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thisguy321

Balancing Reward Items for DDA

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By "Reward Items", I'm referring to semi-fixed items you get by completing specific maps or challenges. Things like the Obsidian weapons from completing Akatiti Jungle in DD1, or the weapons from completing Incursions in DD2. Their stats and attributes may vary between reward items of the same kind, but for the most part, these items all look and function very similarly relative to randomly dropped items.

I never saw the point in having reward items in games with randomized loot like Dungeon Defenders. Why would you go to the effort of making a huge, complex system that can generate a truly unique item, every time... only to then add easily-farmed items that render the whole system redundant?

In DD1, reward items were hugely important to Nightmare-level play; many players say it's pointless to collect random weapons at all, because reward items simply outclass them in every way. I'm sure that if armor could be farmed from beating a specific map, that the same would apply to randomly dropped armor as well (in fact, that's one of many reasons why Lab Assault is so popular). Conversely, I haven't seen or heard of many players using Incursion weapons in DD2, except for especially powerful ones like the Shadowflame Knife. This is likely because Incursion weapons are often weaker than random drops due to losing a MOD slot permanently, and rarely offering anything that justifies losing that slot. Incursions in general also seem to give worse rewards than Expedition or Onslaught maps, providing little incentive to play them.

(Side note: the Borderlands games have a similar concept, with the Legendary weapons that are rare drops from specific enemies and Unique weapons from completing certain quests. These are a little better than DD1 due to having varied and unique mechanics, and plenty of Legendary weapons are equal or even inferior to random weapons, but often a good Legendary or Unique weapon outclasses even the best random Purple weapon.)

Personally, I think that reward items in DDA should exist as an alternative to extensive farming; you can get a reward weapon easily, and it's good for the level you're at, but taking the time to grind for a high-quality random weapon should render it obsolete. I think the following changes should be made to reward items to make this happen:

  1. Less stat deviation in general compared to other items, being about mid-tier on average for where you can find them. The best reward weapons should be better than most random drops on the same map or level, but still noticeably weaker than the best random drops.
  2. They should have unique effects that most other weapons lack, similar to the special MODS of the Incursion weapons, without sacrificing too much potential. It would be nice if these effects were available on random weapons as well, but the chances of getting one should be very low. This would help make reward items feel 'different' or 'unique' compared to random drops, and provide an incentive to go for reward items specifically.

TL;DR: Items earned from reliable means, like completing a specific map or challenge, should have unique effects that separate them from most random drops, and should never render randomly dropped items inferior or pointless.

What are your thoughts on reward items?

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Bit of both is needed, imo. It can be tough to balance because you want to give players a reason to play different pieces of content, but you also don't want that to be the only viable item. At the same time, I feel it perfectly reasonable to give a great reward for exceptionally difficult content. Random loot shouldnt be outclassed, but reward loot still needs to be good, too. DD1 took it a bit far, while DD2 didnt take it far enough (even the Shadowflame knife hasn't been useful in ages, they nerfed the duration of the projectiles, so the damage doesnt add up anymore. Used to be broken as heck since the projectiles lasted quite some time).  

 

I do like the idea of reward gear retaining effects that make them useful for unique reasons, however, instead of just immediatepy outclassing existing gear. 

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It is weird that reward for challenge maps (Especially normal tower defence maps) gave a set weapon with RNG stats. 

I remember those weapons being pretty high class for the difficulty tho? E.g On Insane difficult the item would role as a High Insane item, giving a good way to farm a High end insane weapon to get ready for nightmare maps

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16 hours ago, thisguy321 said:

I never saw the point in having reward items in games with randomized loot like Dungeon Defenders. Why would you go to the effort of making a huge, complex system that can generate a truly unique item, every time... only to then add easily-farmed items that render the whole system redundant?

Because it encourages people to play different things and gives people control over what they're doing, along with a myriad of other reasons.

If the game is devolved into "BiS items can drop anywhere" it becomes unfun. Almost everyone is just going to farm the fastest map with the fastest most brain dead build over and over until they burn out from the fact that they have no idea what they're even chasing after, they're making no actual "progress" towards it and doing anything other than what they're doing is a waste of time. 

There's such a thing as too much randomness. DD2 has told us that multiple times now. Very few people enjoy grinding their asses off with no sense of direction or progressing any closer to what they're grinding for. 

 

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19 minutes ago, Cuddles said:

Because it encourages people to play different things and gives people control over what they're doing, along with a myriad of other reasons.

If the game is devolved into "BiS items can drop anywhere" it becomes unfun. Almost everyone is just going to farm the fastest map with the fastest most brain dead build over and over until they burn out from the fact that they have no idea what they're even chasing after, they're making no actual "progress" towards it and doing anything other than what they're doing is a waste of time. 

There's such a thing as too much randomness. DD2 has told us that multiple times now. Very few people enjoy grinding their asses off with no sense of direction or progressing any closer to what they're grinding for.

Amen to this; very well said. People should absolutely be able to target certain rewards. Sure, it means they farm those challenges ad nauseum. But as you said, having random drops be the best quality gear would just lead to a similar problem: people farming the easiest/fastest map with high enough loot quality multiplier. In either case: people are not playing a variety of content. They're running the same few maps. The goal should be to make a variety of content which drops meaningful loot at a similar rate and time investment regardless of stage played. And have the variance from stage to stage, on the same difficulty, be in WHICH items can drop, not in the quality of said drops.

Something DD2 does in its current form, and has a for a bit, is allow you to "Tinker" stuff. So that all those amazing weapon models can be made into legendary gear and be 100% viable in endgame. Instead of having just a few usable endgame weapons (something it struggled with previously, DD1 always struggled with and still does to some degree, etc.) And not having all the gorgeous weapon art assets go to waste when people only use a couple of endgame-viable weapons. So in DDA, in the absence of Tinkering, all main weapon types should at least be able to drop/reward at full endgame stat ranges. You'll see a variety in builds as well as people farming different stages depending which gear they want.

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In dd2 the original bling incursion gave a super unique bow. It was by far my favorite item for a while. It did slightly above average damage but had a short range unique fire. That is what they need to aim for and not necessarily a really good stat stick. Give as many unique items as you want even if they arent all that good. Also be careful in testing to verify things arent over powered because it sucks to get something really good then have it changed into something you no longer would want.

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In my opinion DD1 did realy well with reward items especialy from the chalange maps,

where u did not only get a specific weapon on completing it, you also unlock that item for the worlddrop itempool!

That systhem was wounderfull and i am not speeking from normal rewards like kings quest or akatiki jungel,

where the rewards realy where slightly to good compaired to world drop items.

So wath DDA needs in my opinion would be exactly the calange map loot.

So let us do chalanges to unloock certan items to world loot, those chould be still somewath rare, to not lose interest

to play a chalange map again if u realy want that sort of item, but it would remove the need to run only a certan map over and over

again.

Of corse rewards should get a slightly higher chance to roll better, as i said to make it still meeningfull but

world loot should be also on paar if u are realy lucky to make world drops still usable.

I guess its hard to balance...

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10 hours ago, WarSlammer said:

I guess its hard to balance...

true fact there... All system is great as long as they can balance it well. 

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