Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two Views of Loot

There are basically two philosophies of loot that determines a lot of guild attitudes, rules and restrictions. I find that you can generally trace "why" a guild has the rules it has to which attitude is more prevalent.

Loot as Reward: Under this view, loot is the reward for putting in the hard work, the carrot at the end of the line. Getting an epic weapon, or completing your set of armor is a goal in and of itself.

Loot as Investment: Under this view, loot is a means to an end. Getting better loot makes your character more able to take on new challenges.

Guilds that emphasize Loot as Investment tend to have more restrictions on loot distribution. Class restrictions, or officer-assigned loot are common hallmarks of this philosophy.

Guilds that put more weight on Loot as Reward tend towards less restrictions, and more free DKP systems.

So which view is correct? Half the problem is that both views are correct. Loot is reward and investment. Indeed, you can even argue that some pieces tend more towards one side than another (class sets versus non-class sets, for example).

However, a lot of times you get problems when two people with different underlying philosophies clash. When one class takes an item which would be "better suited" for another class.

But there are a fair number of raiders who are in it mostly for the loot, for the reward aspect. (Witness all the complaining about TBC raid loot on the forums.) Gearing up to beat newer challenges is merely a way to get better loot. Even though it's not considered polite to say that. They'll mouth words like "overcoming new challenges" to get into the guild. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with being motivated by loot, so long as you aren't disruptive about it. It's a fact that people like to make their characters more and more powerful and can see that as an end unto itself.

Overemphasizing loot as investment demoralizes a lot of people, and can make them feel like they aren't getting enough reward.

I think that a guild who is looking at setting up rules needs to take a strong look at which philosophy it is inclined to, and set up their rules to acknowledge that. However, different rules can reward different philosophies.

For example, under Officer-loot systems, the guild is the investor who makes decisions. Under a normal DKP system, the individual player is the one who invests in their character. Both can use the loot as investment philosophy, but on different levels. But only one can really accomodate the loot as reward philosophy as well.

I also don't think that one philosophy is better than the other. Different people are motivated by both in different degrees, and ignoring human nature is a quick route to failure. How people act upon that motivation is the important part.

Edit: I'm not really happy with this post. It doesn't really convey the sense of how *important* these philosophies are. Decision points such as "Gearing up the main tank first", or whether to have an "A Team" for Karazhan, or many other of the questions facing guilds have their roots in the differences between these two philosophies.

7 comments:

Sam said...

I definitely lean towards the Loot as Reward philosophy of distribution, for one singular reason: I pay the same amount per month for this game as any guild officer does, nobody should be able to dictate to me what I am permitted to recieve for my hard work. That choice should be mine.

However this doesn't mean I'm unable to see the benefit of the other system as well. Suppose I'm a Hunter and some fantastic epic bow drops, under the Investment system it would go to me anyway because no other class can put it to nearly as good use as I can, thus satisfying my personal urge to gain power as well as the guild's desire to become stronger.

But suppose a piece of loot drops that I really really want, forgive my dry imagination at this point, but as the officers have declared it's not for my class I'm not permitted to have it. If anything would burn me out on a guild, that would be it.

I feel like the best solution is a weighted system. Certain classes can get discounts on the amount of dkp required to buy an item, and then whoever has more points remaining gets the item. This allows the guild to influence which classes get which drops, fulfilling the 'make the guild as a whole' stronger requirement while also allowing anybody to bid on anything they want, letting them advance their character as they feel it should be rather than how someone else feels it should be.

Kaziel said...

There isn't a best solution, but this is definiately something that needs to be dealt with if a guild decides to take steps into the raiding portion of the game.

One thing that I've realized reading this is that both sides are justified. I fit fairly firmly into Loot as Investment camp. Having been a raider back in the day in my server's bleeding edge guild (we beat everyone else through every instance by at least 2 weeks, sometimes as much as 2 months) I viewed loot as a means to an end. That end being seeing more of the game, and sooner. I viewed those who raided with the Loot as Reward mentality as wrong because of one major reason: Many of them would not start commonly showing up to raids until the bosses we were expecting to fight that night were on farm status.

Thinking about it now, I realize that I was being too stereotypical. While I don't doubt some people who did what I said were LaR people, I would imagine that an equal amount were LaI people. Now in my current guild we are much more laid back, and just starting to put feelers towards raiding new tBC raids. I'm an officer, and I realize that as long as people are willing to be there to help learn how to fight bosses, it doesn't matter what their motivations are.

So the first thing you need to do is poll the guildies who are interested in raiding and see where they stand. Also, you need to make it clear that why you're asking this. As GSH said, during apps many people will say things like "overcoming new challenges" to get into a guild, but what they really want is loot. By letting everyone know that being honest will help them shape the loot system into something that will benefit their goals, you're more likely to get a truthful answer instead of them saying what they think you want to hear.

If everyone truly sits on one side or the other, obviously you can easily make a system to fit those people, and everyone will be happy.

If there is a majority in one direction or the other, take the minority aside and find out what would be okay with them, what they are willing to tolerate, what just bugs the crap out of them, and build as system that will make people happy.

Finally, if there is a close balance between the two views then a system much like what Sam said would probably be best.

In the end, depending on the goals of the individuals in a group, you need to figure out the system that will work best..

ethancv said...

You know, I used to have this problem, reconciling these issues whenever a priest wanted my (as a mage) Mageblade. But, eventually, I realized that it doesn't really matter. Not that they're not ideas fundametnally at odds, but that they shouldn't really come into conflict.

Let's say there are two kinds of guilds - A guilds that are serious about raiding, and B guilds that aren't - and two kinds of players - A players that raid a lot (3-4 days/week) and B players that don't.

Now, if you're in a B guild, this issue doesn't matter much. Your guild isn't really going to progress, since any A players you get will get a few epics and leave for A guilds. Distribute loot however you like.

If you're in an A guild, something else happens. Let's say you're an A player - You'll naturally get the gear that leads to progression, and since you're getting progression, you'll quickly find yourself taking "reward" gear that would have been DE'ed otherwise. If you're a B player in an A guild...well, first, congrats on rolling a lock or healer. ;) But, more then that, you're going to get what's given to you. Some will be reward - all will make you better.

Just my (long) 2c

GSH said...

ethancv, your comment is more ironic than you realize. I assume you are talking about a paladin taking Mageblade (as priest/druids can't wield swords).

The irony is that Mageblade is a pure investment piece for a paladin, *not* a reward piece. Reward pieces would be something like Sulfuras or Ashkandi, not Mageblade.

I suspect that more mages view it as a reward piece for their class, and then automatically assume the paladins are doing the same.

It points out one high-level flaw in guild-directed investments. Sometimes the person directing the investment does not know how to properly invest in a different class, and thus makes non-optimal decisions.

Kaziel said...

The irony is that Mageblade is a pure investment piece for a paladin, *not* a reward piece. Reward pieces would be something like Sulfuras or Ashkandi, not Mageblade.

I suspect that more mages view it as a reward piece for their class, and then automatically assume the paladins are doing the same.


The way you posted this implies that you believe people can have personal goals that differ from their overall views on loot. The only time I can imagine that is if someone's intentionally getting a piece of gear that falls within their role in a raid that's a downgrade, that they only really want for the look (completing a set for example).

Assuming a mage is in a guild that has not gotten into or very far in Blackwing Lair, the Azuresong Mageblade is (when paired up with a good offhand) the best caster weapon available at that point in the game. It's just as much a investment reward to a mage or a warlock as it is to a paladin, just for different reasons (Paladins want it because it's one of the few spell crit weapons and mages/warlocks want it for it's high amount of spell damage).

In addition to the flaw you saw:
It points out one high-level flaw in guild-directed investments. Sometimes the person directing the investment does not know how to properly invest in a different class, and thus makes non-optimal decisions.
This points out another flaw... for a DPSer, what's the difference between a reward piece and an investment piece?

For a tanking or healing class, all of which have a DPS tree, it's obvious. You get investment pieces to benefit your role in raiding (healers get +healing gear, tanks get +defense gear) while you get reward pieces to benefit yourself outside the raid, so most reward pieces will be things like +damage gear or high DPS weapons.

But for DPSing classes or builds their role in and out of a raid varies little. In both places they need Stamina, and high damage numbers. This makes it immensely hard to tell the difference in these types of players.

Tony said...

I think it's an excellent post.

I also lean towards reward, because investment considerations often lead towards really ugly things. What is a person wants to quit or respec? Then you have some very disappointed guild officers on your hands. Definitely not fun.

GSH said...

But for DPSing classes or builds their role in and out of a raid varies little. In both places they need Stamina, and high damage numbers. This makes it immensely hard to tell the difference in these types of players.

This is a very good point. For DPS classes, there's not a lot of difference between Reward and Investment gear.

I guess the main conclusion we can draw from that is that if you are a LaR person, playing a DPS class will make you happiest, as there will be fewer conflicts between the two philosophies.