View Full Version : TLC? We'll See
11-24-2005, 01:48 PM
Recently an age-old topic resurfaced once again: trivial loot code, known affectionately as "TLC". TLC is a hotly debated topic as it can be a great aid to stabalising a game on one hand, but can be damaging to immersion on the other. We thought we would take the time to explain what exactly trivial loot code is, and what Sigil Games Online has said about it so far.
Reasons for investigating possible uses of TLC are summed up in this quote posted on the Official Vanguard forums by Brad McQuaid (http://www.sigilgames.com/000003.php), CEO of Sigil Games Online:
I want to be able to put attractive items in low and mid level areas. I don't want an MMOG to turn, after a few months, into merely a race to the end game. I want players to have a blast at low and mid levels, and to be earning attractive items while doing so. I don't want them to feel compelled to just grind exp until the end game and *then* go after items. A way to do this is to put good gear in low and mid level dungeons. No, not gear as good as in high level dungeons, but still good gear."
Good intentions indeed: the early and mid-game should be as enjoyable as the gameplay once you hit the level cap, though perhaps in different ways. "So what is wrong with that?" you might ask. Well unfortunately if extremely desirable rewards exist in low and mid level dungeons then it induces "bottom-feeding" syndrome.
Bottom feeding is when players enter content intended for level level characters, for example a level 35 heading into a level 20 dungeon. The 15 level gap is likely to remove most of the challenge the dungeon would have posed to the average player passing through that content. The level 35 can waltz through and snatch up that desirable loot that was placed to make the dungeon an exciting and rewarding experience. But there was no challenge or excitement on the part of the level 35. He has been rewarded for very little effort.
To worsen matters, players will not necessarily keep these items to themselves. It is highly likely that a level 35 could make some money selling the desirable item (which he could recieve multiple of through a little bit of camping) to the level 20s. This is bad in three ways:
First it bypasses content - as Jeff Butler once said to The Safehouse, "We want you to see all that stuff. If we are making an amusement park we want you to ride all the ride. They are all fun." The dungeon may be great to play through, but without the reward item waiting at the end players may not bother with it.
The level 35 selling large quantities of the desirable reward to the eager level 20s also goes a long distance to causing MUDflation. The supply of the item suddenly leaps, and so it's price falls. Pretty soon everyone has it. It's no longer special, it's no longer a desirable reward. The feeling of achievement for those who worked hard for it is greatly diminished.
Finally, if higher level players think they can make a quick buck from bottom-feeding, then pretty soon you have them monopolising content which to them is trivial. They kill the monsters inhabiting the dungeon before the appropriately levelled players can, and so the majority of level 20 characters from my example lose out. Nobody like a killstealer.
And so TLC steps in!
Trivial loot code identifies when a player is of far greater power than the content they are killing. There are a couple of rough responses that various games use or may use once a bottom-feeder has been spotted.
Don't Drop. The desirable item's won't drop for a character who is too high.
Don't Spawn. Once the game recognises that the death patterns of monsters indicate the spawn is being camped by a high level, the monsters don't spawn for a while.
Brad McQuaid has said that Sigil intends to test TLC during beta. Test is the operative word here, something Brad has been very clear about.
Many players feel that if a monster drops an item for one character, it is illogical for it not to drop for someone is higher. They may feel that bottom-feeding is a valid technique that they hope to make money by when they play.
Brad recently had this to say about TLC's implementation in the world of Telon:
I've stated about many topics that we will try them in beta and see how they work. With TLC there are 3 possible outcomes:
1. We use it
2. We yank it
3. We have it on some servers, and not others.
1. would result if it works great and fully as expected and most people like it.
2. would result from a situation where it did more harm than good
3. would result from there being a mixed player reaction and the amount of good not totally and clearly out weighing the bad. When mechanics like this pop up, that's the beauty of alternate ruleset servers.
It sounds like Vanguard will be safe from bad implementations of this controversial mechanic. Our trust in its implementation could not be in better hands, and if Sigil feels it isn't working as intended or that the reaction to it once people see it in action is a too negative then they will do what is best for the game and remove it from common use.
For more information about TLC and other Vanguard related topics, take a look at the Silky Venom FAQ (http://www.silkyvenom.com/forums/faq.php)
11-24-2005, 04:15 PM
I like TLC if handled the right way.
I believe it is a necessary evil and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages heavily.
Awesome article Skar!
11-24-2005, 04:37 PM
Yeah, my own personal stance leans towards advocating it. Arguements against it tend not to have a huge amount of substance - mainly it is about continuity of the world. People tend to worry far too much not realising that TLC isn't just one set of rules and principles. When Sigil tests TLC it will be their version of it. They will tweak it to fit the world and such. It is mechanics like this that benefit massively from having a long beta. If TLC appears in Vanguard in some for another I am sure it will be extremely polished.
An example of this is previous games allowing trivial loot code to mess up crafting. In one particular game crafters would need to collect some crafting components from certain low level monsters. However being a lot more powerful than the monsters meant that TLC prevented the items from dropping. It just played havoc with crafters and upset lots of people.
TLC can be tastefully implemented to any of a number of shades. I look forward to seeing where Sigil feels it is most neccessary. :)
11-24-2005, 08:13 PM
I am in favor of TLC. In EQ, when I wanted decent stuff, I almost always had to buy it, and as I was poor, this was not a good thing. I remember killing the Noxious Spider in Sol B, and I think the Green Silken Drape dropped, which was pretty lame compared to what casters were generally wearing at that level. It was a lot more fun when we camped some of the Mithril armor which we could actually use. With TLC, items will be more rare, and there's a greater likihood that you will need the items in a dungeon for your level.
11-25-2005, 02:54 PM
Overall I am against mobs not dropping the same loot for everyone, whether they are level 20 or 40; I believe the mob should drop the same items. I think an alternate route to TLC is just making the items that will be very desireable in the lower level dungeons "no drop". That way higher levels won't be camping them very often at all since it won't really help them. But that in turn opens up a gateway for more problems and etc... So I'm not real sure how to stand on the issue, I'll Just put some faith in Sigil and let them run with it. They'll come up with what they think is the best system, and I haven't been disappointed yet.
11-25-2005, 03:17 PM
If all mobs have 2 sets of items that are droppable, salvage and gear...then if you are in the right level range they can drop both...but if you are too high, they will only drop the salvage. (for example...a Troll dropping troll eyes, troll scalp, etc)
It's better if they don't just drop nothing...but they shouldn't drop the loot/gear.
Same with getting experience form mobs...if you don't get experience form mobs anymore, you shouldn't be fighting them. And if you choose to, which is your prerogative, you should not be rewarded with loot.
I'm still waiting for an argument, lol /pout
"no drop" holds its own evils that in my opinion reflect far greater than TLC. Talk about creating issues with crafters and alts. PERSONALLY, I would like most good gear to be non-drop...because I have zero sympathy for alts. I always make alts...but when I make an alt, I make it to experience everything again, not equip him with the most incredible gear so everything is trivial for the first 20 levels, I think that is weak sauce multiplied by a thousand.
Sigil is taking care of this though, by scaling gear and weapons to the lvl of suggested equip. Basically your lvl 60 uber sword of the magistrate, will be the best weapon your lvl 10 can get, but it will still only be great for his level, it won't make him a superhero. Bravo Sigil!
 To be perfectly honest, I can't help but think Sigil is making most of these concessions (saying they might not use it if people don't like it, etc) to get people off their backs about it. I do not foresee the TLC being removed unless it REALLY screws things up in the game. I like the idea of alternate rulesets...but man, I will never want to be on a no-drop, no TLC ruleset server...it would be twink heaven, and I wouldn't consider the majority of players there as serious as the others...just my opinion.
11-25-2005, 04:14 PM
Mirakel - What is it about TLC you dislike? Is it that it is illogical that different things would drop for different people?
If this is the problem then I would agree with Eclipse that making items 'non-droppable' does more harm than good. I find non-drop/non-trade items a real drain on immersion. I can understand it being used carefully in specific circumstances, but often it is grossly overused.
As Eclipse said, in the standard ruleset it is quite likely some TLC will be used. However I trust Sigil to use it sparingly, in places where it is important. I don't think we will see silly widespread uses that end up damaging the game.
11-25-2005, 04:35 PM
I HATE the word immersion...
It's like one of those words any silly person can end an argument with by saying..."it ruins my immersion" as if that means ANYTHING! lol
You're playing a videogame...if a noise goes off behind you, your immersion is ruined, lol. If someone knocks on the door, oops there goes my immersion, damned door.
The only time "immersion" really makes sense in an MMO argument is seeing advertisements like MatrixOnline is about to...*shudder*
If anything the fact that your character at lvl 60 would want to go kill a mob at lvl 40 for an item ruins MY immersion...because that would just be so ludicrous.
Basically, since I'm posting on a website, my internet immersion is lost, /cry
Ok, immersion rant off/
Basically, put TLC in, put no-drop in...put whatever you feel into the game, and people will play it. If you do it wrong, no matter what, people will whine. Even if it's done right, people will whine. Even if nothing happens, people will whine. Basically, in general, the human race is made up of whiners. (I'm whining right now...about whiners)
whining rant off/
TLC. Necessary evil, if done in moderate forms.
What to you, the reader, would be a gross misjudgment for a TL code? 2 levels difference? 5? 10? Personally, it should scale for lvl, but at lvl 1-10, I'd like to see 3-5 levels difference. At lvl 50, perhaps 9 levels. Spaced out between those two points evenly. You should not get xp from anything below that amount, and I'm debating that anything besides salvagable material/vendor garbage/ and crafting materials...should not drop if you are above that code.
11-25-2005, 05:24 PM
wow great article and nice read
took me 10min to read it all :confused:
11-26-2005, 03:02 PM
There is a semi simple solution that should please both those who don't want "MUDflation" and those who feel they should be able to aquire high powered lower level items if they are still using sub par items for their level. You use a modified TLC system. Make "no drop a tag" that is applied by the player to items (instead of making 2 sets of items for each drop, a no drop and a droppable). Once a player charecter hits that point where the mob is deemed trivial, he can still pick up those items, but the no drop tag will be applied to it. This way, players who honestly want to use those trivial items can still do so, but they cannot farm those items to re-sell in a bazaar or what not. I guess you could call it a compromise, but it seems like a win-win to me, both crowds are getting what they want.
The only people I could immagine that would be displeased by this would be those who just want to farm low level items. It would seem to me that if this is happening alot in game, it would point to a flaw in the content/advancement.
11-26-2005, 06:17 PM
Ok, that's weird. I tried posting this a moment ago, but it messed up so if I somehow get a double or 2 very similar posts, please forgive me. Anyway, heregoes:
What would you guys think about something like this:
You do a dungeon crawl, you get to the boss, you kill it and loot the "unique" item the boss drops. Cheers. You come back, kill the boss again, oops, no item to be found. Behind the scenes, the game has kept track of the fact that you have previously looted said item from said boss and so it will not drop for you. Ok, but what if there were others in the group that helped you this time? Well, then the item would be invisible/not lootable. What if you had it in the past, sold it and want it back? Well, now you have to buy it from someone willing to sell it.
What are the advantages to a system like this? Well, for one thing, it diminishes farming for these kinds of items greatly. Secondly, it preserves continuity for those who look for that. If you found the item there previously then it doesn't make sense for you to find it there again... from your character's point of view, it's gone and sold. You need to buy it back now.
If you handed the item off to a twink then that twink cannot loot the item either since he/she already possesses it. Further, you probably shouldn't be able to hold more than one of the unique items (if the same type) at a time. True, multiple versions of each item will exist in the game world, but other people using the same item is one thing; having multiple copies of the same item in your own iventory is quite something else.
Anyway, that's just a thought I had a while back. I didn't post it anywhere because I didn't want to be the one to resurrect the TLC discussion :) I may have forgotten something since I already tried posting this, but, eh, I think I hit the important parts. Oh, I'd also be for scaling loot by level as experience already is in virtually every game. It's a small sacrifice for balance.
11-26-2005, 08:34 PM
As long as you make sure that it goes beyond just not dropping if you currently have it. Cause if it was, then it would be easy for high levels to farm an item and just keep on passing it down a chain of alts or guild mates, until you have it where he just got, say 10 copies of a unique item from a boss, spread out over 9 alts/guild mates who are all gonna sell it at a bazaar.
11-27-2005, 02:44 AM
As long as you make sure that it goes beyond just not dropping if you currently have it.
Right, as soon as you are marked as possessing the item in any way then it will no longer drop for you and you can't hold any more than 1 at a time.
11-28-2005, 12:47 PM
I just spent 15 min. writing out a very long reply to this post only to have the boards eat it. So, let me try this again.
It seems that not many people are willing to stick their neck out arguing against TLC with some of these people here so quick to pull the trigger on any post arguing against it, so I will step into the line of fire.
The first thing I dont like is how biased the original article is, especially with regard to labeling in game activities. "Bottom-Feeding" syndrome? That actually kinda ticks me off, but I'll ignore it for now except to say that giving it such a negative name is only designed to try and persuade any reader that the action associated with it, must be a negative one. Keep that in mind when reading or writing such an article.
One poster mentioned that he was still waiting on an argument.. (against TLC), and reading that post, I dont see one FOR TLC. The only real argument besides people wanting it implentated is stated in the original article under 3 bullet statments which I will try to address:
I do not see how it is bypassing content. If a level 35 goes to a level 20 dungeon for an item, then he must have been experiencing SOME kind of content during level 20 in order to be able to advance to level 30. Just because it did not include this particular dungeon does not mean he bypassed anything. If the designers want everyone to experience a particular dungeon at a certain level, then by all means put in quests and story plots in as many places as possible during that level window in order to point players toward it. However, limiting someone's enjoyment of something is not the way to go about anything.
This cuts both ways. Lower level players selling to higher level players is capeable of inflatting an economy just as easily as a higher level selling to a lower. If it is more profitable for a higher level player to sell lower level items than what he/she can get at their current level, then maybe something is wrong with the loot table. However, with items in question being substantially more powerfull, you can see the problem. No-Drop fixes this. That way if a higher level player still needed it, then aside from just buying it, he still has the option to go *gasp* experience the dungeon he missed earlier for himself and go get it himself. Tell me its not as dangerous sometimes to solo a lower level dungeon than if you were with 5 or so friends.
This is about the only viable arguement. Due to the fact that there is no instancing, this problem has been relagated to that of a Customer Service issue, and there really is no way around it. You dont need a higher level character for this to be an issue. It can just make it more pronounced. Face it, EQ had a nasty ability to turn groups of complete strangers into mortal enemies by blocking advancement of one group by another when they killed a long spawning (7 days or so) trigger/flag mob. I liked instancing, but I will hold off of making up my mind on this until I can see it in action.
With regard to TLC? There must exist a medium for anyone at any level to aquire any piece of equipment. TLC will not work. A higher level player can simply make a twink for the sole purpose of going back to get something, which ruins the 'FUN' which is the whole reason to play a game. I know I dont want to have to level up a twink for the sole purpose of getting one particular item. That would just turn it into work rather than having fun playing a game. If you added No-Drop onto an item already affected by TLC, then your going to piss people off to the point of not wanting to play at all.
11-28-2005, 02:38 PM
Thank you, Apostle, for taking the time to write out (twice) a well thought through reply to the topic. Discussion is never a bad thing. :)
Now I agree that people tend to hold one or t'other extreme views on TLC - either strongly pro or strongly against. You might wonder where the middle ground is and I would argue the middle ground is swallowed up by those who are strongly pro. Too often people make the mistake of seeing TLC as a whole, complete capsule of mechanics and problems that come with it. Definitely not so, as I hope I put forward a little in my article. TLC can be implemented to a vast range of degrees - whatever fits the game's setting. Therefore you get your 'anti-TLC'ers, and you get those who acknowledge TLC's benefit when used to some (even to a very small) degree. It's important to also remember that those who are happy for TLC to be used are also happy to see a game without TLC if everything works as it should.
I do apologise if my article seems biased, but it largely because I wanted to push home the point that TLC does not automatically damage the game. Because it can be used to varying degrees, any TLC implemented will be tailored to ensure it doesn't negatively impact your Vanguard experience. The devs want to please us, not make things just the way they want them. Too many people misidentify TLC, and so I wrote in a way that would describe the positives of TLC presuming it did not damage the game.
"Bottom-feeding" syndrome. Now this was called such for two reasons. Firstly, Brad has frequently talked about 'bottom-feeding'. Secondly (and of course tied into Brad's use of the phrase) bottom-feeding is inherently negative. I do not believe for one minute that a higher level playing in some lower level content is always a bad thing. Crafters gathering resources from monsters in a low level zone would not be bottom-feeding for example - their reason for being there is legitimate and does not necessarily damage the game. However bottom-feeding refers to the players that cause those three bullt points to happen. I don't think you can disagree that those three bullet points are damaging to the game, even if you don't believe TLC fixes them. If those bullet points are inherently negative then you can see why 'bottom-feeding' is therefore an inherently negative and damaging activity.
Onto your replies regarding the bullet points:
It's not the level 35 who is bypassing content. When he collects 40 reward swords from that dungeon's boss and sells them to level 20s the level 20s no longer have an incentive to adventure into the dungeon - they can easily buy the sword they would have go in to get. The 40 players who buy the swords are far, far less likely to bother with the dungeon, and will simply head to a harder dungeon. With their uber sword they can handle something that was previously too hard. They then spend the normal time they would have in this 'harder dungeon' PLUS the time they would have spent in the dungeon which the level 35 was farming. This is extremely damaging! Players will quickly become disillusioned as they will spend perhaps 3-4 levels in a dungeon before leapfrogging to the next, rather than spending the 1-2 levels that the devs may have intended. To the player the game will feel like a complete grind-fest. They may get annoyed, frustrated, bored and might quit. Thats subscriptions lost. Not good for Sigil, and so it is in the interests of the player AND the developer that things don't get this bad.
I see your point about two ways, but I strongly feel that if the high levels need something from newbie zones (e.g. crafting drops) then they should not be subject to TLC. Some newbies might sell to the highbies who are too lazy to collect them themselves, but the fact that highbies can freely collect those crafting comps means that the newbies can never over-inflate prices.
I don't have a problem with players going back to experience something they missed. You're right, it can be dangerous and a lot of fun! I wouldn't class this as bottom feeding as there is no damage caused by this intention. There is no reason to restrict players from doing this - most wont. When people do it's not going to cause problems.
I think we can all agree that yes, this is bad. If a high level goes back to work easy content for their own greed and gain, then there's something wrong. They should not be allowed to damage the play experiences of other players.
One huge distinction to make between possible forms of TLC is anti-farmer TLC. That high level should be allowed to experience a dungeon he missed. He shouldn't be allowed to exploit it for personal gain. He should be allowed to get a reward item that is still useful for his level, but he shouldn't be allowed to farm the items for personal gain. There is no reason why TLC should only exist in a form that simply observes behaviour patterns and works out whether a high level is farming items he shouldn't, and prevent him from continuing doing so. This would allow him to get his item if he is an honest, hardworking player, but deter him from monopolizing content, farming items to a degree that may cause MUDflation or cause other players to bypass content.
I hope this reply has explained a few things that I perhaps didn't phrase perfectly (such as the bypassing content). Disliking TLC tends to be a shortsighted view - people need to understand that the variety in its implementations means that you can be sure that whatever form it appears in in Vanguard, it will not damage the rest of the game. If it did then Sigil would yank it.
11-28-2005, 04:59 PM
Well, honestly, i dont have a problem with higher lvls going into a dungon and camping it. Do i do it, not really, have i for an item i needed for my necro, yes.
I understand the need for tlc, but i dont think it will keep the item from being sold. I mean IGN's will still buy the item no matter what, it will just be a higher priced is all.
I dont like the no drop bs. I think certain items should be no drop. I cant seeing ALOT of items being that way. The big bosses items should be no drop.
I dont mind campers, nor do i mind people taking over a spot. You make alot of friends that way. Just remember the orginial drop of Jboots. Now, i played 26hrs just to get them. I had a blast. And i was only lvl 20 at the time.
TLC is just to stop the farmers. I dont think it will, but we shall see.
11-28-2005, 05:11 PM
Skarlath, I must say that was a very well put reply. I know its so much easier to get defensive of your own position and to disregard a different stance than your own (talking to myself here) just because it is different.
I have to agree with just about everything you said, at least in the spirit of the motives behind everything. Lets face it, when we as players initially react negatively to the issue of TLC, its primarily from a desire to make sure nothing is taken away from us. Its not the most glorious description, but there you have it. Human nature dictates that since we had it (whatever IT is.. at the target level) we want to make sure we still have 'it' later. Otherwise there is a feeling of giving something up for what is perceived as no apparent reason (even if there is a bigger picture involved with regard to economy and fairness to your fellow players). People sometimes like to collect things, or (and most importantly) sometimes a low level item can be a usefull tool even at the higher levels (Guise of the Deciever, right click effect earring, etc..)
If there is a way to do everything you said, while at the same time allowing players to go back and 'twink' their alts (or their main with a utility item) whenever they want, then I am all for it. I will say this though: TLC will not allow for that in its purest form. I think you can agree. However, a modified version of it, if I read what you said correctly, that is able to allow for twinkage (Yes I made up a new word) is something I would look forward to exploring.
As it stands, no-drop does allow for Twinkage(tm) even if its through the ability to level up a twink above the target level of the area in question to go back and get something. TLC in its strictest form does not. That is the thing that worries me, and I would guess a lot of others, the most. Yes there are those who like to sell tons of items so as to make as much money as possible. However, I dont like that any more than you do, and I agree with Sigil's stance that it definately ruins the game on quite a few levels.
11-29-2005, 05:32 PM
Well I do enjoy discussing these topics and try to be thorough with my information. I will always try not to be biased - it never hurts to see things from another perspective - although bias sometimes just creeps in a little. Especially if I'm writing about something I'm excited about! :)
I agree that gamers just don't want to risk losing what they don't feel is broken. However this is the third generation and developers aren't just aiming to add more mechanics and such, but they want to hone what is already there. Small versions of mechanics such as TLC could perhaps be likened to a fine tool being used to remove the very slight blemishes on a particularly complex sculpture. The artist risks digging in and damaging the sculpture, but with enough care and skill there is no reason why the tool cannot do it's job and cause no further harm. Gamers need to be a little warmer to changes in their beloved genre.
I don't really like the word purest, because TLC will vary depending on the game's requirements. Purest suggests it is honed - really a better description would be in its 'fullest' form. In it's bulkiest presence, TLC is an ugly beast that will no doubt cause damage, but as I have no repeated myself numerous times - it's all down to the implementation. :)
No-drop items, however are non-sensical, and they are damaging. There are plenty of other precautions that can be taken before no-drop should be implemented. No-drop can be used in a circumstance or two - rare items that attune to you are fine, but I don't want most items being attuned.
There isn't a problem with players going back to get things, we just don't want them causing trouble. I think it's a manageable goal. :)
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