Mine Items are My Life

Posted: June 18, 2007 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, General Game Concepts

“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work. .”

-Eden Phillpotts

 When Everquest 2 launched, it brought a relatively new concept to mainstream MMO’s:  spell quality.  You didn’t just upgrade a spell anymore, but actually could have different and varying degrees of a spell’s effectiveness determined by what quality of the spell was inscribed at all.  Starting with Apprentice and then Adept and finally up through the Master level spells, quality matters to spells and combat arts within the Shattered Lands.

You simply buy the upgrades, for the most part.  You can have them made for you, or you might get lucky and find the books necessary while out hunting or raiding, and it’s possible to acquire a Master II through specializations…but by and large, most players buy their upgrades. 

A similar situation exists with most weapons or armors, especially tradeskilled weapons.  You might have a pristine or a shaped version of that feysteel longsword.  You might adorn it or imbue it.  However, as a general rule, most players would hold on to their weapon, eventually upgrading when something better comes along.

That’s the way of things in most MMO’s, really.  You pick up an item or spell, and eventually replace it with something better. 

What if you didn’t replace an item?  What if you didn’t buy upgrades to new spells?

What if at least some of your weapons and items and spells and arts and what have you had the ability to level right along with your character.  What if you didn’t just *DING!* a new level and immediately pick up new spells, but you had to quest for them as part of your progression?

 Imagine for a moment that players could find items within the game that become bound to them in such a way that it would take on their very name…

In most games, we’re taught to replace items frequently.  We’re taught that items need to be upgraded from time to time in order to (1) encourage us to fight bigger and badder monsters for bigger and better loot and (2) to stimulate in-game economies.

What is specific items could be upgraded through other means than replacement.  Many games toy with the idea by introducing adornments, augments, enchantments, or imbueing.  All of these are good ideas, but not quite what I’m thinking of.

Like the ancient Celts, I like the idea of names having power.  I also like the idea of power growing over time, not just in people but in places and objects as well.

Imagine that steel hammer I picked up a while back on the broker has an experience bar all its own.  Some weaponsmith made it for me, but since then,  I’ve been out hunting with it daily.  One day, the hammer starts to glow and a little icon appears to tell me that my steel hammer has “levelled up”. 

Say what!?

That’s right, my little hammer is growing up (the years pass so fast, don’t they *sniffle*).  The hammer I had made for me is now giving me a choice of options which require additional tradeskilling (clicking on the item gives you the option to see what your upgrade choices are). 

Ok, now HERE’s a weapon system!

The options shown are ways to enhance the hammer by acquiring rare components and gemstones and having the hammer worked over by a few different types of tradeskillers (and to make things more interesting, the original tradeskiller could get a bonus here) which would give me the option of turning my regular steel hammer into either “Kendricke’s Steel Warhammer” or “Kendricke’s Steel Ornate Hammer”.  One gives the hammer a pretty solid boost to combat and the other one gives a boost to charisma and spells.

Later, I level up again and once more, the item requires some rework but also some questing (maybe it’s a simple quest to kill a certain number of your choice of creatures, which powers the hammer with a bonus against that type of creature from here on out). 

Later, another level and some more rework and questing. 

You get the idea, right?

The idea would be that items stay with us throughout our adventures, and become as much a part of our character’s storyline and advacement as the character’s stats.  By including both tradeskilling and quests (basic ones for basic weapons and more handcrafted quests for unique items), we don’t remove many of the original reasons for replacements in the first place while retaining a great deal of the character’s mystique and power. 

The character’s own name becomes attached to the item, and thus the item loses the ability to be traded, but in the process, the item becomes part of the character as well.

This leads also to additional avenues of advancement for all types of playstyles (including repeat business for tradeskillers). 

The idea here isn’t to remove upgrades from the game’s design, but rather to work in the idea that gear itself isn’t altered constantly – only upgraded.

This has the added benefit of letting characters choose a look, and then keep the look over time – replacing the look later on when new gear is found (which may also have better starting statistics and upgrade potential). 

  1. ogrebears says:

    I like that idea, i don’t know how it could work out thought. If the upgrades are to small people won’t use the item again, if there to large people won’t ever replace them. if leveling the item takes to long then it get replaced…. i don’t know i think a developer would look at the idea and see it has being to complex to add easily.

  2. kendricke says:

    What if it were used sparingly, I wonder. Instead of applying it to all items, save it for a few specific ones, perhaps.

  3. Artteen Stardancer says:

    I love the idea and agree that it would need to be limited to specific items…in eq2 terms, legendary or fabled items and even then only a certain percentage of them

  4. Stargrace says:

    I’ve seen this idea on MUDS before that I used to play, where weapons had an ‘intelligence’ system so to speak, for every time you gained some exp and killed a mob, the weapon also leveled and as it leveled unlocked stats / procs etc. etc. I loved the idea and I think that if it were implemented into some sort of MMO experience it’d become quite popular. Though you then also run across people abusing the system in whatever way they can.

  5. I think it’s great idea, depending on how it’s implemented. There’s a lot of potential for cool character development there.

  6. Kathas says:

    DAoC did something similar to this but on a limited scale. Only weapons and armour from a specific expansion had the ability to level. The concept was great but was poorly implemented by Mythic and I don’t even know if it’s still in that game.

  7. darrenl says:

    I like it Ken…sounds really interesting and would address some of the upgrade issues that most of us experience.

  8. Berg says:

    Would be interesting if not only did the weapon level up, but if it leveled up in a manner that was in line with your character. For example, if you were a vile sorcerer that used the blood of innocents to power your spells, perhaps your staff would require a certain number of deaths and bloodshed to advance. Alternately, a holy warrior of good might be sent on a quest to seek a renowned but reclusive priest to ask his/her blessing on the weapon.

  9. Bhagpuss says:

    This idea was implemented in EQ1 about 2 years back iirc. It was part of the Dungeons of Darkhollow expansion.

    The items concerned are “intelligent”. They not only level up, they also talk to you. They don’t grow withyou throughout your whole career, but rather have levels of their own so that as you use them they gain xp and level up to their maximum potential. It was quite a fun addition to the game and fairly popular at the time – haven;t been playing much EQ for the last year or so, so I don’t know if they have taken it any further.

    Personally, I always try to buy as few items as possible, at least from other players. I generally try to get by with what I get myself by hunting, questing or crafting. I mainly duo with my girlfriend and in most games we play several characters each, sharing tradeskill duties between us so we can pretty much make whatever we need.

    We used to do a huge amount of trading backin our peak EQ days, but while it’s fun in itself, if you buy better stuff on the market than your character sees as drops when hunting or can craft, it does rather defeat the object of going hunting or crafting in the first place, so nowadays I try to avoid it.

    I don’t think that having a majority of my items unchanged but upgraded constantly, whether automatically or by quests, would be much more satisfying than buying them, really, so it’s not an idea that greatly appeals to me. I wouldn’t mind it being used sparingly, though, for a few key items.

  10. Syldra says:

    very cool idea. *adds it to idea soup*

    ‘course it’s just begging to be used in a system where your gear determines which skills you can use…

  11. Zubon says:

    This is pretty much the City of Heroes power system. Instead of getting new armor, you get an armor power at a low level, and it improves over time. The enhancements even work that way now due to the Invention system in Issue 9: you cannot outlevel crafted enhancements. So your powers just level along with you, rather than having Fire Bolt I, Fire Bolt II, Fire Bolt III (or the equipment equivalent thereof).

  12. […] there was an article that Kendricke wrote that I’ve wanted to link up for a couple days now. The general gist of […]

  13. Pixie Styx says:

    the chronicles of spellborn seems to be using a system like this

  14. kendricke says:

    Personally, I’m recalling it from years of running Earthdawn campaigns.

    Realize that in Earthdawn, most magic weapons have ranks associated with them. A relatively minor weapon might only have a couple ranks, whereas a unique and legendary weapon might have a dozen ranks.

    Each rank needs to be “unlocked” to fully access that next level of abilities. The first rank might be to learn the name of an item in your posession (think of that first night at Elrond’s when they finally learn the name of Sting…). This might unlock a small damage bonus, plus the ability to light up when orcs are around.

    Eventually, some items required pretty involved quests to find out more information about the item (who was the original smith, why does the weapon glow, etc.). Some ranks might even require deeds to unlock them (travel to the place of the original owner’s death and perform a ritual, etc.)

    In games like Everquest 2, we see parts of this with some involved Heritage or Signature questlines, where we empower a weapon like Ghoulbane or Wurmslayer a bit more with each step completed.

    However, none of these items are truly as involved as the system I’m leaning towards.

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