Sunday 9 March 2014

MMOs: One of a Kind Items

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

"I sell one of a kind items," is something I often heard in World of Warcraft. Too bad it isn't true.

I've spoken before about rarity, but after hearing this line from the vendors in WoW it gave me an idea that would help player circulation throughout an MMO world. Players are like the life blood of the place and most often they are channelled in one direction (up) to more difficult zones and more popular hubs where they clot and eventually die off (from boredom).

What if vendors DID sell one of a kind items? Especially if it was a craft necessity and/or items in the game were prone to perma-decay, people would have to travel back through old areas to acquire said goods. Even better is if the vendors only sold 3 or 4 items randomly chosen from their regular inventory which swapped over every x amount of time (a day minimum). Then you can have vendors with the same stock, but the availability of that gear is still a question mark, making people travel even further to find the item they seek. And that's just the stationary vendors.

There should also be wandering vendors who carry even better stuff (but also few and random) wandering unmarked on the road - encouraging people to go track them down or wait at a settlement that is regularly passed. Their goods change every time they leave a settlement, but they are also prone to getting killed by wandering wild life and have a long respawn time.

It may sound too difficult to then find whatever it is you are looking for, but this is where player interaction comes in. You can help each other, or just resell the goods - either way I think it is better than the current system of having every vendor being a supermarket with everything you need in the one spot.

That one stuck in a rock? Don't worry, I have hundreds more at the store!

They also shouldn't be buying stuff from players that isn't relevant to them. What the heck does a carpenter do with the mangled innards of random critters you've slain? Does he moonlight as a sorcerer or is he just a sadist? Think about the stuff you've sold in game and to who you've sold it to. I think I'd rather not know what goes into the potions I drink in NWO since the potion lady buys *everything*. >_<


  1. WoW actually sort of has that mechanic already, doesn't it? Not a full-on "only one player on the server can own this item at any one time" deal, which I think only an indie game with a very niche audience could handle, but a "this vendor wanders about, isn't always up, has to be happened upon" kind of thing.

    It's a very good mechanic in my opinion. EQ had it, which is generally a good enough reason to want it in other MMOs.

    1. It's possible it was there in WoW, I only played through the free content so it's quite likely I missed it! :)