Retirement and Heir-looming
I wanted to touch upon a subject that I think has seen pretty minimal discussion but is a potentially game changing feature. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about over the last couple of days and I’ve developed some rough ideas I’d like to put out there regarding the retirement and heirlooming system originally present in Torchlight and ideas for changes regarding the upcoming Torchlight II.Torchlight
In the original, the retirement system was devised so that once a character had defeated Ordrak, that character could then be ‘retired’. The benefits of retirement were that you could take one item the character owned and ‘enchant’ it so that it reduced the requirements needed to be met to equip that item and passed it into a new character’s inventory. The draw back to retirement was that the character could no longer be accessed for play or use.
Problems with this system stemmed from the top down enchanting approach. The top down approach essentially means that the system rewards a player for finding a high level item and then passing that down in such a way that it could be used on a lower level character. Combine this with the fact that you could continuously heirloom enchant the same item over and over to lower requirements gave low level characters access to incredibly powerful items that trivialized content. The other issue I personally had with retirement indirectly stemmed from an overflow of the loot system (specifically gems), so it was more worthwhile to keep a character as a pack mule to store my items than it was to retire them. The easiest solution to deal with this particular problem with this is not a change in the retirement of a character, but with the loot system itself, which I won’t continue here since others have discussed it more deeply in other threads.
My idea for the retirement system stems instead from the reverse design philosophy of a bottom up approach. Instead of taking an already existing item to work with the advantage would be to let the player build a new item and power that from basic levels, increasing the sense of accomplishment from completing games and actually giving players a chance to build power levels to fight more meaningful combat challenges without trivializing them with overpowered items at low levels. The complimentary idea to Heirlooming in the retirements system would be the addition of a character related bonus that would also give players additional incentives to use the system and as an alternative to just item hoarding. The basic concept is that when a character is retired, they get the bonus of using both systems.Torchlight 2 RetirementItem Heirlooming
When dealing with the item side bonus for retirement I envision that a character will have two additional sub-options to choose from as well. The first option would be the creation of a new magical item. The player would choose what type of item out of their inventory to base a new weapon on (The idea is to allow a player to choose the item model without having an overly complicated item icon database to pour through when selecting). Then after choosing that weapon it gets enchanted to be an heirloom. The conditions granted to the heirloom mean that all pre-existing enchants are wiped out and it is given a set of low level affixes. I’m not sure what to base the affixes on for the moment, either chosen by the player as an option or just enchant it randomly. The heirloom enchant will also come with a number of charges pertaining only to heirloom item advancement. For this example we’ll say that the default for all heirlooms is 4 charges. The heirloom weapon will also have an item level range that restricts it from being used by anything other then a low level character. This restriction can be a hard coded item stat or it can just be the affixes are at a power level such that as the character levels to a certain point they’ll start finding more level appropriate items to replace the heirloom with. We’ll say for this example that the item is hard coded such that it can only be used by a player between levels 1 and 10.
Now back to the crux of the idea of a bottoms up approach, charges and re-heirlooming an item. So now you have an heirloom item, one retired character and a second character that also just finished the game that you’d like to retire. So you retire your second character and you’re once again given the option to either create another heirloom or to re-enchant an existing heirloom. Let’s choose the re-enchant option. So now you re-enchant the item causing the number of heirloom charges to go from 1 of 4 to 2 of 4. Maybe the item gets a minor stat increase but not much otherwise happens until you reach 4 out of 4 heirloom charges by retiring additional characters. Once that state is reached, the item ‘evolves’. It increases its affix power dramatically enough that the heirloom’s power range fits into the level 5-15 level bracket instead, possibly gaining more affixes as it progresses in this manner. The trade off for the extra power is that it is now out of reach to a lower level character but the top end level cap has increased. I’m not sure about the scaling of how this would work but the idea is to keep it out of the hands of a beginning level character so that they’re not using level 20 items on level 2 monsters.
One the other hand if the player had decided not to advance an already existing item, they could have created another heirloom item, now possessing two which could be used to help level new characters in harder difficulties. The other advantage to an heirloom item is that anything can be enchanted and outside of whatever random stats occur, they’re not class specific so they can be traded and used on a variety of different builds for different advantages.Will of the Ancients - Skills
The second feature of the Retirement option in addition to Item Heirlooming, is the idea of a skill bonus on your next character. This comes in one of two forms as well, Ancestral and Chosen skills. The first form is the Ancestral skill. The Ancestral skill option is the importation of a skill from one class to another, making a skill usually available on a particular class also available on a different class. So, for example, a player retires a melee fighter class that has an ability specific to that class that they would like to use on their next character, a mage, to build a melee fighter mage. When they retire the melee fighter they can select that skill as an import to the new character and the new character then gains it on their skill tree as a build-able skill option at the same tree tier level it was offered for the melee fighter class. None of the advancement points transfer over from the old skill, it just makes that particular skill available for advancement as if it were one of the mage’s native class skills.
The second option when retiring a character is to select the Chosen skill option. The Chosen skill option gives an additional perk or bonus to a skill available in the class skill tree that gets based on character level and adds a bonus to that skill in addition to expending skill points to advance it. For example if you have a fire mage with the chosen skill of fireball, the fireball would normally gain +10% fire damage per skill point placed into it and would also get an additional +5% fire damage per level of the character for being a Chosen skill. In this example if the character was level 5 and they put 3 skill points into fireball, they have a total +55% fire damage bonus (30% normal and another +25% from it being an ‘ancestral’ skill). The Chosen skill bonus only applies once the skill is advanced by at least one skill point expenditure, otherwise it does nothing.
Neither Chosen or Ancestral skill rewards would carry from character to character. So if you have a character with either of these options that were retired, the Chosen skill must be repicked and Ancestral skills must be picked from the retired character’s native skill set (the Ancestral skill the retired charactered gained from another previously retired character can’t be re-passed down).Retirement at any level.
The final idea I’d like to suggest is Retirement at any level, meaning that even if a player hasn’t finished the game the player could still choose to retire a character and based on the level of the character the player could only choose particular options for doing so. So let’s say I have a character at level 10 that turned out that I didn’t like playing and I retird him I would only have the option of adding an heirloom charge to an item if I did so. If I waited and advanced the character to level 20 I could have the option of adding an heirloom charge or granting a chosen skill. The intention here is to allow players who start characters that they find out later aren’t fun to play to do something rewarding with the time they spent that would otherwise generally go to waste. It’s also an incentive to experiment with new class ideas and not make the player feel like they burned a lot of their free time if a particular character ends up going badly for them.
I’ll mention that a lot of my examples and the idea for the system is based on previous skill systems and would work better with certain types of skill systems rather than others. Unfortunately I’m trying to relay the ideas in a very basic context, but I use examples to further explain the concept that are often based on the assumption of skill point trees ala Diablo, Diablo 2 or Mythos style skill systems. In addition the example numbers I’m using are in no way meant to indicate that’s what will actually be used. They’re just rough numbers to help relay the information for your understanding to avoid being overly vague.
Also the Heirlooming system has an issue when it comes to scaling with loot generated in different difficulties. I’m not sure if there’s a good solution to that, if there even needs to be one. Though,I do like the idea of heirlooming as a way to kind of get a leg up on tackling the next level of difficulty. Of course it gets even more complicated if you start talking about changing difficulty on the fly as in this thread (viewtopic.php?f=30&t=14444
). That could be overcome with a difficulty flag or item stat as well that allows a player the ability to set the game difficulty of the item and is only usable in that difficulty until it evolves through charge building and the player can then reset at what difficulty the item should use to generate its affixes.