Rewarding team play

Ferrel@Epic Slant and Psychochild have been discussing how best to reward team play in MMOs.

Ferrel is a guild leader. His problem is that people don’t like showing up to progression raids ie. where they meet with limited success, may be frustrated, may wipe a lot, may incur a lot of repair bills and don’t get many rewards. He looks for solutions that will give better rewards to progression raiding than to  less challenging content. He asks why success is the only thing that is rewarded. He also complains that DKP systems are set up to reward players, not guilds.

His observations are correct. Although DKP systems reward players because it’s easy to administer and it works. Even the most basic DKP gives points to people for turning up to raids. These systems are set up to reward constant and consistent attendance which is what most raid leaders want to reward. Not only that but people are rewarded for sticking with the same raid group, they see their DKP total build up.

If players aren’t enjoying progression raids and you are a progression guild, then find other players who do. Maybe progression raiding really isn’t for everyone. Maybe some players just don’t enjoy it and handing out better rewards will only make them more miserable because they feel that they must play in a way they don’t enjoy. Maybe people have a bad day at work and just aren’t in the mood for a stressful progression raid some nights.

One problem with  the whole raiding setup is that after you have beaten the encounter, you have to keep farming it for weeks of boredom so that the rest of the raid can gear up. That’s the real problem. Of course people get bored of farm content, of course people are reluctant to spend every raid night smashing their head against a brick wall of frustration. If your core problem is human nature, then no reward system is going to fix it. Go back to the beginning and look harder for a problem that you can actually solve.

This isn’t a problem that sports teams face — and the semi-professional sports team is one analogy for a raid group. They meet up every week, they have scheduled practice and training sessions, and then they have weekly matches against other teams. This makes me wonder whether the rated battlegrounds that Blizzard plans to implement may yet be the saviour of the raid game.

Guild leaders like Ferrel believe that if only people were more loyal to their guild, they’d happily keep showing up for the frustrating progression raids and boring farm raids. They wouldn’t, they might feel bound to show up more but if they’re really not enjoying it then they’d also burn out and leave the game. You can only nudge people so far. And there will always be some people who enjoy progression raids and some who don’t. Some nights where people are in the mood for it and some where they aren’t. And labelling people as selfish because they stop coming when they’re bored is just ignoring the real problem and asking them to burn themselves out instead. Is that really a good long term solution? Or would it be better if you didn’t have to keep putting together weekly raids to content with which people are already bored?

Or is the problem connected with having so much emphasis on difficult group content? That naturally means that pressure falls on the weaker members of the team to shape up, and that if you have a bad day, your team suffers (and boy will they let you know about it.) And unlike battlegrounds which are over in 20 mins so you get another chance to pull your socks up for next time, a raid will occupy a whole evening.

What you can do is make farm raids more fun, and either turn them into more social events or invent some fun challenges to keep people’s interest. It won’t work for everyone but there are worse ways to spend a night in game than chatting to friends while running through some cool encounters that people like even though they aren’t especially challenging. Particularly if rewards are structured to help your guild or alts or friends.  And even then, devising a system that locks people into the same farm raids for months on end is going to run dry eventually.

Psychochild tackles a different problem altogether: how can game designers reward the actual learning process? Is it possible to reward people for not chasing loot single mindedly, and to de-emphasise individual reward?

If I have learned anything from raiding casually, it’s that the learning curve is still just as fun when it is slower. That it’s OK to take a night off from progression raiding and come back to it later. That you don’t always have to be on the cutting edge or racing the rest of the server to feel a sense of achievement from your first kills. I wish I could think up a good reward scheme to show other people the same thing. I think it would make for a much happier raid experience all round, and less stressed out guild leaders too.

In any case, it was a fascinating set of posts to read, if only to see how two people come at an issue from very different perspectives.

About these ads

2 thoughts on “Rewarding team play

  1. A thoughtful and thought provoking post. It reminded me of a topic I’ve been planning to write about for some time and perhaps this post is inspirational enough to get me to do it this weekend.

  2. I’ve long thought that raids need a better set of tuning controls for guilds to tailor their experience. I’m also not a fan of the loot lottery that keeps raids on farm status well past their “sell by” date. Being able to tune the difficulty might go a long way to making farming less onerous. (As do token rewards.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s