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Pimp your ride in Auto Assault

The third in a series of in-depth Q&As on Auto Assault - the fastest, most destructive MMO ever

Tuesday 23 August 2005/... Recently, several members of the Auto Assault team were asked questions about their forthcoming game in the third of a series of IRC sessions dubbed "Rush Hour". What follows is a transcript of the questions and their answers.

Rush Hour #3 - Loot, Items and Crafting

Rockjaw: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our third Auto Assault Rush Hour! Thank you all for coming this afternoon, and in particular thank you to Scott 'Scorch' Brown, and... Ryan 'SamPenguin' Seabury, who have gotten out of bed just for us...

This afternoon's Rush Hour is focused on the some of the more economic aspects of Auto Assault, specifically, loot, in-game items and crafting.

OK, so we're going to get started here with our first question...

Question: How will the loot/item economy function in Auto Assault? Will it be NPC or player driven?

Scott Brown: Loot is created dynamically from enemy kills and hand crafted as mission rewards in Auto Assault. Loot can also be built by crafters as well. When you experiment with an item while crafting you will get random enhancements based on the materials you experiment with.

Question: If NPCs are used as primary traders, will there be any motivation for players to buy from other players?

Scott Brown: To make good money from items in Auto Assault you will have to trade with other players. The prices stores pay will be too low.

Question: Will you incorporate anything like a "market place" into the game, allowing players to set items for sale almost eBay-style and get on with the meat of the game play?

Scott Brown: Not at launch, we are evaluating what systems are needed now in beta and prioritizing what gets added from there, if this becomes the top issue, who knows... :)

Question: Will players be able to buy what another player sells to an NPC vendor?

Ryan Seabury: Generally speaking no. We'd rather you interact directly with other players to trade for their goods... so when you sell items to vendors, they immediately junk it for parts or perhaps sell it to another vendor somewhere in the wide wide universe of Auto Assault :P

Question: Will items sell for better prices in specific stores, like we see on CoH?

Ryan Seabury: No. Long ago we messed around with this and determined that it really slowed down the pacing too much even for towns, because the net result is that you end up walking around to every vendor and seeing what prices they give and then you start keeping notes on the side as to where to take things so vendors always pay a universal price for a given item, but players of course will pay as supply and demand dictate given our experience with our first title which had an NPC-demand model, we felt this was the correct direction for the kind of game Auto Assault is.

Question: Given that we're going to be playing battling vehicles, will we be able to equip any upgrade items directly onto them? Engine upgrades, chrome rims, tinted windows, a spoiler or perhaps decals?

Ryan Seabury: In order to keep the game play focused on action (versus simulation), we decided to combine a number of things into the chassis. Things like engines and performance variables are all internal to a given chassis that you may find, receive as a reward, purchase, or craft. However, as far as looks go, we have an entire separate system called "Tricks & Trims" that allows you to fully customize your visual identity.

This includes things like choosing paint jobs and colours plus all kinds of profile changing enhancements, such as spoilers, flares, and numerous other 3D bits on your vehicle.

Question: Will dropped loot from enemies include unique items? (not accessible from vendors or crafting)

Scott Brown: Since the loot engine is dynamic almost everything in the game is unique, at least statistically. Each base item also has a rarity to drop as well. We expect that a high percentage of the loot you have in game will come from drops.

Question: How will item drops be shared among players in a party? Will it use drop assignment, the classic free-for-all, or a crafty something else?

Scott Brown: Players can choose between loot modes when in a convoy. First, they can choose to be free for all where the player who gets the kill owns the loot. Second, they can choose distributed, where each player gets one item at a time. We mix up the player list though so you don't always know who is going to get an item next. We didn't want a system where you would have to slow down your game play to deal with loot sharing so there's no dialog or anything whilst in combat.

Ryan Seabury: also, one of the cool things about the crafting system includes the chance to potentially be able to craft a very rare find... so for example you could find the Uber Gun of Doom* (*made up example) but through the R&D skills of Reverse Engineering and Memorization, you could break the item, fix it and then have a chance of permanently memorizing it, possibly being the only crafter on any server to be able to do so.

Question: Will those who choose not to get involved in PvP combat suffer a disadvantage concerning item availability?

Scott Brown: Participating in PvP does have its advantages. When you complete PvP missions to destroy other players for example you will get those specific mission rewards.

You will also get rewards for capturing outposts that you can "spend" on special items as well.

But I would say you are not at a disadvantage if you do not want to participate in the PvP missions because of the vast amount of loot in the game.

Question: Are there any big bosses who drop special loot? And will the type/quality of loot change with the enemy/boss (harder kills give better loot)?

Ryan Seabury: Most definitely. There are several "boss" style enemies that will drop much bigger goodie bags than normal enemies both in quantity and quality usually, you will find these as the culmination of story arcs that end in private instances but sometimes, "things" can occur and you may see one roaming a highway from time to time as well. Scott, did you have an addendum?

Scott Brown: To add to this, there are loot tables by type of enemy and tables specific to some enemies. So cars can give specific loot and so that boss car X can even have unique loot to him. We also feed the loot generator with the difficulty of the enemy and boost this number even more when you are fighting a boss so you will get extra cool things from the entire loot table as well.

Question: Do you buy items for crafting or acquire them by loot?

Ryan Seabury: Yes. just kidding. Although really, yes. You can get them both ways in some sense. You may find "Broken Items" which are the central concept in our crafting system, as dropped loot. But there are also junkyard NPCs who will sell an assortment of low end broken items to help you get started in various disciplines. To repair a broken item requires commodities, which you will only find in the world as loot, mostly from smashing up the environments and of course from other players.

Scott Brown: Wiring from light posts, old computer parts from buildings for example.

Ryan Seabury: You may also have the ability to create broken items from functional items, via use of the Reverse Engineering R&D skill but I digress.

Question: Will crafting require any specific skills, or will it be conducted at an NPC?

Scott Brown: There is an entire discipline tree that you progress through as a player when learning crafting skills. There are 3 different tiers of abilities and you are limited by tier to how many choices you can make. So you will have to choose between creating chassis, power plants, weapons, tires, and consumables for example.

Question: How many crafting skills are they per race and how quickly do they become available?

Ryan Seabury: The crafting skills are basically universal across all races although naturally there may be specific items that would only benefit one race or another. For example, only Mutants are going to want to craft a Blood Phial repair kit that is essentially refined contamination goo, the other two races couldn't use it. As for number of skills, it isn't necessarily final yet, but safe to say more than 10. :)

Scott Brown: And since you need a broken item at least once to repair it, the other races would never see a blood phial to craft so they will all be crafting different items.

Question: Are there items that can only be made through crafting?

Scott Brown: Yes there are some items that can only be made through crafting and some items that can only be found through looting.

Question: Is there ever any chance that crafting completely fails?

Ryan Seabury: Yes and No. Heh! :) Yes, if you are experimenting on a broken item or memorized blueprint so for example, a broken gun calls for salvaged steel in its recipe, you instead put in salvaged copper based on your experimentation R&D skill. There is now a chance for failure since you deviated from the specified recipe, however there is also a chance to get an improved or somehow different item than the original. But if you want to have 100% success, you just follow the recipe as specified with the exact materials and you will get the item 100% of the time in this way. We allow for either reliable production crafting, or experimental crafting with a chance for failure, depending on what you need.

Scott Brown: the more you experiment, the more likely you are to fail, but also the more likely you are to get an even better item.

Question: Will the manufactured items be as good as or better than the ones found by looting?

Scott Brown: We don't want either system to be the "best" per se. Some awesome items only come from loot while others can only be made through crafting.

Question: Will it be possible to learn technologies from other races with crafting?

Scott Brown: No. You can not craft or even pick up other races items in the game. There are many items that are cross race though.

Question: Will there be an experience system dedicated to crafting?

Scott Brown: Not really. Crafting is a use-based system so each discipline has a rating based on how often you have crafted. The more you craft, the higher the rating which opens up other disciplines to you as a crafter. It is completely independent of your combat statistics so that you are never making a choice to trade off between crafting and combat (you increase your max potential at trainers, and then raise the actual discipline skill by practice)

Question: Can you setup mining stations?

Scott Brown: This is not a mechanic available in Auto Assault. You "mine" by destroying objects and enemies in the world. :)

Question: Will crafting be useful during all the levels, even during the endgame?

Ryan Seabury: Absolutely. The kinds of consumables and gear you can create as your character advances will scale nicely with the kinds of things you are doing across the entire level curve and game experience.

For more information on Auto Assault please direct your browser to the official web site: http://eu.autoassault.com

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