Econ Devblog: Circuit Board Crafting
By Loic "Atreid" Claveau - April 05, 2013
Hi everyone! My name is Primus (Gortok on the forums), and I am a designer on WildStar for the Economy Systems Team. Econ is a broad term we use internally to describe anything related to crafting, items, vendors, rewards, loot drops, and of course balancing the inputs and outputs of the actual in-game economy. We have one awesome programmer and our 5th designer is starting next month, so it’s a lot to take care of for a relatively small team.
WildStar’s items are built on a system we internally call the Circuit Board Crafting System (CBC). This system is used for pretty much any piece of gear that you can equip. It is the basis for one of our two crafting systems, and is also used by non-crafters to modify their items. This post will focus on how we expect Modding to play out. Think of it as a teaser for crafting as well, which I know we are planning to talk more about in the coming months.
CBC consists of single Schematics per item that can be filled out with various Microchips that give stats and special abilities. Depending on the item’s level, it will have a base amount of Power that it can distribute between different stats and special abilities.
There are three main types of Microchips, all of which you can see in the above picture.
- Power Amplifier (Amp) – These provide additional Power to the item, effectively giving it a bigger budget for stats and specials. The item above has a Blue Power Amp, which in this case gives it 263 Power (roughly 26 stat points).
- Attribute Relay Chips (ARC) – These are casually referred to as Stat Chips. They convert 10 points of Power into 1 point of an attribute. They will convert all of the Power if they are in a terminating socket (the last socket in a branch), or some adjustable percent of the Power if they are not.
Special Circuits – Specials are broadly defined as anything on the item that grants a special function to the item, instead of attribute points. They are subdivided into three groups:
- Ability Chips – These can provide a wide variety of bonuses from wearing the item, such as a chance to reflect damage, to poison an enemy, increased movement speed, or whatever we like, really. Most Specials fall into this category. The example above has an Ability Special called Power Shift. It comes from the chip with the crown itcon.
- Set Chips – These provide set bonuses. I will not be going into the details of this system.
- Item Challenge Chips – I will likewise leave this up to your speculation for now.
As I have previously mentioned, pretty much every piece of gear in the game has a schematic with most or all of the Microchips already socketed. These items are not always optimal, however, and it is expected that you will want to replace some of the Microchips with something else.
Extraction Example: About to extract the Ability Chip: Static Charger.
In this example, we are about to remove an Ability Chip from this item. When we do so, it is going to destroy the item but give us the Microchip. There are multiple ways to get Microchips, but primarily they come from Extraction. Note that the Deflect Chip in the top right has a red X over it. This chip is Locked, meaning it cannot be extracted. I will talk more about Locked Chips later.
Once we have extracted a few Microchips, we can then alter other items we have by Modding them. Through this process, anyone can gather the best materials they have and make their items fit more closely to what they need.
Example of Modding
Let’s say we do not want Technology in this socket, and instead want to replace the Technology ARC with a Stamina ARC. In the Modding Example above, we have clicked on the Microchip we wanted to replace and a list of valid chips are brought up for us to choose from. Any time you Mod a new Microchip into a socket, any existing Microchip in that socket is destroyed.
That is the basics of our CBC System. It is simple and straightforward, and very powerful. In fact it is too powerful. If you can mod anything you want into any item, then there are really no choices. Everyone is going to go over to the Elitist Jerks website and figure out exactly which Microchips to put in each of their items. To combat this, we have two features of this system that do not come into play until a little bit later; Random Microchips and Socket Locking.
Random Microchips are all taken care of before you get the item. You will never be able to extract a random microchip, because when the item is actually created, it chooses the appropriate Chip from a list.
Socket Locking prevents you from modding or extracting a Microchip from a specific socket. This means sometimes if you want that cool Ability Chip, you have to make do with the item and schematic it came with. It also means that you may get an item that is not quite optimal in what stats it has, but you have to make due.
If you combine both of these together, you can see how having an item that has randomly selected stats, some of them locked in, can be a lot more of a headache to figure out.
An additional element of depth we have is Slot-Specific Microchips. These Microchips are restricted to only be useable for certain item types. For example, if you want a Special Chip that makes you run faster, that chip might only be able to go on boots. If you want an ability that has a chance to poison the target, it would only be useable on Weapons.
There is a lot of room for really interesting decisions here. The goal is to make it very rare to have a 100% completely optimal item. We want you to have to make hard decisions about items. Different schematics split the Power in different ways, so it is important where you put your ARCs.
Think about how this is going to play out in the Elder game; you may kill a boss that drops a vest that come with a locked in Critical ARC. You then have to kill another boss that gives an item with Chest-Only Special on it you can salvage. Now you have to track down a Purple Power Amp, and you have still have to figure out what you are going to do with the last two Attribute sockets.
So there you have it. We were going to wait to introduce this when we talk about crafting, but we actually have a really good reason to get this information out now: We are going to be creating a few new Item Slots, and we wanted you guys, the community, to give input on what those slots will be. It will be a lot easier for you guys to come up with some awesome new item types if you understand how our items work in general. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on this exciting, collaborative opportunity! The Community Team will be providing more information on this soon, so bug Aether if you don't see it shortly. :)