Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Great DKP Divide

I have noticed this phenomena in all the guilds I have raided with over the years.

There is a core raiding group, usually about half the size of the raid, who have been around considerably longer than the rest of the guild, have accumulated at least double any one else's DKP, as such have the best gear in the guild, and the DKP balance to ensure they have access to any upgrade items that drop in future.

They have earned this position over a period of months or more likely, years.

I firmly believe they deserve this status within the guild. Without this type of member, guilds do not progress, certainly not into end-game content. This core group tends to be very committed, and available to raid most nights of the week. It comes as no surprise when a raid is being formed, that the core group is invited first. The raid leaders will then fill in the gaps with the newer guildies who are signed up and online.

What then inevitably happens is the core group accumulate DKP at much higher rate than the non-core, simply because they are always there. Their DKP is always increasing, as they generally cannot spend it as fast as they earn it.

Not so for the non-core raiders. Not only do they not raid as much, either because they can't or because they don't always get a raid spot, they will also typically be undergeared, as the only time they can receive gear is when nobody else wants it.

Despite this, they still struggle to accumulate DKP. No raid spots, or being subbed in late for partial raids, only cements their position at the bottom of the DKP standings.

So there becomes two real DKP tables. The core will never be out rolled by the non-core. The non-core will never get an item that a core raider wants, so they only really need to watch other non-core raiders DKP counts.

Now the thing about this DKP divide... is that the majority of people are always at the bottom. You just need a higher number of casuals to fill the same number of spots as they aren't around all the time.

Unfortunately those causals are second rate guild members.

Regardless of how they are treated on an interpersonal level, the systems that govern how the guild conducts its raids locks them into a cycle of not enough raid spots means not enough dkp means not enough gear means not enough raid spots means not enough DKP....

After this has been going on for a few months, the gap between the core raiders of a particular class and the non core becomes greater still, to the point where the non-core raiders can pretty much give up on any aspirations they may have had to become more involved with the guild unless someone they can replace quits.

The things about the core raiders, is they have been with the guild for a long time. Chances are they aren't going to quit. So what is the wannabe-core raider to do about this great DKP divide and the ramifications thereof?

Buggered if I know.

It can all be very frustrating if you dwell on it, so I think the thing to do is just play for fun, not for loot. Even disregarding the loot, however, it can still be too much to take for a lot of people after a while, and they tend to guild hop to a guild where maybe their class is in higher demand.

Nobody likes to feel inferior or useless to a group they are part of, particularly a guild.

Personally I have no time for guild hoppers and I value loyalty too highly to ever become one. If all my guild needs from me is to be the waterboy once in a while, so be it. If they still only need me to be a waterboy this time next year, it's probably time to stop playing WoW anyway.

So... is this phenomena as widespread as it seems? Is it just me or does this happen everywhere?

Any great ideas as to how a guild can keep the non-core feeling like they are part of the team and staying in the guild longer than a few months?

As for me, I'm just going to keep doing what I do. Give it my best when I am raiding, sign up as often as I can, and when I'm not needed for a raid, go PvP or quest or play AoC or otherwise entertain myself.

One thing I am looking forward to though, is the expansion. Not only will I have a guild full of great players at my level to grind to 80 with, when we get to the new level cap, all our gear will be relatively equal, so at least I won't miss out on a raid spot because I dont do as much DPS as the next guy who has better gear because he gets more raid spots and therefore... gets better gear, and more raid spots...


krizzlybear said...

Badge gear: accumulate them. If you're not invited to raids, show up anyways, and do heroics while everyone else is raiding. The gear you truly deserve is the gear you work hard to aim for.

Skill: does not equal to good gear. I've run Kara with tier-geared members, and I've hung with them on the DPS charts. Maximize the utility that you bring to a raid, and you'll bring an asset that cannot be measured in DKP.

Dedication: show up to a raid even if you're not invited. You might not get into the group, but show that you're always available whenever they do a run. Might as well spend that time doing heroics to pile up on badge gear.

The whole idea is that while you might not have much control over how you are used in a raid, you have 100% control over your own skill, and how you choose to improve yourself in order to catch up to the higher geared members. I've gone through that, and surprisingly, I got invited earlier tonight to an impromptu Zul'Aman guild raid, and did not hold the group back. We downed the Bear and Hawk bosses, respectively.

krizzlybear said...

Oh, great post BTW. I appreciate how you're bringing it to light, but it doesn't mean that it's hopeless for those individuals on the lower end. I happen to be one of them, and it doesn't phase me one bit!

Typhoonandrew said...

As a casual i hate dkp. If you like it, skip this comment and stay happy. :| Also as a casual I've seen many systems and none really will cater to get gear for casuals; but then that is perfectly fair. No regular attendance = no regular loot. Simple. many moons ago I was more hardcore, and this comment is based upon both experiences.

What DKP means to me:
It is sign that the guild has gotten mature enough to see the need to reward the long staying and regular members. Its also a sign that they are not mature enough, or close knit enough to use another system that has subtle but powerfully different aspects (see alternatives below). And there are a plethora of alternatives, tweaks, and special rules.

If the guild uses a straight DKP model for loot, then they need to consider two things:
a - separate dkp tables for different raids
b - moving raids off dkp when they are "farmed out".

A - You do this so that the guys who regularly attend can see a point of differentiation between Class Drops, drops from specific instances, and general drops.

It could be that you have the extra tables for Tier Tokens (t4, t5, t6), could be by Class (warlock, druid, etc), or by Instance - or even a combo.

Consider the Karazhan runs where a range of toons attends each with different gear needs. If you have a general table and a class table the distribution of Tier items becomes easier to track, and one member will not always be at the mercy of the entire raid, but will only need to compete with those of the same valid classes in the run.

B - Moving a run to open roll / off-farm

When a guild is good enough, and the majority of the players have all that they need, you place the loot on officer assigned (or even open roll). This means that the regulars will still get items, but the loot from that instance is no longer a priority. In affect the guild is saying that the gear that drops there is now made redundant by other items that are now on farm. This is usually a death knell for the instance runs for that place as well. As a progression guild will not waste a night running where no items can by be gained.

Might also be useful to create a Toon gear wish-list for the farmed items. Make people nominate what they want publicly ahead of time, and then there are less hassles.

So what are the loot alternatives? (you'll need wowwiki or google to read all the details folks)

- Zero sum DKP is better than straight DKP, and zero sum is one of the most popular dkp systems used.
- Suicide Kings is better than a DKP system. Go read about the different SK systems in depth, and you'll see that it is just as viable for the regulars, but allows the semi-regulars to still get rewards.
- Class lists are a must, and INstance lists are handy.
- a method of rolls: major upgrade, minor upgrade, offset, then open roll will work if you play with the same set of players each week. The roll priority is given to the toon that will get the most benefit, with the raid leader having final say. I think this suits 10 mans particularly well, but doubt it would work in the old 40 man days, and suspect even 25s would get ugly.
- Officer assigned. The guys running the show decide all loot, and you get loot by attending, contributing, and not screwing up. I like this method, but it does not work in "political" guilds, or any pug run.

In the end players need to do their homework on the system being used, and perhaps leave or discuss this in guild. Keep you self happy, ignore your "internal loot whore" who wants everything first, and be honnest with what you are seeking, and what is reasonable for the guild to use.

LarĂ­sa said...

Oh a wonderful, interesting post. I agree about the badge strategy Krizzlybear proposes. It's a sort of extra dkp built in in the game.

And don't forget about crafted gear. I still regret I never picked tailoring for my mage, noob as I was. Spellfire and Spellstrike set would have carried me very far, it wouldn't have been replaced until pretty late in the raid path.

But this thing about a "core" and "the rest" applies not only to DKP. You can experience it in a dkp-free guild as well. It's nice and cosy to have buddies you've played with for a long time. But the "core" must be careful not to let new players out too much. You should strive for an atmosphere where new bounds are knit. Otherwise you may end up pretty lonely one day when the core players drop of due to RL issues and no new players have be let into the closer circle...

aolora said...

In my guild we ended a big crisis between core & non core raiders by 2 "rules" :
- 1st : we have a dkp count for each tier. So that everybody is at 0 when we start a new raid instance and nobody try to stack dkp in an easier raid instance to spend them after
- 2nd : each class leader is responsible for the turnover within his class. It results that everybody plays the same amount of raids

Core guildes may be valuable because they make a guild progress trhough HL content but the non core one are also important because there wouldnt be raids without them

Loronar said...

I do mostly agree with the others. I've been in raids that do DKP and raids that do not. Performance cannot be measured by DKP. True that the more kills you have, the more DKP you will have, which means the entire raid must be skilled enough. However, this means that new members will get left out until all the core raiders get all their upgrades. This would cause problems if a group member has to take a break from WoW and the only replacement is an undergeared person. Another problem is that DKP rules vary from guild to guild, as has been mentioned above.

True that badge gear will oftentimes replace early raiding gear drops, it actually also propels a person further into the raiding scene. For example, I pretty much have all the badge gear I want, hence my guild has been taking me to Hyjal and BT lately. If the loot system were on DKP, I would not have gotten the upgrades from BT that I did several nights ago.

Our guild is based on loot council, and I'm proud to say that we have a very competent and fair council. Personal gearing desires do not blind them from seeing the needs of the raid. For many guilds, unfortunately, they don't have the privilege of a good enough loot council, thus DKP is the next best thing to ensure that raid members get the gear they want/need. It's either thar or random roll, which many people hate.

sheepbreaker said...

How to solve the great DKP divide? Three words: wait list DKP.

The way we did it in my old guild (my current guild uses a loot council) was that if you showed up to raid and didn't get a spot, you were put on wait list. You could go do dailies, log on an alt, whatever you wanted to do, as long as you were listening in on vent and could be at the instance and ready to join the raid in 5 minutes or less.

People on wait list earned the same DKP as those actively raiding. There was still a slight gear gap between wait-listers and core raiders, simply because the wait-listers weren't around to pick up gear as often, but the wait list system ensured that when these people finally did get in on a kill when something good dropped, they could match bids with the core players and get their loot. It's a good system, because it rewards people for their dedication, even if there isn't space for them in the raid.

I feel that loot council systems are superior, but they do rely on the guild having a few very organized and knowledgeable officers to put on that council. The guild members need to be able to trust that the council has the knowledge and honor to make the right decisions for the guild. I've been in guilds where such a system wouldn't have worked at all, and DKP is great to fall back on if that's the case.

Chu said...

Regardless of how a guild resolves the issue, it must be executed well enough that both the core members and the newer raiders are satisifed with their individual situations.

You can have the best intentions with your new and awesome system, but if it alienates your core group or newer raiders, and you dont have sufficient buy-in from your officers, you may be in for a difficult time.

Calli said...

I really don't see DKP as causing too many probhlems at all, as long as you make sure that you have a separate DKP list for every tier instance and there are no set loot costs. Allow people to bid whatever they want. All dkp does is tell you who's going to get the loot first, and it's only fair and right that along time raider should get first dibs over a casual. That long time raider will be bidding against other long time raiders, so he's going to pay top dollar dkp to get his loot first. Meanwhile, your casual will have to wait for his loot, sure. But while he's waiting he's not spending and everyone else is. Sooner or layer he'll get the gear, and it'll only cost him 1dkp. Meanwhile the others are spending all they have to get the gear first. It all evens out.

Zupa said...

I think separating DKP by instance Tier is probably the biggest thing we can get from these idea.

The fact is that a lot of the people with 3 - 4k DKP earned a large portion of that in Kara.

Interestingly the GL had a quiet word to me about the future of DKP in our guild and has some interesting plans of how to sort things out before the expansion hits.

I'll cover it in detail when it happens, but can't give anything away for now :/

2ndNin said...

Best solution I have found so far is what works for my current guild. I call it the rack-em-up-knock-em-down DKP system.

Basically you accumulate DKP fast:
15/ boss kill
25/ end instance boss kill (kael, vashj etc)
50/ progression kill

and a per hour tip.

You must bid 1/3rd of your dkp if you have more than 100.

People get DKP fast enough that they don't save it, the guild regularly sees people blowing 900dkp+ on tier tokens, or just stuff they want, those with uber high DKP will find something and use their DKP, so they don't worry about saving it. Seems to work nicely imo.

Rohan said...

The system you are describing is actually a mistake in the DKP system. It's called DKP inflation, and is a common problem in Fixed-Price DKP systems.

There's a number of ways to deal with this issue. DKP taxes, increasing prices, moving to a bid system. There's a really good thread on the guild relations forum outlining loot systems.

The cardinal rule for any good DKP system is:

DKP Earned = DKP Spent.

If your raid earns more than they spend, that leads to inflation and problems. The prices for your items must match or exceed the DKP earned.

Zancorr said...

While I do agree that there is sometimes a divide between the core group of raiders and the newer/casual raiders, you also have to keep in mind the way your core raiders think and act.

I am a part of the core raid group in my guild, I am an officer - and have been since we formed the guild almost a year ago. While we do have our set core, most of us understand when a piece of loot will benefit a newer member more than ourselves. We all know that these newer members are all trying to become part of the core group, not so much because of gear, but because we all enjoy raiding!

I know it is hard for some people (myself included!) to pass up on the new shiny loot, even if you have more DKP than others. When loot drops for me, I take a look at ALL the other people I would be rolling against, to see if it would benefit them far more than me.

Like someone else said, working on getting badge gear greatly helps, and makes the t6 pieces only minor upgrades, except for set bonuses, etc. When we look for new recruits, if someone has a bunch of badge gear on, we know that they have worked for something, and would be a great addition to our raiding team.

I also agree with Waitlist DKP, so people who didn't get into the raid can still earn DKP. In our guild, you get the hourly DKP, but do not get the extra DKP for bosskills, since you were not in for the kill/wipes, etc.

All in all, our DKP system works great, as long as you don't have a bunch of loot whores always willing to spend all of their DKP(oh yeah, we use a two round, silent bid system, so people set their own prices), and the non core raiders will still get gear, usually for the minimum bid DKP, they just might have to wait one or two weeks!