Sunday, September 21, 2008

Random + Modifier

In the comments to the previous post, Macawber writes:

I'm not sure if you made a good case that random+modifier isn't a good system for distributing loot...[You] seems to imply that the modifier should be greater, not smaller.

That is another option. Essentially, there are three extremes when it comes to loot:

1. Completely random
2. Order determined by a measured variable
3. Officer-assigned

Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Option 1 might mean that someone could "slack off" and still win the roll. Option 2 is very sensitive to the variable being measured.

For example, if a tank tanks the end boss all the way down, did she have a greater or lesser contribution than the healer who healed her? Versus the dps? What about AoE on the adds vs single-target DPS on the boss?

I don't know. Questions like that are very hard to answer meaningfully. That's why systems which use Option 2 (DKP, etc.) tend to measure time spent instead.

Completely random makes the assumption that everyone contributes more or less equally, and therefore deserves an equal chance at the loot. This assumption is often false, but a lot of the time it doesn't matter that it is false, because the disparity is "close enough" and it is not really noticeable. The times where the disparity does matter, however, can cause a lot of problems.

So that's the problem with Random + Modifier. The system highlights the disparity in contribution by measuring it (well, measuring something the system thinks is contribution) and telling the players. This moves it towards Option 2: "Player A deserves the loot because he contributed the most" vs "You all contributed equally, so you all get an equal shot at the loot."

Both of those narratives are acceptable.

However, what the WAR Public Quest says is, "Player A deserves the loot because she contributed the most, but we're going to give it to Player B because she's lucky." Or "Player B did a terrible job, but she gets the loot anyways."

And those narratives are very annoying.

Personally, for WAR Public Quests, I think measuring contribution might be more hassle than it is worth. Completely random is "close enough" to be fair (with some minimums to prevent people from afking in the area).

12 comments:

SolidState said...

> And those narratives are very annoying.

If I understand you correctly, it's not the system itself which bothers you, it's the public part which says which player contributed more?

If that is the case, I agree. While I can live with a random system giving a slightly better chance to those it thinks contributed more, I think it's silly for it to announce it - because there is no way the system is actually calculating it correctly/fairly.

For example, how about people who took time to decurse / dispell / cleanse, or to CC? How do you measure a healer or tank vs. DPS?

Of course I don't play WAR so I can't see it with my own eyes. So I can't make any conclusions as I don't have all the facts. But my gut feeling is that if the system is being public about its "contribution points", it would annoy me too.

That said, I have to say in all fairness, it doesn't sound like a bad system. Annoying it may be, but getting any chance at all to get loot, even if you came in late or have lesser gear, is a big plus for many players. The better players can take heart that statistically speaking, if they continue to top the chars, they eventually stand a better (than average) chance to get loot.

In fact WoW, pre-badges, had a much worse loot system for raids. Remember those bad-old-days of 5 hour MC raids, full clear, with nothing to show for it at the end but a repair bill? Heck I love WoW but in this respect, initially at least, WoW was not as good. Of course, badges are a huge improvement, but for compared to WoW launch it sounds like WAR is doing a good job.

Macawber said...

Thanks for the follow-up, that was an interesting read. I suppose one other loot system would be that everyone gets loot. Probably someone's tried that in the past and it didn't work. I suppose nobody would kill any boss more than once, and they game would get boring. That's why I love the heroic badge system: you always get something for killing a boss, even if it's not quite as good as winning a piece of loot directly.

sid67 said...

I think the contribution system is an important one because it motivates people to TRY to be at the top of the list.

However, equally important, is the roll modifier called "Persistence" which provides a +100 to your roll for every unsuccessful (no loot) PQ in which you contributed.

Overall-- I like the way the way they handle the system. Purely random or purely contribution leaves more room for an unfair situation developing.

Rohan said...

Overall-- I like the way the way they handle the system. Purely random or purely contribution leaves more room for an unfair situation developing.

I completely disagree. Person A contributing more than Person B, yet getting worse loot in the end is the *definition* of unfair. And that situation happens all the time in PQs.

Samownall said...

Officer decided is the best option IMO, but then again this of course depends on the officer's personality and loot-whore tendencies :)
wowblogger - Wow Blogger

Mathias said...

I really don't like how this samownall guy links to his gold seller promoting "blog" everywhere. Actually it looks like he just wants to earn google page-rank with this behaviour.

Anyway on topic, i completely agree with you Rohan - i can't think of an more "unfair" loot distribution.
But this mechanic might really help "motivate" people to actually do something useful in these PQs. If it somehow doesn't motivate just to spam AEs as much as possible, it will probably do it's job.

The Duke said...

I was in a guild that used a system of random+modifier, and I loved it. The modifier was an amount of dkp that you chose to spend from your maximum pool.

I think that if you apply this system to each tier (or so) of gear, it results in a fairly good loot distribution across the guild. Blizzard is moving toward this with tiered badges, and I think coupled with stat usage being homogenized across classes, people will be able to see "their" gear a lot sooner compared to BC or pre-BC.

kadaan said...

A smaller random and larger modifier would be better for me. 1-1000 roll with a +0-500 contribution modifier is still mostly random with a small "haha you did the most work but ended up in 10th place" modifier.

Maybe if it was a 1-500 roll with a 0-1000 contribution, you at least wouldn't have people with no bonus contribution points stealing the #1 spot with a lucky roll.

Also, the +100 modifier for each successive attempt of the PQ without winning is nice, but it also really sucks when you end up #1 contribution (+500) with +300 from not winning anything three times in a row, seeing 2 gold and 2 blue bags, and ending up with a white bag that does nothing other than remove your +300 bonus -.- (yes, I'm bitter about that one ;)

SolidState said...

@Mathias, amusingly enough, I just saw a comment by this guy on a wowinsider story, and the comment was modded down due to the link he places in it. Gold spammers blah :(

On topic, "Person A contributing more than Person B, yet getting worse loot in the end is the *definition* of unfair." - no it's the definition of random - as in, they both had a random chance to win, but B won the roll. It would be unfair if B was somehow assured in winning even if she contributed less - but that isn't the case.

Today it's not fair to A, tomorrow it will be fair to him - it should even out in the end + skew in favor of those contributing more.

Think of it this way - say you have a 5-man party in WoW, 2 mages. Mage A did 2x the damage that B did (damage meters such as Recount are pretty accurate these days) and let's assume this damage maps directly to the 'contribution'. An item that both mages need drops and both roll need. Mage B wins the roll - and remember in WoW, there is no modifier to reward A for contributing more. Is this fair to A?

No system will be 100% "fair". In fact even life isn't fair :)

Rorik said...

I think you are in the minority on this one, but I understand the issue you have with PQ loot rewards Rohan. One thing that I have to point out is that as you do the PQ, you earn influence and the influence rewards are usually as good or better (in terms of gear) than what you would get from the bag o' loot. So, you may get the shaft on loot rolls 3 or 4 times in a row, but you still get something good for your contributions.

I've done plenty of PQ's over the past week and I really think the system works.

sid67 said...

I completely disagree. Person A contributing more than Person B, yet getting worse loot in the end is the *definition* of unfair. And that situation happens all the time in PQs.

As a previous poster pointed out, how is that any different than a completely random roll?

The issue with contribution being the only justification is that no one has any incentive to help.

If Person A is always going to get the best loot, why should Person B help? They are simply wasting their time to help out Person A. But of course, without Person B's help, Person A won't get any loot at all.

And before you respond with "what if they don't contribute?" let me remind you that you MUST meet a minimum contribution in order to even participate in the roll.

The "random" part is in everyone's best interest to encourage participation. The contribution and persistance modifiers offer some element of stacking the roll towards a more fair distribution.

Joshe said...

I was slightly torn on this issue, because, to be quite honest, both sides have very valid arguments.

The problem with the "fair" random system is obvious and has been expressed a number of times already in this post and its replies.

The problem with the random+modifier is not only the negative narrative that Rohan suggests, but also that it determines for the players which participants are more deserving of rewards and which are less so. Today's MMOs are far too complicated and involved for conventional measurements to do that precisely enough. In a modifier system with no randomness, this is an even bigger issue.

If a completely random system is used, but meters and statistics are still tracked for everyone to see, then players will gradually gain reputations for how they perform. The better one a character has, the greater ease he or she will have finding good groups.

I think that ideally, leaders would be able to set up the loot rules exactly how they want it to work. They can create modifiers for certain stats or actions, have people vote, or really anything they can think of. The more customization available, the better.