Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to fix the "meh", part 1

So, as my previous post mentioned, there’s a lot of “meh” to go around in WoW lately. How do we fix it? Well, I think for the most part it’s something that only Blizzard can fix. I’ll add this disclaimer first – Blizzard, in my opinion, rarely takes any customer commentary seriously. Given that, here are my suggestions on what isn’t working and how to fix it. Today, I’m going to focus on raiding.

Raiding: I don’t think many people raid to “clear content” or experience the “end game”. They do it for gear. I certainly do. I could care less about seeing all the pretty art that some Blizzard employee toiled over in Ulduar. I just want the gear. The problem is that the random drop from a loot table method of distributing gear is flawed. It keeps us on the worst kind of treadmill where we have to do a raid repeatedly just for the chance to get something. Sure, there are other ways to get gear – reputation, badges, crafting, but those sources usually don’t give great quality items and when they do, the selection is often very limited. The bigger problem for us Arena junkies is that in order to get a decent weapon for PvP, you pretty much have to raid and hope to get lucky. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a crafted epic, most likely for the rest of your WoW career.

The solution? Do what Warhammer does, or at least incorporate some of the better ideas of their loot system. For those who don’t know, Warhammer Online uses what creative director Paul Barnett calls his “Vegas Loot System”. To apply this to a WoW scenario, imagine that you just took down Patchwerk. Patch doesn’t drop individual loot items now, he drops different color bags and the contents of said bag were itemized to your class and the various specs your class can have. You get to choose what item you want from the bag. The better the quality of the bag, the more choices you get. So, if you were a hunter and won the highest level bag from Patch, you’d be offered a choice of several gear items, say a weapon, belt and gloves. You choose what you want to take. How is a winner determined? Not by a loot master asking players to roll and not by some DKP system. It’s determined by a random roll plus a number based on your contribution to downing the boss. The formula behind that contribution number could get complex and arguments have been made about “how can the system measure something like using a special ability that saved a raid wipe” but in general doing more DPS or more healing without over healing will give you more of a contribution rating. To even things out for those who don’t win rolls due to bad luck, if you don’t win something on one boss, you get bonus points towards your next roll on the next boss. Assuming the system behind the scenes isn’t broken like it was for months in Warhammer, it works and rewards people who know what they are doing.

There are few things as heartbreaking as watching a faceroller win a best in slot piece of gear that you’ve been trying to win for months, when you consistently place in the top 5 dps. The Vegas Loot System fixes that without the need for third party created loot distribution systems.

Unfortunately, I don't think we will EVER see somthing like this in Warcraft. I don't mind a gear treadmill where you have to get decent gear to get good gear to get great gear, but the random drop system in place now is just cruel.


  1. I think that's a brilliant idea. It would also take care of loot "ninjas" which is one of the reasons many people (including myself) won't pug.

    I'd also like to submit another suggestion which is one I've heard from many people who like to do vault. The bosses should only drop items (if they are going to be class specific) for classes that are IN said raid. What's the point in doing vault if only priest gear is going to drop and you don't have a priest in the group?? Talk about frustrating.

    It would be nice if we could get a petition together and have as many WoW players as possible sign it and then submit it to Blizzard to see if they open their eyes for two seconds. It's worth a try.

  2. I disagree. I'm a 2 year vet of the game and have seen almost all the raids. I do raids to enjoy time with my friends and for a challenge. In the beginning (MC) it really was a crap-shot of a handful of class-specific loot to distribute among 40 players. This was a disaster and most guilds never got out of MC because they couldn't gear up enough people to make it to the next level.

    Fast forward to today. We now have tier pieces, normal pieces, and badge pieces. If you can do a full clear of naxx and two daily heroics you have enough for the minimum of badge gear. If you can do a few full clears you can get the next level, and so forth. You can even buy tier gear, and have a chance at it with vault runs. Plus, in naxx25 and uld25 there are BOE drops, and in uld, like T5, there are recipes/orbs drops for craftables.

    My advice is to forget about the gear, it comes and goes quickly. I finally did a full clear of naxx10 and got 5 upgrades from my heroic/other gear (half purples), which should boost my dps substantially (this after wiping with my guild on one or two bosses a week for 4 months).

    Raid apathy has nothing to do with gear, it is completely about the fact that there are, 6 months into the expansion, only two multiboss raid instances, and three single boss raids. At this point in BC we had kara, gruul, mag, SSC/TK, and i think MH was out and BT was around the corner. They tried their best, but most of us have exhausted the content in current form. What would be nice would be a return of long 5 mans, a heroic-level 10 man (so guilds can get their feet wet without having to have good gear). Further, many of the instances just arent challenging to the skilled players; crowd control is non-existent. Heroics used to be tougher than kara, and you really had to be on the top of your game. Now they are designed for fresh 80s to do.

    There are so many things wrong with the current raiding, but by and large its too easy and not enough.

  3. We may be talking apples and oranges here Gibbiex. I'm referring to the casuals, not the hardcore raiders which you seem to gravitate towards. I know from a former Warhammer guildmate that was part of a WoW raiding guild that they got burned out fast on the starter raids. I thought Ulduar was supposed to give raiders a bunch to do. Are you bored with it already?

    I still think the loot distribution model for raids is antiquated and needs an overhaul, regardless of where a players apathy comes from.

  4. I kinda like the idea Rorik. Distribution of loot often becomes such a hugh pressure on guilds as we all know. Lootmasters often have alot of pressure on them.

    What if someone dies mid way through the fight? Their contribution is less I assume? That kinda worries me for folks like tanks/offtanks since it can be out of their control if the healers can't get the heals off for some reason? How does that work.

    That people who didn't get a win against another party member on one boss gains points for next is an awesome idea.

    Overall I could see something like this working.

  5. I disagree with the top DPS, etc idea. If this were true, raids would fail much more often because of players pushing to be top on the healing meters, etc then actually trying to bring the raid itself forward.

    Additionally, Priests would *never* go disc anymore because disc priests almost never top the healing meters- they're all about damage mitigation, and all around the board classes/specs that don't give much DPS/HPS/TPS output would stop being used, even if they provide great extra benefits.

    People would be more selfish then team-oriented, and that just wouldn't work for raids.

  6. Noak, I'm assuming you are referring to the Vegas Loot System. Like I said, it's already in Warhammer Online and yes, there are concerns over how to measure certain raid saving abilities that aren't easily measured. That doesn't mean there isn't a solution for it, so I wouldn't throw the idea out completely. It would be great if Mythic showed the behind the scenes mechanics of how contribution is tallied in Warhammer. I think that would help put a lot of the arguments against it to rest.

    There is absolutely no reason that a contribution system couldn't be customized for each raid encounter and give points for things like damage mitigation, not overhealing, not standing in the fire, etc.

    I'm not holding any hope that Blizzard will change their loot distribution system though. It's just a mental exercise.

  7. I think smart casuals shouldn't care about loot too much, since they don't raid much to begin with. I've been on both sides; hardcore and now, quite casual (as in I haven't raided in a month and I feel fine). However, purple fever grips us all, especially those who just started raiding, and those who are don't have alot of time. So, casuals. When I started out raiding way back when, I cared *alot* about loot, and i saw the same bs over and over, the new guy burning through the guild, grabbing my gear, and disappeared, the ninja loot, etc. Now I know I can do naxx25/10 every week and get great loot, and then move into ulduar and get great loot there. And if my rolls suck and the loot table doesn't go my way, well there are the badge gear, and now in ulduar crafted items. So, like I said before, we now have a ton of ways to get loot beyond the bosses loot table; much of it is designed for casuals; those who could with an hour or two of work, get the materials they need to get something crafted and properly enchanted/gemed. Sure the piece wouldn't be the best (the BOE epics that are crafted at level 430ish are not quite as good as naxx10 gear), but it's pretty conceivable with 1000g you can get a decent raid set going without setting foot into an instance.

    You never know, blizz may incorporate a better loot system in the next expansion, but we have the tools to make it happen; we have need/greed, and master loot. Given the plethora of loot systems, it's not really feasible that blizz would spend alot of time coding a loot system, just to have it become a bygone fad by the time they release it. Plus, most loot systems go way beyond the scope of a raid ID lockout system, and I really don't see them being handled by the game itself. For example, DKP needs to be stored on a database, and each guild has a different weighting on dkp.

    Anyway i'd like to see the vegas loot system happening, but at best it would be unfair to those who aren't as good. What would be the motive to do better in your class if you have an automatic stratification which ensures you rarely get any loot? Anything like this I would stay far away from; i can do better things in my time than spending all my gold and effort, getting the best BOE gear I could get, only to find myself last place in dps, with a poor chance of getting really needed upgrades (versus the guys at the top who probably don't need the gear anyway).

    I do like the 'bag of stuff' idea though, which is basically what blizz does with the badge concepts.