4 – Battle Based Looting

Battle Based Looting

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Core System

III. BBL System Types

– 1. Damage to Loot

– 2. Damage Reduces Loot Durability

– 3. Direction-Specific Damage

– 4. Hitbox-Specific Damage

IV. Considerations for Utilization (deprecated)

1. Landmark Considerations

2. EverQuest Next Considerations

V. Conceptual Examples

I. Introduction

Battle-Based Looting (BBL) is a system designed to make the loot tables for each combat target limit or allow access to certain types of drops based on how the target was defeated. This will force players to limit or alter their playing style in order to get the loot they desire from enemies, and it can be done in different ways depending on what the game itself can utilize.

The inspiration for this system is why I left World of Warcraft. After killing all the bosses in the first full-length instanced raid dungeon, every weekend for a year straight, and not once ever seeing a specific crafting item I was seeking drop from any of them, I quit for good. Blizzard would never disclose how loot randomization works, and there was no conceivable way to tip the scale in a way that would favor certain types of loot. In the context of modern fantasy MMOs, or really any RPG with combat, the ability to have a system that generates kill loot based on how the player fought the opponent can add an extra layer of consideration to gameplay, and can increase difficulty or a sense of reward for playing the game in an intelligent way.

There are many ways in which this system can be accomplished, and each one can be utilized in a variety of different ways. On the surface, players will know that certain items only come from certain targets, but they will need to pay attention to what they are doing if they want specific goods and materials which might be possible from the target. This is doubly true if they need a very specific component for a recipe or to fulfill the request of another character, especially if the target is particularly rare and few in numbers.

II. Core System

The overall core of the system, the goal for implementation of this feature, is that the way in which players fight a creature will determine the quality and / or variety of loot that may be available. Depending on the type of target the player is facing, some attacks may be far more effective at dealing damage, but the tradeoff is that they also destroy more of the target’s equipment or collectible materials by using attacks that are extremely effective. This not only lets players try to choose their battles to get what they need in as efficient a method as possible, but it also infuses a risk-reward factor into every battle where the player may need to use their character’s less effective attacks and defenses in order to gain the desired loot.

This is meant to be a factor in every battle, from a solo combatant against a single target, to a small party against a group of targets, to a massive warband engaging a giant monster in combat. When a party is seeking to get from one destination to another or mine for resources, and loot from enemies is not a factor, the types of attacks which they my use will likely be the most powerful and effective for the targets they face. When a party is seeking to carefully wear down targets for maximum plundering and unmarred resources, they will have to take their time with each and every target, creating more risk of more enemies coming or the target managing to tap into some undiscovered strength to repel attackers.

There isn’t a set list of attacks which are more destructive to loot than others, but it is contextual based on the target. This means there aren’t abilities that are stronger for the sake of killing faster and smashing loot, or a set of abilities that are weaker just for the sake of preserving enemy loot, though those elements could be built into the character’s abilities. Fire ignites cloth and burns trees to ash, but is a fine choice to use if all you want is the target’s sword. Some attacks may be less destructive and still effective for inflicting damage based on the type of loot desired, but it is up to players to discover which ones are the attacks and abilities with these properties.

III. BBL System Types

Below are the four different ways which BBL can be implemented. None of them are exclusive systems, and all four can actually be use to create an extremely dynamic system. These four system types are: Damage to Loot, Damage Reducing Loot Availability, Direction-Specific Damage, and Hitbox-Specific Damage. Any of these four system can be utilized together to create a combined system with more richness and diversity.

1. Damage to Loot – Using this system, different damage types inflicted on a target will differentially wear down the enemy equipment. Each item which can be looted from the enemy (including body parts) have their own health / durability / overall integrity, as well as their own resistances to different types of damage. The resistance to damage for items is different from the protection it offers the wearer, for example a piece of metal may survive intact while the wearer is frozen to death behind it because the metal doesn’t insulate the wearer against freezing.

As damage is inflicted to the different items through battle, they will get worn down, causing the damaged items to be available either in a degraded state or not at all after the battle. The appearance of the target should indicate which types of weapons and attacks to use to improve the odds of getting certain goods or materials, and there may be skills which help to identify what the target has and how to attack for the best chances at a particular type of loot. This can also allow for a system where players can defeat enemies that are much tougher than them by slowly wearing down the target’s equipment until it is destroyed, but that means the only loot their armor provides is scraps and twisted chunks of metal.

2. Damage Reducing Loot Availability – This system will cause damage of different types to reduce the odds of certain items showing up in the target’s loot table. This means that attacks won’t outright damage or destroy the items and materials on the target, but lower the odds that certain ones will appear. It may also lower the quality of items that may be looted, where a damaged or destroyed version of an item visible on the target’s body will be offered instead of an intact one. The total amount of damage inflicted on the target (minus the effects of healing or in-battle repairs) is factored into the loot distribution, so fighting a target who constantly heals during the battle may leave nothing but flesh and bone by the end of the battle. This method can be done in a way that is forgiving, so there’s at least a slim chance of getting an intact item despite using attacks that greatly reduce the odds of getting it.

3. Direction-Specific Damage – This system causes loot tables to be affected by where different sources of damage came from. Depending on the orientation of the items on an enemy, it will be easier or more difficult to collect those items as loot based on where the damage is being dealt. Items that are generally oriented towards the front of the enemy, or cover all directions but are weighted towards the front (like a breastplate with nothing but the leather harness on the back), are easier to collect if the majority of the damage comes from rear-striking attacks. This makes sure that players eliminate an enemy in the proper tactical means in order to weigh the access to loot in their favor.

4. Hitbox-Specific Damage – This system causes loot tables to be affected by where damage is inflicted on the enemy. More damage to a given hitbox reduces the chances of getting loot (or at least intact loot) from that location, but focusing damage on that hitbox will increase chances of loot from other parts of the target. Attacks which are not localized to one spot, or envelop the target in full, will disperse their damage across the different hitboxes, and hitboxes will be weighed based on their vulnerability to determine where more of the splash damage ends up affecting the possible loot items.

IV. Considerations for Utilization

This document was originally written with EverQuest Next and Landmark in mind in 2013 before players had any chance to try it out. The rest of this section has been left unaltered for the prupose of explaining how it can work in both a resource-based sandbox as well as a teamwork-based RPG.

EverQuest Next and Landmark will be very dynamic games with many diverse features, including the collection of resources and equipment from enemies. While they are different products, there are ways by which both could gain from using these systems.

1. Landmark Considerations

As a resource-collection game, the ability to get the right materials from creatures will eventually be a factor. There might be a variety of ways to defeat the creatures, but each method may produce different harvestable resources. Every creature can be the source of multiple categories of materials, which means less creatures are needed to populate a diverse crafting system with a variety of materials.

Landmark is meant to eventually be a feature-rich sandbox tool for letting players create their own content, even using the game to design D&D campaigns or something of equivalent complexity. This means players will be able to create original systems and original projects. Having the ability to use one or more of the BBL systems in their content and campaigns gives the creators more control and specificity for any content they make.

2. EverQuest Next Considerations

EverQuest Next is gearing up to be one of the most advanced and feature-rich MMOs ever made, and is poised to be a major step forward for MMOs and Sandbox games alike. For a game of this level of quality, adding elements to make the way combat is engaged more meaningful are always welcome. In this case, the way players gain loot and materials from the targets they fight will be based on the ways in which they fight those targets, which means proper planning and tactics are needed to effectively take down targets to gain their desirable loot. This can make a simpler enemy more complicated or dangerous to fight, or make a powerful enemy even more dangerous for anyone who wants to try to claim loot from it.

Using multiple BBL systems lets players utilize a variety of different strategies to maximize their odds of getting meaningful loot. If items an enemy uses can break or be rendered unusable by some attacks, this should also be reflected in their loot after the battle. For enemies who have their best loot on one part of the body, or it is weighted towards one direction, using positioning and hitbox targeting to hit the less-important areas becomes an option.

This system truly rewards a group of players for being tactically sound and coordinating to defeat a target effectively. Some targets may be too difficult to safely kill in a beneficial way solo, but the presence of a group allows for more diversity of attacks and damage sources, more angles of attack, and more opportunities to hit the enemy from angles that are exposed or otherwise indefensible. Whether solo or in a group, bringing the right tools and skills for the task is important to success.

This system helps to lower the value of slaying creatures who can be executed with relative ease, making the effort to defeat them equal to the loot they provide. Smashing through a pile of weaker enemies with massive attacks will render most of the items and materials destroyed beyond use. If loot isn’t the goal, and getting to a destination or protecting an ally is the goal, then it won’ matter too much to players if they are not getting loot for the groups they eliminate.

V. Conceptual Examples

Below are three examples which were written during the conceptualization of this document.

In speaking with Dave Georgeson at E3 2013, we briefly discussed this concept in the context of a tree. Burning a tree to death will produce charred wood that probably isn’t good for very much aside from burning it some more. Striking it with lightning may potentially split it, damaging some wood but leaving some usable material. Freezing it might not kill it, but it might make the leaves fall off, reducing its regeneration capabilities and allowing the leaves to get crushed as the battle rages on. A wind attack may only slow it down. Bows might not really harm it. Crushing the tree in a gravity vortex might not kill it, but it might strip some of the leaves and weaker branches. While less safe due to the massive flailing branches, slaying the tree with swords and axes and hammers might give the highest chances of obtaining sap, leaves, and high quality wood for lumber.

Another example would be an armored humanoid champion. The champion would enter the fight with 100% durability across all of its armor. Lightning attacks will cause metal to arc and fuse, lowering the quality and durability of metal equipment. Fire attacks will potentially singe or even ignite cloth equipment, and anything flammable would certainly explode and be non-lootable. Gravity attacks may shred leather better than anything else, or potentially wreck the metal armor and weapons. Freeze attacks will render their potions frozen, causing any well-sealed ones to burst or leak or lose potency. Smashing rigid armor with hammers will smash it up and reduce the quality of loot. Slashing weapons will slice up flexible materials. Piercing weapons will still harm armor, but generally less than smashing on rigid or slashing on flexible. Spreading damage across different sources, and killing the champion before it can heal multiple times, are important to getting more and better loot. Don’t use attacks against that champion which will destroy the pieces of equipment you want to keep, and the stuff that is dropped will be the best quality and be in the best shape possible.

Hitting a Frozen Lich with fire might be a fantastic way to inflict damage upon it, but it will guarantee that any robes, wands, or spellbooks will be destroyed along with the Frozen Lich. Likewise, it may take a group coordinated fighters with crushing weapons to take down a Frozen Lich with the above items intact, but any bones or magical gems will be damaged or destroyed in the process. A combination of both could leave some of those items partially intact, but using other damage sources to defeat the Frozen Lich is ideal for maximizing those two types of loot (though other forms of loot, like the wet ashes of a Frozen Lich, won’t be available).