How to organize item drops in an RPG?

How to organize item drops in an RPG?

Postby Vandar » 17 Feb 2015, 16:13

Now and then I'm working on a little RPG project ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/jewelhunt/ ) and I recently hit a problem about item drops. At the moment each item in the item catalog has the same chance to be generated. This was alright so far, since I mostly was testing the inventory code, but in future I'll need a better system to pick items for drops.

Roguelikes often use a level + rarity based system. This means, items are chosen on how well they fit the dungeon level (number), and from those which can be dropped on this level, a weighted list ist created, based on the items rarity.

Diablo II uses an treasure classes, that is, items are assigned to a treasure class, and when the game is about to create an item, it first calculates possible trasure classes for the drop, and thgen chooses an item from one of the found treasure classes.

The first system is difficult to balance, because the introduction of new items messes with the weighted list. Also it assume a linear difficulty level, and items can't be grouped other than by level.

The second system might be even more difficult to balance, and it also requries to maintain the treasure class database, in addition to the items themselves, but it allows more flexibility in allocating items for drops, and also more control.

At the moment neither system really convinced me. Is there some simple, yet flexible and powerful system, or do I need to work with something like the treasure classes from D2 (because my world is non-linear, and level + rarity won't suffice to control item generation)?
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Re: How to organize item drops in an RPG?

Postby eugeneloza » 17 Feb 2015, 18:07

In my RPG (Project Helena) the creature (namely, the enemy bot) drops items from its backpack (including the weapon used). It usually requires shop value rebalancing, but that's not something difficult.
Speaking of 'dungeon crawl' or something like that I would do the item rarity = sqr(1/value).
On the other hand, an item class may be assigned. E.g. rusty sword = 1, epic sword = 10. So that a lvl1 slime would drop only rusty sword, but lvl10 dragon may drop an epic swrod, but not a rusty one.
The next question is just to fine-tune the algorithm, i.e. that player would need only one epic swords, even if he/she kills 20 dragons. So, another approach is to 'pre-give' the item to certain mobs (i.e. only two dragons have an epic sword, other have just diamonds). Alternative to 'pre-giving' is keep record of given items and don't repeat oneself.
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Re: How to organize item drops in an RPG?

Postby Vandar » 17 Feb 2015, 23:46

I'm not sure how to apply your suggestions to my problem.

There are no "rusty" or "epic" items, but an item can have several magic modifiers, which make them more or less useful. Some combinations of mods might classify as "epic", but it will depend on the player which combinations are most useful for him.

But I wasn't talking about the magic items. I have weapons, shield, armor, gems, rings and amulets, and more coming. Those are "base items", which can be magically enchanted in a second step. I'm trying to figure out how to manage (control) the item drops.

If it ever gets there, the game will have 7 themed locations which the player must visit to retrieve the rainbow jewels. I haven't deigned all of them yet, but the staring one is the sewers - the thief dropped one of the jewels while running, and it rolled into a drain. He was too much in a hurry to notice at the time, even.

The other 6 jewels were brought to the homes of powerful creatures who now guard the jewels. The player must get there and bring them back. Quite the classic dungeon crawl theme, just brushed up a bit.

Location ideas so far:

- A pyramid (-> mummy)
- A tower (-> wizard)
- An ice castle (-> ice queen)
- A place in a swamp (-> dragon/snake)
- Caverns (-> another dragon?)
- A tomb/grave (-> ghost/undead)

I want to keep it simple, so I didn't give the creatures an inventory. Drops will be just based on yet to be found drop calculations. At the moment I think, the easiest way will be to have treasure classes like "simple blades", "simple clubs", ... "gems" and then give a monster species a list of treasure classes, and an item count range, e.g drop 2...5 items from classes "simple blades", "intermediate blades", "simple shields", "little money" and "low gems".
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Re: How to organize item drops in an RPG?

Postby andrewj » 18 Feb 2015, 03:02

I think keep it quite simple at this stage, and worry about getting the balance right later on when you have a game which you and other people can actually play and get their feedback.

So I would say divide up the items into 3 classes -- the main point of these classes is to prevent the player getting really powerful items straight away (even a 1/1000 chance can happen surprisingly often) and vice versa: to prevent getting worthless items when player is deep into the current game.

Let's say each item has an intrinsic chance of being added somewhere, lower chance values for better items. Multiply this chance by a factor for its class. At start of game, the factors of the classes would be { 1.0, 0.3, 0.0 }, near middle of game they would be { 0.2, 1.0, 0.2 } and near end of game they would be { 0.0, 0.3, 1.0 }.
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Re: How to organize item drops in an RPG?

Postby eugeneloza » 18 Feb 2015, 10:02

I could also add, that dungeon crawls (e.g. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup) have a problem of 'too many items' drop. I.e. you get 10 usless whips per level. I liked the idea of Hack-Slash-Crawl, when the player can instantly convert unneeded items into 'mana pearls' (or money in your case).

>> weapons, shield, armor, gems, rings and amulets
I don't think there is a high need to make a great mechanic for these items drops. I.e. no drops are really necessary, the player may just earn gold for killing enemies and spend it at the shop to buy what he needs.
Drops are more important for artefact-class items. I.e. items player can't get in an 'ordinary' way (either due to their expensiveness, ore due to their unique characteristics).

Maybe such schema would be better/easier for balancing? To earn gold, not drops. And if drops do occur (e.g. with chance of drop = sqr(HP/1000) and with drop value double/tripple than that for a dropless monster kill) - it's something special, not just junk. Maybe monsters should drop not items, but enchancements (e.g. a flame-strike orb which, when linked to an ordinary sword, would yield a sword with a firestrike damage).

Another problem I find in many RPGs it is that you usually have a kind of a 'limit' in your equipment. You get the best equipment possible, and need nothing more. In some way, Hack-Slash-Crawl solved this dilema by adding 4 sets of equipment (with fire/frost/poison/physical resistance). But eventually you've got all those at 100% and become immortal :) So, it'd be a good idea when down to the final battle you still may find a useful drop.
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Re: How to organize item drops in an RPG?

Postby Vandar » 18 Feb 2015, 11:58

@Andrewj: The idea to have a few tiers of items and enhance drop chances for the higher tiers in more difficult areas of the game looks very good to me. I think I'll use that system. Thanks for the suggestion :)

Balance isn't a concern right now, I just wanted to decide for a system to control/manage drops, because it can become quite annoying if such a basic component of a gme must be replaced by something else late in development.

@Eugeneloza:

I'm an item nerd, a game where all items can be bought would be boring to me. So finding items and assembling a good equipment set will be something central in the game. Well, it's more or less all the game is about ... enhancements to items I'll do like Diablo II did it, by adding gems and runes to items, and some magic recipes to enchant items.
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Re: How to organize item drops in an RPG?

Postby Jastiv » 01 Feb 2019, 00:21

I definitely prefer getting item drops to just gold drops, even if I end up selling most of the items in the shop. There is just the chance of getting that one rare/interesting item, or maybe just some supplies that keeps me motivated.
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