On WoW Loot

There’s been something of a mini-topic in the WoW community of late: loot, and how it has changed.

From the random, often badly-itemised, rare and inflexible items of Vanilla to today’s gear-normalised, class-tailored, individual, reforged loot drops, gear is one area where WoW has changed beyond recognition.

And these bloggers have been thinking about what that all means:

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WoW: Amber, Loot, and Panda Experiences

And finally, the 300-lb panda of them all – WoW. What’s been happening in Pandaria this week?

  • Apple Cider looked at the question of whether the Mantids are actually the first gender-neutral, meritocratic race in WoW“Granted, I still believe that this is by accident, but the idea of the Mantid society defining themselves by accomplishment seems more a true reflection of the Warcraft gender politics than even us as player characters are.”
  • The Godmother looks at how we react to quests that give us the choice of being nice or nasty, especially when provoked“grant you, punching him in the mouth is not the answer, in an ideal world, but I don’t like to be told to scurry off anywhere. Use your good looks for stuff other than pretending being handsome got you where you are today. Frankly, you can stump up, pal.”
  • Want to know what the leader of the Horde thought when he met some Pandaren for the first time? Well, fortunately, as regular readers will know, he blogs” And, first impressions…well, I’ll be honest. First impressions weren’t so impressive. I mean, I realize I should know better than to jump to conclusions based on appearances, but…well…the words “roly poly” come to mind. “
  • Shy looks at the question of whether off-spec healers should be nerfed, and comes to some very interesting conclusions“Yaknow, that big ability that the boss does and everybody needs to press their cooldown button at that specific moment? Yes, that, not a ‘nice save’, pre-programmed.”
  • And Big Bear Butt comes up with a really intriguing idea/prediction for some new things that the LFR loot system might allow Blizzard to do“They could conceivably increase the chance items drop for players of lower average iLevel while reducing the chance for players decked to the nines.”

And look – no reputations!

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Should We Abolish Loot?

No, really. Purple pixels. Boss drops. Should we dump ’em?

Sounds crazy? Well, it’s actually The Grumpy Elf doing (one of) the things he does best – making Swiftian Modest Proposals about MMORPGs that are actually far less obvious than they appear.

You see, Grumpy’s been considering the cause of strife in game communities – the topic of the week – and he’s identified one common factor in nearly every shouting match. Yes, that’s right – he’s arguing, in a 10-point plan, that gear is the reason MMO communities – specifically WoW – tear themselves apart

“2) People ripping on people for wearing PvE gear in PvP.

We have all been there. You’re in a battlegound and someone start yelling at the noob in all PvE gear because he sucks and is getting killed in three seconds. Words get exchanged, things get heated, and someone could even find themselves banned if someone reported any of that crap.

It causes animosity within the community.

3) People ripping on people for putting out low numbers.

The huge stat inflation on gear has skewed every ones perceptions. They see their raid hunter doing 40K on ultraxion and go into looking for raid and blast another hunter for only doing 30K. I’ve seen it. As a hunter I know what hunters can do and I saw one getting ripped for doing 30K. I looked at his gear, he was doing exceptional. I would say near perfect for the gear he had. But like I said, the gear skews perceptions. He was a baddie for doing only 30K and I was a baddie for pointing out that 30K for his gear was great because I was playing a shaman and know nothing about hunters, he should have been doing at least 45K in their opinion.

It causes animosity within the community.

4) People ripping on people rolling on off spec.

In random dungeons or raids we have all seen this haven’t we? There are no main spec > off spec rules in those outside of the few buffers the game throws in that do not really work all that well anyway. So people can roll on anything they want for any reason but that does not stop people from flying off the handle because of it.

It causes animosity within the community.”

Guild Wars 2 is already addressing this issue to some extent, of course, with the promise of an endgame that isn’t focused around grinding for gear at all. But I’m still intrigued by Grumpy’s thesis – and his proposed solution, making all raid gear trivially easily available. There’s a lot of truth to the “gear is the root of all evils” argument – you just need to have lived through the Gearscore era to realise its malign power.

Could it work? Could WoW wean itself off the loot treadmill? Is it time for a loot intervention?

What do you think?

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Three Fascinating, Unexpected Opinions On What Mists Will Bring

Will Garrosh invade Theramore? Maybe not! Will Resto Druids love permanent Tree Form? Perhaps not! Will this iteration of the LFR loot rules work? Maybe it actually will!

It’s a bit quiet on the MMOsphere today, but there are some really interesting posts out there. Strangely, three of them centered around one topic – specific features coming up in Mists of Pandaria, and how what actually happens might be nowhere near what you expected to happen.

First up, Rades of Orcish Army Knife is back with another of his brilliant prognostication posts. This time, he’s looking into his crystal ball at a strange new Feat Of Strength that has made its way into the Mists beta

(Warning: this blockquote and the linked article contains story spoilers)

“So wait. Jaina has to recover the Focusing Iris from the ruins of Theramore? Would that be the same Focusing Iris that Malygos was using to control the surge needles, distorting and manipulating Azeroth’s ley lines so that all magic began to flow into the Nexus? And the same Focusing Iris that the Dragon Aspects used to channel their magical power into the Demon Soul, to empower it so that it could defeat Deathwing?

Why is it in Theramore??

We never really do find out what happened to it after the Aspects used it to charge up the Demon Soul. And you know, this probably isn’t something that should just be left lying around. We’re talking about an extremely powerful artifact created by Malygos, the Aspect of Magic, at the height of his power, using his own blood. We’ve seen in the past that someone can use the Iris to divert and mess around with all magic on Azeroth through tapping into the ley lines, which is rather significant. And the Aspects – essentially Warcraft’s demigods – needed it to charge up the Demon Soul, perhaps because it let them focus their power into an single concentrated point, or perhaps because it could absorb/contain such raw, unbridled power in a controlled manner. ”

Spoilers end

As always, Rades has a tremendously readable writing style, and his conclusions are fascinating. I think they might well be right on the money, too – the suggestions he’s making fit well with the way Blizzard have been writing so far, and would be a really interesting twist. We shall see…

Meanwhile, on a rules note, Zellviren of Unwavering Sentinel has been looking at the latest LFR loot rules. They’ll be rubbish, right? Well… apparently not so much

“Every time a boss dies, the game will roll against each player to decide if they won something. 25 separate rolls, 25 separate chances for everyone to get a shiny upgrade. To paint an example, say there are four plate melee classes in against the Madness encounter and all want Gurthalak. Each one has a separate chance of winning it and all four of them might do so. They play no part in each other’s rolls, just as they keep the heck out of everyone else’s.

I’ve no idea how that can be considered a bad change unless your desire is to troll or steal.

Now, point three on Ghostcrawler’s list is the one causing the arguments. It’s hard to say exactly what “appropriate” means at this stage, and I suppose we’ll need to wait for more commentary before finding that out. But even if that’s simply a case of picking something your class can use, ignoring spec and what you already have, it’s STILL preferable to seeing some Unholy death knight with a heroic Slicer take a Souldrinker “because he might play Frost”.”

My only remaining concern with the LFR loot rules – which feel very Diablo 3 inspired – is that they feel a bit impersonal, and further devolve much of WoW into a single-player game with NPCs that just happen to be controlled by other players. But that’s just a feeling thing, and overall, Zellviren’s got me convinced.

Finally, on a lighter note, one ex-Tree druid is finding herself unexpectedly conflicted by the new choices in Mists.

Yes, Tzufit of Tree Heals Go Whoosh was amongst the baying hordes clamoring for a return to full-time tree form, for a long while. And now, it’s finally here – but she isn’t convinced that she will actually use it

“It’s a good thing! A great thing! So, why do I find myself with no idea what my druid is going to look like when Mists launches?

I never used to identify with my night elf’s caster form during Wrath. I liked the way she looked, but I hated the night elf idle animation with its annoying bounce-bounce-bouncing, and I had trouble identifying with a character who was taller than most of the others in a raid group (I’m 5’2″ – gnomes are more my speed). I was in tree form from the moment I logged on until the moment I logged off, save the few seconds it took me to switch back after a wipe. The Pink Kitty and I used to have a good-natured snicker at druids who spent all their time in caster form and who flew around on actual mounts. “What, your forms aren’t good enough for you? You don’t love turning into a giant purple bird? Sure, have fun on that Frostbrood Vanquisher while I insta-cast flight form. Oh, and did I mention I can farm nodes and tap quest items without ever dismounting? And that if a Hordie jumps me in Wintergrasp I can just Shadowmeld and fly away? Chump.“

And then came transmogrification.”

This is a really interesting post that I think speaks to far more players than just tree druids. We keep track of the things in the game we dislike or we’re worried about, but often the things that we like or that suit us – or simply that we get used to – pass us by.

What unexpected consequences do you see from Mists of Pandaria?

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When Should You Not Roll – Even If You Can?

If you can roll on an item, you should roll on it. Right?

That’s certainly an argument we’ve heard advanced before, particularly about LFD, LFR and similar PUG runs. But just because you can, is it actually fair or reasonable to do so? That’s the debate that has started today between Syl of Raging Monkeys and Syp of Bio Break.

Syp started it all off, with a post about an experience he recently encountered in a random RIFT group

“So last night I queue up for a random dungeon in RIFT, and quickly get placed into one as damage (in RIFT, of course, you can swap between roles, and I have DPS, heals, and support on deck). When it puts me into the dungeon, I see that my party is very far away and most of the dungeon is cleared. To me, this isn’t a good sign, because it usually means that someone quit or was kicked.

Whatever. I run all the way to the end, where the party is about to tackle the last boss. On the way, two of the members are ripping into our support person, telling him that he should be using such-and-such skill with that build and why wasn’t he and did he kill puppies as a hobby you heartless monster? Another not great sign. Silently, I dare them to say something, anything about me.

We head into the boss battle, take him down, and a mace drops with nice stats for Clerics. There are three Clerics in the group, myself included. It’s an upgrade to us all.

So what’s the protocol on rolls?”*

Syp goes on to say that he rolled and won, and was subsequently insulted for it. However, rather than simply being annoyed by that, the experience left him thinking about the “unwritten protocols” that other players abide by – and he started a poll to find out what other peoples’ opinions were.

And that’s where Syl came in, as she wrote a lengthy, thoughtful response to the situation, which ended up as a blog post

“I think every last MMO player knows that dungeons consist of a great deal more than just bosses (unless they’re called Trial of the Grand Crusader); why else are there dungeons in the first place instead of loot piñatas lined up for us to plow through? Of course the entire journey through a dungeon, the trash packs, the little traps and annoyances along the way that make up 80-90% of the duration, are how players earn the rite of passage to bosses and loot. And therefore too, bosses and boss loot are not isolated events but rather the result and reward for beating the whole dungeon. Sure, for beating boss mechanics too – but if you’ve ever been to harder dungeons or heroics, you know that everything that comes before and in between bosses is often just as tough or even tougher than many of them. And it’s certainly more numerous.

Add to this, that in many dungeons the final boss is also the boss with the best loot – not necessarily because he is the hardest, but because it took friggin’ AGES to get there! I’d like to name good old WoW Scholomance, just to name one example: even in its 5man version, Scholomance was absolutely huge and a group could easily spend ~2 hours in there (certainly a PuG). The very last boss in Scholo was Gandling who, in comparison to the onerous 2 hours before him, wasn’t all that hard – but he dropped the important Tier 1 headpieces that everyone wanted.

Now, had you joined my party right before Gandling (which is the boss I had to farm the most in vanilla WoW due to loot luck from hell) and then outrolled me on the drop, you can bet I would’ve been absolutely devastated and furious. Did you have “a right to”? As long as no other rules were established – I guess. Equally, I would’ve had every right to grind my teeth though. Just because you can do something or have the right to do it, doesn’t mean it’s particularly thoughtful or “deserving”. If people always got what they deserved…well, what a beautiful world that would be.”*

Syl goes on to discuss lockouts, single chances and more – but nonetheless presents a viewpoint a world away from the alternate “if you can take it, you should” attitude.

This is an old discussion in the MMO world, but one that’s constantly adding new twists and new things to consider as MMOs evolve. So – what do you think the loot protocol is in today’s MMO world?

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Would you remove yourself from loot priority?

We all like to get some shinies from our raiding, right?

Well, not all of us, as it turns out today. Minstrel at Holy Word: Delicious has a really interesting piece explaining why he’s removed himself from the loot priority list in his guild altogether

“In our raid group, we have a very, very simple loot system. It’s round-robin. We maintain a loot list and when you get a piece for your main spec, you drop to the bottom of the list. The list adjudicates who gets a piece when multiple people want it. Highest person on the list receives the loot. It’s meant to be fair, impartial and distribute loot relatively evenly across everyone.

And I want no part of it.

Thus we come to my bold step: I asked to be removed from the hallowed loot list. The consequence of this is that it’s never “my turn” for loot. Anyone else in the raid has a higher claim than me, by this decision of mine. I’ll still receive upgrades, but only when no one else needs the piece.”

Minstrel makes a number of very interesting points in this post. I’m interested by the argument (which I’ve heard in several places recently) that DPS’ output is more vital than healers in Heroic modes, and also that there’s a “glass ceiling” for hardcore healers making further upgrades less necessary. And I’ll be very interested to see how his decision to eschew loot affects his desire to raid long-term, and whether it does in fact make the game more, not less, fun for him.

Would you remove yourself from the loot lists?

Article Source: Holy Word: Delicious . I BELIEVE Minstrel is a guy, but may be wrong – please do correct me if so!

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Do you feel rolling “need” is greedy?

We’ve all felt anxious about rolling “need” at some point, I’m sure. Maybe we weren’t certain it was an upgrade, maybe we knew one of our guildies wanted the item too.

But for some players, I’ve noticed, rolling “need” is a much bigger thing.

Terishelly at Bravetank has a – yes – very brave post up today, talking about her experiences with anxiety and the “need” button. It’s a fascinating read, dealing with an aspect of the game that I suspect many more people suffer from than we might realise – the anxiety of, even in a computer game, risking seeming selfish in a social setting :

“My worst fear though was accidentally rolling need myself. I was terrified of that. I did not know what I would do if I did it. I knew I could just apologise & offer to roll again. But I also feared I would not get a chance to explain myself. I would be the object of hatred and vitriol from the moment I clicked the button and my guilt ridden typos as I tried to apologise would not help (“I am so sorry” would inevitably come out like “It’s mine all mine!” combined with cackling laugh. Bloody typos).

So my first few dungeons I was petrified. My OCD reached new heights as I found myself checking & doublechecking before clicking. Sometimes I used to wish no loot would come up at all so I could relax (even thought I was running dungeons for better gear …). The mantra I recited was “It is ok to need if it’s an upgrade”. But that didnt’t help. How did I know if something was an upgrade? It took me ages to find out you could hit the shift button over the item to compare it to what you were already wearing. I used to think people had memorised all their stats (some probably do) and knew in an instant what was an upgrade or not. I used to hate myself for not knowing this. I cursed my short attention span. Sometimes I forgot what character I was playing and made dire mistakes (no one respected my mage who thought she was a healer). If I could do that I could never remember what particular level chestpiece I needed.”

I’ve known people in the past who have been very reluctant to roll “Need” on items, sometimes even to the point of absurdity. I had a fair idea of some of the reasons behind it, but this post really lays it out in a vivid way – the fear of appearing as you’re not, the drilled-in message (particularly for women) that it’s not OK to want for yourself.

It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking read – well worth a look.

Do you feel fear when you reach for the Need button?

Quote taken directly from Terishelly’s post

Find Bravetank’s homepage at http://bravetank.wordpress.com/ .

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Accepting WoW For What It Is

So there’s been a lot of folks saying that WoW’s terribad, recently. Since, you know, the big Cataclysm hit. So I was soemhow relieved to see the trend swing back the other way today, led by a very sensible and charming post from Syl over at Raging Monkeys.

Syl’s post talks about literature. It talks about her favourite quotes, and lights in the dark places. But most of all, Syl talks about accepting World of Warcraft for what it is. She lists things that we’ve been complaining about and says that well, yes, it is those things. But it’s not all bad, and in the end we always have a choice.

While players will never agree on these matters (and it’s probably a good thing or WoW blogs would be posting a lot less), we can agree that Blizzard have changed the face of the MMO genre forever, by opening WoW to a mainstream audience with a low gaming background on average. The genre has taken a big shift and it’s true that compared to classic MMORPGs, WoW has simply decided to go down a new path, for better and for worse (I can easily think of improvements here too).

Regardless of whether we like it or dislike it, she says, we should stop pulling the wool over our eyes and wishing it was different, and either take pleasure in the bits we enjoy of it or move on to something else. Otherwise it’ll just hurt all the more when we do have to face reality, and in the meantime while we’re being the proverbial ostrich (see Syl’s excellent image) we’ll loose something very important. Something we’ll never get back.

I’d like to see more opinions on this – whether it’s here or over at Syl’s place. So tell us – has this common sense approach brought some relief to you whether you were disillusioned or happy with WoW, or do you think it’s all a tad obvious and beside the point?

_Quote taken directly from Syl’s post

You can find Raging Monkeys’ homepage here_

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