Tobold’s post and comments on the idea of creating disincentives to guildhopping got me thinking. People are fundamentally self-interested asshats (this I already knew). There’s just not going to be a lot you can do about that problem. Good or bad design can mitigate or exacerbate the tendency though. The more I look at it though, its really a problem with WoW’s current PvE reward/progression model.
WoW’s progression and reward model greatly exacerbates the tendency toward asshattery (greedy, selfish, anti-social and uncivil behavior) by requiring collective action for personal (and uncertain) rewards (primarily in the form of improved gear). Twenty five or ten or five people devote a significant amount of time to collectively work on an objective without any guarantee that they will be rewarded for their efforts at all (no useful drop), and if rewarded that they will be able to share in that reward (useful drop, lose the roll or drop is useful only for other class).
Under the current paradigm, we are required to run and re-run content to get another pull on the slot machine. No matter how many times you run an encounter/instance/raid the fundamental law of statistics applies– each run results in the same percentage to get a desire drop. Everytime you toss a coin, the probability of heads coming up is 50%. Its called the Gambler’s Fallacy for a reason.
As our tank Earlthecat knows after 60+ Baron runs (back in the day…) without receiving his class pants, that can be brutal and fundamentally smacks of unfairness. Your item has to drop AND you have to win the roll unless you have collective assent to redistribute the limited loot. Of course, that’s where that asshattery problem kicks in again…
The opportunity for asshattery exists as a result of the limited number and random nature of the drops. Five/10/25/40 toons enter, perhaps no one leaves with a goddamned thing. Tigole must surely be sitting somewhere with Rob Pardo laughing their collective asses off. And they should. Like Skinner in the lab late one Friday night with a bottle of Wild Turkey watching the mice. What a bunch of chumps.
As Tobold and the commenters pointed out, the guild (or raid group or just plain friend group) doesn’t progress evenly. So long as one player “needs” a certain piece of kit to progress, they are bound to collective action. Once rewarded, ggktxbye, sayonara suckers. I’m off to find the next group of chumps and my next piece of better gear.
So how to mitigate rather than exacerbate the baser aspects of our greed-addled nature? Seems pretty basic, but the problem comes down to one of two basic approaches– either collectivize the ownership of the rewards (discussed, bad, problematic) or simply equitably distribute rewards among the group (impossible to do with random, limited drops).
Simple concept and already in the game and yes, maybe a little boring– earn marks, badges, rep, BoP currency, whatever you want to call it, and distribute it equally to all members of the group. Acquire X tokens, spend them at the token merchant for the reward of your choosing. If it takes 5 runs to collect enough tokens to get the uber shield of ultimate defense or cap of bottomless mana, so be it. Take the same damned boss mob loot table for a dungeon and make that a vendor’s offerings.
Everyone progresses equally. Everyone’s contribution to that session is rewarded. No one gets screwed or ninja’d. No one cares if you guild hop, so hopefully you have incentive to stay to play with mates. At least you have less incentive to bail early. People with different play budgets will always progress at different rates, but at least if out-of-work-basement-guy does 40 runs of instance X, each of the other members of those groups were each equally rewarded toward each of those runs. If those are the same 5/10/25 people for each of the runs: Hurray! If not: no one is QQing because tankboy (who completed 40 of those runs) cashed in and got his just rewards.
Assuming some of the geniuses that created the already tired grindy-assed mechanics could come up with some shred of a shitty story to keep us mildly entertained while we’re doing it, so much the better. Basic quest to point us at an instance with some reward for clearing it, then some crappy subplot that ties into the main story arc to thinly justify that by grinding instances we are participating in the epic grand story.
If you really wanted to be generous and encourage helping others out (at no personal opportunity cost) you could make the tokens either homogenous but drop with greater frequency in higher level content or make them exchangeable so rewards in one instance could be used for rewards from another. All micro/tokens are BoP.
Imagine this: You show up in Honor Hold and receive the basic “Go Kick Ramparts Ass” quest (Blah blah blah, epic battle, enemy of the alliance, contributions to the war effort would be rewarded, etc. etc.). You get your group, run the dungeon. As you clear mobs, instance specific microtokens drop at reasonable rate from the trash distributed via the basic loot rules. You progress and kill 2 out of the 4 bosses receiving 1 token for each group member for each boss downed before you wipe or get tired or someone needs to change a diaper. Run over. Each group member would have received 1/5 of the microtokens that dropped (click on 10 to turn it into a full token just like motes) and 2 tokens. Think two bits and pieces of eight, you get the idea.
Go back to Honor Hold, talk to the quartermaster and exchange your tokens for the gear items you want that are available from that instance. Don’t like the rewards available for Ramparts tokens? Convert them into Underbog tokens (at some less than 1-for-1 exchange rate so the progression model doesn’t get gamed too badly).
Starting to all seem a bit familiar? It should. It looks a lot like the PvP reward system except its not screwed up with a marks + honor system. As the guild/group raid begins to acquire the upgraded gear, the runs get better. By the time everyone has acquired a total of X tokens (enough that they could be exchanged for all the usable items from that instance) the guild could move on and no one should be left behind assuming they’ve contributed equally.
So what do you end up with?
- The progression path is group agnostic, but still collective action dependent.
- Down-playing (i.e., helping your lowbies in a below level instance) isn’t penalized– its rewarded equally in upconvertible tokens.
- Ninjas cease to exist for progression gear.
- Because rewards are certain, the risk of grouping is reduced encouraging collective play.
- Unlike the battlegrounds, there is no timer, so progression requires play, not just afk honor farming or AV zerg rush min/max strats.
While we’re fixing WoW’s PvE progression, level restrict the instances and add mentoring so higher levels are downscaled to a lower level instance so the tokens aren’t devalued. Sorry twinkers.
Now that WoW’s fixed, I think I’ll go have lunch.