Gaming Within Our Means: The Loot Roll System

On upgrades and progression, on the need/greed loot system, and about entitlement and what meaning we find in each of these terms.

The need/greed system is fairly common in MMOs and it presents itself as the ideal channel to distribute loot amongst group members. Say a Tanking Shield of Tank Only Tanking drops, and what happens is a loot window pops up on everyone’s screen and they can either need the item, greed the item, or pass, with need being the highest priority.

This is where I would like to stop time itself and analyze the situation further in a multi-layered multi-faceted abstract.

The Loot Itself

The shield. Currently only the tank can use it in his main spec so technically he should be the only one to “need it. Ok

Need vs Greed

Now we come to the little roll window. I don’t actually like the way need/greed works, I would rather take the current LFR loot rules a step further and that is by keeping the class restrictions on gear, keeping the roll bonus, but also removing the concept of “needing or greeding”.

In real life, how often do we actually “need” anything other than the very very basics of food, clothing, shelter, and perhaps a stable income and the ability to maintain all this? Do we really need to buy an $80,000 car over a $50,000 car? It’s all for show. I have taken on the stance of living BELOW my means as a stance against the rampant consumerism and dwindling of real values.

Anyhow, in game, do we really NEED an extra 0.75% mitigation? Will it make or break an encounter that is no longer designed to punish one who is not completely min/maxed? So no, the tank probably doesn’t NEED the extra 2% reduction in damage and 1% block chance. It makes the healer’s life easier but when was the last time you ran out of mana save for the accidental pull of 4 difficult trash mobs and a boss? Our reliance on gear is pretty much coded into the game, until we reach the absolute threshold of not being able to tank/dps/heal through the content is probably when we “need” an upgrade.

Completing tier sets is also not an argument, you were doing fine with your 3P T13, but do you NEED to have 4P? It would be very very very nice to have a 4P bonus (for most classes anyways), but your life doesn’t absolutely depend on the fact that you have an internal bloodlust or your Soulburn finally gets some use (though with that being a class fix coded into gear…that’s another story).

So back to the need/greed system. I say we change it to a “roll/pass” mechanic (I’ve seen this somewhere, don’t remember where, was it Lotro?) and the game internally does all of the class restrictions and role bonuses in the background. Everyone can “roll”, but if a hunter rolls on a BOP shield the game will secretly put their roll to 0. Over time, people will realize that only certain classes tend to win certain items. We get to retain our “entitlement” that is being able to roll but the “Gods of Fairness”, aka smart coding makes sure the right people get the right items. If everyone defaults to nil, then a random person will get it for vendor trash.


Having said all that, this is still a game and a game without progression isn’t that much fun. Imagine having to quest through Vash’jir because your ilvl 264 gear was “good enough”. Receiving an upgrade feels good, your character “progresses” in the shallowest of sense; your throughput goes up by 1% and it feels nice. This answers the argument of “casuals don’t need raid gear to do dailies”, well you probably don’t really need to maximize every single slot that you have for raiding (unless if you are perhaps doing heroic modes on the SECOND week of release).

Another facet of progression could be how higher level gear tends to look better than quest greens. I believe this scenario is exacerbated in the Northrend levelling scene. Remember what you would look like as a fresh level 80? You would have an SM cowl, a wooden club, metal if you are lucky and every other slot was some sort of drab dull brown. Transmog did a great job in solving this, as can be seen with my warrior changing his quest green sword into an epic Ulduar sword of cosmic goodness.

Have you ever been in the situation where an “upgrade” drops but it looks like it could be 1% better or worse than your current item and you are sitting there doing internal calculations of int vs crit over the lost mastery which is 0.5% of your spellpower, but if you cast 0.04% faster with an additional 15 int then your total throughput could potentially go up by 0.7% in a standalone fight then you think of high movement fights and so on and so forth? And all this time you are not sure if you “need” the trinket or not, most likely you don’t need it as it won’t astronomically propel your performance into the cosmos, but what if there was just a roll option, if you win then good, if not, then too bad so sad. This is the type of situation I am talking about, where we don’t really NEED something and pressing the “need” button is the only way to obtain said item to test it out despite the lack of actual need.

What Will Come of LFR

The current loot-mania going on in LFR is a double edged spell dagger. The class restrictions and bonuses inhibit people from stealing gear and let’s them roll “need” on anything that they can. This could potentially get people used to the “just roll” aspect of what I propose, or it might groom people to feel entitled to everything because they can simply click need on everything that’s available and walk away without considering the group and their fellow raider’s own gear progression. We’ve seen people rolling on items, taking them hostage for future trade collateral, but we’ve also seen people winning gear and passing it on to more deserving folk…who probably don’t actually “need” the gear (but upgrades are fun). Just saying.

So next time you click need on something, think of it as not a “need” button but a “First World Problem: I would like this item to progress my character for the name of fun” button. Then trade it to someone who wants it even more than you because you, as a wizard, should know better.

Truny the Needful

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