The Scrying Pool: Too Much Gear

In this week's article of The Scrying Pool, I ask: Do we get too much gear as drops?

In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, be that lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.

Some time ago I came across this blog post on Gamasutra. The author of the blog does an economic breakdown within Guild Wars 2 based on his personal observations while leveling his first character.

I found the blog post to be an interesting read. There are a few things that the author is wrong about, though these are easily explained by him only being at level 64 at the time of writing the post. What interested me the most were his points on crafting and the overabundance of gear drops within the game.

A large portion of the in game economy is driven by loot drops. This includes that bag full of gear that you might just vendor, salvage or, in the rarest of cases, sell on the trading post. This large amount of gear also diminishes the value of manufactured goods.

As the author and undoubtedly most of the player base has discovered, there is very little value in crafted armor and weapons during the leveling process as better gear dropping is almost a guarantee. Even if better gear does not drop, players are able to buy such gear from the trading post cheaper than it would cost to craft.

Crafting therefore is not valuable for its primary outcome, which is the manufacture of trade goods, but the secondary outcome of experience gained through leveling crafting disciplines.

Is this a bad thing? No, I don’t think so as it provides a continual item sink for the game.

A common practice in GW2 is to level alternate characters by leveling their crafting disciplines. This gives incentive to level a crafting discipline more than once across multiple characters which in turn keeps demand up for components used for crafting. If the crafting system didn’t give players experience it is likely this demand would plummet as players wouldn’t need to level any discipline more than once. After leveling a discipline once a character could craft and distribute any desired items across the other characters on the account.

Without that demand crafting components would swell in supply resulting in the same overabundance problem that gear drops represent. Even if this was accepted, the now incredibly cheap crafting components would likely still cost more than buying gear from the trading post due to the merchant value limiting their devaluation. This also doesn’t take into consideration the cost of leveling high enough to craft said gear. So in this case crafting wouldn’t be of any use either for its primary outcome of manufactured goods and its lack of secondary outcome if experience was removed from crafting.

If limiting the demand on crafting goods wouldn’t help balance the dropped gear to crafted gear ratio, maybe it is the other side of the ratio that needs attention.

Gear drops to a staggering, crazy degree. Most of my bag space need is to hold all of the gear drops earned while playing, especially when completing dungeons or fractals. To top it off almost all of that gear isn’t useful for me and is just going to be sold to a merchant or salvaged.

Is it really necessary to have all of this gear dropping?

In GW2 there are items specifically designed for salvaging. If I get a piece of gear that I am just going to salvage, why not instead give one of these items for me to salvage?

This might seem counter-productive. Why change this if the end result is going to be the same salvaged goods? Well that is kind of the point, to change the drop without changing the reward. Players would still get that same amount of salvageable goods, but now there isn’t as much of the overabundance of gear. Instead of a lot of gear getting thrown into the market, players getting free upgrades or players just bypassing repair costs, now the smaller supply of gear would increase its value while not hurting the salvage supply.

The same can be expanded to currency. Why do we need to get the gear we are just going to sell if we can get money to drop straight from the mob instead?

So what's with this idea? -->

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Gear drops.
# Jun 25 2013 at 4:42 PM Rating: Decent
Another issue i see with the gear and the over abundance is there is way too much level gear, i don't think the game needs gear for every 5 levels, esp when most of the gear looks the same. it makes it tedious and worthless, a change to gear drops would be nice, but a very difficult thing to change that will make people happy, but the amount of gear in the game is a big problem, if only the mystic forge had better odds, people would be more inclined to flush their junk over putting junk on the TP or vendoring it.

Mystic Forge?
# Jun 21 2013 at 11:25 AM Rating: Decent
2 posts
I think this may not work well with the Mystic Forge.

Back in the early months of the game, my wife was kind enough to help me acquire the components for a Mystic Conduit. Well, okay, she got the overwhelming majority of the components for me, including the more expensive ones.
In the months since then, it has been incredibly useful for managing inventory space. I don't know how financially viable it is, but I've gotten into the habit of forging green drops and occasionally getting yellows in return. This has served to clear inventory space while running fractals and dungeons, and it has (more often than you might think) actually turned greens into ectoplasm.

This led me to wonder just how much the developers would have to redesign the Mystic Forge system. The number of components that would need to be altered in order to implement the changes you suggest... It's hard to imagine. What would you throw in to get your Legendary precursor? How would those things differ from rare/exotic items that could be used for other things? Would they be less expensive, since they couldn't be worn or wielded? Or would they just devalue crafted items even more, because they couldn't be used in the Mystic Forge? Or could they still be used in the Forge, but only for a chance at getting one of the items that could be re-Forged with a chance of getting a precursor? And what would you get when you didn't get a precursor? Another "precursor forge token"?

I think it's fun to speculate, but the amount of work that would have to go into implementing that system and the number of bugs that would undoubtedly arise from it are enough to make me cringe. Or maybe shudder. Possibly both.
Mystic Forge?
# Jun 21 2013 at 3:11 PM Rating: Decent
7 posts
Yeah, the mystic forge is the one thing I didn't touch on that would have a big effect because of this change. Originally I was going to say that this change would only effect sub level 68 gear so that forging to get precursors and the ecto problem wouldn't exist. But something they are implementing at some point is the scavenger hunt for precursors. I might talk about that in a future Scrying Pool, but I imagine the scavenger hunt is going to reward items with the specific purpose of throwing them into forge like it sounds you are mentioning. Depending on how the scavenger hunt is implemented I think the value of gear normally thrown into the forge to try and get precursors is going to drop, and if that turns out to be the case then changing the gear drops wouldn't have changed much in the end to that effect.

The mystic forge I have always seen as a way to use up the overabundance of gear, so changing how much gear drops would have a direct result. The precursors, like I said, would be fixed by the scavenger hunt while any set recipes like many of the mystic forged weapon skins and the legendaries themselves wouldn't be changed. The only thing that will really be effected in a negative way are the skins that are obtained randomly through the mystic forge, but this could easily be counteracted by adding them to chests as the rare gear that drops from them. I think this would help give the sense of reward as well if the noob/generic skins no longer drop from the chests at the end of dungeons/meta-events so that any gear given is one of these rarer/more unique skins.

I agree that it would be a huge amount of work, and that was something I hoped came across in the article. I want this one thing to change, but in order to do that all of these other things would need to changes as well. While I think that it would be a lot of work and would need a good deal of testing to make sure the entire system doesn't fall apart when it hits live, I think that the overabundance of gear in the game is a very real problem.
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