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In My Understanding

An old school gamer discusses the challenges facing the MMORPG community and it's leaders.

Author: jesad

Loot Rules - Setting a standard of trust.

Posted by jesad Thursday August 30 2007 at 9:59PM
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How many of you have had this experience before?

You are in a group with a ranking member of your guild and an item drops that you really want.  It also happens to be an item that a ranking member of your guild really wants and they express this desire openly.  You defer to the ranking officer with a taste of malice in your heart so foul that you spend the next day or so contemplating if this guild is the right place for you.

In EQ1 I was a newb and played a paladin.  I managed to get myself involved with some very forward thinking people who were taking on aspects of the game that I didn't even know existed prior to joining them and so for a long time I sat silent and watched as the guild progressed from it's initial grinding stage to it's later raiding stage.  Throughout the progression I noted that there seemed to be a click of members who always grouped together, always were ahead of a lot of other guild members, and who always had the nicest gear.  Eager, in my newness, to become one of what I then felt were the elite, I set my sights on integrating with these folks and getting in on some of those phat loots they were always getting.

As time passed I got to know these people a little better and grouped with them on more than one occasion.  That was when I noticed the thing that would set the standard for my choices in grouping for the rest of my MMO life.  You see, no matter how often I grouped with these folks, no matter how good I was at playing my class, how often I showed up for scheduled functions, no matter what, there was always a nagging feeling that there was some preferential treatment taking place on the drops.  Items would hit the ground that to me would provide a substantial upgrade while to the main tank (a warrior then) would offer only a slight upgrade to his already sturdy gear and yet, somehow, this guy always got the drops.  Later I would watch as others who came through that guild (that I will not name) questioned this practice only to receive more excuses than a cable company CSR will give in responses to a breakage in ISP service.

We have to build him up because he is the main tank and needs to take all the damage in raids.

No see, this item has this certain protection on it and we need him to have that for when we go up against mob X who specializes in said attack.

Finally, after all other excuses had been exhausted I watched this guild band together and simply ridicule any member questioning their loot practices into a state of deference akin to that of being an indentured servant not worthy of anything short of the table scraps they were willing to part with on any day.  Terms like "Loot Whore" and "Greedy" were tossed around at the slightest mention that the divvy of the loot had not been done properly and since, by that time, we were at a raiding level, no one spoke out against it in fear that once a bone was finally tossed amongst the dogs, it would be purposely thrown over their heads.

At the time I was only in my 20's.  I was still very idealistic and green to the world and I still very much believed in fair play.  For a while there I even bought into the whole scam as I became among those who that bone was tossed towards more often than other lesser guild members.  It couldn't last though.  Like all practices that ultimately will eat themselves, favoritism and unfairness breeds discontent and spite.  One day I decided to call them on their crap.  Well, suffice to say, I was rewarded with the standard response.  I was called everything from Loot Whore to Traitor during the times they were still even willing to talk to me about it.  As it was a PVP server we all played on though, ultimately, it just landed me on the KOS list of the guild.  A guild I helped build.  People I formerly thought of as friends.  Like I said, I was only in my 20's then and very idealistic.

Since those days MMO developers have done a lot to combat the crafty trickery of greedy guild leaders, officers, and other players.  Still, in the attempt to create a persistent and somewhat real world experience, not a lot can be done to curb the almost instinctual desire to get for one's self what all may need and are entitled to.  For the solution to this problem I look to the community to set the standard. 

There are a lot of guilds out there.  A lot of guilds with a lot of aspirations and more challenges being constructed every day.  Amidst all this collecting and building, all this trading and searching there lays a great opportunity for thievery and knavery.  The thought itself brings to mind a so-called elite guild on the Venekor (pre-merger) server of EQ2 whose leader took the entire guild bank and all it's proceeds and unbeknownst to the rest of his guild, quit the game and sold his account.  His guild, as mighty as they were, were reduced to nothing more than a pack of homeless orphans, a group of people who's time, time that they will never get back of course, had amounted to nothing more than an extra paycheck in some random dudes pocket and maybe, at the most, enough money to log right back in to the same game under a different persona and do the entire thing again, FOR FREE. 

No, I say then that the first order of business for any guild that is planning to go the distance in any of these games is to set some standards, both ethical and functional, that will allow their players to develop the feeling of trust and solidarity needed to tackle these increasingly difficult challenges being placed before them.

The slogan for today.  Hate the dice, not each other.

Hard coded into almost every game I have played lately is a standard die rolling mechanism that controls who, in the group, gets the loot.  Be it random 100 or that little screen that pops up showing the "need" or "greed" button the mechanism is there and should be used whenever dealing with another person no matter who they are.  We all know that the closeness breeds opportunity for treachery and we all hate finding out after the fact that it was our best friend, partner, or trusted mentor who got the best of us in the end.  More times than I can count, as an officer of any guild, I have had to field situations related to "ninja-looting", entitlement looting (that's where the officer gets the loot just because they are the officer), or outright thievery simply because on person (sitting on the other side of a cartoon character) decided to beat another (in the same configuration on the other side of the country) out of some hard earned, time spent item of value, when all either had to do to keep the wrong thing from happening is follow the standard.

So then, for all who are still reading up to this point, here is the standard by which I play, live, and decide who gets loots in my little part of the MMO world. 

1.  Set up the loot options (if there are any) or explain how the loot is going to be distributed before the first kill.

2.  Respect those options.  Being able to talk someone out of something that they have justly won for their efforts does not make grouping with you any more palatable than if you outright stole it from them.  (This one applies especially to those in ranking positions and those who are female or play female characters.)  I will not get into the social implications of this last statement of course but you are free to comment on it if you wish.

3.  Understand your rank and what it means to your group and or guild members going into the fray.  Your power as a guild leader, officer, ranking member, or even as a woman is dependent and directly related to how you wield it.  Frivolous abuses of rank or gender, exploitation of the rules, and favoritism will not only get you labeled as a poor candidate to follow or hang out with but can also create long standing damage to the overall community if not our society.  We are all, after all, simply superimposing what we have learned in the real world over what we do and how we operate in these games.  Why not expect some kid who grew up playing these games to be an ass in the real world because of the way they were treated during their formative years in a game?  Is such a price really worth being able to say that you "played the role" of an evil dark elf that much?

4. Require these options to be set prior to waving your flag under anyone else’s banner no matter what the other guy says.  It is an old favorite way of bilking people for one guy, the guy who formed the group of course, to say "It's ok, we can leave it on "Free for All" and if you need it you can have it, only to snatch up that special "no trade" thing they were going after from their unsuspecting and trusting group member after it hits the ground.

I am no longer 20 something and I am no longer so idealistic but I have been playing these games for almost 20 years now and it never ceases to amaze me how so many people find it so easy to fall into behavior bordering on criminal over something as simple as a graphical representation of a line of code that might have caused them to waste a few hours of their life to get. 

On the same day that Alex Popov caught that legendary 73rd homerun ball caught hit by Barry Bonds a little healer joined a group of me and some others who had been working on an armor quest in Vanguard for over a month and won the coveted breastplate that one of our regular group members needed to finally complete that quest.  Needless to say we were all a little bit disappointed even though the healer was also a guild member and also needed the plate.  Was it cool that the healer was able to gain so easily what we all had worked so hard to find?  No not really.  Was it fair?  Absolutely.  There were a myriad amount of things we could have done to prevent that from happening, we simply were not on our toes that day.  Now if our regular guy had locked the loot and kept it locked until one or the other got tired and logged out of the game in order to have it, similar to the way that Patrick Hayashi took advantage of the melee of the fans to claim that homerun ball for his own, I wouldn't have simply been disappointed I would have been pissed and that guy probably would have been excluded from future guild functions because of it.

Of course as always, I can hear the din of cries raise up from those who see things differently.

The Tradeskiller - I give away great items all the time.  I should not have to wade amongst the unwashed to get something I need.

The Guild Leader - It's for the guild.

The Officer/Group leader - This is the entire reason I put the group together in the first place.

The Female or Male player playing a female - It's not my fault if they are too weak minded to know better.

All weak, self serving excuses for craven behavior.

I say that if all things are going to be fair then there is no reason NOT to use the loot functions of the game and fairness is what, in the end, will bond so many people of so many different backgrounds together instead of tear them apart.  I say to promote the feeling of kinshp, trust, and solidarity and you will get all the things you want out of these games and more, at least, that is my understanding of it all.

Muirin writes:

Alot to read.  I was in the top guild for on my server in WOW for a year i was alfo good friends with the guy who did DKP and i helped him do DKP and made the rank of officer in the guild.  Ive seen this stuff happen all the time.  Ive also seen some people take loot just becuase they dint want some one else to get it becuase they dint like them.  When a game revolves around loot it changes people.

Fri Aug 31 2007 1:40AM Report
brostyn writes:

Luckily, I've never experienced something like that. All the guilds I joined were DKP, or just a family type place where we let the dice do the talking if more than 1 person wanted it.

I definately know what you mean by the clique, though. It seems every guild has one. A lot of times they do have the better go, because they group together so much.

Oh well, nothing prevents the other members from doing that same. For some reason, most of them would rather bitch about how the clique never invites them, rather than do something about it. Never mind the fact they would never respond when others were trying to get something going.

Fri Aug 31 2007 8:15AM Report
snoopy20 writes:

Excellent story. I have been in many guilds through the years of gaming, and found that a gear-centric game is a breeding ground for incessant jealousy and greed. It is as stated that human nature is self centered in that we want what we see as we deserve, which is usually the best. Although what separates these people is the length one is willing to go to achieve that goal.

Two very strong, close, achieving guilds i have been in formally have dissolved over the issues of favoritism, and lying on part of ranking guild members who abused their positions and responsibilities.

Over a few pixels and electronic data it seems awfully childish and ridiculous. But in a community were you may perceive your guild as a sort of cyber extension of friends it can be almost offensive.

I am trying to abstain from playing such gear-centric games, yet it is unfortunate that most games today have taken the EQ model and refined it into a super easy mode of game. Based around levels for those with inferiority complexes, and a need to feel powerful at a *max* lv. And total skill-less play of auto-target and simple combo/skill timer bash fest. Hopefully it is an unadventurous rut that money hungry, lazy companies are stuck in.

Rant-over

-ant

Fri Aug 31 2007 8:45AM Report
LouiseK writes:

Whoa, what an essay...

I was in a high end raiding guild in WoW and there was very rarely any kind of preferencial treatment to ranking members. Those who put more time in got more items via DKP. There was one instance and soon after many people left, including myself eventually.

The only exception to this should be to the MT, even small improvements all contributed. If your MT is kitted out then half of the battle is won... second priority would be the OT. The other warriors understood this and there was little disgruntlement except from the non-team minded members who failed to see the bigger picture.

 

You must have been getting something good out of the guild or you would have left. No one stays when it is so unfair unless there is something in it for them. You infact sound like one of the people you are trying to have a go at... you seem deeply upset by not receiving loot you felt you deserved.

EQ2 community was amazing, i was a noob and couldn't figure out the purpose of bags so asked around, and just like that i got sent the best bags going from a complete stranger. A single one was worth about 100 times the money i had earned to level 20.

 

Sat Sep 01 2007 9:03AM Report
Cirn0 writes:

Leader should judge by actions not by it's own prefernces. I've had a similar expirience - there was guild on one of WoW servers I've played where officers determine who gets the loot, that ment their friends got the loot. That led to epic buttkissing among the members. There was similar situation in my guild, but there was a DKP system. Guildmaster added dkp to people (buttkissers, again) who were offline during raids, and sometimes he "forgot" to add dkp to people he disliked (like me ^^;;). It was good thing that guild broke after I was kicked (GM didn't like truth, eventually it stroke him back -.-).

In my opinion the best loot system is the one where loot is determined by GM and officers, but they judge people by effort / current equipment / when they got loot last time. After I quit WoW, my friend was in a guild with such GM, and it was nice and successful till their GM quit WoW too. The con is that it's quite hard to find such guild, where you share GM's views on loot preferences (or vica versa)

p.s. people want to be in guilds who can do high-end instance raiding...


~desu

Sat Sep 01 2007 10:42AM Report
dvecly36 writes:

i understand this  very well ...never had it happen but i am a basic casual to moderate player..

 

i do know a very fair guild in city of villains though.. emerald forest assassins. who when the leader(creator) of the guild logs in  on a regular basis( rl takes or gives a break to play) then advancement can be achieved just by  being there to say hi. well i am a super group leader because i hae shown leadership skills and desire in game to the main leader.. so sometimes in the right group you can have a great family...

anyone found or reported as being unfair loses out.. drops are game controlled no setting other than that. so it removes the stealing aspect. and if youget what you don't want just advertise and trade or sell it.

it is a great game specially since they created crafting option drops.

so lets all have fun out there and keep in mind that  there is always someone who is more skilled than you  and this little tidbit is important on any online community... people are not always what they seem................................................................................................

Sat Sep 01 2007 9:05PM Report
jesad writes:

Sorry guys, I can't do short.  Sue me, I'm wordy :)

LouiseK: Your use of adjectives in the sentence "you seem deeply upset by not receiving loot you felt you deserved." seems inflamitory to me for some reason.  I would like to address that for a minute.

I write from the position that everyone wants to have fun and that they should be allowed to be the best that they can be.  I do not hold greedy leadership any more responsible for the way things are than I do self entitled membership who allow them to operate thusly.  I have a list of things that I think could be improved upon all the way around but I felt that to say that this post indicated to you that I was "deeply" upset about not getting what I wanted one day detracts from the bulk of the work I have done so far in those efforts.

Do I have to become your friend then in order for you to understand the value in my efforts?

The use of the adjective indicates that yes, this is exactly your plan.  Say something that gets me talking to you in particular, get a little banter going back and forth, give you time to figure out if you like me or not, which will be completely your decision, and then and only then might I be able to recieve my just rewards.

My friends and I call that "The Carrot" and it is exactly the same concept the dishonest raiding guild will use to cheat it's membership.

Today I will take the bait but only to set the example.

See, you say what you say to get me talking to you with the promise that I might be able to clarify or enlighten you to my way of thinking.  This takes advantage of my need to be heard, which is obviously stated in the fact that I am writing all this stuff for public view. Of course though, if through our back and forth communication, if you can convince everyone that I am some loser who does not deserve to be heard then you can steal my audience for yourself (or your ideas) without having to think or do half as much work to get them, yes?

It's like that old joke about running from a bear in the woods.  You do not need to out run the bear you just need to out run me.  But that's not good looking out and if the bear is smart enough, and hungry enough, he might take me down as a midnight snack and come after you anyway for dinner.  Then we are both in trouble.

MMO's are definately like bears.  Smart bears.  Their entire goal is to never let you win.  Better, in my opinion then, to go into the woods with a gun just in case than to trip over each other running from the bear at all.  The gun I choose against this bear then are my words and your ability to understand them.  I want to kill and eat the bear and I want you to be able to have a bite too.  I don't know, it just sounds like a better day overall to me. 

If however I allow you to talk me out of taking my gun and being prepared for that bear simply because you THINK you can outrun me, well can I really see you as a friendly?  Hmmm maybe a better idea is to not invite you at all on my trips into the woods.

Do not think that this is not what people are thinking every day after having been processed through the dishonest practices of any establishment.

With that said and having put the carrot back where it belongs, I will keep on writing and let you guys decide amonst yourselves whether my ideas and opinions carry any wieght.

Jesad

Sun Sep 02 2007 5:33PM Report

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