Sorry, it's been a while... I've been playing a LOT of Halo 3 haha. It's kind of dominated my life since it was released.
I even cancelled my new EQ2 subscription before the free 30 days ended because I knew it'd go to waste, as I'd just be playing Halo.
But, very VERY long over due is the final PVE section on the PVE Siege Warfare.
I've already talked about the quests, factions, dungeons, raids, and all other aspects of the PVE system in my ideal MMORPG. Even with just those systems in place, you could probably create a full and complete MMOPRG by today's standards, but as usual I want a game that offers more.
Tabula Rasa has taken the first giant leep towards this type of game play. In Tabula Rasa the enemy faction, the Bane, can attack and control different points of the maps. Players have to then band together and work with friendly NPC's to recapture these points. Problem in Tabula Rasa is that the A.I. isn't very good, and a lot of bases (at least the last time I played) could be recaptured from the Bane by a single player. Hopefully, they get it all worked out before release because it really is an ingenious system.
The problem, in my opinion, with Tabula Rasa's system is that so many points are capturable by the Bane that it can interfere with the rest of the game. You may find the base you need to go to in order to complete a quest or repair your equipment is now under Bane control. I don't like that idea, I'm all about giving people options and choices, not forcing players into doing anything that they don't want to do.
So my PVE warfare system would work similar, yet with a few key differences.
The world would be laid out so all of the major questing locations are contained in areas that are heavily protected from the enemy NPC faction.
The only towns/outposts/cities that are designed for the PVE Siege Warfare are those in the outlying regions. I want it to feel like a war that is faught on a distant front, not in the back yard. But why? Doesn't this take away from immersion? I concede that it may, however with the quest and storyline system as it is described in my previous posts I feel that the "war" will be felt no matter where you are in the game world. So why make it an inconvienience to the player that doesn't want any part of this kind of game play?
The enemy faction that players will be battling for control of these outlying regions will be the same enemy that is dealt with in the majority of quest lines and the main story arc. It's the same war, the same enemy, just being faught on different fronts simultaneously is how I would like to think of it.
The enemy will attack these regions and will control them if players don't participate. They will not continue to advance into the "major" game world areas even if they control every single point in the PVE Siege Warfare areas.
By the way, I keep saying "PVE Siege Warfare" because it will be very, very similar (if not identicle in some aspects) to the PVP Siege Warfare that I described in earlier posts. The PVP war will take place on seperate lands as discussed before, and the PVE warfare in the "main" land where all the quests/story elements exist. The same type of systems like Siege weapons and Throne Room control etc, but you'll be fighting Mobs/NPCs instead of other players.
The enemy faction will even have a home city deep behind the front lines of the PVE war, and if players can defeat the enemy faction time and time again, pushing further and further into their territory capturing control points they'll eventually be able to lay siege to the enemy faction capital in a massive raid, including mini-bosses and an all-powerful super boss. Obviously, unlike the instanced dungeon/raiding game, this will all be in the open world and without instancing.
To counter the imbalance that we see in Tabula Rasa, and in order for all players to be able to participate in the PVE Siege Warfare, you have to make the enemy you fight a little different. The best comparison I can give is to (of course) the A.I. in Halo 3.
First off you have the little guys, like the Grunts in Halo that are weak, come in large numbers, and are generally stupid unless being directly ordered around by more advanced units. In my ideal MMO, these will be balanced so that even a first-hour newbie can hold their ground against them, while an experienced veteran will be able to cut through them like butter.
Second you'll have mid-level units, like the Jackals in Halo 3, that are tougher, smarter, and use solid tactics, yet don't flood into battle in mass like the low-level Grunts do. A small band of "newbie" players will be able to defeat them, though 1vs1 solo will be very very difficult for a newbie player. Mid-level and experienced players will find these units a comparable challenge, while advanced players will still dominate them.
Lastly you'll have the "elite" enemy soldiers. These will be the leaders of the enemy faction's attack groups, those in charge of the sieges. Also, the head of their defense if the players are assaulting an enemy encampment. These elites will wipe the floor with newbie players, but a large enough group of mid level players can take them down. Even the most advanced players may want to group up to combat these enemies, as they will be extremely difficult for anyone to solo.
By doing it this way, you make a system where everyone can participate in the conflict, but you still give people a challenge that is not impossible nor is too easy. If players choose to not participate, they don't risk being annihilated as the enemy will move in on their prime questing lands, none of that, but instead they will just be missing out on another great game play system that is fun and rewarding.
Speaking of rewards, I'd like things to be handled very similarly to the PVP Siege warfare. You get money, experience, and of course up your skills for fighting and defeating enemy units. More for the elites and less for the grunts. Also, for participating in the successful siege or defense of a control point you gain additional experience, money, and influence.
All faction influence gain for the PVE Siege Warfare will be with the main army of the PVE world. The PVP world is split into the different factions as previously discussed, but because of the enemy threat the factions have banded together to form one great army in the PVE world. The ONLY way to get the titles/rewards from this faction is to participate in the war.
Obviously, this is another great way to play your character and level/gain skill without grinding. Tired of doing quests? Don't feel like running a dungeon or raid? No crawl-dungeons? Open your map and you'll get a run down of what areas are currently under control by players or by the enemy faction, and you'll even get an indicator as to which areas are currently in conflict. Hop over there (more on travel later) and fight for the honor and glory of the Kingdom, all while getting money, experience, and influence for yourself.
What I forgot to mention in the PVP Siege Warfare system was the auto-grouping feature. You can head to an area by yourself and be automatically thrown into a group with other players in the area. This is advantageous to everyone because of the Rank based buffs in PVP, and also the experience sharing system.
The PVE Siege Warfare will work exactly the same way, with different Ranks having expanded powers and AoE buffs, but unlike the PVP system, the PVE system everyone will "work" for the same faction.
As a quick end note, if they players push the enemy back to their home city and lay siege to it, killing the final super boss they will "win" the PVE war and be rewarded accordingly. After a brief period of time, the enemy will return as Undead versions of their former selves and will be more powerful to push the players out of their areas. After this period has passed, when the scales are yet again made even, then Undead will phase out and the living armies phased in. This way, it kind of adds a story/continuity balance to the system, but it also makes it really hard for players to hold onto all the lands forever.
I hope this makes sense... it's been a while since I've thought about any of this, been too busy with Halo! Thanks for reading, sorry it's been so long, and I'll be sure to keep coming back and editting/adding to this post.