I killed them. I killed them all!
The feedback about how terrible the loot piles were overwhelmed us, and rightly so! There really were awful, weren't they?
So frustrating, so annoying… dah! I just can't stand thinking about those stupid little piles –so hard to click on and getting stuck all the time. Aaargh! I hate it…
…15 minutes later…
So anyway, we changed the loot drop mechanics. Now items cascade out of a drop much in the same way as other action RPG style games. All in all, we're trying to make them much less jarring on the flow of gameplay, so that picking up loot doesn't impede combat and exploration momentum.
Another advantage of the new drops is that it's homogenized gameplay –you've tasted it before, so everyone knows how it works. At first lots of us were saying "this game already does that" or "we don't wanna be like that game". But in the end, we decided to get off our high horses and sacrifice some uniqueness to pro$e a robust and familiar looting mechanic that everybody knows and likes. And guess what… it's so much better now!
At first we were thinking of doing realistic looking drops. Those just blended into the background too much. In the end we tried more arcade-y style floating drops and they looked much better. Our level environments and characters are quite crisp compared to other ARPGs which tend to be blurry, featureless, basic or just out of focus. So the floating item drops really worked better overall.
First we organized the loot types into categories. We wanted to make small and clearly identifiable item drops so that people would instantly know if they wanted it or not. For weapons, we came up with these (some of which you've never seen before)!
So that was a good starting point to prototype the new loot drops. We also needed a basic item quality/level indicator, so we made a really awful but obvious looking particle effect that was brown, just like the color of the item name in your backpack. After hacking away at the code for a while, we came up with the effect. And it worked pretty nicely.
I fully admit, this horrid looking prototype was already a thousand times better than the old loot piles. You guys were totally right about them –thanks for the feedback and here's your result!
So now that everything was working nicely, it really was time to start making nicer looking drops. We looked at other games and saw they only really have one model type per item category. We did a little better than that and decided to have about 60 different types of drop categories.
Here are some of the shillings drops you can see in the game.
The final result of our labor was realized below. Of course, there's tweaking and changing still to do, areas we can improve on, but in general, the mechanic is done and works much better than before.
Any thoughts on this once-hated design? Be sure to pile your ‘em up on our forum.