Adhering to the rule of “it’s best to write while thought is still fresh”, this post is a follow-up on Syp’s poll on protocol which comes with many layers of telling subtext. To continue where I personally left off in my comments there, here’s my general opinion on the matter of rolling for boss loot in that particular situation:
“On further consideration, I think you made a legit choice within a system that is inherently flawed. the fact that raid guilds replace the whole rolls system with DKP, which pays a lot more tribute to meritocracy, is proof of that people don’t get rewarded for just showing up* but spending time. one could apply this to the much shorter dungeon runs too but for obvious reasons of time and missing authority, one cannot establish such ground rules for pugs.” [*as in showing up just for one boss]
I hold to that, although I think it needs some clarification. I will repeat too that I think Syp was 100% in his right to make that choice which is in accord with the system that Trion installed in the game. I would however argue that it’s not a very good system which is proven by situations such as this one – and that there’s still such a thing as individual choice.
So why is the system so bad?
It honestly shocked me a little to find so many comments along the lines of “if you killed the boss it means you deserved to roll for loot, period” – particularly because I think “deserving” has the least to do with anything. Does the system justify the roll? Yes. Does merit justify the roll? Absolutely not.
I think every last MMO player knows that dungeons consist of a great deal more than just bosses (unless they’re called Trial of the Grand Crusader); why else are there dungeons in the first place instead of loot piñatas lined up for us to plow through? Of course the entire journey through a dungeon, the trash packs, the little traps and annoyances along the way that make up 80-90% of the duration, are how players earn the rite of passage to bosses and loot. And therefore too, bosses and boss loot are not isolated events but rather the result and reward for beating the whole dungeon. Sure, for beating boss mechanics too – but if you’ve ever been to harder dungeons or heroics, you know that everything that comes before and in between bosses is often just as tough or even tougher than many of them. And it’s certainly more numerous.
Add to this, that in many dungeons the final boss is also the boss with the best loot – not necessarily because he is the hardest, but because it took friggin’ AGES to get there! I’d like to name good old WoW Scholomance, just to name one example: even in its 5man version, Scholomance was absolutely huge and a group could easily spend ~2 hours in there (certainly a PuG). The very last boss in Scholo was Gandling who, in comparison to the onerous 2 hours before him, wasn’t all that hard – but he dropped the important dungeon set one headpieces that everyone wanted.
Now, had you joined my party right before Gandling (which is the boss I had to farm the most in vanilla WoW due to loot luck from hell) and then outrolled me on the drop, you can bet I would’ve been absolutely devastated and furious. Did you have “a right to”? As long as no other rules were established – I guess. Equally, I would’ve had every right to grind my teeth though. Just because you can do something or have the right to do it, doesn’t mean it’s particularly thoughtful or “deserving”. If people always got what they deserved…well, what a beautiful world that would be.
To make a long story short, my main critique addresses the reasoning that such rolls are deserved – which I believe Syp asked about, partly also because he did have second thoughts. There’s a reason why the moment raidguilds start out, many replace the need/greed-roll system with their own version of DKP (or something similar) and it’s not just because raiding is a generally more time-consuming undertaking than PuGs: while DKP harmonizes loot spread for a guild for example, it also comes with the notion of being meritocratic – players get rewards due to the time they spend raiding overall, not just for showing up for one single boss. DKP is nothing but the attempt to make a currency out of merit and while it isn’t perfect on all accounts, it’s worlds better than random rolls.
To use WoW again as example: just because you killed Arthas once with your new guild doesn’t mean you have any right to his loot – I’m fairly certain that a vast majority of the guilds out there would agree with me. And why? Because the time you spent on getting him down is nowhere close to what other guild members spent. That’s what DKP is about, it doesn’t matter that the raid instance is bigger (the loot is therefore better too) – it’s the same basic question of time/effort spent vs. reward earned.
For obvious reasons you cannot use a meritocratic system like DKP in a PuG. There’s the issue of time, lack of organization and authority and erm…..in the end how big a deal is a dungeon drop, anyway? I realize many players probably don’t care so much either way (which is fine). I think I have made my point though. The rolls-system is flawed and while that isn’t your fault, you still have a choice. It scares me a little when we stop questioning our own choices just because we’re living in a system that tells us what is okay and what isn’t. No system is perfect.
…. I am not quite finished! There’s in fact another valid question I could bring up in favor of rolling: why should Syp be penalized by entering a party that has already advanced as far into the dungeon (which he had no way of knowing)? In some MMOs this even means being saved to the instance with no chance of re-running it the same day. Why shouldn’t he roll on the item when he actually joined to help and made killing the boss possible in the first place? What if he spent 30 minutes in a queue and this is his only chance at a group for the day?
Now that would be, in my humble opinion, a much better justification. If you choose to go with this reasoning, I would not only say he had every right to roll – but he actually deserved to. If PuGs are a deal of “you give some, you gain some”, this strikes me as better “payment” or contribution on his part than pushing a couple of spells for five minutes. If we take all circumstances into account, his contribution consisted of more than merely five minutes.
Bottom line: I don’t think this would change my own choice of action, but it’s a more acceptable reasoning to me personally. Considering it took writing a blog post (plus checking spelling!), I don’t like anyone’s chances to garner equal sympathy or argumentative effort from a random PuG-member though. What it shows me is one (more) reason why I never liked PuGs much in WoW or Rift and why I prefer reward systems à la GW2 these days. You might not have time to agree on complex loot rules in a PuG, but the game can most certainly come up with a better designed, in-built system for you.