July 6, 2007

World of Warcraft Loot

Wolfgang raises a good point over on his blog, Wolfgang Chronicles, about World of Warcraft's loot.
I would just like to say thank you to Blizzard for designing a PVE loot system that encourages drama and player frustration while simultaneously designing a PVP loot system that allows players to gain epics by AFK honor farming.
In World of Warcraft's current PvP implementation, player's set a goal to get a certain PvP reward, they grind, and they achieve. Just as player's pick a quest, see the possible rewards, and then determine if it is really worth their trouble. However, this breaks down when it comes to randomly dropped equipment in dungeons. A player could be lucky and get it the first time through, while another player could do several runs before even having a chance at the item in question.

Now, players know all of this before picking what equipment goals they want to chase. It is no surprise that a lot of players choose PvP. I don't believe this is because these players love PvP. There are a couple reasons hiding behind these players.

First off, PvP gear attainment, for the most part, can be done solo. A player can join a random pick up group (PUG) and still end up with a decent amount of advancement towards their goal. In PvE dungeons, a PUG is a 50/50 chance at frustration vs. success. Combine that with random drops and you have an inferior system to the PvP rewards.

Secondly, PvP has a metric, honor points, that tells a player how far they are from their set goal. It is only a matter of time before it will be achieved. A player can average their honor point gains for a week and determine approximately how long it will take them to get to the end. Compared to the PvE random loot, this is a far superior method.

So, what is the solution? As I've talked about before, dungeons need to focus more on quests. This way, players can look at what quest leads to what gear and plan appropriately. At most, a player would be forced to run the dungeon a few times to complete the various tiers of the quest. Then it is a simple trip back to the quest giver for a reward. After all, this is about REWARDING players.

In the end, as players become more geared, the more they will be drawn towards participating in the end game raiding scene. While I don't agree with raid dungeons being the end-game, I can't hide the fact that Blizzard believes they are. Blizzard's job should be to make sure player's have a clear and identifiable path to get there. If there is no path for the general populous; Blizzard is just wasting development time on the wrong crowd.