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Crafting / Item Quality Overhaul Idea

Hi, my suggestion to overhaul crafting would be as follows:

  1. Give each specific base item a combined limit to how many upgrades (tiers) can be put into all four of its suffix / affix slots altogether, based on the item’s level, equipment slot, item type, etc.

  2. Limit how many of those upgrades (tiers) you can put into a single suffix / affix based on player level, as today. Continue to also limit what suffix / affix can go on which item by equipment slot and item type.

  3. Make each upgrade (tier) require increasingly more shards, and add an extra cost for the total number of upgrades on the item that count towards the crafting limit instead of having a chance to fail or fracture.

E.G. 1 > 3 > 5 > 9 etc. per tier, + 1 per upgrade (tier) already on the item. Adding the 3rd teir to an Armour suffix / affix as the third upgrade (tier) on the item would then cost 5 + 2, or 7 Armour shards.

  1. When items drop, let them have the potential to have varying values of core (implicit) stats as today, but also to potentially drop with a higher total number of upgrades (tiers) than what the crafting limit on the item would normally allow, up to an upper limit.

  2. Make ‘Remove’ allow you to remove a chosen suffix / affix. Make ‘Reroll’ able to exclude chosen suffixes / affixes at the cost of more hexagons. Also make ‘Shatter’ not use any crafting item whatsoever.

What you end up with when you do this is the traditional ARPG philosophy of the perfect item taking potentially limitless amounts of time to drop, while also giving the player linear progress towards their near-term goals of making certain items fit the build they want to play. It will also allow for more build flexibility when changing sets and specs. What it is also essentially doing is putting a currency value on each upgrade, which can be tuned to set an appropriate and finite amount of time required to acquire them.

(Edit: Added a thought at the end & fixed a typo.)


Welcome aboard :smiley:

However, with the greatest of respect and not wanting to come across as inflammatory, you’ve only been here a few days… Give it a little while and get accustomed to levelling a few characters & gearing them up.

A lot of players (myself included) would argue that there’s no need to “overhaul” crafting in the first place. Tweaking is another thing entirely, which the devs already do. In fact, having only come here in May myself I have already seen one round of tweaks.

Personally I find crafting to be in a very good place. Certainly there can be some frustration trying to hit a T19/20 piece, and shattering is always frustrating,but that’s part of the “fun” of it all. If it were a simple no-risk matter of crafting perfect T20 pieces then you remove a large part of the game itself and enable “easy mode”. I don’t know about you, but I like my games to have a little challenge to them. If they’re too easy I get bored very quickly.

Presently, you’re more than capable of making T20 items, they just take some time & effort. I have found that using a base that already has at least a T3/4 on it makes life a lot simpler. Starting from a “normal” item with no affixes to get to a T20 is very, very tough. I think I have managed it once in my limited hours of play. However, it’s the pursuit of perfection and gear upgrading that makes up about 50% of the reason for playing for me at least. If I made a new toon, got to empowered, and already had T20’s then the game would lose a lot of its shine and appeal and simply become a total grindfest.

LE’s crafting system is way, way better than some other games. At least here it is mainly deterministic, with a small element of RNG. Other places it is mostly RNG with a small element of deterministic. Trust me, having spent years in the latter type of systems I know which I prefer.

The gist of your post seems to be aimed at Tiering items for upgradability, at lower levels which is only really relevant during levelling. Levelling only takes a tiny fraction of the time spent on a character, so changing a system based on that would be fundamentally flawed. As a non “speed runner” I can go from 1-75 in a couple of days, and I am a slow player traditionally. Plus here in LE, there is no “iLevel” of gear, which imho is great. A lot of times once you are making your final gear you can end up choosing what (during levelling) would seem to be a “starter” base because its base stats suit your endgame build more than some of the higher level gated gear provide. i.e you are looking for Ward gen rather than endurance etc

Also your item #4 already happens. Those items are called “exalted” items. You can get an item drop with a T7, T6, and a couple of other great tiers drop already. The trade off is that by trying to craft your own chosen affixes onto those using the remove option, you can sometimes bork those items completely but that’s a chance you take.

Item 5. Sorry but imho that is simply making the game way too easy. LE already has a much lower amount of rng than other games, but to remove it to the point of choosing specific affixes to remove in my opinion would make the game a little childish in challenge terms. We’d all be crafting T21+ items then, which are most certainly not needed as the game stands currently. The mobs are not overtuned, the density is not at mad levels, so there’s really no need for “God Tier” weapons. Having T18+ gear on the right build will already see you breeze through empowered monos. The balancing in LE is just about the best I have found in an aprg at the moment.

I would honestly recommend sticking in some more hours enjoying yourself, playing monos at empowered levels, trying new builds, and in a few weeks you might find that your initial perspective here has changed somewhat.

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Part of the reason why these changes would be helpful is precisely because people have a limited amount of time to play an increasingly broad library of content that exists in gaming. It should be part of a developer’s priority to make sure that when a player sits down and spends a reasonable amount of time playing their game, that player experiences a certain amount of progress. This is part of what makes playing games enjoyable and rewarding. This is also why ARPG’s use things like experience points to govern a player’s progress over time during gameplay. Gear is just another such mechanic.

If you would indulge me, imagine then that each time you placed a mastery point in a particular perk you had a percentage chance to freeze that perk at the current rank. Imagine you were also then obliged to earn however many levels worth the points you had already placed in it worth the experience to then unfreeze and continue to rank up that perk. It’d be fairly reasonable to object to this, find it to be a waste of time, etc. especially if it were to happen a few times in a row. You can then see how applying the identical mechanic to a different context shows how a non-linear setback such as this takes away time and progress that was already earned, rather than maintaining the player’s momentum and rewarding them in proportion with their efforts.

There is another reason to embrace linear progress of course, that I wasn’t obliged to mention before, only because I suspect the amount Lost Epoch depends on this is rather limited. However, random chance rewards do also come with the downside of imposing what’s called a “Schedule of Reinforcement.” This is basically the psychological tendency of a human to retry things they have tried and succeeded at before in order to obtain the desired result. And the way in which we calculate this naturally has been proven to be flawed. It is a very good idea to study up on this phenomenon because in doing so you can kind of break some of its effect on you by consciously interrupting the cycle. But for the sake of brevity, this is bad because if you go from having a high chance to a low chance of succeeding on an additional attempt at something over time, you become more motivated to continue, rather than less motivated. This is because in nature, we can’t simply give up when we don’t find food, shelter, or other resources we need. We must try again, more often, more aggressively, until our needs are met. This is the principle on which all casinos operate. People win some early on when the stakes are low, but as the stakes of the game increase, they are more likely to lose everything. Very few people have the discipline to walk away from the table, you see. Well, when we start breaking items with increasingly lower chances of succeeding with an upgrade? You get the picture. It’s an incentive that is taken advantage of by all ARPG’s to some extent to keep players engaged, whether that be through loot, finding a drop with the perfect stats, rerolling those stats, etc. To outright break the item is not a new concept, but it works on the same psychological mechanism. Over a long enough term, schedules of reinforcement can lead to unhealthy levels of time investment in games. This is then something that should concern developers.

The changes to loot and crafting I’ve proposed can be tuned to address, at least in part, both of these ideas: Both tuning the time it takes to get things in the game to reward the player in a linear and proportionate fashion, as well as cutting down on schedules of reinforcement that happen within the loot scheme. This is why I’ve proposed them as I have. I hope this explanation helps clarify the positive aspects to doing loot and crafting in this way.

(Edit: typos / spelling)

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Yes, I understand your points in your above post and it was very well written. I don’t disagree with anything you have stated in there. In fact, I agree with the underlying mind games that you state that most games use to encourage us to persist in playing them.

However, in that reply you completely miss what I was saying to you in my reply and fail to address it at all. I like to do people the courtesy of reading their replies to me thoroughly and carefully and I appreciate it when others do the same for me. You initially mention the word “overhaul” and are calling for said overhaul of a system that isn’t broken, based upon very little personal experience of using said system. What I was asking is that you give using the current system a little more time and personal experience, and then revisit whether or not you would go for a complete overhaul. It’s like me taking a car that took 2 years to design for a 10 minute test drive on a flat oval circuit and then requesting a complete redesign & overhaul of said car.

Your initial post calls in particular for several points in an “overhaul” when those things already exist in the current system anyway; just in a slightly different form. I did point this out in an obtuse fashion, but it appears that you did not read my reply thoroughly so I will try again in a clearer fashion.

Your #1: There is already a limit. It is max T5 in each of the 4 slots when crafting a new item from scratch making a total of T20. This is a global limit rather than an individual one. Why have a complicated system of individual limits per item when a global limit works just fine? You ask for change for changes sake. The global limit system works currently absolutely fine because of the overall nice balance in the game. Making it a “per item” limit would potentially ruin that balance and land this game in the same mess as many others. The only global exception to the limit is when you alter an exalted item, and then if you are lucky you can push the envelope slightly above T20, but at greater risk of shattering.
Items do not have a iLevel, as I pointed out. In LE, there is no need for an iLevel. ILvl’s are normally brought into games as a result of incorrect methods of balancing. In LE, the overall dps of a skill for example is not only determined by the weapon, but also the skill points assigned, and therefore by default the players level (you only max at 20 your skills in the 90’s). Also, due to the bases people use “lower level req” items at endgame (see my first reply para 6). Plus, during low level levelling their is an additional “soft cap” system on the individual crafted Tier you can make which is lower than at end game (you mention this in your point 2.

Your #2: I do not understand the point in listing this point. You mention this as a change in your “overhaul” but it already exists. First sub point is already in the game, there is a “soft cap” while levelling that is lower than the 4 x T5 end game cap. Second sub point is also already in the game. You then state to continue both sub points. Ok, agreed as they are both part of the system that most of us find fine anyway.

Your#3: You are proposing a “no fail” system of upgrading but with a sliding scale as a penalty instead of a potential fracture. I guess this is highly subjective. Personally I do not like the “no fail” system, but that is my personal opinion. Like most people I am not immune to getting frustrated by fractures, sometimes I yell at the screen. However, as you mention in your second post, that keeps my attention span alive and I keep on trying again & again, and incrementally improve my items slowly. Eventually I will get at least T20s in each slot, but by the time I get to that point I will probably have got bored with that build and be trying another one anyway.
The alternative to a “risk” system is fraught with issues. You mention an increasing scale. How do you work that scale out? For example, you as a newer player may not have many shards, so say a 1.000 for a T5 affix might seem like a lot to you. I have only been playing since May, but I already have several thousand of some shards. Some players have been playing for months, so they may have tens of thousands. Some players have been playing for longer than that, they may have hundreds of thousands. So, you could say put a cap on the shards, there might even be one idk. Again though, aside from the lack of failure, this just seems like yet more change for change’s sake and it also removes one of the “addictive” parts of playing a build. Remove too many, and people lose interest.

Your#4: The second part of this already happens with Exalted items. The first part (random implicit) also already happens. Once again, I do not understand listing this as part of an “overhaul” when it already exists. I did already mention this in my first reply (para 7).

Your#5: I did reply to this in my first reply (para 8). It’s subjective again, but I believe this is an indication of a desire for “easy mode” gaming.

In summary, I hope this reply is useful to you if you read it all (as I have done to your posts). Sadly, all too often people choose to leave one game after years of changes due to the level of changes and their effects overall, and go to play a different game of the same genre and enjoy it based on the hours they put in. They then spend most of their waking hours petitioning to change that game, and eventually it simply becomes a shadow of the very thing they were trying to escape in the first place. I am not saying that this is you, but this is a common thing amongst gamers.

I once again come back to my closing statement in my initial reply to you. My sentiment has not changed on this.

I hope you continue to enjoy the game as much as the rest of us do and wish you a happy weekend.

My enjoyment of the game is somewhat inhibited by the fact that the loot system includes non-linear elements such as fracturing, but also that there isn’t a clear way forward in terms of converting playtime and in-game currency into progress, so my time investment in Lost Epoch will be naturally limited by the design choices and how much progress, choice, build experimentation, etc. I feel I am rewarded with for a certain amount of effort. And I suspect this is something that turns away new players from the ARPG genre in general these days, which is why I’ve made a passionate and detailed suggestion for moving away from it.

It’s not that I would wish to deny anything to the traditional audience of these games either; I think everyone would find it a lot more fun to only worry about random chance when looting an item rather than upgrading it, especially if they were interested in playing a lot of different builds. The one area in which Lost Epoch really shines is in having a huge amount of interactions between masteries and skill trees, which allows for a large variety of builds to test and experiment with when one gets bored. To me, this should be the core content and drive of continuing to play any ARPG. If the gear system were altered in the ways I’ve proposed, it would come more in line with catering to that desire rather than inhibiting it, and the game would then offer its content more readily to the people who desire to enjoy the variety and richness of the builds within the game. This is something I believe that even people who are primarily loot-driven in their mentality towards progress would find refreshing and liberating.

I hope when they become aware of this post, the developers will consider my position from an earnest desire to improve the content and experience of the players. That is all I can hope for.

(Edit: typo / spelling)

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So, what you would like is a “no lose” game? One where you never encounter any losses of any sort, be it gear, deaths, or anything else?
I really don’t see that happening in any arpg. In fact, I don’t know of any game in this genre I’ve encountered in my many years of playing that fits that particular bill.
The closest thing I can imagine that ticks that box is maybe “the Sims” series of games, or something based purely around progressive building.

Doubtful, as risk has been an element of arpg games since day one, unless you know of any particular examples where there is no risk of failure in either gear progression or deaths?

Good luck in your quest to bring this particular mentality into the arpg market. I don’t personally see the appeal of a game where there’s zero risk, but then again that is why I play games like this one and never have had any interest in construction simulators.

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Besides the reasons I’ve already stated, I supposed that’s also part of it, yes. I do happen to think roguelike mechanics like losing progress or starting over don’t add much to the experience of playing an ARPG except making you do over again things you’ve already done, or earn back things you’ve already earned. We have saves in videogames specifically to avoid having to start completely over every time we reach a failure state of some kind.

It’s true that in the early days of computer RPG’s, a lot of games had a limited amount of hardware space and content limitations that meant they had to rely on starting over or losing progress to pad out playtime. Playtime was actually something that computer and software distributors had requirements around in order to market the value of their games in those days. After all, if you could complete the tasks in the game too quickly, then the game didn’t offer you much to do. That is how these sorts of obstacles became a tradition in computer games.

However, today the reasons for using them are less compelling. You can create an incredible amount of content just from adding a wide variety of ways for players to accomplish the tasks in the game. In just having 20 hours worth the gear to grind and/or main campaign to play, you can multiply that out to 100 hours just by having 5 different classes. Then you add builds, and the playtime only expands exponentially.

This isn’t to say small setbacks like having to start a boss fight over again when you die can’t add to the sense of accomplishment one feels when one finally makes it through. Certainly playing a boss fight in a single segment creates a coherent set of requirements one must fulfill in order to reach the goal of winning. But that set of requirements is also defined and finite. It’s not simply a pull of the lever on a slot machine. Pulling that lever might feel good, but there are more valid ways to challenge the player than this in my estimation. In a boss fight, you have to learn to stand in the right places, deal a certain amount of damage, heal at the right time, etc. You enact a strategy, learn from your mistakes and ultimately discover the best way to carry out the actions that will bring you to victory. And playing on-reaction and making decisions in the moment feels even better. In other words, there is a level of agency a player feels in these interactions when they are not merely left up to random chance.

Where ARPG’s kind of have a counterintuitive appeal is also that their primary appeal is not necessarily in the interactions you can have with enemies and bosses themselves as much as the variety of strategies you can create to achieve those same goals. Setting up your character to use a particular build or ability and seeing if it can be made to be viable in context of the challenges the game presents is the primary goal, not necessarily defeating the challenges themselves. Setting you back during the process of setting up those builds then arbitrarily interrupts the player from achieving their objectives. Said differently, it doesn’t create any additional interesting experiences or interactions for the player, other than causing them to lose time on the way to the objective. As I alluded to earlier, increasing playtime really isn’t a thing we have to worry about in this genre any longer, since there can already be a tremendous amount of content from just adding variety and complexity to the core of the game itself.

And I do understand there are some people who like to play Ironman mode in certain games. I don’t find the reasons all that compelling, except that maybe playing through the game to achieve perfection is something some people want to do. But most people are not going to have the patience for this if the game is longer than a couple of hours. That seems like the ultimate challenge for someone who has already mastered the less challenging parts of a game. (Incidentally, the game Hades is a good example of how to do this well by padding out a short and interesting campaign.) I myself am not personally inspired to go this route in too many games. To me, doing things over again repeatedly isn’t fun and I actively avoid it. That’s why I’m such a big fan of ARPG’s; There’s always something new to try out when I get bored or complete a run.

(Edit: typo / spelling, added one thought to the end)


Ok, I understand your position a little more clearly.

So, it’s more of a removing of the rng element of fracturing than removing all “fail scenarios”.

I, too, personally hate RNG and the “slot machine” scenario. I do understand though the reasons why LE have it for crafting. They don’t want everyone to be able to have guaranteed T20 crafting abilities, they want some risk involved in that process to encourage another device for keeping players engaged a little longer in that particular build.

The massive problem they faced is how to introduce that risk. The option they have chosen is fracturing, the chance of which is in turn based on the index added to the item and increased by crafting actions. So, rather than making it a pure slot machine rng, it is a factored rng with a sliding scale.

Is there a better or alternative method to introducing that risk element? Maybe, but for the life of me I can’t think of a better way than the current mechanic.

As we’ve discovered from our posts, we are on opposite sides of the fence as to the gear breaking argument, but that’s fine - everyone has their point of view. The one thing that the devs are able to do with the current system though is to tweak it as they see fit. If there are too many fractures for the liking of the players, they can simply adjust the algorithm or formulae used.

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I’m also not a big fan of RNG factors but I have to say that so far the fracturing chance I don’t experience as very annoying and high RNG so far. In my opinion the fracturing does the limiting the number of upgrades. You have a certain number of “free” upgrades until your instability seriously affects your success chance.
I get the feeling that the game is designed to get drops and crafting/upgrade them. I fe have a helmet T13 with upgrades from crafting. It currently has 30 instability so an upgrade from T3 to 4 has a 70% chance of success. I also have a T13 item dropped which has 13 instability and there it’s 95% for the same upgrade (both with guardian glyph).

I do agree for a part with the 5th point. It would be nice if you can reroll a specific suffix/affix instead of it being random. You can max it to one per item, include added stability and the tier could be limited to this option but when you finally get that awesome drop with 3 of your top suffix/affixes with good tiers and one crappy to me it’s too much RNG (75%) of messing up the item with the random remove.
Shatter doesn’t have to be free but either use one glyph for all options or give the option to buy it in higher quantities at a vendor could solve this.

My suggestion to the devs would be to include some sort of tutorial or quest to explain the forge when the game gets out of sandbox. I eventually watched a video someone posted which explained all variables which helped me understand and appreciate the system a lot better.

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I appreciate you taking the time to comment! I hope this post will get more attention and it will be discussed more. I agree also on the tutorial, it could definitely be better as far as setting expectations and explaining the philosophy of the crafting system.

One of the reasons why I think fracturing is kind of an unacceptable setback is also just the fact that we’re playing a game where there are basically an infinite number of builds and combinations of bonuses. This is really important to me because I spend a lot of time playing off-meta to find new ideas for fun builds. Over the course of one character or build, you might not fracture that many items that you don’t intend to eventually replace. But over the course of say 5 or more, I started to find it was making me not want to experiment and try new things. About halfway through, I started sticking with the same items for long stretches of the game and not even picking anything up unless it was a set or unique item. Rarely if ever was there an ideal item outside of those, so I barely picked up the rest.

Incidentally, this is also why I feel shattering could stand to be free - If I was rewarded for picking up items, I would do it way more often and pay a lot more attention to the loot that was dropping instead of filtering it to the point I barely even see anything. There does seem to be a fine line between loot being a constant chore or a hassle and something that you barely pay attention to at all. Even so, I’d still like to pick some stuff up say over an hour, rather than nothing that I don’t absolutely need.

(Edit: typo / spelling, added one thought to middle)

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Personally, I hate the idea of crafting T20’s and fracturing your gear. How this could be solved is not something I am willing to conquer here, but I think that the tougher the challenge, the better the drops (including T20 and higher-level of useable gear affixes).

To me, crafting should be a way to get some affixes you need of moderate means. It should never reach T20 capability – that should be reserved for gear drops IMHO.

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I think that the important thing to note here is that you get much lower instability on Tiered items that “drop in the wild”.

By setting your loot filter up to show you items that have the affixes you want above a certain tier, you have a much greater chance on crafting those items to make a T20 item.

Indeed, I have made several T20 items successfully, and 99% of those have started out as items with around a T11 or greater starting point.

It is extremely tough to make a T20 from a T0 item. It is a lot easier if you pick up an item that has T4/T4/T2 and an instability of around 11+. It seems even easier again if you find an item with all 4 affixes to start with of say T3 as an example.

I think the initial kneejerk reaction to crafting failures is often based upon people’s experiences trying to make a T20 from a white item. This isn’t the best method. It seems to me that that particular process was more designed to be used for making some “starter” end game gear of around T12-16. By making & utilising an efficient loot filter, you can find lots of good bases while doing monos (especially empowered) for crafting those higher end game gear pieces.


I think it’s much more likely that people’s reaction to crafting failures is based on the fact that the item becomes unable to be upgraded anymore when the attempt at upgrading fails. It’s like the game telling you that the time it took you to find that item, pick it up, weigh it against existing gear you already had, decide how to improve it and then spend resources on improving it likely not to recover them was not a valid investment - Or, indeed, a less valid investment than it could have been. This is especially the case if it happens earlier on in the upgrading process. Indeed, the effort you expend before deciding to even upgrade an item is included in the effort calculation your mind naturally does once it decides to consider what would be necessary to earn it back in order to continue improving on it. Once you reach endgame and you must depend upon a certain amount of luck rather than leveling up to find higher level base items in order to find that next item you’re interested in that would be an upgrade, (Or even a good starting place to become an upgrade,) that process will become even more of a time expenditure.

This is not to even mention that when you are at the end of the game this expenditure will then require you to take even more identical actions as the last time you performed them to get that item again. Even if there is some variety of places to grind, which one each class or build grinds fastest will likely be a more limited set of those places. Multiply this potentially across 10 total equipment slots and the game is asking players to endure quite a bit of monotony and frustration to complete a single set for a single build.

This is also not to mention that it is not obvious until much later in the run which bonuses you’re going to need, unless you are very experienced already with what you’re trying to accomplish. The shards are extremely varied, spread out, and you might not even have the bonuses you need because you didn’t know to spend your limited shatters on items you probably didn’t bother picking up or keeping for later.

You can see then how fracturing doesn’t just invalidate an item, but every step in the process that was required to bring that item to bare. Taken altogether, this greatly discourages players to experiment with builds and gear in the game.

And this is exactly what I was finding across my five characters, was that I wasn’t even interested by the fourth or so in doing any kind of crafting until I was at least on the doorstep of the last area or two. Only when I was starting to slow down did I even bother to upgrade anything, and that happened maybe once in each 10-12 hour playthrough. I only upgraded my weapons before Lagon on my rogue, as anything more than that was simply not feasible with the resources I had. To go get anything else would have been hours more playtime, a significant fraction of the time I had already spent, for relatively modest improvements - and potentially no improvement, due to fracturing.

I’ve said all of this to say that I don’t think it is a deterrence that people feel suddenly that they are merely prone to feel the moment they notice their first item has fractured. For me it was a slow and demoralizing process that took the course of hours to inform me that my time and effort were not being honored because I was being asked to go back and perform tasks I had already done again to get things I had already earned. It’s like the thing we all likely dislike about being stuck at endgame, sometimes waiting hours at a time for improved versions of the same items, only peppered throughout all of the content.

Consider then that even you might someday find yourself at times questioning if you should really go back in, get the same item you got before, hope it has the same or better implicit stats as the one you started with, then craft it with the original level of optimism you had previously wondering if it will then finally become an improvement over what you have now. That might not be your inclination today, but fifty to a hundred more hours from now, many if not most of those hours will have been spent to get the same items with the same stats and then upgrade them with only a small chance that they might add up to progress. It’s very possible you will feel differently at that point about those setbacks.

(Edit: typo/spelling/thought order)


Well, the thing is, in my case anyway I keep on crafting away regardless of fractures. I take all as a natural part of the game and crafting process. It doesn’t affect me any more today than it did the first day I started playing the game.

In comparison to the “crafting” in the game I most recently played for years, this is light years better. Almost to the point that I hesitate to even compare the 2. One was a pure spinning wheel of roulette, where as this as I see it is more “proper” crafting. So, compared to my “crafting” elsewhere over the last 3+ years, this is heaven.

Also, at least with the fracturing system, chances are that on a lot of items even when it does fracture it is still an improvement from what you are wearing.

Almost every non unique I am wearing on my current player is fractured. This is because I push every crafting attempt to the max of T20. If it gets there without a fracture, brilliant, but it’s an extreme rarity. This is how I “upgrade” my gear though, incrementally through crafting attempts.

Like I said, the current system works for me. I appreciate it doesn’t work for you. This is the nature of mature gaming forums, we agree to disagree and maybe take little points from each other’s perspective & thoughts.

This is the beauty of the current state & maturity of the LE forums. I sincerely hope it can long continue to be like that in the future as more people come here from other games.

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I guess another issue that’s related to this that I kind of wanted to address was just the idea of equating ease of gear acquisition with the ease of the game in general. There’s a few things about this approach to gauging the content of a game like Lost Epoch that I think are flawed that I could speak to a little bit here:

The first thing being, what’s actually the case is that items that are optimal or close to optimal are part of the content of the game itself. They are the things that validate for you if a build really scales well at the end of the game or not, which is where we end up playing a significant portion of our playthroughs in order to try out different things that might drop for us and see how they fit into the build that we’ve chosen to run with by that point. This is also where the bosses are that we test those builds on. As such, the time it takes to get to those items isn’t the ease of the game itself, but rather the time investment required to see the content that exists within the game. Difficulty would be something more akin to how many decisions you have to make in a row to defend yourself like in a match of Starcraft, or how many skills or how much you have to know to do in order to stay alive against a boss or elite pack of enemies before you defeat them. We’d measure this in the number of button presses, decisions per second, etc. rather than time investment itself. In a fighting game, you might measure skill level in time played, but this is because the knowledge you gain from playing is the skill level. There isn’t an easy way to measure how well you know the match-ups and button presses necessary to get out of a particular scenario, precisely because there are a nearly unlimited number of scenarios. And your muscle memory can be better for some than others. When we’re talking about how long it takes us to grind for a particular item or set, we’re not talking about measuring knowledge or skill, since we’re doing content over again for the vast majority of that grind. We’re actually just talking about time spent physically playing the game.

The second thing goes along with the first and that’s that I feel then that since the time it takes to reach certain parts of the content is what is at issue, we should think about the time required to acquire a “best-in-slot” item as an arbitrary barrier created through the tuning of crafting and drop chances in the game. The reason this is done is to create a sense of accomplishment when an item we want drops or is crafted. While I feel that this is a somewhat valid incentive in ARPGs, the problem with it is really two-fold: One, it’s an artificial accomplishment. What I mean by that is, the actions taken to produce the outcome don’t directly correlate with the drop itself. In other words, if it’s not repeatable, you haven’t really performed an act of skill or knowledge that you had to acquire. You’ve mostly just asked the game to drop for you something that it didn’t drop before by killing some more enemies. This is that slot machine analogy again: What the player gets out of the experience is very limited. Two is that the progress is non-linear, which enforces a schedule of reinforcement on the player to continue doing things they’ve already done at the same or higher level of motivation. This ramps up naturally over time as the rarity of the items we still need increases. In this way, the motivation players feel to continue playing is not necessarily coming from the item reward itself, or the quality of what the player is doing while grinding, but the fact that the items are coming intermittently. This is also partially what I am referring to when I call this incentive model ‘artificial’ or ‘arbitrary.’ It is not a direct or linear relationship between effort and reward. It is still somewhat valid because how many items we need to complete a build is limited by the number of equipment slots. It is finite in this way, so putting in the time to get them is still validated at the end of the process.

If we then change our perspective to see the time required for a player to play to acquire a desired item is not difficulty, and that it is in fact a barrier to see and enjoy content within the game, then we can consequently assess the quality of what the player is doing during that time and how much time is spent and weigh these both against the rewards that are given to the player to determine if the content comes too quickly or is padded too greatly given what the player gets out of the experience per minute or hour played. This is the critical evaluation I try to do in my head when I decide if I feel like grinding for the next item, or indeed any item, that would help me to complete my build. I don’t see the time it takes as difficulty so much as a stop-light that I’m merely waiting at before I’m allowed to see the next thing the game has to show to me.

This is why I’m not sure that crafting that has permanent failure involved is even a good time tradeoff for a player, let alone if this is how players should be required to acquire best-in-slot items. This is because there isn’t value added for time spent: Say you’re doing things you’ve done before, and you’re spending 20, 40, 60 hours, or more, to complete one build; Then afterwards say there’s only a few hours of really challenging content to test it on. Is that the appropriate amount of time to require players to see that content with that gear? Now consider that you might be interested in playing multiple builds and you have to do that grind over again every time to complete it. It’s easy to see then how time-gating the content in this way starts to add up rapidly.

I wanted to at least say something here about this being why time-gating in subscription based MMO’s and mobile games is so onerous; They are getting people to be highly motivated about a relatively small amount of content, and artificially segmenting out how much of it they can see at a time. To me, this is a sign that value is not being delivered to the player, and the same thing applies to extremely low drop chances for items.

And this is a concern because our time is precious and limited. Most of us that work spend about 40-50 hours a week trying to make ends meet. To me, if a game asks me to spend more time playing it to complete a build - a large fraction of that spent doing monotonous tasks that I’ve already done before - than I spend at work in a week, that game wants to be played as a job. That’s just how I value my time. If I notice this, I then have to ask myself if I am getting fewer fun experiences and interesting rewards during that playtime than I think I should be having. If I also face setbacks that make me feel like that time was wasted, then that also causes me to reevaluate if it’s really a worthwhile investment. And there are, of course, plenty of other games to compare these experiences against to determine if there’s more fun out there to be had, as the library of games available continues to expand daily.

If ARPG players embraced this perspective on content, I suspect the quality of their experiences and the amount of the content within the game they can enjoy per hour played would increase dramatically. We all only have a limited amount of time and there are lots of fun experiences and things left for us to enjoy. So why spend large amounts of it doing the same things over again hoping for different rewards? If we know that’s what we’re doing, why not do less of it? Why not simply have more content to get, rather than pad out how long it takes to get it?

I hope this helps explain why I feel that the changes I’ve proposed to the crafting system make sense in context of time required, and why that time required isn’t really a game’s difficulty. I also hope maybe this perspective inspires at least someone who is thinking about how to properly place value on their time. That’s something I’m very passionate about as well.

(Edit: typos / added one detail to paragraph 2)

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Another very well written expansion upon your previous points.
Sadly, I still hold to my opinions expressed previously which are not altogether inline with yours. It’s good though that you expand upon your opinions in this level of detail and thought, and I am sure this provides some useful insight on that perspective for the devs to think about. Kudos for the post. I can’t give you a “like” tick sadly, as that would imply I agree, so take this “verbal tick” instead :wink:

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I appreciate that; I’ll take it, haha. What I’m really excited to see is if there is any discussion to be had around this point. That and, if the devs will notice it. I heard this being addressed on another thread and didn’t want my reply to be taken as a carpet bombing there, so hopefully I will incite some feedback here as to whether time spent really constitutes difficulty or if it’s as I’ve described. Guess we’ll find out soon.