WOO II An Exploration in Design - July 2012 - By Stoneghost: Dalaran


WOO II - gear


Gear refers to weapons, armor, jewelry, and other items that are worn on the character's body during play and which provide the character with enhanced capabilities. Purely cosmetic items are not included in the "gear" category.

Attribute Adjustment

Characters have attributes: strength, intelligence, etc. - damage and damage mitigation - run speed ... and so on. All character attribute changes due to gear are expressed as a percentage of the character's basic attribute values (i.e., before any enhancements or other adjustments). This means that attribute gains due to gear are always percentages.

For example, suppose a character has a physical damage mitigation attribute of 300. Adding boots with a damage mitigation of 1% would increase the physical damage mitigation to 303.

Gear and gear enhancements may or may not scale with level - that is a design decision - here, it is assumed that they do not. In other words, if a weapon adds 2% physical damage at level 20, it also adds 2% at level 30, 40 and so on.

Enhancements such as gems, enchantments, runes and the like will often have a level below which they do not work at all.


When a character returns to a previous level ... to enter a dungeon, for example, or a battleground ... the character's basic attribute values are reset as appropriate for that level. After this has occurred, the character's gear adjustments are applied.

For example: suppose a character has a frost damage attribute of 100 at its current level. Adding a weapon might boost frost damage by 2% ... raising the character's damage to 102. An additional enhancement, say a piece of jewelry, might increase frost damage an additional 1% ... making the new total 103. If the character was then to relevel down to a level where its frost damage attribute was 50, the weapon's boost would be still be 2%, and the jewelry would still be 1% - making the releveled damage total 51.5. If the character was to level up to a level where its damage was 200, the total damage would still be +3%, or 206.

Possibly, some gear capabilities might be level bound. In that case, if the capability is not available at the lower level, it would not be applied.


Damage is an attribute of the character rather than the weapon. For example, if a character has the ability to do physical damage, then the character's rating will be applied to any melee, projectile or thrown weapon that he or she picks up. The rating may be modified by the nature of the weapon ... for example, a melee weapon my do full damage per hit while a projectile weapon may do a fraction of that ... and the weapon may enhance the damage in various ways. See the section on Damage for details.


Mitigation is an attribute of the character rather than the armor. For example, if a character has the ability to mitigate magical damage, then the character's rating will be applied to any item of armor that he or she picks up. The rating may be modified by the armor. For example, an item might provides 1% mitigation to all damage. See the section on Damage for details.

Enhancements to Gear

Gear enhancements include such as gems, enchantments, runes, and other effects that are attached to a character or a character's gear. There are generally two kinds of enhancements: active, which alter the character's ability to play the game, and passive, which apply a cosmetic or entertainment effect.

For example, a pair of gloves might have a slot for the attachment of a jewel. Jewels might provide general damage mitigation, mitigation for specific types of damage, and so on. See the section on Enhancement for more details.

Access to gear

Basic gear will always be available from NPC vendors. Some very rare gear will be awarded for success in Raider dungeons or Fighter battles. All other gear will be made and sold by Crafters.

Drops and Loot

In purely solo adventure games looting is entertaining ... it provides useful items and it gives a break from stalking and killing. But in multi-player games looting quickly becomes annoying. It's mechanics are repetitive, it only occasionally provides any useful items, and in groups it requires a break in play to discus who gets which items. Consequently, drops are largely removed in this design. See the section on Rewards for more details.

Kinds of Gear

Because gear items are designed to adapt to the current level of the character, and because gear only multiplies existing attributes and does not add new ones, and because gear is enhanced by means of additions such as gems, runes and enchantments ... there do not need to be many different levels of any particular item of gear.

For example, assume each player starts with a belt, and that the basic belt has a small multiplier for all kinds of damage mitigation. And assume that the belt has slots for three active enhancements. And assume that the player can apply a variety of cosmetic enhancements. Given all this, the one belt will serve the player for many levels of play.

At a higher level, a new belt might be introduced, one that has additional enhancement slots ... or, the basic belt can just "grow" new slots. In any case, there will be little need for the game to store a multitude of different belts.

Storing Items in Computers

The approach taken by WOO II ... having a relatively small number of gear items, each with slots for a variety of enhancements, is intended to reduce the demand for storage of items. Some of this space will be reused to store the information needed to relevel a character.

As an example, the basic armor set has seven items: head, chest, wrist, hands, waist, legs, feet. In the current game each of these items must have an entry for each class of user. Consider, for example, chest armor:

For simplicity, say that there are four of these basic class patterns. This means that the game must provide, at a minimum, four times seven, or twenty-eight basic armor patterns for each level of armor usage.

But as a player levels, his or her armor quickly becomes insufficient. New armor must be made available, and again for simplicity say that this happens every five levels. If the game has 100 levels, then new armor is needed 100/5 or twenty times. So the game must provide 28 basic armor patterns 20 times, for a total of 560 different items. Each of these items must have a graphic, and each must be stored in the game's database.

Now, 560 is not a huge number - it certainly does not tax the memory capacity of today's computers. But 560 is also the total number of items available ... a character must choose from that set, and realistically, the character must choose from the 28 that are available at its current level.

A Different Approach

WOO II would begin by giving each armor item a physical damage mitigation percentage. Since the mitigation attribute value is inside the character, there would still only need to be seven items of gear.

Next it would provide each item of gear with some number of enhancement slots ... for simplicity, say that standard gear has 4 slots: 3 active and 1 cosmetic. That is, some enhancements multiply a characters abilities ... for example: 1% strength, 1% intelligence, 3% movement speed, 2% frost mitigation, and so on - while others are only cosmetic: gear color, colored glow, smoky haze, etc. So, 400 would be a lot of these ... it may be more than are needed. Let's say that there are 300 active enhancements and 100 cosmetic ones.

The player would "build" his or her gear to order by inserting enhancements in the slots. This means that the seven basic gear items plus the 400 enhancements are all that is needed to provide all of the gear in the game.

Which leads to the question: how many different gear items can a player produce? From 300 active enhancements, the player must chose 2 ... there are about 900 ways to do this, but many of those would be undesirable ... i.e., spirit and strength ... so a rough guess might be that half of them are ones that some player might want to use ... so, 450 combinations. Then there are 100 cosmetic effects, which brings the number up to 4,500 ... times seven for the entire set, makes it 21,000 different possible armor sets.

This is a very desirable result. Their gear is what identifies them in the game, and Players definitely want their gear to be distinctive.


Again, the gear system looks like this:

The main reason for using the percentage approach is that it makes releveling easy. A gear item works at every level because all it ever does is multiply values that are already carried by the character.

The main reason for using the enhancement slot approach is that it lets the same amount of computer data create a much larger variety of gear. This allows players to individualize their armor sets, and this interesting for players and good for the game.