I saw a few discussion articles recently, touched off by Tobold, about guild members gearing up and then jumping to a guild that’s progressed further. WoW is the example he uses to discuss what’s wrong with loot distribution in game, and how it causes a guild to fracture.
A few things popped out at me, like this quote:
Before WoW, people were leaving guilds most often for reasons of not getting along with other people in the guild. Guild drama and people in a guild getting into fights is as old as guild themselves. But World of Warcraft added a new element: guild hopping for epics. This is due to the fact that if you are among the best equipped characters in your guild, your further progression slows down significantly. The guild as a whole progresses not at the speed of the first raider, but at the speed of the 25th.
I completely disagree with his assertion that guild hopping for loot wasn’t an issue before WoW. Guild hopping for epics/high end gear was common even in the early days of EQ, and I’d assume even before that.
I do agree with his assertion that one person’s epic takes the collective effort of the guild, and it demoralizes everyone to see that person run to greener pastures. But his suggestion of a guild rep faction system is just DKP really, and Potshot’s suggestion of tokens for loot not only sucks the thrill out of raiding, but also reinforces the loot gap between those who have oodles of time and those who don’t.
Putting in a system that basically handcuffs a player to their guild is a bad idea. You can put in a faction system, or even force a player to return epics to the guild bank if they leave, but you can’t force a player to participate and cooperate with a guild that they dont’ want to be a part of. Sure, players will end up staying with their guilds, but they’ll just skip in house raids to join up with higher end raid guilds. All it would do is change the game culture to make outside raiding more common and accepted.
One possible design solution that helps is EQ2′s system, where loot drops are tailored to the raid classes in the instance. So you won’t go through a raid and get 15 pieces of bard gear if you dont’ have a bard in attendance. Assuming that the number of drops is the same, it means you are gearing up much more efficiently, and people are more often seeing loot that they can use.
But what this issue really comes down to is not with game design, but with guild management. One of the main responsibilities of a guild leader is to manage recruitment responsibly. If you are a laid back, casual guild, you don’t send a guild invite to someone who plays 80 hours a week and goes on and on about raiding Top Tier Zone 01. Good front end screening prevents most of the problem. And pro active roster management can take care of the rest. There are usually lots of red flags that pop up when someone is potentially seeking greener pastures. I’ve seen way too many guild hoppers, and I can’t say I was ever shocked when it actually happened. What it comes down to is a case of mismatched playstyles, which is not the fault of the game.
Ironically, I’m working through the very issue of loot distribution right now. We haven’t had any drama – yet – but I can tell that I have to make adjustments to our loot system sooner rather than later. Right now in our guild, we’re getting items that are being upgraded fairly fast, since people are quickly outleveling the gear that we’re getting. But even if it’s just a bag of compost that drops, and people see it being awarded unfairly, that can begin to create distrust – not only among members, but towards leadership, and that distrust can easily spread to other areas besides loot.Tobold finished his entry by saying:
Some system that forces people to select their friends more carefully and encourages them to stick together would do wonders to the social cohesion of WoW.
That system is called responsible and pro active guild management. It’s not flawless, but it’s better than any in game system that could be designed.
And on another note, I’m a bit slow to mention this, but Darren, host of Shut Up We’re Talking, invited me to co-host the show with him, which I gladly accepted. And the most recent show, with Tim from Van Hemlock, and Michael from MMOG Nation, was a blast to be a part of. Talking with those three was a pleasure, and I look forward to being a regular down the road.
Peter from The Addicted Gamer also invited me to be a guest on his next show, which is coming up soon. And last but not least, Troy started up a new show, called Travels with Troy, and he asked me to pop on for a cameo/discussion topic for his next episode. I think I’m getting hooked on this whole podcasting thing….