Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why One RNG System Works and the Other Doesn't

Now that more data is available from Wowhead, I recently did a numbers crunch for the companions that changed to zone-wide drops in Cataclysm, and as expected the droprate for these few pets is lower post-Cata than pre-Cata. For example, a pet that was a 1 in 1,000 drop from a specific set of mobs turned into 1 in 8,000 drop once it became a zone-wide drop. Just a side note: The numbers presented for pet drops after Cataclysm on Wowhead should be accurate, as the pre-Cata information was cleared once the expansion went live.

While the droprates are lower now, hopefully that won't discourage pet collectors (especially newer ones) from going out and searching for that elusive pet to add to their collection. Keep up the good hunt everyone!

Thankfully, the few pets that were changed are still BoU so should a player choose to not spend the time and energy killing misc mobs in a zone, they could always simply save up gold and wait for that pet to pop up on the AH instead. Options. Me likey.

After undergoing this tedious task of calculating the current droprates for the pets that became zone-wide drops, I had a discussion with a guildmate about which would be a more effective and attractive system: the current holiday loot bag system (100% dependent on RNG, plus other factors which a player has NO control over) or the zone-wide dropped companions (with their low droprates and also a highly dependent RNG factor).

Obviously, I'm pretty biased but I took the time to hear out my guildie who explained that the low droprate numbers and sheer size of any given zone would be pretty discouraging. I definitely understand and empathize when it comes to the new droprates (1 in 10,000 for one or two pets). If I were a pet collector new to the scene, that number would be very daunting.

This is how pet collecting has always been, even in vanilla. There are the easier pets to obtain and then there are the companions that you just have to wonder... how in the hell did I manage to get that one?! I remember back in the day when the lowest droprate was 1 in 5,000.

That being said, even though there's often grumbling over the low droprate from us pet collectors, there's a lot less resistance to the zone-wide dropped pet system than the RNG holiday loot bag system. You have to wonder why that's so.

In the defense of the zone-wide dropped pets, I mentioned that unlike the RNG holiday loot system, a zone-wide pet drop just FEELS rewarding. Nevermind that a player can choose when/if they want to farm for it, or that it's out there just waiting to be looted 365 days of the year. These pets take quite a bit of time and energy, yet the end result is highly gratifying.

Why is that, though? Why doesn't the once per day, for two weeks out of the year, RNG based, holiday loot system not generate that same satisfaction?

I think it has to do with the psychology behind it all. On the one hand, you have to seriously put some effort and work into farming for one type of companion, while on the other hand you simply have to log in for 5-10 minutes, kill one boss and then collect your bag. One scenario presents a situation where the reward outweighs the unknown and the grinding. In the RNG holiday system, the reward more often than not doesn't. Coupled with the other pro-collector factors (the OPTION to farm, the 100% availability, etc.), a zone-wide dropped pet just FEELS like adequate compensation, whereas the holiday loot bag doesn't present any at all (then again it doesn't require the effort either).

However, it's the effort, determination, and persistence that essentially MAKES pet collecting. It makes the RNG tolerable and even a somewhat fun challenge. Back in the day, I saw 1 in 5,000 as a test to my dedication to my collection. Could I do it? Would it drop from the next kill? How far would I be willing to go for that cute little critter that I could call my own?

Most collectors will agree that the mentality behind collecting appears to be misunderstood by many people including Blizzard developers. Drrum eloquently sums it up in this post she made on the WarcraftPets Forums.
"Most of us don't even really mind the rng, as long as we have unlimited access to farm."
After my long discussion with my guildmate about the zone-wide dropped companions vs the RNG holiday loot bag, the pros and cons of both systems, and which would be the lesser evil, my friend saw my point of view and agreed (to my surprise!) that when it came to the two, the low droprate system would be preferable over the holiday loot bag. It's not just the loot that's desirable, the road that must be walked upon to reach the end destination also plays a large part of collecting.

Not everyone will agree and Blizzard can't very well please everyone, but I definitely think that with more open and constructive discussions everyone could re-examine pet collecting, what it means, the mentality behind it, the end goal, and ultimately find a better solution to making a pet "rare" and implementing a more balanced loot system.

In the meantime though, one RNG system, while it seems to work in one form, will not always work in another. That needs to be addressed first and foremost.


  1. I would much rather prefer a 1 in 10,000 droprate to that of the RNG boss crap we have to deal with now. At least with zone drops I can do it whenever I want. I recently went farming for christmas presents for a guildie. I needed the distress beacon for the mechanical chicken from feralas, so I took my shaman there to farm whelps. I not only got the beacon, but the emerald whelp. I then took my priest to hillsbrad to farm ponies. There's a pack of them that spawn instantly when you kill them all, did that for about 30 mins and got the black tabby. was I lucky? I don't even know. When I did it the first time around, it didn't feel that easy lol. If I had to farm all the pets over again, I wouldn't do it. It's why my other characters don't have firelies and oozes and whelps. ONCE is enough lol

  2. It's very late and I'm very tired, and I apologize for my disjointed thoughts, but I had to respond to this. The gist of what you said is absolutely correct. The value we place upon a reward is directly proportional to the effort it took to achieve. It is by no means a new idea. Any effortless reward cannot feel like one, otherwise, what is being rewarded? Without question, the pets I most highly value are the ones i spent not hours or days, but months grinding for. The statistical rarity of getting the pet, UNLESS I WORKED FOR IT, essentially determines it's value. Ten minutes spent on a daily for a week or two is a sad joke of a comparison. I would have been happy to get the holiday pet, of course. Would I have involuntarily shouted aloud and jumped out of my seat a little like I did when I found the Firefly or Dark Whelpling? Certainly not. Of course Blizzard needs to earn money and (probably) appease the growing number of our entitled population, but I hope they also will continue to recognize the value the "hardcore" collectors place upon the hours of patience and determination required for some pets. The zone wide pet distribution you mentioned sounds like it addresses this perfectly. Ultimately, I suppose, a combination of reward systems like the ones in place is their key to pleasing the most possible people.

  3. @pandy: Wow, congrats on the two pet drops! I think the Black Tabby was one of the pets that had its droprate lowered post-Cata because it turned into a zone-wide drop. :O

    @Anonymous: I absolutely agree. Some of my favorite companions are the ones that took time and effort to acquire.

    I think the token/reward system combined with some (tolerable) RNG might be the best way to balance out the loot systems too.

  4. I'm all for the zone-wide drops, as long as they *are* BoU. The Sprite Darter Egg needs to be changed to BoU, with the new drop rate.

  5. @Gorman: I'm also confused as to why that particular pet wasn't changed to BoU once it became zone-wide dropped. It doesn't really make sense to keep it BoP now that the special quest-chain has been removed.


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