And perhaps the most amusing story of all. The loot problems that emerge when you play with your mother-in-law.
I often play (WoW) with a close RL friend of mine and we often share horror stories of groupings gone bad. He told me of a raid on the Scarlet Monastery--an instanced dungeon for middling high players. He was together with his fiancée and her parents, who all play the game, as well as a guild mate. Now, my friend is a paladin and uses melee weapons; his father-in-law-to-be is also a paladin. His intended's mother, however, is a hunter who uses primarily ranged weapons. Going through the instance, they were following the traditional and understood policy of taking turns looting (game-enforced) and rolling on green (magical) or better items.
One thing to understand is that my friend tends to be an honorable person, and perhaps a bit too giving for his own good. That said, one thing that will piss him off is for a person to roll on an item (bind-on-pickup in particular) that they can't use. That night, his fiancée's mother, the hunter, rolled on every single BoP melee weapon she could find, and won a good portion of them. Her reasoning was that since my friend already had a weapon (it was quite crappy) he couldn't possibly need any of those, while she, however, needed the money.
In the days afterwards, I got to listen to much ranting about that. My friend tried to state the problem politely to her, and his fiancée, who understood the problem, tried to talk to her mother, but she wouldn't listen. My friend (who was highest level and the party leader) could very well kick his future mother-in-law from the group but with some serious RL complications. So, he put up with it and grumbled for the next week and resolved to in the future not go on raids with her (he's already broken this--he can't refuse when his girl asks him to join them). His fiancée talked to her mother about looting and apparently she seems to be a bit better, but I know that it is a source of stress for my friend. [anon]
I guess the main take-away is ... don't play MMOs with your mother-in-law :)
My WoW guild leader found a way to clear the muck surrounding loot...free rolls and honesty. Our guild loot policy is simply "BOE (bind on equip) open roll, BOP (bind on pickup) roll if use else disenchanted then lottoed". We view every item in terms of cash value. If it can be sold to another player, ANYONE can roll for it. However, if someone will make use of the item, they can "request" it of whoever won, and that person is encouraged, not required, to surrender the item. If the person requesting fails to equip it (which would make it "soulbound" and thus not sellable), that person is banned from our raids. Since WoW launch, only two people out of thousands we've run with have been banned.
We have no scale of "use", simply if you will use it then roll for it. At first our free loot policy seems daunting, and many times we lose raid members after stating these rules, but this simple policy allows us to move at blazing speeds through bosses without wasting 10 minutes bickering over every scrap of loot.
A bit ago we ran one of our upcoming rogues, level 58 at the time, in a raid with us and he won three pieces of Shadowcraft and a very nice weapon. There were no complaints since everyone had a fair chance at any of the items.
An interesting side note regarding loot that we observed has to do with the policies of restricting who gets to roll. For example, in WoW there are high-end sets of armor that having multiple pieces yield extra bonuses. The sets at first glance appear to be tailored specifically each to a class, but they were not specifically labeled as class-only by the developers (class only items have existed fromm launch).
When comparing the stats of each set, it became obvious that some were more advantageous than others for our purposes. The "Dreadmist" set focused on stamina and intellect, the "Magister's" on intellect and spirit (regen), Devout on...not much ;), and so on. Somehow the community accepted Dreadmist as Warlock, Magister as Mage, Devout as priest, and many raid leaders restricted rolls for those items to those classes. I attended a few raids, but soon stopped after each leader stated the class restriction; I desired mostly Dreadmist parts for its stats. The restriction was a complete obsurdity and I later identified it as founded in greed and not "fairness."
On one raid, Dreadmist Gloves dropped (BOE) and all rolled. I had the winning roll, but a warlock on the raid requested it and I gave it to him. He did not equip it. That evening, he was advertising in Trade channel "Selling Dreadmist Gloves 100g." This person used the class restriction to essentially steal from the raid on the basis that his class needed it most, whereas it was more that his pocket wanted it reserved. He was one of the two banned from our raids.
During Earth and Beyond, raids were setup in such a way that before we opened the gate, every1 participating would tell a subleader his name, profession and race, after which you would have to give all your looting rights to the leader of the raid, for a number in which you could participate in the lottery, if we were succesfull enough to kill all the mobs intended.
Then if a certain item came up, and only some of us could use, numbers were rolled in those particular groups by the leader and individual looting rights were given by the leader. If a person had already won something, and did not pass it up for a chance on something bigger, they were out of the roll. At the end of the game almost every1 had done so many raids almost all items that dropped were in every1's hands already, and then you could give out quality's of items in possesion and get rights to loot better quality.
This system was always a mess right before a raid, but it worked splendidly, and fast too. That is, fast once you were inside and doing the raid. Before it started it could take a good 2 hours to set this up, along as setting up each group of players in the right numbers, since this particular raid took over 70 players, divided in groups of 6, with each group consisting out of 3 warriors and 3 healers.
Also, every1 had the same chances on items, even if you didnt fire a single shot as being a healer, and as long as your race/profession could use the item, you could win it. Offcourse, this system wasnt always waterproof, sometimes the people leading the raid were not skilled enough in the handling of text based commands on looting rights and then something went wrong. But having been in over a 100 raids, i can safely say this worked in 9 out of 10 cases.
A copy of our loot guildlines
1) MOST IMPORTANT - This is the only rule, and it ALWAYS applies. Inform everyone involved of the loot rules BEFORE the hunt/raid begins.
2) The Class Lotto - Drops first get lottoed to people that will USE it on their current toon. This should be an upgrade for them, and NOT to sell.
3) The Open Lotto - If no one qualifies for #3 above, everyone can participate in lotto. What they do with the item is up to them (twink, sell, give away, hang on wall, burn etc. etc.).
NOTE: NEED BEFORE GREED APPLIES. Be considerate of people who might need to make some plat to upgrade their equipment on their main characters.
4) The Everyone Lotto - In the case when no one wants an item, (NEED BEFORE GREED at it's finest). It's important that EVERYONE participate in the lotto and graciously accept it if you win. A great thing for the person that wins is to hand the item over to the guild treasury, so that another guild member may make good use of it.
5) Item Distribution - Unless you're an only class/race, people get items in turns. This does not supercede Class Lottos. Items are lottoed off to people who have not gotten something. Class items are excempt, and it is possible for a rogue to come out of a raid with 2 items and everyone else nothing. The idea is for everyone to get something, but people that don't need things should really consider passing on the lotto's. Remember, need and want are two different things.
6) When to lotto -On normal pickup group hunts, or single party raids, it is acceptable to lotto items as they drop. This is always accomplished on downtime between fighting.
On tense single party raids (mini raids), or full raids, all items are generally held until after the mission. A great time to distribute the loot is at the evac point, afterwards, the exception would be something that would default to someone (rogue only item and only one rogue), or is "no-drop". If someone has to log early, the party must agree to end the session and distribute the loot, otherwise they are out of consideration. This is a necessary step, and teamwork is the main thing here. If everyone works together, this shouldn't be a problem.
7) Rolling - As everyone knows, there are two general ways of conducting a lotto. Alpha and ranged (roll your own).
Most times, ranged rolls (1-100, 200-300, etc.) work the best. Good thing about this is anyone that wants in on an item rolls, and those that do not, don't. This is a great time and hassle saver, and keeps everyone focused on the task at hand (staying alive etc.).
On raids where more then one group is present, the best way I have seen is the alpha. This works great for after an event as well. One person (raid leader or ML) calls for /tells from any qualified person that wishes to be considered in the lotto. He/she then calls out an alpha listing of who is in. A 1-x lotto is then rolled. Congratulations ensue.
Whichever lotto system works best, the most important thing is that everyone is made aware of what's going on before an item drops (before the start of a raid).
8 ) Link Death (LD) - If an item drops while someone is LD, they are to be considered "there" for all practical purposes (the LD is out of someone's control). This holds true if they are able to make it back within a *reasonable amount of time and rejoin the hunt, thus participating in the Lotto.
*What is reasonable depends on the situation, but every effort should be made to "wait" for the person to return, and it should be assumed that they are having computer problems and will be back at any time.
If an extended amount of time transpires, and the party must split, then the LD person is barred from any consideration.
Once a lotto has been won, it is considered final.
Which mace was it that both a priest AND a warrior were rolling for? If your raid comes down to a priest melee damage for anything, you guys are screwed to start with. If you go out of mana, take a step back and regen, if you insist on doing damage, use ranged damage like a wand so u dont get caught in any AE damage from the mobs... just my $.02
Another source of loot unhappiness is a misunderstanding of other classes and their abilities in an MMORPG. For example, Yartank, the Priest who told their story of rolling on a mace against a Warrior and Shaman intended to use it when they solo; not during the raid itself. I don't think the Priest should be limited to finding a group to gain any exp, and really the Priest gaining levels or being able to find their own tradeskill items when hunting is advantageous for all. If it's a guild group and the Preist can't come along to the next level instance because their soloing is slow, everyone suffers.
These are great stories, btw. I love loot, there is just something about it! But remembering to share, especially with guildies, is so key. I think it comes down to a person's sense of community. How they react to loot may indicate if they see strengthening their guild as important or getting money for their own use is more important.
Although Guild Wars isn't technically an "MMORPG", it shares qualities with MMOs, and other MMOs could stand to learn a lot from it.
In Guild Wars the loot distribution is randomly assigned to members of the party. Each piece that drops can only be picked up by the member to whom it's assigned. That player can drop the item for anyone to pick up, but at its core the GW loot system is random and fair. Even the most unethical and obnoxious loot whore couldn't grab more than his share, no matter what.
I was playing Matrix Online at the same time, where the game gives you the option to set loot to "random", which would be the same as the Guild Wars setting.
Every time I suggested doing this, I was met with fierce disagreement and resentment. In spite of the fact that I was playing a ranged character who was farther away from the loot, and thus wasn't able to grab it as quickly, nobody agreed with me that "random assignment" would be a fair way to distribute loot.
I have to say I do not understand the attraction of "loot" in a game. The way people let these imaginary items in a game come between them and common decency is frankly disturbing.
Rules that help resolve the conflicts that show up in a mid-level dungeon don't help at the level cap, and even further problems appear in raids. When it takes 40 people months of play to prepare for an encounter, simple rules are insufficient. Loot is the driving force behind many players, and any unfairness in its distribution can sour people on the guild, on the game, and even on their friends. There is usually not much left to do at the level cap other than collect items, and loot distribution is generally the top player concern. Items also show up rarely; it can take 30 or more man-hours of effort to win just one item. When 40 people get together for an entire Saturday, they're putting a lot of their time on the line.
Random loot distribution can mean some people will go without loot for over a month -- that's a sure method to get them to leave the guild or the game. Other loot distribution systems with an element of randomness (such as bidding) suffer the same problem, if only to a smaller degree, which means that it takes longer for big disparities to occur (yet they STILL will occur), and people will be less likely to complain about perceived slights because each step will be minor. Fixed distribution systems (round-robin; no-one gets a second item until everyone has their first) also has a bit of randomness, due to the fact that some items are valued a lot more than others. Throw in the fact that there are multiple places to get items and different people value items differently.
I think the only way out of this dilemma is to step outside the greed of item accumulation and for individual players to take a look at the big picture. Yet at the same time, from week to week, players still need items to keep them happy. (It's hard to appreciate the long run when you haven't gotten any items in over a month.)
It's worse when you mix casual and hardcore players together, too. Casual players want to use random methods (because it is unlikely that they will put in the time to earn an item under a point system), and some hardcore players want merit (which means that regular raiders get extra items because of their constant play).
I think everyone is happier if the casual players don't mix with the hardcore players. Some of my RL friends don't play my MMO, on my server, yet we're still friends. So why not play in different guilds, too? I see a lot of problems stemming from trying to make everyone happy in one guild.
The above stories all reinforce to me why loot in MMOGs is a bad idea. There are already enough in-game pressures that make playing in a group / guild hard in MMOGs; adding another pressure to the mix is just asking for trouble.
I play City of Heroes, where there is no loot as such. There are enhancements that can get fixed to your powers to make them better, but they are easily replaceable, not difficult to find, can mostly be bought from sellers and generally not worth much in-game (with the exception of the high-end enhancements).
Also, these enhancements have a limited time that they are useful to you - it's only + / - 2 levels (I think - it might be + / - 3) that you really get the bonuses for having an enhancement before it needs to be replaced. Replacing enhancements is something you get very familiar with! (Oh, and you can't sell enhancements that you've used - they just get replaced.)
So, the issues with loot seem to arise where:
- it is rare / takes a lot of time to get
- it adds a lot of value / ability to the character who has it
- it is worth a lot in-game
I play FFXI, and in every party I've ever been in, the loot distribution has been set to 'pool' (all loot goes into a central pot; if you want something you can cast a lot for it, otherwise it's randomly distributed).
The only time I've ever seen anything resembling a problem was once when I'd joined a group in the Valkurm Dunes and we were taking on goblins -- they drop fire crystals, which go for anywhere from 100 to 500 gil apiece (or around 3000 for a stack of 12) at the auction houses. One guy in the party cast lots on _every_ fire crystal that dropped, which meant that the rest of us either had to take the time to cast lots ourselves (and some people didn't know how), meaning yet another little moment of downtime, or we could just let him have them, which wasn't at all fair.
Other times, I've seen people be wonderfully gracious when it comes to loot, particularly in the 'Dunes -- party leaders that ask everyone in the group if they've gotten each of the three drops required to unlock the subjob ability; party members passing on subjob items without prompting from anyone else; players who -want- to get rid of extra subjob items (though the game doesn't let you trade or sell them to other players, which on the one hand means there's no market for them IRL, yay, but on the other hand makes it impossible to help out someone that needs a Magicked Skull when you have two)...
The only other times that loot has been an issue is once when someone was farming bees in Giddeus and wanted the beehive chips, which was less an issue and more a heads-up/request to pass on them and once when I was on my way through King Ranperre's Tomb and some random person wanted me to stay away from the mouse bats because they were farming something, I guess.
Even my linkshell was lax about loot. Of course, so am I, at least in a party. If I'm interested in loot, I'll go change to a lower-level job and farm gobs or something while leveling, thereby killing two birds with one stone.
I play ROSE Online, in which there are two party options regarding loot: "equal distribution", where everyone in the party has a chance to grab the item, and "aquisition order", where the higher level players have priority. And by priority, I mean that even if you pick it up, it goes to their inventory.
I've been in so many parties where there is one high-level player who does very little of anything, while all the rest of us break our backs fighting, and when we try to pick up an item that a monster has dropped, nine times out of ten it goes to the high level player. I've actually been booted from a party for asking the leader to change the options. Nowadays I fight solo.
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Looting makes me realise I'm quite a nasty person underneath it all. I am a solo player generally, except for in instances, where I fight alongside one or two friends lower in level than me (I HATE elites. Waiting for them to die is boring). I do instances with them for the social fun, and on the off-chance that some mob will drop something good to sell; the instances I do with them yield lower level things than I can use, and get me no XP. With me there to do most of the hard work, the lower level players get their xp, quest completion, and more besides, and tend not to get killed. With arbitrary looting systems in place, I usually come away with diddly-squat. It riles me no end. If I killed it, I should keep it. I commented on a teammate's unreasonably large collection of Blues the other day, suggesting that instance loot rolling mechanics are biased towards lower level players as a reward for their "bravery", and then next time a mob attacked him I failed to step in and help until his health was down to a sliver to vent my bitterness.
MMO's certainly help you learn about your darker side.
Loot, sticky problem at the best of times. WoW, which I play currently has a fairly fair system of loot distribution. But you still run into problems, not so much in PUGs, because you expect to have to roll for everything, and you can see if people are rolling needlessly and just leave. Likewise, Guild groups use DKP, and over time, all important loot is distributed fairly.
I find the biggest problem is when you have mixed groups of guildies and random pick-ups. I’m in 2 guilds, both of which normally hand the item over to the player who would benefit the most from the item. If 2 people need it equally, then we random roll. If someone has to pass an item on a very close call, they know they’ll receive preferential treatment on a subsequent item.
But the mix groups…. They’re the trick ones. Example
A rare item (BoP) drops, giving a very large boost to Stamina and spirit. A Pick up rogue bids on the item immediately (he benefits by only a few points of Stamina), but the guild decide that the item should go to the priest who receives a large benefit from both stat boost (about +14 compared to the rogues +2). But its too late, the rogue has bid. Now, do the 2 other guild mate who receive about the same benefit as the rogue, bid as well, increasing the chances that our guild (and fairly) benefits from the drop? But this ½s the chances that the priest will get the item. In part, this is the fault of the game design. In this case, we where able to convince the rogue the item should have gone to the priest. We could have provided him a BoE item far better for him if he had just waited (a +agility +stamina necklace that had dropped for me earlier), but the game would not let him down grade his roll. Of course, our priest won the roll, and he demanded the necklace in compensation! We agreed to give him the necklace at the end of the raid if he differed the loot decisions to us in future. In the end a rare and powerful dagger dropped at the end of the dungeon, we handed it over to him WITH the necklace, even though our hunter would have also benefited equally from the item.
Said rogue now totally outstrips us in quality of gear, is currently helping me craft an epic weapon, and has contribute goods towards this item worth about 50 times the value of the items we gave him during that run! J
We handle loot a little differently, since we have a set of folks who almost always group together.
BoP are rolled for need. One BoP and one set item and you're done until everyone has a drop.
Everything else is sent to a single (predetermined) character to sell at the AH the next weekend. All proceeds are split equally among everyone.
If folks really, really want an item for their alt, they can "purchase" it from the raid for 60% of the standard price according to 1-2 web sites and auctioneer data. We often don't enforce this part, especially if it's a pattern than one of us can use.
Everyone gets pretty much an even cut. A rare or epic BoE is not a windfall for only one person, but for everyone (much cheering). Nobody feels cheated, and nobody complains about other folks "winning" too many items.
I work around the edges, and sometimes with a very dedicated, friendly corp (Eve Online). they manage to never let loot get in the way. when running a large complex as a group all loot is picked up by dedicated haulers.
afterwards, the spoils are melted down and sold, or more often, mleted down and added into corp inventory at corp sale prices, then the proceeds are split evenly. its Always split evenly.
the damage dealers couldnt be there without the tankers, who would be able to run as long without the haulers dropping them charges while getting that loot.
X's and O's, Di-Tron folks, if you read this.
I haven't been in many instances (I solo 95% of the time), but I find if I roll greed I still have a REALLY good chance of getting the item. I usually come out with a few green or better items without putting much effort into getting them. I have yet to roll for an item.