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Stop random drops now!

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:12 pm
Probably the biggest issue I have with Andor's Trail is quests that rely on very rare random drops. Here's why.

Games are two things: Firstly, they are complex systems that the player interacts with to get specific results. They satisfy curiosity and allow us to invent novel solutions to problems. Second, it is a storytelling experience, partly the story the makers tell, and partly the story the player tells.

Killing 500 snakes to get a single poison gland fulfills neither of these facets, and in in fact detracts from both. It is as intellectually challenging as rolling a d100 and declaring yourself the winner only on double 0. It has no connection to story whatsoever (After all, if all these snakes are poisonous, shouldn't they all have poison glands?

If you expect the player to kill 200 snakes in order to progress, just give them a quest to kill 200 snakes. At least they'll know how long to expect to do something, and they won't accidentally get the plot coupon 5 snakes in and get the reward too soon.

If you really want to have rare random drops, do what team fortress does. Instead of having a given chance of getting a drop at each interval (which is prone to disenfranchising players because of long "unlucky" streaks), roll a random number of kills to get each drop, so the "dry period" between each one is always within a given length.

This isn't a slot machine, it isn't a skinner box. It's an adventure.

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:59 am
by microcthulhu
The core concept of Andor's Trail is grind-based RPG. Grinding is not a feature - it's an basis of the game. And 200 snakes is nothing. For getting legendary item you have to kill dozens of thousands specific critters with quite long spawn time. It's a kind of grind-meditation.

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:09 pm

Well, hey, if that's what it is, that's what it is.

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:25 am
by Usirim
One thing to think about drop chances:
If the drop chance for any item is determined by random number from 1 to max necessary kills this seed number has to be stored in the savegame file.
This little community has to "fight" every ones in a while with player who ask how to cheat by modifying stats, items, what ever. Having a seed number for the drop chance of every item stored in the savegame file it is only a matter of time that this knownledge is published and the game and the forum gets swamed with cheated Chars. Imagine 80% of lvl 5 chars with RoLS and RoL and 250+ portion of minor speed. Could be worse - compared to other games.
We already have our share of cheat and I say: make cheating not easier than it is now.

And keep in mind: the game was developed to play through WITHOUT the need of any legendary or extraordinary items. Those are some special features for those with big luck or even bigger patience. ;)

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:25 pm
by Tomcat
microcthulhu wrote:The core concept of Andor's Trail is grind-based RPG. Grinding is not a feature - it's an basis of the game. And 200 snakes is nothing. For getting legendary item you have to kill dozens of thousands specific critters with quite long spawn time. It's a kind of grind-meditation.
I disagree that grinding is part of the core of the game. To me, the heart is the questing, and the exploration and discovery it requires. If there are gaps between difficulty of areas/quests such that the character must grind in familiar places until enough gold/potions/levels can be built up, then this is because the game is still in development, and needs more work to fill those gaps.

If the game description on the download page had called this a grinding game, I would have fled far away, and never seen how it plays. If I hadn't enjoyed the story of the world of AT, I would not have stayed.

Obviously, in most adventure games it is possible to grind, and a lot of long time players here seem to love it. But please don't call it part of the core of the game.

My .02

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 6:05 pm
by Denzera
Just my two cents to say that I agree with Tomcat. Grinding is something you can let power gamers do, and give them a few things to reach for, but it should never be a design aesthetic - should never be something you have to do. I became interested in the game after trying some of the early quests, dying a bit, and getting the hang of things and seeing its possibilities. I fell in love with the game, however, after posting about your character's ethics and reputation, and coming across an old post by Oscar about how his goal with the game was to present ethical decisions to the player and give them a world to react to those decisions and explore them.

That is really hard to do! Perhaps only Baldur's Gate has done it effectively within an RPG context, unless you count a human-DM'd game of tabletop AD&D. I would love to see the game's development continue in that direction, with quests that present both physical and ethical challenges for the player.

edit: which is a long way of saying I agree with the OP. Making people hunt for a lottery ticket that may never come is one of the most frustrating experiences for goal-oriented players. If you want to make something unnecessary be rare but achievable, I love the suggestion of rolling a background variable for "the item will come after X kills".

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 9:52 pm
by Usirim
Hello Tomcat and Denzera,

I understand your position, the story of AT and the Char's brother and all the decisions to make are part o the very heard of AT.
No one is forced to grind for the legendary items, the story does not depend on archiving even one of them. So it is for the extraordinary items.
Every player does the decision - go for it or not / just a little bit or make it the core of Char development - on its own mind.

If one wants to grind - let them do it... If one decide: this is something I wouldn't miss at all - let them.
The funny part of grinding is to never know, if and when the desired item may drop - or not. To know for sure: I have to kill 8888 or so Gargoyle Masters is not really motivating. If you spare some time with how mankind works really in reality, you will learn that high and low, success and frustration, pushing adrenaline and noradrenaline throught your blood vessels is the very core of life itself. Life itself is a everlasting surprise.
So why change a successful game? AT is still in development after all these years and a lot of players keep faith with AT - so AT has something very special. Ask ten players what is this specialty and you may get eleven answers. Don't change something good without a better reason. ;)

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 5:56 pm
by Denzera
I dunno about the adrenaline bit. It's more of a gambler's jonesing - variable ratio reinforcement, in psych terms. I wouldn't call that "life itself", I'd call that a bug in the human brain software.

I have no problem with there being legendary items that are really hard to get and require a lot of grinding. That's fine, because you're choosing to do it.

PTTG was objecting more to the Irdegh Poison Gland requirement for the Brimhaven-area quest that requires it. With a 5% drop rate, and forcing the player to go WAY far afield from safety while crippled by a curse, it's far more annoying than it is entertaining or thrilling. There's no goal to move towards achieving, because the dynamic is "keep killing these things and eventually we'll let you leave", which when you don't want to do it is quite obnoxious. I quite agree.

To take another casual game that has a similar dynamic, go play the flash web-app game Arcuz. Firstly because it's an awesome, Zelda-like RPG that fans of AT will love, but secondly because there are some quests there of the form "kill X #s of monster type Y", like "kill 100 green slimes", which let you go on a whacking rampage while having an end in sight. Those are fun. "Go seek out something that has a very low probability of occurring and could be a long time coming, before we let you progress", just isn't fun. Yes, different players will prefer different aspects of AT, but there are 8 kinds of fun in video games and this is none of them.

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:04 am
by Duvalon
About that Irdegh poison gland... I'm not sure it's a random drop. Or if it is, it's rather frequent. I got one the first Irdegh I killed. And besides, that curse isn't that crippling. If you can make it through that cave all the way to the liche, you can survive just fine finding a poison gland.

Re: Stop random drops now!

Posted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 12:14 pm
by rijackson741
It is random, and as Denzera says, the drop chance is 5%. So it's not really that hard to get. With 14 kills you have a little over 50% chance of getting one. If you don't like grinding even that much the process of getting one can be sped up a lot:
Go to the bridge with the first Irdegh. Attack the Irdegh and knock it's HP down until you can kill it with one hit, but don't kill it. Back off the bridge, and save the game. Then reload, kill, reload kill, etc., until you have the gland.
I'm surprised you thought the curse was not that crippling. Maybe it's a difference in the level at which we killed the lich, or in gameplay style, but I did.
Actually, the only reason I could get back out of the cave was because I happened to have the Villain's leather armor in my inventory. With only 8AP that allowed me one attack (3AP) and a chance to flee (5AP), so I could wear the monsters down. Without the chance to flee I don't know how I could have killed them (other than by relying on pure luck and endless reloads). My only options would have been "teleport by death", or load an earlier game and either level up to at least 30 (CS2), or go get the Villain's leather armor or the coward's boots.