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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

Still on the bandwagon! Part1 - Looting

Posted by BadSpock Friday February 15 2008 at 10:15AM
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So this FFA PvP debating seems to be picking up... Hurray!

I've read many blogs and forum threads, thought I'd share some thoughts of mine with ya'll.



Looting -

A lot of people talk about full and/or partial player looting when they talk about Free For All Player Versus Player combat. 

They feel that if you defeat someone, you should be able to take all/some of their equipment and what they were carrying. Classic Ultima Online and modern EVE Online allow players to loot each other.

In EVE, you have insurance and clones. In other games you have timers, protected items, blessings, etc. Pretty much, ways to keep some or all of your stuff.

The basic problem with player looting is that the vast majority of people are selfish. It's a game, people like to win at games. With player looting, people don't mind looting others, it's like Christmas morning opening that bag / cargo hold and finding goodies to plunder... I know, I've looted plenty of people back in the day....

But when someone kills you, especially when they are cowards and gank you, or especially when you are new to the game..... it proves without a doubt why so few games do player looting anymore. It sucks. Bad.

So somewhere along the way, people thought:

"Hey! People like stuff, people hate when their stuff is stolen, let's make all the cool stuff come from Monsters and let's make it so once you get it you can't lose it!"

And this was how modern PvE was born. Raiding, dungeons, quest loot, item drops... all of it.

And some say, this was also the death of PvP.

What's the "point" of PvP if not to take stuff from other people? Well, they thought:

"Hey, people love FPS games and in there, you don't get to steal other stuff, the sweet taste of victory is enough!"

And thus modern PvP was born. Hell, they even use CTF and King of the Hill in MMOs now.

For me, victory is enough reward. I've played a sh*t ton of FPS games, been a Halo freak for years, so I'm very used to the concept of "reward = victory" and that's it. I get enough of a rush from simply defeating my opponents, I don't NEED to spit on their corpse, drag it behind me chariot, strip it naked and hang it on my wall.

So I just totally do not understand the mentality of the player looter.

I know some people will say that player looting good for the economy, it's good for crafters.

Why? Because if people keep having their stuff stolen when they die, they'll have to keep buying more stuff. I mean look at the EVE Online economy. They had to hire their own economist for Christ's sake.

So I can definetly see that as a bonus to player looting, it creates a much more important sense of economy. But it works both ways.

You don't NEED as much of a robust player-driven economy if you don't NEED to replace your gear every day/hour etc.

Economy is one of those things that no one can get right. In real life, or in a virtual one. It's much easier in a virtual one because you can put certain restrictions and controls on the economy that you just can't do in real life (at least not in the United States.)

JB47394 writes:

heerobya: " Why? Because if people keep having their stuff stolen when they die, they'll have to keep buying more stuff."

Devil's Advocate: If you want to stimulate the economy, don't permit looting.  Just destroy the victim's belongings.  With looting, the items remain in the economy.

Victim looting is an issue of risk and reward.  The problem is that it is all about personal risk and personal reward.  The balance needs to be changed to personal risk and group reward.  So long as personal rewards exist, players will focus on them.  That works against the development of any kind of social structure in a game.

Dark Age of Camelot created a group reward system that encouraged players to work together towards certain goals.  But because personal rewards remained, meaningless attacks would still take place.  They only had meaning to the attacker, who would attempt to minimize his risk relative to the reward he was seeking.

Unreal Tournament Onslaught created a group reward system as well.  But they too retained personal rewards.  In the same way, it derailed the ability of the group rewards to structure teams because many players continued to focus on activities that emphasized their personal rewards.

What are group rewards?  Group scale resources such as mines, forests and herds.  Group-scale objects such as large immobile machines that provide a service to the group.  Information that permits groups to accomplish things.  And so on.

This change of balance attracts players who think in terms of "What can I do that will enrich my team?" instead of "What can I do that will enrich me?"

Fri Feb 15 2008 11:48AM Report
dterry writes:

Would full or partial looting be such a big deal if you limited the uber-gear and had some form of item degradation? Just a thought.

Fri Feb 15 2008 12:04PM Report
BadSpock writes:

dterry- Of course not, in Classic UO full looting "worked" because none of the gear was any better really then anything else.

JB- great, great post.

The idea of group reward is an exceptional one, but how do you do it? You gave 2 examples where they tried and it was still only about personal gain.

Fri Feb 15 2008 12:08PM Report
vajuras writes:

Good article yo. your writing skills have truly excelled my friend. I am for player looting. I assume you read my blog. I thank you for at least reading contrary viewpoints. It is the understand of opposing viewpoints that will enable one to think of something acceptable to all players

I am open to new things get tried. But to be frank, FPS and MMORPG are different animals. In FPS, if a player cheats and farm their friends no harm is done. They pay no subscriptions. They might even make the game not fun for themselves from cheating. It HELPS that model right? You follow me heero you're a brilliant guy

Now, you can investigate other methods. Age of Conan is looking into Blood money. I guess mythis is looking into some sort of "random loot". At very least item decay helps

Brilliant article keep it going....

Fri Feb 15 2008 12:50PM Report
JB47394 writes:

The examples were those of games that retained a direct tie between individual risk and individual reward.  That tight tie has to be eliminated.  So the two examples I gave are viable ways to organize a group, but only if the tight individual risk/reward cycle is broken.

A castle sits on a hill, held by the enemy group.  No individual can tackle it, so it sits there waiting for a group to assault it.  No individual is going to try to sneak over and pick off a guard because that individual gains nothing from the attack.  He beats up his equipment some and he gets the thrill of seeing if he can beat one of the guards, but that's it.  No loot.  No honor points.  No experience.  Nothing.

Now the group arrives.  Everyone is collectively risking beating up their equipment and burning some time in return for trying to win the castle.  Why bother?

Well, there's a special artifact inside that lets the controlling group make Heebee Potions.  They can only be made in batches of 40, and they lose efficacy pretty quickly.  But they're nice,  because they  can heal one major wound.  Most groups can give them one each to their warriors.

Or there's an eyrie of large birds that can carry one passenger each.  A group that holds a couple castles with eyries can link them together for quicker transport of essential personnel or supplies.  It's limited, but it can be useful.

The point here is that no individual can accomplish what's needed in order to make any gains at all.  When the gains come, they come to the group for advancement of the group goals.

Imagine skills being learned - or even lost - by a group as a whole.  So all ninja fighters in the group learn the same moves.  Everyone is searching around for new moves.  A ninja might find a ninja move, but he might find a healer technique.  All his healers gain by it.  He may gain by it indirectly.

This is the way guilds of friends work, but that's because they are friends.  When the systems are inherently structured to force the rewards to be channeled to the group instead of the individual, then players will look to the actions of the group.

This means a reduction in the emphasis on the individual in all areas of the game.  Vanity items would be the primary means of declaring individuality (neat looking clothes, decorated swords, etc.).  That, or being granted a unique capability by the group.  So if the group gets the one and only Sword of Doom in the game, it has to be given to somebody for use.  That one guy gets to use it by group consent.  Not because he killed 300 Nimbus Goofballs while everyone else was at work.

Fri Feb 15 2008 1:05PM Report
Gishgeron writes:

My current ideal is in avoiding single player loot entirely.  I want the focus to be on building loot.  If your team destroys another cities can loot that which was stored inside it. 


The way to turn that against the single player is with both very limited personal storage (no 15 backpacks like WoW) and with rough item decay.  In the real world, using weapons in combat caused heavy wear on them.  People weren't using the same sword for 1000 battles...the bloody thing either got re-tempered or broke.

So the heavy decay forces communal interaction and boosts the economy.  The tiny personal storage makes players either carry next to nothing anyway...or finds them getting involved in a community which has safeguarded warehouses to store things in.  Either way, the warehouse is where the "loot" is at....and obviously taking on a city to GET at the warehouse will often require an opposing community unto itself.


All full player loot does is take away from what the player as an individual is worth.  It opens the door for severe ganking, and pigeonholes new players into playing punching bag for those who were not socially capable of either being in or enjoying a community affair.  I personally don't care if gankers only make up a very small portion of those games.  It only takes one to make a few hundred players QUIT.  Players quitting is the exact opposite of what you need to build a good game community.

Fri Feb 15 2008 3:06PM Report
JB47394 writes:

A problem with all stationary valuables, including my castles with special items, is that they are more vulnerable when the normal player base is offline.  Dark Age of Camelot had that problem, which is one of the best examples of group incentives that I've seen.  One night when everyone is asleep, the enemy gets wakes up, logs in and organizes their raid.  Only the tough NPC guards are around to defend the castle, and they are a known quantity.  So they're going down.

I'm tempted to believe that such games need to be focused on a geographic area (i.e. a time zone) and open and close like a normal amusement park.  The hours might be something like 5PM to 1AM each day, with the special points of interest only being vulnerable from 6PM to midnight.  There's still variation from day to day such that on Wednesdays one side is commonly short-handed, but the hope is that it would at least prevent the Australians from stomping the Americans and vice versa - always when the other is asleep.

Fri Feb 15 2008 6:42PM Report
vajuras writes:

btw reading through some posts here now I really like JB's comments (his first one especially)

Sat Feb 16 2008 12:12AM Report
CDCosta writes:

Theres no open loot in MMOs because spending a year to get a piece of armor for someone to shank you wile your AFK is just stupid.

MMOs arnt based around PvP, there based around community.

Leave PvP to the FPS...

Fri May 09 2008 7:57PM Report writes:
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