi) has been released. There is also a HTML/Javascript version you can play with and look at the source. There is some good stuff in there.

https://bitbucket.org/grumdrig/pq

#13 Edited by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@Veektarius: I disagree, not all random loot based games deal in tiny improvements. Whenever I find a better thing in Diablo, it's either me playing with different builds (Strength vs Dex or whatever) or me getting something that is wayyyy better than what I had before. Some games certainly have a lot of tiny upgrades, but all you have to do is just not bother until you find something awesome. I love the Borderlands style, but it's a lot harder to achieve that in a game like Diablo without making the items effect stuff like skills/spells. I also think that it's a matter of taste, because the loot system in Mass Effect 3 is SO different, it's almost not a loot system. I get being burned by irregular upgrades coming along, but when a loot system is done well, you get new cool stuff often enough to be satisfied but not so often that upgrades are meaningless. Diablo, for me, does a great job of that, not constantly giving me something a little better, but pretty regularly giving me something very useful.

@dudeglove: I played Borderlands by just constantly switching up the types of guns I wanted to play with, and as a result, loved the loot system. It was so easy to respec to make use of different weapons if needed or switch up your strategies. I think the system was flawed, to be sure, but a big part of that was stuff like rockets being totally fuckin useless. But level 20 was not at all the point were things stopped being interesting, that is ridiculous. Maybe if you just stuck to a very particular set of weapon types it would suck, but that is not the way to enjoy a game like Borderlands. Just pick shit up that is good and shoot things with that shit. Because it's fun, and almost everything in that game feels good, from sniping to shotgunning to pistoling.

#14 Posted by Dixavd (1293 posts) -

Here's how I would go about a Diablo-like loot system. I would basically take my favourite parts of the item/equipment system of Final Fantasy X and re-construct it in Diablo (seriously, I highly reccommend people play FFX from a purely mechanical perspective and see how I uses its item system to good use). These are the parts I would bring in:

  • I would add in the Customizable amour/weapon functionality. I would give every piece of equipment a set number of slots (unlike FFX I would keep these separate from their base stats in a diablo-like) which could add stat buffs, passive abilities and others which allow the user to use specific abilities. Most equipment would have pre-set ones but some would also have free slots which can be customized by the player.
  • To customize them I would put in a system of being able to turn other equipment into these buffs to be added* (maybe being able to break down weapons into crystals relative to the type of buffs it already has on it and the colour/tier of the weapon - then using combinations of these crystals or just set amounts of them to use up to add set things to free slots on equipment). This way even low-tier weaker equipment drops wouldn't be wasted/ignored by the player as they would still have worth (maybe making it so that the lowest tier weapon crystals require X number to make a buff while the next tier might require less so breaking down better weapons could get better crystals but a load of lower-tier weapons still have collective value).
  • I would add in FFX's naming system to the equation too - however I wouldn't do it relative to groups of items but rather set terms for buffs. Such as maybe starting with a katana and then adding +10 strength to it mights name it "Brute's Katana" or if it was +20 strength then "Maraudering Katana" or if it had two slots filled, one with +10 strength and the other with +20 Strength, then it might be called "Brute's Maraudering Katana" and possibly if the player added the ability to leach 2% of damage they deal as health to heal them then it could be called "Brute's Maraundering Katana of the Vampire".
  • I would also add a system of how pre-set equipment would balance against weapons the players could make by having pre-set equipment have slightly higher base stats but the customizable ones obviously have the versatility of going straight for that players needs.
  • While I like FFX's implimentation of weapon's changing as their name changes (which is a by product of filling slots) I wouldn't do that, instead I would focus it so that one of the reasons people go searching for loot is to specifically find ones which look better as they can customize it to make it work if they have to (I would sort of randomize this part so that you don't find players wanting to use a specific weapon-look but it is generally low-tier so its stats can't keep up late game - I would likely have limits though so looks can only appear from certain tiers onwards: e.g. Look X can appear in Tier 1, 2, 3 ect... but Look Y may only appear from Tier 2 equipment onwards so a Tier 1 equipment can never have Look Y but Tiers 2 and up can look like Y or X)
  • I also would keep FFX's very generous item capacity and menu categorisation - I would do it by allowing people to hold many of a set item (likely up to 99 like in FFX). I would then set them out not only in the "recently aquired" or "highest values" list that most loot games would but I would also have a page where each of these wapons have little folders set by Tier and weapon look/type (i.e all Tier 1 Katanas will be in a folder together, all Tier 2 Katana's in another, all Tier 1 Dagger's in another, all Tier 2 Dagger's in their own too). I would allow the player to either trash/sell/break-up an entire folder of one kind of item (maybe they don't use hammers so they simply break up all of them) or they can open up the folder to a page of just them to then highlight and select individual ones (or everything and then unticking specific ones you want to leave). This way the player never feels bad about picking up a "trash" item (so one they will either sell or break down) as it won't stop them from holding good items later as well as not making their entire list of aquired weapon/armours convoluted and hard to find things.

Anyway, I think that is enough before I go too in depth and go into how I would actually calculate what crystals weapons turn into and get pretty specific in the exact way that I would set out the menu system but I think that is a good outline of the way I would do it. I really think taking that system from Final Fantasy X and moving it to a loot-focused game could really work and while I don't play those kinds of games often I felt like weighing in my ideas from sort of a very out-of-genre perspective might at least be interesting to those making or thinking of making a game in the loot-focused genre.

I would also be interested to see what the opinions of those who like loot-drop games would be of my system (especially since it takes the progression of a character's equipment to not just be from lucky-good drops but instead from the player actively going in and customizing it - it also turns quite a lot of the late-game "I need to find the weapon" into a reference to the look of the weapon rather than its basic stats. Would it also like or hate the idea that the crazy named equipment could be affected by the player from what they put onto the weapon rather than simply the random chance of it dropping with that name?

*[Replacing the part in FFX of turning items into slots - but equipment would make more sense in a diablo-like and they will appear frequently enough for it to be viable]

#15 Posted by Jimbo (9769 posts) -

More loot, less drops. Never ever make me feel like I'm litter picking.

#16 Posted by VierasTalo (651 posts) -

What's a necklass? Is it like a teenage girl who hangs from your neck? Or does the girl have a neck fetish?

#17 Posted by Veektarius (4541 posts) -

@MordeaniisChaos: What I take issue with is less the size of the improvements and more the nature of how they affect the gameplay. Whatever your gear is in Diablo, there's something way better; that's true. But to really determine the effects (and this applies for a game like WoW too, where most good loot isn't randomized) you need a calculator to determine the DPS increase, resistance increase, etc. It has no direct impact on the way the game plays, which is what Borderlands does.

The ME3 comment was just me saying, you know what? I don't even like randomized loot. I just like GOOD loot. Loot that makes me make choices. Where I can go into a training range and need to take a few swipes or shots to figure out what I like best, not because the numbers I need to do DPS calculations are hidden, but because the difference is a matter of taste. I suppose in multiplayer games that are concerned about balance and in games that are supposed to be 'endless' like Diablo, this isn't a great system. But there are plenty of games in Diablo's genre that take multiplayer less seriously, and for most people, those games *aren't* endless. 1-3 playthroughs is all they get, and I bet if you used all your loot system resources on just making those non-random, meaningful item pick-ups as good and as varied as possible, you could populate two playthroughs-worth right there.

#18 Posted by dudeglove (7684 posts) -

@MordeaniisChaos said:

@dudeglove: I played Borderlands by just constantly switching up the types of guns I wanted to play with, and as a result, loved the loot system. It was so easy to respec to make use of different weapons if needed or switch up your strategies. I think the system was flawed, to be sure, but a big part of that was stuff like rockets being totally fuckin useless. But level 20 was not at all the point were things stopped being interesting, that is ridiculous. Maybe if you just stuck to a very particular set of weapon types it would suck, but that is not the way to enjoy a game like Borderlands. Just pick shit up that is good and shoot things with that shit. Because it's fun, and almost everything in that game feels good, from sniping to shotgunning to pistoling.

Oh I had no problems with the game (quite enjoyable actually), I should elaborate that the three extremely common unique weapons I'm referring to (that can be bought from the vendors no less) - Hellfire SMG (fire element), Defiler Pistol (poison), Orion Sniper Rifle (bzzt zap) - will literally take down any enemy (Orion for Crawmerax is insanely useful, other two guns for his buddies) and all three become accessible to the player around level 16-20-ish i.e. potentially before you leave the first area. From thereon in you'll find more powerful versions, but ultimately the only difference is having to spend more bullets to kill something quicker. The fourth slot is the comedy/rocket launcher slot, though I do recommend the Vicious Crux (sp?) shotgun, which is about the only gun I know that tears a hole through that Mothrakk fucker who is annoyingly difficult to shoot.

@Murdouken said:

The way loot in these types of games needs to move is in the direction of Binding of Isaac/Spelunky/Brogue where an item will directly affect the mechanics of the game rather than just making your numbers go higher.

This couldn't be more true about D2. Read up on any character build FAQs and you'll see that the most sought-after gear always includes some item that grants a certain ability (usually teleport or some aura of sorts) the class doesn't have, while a +20 SOJ is merely secondary. It's also one reason why I've sunk so many hours into Isaac, because getting that combination of Technology 2 and Mom's Contacts is so cathartic.

#19 Posted by takua108 (1478 posts) -

@Jimbo said:

More loot, less drops. Never ever make me feel like I'm litter picking.

If you're saying what I think you're saying, I agree with you completely; the worst thing about Diablo, for me, is when you get a lootsplosion and most of it is garbage, because if you're like me, you instinctively want to pick up everything. Any ideas on how to make this better? I'm making the garbage loot have funny generated names ("Why Would You Even Equip This Longsword of Shame," "Uncomfortably Moist Gloves Of Hey Fuck You"), but... should they, like, sink into the ground after awhile, or otherwise disappear? I'm pretty sure you need the garbage to create contrast with the good loot, though.

@VierasTalo said:

What's a necklass? Is it like a teenage girl who hangs from your neck? Or does the girl have a neck fetish?

Yes.

@Dixavd: You've interested me, I'll definitely do what I can to check out FFX

#20 Edited by Loafsmooch (280 posts) -

Just wanted to say, this thread and these very informative posts has helped me to better understand that feeling I get in the back of my head when playing MMO's or D3.. I always feel cheated somehow.. led like a sheep or something.

#21 Posted by ajamafalous (11823 posts) -
@dudeglove said:

@Murdouken said:

The way loot in these types of games needs to move is in the direction of Binding of Isaac/Spelunky/Brogue where an item will directly affect the mechanics of the game rather than just making your numbers go higher.

This couldn't be more true about D2. Read up on any character build FAQs and you'll see that the most sought-after gear always includes some item that grants a certain ability (usually teleport or some aura of sorts) the class doesn't have, while a +20 SOJ is merely secondary.

Basically, follow this advice. D2's itemization is miles ahead of D3's because of items that actually provide unique mechanics, like an Enigma (teleport) or a Wolfhowl (Barb can use Druid's werewolf shapeshift). D3's itemization is literally a simplified version of WoW's ("Oh boy, this upgrade has 30 more Strength and 20 more Vitality. Glad I spent 20 hours grinding for that."), and that's where it fails as a purely loot-driven game.
#22 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

They just moved that over to spells, and instead of making it random and require you to put a hell of a lot of effort in for farming and knowing what you needed to go for. Diablo 3 has all of that, it's just in the rune system instead of the loot system. Which is more interesting to me because it can have much more unique effects on each class. Don't turn this into another bullshit "dumbed down" fuck fest because people are two dimwitted to see when things were moved around and/or added, not just blatantly removed.

#23 Posted by ajamafalous (11823 posts) -
@MordeaniisChaos said:

@ajamafalous They just moved that over to spells, and instead of making it random and require you to put a hell of a lot of effort in for farming and knowing what you needed to go for. Diablo 3 has all of that, it's just in the rune system instead of the loot system. Which is more interesting to me because it can have much more unique effects on each class. Don't turn this into another bullshit "dumbed down" fuck fest because people are two dimwitted to see when things were moved around and/or added, not just blatantly removed.

How far are you, just out of curiosity? 
 
 
There is nothing unique about "My spell now procs 15% more often" or "My spell shoots three projectiles instead of one." Additionally, the skill/rune system is even stupider when coupled with Nephalem Valor. "Our game has 2 trillion possible skill combinations; there's so much variety! You can mix and match to help you tackle any situation!" Except that I'm forced to use the same six skills and runes for the entirety of my playtime if I want to farm. Seriously, it's incredibly evident where and how they messed up. If you enjoy the game, that's fine, by all means, keep enjoying it; nothing against you. Pretending the game isn't without many, many faults, however, is laughable at best.
#24 Posted by ch3burashka (4996 posts) -

Focus on making a good game rather than coming up with funny names.

#25 Posted by KillyDarko (1888 posts) -

Recettear with Diablo-style loot? Consider me interested-- I shall be following your game from now on :)
Best of luck, duder!

#26 Posted by shadowdrone (69 posts) -

@ajamafalous said:

@dudeglove said:

@Murdouken said:

The way loot in these types of games needs to move is in the direction of Binding of Isaac/Spelunky/Brogue where an item will directly affect the mechanics of the game rather than just making your numbers go higher.

This couldn't be more true about D2. Read up on any character build FAQs and you'll see that the most sought-after gear always includes some item that grants a certain ability (usually teleport or some aura of sorts) the class doesn't have, while a +20 SOJ is merely secondary.

Basically, follow this advice. D2's itemization is miles ahead of D3's because of items that actually provide unique mechanics, like an Enigma (teleport) or a Wolfhowl (Barb can use Druid's werewolf shapeshift). D3's itemization is literally a simplified version of WoW's ("Oh boy, this upgrade has 30 more Strength and 20 more Vitality. Glad I spent 20 hours grinding for that."), and that's where it fails as a purely loot-driven game.

This. Also I think the large number of set and unique items that had specific stats is not to be ignored. Each of them were designed with a certain strength in mind, and so, they were always "good" for some particular thing you may want as a player. Different items for different uses. Even normal uniques had uses; Frostburns for instance gave you %40 more mana, that was on top of whatever mana you had. That made the item useful even to high-level characters. The Sigon set had alot of pieces that were strong for leveling characters. Lot's of set's and uniques that certain classes looked out for because they were designed FOR them, and in interesting ways. They were more common than a godly rare, yeah, but they were still rare enough that finding one that you were actually looking for was a joy. None of this homogenized look-for-an-item-that-has-more-of-my-stat BS.

#27 Edited by makari (594 posts) -

@takua108 said:

@Jimbo said:

More loot, less drops. Never ever make me feel like I'm litter picking.

If you're saying what I think you're saying, I agree with you completely; the worst thing about Diablo, for me, is when you get a lootsplosion and most of it is garbage, because if you're like me, you instinctively want to pick up everything. Any ideas on how to make this better? I'm making the garbage loot have funny generated names ("Why Would You Even Equip This Longsword of Shame," "Uncomfortably Moist Gloves Of Hey Fuck You"), but... should they, like, sink into the ground after awhile, or otherwise disappear? I'm pretty sure you need the garbage to create contrast with the good loot, though.

@VierasTalo said:

What's a necklass? Is it like a teenage girl who hangs from your neck? Or does the girl have a neck fetish?

Yes.

@Dixavd: You've interested me, I'll definitely do what I can to check out FFX

If everything was useful then there's no point in having a tiered, colour-coded, diablo-style loot system. If you want all your drops to mean something you would be better served giving specific monsters specific items with very specific advantages/disadvantages or tie very specific items to the base mechanics of the game rather than just being stat-boosters. The point of the diablo-style fountains of loot is that you wade through tons of trash to make that rare perfect-stat drop all the more amazing if/when it finally drops. In fact, it is a much better thing to have mountains of trash with low returns on good items than small amounts of trash with high returns on good items because, psychologically, they stand out a whole lot more and feel a lot more important. It's why games like WoW still have loot tables and don't give you specific items. You are hunting for good loot, and maybe you get that piece you need or maybe you agonize for months until it finally drops in a 'fuck yeah, finally!' moment. This turns off some people because they want everything to be for them, be useful, and right now, but there are better ways at handling loot than a diablo-style system if you want to cater to those people.

#28 Edited by jozzy (2041 posts) -

@garbagewrappedinskin said:

I have not been able to get your program working but i am willing to give some unsolicited advice on building a loot system bred from observation and experience.

Designing a successful loot system is complex problem. For games with enemies that scale with the user's character it generally boils down to a number of tracking systems geared to maximizing enjoyment based on player psychology. Loot systems operate on similar fundamentals to slot machines (and the addictive qualities therein). Here are the main goals of a loot system:

1) Entice the user to explore the game systems more

2) Entice the user to continue investing in the core systems

3) Make the user feel like they have a variety of choices in how they tackle the core systems

The entirety of the game's systems must be balanced to achieve these goals. Many of the choices you make in designing how the game works will either positively or negatively affect how successful you are.

The barest minimum 'hook' is a visual change on the user's avatar with new loot. This provides a baseline for goal #2 and is often all that is needed for most non-hardcore users. But even the visual change has to follow a 'addictive drop time scale' to achieve this purpose (which i'll get to later).

The core to any loot system, however, is the scaling of the 'power' of the drops. For the remainder of this, i'll be referring to the drops in terms of weapons, but the principles apply to pretty much anything. To maximize user enjoyment you can not use truly random drops. There are multiple reasons for this, but the main one is that the majority of humans do not actually understand true randomness. Soren Johnson, the lead designer on Civilization 4 explains it best here:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/118450/Analysis_Soren_Johnson_On_Playing_The_Odds.php

Like a slot machine, you are trying to entice the user to continue to invest, and as such, you should be tracking what they are doing/getting and orchestrating the drops to get them to keep playing. For instance, if you are randomizing the stats on weapons, with rare weapons getting a possibility of +/-10 on a base stat, you should track to see how many sub-par or over-par drops their last few have been, and adjust the next one properly. But that's not the only thing you should be tracking; track the way the user plays...what skills they use most frequently, how long they keep playing after getting a rare item, whether they hoard mid-level items or sell them immediately. All of these stats should play into your drop algorithm. Of course, a lot of this is influenced by your game design (party based or single avatar, class based or free form, switchable classes or locked upon choice, enemy scaling or set-by-area, etc.).

A core tenement to loot enjoyment is making the user feel like the newest thing they received is 'awesome'. This is usually tied to the item's aesthetics (including name, color, visual representation, any possible lore behind it, as well as visual/auditory representation it has on enemies) to an extent, but it has more to do with its perceived power. The key is: First impression is everything. If the weapon you are using at present does 10 damage and your newly picked up weapon does 13 damage, it doesn't really seem 'awesome'. Now, if the new weapon does 22 damage, it seems awesome. Of course, looking at it in a vacuum is useless, so lets use a more complex (though still greatly simplified) example:

Let's say your game has 10 dungeons, with enemies in each dungeon having HP of 10x the number of the dungeon (10@ dungeon 1, 20@ dungeon 2, etc.). If the user starts with a weapon that does 5 damage and halfway through dungeon 1, you give them a drop that does 7 damage, it seems mostly irrelevant to the user (enemies still take two hits to kill). If you give them a weapon that does 11 damage, the enemies take only one hit now and the new weapon seems effective. Once they get to dungeon 2, enemies are back to taking 2 hits, so a level of challenge is recovered. If you gave them a piece of loot that did 50 damage, dungeons 2 through 5 become trivial and the loot system is busted.

Of course, with the above example, after a couple of dungeons of that pattern, the use will suss out how the drop system goes and it won't be that satisfying either. Everything will seem very rote. A big key to alleviating this is: To make the user feel powerful, first you must make them feel weak. You don't do this right in the beginning, but you do it fairly early and repeat it at proper intervals. For instance, extending the above example:

Let's say that the user is now on dungeon 2 and they have that weapon that does 11 damage. In dungeon two, you make the enemies have 40HP. Make them struggle for a bit. Track their progress...see how low their health gets, whether/how many times they die and reward them relatively soon with a weapon that does 45 damage. At that point, they feel elated; they're carving through enemies left and right, having a great time. Slowly, you ramp up the enemy HP again, while at the same time, giving them other drops to bring everything else up to match the weapon. Then you start the cycle again.

This would probably be a good time to recommend that you don't do the slow bump too often...this is, again, a psychology thing, but it improves user satisfaction. The slow bump is giving weapons that are +1 or +3 to what the user already has right after they get something big. A lot of users get attached to certain weapons (almost an emotional reaction), and eroding the mind share of that weapon's status hurts overall satisfaction. For instance...let's say you just got that 45 damage weapon...5 minutes later, you get a 47 damage weapon. Then 13 minutes later, you get a 48 damage weapon....at that point, that huge jump that you saw from 11 to 45 seems meaningless. Like, if you didn't get that SUPER RARE DROP, you would have gotten one of these others anyway. Actually, it's even worse when you get a bunch of gear that's slightly below what you just got. The user feels cheated out of what they think would be the good feeling of getting a 38, then 39, then 45. You are better off dropping damage 22, 19, 27...it demonstrates to the user that they got something awesome.

So when do you use the slow bump? At the tail end of of the drop curve, right before the big spike. They are the "hope givers". When the user is struggling through 40HP enemies with an 11 damage weapon, offer them an olive branch of 14, 12, 17, 16, 12, 18 weapons to keep them going (especially if they are just struggling through the enemies but not dying a lot. Again: TRACKING. Give them a sense of accomplishment, but do not overly frustrate them). Think of these drops like slot machine payouts of $5 and $25 to keep the user plugging in quarters before that $1000 jackpot.

There are a couple of other fun tricks to keep the user invested (namely, by keeping things surprising)...additional purely random drops and random power enemies. The purely random drops are just that...incredibly powerful weapons that drop on a purely random basis, outside of your drop algorithms. Basically, it's good to let the user break your game a little bit (just a little) every once in a while. It helps in making them feel less like they're being jerked around by the designer. If you can put some sort of limitations on these pure random drops (since you don't know when they are going to come). You can use limitations like: make the weapon break after a certain number of uses; make it so the weapon can't be equipped until a certain level (though this opens up a whole other can of worms); make it so it's only super powerful against ELEMENT X type enemies; and so on.

Random power enemies are just special, super hard enemies with adequate rewards attached to defeating them. In a well designed system, they offer proper exit strategies (the ability to run away) or ample warnings before attacking. No one likes getting slaughtered out of nowhere for no apparent reason. But they are good for keeping users on their toes and giving an optional challenge to a user soon after they hit the new-loot spike in confidence.

Damn, this has gone on so long and there is still so much more to talk about: creating variance in play style by loot drop types; the problems with monster level scaling; the problems with overly scripted drop algorithms; maximizing enjoyment through additional weapon attributes; properly linking visual representation to power level; what to track, when to track it, and when to ignore it; open world vs. linear levels and how it affects loot drops; the problems with gear prerequisites; dealing with multiple players; locked in classes vs. switchable classes vs. class-by-gear; and more.

Anyway, this is likely way more than you wanted to read, but hey, if you want more, i'd be willing to share. Hell, if you've made it this far maybe you do. If not, just tell me to get the hell off your blog.

Very interesting read. You need a ton of those rules though to make something like this work, and probably still add a bit of randomization to it. If it gets too transparant it's boring, and open to abuse. Hey, if I sell all my stuff, don't use my best weapon and let my health go low a couple of times I am going to get an overpowered weapon. And you want surprises, there needs to be this one guy that does get a 40dmg weapon in the second dungeon, and he will brag about it to other players. It adds some excitement.

When I played Warhammer Online semi-seriously I pleaded for a system like this. I went on dungeon hunt after dungeon hunt and the weapons and armor of my class never dropped, or only dropped when we had two in our party and the other one won the roll. I really wished they had a system there where they tracked how many times you completed that dungeon, and how many rewards you had gotten, and skewed the drops a little bit based on that.

I agree with other posters in this thread that loot that gives you different abilities are far more preferable than boring stat increases.

#29 Posted by takua108 (1478 posts) -

Holy crap, this got frontpaged? Awesome!

So what we're looking at doing with our loot system is, like, on a scale of Diablo II to Diablo III, being negative Diablo III. By that I mean, we're going to have a ton of "unique" modifiers, some of which are purely cosmetic and silly (i.e. particle effects on the weapon, big head for the player character, etc.), some of which are useful ("Chance To Revive Enemy As Allied Zombie On Kill"), and some of which are just awesome ("Chance To Gib On Kill"). These "unique" modifiers will actually be pretty common. These will eventually all be tied to the item name fragments that make up an item when it's generated, so it'll all be logical... for example, expect your character's head to be double size when equipping a "Fantastic Short Sword Of Over-Inflated Egos."

Meanwhile, here's some funny legendaries I generated today:

We're hoping that finding a funny and awesome combination of item effects will be more important to gameplay than just the numbers of the stats.

But also keep in mind that a.) this game is intended to be humorous, so we can get away with "Resist Bees," and b.) the actual dungeon-crawling gameplay will only be like 1/3 of the game, so we can afford for it to be ridiculous and unbalanced, as long as it's fun. Also, c.) we don't have any sort of pseudo-international bank-like system wherein players can trade the loot for real money, so we don't have to worry about that. It kind of makes you sympathize with Blizzard, really, when you think about it: surely they were forced to find a way to make money on Diablo III after the initial sale of the game, which is why they devised the Real Money Auction House. And because of the RMAH, they had to "play it safe" with the loot system, not making anything too crazy or whatever, right?

#30 Edited by envane (1159 posts) -

@takua108: Acquesitia seems too much like that pony world .. plz dont

edit:sorry for the confusion ... unless you specificly want to throw in brony references (not that theres anything wrong with that) .. just using that name is just asking for trouble .. from picky bastards like me, sure .. but none the less just pointing it out..

otherwise im all for your game .. reccetear is great .. (i also made angry remarks towards dave lang and wreckateer on a similar name usage thing , id probably get along with the lawyers who brought up the mojang "scrolls" lawsuit )

also .. heres an idea .. have alot of non stat related loot properties , thart do various things in your gameworld , that perhaps serve a day to day purpose (so that ppl who buy from your store have an actual reason to buy anuything but the best of the best items) , i mean if you were to recreate the current situation in d3 , youd have a shelf of top tier items all at $1000000 each , then a bargain bin of rares for $1 each .. either that or youd have to cut down the sheer amount of loot clases / types etc which would be sucky ..

so yeh theres somethign thougthful to counter my stupidity ? happy

#31 Edited by takua108 (1478 posts) -

@envane said:

@garbagewrappedinskin: Acquesitia seems too much like that pony world .. plz dont

You meant to point that at me, and though that was unintentional, let's not bring that fight here, okay?

That said, your idea of non-combat-related item properties might be a good one for this particular game. It was always odd in Recettear when, like, a grandpa would come in looking for a short sword, or whatever. Plus, it would be hilarious to see items with "Tomato Harvesting ... +53," or whatever. (At least, I think this is what you were saying. If not... then I still love this idea, haha.)

Also, after about three minutes of Internet research, I'm pretty sure the accepted pronunciation of Recettear is "Ress-a-tear."

#32 Posted by Oginam (445 posts) -

Random question first: If you actually use the "Virgin Truncheon of Freedom", does it lose the title Virgin?

Not sure if you're considering some sort of faction/clientele system (Recettear used different interior decorating to bring different types of people into the store), but you could potentially use the color of loot to represent that. White loot is wanted by the townsfolk, green by the town guard/low level adventurers, blue by higher level adventurers, sets by the most elite adventurers, with purples and legendary being less useful (stats wise) than sets but more sought after by the ruling class (kings, queens, etc.). Sets could also be crafted, so the player isn't forced to farm to get the best adventurer gear.

You could even add some other systems into this, like needing a small force of people to secure trade routes with other towns (thus making whites/greens more useful) and maybe utilizing a system similar to Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood mechanic of sending multiple people on a mission to increase the chances of success (and thus dependence on the best loot is lessened).

Just throwing ideas out there. If you add systems to make loot across the board equally valuable, but desired for different reasons, you don't end up down the constant-grind-for-better-loot rabbit hole. A solid story line/world to explore (Borderlands, Torchlight, for example) can also lessen the feeling of loot grinding.