Thursday, October 13, 2011

Extrinsic Rewards

I was thinking about the mechanics and systems that I do not enjoy or approve of in WoW, and it struck me that a large percentage of them share the same characteristic of being extrinsic rewards.

These include mechanics like crafting profession perks, or guild perks, or valor points. Basically rewards where you stop doing the underlying activity for its own sake and instead are doing it solely for the sake of this extra reward.

Crafting used to be about making stuff. Or about gathering resources to sell. I used to have Mining, and I rather enjoyed it. But now crafting is all about the character perks which add power to your character.

This is in contrast to Fishing, for example. I rather like Fishing, even if it isn't the most challenging activity in the game. The point of Fishing is to get fish, which you turn into Feasts via cooking. This chain makes sense to me, the rewards are inherent in the profession.

Before Cataclysm, guild used to be about joining friends or social groups, or banding together to accomplish a goal. Now it's about getting random rewards from being in a guild, most of which have nothing to do with the guild itself.

I've discussed Valor Points before. I'm not a fan of running old content over and over again just to get VP.

All these perks and systems share the same characteristic of giving extra rewards to entice people to do these activities. And yet all these perks and systems have warped the game, in my opinion, and made it less fun.

The only extrinsic reward system that has really worked, in my opinion, is reputation. I'm not really sure why reputation works. Maybe because it is a side-effect of questing and dungeon running, and never really moves into the point where you are doing quests and dungeons solely for reputation.

And even then, reputation used to be a lot less fun before the tabard system. Even Therezane and Hodir reputation are not the funnest parts of the game, but you do it because you have to have the extrinsic rewards of shoulder enchants.

I think extrinsic rewards are bad for the game. If an activity cannot be made inherently fun or useful, then maybe it's better to let the players ignore it until it can be improved.

Take archeology, for example. Some players like archeology and have collected everything. Some players ignore it. I would absolutely hate for Blizzard to decide that not enough players are doing archeology and tack on a perk that gives you a stat bonus for hitting 450 archeology.

Personally, I would be quite happy to see profession perks, guild perks, and valor points and most other extrinsic rewards stripped from the game.


  1. re: Archeology
    While it may not have a raw stat bonus like other professions, it did have items that could be BIS or close to it during T11 content. I went after the Zin'Rokh for a while ending somewhere in the 300 Troll solves (all post 450, before the fragment cap) and never got the sword.

    I think that is much worse than a profession being a stat stick.

    Anyways, I won't side track this discussion further, because I could say, ah, quite a bit about that profession.

  2. The same is true for raiding.

    A lot of player argue that raiding must reward superior rewards than other activities. And people argue that hard modes should reward better or more rewards than normal modes.
    > Easy drops 1 piece per boss. Normal drops 3 pieces.
    > Heroic drops 5 pieces. Additionally, Tier Tokens don't
    > drop in Easy, only Normal and Heroic (1 token in Normal,
    > 2 in Heroic).

    Even you suggest that there must be a carrot to get people to do something they wouldn't do otherwise.

  3. I really don't understand your thoughts on this Rohan. Every thing in WOW is abot rewards of some type wether its tangible or intangible. End game, which I don't/can't do is all about the reward of the challenge or the drops. Professions are all about making tangibles for character improvement (power). Even fishing and cooking are about the buffs which again is power.

  4. I am a big proponent for rewards like VP's , extra stats from professions and special rewards from grinding out archeology. As a matter of fact, I'm disappointed that Blizzard hasn't done anything else with Archeology. I hope 4.3 brings some new gear upgrades to dig for.

  5. "I would absolutely hate for Blizzard to decide that not enough players are doing archeology and tack on a perk that gives you a stat bonus for hitting 450 archeology."

    There is one already: the archie-only quest 'shrines' inside instances grant a buff depending on the dungeon.
    ZG has a summonable boss that requires a maxed archie too come to think of it.
    Wouldn't take much to implement a similar mechanic in raids, tied either to arch or a rep level.


  6. @ Kring

    You're example of raid drops is incorrect in looking at Extrinic rewards.

    Getting loot from downing a boss is an Intrinsic part of Raids and Dungeons, and always has been.

    This is about things slapped on top. While I like Valor Points earned in Raids, where it basically is a liquid raid drop, as opposed to a solid raid drop (item) the VP award from Dungeons has just been terrible in my opinion.

    In WOTLK I *hated* feeling obligated to run launch content 5 mans for badges/points even when I was raiding ICC, and in Cata I hate having to grind Troll 5 mans to cap out my points.

    VP in dungeons are why there is so much arguing about "skippable bosses" as so many players run the dungeon not for the intrinsic drops, but for the extrinsic point.

    "Screw killing everything, I want my super fast run that gives me a chunk of VP for the week!"

    I don't mind profession stat perks, but I do wish Professions had more to offer, I'm a Blacksmith not to make items, but to get 2 sockets, and any character I bring to the level cap pretty much HAS to take 2 professions, which is a little annoying.

  7. Dathi, for me it feels more intristic to craft a special powerful gem for myself then looting a cloth robe from a plate wearing raid boss.

    The problem are not extrinsic rewards. The problem are rewards for for actions you don't enjoy.

    If you like the jewelcrafting profession, getting an in game bonus for having that profession feals intristic and awsome.

    If you don't like it, it feels extrinsic and is a stupid grind for you.

    If you like raiding, getting loot drops from bosses feels intristic.

    If you don't like raiding, it feels extrinsic to loot cloth items from a warrior boss and raiding is a grind for you.

    > All these perks and systems share the same
    > characteristic of giving extra rewards to
    > entice people to do these activities.

    Of course they do because every action in WoW gives a reward these days.

  8. According to Merriam Webster online dictionary, intrinsic is "belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing". Think of it this way: Can you remove the reward from the activity? Note that the question is not "if you removed it, would more than 5 people do it?" but whether you can do so at all.

    This places loot, valor point, experience, reputation etc. firmly in the extrinsic reward category. It's possible to remove the rewards from raids and dungeons without changing anything about dungeons themselves and it's possible to give players loot without having them raid or run dungeons.

    An intrinsic reward, for example, is fun you might have while progressing on a boss or through a dungeon or the good feeling you might have when, after hard work, you manage to get the kill or run. Bragging rights are another. Sure, it's possible to remove the reward but only by changing the nature of the activity - e. g. by making it too easy or too hard.

    The only complicated thing about this is that many rewards are actually two-in-one packages. Think about the powerful gem mentioned: That's actually two rewards, first you learned to craft stuff for yourself (which can be argued and probably is intrinsic), second you got a bonus that made you more powerful (which is an extrinsic reward without any doubt).

  9. I totally agree. I always felt it was bad to roll crafting benefits into other parts of the game.

    A good crafting system should stand on its own, and the reward for leveling it should be to be a great crafter, and to create equipment that people will want to use. Not to get an additional 130 agility.