One thing that bothers me about newer MMOs is they are all designed to have an endpoint, like a single player RPG. The world gets built around an endpoint the developer creates; and zones, quests and gear all get based around it.
Players view the endpoint from a gear point of view usually, it’s all about the gear, and when you have the best gear you’ve reached the endpoint. Unfortunately once you do it almost feels like the game’s over. There is nothing left to do. You have the best gear you can get! So you become bored. The developers know this will happen, so what do they do? They define a new endpoint and update the game, adding new content and gear focused on the new endpoint. And then everything is exciting again until you reach that endpoint. So they create another endpoint, and so on and so on..
I am not a fan of this design at all, it’s just a gear treadmill you get tricked into repeating over and over. There must be an alternative? A better way? Perhaps…
Items and Gear
First, gear needs to stop being used as a carrot to force players to do things. Too much gear just gets handed out because of that damn carrot mentality. The more special gear that gets handed to you, the less special each piece seems – so lets tone down the amount of gear handed out for carrots.
Next, crafting needs to be the main source of special gear players want. Special gear shouldn’t drop nearly as much in the game world, instead players should turn to crafters for their gear. This promotes a better economy and features like auction houses and player shops. It also puts more emphasis on crafting recipes and special metals, gems and other materials. All this helps to make tradeskills an important part of the game, which is a good thing.
So if the best special gear is made by crafters, what do raid bosses and other epic encounters reward players with? Welcome to your introduction to Artifacts.
What is an Artifact? Artifacts are the best gear available in the game, always better than any special gear that can be found or crafted in the world. But with great power comes great restrictions, and Artifacts need at least two – the first is they should be unique items, not unique-equipped but actually unique, only one of each Artifact exists in the game world; the second is Artifacts should be temporary items with a one week duration, after which they are destroyed and reset to their loading spot to be found by another player.
Benefits from Artifacts
The first benefit is that the “Best set of gear” endpoint vanishes. It’s gone! Players will never have the best gear because Artifacts always trump their special gear, and Artifacts only last one week and are rare because they are each unique. This setup allows players to have a good set of special gear, but to always be working towards a better set with Artifacts, but never reaching it and becoming bored.
The second benefit is crafting never becomes useless due to overpowered sets being introduced by new raid bosses – raid bosses drop Artifacts, not special gear, and those Artifacts are temporary. So players will always need special gear, even with their Artifacts, which keeps crafters always in demand.
PvP and Artifacts
How would Artifacts factor into PvP? Easy – they need to be lootable from your victim’s corpse! This may sound crazy to some people at first, especially ex-WoW players who spend weeks or even months raiding to earn their “Best set” and may scream at the thought of losing it so easily.
But rather then thinking of how this may work in WoW or another gear treadmill game, imagine how it would work in a world where special gear is fairly easy to come by, and you’re instead focused on the Artifacts. Now imagine there is around 1,000 different Artifacts available in the game and you’re playing with about 5,000 players online. And looting only affects Artifacts, not your special gear or coins or other items.
How might this play out? When you kill someone it would surely be exciting to see what Artifacts you may have just received. And when you die you still have your special gear and other items so its not too harsh; you can get back into the action quickly. Really this just adds more reasons to want to kill and stay alive, which are both good – PvP needs purpose!
Personally I would love to play in such a setting. Anyone else with me, or am i way out in left field? =p