Loot System – Concerns & Ideas

In my recent interview (Part 1 / Part 2) with the LOTRO team we discussed the loot system.  They mentioned the possibility of implementing a personal loot system for the upcoming raid to be released with the Fall of 2017 X-Pac.  Let’s examine some of the existing loot systems and mechanics within LOTRO such that we can discuss the pros and cons.

Loot Drop Types

Mob Kills (Personal) – loot is generated for your individual character that killed the mob [or “tapped”] (landscape and some bosses) and assigned to them.
Mob Kills (Group) – loot is generated for the individual characters within a group that killed the mob and it is distributed according to the Loot Rules.
Treasure Chest (Personal) – loot is generated for your individual character that earned the treasure chest and directly assigned to you.
Treasure Chest (Group) – loot is generated in a chest to be distributed, rolled on, or assigned depending on the Fellowship/Raid Loot Rule.

Loot Quality

There are 5 levels of loot quality within LOTRO, from worst to best they are;

Common
Uncommon
Rare
Incomparable
Epic

Loot Types

Barterable – You can trade it or sell it on the AH (Auction Hall)
Bind on Acquire – The individual character that received it is the only one that can use it.  It cannot be traded or sold on the AH.  It cannot be used on another toon on your account.
Bind on Equip – You can trade it or sell it on the AH so long as you do not equip it.  Once it has been equipped it is bound to the character that equipped it.
Bound to Account – You can send it to any character on your account via mail or storage.  It cannot be traded to others not on your account or sold on the AH.
Currency (unbound) – You can trade of sell it on the AH
Currency (bound to character) – You can only spend the currency on the character that earned it.
Currency (bound to account) – You can spend the currency on any character on your account.

Loot Rule Settings

When grouping, the leader sets the Loot Rules.  There are 5 possible choices (most common are Roll/Pass and Master Looter) for how loot is distributed and a setting for what level of loot quality (none, uncommon, common, etc.) these rules kick in.

loot-quality-settingloot-rule-setting

Free For All – The first person to open the chest gets the loot.

Free For All With Need/Greed/Pass – When there is loot, everyone will have the opportunity to press the Need, Greed, or Pass button on loot at, or above, the loot quality setting.  All those that pressed Need will have a number between 1 and 100 assigned to them; the highest number wins.  If no one chose Need then the process is repeated for all those that chose Greed.  All loot below the loot quality setting goes to the person that opened the chest first.

Round Robin With Need/Greed/Pass – When there is loot, everyone will have the opportunity to press the Need, Greed, or Pass button on all loot at, or above, the loot quality setting.  All those that pressed Need will have a number between 1 and 100 assigned to them; the highest number wins.  If no one chose Need then the process is repeated for all those that chose Greed.  All loot below the loot quality setting is assigned on a round robin basis.

Round Robin With Roll/Pass – This is the most commonly used setting.  When there is loot, everyone has the opportunity to press the Roll or Pass button on each item at, or above, the loot quality setting.  Each person that chose roll will have a number between 1 and 100 randomly assigned to them; the highest number wins.  All loot below the loot quality setting is assigned on a round robin basis.

Free For All With Master Looter – This allows the leader of the group to determine how the loot at, or above, the loot quality setting is distributed.  There are 2 main methods;
1) Everyone rolls (by typing /roll) and the highest gets the item.
2) DKP (Dragon Kill Points) or Kin Points can be spent to claim an item (these systems are managed within kins).  The leader assigns the item to those bidding the highest.

All loot below the loot quality setting goes to the first person that opened the chest.

Round Robin With Master Looter – This allows the leader of the group to determine how the loot at, or above, the loot quality setting is distributed.There are 2 main methods;
1) Everyone rolls (by typing /roll) and the highest gets the item.
2) DKP (Dragon Kill Points) or Kin Points can be spent to claim an item (these systems are managed within kins).  The leader assigns the item to those bidding the highest.

All loot below the loot quality setting is distributed in a round robin fashion.

Loot Tables

There are several loot tables (databases) from which the quantity and type of loot available is determined.

Quality

All the possible loot rewards are grouped in to one of 5 tables; Common, Uncommon, Rare, Incomparable, and Epic.

Loot Formulas

Each time you kill a monster or complete an instance there is the possibility for loot to be awarded.  Each event follows a specific formula with the following considerations;

  1. Type of monster/instance that was killed/completed
  2. Level of the monster/instance that was killed/completed
  3. Level of the character to receive the loot
  4. Difficulty of the monster/instance killed/completed (i.e. Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2C, etc.)
  5. Number of items from each loot table to be distributed
  6. Class of the character to receive the loot
  7. Personal or Group loot to be distributed
  8. How the loot is distributed (automatic/RNG/chest placement)

A rough representation of a loot data table below;

Item # Description Quality Quantity Landscape

(player level)

Instance

(player level)

Monster Level Monster Type Character Class Personal/Group Auto/RNG/Chest
1 silver coins common 25-500 1-1000 1-1000 5+ 7 all all all

Loot Distribution

True Random Number Generator (tRNG)

dilbert

This is a system based solely on chance.  It is used most commonly for “trash” loot after killing a landscape monster.  Upon killing the monster, an RNG assigns how many pieces of trash loot you will get; “x” from each predetermined table for that monster.  Then a random number is generated (“die roll”) “x” times.  These numbers are matched against a Loot Table of equally weighted items (same chance of getting each item).

Overly Simplified Example of what this system may look like in LOTRO;

Monster Loot Table (overly simplified)

Monster # Loot Pieces Possible Loot Table
Greater Sickle Fly 1-6 Common

Common Loot Table (Table 1)

# Item Can Duplicate Mob
0-24 5 Silver Coins Yes All
25-49 1 Blackened Goo Yes Greater Sickle Fly
50-74 1 Blackened Filth No Greater Sickle Fly
75-100 1 Mossy Carapace Yes Greater Sickle Fly

You kill a Greater Sickle Fly.  The only loot table from which loot can be drawn from is the Common one (see table 1).  An RNG is used to determine that you get 5 pieces (“rolled a 5”) of loot from the Common table.  Another RNG is used to determine that your “rolls” were;

Each roll is checked for 2 things; can you receive duplicate items, and is the loot available for the mob that you killed.

79 – Awarded 1 Mossy Carapace
24 – Awarded 5 Silver Coins
51 – Awarded 1 Blackened Filth
73 – Not awarded 1 Blackened Filth because it cannot be duplicated; nothing awarded (or maybe there is a mechanic for a reroll?)
18 – Awarded 5 Silver Coins

As a result, you will receive; 10 Silver Coins, 1 Mossy Carapace, and 1 Blackened Filth.

Disadvantage:  The loot can be extremely frustrating to achieve.
Advantage:  It keeps players running the content over and over chasing the “carrot.”  This provides longevity to the content.

Weighted Random Number Generator (wRNG)

This system is used to assign rarity to individual items and is commonly used for loot from boss kills and treasure chests.  When a chest spawns, a formula (incorporates an RNG) will determine how many pieces of loot from each Loot Table (Common, Uncommon, Rare, Incomparable, and Epic) will be in it.

Overly Simplified Example of what this system may look like in LOTRO;

Killing this particular boss (Shelob) results in a chest that only spawns Common, Incomparable, and Unique loot.

Table Selection

0-80 Common
81-95 Incomparable
96-100 Unique

Common Table (Table 2)

# Item Duplicate Mob
0-24 25 Silver Coins Yes Bosses
25-49 1 Bounty No Bosses
50-74 1 Ornate Heritage Rune of Lore Yes Bosses
75-100 1 Fused Profound Relic Yes Bosses

Incomparable Table (Table 3)

# Item Duplicate Mob
0-24 Shelob Crest (currency) No Bosses
25-49 Universal Solvent No Bosses
50-94 Scroll of Empowerment No Bosses
95-100 Anfalas Star-lit Crystal No Bosses

Unique Table (Table 4)

# Item Duplicate Mob
0-99.5 Nothing Yes Bosses
99.6-100 Fang of Shelob No Bosses

An RNG then determines how many items from each loot table you get (Tables 2-4).  The results were 4 from the Common Table, 4 from the Incomparable Table, and 1 from the Unique Table.  RNG rolls are then conducted for each table (as in the tRNG example above) to determine what drops.

As you can see the Common Table is equally distributed; there is a 25% chance of achieving each item.  In the Incomparable Table the loot has a weighted distribution; the Shelob Crest and the Universal Solvent have better odds of dropping (25%) than the Anfalas Star-lit Crystal (5%).  The Unique Table is weighted to the extreme, with only a 0.5% chance of the Fang of Shelob dropping.

Disadvantage:  The weighted loot can be extremely frustrating to achieve.  It leads to grind and burn out.
Advantage:  It keeps players running the content over and over chasing the “carrot.”  This provides longevity to the content.

Player Choice Systems (PCS)

This type of loot distribution can rely on tRNG, wRNG, or no RNG.

In order to help prevent the grind of having to deal solely on an RNG to achieve a specific piece of loot, PCS systems are used.  Example; in a tRNG or wRNG system (as described above) you must rely on the RNG to award you specific pieces of gear.  If you do not get the specific piece of gear you want, you have to complete the fight again and again until you get it.  This is common when an instance drops pieces of armour or jewelry.  Completing the instance can reward a Helmet, Gloves, or Boots.  Each time you run it you have no choice in what the RNG assigns (you could get Boots 10 times in a row).

To mitigate grind and frustration the instance can drop an Armour Box or a currency, which if won by the player can be used to choose the Helmet, Gloves, or Boots.  If the player completes the instance enough times and wins the Armour Box 3 times they are assured of completing the set.

PCS (tRNG / wRNG)

Like the above tRNG / wRNG systems the reward (in this case an Armour Box or currency) is distributed via the RNG systems.  So getting the box is not guaranteed, but if you win it the choice of reward is guaranteed.

Disadvantage:  Still relies on an RNG.
Advantage:  If you win the Armour Box you have a choice of rewards.

PCS (no RNG)

This system would guarantee that upon completion of the instance you receive the reward (in this case an Armour Box or currency).  Completing the instance X times would guarantee you a full set of Helmet, Gloves, and Boots.

Disadvantage:  In a very short period of time the player has exhausted the desirable rewards and the content becomes less attractive.
Advantage:  If you complete the content once you are guaranteed the reward.

Deed Based Systems

The reward is gated behind completing a deed (or deeds).  Let’s use the example of the Fang of Shelob from above.  In the wRNG system above you have a 0.5% chance of the Fang of Shelob dropping and then a 1 in 12 chance of winning the roll in a Master Looter scenario within a 12 person raid.  In a Deed Based System a player that completes the instance at T2C “x” times (assuming the item is gated behind T2C content) would automatically receive the Fang of Shelob.

Disadvantage:  You have to complete the content “x” times to receive the reward.
Advantage:  If you complete the content “x” times you are guaranteed to receive the award.  There is no RNG involved.

Personal Loot Systems (PLS)

The majority of the loot in LOTRO drops in a chest and is bound by the Loot Rules defined by the leader of the group.  A Personal Loot System would ignore the Loot Rules and assign rewards directly to the players.

Let’s use the Fang of Shelob example again.  In the wRNG system above you have a 0.5% chance of the Fang of Shelob dropping and then a 1 in 12 chance of winning the roll in a Master Looter (Loot Rule) scenario within a 12 person raid.  In a PLS you would have a 0.5% chance of the Fang of Shelob being rewarded directly to you.

Disadvantage: Many kins like to use DKP (Dragon Kill Points) or Raid Points or some other currency to determine how loot should be distributed within the group; the PLS would eliminate this possibility.  It eliminates the luck of a roll.  You could have someone in the group who already has the Fang of Shelob receive it again without the opportunity to pass on it so others could get it.
Advantage:  It eliminates the possibility of “ninja looting,” and it eliminates the further RNG of a roll within the group once the item has dropped.

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While the scenarios above may be overly simplistic compared to the mathematics and equations that actually run in the background, they are representative of the genres out there.  Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.  Standing Stone Games is in the planning stages of a raid for an X-Pac release in the Fall of 2017.  Let’s give them some proactive feedback on what the loot system for this raid should look like.

I personally feel they should be implementing gear that drops in the raid that has bonuses that are only active while in the raid.  This would keep the raiders happy with achieving best in class gear but not exclude the non-raiders.  The non-raiders could get gear with the same stats but not bonuses that activate within the raid.

Example;

Raid Armour
+10% Damage
+10% Devastate (only active while in raid)
+10% Incoming Healing (only active while in raid)

Regular Armour
+10% Damage

Anyone wearing the raid armour outside of the raid would have the exact stats as those with non-raid armour.

WHAT LOOT SYSTEM DO YOU PREFER?  HAVE YOUR SAY BEFORE STANDING STONE GAMES MAKES A CHANGE …

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