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Reader Comments (7)

Posted: Sep 20th 2008 10:06AM (Unverified) said

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Developers should never add artificial goals/rewards - like the pvp items in AoC or WoW - to their games. Those artificial rewards don't promote PvP itself, they just lead to the players trying to get them with as little effort as possible. That equals to AFKing in WoW BGs, or doing staged fights with allies to gain PvP-XP in AoC.

Games like Shadowbane, the aforementioned EVE or (possibly in a near future) Darkfall are much more suited for promoting meaningful PvP as they have the reasons for PvP implemented in their game design.

If you are going to build a empire or destroy an enemy nation, PvP will server as a tool of diplomatics besides of mindless ganking (something I also enjoy *g*).

To answer your questions:

Should developers try to ensure that PvP has goals? Yes. But don't put artificial PvP goals in a game that wasn't designed with PvP in it's core gameplay.

Do minigames help, or do they just abstract the action away from the rest of the game world? They do not help as they are easily exploited (honor sharing). Non-instanced minigames that are based on a persistant territory-control-setting like the Shadowbane sieges/minefights are way more interesting.

Should players on PvP servers simply be given open PvP, and left to set their own goals? There is no need for PvP servers in a game that is based only on PvP. No PvE-servers -> no need for PvE-servers. =D

Posted: Sep 20th 2008 9:50AM (Unverified) said

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The only problem with games like Shadowbane (and I very very much suspect, Darkfall) is that there are no preset mechanics to balance out certain scenarios. I played on two seperate servers in Shadowbane and on both one guild got big enough to take over the whole thing, squashing ANY attempt to amount a force big enough to take them. Needless to say, playing like that gets old after, I don't know, 2 weeks.

I'd probably say EVE has done it the best so far, it's got meaningful PvP that still has restrictions tight enough on it to allow people who want nothing to do with it to stay out. Games like Darkfall and Shadowbane, regardless of what else you can do besides PvP are still only going to appeal to the hardcore PvP crowd, as doing anything but focusing on PvP will basically give you very little range of mobility or make you gank fodder.

Posted: Sep 20th 2008 11:36AM (Unverified) said

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I was a big fan of Shadowbane, and one thing I learned from the developers there is that there is real difficulty in sustaining the community, because open PvP means you have an ecosystem with lots of wolves. But for such an ecosystem to survive and thrive, you also needs lots of sheep.

I think the things like rewards systems (such as what WoW uses toi entice people to play) does go a long way to bring plenty of sheep to the designated pvp areas and gets them to participate. Unfortunately, sectioning off pvp to those designated areas only means that players simply choose those encounters where they get the most return for their time invested. For example, joining with a premade group to crush the opposition in 3 minutes and "farm" the currency to gain the gear, or the converse, joining and not participating at all. Neither helps to foster the community.

Giving players real assets which they can build and lose brings back a greater element of reason behind pvp participation -- not for the rewards or the currency system, but for pride and for competition, and to crush your enemy in a real way.

Too much protection (like sectioning pvp off to certain areas) and it becomes stale. Too little protection and pvp will degenerate to a zergfest. The challenge is finding the right balance.

One thing is clear, the design needs to be considered from the outset, and you need to have people participating in the design who are not, at heart, PvE designers traditionally.

I look forward to Warhammer's implementation when I get a chance to try it out -- they seem to have considering many of these things from the beginning.

Posted: Sep 20th 2008 12:57PM Jeromai said

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Depends on the type of PvP and players you're planning to attract.

In WoW, as far as I can gather, it's appealing to the achievement-oriented by dangling PvP equipment as rewards, and that has become the ultimate goal, rather than the supposed stated point of the battlegrounds. Could be the general mentality of WoW players, since they're encouraged to think that way through the raid game.

In Eve, the sandbox-seeking, set-your-own-goals, ruin someone's day meanfully crowd make up the general community. So goals are constructed by the players themselves, rather than carefully crafted by the devs. One thing the latest factional warfare seems to show is that if you want to attract the sheep, the sheep need some kind of reason to hate the other side. The wolves are predatory by their very nature and don't need the extra motivation, thank you.

CoX started out with zero PvP. So little wonder that its general community is -not- interested in PvP. There are actually goals to the PvP zones, but few even bother with them because they just don't care for PvP in the first place, and there are no external motivating factors to egg them into it. CoX is mainly 'sheep' or 'carebear' type of players. The introduction of PvP did bring a small vocal faction of PvP wolves who liked the unique mobility and the whole 'sport' aspect, but it's a minority still.

WAR is interesting because it's going for RvR, which is basically PvP for carebears, aka the majority. A lot of its design is about turning sheep into pack-hunting wolves in little baby steps. As such, it includes a lot of different motivators to appeal to different people. PvP-based rewards based on random killing, achieving objectives or persistent grind. It allows for zergs in RvR lakes, and also auto-balanced fights in objective-based scenarios. One thing it doesn't really do is attract the 'meaningful pvp' wolves, who are looking to grief others. Core ruleset anyway. Open RvR servers allow Mythic to grab some of that cohort.

Posted: Sep 20th 2008 6:04PM (Unverified) said

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Depends on the game. Very heavily, depends on the game.

There are really two different types of player versus player combat. Harsh PvP has clear winners and losers, rewards the winners dramatically while punishing the losers, and doesn't work well for soloer or small group players -- games like EVE Online, where you can not afford to lose. PvP is can be optional, but whether it is or isn't, individual fights are usually surprising. There can (and often should) be vast variations between one player's capabilities and the next, before skill is put into place. Soft PvP rewards both the winners and losers -- games like S4 League, where the only way to lose PEN (the game currency) is to not play a fight through. You know when you're getting into a fight. There are artificial constraints keeping players of different levels or equipment tiers close in effectiveness.

Neither is 'better' than the next, although players have enough of a preference that mixing them is a very bad idea. Soft PvP benefits hugely from mini-games. Soft PVP on its own becomes (very quickly) meaningless without goals, since there's no long-term effects. By rewarding winners and losers for the duration and intensity of a fight, you encourage PvP without encouraging more boring types of farming.

Harsh PvP does not benefit from minigames. It has to have its own inherent goals and rewards in the first place, as a definition. Adding minigames just creates a distraction and extra power to winners in games that force PvP, or brings a lot of whiny carebears into games that have optional harsh PvP.

Posted: Sep 20th 2008 2:48PM Jesspiper said

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Faction PvP = Endless endgame

LOTRO's Ettenmoors, WAR's Realm Wars and Guild Wars' Faction battles make for an endless struggle that has purpose and a common goal. It brings people together, allows for a certain level of pride, and provides endless end game play.

Faction PvP ftw!

Posted: Sep 21st 2008 12:04PM (Unverified) said

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Just to expand a little with "faction PvP" and track us back into DAoC and now WAR... what makes rvr so compelling in these games (and how you can have it be the main game mechanic) is that it's not really that it is based on specific rewards, or one ruleset, or minigame style (though WARs scenarios can be looked at as slightly analogous to WoW's valleys and battlegrounds) is that in DAoC and from what i have gathered from the little WAR i have seen so far the RvR outcome has specific reprecussions in the main world... so even if you concentrate on PvE you see the results of the war effort and at the very least see the incentive to get involved... even if it is only as far as providing your guild members who do rvr with loot/support.

I got into MMOs playing DAoC and my heart still races when i think of the times spent working away in the frontiers to gain majority control in order to open up the RvR dungeon (Darkness Falls) to my faction, then either running back or switching toons to rush the ent all the way across the dangerous areas to pick off escaping Mids and Albs.


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