Sunday, July 05, 2009

Don't Break the Shadowbind!: The distribution of rewards.

Don't Break the Shadowbind! is our Wednesday column brought to you by Omoikitte. Endgame isn't just killing mobs and splitting up the drops, that is the easy part. Omoikitte will provide her insight on how to do the hard part: the administration and planning of events, deciding on how to divvy up the drops, and how to deal with that one whiny LS member that just won't shut up about their abjuration. Today, Omoikitte considers how to distribute the loot without pissing everyone else off.

Loot! We all want it, we all need it, we all covet it in the depths of our hearts. Even if you "are not interested in lotting and just want to do end game because you miss it" you want in on the loot! Whether its just from monetary rewards to those highly prized and sought after pieces of gear there is something there that keeps you coming back for more.

What usually spawns from this is a system of distribution, that varying from linkshell to linkshell can be labyrinthine in its complexity or relatively simple and easy to use. Often the simplest of systems require the most planning out before hand to make them run smoothly, what you see on the front as a user-friendly interface in reality is run off a much more complicated and sophisticated engine, such as Obsidan's bidpoint system for dynamis.

There are a few things you want to consider when creating a lotting system for your linkshell, whether you decide that points are the way to go or whether you are just going to make everything free-lot, you should consider how you plan to action this.
This is extremely important. If you are going to create a system, make it apply to everyone. From the newest member of your linkshell up to the shell holder, rules need to be relevant and apply to everyone. The more inconsistent your linkshell is when it comes to the distribution of gear, the less likely it is that people will want to stick around and be an active participant in what it is you are attempting to achieve.

Make sure that your leaders, your friends and your sycophants are just as accountable to the rule system as everyone else, it doesn't do to create divisions of favourability within the linkshell, are you doing this because you want something or because you want to help others? If you plan on just rewarding the few who perhaps have not genuinely earned it, be prepared to accept that you will quickly lose your best players to other linkshells who are more willing to share the rewards evenly.

Make sure everyone can understand your rule system, if only you can understand it, there is no transparency in what you are doing, that will only lead to rifts and suspisions when members disagree with your decisions. Lotting above all else is core to your linkshell being successful, creating a system that just confuses your members will result in arguements and resentments which can result in a rift in your linkshell.

A lot of thought, time and effort can be put into deciding how and what type of lotting system is appropriate for you linkshell as is right, this at the end of the day will be the grease on the wheels that keeps your members coming back to your events until you gain that core loyal membership. Even after that it is still important to remember that everyone in your linkshell has to like the system or at least accept it as being the rules that govern your events.

The Systems

The Points System
Points systems are one of the most common ways of distributing gear. Set a value against an item, and a value against the time and effort you put into the linkshell, accumulate said points and spend on said item. The premise is fairly simple when broken down. However add in the human equation and suddenly it can become considerably more complicated.

Obsidian has one of the most sucessful bidpoint systems I have seen ingame. Gawayne has created a very well-run database containing all the information any Obsidian leader would need to maintain, administer and run their events, while on the front end, is the actual bid interface. This of course is a very sophisticated bid system and one that is not available to everyone, maintaining records of your points is important whether you do it in ink or digitally.

Tiered layering, generally is something you should try and avoid, it makes it a lot more complicated for people to understand, you want your points system to be as accessible and understandable as possible or it will just engender resentment and suspicion.

Pros - A very simple premise to use and maintain your linkshell with. Accessible by all and a clearely deliniated progression path for those who wish to know where they stand within a linkshell.

Cons - Points punish those who are unable to play often, not everyone is available to play constantly and will be rapidly left behind by those who have considerably fewer commitments outside of FFXI.

The Free Lot System
This is rarely used in big events, mostly being found in dynamis shells, particularly now where AF is considerably more widely available. Essentially you have no points you have no ties, you just show up, state your preferences and then lot if it drops.

This can put you in direct competition with everyone else, whether they have been there for 1 run or 700 runs, its all in the luck of a random and nothing more. Generally this type of system is a bit unstable for anything outside of dynamis. Drop rates fluctuate wildly from linkshell to linkshell on the more desirable items and as a result these items tend to be more coveted if rarely seen. This can lead to strife if people start thinking more about what they are not getting over the general effort of the linkshell. As long as you can maintain that equilibrium of desire and commitment this system can hold its own quite successfully.

Pros - Everyone is equal, you show up and have a chance to win. Its all down to Lady Luck.

Cons - Rarer drops can polarise opinion and create divisions of trust and commitment over ideas of "ownership" of drops and who should and shouldn't get what.

The "Other" Systems
While the majority of linkshells fall into the first two categories, there are a few that run outside of these systems, instead running on a more varied lotting agreement, such as Versus where attendance is the main drive for lotting, or relevance to jobs you have for the gear you wish to lot.

Not everyone can deal with these slightly more vague guidelines, that are more often tied to the leadership of the linkshell than able to be run as an independant entity from the linkshell.

Pros - Rules in the "other" category tend to be more forgiving of individual circumstance than points, allowing members to progress faster than normal.

Cons - Extremely open to abuse if your leader allows themselves to be compromised, it takes an iron will to maintain the rules without allowing personal preledictions interfere with the decisions that need to be made.

This is an extremely basic guide to looking at rules and guidelines for running a linkshell, but it is a start to be expanded on, whatever direction you chose to take when running your linkshell, ultimately resposible decisions are needed to govern and maintain what is happening. You will never be able to please everyone, but finding the medium and giving the broadest coverage from that is the safest way to make sure that you are getting the most out of what you are doing at events.

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