By Pinpointerror @ November 11, 2013 at 9:59am
Item Progression System – Dev Blog by Chris Matz, Lead Systems Designer
Since Neverwinter launched, we’ve received lots of feedback about the way our current Fusing system – and everything that surrounds it, like Enchantments, Runestones, Unslot costs, etc. – works, and where it… doesn’t quite work. We gathered it all up and took a look at what some of the major issues were, and looked at how we could address those issues. Some of the biggest issues we identified were:
- No one wanted to Unslot an Enchantment, pretty much ever. They did if they had really high end Enchants, but this wasn’t very common. This had an additional negative of making people not want to bother with the whole Enchantment system while leveling up – if you were unwilling to Unslot an Enchant, then putting one into an item meant it was lost forever, so a lot of people just opted to not bother until the end of the game.
- You couldn’t Fuse Enchants that were currently slotted. With people not wanting to Unslot Enchants, this was a particularly troublesome problem.
- So. Much. Bag space. Since you needed to gather 4 matching Enchants of the same exact rank in order to Fuse them to the next Rank, you ended up with 2 or 3 stacks of each Enchantment and Runestone, filling upwards of 30 slots in your bag.
- High barriers to high end Enchants. While the system stayed consistent in that you always needed 4 of a given Rank to get to the next Rank, it would become progressively harder to get 4 of the same Rank, with compounding costs of needing to Rank up many Enchants of lower level before you could even get close to making progress on your current Enchantment.
With these issues in mind, we set out to solve some problems. We also kept in mind our upcoming system – Artifacts – which would be using another “rank up” style system, but we’ll get to that in another Dev Blog.
Refining the System
One of the first things we set out to solve was the bag space issue. The old system pretty much required using lots of bag space, since you had to hold on to all ranks of all Enchants until you got a set of 4. So we decided to get rid of that concept, and allow Enchantments and Runestones to just “eat” other Enchantments and Runestones at any time, one at a time if desired, and made it so that they can be improved with any other Enchant or Runestone (though matching ones are still best). This meant you no longer had to store tons of Enchantments you weren’t using in your bag. You just had to unslot your current Enchantment, throw your extra Enchantment at it to give it some progression, reslot it back into — wait, that’s no good.
So we fixed it so you didn’t need to unslot an Enchantment or Runestone to be able to improve it, and things got even better. Now you can just improve items while they are already equipped, so you can just avoid that whole unslotting thing until you actually want to move it to a new item! “Fusing” no longer made sense, as you didn’t have to get a set of 4 of them and make them into 1 new Enchantment. After many attempts, Refinement became the new name for the system.
Now we had a new issue, though. Just throwing lots of Enchantments and Runestones in to your current Enchantment didn’t feel like enough to make it Rank Up. Each of these steps was a pretty major point, and we wanted it to feel that way. So we added in Upgrade components (called Reagents) that are required to go from a given Rank to the next Rank. Once your Enchantment has gained enough “Refinement Points” (which is like XP for items). they’re ready to Upgrade.
High End Issues
We still had two other issues. One of them was fairly easy to solve – people generally didn’t want to unslot Enchantments and Runestones due to the Astral Diamond cost. While the costs were fairly high, your feedback showed that it was largely tied to the feeling of using any amount of Astral Diamonds for this purpose. As such, we reworked the costs to require Gold (or Copper or Silver) and changed the way the calculation worked to be a little simpler, and to no longer punish you for having higher Rank Enchantments. Previously, the cost to unslot an Enchantment was determined by the level of the item it was in and the Rank of the Enchantment, which meant that as you invested more and more into your Enchantment, it got more painful to unslot. We’ve changed it so that the new Gold cost for unslotting is determined entirely by the item it is slotted into – the level and quality (Common, Uncommon, Rare, or Epic) will now determine the exact Gold cost.
The final issue was the difficulty of getting higher ranked Enchantments. While we want there to be some challenge involved – as we want the additional value of those high end Enchantments to be meaningful and have value as Epic items – there was room for that difficulty to be reduced, and this new system made it possible to change the specific requirements from Rank to Rank.
With the old system, to take your current Rank 7 Enchantment up to Rank 8, you had to get 3 more of the same Rank 7 Enchantments. This was usually accomplished by finding a whole bunch of Rank 4 Enchantments, making them into a whole bunch of Rank 5 Enchantments, then make those into a whole bunch of Rank 6 Enchantments, before finally making all of THOSE into 3 Rank 7 Enchantments – and THEN performing your Upgrade to a Rank 8 Enchantment. And at each of these Upgrade steps (hundreds of steps in total), you had a chance to fail, which meant that you’d have to go get another Enchantment.
So we reduced the matching Enchantment requirements of these high Rank Enchantments to only 1 match, instead of 3 matches. This, coupled with the fact that Refining them could now be done directly with any rank of Enchantment or Runestone, meant that we also removed hundreds of upgrade steps (and potential failure points) from the process.
After making these changes, we found one more area that we could improve. We found that obtaining items that could be big boosts to how quickly an item could rank up felt really good, so we added special “Refining Stones” that are basically just big pools of Refinement Points. Finding one of these in game is rare (typically from Skill Nodes or boss drops), but can give you a big boost and get your Enchantments (and Artifacts) ready to Upgrade that much more quickly.
Well, I think that’s it for now. As mentioned, this system also works with Artifacts, and we’ll talk more about them soon. These changes are up on NeverwinterPreview right now, and we’re eager for players to test them out and give us feedback!
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