Thursday, February 14, 2008
Designing a better raid reward system
I recently mentioned that game systems make stories happen between players. One of those stories that happens to thousands of World of Warcraft guilds is the one where tensions arise in the guild between the more advanced and the less advanced raiders. The more advanced players don't want to sign up for the low level raids any more, because those don't bring them anything any more, but the less advanced players only make slow progress without the help of the more advanced players, and thus don't catch up with them to help them in the next level of raiding. TBC changed that story only slightly: on the one hand the more advanced raiders at least get badges of justice when running Karazhan again, but on the other hand a guild needs to equip three Karazhan teams before having enough players for the 25-man dungeons.
Now I was reading Relmstein's excellent suggestion on how MMORPGs could be improved by using features from Spore: "Plus the ideas explored with the creature creator in Spore could also be adapted for several different areas in MMOs. A weapon and armor creator could easily be controlled by a game system dependent on the discovery of ancient scrolls. Work your way to the end of a medium difficulty dungeon and be rewarded with the knowledge on how to add a cool cross guard to your swords. The stats of items you create could be controlled by different types of tokens dropped off bosses with varying degrees of difficulty." And I was thinking that a system like that might be useful for improving the raid reward system.
As mentioned yesterday, the current raid reward system by dropping random epics has the big disadvantage that it rewards an experienced player helping others to get through a raid dungeon very little, while giving out big rewards to the new players that are given the guided tour. Rewards are inversely proportional to contribution, a system that is obviously problematic. The badges of justice already help, but what if we had an "build your own epic" system? Besides ready-made epics, the raid bosses would drop epic fragments, which could be assembled to more powerful epics. And there wouldn't be a loot table, but every raid boss could drop any possible epic fragment. There would be fragments determining what slot the finished epic goes in, whether it is a helmet or boots for example. There would be fragments determining whether the final epic would be cloth, leather, mail, or plate. And there would be epic fragments for the various stats, with the value of the stats depending on the difficulty of the raid dungeon. From all those parts you could build exactly the epic you wanted.
The big advantage of such a system is that the newbies in the raid would be better served with the ready-made drop epics. But the more experienced raiders who already have all the random drops they could possibly get can still get a reward in the form of epic fragments, which once assembled are an improvement over the random drops. So while helping the rest of their guild to advance through Karazhan, at least these raiders would be rewarded, and wouldn't feel stuck between raid dungeons.