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Which Loot System is the Best?

Loot is complex in multiplayer games. I myself waffle back and forth on this subject probably every year.

The big issue at hand is how much loot impacts more than what simply drops and whether you get it. Loot rules impact community, economy, progression rates, retention rates, and essentially the entire flow and dynamic of a multiplayer game.

Shared Loot

I’ve been playing a lot of EverQuest lately. Almost all of the raids have to come up with a system of loot council or DKP (participation point system). That’s because the loot in EverQuest is shared across all characters. A free-for-all would be a bloodbath and ruin the fun. Sometimes even a straight DKP system makes for inefficient raid progression. People get all uppity and dramatic about loot.

Loot becomes something that binds people together because we’re all working to get that dragon to drop a pool of loot for us to divvy up. There’s something satisfying about seeing a really rare item drop for the group.

Shared loot tends to tie us together, for better or worse. It’s harder to leap into another raiding environment and immediately prosper. Long term, that may be in your interest but certainly not a weekly “go where it’s advantageous” occurrence.

Individual Loot

Contrast that to a game like WoW. Everyone’s loot is individualized (I know this can be disabled for an arguably more efficient raid progression). I can go on a raid and whether or not the guy next to me gets gear really isn’t my concern. If the dice weren’t in my favor, I’m not going to be upset that a council didn’t give me something or that I missed loot because I wasn’t present for a raid when my spouse was sick.

I like knowing that the only person I’m competing against is the omnipotent RNGesus.

But there’s definitely a loss of community here. The focus shifts off the group’s accomplishment and onto the individual. As an individual I could go on anyone’s raid and the dice (or my fate) goes with me. I can choose to raid any any given moment with anyone. This is a HUGE problem in a game like WoW. Every time I’ve gone back and played, people I know bail and jump into a friend’s raid because that raid is doing something harder and they can benefit individually. It ruins guilds and strains friendships.

Realism, Immersion, & Economy

There’s something ‘immersive’ about a dragon dropping one really good item. There’s more to be said if only one version of the dragon spawns instead of being instanced, but even EverQuest has evolved out of that one. Personally, I’ve evolved out of it too. I’m hoping that I have come to terms with that realization. Part of me will always hold onto the old guard ways of wanting such immersion and realism, but it’s simply not fun.

Single drops often coincide with economy as well. In a game like EverQuest, a lot of those raid drops can be traded. And since they’re typically smaller in scale due to shared loot, it drives their value up significantly. I actually like knowing the items can enter the economy. I’m saddened when gear becomes so individualized that all we’re left to do is chuck epic dragon drops into our banks for the memories, or destroy them instead.

The Verdict: Which Loot Model Is Supreme?

I’m going to cheat a little.

I vote individual loot on raids. Ultimately it comes down to me liking the idea of no dkp or councils. I like the game choosing. It removes a lot of drama from that decision. Although it ads drama too, I think I’d love there to be a way for the game to know you’ve raided in the same group. See? I said I was going to cheat. That way people can’t raid hop. Though to be honest, if people weren’t such bastards it wouldn’t be necessary. If not for the bastards, I would vote individual loot 100% and never look back.

I still like EverQuest’s loot model for groups, though. Rolling for loot! Whether the group decides need before greed or everyone rolls and can do with it what they please, there’s something immensely satisfying about that model.

Or ultimately none of the above. See? Cheating again. Get rid of dropped loot entirely. Make MMORPGs like UO where the players craft the loot and it mostly doesn’t matter. Let the accomplishments matter for character progression, but not items. Keen gets more powerful because his character was present during the death of a dragon. Could make some sense.

Thoughts? What loot system do you prefer?

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Carson - July 6, 2017

I think the loot system needs to follow the grouping system.

If the group is formed impersonally, whether by a totally automatic queue or a LFG tool where you list groups and apply for them, then loot should be personal. Nobody needs the drama of a master looter in those situations, and even need/greed type rolls cause plenty of drama, as WoW demonstrated for years.

But if the group is formed manually by a leader organizing it and inviting people, then I think shared loot is appropriate so you can organize things however you like. Of course it makes sense to also allow individual loot as an option, if you want to just keep it simple.

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Bhagpuss - July 7, 2017

I think Carson has it about right. If you use an automated group finder then your loot should be automated. If you make your group manually then the person who makes the group gets to decide.

Personally, I have a huge problem with all DKP systems and even with Need/Greed rolls in groups. Unless I know people very well and have an established relationship that goes well beyond simply being in a guild with them, I will never accept loot. If there’s a points system I won’t spend the points. If there are rolls I will either pass or roll greed. I don’t believe I have rolled Need more than a handful of times in getting on for 20 years and those times I have always wished I hadn’t.

One of the main reasons I stopped raiding almost as soon as I began in EQ was the extremely uncomfortable feeling I got at the end of a raid, when it came time to decide who got what. I actually once had a blazing row with the guy running the raid because I *didn’t* want to roll on anything.

On another occasion I took something that everyone else had passed on because the raid leader was complaining that if no-one took it it would be a waste. I was literally doing him a favor as I saw it – it was a worthless item that I had no use for and would have banked and forgotten. He then started sending me abusive tells accusing me of only having come on the raid to get loot! I sent it back to him with some other items I didn’t want that hadn’t come from the raid and that was the last time I raided with him.

So, I don’t feel there is any good system that involves people you don’t know and trust, which is why I’d prefer to have automated systems do the choosing in all but the most “Family” of situations.

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    Keen
    Keen - July 7, 2017

    I completely agree.

    I’ll take it a step further and add that I hate systems that impose an almost distrust of the people you raid with. Even raiding with people I know, there’s this sense of “we have to impose these rules on you getting loot because of XYZ…”

    I’ll take random individual loot over that crap any day. People have lost the meaning of killing a boss because it’s fun.

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