I don't think there's anything broken with the current implementation. It's just the occasionally unforgiving nature of independent random trials. But here's an alternate idea, anyway:
Instead of independent trials with probability 10% and 20%, keep track of two counters attached invisibly to every character. Initialize the 20% counter with a random number from 1 to 9 inclusive. Initialize the 10% counter with a random number from 1 to 19 inclusive. Now every time you RE a 20% item, you decrease the counter by 1. When it hits zero, you are granted a schematic and the number is re-rolled again from 1 to 9. Similar thing for the 10% counter and its 1-19 value.
Now you're guaranteed a blue schematic with no greater than 9 attempts. On average, you will get one every 5 attempts. One every 10 attempts on average for the purple. Same as it works now, but with far less possible variance.
Anyone see a problem with this? Note that it would not flood the market with items because the average
production rate of new schematics would be the same as before. It would just not allow the extreme long bad luck streaks.
Also keep in mind that if you're still going for a specific prefix when there are five available, your worst case for getting that purple schematic could still be 95 total trials. But that is, at least, guaranteed to be the absolute worst case and by then you'd also be guaranteed to have all five of those purple schematics (besides which, the odds against actually having this happen would be about 2.5 million to 1... why did I just hear that in C3PO's voice?
A number of people (including me) have proposed something similar -- a kind of "failure counter." What you are suggesting is a linear increase in your chance to succeed. That's one possibility. It would be simple to put a curve on that chance as well in case someone "upstairs" demands that there cannot be a 100% chance for success -- our combat stats have diminishing returns curves put on them of various degrees, so the devs already know the math to do this.
And I agree that there would not be any flooding of the market. Quite frankly, item modifications sell better than fixed-stat gear, even though (1) fixed stat gear is superior in terms of how high you can get the secondary stats as well as the number of substantial secondary stats they can have at high levels, and (2) given market prices, going with item mods instead of fixed-stat items can be considerably more expensive, whether you buy your gear or craft it yourself. I can sell a single mod or armoring or enhancement on the GTN for as much or more than an equivalent level fixed-stat item. Considering that you have two pieces of gear that take 4 item mods (mainhand, offhand), five pieces of gear that take 3 item mods (head, chest, hands, legs, feet) and two that take 2 item mods (wrists, waist), that's a total of 27 item mods for 9 pieces of gear. Not counting augments, to make it simpler. To make matters crazier, item mods (crystals, hilts, barrels, mods, armoring, enhancements) all follow a Linear RE path: at all levels, you have a 20% chance of success to get a Prototype
from a Premium
, and a 20% chance to get an Artifact
from a Prototype
... and there is only one Prototype
and one Artifact
schematic, not the three Prototypes
and fourteen Artifacts
you get from a Prefix Premium
schematic. Given people's general preference for custom gear and all the item mods they entail, add to that the ease of learning the better schematics for those item mods, wouldn't you expect the market to be flooded with at least Prototype
mods if not Artifact
mods? Wouldn't you expect the undercutters to have hit this part of the market pretty hard by now? It's just not happening. The easiest things to RE to maximum bang are still making the maximum buck.