Friday, October 25, 2013

Random is Random but Feast or Famine is Worse.

I really hate the random number generator and I am pretty sure it is not all that fond of me either.  At least if my love / hate history with it proves anything.  There are some people that are lucky and then there are some people that are not.  More often than not it seems everyone has what I call the "feast or famine effect", at least since the addition of personal loot.

I've been saying this since the loot system change in the DS LFR to the individual loot system.  There are some times you will go in there and win something off every boss it seems and other times you will spend two months not seeing anything only to finally get that run where you win something off of almost every boss.

That is why I call it the feast or famine effect.  I've had many people tell me the same thing so it is not just me seeing it.  If anything I believe the feast or famine effect supports my opinion that there should be no such thing as depending on luck for something as important as gearing.  It is not compelling game play, it is not motivating game play and it is not fun game play to have to sit around and wait for that one week where it seems you win everything.

Week one of this patch was a feast week for me.  I won 4 pieces that first week and was clearly in feast mode.  Remember, week one only had one wing of flex and no wings of LFR and the bosses we downed in normal mean nothing for feast week as I was tanking, not DPSing on my hunter.  Which basically means the three pieces I won off four bosses in flex and the one piece off the celestial boss was me basically winning off almost every boss I faced that week.  If that is not feast mode I do not know what else you would call it.

The week after I won one more piece as soon as the week started (so you could really say I was still working on the feasting from the previous week) and then that was it for that week and the weeks after as it turns out.  As each week passed and I would run whatever was out in LFR, whatever was out in flex, and actually run normal on my hunter, which never saw me with less than 6 bosses in even our worse week, that meant I was killing a lot of bosses each week. 

Adding the two world bosses to real raid bosses to all flex bosses and all LFR bosses and using three coins a week on top of whatever I managed to kill in normal you can easily say I was having, at worst, 30 chances for loot a week, more actually.  And getting nothing.  You can clearly see I was in famine mode, at least I can see that.

So after that initial week that saw me feasting, winning something off of nearly everything I killed, there was nothing.  Random is random, sure.  We all know that, we all understand that, we all accept that, but that does not mean we all think it is a good idea.

Last week after another week passed and having a total of 39 kills with a chance for loot at one level or another and getting nothing I was starting to get frustrated.  I started the patch off so well, I was feasting, I was getting loot with anything I stuck an arrow into, it was like they were handing it out, like the gear tokens on the island, just do something, anything, and get loot.

I must admit I liked winning a lot that first week.  It was a carry over from the last tier when I won nothing nearly all tier and then won 5 things in the last two weeks.  It was famine all tier, never seeing a weapon, and then seeing not one, not two but three weapons in the matter of 2 weeks to end it out.  I started to feast on weapons even after not getting any for 5 months previous to that.

You might be expecting me to start complaining about my bad luck right about now and I will of course, but not in the way you might expect.  I can live with random, but I wish random was a little more balanced.  There is no reason I should win 4 things on week one when I basically killed nothing and then basically nothing since killing many bosses each week.  I think the game would be better designed if it gave me one thing a week for 4 weeks than to give me 4 in one and nothing in three.

Everyone likes those four drop weeks but no one likes the no drop weeks.  Even the people that never complain about loot would have to admit that the feast or famine effect can be really annoying.  Random is random, sure, but does it really need to be that bad?  I am sure there has to be some way to balance things out where gear is a steady flow, a continued progression forward, instead of just waiting for that lucky week to come.  Spread the wealth of gear over the course of time instead of giving me a wealth of gear one day and then nothing else for weeks.

What made me think about this?  Feast week has come again for me and oddly enough this is the first week I have not run anything much.  Of course as my luck will have it, the week my hunter is on feast week I am not running a lot on him.  I healed the flex run, I only did bosses 4-7 on my hunter and I only did one wing of LFR, the last one.  So not a lot of chances for loot this week but I already got 4 pieces of loot.  Two from normal and two from LFR, including getting the forth piece for my 4 piece set.

I am currently sitting on feast week, I need to look into open raid or something to pick up some flex runs because maybe I can win a flex tier piece to replace that LFR tier piece.  I am on feast week, if it is going to happen it will happen now so I hope I can get in on a run. Maybe I can set up another run in normal to continue where I left off, just have to make sure I have my tanks and healers so I do not have to switch to one of them.  I am on feast week, I need to kill more bosses.  This might be the last chance I have for loot for months with my luck.

Sounds exciting right?  Knowing that whatever I kill this week I have a pretty great chance at getting gear because I am in feast week.  I got 4 pieces already and I didn't even kill much this week.  Sort of like the first week.  Do I only get my lucky weeks on the weeks I do not run my hunter much?  Fits my track record with luck, doesn't it.  I have to make every effort to kill everything that might even have a small upgrade for me, because after this is over it might be a very long time before I see another piece thanks to the feast or famine effect.

And that is my problem with the random is random.  No one likes getting nothing, but it feels so much worse when you get nothing for so long during that famine period.

Do you think something could be done to balance the feast or famine game play?  What would you rather, get 4 pieces one week and then nothing for 6 or get 1 piece a week every week or two over those 7 weeks?  I think I would prefer a system where you get one piece every week or two instead of this all or nothing approach.

Random is random, sure, but feast or famine sucks.  I am not sure what is worse, not getting anything for weeks at a time or getting and lot one week and knowing that is a symbol telling you that you will not be seeing anything for a while once this week is done.  I really do support the "earn" you gear approach where you get one piece every two of three weeks as long as you work for it.  So much better than random, so much better than feast or famine.

Wish me luck on finding some flex runs, I am going to try to ride feast week as much as I can because I know I won't be seeing anything again when it is over for a long time.


  1. I don't know whether I should say this or not but erm it's random. Feast or famine, lucky character, unlucky character, it's all in the mind. So killing more bosses this week because it's a lucky week won't work. As it isn't a lucky week, there's no bonus to your rolls for this week only. You might get more drops if you run more stuff as the probability increases but that's it.

    But then you already know that. It's just rng being rng and screwing everyone over. We all have tales of it.

    I wanted the Bloodsoaked legplates off Horridon as they were haste/mastery. We killed Horridon every single week since the second week of the tier? It might have been since the first week I can't remember. I wasn't in all the kills, but everytime I was there I used a coin, and they never ever dropped. If they dropped when I wasn't there I think my co-tank tactfully didn't tell me. They dropped three weeks before the end of the tier, I got them on bonus roll and they dropped. Then they dropped the next week too, and the next week, it was just evil.

    Gear is just gear though. I don't care about it much. Well, I admit to wincing a bit when I passed on a perfectly itemised haste/mastery warforged belt on wednesday. However, it's more important for dps to gear up first so I let our ret pally have it. I didn't even roll as I knew he'd want it, and because I pass on gear like that I always have high pr on epgp so I would have won it if I'd rolled.

    Mounts though I'm all over. I finally got my stonecore mount. 210 attempts and it dropped. That's more than the 6 it took my friend, and a lot less than someones reported 350 on wowhead. That's why I hate rng, as it means that things don't mean the same. Someone that just gets lucky won't value it, like someone that spent hours farming for it. I understand why rng exists, it's the pavlovian theory. Do something and you might get a reward, so you keep on doing it in the hope that you will. Where it breaks down is sometimes the reward takes much too long to kick in. Personally I wouldn't mind no rng, with everything just a grind like getting exalted and 100k coins for that mount on timeless. I can work towards that and know one day I will get it. Whereas farming for primal eggs, I have to get lucky to find an egg, and then it hatches into a mount I've already got. It's like rng, on top of rng with a rng twist and I don't like it. I know people that have had eggs drop within a few kills, or in those quest bags in Throne, or in the LFR fail bag, and they've got all 3 of their mounts without trying. Me, I just have one as it keeps coming up red, and I have slayed thousands of those dinos.

    I would prefer a more equal system. One where people could get lucky but those that didn't would have something to catch them, so that eventually we were guaranteed it. It's a game, so while life might not be fair, I don't see why the game can't be a bit. It is supposed to be fun after all.

    1. I know that it is all random and I am just having a lucky week. Still the same, ride the luck while you have it. ;)

      What I am more referring to is perhaps them designing something more back end that evens out luck. So people do not win something off 4 bosses in a row or nothing off 30 kills in a row. Make it that it evens out so, lets say, one out of every 6 bosses at worst will drop something. Need it or not, it would "feel" better than winning a lot one week, nothing for 6 weeks, then a lot one week again.

      I think a balanced loot system would be nicer.

      I actually could have had a helm last night too. Won the roll but passed on it because I have the four piece already and wanted to share my luck with the other hunter that had not won anything. It would have been a nice upgrade but a little for everyone is a good thing.

      However, with my track record of luck, I start to wonder ever time I pass on something. Will I ever see it again? And just me having to think that shows that it is bad design. It creates loot greed, and that could create drama and no one likes that.

      That is one of the reasons I prefer 10s. No need to even roll, I usually just give the piece to whoever it will benefit most and everyone is happy because we get better as a team. Never been able to find a steady 25 where that approach would work.

      BTW, my 25 is now top 500 US. We still suck, but it shows you how few 25s there are in the game when we are even top 5000. Sad really.

    2. Are you doing normal with your 25m now? not just flex? Did I miss a blog post? We're sitting 53 teams from breaking the top 1000. Might get there this weekend (we're always a couple bosses behind since we raid on the weekends).

      Also, we've really been struggling as a 25m to find a decent way to give out loot. We were on a -1 system, and this tier switched to DKP. Even now, still somewhat early in the patch, DKP is skewing things because it rewards people a lot more for being there on a farm night (we haven't saved a lockout yet this tier) when we're just catching up to where we were the last week. We the hunters of our 25m tried to just come together and say we'd decide amongst ourselves who would benefit most from gear, but then we got an agi shaman, and have been pugging in a couple hunters... qq over...


    3. Started this week. Didn't do so bad. Still have plenty of week spots in the group but I think they can do 6 in a week or two and hopefully grow to get a little better over that time.

      If you count west, not just US, we are much lower. There are much fewer 25s in the US.

      We use a simple rule for 25, but people still bitch of course. It is simple but would take a while to explain. Kind of 1 per person per night, to spread out the loot. But people can get second things.

      4 of the top over all players are hunters in the 25. Do you think I would let them be anything other than good. lol

  2. I was nodding and chuckling all the way through your post. I can relate! While I had some feast weeks in ToT, so far I have zero 5.4 tier gear. Zero. To me the most annoying thing is to spend an hour or more queued for LFR, then get a group like I did last night and spend over 3 hours and hundreds in repairs, flasks, and food, and get nothing but gold for the entire night. When you get a run of luck that makes that scenario the norm week after week, it tends to suck much of the fun out of the game.

    I am not advocating LFR gear giveaway, but Blizz needs to think about what such experiences are doing to the whole LFR concept. Because my guild is not a raiding guild, our progression team works through normal 10-man content very slowly (we are just now on Lei Shen), and we have attendance issues with setting up flex runs. LFR becomes my default gearing-up mode, especially early in an expansion or patch. But the message I am getting with increasing frequency is, "Don't expect anything but annoyance from LFR." This message, perceived by enough people, then becomes a downward spiral where average players give up on LFR, and what you have left in the pool are very bad players at one end of the spectrum and a few flamers who want to run through with the old "GGG!" mentality and belittle everyone else.

    1. I agree with everything you say. There are a great deal of guild members that have sworn off LFR completely even if they need gear from it.

      My LFR 3 the other week that saw me going at it over the course of 5 days and 20 hours just to get in and finish on.

      Another person in guild taking two weeks off and almost quitting after spending 5 hours in one LFR on day. That is longer then we raid in the real raid.

      Others that need gear desperately, but do not have 4 or 5 hours to sit around on non raid nights. We are a casual guild and as such that means very few people can sit around and play for that length of time nearly daily.

      Now add the stress of bad groups, people calling each other names, waiting for tanks, waiting for healers, seeing people with high items levels doing less DPS than I was doing in ICC and top it all off with getting no loot. No freaking loot after that hell they put you through?

      Yes, I agree, I am not advocating for LFR to be a loot dispenser, but it sure has hell needs to offer something that make us feel like it is worth running.

      The week I spent 20 hours in there I wanted the helm. Took me that long to do it, I get there, use a coin, and get nothing.

      If you consider time spent and stress endured I deserved something, some type of reward for the work and effort I put into it. But I get nothing.

      So for me, on my main who needs nothing from there, and my alts that do need stuff, I would rather just not do it because the reward is not worth the effort.

      When the time comes for your guild just move to flex, skip LFR. Use open raid or pug to fill a few spots if you need to. It drops better gear and even if it drops nothing, there is no LFR wait time or hell to deal with.

      LFR has completely worn out its welcome in my opinion. So while I agree is should not be a loot dispenser, it needs to give us something tangible as a reward, because it is undoable otherwise.

  3. I think they'd be smart to implement a bit of a weight to the individual loot rolls (LFR, Flex, world bosses).

    Say the chance of loot dropping is 20% per roll (normal boss roll or bonus token). All numbers here are based on that if anyone's bored and wants to confirm/argue my results.

    Every time you don't get a drop, your odds increase by 10%. Every time you get a drop, your odds decrease by 31.7% (I'm sure there's math that'll come up with that but I used trial and error). Balance those numbers based on the actual odds of something dropping so if you're actually getting gear 20% of the time, you have 20% odds. I just simmed a couple of dozen 500-roll sequences with those numbers, ended up between a 19.8 and 20.2% actual drop rate in each case. With those numbers, it always seems to trend back to 20% odds so it CAN work.

    So yeah, looks like streak protection could definitely be implemented but it would have to both protect against long dry spells and hot streaks. They could also tweak the numbers, at 10% and 31.7% there would be more protection (ie. shorter streaks) than there would be with 5% and 18% with the same net result (20% overall average and trending toward 20%).

    1. That would be a solid idea to increase the chances of bad luck streaks.

      Lets face it, killing 30 bosses in a week and winning nothing off them (or not even see one piece you can roll on in the normal raid) is ridiculous. That should never happen. But to happen 4 or 5 weeks in a row? There is something wrong more than "random is random" can explain.

      The same could be said for winning what seems like all the time. That should never happen. If you win a piece and win another instantly after, your next chance to wins should be lowered, to smooth out the winning streaks so there is less feast or famine effect.

      The ideal fix was, and I know I will get flamed for it, valor type of gear. A currency for gear. Work, get paid, buy gear.

      Valor is an earned item. You needed to work to get it, it was not luck based. You work, you get it. Simple, easy, and predictable.

      With all gear like that you could get one piece every 2 or 3 weeks, you would know that loot is always around the corner when you earn enough from doing work to get it. No more bad luck, no more good luck. Just earning you gear.

      LFR gear could be purchased with LFR points. Flex gear with flex points. Normal gear with normal points. Heroic gear with heroic points.

      Like I said, people would flame the idea, but it is without a doubt the best idea. Make people earn their gear. No more lucking into it. No more bad luck streaks. No more feast or famine. Just plain and simple hard work earns you gear.

    2. I like RNG, though, most of the time. Is it nice to have a fall-back plan? Sure, and I miss that a bit here, but not as much as I thought I would.

      Also, on another topic you touched on, I'm also seeing a lot of indications that the world boss drop rate has gone down since the first couple of weeks of the patch. My experiences have gone that way and a few people in-game who I've been keep tabs on have had similar results... and I'm not talking UPGRADES, you'll naturally get fewer of those over time, I'm talking drops in general.

      First week or two I think I was getting world boss (Celestials and Ordos) drops about 30-35% of the time... lately it's been closer to 10-15%. While one person's actual results don't mean much, I run a lot of toons out there so I generate a decent amount of data (nearly 50 rolls a week). Others are reporting similar. I haven't heard from a single person who had lousy luck early but has turned it around lately.

      I've also had some wacky RNG... one of my toons got both tier pieces off Celestials in the first week. 3 toons have both drops at this point, none of them toons that I run much. One toon hasn't gotten a single i553/i559 drop off either world boss, yet 3 of my toons have gotten 3 of a particular item already (2 from Ordos, which is crazy considering he drops 7 or so slots per toon). I once got the same item twice on the same Ordos kill.

      I kind of like it, though. While I do wish I could shift some of the luck to my primary toons (one of my toons has gotten 1 drop total, the other has gotten 4 but 2 were dupes, all off Ordos), overall I've been pretty happy with the results.

      I've also done pretty well in Flex with loot so far, the odds in there have stayed a lot more stable for me vs the world bosses.

    3. 9-14 toons a week doing at least one world boss, most both, and I have only seen 1 piece drop on any of them in the last 3 weeks.

      So lets say an average of 20 kills a week counting all characters on two bosses. That give me a 1 in 60. Hey, at least it was needed. But an extremely low drop rate.

      But, to go with what you said, first week, 3 people won something off ordos and nearly all my characters won something off the celestial, most a tier piece.

      So yeah, I would say the drop rate fell a lot, at least in my experience, or you could call it evening out.

      My shaman wins the tier pants every freaking week. lol I should drop one profession and pick up enchanting just to get the free mats. Wish I could get the gloves once.

      You know what else I wish it would do, smart loot. If I already have my healing pants give me off spec ones. Even if I have my loot set to healing. If I am current wearing them I obviously do not need them. A little smart loot on world bosses would be nice.

      A friend of mine wins something off Ordos every week. Even with his coin roll he wins. He now has 9 bracers. Come on. having such great luck with drops and then bad luck with what the drops are. Don't know if that is worse than getting nothing or not. lol

  4. chuckle Grumpy don't ever go to a casino :P

    1. My luck is actually pretty good there. But I rarely go, I am not much of a gambler.

  5. hmm the more I think about it LFR IS a casino. except you don't wager with money you wager with your time.. I think there's a lot of similarities there main one being is the house always wins :P

    1. It sure seems the house always win.

      But it gives you a little taste once in a while just to keep you coming back. Just like a real casino.

  6. I've had regular drops, so no feast/famine mode for me this tier. But that's RNG...

    I've gotten 3 drops off Ordos, tier legs off Celestials (I have the Ordos legs and no other tier pieces, so they're collecting dust), plus a weapon and trinket from LFR. Won several useless items from LFR and a pvp item off celestials, but those are just annoyances. Rest is Timeless gear (only 1 single stat item) and two T15 items left (iLvL is 549)... Still need tier hands and more Ordos drops since I'm not doing flex or normals.

    I've always been an advocate of purchased/crafted gear. I don't like random drops.

    1. I am actually looking for PvP gear lately, as odd as that sounds. It is a nice way to get some conquest gear without the conquest. I want to do the 100 arena wins for the mount and having some gear surely can't hurt.

      Crafted and/or purchased just makes more sense in my opinion. I agree.

  7. I think that one of the reasons loot is so messed up is that the people at Blizzard think its exciting that you don't know whether you will get the drop you need next raid or in 6 months. That's the kind of excitement I can do without.

    1. I am sure there is some research to back up their claim, but I can't help but believe people would be happier to know they are getting something at a set time, in three weeks say, than guessing it might be today, it might be in 6 months, it might be never.

  8. Funnily, as usual, until TGE mentioned it, hadn't really noticed it! In the first week I had a large number of drops, and then I didn't get anything for a few weeks. I was still living off the high of getting stuff, but last week I was feeling the lack of loot, but the RNG gods were shining on me again this week and I scored 6 loots. WEIRD. As far as hooking you, addiction and the reward-pleasure thing works best when you get a "feast" because that just pulls you in to do more. Sure it makes you grouchy when you get nothing, but those weeks of plenty sure make you feel high. I doubt Blizz will change anything though - imagine if you got your one loot for the week and decided not to run any more stuff because there's no point as you won't get any more loot - would be a disaster for the LFR in the casual player base.

    1. How about I get all my loot in flex or normal and I do not want to deal with the horrible LFR runs so I will not do it any more?

      Doesn't that hurt LFR too?

      When you know that on average you will wait for over and hour in queue, maybe an hour and a half, then zone into a group with only one tank, clear trash to the boss, wait 10 more minutes for another tank, get one and wipe.

      Then listen to people insult everyones mother, ability to play, and the fact they will be a virgin their entire life. A few drop, a few more come, and the cycle goes like this, wipe, insults, drop, new, wipe, insults, drop, new, until you down boss one.

      Then on to boss two and begin the whole process again when a tank and two healers drop. Then wait 30 minutes to get the group going again and do the second boss, lets even say you one shot it this time you will get people insulting whoever did the least DPS, the least healing, and one tank is sure to say he had to play superman because the other tank is a noob that does not know how to taunt.

      Then you get to the last boss and there are more drops, more waiting for replacements and more wipes with more insults.

      All this is said and done 3+ hours passed by, 3+ hours you could have done something better, anything better, like getting root canal, and then it all ends with no loot, three coins used and no loot off them either and you leave the instance and think to yourself...

      "All this hell for nothing again?"

      Is that good for the game?