Managing loot in a game like Star Wars: The Old Republic can be difficult and with the planned changes to Operations, guilds need to get ready to be serious about raiding. The current difficulty levels may not be challenging to many guilds, but as more Operations hit, the easy going gloves will be taken off and guilds are going to need to get serious about the content. To facilitate this, guilds will need to begin coming up with a way to distribute loot fairly.
Traditionally, the most popular method is DKP and players have already sent requests to have some form of in-game DKP added (as seen even in this week’s Q&A). However, freedom of choice is important, and what might work for one guild may not work for the rest. So let’s go over the different systems for assigning loot.
SWTOR is also a different game and, for many reasons, has different issues. The first being that loot tokens replace many traditional item pieces. Bosses drop loot tokens that can be turned in for a variety of items for all classes, making it difficult to determine who gets what piece of loot. Additionally, loot is assigned to players in "normal" or "story" mode for some items, making master looter only really viable for harder difficulties. So there are some different challenges for SWTOR.
A common staple in the MMO industry, “Need before Greed” decrees that the person who needs an item the most gets that item. This is actually, in my opinion, the absolute best system that any guild can use for progression, because it boosts the operation’s total item efficiency in the most logical and straightforward way. However, it causes some drastic issues. First, it only works if the same eight or sixteen players return to raid each week. If a new player joins the raid group, then the system would dictate that they get the item if it’s the biggest upgrade for them, even if someone else has been to every operation run for the past six months.
Since raiding is a Human activity, it falls into the problem of having Human emotions. Giving the item to the person who benefits most can and will upset players, meaning that you might have an efficient raid, but your raiders will be upset and feel shafted for their continued loyalty. Which is why such systems are only good in tight knit groups.
The other option is to allow players to roll on items that they need. The highest roll wins, of course, but again it has some big issues, most of them involved with emotions. If you go to every raid and have horrible rolling luck, then you will not get any gear. A new member of the group could join the party and win a roll on the rarest item in the game, while a veteran could lose. While fair, it isn’t exactly fun, which is the big disadvantage. It is, however, great if you’re doing a non-guild run with pubbies.
I could get into each and every type of Dragon Kill Point (DKP) system for SWTOR, but that would be a long list to go through. So we’ll just talk about it in its most simplified form. Basically, DKP is a system where fabricated currency is given for each kill and can be spent to purchase various items that drops. There are various alterations and methods to giving DKP to raid attendees. Zero-sum means that raid members gain DKP when someone buys an item from a boss (the cost of the item divided by the raid), other forms of DKP assign points for raid attendance, boss kills, or other accomplishments.
DKP is a great system, but does have its issues. Some systems make players go into DKP debt in order to gear themselves out and a player who is too far into the hole may seek to switch guilds in order to win loot again. It’s also an attendance heavy reward system, meaning that attendance is awarded more than anything else. On the other hand, it’s one of the most traditional, fair, and easy to use systems out there.
SWTOR actually lends itself well to the system, especially with future updates adding epic modable items. It’s easier to distribute those items to players who want them and know what to do with them, then it is to figure out who gets the most benefit. It also makes buying the various loot tokens rather fair, because only players who are ready to pay for them can roll on them, and there is always a desire for it.
A loot council can be the best or the worst solution, depending on the guild. All options to this point have been fair options, where a set of rules dictate who does and does not get the gear. The Loot Council bypasses these rules and votes on who receives a piece of gear. This is a simple process, but is wrought with danger as egos collide. There is no “fair” when there isn’t a set of rules set outside of the Human decision process. So, with a loot council, one “ruling” might be fair to one person and not another (usually the person who won and the person who lost, respectively). So it’s a dangerous path to go, but solves all of the problems that the other systems have.
Loot only goes to players who attend regularly, contribute to the group, and show a desire to help the guild move forward. It also only goes to players who can benefit seriously from an item and weeds out side-grades and “less than optimal” loot placement. These subjects are all subjective, and can end up with a council who can and will play the favorites games.
SWTOR isn’t a great loot council game, though, because there are way too many variables and gear is spread across a great deal of classes, with tokens working for almost everyone. Although, in an eight man operation, there isn’t that many people to fight for loot, so having a few players make the calls on who gets what can work in everyone’s favor.
GKP, GDKP, CKP, or similar acronyms stand for a system in which players buy items with their credits and the credits are split amongst the operation. The problem here is that there isn’t much competition for some of the items, but this works to the advantage of pick-up groups. Stamina gear isn’t in high demand because an eight man raid is going to have a total of one tank, who, for all intentions and purposes, could simply get the items for free (otherwise they’d rot) as an enticement to come.
This system has and will generally work best for pickup groups, simply because it plays into everyone’s favorite sin – greed. A player who doesn’t need an item, but wants it anyway, will have to pay the price which is generally a big enough deterrence from people taking items from people who need them.
Overall, there are a lot of neat systems for loot distribution in SWTOR. Which one works the best? Well, you’ll have to experiment with them all in your guild to figure it out. What’s your favorite system? Let us know in the comments section below.