Greedy Goblin

Monday, January 26, 2009

DKP systems and economic stability

The bosskill needs a raid which contain the proper skills, attitude and gear. If these are not present, there will be no loot to distribute. The loot is created by their work. In the real world items are created by workers and has to be distributed. The same systems exists in both world.

Loot council: seems simple, a bunch of people decides who gets the loot. Obviously the loot council is biased some way (even they would say they are biased for the "good of the guild"), and distribute the loot according to this bias. They are "communalist" they demand people to serve the group ("the current tier belongs to the guild, you cannot raid it with PuG"). The subordinates has only one choice besides obedience: /gquit.

This system work pretty well, while "what" is not a question. Boss strategies and optimal PvE builds are known, the leadership has nothing else to do then enforce these and the guild rocks. The problem is that such system cannot fulfill, strike that, cannot even notice the needs of individuals behind basic needs like "replacing green items". After these needs are fulfilled, the subordinates become unmotivated and rebellious.

Yet crisis is impossible, since everyone knows what to expect (merely nothing), no one can get bad surprises.

The positive sum DKP is much nastier, since people get points for actions that the leadership want, like presence in raid, being available at raid, putting valuable items to guildbank and so on. The main problem is that maybe there is no useful production (kills) at all. DKP is nothing, loot is something. You can gather insane amount of virtual DKP, believing that you are "rich" just to find out one day that it's worthless. The inevitable end is very similar to the economic crisis of the real world. People had virtual money (in stocks, derivatives or currency of bankrupt countries), they believed they have lot of money, just to find out they have nothing.

Zero-sum DKP is rewarded only upon looting (real production). Those who get loot lose DKP and it's distributed among the others. This is much better since there is direct connection between DKP and loot. Some people can get virtually rich by hoarding DKP and they will find sooner or later that virtual DKP is not equal to real loot. This is not a crisis for the whole group just for a few (dumb) individuals. It is similar to some bankrupt companies in an otherwise healthy country.

All three previous systems are plagued by being closed. Outside people cannot expect loot from the council and have no use to DKP. So these guilds are unable to fill the holes by pugged people. They either run full-guild, or don't run at all.

If I had to find real world equivalents to these systems I'd say:
  • loot council: technocrat-communist like China
  • positive sum DKP: capitalist dictatorship like Pinochet's Chile
  • zero sum DKP: socially closed capitalist democracy like the Asian Tigers
They all have their governments, own money like countries. None of them are open like companies.

Let's see two company-based loot systems. They are all crisis-free since there is no virtual currency that can lose it's value overnight.

/roll: when loot drops, those who would use it for main spec /roll for it. Highest roll wins. This is unbiased, give everyone chance to win when loot drops. Nothing to roll for when nothing drops (no virtual value, nothing to hoard). People can be pugged to fill the raid, since they can have equal chance to roll. There is no administration, mod, table, error point.

This is the WoW equivalent of the alliance of individual small business owners for a common goal. The main con is the randomness. Your income is hardly dependent on the random generator. This encourage "beating the system" instead of "beating the dragon", that's why such alliances are so rare in real world. The easiest way of beating the system is making sure there is no one else in the group who wants your loot.

Zero sum gold: This is an advanced version of Zero Sum DKP by replacing the virtual currency
with an externally stabilized "real" currency. It moves the system from the country level to the small-group level. In real world you cannot print money, yet you can trade with the existing one.

People bid for the loot with gold, highest bidder wins. The money is distributed among the raiders. So if you win by 1000G bid in a 10-man instance, you have to pay 100G to everyone else (and 100 to yourself). This way the others get something useful too (as opposed to the DKP with no inherent value). I find it the best possible loot system since:
  • It encourages preparation and demanding others to prepare, there is no loot or money if no kill.
  • If you kill, you surely get something (money or loot)
  • Encourages farming or business, since you have better chance to loot if you have more money.
  • Allows PuG-ed people to come and equally participate.
  • Encourages participation in bosskills where you don't want loot (since you get money).
  • Encourages well-geared players to stay in guild, since while they can't get loot they get very rich. This point is extremely important for the guild's tank-keeping potential. Tanks are needed to be geared for the bosses, so little or no drop for them. But this way they are saved for farming which is hard for tanks.
  • No mod, administration, or tables needed (though 24 trades can be a pain, it can be decreased by giving all the money to the raid leader who distributes it at raidend.)
I ignore the gold buyers, they are cheaters to be found by GM-s and not by players. In the meantime, even if they take the loot, they distribute their money between the legitimate players, so this way at least their cheating benefits 23 other legitimate players (while annoy only one who don't get the loot because of him)

Other goblin warranted loot system (I doubt if it's ever be used):
Pure business: It's the game equivalent of the company. The raid leader is the investor, the others are the workers. The workers sign up for a certain job (like damaging X on the boss, keeping the add sheep, tanking the boss without being critted, healing X on the tank, clicking the box...). The worker gets payment from the investor if he did the job done, even if the raid goes south (So if the tank dies not because of crit but because of healer error, he still get his money). All the loot belongs to the investor, who sells it to the raiders for gold.
  • It encourages preparation. If you don't do your job, you won't get anything
  • If you do your job, you get your money, even if others don't
  • Allows PuG-ed people to come
  • Encourage well-geared players to come too (for their salary)
  • No administration needed
There is no con for the worker (except the risk that the investor is a ninja, but this risk exists for all system). There are several cons on the investor side which makes it unlikely that the system will ever get used:
  • He has to know the raid perfectly. If he sets up bad jobs, he have to pay salaries, but he will have no loot to sell = no income.
  • He and he alone has to pick skilled people. If someone is useless, he can still have to pay 23 salaries and have no income. Others won't bother to check each other since they are payed anyway.
  • He has to have enough money to be able to pay salaries if there is no income.
  • There is a risk that the random drop will be useless or wanted by only 1 person. In this case the income will be minimal, since that 1 person will not offer much, knowing that you have no other option than sell him for low (well, you can tell him to go to hell, but then you have no income at all)
While these cons make it unprobable to implement as whole, this system can be used for hiring a few pugged people to your raid. While most of the raiders are under loot council or DKP, the pugged ones are payed from the guildbank and can buy the loot (money goes to the guildbank)


Rohan said...

You seem to have a bias against Positive-Sum DKP claiming that there is "no useful production". Perhaps a better way of thinking about it is Research & Development.

It's like drug companies. The very first pill you make costs several billion dollars. After that, each pill costs a few cents.

This is the problem with Zero-Sum systems. They don't reward R&D, only production. And yet it's arguable that R&D, or nights spent wiping to a new boss, are the most important part of raiding.

Carra said...

There is no loot or money if no kill

And that's also the whole problem with this system. I've seen a system where only bosskills get DKP. It ends up getting 30 men for farming content and 20 for progression raids. Getting your ass kicked for hours trying to get a boss down should be more rewarding then spending your time farming content. You can then get DKP from doing progress which you can spend in farm nights. There's a use in doing both.

As for giving gold for raiding, that's a good idea to keep people raiding farm content. I've seen guilds do this by allowing paying pug members. You could join and pay x gold. Then you could get all items except maybe some items from the endboss. Or allow a puggie to get a ZA bear mount. Or... Typically a part of the gold goes to guild vault and a part to members. The guild vault can then be used to give out potions/food buffs so your members don't have to bother with it.

Gevlon said...

@Rohan: R&D is a bad example since the result of R&D remains in the hand of the researcher as patent. He does it for the future product what will be his. The workers doing the R&D won't own the patent, but get payed for every hour with REAL money, now.

The DKP payed raider is payed with a virtual currency that can be used only IF there will be new loot. So positive sum DKP is NOT payment, just a lie.

@Carra: "getting 30 men for farming content and 20 for progression raid" You have to decide if you want progress or not. If you want, you're BETTER OFF without that 10 who don't come to the progression raids. You have to find motivated players to their slots or you'll wipe forever and ever.

Agis said...

There are many disadvantages on this approach but I will only point out the major one.

WoW is a game. Any attempt to make it look like a real job will fail. You pay and play this game in order to make you feel better and to give you some extra amount of happiness that is probably harder to get from real life.

Turning your amusement into an obligation is not what people wants. I’d rather be on blues and greens and feel free to do what ever I want instead of being full epic and feel like a worker.

Panos said...


Yoda's voice: Noble and just is what you say. But competitive game this is. Competition leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. The DKP flows from within. It keeps us together, binds us. Learn to use DKP.

The Dark Side of loot strong is. Seduced u will be...

Anonymous said...

It would be so cool if Blizzard decided to be the "invisible" investor and pay ever member of a raid some money if a) they didn't get any loot AND b) killed the final boss in a raid.

That way, a lot of incentives would set so that the game is more fun and profit for everyone.

Anonymous said...

We use the /roll system. It's great!

It has the advantage of being quick, ensures there is no drama about favouritism (loot councils), no risk of people hording dkp, and assumming you're part of a guild with a fairly stable raid team, even if you don't win the first few rolls, your competition for the drop lessens each raid.

Having been using this system for quite some time now, I'd never again go back to a guild that didn't use it.

Anonymous said...

The benefits of being in a good guild, /roll but if someone else will benefit more give to them its the best way.

Anonymous said...

The zero-sum-gold plan is interesting, but I see a problem, especially in a 25-man, where there could be a number of people competing with you for loot.

Before agreeing to go on the raid, you have to make a mental calculation of how likely you are to outbid your competitors for items. If you are poor, you are not motivated to go. So this dissuades people from going on raids. This could be particularly crippling if your healers are broke.

I know the response - that if you do not get the item, you get gold instead. Well, people do not go to end-game dungeons for gold - they go there for things that gold cannot buy. You can farm for gold and not risk repair bills.

Kurt said...

I'm a bit confused by your point about farming gold instead of raiding Geoffrey. If you think the price is too low, you should go and buy items...If you think the price is too high, you should go to make money. If you think the price is fair, you should go because the price is fair. Seems intuitive, yes?

Sure if the raid sucks and you don't kill bosses, it's not good money per hour, but if the raid sucks, the raid sucks. No dkp can fix that.

A decent raid clears naxx25 in 3 hours, that's 60 items, 20 items per hour. Doesn't take too high a price per item to make that good money for someone who just goes for cash.

I don't see this as being an optimal system for progression raiding on tough bosses, but I also don't see how one system could be optimal for every type of guild and every type of instance, that's simply unrealistic.

Kinzlayer said...

The bosses (as well as mobs) already do drop gold, what you want is more gold.

Best Yoda.

I also think you have to look at the type of guild you are in. If you are an end-game raider, balls to the wall, raiding for fastest progression then I would say the various loot system matters but if your doing Naxx 10 with 9 people you know and care about, in term of friendship, then who ever gets the best bang for the gear upgrade (for their main spec) would get it.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I'm getting the impression that you don't know what to do with your tons of gold. So buying epics could be a good solution. Since most of the epics (especialy the good ones) are bop, I can imagine that you prefer to give (mass of) gold instead of working to get the boss down.

As you already might expirienced WoW gold is NOT compareable with real money, because you come very fast to the point that you have no use for it. The other thing not compareable with the real world are items which are bind on pickup. Dooh, you cannot buy epics with your gold unless you change the loot distribution system (mostly known as a kind of DKP).

Even though neither gold nor epics have compareables in the real world I try to give you a real world model. You really want a star in the pavement - not the blue one but the purple one. Only with your signature it is yours. You cannot buy one (because another ones signature is on it) and you cannot sell it (because your signature is already on it). But you need a really experienced group of 25 people to go for it (the signature is the easiest part of it). You 25 have a main target: Producing one star month for month. After the first month of work the star is finished and the first one who will be named for it might be the main tank. But the next stars will be given depending on the work everyone invested already. Everyone of the group want to get the star, nobody could buy one ... does money help to get one?

To kill the boss gold doesn't help. You have to invest time into your raid and your income you want isn't gold (perhaps a nice side effect) but epics. Perhaps you have tons of it, but it is worthless. I have some 10k but I don't know what to do with it.

A zero-sum DKP is good, because you don't have invlation or deflation. It is always well balanced. You have to weight the effort and the income. Effort might be the time or rep costs (I prefer time). The income might be the quantity or item-level of distributed (not disenchanted) items. Everybodys account will increase with (party total income) / (party total effort) * (personal effort). On the other side the account will be decreased by (obtained income) / (party total effort). The absolute value of you account will move with the total effort, but your rank will stay until somebody gets loot. Assuming a constant progress, new members won't have an advantage or disadvantage if they start with average debit and credit.

... but gold doesn't play a role.

Anonymous said...


My point is that if someone is broke, and that someone is looking for items, not gold, they are not motivated to go to the raid, so it may make a raid harder to put together. That person would rather join a raid that does not use a zero-sum-gold system.

Also, to call it zero-sum-gold is inherently inaccurate. Gold can be gotten from many places, not just the item bidding, so you will have people who have an advantage through outside efforts. This will paint the system as unfair for those who spend most of their time raiding and not farming or AH gaming.

I think Mausi astutely pointed out that gold has little use in WoW after a certain point, so many people are not motivated to acquire much of it, so long as they have enough for the next couple of enchants and so forth. Those people with this outlook will instinctively avoid any gold-bid system like the plague.

Ben said...

Systems that don't give points for effort (like zero-sum) are fine for guilds with established reputations or kill histories, but bad for guilds in the middle of progression; who have players more likely to be fair-weather (or aren't as easily replaced like in a high-end guild). The big problem with zero-sum gold ultimately will be collusion, with only 10 or 25 people in a raid it would be easy to fix prices if there wasn't strong oversight or price minimums.

Dan said...

Some of the comments in rebuttal to zero-sum DKP fail to realize that it can be used to reward progression as well as boss kills. For example, on a brand new boss your goal for the night is to get it to 75% HP. When this is met, DKP is awarded. If this goal is exceeded, bonus DKP is awarded for each percent below this goal. For consistency, DKP is awarded. If using zero-sum gold instead, this gold can be obtained from raids on farm to help offset costs associated with progression raiding.