I’ve been running a few Raid Finder 25 man raids in World of Warcraft recently since a major quest chain requires me to collect ten random-drop tokens from the first two raids. There was a lot of debate over looting rules in Raid Finder when it launched, the current system uses a personal random loot (most often just money) with an optional bonus loot roll if you spend a special currency that is the indirect reward from certain daily quests.
This personal approach to loot is relatively new to WoW, the traditional need/greed/pass system is retained in dungeons and raids outside of the PUG-tastic automated grouping tool. Of course personal rewards are not new to the genre, I first experienced them in DDO back in 2009. In DDO the best rewards come from treasure chests, usually these spawn after killing a unique or ‘boss’ monster. Each player clicks on the chest and gets a randomised selection of treasure, you can opt to assign any unwanted pieces to someone else in the party. It always struck me as a beautifully simple system compared to the messy system used in other MMOs. I’ve seen arguments over loot in many games because someone ‘needed’ on an item that others thought they didn’t require or deserve.
This topic is back in my thoughts since I was reading this thread on the loot system for Perfect World’s new Neverwinter MMO. It’s a typical need/greed/pass system, which in a new game seems a bit simplistic. Neverwinter will have an equivalent to WoW’s Dungeon Finder, so lots of random PUG grouping. Personally if I play Neverwinter and use the random grouping at all (which is a *big* if after my experiences in WoW), having to deal with loot arguments and ‘ninjas’ who need everything is not my idea of acceptable game design in 2013. Developers can’t stop people from being selfish in MMOs clearly, but they can at least remove some of the inevitable tension points through careful design. The proposed “need if your class can use” system that many in the thread are supporting is one simplistic way of reducing ‘ninja’ behaviour. But perhaps Neverwinter should instead look at ‘the other’ D&D game and adopt a personal loot strategy instead?