DKP and other loot distribution systems
by Tachyon on Wed. 13. August 2008, 19:43
Filed under: raiding, loot, items, guildThe fact that so many loot distribution systems exist speaks for itself - none of them is perfect in every situation.
The general principle is:
Loot shall be distributed in the way that causes the least drama, and the highest motivation.
But does it matter who gets the loot? And who benefits how much from it?
Things that have to be considered with loot distribution:
- Loot improves your raid, making encounters more easy and allowing to progress.
- Loot is a motivational factor for the players (surely not the only factor, but let's be realistic: its probably the most important one), as it is the only way to advance a character in the endgame.
- Getting loot upgrades the players' characters. The item may be more of an upgrade to one player than to another player.
- From a raid group perspective, the item also indirectly benefits all other players, especially when the player receiving it raids often or fulfills an important role in the raid. That's why most guilds set priorities on equipping their main tank with the best gear possible.
- Item drop chances vary, and generally the best items drop more seldom.
- Alternatives have to be considered - are there some other sources for item upgrades that a player hasn't used, such as heroic badge loot, crafted items and faction rewards? One item may be more of a benefit to a player just because he was too lazy to get an upgrade from an alternative source, whilst the item may be only a small upgrade for another player who has no other way to improve his equipment than from item drops.
- Players hate random distribution. It's like working as much as your co-workers, only that each employee gets a random amount on his paycheck at the end of the month. Get more that your coworkers and you feel guilty, get less and you feel cheated.
- From a guild perspective, it's also important to keep the equipment of your raiders on a more or less equal level. If some raiders quickly outgear others, it becomes more likely that they switch to another guild when the raiding progress is not that fast.
Let's introduce some well known loot distribution systems and how they work:
Free for all lets all players pick up loot - first come, first serve. This generally distracts from playing together, as everybody will focus on ninjaing loot instead of concentrating on the fight. Diablo2 players learned to hate that system.
Round Robin assigns the loot more or less randomly to a player.
Need / Greed
This system allows the players to be fair (though does not force them to be) by letting them decide whether they need the item to upgrade their gear, or just greeding to roll for it when the other players also don't need it.
This system is best suited for pickup groups, and depends on the players making fair decisions. Loot ninjas could need on any drop, that will cause drama for sure, often resulting in a group kick for that player.
In small groups, players often discuss who should get the item that just dropped. If more than one player wants it, a manual dice roll decides who wins it.
This system can also be applied for raids, where the raid leaders or guild officers form a council to discuss who will get this item. They want to conclude on a decision that can be justified (be it that one player benefits most from the item, or be it to give credit for raid participation), but as there are so many driving factors, the decision is most often unambiguous when more than one player would deserve the item equally.
Loot council can and most probably will cause drama, at least when items are distributed that don't drop frequently. Players depend on the loot council's benevolence, that lowers their expectation and demotivates on a long term, as the efforts/rewards are not directly coupled.
For items that drop very often, such as the set tokens for T4/T5/T6 (3 types of tokens, and guaranteed 3 tokens per kill results in an average drop chance of 100% for a specific token), where set bonuses also have to be considered, this system can complement other loot system in that situation.
DKP stands for Dragon Kill Points. It requires tracking of the players participation over all raids (which means additional effort for the raid organizers), and also tracks which player got which items in the past.
Players earn DKP by rading, and can spend it to 'buy' item drops.
There are many variations on how DKP is earned and spent, so there's a whole family of DKP systems.
- Points per Raid - Each raid, be it successful or not, will reward a given amount of DKP.
- Points per Drop - This is a common practice with Zero-Sum DKP systems. If a players spends points to buy an item, the points will be distributed to all players in the raid.
- Individual adjustments in form of Bonus and Minus DKP (see the famous Onyxia Wipe) can be granted for exceptionally good or bad performance at a raid.
- Fixed Item Prices - Items cost a predefined amount of DKP. To give credit to the item's value, the item slot can be taken into consideration (weapons are generally more valuable than boots), and items could be grouped by tiers to reflect the effort the raid has to loot them (MH and BT will cost more than SSC/TK items). Some DKP tools can also calculate the item value as a function of the item slot and item level. With fixed item prices, the loot is given to the player with need with the highest DKP.
- Bidding system - Players can use their DKP to bid for items. The player with the highest bid will get the item. This system is somewhat flexible towards the item drop chance and the demand for the item; items that drop often tend to be cheaper than items that drop more seldom. Each player can decide for himself, how much of his DKP he's willing to spend for an item drop.
DKP systems are a good way to regulate the loot distribution, as this system is transparent and credits raid attendence and previously gained loot.
The Zero-Sum DKP systems tend to be rigid and have discrepancies due to rewarding attendence to farm encounters with lots of loot, and punishing attendence to progress encounters. When a raider quits the guild, the zero sum condition is violated, so it will either shift into a non-zero sum system or require normalization to adapt the DKP of all players in a way that the sum is zero again.
Non-Zero-Sum systems tend to have a postitive sum over all raiders, as bonus DKP is more frequently applied (and if, then to the whole raid) than minus DKP. This DKP inflation becomes more and more of a barrier for new guild members, who find themselves disadvantaged. For fixed-sum systems, this advantage becomes more or less permanent, and can only be countered by a normalization (just like in the Zero-Sum system).
Bidding systems are more flexible as they tend to self-regulate, and players which have more DKP also tend to spend more. DKP inflation does only happen when players get into item saturation (when they have almost anything they want). Saturation is a good indicator that a player has outgeared the current raiding progress, and should advance to harder content.
Whichever loot distribution system is used, none of them is perfect. Loot distribution can become a complicated issue, especially in raid alliances, with guest raiders and or twinks participating.
DKP and Loot Council are in my opinion best suited for raiding, but it's essential to observe where it works and where it doesn't. There's always a way to customize or mix the loot systems, but keep in mind that the simpler the system, the better. Loot distribution should be done efficiently and quickly after all, to not to annoy the mass amount of people that want to advance to the next boss instead of waiting for a neverending discussion on loot distribution.
My guild currently uses DKP with fixed amount of points per raid, but with a different DKP account for each player and raid tier (so you won't be able to purchase Sunwell items with DKP earned in MH/BT. For the class set tokens we currently use Loot Council, as we need more people with a 4x T6 bonus. Items are purchased with bidding, and it works quite well for us.
How does your guild handle the loot distribution? Share your experiences by commenting this article
DKP is the devil, by World of Matticus
Loot Distribution, by Bremm's Musings