Could we discuss loot frequency some more?
So many newcomers find the game too hard already, and then there's a bunch of us finding it too easy. Balancing will always be a matter of taste, but I think at this point in development and with the new build in mind maybe we could hear some opinions on loot and rarity.
The post came about because when I started playing the new build I was looking forward to the dog moon T-shirt, while expecting it'd be really hard to find (rare and special, right?). I got 2 in a matter of 2 days, all within 2 hexes of Cryo, and despite the fact that I wasn't actively killing everyone around. In the same two days, and in a single scavengable location I landed pretty much everything, including 4 sleds and 1 shopping cart (but only 5 stones). Amongst other things I had 3 backpacks, 2 duffel bags (neat btw), a gun, enough paper for arrows, a small but all encompassing collection of pills, a water purifier and a pot, and I never bothered to count all the clothes and shoes. I did wonder to which extent the first dog moon t-shirt played a role in this (I assume luck influences loot rarity?). But even if that were so: in all the (many) games that I started with the previous build, I had enough loot for an easy run in 3-5 days the latest (all before leaving ZomZom's and usually only missing a pot - and always leaving behind a couple of campsites full of stuff I couldn't carry).
Philip sounds like a random normal fella thrown in the apocalypse, it feels wrong for him to be completely decked out in a matter of a few days. I never considered myself one of those "hardcore gamerz" types, too old for that, but I simply can't wait for the inevitable "hardcore" mod that is going to drop valuable loot rates so low I'm going to be scrambling to make it through the first few weeks. And I'm perfectly willing to take the game as is and wait for said mod. But I still think this is a balancing issue that deserves to be discussed more.
So for my (personal) taste, examples of too common loot:
4 t-shirts, a hide tunic and 3 shoes from one single scavenge are too many. One pair of jeans would be a great find on day one, finding 3 at once makes them irrelevant. The dog moon t-shirt will only be special if it's much harder to find (or did I just get first time lucky?). Sleds just shouldn't still be close to rarity with stones. Containers generally I find myself being complacently counting upon, and I secretly wish I'd be forced to run around with a shopping bag for a tiny bit - or be forced to take the mechanic skill and make myself a travois. Pills are way WAY too easy to find as far as I'm concerned (does being a medic even affect their loot chance?). I also wish more items would stand out in rarity, like the composite bow does (I still almost always end up finding a couple of those in every game but by then I've spent enough of the game wishing for one). Lastly, I feel it would make more sense to have a higher percentage of scavenge situations landing you with just some glass and threads or something equally inconsequential. Finding crap more often would mean finding good loot actually makes an impact.
On the other hand, good (imo) examples of balanced rarity:
Guns and ammo I feel are right on the mark between being rare but not so rare that you can't count on having a gun shooting build with enough of the correct ammo by say week 2 or 3. Composite bows, nano kits and some battery types are the only things these days that I am actually excited to find, because you just can't count on them. (Okay you can count on nano kits if you hang around the junk market long enough, but that's something you have to actually know and work towards, which is good in my book). I do also like the infrequency of pots. They aren't exactly rare, but you do have to go looking for them, and since they are so very useful I feel their relative rarity is just perfect for my taste (I'll actually hunt down a pot-yielding looter when I spot one in early game, makes for a great little ingame story). As for DMC guard loot being near impossible to find, that's just fantastic as far as I'm concerned. Having missed the build with the spawning bug, I wanted to get at them so bad that I decided to play some runs just attacking the guards to see what they drop. And seeing how I can survive the game just fine without their specific loot, it's nice to know there's stuff there that I need to take real risk and repercussions if I want to get my hands on them.
And some ideas:
I keep secretly wishing that a run would be somehow influenced by the sort of loot you find. If you end up finding almost everything you wish for and in just a matter of days, then all the runs end up feeling a tad too similar to one another, even with different skills. In that sense, I think tweaking loot rarity, and/or rarity zones, and/or skill based rarity, at least for a few specific, desirable items may actually make a huge difference in replayability, without impacting new players too much. Creating some zones with less scavengable locations (say around ATN, which is a cash farming machine atm), and tying more items to specific areas may also be ideas to consider. They have the added benefit of potentially making emptier areas of the map more interesting while by-passing the "luck based game" complaints (assuming those complaints should even be a concern - I find them weird in a roguelike that is built around replayability).
So that's my rant, thanks for bothering to read what inadvertently turned into an essay. Let me reiterate for the umpteenth time: at the end of the day all this is just a matter of personal taste, possibly colored by the fact that the game wasn't designed to be played for upwards of 200 hours. ;) Other opinions?