Rare Items in MMORPGs

I've been artifact hunting for the last few days in Dark Age of Camelot. This involves a lot of sitting around waiting for the mob to appear, killing it, and hopefully getting the item. If you don't get the item, then once you've actually completed the encounter, you can buy it, and it'll still work. The items are, due to rarity, fairly expensive to buy, and are the high end of the game economy. I'm really, really torn as to whether this is a good thing or not. Rarity value is a good thing, certainly. It gives you a warm glow to know that your character has an item that nobody else - or few other people - have. But there's a problem - I want to spend my time playing a game, well, playing the damn game. Sitting around for hours waiting for a particular creature to appear so that I can take three minutes to kill it just isn't fun. And you can't wander off, checking occasionally, because other people want it too, and whoever's there when it appears gets it.

I've probably spent at least five hours, on and off, waiting for the Night Terror to appear. I know fine well that the chances of the thing actually dropping the Gem of Lost Memories are pretty low, but I sit and wait anyway. If I have someone else along to guard my spot, I can run over to another nearby site, and check if Peridas has appeared; Peridas has Orion's Belt, and I want that. Most times when I log in, someone's camping in both spots already. over the course of one weekend, every time I checked, one particular player was waiting for the Night Terror. It wasn't even as though he was away from the machine - he was sitting there waiting.

So, rarity value against frustration. Frustration as a cause of rarity. There's the possibility of just making the mob unreasonably tough instead, so that attempts can happen often, but are unsuccessful - but you eventually get to the stage where people will just get about fifty of their closet friends together, and take the thing down repeatedly, until each of them has the artifact, and they have a few to sell as well. So you have to find some other way to make the thing hard to get.

I'm guessing that as in the labour economy in the real world, time is the major limited resource. Maybe there could be some quest process that takes a long time to complete, but that keeps you doing things right the way along?

And then there's the other tactic, which is to log in at 07:30 on a weekday morning, kill the mob, and get the artifact - I got Orion's Belt this morning.

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Posted by Drew Shiel at June 7, 2005 8:50 AM

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