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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
Loot Lessons from Guild Wars 2
By Robert Basler on 2018-08-07 15:06:35
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com

You might already know I play Guild Wars 2 (GW2) a bit. It's partly because I find it relaxing, partly to study how the game works - GW2 is the only MMO where I've made it to end-game so I can try all the game's activities. (When I played WoW for three months I had a lot of fun, but I only made it to level 22. I understand levelling in WoW is a little faster now.) Since end-game activities are all expensive, I started looking into optimizing my gold income from loot. As it happens, loot is one of the things I want to work on improving in Miranda's next update.

[That's a good Guild Wars 2 loot drop!]

Lots and Lots of Items

Something I've learned from playing GW2 is that the vast majority of loot items in the game come in multiple variations based on the required level, the customizations (runes/sigils) applied to each item and occasionally rarity. This results in a lot of items, but also gives players a clear path to better equipment as they are levelling their character. Yay dopamine!

Loot Containers

In addition to single loot items, GW2 has containers of loot. Containers of loot are fun because you get to open them from your inventory and see what you get. Yay dopamine! I never thought any more about containers until I became interested in making more money in GW2 because as it turns out, you can make much more money salvaging loot on a level 49-53 character because GW2 has different loot tables based on the player's level, and it turns out that level 49-53 favours more valuable crafting materials.

Containers are also nice because they stack (take up only one slot) in inventory. It is really fun to open a whole stack of containers at once. Yay dopamine! Containers are also a convenient way to move large quantities of loot to another character. Something you find out quickly when you do this is that every area and activity has different loot containers (they don't stack) even though they sometimes have the same name, icon and rarity. GW2 has a lot of different loot containers.

Each loot container has its own loot table. When you open a lot of identical containers, it's easy to pick out the patterns. Some have lots of cheap gear, some have a mix of gear, crafting supplies and junk. The Guild Wars 2 wiki has basic loot tables for most containers. I'm pretty sure a wiki is the authentic way people in the middle ages found out how to obtain crafting materials.

Not As Random As You Might Think

Loot in games is often thought to be entirely random. Salvaging certain types of gear gives certain types of crafting supplies. I've noticed that the first time you salvage an item each day, it always gives the maximum number of the crafting item. So if you can get 0-3 of something, the first time, you always get 3 which feels pretty good. Yay dopamine!

Loot You Can Use

In GW2, a lot of loot is junk you can't use, so you salvage or sell it. But sometimes you get very expensive items as loot. I've gotten an Ascended sceptre, a Legendary precursor focus, and a very expensive infusion. All of those were 50 gold or more (2 gold is a very good loot drop in GW2.) One interesting fact about those particular drops is that my character uses a sceptre and focus almost exclusively, so those super-rare drop items were the optimal items for me. And I played GW2 for years and never had a Legendary precursor weapon drop until shortly after I purchased the first step of the legendary crafting process. Potentially more interesting is that all three of those expensive loot drops occurred every time I was commanding 40+ players. Mostly when I command there are only a handful of players, but I have noticed that I get a better than usual drop more than half the time when commanding.

So yeah I know, brains are really good at picking patterns out of randomness. Or is it really better than random?

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