How to Design Loot Drops Effectively

Designing loot drops is a complex topic. See the Introduction to Loot Drops with Beacon video for a more visual explanation of the topic.

Loot Sources

In Ark, anything not edited remains default, so Beacon works the same way. The Sources column starts out empty because no changes have been made to the loot sources.

Press the add button in the Sources column to open the Loot Source Wizard. Or hold the button to show a menu and add a loot source quickly.

The Loot Source Wizard shows you any and all loot sources available to the selected map or maps. This means if you see a source in the list, a selected map uses it in some way. Select one or more loot sources and press Next or double-click a loot source.

Minimum and Maximum Item Sets

A loot source contains one or more item sets. The Min Sets and Max Sets fields are used to determine how many of the item sets to select when the game generates loot.

Prevent Duplicates

When checked, Ark can only select an item set once. This does not affect the contents of each set. So if there is a metal sword in two sets for example, it would still be possible for two metal swords to be included.

When not checked, Ark can select the same item set multiple times until the chosen number of item sets is fulfilled. For example, setting both Min Sets and Max Sets to ten and including only one item set in the loot source will cause that same item set to be selected ten times.

Presets

Presets are a set of instructions to build an item set. Checking presets in the list will include the item sets when finished. Presets can be added to a loot source later too. Read more about presets in Using Presets to Automate Item Set Creation for more information about presets.

Additional Settings

After pressing Done to add your loot source(s) they will be selected in the Sources column. In the middle column labeled Item Sets there is a Settings section. Click the little arrows on the left to expand the settings. The Add Item Sets to Default setting, when checked, adds the source's item sets to the default loot pool instead of replacing them.

Item Sets

Item sets have very similar settings and behaviors as loot sources. An item set is made up of one or more item set entries, or just entries for short. Each item set has Min Entries, Max Entries, and Prevent Duplicates settings that behave exactly the same as a loot source.

Press the add in the Item Sets column to add an empty item step. Hold the button to show a menu to add an item set based on one of your presets. The new item set will be selected.

The Item Set Contents column has a Settings section just like the Item Sets column. The item set settings are here.

Item Set Weight

The Weight field is used to influence Ark's loot selection. The chance of an item set being selected is computed as Weight / SUM(All Weights in Source). What this means is two item sets with the same weight will have the same chance of selection. The weight values of each could be 1, 10, 100, or 1000 and the outcome would be the same. If Item Set 1 has a weight of 100, and Item Set 2 has a weight of 100, the formula for Item Set 1 would be 100 / (100 + 100) or 0.5 or 50%. If Item Set 2's weight changes to 150, the formula for Item Set 1 becomes 100 / (100 + 150) or 0.4 or 40%. The formula for Item Set 2 would become 150 / (100 + 150) or 0.6 or 60%.

This means it is mathematically impossible to guarantee one item set is always chosen unless the Min Item Sets is equal to the number of item sets in the loot source. However, the weights of three item sets could be set to 1, and a fourth set to 1,000,000 and that would effectively guarantee the fourth set would always be selected.

Item Set Contents

Finally, the meat of the loot drops. Press the add button in the Item Set Contents column to begin adding something to the item set.

In the Possible Items group you can search for items and click the checkbox next to items you'd like to add. Each checked item has a value in the Weight column that works exactly like the item set weight.

Enter "Shotgun" into the field in Possible Items and press the checkbox next to Simple Shotgun Ammo. Set both Min Quantity and Max Quantity to 100 so this row will always contain a full stack of shotgun shells. Quality does not matter for ammo. Set Chance To Be Blueprint to 0%, and Weight to 10000. You'll see why in a moment. Press OK to add the row.

These settings are applied for each quantity of an item. So if Chance To Be Blueprint were set to 25% for example, you would get roughly 25 shell blueprints and 75 shells.

Now, our goal is to add both a Shotgun and a Pump-Action Shotgun to the drop, but only one should be included at a time. There are two ways to accomplish this.

Method 1

Press the add button again and filter to "Shotgun" like before. Then check both Shotgun and Pump-Action Shotgun. Set quantities to 1, qualities to Primitive, blueprint chance to 0%, and weight to 1. Press OK and one row for each item will be added to the list.

Expand the Settings group in the Item Set Contents column and set both Min Entries and Max Entries to 2. Make sure Prevent Duplicates is checked.

ShotgunMethod1

Because the shotgun shells have a weight of 10,000 and the shotguns have a weight of 1, the shells will be selected for the first entry nearly every time. Since Prevent Duplicates is true, the row cannot be selected twice. So the second selected entry will be either the Shotgun or Pump-Action Shotgun entries. They will have equal chances of selection because they have equal weights.

Press the simulator button in the Item Sets column to open the simulator. The simulator will show you an example of the contents you could find when opening the loot source. Press the refresh button to re-run the simulation, and the close button to close the simulator.

Method 2

While the first method works perfectly fine, it can become complicated using weights when there are more items in the set. Luckily, Ark gives us another option. First, delete the Shotgun and Pump-Action Shotgun rows from the Item Set Contents column. Press the add button again and just like before select both shotguns, and reduce their blueprint chance to 0%. This time though, the weight does not matter, and you will need to click the Merge selections into one entry at the bottom of the Possible Items list. When you press OK, Beacon will add only one row to the list.

ShotgunMethod2

When setup this way, we can be 100% certain that each entry will be selected only once because we have still have Min Entries and Max Entries set to 2, and Prevent Duplicates turned on. But when the Pump-Action Shotgun or Shotgun entry is selected, Ark will choose one of the two items instead.

Check the simulator again, and the behavior should be the same as before: a pump action shotgun or shotgun with 100 shells.

More Tips

It's not uncommon to want one loot source setup just like another. Beacon has a few ways to help with that.

First, the duplicate button in the Sources list allows you to duplicate one loot source into many loot sources. In the Loot Source Wizard that appears, you can shift-click sources to select a range. Or use ctrl/command-click to select non-sequential sources.

Second, using the same clicking techniques, you can select multiple loot sources and edit them at the same time. You'll only see item sets that are identical between all selected loot sources though. You can also select multiple item sets.

Third, Beacon supports copy and paste. So you can copy loot sources between documents, or item sets between loot sources. You can even copy a loot source and paste it's config line directly into your ini if you like.

This editor affects the following Ark config keys: ConfigOverrideSupplyCrateItems and SupplyCrateLootQualityMultiplier
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