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[Series] | Eliminate Loot Randomization

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DarkAlphabetZoup's picture
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(Taken from Calvar's "Weapon Durability" Thread so we can keep THAT thread about Weapon Durability and transfer Loot discussion here.)

Whether or not they've thought about it just yet, I feel as if the majority of players would appreciate Ubisoft removing the Randomness from Loot received. What I mean is, the way Loot works now eliminates an amount of the importance of each individual enemy. The placement of said enemies becomes less interesting than it would be if each Enemy Type carried a specific kind of Loot. Right now, you're as likely to loot Bullets from a Brute as you are from a Sniper. Or Knives from a Lookout, as from a Leader. That always made Looting uninteresting to me, and while I'm glad that Syndicate added an Auto-Loot skill so they don't waste the player's time, there can be no intentionality or deliberate planning to playing with Loot - a player will still kill three random enemies, carrying random loot, until they receive the item they want.

If enemies and their carried Loot were more consistent and made more sense, it'd be an entire new sub-layer of strategy and mastery that could go into raiding areas. It would facilitate the idea of, "I don't need to kill all of these people, just this Gunner here for his bullets, and make my way to my Target. Now how do I get to the Gunner?" This all happens in the player's head in less than a second, but immediately makes the experience of playing the game more enjoyable. That's because it affords players the ability to genuinely create "on-the-fly" objectives for themselves. It doesn't rely on the game feeding them objectives, and it's based on what resources they're missing and which one they want right now. It allows players to feel like they're playing more deliberately, and makes their second-to-second choices matter more.

Some players feel that Loot is a reward for not having to go to a shop to re-stock on items. The system I propose would also address that and penetrate to a fairly deep level. Because right now Loot is random, it's guaranteed that you will eventually get what you need by slaughtering any enemies, even the ones that are outliers on the edges of infiltration-zones. This makes re-stocking easy, simple, thoughtless. There is no gameplay there.

In the case of enemies having consistent Loot loadouts, what items are accessible to players and what the players have to do to receive those items can be made easier or harder based on where enemies are placed and what kind of enemy they are. Useful items such as Smoke Bombs and Throwing Knives would be hardest to Loot, because the only enemies that would carry them would always be in the center, surrounded by many others. Items such as Bullets and Medicine would meanwhile be held by hostiles that are around the edges, easily Stealth-Kill-able without much trouble.

This is because a player that would use Bullets or Medicine is not likely to be engaging with a Stealth playstyle to begin with, so this placement makes perfect sense in an inverse kind of way. Not a fan of Stealth? That's okay, you can still Stealth kill the enemies on the outside as a sort of "pre-battle" preparation, which Combat Players do in current AC games already. Like to be Stealthy? Then save your Smoke Bombs and Knives, or use them to selectively clear away vision cones that lead up to enemies that carry those items, as you delve silently toward the middle of an outpost - and your Target.

Loot-time is really just something that feels a bit redundant at this point. They have us kick open chests for this very reason, because they are aware of how annoying it is to cut off game-flow by having us stay still for a few seconds for something without any inherent tension. The next step is making Loot interesting and enjoyable by making it a part of Encounter Design, to have it be something a player can keep in mind as a deliberate action with known risks and rewards.

Double McStab with Cheese's picture
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I agree with the idea of predictable types of loot with unpredictable amounts.

eg, one enemy type gives you bombs and knives, up to 3 total, no more than 2 of each, and money up to 10. It still looks random, but the loot TYPES are set.

"Victorian values meant brutalizing people who were often poor." - Charles Palliser

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Unpredictable amounts is fine, as long as the player knows exactly what they're getting. To that end I would not suggest putting multiple item types on the same enemy, unless the player WILL get both each and every time. Again, this is about having a player's plan be just predictable enough to the point where it's fun to execute without any, "Wow, bull****" moments. (Expecting a Smoke Bomb, getting a Knife instead, or vice versa.)

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I disagree.

I want there to be the uncertainty of getting something when you loot. Not every sniper starts the day with standard issue 2 bullets and 1 voltaic bomb... maybe they used one a few days ago and haven't replenished their stock.

Also, I think bullet-loot (for example) should make sense. If you take out a sniper you get a bullet (or 2 or 3 or none). However, if they used a bullet to shoot at you, you get less. Basically, enemies should have ammunition counts just like you do. Once they spend their 3 bullets or so, they have to engage in melee or run. I completely understand that this is a LOT to keep track of and probably won't work because the processing power probably isn't there.

"Victorian values meant brutalizing people who were often poor." - Charles Palliser

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Bullet-Loot being consistent with shots fired is good.

Looting certain enemies should always yield something, otherwise it's no functionally different than what we have now. Remember: The reason I'm doing this is to allow for deliberate and consistent plan+execute gameplay when it comes to Stealth - something other Stealth games excel at and Assassin's Creed is terrible at due in part to little flashy details like this exact "flavorful" randomization.

There are some sacrifices that will be made in the name of tighter, more strategic Stealth gameplay. Certain enemy types will have certain loot, and they will always have at least 1 of said Loot. I will yield on having one enemy type per loot type, but each Loot the player executes should always yield at least 1 of an Item.

Grunts, or the lowest level Guard (the most ubiquitous) would always have nothing except Money, and a pathetic amount too. The player would know this, so there's less chances of abusing the mechanic. Likewise, "special" archetypes would always carry something, and to offset that, they would both be tougher to get to undetected and to kill in general. Imagine that, learning how to flow through a placement or patrol of guards to get to a high-ranking one and loot him, only to get the horribly-lame, "Aw, well you didn't get anything this time. Play again!" RNG. It just won't fly. No way. It would totally weaken the meaning of a player's tactical decisions and it's seriously no different in the grand scheme of a player's game loop than the games are currently. Why? Why make the player kill one guard that should give them something, and then force them to have to go and kill another despite DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT? If there's a way to reconcile the damage this type of "flavor" would cause, so be it. So far I haven't heard any Tongue

This isn't something I'm going to back down on because it's the backbone of my entire suggestion. It is what makes each loot opportunity meaningful and not "cheap," because the player knows full well their action and risk will be rewarded according to their play, and NEVER random chance. The ability for players to plan+execute tactics that involve selective assassination and selective looting is key in this Thread, and anything that undermines that will be opposed unless there's a really strong Reason for it that works with the system's intent.

Other suggestions have really been super incredible, though!

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I play video games to escape and have fun. If you can know the answer to everything before hand, where's the fun and suspense? If I wanted to solve a series of increasingly difficult equations that have a predictable and solvable answer at the end, I'd take college linear algebra again. Wink

"Victorian values meant brutalizing people who were often poor." - Charles Palliser

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It's not about what it takes away, it's about what it adds. This is one simple element of a far larger game experience. By making this small thing predictable, it opens one of many subtle doors to making the rest of the game more unpredictable. That can mean tougher, more challenging and more interesting. All because the player is now given more Masterable tools on a systemic level, on a level that's woven into the game's DNA itself.

Players encounter Guards and Enemies all the time but right now there's nothing interesting about these enemies in any AC game. This is because no matter how many different skins or surface-level features they have, they are all actually the same. They're fought the same, assassinated the same, snuck around the same and slaughtered en masse the same.

Paying more attention to diversifying Types and what each of those Types can do both Against the Player and For the Player on a readable, consistent level is a massive leap forward for Ubisoft. Placement and Type would become more important considerations than they are at the moment if an Assassin can understand their true uniqueness. Consistent Loot is just one step, but it's a step that should be there because IT IS a step.

The fun and suspense of any truly wonderful game comes from genuine gameplay instead of random chance. None of the most critically well-received videogames of all time ever "Cheap" the player out of something. In a good, strong game, if you screw up, it is your fault, not the roll of a die. Your mistakes have harsher gravity when you can't blame them on getting unlucky. You can feel crushed under their weight if you don't take the time to Master what lies through the doors this small change opens. Likewise, you can also soar over your enemies, there's nothing stopping you... If you deserve it. A game doesn't need random chance to make you feel fun or suspense, nor should it, ever. Let me tell you where the true unpredictability and enjoyment comes from, because that was your main question above. It comes from the Human Element, NOT from the Machine. From the player playing the game and making genuine mistakes in ways that feel fair and are always traceable back to something they did. When a game can remove random chance gimmicks, it becomes a much more honest experience. It becomes more enjoyable because the player feels a greater amount of Responsibility. Their actions or lack of actions, disrupting the world in various ways becomes the unpredictability or fun. Because a player who has not practiced the same section several times will always be in for an unpredictable experience. They have to be. They simply do not know what comes next. There's no dishonest or low-grade gimmicks like Random Chance or RNG there. It's just raw, in-your-face gameplay. This obviously needs more consistent and responsive controls, but we see again (as Jermaine talked about forever ago) that the reason Assassin's Creed doesn't evolve is because of a lack of reliability on its most basic level. In order to make the games tough but fair, things need to change to become more fair from the ground up. That means controls that you can depend on, scenarios that you can read and succeed or fail at with your own skills rather than Luck, and more variety in both ways to fail, and ways to succeed. I exploded the concept out into a much greater scope to explain my Vision but to be honest, I really should not have to. It's a small change that's objectively helpful. If a game is sincerely going to lose value by axing an RNG gimmick, then there simply is no hope. LMAO.

For Assassin's Creed, this is more important than for most other series, if only because it feels fine to just stew in its gimmicky comfort zone of janky controls and lack of player responsibility for their victories and defeats. It needs to be poked and prodded out of that so it can Grow.