Having approached the end of WotLK and being able to fully reflect on the positives and negatives of how the Guild and Raids were managed, one of the standout issues that needed an alteration was the way Raid Roster Management is handled. As some of you read from my ranting blog posts, I was having trouble deciding whether a static roster could keep up with the needs of the Guild in Cataclysm, and after spending quite a while thinking it over, the following FAQ document is the first draft of the resulting system that seeks to take as much of the benefits of the Solid-State Roster system as possible while also improving on the severe detriments that system had.
Keep in mind this is not finalized yet but I am satisfied enough at this point to put it out there for any feedback so we have plenty of time to make alterations before Cataclysm's release and therefore the implementation.
What is the purpose of VCP?
Having utilized a number of methods to manage raid rosters in the past, the Solid-State Roster Vox Immortalis utilized through Wrath of the Lich King proved a little too volatile by relying solely on 10 individuals for 100% of Raids, and therefore an evolved roster management system was necessary going into Cataclysm.
The VCP system tries to adhere as closely as possible to the Solid-State system of the past by keeping the active roster size relatively minimal while also offering the raid the flexibility of a few extra players such that any one individual cannot halt or severely detriment the raiding schedule and progress for the rest of the group.
The key design tenants for VCP are:
- Simplicity -- Create a system that is (nearly) fully automated for the Officers to easily manage, and more importantly, is also extremely easy to understand for all Raiders involved.
- Fairness -- Similar to how Vox has handled loot in a very open and fair manner, VCP is designed to fairly reward all Raiders equally with zero bias or priority based on typical qualifiers, such as guild rank, seniority, previous attendance, gear, etc.
- Minimalistic Roster -- As we saw throughout WotLK, there are a great deal of benefits, both socially and within gameplay itself, for keeping the active roster size small. VCP is designed to preserve that sense of a small active roster size while also increasing the player count by just enough to eliminate the “individual-volatility” experienced in a static roster.
What is VCP?
VCP stands for Vox Contribution Point and is a zero-sum-based numerical value used to determine the level of priority for a Raider receiving an invitation to an official Vox Raid.
What isn’t VCP?
VCP is not a DKP system nor does it attempt to be -- it has no effect on or relation to loot distribution, which will continue to be managed via kAuction and the Loot Council system. VCP is purely a method to manage raid roster invitations.
How does VCP work?
When a raid is forming for the evening, the top 10 Raiders with the highest VCP will receive an invitation to that raid. All Raiders that receive an actual invitation to a raid will be automatically deducted VCP; essentially “buying” an automated ticket into the raid.
Any Raider online and available when the raid is forming but with lower VCP than the top 10 Raiders will earn 1 VCP.
Since Raiders earn VCP for being available but not invited into a raid, but only spend VCP when actually getting invited to a raid, the system will naturally create a roster “rotation” as VCP values rise and fall between raids.
The rest of the system, including specific examples and a great deal more in depth details, can be found below.
Who can earn VCP?
Only Vox Immortalis Guild Members with a guild rank of Raider or higher are eligible to earn VCP.
Note: This doesn’t necessarily preclude non-Guild Members or non-Raiders from attending an official Vox Raid, but it strongly encourages those interested in raiding to apply to and join the Guild for a Raider position, which inherently increases the strength of the Guild as a whole due to the Cataclysm Guild systems and additions.
What does a zero-sum system mean and how does it relate to VCP?
A zero-sum system is a term from economics and game theory that describes a system whereby the gains and losses of any given individual within the system are conversely balanced by the gains and losses of all other participants. Therefore, the VCP system is designed as zero-sum such that the sum of all VCP points for all Raiders is equal to zero.
The choice to use a zero-sum system for VCP is to prevent VCP hoarding and exploitation, which is very common in non-zero-sum DKP or point systems. In a non-zero-sum system, a long-time Raider might earn a sizable chunk of saved up VCP, such that any newly recruited Raider would have to wait weeks or even months to earn enough VCP to actually pass the long-time Raider and earn an invitation to a raid. This, of course, would greatly harm the Guild and Raid progress as a whole and moreover, be very detrimental to recruitment and general “fairness” within the system.
Instead, by utilizing zero-sum system, VCP earnings for a long-term Raider will never be so high that a newly recruited Raider cannot bypass those earnings within a handful of raids.
How many Raiders will be active in the Guild at one time?
As one of the design tenants, it was very important when devising the VCP system to create something which allowed Vox to maintain the fewest active Raiders possible while also accounting for the variance in attendance and availability for any given individual Raider.
Vox maintains a roster of 11 active Raiders at any given time.
Historically throughout WotLK, even with a Solid-State Roster of only 10 active Raiders, the instances where two people were simultaneously absent from a raid was quite low, but it did occur on rare occasion. However, we have a number of fairly active Guild Members that would be capable of filling a substitute slot during these very rare situations.
Moreover, maintaining a roster of 11 active Raiders allows for continuous raiding and progress even in the event of an unexpected retirement or otherwise prolonged absence by an individual Raider -- in such cases, the active roster would still remain 10 while recruitment is seeking our replacement 11th Raider. This will keep the roster stable as in 95% of the cases.
Why is the active Raider total of 11 set so low?
First, it is important to point out that simply maintaining an active Raider roster of 11 does not in anyway preclude the rest of the Guild roster from filling up with any number of people and friends, some of them certainly willing or interested in raiding.
Having said that, as mentioned as one of the design tenants for the VCP system, one of the major goals is to keep the active roster size as minimal as possible so we can maintain that close sense of friendship and camaraderie that Vox has shared throughout WotLK.
Secondly, to fulfill the tenant of fairness, the active Raider roster must be kept as low as reasonably possible so that, as raids occur, the Raiders that were left out of individual raids do not have to wait as long before the VCP values turn into their favor. This will be explained in more detail in the Examples section below, but the simple math is that with a 11-player roster, Raiders can attend 10 out of every 11 raid-weeks, or 30 out of every 33 raids. A 12-player roster lowers that to 5 out of 6, a 13-player lowers it to 10 out of every 13, and so on the larger the roster size becomes.
It is also important to distinguish between players who are Raiders and the rest of the Guild or non-Guild Friends and Substitutes, because only Raiders are part of the VCP system and therefore, any given raid will always be filled with Raider members before any remaining openings might be filled with non-Raiders or non-Guildies.
It is highly likely that a Guild Member who joined as a non-Raider may, in fact, wish to become a Raider, and can apply for or otherwise make it known he or she wishes to become a Raider, but until a slot opens, that Guild Member will be excluded from the Raider rank.
How will VCP be initially implemented?
On day one of using the VCP, each Raider will be assigned a unique decimal number between -1 and 1, rounded to the tenth, which will serve as that player’s starting VCP. Normally a new player into the system would be assigned a starting VCP of zero, so this is a one-time alteration to allow simply distinguishing between lowest VCP values as time goes on.
As mentioned, from that point on, the system will automatically handle gains and losses of VCP, and new Raiders into the system simply start with a zero-value of VCP.
How will I earn VCP?
A few minutes prior to the start time for an official Vox Raid, an automated warning (Guild chat message and perhaps Real ID announcement) will be issued by the Raid Leader via a command from the kAuction addon that a VCP Availability Snapshot will be performed in a few minutes. This will give Raiders who may be on alternate characters time to switch over to their main Raider character before the Snapshot is performed.
At the appropriate time (at or shortly after the raid-start time), another announcement will go out and kAuction will record the VCP Availability Snapshot, which will simply verify which of all the active Raiders are currently online on their main character, and therefore available to raid. All Raiders that are available will be be flagged and recorded by kAuction to potentially receive attendance credit.
Once the raid is formed and the top 10 VCP Raiders have been chosen and invited, kAuction will give 1 VCP to any Raider not currently in the raid but that was flagged to receive attendance credit.
How will VCP handle tardiness/late arrivals?
If an individual is not available at the moment the initial VCP Availability Snapshot is performed at the start of the raid, kAuction will automatically perform subsequent snapshots every 20 minutes thereafter for a total of three additional Snapshots at 20, 40, and 60 minutes into the raid, respectively.
Any Raider that arrives late and misses the first Availability Snapshot can still receive partial VCP credit in a subsequent Snapshot. Each secondary Snapshot reduces the VCP earned by 25%.
For example, if Bob logs in at 7:05 when a raid started at 6:30, he would be online at 7:10, when the 40 minute snapshot occurred, awarding him 50% VCP credit, or 0.50 VCP for attendance. If he instead logged in at 7:20, he would be 50 minutes late and thus earn only 25%, or 0.25 VCP when the final Snapshot occurred at 7:30. And of course if he logged in after 7:30, he would not earn any VCP for attendance.
However, if Bob is invited into the raid in spite of his tardiness, he is penalized up to 0.1 extra VCP as the cost of raid attendance, based on the snapshot in which he arrived. Thus, if Bob is on at the normal time, the raid only costs him the normal 0.1 VCP to attend. He would then be penalized 0.025, 0.05, 0.075, or 0.1 additional VCP if he was late, based on the snapshot intervals of 0-20 min, 20-40 min, 40-60 min, or 60 min+.
How will VCP handle raider absence?
In order to discourage such behavior and keep a stable roster, any Raider that has an unannounced/unexcused absence will be penalized 1.5 VCP, while any announced absence will result in a 1 VCP penalty.
Any VCP penalized for tardiness or absence will be evenly distributed to all Raiders who were online and available for the raid as normal.
The values of 1.5 and 1.0 VCP will ensure Raiders take their availability seriously by penalizing the cost of 1 or 1.5 future raids, depending if the absence was announced. This is important so it is worth repeating: An announced absence will penalize a Raider 1 VCP, which means that Raider must attend one additional raid (beyond the raid that was missed due to absence) in order to make up the deficit and be back at their starting VCP level. Therefore, the cost of an absence can very easily be thought of as penalizing 1 raid (announced raid) or 1.5 raids (unannounced) in the very near future.
A few examples will illustrate further:
If 11 Raiders are all online at the start of the raid, the one Raider that was not invited to the raid will earn 1 VCP as attendance credit; no other Raiders earns any VCP.
The same as Example 1, except let’s assume one Raider shows up 30 minutes late. This means that Raider will only earn 50% attendance credit, or 0.5 VCP. Therefore, we can calculate the penalized VCP for tardiness and divide it to the other 10 members, like so:
0.5 / 10 Raiders = 0.05 VCP
This means all Raiders in the raid earn 0.05 bonus VCP and the tardy Raider earns 0.5 attendance credit VCP.
Again a bit more complicated but all the same principles apply. This time one Raider does not show up at ALL. The Raider with an unannounced absence is penalized 1.5 VCP, which is doubled and split among the 10 available Raiders, so we get the following calculations:
1.5 VCP / 10 Raiders * 2 = 0.3 VCP
Therefore, the 10 Raiders in the raid will earn 0.3 VCP and the Raider that was absent loses 1.5 VCP.
As with any of this stuff, all these calculations are quite simple and are done to keep the zero-sum system going by benefiting those that have higher attendance (hence Contribution).
How do I spend VCP?
VCP is not spent in the traditional sense of a DKP or other currency; it is instead automatically subtracted from your earned VCP every time you attend a raid.
The “cost” of attending a single raid for an individual Raider is a static value of: 0.1 VCP per Raid
What if a particular raid night is “more valuable” than another? How will VCP handle potential exploits of a player with high VCP “bowing out” of an early-week raid to purposely seal a spot in a later-week raid?
This is a human nature issue that we’ve had to try to deal with in the past with other roster systems in Vox and it can be a fairly annoying quirk to the system for players that try to abuse it.
The problem put simply is this: With three raids a week, Player A might know that he has high enough VCP that if he shows up for Raid #1 that week, he will be invited and lose some of his VCP. Player A also knows that on Raid #2, the raid will reach a particular boss he really wants to fight or get loot from, but he knows if he attends Raid #1, he’ll lose too much VCP to get into Raid #2 most likely. Therefore, Player A avoids logging in for Raid #1 and thereby ensures his spot for Raid #2.
This exploit can also work in other ways which are just as common as the above example, where a Player might want to avoid a particular raid night because it is a progression night with lots of wiping or what not, but the principle remains the same.
To solve this issue, the VCP system has a concept called Seeding.
What is Seeding?
Seeding is a simple rule that states: Any Raider who was invited into the first raid of the week will be seeded for the rest of the week and eligible to ignore VCP values and guarantee a spot for the remainder of that raid week.
By enforcing Seeding, we completely eliminate the chance for any individual Raider to exploit the system by attending only certain raids within the week.
Seeding does not in anyway reduce the VCP earnings or spending for Raiders, nor the actual ratio of raids a given Raider can attend over time, because all Raiders that show up are still eligible to receive normal VCP attendance credit of 1 VCP and likewise spend the normal VCP “cost” for each raid.
Instead, Seeding basically allows a set of Raiders to lock in for the week and thereby get all the benefits of both early and late week raids (e.g. farm status/loot stuff early and progression later, as is the normal trend).
Since the Raiders who had the lowest VCP during the first raid of the week are locked out for the rest of the week, but still earn VCP for attendance credit, they will earn 3 VCP for missing the week of raids, basically ensuring they are then able to attend ~30 raids straight (assuming no absences or otherwise) before their VCP totals drop below the rest of the Raiders. Additionally, if a previously Seeded Raider is absent the second raid of the week, he will forfeit his Seed for the remainder of the week to the substitute player.
How often does a typical Raider get to raid?
For a specific spreadsheet representation of VCP Distribution, please visit this link. The spreadsheet illustrates a typical set of raids and weeks and marks the Raiders who are unable to raid for a particular raid in Yellow, showing the typical raiding cycle for all 11 Raiders.
If all 11 Raiders maintain 100% attendance, any individual Raider will, over time, be able to raid 10 out of every 11 weeks, or more specifically, 30 out of every 33 raids, which calculates out to 90.09% of all raids.
As mentioned above, each Raider who attends a raid will spend 0.1 VCP per raid. This means that, for every one raid a Raider is available but does not get invited into, he or she earns access to 10 future raids.
Now, because VCP is zero-sum based, and the earnings always remain as 1 VCP for Raiders not invited into the raid, the actual raid attendance possibility for a high attendance Raider is increased slightly when another Raider is absent or late, bringing the raid percentage for the high attendance Raider above 90%.
As mentioned above, each absence of a Raider penalizes that player by 1 or 1.5 VCP, which gives a high attendance Raider earnings equal to 1 or 1.5 extra raids over that absent Raider.
90% sounds low as I’m used to raiding 100% of the time. Does VCP screw me over?
On the surface, it would appear that high attendance Raiders that typically never miss a raid will be forced to raid less frequently under the VCP system than they are used to in the Solid-State System of WotLK.
However, this viewpoint can be dangerously myopic, in that often a high attendance Raider will look at a typical raid where he or she showed up but one or two others did not and will note that he or she still maintained 100% attendance. Yet obviously we know that the raid did not occur in the first place, so while an individual might be screwed over by being limited to 90% (or slightly higher) of raids, it is a small price to pay as individuals for foresee-ably 100% continuous raiding from the Guild as a whole, perhaps save major holidays.
Statistically, the (little) data we have supports the idea that moving closer to 100% continuous raiding for the Guild will actually benefit the individual Raider more, even at 90% availability, than the previous Solid-State Roster system:
Using the data from 05/25/09 through 10/06/10 from kAuction (as seen here), kAuction tracked a total of 120 unique raids, over the course of 71 weeks. Now, remembering or being able to insert data into kAuction is only as good as my own memory, and while it reminds me after raids, sometimes I forget or sometimes my computer may have crashed and lost the raid data, so we can safely assume ~10-20 raid nights were never recorded. This puts our total raids up to 135 unique raids. Also, of those 71 weeks of, we can probably assume about 8 of them we specifically planned not to raid due to Holidays and such, so that drops our total potential raid weeks down to 63 weeks.
Therefore, at 3 raids per week, we should have potentially had 189 unique raids. This means that, to date from early Ulduar, Vox has cancelled or otherwise missed ~54 raids. This puts our actual raiding rate compared to potential at 71.43%.
Consequently, not only should the VCP system increase stability and morale by avoiding raid cancellation, but accounting for actual raids compared to potential raids using our Solid-State Roster system, we can see that a high attendance Raider in the VCP system should be able to raid about 18% more often than before.
Yes, an individual will have to sit out 1 out of every 10 weeks on average, but raid consistency is the name of the game.
How does VCP handle situations where classes or roles must dictate the raid makeup for the raid week for the raid to be successful?
This relates a back to the “How often does a typical Raider get to raid?” question, in that even when a situation requires an Officer Override to properly form the raid for a particular week or evening, the system will inherently auto-correct itself by giving the Raider who had to be skipped and sit out an extra 10 raids worth of VCP for every one raid he or she had to skip. For a typical raid week of 3 raids, this is equal to 30 raids worth of VCP added to his or her VCP pool that will place that player far ahead of the rest of the pack for many raids to come.
Therefore, even in a situation where a player that normally, based on VCP, should’ve been able to attend a particular week of raids, that player will lose a week of raiding in the immediate, but will gain a chunk of 30 raids straight to follow that missed week.
What is an example of an Officer Override situation?
Due to the nature of their roles, especially early in a content patch cycle where offspec gear is weaker, an Officer Override will typically be necessary for Tank or Healer roles primarily, in a situation where the current VCP values should dictate that a primary tank or a primary healer should sit out during the raid, but doing so would greatly detriment the raid. In such a case, an Officer Override will be decided (either manually or via picking the highest of the two VCP values if the specific class makeup is irrelevant) such that the player who would’ve been sitting out is instead allowed into the raid over the next lowest VCP Raider of a non-essential role/class.
Let us assume we have 3 active Healers in the Guild as Raiders: Jim, Sarah, and Bob. A raid is formed at the start of the week and VCP values show that Bob has the lowest VCP total and should sit out for the raid (and the week due to Seeding). However, while another player in the raid may be capable of healing, we may not have the experience or offspec gear at the time allowing us to use that player’s offspec as a primary healer for the raid, so instead an Officer Override is necessary.
In this example, let us assume the following VCP values are the lowest 4 Raiders at the time of this raid:
- Bob: -2 VCP
- Sarah: -1.5 VCP
- Dan: -1 VCP
- Jen: 1 VCP
In this case, if it is decided the raid can succeed without Dan (the next lowest VCP total of a non-essential role, in this case non-healer), the Officer Override is confirmed as swapping Bob in for Dan in spite of Dan's higher VCP total.
Now, the raid week goes on as normal from this point as if Bob had higher VCP than Dan, and both continue to spend and earn VCP as normal. Since Dan is not attending the raids for the week, he earns 3 VCP in total for availability credit, while Bob spends 0.3 VCP for attendance “cost”. Therefore, at the end of the week, our new VCP totals look like this:
- Bob: -2.6 VCP
- Sarah: -2.1 VCP
- Jen: 0.4 VCP
- Dan: 2 VCP
As we can see, just like normal, the Raider who did not get into the raids for the previous week (Dan) still gain their availability credit, so they are now a good 30 raids worth of VCP ahead of where they started the week prior.
So, while Dan, in this case, lost a week of raiding in the immediate, he has gained 10 weeks of raiding ahead of the rest of the pack, such that it will be many raids to come before he can possibly be low enough on VCP as to be a candidate for an Officer Override.
How often will Officer Override situations occur?
It is difficult to say for sure, but certainly they will be more frequent early in the expansion when offspecs for the intended raid are not strong enough to perform the task (or perhaps late in progression as well for the same reasons).
Still, as illustrated in the example above, the whole idea of the system is that it should attempt to auto-correct itself to avoid these scenarios as much as possible. That said, there may be rare occasions where we need a very specific class/spec for a night or week that would otherwise be sitting out, in which case we'll announce the decision and who was selected to sit out and why.
[hashlink="How will main and offspecs for primary roles, such as healers or tanks, be handled by VCP?"]How will main and offspecs for primary roles, such as healers or tanks, be handled by VCP?[/hashlink]
The first step to easily managing primary roles is in proper recruitment. Using a 11-player Roster, VCP will use the following distribution of player roles & specs:
Tanks: Two Main Spec tanks (any class) and one offspec tank (a DPS or healer that can offspec tank when necessary).
Healers: Three Main Spec healers (any class) and one offspec healer (a DPS or tank that can offspec heal when necessary).
DPS: About six Main Spec DPS (any class), depending which players are also our offspec healer or tank.
Now the best way to illustrate the typical raiding cycle is with a simple table. Here is a table for a normal raiding cycle for Healers:
Healer #1 Healer #2 Healer #3 Offspec Healer Week #1 Not Raiding Primary Healer Primary Healer Main Spec or Secondary Healer Week #2 Primary Healer Not Raiding Primary Healer Main Spec or Secondary Healer Week #3 Primary Healer Primary Healer Not Raiding Main Spec or Secondary Healer Week #4 Offspec or Secondary Healer Primary Healer Primary Healer Not Raiding Week #5 Primary Healer Offspec or Secondary Healer Primary Healer Main Spec Week #6 Primary Healer Primary Healer Offspec or Secondary Healer Main Spec Week #7 Offspec or Secondary Healer Primary Healer Primary Healer Main Spec Week #8 Primary Healer Offspec or Secondary Healer Primary Healer Main Spec Week #9 Primary Healer Primary Healer Offspec or Secondary Healer Main Spec Week #10 Offspec or Secondary Healer Primary Healer Primary Healer Main Spec Week #11 Primary Healer Offspec or Secondary Healer Primary Healer Main Spec
As we can see, every 1 out of 11 weeks a Main Spec Healer is sitting out of the raid, so as we see in Weeks #1, #2, & #3 above, the two Main Spec Healers that are in the raid are Primary Healers, and the Offspec Healer is either his normal Main Spec, or if a fight requires 3 healers, the Offspec Healer becomes the third healer.
For Weeks #4-#11, all three of our Main Spec Healers are in the raid together, and thus we pick one Main Spec Healer per week to be the swapping player, who will help heal for 3-healer fights, or switch to his or her Offspec for 2-healer fights.
Depending on the number of 2-healer versus 3-healer fights we see, a Main Spec healer will be able to spend at least 80% of his or her time healing, with the remainder as Offspec.
The same basic idea holds true for Tanks as well:
Tank #1 Tank #2 Offspec Tank Week #1 Not Raiding Primary Tank Main Spec or Secondary Tank Week #2 Primary Tank Not Raiding Main Spec or Secondary Tank Week #3 Primary Tank Offspec or Secondary Tank Not Raiding Week #4 Offspec or Secondary Tank Primary Tank Main Spec Week #5 Primary Tank Offspec or Secondary Tank Main Spec etc for #6-11
Also remember that even though the above example is a very simple 11-week cycle, even absences or Officer Overrides will not dramatically alter the system -- it may change the cycle order, such that instead of going from Week #1 to Week #2 in the above example we skip from Week #1 to Week #3, but since the VCP system auto-corrects itself based on players' VCP totals each week, everyone will get the proper raid and role time they deserve.