Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Build-specific loot

I was in a great raid last night, where my guild performed significantly better and faster in Naxxramas-10 than before, and we managed to kill 10 bosses in 4 hours. But I was a bit annoyed about the loot. Not just that of 22 epics I ended up not getting a single one, that was just bad luck. But about us having to shard several epics because they were specific to a single build of a single class, and nobody needing them in the raid.

In our case we had neither holy paladins nor resto shamans in the raid, and of course got lots of drops with plate and mail armor with +spellpower. If we had had a tankadin or enhancement shaman, he might have gotten the epic for "off spec", but we had no paladins nor shamans at all, so the epics ended up sharded. And that in a raid group where lots of people were wearing blues and could well have used some Naxxramas epics.

What did strike me was the contrast with some other epics we found, for example a ring with intellect, stamina, and spellpower. Half the raid needed that. And I also noticed that while some builds and classes do have specific raid loot, that only they can use, other builds of other classes have absolutly nothing specific for them. Healing power has been removed from the game, so the typical cloth armor piece my priest could use is typically needed as well by all the mages and warlocks, not to mention priests of every other build. I refrain from rolling need on items with +spell hit, but dps casters don't necessarily refuse rolling for cloth armor just because it has spirit or mana regeneration on it.

So I'm wondering why Blizzard designed it that way. Wouldn't it be better if either every class / build had specific loot to avoid too many people fighting over it; or if every piece of loot was useable by several classes and builds. If Blizzard can combine healing power and spellpower in one, then why not combine other stats in one as well, so that no class / build has loot that is only useable by them?
I always found it frustrating in MMOs when I did raids or instances and loot dropped that no one could use. EQ2 introduced a system in instances were only pieces of armour sets that group members needed would drop from the bosses. It made things far more fun and less tedious as you knew someone would be able to get a good reward from all of the effort everyone put in. Does WoW have anything similar?

I also quite like WAR systems of rewarding loot bags which contain items specific to the person who won it.
I think Blizzard hesitates with this because it would mean a much bigger redesign than the damage/damage and healing --> spell power conversion. To make this work with mail and plate would probably mean making caster classes that stacked strength/agi/AP. It is not undoable, both paladins and shamans have talents currently that give spell power from attack power (see for example Sheat of light in the paladin retribution tree) to support their hybrid nature, but this change simplified things for users (less stats they needed to worry about), whereas I can see myself feeling a little "detatched" when gathering strength gear for my healadin. On the other hand, this would mean that druids could use the same gear for resto and feral, shamans the same for all specs and paladins the same for either holy and retri or holy and tanking, something that would undoubtely be welcomed by many.

One small change that has been done recently that could be a start in this direction is the change of feral staffs to work for several classes, but with a tooltip displaying feral attack power that shows for druids but not others. If the tooltip showed that kind of information for classes that could spec for casting but who were supposed to stack strength (or some other melee stat) it might work better.

Trying to imagine how it would work for paladins (that I know best) I guess that unless you rework the talent tree completely, the best bet would be to have a conversion from strength to int on a 1:1 basis. Crit is the same already. I am more unsure about what would be a fair source of spell power, it could be attack power based? Still as I think the thought experiment shows, this would take some balancing :)
I think this goes against what blizz is trying to do. Keep you playing. If you ran a dungeon and it was guaranteed that any gear drops would be usable by at least someone in the raid, then how long till everyone has all the gear they need, and doesn't play anymore. Blizz wants you to qq over sharded gear, cause that's another week the carrot stays on the stick. They already caved and gave hero/valor tokens for people to save up and buy things for themselves, and they already have class shared tokens for tier pieces. the sad part is, that when it comes to healing gear, the food chain looks like: Paladins->shamans->druids->priests so priests have to fight with the most people classes for gear, plus face off againts all the caster dps. Most raid leaders will know if there is +spirit/mp5, it should go to healer classes first, and if it has +hit/spell pen it's a dps ring. If the raid leaders don't control the bidding then you have bad raid leaders.
The idea was that every party composition can do the raid easily. They also wanted to remove the burden of having to have multiple gear for different roles for hybrids. In the end they are just empowering Hybrids and dumbing down the game. As you noted, the gear that nobody can make use of still gets sharded. But for everything else, now every cloth caster class has to roll on. More loot for everyone has not been achieved, now everyone rolls by default on the same gear.
I have an idea.
Why doesn't Blizzard replace all stats and attributes in WoW by: The Whammy!
Green items have Small Whammy, blue items have Medium Whammy and epics have, well, Epic Whammy.
You can stack all the Whammy from all your gear and that translates in more power in whatever the heck your class does.
The more Whammy the better and there is no such thing as too much Whammy.
Players will love The Whammy!

Blizzard's design goal is to have gear that is not optimal for anyone, but can be used by multiple class/spec combinations. While all casters can use the same cloth, rings, trinkets, cloaks and some weapons/offhands, the rest of the item palette is still fairly compartmentalized due to armor type.
You're right Toby, item-based combat systems are terribad.
People should think back to pre-tbc if you think it's bad now. There you had truely class specific loot tables. Of course, you also had 40 people per raid so the chances are you had at least one of each class. What they do now may not be perfect but it's certainly an improvement on what was before! Homogonised loot would be difficult to achieve without homogonised classes and I don't think anybody wants to see that. I already see a few comments around that people think the classes have already lost some of their uniqueness so I think we're at a reasonable level of balance where we are now.
As a resto shaman, I don't see your problem really. I just regret I wasn't there!

Seriously, I don't really understand what you're saying. You're (a) not happy that mail items dropped because there was noone that could use them. But you're (b) also not happy that rings almost everyone could use dropped either. You ask whether it would not be better if it were one way or the other but it seems to me that if that was the case you'd be displeased under either (a) or (b) above anyway.

I like class-specific loot because when it does drop (which, of course, is all too seldom!) I have a reasonable chance to get it. My only issue right now is that the current endgame is so narrow that it seems there is only one "right" item for each of us. That does a great deal to help kill my suspension of disbelief at the moment. But I am hopeful that greater variation will come with time and the magic of patches.
Wouldn't it be better if either every class / build had specific loot to avoid too many people fighting over it

This is one of the reasons why the paladin from Matticus' guild got geared up so fast. Holy pallys tend to get geared up faster cause they really don't have any other plate wearers that uses spell power.

And Like what Cassini said. Think about how MC and BWL loot was. It was 2 specific armor from each boss. Now we use tokens which I no longer need to explain how better the system is, plus the emblems!

Do you really wanna go back to that era?

This is one of the biggest causes of high burn out rate. People spending months raiding just to get that one item for their set and there is a higher chance to shard an item.

or if every piece of loot was useable by several classes and builds

Most classes are homogenized as it right now. If a Physical DPS weapon or ring drops I have to compete against all rogues, hunters, DKs, other warriors, ret pally and feral druids. If a DPS plate drops it boils down to DK, ret pally and other warriors. Same issue if a tank plate item drops.

Both have its pros and cons.

With the right RNG luck a good amount of people in the guild will get geared up faster and there will be less sharding to happen, if it comes down to it at least people can offspec some items. On the other hand you have to keep with EVERYBODY at the beginning.

If I have to pick I'd rather chose the system we have right now. People has more competition on some items but the whole raid as a whole gets geared up almost at the same pace. Note Almost.

There will come a time when an item will only have +POWER on it. No more attack or spell power just + POWER.

Infact the development team thought about that for Wrath but scratched it at the end. They might thought in the future. So I won't be surprised if we see that being implemented next Expansion.
Loot was much more class specific in original WoW. So class specific that even tier sets weren't designed for specific specs and just assumed that every warrior was a tank, that every shaman was resto etc...

Spririt isn't wasted on DPS classes. Many caster DPS classes can make good use of spirit.

Loot from Naxx is suboptimal for everyone BY DESIGN. Blue posters already commented on this.

As for wasted loot when people in the raid need upgrades, they semi-addressed this in Sunwell with the Sunmote turn-ins. I assume they did not like how this worked out, as it was not copied over to WLK...or at least not for first tier raiding.
As posters above have mentioned, WoW has moved to more and more generally useful loot
(badges/emblems, armor tokens, removal of +healing).
Taken to the extreme, bosses would only drop badges/emblems and all loot would be purchasable.

I think Blizzard refrain from implementing this change as it takes away the
excitement of checking what the boss dropped and the excitement of finally getting
a drop you've wanted for a while.

I do however agree that the current item types and drop rates are suboptimal.
(But as I play a holy paladin, I don't mind it too much...)
I would have loved a system where instead of a full piece of armor dropping, "plating" drops instead, which you can add to an existing piece of generic armor. The plating gives +spell power, or +int, or +agi or whatever. The plating can be used on any type of armor, so that lovely piece of mail armor with +spellpower doesn't cause all the clothies to curse.

The generic armor can be bought or it can drop or be rewarded for a quest, and that sets the appearance. Plating might give some nice glow effects or something, but would probably be too difficult to implement.

Then you can combine whatever stats you want on your pretty piece of armor that you like. Mix and match... :)
My guild has had a ton of Holy Paladin gear drop in both 10 man AND 25 man. Our first run in 10 man naxx our sole Holy pally got 5 pieces of gear. A couple weeks later we roll through two wings of 25 man Naxx and he got more upgrades.

It IS frustrating to me as a druid especially since when a Tier pices drops for me I am not only rolling against the four other druids (2 Moonkin and 1 Resto and me and another Feral) but against the SIX Death Knights (yeah we are VERY melee heavy but hey so far its worked) then throw in random other classes depending on who shows up and you are now rolling/bidding against 15 people, not fun at all.
As my guild's only enh sham, rolling against only 1 hunter, I got geared to the teeth immediately and effortlessly in Naxx except for my weapons, neck, rings, back, and trinks - the shared equipment. Many guildies had a similar experience as long as they weren't cloth SP or plate AP.

As one person, my sample size is too low. But here's my prediction on what you'd find if you asked a thousand guilds: cloth casters everywhere report a slow steady flow of epics gained because they drop more often, but amidst constant competition. (By my count, 9 out of 30 specs use cloth SP) Healadins, bears, caster shaman, and caster druids either gear up kinda fast (they are the only one) or super slow (there are 4 in guild but the drop rate is tuned to their position of 1 or 2 out of 30 specs), depending on their guild makeup. So as regards to sharding gear, different guilds will have different kinds of gear that they seem to be constantly sharding, except in very few guilds will it be clothies or tank plate and in very many guilds it will be SP leather, tank leather, SP mail, and SP plate.

Of course, if plate SP is tuned to drop at the same rate as cloth SP, then yeah, casters are just getting screwed.
There's Paladins/Moonkin in our guild who frequently roll on cloth kit also. Some of the cloth kit is better than the leather equivilent and some of our Paladins have argued that some of the stats they need can only 'really' be found on cloth kit. I couldn't tell you if this is true or not but I know in terms of +healing upon the meters (lolmeters) that our clothpaladins tend to put out more than the plate ones.
Speaking as a mage, Paladins rolling on cloth should be shot on sight (well perhaps that's a little extreme!). Of course, if no cloth wearers are present / want to roll then fair enough but c'mon...characters that can wear any class of armour in the game should not be rolling against those that can only wear one. Grrr!
"There will come a time when an item will only have +POWER on it."

HEY! That is The Whammy! I had the Idea, I as in ME, ME ME! :D
I spent 5 months once without a single usefull piece of loot I could use ever dropping. Every upgrade I got I crafted or had someone else craft for me.

I've thought for a long time now that they should have individual loot drops that only you can see. They could put a table that had blues to epics to slow down the epic progression if they want. But then everyone would get some sort of loot every run even if it just got vendored. It would also do away with all the drama of X person whining becuase the guild decided to gear up x member of x class for progression reason. And for the most part the people that raid the most would gear up the fastest.
I actually thought of a few crafting ideas partially based on this issue (where, say, if a cloth item dropped with good stats fro a healer paladin, a crafter or series of crafters could upgrade the item to plate) crafting additions

But here's my prediction on what you'd find if you asked a thousand guilds: cloth casters everywhere report a slow steady flow of epics gained because they drop more often, but amidst constant competition. (By my count, 9 out of 30 specs use cloth SP) Healadins, bears, caster shaman, and caster druids either gear up kinda fast (they are the only one) or super slow (there are 4 in guild but the drop rate is tuned to their position of 1 or 2 out of 30 specs), depending on their guild makeup.

This makes sense mathematically, though I don't know the actual drop rates and can't say for sure.
On the issue of caster DPS and spirit, Blizzard kind of brought that on themselves by putting so much spirit on caster DPS gear. Mages at least are trained to sigh and ignore spirit when it appears, since it's hard to avoid, and just look at the rest of the stats. There's actually remarkably little spirit-free cloth DPS gear in 5-mans, which only increases that liklihood that the mage's current gear is already spending budget on spirit, and thus, that the Naxx epic that happens to have spirit on it is still an upgrade for pure DPS stats. Now, personally I'd be hesitant to roll against a healer on gear with spirit/regen, but I can't fault someone else for taking the opposite view when it's their DPS on the line - your decision to pass on loot that would be better for someone else will not be remembered when people pull out the damage meters.
It seems like you are arguing both sides. Some gear is too exclusive; the other gear is not exclusive enough. Nature of the game. It sucks when two tier tokens drop and both are the same and not for your class (for example). We use master looter and the raid leader has some override (mostly via suggestions: sometimes asking healers to withdraw their rolls on +hit or DPS on MP5). Most of us don't keep exact records, so on the runs where 8 of the 10 bosses drop stuff we can use, it is a "good run!" or "the way it should be." On the other hand, when 8 of the 10 are not usable by us, "the game is broken." Having the same piece drop 3 runs in a row is either great (4 tanks that want it), or horrible (no rogues in group).

Raiding guilds need to look at long term. I have some RL friends and WoW friends in my guild. That mean that a run in which I get nothing is still fun to see them get stuff and their growth helps the raid. In fact, the people that are only about what they get personally I think we can do without. Even if they are great players, they are individuals and selfish. These people will keep leaving guilds for the "better" guilds until one of two things happen: they get up to the top guild on Server or top 10 in US, etc. or they finally rise about their skill level. In the meantime, they will have caused endless strife in many guilds and taken up HOURS of time that a guild could have better used on helping to develop someone that would improve their team.
I doubt they will get pve and pvp balance right. Looting to get your char to beat the game is of course a long and frustrating treadmill specially designed with long term subscription in mind. How people must choose take a sidegrade or even shard pieces of loot, at the expense of someone elses efforts is just poor foresight from designers. What is significant about a piece of gear that raises your chars overall stat lvl by 1.25% and just happens to be purple loot? Well as an exercise in futility, you could probably push your head through a sheetrock wall at 1.25% per attempt and eventually win as well.

I think it would be a nice step in the right direction if the drop rates were adjusted. The caster ring/trinket/neck that literally half the raid is going to roll on? It should drop way more often than the shaman healing shoulders.

Frankly, drop rates should take into account data on the raiding population. If Shaman only make up 6% of the playerbase (I think that's what wow census sites say), and 2/3 of them are casters, then loot that only they can use should drop 4% of the time, instead of every other boss. In the case of a shaman healing item, a paladin could also use it, so add in the healing paladins (probably another 5%). So the boss that drops that item should only have a 9% chance of dropping it, and a near 100% chance of dropping something that half the raid can use.

My raid shards the vast majority of Naxx drops. Not because we can't all still use upgrades, but because paladin healing plate keeps dropping while we still haven't seen the warrior/etc/etc shoulder token or the melee trinket or cape or some of the caster items. There are pieces that, like you said, half our raid is waiting on that simply don't drop, while we shard the same mail, plate, and poorly itemized cloth (that doesn't compete with crafted) every single run. We don't run with a hunter or a warlock, and we only have one priest. When the 4 horsemen drop the priest/hunter/lock token, it goes to that priest. He has FIVE CHESTPIECES and we've killed the horsemen 6 times.

So I guess it would be even better if the drops were somehow effected by the group makeup, but I don't know if this it technically possible in the programming of the game. Ideally, the drop chance of cloth goes up based on the number of clothies in group, drop rate of DK tokens changes based on number of DKs in group, etc.

I guy can dream...
You should check out rule #10 of my MMO bill of rights :)
I dont think its that big of an issue to be honest. You had a night with unlucky drops. I'm sure you wouldnt have posted this if you'd personally picked up some nice upgrades for yourself. Sure, some classes have more specific requirements than others, but Blizzard has gone to a lot of trouble to remove some of these. eg feral attack power has gone in the next patch, opening up feral weapons to other classes. druids use the same leather for tanking that rogues use for dps. That was a huge change that affected lots of areas of the game. Its tricky to do. Doing it causes all kinds of repercussions in other areas of the game. Homogeniztion - that is something players say they want, and say they DONT want, at the same time! Kind of crazy. A lot of the time, players could use a piece that is non-optimal but still an upgrade, rather than have it sharded. I think its a lot better than it used to be. If you have specific requirements, you may not see that upgrade for a long long time. But when it does drop, it automatically goes to you. So I think it balances out somewhat.

My perception of the game swings around a lot based on whether I had a good loot & tanking experience, or not - that's my main point here.
Well, all I'm saying here is that it should be either class specific for everyone, or not class specific at all. Whichever one you think is better, some players have it, and others don't. And as this is due to changes, you can't even say I chose whether I wanted class specific loot or not when I rolled my character.
ZOMG! You know that +Spellpower cloth piece is Hunter gear! (Lol!)
Hatch, I'd go further and say that loot tables for raids should adjust to that particular raid's population. If you have no Shamans present, don't drop Shaman gear at all. If there's going to be class or build-specific gear, such "smart" loot tables would go a long way to alleviate frustration.

...that is, if such is Blizzard's goal. I tend to agree with Anonymous in that they are happy making people play and replay raids; the longer someone is on the treadmill, the better.
They could make people happy *and* have them on the treadmill longer if every boss only dropped one epic instead of two, but only epics for characters / builds present in the raid would drop.
I do prefer a system where there are less epics "sharded"...however I really think some of the new system sucks. Main example is the Paladin TANK vs. warrior/dk TANK. Holy paladins always did their thing with spell damage. I think it is a little sucky that they are just like a warrior now. Although it means all three classes can roll on the gear....I guess +spell power tanking plate was just too exclusive to one class w/ one spec.
sharding items isn't a huge deal.. in fact it's required to a certain extent. Obviously, it would suck if you cleared Naxx and sharded every piece of gear, but those (whatever they're called now, abyss?) crystals for enchants need to come from somewhere, and not just enchanters DEing gear they've outgrown.

as for spellpower gear with +hit, you're going to need it eventually when you're MCing the adds for Razuvious, as ridiculous as it seems... why they made a class that typically passes on +hit gear require it for one encounter is silly, but true.
I absolutely hate Blizzard's loot system. The relative scarcity of epic loot (due to raid lockouts) combined with the random nature of drops ensures that some people go home loded with new gear while others are left empty-handed. The gear itemization, as you've noted, is far from perfect too. Every single cloth-wearing class shares the same gear for which they compete, while shamans and paladins are uncontested for plate and mail gear. Moreover, leather, mail, and plate wearers can make good use of many "lesser" armor types, constrained only by the loot etiquette. For example a Moonkin druid can benefit from wearing both cloth and leather pieces with Spirit on them, whilst a priest can only use cloth.

The best loot system in an MMO I've seen to date was in Dungeons and Dragons Online. Every boss drops a chest that has separate loot for every player. Although random, there is a user option to make the loot generator to more biased towards dropping something specifically suited for your class. If you dont need your piece of loot and someone else does, you can reassign it to another person.
If you look at pen & paper RPGs +POWER isn't bad. However even there DMs are encoureged to make treasure items be things the players want (so if no party members use daggers when the dungeon says "+2 flaiming trollbane dagger" take a glance around the table and change it to a weapon someone is using or can use: +3 flaiming trollbane axe! )

Sure it is less realistic (we have been to 17 dungeons and never seen a kopesh, but now that Bob has speaclized in them we see them every 5 drops or so!), but it is more fun.
"I was a bit annoyed about the loot. [...] about us having to shard several epics because they were specific to a single build of a single class"

"Wouldn't it be better if either every class / build had specific loot to avoid too many people fighting over it?"

Make your mind up - these statements totally conflict with each other. If everyone had specific loot you'd be sharding a LOT more.

The whole point of the spell power changes (and hit/crit) was to allow more people to share gear to reduce sharding. You might say that "too many people" need it, but bear in mind that although twice as many people can use it, there's twice as much loot that those twice as many people can use. Before and after the change the same amount of loot dropped, but now it's less likely to be useless to everyone in the raid. This can only mean one thing: everyone gears up faster.
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