Dev Diary: Introducing Weighted Loot Drops!

December 13th, 2021 at 2:48 pm

Hi Card Hunters! It’s been a while since I got to talk to you through this medium, but this is Flaxative, back to talk Card Hunter design! Today I’m going to discuss a small design change coming in our Holiday 2021 build that will hopefully result in some big improvements for you.

You may have seen in the announcement of our patch that Sir Civil mentioned “Weighted Loot Drops,” and you may have wondered what the heck that means. Wonder no longer!

A Bit of Background

In Card Hunter, until now, any item of the same level and rarity had an equal chance of dropping in chests–be they battle chests or bought chests. This meant that once the game determined you were getting a Level 17 rare non-treasure item, you have had an equal chance of getting any Level 17 rare item–regardless of what kind of item it was. Arcane items–which a wizard needs 4 of–dropped at the exact same rate as helmets–which a warrior needs only 1 of.

With a perfectly even distribution of items in each slot, you can probably see how this would quickly result in you having way too many helmets, or way too few arcane items. Thankfully, we didn’t have an even distribution of items. We added 4 arcane items to the game for every 1 new helmet. And this… kind of worked.

Lingering Issues

It’s no secret that Card Hunter’s loot grind experience has a few pain points. The Knights of Unity are hard at work addressing these on a number of levels, from small tweaks to our algorithms (weighted loot drops) to whole new features (stay tuned!).

Three problems worth mentioning for our purposes today:

1. It’s almost impossible to grind for specific items you might want for a particular party idea. You can aim for an item level by running specific adventure levels, or you can keep an eye out for specific items appearing in your Daily Deal or Randimar’s Rarities shops, but you ultimately have very little control of these things, and you don’t have many choices to make to try to nudge the odds one way or the other.

2. If you don’t run a ‘balanced’ party of one warrior, one wizard, and one priest, with one character of each race, the item slot distribution mentioned above stops being particularly helpful. If you are running 3 warriors and keep getting arcane items, and have trouble getting the helmets you want, that’s not great!

3. From a design standpoint, we had to design and implement these specific ratios of items in different slots. Adding 4 arcane items for every 1 helmet might preserve the loot drop ratios for the slots, but it actually deepens problem #1. If we’re adding so many arcane items to the game, it becomes that much harder to find the specific arcane items you want!

A Step in the Right Direction

As I said above, we’re working on a number of fronts to improve the Card Hunter economy and grinding experience. The feature we’re releasing this month is only one step in this process, but we think you’ll like it.

What ARE Weighted Loot Drops anyway?

The way this new feature works is like this:

When you get an item from a battle chest (PvE or PvP, but not bought chests), and that item isn’t a treasure, it will now have a 20% chance of being a “weighted” drop. Weighted drops are guaranteed to match an item slot in your current party, and are weighted further based on the density of different item slots in your party.

What this means, in practice, is that if you have, say, 3 warriors, your weighted drops can’t be arcane items, and will have a 3:1 chance of being weapons (of which your party can use 9) to being helmets (of which your party can use 3).

Of course you can still get items that aren’t only for your current party. 80% of non-treasure drops will remain unweighted for now, and items from chests in stores will still be fully random.

This will have the following benefits:

1. If you want to try to grind for specific items, you can now nudge the probabilities in your favor by maximizing that item’s slot in your party. You want a divine item? Run all priests. You want an elf skill? Run all elves.

2. Regardless of the party composition you’re using to play through the campaign, you’re more likely to find items you can use than items you can’t.

3. Starting with our next expansion set, which will come sometime next year–I’m not at liberty to give any more detailed information at this point–we will no longer be printing 4 arcane items for every 1 helmet. New items will be much more balanced in quantity, meaning we won’t need to add tons and tons of nigh-unobtainable items to the game just to preserve slot ratios for loot drops.

As a theoretical bonus, weighted loot drops also free up design space for adding races and classes to the game without breaking item slot drop ratios.

Wrapping Up

You might never notice anything different with this new system as you play the game. But your loot drops will be just a little more to your taste. And hopefully this will tide you over for our bigger planned changes, which I’m looking forward to talking about early next year.

Let us know what you think of this new feature, as well as your opinion on this dev diary. I might get to do more, and your feedback is helpful :)

Happy holidays!

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