Return Path of Exile - Controlled Randomness and Strategy Depth

Now, I'm going to continue to discuss how POE can "use a complex system to subtly extend the game time", or how to "deceive" these critical core players.

This secret is not complicated to say: first give the players a rich enough randomness to change, then give them a sufficiently complex set of strategies that match this randomness, and finally give them design tools to control these randomness. This last one is the real inspiration of POE for game design: it tells us that allowing players to control the randomness itself can become an important goal to continue the game time and increase the depth of their strategy-and this is still A relatively neglected method in the current game design framework. The vast majority of contemporary games still remain at the level of whether the player is African or European. At most, it can add a guarantee to Africans. If you play Diablo games for a long time, you may think of the "MF bonus" (increased magic items found) of the Diablo series; then, POE is the super powerful version of this idea, which will truly be "controlled" "Falling" has become one of the core strategic pillars of the game.

I briefly described the complexity of the core design of POE above, and now I can tell you the design structure of this game. It is a very complicated and difficult structure. Although the terms used sound similar to other RPG games that we are familiar with, the form of expression is very different. The combat effectiveness of a POE character is mainly composed of three main parts: equipment, skill chain, and talent plate, which support each other; when the three parts reach a certain level, the player will form a set of his own configuration (Build) ——To use the popular saying now, it is "routine". In POE, the three parts have great depth, which allows players to choose a routine with extremely diverse variability. Each piece of equipment on your body has a level, rarity, and up to six attribute characters, which has brought great variability; there are also skill holes on it for inserting skill stones, and skill holes are also divided into color, connection, and quantity. It also brings a set of huge variability, all of which require you to build through a variety of currencies (or simply find other players to buy some at barter). Your active skill stone, extended skill stone, and auxiliary skill stone must be inserted into the equipment to be used. These stones are mainly sold or bought by other players. The mission can only give you some of the most basic skills, which is another huge one. Pit of change-of course, these stones can also be upgraded and built. Finally, you have to adjust your talent plate according to the top equipment and skill stones you have obtained, and find a routine that best matches your trophies to gradually form your own Build-this is very important for each new account.

So, why do you practice these many routines? This is because there is a "season" in the core setting of POE-yes, if you have played the Diablo 3 expansion film Reaper of Souls, you should be familiar with the term season: in fact, this season Blizzard copied it from POE. When you practice a new account, the more routines you master, corresponding to different equipment and skill stones, the more efficient you practice and brush treasure in each season and season activities, and the higher the degree of freedom to add talent points. The tragedy of "I will build a set but the core equipment/skill stones will not fall out for a long time." And the rewards after forming the routine are indeed much faster than ordinary dark games: in the map of the same level, the formed Build kills the monsters, it is really cutting melons and vegetables, regardless of the monsters are white soldiers, blue The color elites are still famous for gold, and even the various bosses are all smashed goods.

After mastering the ordinary upgrade routines, the main line shouldn't be a big problem for ordinary hardcore players. The main line of the game is one more scene than when I played it more than three years ago, and the highest level of the third difficulty has also been raised from 66 to 70. Up to this point, it is still the usual design. It is still you playing Diablo 3 and its information. The content that can be experienced in the film; but the content of "nothing, no brushing" in the future is only the POE group of perverted designers who don't know how to do it. From the perspective of ordinary players, these designs are indeed not good, but for game designers, they can indeed broaden their horizons: Random control can actually achieve this level!

Starting from the final difficulty level of 67 and entering the later stage of the game, the POE designers are no longer adding new scenes or higher difficulty, but maps that can be dropped by monsters for you to brush equipment. ——Similar to hidden levels in normal games. The first few first-level maps will be randomly dropped in the late stage of the fourth act. Each of these maps has a level, and there are designed BOSS, monsters and targeted play. If you successfully hit these maps, you may drop the second-level maps. The monsters and drops in these maps are just like The last map is a good grade. You can hit it one by one until you reach the sixteenth level and challenge all the hidden levels of this game. For example, if you play a first-level 68 map, its BOSS has a low probability of dropping a second-level 69 map, and a 69-level map has a low probability of dropping a third-level 70 can do this Swipe up all the way to the final 16th level map. Of course, some advanced maps may appear as branch entrances of the map series in the mid-term.

Ok? Don’t you say that this is just like those European and African games, purely looking at the face? The ingenuity of POE design is about to appear. These maps are the same as your home equipment, you can use various currencies to refresh map attributes! Moreover, after the attributes and rarity are increased, the difficulty and characteristics of the monsters inside will increase; similarly, the quality of the items dropped inside, the map drop rate, and even the quality of the large and small treasure chests inside will also be improved. A golden map will be filled with golden monsters. Correspondingly, a lot of golden treasures will be dropped, with rare initials and endings that will not appear in the main line of the normal game. Furthermore, the top treasure chests and even the BOSS summoning chests that appear in the middle of these maps can also be used to buy attributes with currency. As long as you and your friends bring enough currency, you can manually adjust the drop rate, item drop types, skill chain expectations in these one-time maps. Really there is nothing, as long as there are enough poe currency items, you want You can control the randomness any way! When those hard-core players brush up a top-quality map, they will even auction the entrance tickets of this map on social channels inside and outside the game to recover the high cost of controlling these randomness. It is no wonder that the game time of this game is designed like this Long.

Maps can control randomness, boxes can control randomness, BOSS can control randomness, and equipment can control randomness. Even if the dropped items are useless to you, they can be moved back to the store and turned into path of exile currency items again. These currency items can be used to control randomness. And the whole set of equipment on your body is also produced under this design of randomness and deep coexistence of strategy: there are various beginning and ending words on the equipment that will change the "drop luck", and there are also main talents that will interact with you. The disc produces the beginning and end of the interaction, so there is no so-called "graduation equipment" at each stage. If a powerful low-level equipment is suitable for your skill stone and talent plate, it can exert a much greater power than a "high equipment level" top dark gold or golden equipment.

POE is indeed a game that builds the entire system on randomness, but the design concept of "controllable randomness" makes its randomness a part of the depth of the entire game strategy. Compared to the "designated drop" and "equipment level" systems used by Blizzard in World of Warcraft and Diablo 3, this random system is harder to learn, but the game time and fun are undoubtedly much higher.

In fact, I personally feel something wrong with the beautiful-looking design of "equipment level". "Equipment level", especially "uniform equipment level" is probably one of the most confusing designs in the history of online game design: perhaps it is this design that makes a large-scale that should be full of skill, excitement, and surprise. A copy of the Raid team became a later part-time job.

The concept of POE Items Level was originally used on a large scale by World of Warcraft, and then infected the entire MMORPG world. It almost completely replaced the early Diablo randomly generated equipment system in online games. It is undoubtedly a successful design. It is based on such a design concept: the player should be able to see the design strength of a piece of equipment at a glance, and the design strength of each piece of equipment should also correspond to his equipment level. Each BOSS and dungeon are arranged in accordance with the difficulty and equipment requirements, from low to high, and various equipment needed by the player are dropped in order. The difficulty of a BOSS, mission, or dungeon is tied to its equipment level. We use a lower equipment level to defeat the boss, obtain a new item with a higher equipment level, replace it, and rush to the next level of BOSS. After 790 is 810, after 810 is 830, and so on.

The numerical design of the equipment itself is also strictly linked to the equipment level and BOSS strength, whether it is numerical value or special effect. A 790 can only rank low-level books, and a 830 can only rank difficult books. From the perspective of the designer's workload, this is indeed a perfect solution. No wonder it can get so much support and expand in different games at such a fast speed. From FF14 to the blockade, it is faithfully copying equipment. The concept of hierarchy. Just pull a table and build a system, and all the equipment will be automatically generated. It looks so beautiful!

However, if you turn around and look at the history of the design and development of the "equipment" system, you will feel that something is not quite right. It seems that something has been lost in the process of modularization and abstraction.

If you are familiar with the development history of this type of RPG design, you will know that the “equipment” at the beginning is actually just divided into “weapon” and “armor”, and then the weapons are replaced according to the attack power, and the armor is replaced according to the defensive power, and the value grows. ,easy to understand. The earliest RPGs, such as the early Dungeons and Dragons and Final Fantasy, were all made up in this way.

Then, the designers felt that this was not interesting enough, and began to add a variety of strange skills to the equipment. In this "Sorted by Attack Power/Defensive Power" equipment list, some equipment began to appear in various types such as "Can Combo", "Poisoned", "Perfect Kill" and even "Eatable". Attribute brain hole. In those desktop TRPG and Roguelike games where brain hole performance is not restricted, these brain holes have reached their peak: the fun of the entire game is even composed entirely of these equipment attributes. Mainstream Eastern and Western RPGs have also introduced such systems: Whether it is the Baldur's Gate in the revival of Western RPGs or Dragon Quest in the mid-term, they are full of impressive special effects weapons.

But later, game designers discovered a new problem: a conflict between equipment characteristics and equipment values. A flash sword with +10 attack power will emit flashes after use to blind the enemy. It is interesting, but if the player gets another 35 attack power whiteboard super sword, the flash sword will be useless. As a result, the "first and last word" design has been on the stage of history: now the equipment value and equipment special effects are disassembled. In a game like Diablo, it is entirely possible for players to swipe low-level weapons with good special effects to sweep the low-level levels, and then take the high-level whiteboard to challenge the high-level levels, waiting to drop those weapons with good special effects and great power.

Then, the clever designers discovered a problem: novice players can't understand these complicated equipment special effects and values. We need to provide them with a new reference value. For example, what about the equipment level? Regardless of how complicated and dazzling the special effects of this equipment are, in short, you just look at the equipment level! The 810 is better than the 790. As long as the profession and core attributes are correct, you can wear it the same way. It's easy to understand and easy to use!

and many more. I seem to have found the source of that abnormal feeling. Yes, the values of "Equipment Level" or "DPS", from the designer's point of view, are not the same as the earliest "attack power" of the equipment system!

They represent an effort to sort all equipment according to a uniform numerical standard: 810 should be less than 830, and 830 should be less than 850. Each player should invest 1,500 minutes or $75 for 830 equipment. For the 850 equipment to invest in a specific mission or team. In this development process, game designers do not know where the diversity has been lost. And diversity, without a doubt, should be an important support point for the depth of the game. Players should have been willing to spend their intelligence, money and time willingly on diversity-look at those draw games! How much are they willing to spend for the variety that a new card brings!

Sid Meier once said that games are a series of interesting choices; but under the design framework of "equipment level", only a few equipment are "interesting choices". The vast majority of "standard equipment" is not interesting, nor can it be said that it is a choice. It is just the process in which we drop from one BOSS to the next. I don't hesitate about what equipment I need to prepare and what build to configure. I only care about whether my equipment is enough for the next outfit and so on.

The Path of Exile concept of "allowing players to control randomness" is at least an idea for optimizing this design. Moreover, this idea does not necessarily make it impossible to design a simpler version or a version that is more suitable for ordinary people. For example, when I played the arcade version of the Kantai Collection in Japan, I saw a design that was similar in concept to this "controllable randomness". Whether the rare ship mother card can be retrieved depends on the quality of the player’s mission completed, the list of configured ship mothers, and the rarity; if the card you bring is a rare hit and the number of attacks is sufficient, the evaluation of the mission completion is high. You are very likely to get a "modification" that can continue to increase the rate of rare ships; and if you continue to use this modification to train, it is possible to further control the random number and increase the probability of falling out of the "modification". And you can guess how much money will be sold in the ship's mother card shop for a "change in break" that can greatly increase the drop rate of the rare ship's mother card.

To be honest, even now, three years later, I still don't recommend ordinary novice players to play the game Path of Exile. It takes too much time and energy from the first time you enter the game to the beginning of the later design logic I mentioned above; but if you feel that you are tired of the clichés such as equipment levels, working dungeons, and falling debris Designing and returning to the world of exile is also an interesting choice.

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