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New Item Level System

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 Post subject: New Item Level System
PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:11 pm 
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Basic Problem:
Items are very imbalanced when we classify them into tiers. Normal items are weak and unused, power items and alliance items are used in excess, and quest items basically trump anything in their spot (given that they match your character, so melee items for melee chars, etc). This makes it very difficult to add in new item systems, such as crafting, without making one of the sub-systems invalid/useless (whether it is the new system, or an old tier of equipment).

Solution:
New system where item level is dynamically set via the added affects on the item. With that in mind, some item types would then also have a lowered level requirement to use. Example would be alliance items, current power items, and quest equipment. We'd also boost current regular items in stats to keep their levels similar to what they currently are.

So how does this affect us:
All in all, current normal items would get a boost of about 33% to their current stats. Alliance items at level 150 would remain the same. Alliance equipment below level 150 would retain their current stats while having their levels drop slightly, the lower the level of the equipment, the more it would drop. Non-alliance power items would remain the same unless they have damroll on them, in which case they'd get slightly better.

Low level players would be able to use any item up through level 14, as opposed to the current handicap of items through level 19. Also, some lower level power items will have their stats improved (probably every one that is under level 50 currently).

Overall effect:
Normal items are more comparable to power/alliance items, although still clearly worse. People decked out in completely power/alliance gear (or better) remain mostly unchanged. In terms of having an optimal character, alliance characters will likely not change a thing, especially those at level 150. For those leveling up when alliance equipment and power items are sparse, the regular equipment will hold them up better (at least until they can find the better equipment).

In the Future:
This will open up an easier way to embed a crafting system, as well as allowing for item above level 150 stats to be usable by adepts easily, such as raid items.

Please voice all concerns, for I'm sure many will have them.



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 Post subject: Re: New Item Level System
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:56 pm 
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This problem is becoming a larger priority and will likely be pushed forward soon. Specifically, the mechanics to create items and how stats are calculated on the item will be changing. This should allow ease of balancing item stats, due to item stats being dynamic, when coupled with an easy mechanism to change all items on a global level.

Old (current) item building style:
When building an item, its type and level determine how many build points the item can spend. Each stat assigned to the item costs an amount of build points, for example: -1 saves = 5 bp; -1 ac = 4 bp; 1 damroll = 30 bp; 1 hitroll = 20 bp; etc. This is a manual process decided on a per item basis, thus coupling the concept of stat value (stat balancing) along with creativity of building the item. This means that each item has to have specific values assigned to it, and then the item has to be checked to be sure it isn't over powered (or under powered). This system is very prone to human error, especially when the item changes during the development cycle.

Example item: assume a level 100 helmet that gets 100 build points.
* Builder wants all saves (-1 = 5 bp) on the helmet: builder assigns -20 saves.
* Builder changes the helmet to use 40% of the points towards AC: builder removes the -20 saves, adds -10 ac (-1 = 4 bp), adds -12 saves.
* Item changes to be level 150 (thus getting +50 bp) but the ratio of stats should remain the same: builder changes level to 150, removes -12 saves, removes -10 ac, adds -18 saves, adds -15 ac.
* Item is later decided to be a power item (+50% bp): builder removes -18 saves, removes -15 ac; adds -27 saves; adds -22 ac, adds 2 bp worth of hp/mana/moves.

It is clear this system doesn't handle change well. Each time a change is made, the item needs to be verified to avoid miscalculations etc. Worse, if it is decided that -1 ac should only cost 3 bp, then every item in the game must be adjusted to get +33% ac in order to fit the newest build point system. Following a repeat of adjusting all items when saves change to cost 6 bp each.

How items will be built after this change:
The concept of build points will be completely transparent to the builder. Instead, the builder will specify proportions for how to divvy the stats amongst the item. Behind the scenes, the build points would be allocated to the item based on the item's type and level, and the amount of build points will by split amongst the statistics proportional to the builder's intent. This assignment of stats will be done dynamically, each time the object is loaded. To demonstrate this, we can visit the helmet that went through multiple changes earlier:

Example item: assume a level 100 helmet (that secretly gets 100 build points).
* Builder wants all saves on the helmet: saves = 1 (Once the item is loaded, all 100 bp will go towards saves = -20 saves)
* Builder changes the helmet to be 60% saves, 40% ac: saves = 3, ac =2 (Once loaded, saves will get 60 bp, ac will get 40 bp: -12 saves, -10 ac.)
* Item changes to be level 150: Builder changes item level to 150 (Once loaded, item will be calculated to ahve -18 saves and -15 ac.)
* Item is later decided to be a power item (+50% bp): Builder flags the item as a power item. (One loaded, item will have -27 saves and -22 ac. Random minor stat can fill in final 2 bp.)

This is clearly less work on the builder, and human error does not break the system. An example of a typo above would have been the first change when adding ac to the item: it the builder put saves = 3 and ac = 3, then points would just be split 50/50. This doesn't overpower the item in anyway. Further, changing the item is simple, if the typo is noticed by the builder, and can be instantly propagated throughout the game (by changing the ac to be 2, as desired).

Final points on the new system:
* A later phase can introduce the ability for alliance leaders to create their own alliance items, since the system is respective to how leaders currently request items. Proportions are requested.
* Many stats will become more granular, damroll being a prime example. Instead of a single damroll point being set on item and costing 30 build points, if the damroll stats was sold in tenths then they would only cost 3 build points each. This way two items with 45 build points (each) could have 1.5 damroll (each) for a total of 3 damroll. In the current system, they'd each end up with 1 damroll and then 15 bp worth of hp/mana/saves/etc. In essence, everything would be defined as how much value it gets per 1 build point, so that there are never issue such as the helmet had where 2 build points were left to be randomly assigned.
* Balancing item stats becomes much simpler on a global scale. Example would be a design decision that changes each -1 ac to cost only 3 build points, instead of 4. A single value changes in a table, reboot to reload all items in memory (easiest way), and an item that previously had -6 ac (previously 24 bp) will now have -8 ac (still 24 bp). This clearly decouples the concept of stat balancing from item design/building, and removes the need to alter each item individually when such decisions are made.
* Determining the extra value of power/alliance items (compared to normal/trash items) will also be handled via a simple modifier. Thus, it will be easy to change it so that the "trash" items get 80% of the power item's build points, as opposed to the current 67%. This value could be adjusted over time to find a fair balance.



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 Post subject: Re: New Item Level System
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:19 am 
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All in all, I love the overall design and concept. Speaking as a low-to-mid level player myself, this will definitely go forward a long way, and give me incentive to explore every area of Mordor again.


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 Post subject: Re: New Item Level System
PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:42 pm 

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I won't speak towards the math behind the system; I'll leave that for Suland to develop, but in general I think that this idea has a lot of potential and that if the mathematical balancing were done correctly that it would be far superior to the system we have now.

It also shouldn't be too hard for people to get used to fractional damroll, etc, since stats are already quite similar to that; i.e. 24.2 con is the same as 24.8 and 24.0; we'd just need to be able to see on 'score' and identify/lore what the exact modifiers were, but that's just a cosmetic issue and would be effortless to implement.

One other thing that I hope will be considered when this is being worked on is alliance gear. I think alliance gear is too strong in relation to nonalliance gear. That it's better than normal eq is fine, but it should probably be weaker than power items. (the ones with "1" in the keyword line) Whether this means nerfing alliance eq or buffing power items, I don't know... but I do think a change of some sort should be considered.

Also, I think hp/mana eq is a little too strong right now, and armour eq is too weak. When designing the new system, I think this should be considered.


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 Post subject: Re: New Item Level System
PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:11 pm 
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Nerolis wrote:
Also, I think hp/mana eq is a little too strong right now, and armour eq is too weak. When designing the new system, I think this should be considered.


This opens up nicely to another point that I did not make, but did hint at. Right now, builders use helpfiles that list how many build points each stat is worth (strength, damroll, hp, saves, ac, etc.). That would go right out the window. Instead, I'll set up the default build point values that are enforced via code for each stat, and we can change them in-game as necessary for testing/tweaking. This is similar to the values you see below the 'who' list when experience and quest points modifiers are on; in fact, we already use such a system to determine how often the envenom/poison flag hits, a poison damage modifier, and how much AC affects damage reduction.

By applying this in-game, dynamic application of build point values to item stats, we can easily adjust values as necessary if one stat is too powerful or too weak.

Taking this too far for the time being, but what seems cool to those of us with our nerd hats on tight:
It's enticing to think of a system that looks at equipment trends over the last couple weeks/months and determines which stats are too weak/powerful, gradually changing the values until the stats are balanced, all automatically (as in, no human-perception-error from myself or other immortals). This also means that something that is over-powered (hp or mana for example) can be completely abused by players until the system balances itself out - actually, it would be required to abuse such things that are overpowered. Doing so would fix the item mechanics, automatically, thus it would be a thing to encourage. It also means anything underpowered would become more powerful with time as well.



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 Post subject: Re: New Item Level System
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:36 pm 
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This point has been revisited in online discussions a few times recently. In short, it looks like we'll be bringing up the non-power non-alliance items quite a bit, and then anything that is intended to be stronger will have a power level modifier. The difference from before is that the modifier will not lower the item level, but will instead raise the stats to match an item that has higher levels. So a builder (or alliance leader) making a level 50 item and then giving it a power level modifier of 10 means the item will have the stats of a level 60 item, NOT that it will be level 50 stats used by a level 40.

This is mainly a cosmetic difference, in terms of balance, but it makes it easier for building. Further, it is easier to discuss the impact of other changes this way. One such example is that we may have all alliance equipment get a power modifier of ~5, power items of ~10, and raid items could be broken into 3 tiers of 20, 35, and 50. Such an example also targets a strong point:

Nerolis wrote:
One other thing that I hope will be considered when this is being worked on is alliance gear. I think alliance gear is too strong in relation to nonalliance gear. That it's better than normal eq is fine, but it should probably be weaker than power items. (the ones with "1" in the keyword line) Whether this means nerfing alliance eq or buffing power items, I don't know... but I do think a change of some sort should be considered.



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