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Sheepherder
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on: April 19, 2009, 03:30:15 AM

Just throwing this out here (so it can be torn to shreds):

Gear reliance is an issue with MMOs, largely because progressing through the elder content requires you play previous content, which stratifies the player base pretty badly and hits the newbies and casuals pretty hard, because if you aren't putting out [big number] DPS this late into the [elder content] you must be bad.  It also makes it difficult to precisely balance any given class when you have over a half dozen variables which can drastically impact player performance.  Blizzard already has made one pretty significant leap of faith with their homogenization of raid buffs, which means you bring the player not the class... sometimes... once you got all the needed buffs anyways. why so serious?

So here's the question: instead of buffs from different classes not stacking, why not have buffs and stats from gear not stack?  There are a few ways to do this: using hard caps on stats (which full coverage of buffs max out), using the larger of your gear or buffs contribution to a stat, or having the gear itself provide class buffs appropriate to level and gear quality (passively).  All options  effectively mean that while outside of instances your relative power is unchanged from the old way of doing things, as soon as you enter a place where you can expect class buffs you are effectively indistinguishable from people in full end-game gear.
DLRiley
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Reply #1 on: April 19, 2009, 07:19:39 AM

You have to actually know the problem to really come up with a way to solve it. Your just attempting to work around it, coexisting with it, and not expecting devs to take the easy way out when by their own design their game suppose to reward people with large noob pwning benefits. I won't be surprised if future games made gear so powerful you can just about say your literally carrying a nuke.
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Reply #2 on: April 19, 2009, 08:47:38 AM

The better solution is to have a less extreme gear curve so that the difference between a maxed out suit and average gear that anyone who plays the game at least reasonably frequently can get is on the order of a few percent not 50%+.

Buffs on gear not on classes is also a possibility but the main 'solution' is to not have such a huge disparity in the first place.

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Fordel
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Reply #3 on: April 19, 2009, 11:44:43 AM

Stat Caps, the end.

X cap for Gear
Y cap for Buffs

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
Nebu
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Reply #4 on: April 19, 2009, 11:54:34 AM

Stat Caps, the end.

X cap for Gear
Y cap for Buffs

This is a solid idea, but, particularly in pve-based MMO's, players need a carrot to keep chasing.  What's the point of continuing to grind encounters and faction if you've already capped your abilities?

Stat caps and flattened gear curves are the key to balance in pvp games, but they remove an important carrot for the pve enthusiast.

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Reply #5 on: April 19, 2009, 12:02:53 PM

There's also the D2 method where there are only a limited number of static items and most stuff is randomly generated.

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DLRiley
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Reply #6 on: April 19, 2009, 01:01:34 PM

Stat Caps, the end.

X cap for Gear
Y cap for Buffs

This is a solid idea, but, particularly in pve-based MMO's, players need a carrot to keep chasing.  What's the point of continuing to grind encounters and faction if you've already capped your abilities?

Stat caps and flattened gear curves are the key to balance in pvp games, but they remove an important carrot for the pve enthusiast.

Well to be honest that's not really true. People will bitch and moan about the effort required to wear super bad ass gear that give no real stat increases. Dumb yes, but it has been done and been observed and the game did quite successfully. Its the cap that are quite lame in theory and in practice since your still saying gear matters but your talking the "but not that much" route which doesn't impress players at all except the fanboies.
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Reply #7 on: April 19, 2009, 01:05:02 PM

I can't argue with the dumb things that players will do.  I will say that a certain percentage of the playerbase will figure this out and unless the gear looks better, will opt out of going after gear they don't need.  I think this could have the effect of hurting retention in a pve title. 

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DLRiley
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Reply #8 on: April 19, 2009, 01:36:06 PM

I can't argue with the dumb things that players will do.  I will say that a certain percentage of the playerbase will figure this out and unless the gear looks better, will opt out of going after gear they don't need.  I think this could have the effect of hurting retention in a pve title. 

You mean make it more casual. Then again my case in point was guild wars, which has repeatable missions and no sub fee. I wonder how well easily accessible instances that are played for fun instead of loot would be received in a subscription game
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Reply #9 on: April 19, 2009, 01:44:25 PM

You mean make it more casual. Then again my case in point was guild wars, which has repeatable missions and no sub fee. I wonder how well easily accessible instances that are played for fun instead of loot would be received in a subscription game

Fun is subjective.  Some people are killers, some explorers, and some achievers.  The explorers will enjoy the new instances for a fresh diversion, but you'll always leave the other two out in the cold. 

MMO's fall down when they try to please everyone.  If more titles would target smaller audiences, we'd all win.  You just can't print money hats this way... which is what all investors want.

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DLRiley
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Reply #10 on: April 19, 2009, 01:52:17 PM

You mean make it more casual. Then again my case in point was guild wars, which has repeatable missions and no sub fee. I wonder how well easily accessible instances that are played for fun instead of loot would be received in a subscription game

Fun is subjective.  Some people are killers, some explorers, and some achievers.  The explorers will enjoy the new instances for a fresh diversion, but you'll always leave the other two out in the cold. 

MMO's fall down when they try to please everyone.  If more titles would target smaller audiences, we'd all win.  You just can't print money hats this way... which is what all investors want.

Well the problem is niche games being made with mainstream money. Once your budget is peaking way past the 1 million mark and struggling to stay below the 50 million mark than your no longer talking about a niche game. Achievers don't really need personal nukes as reward for grind, but then again you probably might want to avoid making your game feel grindy. i mean I'm sure that there is a balance between feeling like you earn something vs grinding for it....like in single player games... and appealing to the "I one shot noobs" crowd will generally lose you more money than you hope to gain from appealing to them.
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Reply #11 on: April 19, 2009, 03:15:52 PM

I hate the idea of raiding for gear. Hate hate hate. You should raid because it's fun, because you enjoy raiding. Not because you need to play the same fucking content six times for every member of your guild to get everyone equipped.

I'd try replacing raid loot with crafting recipes that allow you to build the rewards as many times as you want. Each copy made might require a trophy that drop >50% of the time from every mob in the raid - not just the boss(es). Every copy is flagged bound to members of the crafter's guild (as the time of creation).

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Nebu
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Reply #12 on: April 19, 2009, 03:30:22 PM

I'd try replacing raid loot with crafting recipes that allow you to build the rewards as many times as you want. Each copy made might require a trophy that drop >50% of the time from every mob in the raid - not just the boss(es). Every copy is flagged bound to members of the crafter's guild (as the time of creation).

LOVE that idea.  It makes raiding worthwhile.  It makes crafting worthwhile.  It allows those that don't wish to raid access to the gear as well. 

The only problem is that MMO players will jump through crazy hurdles to be a special snowflake.  All you have to do is to tie raiding to something that makes them unique without altering the balance of play.  Something like unique or faster mounts or capes that look pretty.  Trophies for housing are also a great option.

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pxib
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Reply #13 on: April 19, 2009, 03:58:08 PM

Go over and look at Guild Wars, where folks grind gear for the challenge rather than because it's necessary for competitive play.

Armor is almost entirely about visual appearance and epeen. There's a little grinding for runes that improve it. Weapons are equipped for their specific, fixed enchantments rather than their stats and damage capacity, not unlike WoW's trinkets. The depth of improvement is shallow (few tiers) but broad (many options).

Other than that I second the comment that gear being more important than skill is actually a positive thing so far as many companies are concerned, since it allows a larger percentage of the gaming population to feel powerful enough to continue paying subscription fees.

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Reply #14 on: April 20, 2009, 05:19:44 PM

I hate the idea of raiding for gear. Hate hate hate. You should raid because it's fun, because you enjoy raiding. Not because you need to play the same fucking content six times for every member of your guild to get everyone equipped.

It keeps an element of character advancement in the PVE game at max level, though. And if your end game is raiding, then the loot is just a means to an end anyway. You aren't really raiding 'for loot' except insofar as that's part of how they gate the next raid up.

It is really only crossover with PVP that gets people raiding who don't actually really want to be there (see: Trials of Atlantis, Kel'Thuzad weapons in the current WoW arena season, and vice versa in for example WoW's previous expansion.) That's the actual core issue that needs a solution; the raid/gear paradigm works quite well for PVE-only environments already and makes a pretty good number of people happy to boot, so I think it needs to be solved in a way that doesn't disappoint that already existing, lucrative crowd of people.

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Fordel
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Reply #15 on: April 20, 2009, 05:25:41 PM



It keeps an element of character advancement in the PVE game at max level, though. And if your end game is raiding, then the loot is just a means to an end anyway. You aren't really raiding 'for loot' except insofar as that's part of how they gate the next raid up.




No, I would say most people really DO raid for the fucking loot, the end.

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
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Reply #16 on: April 20, 2009, 05:41:30 PM

No, I would say most people really DO raid for the fucking loot, the end.
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Reply #17 on: April 20, 2009, 05:46:11 PM

WoW is an exercise in pushing the same buttons repeatedly for hours on end just to have a few pulls at the slot machine.  It's really about that simple. 

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Reply #18 on: April 20, 2009, 05:56:32 PM

WoW is an exercise in pushing the same buttons repeatedly for hours on end just to have a few pulls at the slot machine.  It's really about that simple. 

This is just going to devolve into a flame war rather than a discussion.

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Reply #19 on: April 20, 2009, 06:04:22 PM



It keeps an element of character advancement in the PVE game at max level, though. And if your end game is raiding, then the loot is just a means to an end anyway. You aren't really raiding 'for loot' except insofar as that's part of how they gate the next raid up.




No, I would say most people really DO raid for the fucking loot, the end.

Because loot, in the 'default' form these days, is character advancement. Character advancement is why people play PVE MMORPGs. If they were just PVE games this would not be a problem at all. It is trying to graft PVP systems onto games that were fundamentally designed from day 1 as PVE games that causes problems. (Or, again, vice versa as was the case with DAOC, when they grafted PVE onto a PVP-centric game.)

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Reply #20 on: April 20, 2009, 06:10:48 PM

This is just going to devolve into a flame war rather than a discussion.

I didn't intend that at all.  What I was trying to get to the heart of was that PvE-based MMO's, at their core, are little more than repetitive exercises that reward the player with a pull at the slot machine.  It's the pull at the slot machine that keeps players playing. 

It's not all that different from golf.  For the novice, it's often that "one shot" per round that will keep them coming back for more. 

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Reply #21 on: April 20, 2009, 06:21:46 PM

This is just going to devolve into a flame war rather than a discussion.

I didn't intend that at all.  What I was trying to get to the heart of was that PvE-based MMO's, at their core, are little more than repetitive exercises that reward the player with a pull at the slot machine.  It's the pull at the slot machine that keeps players playing. 

It's not all that different from golf.  For the novice, it's often that "one shot" per round that will keep them coming back for more. 

Hmm, maybe. My feeling is that it is the 'ding' of character advancement more than anything else that keeps people interested. In a game with levels, you can't just keep letting people level up infinitely really, so the 'ding' of a gear upgrade replaces the one from leveling up. There's definitely something else involved psychologically when you get the random nature of loot in the picture as well, but the various things put in to WoW (and WAR) to alleviate randomness, like the gear tokens and badges and such, tend to argue that the 'thrill' of the lever pull isn't really the major thing involved I think. After all, those systems were put in place largely because of player complaints about the randomness.

WoW's achievement system would be another good example of this. It even does the ding/grats announcement to the guild line for you, and people (myself included) will do them just for that feeling of 'I did something'.

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Reply #22 on: April 20, 2009, 06:24:30 PM

Hmm, maybe. My feeling is that it is the 'ding' of character advancement more than anything else that keeps people interested.

Keep in mind, for many players in many MMOs the subscription length to cap is shorter than the subscription length upon achieving cap.   This reinforces my assertion that the loot rewards outweigh the ding-gratz rewards though both are obviously very important in the grand scheme.  One to hook the fish.  The other to reel them in. 
« Last Edit: April 20, 2009, 06:38:12 PM by Nebu »

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Reply #23 on: April 20, 2009, 06:42:29 PM

Ok, I'll stop QFT'ing and try to add something to the discussion.

If we look at FPS'es, especially older, simpler ones like Quake, I think it's pretty evident that they work with "gear" (armour, weapons, power-ups and ammo) because you're continuously proving that you've truly earned the stuff you're toting. When you stop performing, it's taken away. Then if you start performing again, you get it back. I think this is an important clue that permanence doesn't work for gear in MMO PvP. Everybody you're fighting needs to know that you have your stuff because you're good, and not because you've, as Nebu put it, spent weeks at the slot machines.

In a game of old-school deathmatch, people won't bitch that you have the rocket launcher, even if you've had it the entire game. They'll bitch about the Earth being round and sun in the eyes and God knows what, but they won't really ever complain about the advantages other people have gained from being better players. They might because they're frustrated, but nobody of any skill will truly believe it. So gear isn't a problem in itself. They're even central to, what I imagine most people here think, more or less pure skill-based games.

I think this mindset needs to be moved to MMOs for PvP in combination with gear to be really successful. Fixing it with caps and such is, to me, just a band-aid and just makes it less obvious that it was material advantages that made the particular player win a duel. Somehow the players need to be constantly reevaluated and stripped of things they, contextually, no longer have rightfully earned to have.

Maybe you should just be let to loot complete sets of PvP gear from eachother, I don't know.

Edit;
Just a non-elegant idea that struck me;

How about letting people build two different sets of gear - one base set and one target set. Sets can be built from any loot you ever acquired and each piece has a cost in points. The base set is worth a fixed amount that's universal and can never be changed. Every player has the same budget for this set. This is the loadout you have when you enter PvP or if you die in PvP and respawn.

The target set is the set of stuff you want to "drop" from PvP. This set is budgetless and can be as cheap or expensive as you like. Every time you kill a player, they award you a number of points based on how many points they had acquired themselves. If they have no points, they're worth a small base amount of points. As you successively gain more points, pieces you have in your base set will start to get replaced by pieces in your (hopefully better) target set. If you stay alive long enough, you'll sooner or later end up with your complete target set and be able to kick major ass for a while, until the zerg gets you.

Ok, flame on folks.  Eat
« Last Edit: April 20, 2009, 07:00:14 PM by Tarami »

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Reply #24 on: April 20, 2009, 09:18:22 PM

If you're going to have PvP wedged into your game somewhere, you need to have stat caps. It's why I've completely given up on WoW PvP.

In a strictly PvE world, though, I don't see the gear thing as a big deal, although the shit I've heard about EQ1 sound like the worst case scenario as far as that goes, and I definitely think that should be avoided. :P

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Reply #25 on: April 21, 2009, 01:07:50 AM

As others have said, this doesn't really matter in a PvE MMO.  You need something to get people coming back.  Make armor with zone-wide shoulderpads and 1 billion stam and int, I don't care.


But the PvP situation is more complicated.  There are two ways (at the extreme ends of the spectrum, obviously most games will have elements of both) to increase chances of success in PvP:

(1) Have better gear (in a heavily-gear-based MMO)

(2) Have more skill, be it reflexes, tactical thinking ability, etc. (in a more skill-based MMO).

An FPS is (2).   Pre-BC WoW (hi2u Arcanite Reaper) was largely (1).  The problem is that sliding closer and closer to (2) ISN'T ALWAYS A GOOD THING FOR A DEVELOPER.


Why?  Because in a (1) type PvP game, everyone thinks they have a chance to be a PvP god.  And as long as they aren't completely functionally retarded, if they amass enough gear, they will be a PvP god compared to those without gear.  Its a bargain everyone can strive for and everyone can attain- more time spent=greater PvP success.

(2) is very different.  Its chess or Counterstrike or anything else where everyone has "equal" gear.  You may be able to get a little better, but you will hit a ceiling and those freaks above that ceiling will proceed to own you 99% of the time.  You can't stop it, and after a certain limited amount of advancement more time spent won't solve it. 

That's why (2) isn't the holy grail of PvP MMOs as some make it out to be.  You create what is functionally an FPS, and you'll lose the non-FPS crowd.  The downfall of skill-based PvP is that most of your subscribers have no skill.  Thus, give em gear to stomp the poor scrubs who don't have it.   

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Reply #26 on: April 21, 2009, 02:53:36 AM

Because loot, in the 'default' form these days, is character advancement. Character advancement is why people play PVE MMORPGs. If they were just PVE games this would not be a problem at all. It is trying to graft PVP systems onto games that were fundamentally designed from day 1 as PVE games that causes problems. (Or, again, vice versa as was the case with DAOC, when they grafted PVE onto a PVP-centric game.)


You are completely underestimating the "haha, I am better then you, you loser" factor with gear. People don't sit around Dalaran on their protodrakes because it made their character more powerful.

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
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Reply #27 on: April 21, 2009, 07:55:20 AM

That's why (2) isn't the holy grail of PvP MMOs as some make it out to be.  You create what is functionally an FPS, and you'll lose the non-FPS crowd.  The downfall of skill-based PvP is that most of your subscribers have no skill.  Thus, give em gear to stomp the poor scrubs who don't have it.   

The Gaming Industry proves you wrong. 20+ years worth of wrong. Jesus christ, the people who don't want their ability to win AND lose based purely on skill ARE niche gamers. Only games it works remotely on are games that are PVE based like WoW and EVE which have a large number of pve'ers that eventually get bored and get their shit and giggles from occasional entering pvp with their uber tier gear and one shotting people who haven't "earned" their skill. Otherwise, your never going to make ANY money on a gear centric PVP game EVER and that has been proven for 6+ years.

Sjofn if gear matters in a linear way in your game, even if its just in pve, no point in attempting to add an extra layer of code in for pvp (and I'm sorta curious how that would work in a persistent world pvp). Your game will NEVER be taken seriously for pvp just by having a linear gear system AND pve'ers will bitch and moan that their hard earned shit is being taken away from them when they try out pvp. Your not doing yourself, or the playerbase any real favors.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 08:01:25 AM by DLRiley »
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Reply #28 on: April 21, 2009, 11:54:05 AM

Keep in mind, for many players in many MMOs the subscription length to cap is shorter than the subscription length upon achieving cap.   This reinforces my assertion that the loot rewards outweigh the ding-gratz rewards though both are obviously very important in the grand scheme.  One to hook the fish.  The other to reel them in. 

I'm the opposite.  I keep leveling characters, get 'em raid ready, and then my interest in 'em tanks.  You go from getting a level every couple of hours or so - reliable whee! - to maybe a piece or two of raid gear upgrade per week.  That difference in pacing is a real bummer for me.   swamp poop
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Reply #29 on: April 21, 2009, 12:23:52 PM

I'm the opposite.  I keep leveling characters, get 'em raid ready, and then my interest in 'em tanks. 

I'm the same as you are.  I enjoy the trip to the end more than the end in most all games.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think we're the norm. 

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Reply #30 on: April 21, 2009, 12:30:59 PM

Most of the people in my DAoC RP guild were exactly the same, they enjoyed nothing more than rolling an alt and chugging through the quests to 50. Despite the fact that most of them defined the term casual, they could still get TOAd up to a respectable level in a couple of weekends. Once they were 50 with the artifacts, quest gear and MLs they liked, they'd roll the next one.

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Reply #31 on: April 21, 2009, 12:43:05 PM

Hmm, maybe. My feeling is that it is the 'ding' of character advancement more than anything else that keeps people interested.

Keep in mind, for many players in many MMOs the subscription length to cap is shorter than the subscription length upon achieving cap.   This reinforces my assertion that the loot rewards outweigh the ding-gratz rewards though both are obviously very important in the grand scheme.  One to hook the fish.  The other to reel them in. 

My point is that all getting a new piece of loot is, is just another kind of ding/grats, though.

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Reply #32 on: April 21, 2009, 12:45:19 PM

Because loot, in the 'default' form these days, is character advancement. Character advancement is why people play PVE MMORPGs. If they were just PVE games this would not be a problem at all. It is trying to graft PVP systems onto games that were fundamentally designed from day 1 as PVE games that causes problems. (Or, again, vice versa as was the case with DAOC, when they grafted PVE onto a PVP-centric game.)


You are completely underestimating the "haha, I am better then you, you loser" factor with gear. People don't sit around Dalaran on their protodrakes because it made their character more powerful.

Sure for some people that is true. I don't think that is how the majority of people see it. I'm as much a loot whore as anyone, but what I actually care about is hitting those milestone numbers on my character sheet - 30k hp, 25k armor, whatever. Its the character advancement. Its the same thing for dpsers mostly- its not the particular item, its that it lets them climb the dps meter. Vanity items like mounts tickle a slightly different reflex I think.

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Reply #33 on: April 21, 2009, 02:49:26 PM

Because loot, in the 'default' form these days, is character advancement. Character advancement is why people play PVE MMORPGs. If they were just PVE games this would not be a problem at all. It is trying to graft PVP systems onto games that were fundamentally designed from day 1 as PVE games that causes problems. (Or, again, vice versa as was the case with DAOC, when they grafted PVE onto a PVP-centric game.)


You are completely underestimating the "haha, I am better then you, you loser" factor with gear. People don't sit around Dalaran on their protodrakes because it made their character more powerful.

Sure for some people that is true. I don't think that is how the majority of people see it. I'm as much a loot whore as anyone, but what I actually care about is hitting those milestone numbers on my character sheet - 30k hp, 25k armor, whatever. Its the character advancement. Its the same thing for dpsers mostly- its not the particular item, its that it lets them climb the dps meter. Vanity items like mounts tickle a slightly different reflex I think.

This is why, theoretically, any equivalent gear you provide outside of raiding needs to take longer to get.  Because otherwise, who wants to go through the shitstorm of getting together 25 people for the 'chance' to get an item?  Just better to grind that shit out alone.  It's why I was glad Blizzard added the 10-mans in Lich King.  Easier to get people together. 

Really, people only raid for the 'joy of the raid' until they're seen all the content.  So maybe once or twice through.
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Reply #34 on: April 21, 2009, 02:55:12 PM

Wouldn't that mean raiding is unfun and is a horrible game mechanic if it needs to be propped up with rewards? God mmo's are backward.
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