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Looking to the future...

Reflections on the MMO genre and thoughts on how MMOs could develop.

Author: Aryas

PvP: The 'Match' Format

Posted by Aryas Thursday December 4 2008 at 7:04AM
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Healthy, balanced open-PvP is a very difficult thing to both encourage and manage.

I'm a huge fan of the battlegrounds/scenarios form of PvP where some degree of balance can be established in terms of player numbers leaving victory to the side with the best players and most skill. This is exactly how sports are played, from tennis to football matches.

For PvP to be a genuine test of player skill instead of descending into bullying, victimisation, etc rules have to be implemented.

From what I hear on these forums, many people hate battlegrounds/scenarios as a PvP option. I find this strange when this is typically the only option in online FPS games, such as CoD4, which are so popular and litter the X-Fire top 10. They also seem to be the first choice for PvP in games like WAR, which I play atm. Many players moan "There's no RvR!" but why would you want to run around looking for a fight when you can have your battles all set-up and balanced for you? Some people wish Scenarios were taken out of the game. I think they should be made bigger, increased in number and have the RvR removed from the game as a waste of resources. Just put keeps in Scenarios.

Many vocal players seem to like the idea of being able to gank others and thats fine with me, if thats what you enjoy. But I think these players are a minority who are over represented on certain forums and any game that caters to them as a priority will have limited popularity.

Take WoW; not a game I'm a huge fan of but it certainly has a winning forumla. That formula allows ganking on certain realms but also allows you to avoid it on others without totally crippling your PvP options.

I'm currently looking forward to Darkfall. Despite WAR being a blast, there is little feeling of reward for your conquests and the game does feel like it should have been released shortly after WoW in terms of it's overall look and feel. However, I love the basic structure. Darkfall seems to offer everything WAR lacks - graphics, huge range of options, FPS format, no levels, no classes, etc - except in lacks structure. Now this is great if you have piles of time on your hands, but like many people I don't so I won't be able to form or even join fancy 24/7 guilds, wait 30mins for guildies to turn-up then roll out and do something. Nor do I enjoy the type of vacant PvP the game seems to encourage, where prolific ganking just turns these games into hotbeds for the development of the psychotically disturbed adults of the future.

commi3 writes:

"I'm a huge fan of the battlegrounds/scenarios form of PvP where some degree of balance can be established in terms of player numbers leaving victory to the side with the best players and most skill. This is exactly how sports are played, from tennis to football matches."

Unfortunatly, if you get the wrong roll of classes, you can find your self at a major disadvantage, which doesnt make it fun at all. Most scenarios turn out like this and the only way to ensure you got a solid group is to get one together before you go in. Mythic at least designed each class to work as a team unlike Blizzard, which tried, but ultimatly that games PVP is broken.

"For PvP to be a genuine test of player skill instead of descending into bullying, victimisation, etc rules have to be implemented."

So why is it in PVP that we always attack the weak guy first? Answer: its Common Logic that is you can attack the weak guy (or wounded player) and kill him easier and make a 2v2 battle into a 2v1 battle.

"I find this strange when this is typically the only option in online FPS games, such as CoD4, which are so popular and litter the X-Fire top 10. They also seem to be the first choice for PvP in games like WAR, which I play atm."

Thats because its an FPS and scenarios in an FPS are a lot more balanced since its 95% the players individual skill and not about items, builds, attributes, etc. Your K:D ratio isn't dragged down by teammates ability to heal or use abilites, unless your severly getting your ass handed to you. FPS PvP is more about the individual, MMO PvP is about the party and their balance of classes. And I know what Im talking about, FPS was my first genre and I've done CAL and TGL. Also, WAR was originally supposed to be focused around the RvR, not the scenerios. Unfortunatly there wasn't any bigger incentive (then the scenerios) to go to the RvR areas and it was easier to just hop into Scenerios. Now WARs RvR zones are pretty much vacant.

"Many players moan "There's no RvR!" but why would you want to run around looking for a fight when you can have your battles all set-up and balanced for you?"

This is exactly what happened in WAR. Unless you have a greater incentive to go out into RVR, scenarios will be where a games PvP base is defined.

"Many vocal players seem to like the idea of being able to gank others and thats fine with me, if thats what you enjoy. But I think these players are a minority who are over represented on certain forums and any game that caters to them as a priority will have limited popularity."

Your right. There is no incentive to go out and make a game like that unless the developer wishes it. And slowly as time goes by, this once strong group of the MMO world will move to other games or simply join the rest of the pack. This is because of a phrase I like to say "There is no Ultima out there". What I mean by this is, no major developer after the launch of WoW , has tried to do anything but copy WoW in some form. Because there is no game out on the market that would convince major developers otherwise. The groups who have tried to go against the grain aren't big enough to barter the general attention on the gaming community like Blizzard can.

"Now this is great if you have piles of time on your hands, but like many people I don't so I won't be able to form or even join fancy 24/7 guilds, wait 30mins for guildies to turn-up then roll out and do something."

And because of this darkfall, will probably never get bigger then where CCP is with EVE. But then you and I could be wrong and Darkfall could be the "Ultima" that minority is hoping for, but my thoughts says otherwise.

Thu Dec 04 2008 9:14AM Report
Aryas writes:

Thanks for the great response; I totally agree with your points.

I understand what your saying about how players will go for the weaker opponents in match-PvP but I feel that if the game is designed correctly, the weakers are only weaker because they lack skill. I'm a beliver that ability should vastly outweight the effect of items and the performance of other members of your team.

I feel people should only group and guild because they enjoy each others company, not because their class demands support from others. I'm also against the idea of having any type of healer class as they typically have too much of an impact, they're unrealistic as their mechanic exists nowhere in real-life and personally, I feel they detract from the idea of PvP being about combat. In my ideal-world game, the pre-arrangement of PvP matches would eliminate being totally overwhelmed by vast numbers of life-less hardcore drone players whose primary advantage in any MMO is time, not skill. Of course, you'd still get battered-up if there players are of equal skill and have just one or two more players but it won't be the online misery I've experienced in other games.

As per my older blog post, I'm hankering for a game based around the FPS mechanic that incorporates some of the better MMO principles, such as classes, varied talents/skills, guilds, dungeons, keeps, etc. However, all that's on the horizon are games that are bog-standard MMOs utilising an FPS perspective and game-engines. If someone could develop an MMO that offered the following:

- Items increase your power by a max of perhaps 10-20% of standard ability.
- Trophies represent acheivements, not gameplay-distorting l33t gear.
- Classes are fully independent and only need to group if they actually want to play together.
- All classes have limited ability to self-heal and there are no healer classes.
- Needless travelling, etc is removed and you just queue then jump straight into whatever action you desire (battles or dungeons).
- Guilds can build and raid each others keeps/boats/aircraft without massive perma-loss - how's this for a mechanic: you wanna raid someones keep, you pay 50g for the seige kit from a vendor - you win you get 150g back from the game (not the raided guild) for your guild plus a trophy - you loose and your 50g goes to the guild whose keep you couldn't defeat.
- Players can REALLY craft stuff to their own design specs, not just choose the colour of useless VT.
- There are hundreds of group and soloable dungeons of different durations with randomly generated maps.
- There are core battle types and for each type (e.g. capture the flag) multiple settings with randomly generated maps.
- Players earn ranks as rewards which unlock battle settings and grant nice-looking kit but do not grant stupid uber-stat eplixxx.

Thu Dec 04 2008 10:13AM Report
Aryas writes:

And I'll add to my wish-list...

- NO LEVELS!

Thu Dec 04 2008 10:14AM Report
commi3 writes:

You should check out The Chronicles of Spellborn. Its got a lot of what your looking for. I believe the free trial comes out on friday, not sure if Americans (or any english speaking country) will get access, but Ive already heard some good stuff about it.

Thu Dec 04 2008 10:40AM Report
commi3 writes:

PS: it will release in english, but activision came in late so the retail in the states wont come until february.

Thu Dec 04 2008 10:41AM Report
commi3 writes:

sorry its acclaim, always confuse the 2

Thu Dec 04 2008 11:06AM Report
dcostello writes:

 Yeah, I hate the narrowness of WoW as well.  I mean, it's good to talk about this kind of stuff, but we're only pretty powerless in the fact that we have little opinion on what games will ACTUALLY be made.  So, I guess we can only sit back and hope....

Thu Dec 04 2008 2:48PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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