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Reader Comments (14)

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 11:36AM (Unverified) said

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Good thing none of the games I play are loot based.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 12:21PM Jeromai said

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Amen. Thank you for writing this. Resonates strongly with me.

This is the reason why I have avoided playing WoW for longer than a free trial period. I had burnt out from a highly gear-focused MUD after observing my behavior after four years was all about making myself look good to other people - parading excellent game skill/knowledge, decking self out in 'the best' equipment, and collecting, no, amassing, -hoarding- virtual wealth on mule characters. My self-esteem became wrapped up in making sure I looked better than everyone else, and I couldn't forgive myself if I failed or slipped up doing this. "Prestige." Greed.

I bounced back the other way strongly by going to no-loot CoX.

Need/greed/pass systems blew my mind when I encountered it in LOTRO and I had to spend a while reading up what it all meant.

Bit more maudlin now. I'm accepting of the fact that most people seem to enjoy loot progression. I'm ok with a game that incorporates it, but I'd prefer a game that doesn't make it the be-all and end-all focus.

More importantly, I'm making sure I don't fall into that trap again. I very rarely roll need unless I know I'm going to use something that very instant. I'm just as likely to pass as greed. And I just shrug if someone else keeps wanting stuff. I don't want to get upset over it anymore. So that fellow has a few more bytes that has a few more numbers on it. It makes him happy. For now.

Chances are, there will come a time when he has everything in the whole virtual world, but no real friends at all, and he will find it is horribly lonely at the top. I know. I was there once. Greed.

You can't take stuff with you when you go. All you have at the end are memories of real people and the good times you had.

If others don't realize this, that's ok too. It's their lives to live how they like.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 12:32PM Nadril said

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Raiding does bring out the greedy side in some people, which is unfortunate. When I played WoW I had a good mix of players in my guild, some would kindly pass on loot that someone else needed while a few might get bitchy about it.


One of our warriors in the guild was really good about loot. He wouldn't steal DPS leather from rogues, even if it was a valid upgrade to him. He didn't whore the loot either, yet was also almost always #1 DPS.

I would like to think I was nice on some loot. If something was pretty much a sidegrade, or a small upgrade, I would pass it to the rogues who needed it more than me. While now and then I'd obviously roll on what I needed I never bitched if I lost it, well not more than "aww shit :P".


However one of the guilds old officers apparently got really pissed about some piece of gear, I think it was the tanking weapon from sup (so not even tough). This was a good month after I had been gone from the guild, so I only heard it second hand. Apparently there was some confusion between the officers which lead to him not getting the tanking item that he wanted (I guess he won it, or I don't even know) so he stormed off. Turns out that he took down the entire guild page and the ventrilo server.

Of course my guild was fine, the guy was just an officer that worked on the webpage and such. But still it was ridiculous that he'd go into a hissy fit all about something like loot.



Its more of the nature of life though than it is games. WoW does have an extreme emphasis on gear (which I really do dislike and is one reason why I quit) but then again greed doesn't even have to be about gear. It can be as simple as a person KSing mobs without a care in the world, or other selfish acts.


There really is no mechanism in any sort of game that can detract from the basic desire to want to be better and have better stuff. We're all greedy, it's just all a matter of do we take it too far or not. When you lose a roll do you just kind of moan and say "shit, didn't get it" or do you lose your shit and go crazy over vent?

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 1:35PM (Unverified) said

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This is a good example why end game play should not be soley based on world obtainable gear. The best gear in the game should be player made and should not be repairable. Big boon to the economy and a more level playing field for the end game folks who don't have the time to devote to raiding.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 2:36PM (Unverified) said

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This is a great piece, Kevin. I completely agree with everything you wrote here, and I've had the exact same experiences, and feelings, time and time again. Especially in WoW.

I really dislike the gear-focused game design paradigm, and I can't wait until some innovative company manages to develop a truly compelling and workable alternative to it.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 3:44PM (Unverified) said

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I think you addressed it best at the early part of your article. Greed is a sin we all live with. You even felt it rear up in yourself. It is sad, and it is frustrating, and we have all felt its pull.


Greed is that moment when your own desires and wants come up against those of someone else. It is that moment when you feel (nevermind actually say anything) that you're needs and wants are more important than someone elses.

It doesn't have to be items, it can be time, or recognition, or our own way of doing things.

It is a pull we all feel, and will always struggle with.

Our best moments are when we sacrifice our own desires for someone else with genuine charity.

Our worst moments lead us into the bottomless pit that can never really be filled, in which we grasp and devour until we are bloated beyond recognition.

It is not unique to WoW, to gaming, or to life in general.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 6:25PM (Unverified) said

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I think you are somewhat wrong in this piece, it isnt GREED that necessarily drives better gear, sometimes its simply necessity, and yes people will inspect someone, go "cool" and look for ways to get as good/better gear, thats just competition.

I won 2 items in an instance on my mage, a dps ring dropped from the last chest, a holy priest needed on it... it WOULD have been ebtter for me, but I passed anyways because I had won 2 items already.

Greed is when you go out of your way to get things and actively deprive others from getting them, theres no fair play, there is only yourself, and you will get angry and throw hissy fits over it.

You are classifying any desire for better loot as greed, this is a flawed assumption in and of itself. Everyone wants to better themselves, it doesnt imply greed, in an MMO, a quantifier of improving yourself IS loot, as money is just virtual currency traded for the very loot you get, in fact, your own immediate disparaging of this helpful officer because he rolled on 2 items he could use does not display greed.

In fact, I find your own article displays more prejudice towards those who like upgrading their items than anything, as anyone who wants better gear is greedy, anyone who rolls need against you twice is greedy, anyone who does anything involving loot that conflicts with your personal rules as greedy.

Really, how droll can you get? I personally follow the same rules as you, I dont call people "greedy" unless they go out of their way to get things, like holy paladins who will take dps gear from dps characters, priorotizing themselves before others who WILL benefit, 2 people who will both benefit from the same item however... fair game, thats just how life works, people wont step aside and let you take the gold just because "I NEED IT TOO!"

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 6:30PM (Unverified) said

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TLDR version: You qualify everything as greedy, even generally nice people who roll legitimately on items that would make them better. That is not greed, greed is always wanting more no matter how much you have, if your guild friend helps people off the time, and you suddenly call him greedy for rolling on need in 2 items in an instance, you may be shocked and apalled at him... but maybe you should take a good long look at yourself first, and at how you lump everyone into one catagory.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 8:50PM Jeromai said

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Necessity? Competition? Fair play? Interesting words to use.

You're absolutely right though. In certain games as designed, chasing after better items and getting higher up on the loot hierarchy ladder is par for the course and has become totally acceptable.

Should it be this way?

Is it, after all, "just a game..." No harm done. Nothing personal, y'know.

Posted: Jun 20th 2008 4:12AM Askgar said

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Reading through this makes me glad I don't play WoW.

Playing through a dungeon on Guild Wars (equivalent to an 8-Man raid in WoW really) with my guild, all drops are auto assigned to people. During this single dungeon I had about 6 gold drops (Rarest items, I'm usually lucky to get 1), not one member of the group complained it was unfair, no one wanted me to "share them out" even though I couldn't use most of them. So what did I do... I offered all of them out at the end anyway because I didn't have a use for them. No one wanted them and now they are sitting around cluttering up my inventory as I have nothing to do with the...

In my eyes what it shows is that if you make your game less dependant on gear, even when the rarest items show up (usually nicer skins in GW that can be worth a lot of money) people don't bicker over them and don't complain that its not fair.

I do see the "its just a game" comment, but when you've been playing with people for 6 months you tend to think of them as friends and when someone turns around and suddenly acts completely out of character... well its going to hurt a bit and make you question what you knew.

Posted: Jun 26th 2008 4:05PM (Unverified) said

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Couple of issues. First regarding the wealth distribution. It is true, in a capitalist society wealth is unequally distributed. However, the richest 1% pay the lion's share of the personal taxes in this country, and that tax rate has been very high in the last few decades. It went down under Bush but not more-so than the middle class. This isn't the place for politics, but people are dead wrong about the 'tax cuts for the rich' that people complain the Bush administration gave.

Second, you are absolutely right that in WoW it's a two tier system. First its character level then its gear leveling. At 70 your abilities double, triple or quadruple depending on your gear. For example, my dps on my hunter has increased 4 fold and can increase another two fold beyond that. That's 8 fold above the normal level 70 in basic equipment. So to get to 70 it is pretty easy, you don't have to do all the quests, you dont have to do the dungeons.

However, at 70 there is a rude shock. To do the heroic version of teh dungeons, you suddenly need much better gear than you'll typically get at 70. So you need to do the battlegrounds, and do the upper-end normal dungeons, and obtain epic crafted gear. There is a huge 'gear gap' between raids and heroics versus normal dungeons, and this gap can take months to overcome. This is pretty annoying and I hope they do a better job at it in the next expansion. Currently the end-game normal dungeons just aren't run, there are very few newly minted 70s. All the older 70s do the heroics for the badge reward. Thus the gear gap is much more challenging to overcome now that it used to be six months or a year ago, due to aging of the player population.

Lastly, while players are greedy, there are systems in place to aleaviate this. For 25 man raids our guild uses a point system like the vast majority of guilds. You put in the time, you get the points. You bid the points on the loot you want. If you are the high bidder, you win. Now, this doesn't prevent warriors from bidding on hunter gear, but its fair in the sense that they earned the points.

As you mentioned the WoW end-game raiding is based on tiers. Its reasonably expected that players need to have much of their gear in the previous tier to be successful in the next tier. For example, to do Kara you really need to have drops from heroics and badge rewards. That's sort of a tier 3.5 for a tier 4 instance. For SSC/TK the whole raid really needs to be in solid tier 4, no blues. For BT, the raid really needs to be in Tier 5/badge gear, with little/no Kara gear. The raids are designed this way, so its not a matter of greed as it is that it's required for all the players to have appropriate levels of gear.

I don't expect people to display common courtesy or ethics in this game. It's too easy to get away with things. If you didn't roll need when you needed to, you should have. If people are ninjaing loot, then the guild needs to have a mechanic in place to deal with it (masterloot). But by and large the death of guilds is due to #1 lack of timely progression, and #2 loot drama.

Posted: Jun 26th 2008 2:09PM (Unverified) said

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Actually, I think the best response is"who cares?" in terms of the players showing naked greed. Still, I've never had a lvl 70. I have led 4 noobs through Deadmines and actually lost money on it (my repairs for my lvl 39 pally were more than the copper I got - and I "passed" on EVERY piece of loot). Still, I had FUN. One of the noobs was a kid and very annoying - will never PuG with him/her again, but at the end I found one of them was an alt for the person who first ran me through DM. The point? It was FUN! And 3 of the 4 said "Thanks!". The fourth won't be invited back. Reading Insider makes me wonder if I'll EVER see Kara, but I get my 15 bucks worth each month. It IS only a game . The people I want to play with all have the same attitude -as for the rest, who cares abut them anyway?

Posted: Jul 4th 2008 5:25AM (Unverified) said

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Surely the problem is the Need/Greed/Pass system, which rewards greedy behaviour - In my opinion this system is based on invalid assumptions about how people cooperate and is asking for trouble. One problem is that passing/greeding on an item is a passive act which does not instill a sense of obligation in other players.

It looks like the Warhammer Online devs have thought about this problem and will have a much better way of allocating loot. Whilst I'm enjoying playing LOTRO at the moment there are just so many things they could have done better rather than blindly following WoW's lead. This is one of them.

Posted: Jul 28th 2008 7:37AM (Unverified) said

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This is why MMORPGs as we know them are doomed to become much less popular now than they were in the past. While getting stuff is fun at first, eventually you have to ask yourself why you even bother. What's the point of spending hours for some pixels and a minor stat tweak. Maybe in the future we can get back to real RPGs with actual stories and character development.

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