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My Ideal Loot System

I thought I'd deviate slightly from the WoW posts to talk about some MMO design. Specifically, I want to talk about loot. 

What's your ideal MMORPG loot system? 

Mine is pretty simple: Everything you do is rewarding. 

That's pretty broad, but I want to talk about that for a second and then we can go into specific examples.

The ideal loot system never leaves me feeling like I just ran a dungeon or a raid and ended up with nothing to show for it. I don't want to do something for an hour, or maybe even 4 hours, and end that night frustrated that absolutely nothing dropped for me. 


Whether it's an item, character progression, or some kind of reward, my ideal system gives everyone something. 

That's one reason why I really like the 'personal loot' system. I think everyone should only compete with themselves and RNG for loot, never against others. I agree with Blizzard's new philosophy. I don't like master looter, I don't like need before greed, and I don't like free for all. I want personal loot/rewards.

I'm also a big fan of token systems. I loved how in Wrath of the Lich King I could run content and if an item didn't drop for me, I would get tokens. I could then take those tokens and save them up until I could buy a piece of loot -- the same loot that could have dropped outright, or something else.

I do not believe this system is exclusively for themepark MMOs. In fact, I think this could work for any MMO. If it's a sandbox we're talking about, there are plenty of ways this concept of 'everyone being rewarded' can be worked into the lore and feel of the world. Players who didn't get that rare sword could perhaps get some crafting materials and other baubles looted off a corpse than players could craft or an NPC could sell -- ideally it works even better in player-crafted economies.

Loot mechanics definitely fall into the quality of life mechanics for me, and I hope we continue to see MMOs designed to help players always feel like they are progressing, and never feeling frustrated by bad luck or player greed/control.

  • I hate neverending loot progression. My preference is all loot drop on death, or a reasonably attainable hard gear cap.

    • I think a reasonably attainable hard gear cap is great. I really like the UO style gear progression where everyone gets the gear relatively easy, and loses it easily. It’s just a sword.

  • I am perfectly fine with personal loot, but also had no issues with need for greed and master loot. Although, I would had mythic progress raiding with personal loot, thank god I stopped doing that before they implemented this.

    The one thing I hate at the moment is the lack of possibility to trade. We do dungeons with a group of friends, being unable to trade bad items for me to a friend who desperately wants em sucks.

  • Hmm. This is a lot more complex than it seems at first thought. Of course I like personal loot. Who wouldn’t? And these days, when most MMORPGs are primarily solo (where all loot is personal by default) with a group element tacked on as optional, it makes sense to carry the familiar system into the less-popular part of the game.

    On the other hand, personal loot removes the thrill of the chase. Yes, it’s frustrating when the item you want doesn’t drop and doubly so when it does but you lose the roll on it to someone else, but it’s also exciting in the moment and satisfying in the successful completion in the way a guaranteed personal drop can never be.

    I’d go for a combination of full personal drop in basic solo content, semi-randomized personal drop in harder solo content, where you wouldn’t always get exactly what you wanted but what you did get would have some use (salvage, resale, alts), and a mix of personal, group and open drop in group and raid content. You would always get something guaranteed but the best things would require a negotiation between others in the group.

    I would also not automate that negotiation so the group members would have to discuss it and agree. I’d prevent ninja-looting by locking the items to a vote that the system would tally, which would require each party member to nominate the person who would recveive the item – and the system would not allow you to nominate yourself.

    That should create plenty of drama!

    • RE: Who wouldn’t like personal loot – All you have to do is look above and see the Mythic raiders hate it. They like to funnel loot to the specific people who need it most. Others simply don’t like it because it breaks their immersion. They exist!

      RE: Combo system – Totally, that’s kinda what I was implying. You won’t always get what you want. In fact, you might not get any item at all, but you’d get salvage or tokens or baubles, etc. Those can then be combined and ultimately allocated towards getting something.

      RE: Negotiation for gear – I think the battle for gear should be with the enemy, not your team. I would hate a system where I had to negotiate for gear or debate for it and get votes.

  • It depends completely on why you play these games. Personally, the only reason I kept playing them for years is because there were people walking out of raids and group content that had loot I had no chance of getting anytime soon. Wonderful loot. Glorious loot. And I was going to get it someday. Someday.

    Add if a RNG just drop that loot for any casual gamer, my interest is gone. Because basically everybody has that loot in 6 months. Max. Probably 3.

    In hindsight as I type this it’s probably why I’m driving the car I drive. No RNG dropping that.