Ow the loot!
That’s the thing to make the boys git up an’ shoot!
– from Loot, by Rudyard Kipling, found in Barrack-Room Ballads
Ever since my Hunter hit level 90, I’ve run Gate of the Setting Sun once every day. My hope, of course, is to be lucky enough to win the epic bow Klatith, Fangs of the Swarm from the final boss, Raigonn.
I have come to really enjoy Gate of the Setting Sun. It’s short, it has lots of twists and turns, and the final boss mechanic is extremely fun for the DPS lucky enough to use the rocket fast enough to be one of the two players on Raigonns snout, smacking him in the Weak Spot with a rolled-up newspaper.
It is the only Heroic I do, and I don’t get Valor for it because I queue for a specific one, not a random.
Gate of the Setting Sun is fun, and fast… but I do it for the loot. If the bow were to drop for me or I were to win a better from LFR tonight, I would not be running it again tomorrow.
I run it because it’s fun, and because there is something there I’d like to win.
There are a lot of great experiences to be had in the game. I want to do everything at least once, twice if it was really fun.
Loot is what overcomes my weariness when all other reasons to do something are long gone.
I had a brief discussion with an Enhancement Shaman in a Gate of the Setting Sun run last night, and the gist of it was, they wanted to know how many LFR runs it took for me to win the one item I was wearing at the time.
Why? Because they had run LFR constantly, and never seen anything but gold. They had no idea how loot worked, when they should see loot drop, or how often.
I told them, “The way loot in LFR works, you kill a boss, the game does two loot rolls for you. The first roll determines if loot your class and spec could have used would have dropped at all, and then the second roll is to see if you would have won a need roll for that loot when competing with others. If yes to both roll checks, you get loot. If not, you get gold.”
That stopped them. “I never heard that before! That makes a lot of sense now, thank you!”
We chatted a bit more, and it was clear that they had been thinking of giving up on LFR.
Their perception based on personal experience was, there is no loot won from LFR. It’s a fun experience, but it only rewards gold.
Perception versus reality? Programming issue or public relations?
I think it’s good to talk about this system, because it’s been out for a bit now, most folks have had some chance to get in and try a Looking For Raid run if they really wanted to, and so we have firsthand experience of it to form some opinions.
I walked into the LFR having spent some time thinking about the ramifications of the new system. So, when I ran it the first week and won nothing, I wasn’t surprised. When I ran it the second week, used every bonus roll, and won one piece of loot, I felt it was working as expected, and I was grateful to have won that piece of loot (my hat).
The Godmother recently wrote a post about someone who wanted to see what others won. She wonders, rightly, how anyone could ever want loot drama back. Does anyone really think that wouldn’t bring back drama? And if you know it will, why do it? The only true benefit of the current system is loot has become personal and personal means no drama.
Or is that the only benefit?
The one main thing that brought down the tone of the Cataclysm LFR was the way people would piss and moan about loot. Who won it, how often they ran without winning it, angry at other people rolling Need that already had better equipped, people playing as one spec rolling Need on loot for another spec, and other issues.
But how does the new system differ from the old?
The most visible is, people ain’t bitching about what other people won. Instead, they’re bitching about getting “gold again”.
Are there things about the old system we might miss?
In the old system, some people might choose NOT to roll if they didn’t need or want an item. Some people might only be along in the hope of one item, one super-rare, never seen, white elk item like, oh, the Vial of Shadows. As an example. Some might even just be running for some quick Valor.
So in the old system, not everyone always automatically rolled Need on everything they could.
In the new system, when computing the individual rolls, it is assumed everyone who could roll Need does.
No, you are not directly competing with anyone else in your run. But you are competing against a virtual number of other people, represented by the number of people Blizzard feels would have also wanted the same item. If in the first roll Blizzard decreed a 17% chance it would be loot usable by Agility DPS, and on the second roll you would have had a 15% chance to win it, the rest of the people you are competing against are represented by the 85% failure rate. Broad figures for the purpose of discussion only.
So in the old system, the longer the LFR was available, the higher the possibility that people running in it might have won loot on a previous run and could pass. This resulted over time in a higher chance for new alts to win an item they could use. Over the extremely long lifecycle, once people didn’t even want Valor points, the only people running LFR were alts, and everyone needed everything again.
Yes, there were flaws. But not everyone rolled Need all the time.
In the new system, as it stands now and as we understand it, your chance to win will never improve week to week, no matter if everyone else is geared in ilevel 600 or not.
Because in the new system, the virtual players you compete with in your loot chance roll Need all the time.
But what have we gained?
Make no mistake, we have gained quite a bit.
As the Godmother pointed out, we do not have loot drama because of other players. Nobody can ‘steal’ your loot. That is the most obvious.
But the other benefit, one that I haven’t seen discussed much, is that your chances to win loot are no longer tied to a fixed loot table.
There are no longer two or three physical (pixelated) objects for people to see and haggle over.
Just like a casino, your odds are controlled by background settings, probability generators. There can now be… slider switches.
The number of items that can drop in a regular raid are fixed. In the new LFR, all variables can be directly modified by Blizzard to increase (or decrease) drop chances any old time they want to.
If Blizzard chooses to, as time goes on and the early LFR raids become increasingly obsolete, they can simply slide the gain and increase the chances of tank drops, healing drops, DPS drops or all of the above. In any configuration. Individually.
They could conceivably increase the chance items drop for players of lower average iLevel while reducing the chance for players decked to the nines.
Do you see? The majority of the community focuses on the short-term, the eternal now, as if what we have now is, was, and what shall ever be.
It feels brutal now, but who knows what may happen tomorrow, or after 5.1 hits, or when there are new raids released past Terrace of the Endless Spring?
Maybe there will come a point when a character hits 90, and can queue for LFR for a few weeks to get pretty well geared up in iLevel 476/483, and then be off to enter the very bottom of the newly released raids with their guild.
I would not expect any kind of announcement from Blizzard that they are even considering it, because experience has shown us that as soon as Blizzard announces something coming someday, that same afternoon everyone makes their plans as if it’s being implemented tomorrow.
Whether you think they would ever change those percentages or not, the new system gives them the option to do it without even letting us know.
They could even now be sliding them switches back and forth, trying to find a sweet spot where the perception of loot drop frequency begins to match the reality.
It’s just a thought, but when it comes to planning for the long-term, I’m going to bet on Blizzard.
They know why we play, and why we push forward doing the same content repeatedly.
They know better than anyone that if people think they won’t get any loot, they’re going to lose interest in running on that treadmill. The point of dangling a carrot on a stick is so you can see and smell that carrot, you can almost taste it, right there in front of you.
A lot of people seem to be having trouble seeing the carrot right now. They see bags of gold instead.
I count on Blizzard to find a way to change that.