Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Discussion about the upcoming Wasteland 3!

Moderator: Ranger Team Alpha

Infinitron
Adventurer
Posts: 599
Joined: March 14th, 2012, 7:40 pm

Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Infinitron » January 8th, 2018, 4:30 pm

I find that my main incentive for looting in Wasteland 2 is the desire to collect a "full set" of some of the loot types available in a given area of the game. All of the weapons for that area's weapon tier, all of the trinkets, and so on. Since weapon crates (for weapons) and safes (for trinkets) are uncommon, I've ended up always save-scumming to ensure I can pick up as many unique items from them as possible.

I don't know whether Wasteland 3 will have the same sort of random loot distribution as its predecessor, but if it will, it would be nice if you could bias the RNG in favor of items the party doesn't already have for these sorts of potentially "collectible" item types. It sure would save me a lot of time.

(You could also go all Valve on us and have the RNG offer up healing items when the party is hurt and specific ammo types when the party is low on that ammo, but that's a different kind of thing)

User avatar
undecaf
Explorer
Posts: 403
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 5:48 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by undecaf » January 9th, 2018, 1:47 am

Sounds awfully artificial if one can start predicting what he’s going to find simply by looking in his backpack. ”Ok, one the next few boxes I will open is likely to contain X because I’m lacking/short on it at the moment.

Not wanting to turn this into a savescumming argument, but should you not just suck it up if you’re not always finding the aztec treasure when you take a peek inside a container. Would it not be easier, would it not be more fun and less stressful? Random loot is never significant enough that it needs to be scummed.

Rather design it so that the game loads every random container once per game and sticks with that (creates a seed, was it?), so they can’t be scummed but every new runthrough you might find something else there.
"A human being in his last extremity IS a bag of shit."

Infinitron
Adventurer
Posts: 599
Joined: March 14th, 2012, 7:40 pm

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Infinitron » January 9th, 2018, 4:09 am

In Wasteland 2, it is pretty significant for weapons, which are really the most important character upgrade you can get. When you have a party where each character is specialized in a different weapon, getting three nail bats in a row instead of the gun types you need just sucks. You'll notice I didn't mention save-scumming ammo crates, which would indeed be rather petty.

Remember, you need to invest precious skill points in a variety of container-opening skills to get this loot. Why shouldn't that investment give you the stuff you need? It's an effective compromise between fixed, hand-designed loot (which I'm not sure inXile have the capacity to do) and randomness. Over time, you're guaranteed to get everything you need.

User avatar
Grohal
Master
Posts: 1013
Joined: April 26th, 2013, 9:51 pm

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Grohal » January 9th, 2018, 6:25 am

I'll make this short:
Random loot in random encounters only - should make sense of course, so no rocketlauncher droped by animals etc.
Everything else should be handplaced by gamedesigners or whoever does such things, acc. to difficulty of encounter/region.
Hell is no place, hell is a condition.

User avatar
undecaf
Explorer
Posts: 403
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 5:48 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by undecaf » January 9th, 2018, 7:20 am

Infinitron wrote:
January 9th, 2018, 4:09 am
When you have a party where each character is specialized in a different weapon, getting three nail bats in a row instead of the gun types you need just sucks.

Remember, you need to invest precious skill points in a variety of container-opening skills to get this loot. Why shouldn't that investment give you the stuff you need?

Over time, you're guaranteed to get everything you need.
Yeah, it sucks, but tough break. I think it’s part of the experience to make do with what you get and figure out how to manage. I’m not adverse to different solutions, but it’s this idea of what would appear as a servile wasteland that provides for and takes care of you because you somehow deserve it for having spent a few SP that gives me a bit of heartburn here.
"A human being in his last extremity IS a bag of shit."

User avatar
sear
Developer
Posts: 2671
Joined: March 21st, 2012, 8:30 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by sear » January 9th, 2018, 10:04 am

This is one of those things that a lot of games do but rarely inform the player of. Here's a fun discussion of the idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLXLlJ7FhJU

I can see arguments in favor or against things like biasing random loot drops to match your weapon types, or hit chances, but I don't think it's something that's come up yet for Wasteland 3.

User avatar
undecaf
Explorer
Posts: 403
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 5:48 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by undecaf » January 9th, 2018, 10:38 am

I've heard of that kind of stuff, and there's been cases where a game has felt - or, given the suspicion - that I am being aided. But beyond those situations having a strangely false ("What just happened?") feel to them, I've not given it more thought.

Well, shit. I suppose this will now have the Wilhelm-scream effect where once you're explicitly told about it, you hear it twice louder every time it occurs...
"A human being in his last extremity IS a bag of shit."

User avatar
Drool
Forum Moderator
Posts: 9578
Joined: March 17th, 2012, 9:58 pm
Location: Under Tenebrosia, doing shots with Sceadu.

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Drool » January 9th, 2018, 5:05 pm

undecaf wrote:
January 9th, 2018, 1:47 am
Sounds awfully artificial if one can start predicting what he’s going to find simply by looking in his backpack. ”Ok, one the next few boxes I will open is likely to contain X because I’m lacking/short on it at the moment.
Depends on how heavily it's weighted, no? Say we find a chest where it could drop 5 different types of ammo, each at 20%. I come up, very low on 9mm ammo. If the box suddenly shifts to 50/12/12/12/12, then it's going to feel artificial. But if it shifts to 25/18/18/18/18, it'll help out the players, but it's a small enough shift that you're not going to feel like the game's holding your hand.
Alwa nasci korliri das.

User avatar
undecaf
Explorer
Posts: 403
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 5:48 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by undecaf » January 9th, 2018, 8:01 pm

Drool wrote:
January 9th, 2018, 5:05 pm
Depends on how heavily it's weighted, no? Say we find a chest where it could drop 5 different types of ammo, each at 20%. I come up, very low on 9mm ammo. If the box suddenly shifts to 50/12/12/12/12, then it's going to feel artificial. But if it shifts to 25/18/18/18/18, it'll help out the players, but it's a small enough shift that you're not going to feel like the game's holding your hand.
Well yeah, sure. The volume matters, but if the bias is diminishingly small, is the player who wants or requires it any wiser in the end? I won’t be opening up the game to check if it does, but I do object the idea of the game cheating for the player by default and that the player is entitled to it.

That said, though, this kind of thing should be easily enough solved by having character building options that count in for it... some ’scavenger’ perks coupled with luck stat, or perhaps even a skill for scavenging (”You have keen eyes for junk. You have easier time separating the treasures from the trash and spotting things useful to your posse.”); or it could be tied to a difficulty slider (i.e. if there were two difficulty sliders, like Fallout had, to control different aspects of the game).
"A human being in his last extremity IS a bag of shit."

User avatar
Gizmo
Grandmaster
Posts: 3627
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 6:25 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Gizmo » January 10th, 2018, 1:52 am

I actually dislike randomized loot. Over multiple plays, it irritates that a different PC can enter the same location at the same point in time, and find different contents within. The most egregious example of this is finding a lost temple shrine with a magic sword at the end of it,(passed the puzzles and challenges... and the next time it's an axe. In Oblivion... it was actually scaled; such that (even worse), having braved the place with a very low level character... come to find out that the blade in the box was utter crap—because the PC was low level. This is credibility damaging, because no one would make a grand temple to house a mediocre artifact of very little value.

User avatar
undecaf
Explorer
Posts: 403
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 5:48 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by undecaf » January 10th, 2018, 3:12 am

There are obvious places for set loot. Like the magic sword the end of a dungeon or someones toolbox in the carage. But in my mind it’s pointless to handplace and lock down junk in every random container (corpses included). In the end it does little but let you beeline to boxes you remeber had something cool in them and give a pass to the ones you recall had nothing special which mitigates the sense of (re)discovery in subsequent playthroughs.

A good mix of set and random is what I’d go for (without scaling towards the PC level). There are the ’reward’ boxes, but there’s still reason to look around and possibly be surprised.
"A human being in his last extremity IS a bag of shit."

User avatar
Zombra
Global Moderator
Posts: 6190
Joined: March 8th, 2012, 10:50 pm

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Zombra » January 10th, 2018, 3:27 am

I'd reframe this idea slightly: bias the RNG against finding things you've already found. I guess it really amounts to the same thing, but the feel is a little different. Instead of "Make it easier to complete the set", the goal would be to stop the same items from appearing over and over. In no world is it fun to open 5 chests in a row and find 5 fireplace pokers.
Image

User avatar
Gizmo
Grandmaster
Posts: 3627
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 6:25 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Gizmo » January 10th, 2018, 11:37 am

undecaf wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 3:12 am
...
The issue (in principle) that I have is that the success of differing PCs in the same situation, cannot not be compared; because their resources are different. As it would be in Fallout, if (dead) Ed had different gear each time you left the vault with a new PC.

*Granted that random wasteland encounters could greatly alter their equipment... But (to consider Fallout again) that's not the same as finding Power Armor or a plasma blaster in the Glow.

**People who'd cheat would bee-line to known items like the ADV-PA suit in Fallout 2... but they'd also spam-reload at a point where loot content is decided; unless it was pre-calculated per character/each new game.

___

I am fine with a merchant changing up their stock every day or so; to reflect recent transactions. ;)

User avatar
sear
Developer
Posts: 2671
Joined: March 21st, 2012, 8:30 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by sear » January 10th, 2018, 6:25 pm

Gizmo wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 1:52 am
I actually dislike randomized loot. Over multiple plays, it irritates that a different PC can enter the same location at the same point in time, and find different contents within. The most egregious example of this is finding a lost temple shrine with a magic sword at the end of it,(passed the puzzles and challenges... and the next time it's an axe. In Oblivion... it was actually scaled; such that (even worse), having braved the place with a very low level character... come to find out that the blade in the box was utter crap—because the PC was low level. This is credibility damaging, because no one would make a grand temple to house a mediocre artifact of very little value.
When you have thousands of item drops in a game, placing and balancing by hand is a pretty big challenge. With Wasteland 2 there was a lot of randomly generated loot, and when we redid the loot drops in the Director's Cut, we specifically added new unique weapons, and added more fixed high-quality drops. It's likely Wasteland 3 will use random loot drops to some extent, but we definitely want to make sure that loot is consistently valuable and rewarding, and features as many hand-placed and unique items as possible.

User avatar
Zombra
Global Moderator
Posts: 6190
Joined: March 8th, 2012, 10:50 pm

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Zombra » January 10th, 2018, 6:44 pm

sear wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 6:25 pm
When you have thousands of item drops in a game
I'd love to see the quantity of drops and containers reduced by a factor of 10 from Wasteland 2 :geek:
Image

User avatar
Gizmo
Grandmaster
Posts: 3627
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 6:25 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Gizmo » January 10th, 2018, 7:06 pm

sear wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 6:25 pm
When you have thousands of item drops in a game, placing and balancing by hand is a pretty big challenge. With Wasteland 2 there was a lot of randomly generated loot, and when we redid the loot drops in the Director's Cut, we specifically added new unique weapons, and added more fixed high-quality drops. It's likely Wasteland 3 will use random loot drops to some extent, but we definitely want to make sure that loot is consistently valuable and rewarding, and features as many hand-placed and unique items as possible.
I've no qualm with pre-calculated (random) loot, per se. I did not mean—strictly that every item had to be hand placed, but rather that items not be randomly determined on the fly when a new item is found in the same place that a previous PC had explored the contents. It's not terribly important; just a peeve that I notice.
(Like if the corpse in front of Vault 13 had a grenade instead of a pistol, the next time you started a new game.)

User avatar
undecaf
Explorer
Posts: 403
Joined: March 6th, 2012, 5:48 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by undecaf » January 11th, 2018, 12:12 am

Gizmo wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 11:37 am
The issue (in principle) that I have is that the success of differing PCs in the same situation, cannot not be compared; because their resources are different. As it would be in Fallout, if (dead) Ed had different gear each time you left the vault with a new PC.

*Granted that random wasteland encounters could greatly alter their equipment... But (to consider Fallout again) that's not the same as finding Power Armor or a plasma blaster in the Glow.
I think a lot of this has to do with the significance of the given context.

Looting some random boxes, it matters little if you find this or that now and something else in the next game. If it’s useful so be it, if not tough luck. As long as the loot fits the context. But there is a reason to look around every run if you don’t know what you will find.

If you sneak into weaponsmitty and start going through his drawers, you should find weapon and crafting related stuff. Doesn’t matter what that stuff is as long as the context remains intact. However, if the context is that the smith has the blueprints and prototype of an experimental weapon in that pesky locked safe, or if the gameplay context is such that the balance won’t break if an ingenious player finds that plated exoskeleton from the hidden room in the basement, those should absolute always be there and not rolled.

Similiarly if you sneak into a bakery... you get the picture.
Last edited by undecaf on January 11th, 2018, 12:20 am, edited 3 times in total.
"A human being in his last extremity IS a bag of shit."

Infinitron
Adventurer
Posts: 599
Joined: March 14th, 2012, 7:40 pm

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Infinitron » January 11th, 2018, 2:12 am

Zombra wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 3:27 am
I'd reframe this idea slightly: bias the RNG against finding things you've already found. I guess it really amounts to the same thing, but the feel is a little different. Instead of "Make it easier to complete the set", the goal would be to stop the same items from appearing over and over. In no world is it fun to open 5 chests in a row and find 5 fireplace pokers.
Yes, that would be good.

Basic idea for implementation: Each area in the game has a pool of items that its containers can potentially yield to you (divided by container type of course - weapon crates, safes, and so on). When you get an item from a container, it is removed from the pool and will not appear again.

User avatar
Drool
Forum Moderator
Posts: 9578
Joined: March 17th, 2012, 9:58 pm
Location: Under Tenebrosia, doing shots with Sceadu.

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by Drool » January 12th, 2018, 4:07 pm

Zombra wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 6:44 pm
sear wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 6:25 pm
When you have thousands of item drops in a game
I'd love to see the quantity of drops and containers reduced by a factor of 10 from Wasteland 2 :geek:
Indeed. Wasteland 1 had no randomized loot spawns. Every loot bag dropped every game with the same items (only quantities could randomize). Less loot, more emphasis on ammo management. Better economics (and maybe a Barter skill that isn't worse than worthless). And better ammo matching with the zone. Really didn't need .38 ammo drops in LA, ya know?
Alwa nasci korliri das.

User avatar
sear
Developer
Posts: 2671
Joined: March 21st, 2012, 8:30 am

Re: Idea: Bias random loot in favor of items you don't already have

Post by sear » January 13th, 2018, 8:40 am

Since it's a Saturday morning, and cold as hell outside, I got to thinking about this some more. There's a lot of talk about loot that has the potential to feel "too random", but I actually think there's a lot of different, inter-related aspects that go into what people are identifying.
  • Container frequency. This is simply the sheer volume of containers. More containers, more loot - simple enough. However, if players feel like they're spending too much time clicking on things and waiting for animations that don't lead to enough reward, then this starts to feel tedious. This is one thing that got reduced substantially in the Director's Cut over the original Wasteland 2 release.
  • Loot appropriateness. Almost every RPG uses random drops to some extent - but what I think is really important is not "randomness" but appropriateness to the situation. Although hand-placing every single mundane item drop in the game sounds great on paper, what is a much better use of designer time is making sure that the "significant" drops like mission rewards, hidden and secret items, and so on, are present and accounted for, that the items themselves are cool and satisfying to use, etc.
  • Loot placement. This is more a level design question than a systems one, but people generally want to feel like the loot they're finding makes sense for its context. It doesn't feel very believable to find a big chest with tons of awesome items out in the open, just as it doesn't feel very fitting to go to lengths breaking into a vault or armory only to find it empty.
  • Loot progression. The actual types of items you find over the course of the game, and how they improve (or don't) is important. Getting more mileage out of the existing item progression (more bonuses, trade-offs, more unique variants, special abilities, more mods, etc.) is a great way to make loot feel more valuable and interesting.
  • Loot distribution. By this I meant not so much where items are placed, as the "cool" vs. "junk" loot that you find. You can have two RPGs with the exact same set of items, but the distribution of that loot's quality vs. quantity is going to make them feel very different. There isn't really one "good" or "bad" approach here - it's about picking what works for your game. What makes sense in Wasteland or Fallout doesn't make sense for Diablo, or Gothic, or Deus Ex, etc.
There are all sorts of extra factors that tie into loot as well - like how hard skill checks are, mission rewards, merchants, the overall interface and UX of looting, etc. Like anything in system design, one aspect of the game often has consequences on other parts - this all comes before things like drop scaling and biasing the RNG.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest