Randomised loot drops are, when tuned well, a recipe for joy - but the flipside is the potential for crushing runs of bad luck. There’s nobody who understands that better than Blizzard, who first introduced a currency reward to World of Warcraft raiding as consolation prize for players who never seemed to land the shoulder piece they wanted.
These days, there are two currencies at work in the raiding system - but Blizzard want to remove both of them.
“We are planning on simplifying our currency structure,” lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas told PCGamesN.
In the current system, players running the latest raid bosses earn valor points, while those playing lower tier raids and dungeons earn justice points. Both can be exchanged for gear if raid bosses fail to drop the loot you’re after - but Blizzard believe they’ve become unnecessary.
“The traditional role of valor was to offer compensation for bad luck - and that goes all the way back to badges in Burning Crusade,” said Hazzikostas. “Where you’d go, ‘Okay, I’ve run this raid 15 times now and never seen a shoulder piece dropped - so I’ll take this currency and buy a shoulder piece for myself’.
“The bonus rolls system that we have these days actually goes a long way towards helping counteract that.”
The bonus roll system, introduced in patch 5.0, allows players another chance at a boss’ loot table upon completing a raid. With each roll, the chances of getting an item appropriate to the player’s loot specialisation increases.
“We think we can take the bonus rolls system and make it a little bit more intelligent, so that it tries to avoid giving you duplicate loots - and allow that to be the way players counteract bad RNG,” explained Hazzikostas. “It removes a little bit of the grind and a little bit of the awkwardness of the current valor system.”
PvP currently functions in a similar fashion - honor points are rewarded for kills, wins and objectives in non-ranked PvP, and conquest points reserved for playing ranked matches.
Asked whether the WoW dev team were considering a further simplification there, Hazzikostas told PCGN that arenas and battlegrounds needed “at least one” currency.
“We are trying to get rid of one of the two, but at the end of the day a purely random system probably would not work as well for higher PvP gear,” he said. “Conquest makes a lot of sense.”
It’s sort of fascinating that Blizzard are still fine-tuning systems introduced a decade ago - designing new features and throwing out others in an attempt to keep random rewards meaningful - without asking players to suffer too much frustration.
Do any of you lot run raids or voluntarily fight other players? Or perhaps you used to - in which case, why did you stop?