Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Boosters gold

On Saturday I made an extra post announcing that Wednesday-Saturday are for farm raid and Sunday-Tuesday for progression. This was an ad-hoc idea to solve the problems caused by half online group wants this and other half that. It was stupid.

At first, ad-hoc ideas are wrong in general. They are based on the assumption that the problem is caused by "bad luck" (this case the summer) and can be bypassed by temporarily doing something that we don't want. They are typical M&S tools: blame the luck and do something stupid while keep lying it's just temporary.

The core idea behind The PuG worked, people expressed their ideas and told this rule is both wrong and won't solve anything. The problem is systemic and have nothing to do with summer. The game have limited content, and strongly focuses on repetition. Repetition (farming) is boring. This is usually bypassed by social manipulation: the player farm the same instance again and again to "help out friends" or "for the team" or to increase his GS by getting a drop that give 0.2% bonus over the current item. Alternatively he levels an alt to do something while "hanging out with friends".

These are exactly the nonsense that we want to avoid. However without the social motivation the lack of content becomes obvious. The good question is: why to log in and raid? Well, there is content left in the game: the hard modes. However to do them, you need an able team. The problem is that such team cannot be guaranteed. I mean you log in, find 7 other good players ready to kill the Lich King and do hard modes but you need 9. So you can only log out disappointed. If it happens many times, you decrease your login frequency then completely stop until the next patch/expansion fills the game with new content.

On the other hand there are new level 80-es who have not done the normal content. If they also find no people who want to do their content, they have to join 6/12 trade chat pugs and the time when they get the necessary raiding gear and routine to do LK+hard modes elongates. Of course if the hard-mode people would help them out they could do it much faster. Also, they could replace their leveling blues to OK gear much faster by leeching lower ICC than running heroics. That's why social guilds "help out friends gear up". Of course this is a way we won't go as it leads exactly to leeching M&S who are "undergeared" no matter how much help they get.

Still, something has to be done. So I introduce the new system to solve the mentioned problem: boosters gold. We start a farmraid from fresh. People can join as normal players and boosters. The gear requirements to normal players are relaxed, gear can be dominated by in-spec ilvl 200 blues and epics. Of course lack of gems/enchants or str on hunter are not accepted, as they indicate stupidity or laziness that no gear can fix. Also, wiping the raid by doing stupid stuff is still not tolerated, not kiting the ooze have nothing to do with gear or lack of experience (inexperienced raider may get himself sprayed while kiting but DPSing with an ooze on your back is just bad). Boosters on the other hand are expected perfect execution and high overall performance.

Why would anyone boost? For the 100G/boss gold they get from the pot. Since the pot is filled mostly by the new people buying gear, the gold is direct payment for boosting. It rewards spending time boosting the new players without promoting any kind of welfare-behavior.

  • Can a booster bid on gear? Of course. Booster is defined by performance, not gear.
  • What happens if a booster does stupid stuff or provide low performance? Loses his booster status and payment. It's not just an empty rule. It happened with 2 otherwise great DPS who pulled aggro on a boss and died. Status revoked instantly.
  • How do they get their payment? In the break or at the end of the raid first the boosters are paid from the pot, then the pot is distributed equally.
  • What if there is not enough gold in the pot? That's highly unlikely. A boss drops 2 items, even if they sell for minbid, a boss provides 600G. So there is payment even for 6 boosters.
  • But still, what if all loot goes to DE because every boss drops spellcaster plate? If there isn't enough gold in the pot, the pot is equally distributed among boosters.
  • Who has priority to get in the raid? New people, since the run is for them, and they bring the gold. So on the break boosters can be removed to get in more normal players.
  • How can we progress on the LK if we boost people instead? If the raid have 3-5 boosters, 11/12 will be down in 1-2 days, leaving 5 for the LK.
  • Some new people can be unlucky with drops and they get little gold too since boosters take most. Is that fair to get nothing? They get frost badges, raiding routine and Ashen rep that they could not get by themselves and they also got the chance to get loot (it's nobody's fault that their loot did not drop)
  • How long this booster-thing will run? Permanently as there will always be boosters and new people. When the first hard mode ID is locked, there still will be enough high-performance people who can't come this week but have time for easy mode raiding.
  • I saw small difference between boosters and normals on the raid when we did it. Is it fair to give reward over +20% DPS? At first, it's the sign of little importance of gear in normal modes. Secondly you pay not for his performance, but for his presence. The booster (mostly) needs no loot, badge or rep or raiding experience. You do (or don't need but want). So you either pay, or find trade chat trash that does half of your damage and litter the chat.
One question: why the extra gold is needed? The gold bid system is exactly made to reward boosters since they don't buy gear. Because at the end everyone gets the same money on a standard gold bid. True, a new player paid lot of gold but he paid it for the item, not for the run itself. With an example: imagine that a low-geared, low-performance new mage joins a gold bid run. RNG hates (loves?) him and no cloth or spellcaster weapon/jewelry drops. He gets the same reward for the run as the guy who did 2x more damage and did not exploded 3 guys at princes. This need to be fixed. Let me explain:
  • /roll is a terrible loot system where your reward chance is directly proportional to the badness of your gear. The more upgrades you can get the more drops you can /roll. If we assume that in a properly organized run (where lolkids and ungemmed str hunters are not invited) better gear means better performance, reward is inversely proportional to performance.
  • in normal gold bid, the gear is sold for gold, so the gear winner do not "win", he lost in gold what he won in gear. Of course it's not always true, in lack of competition you can get items below their value, but let's take the ideal case. The gold is distributed equally, everyone gets the same. So the reward is unrelated to performance.
  • using boosters gold method, the high performers (boosters) get bonus for their high performance. Of course it's far from perfect as it's binary (you are a booster or not) but it's an acceptable first step.
One last thing: what if someone finds the boosting opportunity in our guild, joins with low gear or low level alt, get boosted and leaves for more progressed guilds? He was very welcome! He paid fore every piece he got and while he was here, he helped fill our ranks, may participated in guild-5-mans, BGs, WGs and so on. This is not a "friendly heplfull group of freinds", you come and go as you please. You are free to use The PuG as leveling-gearing guild as long as you keep the rules. You can also join to fill your coffers as booster before the cataclysm. We are, and always will be permanently recruiting.


Sean said...

Do you know what I find interesting? The concept of "The PuG" has evolving naturally in Frostmourne - US (Horde).

GDKP PuGs outnumber non-GDKP PuGs by a country mile. This is so prevalent that non-GDKP raids advertise themselves as a "non-GDKP" raid (i.e. they are niche).

Your situation has been solved by Frostmourne Horde by separating the groups into "Buyers" and "Carriers". "Buyers" have no performance requirement (other than not wiping the raid). However, they MUST bid on an item if it is an upgrade. If they don't (and are called out), it is /kick. In GDKPs, there are no short of willing replacements since they get an equal share of gold in the end.

Gold is split evenly at the end of the raid as usual. Boosters gold is a viable idea though; however, I think you would do well if you force the "Buyers" to bid on items.

Gevlon said...

I think forcing bidding is a generally bad idea, as it forces people to waste gold. He doesn't bid for a reason, for example he is 3 badges short from the set piece or simply wouldn't pay that much for a 251-264 replacement when he has 232s to replace.

Also it is random: if you get drops you must bid, if you don't, you don't.

chewy said...

Time will tell if this idea works but I think you're trying to solve a problem that is beyond your control, seasonality.

It doesn't matter how much you offer if the good raiders are lying on a beach increasing their probability of melanoma.

The Christmas card manufacturers have an awful sales forecast this quarter, the answer isn't a two for one offer, the answer is diversification. Sell more Birthday cards, create "BBQ cards" and wait for Christmas.

Your overall approach to the guild is sound in my opinion, you may need to change your timescales or do something else until the season passes.

Squishalot said...

I'm not sure that it's an ideal solution, if only because the 'booster' title is largely subjective. Is it arbitrary, is it based on nominations by people, is it to anyone who wants in?

If someone's undergeared (in the Undergeared sense), but is skilled enough to avoid the fires and so forth, can they lay claim to being a booster, and thus, improve their return on investment?

As a suggestion, to disincentivise people from ripping off others by claiming that they're boosters, improve the wipe penalty for said boosters. They're wasting everyone's time, gold and raid lockouts by making claims about their performance that they can't live up to.

Be prepared for the drop in PuGgers though - Starcraft 2 just came out.

Anonymous said...

The point of forcing a buy/bid Gevlon is that carriers are paid for their time to carry the buyers.

Usually there is a gear requirement to being a carrier or a buyer as well as performance. Otherwise the system fails where buyers are being paid to be brought along to raids that they are probably not ready for.

Given there is 3-4 drops in 25man generally, something will drop, eventually, even maybe tokens, so there will usually always be something to bid for.

Admittedly the GDKP system doesn't work the best for 10man raids though, where the drops are less in quantity.

Gevlon said...

@Squishalot: accepting someone as booster is the raid leader's privilege. Of course he is at the mercy of market factors. For example if he accept fake boosters (who are just as low as the boosted) he won't find boosted people. If he accepts too few people for booster he might fails to fill the raid.

@Chewy: if there are 5 people online, that's Starcraft and beach. If there are 15 online and 5 wants to raid, that's motivational problem.

Sean said...

Whatever the solution adopted, the important thing to realise is that it is important to differentiate between the "buyers" and "carriers". This is so that the carriers are properly compensated for their time/effort and will encourage them to come to the raids.

Anonymous said...

I am in the guild or played in there at least, and ATM am not very active for a few reasons.

One being personal time because my time is valuable and I just don't have enough of it, one being the fact that I keep coming online when raids have already been formed.

Due to those 2 time issues I ended up creating some pugs of my own, used to do that on my own server and those generally went very well. At the server The Pug is at right now however the general crowd is to retarded to actually pug totc10. IF that all fails you end up doing your daily dungeon and thats it.

So yeah for me right now the skepticism which I had in the beginning, dead ass server = bad choice because its boring if you dont get to raid, seems to be coming true.

Gevlon said...

@last Anonymous: you know that we have break at 20:30 and 22:00 when people are leaving and new people can join?

Bob said...

"Repetition (farming) is boring. This is usually bypassed by social manipulation: the player farm the same instance again and again to "help out friends" or "for the team" or to increase his GS by getting a drop that give 0.2% bonus over the current item." or to get some gold he doesn't need.

How does that change the problem at all ? You're still not doing hard modes, so you're still not having fun. Gold is just another "social manipulation" (above all for goblins).

Mac said...

Looks like you have a great project on the go Gevlon.

Can I ask what classes are under represented at the moment?
I don't want to waste money bringing a tank over if you have, say, 5+ already!

Squishalot said...

Gevlon: "accepting someone as booster is the raid leader's privilege. Of course he is at the mercy of market factors. For example if he accept fake boosters (who are just as low as the boosted) he won't find boosted people. If he accepts too few people for booster he might fails to fill the raid."

If it's a supply and demand thing, then you should probably be letting the boosters and the boosted negotiate their own prices, rather than setting an arbitrary 100g fixed fee. Just a thought - some people might not feel that 100g is sufficient consideration for their time / expertise.

Gevlon said...

@Mac: choosing your class/spec is your decision and yours only. Of course having a class that can do 2 or 3 roles increase your chance to get in more raids. But if you come as 10th hunter and you are the best, you get spot.

@Bob: gold can be used in cataclysm for fast gearing from BoEs.

Leeho said...

Why would booster need that gold? Blues for Cata looks like a weak argument, really - you don't need as much gold for them, and you don't need them so much. New heroics will be fun, starter raids will be not so hard and, again, new and fun, so there will be no strong point in aquiring all possible crafted gear.

Yarral said...

As a mostly social player who you'd probably despair of your comments on /roll are quite interesting.

For a social guild where the chance to play together is as important or even more important than absolute success I can see that /roll for loot has certain advantages now.

It helps keep gear levels reasonably even through the guild, and lets people "catch up" fairly quickly. It's a pretty good system for ensuring that the guild doesn't fragment because some people end up rapidly outgearing others.

It helps keep the guild stable because every has a more similar gear level and so people's aims are more similar. And it's easier to organise groups etc when people are more similarly geared and all want the same targets.

I imagine you'd think we were silly for even wanting such a thing :) But we've had a pretty successful and stable social guild since the start of WoW and it's interesting to me that this is probably one part of the reason.

I'd never thought of how /roll probably plays quite a significant part in that until now.

Your post made me think (which I consider a big complement).

Anonymous said...

As you said yourself, it's a motivational problem.
Your solution assumes people will raid boring content for gold. Either as an alternative to whatever they're doing when logged in otherwise, or as a motivation to log in at all.
We'll have to see, but I don't think it'll work. It might even backfire; people who are counting on doing a LK kill, or a first hardmode soon (and therefore make sure they're logged in during raid times) might give up completely because of this.

Anonymous said...

In my guild we also use /roll system. It has it's own advantages. When you raid with tight group (12-14 people) for 10 man raids you actually want to distribute loot quite evenly. But it's best advantage is that it is very fast. What I always hated was 10 minutes for loot distribution when killing boss took just 5 minutes.

@Tazar from undergeared

Gevlon said...

@Nees: the boost raid is for situations when we can't do anything else. If there are enough people for LK or hard modes, we'll surely go for that instead.

Sjonnar said...

One possible solution to the pot not containing enough gold is to have the 'boosted' players make up the lack to pay the 'boosters'.

'Boosters' should be guaranteed their 100g / boss: fair compensation for services rendered.

If the normal players want competent raiders from The PuG instead of M&S from trade chat, they should be happy to pay the 'boosters' for their valuable time in the event the pot is lacking.

Wolfblitzer said...

Oh how I wish that this project was on the US servers. I would join in a second.

Wilson said...

I see a lot of practicality issues with this. For example - what are the standards for booster status? Minimum dps on Festergut? Minimum dps on first 11 bosses? If so, what are the standards for tanks and healers? Is it gear? Is it your subjective opinion as to who is good enough? If so, what about those people who raid, but not with you? Or is it the individual RLs' subjective opinion?

Another issue - Why 100g per boss? It's such an arbitrary number, especially given your faith in the free market. I don't see why in this guild, where everything is supposed to be competitive, you don't open up the process to bidding or some other market system. Since some boosters will be better than others, shouldn't they be paid more? Won't there be more demand for boosters some nights, and less others?

Lots more questions, but I'll stop here for now.

Sidhe said...

I like your idea Gevlon. I wish there where more guilds like yours on this side of the atlantic.

Fun Fact: "Booster Gold" is the name of a DC Comics fortune-seeker superhero:

Anonymous said...

I think The PuG is a very clever idea; you get people you want to raid with as well as blog topics. The clarity of its goal makes it quite effective in finding the people for whom it is a great fit and those for whom it is a horrible fit.

My opinion is that the handicap is that maximizing individual freedom, while morally and philosophically better, may not be better for team sports.

The inevitable sports analogy is that the better teams have very good athletes, but they may not have the best; their teamwork is superior.

Boosting someone because they are a friend is social; helping someone because you can and they need it is altruism; boosting a skilled player with runs and buying them 264 crafted legs and boots and Shadowmourne because your goal is to be part of a team that kills HM LK and this is an investment in making it happen sooner/better. ( Giving someone food because they need it is charity; because you want them to toil in your fields is not. )

Take the identical people who are in the guild now, but assume that their commitment to HMs was higher than their commitment to personal philosophy. They would be willing to give up some freedom to, for example be on 19:00-23:00 Sunday-Thur, in exchange for the goal of getting the LK down.

Another example is say you have 9 HM raiders and there is an altruist who uses leetspeek but has better skills and gear than the 9; would you take him?

Or someone who is HM decent but clearly inferior to your 9; taking him is not "just" but allows you to do eventually do HM LK and you don't have an alternative?

Sports players who make sacrifices for the team (or soldiers who die for their squad) may not like or respect their teammates but they are committed to the goal.

I am not criticizing The Pug or advocating change. I am suggesting that the downside of the personal freedom is that for tasks that involve significant teamwork, you will naturally be less effective than guilds which find equally competent people who feel the goal important enough to themselves that they are willing to make sacrifices to achieve it.

Thaumaturgos said...

I agree with Wolfblitzer: that, or I wish I had purchased the EU version of the game. The experiment sounds so interesting. Mind you, as I'm sure you would tell us Gevlon, nothing in the world is stopping us from replicating this on a US/Oceanic/ Latin American server