Your character’s equipment has durability; it will lose durability when you use it. You can repair it through the appropriate crafting profession, but it will never be returned to the level of durability it had when it was new. When your equipment loses all durability it is destroyed.
Your character’s equipment has durability; it will lose durability when you use it. You can repair it at a vendor, but the cost to do so is prohibitive. When your equipment loses all durability it is destroyed.
Your character’s equipment has durability; it will lose durability when you use it. You can repair it at a vendor, but the cost to do so is prohibitive. When your equipment loses all durability it cannot be used until repaired.
Your character’s equipment has durability; it will lose durability when you use it. You can repair it for a modest fee at a vendor. When your equipment loses all durability it cannot be used until repaired.
Your character’s equipment has durability. Nobody really knows why. Any meaningful effect on the game has been designed out; it is now, essentially, an inconvenience, a DOH! check at the start of each dungeon run.
That’s intelligent design that is trying to emulate evolution. It succeeds. There are a lot of dead ends in evolution in the short run. This is one of them.
We need to get rid of the idea that MMORPG game design is somehow like science. Things don’t really get better over time here. They rather osciallate.
The game designers of 20 years ago haven’t been less smart or standing on lower shoulders. They did, however, supply a different kind of consumer!
And yet, if it was an evolutionary dead end (emulated or otherwise) you’d expect it to become extinct, but it persists. Is this because it is, in actual fact, considered optimal design? Is it perhaps because consideration hasn’t really been given at all?
Why does a developer choose to put item durability into an MMO? (Where item durability is just one example of this sort of ‘evolution’).
An evolutionary dead end will only become extinct through chance or if it causes a big enough detriment. Since it’s just an inconvenience nothing is selecting against it and it remains as a living fossil.
There’s always the possibility that removing this last aspect of it is rejected as it’s removing a feature. It was OK scaling it back, but taking it out completely removes the feature and what dev wants to do that?
I think the thing that niggles me is that very last sentence.
Looking at it another way: in the early stages of the development lifecycle the developer has to make a decision as to whether to put durability into the game engine, surely they should ask at that stage ‘To what effect is introducing durability going to improve this game?’
I believe the answer to that question should be ‘none’ if we have reached an evolutionary dead end. However, durability persists, so either it’s believed that durability does have a positive or useful effect on game-play, or the question is not being asked and effort is expended to add it simply because everyone else has it.
I’m concerned that it’s the latter, which is an issue that should be addressed, and I believe it applies to more areas than just durability.
Actually it does till have a use. It’s a money sink. Its the same reason we still pay a cut to the AH and for flight paths. Think about all the cash we earned in the last expansion. The exp>gold conversion got out of hand and was removed. From the looks of things the cash we earn from mobs has remained fairly constant, and the daily quest gold looks a bit lower than what we saw in Wrath.
The daily random dungeon gold has gone up a ton, but that may be to entice tanks….well everyone, but we’ve all seen how the tank shortage plays out.
I think that the whole system is just to create a gold piece drain in the economy. It could be removed, but then something else should take its place to avoid massive inflation (which is usually experienced ingame anyway).
Compared to other methods (e.g. rents), the good thing of this one is that it scales with activity -> the more you’re logged on killing stuff and making money from loots, the more you have to spend. So I would say it’s evolution at its best (it very non-annoying compared to the old counterparts you listed).
@myself: *bonks self* for not refreshing before posting… Dan beat me to it.
@Dan, @Helistar: I think you’re both right, it was a money sink at one point (step 3), but reduction in vendor costs or general mudflation in many MMOs means that by the time we’ve reached the final step, I would suggest again that that reason becomes moot for all but the edge cases.
It also raises the point that what started out as an interesting game-play element which integrated well with crafting professions and the game economy in general, was reduced to a mechanic whose aim was simply to drain money out of the economy, and one which provided no major game-play incentives to players.
I feel that it’s interesting to consider, as a general point, why it seems to have ended up this way; did it evolve in response to player demand, or was it driven by design?
The idea of a money sink for the sake of a money sink seems pointless as well. Why not reduce the incoming gold instead? People might notice dailies change, but vendor trash and coin off mobs could be lowered.
@Melmoth – I’m going to go “One from Column A, one from Column B” (and where’s my free egg roll?): driven by design, where the design goal was to appeal to (the perceived demands of) a wider audience, especially once it became apparent that it was actually possible for an MMO to have a subscriber base that numbered in the millions, rather than the tens of thousands.
It would seem the RIFT designers went through that thought process and asked themselves that question, because the game doesn’t have durability. And it is indeed shocking how little impact ripping out that mechanic has on the overall gameplay – none at all. The “money sink / death penalty” function of durability is accomplished by Soul Healer NPCs who essentially just fine you for dying.
To prove that I’m a person, I had to type “wenis”. I am concerned.
I have to disagree with comment on the last step of the evolution. There is actually a very good reason for games like WoW to have a durability system. It’s a moneysink and consequently a timesink.
It’s not something that helps the players in anyway or adds to the experience, but it’s something developers like to incorporate to increase the lifespan of the game (you very rarely see any kind of durability system in single player games). And it’s also very inconspicuous, so most players don’t start thinking too heavily about the issue.
At least that’s my personal opinion. :)
Nevermind the above. Shame on me for not reading the comments before commenting myself.
I got “bandersnatch”. My new favorite word.
DEVs: Here is a realistic equipment system designed to simultaneously enhance immersion, provide busy work, and create a ‘money sink’ to help stabalize the game’s economy somewhat.
Players: windgey windge windgers windging!
DEVs: *sigh* modifies game mechanic to ‘oil the squeeky wheels.’
(repeat last two steps ad infinitum until game mechanic becomes obsolete/useless and future game archaeologists write a blog post questioning what it is even there for, and why it hasn’t gone the way of the dinosaurs completely yet…)
This clearly falls into the category of ‘be careful what you wish for… you just might get it!’ While this is an excellent example of the phenomenon, it is by no means the only one. ‘World size’ is another such case. Game worlds are originally designed to be quite expansive and to ‘feel’ large, but constant windging on the part of windgey gamers results in DEVs implementing mounts/portals/instant travel of some variety or another and the the net result is ‘world size’ shrinks overnight… I’ll let you guess what the topic of the windgers is the next day…
Moral of the story: DEVs must be ‘good parents’ and stike a balance between listening and being responsive to their gamer populations while at the same time knowing how to say ‘No’ and insisting on not giving into ravenous packs of crybabies at every single turn.
(Disclaimer: The author of this comment was raised by a USMC Drill Seargent and cannot be called upon to accurately judge what is, or is not, windging…)
“This clearly falls into the category of ‘be careful what you wish for… you just might get it!’ While this is an excellent example of the phenomenon, it is by no means the only one. ‘World size’ is another such case. Game worlds are originally designed to be quite expansive and to ‘feel’ large, but constant windging on the part of windgey gamers results in DEVs implementing mounts/portals/instant travel of some variety or another and the the net result is ‘world size’ shrinks overnight… I’ll let you guess what the topic of the windgers is the next day…”
This is a good example in the sense that it’s not. xD
The shrinking of the game world as a result of devs implementing fast travel can’t be compared to the evolution of the durability money sink. Speeding up the travel was a necessary evolution in the design of MMOs so that they can keep up with other entertainment sources. Whatever gave rise to the instant gratification generation (whether that is natural human evolution I don’t know) subsequently shrinked the percieved game world. Devs were practically forced into it.
Also, you just reinforced my opinion that the durability timesink evolution isn’t an evolution at all. It’s simply “tweaking” done by the developers so that the feature is more streamlined and can remain in the game despite players becoming more metagame-conscious. In fact, I don’t think the durability thing was ever inteded as a feature that helps immersiveness, simply because it’s so incredibly artificial. If developers wanted to simulate degrading equipment there are better ways to achieve that.
(Disclaimer: The author of this comment was raised by the Devil. Did I say the Devil? I meant to say atheists. As a result, anything expressed in this comment is pure truth.)
@Klepsacovic: Indeed so. Perhaps that is the final stage of the evolution and it just hasn’t permeated the majority of the MMO market yet; as Rem points out in a following comment, Rift has apparently taken this very route, so perhaps we’re starting to see the final stage; which I think is sad, because encumbrance and durability aren’t necessarily bad mechanics if designed in a way that is sensitive to the style of the MMO being produced.
@Pardoz: I think that’s a fair assessment, and it’s a good point that WoW’s massive mainstream player-base may have skewed the feeling on a lot of design elements such as this.
You can have a free egg roll, but don’t forget that you can also purchase a deluxe sparkling egg roll mount from the KiaSA store.
@Rem: Ah, interesting! I must admit my original line of thought hadn’t struck me while I was still playing Rift, so I couldn’t remember whether it had durability or not. Another thing Trion have got right it seems, at least from the point of view of those who don’t lament the loss of the older durability mechanic which I feel made equipment a more interesting dynamic.
 The scary thing is that I seem to vaguely recall paying repair bills in Rift, which probably indicates that I was certainly well indoctrinated in the ways of the Church of Durability.
“To prove that I’m a person, I had to type “wenis”. I am concerned.”
Concerned that you were asked to type it? Or that you complied?
@Blaq: I clearly should have covered the money-sink issue earlier as it’s something yourself and others have raised, and is therefore a strong point. Originally I think durability was intended to remove equipment from the game (thus keeping crafters busy, and people questing for new gear), then it indeed became a way to remove money from the game, and now it has become a way to remove fun from the game.
@Bristal: If it truly is a new word then you might enjoy this.
@ArcherAvatar: Absolutely splendid points! I think the danger is this: the evolution is player driven, the intelligent design is developer driven, and there’s a balance between the two. The incredibly difficult thing the developers have to do is work out which parts of evolution the vast majority of players actually want, and which parts are being driven by a noisy vocal minority.
I’ve enjoyed picturing ‘windging’ as a sort whinging so intense that the player breaks wind due to the pent-up, red-faced, pram-emptying rage they just expressed in an ill-judged forum post to the developers. It’s the perfect word, and I shall use it often!
@Blaq: Interesting thoughts there. I think the travel issue is a thorny one. You’re right: there definitely is a culture of instant gratification that has formed in many MMOs, probably as a reflection of Western society in general; however, there is also the problem that many MMOs made poor use of travel as a deliberate time sink to slow player progress. I believe this is another issue where a better balance could be struck, where travel is meaningful and gives the world the feeling of vastness without giving players cause to go AFK or drum their fingers in frustration as they watch impassively.
I think the durability issue was indeed tweaking done by the developers, but importantly it was in response to the demands of players. As such, I think it takes a form of evolution, where designs that players rejected (for good or for bad, evolution is not always black and white in its selective process) were not picked up by later MMOs. It’s this evolution that needs to be balanced against the developers’ intelligent design. Sometimes it might behove developers to step back and say of some things that have fallen by the wayside “Well that was actually a really good idea, and we can make it work” rather than simply saying “This is what Big MMO X does. Big MMO X is big, therefore we will do it the same way”.
I think Trion have struck this balance quite well: they’ve taken the things that made WoW popular and used them, and in some cases improved on them. But they’ve also taken some things, such as WAR’s public quests, and said “This was a good idea, and can be made to work” and thence made it a core mechanic of their game, rather than just pasting in a watered-down version of public quests which players would basically ignore for the tried and trusted quest-based levelling grind. Trion are also enjoying a more than modest amount of success, I don’t think this is a coincidence.
I believe that the evolution of travel in MMOs is exactly what you mentioned earlier in connection with durability, it’s evolution based on player demands rather than intelligent design. I think developers would love to have travel be a meaningful time sink (well it’s not a “sink” at all if it’s meaningful and enjoyable), but they simply aren’t given the opportunity to do so. Maybe exactly because they’re following the biggest MMO’s lead (as you note later), but I’d sooner pin this problem on the current generation of players influencing the MMOs, rather than the other way around.
You are also completely right, it’s silly to claim that an over time development or progression in design isn’t evolution. Even if durability is only tweaking done by developers it’s still evolution. I was just being stubborn and trying to claim it’s not by simply renaming it. In my defence, it was a kinda late. And looking at Rift, I simply can’t believe that AAA MMO developers are actively brainstorming and trying to incorporate new and unique ideas, but rather just going for the safe route of copying the basic design and slapping on some minor changes.
I don’t quite share your opinion on Rift. When you say Trion have taken features of other MMOs and improved on them, I’m thinking more in the way of streamlining those ideas, instead of taking them in new directions and actively improving on them. I really think that the latter is the real improvement that drives development of the MMO genre, rather than just slightly improving on things where the core idea is already explored.
I also think that you give too much credit to Trion for the Public Quest implementation. If you’re claiming that, in contrast with WAR, the PQ idea is core to Rift, I’d have to disagree. I think that the idea is as core to Rift as it was to WAR, you have an overbearing amount of PQs in both. And if I you were to ask me whether I think Trion have drastically improved on the PQ idea and took it in a new direction or just pasted a “watered-down version of public quests”, I’d go with the latter. They have streamlined it though, but the leveling in both games is very similar (if you take the PvE route). You do a bit of both, PQs and the standard questing and PQs/rifts will be at times ignored in favour of simply questing (they tend to get extremely tedious, as can be the case in WAR aswell, although I’ve seen more variation in WAR than in Rift). In my experience at least.
I don’t think Rift is (at the moment at least) doing as well as Trion would have wanted. It’s a good themepark MMO and the developers are quite fantastic, it’s just that the core ideas and features that you can find in it are nothing new. It’s content has been seen many times before and it seems that a lot of the players that jumped into it expecting something new and exciting were disappointed. The question of “Why abandon my true and trusted MMO when Rift offers nothing new” seems to have been poised a few too many times since Rift’s launch now.
Well at least that’s what I perceive from the reactions in the blogosphere and the people I know. I’ve never played Rift past my 5 or so beta stages and for all I know I could be terribly wrong.
LOL… you’ve got the right idea. Giving credit where credit is due; that is actually one of many irreverant twists on the language my Grandmother used daily… I believe it was intended to be a combination of Crybaby+Blowhard and was used when the whinging was not as submissive and pathetic, but more forceful and stupidly (erroneously) self-confident. Obviously, she was a great woman…
Somewhere in its evolution, item durability has mutated. The initial version was as an economic stimulus – it made people have to replace gear and kept crafters in business. In DAoC at least, it was also an anti-twinking mechanism, because gear over your level lost durability faster. Your items broke because you used them, not because you misjudged a pull.
At some point, item repairs became the primary form of death penalty so the more recent steps are part of the evolution of the death penalty in MMOs (from something to be feared to minor inconvenience). The cost is supposed to provide just enough of a slap on the wrist to make players try to avoid death. Death penalties seem a bit of a tricky thing for designers – if they’re too harsh, then they discourage risk-taking by players and might even drive players away. If they’re too lenient, you get an epidemic of Leeroy Jenkins Syndrome. Personally, I’d like to move away from ‘item durability’ as a death penalty mechanic and maybe try some sort of ‘reduced rewards’ system like the debuff in LotRO skirmishes that means you earn fewer skirmish marks if you die during the run.