Rift: Planes of Telara Reader Submitted Q&A #6 – Equipment and Itemization

Rift: Planes of Telara
Rift: Planes of Telara

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In this sixth exclusive interview with Trion Worlds, Ten Ton Hammer asks about gamers’ favorite things, loot and gear! To learn more about the fabulous items that you can get in Rift: Planes of Telara, we sat down with Drew Clowery, Game System Designer. Many equipment related topics were discussed such as loot drops, armor sets, looting systems, rarity of loot, and many others. If you have any questions you wish answered in a future interview, please post them in our official Rift forum.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are there armor sets and bonuses?

Drew Clowery: This is something that I, personally, really want. But that doesn't mean it will get in right away. We're not planning on having armor set bonuses at launch, but we will be paying close attention to the community feedback during beta and beyond.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do you have an idea of how many armor sets are available?

Drew Clowery: I have a pretty good idea! I work with those guys regularly. (laughs) We have 48 different models, and then each model has a number of texture variants. Those texture variants can dramatically alter the way the model looks. There are 48 underlying models where the physical geometry looks like this, and then a large of texture variants which changes the look of the whole item. We have quite a few.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do all armor pieces have a visual component? Say you’re wearing an earring; will you be able to see that earring on your avatar?

"Loot is a really big element in these games. Getting new and exciting gear is really important.."
Drew Clowery: We decided not to do that. There’s really a really low rate of return for the workload on a lot of those. It’s hard to see rings, earrings, or belts. When you’re looking at characters in a MMOG, you tend to be looking at them from a distance away, and you don’t get that really close up view that lets you see little details like that. As a result of that, we decided not to put the work, and it’s a substantial amount of work, into modeling each and every one of those items. That said, you have 6 different visual appearance armor slots, plus weapons, which appear visually on your character. So there is a good deal of visual character customization, and we really tried to focus in on the areas where we would get the biggest bang for our buck.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will dungeons have better gear drops than rifts?

Drew Clowery: In general, rifts are theoretically easier than dungeons because there’s no population gap. You can keep brining in more people until your video card melts. Because of that, rifts are considered easier and we try to distribute items based upon the difficulty of the content. If a 5 man dungeon can only be done by 5 people and there’s a certain level of difficulty, it’s going to have loot of that difficulty. If there’s a rift that’s a 5 man rift of comparable difficulty in terms of completing it, we’re going to grade it as being slightly less difficult because you can bring it 6, 8, or 20 people in. At the same time, if you’re doing a 10 to 20 man rift event, which is harder than a 5 man dungeon, we’re going to grade that harder, but not as hard as a 10 to 20 man raid event, where you can only bring in that specific number of people.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are the classic restrictions of cloth, leather, chain and plate in place?

Drew Clowery: Yes. It may be beneficial at times for a warrior, let's say, to equip leather with high stats to do more DPS if that's the role they want to play, but generally speaking, they'll want to stick to the armor type of their calling. Your tanking breastplate won’t be too desirable to you DPS warrior.

Rift: Planes of Telara

Ten Ton Hammer: So, is there world loot, which is random drops off of creatures?

Drew Clowery: There absolutely is. We have the noun-of-adjective items, like the Sword of Awesomeness, and those can drop anywhere in the world. Those are really good for leveling characters and filling in gear gaps where you might have missed a particular quest and don’t have a cool set of boots, which this type of loot will cover up. Perhaps you did dungeons, but you didn’t get the loot you wanted. These drops are gap fillers.

We also a good number of handcrafted items which drop randomly in the world. Generally, the handcrafted items are specific to one monster, one set of monsters, or one region of the world. We do that to reinforce the flavor of those areas. It’s not as exciting to kill an earth elemental and get the goblin king’s sword. We want to keep those things in a more localized, flavorful place. Obviously, the exception there is if the earth elemental is in the goblin king’s fortress. We try to keep things in a specific, flavorful area and those items are handcrafted, which means that they’re generally a little bit better and a lot cooler.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are their tiers of loot, such as white, green, blue, and purple?

Drew Clowery: Yes. We call it rarity. The common loot is the normal things that you can’t equip, such as vendor loot, consumables, and trade skill items. Then we have uncommon loot, which is most of your wearable armor that gives you stat bonuses as well as rarer consumables. Then we have rare and epic loot, with rare being I worked really hard to get this and epic being that I worked really, really, really hard to get this. It’s a pretty standard thing. We didn’t want to fix what wasn’t broken.

Ten Ton Hammer: How big a role will equipment play on a character’s power? Are we talking about a gear-centric game or will a player’s skill play more of a role than the actual equipment they have?

Drew Clowery: Obviously, gear is going to be important. I’m going to quote Scott Hartsman, who told me right after I got here something very interesting. He said that if the game has loot in it, the loot is going to be important. So, we definitely feel that that is the case. Loot is an important part of our game, and so it has to have an important impact upon the characters. That said, it’s not completely overwhelming. For things like raids, coordination and everybody working together and know what they’re supposed to be doing are more important than the gear you brought. We don’t design encounters to be gear checks. We design them to see if you can get together and do this. Maybe there’s increasing difficulty, so you can’t do the toughest things in the game in your brand new level 50 gear. Most of it is focused on coordination and learning to work together. One of the best examples that I can give you is that we did a PvP playtest recently. I killed somebody who was 7 levels higher than me because my spec was very good against his class. I was playing an archer and he was a mage. I knew what I was doing, and he wasn’t as familiar with what he was doing, so there’s definitely a strong element of skill in the game.

Rift: Planes of Telara

Ten Ton Hammer: Are there class specific armor quests?

Drew Clowery: There will definitely be different ways one can attain armor for their calling. Some of the quests will be harder than others, and those will have better rewards.

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of stats are we going to see on the equipment?

"We also a good number of handcrafted items which drop randomly in the world. Generally, the handcrafted items are specific to one monster, one set of monsters, or one region of the world."
Drew Clowery: Nothing that you’re not expecting. Stats are going to be pretty typical. I think that our most interesting stats, and this exists in other games, are hit and focus, which is your chance to hit with melee or with spells. Something that we’ve done that is a little bit different is that those stats aren’t capped the way they are for other games. There isn’t a point where you hit the spell hit cap, where after that, all your spells hit automatically and that’s it. They work against resistances and against dodge, parry, and block. Once you eliminate your chance of missing, you start to reduce their chance to dodge, parry, block, or resist. That gives us a little more play space and the ability to do some interesting things. We also have some cool click effects and passive effects that do fun and exciting things. Those things are less stats and more cool stuff.

Ten Ton Hammer: I was going to ask if you had clicky effects on items and it sounds like you do.

Drew Clowery: We sure do and we’re making a bunch more. They do a lot of cool and interesting things. I’ll be completely honest. My favorite click effect items are things that don’t have a big game impact, but make me look like a yeti or something equally goofy or fun. I think those things are a ton of fun. In fact, the very first item that I made when I got here was a trinket that turned you into a yeti when you clicked it.

Ten Ton Hammer: How will dropped gear compare to crafted gear?

Drew Clowery: We want the same amount of effort to yield the same quality of reward. So if someone has to go into an area full of level 50 monsters to gather the components needed to craft an item, this item will be comparable to a drop from the same level of creatures. We also have a way of customizing crafted gear, and it's a cool system, but we can't talk about it in detail just yet.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do we have bind-on-equip and bind-on-pickup gear?

Drew Clowery: Yes. It works like you expect it to. Again, we’re not trying to fix things that aren’t broken. It’s expected and there’s very good reasons for it. You don’t want to let people to arbitrarily sell success.

Rift: Planes of Telara

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of loot systems are in place? Is there need-before-greed or master looter, that sort of thing?

Drew Clowery: Right now, we have free-for-all loot. We also have a round-robin system where loot is assigned on a round robin basis. Then we have a need-before-greed system where it’s the typical roll mechanic that you see in other places. You see the item and you select need, greed, or pass. We’re implementing master looter, which is important for raid content. It’s not in at this moment, but I talked to somebody today about it and it’s coming in very soon.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are appearance slot items available?

Drew Clowery: Not at launch. We feel it's important for players to get in the game and get to know the equipment and loot before we start allowing them to alter their appearances like that. It's definitely something we're considering for later, though.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about equipment and itemization?

Drew Clowery: I think that a lot of time, itemization gets a little bit of a short shrift in the industry. It’s a job of staring at a lot of spreadsheets and a lot of running over numbers. But it’s really important. Loot is a really big element in these games. Getting new and exciting gear is really important. Like I’ve said, it’s one of my primary focuses here and I spend a lot of time working on it and trying to make our items as awesome as possible. We’re not giving it short shrift. We’re making it important and something that is a driving factor in some of our decisions.

Our thanks to Drew Clowery. If you have any questions you wish to be answered in a future interview, please post them in our official Rift forum.

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