Been doing a lot of discussion on the MMORPG forums about FFA PvP recently.
Thought I'd stop scattering my voice and message across multiple threads and forum groups, and instead focus my attention to writing a blog post.
Enjoy. I know this invited discussion and controversy, so PLEASE, PLEASE think before you comment, be civil, and let's have ourselves a nice little conversation.
So what is FFA PvP?
To me, this is defined as "I can fight with who ever I want to, whenever I want to, where ever I want to."
No rules, no limits, totally open and free.
So what problems does this create?
I'll start with my two favorites... Griefing and ganking.
I define griefing as "intentionally ruining the game play experience of another player." Things like corpse camping, movement / target blocking, train pulling (pull massive numbers of agressive mobs to unsuspecting players), verbal harrassment, kill stealing, etc.
I define ganking as "killing other players who have absolutely no chance of defeating you." Like level 70 characters in World of Warcraft visiting low level zones (like 20-40+ levels lower) and killing random players.
Why do I dislike these so much? Griefing is simpy a player being an as$hole. Intentionaly trying to piss off another player. It's just stupid. Am I guilty of doing it? Of course. I used to go kill quest givers and flight masters in Alliance zones just to F with people in WoW. It was Blizzards fault when they removed the dishonorable kills. Dishonorable kills were the only thing preventing griefing in that game, and they go rid of it. No idea why.
Griefing is fun for the player doing the griefing, and not so fun at all for the player getting griefed. I fully, 11000% support any system in place to prevent Griefing. Blizzard was stupid for removing dishonorable kills.
Ganking is just stupid. It's sadistic and uncalled for. I really enjoy PvP because of the competition. There is NO competition in killing another player that has absolutely no chance against you. I have never, ever ganked someone in a game. Now, I have been asked by a group of lower level players to help them to kill another group of lower level players that were harassing them. Is that truly ganking? I was a Hero to those players. What's the difference? Ganking is killing lowbies just for fun. What I did was kill some lowbies in order to help some lowbies of my faction that were getting their butts whooped. I killed them once, then went about my business. They whispered my later saying that they wanted more help, and I told them that unless they were being ganked by high levels they were on their own.
Now, the arguments. People say that ganking and griefing create the opportunity for other players to become Heroes. This is true. I myself have done this once as described above. It does feel good to be the Hero. But, I'd much, much, MUCH rather those three players not become victims so that one player can become a hero. I'm positive those three victims would rather not be victims then have to rely on the kindness of a Hero.
What I think people REALLY want is choice. They want to band together and become evil, doing evil deeds, or become good and battle evil. They want to choose their alliances and their enemies. They don't want to be told "you are a part of this faction/race and you are good/evil." They want to make those choices for themselves.
Those are the real positives of FFA PvP, that you can forge your own alliances and enemies, your own factions and create your own wars with your own rules. I've experienced this first hand on UO Siege Perilous shard. Some of the greatest PvP moments of my MMORPG life there.
But can you have that kind of FFA PvP freedom w/out having to worry about gankers and griefers?
So far, throughout the history of FFA PvP MMOs, the answer has been no. The players who do not belong to a massive guild or corporation become the victims of the established groups. The groups face no reprisal from a single noob. They can act however they wish. The 'social justice' of FFA PvP only extends to those who become part of the system, those who join and choose a side. This is VERY difficult for new players to get into established groups or for outsiders to participate without simply becoming fodder for the major organizations.
Of course, there are exceptions and I really don't want to hear personal stories about "well I was invited to Xx after Xx in X game" because I'm talking about generalities not specifics.
Me, I'm all about choice. Give players the choice, don't let the developers tell you want to do.
Create seperate server types for those who want FFA PvP, for those who want to deal with ganking and griefing.. go ahead, have fun you psychos! :)
For the rest of us, for the "mainstream" give us the protection of factions and rules, karma systems and limitations. Make it our choice when we wish to participate in PvP. But DO NOT force us to follow a certain path. Let us choose our alliances and enemies, let us choose our battle grounds...
I believe you can have FFA PvP that has rules. As contridicting as that sounds, listen. Make fighting only between guilds/clans/corps etc. that declare war on each other. Make alliances only between those who choose to allign. Create your own factions, your own wars. That way, you choose when you participate and who with and against. Don't let players randomly attack whoever they wish, but let players choose who they wish to ally with and who the fight for enemies.
The noob walking around alone should not have to fear being ganked/griefed, but should instead see the conflicts and different groups battling each other, and then be able to chose which side to take. You can still have all the dynamics and options and politics and betrayels and heroes and villians etc. that you get with a completely open FFA PvP system, but WITHOUT the mindless griefing and ganking inherent to our darker human natures. You can still be ganked but only because you chose to join Faction/Guild X which is at war with Faction/Guild Y.
Get what I'm saying? So I guess it's not really FFA PvP, instead I'll call it "OGvGFvF" PvP.
Open Guild vs. Guild / Faction vs. Faction Player vs. Player.
Give me choices. Give me options. Give me consentual open ended PvP.