Path of Exile: Creating a Unique Item

Today, Nick, a member of the Game Design team, will give you a sneak peek at the process behind creating the stuff your characters wear. He also reveals a brand new item.

There are a lot of reasons someone might play a game — the pride you feel when you overcome a challenge, the joy of discovery as you explore a new world, the highs and lows of a well-told tale… the phat loot.

While certainly not universally applicable to Path of Exile players, it’s probably fair to say that better and more interesting loot is one of the main driving forces for players of basically any ARPG. Watching that boss monster explode in a shower of items, seeing that one of those items is that all-important unique colour, and identifying it to discover what amazing properties it has is, for many, a hugely memorable moment.

Designing awesome unique items is actually a rather tricky process. Your typical unique can be broken down into a few basic components, but each of these components has to work in unison for the item itself to really be successful.

When we’re starting an item design from scratch, because all three points have to fit together, we can really start from any one of them. Let’s use a real example from an upcoming patch. Every new league we’ve done to date has had some league-specific unique items, and with new leagues on the way, I was tasked with coming up with those. I really liked the Berek’s rings we created in Domination and Nemesis, so I decided to make a “cycle” of new items, all thematically linked together, for each of our upcoming leagues.

The idea for one of the cycles came very quickly and stemmed from how the league they’re in will function. The other, well, was a slower process of discovery. Our artists made some 2D art and 3D models of some new weapons that at that point were unattached to anything in game, and only tenuously attached to anything we had planned. I decided that the visual style of these weapons could work as the starting point for the design of these weapons.


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