Thursday, 23 April 2009

What is CPP?

CPP is the Consumer-Producer Paradigm.

A paradigm is a collection of rules about how to think about a certain subject. In terms of MMO games the paradigms have been player v developer, hardcore v casual, pve-er v pvp-er, ganker v carebear and so on.

CPP (the Consumer-Producer Paradigm) is a new paradigm that views participants in a MMO as consumers or producers. It is actually more relevant and useful to see players in terms of whether they are consumers or producers than almost any of the preceding paradigms.

First let's look at what is meant by production in the context of MMOs.

The game designers produce content that is accessible to varying degrees. Some content like Kill Ten Boars quests are available to anyone. All players are consumers of such content.

Other content like raids, arena teams, battleground pre-mades and instance groups requires producer players to organise this content for the benefit of themselves and additional players. This is called Player-Enabled Content in the CPP system.

Are you the type of player who is a guild officer, raid leader, invites people to pugs and so on? If so you are a producer. You unlock Player-Enabled Content for yourself and other players.

Are you the type of player who solo grinds dailies or bgs until a raid or a group invite comes along? If so you are a consumer. You don't unlock Player-Enabled Content, you wait for producer players to unlock it for you so you can participate.

At this stage it should be said CPP is not about judging people. It's not bad to be a consumer - we're all consumers in some areas of our lives. CPP is about analyzing people and behaviour patterns so you can take control of your interactions with other players because you understand them better.

Let us look first at how the two types interract using the example of a 5 man pug group. The producers in our group are a tank and his mage friend. They recruit others from their guilds, their friends lists, from the lfg tool and as a last resort by sending tells to many players of appropriate level asking them to join the pug.

Once the group is formed the producers travel to the meeting stone to summon the others. They are reasonably well-geared for the instance and competent players so even if the others suck they can probably get them through. The tank is the group leader and marks mobs if needed. The mage coordinates cc requirements with his tank friend and discusses any tactical issues over their private voice comms.

The tank and the mage are creating what is basically a package tour whereby customers join up, get transported to the instance, follow the tank around tapping some very obvious button and collecting loot.

This becomes even more pronounced at the raid level where the producers may spend many long hours refining theory and researching strats but some of their customers simply log on for raids, spam fireball, collect loot, then log off till next time.

Producers make player-enhanced content happen. They start groups, form guilds, lead raids, invite other to battleground pre-mades. Consumers join these activities once they have been initiated by someone else.

Meetings stones are viewed by both parties as something producers use to assist consumers. Consumers who have to travel to a meeting stone to facilitate a raid or instance run will feel put upon, will feel that maybe this is going to be a bad group.

Consumers love buying things from the auction house. They like to shop. Producers like crafting their equipment or earning it from pve and pvp.

Producers are drawn towards tank and healer roles. Consumers are drawn towards dps.

Producers are very careful to let everyone know if they afk. They assume the group is depending on them. Consumers aren't bothered about going afk. They assume the group can cope regardless of whether they do anything to help or not.

Consumers love vanity items. The more expensive and pointless the better. Motorbikes, titles, Siamese cats, picnic umbrellas - all great stuff. Producers are generally uninterested in vanity items although they may collect them as a secondary occupation if the game does not provide enough group content to keep them busy.

Consumers like soloing as well as group play. To a producer group play is the main purpose of playing a MMO.

Producers see problems as an issue for the whole group to address. Consumers think producers should solve problems. I had an example of this in a former guild. We were short of healers one night. We asked if anyone knew a healer who could come and help out. No response. We announced we would have to cancel the raid because not enough healers turned up.

From my perspective as an officer this simply goes with the territory of being casual and relaxed about attendance. If you have 6 healers in the guild and need 3 to raid and they sometimes log in sometimes don't you will get nights when the number turning up is under 3. This is simply standard deviation mathematics.

One player was furious. "This is rubbish," he cried. "I specifically arranged to be free tonight and now you're telling me I wasted my time?? Ridiculous!" From our perspective as producers we have accepted that we would provide an unreliable service as a trade-off for not requiring people to turn up as dutifully as if it were a job. We had offered the whole group the opportunity to solve the problem and none of them had been able to do so. We were no more to blame than anyone else who failed to conjure a healer out of a magic hat.

From his perspective as a consumer we've failed him by failing to provide the service he expected us to.

OK, now you know what I mean by producers and consumers among MMO players. You may be thinking of some players who are clearly in one category or another. You may be thinking that you yourself or others you know don't fall neatly into one category or the other.

Most people probably will not be ticking all the boxes and saying I'm 100% one category or the other. Most people will however tick 80%+ of the boxes on one side. Very very few people will be 50% producer 50% consumer.

In fact the vast majority of players are identifiably either producer or consumer in the way they play MMOs and react to the Player-Enhanced Content.

Understanding the Paradigm opens a tremendous amount of possibilities to us, options to change the way we play and the way people around us play.


  1. I believe two questions should be rephrased, or put into better context

    3) Have you bought a bargain on the Auction House that you felt really satisfied with in the last month? Yes = C, No = P

    Producers generate wealth and often play the Auction House to generate wealth.

    I am certainly proud of having bought tons of bargains and resold them for profit.

    I don't dailies except for the Jewelcrafter and the Cooking dailies and I can easily make 500-1,000g a day playing the AH for 30 minutes.

    4) Do you think crafted items should be just as good as raid/arena rewards? Yes = P, No = C
    I don't get it.

    In my opinion, producers believe gear should be earned by defeating a difficult challenge, and not bought (crafted items) or earned by just putting time in (some Arena gear).

    Hugmenot of Suramar

  2. To quote: "Very very few people will be 50% producer 50% consumer."

    One could argue that this would have to be zero, as there are only 9 questions that allow posting a P or C :)

    Interestingly enough, I think there will be people who fall into both roles depending on the time of day, lunar cycle, work hours and demand-of-children-for-stories-during-raid-hours.

    I love playing my tank as much as I enjoy playing my deathknight DPS. There is a difference in attention required, however. Tanking is easy, so I can do that while paying only half attention and balancing a baby on my lap whole feeding him bits if banana, whereas topping the damage-meter on my deathknight in a fight that requires mobility demands attention and focus. After a full workday I'm not always up for that, whereas this is a perfect role for a rainy sunday afternoon.

    Koch of Aszune (EU)