I object to a loot grind. I explained this in a different thread, but other games do this better. If this is just supposed to be a mindless quest for better loot and to look like Gandalf at the end, why not play any of the 1000 clones for Diablo?
It would need to not be a grind, basically it could be that in the process of doing the things you'd already want to do for accomplishing missions you would pick up various bits of "gear" (not armor or weapons, just stuff to improve your capabilities; there are a couple different concrete categories I'm thinking of but not sure which if either will actually go this route) and also some bits that let you customize that stuff. Your choice of what gear and what customizations to use would be a significant bit of decision-making, and would impact your capabilities when facing challenges.
Preventing that from being a grind, in my mind, is a matter of making it so that you get enough of that stuff in the normal course of playing the game, and that repeatedly doing the same mundane thing over (killing trash, etc) doesn't grant a significant advantage in that category. If you mean something else by grind please let me know, it can be hard to pin down exactly what's meant by that term nowadays.
Are we giving up on some kind of strategic hook that takes decision-making and brainpower?
I don't think that adding loot necessarily involves giving anything else up. But if you mean the strategy game and the citybuilding game: we realized that we were trying to make too many games at once, and that the core game is not as compelling as it needs to be and thus needs more focused attention. Also, the strategy and citybuilding ones were also shaping up to be pretty mediocre. With time and player-feedback-iteration they could have been good, but in order to save my sanity (and efficiency) I need to not have to redesign them for the 11th time because something major changed about the core game or the world map or whatever
So when the core is more settled we may revisit those (and they'll still be there in the background even in 1.0, but you won't be making decisions for the NPCs so it doesn't directly contribute to strategy).
But that doesn't mean that the strategic and decision-making is going away. Honestly the strategy and citybuilding parts didn't have a lot of that anyway, it was more a matter of figuring out where the various buttons and levers were and pushing them. An active opponent was necessary and not really compatible with the then-design of the overall game (except as an optionally provoked thing).
With what Chris is planning with the missions I think there'll be a fair bit of strategic thought that has to go in to deciding what to do with limited time (in terms of number of missions, not wall-clock time), as well as the lower-level deciding how to best do that (configuring your character, picking spells, etc).
but rest assured that keith has ideas that go beyond this ;P
I do appreciate the vote of confidence, but I wouldn't ask Cyborg or anyone else to rest assured simply because I have ideas. Frankly, I've "had ideas" waaaay more than I've delivered on them. I try to not publicly talk about stuff I'm going to do because I have a history of then not doing it. The not-doing-it is generally for good reasons but that doesn't prevent players from feeling disappointed about it. If/when we get to the point of implementing lootable customizing stuff I think it would probably be good for me to start a brainstorming thread on it and maybe get a headstart on the player-feedback-iteration, but before then I don't want to just blow out reams of hot air
But the confidence is appreciated
In the same way that my 20 hour level 8 AI war game is different than yours. You can make meaningful decisions that differentiate you without hunting loot.
I think he was referring specifically to character/avatar, rather than the gamestate as a whole. I don't think AIW has any equivalent. Many players have a very strong psychological pull towards avatar customization in-specific. There's also a pretty strong pull towards "the world is this way because of something I chose" and we want that too, but I'd prefer both